PM comes out fighting

For the first time since members of his party were caught up in recent media allegations, the prime minister yesterday spoke publicly about the matter and blamed developments on his government having stirred up the opposition of vested interests, while insisting he was undeterred by the situation. «Today, Greece is striding purposefully and with self-belief on the path of development and progress,» said Premier Costas Karamanlis. «We are making changes which have provoked the reaction of perceptions, attitudes and vested interests which have held this country hostage to regression.» Karamanlis made the comments as he left Aghios Demetrios Church in Thessaloniki. The city was celebrating the day of its patron saint, Demetrios, yesterday. Former deputy finance minister Adam Regouzas and New Democracy deputy for Piraeus Petros Mandouvalos both resigned this month following graft allegations on television. This has created a tense climate between the government and some media organizations, which it believes are out to «flatten» it, as government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said. The conservatives were hit by another resignation, which was accepted on Tuesday night, when the president of the board of the main Olympic complex, Emmanouil Katsiadakis, stepped down. Katsiadakis, a political appointee and former adviser to Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia, gave up his post after it was revealed that he had approved the use of an area in the complex by a specific company without launching a tender first. Sources said there had been increasing concern within the ruling conservatives that the prime minister should take a strong stance on the issue and prevent it from snowballing further. But, until yesterday, Karamanlis had left it up to other members of his government to speak out. In a thinly disguised reference to the practices of some sections of the media, Karamanlis said the public could recognize «excess» and «exaggeration.» Meanwhile, after an extraordinary meeting yesterday, the National Council for Radio and Television (ESR) advised television and radio stations to display «caution and moderation» in their news and current affairs shows and reminded them that, by law, the rights of people mentioned in programs have to be respected.