|Tuesday, 25 September 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-22
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 House adopts ND's proposal on Vatopedi affairParliament unanimously adopted in the early morning hours on Thursday a ruling New Democracy (ND) proposal to set up a Parliamentary fact-finding committee on the politically charged Vatopedi Monastery land exchanges with the state. Following a debate, the House adopted the proposal without resorting to a roll-call vote since no party had expressed opposition to the proposal.
Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos, addressing the Hpouse on Wednesday evening accused the main opposition PASOK party leader of being responsible for the "illicit", "wretched" and "immoral" orchestration against his person.
Roussopoulos noted that never since 1847, when the law on the responsibility of ministers had been implemented for the first time "had there ever been a request for an indictment with the 'surrounding atmosphere' being the only evidence."
The minister further said that PASOK is basing charges again him on slander and that the only real fact is his longstanding acquaintance and his spiritual relation with the prior of the Vatopedi Monastery and added that he "talks and will continue to talk with representatives of monasteries and agencies" and that "it is not important what they tell me in these meetings, what is important is what I reply."
Roussopoulos called on PASOK's deputies to say how many have gone to the Vatopedi Monastery and how many ministers of theirs have been proclaimed its benefactors.
He then presented the following list of PASOK ministers who had approved subsidies for the Monastery: 1997: Costas Laliotis, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister, had approved 50 million (drachmas), 1999: Costas Vrettos, Deputy Agriculture Minister, a subsidy for 441 million (drachmas), 1999: Ioannis Mangriotis, Minister of Macedonia and Thrace, subsidies for 20 and 70 million drachmas, 2001: George Paschalidis, Minister of Macedonia and Thrace, 30 million drachmas, 1994: Costas Triaridis, Minister of Macedonia and Thrace, 1 million and 1999: Christos Pachtas, Deputy Finance Minister, approved a subsidy for 996 million drachmas.
As regards the charge that he was the moral accomplice in the issue, Roussopoulos said that it was "unfounded and absurd and was not substantiated by either the order by the Supreme Court prosecutor or by the resignations of the two deputy prosecutors or by the file of proceedings".
"I call on you to say clearly, from where is it deduced that there is any action that supports your accusations," he said.
Roussopoulos then turned personally to the PASOK leader, saying that the only thing which interests him "is the smearing of political opponents in every way" with the target not being himself but the government, the ND party and in the end the prime minister "because he is the only authentic expressor of a policy of changes and of reforms."
On his part, main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou avoided replying to Roussopoulos and preferred to link the Vatopedi affair to the "overall crisis which is governing Greek political, social and economic life," as he said.
"We are not calling on you to betray your party but not to betray the principles and values that must unite us in this hall," he said.
Papandreou called on the New Democracy party's deputies to vote in favour of his party's proposal for the creation of an Investigatory Committee (the proposal will be discussed independently on Friday) and to agree to the creation of at least three more Factfinding Committees that will conclude investigations on the phonetapping, structured bonds and Siemens cases.
Referring to the prime minister's role, Papandreou observed that "becoming prime minister is not enough, the question is to become a good prime minister. To have your hands free to serve the people and not to be the plaything of every interest. I fear that your government is a captive and it is weak to be able to change the disastrous course."
Referring to the case of the Vatopedi Monastery, the main opposition party leader spoke of a "scandal that developed on the basis of a central political plan, as was precisely the case of the bonds, a scandal of illegally granting public wealth."
Other opposition leaders
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said that her party was obliged to support both proposals (as well as that made by the main opposition PASOK party on the creation of an Investigatory Committee).
"It is our obligation to support both proposals because evidence exists both for the attribution of political responsibilities and the probing of penal ones," she said, but added that "the hopes are few since the political responsibilities will be discussed superficially by the Factfinding Committee."
Papariga said that the KKE will not give grace to any party and criticised those who spoke of its pereplexity in stating its position clearly "because it wants to benefit New Democracy" and added that "politically perplexed are those who have someone to hide."
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary leader Alekos Alavanos criticised both ND and the main opposition PASOK party of having responsibilities, considering that both parties avoided checking each other for its handling of the Vatopedi case.
"Vatopedi is Greece. It is the Holy Siemens. Whatever case is revealed in Greece, wherever the magnifying glass goes, either to the Stock Exchange, or to the cartels, or to the Church, there is everywhere profiteering, rings, ravens, vested interests," Alavanos said.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis criticised Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos, attributing responsibilities to him in the Vatopedi Monastery affair and claiming that he had said half truths in his address.
 Inner Cabinet briefed on EU migration pactImmigration and illegal migration issues dominated a meeting of the Inner Cabinet on Wednesday, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Briefing reporters afterwards, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said he outlined the details of an immigration pact agreed by EU leaders last week, stressing that the handling of this particular issue was probably one of the most serious problems facing the world today, along with the global credit crisis.
"We believe that by implementing this pact, Europe finally acquires a migration policy that becomes it and is in accordance with the humanistic values that define Europe and its culture. It does not turn Europe into a fortress, as some have claimed, but acts as an example of a migration policy that is fitting for a modern world and culture and a modern level of democracy," he said.
According to Pavlopoulos, the immigration pact took a double approach of encouraging legal migration on the one hand while improving management of illegal migration and boosting protection of the EU's external borders on the other. It also addressed issues of asylum and those concerned with promoting migration as a factor of development.
The prime minister had already acted on the pact signed last week, taking the initiative for its implementation in terms of closer contact between member-states for the protection of the EU's external borders, the minister added.
Pavlopoulos reminded reporters that Greece will host the 3rd global forum on migration and development in about a year's time, organised by the United Nations in collaboration with the EU.
The second global forum on migration will take place in Manila next week will tackle the issue of migration in the area of development but not from the point of view of destination countries but from the view of the countries of origin of migrants.
The minister stressed that other countries in the region had to do their share in the effort to combat illegal migration and he referred specifically to Turkey, which he said was failing to meet its obligations in this area.
"We are doing whatever we can, also through the EU, so that Turkey assumes its responsibilities and the situation that often exists with migrant-trafficking is dealt with," Pavlopoulos underlined.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Greek PM Costas Karamanlis.
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