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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-02-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] ND leader rejects govt's immigration bill
  • [02] Stocks plunge 3.86 pct

  • [01] ND leader rejects govt's immigration bill

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, speaking during an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on immigration policy on Monday, said that his party will vote against the PASOK government's bill on citizenship for immigrants and will also abolish it when it comes to power.

    "We do not want Greece to be an enclosed fortress. But we will never allow it to become a free-for-all as well," Samaras stressed and added that the social problem from the legal residence of immigrants has already been solved with legislative interventions by ND governments.

    He also accused PASOK that "in conditions of unprecedented recession, it is taking measures that in essence turn Greece into a 'magnet' of new waves of illegal immigration" and pointed out that Greek society has reached its limits regarding the absorption of immigrants.

    "When we are at the heart of the worst economic crisis experienced by Greece in the postwar period, granting citizenship en masse to half a million immigrants, together with their children, entails dangers of social upheavals," he said.

    According to the ND leader, the smooth accession of immigrants takes place gradually in a way that does not create the danger of more coming.

    "I am not sending the message that the country has slack procedures on the mass granting of citizenship. I am not turning Greece into a 'magnet' for the entry of new waves of illegal immigrants. I am not sending this message neither to the slave traders who are lurking to bring more 'shiploads' of desperate people, nor to the rest of society that is already at its limits," he also said.

    Focusing on his party's proposal on the issue, Samaras said that children born in Greece will acquire the right to have citizenship, but not immediately, but when they become adults and with the following preconditions: To have completed nine-year compulsory education and to have abandoned the citizenship of their parents.

    "In other words, those children born in Greece will receive citizenship when they reach adulthood if they so wish. But their parents will not receive citizenship from the beginning," he said.

    Samaras also referred to the trend of European countries to "correct mistakes" on the issue, with Britain proclaiming the incorporation of the children of immigrants in "Britishhood", with France creating a national identity and immigration ministry.

    Speaking about the problem concerning the vote of immigrants from non-European countries in the municipal elections which, as he said, "has been rejected by other European governments", he underlined that "there cannot be two-speed citizens. Some who vote everywhere and some who only vote in certain elections."

    KKE leader

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, on her part, said "no" to the bill being brought by the government on the immigration issue.

    Papariga said that her party cannot adopt a draft law "worse than the more or less problematic previous one" and pointed out that the government may be making "concessions to the New Democracy (ND) and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) parties in exchange for the consent they showed for the measures against the working people and in favour of the exit from the crisis."

    She added that KKE would be submitting a series of specific positions during the debate on the bill and called for the legalisation of the biggest part of immigrants living in Greece, with another part receiving political asylum and a third part being given the necessary papers to leave and go to the countries they wish."

    Papariga further expressed her party's disagreement with the "nationalism developed by ND and LAOS, an extremely dangerous nationalism with extentions that we do not want to imagine," as well as cosmopolitanism "that is also appearing from leftist forces."

    LA.OS leader

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) president George Karatzaferis reiterated his party's proposal for the holding of a referendum regarding the granting of Greek nationality to foreigners.

    Karatzaferis, whose party asked for the off the agenda debate, also reiterated his strong opposition to the government's decision on the issue, counter-proposing the granting of long-term residence permits to immigrants. He also said that the tabling of a relevant bill undermined national unity "at a time when this was an absolute necessity".

    "Regarding the unprecedented economic crisis the country is going through, national unity is necessary. Why are you so hasty on an issue which puts democracy in danger. You may come in three months time and we can talk about it. What is that which prevents you from doing this?" the LA.OS leader wondered.

    Karatzaferis questioned the figures given by the government regarding the number (534,000) of legal immigrants, arguing that it exceeded 1.5 million.

    Rejecting the government's proposal, the LA.OS leader underlined that Greece has lately become "an important gate of entrance to illegal immigrants and that is why we should deter them and not become softer." He also related the increase of crime in the country to the increase of the number of illegal immigrants.

    Syriza leader

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group President Alexis Tsipras said that the immigration problem "is unbreakably linked to the neoliberal conception and policy," adding that the position of the left "is the lifting of the causes that create and swell immigration waves" and that the struggle against racism "is based on ecumenical values and is the basis of democracy".

    "All the previous legislative attempts were distorted, fragmental, they handled the phenomenon phobicly and in an profiteering manner, leaving the immigrants in a state of semilawlessness," he said.

    Tsipras criticised main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party leader George Karatzaferis, attributing to them "an effort at phobic racist syndrome", while accusing the government of "backtracking".

    Tsipras criticised Karatzaferis for the strange things, as he termed them, that he said about "illnesses conveyed to Greek society by immigrants," as well as Samaras for all that he analysed in a strange way, as he noted, about multiculturism.

    [02] Stocks plunge 3.86 pct

    Greek stocks suffered a heavy blow in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index of the market ending at 1,806.40 points, off 3.86 pct. Turnover was an improved 283.153 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index plunged 4.58 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 3.57 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index ended 3.88 pct down. The Travel sector was the only one to record gains (0.82 pct), while Banks (6.82 pct) and Raw Materials (6.47 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Lyberis Publications (8.0 pct), Euroholdings (7.69 pct), Neorio (7.5 pct) and Levenderis (3.28 pct) were top gainers, while Fintexport (18.60 pct), Klonatex (12.5 pct), Mouzakis (11.63 pct) and Intrakat (11.11 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 166 to 29 with another 38 issues unchanged.

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