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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-05-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou outlines PASOK policies for families
  • [02] Austria's Fischer concludes 2-day tour of Ioannina

  • [01] Papandreou outlines PASOK policies for families

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Sunday outlined his party's targets and policies for families, addressing a party-sponsored conference entitled "Family and Child."

    Papandreou said the family is the focus of PASOK's programme, while at the same time accusing the government of lacking a policy on the family during the three years it has been in power. He also accused the government of "dissolving structures of the social state" and of harming family income. As he said, a family's cost-of-living during the New Democracy party's tenure in government has increased by 250 euros a month, while borrowing has more than doubled.

    Papandreou promised that if elected premier he will oblige local banks, the most expensive in the European Union, as he charged, to invest in development and employment because, "all families have an unemployed person."

    He further said that mistakes can take place "but it is one thing to err in struggling for the public interest, for the people, and quite another to make mistakes deliberately, in an organised, planned fashion in order to loot the wealth of the Greek people."

    Papandreou outlined three basic principles of PASOK's policy for family protection of every type of family -- "single parents, three-child families, large families, families of Greeks, immigrants, young or old." He also said children will be a priority in the political agenda and that policy measures must be flexible.

    Furthermore, the one-time foreign minister listed his party's commitments as a future government:

    It will support young couples in starting a family with a lump sum of 2,000 euros for the birth of each child. Additionally, he promised that over a period of four years, the number of pre-schools and kindergartens will be doubled, with the aim of providing full coverage for child care needs for eight years. The cost of children staying at nurseries will be subsidised by the state and municipal budgets, he said.

    All-day schooling will be extended to schools throughout the country over the next four years, whereas essential PC skills will be guaranteed along with laptops and free speedy Internet access for every pupil.

    Private expenditure for health will be decreased for the average Greek household through new policies for a new National Health System, he promised, while the implementation and monitoring of a Child's Rights Charter will be guaranteed.

    Another benefit, as listed by the PASOK leader, is "culture cards" for the procurement of "cultural goods."

    Lastly, PASOK will resist the marginalisation of the third age, as he said, by allocating minimum pensions of 950 euros for a couple and 550 euros for the single agriculture fund pensioner and the uninsured.

    A day earlier, Papandreou opined that "the reverse count has begun for the Karamanlis government", adding that the "river of victory (for PASOK) does not turn back". Addressing the opening session of his party's national council, which is preparing a PASOK congress slated for late next week, Papandreou again attacked the New Democracy government and outlined PASOK's principles and targets if it is elected to government in the next general elections.

    Regarding the time remaining until the next elections, Papandreou said that PASOK's duty was to uncover New Democracy's hypocrisy so that the "deep wounds" resulting from ND's policies could be healed.

    "He (PM Costas Karamanlis) won the elections with lies as his weapon. They deceived, but also underestimated the Greek people and immediately applied their secret agenda, with the first choice being the big fraud of the audit of the economy," Papandreou said.

    The main opposition further accused the government of "wanting to become a regime by applying a plan that wants the fundamental institutions totally dependent on the party mechanism", charging that senior judicial officials had been selected by virtue of party criteria and were now accountable on matters of ethical order.

    PASOK, he added, would govern on the basis of its values, while every minister and cadre would be evaluated on the basis of the programme, while a renewal of faces, in tandem with ensuring continuity, was a given fact.

    "A PASOK government will be a government of ethos, values, confidence, capabilities, progress, democracy and social sensitivity," Papandreou said, adding: "We shall sign a new pact with the people, who will place our clean socialist seal on the country".

    The first target, he continued, will be a redistribution of the wealth in favour of the weak. The second target would be a new developmental model while the third target would be a radical democratic reform and upgrading of the state into one of values, absolute transparency and a catalyst for growth.

    He further said that the country would not be governed, nor co-governed, by partisan mechanisms, adding that there would be full separation of the state from the operation of the ruling party. "The party has a very important role to play in the society of the citizens," he continued.

    PASOK's overall goal was a new social pact for the social state of the 21st century, Papandreou said, adding that, along that course, the major projects would not concern only infrastructures, but also nurseries, all-day schools, hospitals, and combating poverty, unemployment and social exclusion.

    Gov't response

    Commenting on Papandreou's comments, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said later that "at a moment when the government, via the prime minister, is announcing the establishment of the Academy of Arts -- proving in action that it is preparing the future and responding to needs that have been outstanding for decades -- PASOK chooses to once again show that it remains firmly stuck to the past".

    "Mr Papandreou was elected president of PASOK on the promise that everything would change. But he hasn't managed to change anything. On the contrary, he proves on a daily basis that populism and acrimony, and even an unwonted attack on the functionaries of justice, are mentalities and practices that are deeply rooted in the hard-core PASOK system," Roussopoulos said.

    [02] Austria's Fischer concludes 2-day tour of Ioannina

    Austrian President Heinz Fischer and his wife Margit began a private two-day visit to the northwestern lakeside city of Ioannina on Saturday, at the invitation of President Karolos Papoulias and his wife.

    Papoulias welcomed the Austrian first couple at Ioannina airport and afterwards they took a cruise on Lake Pamvotida. Their next stop was the picturesque islet located in the middle of the lake, where the two presidents visited a pair of Byzantine-era monasteries on the islets.

    In the evening and on the island's lakeside, Papoulias and his wife hosted an official dinner for the Fischer couple and local Ioannina authorities.

    Papoulias and Fischer visited the nearby ancient odeon of Dodoni on Sunday, the mountainous Zagorohoria villages and the Ioannina fortress. In the evening they will depart for Athens, where Fischer's official programme will be beginning on Monday with a series of meeting with Greece's top leadership.

    Caption: Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias (L) with Austrian Federal President Heinz Fischer tour the ancient theatre of Dodoni, near the city of Ioannia in NW Greece, on Sunday, May 13, 2007. ANA-MPA / P. PAPPA.

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