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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-11-10
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PASOK to elect new leader on SundayA crucial election will take place Sunday for the election of a new leader of the main opposition PASOK party, which is being contested by three candidates -- incumbent leader George Papandreou, and MPs and former ministers Evangelos Venizelos and Costas Skandalidis. The election process will open at 9:00 a.m., following a heated two-month campaign period.
Following is an exclusive interview with incumbent PASOK peresident George Papandreou, which winds up a series of ANA-MPA interviews with the three leadership candidates in view of the election.
Interview with Papandreou
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said he aims at a a victory of strategic importance resulting from the party's ideological and political credibility, if re-elected to the PASOK leadership in Sunday's internal party election, in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA on the eve of the election, adding that he did not fear for the party's unity, "which is guaranteed by the rank and file".
Papandreou opined that the divisions in the party existed before the leadership election process, and considered it fortunate that the disagreements were manifested now and, due to the election process, came to the surface and were expressed, calling the process a "redemption", while also warning that "divisionary rationales" had reappeared in recent days and were undermining the efforts to ensure PASOK's unity.
However, Papandreou said he was not worried about the party's unity because it was "guaranteed by the rank and file", which comprises a "breakwater" against the "new, divisionist preachings", nor was he worried about the co-existence of all the cadres with the leadership.
Papandreou was also strongly critical of the major interests and the mass media, stressing that democracy was threatened by the large concentration of wealth, which "buys media, buys out consciences, formulates news, controls information, manipulates the public opinion, and wants to impose its own choices and individuals on the political life" of the country.
To a question on whether the PASOK rank and file would be able to put behind it the division and at times extreme arguments and forge ahead together, Papandreou said that for years now, and for reasons that required further analysis, various types of division were dormant in PASOK, the most significant of which were caused by regimist attitudes, authority perceptions and arrogance, which alienated the party from the people and its own rank and file. Added to these were the divisions caused by some of the party's policies which made its social allies feel that they were left out of the party's interests and priorities.
This, he said, was the most basic reason for PASOK's electoral defeat in 2004 (which brought the New Democracy party to government), and continued to exist up until the defeat in the 2007 general elections (in which ND was re-elected to power).
Fortunately, however, those divisions came to the surface in the ensuing two months and were expressed, and became the subject of a genuine political confrontation, serving as the party's redemption from its divisive past, provided, however, that it was not rekindled by the divisive rationales that have resurfaced in recent days, undermining the efforts to create the conditions for a new unity founded on a new collective spirit in the decision-taking and actions.
In any event, Papandreou said, he was not worried about healing the wounds that reached all the way to the party's foundation, because it was that foundation, the rank and file, that was the guarantor of PASOK's unity, serving as a breakwater against the new divisive preachings which "some individuals parade today as their plastic ideological banner".
In the same sense, he was also not worried about the future co-existence of all cadres with the party's leadership, because the leadership would be the guarantor of the party's unity, determining the content of the clear-cut and strong mandage of the November 11 election.
The bigger the participation in Sunday's election process, the stronger and clearer will be the party's unity the morning after, Papandreou added.
Asked to what degree the stance of the electoral body would influence which of the three candidates would be elected to the PASOK helm, Papandreou said that the primary criterion of the Greek voter was the existence of programmes, attitudes and perceptions capable of earning his confidence and of convincing him of their effectiveness in solving his everyday social and financial problems.
"No messiah can convince any voter to vote for him just because he has a charismatic personality or communicational skills. This is a myth concocted by the Right to cover up its own lack of ideological proposals,programmes and genuine values, through projection of the role of the individual as a substitute for substantive policial differences," Papandreou said.
Thus, he continued, PASOK's return to politics and its adoption of policies that will bridge the gaps it had allowed to form with the non-priviledged Greeks and productive strata of the society was the goal.
Asked whether he believed that PASOK would have a better result if it presented itself to the electorate as a different party, or as a better manager of power, Papandreou said that management of power for the sake of power belonged to right-wing governance, and was not the goal of a centre-left governance.
"A contemporary centre-right governance such as that endorsed by PASOK is mainly a governance that uses power as a tool for producing social changes, redistribution policies and advancement of a new model of growth that will also protect the environment, create confidence, security and hope among the middle and popular strata, invest in the human potential, take advantage of the comparative advantages and put into effect a new national strategy for social justice, self-sustained development and liberation of the productive forces from the bonds of clientellistic relations, party expediencies and non-meritocratic models," Papandreou said.
