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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-11-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Karamanlis briefed on pension reform dialogue, migrant issues

  • [01] Karamanlis briefed on pension reform dialogue, migrant issues

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed on Wednesday by employment minister Vassilis Magginas on developments concerning the dialogue on pension system reform. Soon afterward the prime minister received Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga and briefed her on foreign affair issues, while earlier he'd met the municipalities union (KEDKE) and Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.

    After the meeting, Magginas said that they discussed the next stages of the dialogue, while stressing that "the government is open to proposals and positions from the political forces as well as the social partners."

    "The dialogue is a deeply democratic process. It is open," he said, adding that "naturally, it is not obligatory, and participants may take part or depart as they see fit".

    Questioned on the duration of the dialogue, Magginas said that there was no deadline and would continue until all the issues were dealt with.

    The prime minister's talks with Papariga focused mainly on the negotiations for the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), while his talks with Athens mayor and president of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) Nikitas Kaklamanis focused on illegal migration, waste management in the Attica prefecture, and the Panathinaikos Football Club's new soccer stadium.

    Kaklamanis told reporters afterwards that he briefed the prime minister on the impending changes in the Panathinaikos stadium project, noting that the Panathinaikos FC, in a letter, has agreed to fully assume the construction costs for the stadium, and as such the existing agreement will be amended.

    "When we are ready, we will make public the details and present it also to the City Council. It is a good development with respect to acceleration of the project," Kaklamanis said.

    He said he also called on the prime minister for acceleration of the procedures for the two new waste management facilities in Keratea and Grammatikos, with a recycling plant as well as further processing.

    The Athens mayor said that one must not be complacent that the problem has been solved because an interim facility has been created or the main facility at Fylis was proceeding, noting that there was a suspension of execution (of the project) for 2-3 years.

    "This is the reality, and I am obliged to present it and ask the government, but also the political parties, to back the existing regional planning that was passed during Vasso Papandreou's term (as minister of the environment, town planning and public works in the preceding PASOK government) and to not succumb to the reactions by some local communities," Kaklamanis said, adding that Karamanlis agreed with him fully and had no objection when the matter had been presented to him in the past by the mayor of Athens.

    Kaklamanis also broached the issue of illegal migration, and called for national consensus. He said he asked the prime minister to put the issue forward at European level, aiming at a common migration policy with emphasis on countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain which were the main entry gates for illegal immigrants. He also called for increased funds to boost guarding of the entry points.

    The mayor further sounded "a warning bell" domestically, "far removed from extreme positions and exacerbations", and expressed fear in the event that measures were not taken for civil incorporation of the legal migrants in Greece as well as measures for violators.

    He said that the picture of Athens -- where he noted the problem was more acute given that 60-65 percent of the migrants in Greece live there -- was not good, and reminded that the Municipal Police were not armed and could not make arrests, so that they were disregarded by violators.

    Kaklamanis stressed that he did not want the immigrant problem in the city to reach the point of resembling Paris, or other European cities "which, in all other respects, we admire".

    He said the issue must be looked into comprehensively, with sensitivity and a firm policy, and called for national consensus "with moderation and without racist outbursts", warning that "if we don't do something, it's a bomb that will explode one day". He added that this was not the job of the municipalities, but of the government to take measures.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

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