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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-05-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Parliament closes for June 7 polls
  • [02] Rasmussen on Euro elections
  • [03] SYRIZA protest on Europe Day

  • [01] Parliament closes for June 7 polls

    Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas announced the surprise closure of Parliament on Friday night, in view of the European Parliament elections on June 7.

    "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has informed me that the decree for the conclusion of the sessions of Parliament's second regular synod of the 12th Period, as of tomorrow May 9, due to the Euroelections was signed by President of the Republic Karolos Papaoulias this afternoon. I informed the parties immediately about this," Sioufas said.

    Parliament will resume its work after the EuroParliament elections, with the summer recess sessions.

    In comments on Friday night, main oppositon PASOK party leader George Papandreou said that the decision taken by Karamanlis to "hastily close" Parliament's second Regular Session "constitutes, in essence, an institutional deviation".

    He added that "it is an unprecedented and provocative move that leads to the writeoff of all the possible penal responsibilities of ministers over the 2004-2007 period."

    Lastly, he concluded that "it is a cynical confession that before his government's self-preservation, Karamanlis does not have the slightest inhibition."

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said on the same issue that, "regardless of what the Constitution says, the sudden closure of Parliament concerns either the writeoff of scandals or conceals other expediencies or both."

    The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party said that following the Pavlidis, Siemens and MAN affairs, the option to stop Parliament's sessions and have the writeoff of the offences of the past five years attempted was a manna from heaven for the government."

    Responding to Papandreou's criticism, government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros attacked PASOK's leader and his party saying: "With his irresponsible statement, the leader of the main opposition party reveals in the most clear manner his obscure plans: Mr. Papandreou and his party are not interested - apparently because it is not in their interest - in the country going ahead with Euroelections in political terms."

    "On the contrary," the spokesman added, "they want to plunge the country in scandal mongering... they want to criminalise the country's political life."

    "What constitutes a deviation, and indeed a grave one, is their effort to conserve at all costs the sordid climate of scandal mongering, " Antonaros said in relation to Papandreou's referenece to an "institutional deviation" on the part of the government.

    KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga, speaking in Germany on Saturday where she is on a visit, described the sudden decision to close Parliament as a "literally unexpected action" and said her impression was that the move took even the government itself by surprise.

    "We believe and we are certain about this, that this choice serves to write off scandals because for any scandals that have occurred up until 2007, that is that, they are now statute barred," she added.

    Papariga urged Greek voters not to erase from memory either the scandals nor the causes of the scandals, nor the more general responsibility of the two main parties for the corruption that pervaded public life ever more deeply.

    [02] Rasmussen on Euro elections

    The current global economic crisis was the result of "conservative policies that had led the economy in the wrong direction," the head of Europe's socialist bloc Poul Rasmussen told main opposition PASOK's National Council on Saturday.

    "The crisis was not predestined, not a rule of nature. It is paid for, however, by ordinary citizens. Other people created the crisis and other people will pay for it," the president of the Party of European Socialists (PES) pointed out, stressing that this was the "time for change" and that the socialists of Europe would "be one".

    Rasmussen did not shy from criticising Greece's ruling New Democracy government in his speech, noting that "We do not close Parliament because we don't like criticism, which is a part of democracy".

    At another point, while praising PASOK for introducing an "ombudsman" for its members, he commented that "if ND had a similar institution, it would have abolished it, in the same way that it closed Parliament last night".

    Rasmussen noted that Europe Day in 2009 did not give people much reason to celebrate, as a result of the economic crisis, while Greece also had to contend with a political crisis in addition to the economic one.

    He stressed the need for a new government in Greece and a new leadership in the European Commission, accusing current European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso of "not being a leader" and of consulting with London, Paris and Berlin before making any decision.

    Apart from fighting Barroso' re-election, Rasmussen said European socialists wanted more generalised changes in Europe, so that market forces were no longer the ones deciding the direction of the economy but democracy and the people.

    The PES president urged voters, especially young people, to come out in force to vote on June 7 and stressed that the outcome would be important for the EuroParliament but also for Greece.

    "Karamanlis and his government are losing sleep, because what will come out of the June 7 polls is very important," he said.

    Caption: Party of European Socialists (PES) president Poul Rasmussen addressed main opposition PASOK's National Council in Athens on Saturday, urging voters to support the European socialists' bloc - ANA-MPA - P. Saitas.

    [03] SYRIZA protest on Europe Day

    Supporters of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) held a demonstration in downtown Athens on Saturday, the annual anniversary of Europe Day, to protest in support of the environment and policies that put the planet above profits.

    The demonstration was held in Syntagma Square opposite Parliament and the Greek foreign ministry building on the square, which had been covered by a massive banner celebrating the 30th year since Greece officially joined the European Union.

    Elsewhere in Greece, the two main parties took advantage of the symbolic message of the anniversary to launch their respective campaigns for the European Parliament elections on June 7.

    Caption: Demonstration held on Syntagma Square on Saturday, Europe Day, showing the banner draped over the facade of the Greek foreign ministry. ANA-MPA - A. Beltes.

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