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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-11-02

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PASOK national conference begins

  • [01] PASOK national conference begins

    The main opposition PASOK 3-day national conference, ahead of the November 11 nationwide vote for electing a new party leader, began at the indoor Tae Kwon Do stadium in Paleo Faliro on Friday evening, with the three leadership contenders -incumbent leader George Papandreou, Thessaloniki deputy Evangelos Venizelos and Athens MP Costas Skandalidis- expounding on their respective candidacy arguments.

    Papandreou called for a renewal of the mandate to enable him to go ahead with great and radical changes in the image and organising structure of PASOK.

    He stressed that it was not a question of a blank cheque but a mandate that will be combined with a policy of changes, a renewal of persons and structures, as well as of institutions and values.

    Papandreou reassured that, if elected, he is determined to honour this new mandate which, as he said, will be binding for the entire leadership of PASOK and declared himself determined to clash with conceptions and practices that will be obstructing the implementation of this mandate.

    The PASOK leader called for a common course for all of PASOK "on the path of great reversals and of the great patriotism that is being left behind by the small PASOK of confused messages, conservative conceptions and of nonexistent prospects."

    "We are forging ahead, he added, for the PASOK of the great ideological difference and of a new great strategy."

    Papandreou also noted that the political cycle of the post-dictatorship era has come to an end and with it so have the present political system and the present model of growth.

    He once again referred to the need of politics to be autonomous from business interests and to PASOK's autonomy from them in particular.

    Referring to the results of the September 16 general elections, Papandreou termed them "really bad," but stressed that the decision that PASOK must take "is whether responsibilities are personal or political, conjunctural or strategic and whether it will continue on the path of compromises and of average terms or whether it will enter an orbit of clashes, reforms and reversals to enable it to enter a victory orbit once again."

    Papandreou further said that PASOK can return to government through "the great act of a clean-up and by being distant from status quos and governance mentalities."

    He said that "the people do not want PASOK to rule again like Karamanlis," "they don't want us to become a Karamanlis in the place of Karamanlis," but "they want us to win elections so as to be able to win the struggles regarding their problems."

    He expressed confidence that after November 11, the date on which the party's leadership will be elected, PASOK "will make a new beginning and will forge ahead more mature, more wise and more determined, because its unity will not be fictitious but political."

    Venizelos

    Evangelos Venizelos said on his part that the result of the next Parliamentary elections, and in essence the next decade and not only the election of the president of PASOK, will be judged on November 11.

    "Today is the opportunity for us to discuss with sobriety and sincerity, since the social PASOK is watching the organised PASOK that is in this hall," Venizelos said.

    Focusing on whether "something good or something bad is taking place in PASOK," his response was "something bad, that was the defeat, happened," while now "the exit from the crisis has started."

    Venizelos said that the causes of the election defeat in the September 16 general elections must be probed extensively, since "it will be difficult for us to explain that the memories of the Mitsotakis government and the experiences of the Karamanlis government are considered more positive than the governments of PASOK in the minds of the citizens."

    On the question of PASOK's unity, he said that it is guaranteed by its grassroots, as well as by the three leadership contenders and wondered whether "united PASOK for which all the rest are to blame, without asking with elementary responsibility if it is perhaps our own fault as well, is enough for us."

    Venizelos further said that "ethics in politics means assuming responsibility, otherwise we have a lack of democratic ethics," while the same also applies to self-criticism "otherwise we have collective self-humiliation and individual subterfuge."

    The leadership candidate also raised the question of "are vested interests interfering in the process of the election of the new president in PASOK" and replied "yes, they are watching, they have an opinion and they want to influence the outcome of the election. The greatest centre of interests is the Right and this centre does not prefer its defeat."

    He added that the Right, and all the interests that are bound to it, "does not want me to be president of PASOK" and called once again for "an end to the joke concerning interests."

    Skandalidis

    Costas Skandalidis said that only a democratic and collective PASOK can shape the party's new identity and course and not one person only.

    He said that the party is experiencing the most crucial moment in its 30-year course, stressing that "from now on we must have the help of God."

    He noted that "for us to be persuasive we must open a front with the counter-productive forces and link ourselves to the restructuring of the progressive field," adding that PASOK must submit a progressive governance proposal that will lead Greece to prosperity and strengthen it in Europe since, as he said, it is a party that can govern and not a protest party.

    Skandalidis also said that it is necessary for PASOK to conclude a "confidence contract with society", noting that this cannot happen unless there is confidence between the party's members first.

    Another point he stressed was that a change in PASOK's structure must take place and the president must be accountable to the regular Congress and his selection must take place by the grassroots.


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