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Antenna: News in English (PM), 98-09-07
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From: Antenna Radio <http://www.antenna.gr> - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: Monday, 07-Sep-98 22:17:23
 Simitis-63rd annual trade fair in ThessalonikiThe government is going to continue its belt-tightening economic policies.
Opening the 63rd annual trade fair in Thessaloniki over the weekend, prime minister Kostas Simitis said lowering inflation remains at the centre of a strategy geared to taking the drachma into the single European currency.
The prime minister balanced his promises of a economic austerity over the next two years with assurances that he will provide for those in need.
During the address where the prime minister traditionally outlines his government's economic policies for the coming year, Kostas Simitis made it clear that his government will not be loosening up the public purse strings in the year ahead.
"We need to further stabilise our economy", he said. "We will not hesitate to go ahead with our policies, we won't retreat. My message is that we need to move forward, to become competitive and strong".
Reducing inflation from its current level of around five per cent to two per cent, as required of all candidates for the single European currency, remains that government's top priority.
That means spending cuts and low wage raises in the public sector.
The prime minister is asking on trade unions to exercise self-restraint in the private sector when it comes to pay demands.
He's also asking producers to lower prices if that's what it takes to bring inflation down to single currency levels.
Kostas Simitis has resolutely refused to wilt before the criticism of his austere policies from
within his own party. In Thessaloniki, he said even his critics know that the government has no other option but to continue on the course it's set.
The Greek leader also said that a worsening of the global economic climate could necessitate further austerity measures in Greece, but at present, he has no intention of tightening the belt any further. He expressed his hope that the international community will not allow the financial volatility in Russia and Japan to become a global crisis.
While he didn't mince words about his intentions of steering a tight course, the prime minister also insisted that Pasok will maintain what he calls its "social face"; and he announced that he will be giving raises to people on low state pensions.
Defending his term in office, the prime minister said that his policies have paid off.
A number of major public works projects are proceeding; and the government will continue its programme of privatisations.
Commenting on the recent failed attempt to find a suitable buyer for the Ionian Bank, Simitis siad "We're not willing to sell any company when we don't feel that the sale will benefit the Greek people".
 KaramanlisIn Thessaloniki, the prime minister also defended himself against New Democracy's frequent criticisms. Kostas Simitis said New Democracy's leader Kostas Karamanlis's attacks are always of a personal nature.
And there was more fire from Karamanlis over the weekend.
The main opposition leader said the premier is "cut off from the real world".
On a tour of the Peloponese, Kostas Karamanlis accused Kostas Simitis of being locked up in a glass tower, detached from Greece and its problems.
Karamanlis promised that if he's elected to power he will lighten the economic burden of the nation's farmers. The farmers have been asking successive Pasok government's for tax breaks and higher crop subisidies, to little avail.
Karamanlis also said Simitis had used the podium at the Thessaloniki trade fair to make more empty promises.
New Democracy's spokesman calls Pasok a deeply divided pary, which the prime minister is trying in vain to hold together.
New Democracy MP Dora Bakoyianni says Simitis's speech in Thessaloniki revealed Greece's biggest problem: that the government's economic policies have not achieved what the government claims they have.
 Swissair-VictimsAnother Greek has been added to the catalogue of those who lost their lives in the Swissair tragedy last week.
The twelfth victim of Greek extraction is Andreas Spanopoulos, whose wife Evgenia was also on the ill- fated flight.
The Spanopoulos's baby was also on Andreas's passport.
The other two Greeks are Mark Chapman, whose mother was Greek, and his wife.
 Pangalos-KosovoThe Greek foreign minister warns that ethnic Albanians fighting for independence in the Serbian province of Kosovo want to expand their struggle to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece.
Theodoros Pangalos says representatives of the Kosovo Liberation Army told him in Tirana last month that Kosovo is just one of their goals.
Pangalos concludes: "The KLA comments don't lead me to the conclusion that they are particularly wise and serious politicians".
Pangalos also says, "I was amazed by the politeness and equanimity with which the KLA told me it is obvious that in the future they must address the issue of the Albanian population in Fyrom and certain issues that exist with Greece".
Some ethnic Albanians in Kosovo openly show their desire to see the creation of a "greater Albania", comprising parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Fyrom, and northwestern Greece.
That aspiration has no official support in Albania.
Pangalos says that separatist attacks on Serbian targets in Kosovo must stop, and that what he calls the "abuse of power by the Serbs in Kosovo come to an end".
The Greek diplomat adds that the Serbs say; they will stop their violent suppression of the ethnic- Albanians as soon as the separatists stop their military operations.
Pangalos point out that the KLA, on the other hand, not only doesn't say it won't stop fighting; it states that it intends to generalise the conflict.
 European court-Health insuranceA European court has ruled that everyone carrying Greek state health insurance is entitled to health care coverage in all EU countries without prior authorisation from their insurance company.
Greeks, like all other EU nationals, will be reimbursed by their national health provider on submitting a receipt of healthcare costs incurred.
Greek deputy health minister Nikos Farmakis says that it will take some time before the details of the terms of coverage outside Greece will be worked out.
While Greece is obliged to obey the court ruling, the EU court will also consider the specifics of the Greek insurance system in determining the dollars and cents of compliance.
The specifics that need to be worked out are the disparity in health care cost between Greek and other European hospitals, European hospitals being more expensive; and the fact that Greece's insurance funds are running huge deficits.
Or, as Farmakis points out, some insurance groups don't cover medical treatment in private hospitals.
"Is it possible", he asks, "for those carriers to pay for treatment outside the country when the treatment is available here?"
All that notwithstanding, Greek working people believe the court ruling is of great importance for them.
(c) ANT1 Radio 1998
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