|Thursday, 14 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-09-12
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM: The path of responsibility is the only wayThe underlying quandary of the October 4 general elections is the choice between "responsibility or irresponsibility", prime minister Costas Karamanlis said on Saturday, addressing a meeting of local government cadres, while he also strongly criticised main opposition PASOK on its economy platform.
The central quandary for the citizens is a clear-cut one, Karamanlis said: "To choose between the tough and responsible path that will yield results in the battle against the global crisis, and the irresponsible path that will bring only impasses."
"Responsibility is a duty to the future of all of us, whereas irresponsibility is a luxury that the country cannot endure," he stressed.
Greece, the premier continued, has two very difficult hears ahead of it, which require bold decisions on specific targets: To contain the repercussions of the global financial crisis on the country, to preserve the Greek economy's resistances (to the crisis), and to put in strong foundations on which to build the 'following day.'
Karamanlis outlined a specific plan for the strict control of public expenditures, the war on tax evasion and on the infrastructural changes that he said create new structures, noting that his ruling New Democracy's recovery plan covers the two year period 2010-2011 and leads to an exit from the crisis.
"The path of responsibility is a one-track road," Karamanlis stressed, and accused main opposition PASOK of "engaging in a race of equivocation and promises", and of "resorting to wishful thinking instead of presenting a solid plan".
"Instead of proposing solutions, it metes out promises. It is inconsistent on the real economy. It 'says and unsays'. It promises and retracts. PASOK is totally unprepared to present a credible plan, and the only thing it states preparedness for is borrowing and increasing the state debt. PASOK is the party that brought that debt fro 30 percentage points of GDP (when it took office) and brought it to 100 percentage points of GDP," Karamanlis added.
"How can they (PASOK) contain the deficit in promising everything to everyone?" the prime minister asked. "How will they stamp out tax evasion? By imposes new taxes? How can they reduce the public expenditures by re-buying OTE (the partially privatised Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation) and Olympic Air (the formerly state-owned ailing national carrier)? How can they bolster the unemployed by fighting entrepreneurship and increasing public sector expenditure?" the premier continued.
The premier further blasted PASOK and its leader George Papandreou "for opting to blackmail the country" in deciding not to vote for President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias again in the initial stage of the Presidential election in parliament this coming March in order to force early general elections.
On his decision to call early general elections at this time, the prime minister explained that "the national interest mandated a democratic exit from the impasses being engineered by PASOK", adding that "this was a tough decision, but my decision could not have been other than that mandated by the national interest, which is to seek a new mandate from the people".
Asked why the government had not implemented, during its years in office, the measures it was proposing now, Karamanlis replied that, first of all, many of the measures being announced now are extraordinary measures and would not have been required were it not for the global financial crisis.
Second, he said, many of the necessary policies had already been underway, but the pressure of the global crisis requires their acceleration.
Third, between 2004 (when ND took office) and up until the outbreak of the global crisis, the government proceeded with substantial reforms that enhanced the economy and are acting as a shield of protection for society, the premier continued.
Fourthly, the government took tough and unpleasant decisions at the onset of the crisis, especially for containment of the public expenditures, streamlining of the wider public sector and boosting the economy, Karamanlis said.
Fifthly, he noted, every reform intervention had met with strong reactions from PASOK.
Sixth and lastly, in certain instances there had indeed been delays, omissions, and mistakes were made, Karamanlis said, adding that "we are not saying we are infallible, only that we are seeking the best for our country".
Turning to local government issues, Karamanlis said that in the immediately following period, of major importance will be the reform of the country's administrative structure, which includes three areas of key importance:
First, the creation of fewer, approximately 350, and more powerful municipalities.
Second, the invigoration of decentralisation through the modernisation of the regional organisations and the institution of alternate secretaries general for each prefecture.
Third, the establishment of a second degree regional administration with an elected regional council.
In closing, Karamanlis gave his personal assurances that he will continue to do that which he has done throughout his entire political career;» I will persist firmly and unwaveringly on the path of responsibility, in the front line of the battle. I am fighting, and will continue to fight, especially in the hard times, for the future of our country. I have steadfast loyalty to for our country, and confidence in the Greek people."
 Karatzaferis in TripolisPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis toured Tripolis, in the Peloponese, on Saturday, during which he held a press conference.
He said that the campaigning for the October 4 general elections has commenced, and the two mainstream parties -- ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK -- were occupying themselves only with the economy because "they fear" to touch the national issues "which are their Achilles heel".
Karatzaferis said that he has opted to be a candidate in Rodopi prefecture "so that it will not seem that only the Turkish consulate is in charge in the area".
The LAOS leader spoke of an "exclusion of important figures of the country's political life", and more specifically referred to PASOK ex-leader and former prime minister Costas Simitis' "ousting" (exclusion from the PASOK ballots), adding that the country "needs his experience and his knowledge", despite the fact that he himself had in the past fought against Simitis' policy. He also called PASOK former ministers Christos Verelis and Alekos Papadopoulos, who are also not among the PASOK candidates for parliament, as "bright and shining". Regarding Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras, he said that Tsipras had sidelined (his predecessor) Alekos Alavanos, "the man who put him at the helm of the party", while on long-serving New Democracy MP Anna Psarouda-Benaki, who was also not running for parliament, he said this was "a significant loss for active politics".
Those exclusions, Karatzaferis continued, indicated that the two mainstream parties feared the powerful political individuals, and warned that this does not help democracy.
As for his own party, he said that a "tail wind" was blowing, given that the party enjoyed broader acceptance, while it has counted among its numbers "the best and uncorrupted there is", referring to prominent individuals that have recently joined his party.
On the prospect of a post-elections collaboration with PASOK, Karatzaferis said that apart from all his criticism, George Papandreou and the party he leads are "Christian with a deep sense of faith", adding that when the good will exists "then we can cooperate", adding that it is his obligation to do so if needed for Greece's sake.
"Whoever agrees to back my program, I will cooperate with him," Karatzaferis stressed, adding that the three points necessary for such cooperation are that foreign policy is drawn up by Greece, a quota is placed on the number of immigrants entering the country, and social peace is achieved.
The LAOS leader further said he believes that the time has come in Greece, too, to have alliance governments, and that "we must move away from the arrogance of family-oriented governments".
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