Asked to comment on recent media reports on the economic interests and their "interventions" in the political life of the country and on whether that had played a part in the outcome of the latest general elections, Papandreou said that the establishment of equal relations among businesses, State and political parties was a fundamental condition for restoring the basic rules of operation of democracy.
Greece's democracy was threatened today with shrinking due to the accumulation of immense wealth on the one hand and poverty on the other, Papandreou said. When the accumulated wealth purchased media, bought consciences, formulated news, controlled information, manipulated public opinion and wanted to impose its own choices on the country's political life, that constituted a direct threat against the autonomy of politics, freedom of expression and the democratic rights, he said, adding that if this hazard was not confronted actively and institutionally, the conditions could not be created for social justice, social cohesion, or social and economic growth, or much less so for development based on the creative forces of the country. Consequently, an electoral law was necessary that would protect political autonomy and rid the politicians of their dependence on political money.
Asked what his first priority would be if elected PASOK president, Papandreou said it would be to transform the experience of the party's internal crisis into a "creative breath of renewal" and formulate the organisational and political conditions so that the new beginning of November 11 would be turned into the constantly multiplying force of a new long-term PASOK dominance and a new effective strategy for its victory in the next general elections.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of the main opposition PASOK party's headquarters on Harilaou Trikoupi street in downtown Athens.
 Greek economy prospects outlined at conferenceNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou) - Information Secretary General Panos Livadas outlined the possibilities and prospects of the Greek economy, and the "improved image" of Greece, addressing the 9th Capital Link Forum's annual conference on "Greece today: Investments and Business Opportunities" at a hotel in Manhattan on Friday (NY time).
In an address titled "Greece today: Successes and new priorities", Livadas first mentioned the devastating wildfires in Greece during the past summer, noting the immediate mobilisation of the State for relief of the victims, adding that the Greek government "has both the desire and the means to implement a minimum-bureaucracy policy at all levels of State transactions with the citizen".
Turning to the energy sector, Livadas said that the new Greece-Turkey natural gas pipeline will be inaugurated next Sunday, November 18, by Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He further outlined developments regarding economic growth, while referring to merchant shipping in particular, he stressed that "Greece has maximised its distinct advantage in merchant shipping and the shipping industry, with large financial results".
Greece, he added, was a reliable economic and business centre in its neighbourhood, and was a major foreign investor in Albania and FYROM, while it also ranked among the top three foreign investors in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.
Through its investments, and its growth in general, the right was consolidated to Greek foreign policy, which was directly linked to economic diplomacy, Livadas said.
He explained that Greece was developing in an extrovert manner, and through the implementation of bold reforms had already achieved impressive results that enabled placing greater emphasis on state social policies for the elderly and the poor, "in order to create a more productive safety net for all those needing one".
The Forum was held under the auspices of the General Secretariat, aimed at projecting Greece's economic and business benefits in the US for the purpose of attracting American investors.
During his stay in New York, where he arrived on Thursday, Livadas met with members of Greek American organisations and gave interviews to the mass media.
Livadas will also be visiting Chicago, Boston and Houston and his US visit will be concluded with his participation in a conference organised by the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) on November 17-18, on the theme : "Viewing the future of the young Greek American executives: Opportunities and prospects."
 New US envoy to Greece addresses NY eventNew York (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou) -- Newly-appointed US ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard pledged to work consistently for further improvement of Greek-US relations and the resolution of issues concerning Hellenism, and expressed pleasure at being posted to Greece.
Speaking early Saturday (Greek time) with officials of the Hellenic American community and press during a reception in his honour organised by the Cyprus Federation of America and the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA), Speckhard said he looked forward to working closely with the Greek American community in order to advance solutions to problems that have been long outstanding, such as the Cyprus problem and the FYROM name issue, and promised to work hard towards that goal.
Speckhard called Greece one of the most important countries in the world, and historically one of US's most significant allies, sharing common values, and also acknowledged the important role played by the Greek American community in boosting relations between Greece and the US.
Caption: New US ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard (EPA file photo).
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