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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-08-26
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM confers with ADEDY on civil servants' issuesPrime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Tuesday with the presidium of the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY umbrella organization of civil servants' unions), at a meeting that was also attended by interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in an ongoing round of discussions with the social partners ahead of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next week, where the economic policy for the following year is traditionally unveiled by the prime minister.
A review was made during the meeting of progress made in civil service issues at institutional level, while Pavlopoulos told reporters afterwards that the rights and obligations of the civil servants have been fully consolidated institutionally. He noted that the new system of promotions has entered into effect as of the beginning of the year, while the civil servants' training and education system has also been consolidated.
Pavlopoulos also said that the dialogue with ADEDY on public administration matters would continue.
ADEDY president Spyros Papaspyros told reporters afterwards said the umbrella organization was seeking a minimum salary of 1,300 euros per month, and immediate advancement of the relevant civil servants' salary scale, as well as the establishment of a minimum guaranteed income, which would initially be set at 900 euros per month.
"The resources exist. The key is fairness in the taxation system," Papaspyros said.
"We will not settle for subsidies and poverty funds," Papaspyros said, adding that "the unemployed, the pensioners, the working people are witnessing the failure of an economic cycle".
He said a reverse redistribution of incomes and social services was necessary, adding that "we want more jobs and full-time work positions, and an end to 'hunger' pensions and salaries".
Papaspyros further called for "harmonization" of government policy with its commitments, and a correctional salary increase for losses of income in 2008.
The ADEDY leader further said that after the TIF and before voting on the new state budget in parliament, there would be a discussion with the government on the civil servants' salary scale, adding that ADEDY was planning labor action after the TIF.
Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (R) receives ADEDY president Spyros Papaspyros (L) on Tuesday 26 August 2008. ANA-MPA /Goulielmos Antoniou
 PASOK leader meets with SBBE presidiumMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met on Tuesday with the presidium of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE), after which Papandreou said that his party wanted a "lasting cooperation" with SBBE in order to move from "generalizations and strategic directions" to "practical solutions" so that it will be "prepared from day one, for the governance of the country".
Papandreou said that that the country was "sailing without a plan", adding that "in an era of creativity and innovation, the state's role is to equip the citizens".
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the PASOK leader said that the country needed to move ahead with new forms of development, which included construction, new technologies and the food industry, while he also endorses "simple rules in taxation and steadfast laws that promote investments".
The discussion also focused on combating corruption, with Papandreou reiterating a recent proposal in that direction recently put forward by PASOK.
The main opposition leader further placed emphasis on the matter of decentralization, criticizing the government of having a "concentration" rationale "because it wants to control".
On Greece's potential, Papandreou said that "we proved that we can organize Olympic Games, why can't we do better in Education and Health?"
He also said that "the businessmen are in despair, they hear PASOK's views with great interest, and await answers from PASOK at the Thessaloniki International Fair" next week, where the prime minister traditionally unveils economic policy for the following year and the opposition party leaders also present their own economic platforms.
Also speaking after the meeting, which was held at the PASOK headquarters in downtown Athens, SBBE president George Mylonas called for agreement between government and opposition on the serious and important issues so that results may be forthcoming, and so that the various issues would not be used "as opposition weapons".
Citing tourism as an example, Mylonas said that spatial planning issues needed to be solved quickly to enable infrastructures designed to attract tourism, particularly in border regions.
"Is it commonly agreed that industry is an inalienable element of Greece and must be supported, or do we take it off the map and say that Greece will proceed only with services or something else?" Mylonas questioned.
He said that the industrialists desire a shared view by government and opposition on such issues as the development of Thrace and western Macedonia, in which "the issues are not only economic ones".
"If PASOK and the government want the issues to be solved, they can solve them. We want one step forward every day," he added.
Mylonas said that SBBE wants PASOK's backing, too, on the development of the innovation zone in Thessaloniki, the TIF, and on the universities.
To a question on his abduction earlier in the summer, and his release for ransom after 13 days of captivity, Mylonas said that he had a heart-to-heart discussion with Papandreou.
To a question regarding dismissals, Mylonas said that "everyone puts the business in the corner and hits on them, but they should not forget that it that create jobs, and if the businessmen feel insecure or that they are at an impasse and stop creating working positions, then the difference will be evident".
Flexible working hours does not mean injustice, but that a business is competitive on the international markets and does not disregard what is taking place in his neighborhood and what is the rule of thumb in the economies with which he is competing, Mylonas explained.
"No one is speaking at the expense of the working people. There is no clash," Mylonas said in reply to other questions, adding "Today, we have our sleeves rolled up and our heads bent and work, employers and employees alike".
