In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Greek opposition leader George Papandreou laid the blame solely on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis's government for the wave of violence that has gripped the country for six days.
The leader of the left-wing PASOK party said he was “very upset and very worried” about the riots that followed the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos in a shoot-out with the police in Athens on Saturday.
“This social explosion has much deeper causes”, he said, arguing that “there is a great deal of corruption at the highest level of government”. He argued that several ministers currently in Karamanlis's government should already have stepped down “because of their responsibilities - not only because of the death of this child, but also with many of the other issues that have come up because of corruption and the use of public monies”.
He called for the government’s resignation and promised to give Greece a “new direction” if his party came to power.
'We need to strengthen our democratic institutions'
Asked if he would adopt a tougher stance against rioters, e.g. with help from the military, he dismissed the suggestion. “When I was a young boy, I lived under the dictatorship. It was a crushing experience for the Greek people. We need to strengthen our democratic institutions”, he said.
Papandreou said he supported street demonstrations as long as they were “protests without violence, against violence, for a more humane society”.
When challenged about the past corruption cases involving his own party, Papandreou countered that the current conservative government has engaged in fraud on a systematic basis. “People are saying that we have a corrupt government, not cases of corruption. We will show a very different Greece, with transparency”, he said.