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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-12-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM Karamanlis satisfied with EU Summit results
  • [02] FinMin on transparency
  • [03] Development minister on function of market

  • [01] PM Karamanlis satisfied with EU Summit results

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis expressed his satisfaction at the end of a European Union Summit in Brussels on Friday, underlining the "partricular importance" of the adoption of the Union's Reform Treaty by the "27", and regarding decisions reached over the issue of Kosovo.

    The prime minister said that with the new Treaty, the European Union frees itself from obstacles of the past, reinforcing in parallel its effectiveness. Karamanlis also noted that with the new Treaty, Greek interests are better served, while at the same time the democratic character of the Union broadens, since, as he said, the point of view of National Parliaments will be taken into considaration regarding a series of EU final decisions. He added that Greece would endorse the Treaty.

    Regarding Kosovo, the Greek premier said the EU on Friday reached concrete decisions on how a European mission would be set up, in order to assume the political administration of the province, based on the broader possible security of the region.

    The Greek side, Karamanlis said, moved along the axis of defending national intrerests but also on the basis of proposals submitted by Greek diplomatic services in relation to the reinforcement of the western Balkans' European prospects.

    On Kosovo, premier Karamanlis added, "diplomacy has not yet exhausted all margins", underlining the "need for all engaged parties, starting with the Kosovo authorities, to avoid unilateral actions and hasty decisions."

    Regarding the set up of a "reflexion group", proposed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy and adopted by the Council, Karamanlis informed that its target would be the strengthening of the European model and that the group must present the results of its works by the year 2010. Former Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez would assume the group's presidency, Karamanlis said.

    On the thorny issue of illegal immigration, the prime minister insisted on the particular importance of adopting a Common European Policy, underlining the particular problems Greece is facing on tackling the problem.

    He also insisted on the need for reaching agreements with third countries on repatriating illegal immigrants.

    Karamanlis termed "particularly positive" the Council's decisions regarding the creation of a special mechanism on civil protection of member states against natural disasters, particularly wildfires. He also noted that Greece had submitted, after last summer's catastrophic wildfires, concrete proposals for the strengthening of mechanisms against natural disasters.

    [02] FinMin on transparency

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday addressed a one-day seminar in Athens, jointly organised by the Hellenic Bank Association and the local bureau of the Transparency International organisation.

    ?Strengthening transparency and dealing with corruption is a major challenge, one that necessitates constant effort ? Past ills created over previous decades cannot be dealt with from one day to the next. What we need is the creation of a framework to effectively combat the phenomenon of corruption,? he said at the event.

    The Greek FinMin referred to the full computerisation of tax offices and the customs service, as well as tax reform as pivotal to curbing corruption in the country.

    National Bank of Greece (NBG) CEO Takis Arapoglou also addressed the event.

    [03] Development minister on function of market

    Development minister Christos Folias outlined his views on the function of the market, in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA, stressing that the New Democracy (ND) government's policy focuses on consolidating healthy competition through which the buying power of the consumers will be safeguarded.

    Referring to the ministry's "gentlement's agreement" with supermarket owners, Folias said that he undertook this initiative -- and intends to take as many more such initiatives as necessary, whenever he believes that they will be beneficial for the consumers and useful for the economy.

    He also referred to his ministry's priorities in energy policy and on the various agreements on energy pipelines.

    Folias said that Greece, as a 'key country", was "opening doors to the attraction of investments in the energy sector, with multiple benefits for the entirety of the economy and society".

    To a question on the high prices and his recent meetings with supermarket owners, Folias explained that the global state of affairs was "exceptionally difficult", citing the spiralling prices of oil and raw materials, and climate change, which he said were pushing up prices throughout the entire range from production to the shelves.

    He said the ministry's policy was focused on consolidating healthy competition and, through that, safeguarding the buying power of the consumers. Also to this end, he said, the ministry was constantly intensifying its inspections and promoting interventions of a structural nature, in order to confront the distortions that adulterated competition.

    However, Folias continued, "agora" (market), and particularly in the ancient Greek meaning of the word, "first and foremost means dialogue". This, he said, was why he took the initiative a few days ago to meet with representatives of the large supermarkets, adding that he would take as many more initiatives as necessary when he believes that they will be beneficial for the consumers and useful for the economy.

    "When consumption gains, so do commerce and production. The economy gains, and society gains," the minister said.

    Questioned on the priorities of the development ministry, Folias said that the target was to create more opportunities and better choices for all the Greeks, throughout the entire country, and this, he added, was a firm and unwavering commitment of is ministry.

    The first priority, and strategic choice, was the policy of Energy Links, so that Greece would be transformed into a key-country on the Energy Map, with substantial upgrading of its geopolitical role, Folias explained.

    Another priority was completion of the liberalisation of the energy market, which he said was being advanced with cautious steps, through the required interventions. He said completion of the liberalisation, with systematic and accompanying investments, creates an attractive environment for attracting and further reinforcing private investments that ensure quality services for the consumers. Important components of Greece's energy policy were energy conservation and the advancement of environmentally-friendly forms of energy, Folias elaborated.

    The policy's target, he said, was a truly effective State at the side of the citizen, and "this is why we are seeking to systematically inform the citizen/consumer", adding that the government was making "no discounts on the issue of the market". All those "who look the consumer straight in the eyes will have us at their side", but "those who look out only for their pocket, will find us on the other side", he said, adding that knowledge was the consumer's strength, so as to be able to choose correctly. "With his choices, the consumer rewards, but also punishes," the minister said.

    Also a top priority was maximisation of the developmental result of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF, or ESPA in Greek) resources. "We are determined that every available euro will have yield as a productive investment, that it will further boost a health and extrovert entrepreneurship," he said, adding that, in that direction, the government was proceeding in the ensurance of all the institutional and organisational conditions for a positive investment climate that will guarantee the upward course of private investments, in conjunction with the dynamic of the Investment Law, of the private investments that are founded on the visions and risks of the entrepreneurs, rather that on the safety of the state.

    On the recent inauguration of the Greece-Turkey natural gas pipeline, Folias said that the operation of the pipeline proves the correctness of the government's strategy.

    The government, he added, was continuing, steadily and decisively, in the materialisation of all of the country's interstate agreements on projects of high energy importance which, on the one hand provide security in energy supply for Greece, while on the other hand upgrade the country's role. In addition Greece, as a key-country, was opening doors to attracting investments in the energy sector, with multiple benefits for the entire economy and the social whole.

    On the progress in the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, Folias said that, following his recent visit to Moscow, where he had "productive meetings in a very positive climate", the sides involved were in the stage of resolving the outstanding matters in a climate of understanding that the procedures for establishing the company that will manage the pipeline needed to be accelerated.

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