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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-06-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] ND must express its ideology, Samaras says
  • [02] SYN election under cloud
  • [03] Quake jolts Crete
  • [04] Commission on Greek pensions

  • [01] ND must express its ideology, Samaras says

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Sunday urged his party not to shy from expressing its ideology, stressing that people wanted change and ND had to propose the alternative solution sought by society.

    "We have to convince people that we will change everything, not leave them the same or just manage them better," he emphasised, addressing an ND pre-conference event whose theme was party ideology.

    He also attacked the government and anyone that supported the memorandum signed between the government, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on reforming pensions.

    Samaras underlined that not even PASOK's own ministers had been aware of the contents of this memorandum when the vote was held.

    "Imagine if we had also voted in favour of PASOK's positions, which bound the country for four years without knowing what it was voting for," Samaras said.

    "The crisis is bringing generalised insecurity and society will seek firm, tried-and-tested principles. There cannot be growth with social cohesion when pensions of 480 euros are being cut," the ND leader underlined.

    He also criticised ND's previous practice of not fighting its battles on the ideological front, due to the mistaken belief that ND could not promote its ideology if it was to remain a pluralist party and win over undecided voters.

    Samaras criticised the view that the majority of Greeks supported centre-left ideology, saying that the majority did not support centre-left policies.

    "The people chose us to change Greece and voted against us because we did not change it," Samaras said, adding that Greece was now experiencing the bankruptcy of a 30-year-old system that bore the stamp of the centre-left and the populist rhetoric of PASOK.

    He defined ND's ideology as social neoliberalism, which sought to liberate the business environment, support enterprise and change the production model while protecting the social state, which acts as a protective shield for citizens.

    He also underlined that ND was not a party for the upper class only but one that addressed all Greeks at all levels of society.

    On foreign policy, Samaras underlined that ND's policy was not just about 'red lines' and conflict but also the search for converging views and cooperation at all levels.

    "We seek honest friendship with our neighbours that cannot co-exist with casus belli threats.

    [02] SYN election under cloud

    The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party began to vote for its president and new Central Political Committee on Sunday, just hours after the party's renewalist wing walked out of the conference following MP Fotis Kouvelis on Saturday night.

    The two candidates for party president were the former president Alexis Tsipras, who is seeking re-election, and conference delegate George Vlachogiorgos, who announced his candidacy on Sunday morning.

    With Tsipras' re-election considered almost certain, the interest is now focused on the stance of the renewalists in Parliament - whether they will remain in the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary alliance or depart.

    The renewalists walked out after SYN's conference voted against their proposal for independence from SYRIZA, with hundreds of delegates following Kouvelis when he departed the Tae Kwon Do stadium where the conference was being held.

    Earlier, Tsipras had appealed to the renewalists not to take action that would lead to the break up of the party but failed to make any reference to SYN's disengaging from SYRIZA, as requested by Kouvelis.

    The departure of the renewalists means the break of SYN since dozens of the top-ranking party officials will also give up their positions in SYN's main organs, such as the Central Political Committee and the Political Secretariat. Among the renewalists are also several of the party's MPs.

    [03] Quake jolts Crete

    An earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale shook the prefectures of Iraklion and Rethymno on the island of Crete at 15:21 on Sunday.

    According to the Athens National Observatory Geodynamic Institute and the Thessaloniki University Geophysics Laboratory it was a relatively weak tremor with an epicentre 285 kilometres souhteast of Athens, in seas northwest of Iraklion.

    No damage has been reported to authorities so far.

    [04] Commission on Greek pensions

    The spokesman for European Commissioner for monetary affairs Olli Rehn, Amadeo Altafaz, has claimed in a letter published by the Greek newspaper "To Vima" on Sunday that reports in the Greek press that pensions are to be slashed by roughly half are a "misunderstanding".

    Altafaz stressed that nothing in the EU-ECB-IMF agreement with the Greek government calls for the cutting of pensions by half and explained that final amount of pensions will range from 65 percent up to 80 percent of a person's salary for all but the very highest income groups.

    An EU official explained that the 45 percent or 48 percent pensions reported in the Greek press represented only the 'contribution-based' part of the pension, multiplied by 40 years of work. Each pensioner would then also receive the basic 'welfare' pension not based on contributions, bringing the total to between 65 and 80 percent of working salary.

    In response to the publication of the letter, the Greek Labour ministry issued an announcement confirming that this was the correct interpretation of the agreement in the Memorandum.

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