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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-02-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PASOK platform to be unveiled early March
  • [02] EU labour ministers reach political agreement
  • [03] Kosovo negotiations process 'difficult', gov't

  • [01] PASOK platform to be unveiled early March

    The main opposition PASOK party's Political Council, its Programme Committee, and its Parliamentary Council will hold a joing meeting on March 1, during which the party's new platform will be unveiled and discussed. In the meantime, the PASOK Political Council decided that the party's MPs would vote against the framework law on higher education announced by the government.

    The decision was taken unanimously during a Political Council meeting chaired by PASOK leader George Papandreou, and the negative vote affected the first reading (in principle vote), the vote by-article, and the vote on the bill in its entirety.

    Addressing the Council, Papandreou said that the entire matter of the bill on higher education was indicative of the mentality that characterised the New Democracy government, but also all the conservative governments throughout the world.

    Papandreou claimed that the conservative governments chose issues that mobilise the most conservative forces of society, citing US president George Bush as an example, in an effort to themselves determine the agenda, and consequently ND's selection of this specific bill was not by chance, the more so given that its regulations did not concern matters of primary priority in the education sector.

    In addition, he said, the PASOK members and society in general needed to be informed on what was really at stake.

    Parliamentary Council member Michalis Chryssohoidis, who holds the education sector portfolio, said that the bill essentially dealt with some matters related to the operation of the universities, but did not touch on the present-day and future needs and goals. He said the bill did not provide answers to such issues as autonomy and self-administration, evaluation, research and funding.

    The unanimous resolution adopted by the Political Council said that PASOK's vision for Greece's future was inalienably linked with a new educational system from primary to tertiary education, and criticised the government of consciously disdaining and under-financing public education, and pledged that when PASOK returned to government, during its first year of governance it would increase expenditure in the education sector by one billion euros.

    As for the joint session of the Political Council, Programme Committee and Parliamentary Council, which will open on March 1 and continue through to noon the next day, the party's platform would be presented for the first time and discussed.

    Immediately afterwards, the Political Council would meet to prepare its recommendation to the party's National Council on the following day, March 3.

    On March 4, an open political event would be held, addressed by Papandreou.

    [02] EU labour ministers reach political agreement

    The European Union's employment ministers reached a political agreement in Brussels on Thursday on the European Commission's reports on employment, social protection and social integration, preparing the way for the spring European Council on March 8-9.

    Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Savvas Tsitouridis indicated that the pensioning age "was and will remain a case for each country and will be determined on the basis of the social and economic possibilities, particularities and parametres of every country."

    Addressing the EU Council, the Greek employment minister supported a proposal by the German Presidency on strengthening social protection, pointing out to his counterparts that "the Lisbon Strategy must have an explicit and dynamic social character."

    As regards the Commission's report on employment, Tsitouridis said that the Greek government, in this sector, has carried out "positive work with obvious and measurable progress" and has scheduled reforms aimed at promoting employment, handling unemployment and combatting poverty and social exclusion.

    [03] Kosovo negotiations process 'difficult', gov't

    Greece's foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Thursday predicted that the negotiations process on the future status of Kosovo would be "difficult", and reiterated Greece's position that the two sides should "refrain from unilateral actions that will not contribute to a positive climate in the negotiations", noting that the Greek side has stressed at all the fora and to all the countries of the region "the cruciality of protecting the historical and religious monuments", on which a detailed proposal has been submitted.

    "The negotiations process that began yesterday (Wednesday) in Kosovo is expected to be a difficult one, given that the two sides are setting out from completely different starting points," Koumoutsakos explained, and, synopsising the positions of the two sides, said that "Belgrade wants anything other than independence, while Pristina wants nothing other than independence".

    Asked during a regular press briefing to comment on "the Serbian Orthodox Church's pressure on the international community for the Ahtisaari Plan to not come to pass", Koumoutsakos said that "each of the two sides -- Belgrade and Pristina -- wants to create a negotiations atmosphere that benefits its own priorities. This also holds true for the initiatives of the Serbian Church".

    Regarding the recent violence against Serbs in Pristina and the destruction of an Orthodox church, Koumoutsakos said that Greece has stressed, both inside and outside the EU, that the two sides concerned must refrain from unilateral actions, or from actions that could create a non-positive atmosphere for the negotiation".

    With respect to the protection of the historical and religious monuments, Koumoutsakos recalled that the Greek foreign ministry "has repeatedly put forward and stressed the cruciality of the issue during all its meetings, both with Mr. Ahtisaar and with the countries of the region, as well as with the two sides in the discussions we had in Belgrade and Pristina".

    In addition, he said, "on the part of the Greek side -- not formally by the foreign ministry -- at the initial stages of the negotiation, a research foundation had presented a very detailed proposal for the protection of these sites, which was also conveyed to Mr. Ahtisaari and has taken its course".

    ANA-MPA file photo of Koumoutsakos.


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