Samaras to focus on reforms after attack on SYRIZA over migrants, public order

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is expected to change the focus of his election campaign on Saturday, when he is due to present his party’s economic strategy after concentrating on Wednesday on SYRIZA’s stance on law and order as well as immigration.

Samaras is expected to talk about plans to attract investment and the completion of market reforms. “From now on we will enter a period of real change, with growth, investment, exports, privatization and use of public property,” he said in a speech in Halkida on the island of Evia.

His appearance came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated clearly that she wants Greece to keep the euro. “I, as German chancellor, and also the German government have always pursued a policy of Greece staying in the eurozone,” Merkel said during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London.

She said she had “no doubts whatsoever” that the Greek situation would be brought to a “successful conclusion,” but stressed Athens needed to continue to respect its commitments if it wanted its partners to show solidarity.

The Greek premier, however, spent much of his address on Wednesday accusing SYRIZA of being soft on key national issues, such as the leftist party’s opposition to maximum-security prisons. “Why don’t they want them?” he said. “So the convicts can escape? It is their public position that they want to disband the police.”

In the wake of the terrorist attack on the Paris offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which left 12 people dead, Samaras also raised questions about SYRIZA’s immigration policy. “You see what is happening in Europe: Everything is changing dramatically,” he said. “In France, the Socialist [Prime Minister Francois] Hollande has sent the army onto the streets.

“There was a massacre in Paris today and here some people are inviting over illegal immigrants and handing out citizenships.”

Leftist SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras sought to reassure skeptics about the repercussions of a likely victory by his party in upcoming snap elections in an article published in Wednesday’s edition of Italy’s Corriere della Sera titled “My Greece will not harm Europe.” In the article, Tsipras maintains that SYRIZA is no longer regarded as a risk, as in 2012, but as a challenge that could bring change.

In an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 meanwhile, Tsipras said that a SYRIZA government would seek war reparations from Germany and the return of the Parthenon Marbles along with a writedown of Greece’s debt. “We are going to demand debt reduction, and the money Germany owes us from World War Two, including reparations, but we also want the Marbles, which don’t belong to us but to everybody, and which need to come back to their home,” Tsipras is quoted as saying.

In an interview with the Financial Times meanwhile, prominent SYRIZA MP Giorgos Stathakis said a SYRIZA administration would crack down on Greek oligarchs.

Two opinion polls whose results were made public on Wednesday showed that SYRIZA maintained a lead over New Democracy though the difference has narrowed to just over 3 percent. A poll by GPO for Mega TV put SYRIZA at 28.5 percent, ahead of ND with 25.3 percent, while another poll by Alco for To Pontiki put the leftists on 33.8 percent and ND on 30.5 percent.

In a related development, the Interior Ministry announced that the existing electoral register will be used in the elections on January 25. As the electoral roll is updated every February, this means that about 100,000 18-year-olds will not be able to vote in the elections as some had hoped. SYRIZA responded to the ministry’s announcement by accusing the government of attempting to distort the outcome of elections.