The Citizen First says the Greek PM - The Best from Greece

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Posted on: 15/Oct/2009

Prime minister George Papandreou on Wednesday chaired the first meeting of his ruling PASOK party's new parliamentary group that emerged from the October 4 general elections in Greece, which brought PASOK to power."The people asked us to assume the responsibility of changing page," Papandreou said, adding that, with "participation and joint decisions, we will confront the imperative problems the country is facing".

"On October 4, the people entrusted us with the historic duty of moving forward and guaranteeing the major changes we committed ourselves to bringing," Papandreou said.He stressed that the parliamentary group will be the driving force for change in the country, while the MPs will be the guarantors for implementation of PASOK's campaign slogan "The citizen first" in the everyday governance.

We are upgrading the parliament in the more general framework of transparency and giving account, the premier said, noting that only through the creation of strong control mechanisms can the citizens' interests be protected.

He described the present situation as exceptionally difficult, adding that the cause is not the public finances, since the crisis is a multi-faceted one: "It is an economic, political and social crisis, a crisis of the institutions and values", the common denominator of which "is the lack of a well-governed state".

The premier warned his MPs that they will face difficulties and come under heavy pressure for political favors and even irregularities, but clarified that PASOK was determined to change page for the country, so as to wipe out such phenomena.

"Our goal is a just state. The government will guarantee the rights of everyone, not privileges for the few. Our strategy is one of prospects and hope, of elevating the entire country and representing its rights, and we call on everyone, whether they voted for us or not, to take part in this struggle," he continued.

"The people are not asking of us to gve a little or a lot. They are asking for only one thing: To give our best self, to put forward the best we have," Papandreou added.

He said that beyond salvaging the economy, immediate priority will also be placed on fully changing the political landscape so as to give a substance and quality to democracy that the people will perceive and enjoy every day.

Turning to the state institutions, Papandreou stressed that the citizens need to regain their confidence in the institutions, and pledged that his government will make every effort to restore that relationship.

On the country's legislature, he said that parliament's role and that of the MPs has been downgraded, and pledged to upgrade them. The MPs will check the government, but also work with it, he added, and called on the deputies to voice opinions on all draft laws debated in the House.

Papandreou referred to steps that have already been set in motion, such as full separation of party and state posts.

"We will continue with a change of the electoral system that will strike a heavy blow against 'black' political money, ensure the protection and dignity of the MP, who will be freed from the clientele relations, and will upgrade the parliament," he said.

Turning to the government's legislative work, the premier said that an obligatory stage of public deliberation will be established for every draft law tabled in parliament, which will also require two readings, while there will also be assessment of the effects of each bill.

At the same time, parliament will check all the major state contracts. "We want parliament to be fully briefed on every major contract before it is signed," the premier said, stressing that this also includes the armaments programs.

Further, the parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee will monitor such issues as state relations with the mass media, while parliament will also ratify appointments to the Independent Authorities.

Also, the appointment of the leadership in the justice system by the government must stop, and henceforth parliament will have a say in those appointments and will take part in the entire selection process.

The PASOK parliamentary group on Tuesday elected its new presidium, with former minister Christos Papoutsis elected as the group's secretary, as proposed by Papandreou. Papoutsis and former minister Petros Efthymiou will also be the party's two parliamentary spokesmen.

Caption: Prime Minister George Papandreou speaks at the first meeting of his ruling PASOK parliamentary group on Wednesday 14 October 2009.

source Kathimerini Newspaper


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