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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-12-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM Karamanlis briefed by FinMin Alogoskoufis on economy, new tax bill
  • [02] PASOK leader announces new party Secretary
  • [03] Ecumenical Patriarch attends Catholic liturgy

  • [01] PM Karamanlis briefed by FinMin Alogoskoufis on economy, new tax bill

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Friday with National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, who briefed him on the course of the economy and the new tax bill, which was due to be tabled later in the day in parliament. Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting that the bill contains substantial tax reliefs for all the Greeks. Regarding the economy, Alogoskoufis said that the developments were positive, stressing the 4.4 percent growth in Greece's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the third quarter of 2006 against the corresponding period last year, adding that the reduction in the deficit was proceeding in accordance with the budget forecasts.

    Alogoskoufis further noted that unemployment was also declining, while the development of employment was within the margins of the forecasts.

    On inflation, the minister said it was being contained, assisted also by the containment of international oil prices.

    The country's national statistical service on Thursday announced that GDP had grown by 4.4 percent in the third quarter of the year over the same period of 2005, following growth rates of 4.1 percent in both the preceding quarters this year.

    The statistical service, in a report, said investments rose 7.6 pct in the July-September period from the corresponding period in 2005, adding 1.6 percentage points to an increase in final demand.

    Greek exports grew 7.4 pct in the third quarter, adding 1.1 percentage points to the increase of final demand. The value of exports totalled 7.898 billion euros.

    Imports rose by 5.8 pct to 11.273 billion euros. The statistical service said final consumption grew by 3.3 percent in the third quarter.

    (ANA-MPA file photo of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis)

    [02] PASOK leader announces new party Secretary

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou on Friday announced the appointment of party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis as the new Secretary of PASOK, while he also unveiled his candidates to fill the party's political council, following his surprise announcement a day earlier to ask for the resignations of all its current members.

    Papandreou made the announcements during a meeting of the party‚s national council.

    Athanassakis replaces party secretary Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou, who in turn has been proposed by Papandreou to fill Athanassakis‚ post as party spokesperson.

    Papandreou announced his decision for sweeping changes to the party's organisational structure, which are expected to be ratified on Friday at the meeting of the new PASOK national council, on Thursday evening during a 15-minute meeting of the political council.

    The proposed members for the new political council are Xenoyiannakopoulou and veteran PASOK cadres Evangelos Venizelos, Fofi Gennimata, Maria Damanaki, Anna Diamantopoulou, Petros Efthymiou, Paris Koukoulopoulos, Marilena Koppa, Panos Beglitis, Theodoros Pangalos, George Panayiotakopoulos, Vasso Papandreou, Christos Papoutsis, Christos Polyzogopoulos, Sylvana Rapti, Costas Skandalidis, Rovertos Spyropoulos, Thanassis Tsouras, Michalis Chrysohoidis, and Eva Christofilopoulou.

    The new composition proposed includes five new individuals from the previous political council -- Xenoyiannakopoulou, Efthymou, Beglitis, Rapti, Chrysohoidis, and Christofilopoulou -- in the place of outgoing members Milena Apostolaki, Nora Katseli, Panayiotis Fassoulas (who was recently elected as Piraeus mayor), Angela Gerekou and Vangelis Papachristos.

    Papandreou further announced the establishment of a new, "tight and flexible" scheme in Parliament that will operate under Parliament group leader Dimitris Reppas, the composition of which will be announced on Sunday.

    Address to party meeting

    In addressing the national council session at a downtown Athens hotel, Papandreou repeated an array of criticism against the government, ranging from the Cyprus issue to recent local government election results to charges that the government is autocratic in its policies.

    Regarding education reform, and especially the Karamanlis government‚s stated volition to allow the establishment of private, non-profit universities in the country, Papandreou said differences between ruling ND and PASOK over education moved in different direction.

    However, he sternly defended his view backing a revision of Article XVI of the constitution - the provision that forbids anyone but the state from operating recognised tertiary institutions - saying the decision was taken at a party congress and proposed by PASOK‚s Parliament group. He also pejoratively referred to "political maneuvering" in describing internal PASOK opposition to the revision, saying he‚s willing to hold an "ideological" discussion with society and the younger generations over the issue.

    Regarding Cyprus, Papandreou called on the government to offer more support towards the island republic‚s government, especially now, as he said, when EU hopeful Turkey‚s appears in trouble over its failure to meet commitments towards the Union.

    On her part, outgoing secretary Xenoyiannakopoulou said that the country was entering a new, critical stage in which the people and the country needed a "progressive outlet".

    "When we speak of a victorious course for PASOK, we do not do so because we want to become government at any cost, but because we truly believe that we have a plan, a proposal, the determination and the cadres to materialise them for the good of our country and people," she said.

    (ANA-MPA file photo of Nikos Athanassakis who was appointed as the new Secretary of PASOK on Friday)

    [03] Ecumenical Patriarch attends Catholic liturgy

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Friday paid a reciprocal visit to the 160-year-old Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul, where he was welcomed by Pope Benedict XVI. "The Church does not wish to impose anything on anyone, it asks only for freedom," the Pontiff said after a service at the cathedral, adding that 90,000 Catholics live in predominately Muslim Turkey, sharing a day-to-day comradeship with people of a different faith.

    Both Church leaders joined in a procession leading into the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, where the Pope celebrated a divine liturgy for the Roman Catholic community of Istanbul. During the service the Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos offered a common blessing to the faithful.

    Also in attendance for the Roman Catholic liturgy were the heads of other Christian communities of the Bosporus metropolis.

    Judging by headlines in the Turkish press this week, the Pope's visit was utterly successful, as his reported support for Turkey's European prospects and a visit to a renowned Muslim place of worship, the Blue Mosque, eased negative sentiments in the country. The Ecumenical Patriarchate also appeared satisfied with the steps towards rapprochement between the two Churches as well as Benedict's vocal support for religious and minority rights in Turkey.

    Benedict was due to depart Istanbul on Friday, with Vartholomeos expected to accompany him to the airport.

    The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit was built in 1846 under the direction of Italian architect Julien Hillereau. It is located near the Beyoglu district of Istanbul, and among others, hosts a statute of one of the Pope's same-name predecessors, Benedict XV, in its courtyard -- a gift from the Turkish state.

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