Petalotis condemns strikes and protests, ND stance

The government was fighting a battle against all the bad elements from Greece's past and was the first that had the courage to stand up to the interests of confraternities representing a privileged few, government spokesman George Petalotis stressed on Tuesday. At the same time, he attacked the stance adopted by main opposition New Democracy.

"We have to consider what would have happened if we didn't today have the security and calm given us by the 110-billion-euro package," he emphasised, pointing out that the government had dared to make tough but essential decisions.

Petalotis emphasised that the greater part of the changes made by the government have been approved by the electorate but "do not have the approval of ND and the confraternities who find themselves put out of joint, those who oppose any real change being attempted in the country and those who invest in creating upheaval and chaotic situations."

Asked to comment on the strikes and reactions to the government's measures, Petalotis noted that these were to be expected when major upheavals and changes were happening but that those reacting did not form a single united front, since each group had different interests.

Regarding the protests by farmers, in particular, the spokesman said that participation in these was very small and strongly party influenced. He stressed that the government would not allow mobilisation by a very small number of farmers to obstruct traffic and close the borders.

He also dismissed the "I won't pay" movement objecting to higher road tolls and fare hikes in public transport, saying that they were not a movement but simply "freeloaders" who were making other people pay doubly for the things they refused to pay for.

Petalotis also pointed out that the government was currently reneogtiating the contracts for the road toll concessions signed by the ND government in 2007 so that the tolls charged would be significantly reduced.

He also stressed that 'I won't pay' was an attitude that did not become a democratic society and was anything but progressive in a time of crisis.

"We didn't need any 'I won't pay' movement to see that there was a problem with the road tolls, we raised the issue before anyone tried to create a so-called civil disobedience movement," he added, pointing out that the contracts with the consortiums had been signed by the Greek state and were binding for everyone until they were changed.

The spokesman also described this form of protest as "damaging" and noted that there were legal ways for people to protest.

He noted that the mobilisations against government measures came from people that wanted things to remain stagnant and that this coincided with ND's aims, which also didn't want anything to change.

Among others, he pointed to the visits by high-ranking ND officials to doctors occupying the health ministry and the lack of a clear condemnation of the strikes from the main opposition.

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