PASOK party leader George Papandreou, addressing his party’s political council meeting on Wednesday, said he will not be a candidate for prime minister or the party’s leadership in any upcoming votes.
Specifically, Papandreou proposed that PASOK select a candidate that will lead the party into the next election via two methods — i.e. by members of the party’s Parliamentary group (its MPs in Parliament) or through another process that the party’s internal organs will announce.
Following the election, Papandreou said a new PASOK president should be elected by the party’s grassroots.
Lastly, Papandreou stressed that until the next election and election of a new party president he will remain at PASOK’s helm.
PASOK leader on Wednesday reiterated that his party is “steadfast in the confrontation with vested interests”, according to later statements by a PASOK spokesman.
The comments came after a high-profile PASOK political council meeting, where Papandreou announced that he will not stand as a candidate for prime minister in the next election.
According to former minister Panos Beglitis, Papandreou said his government in the two years it was in power “did not place importance on the causes of the (economic) crisis, and we were not steadfast in our confrontation with a system that was unproductive, statist and serpent-like; one that is responsible and involved for the Greek side of the crisis. We should have named these interests.”
According to Beglitis, Papandreou referred to the president of the Lambrakis Press Organisation (DOL) Stavros Psycharis, who, as he said, applied for a 10-million-euro corporate loan from the National Bank of Greece.
Papandreou was quoted as saying that the issue of the loan wrongly reached his office, “as such issues must be determined with banking criteria … and when he was briefed that the lending criteria were not fulfilled he said the loan must not be granted.”
The PASOK president said a “clash” between his then government and the aforementioned media group headed by Psycharis began when the loan request was rejected.
Papandreou also referred to the ill-fated National Bank-Alpha Bank merger in the early 2000s, charging that it never materialised because, as he said, it was “undermined”. No further details were given.
Finally, the PASOK leader referred to charges that one of his brothers was involved in Credit Default Swaps (CDS) speculation, hedging against a Greek sovereign default, stressing that from the moment that the accusation was made, the independent judiciary should have acted on its own accord.
Media group response
In a later written statement, Lambrakis Press Organisation (DOL) president Stavros Psycharis emphasised that “it is true that DOL requested a loan from National Bank, where it has been a customer for the past 90 years. National Bank said no, officially. Unofficially, they told us that it was not approved by the Maximos Mansion (the premier’s office).
“It is evident that interventions in banks (management) against newspapers that do not satisfy the whims of those in power exhibit a fascist-like mentality … It is self-evident that with power comes memory loss, even for completely recent events.
“The outgoing president of PASOK is asked to state under what conditions we met for the last time at the Maximos Mansion and why it was requested that we enter from the back door of the building. And who requested something from the other.”
Samaras: next elections
can be held at end of March
Greece’s next general elections can take place at the end of March without affecting PSI or the signature of a new loan agreement, main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said on Wednesday, while addressing a meeting of ND’s Executive Committee to discuss planning for the elections.
Once negotiations for the PSI were complete, another month would be required for the signature of a new loan agreement, Samaras stressed, meaning that elections could be held at the end of March.
Samaras said that his intention was to assist in restoring the sustainability of Greece’s debt, which required the completion of the PSI process and the signature of a new loan agreement. He clarified that with the signature of the loan agreement, ND agreed to the general targets for the next three years for the elimination of the deficit, the reduction of the debt and boosting the competitiveness of the Greek economy.
ND’s leader added that his intention was to help the government of Lucas Papademos to achieve its aims and finally resolve the problem concerning the sustainability of Greek debt. At the same time, he warned, ND would not put up with attempts to set conditions that everything be resolved within the brief transitional period of the Papademos government.
“If anyone tries to drag things out they will find us opposed. If some people want to play at party politics or internal party games, we will not participate. We want everyone to observe the goals that we set together. The Greek people will have an opportunity to decide on the government that will lead them from the crisis,” he underlined.
He stressed that those fearing the judgement of the Greek people needed to accept that they could not avert the political legitimacy or the elections that the country needed.
Samaras repeated that many of the measures attempted in the last two years had failed to yield results, leading to an increase rather than a reduction of the deficit, and that some things had to change.
He stressed, however, that this was something that had to be negotiated by the next government.
On the issue of pensions, Samaras was categoric that the lowest pensions will be restored to their previous levels and that ND would not agree to any further slashing of pensions.
“Supplementary pensions were reduced twice and now they are seeking a third reduction, perhaps tomorrow a fourth or fifth, without even knowing how much the bond haircut will affect them. The issue of the viability of social insurance funds, especially supplementary pension funds, is something that we must look at comprehensively once the haircut that affects their revenues is completed,” he pointed out.
On the deregulation of the hire truck sector that is due to be discussed by the cabinet on Thursday, Samaras said that ND had no objections to bringing forward the implementation of the law provided this was done with adherence to certain conditions that had been established.
“Otherwise, we will just demolish a sector of the economy. It will not be deregulated. It will be handed over to companies from third countries and not just the EU, something that doesn’t happen anywhere in Europe,” he pointed out.