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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou says government 'incapable'
  • [02] Employers' group calls for urgent, effective application of bank support measures
  • [03] ND to walk out during Vatopedi inquiry debate
  • [04] Parliament vote on Vatopedi case to determine prosecutor's course of action
  • [05] Papariga on KKE positions

  • [01] Papandreou says government 'incapable'

    The present government was incapable of restoring a climate of confidence and actually hoped to take advantage of the upheaval to organise further "favours" for the interests affiliated to it, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said in Parliament on Thursday.

    "The government has long ago lost the trust of the Greek people," Papandreou stressed during a debate of a draft bill on protecting loan holders, during which he also presented PASOK's proposals for supporting the banking sector.

    He stressed that the main opposition would not allow the international credit crisis to be used as an excuse for further heavy taxation of wage earners and the surrender of strategic areas of the economy, social resources and goods to private interests and a ruthless, untrammelled market.

    "I am not here referring just to the 28 billion euros assigned to support the banking system but also the reserves of the social insurance funds, which we have a right to talk about because we first revealed the scandal of the notorious structured bonds, these toxic products. We will not allow a new round of looting," Papandreou underlined.

    Among issues stressed by PASOK's leader was the need for full transparency and accountability regarding how the 28 billion euros package was being spent, that the Greek state should only support those banks having genuine need and after they raised their own share of funds by a share capital increase, a tighter supervisory framework for the Greek financial sector in general, and linking this support of bank liquidity with the development of the real economy.

    Other measures demanded by PASOK's leader were the adoption of his party's proposal for supporting borrowers, a withdrawal of the draft budget and restoration of the tax-free allowance for the self-employed, as well as other benefits for lower-income groups and farmers.

    [02] Employers' group calls for urgent, effective application of bank support measures

    Government measures to support the domestic banking system must be related with the needs of the real economy, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), Greece's largest employers' union, stressed in a letter sent to Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.

    In the letter, sent on Wednesday, Daskalopoulos opined that a global credit financial crisis was deep and was expected to last for long time, while he underlined that coordinated actions to strengthen the banking system from systemic risks and a breakdown of depositors' confidence was rightly a top priority for governments around the world.

    He noted, however, that restoring capital adequacy of financial institutions and a reopening of an interbank market was just a necessary intermediate step to restart credit activities to the thousands of enterprises already suffering from lack of liquidity.

    Daskalopoulos said SEB recommended that measures must be urgently implemented, since the market already showed signs of fatigue and noted it was necessary a timely preparation of mechanisms by the Bank of Greece and Finance ministry to effectively supervise the implementation of measures. The Federation also urged that money offered the banks would be distributed to the real economy and that the cost that the state charged the banking system should be rational to avoid creating new inflationary pressures in the economy.

    Meanwhile, the association of retail enterprises, SELPE, in a statement to the press on Thursday, stressed that the government must guarantee savings deposits of up to 100,000 euros only for banking groups included in a restructuring programme sponsored by the government.

    [03] ND to walk out during Vatopedi inquiry debate

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) will not take part in Friday's debate for a Parliamentary inquiry to investigate the involvement of government ministers in the Vatopedi land swap scandal, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos announced on Thursday. The minister made the announcement after a meeting of the Inner Cabinet and urged PASOK to withdraw its proposal.

    According to Pavlopoulos, if the ruling party took part in the session, it would vote against main opposition PASOK's proposal for a preliminary examination committee, thus ruling out the possibility of creating such a committee in the future, if evidence against the specific persons turned up during the inquiry being carried out by the Parliamentary investigation committee that MPs voted in favour of on Wednesday.

    PASOK's proposal levels accusations against three current and former ministers. These include Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos, who PASOK wants investigated as the "moral instigator" of the land swap deals, and the two members of government that signed off on the edicts allowing the deals to go ahead, former deputy finance minister and current Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas and former agriculture minister Evangelos Bassiakos.

