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We Need to End Greek ‘Drama’: Ex-Prime Minister

The "drama" in Greece has to end for the sake of Greece itself and the euro zone, George Papandreou, former prime minister of the country, told CNBC Monday.

The former Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou
Pierre Verdy | AFP | Getty Images
The former Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou

Speaking as others in Pasok, the party he led and his father founded, spoke to longstanding rivals New Democracy about forming a coalition government, Papandreou said he supported a coalition.

"We want to see as many parties as possible involved. This is a national problem, and it’s not time for bickering amongst ourselves," he said. “This coalition is not just to create a government, it’s to move Greece forward at a crucial moment in our history."

Pasok has seen its share of the left-wing vote eroded by Syriza, the anti-bailout party which has overtaken it as the second-largest party in the country.

Papandreou said he would like to see Syriza take some “responsibility” for running the country, but the coalition would have to "move forward" without them if not. This contrasts to Evangelos Venizelos, Papandreou’s former finance minister and the current Pasok leader, who said Sunday night that he wouldn’t take part in a coalition without Syriza.

"There’s a contradiction in the base of Syriza. On one hand you have the old trade unions who want to keep things the same and the other you have the unemployed youth who really want changes," Papandreou said.

The elections in Greece have been one of the key focal points of the euro zone debt crisis. While New Democracy winning the most votes had an initially positive effect on markets Monday, gains were wiped out by the end of the day’s trading in Europe.

"If Europe doesn’t also see some of the problems of the euro, not only Greece but the rest of Europe will be in trouble," Papandreou warned.

He is optimistic Greece will be in euro zone in two years’ time, despite increased speculation about the country exiting the euro zone.

There has been renewed focus on the impact ofausteritymeasures imposed by international lenders on ordinary Greek people in the past week, with queues at soup kitchensgrowing and worries about the health-care system.

“We need to make sure that we can ameliorate some of the harsh points of austerity with growth policies. The major part of the memorandum is positive. We don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. We need to look at the parts which are hitting the Greek people unjustly,” Papandreou said.

—Reported by CNBC’s Julia Chatterley, written by Catherine Boyle

Contact Europe: Economy

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