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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-04-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karatzaferis begins visit to Cyprus
  • [02] PM in parliament: Greece's future is the government's 'red line'

  • [01] Karatzaferis begins visit to Cyprus

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis arrived in Nicosia on Friday afternoon on a two-day visit to Cyprus.

    While in Nicosia, Karatzaferis will have meetings with the political leadership of Cyprus.

    On Friday evening, the LAOS leader is due to meet with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.

    [02] PM in parliament: Greece's future is the government's 'red line'

    Prime minister George Papandreou reiterated that Greece's future is the "red line" for his government, adding that the measures it is taking are mandatory for the country's very survival, speaking in parliament on Friday during the "Hour of the Prime Minister" and in reply to current questions tabled by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis.

    Papandreou and Tsipras crossed swords in parliament over the government's decision to take recourse in the EU support mechanism for the Greek economy and the harsh measures that have been taken.

    The heated dialogue erupted during a discussion of a SYRIZA current question on the state of the National Health System (ESY), which veered into a new package of harsh measures that are expected to be announced in the next few days.

    Papandreou stressed that, despite the difficulties, the government will invest in whatever concerns protection of the citizens and their right to health, "because it is a government priority", and called for everyone's support to exit the current situation "at the earliest".

    Tsipras called on the premier to "not accept the country's downfall with recourse to the IMF" and to either hold a referendum or general elections for a "fresh popular mandate", because the steps that the current government is taking are not in line with the mandate it received in the October 2009 elections.

    Replying to the current question, Papandreou pointed out that the ESY was "PASOK's child", and his ruling party grieves the condition to which it has fallen as a result of the clientele policy of corruption and intransigence of the preceding government of New Democracy (ND).

    At any rate, he continued, the IMF was not to blame for the current situation, and claims to that effect were a "facile alibi for not changing anything" and "simply rebellious rhetoric".

    Papandreou said that his government's goal is to bring about a genuine revolution in the sector of health and welfare: "We could have had better hospitals. The IMF is not to blame for the provocative wasteful spending, the corruption, and the cronyistic hirings".

    He stressed that one of the government's priorities is to revive the welfare state, put the focus on the basic needs of the citizen and to strike a merciless blow to wasteful spending, corruption and profiteering.

    Outlining the steps already taken, Papandreou noted the increases in Intensive Care beds, payment of the state hospitals' debts, the institution of measures to curtail waste in medicines spending and controls put in place on supplies, while he reiterated the government's pledge for the immediate hiring of 3,000 nursing staff and 915 doctors.

    He added that the new taxation bill was part of that same effort: "For us, the ESY is a priority and no excessive deficit procedure and no IMF can change that".

    Tsipras, in turn, accused the government that "for the past six months it has been divorcing itself from its history and from its mandate" and that, contrary to what it was saying, the government was "reducing state reinforcements, curtailing operational expenditures and lowering salaries", and "you say that these are not IMF decisions?"

    "Do you realise what you're doing, with these destructive measures that the country has not witnessed since WWII? For months now we have been telling you to change course and turn the wheel around so as not to ram into the iceberg. And now that we smashed into the iceberg, you're telling everyone to jump into the sea," Tsipras charged.

    Negotiation also entails demands, but "where did you say 'no'?" Tsipras asked.

    The SYRIZA leader further warned Papandreou that the government's current "allies", namely LAOS leader Karatzaferis, former ND prime minister Mitsotakis and the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) "who asked for blood" will not continue to respect him for long. "When you have done the dirty work, you will be useless to them and they'll kick you out," he said.

    The premier retorted that "the iceberg was before October 4 (the general elections that brought PASOK to power)", and accused Tsipras of petty party expediency in blaming PASOK for the present state of EU surveillance, noting that SYRIZA itself had voted in favor of the Maastricht Treaty that provides for surveillance (excessive deficit procedure) when a member country's deficit exceeds 3 percent of GDP.

    The government, Papandreou continued, has "turned the wheel around and we have drawn the red line at exiting from the custody and surveillance that the previous governments have put us in as fast as possible".

    "We are doing everything we can, with many no's to protect the weak. Not on the streets with rock-throwing, but through tough negotiations," he added.


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