NEWS

Parties clash in Parliament over scandals

Government officials on Wednesday rebuffed vehement criticism by opposition politicians in Parliament, chiefly by the leader of the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Giorgos Karatzaferis, who accused both main parties of involvement in a string of corruption scandals and called for early general elections.

Christos Protopappas, the head of ruling PASOK?s parliamentary group, ruled out snap polls, stating that general elections would be held in 2013 when the government?s four-year term expires.

Protopappas added that everything possible would be done to shed light on the alleged involvement of MPs in corruption scandals, chiefly the Siemens cash-for-contracts affair.

Protopappas was responding to harsh words from LAOS leader Karatzaferis, who described the ruling Socialists and the main conservative opposition New Democracy party as ?Siamese twins,? noting that politicians from both main parties were implicated in the Siemens scandal and a more recently unearthed affair regarding the alleged payment of some 100 million euros in under-the-table payments to Greek politicians and officials in the purchase of four German submarines.

Karatzaferis claimed that the ruling party had lost its credibility, and the popular mandate, and had no option but to proceed to snap elections.

Apart from prompting a curt response by Protopappas and Regional Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis — who insisted that PASOK and ND were ?very different? — Karatzaferis?s words also fueled the anger of the spokesman for ND?s parliamentary group, Costas Markopoulos. The ND official indicated that the LOAS leader?s apparent outrage was hypocritical as his party had supported the government?s austerity drive by voting last May for the so-called ?memorandum? — the agreement signed between Greece and its international creditors foreseeing the exchange of 110 billion euros in loans for a raft of austerity measures.

On Wednesday afternoon Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou was due to meet with visiting representatives of Greece?s creditors for talks expected to focus on tactics for raising much-needed revenue.

According to sources, the envoys are expected to push for the immediate launch of a much-delayed privatization program.