The Greece chairs this year the OECD ministerial meeting. His Prime Minister, Costas Karamanlis, explains the "Echos" his perception of the challenges facing developed countries, the increase in the oil in the fight against deficits, passing through the enlargement of the European Union.
Soaring oil prices threaten growth in developed countries
The inflation of the price of oil is obviously not good for growth and inflation. But, on the other hand, it is a powerful incentive to work more closely together to implement a European energy policy. The European Commission presented a "Green Book" for this purpose. The debate lasts for years. We must now move forward. The solutions are known: diversify energy sources and places of supply, reduce oil dependency, promote renewable energy...
Should we fear a return of inflation The European Central Bank only hardens not too fast its monetary policy
Inflation is not, in my view, a threat, but be careful. Need stability. And the ECB is the guarantor of stability.
Your Government has taken painful and unpopular measures to bring the Greek public deficit below the 3 of GDP this year. Do you feel that the "major" European countries show the same determination to return to the nails of the stability pact
It is important to respect the rules of the stability pact. We are determined to reduce our public deficits. And not only we conform to the standards of the euro area, but also because it is the basis of good economic policy.
You are viewing in 2004 a deficit higher than 6 of GDP. Were the Olympic Games the main cause of this drift
Of course, games played a role in this degradation of public finances. But there were also other reasons. The Greece was spending too too long. We have put an end to this drift. It is painful, but it was necessary, and not only because it had to meet the Maastricht criteria. This clean-up, I pointed out, is not made at the expense of the real economy of the activity. Growth is strong, it has reached 4 earlier this year. Unemployment moves back. The investment is recovering. The competitiveness of the economy improves. We will continue to reduce the size of the public sector privatization. We want a more efficient State. A majority of Greeks supports this policy of reforms, regardless of their partisan preferences.
The Greece celebrates the 25th anniversary of its entry into the European Union in a few days. What balance make you of this membership
The balance is very positive. The Greece has benefited greatly from this membership. The country was able to modernize its infrastructure through European funds. Our democratic institutions are in were consolidated.
The Union will soon allow the Romania and the Bulgaria. Other countries of the Balkans knock at the door. Is enlargement not too quickly, according to you
It is essential to give the countries of the Balkans a European perspective, to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Should have been the question of the effectiveness of the European institutions far upstream. It must now deal with it without sending to negative signals to the countries aspiring to join the Union. Everyone will benefit from these future enlargements. The Greece in particular. Our political and economic relations with our neighbours will improve and develop. And the Greece will be a gateway to preferred in these markets for all those who want to do business. The Greeks are already very implanted in these countries.
The application of the Turkey lies on the same plane
For all the candidates States, there must be rules, of the principles and conditions. The Turkey has the status of candidate. As long as it meets the requirements set out by the Union, it must keep a European perspective. We believe that it is for this country the greatest incentive to reform and adapt to European standards.
The European Constitution is permanently buried one year after the "no" of the France and the Netherlands to the Treaty
The European Constitution is not buried. We respect the verdict of the French and Dutch voters. But a majority of Member States had ratified the Treaty. Need to find ways to move forward. This will be one of the major topics of the next European Council in June. Europe in twenty-five or thirty cannot function as a Europe of Six or fifteen. In my view, the Treaty cannot be fundamentally changed. It is the result of a long and painful process of negotiations and compromise. Return on such or such point would unbalance the whole.