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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-12-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PASOK discusses social security, foreign policy
  • [02] Gov't seeks successor for Olympic Airways
  • [03] Athens points to solution for FYROM 'name issue'

  • [01] PASOK discusses social security, foreign policy

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Monday reiterated his party's support for unions' strikes in opposition to social security reforms proposed by the government.

    Giving an account to reporters of the first meeting of the party's new political planning body, spokesman Yiannis Ragoussis said Papandreou, during his address, underlined that the party "will not allow the dissolution of the social security system, the Public Power Corp. (PPC), Olympic Airways or ASEP (the supreme council for public sector staff selection)."

    According to Ragoussis, Monday's meeting also focused on the economy, the electoral law issue, social security reforms, ailing OA and PPC, noting that "the (Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis' government is a conservative force and not a reformist one for the country."

    "The Karamanlis' reforms do not lead to solutions but to dissolution," he added.

    During the same meeting, the party's responsible head for foreign policy issues, Panos Beglitis, said PASOK's position on external policy is "a position of national responsibility and will not follow a reasoning of double opposition, while it will not be afraid to discuss a broader consensus without, however, surrendering its right to exercise opposition to acts or omissions by the government on issues of foreign policy."

    He added that his party was awaiting from the government "a briefing, both in and out of Parliament."

    Regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) issue, Beglitis said PASOK was awaiting a "clear framework regarding the issue of FYROM's name, in which the limits of negotiations should be clearly defined."

    For PASOK, he added, "Greece's objective is a mutually acceptable solution for every use. We do not accept any other approach that would use the international name (of FYROM) as a double."

    [02] Gov't seeks successor for Olympic Airways

    Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Monday reiterated the Greek government's four commitments vis-a-vis developments regarding national carrier Olympic Airways, saying that no employee will lose their job, that air links with various Greek islands will be guaranteed, that taxpayers' money will be respected and that no monopoly will be created in the domestic market.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said the government's intentions were to create a new company that will succeed Olympic Airways and will continue its work.

    Hatzidakis said every effort was made to maintain the national carrier's brand name, although he noted that the issue was currently under discussion with the European Union.

    "We want a healthy company without deficits," he said, adding that Olympic Airways has an annual deficit of around 200 million euros, with its accumulated shortfall exceeding two billion euros.

    Hatzidakis said that creating a new company would need time, since the European Commission would have to approve a business plan, a viability study and other procedures. He noted, however, that a new airline could be ready in 2008 and said that private investors have expressed interest in such a scheme on the condition that it would not assume any past financial burdens.

    "We do not want a blueprint of Olympic Airways where the state has full control," Hatzidakis said, adding that the national carrier will continue to operate under its present form until a successor company emerged. He also said OA will not face any problems with creditors.

    Hatzidakis reiterated his call to OA's staff representatives to visit Brussels together and be briefed over the issue by the European Commission.

    Moreover, he said a large portion of the staff will be absorbed by any new company, with the rest opting either for voluntary retirement or transfer to another state agency.

    Commenting on the future of employees' social insurance rights, Hatzidakis said it was not solely his responsibility but of other ministers as well.

    Caption: An Olympic Airways (OA) plane taxies on a runway at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007. ANA-MPA / ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU.

    [03] Athens points to solution for FYROM 'name issue'

    The foreign ministry on Monday announced that UN mediator for the FYROM "name issue" Matthew Nimetz will meet with Greek leadership on Wednesday, including talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    "We hope the neighboring country (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia {FYROM}) will take all the steps necessary to allow for substantive progress and a final resolution to the outstanding issue in a mutually acceptable manner," a foreign ministry spokesman said.

    Speaking during a regular press briefing in the Greek capital, spokesman George Koumoutsakos was asked if Athens believes the neighbouring country to its immediate north has met conditions for NATO accession, whereby he merely noted that a process of evaluation is underway.

    "The road is long, however. There appear to be many things that still need to be done," he said.

    "Greece can and wants to help the neighbouring country in its course towards NATO and the European Union, under the condition that a mutually acceptable solution (to the 'name issue') is found and that statements and acts belying an irredentist reasoning are abandoned," Koumoutsakos said, adding:

    "There aren't just European principles and values that must be applied by the neighbouring country, especially in terms of good-neighbourly relations; there is also a European approach in decision-making, an approach using consensus and convergence. This approach must be the model for the neighbouring country."

    Finally, he responded to a question by clarifying that dropping the name "Alexander the Great" for Skopje's airport - a provocative decision taken by the FYROM government last December - will not influence Greek policy, which he said, is focused on the substance of the matter - i.e. the "name issue".

    Nimetz in Skopje

    Meanwhile, according to an ANA-MPA dispatch from Skopje, Nimetz met on Monday here with FYROM's leadership during a one-and-a-half-hour meeting that included participation of the country's president, prime minister, foreign minister and FYROM's representative to the UN regarding the "name issue".

    Speaking afterwards, Nimetz referred to a focus on the negotiating process needed to solve the "name issue', while he also cited volition to continue negotiations.

    Moreover, the veteran US diplomat said there was no deadline for the ongoing talks, and that the current round will not be the last.

    Asked by local reporters if he had anything to convey to Greek leadership from the FYROM side, he said he had nothing new to add.

    In Athens, Nimetz will also meet with main opposition leader George Papandreou.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos.

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