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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-09
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM calls for national unity against violencePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis, commenting in a statement on Tuesday night on ongoing riots and incidents in the country, stressed that "those who create disturbances and vandalism are enemies of democracy" and added that he made this position clear in successive meetings he held with the President of the Republic, party leaders and the Parliament President earlier in the day.
"National unity and the shielding of the democratic form of government from the violence of extremist groups is the duty of all of us at this moment," the prime minister said and called on party leaders to condemn these acts unequivocally.
"It is the responsibility both of the government and of the political forces in their entirety to achieve the social and political isolation of the elements of violence, lawlessness, of undemocratic behaviour," Karamanlis said.
He further said that he requested from the trade union organisations to postpone Wednesday's rallies, "because the possibility exists of extremist groups exploiting the struggles of the working people with the purpose of continuing their violent actions."
"The struggles of the working people, or the unjust death of a youth cannot be confused with actions that are directed against the security of the citizens, against society and democracy," Karamanlis went on to say.
He said that political differences between parties are legitimate and respected, but added that "we must all observe a joint stance against illegal acts. We must condemn unequivocally and with clear speech and not with half words the looting, vandalism and the disruption of social peace that is being attempted by these groups."
Karamanlis said that unity in isolating extremist elements is the responsibility and duty of all and stressed that he personally will not be following party conflicts.
"Generalisations and levelling aphorisms in the name of democracy deal a blow at democracy itself," the prime minister said and concluded by saying that the government is handling the situation with responsibility and calmness, but with determination and with the focal criterion being protecting human life, securing legality and restoring the feeling of security.
Prime Minister Karamanlis earlier on Tuesday briefed President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on the situation prevailing following three nights of extensive violence and destruction in central Athens and other cities throughout the country during riots sparked by the shooting death of a 15-year-old pupil by police on Saturday.
Karamanlis told reporters after the meeting that he had assured the president that there would be no lenience in the attribution of responsibilities, but warned that no one has the right to exploit the tragic incident as an alibi for actions of blatant violence against innocent civilians, property and society and, in the bottom line, against democracy itself.
In these critical hours, the prime minister stressed, it was the obligation of the political world to unanimously condemn the incidents, adding that this was mandated by the democratic duty of everyone.
Karamanlis was scheduled to hold similar briefings with the political party leaders throughout the day.
On his part, Papoulias called for faith in the institutions and the law, in a stated issued on the day of the funeral of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos.
Papoulias called on everyone to honor the teen's memory, peacefully.
"Today, the day of Alexis Grigoropoulos' funeral, is a day of mourning. His murder deeply wounded our democracy. The preceding days brought to everyone's mind a big 'why'. If our society does not give a convincing answer, giving solutions, the wounds will remain open. But in its response, we must persist with respect on the institutions and the laws. As a member of the generation that lived difficult years in our history, I call on everyone to honor Alexis' memory peacefully," the president said.
Papandreou: Gov't has lost people's confidence
"The country lacks a government capable of protecting the citizen and his rights and security," main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said on Tuesday after a meeting Karamanlis.
The PASOK leader said the government has lost the confidence of the Greek people, adding that he told Karamanlis that citizens were suffering from a multiple crisis, "an economic crisis, a social crisis, a crisis of the institutions, a crisis of values," which the government was unable to confront.
PASOK, he said, as the main opposition party today and as the future government tomorrow, guaranteed a just state that would protect the rights of the Greek people.
Everyone shared the young generation's indignation and rage over the death of 15-year-old Alexandros, Papandreou said, but added that this rage was not identified with the scenes of violence of the past few days, "which we condemn".
Papandreou called for a joint campaign against violence, for a humane society.
"In every democracy, there are no dead-ends. The people will give the solution," he added.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) believes that there is a "way out" of the crisis, party leader Aleka Papariga said on Tuesday, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Karamanlis. She called on working people, particularly those who in recent years have withdrawn from an active interest in politics, to organise themselves into unions and in workplaces ... "because a major storm is ahead of us".
Papariga was briefed by the premier in the aftermath of three nights of rioting in Athens and other cities across the country that erupted after the shooting death of Grigoropoulos.
The KKE secretary general said her party does not "identify the justified rage and indignation over the death of the young pupil with the hard-core of hooded individuals", noting that the nucleus of the self-styled anarchist groups have emerged from within the state authority and was useful for slandering and breaking the popular movement. "I don't know if they've become something like the Taliban, in other words are out of control," she added.
On a KKE-organized protest rally over the teen's death on Monday night, Papariga said that an attempt was made of involvement with the hooded individuals "but they did not succeed", referring to an attempted attack against the Thessaloniki offices of the KKE parliamentary group in the city centre by a group of hooded anti-establishment youths who had broken off from the main demonstration, but were averted from entering the premises by party members and friends who were guarding the building.
Papariga also called on the rival Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary alliance to stop "caressing the ears of the hooded individuals ... looking ahead to elections, cushions or chairs (positions)", although she clarified that she does not identify SYRIZA's leadership with the hooded rioters.
Questioned on the prospect of early elections, Papariga said that if and when elections are held, they should result from a rise in the class struggle, because "if they take place under conditions of violence and suppression, not much will come out of them".
She further warned that many times a chance incident can be exploited by "various circles", referring to the 15-year-old's death, and clarified that the killing had not been premeditated, but also noting that "the training of the police forces is not at all incidental".
Greece was up against a new social uprising by its youth, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos said on Tuesday after also meeting with Prime Minister Karamanlis.
He stressed that the situation could not be answered with greater authoritarianism but demanded political solutions to address the problems of young people.
"New Democracy's policy is the policy of fire," Alavanos said in criticism of the government's stance, noting that it was now unable to put out fires raging in Greek cities just as it had been unable to quench fires that incinerated Greek forests in 2007.
He predicted that the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos had triggered a "social phenomenon" that would be extensive.
"We are faced with political problems demanding political solutions," Alavanos underlined in statements to reporters, calling for more jobs, more rights for workers and radical democratic reforms within the police force.
The rioting showed that the country could not stay as it was, SYRIZA's leader said and stressed that the government must actively apologise, by taking measures that would deal with the problems faced by young people.
Asked whether he condemned the destruction inflicted on central Athens by rioting youths, Alavanos indicated that this was self-evident:
"Do you imagine that we applaud them? Look at which forces benefit from this situation," he pointed out, while rejecting a statement by Communist Party (KKE) leader Papariga, namely, that SYRIZA was "indulging" the rioters.
Along those lines, a later statement by the leftist party sharply attacked Papariga over her statement, charging that it "exceeds every boundary". SYRIZA also said that "KKE leadership's systematic attacks against SYRIZA‚s leaders are not news anymore.
The party also said that the claim that SYRIZA is "coddling" the self-styled anarchist hoodlums "identifies with the most extremist circles in (ruling) New Democracy (party) and the ultra-right."
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