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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-09-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Parliament votes in favour of government's policy statement
  • [02] PASOK leader attacks 'extra-institutional centres'

  • [01] Parliament votes in favour of government's policy statement

    Greece's 300-member Parliament voted in the early hours of Monday in favour of the ruling New Democracy (ND) government's policy statement. Voting in favour were the 152 ND deputies while 148 voted against.

    Concluding a three-day parliamentary debate on his government's policy statement, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said that he was determined to "repay the confidence offered by Greeks," adding that citizens were demanding responsibility from all and that solutions were not to be found in "sterile reaction".

    "Solutions demand concrete proposals," the prime minister said, underlining that his governement has no intention of "co-operating with attempts aiming at polarisation and tension."

    "We opt for measure and we choose the road of responsibility," he said.

    [02] PASOK leader attacks 'extra-institutional centres'

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou, addressing Sunday night the three-day parliamentary debate on the government's policy statements, focused on the combating of corruption, the "need for the protection of politics from extra-institutional centres" and the "need for a recovery of the country's foreign policy".

    Papandreou also accused the New Democracy (ND) government of "fully compromising with big interests" and of "abandoning big words against corruption".

    "The only thing (Prime Minister Costas) Mr. Karamanlis spoke about was the electoral law. As for us, we put forward the demand for the safeguard of the political system against extra-institutional centres and the excessive power of the mass media. And as President of the Socialist International, I can assure you that this is a democratic demand by the world's progressive movement," Papandereou said.

    "I will firmly defend, we, as PASOK, will defend the need for the autonomy of politics," the main opposition leader noted. "We propose strong mechanisms of control and transparency in the state's transactions...We propose the creation of a National Transparency Council: to put an end to the corruption prevailing in the country," he added.

    Commenting on the government's policy statements, Papandreou said that they contained "no plan, no priorities, no timetable for the country."

    Replying in Parliament on Saturday to the policy statements outlined by Prime Minister Karamanlis, Papandreou pledged to mount a strong and responsible opposition to the government, that was steadily oriented to the needs and demands of the citizens. He called for the creation of a "new social majority" that would stand up to the neo-conservative government and a neoliberal version of the globalisation.

    "We will seek to create, within and outside Parliament, a great alliance of the forces of the Left, a great political and social majority. To unite the forces that want to put an end to the one-way street of submission to the laws of unrestrained markets, who want to put an end to the spectrum of social exclusion and the degradation of labour relations and human capital," he said.

    He stressed that globalisation could not continue to be an alibi for a society that "subjugates everything to profit, with labels that show a price but cover up value" and underlined that markets should serve the needs of people rather than people the needs of markets.

    Papandreou also warned the government should to be lulled into a false sense of security by the internal upheaval within his own party following the September 16 elections and the challenges to his leadership.

    "You will not be able to duck beneath our radar. PASOK will fully meet the responsibility to mount an effective opposition. We will remain united," he stressed, noting that the party founded by his father Andreas Papandreou had gone through many crises in its 33 years and each had served as a new starting point from which it emerged stronger.

    In a speech that was scathingly critical of the ruling party's performance during its previous term as government, Papandreou also ruled out all prospect of a revision of the Constitution by the present Parliament. He stressed that responsibility for this lay with the government and was the result of its botched handling of the revision process in the previous Parliament.

    At another point, he accused the ruling party of opting for an "informal" cooperation with the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) in order to make up for its slim Parliamentary majority, adding that this was demonstrated by the decision to withdraw a controversial history text book for the last year of Greek primary schools.

    The government's privatisation's programme was also a target for criticism, with Papandreou talking of a "dehellenisation" of the Greek economy.

    "We are monitoring moves at Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), the preparations to reduce the State's share in the Public Power Corporation to less than 51 percent, the daily deterioration of Olympic Airways and preparations for its closure. For us the communications and energy networks are national infrastructure. We don't sell them off at bargain basement prices. We don't hand them over to foreign giants," he underlined.

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