ATHENS, April 23 (Reuters) - Greece said on Friday it was tapping an EU/IMF aid mechanism aimed at rescuing the euro zone member from a debt crisis.
These are excerpts from Prime Minister George Papandreou’s statement made from the remote Aegean island of Kastellorizo and provided in English by his office:
“Yesterday, we learned of the real deficit figures. It reminded us of all the mistakes ... that we inherited from the previous government.
We inherited a boat ready to sink; a country without credibility; a country that had lost the respect of its friends and its partners; an economy exposed to the mercy and the appetite of the speculators.
From day one, we have rolled up our sleeves and begun the difficult work to change this gloomy situation.
We prepared a plan with difficult and painful measures, but we regained our credibility.
After a marathon, we were vindicated in arriving at the powerful decision by the EU to support the country with a landmark mechanism.
We were hoping that such a decision would be enough to calm down markets in order to give us the possibility to borrow with lower rates.
In other words, we were hoping to have the necessary calmness to concentrate on the big changes that our country needs: To build an economy that is viable and competitive and to make the Greeks feel proud again.
But there was no response from the markets. Either because they didn’t believe in the political will of the EU or because they decided to go on with speculation.
Today the situation threatens to demolish not only the sacrifices of the people but also the peaceful path of our economy. We don’t want all of these sacrifices by the Greek people to be in vain.
We won’t allow this.
‘A NEW ODYSSEY FOR GREECE’
This is the moment. The time that was not granted to us by the markets, will be given to us by the support of the euro zone.
It is a national necessity and priority to officially ask our partners to activate the mechanism that was created by all of us.
I have asked the finance minister to make all the necessary arrangements. I have asked our partners to contribute decisively in order to give Greece a safe harbour. This will give us the possibility to rebuild our ship of state with new and reliable materials.
At the same time, we are sending a strong message to the markets that the EU is serious about protecting its common interests and common currency.
We are on a difficult path, a new Odyssey for Greece and for the Greek nation. But we know the way to Ithaca and we have charted the waters in our quest.
We have in front of us a journey demanding a common will from us all- so we can arrive there safe, proud, and with a sense of justice.
Our final target, our final destination, is to liberate Greece from surveillance and guardianship. To liberate the forces of the Greek nation, every Greek, from rigid practices and mentalities which have created obstacles for many decades.
We need to give some oxygen where there was no air; justice where there is no justice; transparency where there is darkness; Security where insecurity prevails; and development for all.
Our inspiration, our faith, is this land ... Our wonderful people, our youth, our possibilities, our visions. I’m absolutely sure we will make it.
Greece needs to believe in its possibilities, its values, and itself.
Editing by John Stonestreet
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