ATHENS.- Prime Minister and ruling New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, addressing the party’s three-day 6th congress on Friday evening, announced that a cohesive policy on the return of capital belonging to Greeks living abroad will be announced soon to enable investments to be bolstered in Greece. Karamanlis also announced that unfavourable registration in “Tiresia” will be reduced for two or three years for those who have paid off their obligations and presented the basic framework concerning arrangement regarding overdue loan penalty rates, which contains very favourable terms for farmers.
The prime minister said that farmers will pay double the initial capital for loans concluded after 1990, while for those concerning the previous period the arrangement is even more favourable with payment amounting to one-and-a-half times the initial capital.
As regards other people who have received loans, Karamanlis said their payments cannot exceed triple the amount of the initial capital.
Elaborating on the party’s politics, Karamanlis said “we are the party of the middle sector and we express the modern conception of the social centre.”
He said the party invests in social consensus and promotes national understanding, explaining that this modern conception means support for the financially weaker, social sensitivity, a policy with a human image, the absence of arrogance, humility in the new governance and an economic policy making the country more creative and competitive.
“We are placing our seal on the new era which must be a period of unity, consensus, social cohesion and progress for all citizens,” he said.
He further said ND’s target is to strengthen social alliance which, as he said, constitutes a navigator on the path it has chosen.
“Phenomena of haughtiness and arrogance have no place with us. We shall turn our commitments into practice. The promise we have given is valid in full. We are determined to achieve our targets and to unlock the future,” the prime minister said.
Karamanlis further noted “we shall not bargain with principles and values and we shall not water down our wine. It is a principle and a commitment of honour.”
Rerferring to his personal vision for the country, Karamanlis said “I did not choose politics to manage posts. I chose to serve politics in order to serve our party and our country.”
He added that his vision is for a strong and prosperous Greece, with jobs for all, strong and safe citizens, a just society, quality in public life and a Greece which shall be a force of peace, stability and security.
“It is a vision based on the concepts of trust, justice and social responsibility which requires cooperation, collectiveness and composition,” he added.
Karamanlis also said the party’s conceptions are socially liberal and that the target of the economy is to reorganise and revive the country’s economic fiber so that productivity and merit shall be rewarded and honest work shall be profitable.
The prime minister also stressed that education and culture have top priority for the government because they are the cohesive fiber of society and the best guarantee for a just society and a just future.
“We are doing well. Much better than was expected in the face of such a heavy heritage and such adverse conditions,” Karamanlis concluded, adding that “a much greater effort is necessary for the better.”
Former foreign minister Antonis Samaras attended the congress for the first time in 12 years and was met with mixed feelings by delegates.
Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni, speaking at the 6th on Saturday, said that the party must define the objectives of its political options and renew its structure,
“Our policy must have an identity and cohesion because then, its governmental action is binding and effective,” Bakoyianni said.
Bakoyianni called for a reduction of squandering in the public sector, fiscal cleansing, a reduction in taxes and measures for the most economically weak to enter the labour market.
Presenting her proposals for the changes in the party’s statute and on the mandate of the party president, Bakoyianni called for the election of the party president by the base and for a congress to be held every two years. She stressed that “I supported and support Costas Karamanlis” who, she said, is “the country’s most powerful politician.”
She further underlined that “there is no point in sweeping the problems under the carpet and as long as we do not take initiatives now that we are politically all powerful and united, I fear that we are losing significant opportunities.”
The mayor of Athens will depend her candidacy for the Political Council on the Central Committee’s composition, the constitutional clause to be ratified on its role and composition and, mainly, on who will be declaring themselves candidates.
Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed that the ND never divided the Greek people and reiterated that the state will not be partisan. “We aim at a public administration with a personnel which will be assessed on the basis of its ability without seeing its political identity and party affiliation,” he said.
Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou said social effectiveness is the basic objective of the government’s programme, noting that the basic key is social justice. Yiannakou stressed that prospects are given to society for a more just state within the framework of the party’s ideology which, she said, offers all, regardless of political affiliations, equal opportunities. “Meritocracy is the only secure way for these objectives to be achieved,” she said.
Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras said “we received a country which had reached its limits with a system which was not functioning normally,” adding that “we are obliged not to be afraid by the short-sighted political cost because the people did not vote for us so as to change government but to change their lives.”
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas referred to the government’s work and particularly to the amendment regarding overdue loan penalty rates which contains favourable terms for farmers. “We are intensifying checks in the market, the competition committee is operating round the clock and the ombudsman of the consumer will shortly be a reality,” he said. Sioufas added that “the speeding up of growth is our objective and for this reason we are advancing a new taxation system and a new development law.”
The congress was expected to conclude on Sunday afternoon with the election of the Central Committee’s 150 members.