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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-05-03
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM: Unremitting clash with corruption a 'matter of course' for ND gov'tPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis sharply criticised all those who, as he charged, attempt to cast a shadow over the government's reforms, and "subjugate everything to their petty party expediencies", speaking in Parliament on Thursday during an off-the-agenda discussion on agriculture policy initiated by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga.
"I have made a commitment for governance of changes, reforms and social allocation for all citizens," Karamanlis said, stressing that "this vision cannot be undermined, either by those who oppose reforms, or by those who attempt to poison public life through irresponsible generalisations, distortions and falsification, insults and slander, or even populist shrieks".
"Changes and reforms comprise a national strategy; are a universal demand of society and comprise the greatest challenge for the country in the coming years. They are a national goal," Karamanlis stressed, adding: "I am determined to ensure this target, which serves all Greeks, at any cost. Reforms are continuing; nothing can turn us back".
Referring to the purchase of overpriced bonds by the board of the TEADY (civil servants supplementary pension fund), Karamanlis said that the incident neither determined the course of the country, nor justified "extreme danger-mongering, irresponsible claims, and provocative populism", which tend to "poison the public life". He said the causes of such a stance were based on an attempt by some "to cast a shadow on the country's progress in its economic and developmental policy".
Underlining the fact that the government itself had "revealed the (bond purchase) affair" and placed reform of pension fund management as amongst its goals, Karamanlis stressed that the government's aspiration was that "not a single euro should be lost", contrary to "slogans" of "those who did not act accordingly" in the past.
Commenting on the stance of the preceding PASOK government under Costas Simitis, Karamanlis said that "dilemmas, for us, did not exist and do not exist ... We will not tolerate any cover-up, as others did. We will never follow the example of those who remained apathetic and indifferent spectators to the looting of public money. We are absolute on the phenomenon of corruption," he said.
The prime minister said the road to combating corruption is a long one, and results come "only if we reveal such phenomena".
The citizens "know that the phenomena multiplied in the past years, within the full inertia of the previous government that tolerated them and concealed them almost as if they were a matter of course", he said.
The ND government, on the other hand, as a matter of policy, is on a collision course with corruption. "This is the difference between the past and the present: Disclosure and not cover-up; a clash with everything that harms the Greek people, not compromise".
Karamanlis said everyone had the right to disagree with decisions taken by the government, however, "no one can subjugate everything to his petty party expediencies. No one will cast a shadow over our reforms strategy," he said.
The attempt at polarisation, an attempt at generalisations and disinformation, the attempt to undermine the public life, "are doomed to failure", Karamanlis warned, stressing that the ND government was continuing, at an increasing pace, with the changes and reforms in all the sectors.
"We are all judged and will be judged" on their decisions and choices: "Some for their divisive words and their irresponsibility. We (the ND government) for the reform work we are advancing together with the citizens," the premier concluded.
Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis from Parliament's podium on Thursday, May 3, 2007. ANA-MPA / M. MAROGIANNI.
 Sharp PASOK criticism over farm policyMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou sharply attacked the Karamanlis government during Thursday's off-the-agenda Parliament debate on agriculture policy, referring to "losses for the producer and profits for the middleman".
Additionally, in opening his address, he referred to a decrease in farm incomes, "you fooled the farmer. EL.GA (the state-run agricultural insurance fund) is being led to bankruptcy, and you merely allocate damages only where you want, when you want. You are doing injustice to the many (producers)," he said in a free-for-all condemnation of the Karamanlis government's policy in the farm sector over the past three years.
Caption: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou in Parliament on Thursday, May 3, 2007. ANA-MPA / M. MAROGIANNI.
 Greek role in regional stability cited FM, DMGreece's role as a factor of stability in the wider region and as a credible partner and interlocutor on all the major issues facing the international community, as well as the country's initiatives for enhancing Greece's international prestige, were stressed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, who were the main speakers at an event organised on Wednesday evening entitled "Greece, a reliable partner", part of the framework of "Greece 2020: A vision for the Greece and children of 2000" programme.
The event was also attended by ruling New Democracy (ND) honorary president and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, deputy foreign minister Yiannis Valinakis, chairman of parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee Panos Kammenos, and other officials.
Bakoyannis said that "Greece must change", adding that bold decisions needed to be taken in such areas as: administrative reform and wiping out bureaucracy; environmental protection, safeguarding the natural resources -- particularly the water resources, in the case of Greece -- advancing alternative forms of energy, and extensive reforestation; quality of life in the modern, constantly growing urban centres; education, and particularly life-long learning; boosting innovation, research and development; and safeguarding social cohesion.
The foreign minister expressed pride in the fact that "the New Democracy government is taking steps in precisely this direction", adding that the road ahead was a long one, but "we are moving forward".
Turning to foreign policy, she reiterated that the central and steadfast goal was safeguarding the national interests and enhancing the country's international prestige through the projection and expansion of Greece's clout in the international environment.
"Greece's foreign policy is a policy of principles that is exercised with consistency, self-confidence and open horizons towards the world," she explained, adding that one of the mid-term targets of foreign policy was that Greece must remain among the forces serving as a steam-engine for promoting political unification. "The political and economic vision of the united Europe will be materialised," she said.
Meimarakis, in turn, said that his ministry's cooperation with the foreign ministry was excellent and fruitful, and referred to the initiatives taken by the armed forces for reducing tension in the region, as well as their participation in international peace-keeping movements, and praised the Armed Forces' readiness and efficiency.
The defence minister also reiterated his proposal that the cost of Greece's participation in peace-keeping missions should not be accounted in the budget deficit, and announced that the expenditure for Greece's participation in the peacekeeping mission to Lebanon has been undertaken by the Armed Forces' General Staffs from their own funds which were destined for other purposes.
Today, he said, more than 1,600 Greek soldiers were serving in international missions, with the cost running into many millions of euros.
Captoin: DM Evangelos Meimarakis. ANA-MPA file photo
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