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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-05-31

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Inner cabinet discusses public/private sector joint venture draft law
  • [02] Greek minister and Luxembourg counterpart discuss fiscal prospects in view of French 'non'
  • [03] President of the Republic, Premier receive ex-pat journalists

  • [01] Inner cabinet discusses public/private sector joint venture draft law

    An inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday discussed a draft law aimed to promote joint ventures between the public and private sectors in infrastructure and services projects budgetted up to 200 million euros.

    The draft law, presented by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, will contributed in improving the quality of projects and services and will harmonise the country with an existing framework in the European Union.

    Alogoskoufis said the draft legislation would be the base for strengthening development and investments in the country along with a tax reform and a new investment legislation.

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas stressed the draft law was a serious structural intervention, which along with new laws on public works, competition, shopping hours and an agreement between the management and workers in Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, were creating the framework for a new development course in a new era.

    Alogoskoufis reiterated that a deal in Hellenic Telecoms would benefit the organisation and the economy while he stressed that the state was supporting the organisation's pension fund but with a smaller sum compared with the past.

    [02] Greek minister and Luxembourg counterpart discuss fiscal prospects in view of French 'non'

    Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis held talks with his counterpart in the Luxembourg EU presidency on Tuesday concerning the new climate that has emerged in the wake of the rejection by French voters of the European Constitution text. The meeting occurred on the sidelines of the 7th Ministerial Euro-Mediterranean Conference that is taking place here.

    After meeting his Luxembourg counterpart Nicolas Schmit, Valynakis said he had called for the promotion of an agreement for the EU budget at the European Council in June.

    He said the talks were dominated by the results of the French referendum, which is expected to complicate Community fiscal policy and have direct repercussions on the payment of 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) funds by stiffening the resolve of the "1 percent bloc".

    This will also coincide with the start of the pre-election period in Germany, the main contributor of EU funds, which is seen as another complicating factor, .

    "Without Germany's agreement and with an intransigent '1-percent bloc', the cohesion funds that the Greek people think of as the 4th CSF and which our country needs for its development after 2006 will inevitably be less," Valynakis said after his talks with Schmit.

    He stressed that Greece will insist on the European Commission's position for 1.14 per cent of the budget and said that Athens had worked hard to achieve this target since last June, holding successive meetings and contacts with a group of 17 member-states dubbed the "friends of the Commission".

    "Our target is to achieve an agreement as soon as possible, preferably by the European Council in June, because the prospects afterward will be even worse. We want to secure the necessary funds that will allow Greek regions to match the EU average in terms of prosperity levels".

    In addition to Schmit, Valynakis had a series of meetings with other foreign ministers attending the EuroMed Ministerial, including Tunisian Foreign Minister Abdelbaki Hermassi on Tuesday morning and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed Tahar Siala on Monday evening.

    He said the talks had focused primarily on bilateral relations and cooperation in all areas.

    [03] President of the Republic, Premier receive ex-pat journalists

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received a group of Greek expatriate journalists working for international media at the Presidential Mansion on Tuesday. The journalists were also received by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the Maximos Mansion.

    During the meeting, Papoulias discussed France's 'no' vote on the European Constitution, his role as President, the Balkans and Russia.

    "I don't know what other surprises await us. I am not pessimistic, I am optimistic - Europe possesses its own dynamic," he said, referring to Sunday's French referendum, which resulted in 54.9% of French voters rejecting the EU Treaty.

    "An outcome, resulting from any referendum, cannot reverse this dynamic," he continued, adding that in a way it can serve as a red flag for certain EU leaderships.

    Asked about Greece's image abroad, Papoulias replied that "in recent decades a great effort has been made and Greece has now emerged as a European country that has made exceptional progress and has a positive future to look forward to."

    Papoulias also made reference to the Balkans in response to a question of whether he felt a sense of solidarity towards the region. Papoulias reminded the group that having previously served as Foreign Minister over a 12-year period, "I know the Balkan peoples."

    He expressed the view that the Balkans are also changing. "It's not just one part of the Balkans - Greece - that is changing and progressing. The Balkan region in general is progressing," he said.

    Finally, asked to comment on Russia's future, Papoulias predicted that it too will become a member of the EU, sometime in the next decade, perhaps. "And it must be [a member of the EU] because it is a major power with great potential and I think it will be a serious deficit for today's EU not to include Russia among its member states."

    On his part, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressing the group stressed that attracting foreign investment and achieving development was the new great wager for Greece.

    The premier said the Greek economy was now struggling with major problems accumulated in the past and the government's present economic policy sought to correct these and lay firm foundations for a future with better prospects, development, increased production and greater employment.

    "I ask you to assist with all you power in this new national affair, as you have so successfully done in the recent past, spreading everywhere the message that with each passing day, Greece is establishing the conditions needed for foreign investments to yield profits," he said.

    He also thanked the gathered journalists for their support of the Olympic Games in Greece and stressed that the challenge now was to capitalise on the success of the Athens Olympics and create prospects for dynamic, sustainable growth in all parts of the country.

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