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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-09-28

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 dialogue, understanding and synthesis to mark government policies

  • [01] PM says dialogue, understanding and synthesis to mark government policies

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis presented his new government's policy statements in Parliament on Friday evening, in the wake of the September 16 general elections, outlining the framework to be followed by government policy over the next four years defined as "dialogue, understanding and synthesis" combined with determination that cannot compromise with postponements.

    The prime minister also announced that the issue of a change in the electoral law will be raised in the near future, while stressing that the citizens gave the New Democracy (ND) party a strong mandate to continue reforms without delays.

    Turning his attention to foreign policy, Karamanlis referred to a viable solution to the issue of Cyprus based on UN resolutions and EU principles and of support for Turkey's European course under the preconditions set by the European Union and reiterated the government's position on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    "If, indeed, Skopje desires to join Euro-Atlantic institutions, it must respect in full Agreements and abandon intransigence, to enable a mutually acceptable solution to the pending issue of its name to be found. These are our positions. And these positions are clear," the prime minister stressed.

    Karamanlis also announced that as of January 1, 2008, the government's main election commitments will be implemented concerning an increase in the EKAS benefits (support to low pensions), the Farmers Pension Fund (OGA) pensions, the financial equating of the bonus for families with three children with that for large families, the new salary scale for members of the Armed Forces, the National Pension, the aboliton of real estate tax for the first home and the aboliton of the inherittance tax.

    He further said that society's demands shape the government's plan and stressed that it will not compromise "with anything less than what we committed ourselves for before the elections."

    In parallel, he placed emphasis on the need to resolve the social security issue, following dialogue with society and the agencies expressing it, committing himself that pensions will not be reduced and pensioning age limits will not be increased.

    "I assure all citizens that their demands are untransferable goals of our policy. Their mandate and confidence are a government commitment," the prime minister noted, adding that he rejects polarisation and tension.

    "The triptych dialogue, understanding and synthesis will characterise our policy. Dialogue for results to be achieved. Understanding for the handling of problems. Synthesis for common goals to be achieved," he added and pointed out that the government will not claim exclusiveness of ideas but what is best for the country.

    "We are a government of all the Greeks," Karamanlis underlined.

    Focusing on the government's priorities, the prime minister said the first one is the reconstruction of wildfire-stricken regions and of citizens harmed by the summer's wildfires.

    He referred briefly to measures that have been taken and to the next moves, saying that the goal is the revival of the production fabric of the wildfire-stricken regions and citizens staying in their homes.

    He further said that work is going ahead at Ancient Olympia and everything will be ready long before the lighting ceremony for the Olympic Flame, while also mentioning the course of anti-flood and corrosion projects.

    The prime minister went on to say that specific measures are being implemented to support businesses in the wildfire-stricken prefectures, the evaluation of investments plans is being speeded up, new actions are being announced to support small and medium-size enterprises, women's and youth entrepreneurship and, lastly, the wildfire-stricken regions will be included in Social Tourism programmes.

    The next priority, Karamanlis said, is the continuation of fiscal adjustment for the achievement of the goal of securing balanced budgets by the year 2010.

    "We have created firm foundations for tomorrow. We are not resting on our achievements, however. Our aim is to achieve even more," he said.

    The prime minister made special reference to efforts to decrease public utility deficits considerably and stressed that, in parallel, reforms will continue that guarantee high growth rates.

    He also focused on the completion of tax reforms, saying that by the year 2009 the tax rate for households will be decreased to 25 percent, while placing emphasis on combatting tax evasion and fuel smuggling, through the strengthening of control apparatuses and the creation of the National Council for cracking down on tax evasion.

    Karamanlis said that the government's immediate priorities also include developing new activities, institutions and programmes to further strengthen small and medium-size enterprises and extending public and private sector joint ventures and upgrading transport and social infrastructures. Another priority is the restructuring of public utilities to enable funds to be saved and a substantive improvement of services they provide for citizens.

    Referring as well to the Olympic Airlines company, the prime minister said that negotiations are continuing with the European Commission to enable a solution to be found for the problem.

    Karamanlis said that regional development is a priority for the government, adding that 80 percent of the 4th Community Support Framework will be channelled to the countryside and will be invested in the creation of infrastructures.

    He also made special reference to what he defined as the Knowledge Society, clarifying that a commitment of the government is continuing educational reform with the steadfast goal of the qualitative upgrading of education in all levels of education.

    Another issue Karamanlis referred to was the public works programme that is either being impemented or is being scheduled for the immediate future, emphasis being placed by the government on environmental protection and the policy to develop digital televison in the country.

    The prime minister also termed the state the "great patient", saying that the government has taken considerable steps that are not enough, however, and more must be taken.

    Lastly, elaborating on the issue of a change in the electoral law, Karamanlis said that "basing ourselves on our principles and with respect for institutions, we have avoided any surprise move. The existing electoral law has been tested in practice. Today, it is now clear that an electoral law which strengthens government stability, but without harming proportional representation, is necessary. The new electoral law will serve this double goal."


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