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13 March, 2002
Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday clarified that the next national elections will be held in 2004, after a meeting of the ruling PASOK party Executive Bureau, which he chaired.
Simitis stressed that the elections will take place in 2004, because the people voted a four-year term government and because that is what the Constitution mandates.
''The aim is from this day already PASOK's victory, which will be conquered with a relation of trust that is being built every day between the government and the citizens, through the government's work,'' the premier said.
Simitis pointed out four major targets, which should be accomplished until the end of the current four-year term, outlining them as:
- Real economic and social convergence with the other European Union member-states
- Answers to the Greek national issues, these being the accession of Cyprus to the EU, the resolution of the Cyprus problem and improvement of Greek-Turkish relations
- The successful organizing of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and
- The battle for a better position for Greece in tomorrow's Europe.
All these aims, the premier stressed, are connected with Greece's European Union presidency due in the first half of 2003, adding that the government will also deal with basic issues that are priorities for citizens and make up the citizens' everyday life.
In his criticism of ND, Simitis underlined that the main opposition party ''serves business interests, of those that are well off and defend their position in society''.
He noted that ND's identity was proven during the 1989-1993 period, ''when it governed the country and led the country backwards'', adding that ND did not have specific positions on issues.
He accused ND of dynamiting the political climate of the country, ''as its rhetoric is characterized by special aggressiveness, an effort to create a polarized climate, scandal mongering and disaster talk''.
Simitis said ND wants early elections, ''because it wants to cut short the course of affairs, that is the implementation of the government's work, because then it will find itself without arguments''.
Speaking on the possibility of PASOK's cooperation with other parties, Simitis said that PASOK was steadfastly oriented in creating a progressive majority current and aimed at cooperating with the center-left and left political forces of the country.
He clarified that the initiatives undertaken toward that direction, were not aimed only at the leadership of other parties, but mostly were aimed towards the citizens, underlining that this option of the ruling was not an issue of tactics or an issue of creating impressions.
Responding to questions on possible changes to the electoral law, Simitis said that the relevant discussions were part of an effort to upgrade the political system and left open the possibility for the issue to be discussed before the municipal elections due in October.
ND spokesman responds to premier's criticism of his party:
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday responded to Prime Minister Costas Simitis' criticism of ND, saying that ''Mr. Simitis admitted today to his impasse and his inability to overcome them''.
''His attempt to distance himself from all that he stated as aberration, accusing the main opposition party, affirms his irresponsibility. It is about time for him to understand that his inability cannot become a source of new problems for the country,'' Roussopoulos added.
''It is about time for him to understand that the Greek people, for 20 years now, has been fed up with magnificent words and empty promises. Today the Greek people demand respect, responsibility and mainly work,'' he concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency