President Pavlopoulos: Without a welfare state, democracy cannot exist

One of the biggest reforms linked to U.S. President Barack Obama, due in Athens in two days time, were the efforts to restore the welfare state in the United States, President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Sunday. Conversely, one of the gravest dangers now facing Greece, Europe and the entire world was a collapse of the welfare state and a rise in inequality, he added.

“Without a welfare state, democracy cannot exist,” Pavlopoulos said, speaking at a dinner given in his honour at Nea Potidea, Chalkidiki to commemorate the Kassandra Massacre in 1821. “In order for a state to be democratic, the first thing it must achieve is the equal treatment of its citizens and support of its society. Without this, democracy and especially representative democracy cannot exist.”

“The gravest danger that exists today is the collapse of the welfare state. We see this not just in our own country, in the tribulations of our own people and the crisis that has arisen. We see it in Europe, because we must remember that the Fascist and Nazi groups that are growing chiefly arise because there is an increase in inequality and a danger that the social fabric will be rent,” he said.

Pavlopoulos was also careful to distinguish between a strong welfare state and statism, noting that the two were not one and the same.

“I say this to all those that consider that the presence of the state should not be so vivid. I agree that statism is a real scourge but only statism in the form that we knew it. Statism does not include the welfare state. The welfare state is an obligation of the state under the Constitution, not just in Greece but also in Europe and throughout the world,” he said.