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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-09-06

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM says country needs government to force ahead with necessary reforms
  • [02] WTTC head optimistic over Greek tourism

  • [01] PM says country needs government to force ahead with necessary reforms

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Thursday night, speaking during a televised discussion between the six political party leaders, that the government is in the middle of a difficult and uphill path and it must continue to move forward with greater determination.

    "We can achieve a great deal if we move forward united. I believe that a government is necessary that will go ahead with the necessary interventions, the necessary changes and the necessary reforms to enable our country to become competitive. This is the great challenge. This is the truth and I wish to tell the Greek citizens that if they show trust in me this is my decision, for us to move with even greater determination," Karamanlis said.

    He also clarified that if no party wins a majority in the elections set for September 16, new elections will be held.

    "If there is no majority in the elections on September 16, new elections will be taking place," the prime minister said, adding that no objective preconditions exist for cooperation with other parties.

    Karamanlis said he respected the left and its criticism, but there is no ground for cooperation. "PASOK refused to support the government's positions and come to an understanding with it, even on the most elementary of issues," he said, adding that he will not be cooperating with the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) because, "generallly speaking, the government does not cooperate with extremes."

    Referring to main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, the prime minister said that his criticism was "divisive and polarising, while the government has chosen a different course because it defends a mild climate."

    On the question of the recent wildfires that ravaged regions in the country, Karamanlis said that all experienced difficult moments with feelings of grief. However, he added, "nobody takes decisions in the heat of the moment. There are decisions on administrative changes, that the government will consider calmly but not in the moment of crisis."

    The prime minister also focused on the state, saying that it is the great patient, adding that considerable steps have been taken, bureaucracy has been curbed, but a great deal has yet to be done and reforms are moving ahead.

    Coming to the bonds issue, Karamanlis said that it is an issue that the government revealed, it referred it to justice and changed the institutional framework.

    He reiterated that the need to change the institutional framework was late in being realised, but stressed that the money was returned to the social security funds through the governbment's moves. He further said that the property of the funds increased by 42 percent during his governance, while noting that the judicial investigation is under way and the government is awaiting and insisting on responsibilities being administered.

    Lastly, focusing on the issue of foreign policy, Karamanlis stressed that Greece has a leading role in the region and constitutes a bridge for the countries of southeastern Europe, as the European Union also acknowledges.

    Commenting in particular on the question of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), he said that the country's transactions with Skopje are at a very good level. The country has shown its good disposition on the issue of the name and FYROM must take steps towards finding a solution.

    Karamanlis clarified emphatically, however, that Skopje will not join any international organisation, including NATO and the EU, if a mutually acceptable name for the landlocked republic is not found. He concluded his statement on the issue by saying that during negotiating, the country will not abandon any of the weapons it has at its disposal.

    [02] WTTC head optimistic over Greek tourism

    Jean Claude Baumgarten, president of the World Council of Travel and Tourism (WTTC), on Thursday expressed his optimism over the course of Greek tourism, during a meeting with Greek Tourism Minister Fani Palli Petralia in Athens.

    Commenting on recent fires that hit large parts of the Peloponese and their likely impact on the country‚s tourist product, Jean Claude Baumgarten stressed there were no cut in reversations both for this winter and next summer, while he forecast that Greek tourism will continue growing with a rate of 4-5 percent in the coming years.

    ?There is no negative image for Greece abroad, there is a steady flow of reservations, there is the intention of travelers to visit Greece,? he said.

    The Greek minister underlined that Greece was a safe and modern country, remaining high among the preferences of international tourists. She reiterated that 17 million tourists will visit Greece this year.


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