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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-06-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] SE Europe could become the economic miracle of the next decade
  • [02] Papandreou: Turkey deserves sincere EU candidacy prospect
  • [03] Series of lectures, cultural events in Delphi

  • [01] SE Europe could become the economic miracle of the next decade

    Greek investments in Bulgaria and Romania totalled around 5.0 billion euros and were contributing actively in the economic growth of the two Balkan countries, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.

    Addressing an Economist conference in Athens, the Greek minister praised the two countries for their achievements as they prepared for accession in the European Union.

    "Southeastern Europe has the preconditions to become the economic miracle of the next decade, as Ireland did in the '90s," Alogoskoufis said adding that "many reforms are directly, jointly and undividedly link all three countries and significantly affect their production web, as all three economies have come closer and will continue doing so in the future".

    The Greek minister said the main challenges of economic policies for the next five years in Greece and neighbouring countries were:

    -improving investment climate and strengthening the private sector,

    -an integrated policy to boost exports,

    -promoting infrastructure projects in transports, telecoms and energy,

    -supporting local enterprises' efforts to access international capital markets and to adopt strategic partnerships for a more effective transfer of know-how in the banking sector. "It is of great importance to promote partnerships with our financial institutions. Creating healthy and competitive banking organisations could effectively help in supporting enterpreunship and achieving scale economics," he said. He praised partnership deals in the country and the entry of Greek banks in the Turkish market.

    -combatting tax-evasion and informal economy and gradually reducing taxes on corporations,

    -promoting adequate and timely inter-border information for large scale investments,

    -promoting a transparent system for public procurement, and

    -seeking cooperation to reduce inter-border bureaucratic procedures.

    Commenting on a reform policy in Greece, Alogoskoufis said "its results made citizens more confident and optimistic".

    The Greek minister said GDP grew 3.7 pct in 2005, one of the highest rates in the Eurozone, while GDP grew 4.1 pct in the first quarter of 2006. Per capita GDP jumped to 77.1 pct of the EU-15 average last year, from 75.4 pct in 2004, and it projected to total 80 percent of the EU-25 average by the end of 2007.

    Greece's fiscal deficit fell from 6.9 pct of GDP in 2004 to 4.5 pct in 2005 and its is projected to fall below 3.0 pct of GDP this year, to 2.6 pct. Unemployment fell to 9.7 pct in the fourth quarter of 2005, from 11.3 pct in March 2004, exports jumped 13.1 pct in 2005 and were up 17.4 pct in the first four months of 2006. Investments rose by 6.9 pct in the first quarter of 2006, while the real available income of Greek households grew an annual average 6.9 pct in the last two years.

    Real wages rose 2.8 pct in 2004 and 2.9 pct in 2005, while wages as a percentage of GDP rose to 34.1 pct in 2005, from 32.8 pct in 2004.

    Alogoskoufis said the inflation rate was stable at 3.5 pct last year, while the core inflation eased to 2.6 pct in the first four months of 2006 despite a strong increase in international oil and raw material prices.

    [02] Papandreou: Turkey deserves sincere EU candidacy prospect

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday referred to European Union expansion in the Balkans as a "lever" of peace and stability in the region, while emphasising that he's against a "special relationship" regime for Turkey as the latter country's candidacy must be wholly legitimate.

    Papandreou spoke at the opening day of a two-day Economist Group conference in the Greek capital, entitled "Greece, Bulgaria and Romania: Business and Investment Summit: Strengthening Relations at the Threshold of EU accession."

    "... a message with two meanings should not be conveyed to Turkey; the standing message is that Turkey has the right to become a full member of the EU as long, of course, as it fulfills the commitments it has undertaken," Papandreou, the former foreign minister, said.

    Speaking to an audience of mostly foreign dignitaries, business executives and diplomats, Papandreou also repeated his latest proposal -- aimed at Greece's political establishment -- for a "new strategy" governing Greek-Turkish relations, one that more effectively safeguards sovereign rights, strengthens regional peace and stability and eventually leads to a reduction in defence spending, he said.

    Turning to the domestic front, he echoed the current government's and previous administrations' focus on attempting to exploit the country's comparative advantages in the tourism sector, alternative forms of energy, brand-name farm products, services, merchant shipping and culture, among others.

    [03] Series of lectures, cultural events in Delphi

    A nearly month-long series of cultural events and world affairs fora, the "Cultural Amphictyonia 2006", officially get under way Friday at the European Cultural Centre of Delphi (ECCD), near the actual site of the eponymous ancient oracle, with the primary and week-long international conference, entitled "The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century: Reforms in Goals, Structure and Functions", beginning on Saturday.

    ECCD board chairman Prof. Helen Ahrweiler-Glykatzi and ECCD director Prof. Christodoulos Yiallouridis will declare the sessions open on Friday, with the Greek culture and transport ministers, George Voulgarakis and Mihalis Liapis, respectively, expected to address delegates. Other dignitaries expected to attend are Cyprus' new Foreign Minister George Lilikas, Egyptian Deputy FM Naela Gabr, UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari as well as Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis. Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos is also expected to attend the opening of the "Cultural Amphictyonia".

    Lecture themes include titles such as former IAEA legal adviser Odette Jankowitsch-Prevor's "The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Today: Cracks in the Edifice or Obsolescence?" to noted Washington-based terrorism analyst Anthony Cordesman's "US Strategy for Counter-terrorism and the Evolving Threats" to Geneva University Prof. Andreas Auer's "Peace and Security: The Case of Cyprus".

    Beyond the geo-political portions of the international meetings, other thematic presentations range from "Peace and War in Homer" to "Approaches to the Trojan War in Western European Painting" to "From Goya to Jake and Dinos Chapman: Artists Against War", as well as the staging of ancient and contemporary plays at the archaeological site's outdoor theatre.

    The international conference takes its name from the Great Amphictyonic League of antiquity, which was founded around 1100 BC for the protection and administration of the temple of Apollo in Delphi, in south-central Greece, and the temple of Demeter near Thermopylae, further to the east. According to ancient legends the league was founded by Amphictyon, the brother of Hellen, the common ancestor of all Hellenes (Greeks).

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