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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PASOK's time is come again, Papandreou says

  • [01] PASOK's time is come again, Papandreou says

    The main opposition PASOK party is preparing for the "new great change" that will once again bring it to power, PASOK leader George Papandreou told the party's Parliamentary group on Tuesday amid thunderous applause.

    "PASOK's time is come again. The right-wing interlude is collapsing and coming to an end, the reversal is taking place, the new great change is coming," PASOK's president told MPs.

    He stressed that the party was "readier and more mature than ever" but had no room for complacency since the road to the elections was long and difficult.

    According to Papandreou, this was the start of the battle for the final straight, shortly before the elections that would rid the country of its worst government since democracy was restored in 1974. He said the government was in a panic, while the prime minister and all members of his government were permanently obsessed with the date of the elections.

    Whatever they did, however, it was certain that this crumbling structure would topple over and not last, he added.

    He predicted a tough pre-electoral race in which the government would not hesitate to use all methods to prevail, including vast quantities of money, manipulation of the press and an ideology that saw the state as a "trophy" to be used to buy votes and consciences.

    PASOK's leader pointed to the timing of a bill on media concentration introduced by the government, saying this aimed to give a nod and a wink to friendly media while intimidating those less cordially disposed to the government.

    He also accused the ruling party of preparing to spend several millions to cover up scandals like that with the structured bonds, the Competition Commission affair and graft and on a hugely expensive advertising campaign. Papandreou said that this money would be provided by sponsors representing interests assisted by ND, who would now "pay off" their debts.

    Against the advertising and spin, PASOK would range the truth and the superiority of both its programme and its people, Papandreou said.

    "Beside them will stand the few and the powerful interests, while beside us will be the Greek people," he added.

    PASOK's leader also warned members of his party to brace themselves for a mud-slinging war, predicting that ND would not hesitate to use slander and libel but stressing that PASOK would answer with the truth and transparency.

    Commenting on the recent fires, meanwhile, Papandreou attacked the government for incompetence, lack of coordination and dismantling state services. Responding to the government's pledge to employ the "Halkidiki model" in restoring Parnitha‚s forests, meanwhile, Papandreou said that nothing had actually been done in Halkidiki following the fires that devastated the peninsula last summer. To make promises and then pull out was ND's model of governing, he added.

    Finally, he praised PASOK MPs for their work over the past three and a half years, saying that this would be rewarded by the electorate's vote in the polls and stressed that the countdown for the present government had begun when PASOK submitted a no-confidence motion.

    He urged party officials to remain close to the public, talk with ordinary people and convince them about the party's positions while stressing that the party would not tolerate those who were solely concerned with getting themselves a position in the state.

    Addresses by MPs speaking after Papandreou dwelt on the destruction of the Parnitha National Park during last week's fires as the supreme proof of the government's incompetence and said that in the coming months PASOK must strike a balance between criticism and presenting its programme, gradually shifting the emphasis on the latter.

    They also pointed to the constant downgrading of Parliament and called for proposals to upgrade its function.

    In his closing remarks, Papandreou pledged to launch initiatives concerning Parnitha, beginning with measures to address the immediate problem and moving on to a "serious and responsible policy for forests and the environment".

    He also conveyed to his party's MPs the support expressed by the Socialist International after his abrupt departure from an SI meeting due to the Parnitha fire.

    PASOK's leader reiterated his call to PASOK officials and MPs to "convey the party's programme positions" everywhere, stressing the need for direct contact with voters and pointing out that "for the media it is often not considered news to talk about a party's programme".

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou addressing PASOK's National Council in March.

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