A New Democracy government under the premiership of Antonis Samaras would take steps to ensure that Greece ends its agreement with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union and becomes the master of its own economic policies again, the conservative leader said yesterday. In the opening speech of his party’s eighth congress, Samaras defended his decision to align ND so that it opposed the emergency loan deal that the PASOK government struck with the EU and IMF in return for tough economic reforms. «We can rely on our own powers,» Samaras told an audience of some 4,400 delegates. «New Democracy is drawing up a strategy to rid Greece of the constraints of the [EU-IMF] memorandum, not so we can return to the years of waste and laxness, but so we can exit the crisis through growth,» said the ND leader. Samaras is following a course that he believes will help his party pick up considerable support if the economic situation in Greece worsens. «When everything around us begins collapsing, New Democracy will still be standing and will offer solutions and ways out of our problems,» he said, reflecting a strategy that is built on the aim of drawing disgruntled PASOK voters but also discrediting the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), which voted in favor of the austerity measures demanded by the EU and IMF. Samaras adopted a high-risk strategy when he decided that his party should vote against the measures. He said that his party would focus on improving competitiveness, transparency in politics, public security and education but he also used his speech to look back on what he thinks were the main problems of the past (statism, populism, the hegemony of leftist ideas, the devaluation of public and national interests, false prosperity based on borrowed money and the lack of values and role models) in what was interpreted as an attack on the leadership of his predecessor Costas Karamanlis as well as PASOK’s time in government.