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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-09-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM meets with President, addresses Cabinet
  • [02] Snap general elections set for October 4

  • [01] PM meets with President, addresses Cabinet

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis was received on Thursday by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, after which he chaired a Cabinet meeting.

    Karamanlis formally requested of the President the dissolution of parliament, following his announcement Wednesday night in a televised address to the nation of his decision to call a snap general election.

    The premier is due to make a statement to the press later.

    Addressing the Cabinet meeting, the prime minister noted that the country was going through an exceptionally difficult period that was decisive for the future, and outlined in detail the effects of the global financial crisis throughout the world, stressing that the impact on Greece was milder than on most other countries.

    Karamanlis stressed that the impact would have been greater if his New Democracy government had not taken steps of progress in the economy in the past years, and accused main opposition PASOK of leaving behind its own term in government a deficit of 7.5 percentage points of GDP and unemployment above 11 percent in 2004.

    "You can imagine what would have happened if the crisis had reached us in the 2004 conditions," the premier said, and noted the measures taken by his government to confront the crisis and to boost the professional branches, as well as the measures to shield borrowers.

    Karamanlis also noted the decades-old problems and structural weaknesses of the Greek economy, which he added could not be remedied in their entirety, stressing that it was now time to take hard decisions.

    The measures that need to be taken are neither easy nor pleasant, but are the only way to take the country out of the problems, Karamanlis continued, stressing that, in the very difficult two years ahead, the country must succeed in fiscal streamlining and meet three challenges.

    The first challenge was a drastic cutback in public expenditures, which Karamanlis said the government has already commenced but more was needed.

    The second challenge was a 'war' on tax evasion, which the premier called a "deeply anti-social attitude". "When I speak of a 'war' on tax evasion, I mean it," he said, noting that the government has also acted in this direction, but "the results should have been better".

    The third challenge was the structural changes, Karamanlis said, stressing that growth could not be achieved without those changes.

    The premier noted that his target had been to tackle those problems and implement his government's policies by the end of its term in office in September 2011. "We made important steps forward, we took difficult decisions," he continued.

    Referring to PASOK, Karamanlis posed the question: "Where do they, the main opposition, find the facility to accuse us of not solving all the problems which they, themselves, created?"

    The premier further noted reactions by the trade unions on such key issues as the social security reform that resulted in two months of social unrest, as well as the reactions to the reform in education with the lengthy takeovers of schools.

    More recently, Karamanlis continued, the government's work was made exceptionally more difficult because the appropriate political environment required did not exist due to PASOK, "whose leader decided to not vote for (President of the Republic) Karolos Papoulias for President (in the presidential election in parliament this coming March) in order to force (early general) elections and then vote for him afterwards".

    He described that attitude as "extreme" and "irresponsible" vis-a-vis the institution of President of the Republic, the economy, and the country, and likened PASOK's stance with that of certain trade unions which have recently started to put forward immense demands, while PASOK was at the same time "promising everything to everyone".

    Karamanlis explained that a climate of social tension had started to be created, which was the worst thing for the country's course.

    The premier recalled that, a few months earlier, he had sought consensus from the political party leaders but had received only denial in response. "What is taking place in other countries is being blocked here in Greece by the opposition," he charged.

    Karamanlis stressed that decisions need to be taken with the social and national interest as the sole criterion, and described his declaration of early elections a "responsible decision taken with the national interest as the criterion".

    It was inconceivable that he would allow the country to be dragged through a pre-electoral climate for six months, Karamanlis said, stressing that ND "will not misinform, will not promise things that cannot be done".

    "We will tell the truth to the Greek people, we will not spruce up the picture," he pledged.

    The citizens, he continued, have to make a selection between two choices. The one choice leads to an exit from the crisis, while the second choice ignores the reality and leads to impasse. The citizens will be called on to choose between an applicable program and empty declarations, he said, adding that "I have confidence in the maturity of the Greek people".

    The government must carry on with its work, he said, stressing that the battle will be a tough one but also expressing confidence that "we will be once again at the country's helm".

    Karamanlis further announced that the Cabinet members will comprise the ND election campaign committee.

    [02] Snap general elections set for October 4

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday officially announced the holding of early general elections on October 4 and the dissolution of Parliament on September 7, in statements following his meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias earlier the same day to announce his decision for a snap early election.

    On the Sunday of October 4, Greek citizens will be called to choose the prime minister that will lead them through the great economic challenges of the time and make crucial decisions for the country's future course, Karamanlis stressed.

    The premier said that he had outlined his reasons for calling early elections to President Papoulias, saying that it was an act of responsibility imposed by the country's best interests, in order to clear up the political scene.

    The campaign period formally opens on Monday, while the interior minister, the justice minister and the government spokesman will be replaced by caretaker ministers and spokesman, as customary, for the duration of the campaigning and election process.

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