If the employers and employees do not agree to move forward, everything else is 'political talk' that is not founded on reality, he continued, adding that the struggle was a common one, and "the talk about unfeeling businessmen is a big mistake". "They all want to offer better incomes and better conditions to the employees, but the issue is, can they? »
During the meeting, the SBBE presidium noted that the market was not going well, and that the desire for creation has been, while businessmen feel tired because the various issues are not being solved, but only patched up.
Mylonas said that the industrialists believe that the state has lost its credibility, and call on the opposition to help in reversing the climate, while he also charged the government of carrying "collection pogroms" and passing on to the businessmen its own management ineptness.
Among the topics discussed were Thrace and the lack of a long-term policy for the development of the region, the development of industry in northern Greece, the promotion of Greek products, taxation issues, and the development of innovation zones, while SBBE said it was awaiting specific proposals from PASOK, particularly on cutting back on bureaucracy.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou
 FM on FYROM stanceThe target and only substance of the negotiation with FYROM was the finding of a mutually acceptable solution of the name issue, and a utile one at that, in order to put an end to the "hide-and-seek" taking place with its temporary name, foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Tuesday, during an interview on a private TV station.
In reply to questions on a morning TV program on private Mega channel, Bakoyannis said that FYROM prime minister Nikola Gruevski was trying to find a way out by putting other issues on the negotiation table, warning that, with such an attitude, a solution cannot be found, "and the exclusive blame for non-advancement of that country's European and Euro-Atlantic course lies with Gruevski, and not Greece".
Asked whether Greece was mulling a veto on the commencement of EU accession negotiations with FYROM in October, Bakoyannis replied that "of course -- as we have said, and as they (FYROM) know -- there can be no European or Euro-Atlantic course without prior resolution of the name issue, which is the basis of good neighborhood".
She reaffirmed that Greece will not change its policy, stressing that the country "has a firm policy, which has been agreed with all the political parties".
Bakoyannis declined to make predictions on the outcome of the current effort by UN mediator on the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimetz, saying only that "Greece is here, and is negotiating seriously and responsibly, with steadfastness and consistency".
Questioned on the name 'North Macedonia' that the latest Nimetz proposals were rumored to put forward, Bakoyannis reminded the fundamental Greek position for a name with a geographical determinant for use internationally, adding that 'North Macedonia' constitutes a geographical determinant.
On Greece's relations with Russia, and the formulation of the Greek position regarding the crisis in the Caucasus, Bakoyannis reminded that the Greek government has in recent years developed good economic and political relations with Russia, "but at the same time is true to its alliances, as a member of the EU and of NATO, the decisions of which we co-formulate".
Greece, she added, was making every effort so that there would be full abidance to French EU President Nicolas Sarkozy's six-point plan, "which is the foundation". Beyond that, Greece is in favor of keeping open the West's channels with Russia, and in the framework of the policy of principles if follows, endorses the territorial integrity of each and every country, Bakoyannis said, adding that Russia is a partner of Europe, and must find a new equilibrium with it.
To questions on the upcoming US presidential elections, and to the impact of a victory of one or the other parties on Greek issues, Bakoyannis said that the foreign policy of a country sets out at serving its own interests, "and the assessments of its link with our own issues are excessive or erroneous".
"What the US needs is a relationship of equal and sincere cooperation with Europe," Bakoyannis said.
Turning to domestic affairs, Bakoyannis said in reply to questions that she was not satisfied with the general picture of politics in the country, noting that policy has a role and a goal and that "this is not yielding to the degree it should".
The government "is governing in difficult times, but it needs improvement," she added.
On matters of transparency, Bakoyannis said that "impunity in the event of guilt is out of the question", adding that "this will be judged by justice, and we cannot condemn someone for the sake of viewership of the television news programs".
The rationale of «I condemn because of rumors" cannot prevail in a just state, she added.
To a question on whether ND deputy and former merchant marine minister Aristotelis Pavlidis-- whose name has been implicated in a bribery case involving a prominent shipowner -- could 'facilitate' the ruling party with a different stance (that of temporarily declaring himself an Independent MP until the judicial investigation into the alleged graft incident was completed), Bakoyannis replied that the party "is not a restaurant to which people come and go".
"We are a party that must be absolute on matters of transparency, but when an issue exists, because in society today rumors and mudslinging are rampant," the minister stressed.
"We need to re-earn the lost honor of politics, and in this endeavor we need as our ally the party itself, parliament and, of course, Greek justice," she added.
Asked whether she believed that prime minister Costas Karamanlis felt pressed by the government's slim parliamentary majority (of 152 MPs in the 300-member parliament), Bakoyannis said that "knowing the prime minister, I believe that he wont' feel that way for even one minute".
Karamanlis, she continued, "is exercising a difficult and unpopular policy, amid an international crisis", stressing that "in such times, political stability is very important".
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis
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