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Greek Prime Minister Calls For An End To 'Acts Of Blind Violence'

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BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Spinthourakis) Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, on Friday, said he was satisfied with the decisions reached by European leaders for dealing with the global economic crisis, during the summit meeting held here on Friday. On domestic issues, meanwhile, he again appealed for an end to "acts of blind violence that have recently rocked Greece".

Our general principle is to help those that need it, preserve our developmental potential and protect jobs and real incomes," he said in a press conference after the end of the European leaders' summit, reporting on the results of the meeting.

He stressed that the European Council, under an exceptionally successful French presidency, had managed to adopt a united stance on coping with the repercussions of the crisis.

The fiscal measures by EU member-states would be in accordance with both the flexibility provided under the Stability Pact and with the Lisbon Strategy targets, he added.

In terms of the Greek economy, Karamanlis said that it was holding up better than several others in Europe and that the Greek government had acted quickly and directly. He stressed that the Greek programme for dealing with the crisis was among the first approved by Brussels and that measures and actions for dealing with repercussions of the crisis would continue, chiefly in the direction of supporting small and medium-sized businesses.

At the same time, the prime minister underlined that short-term measures were not as important as continuing planned structural reforms based on a comprehensive plan.

Greece's greatest problem continued to be the huge public debt created over the last 30 years, the reduction of which required long-term policies, he added.

Karamanlis hailed the decisions taken at the European Council for combating climate change, adding that there had already been an in-depth discussion with the environment ministry on the Greek side, regarding the measures that will have to be adopted.

The Greek premier also welcomed a decision by Ireland to hold a new national referendum for the approval of the Lisbon Treaty within the coming year.

Prime Minister on rioting, demonstrations in Greece

Replying to reporters' questions about the unrest and demonstrations in Athens and other cities throughout Greece over the past six days, since the shooting of a 15-year-old boy by a police officer in Exarhia the previous Saturday, Karamanlis stressed the need to put an immediate end to "acts of blind violence".

He stressed that these were extremely dangerous, both for society and for democracy.

Noting that the government was aware of the pressures that young people had to contend with, the Greek premier nevertheless underlined that the "exploitation of their anxieties by extreme elements must stop".

The sympathy with which the government viewed the concerns of youth should not be confused with blind violence and the actions of extremist groups targeting democracy, he said.

Karamanlis called on all political forces in Greece to decisively condemn acts of violence and said that there should be no ideological backing for extreme elements turning against democracy.

Asked whether he still considered the government's mandate to be strong, in light of its slim majority and the recent events, the Greek premier underlined that he did not intend to step down or call early elections.

The country has a strong government and its strength is not measured by the number of MPs but by the reforms that it carries out," he said, adding that Greece was now up against a great economic crisis that demanded consistency, a responsible policy and "a firm hand at the helm."

On questions regarding the suspect land swaps between the state and the Vatopedi Monastery, Karamanlis noted that on a major issue that had unfolded over the last 10 years, the state had obviously not worked in the way that it should.

"Objectively, the state bears responsibility," Karamanlis told reporters, adding that he would wait for the findings of the Parliamentary investigation committee to be released before stating his position.