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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-09-23
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM Karamanlis visits fire-ravaged Ilia prefecture in western PeloponnesePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Saturday chaired a meeting in Ilia prefecture, western Peloponnese, with the objective being the implementation of measures for the reconstruction and restoration of wildfire-ravaged areas of the prefecture.
Present at the meeting were Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Alexandros Kontos, Western Greece Regional Prefect Spyros Spyridon, Ilia Prefect Haralambos Kafyras and 13 mayors whose municipalities sustained damage from the August wildfires. After the meeting, Karamanlis departed for the town of Zaharo where he also chaired a meeting on the implementation of measures for the restoration of the fire-affected area. "Our commitments are valid to the utmost. I want to send a clear message that our concern is here. The procedures for 6,000 jobs, through the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) will proceed speedily. A forest will again grow, however many years it takes. The government is determined to implement every available potential from national and EU funds for the reconstruction. It's a national need for the inhabitants of the region to remain in their place so as to continue activities. What takes precedence is the fastest possible payment for the damages, for the resetting up of the plant and stock-breed capital for the securing of the incomes of the farmers and stockbreeders so that they can again enter production," Karamanlis said in statements after the meeting in Zaharo.
Finally, on the lighting of the Olympic Flame, Karamanlis assured that "by the end of the year the work for the cleaning and preservation of Ancient Olympia's antiquities will have been completed. In March, the ceremony of the lighting of the Olympic Flame for the Beijing Games will take place in an environment which will correspond positively to the area's history."
The prime minister later in the day visited Ancient Olympia where he went to the Town Hall and was welcomed by Mayor George Aidonis and then toured the wildfire-affected forest region surrounding the site.
Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (R) visits Ancient Olympia on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007. ANA-MPA/G. ANTONIOU.
 Top PASOK cadres on leadership electionThe need for a united, tight and collective PASOK was stressed by the main opposition party's high-profile MP Evangelos Venizelos, a contender for the party's leadership following PASOK's stinging defeat in elections last week, in an interview appearing in an Athens daily.
Venizelos said he was seeking the party leadership "in the name of ideals, convictions, values and policy positions" of the party, as formulated by the recent political developments.
Explaining his decision to announce his candidacy on the very night of the election defeat, which generated heated criticism by a section of party supporters, Venizelos said he had waged a battle for current party leader George Papandreou to become prime minister, "but I could not watch the sky falling down on our heads and allow us to think that we had gotten taller and were touching the clouds".
Venizelos cited his aspiration for PASOK to once again become a "majority trend" and to also once again "express the ... centre-left majority that deserves to govern (the country) and to penetrate New Democracy's electoral field".
His interview was carried in the Athens daily "Vima".
In a separate interview appearing in the Sunday edition of the "Eleftherotypia" newspaper, PASOK MP and former European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou referred, in general terms, to a possible candidacy for the party leadership.
"We need a leadership that has political adequacy, dynamism, positions, and eagerness for work; one that responds to the common sentiment, is a pioneer, and actively respects the citizens; a leadership that deserves and can win the people's confidence. PASOK deserves such a leadership in its new beginning. It is my duty to the citizens and the party to move in that direction," she said.
Meanwhile, opinion polls were published in the Sunday editions of "Eleftheros Typos" and "Proto Thema" newspapers regarding preferences for PASOK's leadership.
A Metron Analysis poll appearing in the former indicated that 30.2 percent of respondents preferred current leader George Papandreou, while 42.8 percent preferred Venizelos. Of those respondents who are also PASOK voters, Papandreou was preferred by 38.5 percent against 46.2 percent for Venizelos.
In an ALKO opinion poll appearing in the latter paper, 21.8 percent of respondents said they want Papandreou for PASOK leader, against 38 percent for Venizelos. Of those respondents who are also PASOK voters, 22.9 percent said want Papandreou, while 52.8 percent said they preferred Venizelos.
The new party leader will be elected during a special session of the party's national council session on Nov. 11.
Caption: An external view of PASOK party headquarters in central Athens. ANA-MPA photo
 FM discusses FYROM, Cyprus with UN chiefGreek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Saturday reiterated that there was room to resolve the difference with Skopje regarding the FYROM "name issue", in view of a NATO decision expected at the end of the year on whether the land-locked Balkan country will accede to the Atlantic Alliance.
