|Sunday, 21 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-02-21
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM: Greece asking for political supportGreece is asking for political support and time to implement its Stability and Growth Program and prove that it is once again trustworthy, prime minister George Papandreou said in an interview with the BBC, stressing that the government has the great majority of the Greek people on its side, who want to proceed with the changes.
What we ask of our partners is to be able to borrow on the same terms that the other eurozone countries borrow, he added, in an appearance on the Andrew Marr Show.
Reiterating that Greece is seeking political, and not financial, support, Papandreou said: "Give us time, give us support -- and I'm not talking about economic support, but about political support -- to prove that we have done what we are doing what we've said we'd do, and that we are once again trustworthy."
At this time, the Greek premier explained, Greece does not need to borrow, as its borrowing needs are covered up until mid-March. But what Greece is saying is that it needs assistance so as to be able to borrow at the same interest rates that the other (eurozone) countries borrow, and not at higher interest, which undermines the prospect for achievement of the targets (for reducing the deficit), he said.
Papandreou further said that the government has the widest support of the Greek society for the economic reforms, despite the protest rallies against the austerity measures that have been taken to tackle the crisis.
Despite the fact that they are indeed austerity measures and are truly painful, the government has the backing of 50-60 percent of the population to implement the measures, the prime minister continued.
Papandreou said he sees a sense of unity of the Greek people paralleled only by that during the time of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, a true desire to make the change.
The Greek premier suggested: "Let's sit together with the European authorities, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, and see what progress we have achieved, how the Stability and Growth Program we've drafted is going."
Indeed, he stressed, Greece is "within the targets, and even higher", in its January statistical data, so "we're doing well".
However, he added, if additional measures are needed to meet the target of reducing the deficit by 4 percentage points in 2010, his government will take them. "We are prepared to do so, if necessary," Papandreou said.
 Samaras: The country has need of unityThe country has need of unity, and not divisive quandaries, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said on Sunday, addressing the first in a series of pre-Congress conferences leading up to the party's 8th regular Congress scheduled for June 25-27 in Athens.
Addressing the inaugural pre-Congress conference, held at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliron, Samaras attacked the government on its intention to set up a fact-finding commission on the economy, stressing that the country needs unity, and not divisive dilemmas, and accused the government of teetering.
"Instead of governing, it is setting up fact-finding commissions," he said, and further accused the government of "four months of inaction" and of "being at the center of the public debate for the measures it is not taking, whereas ND is at the center for the 23 measures it (recently) proposed for growth".
Samaras warned, regarding the proposed fact-finding commission on the economy, that "at this hour it is a mistake for us to poke out our eyes with our own hands" and put the country at the mercy of the international media.
He added, however, that if the government goes ahead with such a commission, ND "will participate".
The government, Samaras said, things that it will "entrap us", but "it is mistaken, we fear nothing, we have nothing to hide, we are covering up for no one", adding that everything must come to light, "we do not bow to extortion and opportunistic quandaries".
Samaras further described as a "pseudo-dilemma" the quandary of "whether we should take the measures ourselves or wait for the EU to impose them".
"The issue at hand is not the measures, but what measures one takes," the ND leader said, and opined that Brussels is increasing the austerity of the measures.
He warned at the same time that the government will have ND "on the opposite side if they lead us to (borrowing from) the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is anti-European". Any measures taken should limit squanderous state spending and not the needs of the many, Samaras added, stressing that the weaker strata but also the middle class must be protected so that the market will not dry up.
On his party's opposition tactics, Samaras said that "we are exercising progressive opposition, we are doing what is good for the country, but we are not co-governing...we support the country, and not the government...responsible opposition politics is one thing and co-responsibility in the mistake is something else".
"We will not accept unfair and ineffective measures," the main opposition leader stressed.
Samaras also accused the ruling PASOK party of championing "the bankrupt economic and social model that was prevalent after 1980 and is based on redistribution of the loans and clientele relations".
"Our country needs a change of example. The new ND being created on the road to the 8th regular Congress of principles and positions will lead Greece to a new era, which is the demand of the times and embraces the entire society," he continued.
Samaras outlined his vision for a "social liberalism founded on the values of Freedom, Justice, Equality before the Law, and Competitiveness".
"If I were to encapsulate my vision in a single phrase or slogan, it would be 'competitiveness everywhere, in the economy, in culture, in foreign policy, in defence'," he added.
