NEWS

Tsipras says he understands citizens’ security fears better than Samaras

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has fired broadside at his New Democracy rival Antonis Samaras, claiming that he is in a much better position than the conservative to appreciate people?s concerns about rising crime and illegal immigration.

The SYRIZA leader criticized Samaras?s visit on Friday to the central Athens Aghios Panteleimonas district, which has been a battleground for Golden Dawn over the last few years as the neo-Nazi party had capitalized on rising crime and friction between locals and immigrants.

Tsipras said that he lived in a working-class neighborhood, unlike Samaras, and did not need to visit one to understand people?s concerns.

?I don?t stage public relations stunts by visiting areas like Aghios Panteleimonas because I live in Kypseli, not in Ekali or Kifissia, and I know the problems people experience due to the rise in crime and the ghettoization of parts o Attica and elsewhere,? he said.

Tsipras visited police headquarters in Athens on Monday, a few days after Samaras held talks there with officers. SYRIZA, which has pledged to disarm police and disband the riot squad, accused previous governments of diverting funds to guarding VIPs and to suppressing street protests rather than spending them on policing.

Tsipras said that SYRIZA would not ban policemen fighting crime from carrying guns but insisted that he did not want those patrolling protests to be armed. The leftist leader repeated his party?s commitment to reintroducing neighborhood policemen and vowed to support officers.

?If voters honor us with their vote, we will give priorities to citizens? safety and policemen will return to neighborhoods, where they belong, not in MP?s or ministers? offices,? said Tsipras.