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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM: No thought of early elections
  • [02] Papandreou: Five priority nat'l targets

  • [01] PM: No thought of early elections

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Sunday went out of his way to dampen ongoing early election speculation, during an address to members of his ruling New Democracy (ND) party's affiliated youth group, ONNED.

    "They (elections) are of no concern to us. I am not thinking of elections; this is the end of such talk," the prime minister stressed.

    Karamanlis also blasted main opposition PASOK, describing election-mongering as "incited by the main opposition party's irresponsible scenarios," while he called on PASOK to clarify its position regarding the election of a new President of the Republic, due in May 2010.

    "We have clarified our stance on this issue; we will not toy with the top institutions such as that of President of the Republic," Karamanlis said, adding that "everything else is blatant irresponsibility that compromises its protagonists".

    The premier also stressed the need to confront the impact of the global economic crisis.

    "What comes first right now is to face the crisis and to limit its inevitable consequences. This is our concern. Everything else is not our concern, but the anxiety of other parties, and it is harmful to the country," he said, stressing that he will not "play games" with the country's future nor will he back down for the sake of temporary expediencies.

    Turning to the state debt, which he said his government inherited from previous PASOK governments, Karamanlis noted that it was very high.

    In its five years in power, his government has accomplished substantial work, and dared to face comparison, Karamanlis continued, asking what would have happened today, given the crisis, if the country had the unemployment rates of 2004 (when his government took office from PASOK).

    Karamanlis said his government's policy had yielded tangible results, and urged: "Let's not allow these results to be shadowed by petty politics, rumors and irresponsible scenario talk".

    The premier warned that challenges are not met or overcome with words and rationales of the past, charging that the stance displayed by opposition parties during the recent closure of the country's highways (by protesting farmers) and the violent incidents before "harm the economy", while those who are vying against each other in the "race of promises" also doing damage to the country, adding that he was determined to "carry on and to overcome the crisis".

    Karamanlis devoted a substantial part of his address to the economic crisis, which he said no one could predict its size and extent, but stressed that Greece was in a much better condition than the other euro-zone countries, "given that, at a time when the powerful giants are collapsing and layoffs in Europe are turning into an avalanche, forecasts for Greece are that it will have a positive growth rate, a lower deficit and low unemployment in comparison with the euro-zone (averages)".

    "However, we do not have margin for flexibility due to the immense debt, which is an open wound for the economy," Karamanlis warned, stressing that his decision is to "speak the truth to the Greek people".

    The premier further stressed that there were "no easy solutions" and that a "perpetual balance among the developmental fiscal and social targets" was necessary. "It is our decision to put emphasis on the needs of today, but without undermining the tolerance of the economy," he said, noting that the three focal points of the government's policy for facing the crisis were growth, fiscal streamlining and fortification of the financially weaker strata.

    He also noted the government's 28 billion euros bank liquidity package, a programme that he said was being undermined by the opposition and, referring in particular to PASOK, asked point-blank: "Does it agree or not with the reduction of interest rates? Does it agree or not with credit expansion for business and housing loans and, if it does, why did it not back the programme?"

    Karamanlis also invited youth to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on reforming the university entrance system.

    Caption: Greek PM Costas Karamanlis (ANA-MPA)

    [02] Papandreou: Five priority nat'l targets

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Sunday noted that the "time has come for the people to speak and change the country's course", speaking at an open gathering of supporters, where he outlined his party's five "national targets" for the 21st century.

    Papandreou said that times were critical and as such he was personally assuming responsibility for bringing the country out of the crisis, expressing optimism that a way out of the crisis existed.

    There were times in the career of every politician, "the big moments when the politician finds himself face-to-face with history ... when he must meet the major targets and the coming generations," Papandreou said, adding that, for him, "that moment is now".

    He added that he has set a high standard, because the country's needs today are very great.

    The five national targets set out by Papandreou are foreign policy, so that Greece "will have a voice everywhere", "green" growth, education and culture, the welfare state, and a productive and well-governed state.

    Papandreou said an exit from the present crisis was feasible only if those five national targets are also advanced as well.

    He expressed his full confidence in Greek citizens that they could succeed in this, while stressing that he, himself, needed the confidence of the citizens, which he wanted to win daily.

    Papandreou said the banking system could act as a lever of development and function with crystal-clear rules and regulations for private banks, "regulations that will not privatise the profits while nationalising the losses".

    He further endorsed the nationalisation of banks "where necessary", adding that "we will not allow the credit crisis to be paid by the ordinary citizen".

    The country, he added, cannot exit the crisis simply through a restrictive fiscal policy.

    PASOK, Papandreou continued, will govern with transparency as its primary and inviolable rule.

    Touching on the all-important question of where the money will be found to fund PASOK's plan, Papandreou said funding will be raised from a reduction in tax-exemptions given by the ruling New Democracy government to its 'select' friends, as he charged, as well as from cutbacks in non-productive expenditures; a redistribution of expenditures, aimed at boosting public investments, and from better exploitation of the state's large real estate holdings, as well as through the funds of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).

    Gov't reaction

    "PASOK's president is an incorrigible earner of the past, which he served without protest as a minister," government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said in reaction to Papandreou's statements.

    "Today, we discovered his real intentions: He wants to turn Greece back, to the era of unchecked deficits, ones caused by the governments of which he was a top member," the spokesman added.

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