The FYROM name issue was discussed by Bakoyannis during a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday in New York City, where she arrived to attend the 62nd UN General Assembly that opens Monday.
Bakoyannis will discuss progress of efforts on Monday morning with UN special mediator on the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimetz.
During the meeting with the UN chief, the Greek side set out its positions on a mutually acceptable resolution of the issue, within the framework of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the Greece-FYROM 1995 interim agreement. Bakoyannis also warned that perpetuation of the problem was dangerous.
The Greek side further reiterated that Athens was keeping open all its prospects as a member of the EU and of NATO.
Bakoyannis and Ban also discussed the Cyprus issue, which a focus on the need for implementation of the July 8 agreement. The agreement "must be fully applied", Bakoyannis said, stressing that Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos has manifested his volition for its materialisation, and calling on the UN chief to encourage the Turkish Cypriot side to follow suit, given Ban's upcoming scheduled meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on Oct. 16.
Papadopoulos is due to meet Monday morning with Bakoyannis shortly before his meeting with Ban.
A third topic of discussion during the Bakoyannis-Ban meeting was climate change, which is high on the agenda of the 62nd General Assembly, while the UN chief has also organised a High Level Meeting on Monday on the same topic, which will be addressed by Bakoyannis.
The Greek foreign minister outlined to Ban the devastation caused by the recent wildfires in Greece, as well as the Greek government's commitment to restore the environment, a topic on which the UN chief expressed great interest.
One of the round-table discussions at the High Level Meeting will focus on the establishment of a special Fund and other mechanisms for facing natural disasters, an issue which is also being advanced by Greece in the framework of the European Union.
"Climate change is a global phenomenon and requires coordinated global confrontation," Bakoyannis said in statements to the press after her meeting with the UN chief.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
 Leftist leader woos socialist, green votersThe Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) will persist in seeking out broader forms of political cooperation, with overtures to the socialist and green political groups, SYRIZA leader Alekos Alavanos said in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of an Athens daily.
Alavanos said SYRIZA will continue to address itself to the socialist elements of society, and cited the example of Germany, where "the radical forces of Social Democracy united with those of the former Communists".
Asked to comment on the post-election situation within the main opposition PASOK party, Alavanos said that "when you live in the same neighborhood, you cannot be indifferent to what is going on in the apartment building next door, even if you are living in a one-story house. I believe that, at this time, a battle is underway in PASOK between two faces, without programmes, without radical proposals; a battle that is rather apolitical, with an erroneous framework around the Simitis period, which PASOK paid for and is still paying for and which put PASOK inside the establishment and turned it into a party of factions fighting for power after the elections".
On the re-election of the New Democracy (ND) government of prime minister Costas Karamanlis, Alavanos opined that this was due to the fact that PASOK had not proposed any alternative solution.
His interview was carried in the "Vima" newspaper.
 FinMin outlines six economic prioritiesThe re-elected Karamanlis government will move ahead with the second phase of fiscal streamlining and major reforms, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis stressed, in a written opinion piece, appearing in an Athens daily on Sunday.
Alogoskoufis outlined six priorities in the government's economic policy for the coming years, namely:
-- Balancing state budgets by 2010 and substantial restructuring of state-run public utilities and enterprises, as well as cutting health system deficits.
-- Continuation of tax reform, with an emphasis on combatting tax evasion and widening the tax base, as well as simplification and reduction of real estate taxes.
-- Reform of the social state and establishment of a National Social Cohesion Fund.
-- Greater development of the provinces and strengthening of Greece's role in SE Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. Contributing to this, according to Alogoskoufis, would be the efficient exploitation of the EU funds earmarked for the country through the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) of 2007-2013. Together with national funds, relevant resources amount to 36 billion euros, of which 82 percent will be chanelled to provinces, he explained.
-- Reform of the social security system, following a wide-ranging dialogue, with a priority on the unification of pension funds, in a way that will not transfer total costs of the system to the taxpayers.
-- Further reinforcement of new development models, with an emphasis on activities of high added value and extroversion, as well as those that incorporate new technologies and innovation.
Alogoskoufis further stated that the margins for state-centred growth, which were followed over the past 25 years, have been exhausted, while this outdated model of development merely led to a deadend.
Alogoskoufis' written observations were published in the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Vima".
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of FinMin George Alogoskoufis.
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