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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-07-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou: We will honour the people's mandate
  • [02] Alavanos notes problems with labour rights
  • [03] Zagoritis re-elected as ND Secretary
  • [04] Conference on ancient drama at Delphi

  • [01] Papandreou: We will honour the people's mandate

    In yet another stinging assault on the government on multiple levels, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday compared it to "a storm that is sweeping the country" and was trying to subjugate everything in its path, showing contempt for every democratic institution that stood in the way of its absolute control.

    Speaking to PASOK's National Council, he accused Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis of behaving autocratically and said that the premier had quickly belied the high hopes he had raised because of his youth and had refused every proposal for cooperation made by PASOK after the elections.

    Enumerating a string of incidents that had dominated headlines in the past three years, such as cases of misuse of public funds, the mobile phone-tapping scandal, Pakistani abductions, the purchase of Turkey's Finansbank and questionable investments by Greek pension funds, he said these arose and were encouraged by government policies and practices.

    Regarding the bonds affair, in particular, he strongly questioned a demand by JP Morgan that the details concerning the buyback of the bond from pension funds remain confidential, saying that it was "a new scandal within the scandal".

    He also held the prime minister "deeply responsible, morally and politically" for the recent affair with tampered exam papers in Thessaloniki and said the government was attempting a cover-up on this issue by presenting it as an isolated incident.

    At the end of the day, the New Democracy government that would be an "isolated incident," he added.

    The recent privatisations of the Postal Savings Bank and the sale of more Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) shares were another issue that drew criticism, with Papandreou accusing the government or selling off state property "silently and at an undiminished rate" in order to cover shortfalls in the budget.

    The country was at a crucial juncture, with a prime minister and a government in power that were incapable of governing and were instead indulging in trade-offs and communications gimmicks, setting up a pointless debate on the timing of the elections in a bid to postpone the hour of defeat, PASOK's leader concluded.

    Turning to the events and changes within PASOK over the past three-plus years, he stressed that these would continue and underlined the commitment to transparency.

    "We will guarantee that we will honour the people's mandate and implement another view of power," he said, while stressing that the rules of transparency would also apply to the way that those who exercised power were selected.

    He spoke of "attacks against members of the Movement" in an indirect reference to charges of misuse of public funds levelled against a former head of the state's National Road-Building Fund appointed under PASOK, stressing that "we will not allow the collective integrity of the Movement and the democratic camp to be cast into doubt".

    Papandreou noted that, as the elections approached, PASOK would increasingly come under fire for presenting an expensive programme for which there were inadequate funds.

    "Funds can always be found when one wants to finance economic and social priorities," Papandreou said, citing the example of French President Nicholas Sarkozy and his stance at the recent ECOFIN Council in Europe, where he persuaded his EU member-states to give France additional time to meet fiscal targets.

    He said the French President's stance was "patriotic for France" and urged the Greek prime minister to look to Sarkozy's example.

    Athanassakis stresses participatory democracy, transparency

    According to PASOK National Council Secretary Nikos Athanassakis, meanwhile, PASOK's vanguard in both its internal party process and as a government will be "open participatory democratic processes, transparency everywhere, transparency for everything, transparency for all."

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of main opposition PASOK's president George Papandreou.

    [02] Alavanos notes problems with labour rights

    Visiting the bank workers' union OTOE on Friday, Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alekos Alavanos said that there were problems concerning labour rights in Greece and that the government had received a second caution from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in just a few months, once over its decision to force striking dock workers back to work with a conscription order and now over the bank workers social insurance measures.

    Alavanos noted that the laws passed by the ruling New Democracy government on this issue in 2005 and 2006 essentially relieved banks, which represented the most profitable sector of the Greek economy, from the greater part of their obligations under collective agreements and transferred these to IKA.

    He called on the government to implement the ILO's recommendations and cancel "these unconstitutional laws" and to protect the institution of collective agreements in the banking sector, pointing out that the unions did not have a corresponding employers' body with which to negotiate.

    SYN's leader also criticised the government's performance overall, saying it was "without leadership, a government in disarray, which is plunging the entire country into chaos. Chaos with regard to labour rights, in relation to the right of every citizen to enjoy nature in his country, in relation to the unimpeachability of university entrance exams, in relation to safe travel on Greek public transport".

    Earlier, Alavanos also met the Fire Brigade Officers Union and expressed his respect and appreciation for the work done by fire-fighters.

    "A country is happy when it doesn't need heroes and, in this sense, we believe that the State must provide all the means that would ensure that human losses are nil and that the losses to the environment are few," he said.

    SYN's leader said that permanent positions must be given to forest fire-fighters now hired with temporary contracts and that staff shortages must be covered, while he called for immediate provision to cover over-time pay for fire-fighters.

    Finally, he called for a body that would coordinate all the various services involved in fighting forest fires, in particular, such as forest wardens, local government and civil protection agencies.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alekos Alavanos.

    [03] Zagoritis re-elected as ND Secretary

    Lefteris Zagoritis was re-elected as ruling New Democracy's Central Committee Secretary on Friday by 403 votes out of 525.

    His opponent Theodoros Damianos received 87 votes, while there were also 35 blank and spoilt votes.

    In the election for the seven members of ND's Political Council that do not have to be members of Parliament, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis came first with 310 votes, followed by Costas Kostoulas with 209 votes, Dimitris Panozachos with 191 votes, Sergios Tsiftis with 187 votes, Dimitris Kontos with 178 votes, Babis Maniatis with 177 votes and Fevronia Patrianakou with 112 votes, who was elected to the quota allowed for women.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of New Democracy's Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.

    [04] Conference on ancient drama at Delphi

    The European Cultural Centre of Delphi (ECCD) is organising a two-day conference this weekend at the eponymous site in mountainous central Greece focusing on the theme of "The Tragic Heroine as a Symbol in Modern Society", an event capping off the two-week-long 8th International Conference on Ancient Drama, which included numerous theatrical performances, roundtable discussions and presentations at the Centre by artists from around the world. Women's role in western and non-western society is the sub-theme of the series of events at the Delphi Centre, which lies just outside the boundaries of the renowned archaeological site of Delphi, considered by the ancient Greeks as the sacred "navel of the world" during antiquity.

    The conference is co-sponsored by the Athens-based Research Center for Gender Equality (KEThI), with an international panel of distinguished speakers scheduled to speak over the weekend. The Delphi Centreās 8th International Conference on Ancient Drama will conclude on Sunday evening with a performance of Euripides' "Medea", direction and translation by Pilar Tavora, at the centre's Phrynichos outdoor odeon.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph showing scenes from a performance of ancient drama by the National Theatre of Greece put on at Delphi's stage.


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