 97th anniversary of liberation of IoanninaThree-day events marking the 97th anniversary of the northwest lakeside city of Ioannina's liberation from Ottoman rule by advancing Greek forces in 1913 culminated on Sunday with a parade through the city by pupils, students, scouts and Armed Forces and Security Forces divisions, which was attended by the President and local authorities.
The 3-day events commemorate the liberation of the region of Epirus and the city of Ioannina by the Greek Army and unification with the modern Greek State, after the flight at Bizani, on the 21st of February 1913.
 'We will overcome the difficulties'Those "who have" must contribute the most, and those who "do not have" will also give their obole, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said on Sunday, adding that "at this difficult moment, we are all here...we will give our all for the country".
Speaking in the northwest lakeside city of Ioannina after a parade marking the 97th anniversary of the city's liberation from Ottoman rule, Papoulias said that the country today was facing a difficult situation, and "we need the same virtues that led us to those results that amazed the Europeans and put forward a Greece that took its own place in the European entity".
"Today, too, we will again overcome the difficulties," the President said.
Speaking later at a banquet in his honor at the Officers' Club of the 8th Army Division, Papoulias said that at this time Greece is called on to make a historical transition, "and the challenge for all of us is that there be no phenomena of social dissolution".
In other words, the challenge is to "cross over to the other side without anyone being left behind". This, he said, is the critical national goal of our era, "and it is my conviction that the Greek people will manifest their maturity".
Papoulias said that remembrance of the struggles and sacrifices that were required for freedom and national independence serves a deeper national need, strengthening the sentiment of patriotism which is "precious in the current circumstances".
"The true and full meaning of patriotism has to do with the prevalence of the collective good over the individual good, with a sense of responsibility towards the future generations. Love of country is not rhetoric, but a life stance. And it needs to be proven daily with actions, and not treated as a tool for political communication, nor as a self-evident reference," the President continued.
He said that the biggest international crisis of the last 60 years had revealed the grave illnesses of the Greek economy and put an end to the Greeks' delusions.
Earlier, during a short ceremony in his honor at the Prefectural authority, Papoulias sent his own message to German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "Let me convey my own optimism that we will see the light and emerge from the darkness. We will fight. As I was myself for many years an immigrant in Germany, Ms. Merkel will allow me to see her weak points too. But there is no benefit in seeing only the weak points of the others and make excuses for ourselves. Unity and strength is required from all, and I am certain that the future will be better".
The anniversary celebrations were also attended by national defence minister Evangelos Venizelos, representing the government.
The paraders included pupils, students, scouts, Armed Forces and Security Corps divisions, and a division of the Presidential Guard, while, due to the economic crisis, the Armed Forces' motor divisions did not take part in the parade this year, nor were overflights made by Air Force planes and helicopters.
 Faith in the people's strengthCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga acknowledged that "the times are indeed critical", and stressed that the working classes must have confidence in their strength and that there needs to be a popular uprising to defend their rights.
In an interview with the To Vima newspaper appearing on Sunday, replying as to why the KKE is not attempting a rapprochement with the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance, Papariga said that the tendencies in the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN), which heads the SYRIZA alliance, and the components of SYRIZA, "are seeking a magical way that will make capitalism more human, the EU and the ECB (European Central Bank) more pro-people, so that profits can coexist harmoniously with the human".
"Fortunately for the working people and the popular movement, the KKE has not been infected with that incurable disease," Papariga added.
The KKE staged a rally in downtown Athens on Saturday, ahead of Wednesday's nationwide labor strike called by the country's two largest umbrella federations ADEDY (civil servants unions' federation) and GSEE (General Confederation of Workers of Greece), which was addressed by party leader Aleka Papariga.
The KKE leader charged that the government, through the measures it is taking, wants to ensure the full profitability of the big capital, and warned that "there is no time, we must avert and obstruct the barbarous measures before the government brings them to parliament".
She said that the government intends to "take" not only the "14th salary" (Christmas bonus), but also 2-3 additional salaries of the working people through increases in VAT and the special consumption tax on fuel, which will raise prices in general.
"The government is lying when it says it is taking measures to cover the deficits and debts. In reality, only a very small part of those will be covered. It has one and only goal, to ensure the full profitability of the big capital, recovery on the backs of the working people who are not just simply the victim. This time, the consequences will be tragic and long-lasting," Papariga charged.
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