Athens.- Prime Minister and New Democracy (ND) party president Antonis Samaras, addressing the party’s 9th congress taking place at the Tae Kwon Do indoor stadium in Faliro on Friday evening, stressed that “the liberal movement that laid the foundations for democracy and placed Greece into Europe, is here and is doing its duty to the country”.
The Prime Minister interrupted his speech for ten minutes due to illness and continued afterwards.
Samaras said that “we assumed governance a year ago with a three-party coalition in dramatic conditions. Within one year we disproved all the disaster scenarios. We kept Greece in Europe, while by the agreement for the TAP pipeline we are placing the country for good on the global energy hub, making it an investment pole creating thousands of jobs. It was the best news over the past ten years and there shall be more.”
“We promised that we shall not let Greece exit from the euro zone. We are trying to achieve primary surpluses, to relieve the people and exit from rescue loan contacts (memorandums). We know that to get away from your creditors you must stop needing to borrow. Greece is becoming attractive to investments; privatisations of OPAP and DESFA are going ahead, while the problem with DEPA will soon be overcome. I prefer the country winning and Mr. (main opposition Radical Left leader Alexis) Tsipras being saddened,” Samaras said.
“Greece will also become an energy producer tomorrow,” the premier added.
Making an account, Samaras said that former premier Costas Karamanlis, who had called for measures since 2009, was vindicated by developments, as was himself for his initial criticism of the memorandum. “However, we shall feel fully vindicated only when we shall eradicate unemployment,” he said.
Samaras recognised the contribution of PASOK and the Democratic Left party to the past year’s government work, although pointing out that they shall always have different courses. “In crucial moments, if the country demands it, a party must serve the country,” Samaras said, making indirect reference to the present coalition government with PASOK. He reiterated that the target of the two-party government now is to complete the four-year tenure. “Greece’s salvation means staying in Europe and this target was achieved by all of us together,” he further said.
The prime minister went on to say that the new state radio and television company will be kept away from party influences and will be staffed by merit.
Describing his vision for what he called new Greece, the prime minister spoke of a country “that will depend on its own forces and not on borrowed money, and will utilise the wealth of its human potential. No brains and no talents will be wasted… we want a country that will defend its national rights. Greece can achieve great things participating in international developments and can become, together with Cyprus, a factor of stability in the Mediterranean and of economic growth in the Balkans…we can win the respect of everyone.”
“Our democracy is a source of strength, but democracy is not the party state and the privileges of the trade unions. Democracy means stability and democratic order, where no one blackmails and everything and everyone are subject to the public interest. Our culture is a source of strength in the Greece we are building – Greek culture is the birthplace of modern culture,” he noted.
Samaras further criticised certain “trade union tactics” saying explicitly that such tactics “are being fostered by the leftist opposition.”
Replying to criticism that his ND party along with PASOK are responsible for clientelism by hiring hundreds of thousands of public sector employees, Samaras claimed that “they were hiring mostly … leftists”!!!!
The premier also criticised the “neo-Nazis” whose ideology is hatred and who expose Greece. He said that “what both of these extremes wished for was that Greece failed. Today we are telling them clearly, we shall not let them.”
Lastly, the prime minister stressed that “the new Greece we are building is above parties and we shall all achieve it together. This party is opening its wings. Our duty has a name and is ‘new Greece,’” he said and concluded his address by paraphrasing the verses of Pablo Neruda: “We shall oblige you country, we shall oblige you Greece to perform miracles, because you are inside us, with the hope and the miracle.”
Samaras arrived at ND’s congress accompanied by his wife Georgia. He greeted the ND party cadres and the representatives of other political parties. The event is being attended by some 4,000 delegates.
The urgency of resolving the crisis, the importance of overcoming populism and the need to take care of socially vulnerable segments of Greek society were the most frequently-made references in the addresses of ministers affiliated with New Democracy (ND) at their party’s 9th annual congress, taking place at the Tae Kwon Do indoor stadium in Faliro this weekend.
The agenda for Saturday included several ministers taking to the podium and the congress was expected to conclude on Sunday, after an address by Samaras at 1:00 p.m. Speakers on Sunday also include Marietta Giannakou, who heads the group of ND’s Eurodeputies, and the secretary general of the European People’s Party (EPP), Antonio Lopez-Isturiz.
On Saturday, speakers included National Defence Minister and ND vice president Dimitris Avramopoulos, who called for unity but also criticised Greece’s political system “for being mostly responsible for inflicting pain on its citizens” while he said Greece’s role in the Trans-Atlantic Pipeline (TAP) construction was the first step towards an effective policy and extroversion.
Among others speaking, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said the country was experiencing an unprecedented recession coupled with unemployment but could hope for a better future, and he called for “an end to demagoguery and the cultivation of illusions.’