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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-11-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM Papandreou: The crisis will be overcome
  • [02] ND votes for new leader on Sunday
  • [03] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] PM Papandreou: The crisis will be overcome

    Prime minister George Papandreou on Saturday chaired the first meeting of his ruling PASOK party's newly-elected Political Council, during which he described the state of Greece's economy as "tragic", putting full and exclusive blame on the preceding New Democracy (ND) government and the policies it implemented over the last five years.

    He also accused ND of concealing the real state of the economy "up to the last minute" before the October 4 general elections, that brought PASOK to power, and of speaking of a "cushion" for the budget without actually having ensured one.

    Papandreou said that PASOK took over the country's governance in one of the hardest times in its post-war history, and at the same time shouldered the responsibility of taking Greece out of a deep crisis and reviving its wheezing economy.

    In order to do this, administration of authority is not sufficient, but it is necessary to proceed to deep changes and reversals so as to reach a "different Greece" through change of the manner of governance, the premier explained.

    He further said that it is necessary for the government to prove its reliability on a daily basis, working hard on the country's major needs. This, he added, was the philosophy behind the government's plan for its first 100 days in office, which was designed precisely to face the immediate hardships caused to the citizens by the generalised crisis.

    Despite the difficulties, however, Papandreou sent a message of optimism to the Greek society, stressing that this tough economic situation will be overcome, and pointed out three areas on which the government's effort is focused: tidying up the economy, economic recovery, and a developmental prospect for the country.

    "The fact that the problem is much bigger than presented by ND obliges us to remain even more dedicated to our philosophy and program," the premier said, adding that PASOK's firm position continues to be that the economic crisis is fought with investments, and not 'drying up' the market.

    Planning has been made so that all the commitments made by PASOK for its first 100 days in government will be met, Papandreou said, and referred to the steps it has already taken, "which show our determination to remain true to all our commitments". As examples, Papandreou cited the social solidarity benefit, the abolition of the STAGE programs, the introduction of electronic deliberation, the containment of state overspending, the drastic reduction in state cars, the transformation of the National Statistics Service (ESYE) into an Independent Administrative Authority, and the commitment for transparency across the board through the release and uploading of all signatures on the internet, and noted that the relevant draft law has already been drawn up and will soon be put to public discussion.

    Papandreou, who also holds the foreign ministry portfolio, stressed that Greece has once again begun being 'present' abroad, putting forward its opinions and observations, participating in the decision-making, and once again picking up the thread from where it had left off in 2004 (when ND took office).

    Indirectly replying to criticism that the government delayed in staffing the political positions in the public sector, Papandreou stressed that the procedure being followed for the staffing was a time-consuming and difficult one for the government, but one of major benefit for society. He pointed out the three main difficulties faced by the government in this effort. First, the non-existence of mechanisms in the public sector to undertake those procedures. Second, there is no list of all the agencies and political positions that are the responsibility of the government to assign. Third, a "bad tradition" of the past according to which those positions are staffed either by unknown individuals with degrees and academic qualifications but without experience, or by individuals with a political perception and experience. However, it was impossible to find both (credentials and experience) in the same individual. This combination is what the government is trying to do today, Papandreou explained.

    The Political Council meeting was also attended by PASOK parliamentary group secretary Christos Papoutsis, finance minister George Papaconstantinou, and government spokesman George Petalotis.

    Caption: Prime minister George Papandreou chairs the first meeting of his ruling PASOK party's newly-elected Political Council. (ANA-MPA/A. Beltes)

    [02] ND votes for new leader on Sunday

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) votes for its new leader on Sunday, to succeed former prime minister Costas Karamanlis, with voting extended, for the first time, to all registered members of the party. The three candidates, Dora Bakoyannis, Antonis Samaras and Panagiotis Psomiadis, wound up their campaigns on Friday night.

    Organising committee chairman Dimitris Sioufas said that election of the ND president by the party's grass roots is "an important conquest of direct democracy", and called on members to turn out on Sunday so as to "consolidate this (conquest) with the widest possible participation" in the election.

    A total of 1,039 voting stations have been set up throughout the country, while 64 voting stations have been set up in other European countries, which will be linked on-line with the elections supervisory committee at the ND headquarters on Rigillis street, as will be all the polling stations.

    Voting will begin at 7:00 a.m. Sunday and close at 7:00 in the evening, but Sioufas has clarified that the closing time may be extended in specific polling stations in the event that lines of voters were still waiting their turn to cast their ballot at closing time.

    First results will begin to be broadcast after the returns are in from 20 percent of the polling stations, although they will not be representative of the final outcome, according to Sioufas.

    The three candidates made their final campaign appearances on Friday evening. Former foreign minister and one-time Athens mayor Dora Bakoyannis addressed a rally at Kotzia Square in downtown Athens, former culture minister Antonis Samaras addressed a tathering at the Zappeion Hall in central Athens, and Thessaloniki prefect Panagiotis Psomadis spoke to a gathering in Serres, northern Greece.

    Caption:The three candidates for the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leadership Antonis Samaras (L), Panagiotis Psomiadis (center) and Dora Bakoyannis (R). (ANA=MPA/M. Marogianni).

    [03] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The Saturday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The crisis on the markets, PM George Papandreou's statements on the economy, Sunday's leadership elections in main opposition New Democracy (ND), and the fight against tax evasion were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Saturday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "47 former MPs and 41 DAKE (ND-affiliated trade union movement) officials back Dora (former FM Bakoyannis, one of the three candidates for the ND party presidency)".

    APOGEVMATINI: "The power is in unity - ND leadership election".

    AVGHI: "SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left parliamentary alliance) is the strategic selection for unity (of the popular strata)".

    AVRIANI: "Dirty war by the foreign profiteers at the expense of the Greek economy".

    CHORA: "Now the grass roots will have their say for the revival of ND from the ruins of October 4 (national elections)".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Samaras (former culture minister and ND leadership candidate) article: How ND will be reborn from the ashes of the 33 percent (it received in the October 4 national elections)".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Increases of 25 percent to 200 percent on objective values of real estate - Chain reaction of burdens for 12 additional taxes on property".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Birthing pains in ND - Worry over whether winner and loser will be able to co-exist after the leadership election".

    ESTIA: "The previous showdowns (for the party leadership) since ND's founding".

    ETHNOS: "Prospect of second round in ND leadership election brings terror of polarisation and division".

    IMERISSIA: "Tax-free ceilings only with receipts - Strong incentives for citizens in order to stamp out tax evasion".

    KATHIMERINI: "Effort to appease the market through coordinated intervention by Papaconstantinou (finance minister) and Provopoulos (Bank of Greece governor)".

    LOGOS: "We're 'running' to salvage all that we can - Greece under pressure by ECOFIN for harsh economic measures".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Threat of bigger state deficit this year".

    NIKI: "The conspirators of the economic collapse revealed".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Organization of class attack, for the 17 December strike".

    TA NEA: "Merkel (German chancellor) sending the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to Greece - 'Don't expect a life-raft from Europe'."

    TO VIMA: "Maginot Line for the state bonds - Coordinated efforts between government and bankers repelled, for the time being, the profiteering attacks".

    VRADYNI: "Everyone united - For the first time, the rank and file of the big liberal party elects its leader".

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