PM wrestles with the state

Getting to grips with Greece’s complex state mechanism is the biggest task the government has to fulfill, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told a New Democracy conference yesterday as part of the buildup to the next general elections. Karamanlis highlighted what he sees as the government’s achievements but admitted that the ruling conservatives still had much to do in their effort to reform Greece. The premier said that the state was «the biggest problem that we inherited from yesterday.» He accepted that there were «still unsolved problems and weaknesses.» New Democracy was voted into power in March 2004, promising a raft of reforms. But following changes in a number of areas, including education, the economy and the public sector, the pace of reforms appears to have slowed as the next elections approach. The proximity of the polls has also led to more intense arguing between ND and its main opposition PASOK. Karamanlis sought to put his party back on the track he believes will win ND the elections. «In March 2004, the people chose changes over the status quo, reforms over decline, progress against caution,» Karamanlis told the ND conference in Neo Faliron, southern Athens – only the party’s seventh gathering in its 33-year history. The party’s new central committee will be elected during the conference. He said it was vital for his party to follow the «road of responsibility» and not to make promises it cannot keep. During a speech in which he did not mention PASOK once, the premier also said he would not seek to engage the opposition in mudslinging. «This country cannot stomach the polarization, insults and policies that poison public life,» said Karamanlis. On Monday, he responded to weeks of intense pressure from PASOK over the bond scandal by revealing in Parliament similar allegations about Socialist officials. The revelations led to the resignation of PASOK general manager Yiannis Papaconstantinou, who denies any wrongdoing, on Thursday.

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