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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-05-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM Karamanlis readies for week-long visit to Australia
  • [02] Papoulias, Fischer tour Mt. Athos on Tues.
  • [03] Deputy FM addresses 'EU 27' meeting in Berlin
  • [04] EU praise for Greek finances, end to EDP

  • [01] PM Karamanlis readies for week-long visit to Australia

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis is currently in Australia in preparation of a lengthy official visit by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to the island continent, as the latter is due to arrive in Sydney on Monday following a visit to New Zealand.

    Australia and Greece are expected to sign a long-awaited mutual social insurance agreement guaranteeing the pension rights of Greek-Australians, and allowing the transfer of retirement pensions to Greece. The agreement will be signed on behalf of Greece by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who will accompany the prime minister.

    Karamanlis will arrive in Sydney on Monday. He will meet with his Australian counterpart John Howard in Canberra before visiting Adelaide.

    Karamanlis is expected in Melbourne on Thursday for talks with the political leadership of the state of Victoria and representatives of the sizeable Greek-Australian community there.

    On Friday, May 25, the Greek prime minister will address a public gathering at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park.

    Caption: Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (L) greets his Australian counterpart John Howard (R) upon the latter's arrival at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, Wednesday, April 27, 2005. ANA / M. MAROGIANNI

    [02] Papoulias, Fischer tour Mt. Athos on Tues.

    Greek President Karolos Papoulias and visiting Austrian President Heinz Fischer were received by Mount Athos authorities during their informal visit to the all-male monastic community in Halkidiki peninsula, northern Greece, on Tuesday.

    The two heads of state had the opportunity to admire several priceless relics on display in the Mount Athos capital of Karyes, including the first founding charter of the autonomous monastic community bearing the signature of Byzantine Emperor Ioannis Tsimiskis -- an artifact shown only to dignitaries.

    The two presidents also toured the Mount Athos Protato Cathedral and the monasteries of Iviron and Stavronikita.

    Caption: Austrian President Heinz Fischer toasts with a bottle of water as his wife Margit drinks from another one while on a tour of the Acropolis monument in downtown Athens on Monday, May 14, 2007. ANA-MPA/ EPA/A. BELTES

    [03] Deputy FM addresses 'EU 27' meeting in Berlin

    Representatives of the European Union's 27 member-states, with Deputy Foreign Minister Yannis Valinakis representing Greece, ended a meeting in Berlin on Tuesday evening, during which they evaluated results of deliberations to date on how to salvage the existing text of a draft EU Constitutional Treaty, winding up an important stage in preparation of an EU summit scheduled for June 21-22.

    Although the draft has already been ratified by 18 member-states, the text cannot remain as is given that it has been rejected in referenda in France and the Netherlands.

    The efforts enter a new stage on Wednesday, with the arrival in Berlin of newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his imminent talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country currently chairs the rotating EU presidency.

    Speaking to reporters after Tuesday's meeting, Valinakis stressed that Greece was among the member-states working towards preserving the substance of the Constitutional Treaty, adding that any "concessions" made in the wording or structure of the text in order to facilitate those countries facing difficulties in ratifying the Constitutional Treaty "must be counter-balanced by the result", meaning that the "essence" must be preserved.

    [04] EU praise for Greek finances, end to EDP

    The European Commission on Wednesday issued its mostly expected recommendation that the Council lift an excessive deficit procedure (EDP) against Greece, Germany and Malta.

    In a particularly positive statement for Athens and the other two governments, the EU's executive emphasised that "in 2006 their budget deficit fell below the 3 percent of GDP ceiling on the back of a significantly improved structural budget balance reflecting permanent measures, and is projected to decrease further in 2007 and 2008."

    The Commission added that the favourable developments in the "public debt ratio in 2006 and the projection for all three countries of a decreasing trend in 2007 and 2008. This achievement indicates a credible and sustainable correction of the excessive."

    Specifically regarding Greece, the Commission said it considers that the excessive deficit situation has been corrected in a "credible and sustainable way."

    The general government deficit was reduced to 2.6 percent of GDP in 2006 from 5.5 percent in 2005, whereas the structural adjustment between 2004 and 2006, i.e. the improvement in the cyclically-adjusted balance net of one-off and other temporary measures, amounted to 4½ percentage points of GDP, the Commission noted.

    According to the Commission's spring forecast, the headline deficit is expected to narrow to 2.4 percent of GDP in 2007 (still including one-off measures of 0.5 percent of GDP) and, on a no-policy-change basis, slightly increase to 2.7 percent of GDP in 2008, but without further recourse to one-off measures. This suggests that the deficit has been brought below the Treaty reference value in a credible and sustainable manner.

    In a press release, the Commission stated:

    "Greece's general gross government debt declined from 108½ percent of GDP in 2004 to 104½ percent in 2006 and is expected to fall further to around 97½ percent of GDP by 2008, according to the Commission's forecasts and on a no-policy change basis. Hence the debt-to-GDP ratio can be considered to be sufficiently diminishing. Greece presently has the second biggest debt in the euro area after Italy.

    "Greece, nevertheless, needs to take advantage of the strong economic growth that it has been enjoying (4.3 percent in 2006 and an expected 3.7 percent in 2007) to reduce its structural deficit which, despite the significant reduction in the last two years, is still above 3 percent, and to progress towards its medium-term objective of a budget on balance. This is of the utmost importance to reduce the public debt rapidly and to improve the long-term sustainability of its public finances currently put at high risk by the expected increase in pensions and other age-related expenditure."

    Caption: European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia is shown at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, 13 June 2006. ANA-MPA/ EPA/PHILIPPE GISSELBRECHT

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