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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-10-04

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Prime minister reiterates determination to carry on with reforms

  • [01] Prime minister reiterates determination to carry on with reforms

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday reiterated his determination to carry on with the reforms in the education sector, adding that he would not "succumb to the allure of populism" and give benefits that the economy could not endure and, speaking to a meeting of his ruling New Democracy (ND) party's parliamentary group that coincided with the 32nd anniversary of the party's founding.

    At the same time, Karamanlis stressed the party's political profile, saying that ND was the party that, with its choices, strengthened the unity and unanimity of the Greeks. "We are a party with timeless principles and values that determine our course and will continue to do so for many decades. We are the leading political force in the Greek society. And all these entail responsibility, and obligations. They entail demands from all of us, from all the members of the government, from the entire parliamentary group, from all who assume posts of political responsibility," Karamanlis said, warning that "deviations are not allowed in any instance, or at any level".

    "I am making myself clear, and I am absolute on this," he added.

    "No government wants to be disagreeable, especially to a sector such as the teachers, who are linked to the future of our children," the prime minister said, adding however that "governments are judged on their decisions", and stressing that he would not give benefits that the country could not endure and which would lead the economy to new impasses.

    "The road of responsibility has no detours, it is straightforward, and we are following it with consistency," the premier said.

    He stressed that changes needed to be made in the field of institutions of higher education in order to make them competitive, and for implementation of that which was in effect in other countries. "We want credible degrees that ensure work, we want an environment of security and confidence for the youth," he added.

    Karamanlis noted that an extensive dialogue was taking place in the relevant parliamentary committee, adding that the government was open to new proposals and thoughts because it was not characterised by obstinacy, obsession, or a sense of infalllibility.

    Those who reject the changes, who refuse the dialogue, also reject the democratic procedure, Karamanlis said, adding that those who demand dialogue from a zero basis where asking for "nothing to being, for changes not to be made".

    "But the necessity for changes is something that we do not negotiate," he continued.

    Turning to the October 15 municipal and prefectural elections, he said the party's choices were known, and binding for all, and distancing from these choices was incomprehensible. The goal was the interest and progress of the local societies, continuation of the developmental process in every prefecture and each and every city, thus actively putting aside the notion of "one or another Greece".

    Referring extensively to the issue of corruption, the prime minister said that "we proved that we are in a constant and all-out clash with corruption, the regime of tolerance that has ended definitively". Wherever corruption networks existed, they would be broken out, he said, warning that "no attitude will be tolerated that complies with self-serving discounts will be made for anyone, regardless of who he is or where he comes from". He also outlined the steps the government has taken and was continuing to take, which he said rendered the cost of corruption unbearable for the culprits, and cited such steps as the charting of land usage, the drafting of national and specialised spatial plans, the revision of the rules government procurements in the public sector, the simplification of the procedures for the founding and licencing of enterprises, the reinforcement and institutional shielding of the Competition Commission, the upgrading of the audits on the 'source of wealth' statements of public administration officials, and the constitutional reform with the government's proposals aimed at increasing transparency.

    The changes and reforms will continue, Karamanlis stressed, adding that the draft 2007 budget tabled in parliament earlier this week proved that the government was following the structural changes with consistency, continuity and efficiency, and made specific reference to the completion of the taxation reform with a reduction of taxation on natural entities, the revision of the developmental law, the continuation of privatisations and capitalisaions, and the search for a strategic partner in the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE).

    The premier further mentioned the plan for the restructure and merger or abolition of redundant public services, the policy for strengthening the social insurance system, changes to the health system, and the policy on combatting the black economy, tax evasion, and contribution-evasion.

    Karamanlis said that ND was functining as a 'force of reform of the Modern Social Centre'. "We rejected the road of cheap populism, empty argument, and we will not take part in practices that divide the society," he warned.

    In an indirect reference to the political climate of the past days, Karamanlis said that "we are not attempting to present ourselves as infallible...we want criticism, regardless of how harsh it is...we say no to distortion".

    Earlier in his address, marking the 32nd anniversary of the party's founding, Karamanlis said that "we honour October 4, 1974, we honour the party's founder Constantine Karamanlis, the leader who, under adverse conditions, led the country from dictatorship to the strongest democracy, who realised the vision for accession into the European Union". He also made references to his predecessors at the ND helm: George Rallis, Evangelos Averof, Constantine Mitsotakis, and Miltiades Evert.

    "We honour all the historic cadres of the party who are no longer with us, but who left us a legacy of principles and values, dignity, concistency, and ethos. We also honour all the citizens who, for years have supported our political struggles. We honour and have faith in all the Greek women and men," Karamanlis concluded.

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