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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-05-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou: Farmers cheated by ND
  • [02] KKE, Synaspismos criticism over bonds affair

  • [01] Papandreou: Farmers cheated by ND

    Greek farmers have by now discovered the "fine print" in ruling New Democracy's promises, while the government's rallying cry of "zero tolerance" for corruption has ended up being the country's shortest joke, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said on Thursday. He was speaking during an off-the-agenda debate on agricultural policy requested by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

    In a broad allusion to revelations that Greek pension funds may have lost money by investing in high-risk structured bonds issued by the government, Papandreou said that Greece's unsuspecting farmers had been persuaded to "buy the bond called ND government" in the elections three years earlier by ND's promises to increase farming incomes.

    "They now know that the government of the Right has proved to be a high-risk bond with a low yield. They know they were cheated. They know that you fooled them," Papandreou asserted, adding that farmers were now worse off than before ND came to power.

    In a diatribe against the government's agricultural policy, he pointed out that the government had itself increased VAT by 1 percent, even as it professed to be fighting for a reduction of VAT in the framework of the EU, and that it had agreed to reopen talks on EU subsidies for farming in 2008 after guaranteeing that these would be non-negotiable until 2013.

    At the same time, it was leading the state agricultural insurance organisation EL.GA to bankruptcy and using it as a party tool to benefit a minority of farmers, while 13 studies commissioned three years earlier on the repercussions of the new CAP had yet to materialise.

    "What do you know about the company 'Noisis'? Does it have any scientific links to the sector or is it linked with the families of government members," Papandreou continued.

    He further criticised the government for seeking a one billion euro reduction of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) budget and for its poor results in negotiations over cotton, tobacco and sugar - while pointing out that the prime minister had promised to undertake these personally.

    "If you return with results like these from negotiations at the EU, it would be better if you didn't go at all," Papandreou added.

    Karamanlis covering up bonds issue, PASOK's leader claims

    The main opposition leader referred at length to the bonds issue, claiming that there was a cover-up that pointed to personal responsibilities by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    "In an issue that has shocked the country, you are hiding and hiding the truth," he accused the premier.

    According to Papandreou, the affair was not limited to just one bond but was centrally planned and the execution of this plan was centrally coordinated.

    "ND has no plan for Greece but it does have a plan to serve dark interests," he added.

    The government could not continue to claim that so many pension fund managements had simultaneously chosen to switch from investments in low-risk state bonds in order to buy the higher-risk bond products that "served this plan", Papandreou stressed. He repeated a demand that the losses incurred by pension funds be restored and the money be returned before the elections.

    Regarding investigations initiated into past fund transactions under PASOK governments, Papandreou said that this was an attempt to "hide the truth" and challenged the government to set up a Parliamentary investigative committee into "anything you want".

    He ended by giving a personal guarantee to carry out PASOK's programme:

    "We do not promise miracles but we will honour our commitments. I personally promise this," he underlined.

    Caption: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou in Parliament on Thursday, May 3, 2007. ANA-MPA / M. MAROGIANNI.

    [02] KKE, Synaspismos criticism over bonds affair

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga lashed out at ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK on Thursday in a Parliament address ostensibly held to debate farm sector policies, as political leaders nevertheless referred at length to the bonds furor involving state-run pension funds' reserves.

    Papariga opened the off-the-agenda debate on agriculture policy as her party tabled the relevant question.

    Among others, she termed the entire discussion on bond purchases as misleading, accusing the two major parties of sharing responsibility "in the gambling of pension funds' reserves", adding that legislation passed by New Democracy and PASOK merely consolidated speculation.

    "The fate of pension funds is defined by the overall policy followed and an attempt at disassociation is both damaging and suspicious. The position according to which only structured bonds are risky is misleading and is being exploited by the government to justify the adoption of laws allowing capitalists to manage pension fund reserves," she said.

    The KKE leader called on the trade union movement to record overall losses suffered by pension funds, while she added that her party will not go along with a "clean hands" slogan because "this campaign is a cover-up for anti-popular policies".

    "It means nothing to put certain individuals in jail. KKE cannot accept any scandals big or small," Papariga said, noting that ND and PASOK must reveal and return funds' losses.

    Referring to agricultural policy, Papariga stated that it constitutes a huge socio-economic scandal "legitimised" by all governments.

    She also unveiled a hefty list of proposals the communist party demands for the agriculture sector, namely, price controls on agriculture supplies, VAT refunds, free and unlimited power consumption, cheap petrol for farmers, restrictions of farm imports, creation of aquaculture infrastructure and preferential treatment to new farmers seeking housing loans.

    Papariga blamed the Maastricht Treaty for what she called "anti-popular and monopolistic policies" and accused ND, PASOK and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) as being equally responsible for misleading the people regarding the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by cultivating false expectations, as she said.

    Synaspismos leader stresses bond issue, 'collapse' of rural regions

    The bonds issue also figured highly in the address made by Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos, who called for a Parliamentary investigative committee into the issue.

    He also criticised the prime minister for failing to appear in Parliament to answer questions on the bonds issue and asked that the money lost be returned to pension funds in full.

    On farming policy, Alavanos referred to the "collapse" of Greece's rural regions, saying that these had become a "huge pensioners' club" because the two main parties had implemented EU measures "in the worst possible way".

    He also called for urgent reforms in agricultural cooperatives, claiming that these were riddled with corruption and had become centres for collecting political "clientele".

    Caption: Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alekos Alavanos (L) and Communist Party (KKE) head Aleka Papariga (R) during debate in Parliament on Thursday, May 3, 2007. ANA-MPA / M. MAROGIANNI.

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