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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-05-24
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM addresses open rally in LarisaAddressing his first large, open rally in the run-up to the European Parliament elections, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis urged voters in the central Greek city of Larissa to join ruling New Democracy's efforts, participating actively and in force.
"We say 'yes' to the Europe of our common future. We say 'yes' to Greece progressing responsibly, solidly and decisively. We say 'yes' to the path of self-confidence, optimism and certainty," he stressed during a speech in Larisa's central square on Saturday night.
Referring to the dilemma presented to voters by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou between "socialism and barbarism," Karamanlis repeated accusations that Papandreou was thus effectively calling the majority of Greeks barbarians and said the dilemma raised by ND was a choice between dedication to national interests as opposed to devotion to one's party, above all else.
During his speech, the premier underlined his government's policy for developing regional areas, pointing to a host of public works being carried out in Thessaly, and noting that 80 percent of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds were being allocated to regional areas.
He also referred at length to agricultural issues, given that Thessaly is predominately a farming region and accounts for a large section of Greece's agricultural land, noting that more than seven billion euros will be made available for agricultural development programmes over the next five years, in addition to the 18 billion euros available to farmers via Community subsidies.
Karamanlis also emphasised the steps and reforms being taken by the government in order to reduce wasteful spending in the public sector, stressing that the government had opted for the "path of responsibility, the path of certainty and security, the path that leads to a better tomorrow."
The prime minister said that the government had one clear-cut goal: that Greece should emerge from the crisis with the fewest possible repercussions and with Greeks the "winners" of the global crisis.
"Together we will fight the battle. Together we will succeed. And I assure you that we can succeed this time also," he emphasised.
Funds to local authorities
Earlier on Saturday, while addressing a nationwide conference of ND-affiliated local government officials, the prime minister announced that local authorities would receive 215 million euros in May, which would be first instalment of some 1.7 billion euros in funds that had been improperly withheld by central governments.
Also present at the meeting were Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and the head of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.
The rest of the funds will be given in eight annual instalments of equal size to be paid on January 31 of each year. Referring to plans for administrative reforms for local authorities, he said that these had not been abandoned but postponed until economic conditions were ripe.
"I believe these funds can contribute to dealing with serious daily problems, with citizens themselves as the final recipient," he stressed, underlining that the money should be used to help improve quality of life, safety and meet the needs of ordinary citizens and to boost social cohesion.
He also emphasised that they should be used with absolute transparency and that there was no margin for wastefulness on any level.
Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (right) at an open rally for ruling New Democracy supporters held in the city of Larisa, central Greece on Saturday. ANA-MPA - PM's press office - Goulielmos Antoniou
 Opinion polls put PASOK in the leadMain opposition PASOK's lead over ruling New Democracy is just 2.8 points, according to the results of an MRB opinion poll published in the newspaper 'Eleftheros Typos' on Sunday.
Based on the findings of the poll, voter support for the major parties in the European Parliament elections is as follows: PASOK 29.2 percent, ND 26.4 percent, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 6.6 percent, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) 6.2 percent, Ecologists-Greens 6.2 percent and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) 4.6 percent.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis continues to beat PASOK leader George Papandreou in terms of who is most suitable for prime minister, with a comfortable five-point lead of 38.2 percent against Papandreou's 33.2 percent.
A nationwide poll by Kappa Research appearing in the Thessaloniki-based newspaper "Aggelioforos on Sunday" places PASOK in the lead by 3.1 points, with both main parties getting roughly 30 percent of the overall vote.
Specifically, PASOK is backed by 31.5 percent of those asked and ND by 28.4 percent, while a large percentage of roughly 12.7 percent declared themselves 'undecided'. Of the 'undecided' voters, roughly half have supported ND in the past and about a 37 percent supported PASOK.
Of the smaller parties, KKE got 7.3 percent, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which has SYN as leading coalition partner, 5.3 percent, LAOS 4.4 percent and Ecologists-Greens 8.1 percent.
In terms of which party was considered most likely to win the elections, two in three voters said PASOK, while one in five said ND.
Roughly seven in 10 people said they have the same criteria when voting in the general elections and the European Parliament elections, while 27.3 percent have different criteria.
 Greek Press ReviewThe Sunday editions of Athens' dailies at a glance
Opinion polls, the pre-election campaigns of the political parties but also the Siemens scandal after the flight of main suspect Mihalis Christoforakos to Germany and the new AMKA social security numbers dominated the front pages of Athens' dailies on Sunday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Key card for a lifetime. How the 'magic' AMKA number works. Its now in the hands of 2.8 million of 7 million eligible recipients".
APOGEVMATINI: "Basement flats legal - solution for 500,000 'illegal' apartments" [ for spaces illegally converted to residences and business premises instead of storehouses, garages etc].
AVGI: "They are 'trapping' the vote, hiding the bill".
AVRIANI: "I'm not going to be a laundry for the system". [On Christoforakos' flight to Germany]
CHORA: "Who pointed out the kickback routes - Document 38 in the Siemens furnace".
ETHNOS: "Tax 'thriller' with wage earners, freelance workers in the lead roles".
ELEFTHERI ORA: «[Prime Minister Costas] Karamanlis' last ace". (Predicts problems for Karamanlis if voter turnout declines significantly in Euro plls)
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Wave of discontent 'feeds' Ecologists-Greens. Major MRB poll two weeks before the elections".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Raiders of the lost votes - Parrots, historic slogans and polarisation in the parties' propaganda".
EPOCHI: "Support those that support you". [article on party pre-election campaigns]
Free Sunday (weekly): "Battle of best impressions before the storm".
KATHIMERINI: "Scandals and polarisation put off citizens. Siemens executive: we gave kickbacks to specific political figures".
LOGOS: "Karamanlis-Papandreou 'duel'. Main parties seek polarisation".
NIKI: "A bomb at the foundations of labour relations. The economic crisis a pretext to impose a new 'Middle Ages' for workers".
PARON: "The names with the kickbacks - the Siemens accounts open".
PROTO THEMA (weekly): "How ND's lady parrot got rich". [Article on businesses run by ND press spokeswoman Fevronia Patrianakou]
Realnews (weekly): "A rigged game - who opened the exit door for Mihalis Christoforakos."
RIZOSPASTIS: "No more waiting - to arms so that no vote is lost".
VIMA: "No more taxes! Government preparing tricks. IMF report orders".
VRADYNI: "40,000 hired outside ASEP (body for public-sector recruitment) - Plan via OAED to boost employment".
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