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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-06-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] House rejects referendum proposal

  • [01] House rejects referendum proposal

    The Greek Parliament rejected in the early hours of Wednesday the proposals tabled by the four opposition parties for the holding of a referendum on the European Union Lisbon Treaty. The proposals were rejected by 152 votes while 144 opposition deputies voted for in the 300-member House. The Parliament has already ratified the Treaty last Thursday.

    Concluding a parliamentary debate, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday night accused the main opposition PASOK party of going through "contradictions" and "perplexities" regarding its proposal for the holding of a referendum on the EU's Lisbon Treaty.

    "We are not serving the European vision when we use the procedure of the referendum as a pretext to solve our own dilemmas or, probably, to dissipate our own parplexities," Pavlopoulos said while addressing Parliament during a debate on proposals tabled by the opposition parties calling for a referendum on the issue.

    More specifically, commenting on PASOK's proposal "because it believes in the citizens' awareness", the interior minister wondered whether the main opposition party, when it was in office, "had the same ideas when it did not resort to any referenda regarding the Maastracht and Nice Treaties."

    "All these reveal contradictions and perplexities," Pavlopoulos added.

    Referring to Ireland's rejection of the EU's Reform Treaty, Pavlopoulos asked whether the countries which have not opted for a referendum "are less democratic".

    "A referendum is justified when European integration will have been completed, when the EU acquires a state entity and we will be in need of a constitution," the minister nevertheless conceded.

    PASOK leader

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, defending his party's proposal, attached a symbolic and a substantive content to the proposal for a referendum to be held on the Treaty's ratification.

    "At a symbolic level, the proposal constitutes the peak of a policy placing the citizen at the epicentre of all its efforts, a policy which constitutes the new image of PASOK's programme speech," Papndreou pointed out.

    "At the level of substance, it constitutes the reply to the dilemma between Euroscepticism and bureaucratic European unification, the trend for renationalisation and the trend for a united Europe which fears its citizens," he added.

    "I heard that those who call for referendums undermine European unification. These are absurd arguments. If the Irish had said yes, would the critics of the referendum have said automatically yes?" he pondered.


    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said on her part that Greece's European prospect cannot and must not be placed in doubt.

    The minister added that the European fabric must remain firm and shall remain firm from the time that governments and Parliaments assume their responsibilities and pointed out that "the alibi of a referendum" must not be selected by politicians when they are holding the country's fate in their hands.

    Referring to the government's stance at this week's European Union summit, in the wake of the Irish referendum, Bakoyannis said that Greece "will pursue the speediest evaluation and assessment of the situation, to enable the EU to take decisions as soon as possible that will allow its non-self-trapping in a cycle of introversion and inertia." She added that Greece hopes that the eight member-states that have not ratified the Lisbon Treaty will proceed in accordance with what is anticipated by its ratification process.

    As regards the practice followed in Greece, she said that the ratification of the treaties by Parliament safeguards the country's European course.

    "The Greek Parliament has the responsibility of safeguarding the development and security course for our country," she noted.

    The foreign minister further said that nobody questions that by ratifying the treaty Parliament is in contrast with popular will, while stressing that all the previous governments utilised this process, both of the New Democracy (ND) and PASOK parties, in which main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou had also "participated."

    "The option made by PASOK, on the one hand to ratify the treaty in Parliament, and at the same time to call for a referendum has a unique element, it has never taken place in any other part of the world and shows the way chosen by PASOK, not by a party of responsibility and power, but of refusal and protest," she said.

    The Greek parliament has already ratified the Lisbon Treaty last week by an overwhelming majority of the ruling ND and main opposition PASOK parties.

    Other opposition parties

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Parliamentary representative Achilleas Kantartzis criticised the government for refusing to support the proposal for a referendum to be held, as well as the main opposition PASOK party and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) for their "belated interest."

    "We wanted and want a referendum, not to give an alibi to the European Union and to make the Greek people an accomplice, but with the aim of having developments created in society to reverse its anti-popular options," Kantartzis said.

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos placed emphasis in his address to Parliament on the Irish "no" to the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, terming it a "great victory that saves the honour of all of Europe."

    Alavanos also criticised the government, saying that "it is afraid and for this reason it is avoiding the option of the Greek people deciding with a referendum," while claiming that following Ireland's "no" there is no question of a European Treaty.

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis termed the Lisbon Treaty in his address a "remorseless constitution" that circumvents the logic, democratic principles and freedoms of peoples and called on the government to say "yes" to a referendum "if it is not afraid of the people."

    Karatzaferis also said that 84 percent of the Greek people want a referendum, invoking a poll by the EU, and added that the ruling party "fears the people" because it knows that they would not follow.

    In a related development, KKE held a demonstration outside Parliament against the Lisbon Treaty, while the discussion was taking place on whether or not a referendum should be held on the treaty.

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