Samaras defends gov't record, attacks SYRIZA

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday defended his conservative government's record while launching a vehement attack on leftist opposition SYRIZA.

Speaking to the parliamentary group of his New Democracy party, Samaras said the government had managed to put the Greek economy back on the road of recovery.

“We will soon restore pre-crisis living standards, only this time on more solid foundations,” said Samaras describing the conservatives as a beacon of stability in the Greek Parliament.

However, the conservative chief warned his deputies that a loose vote in the coming elections would jeopardize the country's achievements over the past few years.

“[You need to] explain [to voters] that nothing is given. Many small mistakes can bring about major damage, they can lead to worse than what we've had to put up with until now,” Samaras said.

“The country is at a crucial turning point, at a historical crossroads,” he said.

Samaras also accused SYRIZA of banking its future on continued suffering from Greece's austerity programs.

“Nostalgic for yesteryear, they promise to do away with the memorandums that we are now leaving behind. What will SYRIZA do without the barbarians, without the memorandums?” he said, paraphrasing Greek poet Cavafy, and pledged that the government will not introduce any new cost-cutting measures.

A new opinion poll on voting intentions for European Parliament elections published Thursday showed New Democracy trailing SYRIZA by 2 percent.

Conducted by Pulse for the weekly To Pontiki newspaper, the poll showed SYRIZA taking the lead with 22.5 percent, followed by Samaras's conservative party which stood at 20.5 percent.

Meanwhile, Greece's unemployment rate dipped to 26.5 percent in February from a downwardly revised 26.6 percent in the previous month, the country's statistics agency ELSTAT said on Thursday.