    The majority party's absence from the chamber would essentially rule out any chance of PASOK's proposal being passed, since the formation of a preliminary examination committee to investigate ministerial responsibility requires an absolute majority of 151+ votes in the 300-seat Parliament.

    The main opposition has justified its decision to seek an inquiry targeting specific persons on the grounds that an investigation committee will take too long and there is a high chance that the offences being investigated will be automatically written off when the current Parliament breaks up in the summer of 2009.

    The ruling party's decision to pull out of the debate is not entirely unexpected, coming after days of media speculation and rumours predicting such a move in the wake of vocal opposition by 'rebels' within its ranks that included calls for the removal of Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and its slim majority of 152 in Parliament.

    Parliament decides against delay of PASOK proposal

    Parliament will go ahead with Friday's vote on a proposal for a preliminary examination committee to probe the involvement of specific ministers in the Vatopedi Monastery land deals. This emerged after a meeting of Parliament's presidency on Thursday, which decided against postponing the debate.

    Briefing Parliamentary correspondents, Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas announced that the debate on main opposition PASOK's proposal will begin at 10:00 in the morning and will end at around 18:00 in the evening with three secret ballots, in which the three ministers being charged will not be allowed to vote.

    The question of postponing the vote was raised on Wednesday by the smaller opposition parties, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), after prosecuting authorities sent the file of witness testimony and evidence concerning the case to Parliament so that MPs would have time to study the file before voting.

    Sioufas also announced that the investigation committee that Parliament voted to form on Wednesday to look into the same issue will include 12 members from ruling New Democracy, eight from main opposition PASOK, one from KKE, one from SYRIZA and one from LAOS.

    Meanwhile, the investigation into the Vatopedi affair by Appeals prosecutor Efstathia Spyropoulou has been put on hold until the outcome of Friday's vote on a preliminary examination committee is known.

    The prosecutor has so far completed a round of witness examinations and is waiting to see whether Parliament will take over the inquiry or reject the call for a Parliamentary investigation before she decides her next moves.

    If Parliament decides not to investigate, she will then be free to summon suspects that are not political figures to answer to charges of defrauding the public sector. If Parliament votes in favour of an inquiry, however, the prosecutor will then await the reasoning of its decision and whether Parliament will take over the inquiry in full or whether she can continue her investigation into the involvement of non-MPs in the case, in which case the suspects will be charged with breach of faith.

    [04] Parliament vote on Vatopedi case to determine prosecutor's course of action

    An appellate court prosecutor assigned the controversial Vatopedi Monastery land exchange case is now waiting the outcome of Friday's vote in Parliament before deciding her next course of action. If Parliament rejects an opposition proposal to set up a preliminary criminal investigation committee on the Vatopedi case, then prosecutor Efstathia Spyropoulou is expected to subpoena all civil servants involved with the exchanges to testify as suspects accused of defrauding the state. On the other hand, if a Parliamentary investigation committee is approved, then Spyropoulou is obliged to examine the committee's jurisdiction to determine if she will continue her probe or the parliamentary committee itself will undertake to investigate the liability of anyone not holding Parliamentary immunity, i.e. deputies and ministers. A rival proposal by ruling ND party to establish a parliamentary fact-finding committee was unanimously approved by Parliament MPs late Wednesday evening.

    [05] Papariga on KKE positions

    The Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) positions on socialism were outlined by KKE leader Aleka Papariga in view of the Parliament-represented party's 18th congress. Papariga stated during a press conference in Athens on Thursday that the party congress will focus on "subjective and domestic factors that led to the capitalist rise in the former Soviet Union", stressing that the party continues to support the position that socialism is a necessity. Among the "subjective factors" cited by Papariga was what she referred to as the "idealisation of socialism", stressing that "the mistakes made were left unnoticed, while the dialogue between communist parties was not facilitated." "Deviation begins when solutions are not given on time or are the wrong solutions and mistakes become idealised, turned into ideologies," she stated. On the likelihood of cooperation with the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), Papariga said her party cannot collaborate with those who applauded the overturn of socialism.
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