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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-09-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Karamanlis opens EESC con'f in Athens
  • [02] PASOK leader meets with labour heads

  • [01] Karamanlis opens EESC con'f in Athens

    A European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) biennial conference on the subject of "Entrepreneurship with a Human Face" opened in Athens on Monday, inaugurated by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who stressed that "entrepreneurship means that it extends far wider than the purely economic sphere".

    "Entrepreneurship is an attribute of the person who utilises his specific knowledge, talents and prowess to improve his own and his fellow human beings' living conditions," Karamanlis said in his opening address at the two-day conference of the EESC, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

    "In a society where no one can claim to hold all knowledge, entrepreneurship is the efficient tool we have so that different combinations of knowledge, imagination and abilities are put to the test and compete with each other, so that those that prove more successful will become a common possession," he said.

    "The European citizens have a duty to today's generation, and to the generations that will follow, to formulate a large alliance, a broad consensus, arising from dialogue and synthesis, the prime minister continued, describing as a paradox that fact that there were many people in Europe and elsewhere who consider that entrepreneurship, by definition, is contrary to every sense of social sensitivity and identifies with the merciless pursuit of profit, through a competitiveness that pushes aside every other value and pursuit."

    Karamanlis said that today's pressing global problems, such as climate change or the food crisis, can be solved only through the mobilisation of all the forces of humanity.

    "In this effort for finding cheaper and clean energy, for discovering more efficient and environment-friendly farming methods, for seeking people's access to clean water, the countries and supra-national organizations can and must play an assisting and coordinating role," he said.

    The progress, but also the very survival, of a society depends on the degree of freedom and the incentives for people to assume business initiatives from the knowledge available to each as a social capital, and from the ease with which the results of this business activity will be passed on to the society, the premier said.

    "But it also depends on the society's ability to imbue its fundamental values into business activity," he added.

    Businesses, such as every public or private body active in a society, operates within the existing system of values of the society, and is judged on the basis of those values, Karamanlis said, adding that this was the meaning of the European social acquis, which, he underlined, expresses the Europeans' determination to strengthen their economy, without, however, accepting deductions in the values that characterize them, both as individuals and as societies.

    "It is our duty to prove that the competitiveness of the European economy can be enhanced in a way that befits the physiognomy of Europe and its culture. To achieve that, we are obligated to turn to entrepreneurship, in the broader sense of the term, something that is very difficult," the Greek premier explained.

    In order to meet that reality, he continued, "we need to move in four directions", which comprised: boosting the efficiency of the already known and applied actions for encouraging entrepreneurship and upgrading the available work force; encouraging the evolution into an economy of knowledge, quality and innovation through investment in education and culture; undertaking specific measures so that the EU will become, beyond a union of states and economies, a genuine union of peoples; and setting as a goal the formulation of new attitudes on the promotion of robust entrepreneurship, with emphasis on services, new cutting-edge technologies, and the small and medium size enterprise, which he said was "the backbone of European economic activity".

    Morning session: Other speakers

    Brief greetings were also delivered to the opening session of the conference, which will continue with various workshops and two panel debates on "Entrepreneurship and political decision making", and "Using entrepreneurship for societal/social change".

    EESC president Dimitris Dimitriadis stressed that, without entrepreneurship, Europe could not exit from the crisis, adding that "we must start again to think entrepreneurially".

    Greek development minister Christos Folias said that "we must invest in entrepreneurship, and not demonise lawful and licit profit", adding that the human being is inalienably tied with entrepreneurship, and urged that "we must, at European level, overcome the state obstacles and function as a single market".

    In a message read out to the conference, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso stressed that Europe increasingly needs its businesspeople, noting that the lack of entrepreneurship could be dealt with through reinstatement of discussion of entrepreneurship in the schools and the family.

    European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, told delegates that Europe "wins when it develops by embracing the enterprises, the politicians and the citizens".

    Commissioner for Environment Stavros Dimas, in turn, stressed that entrepreneurship was inconceivable without a human face, and without protection of the environment. He said that legislation should be stricter on enterprises that do not protect the environment, and underscored the power that the citizens have as voters and consumers.

    Caption: Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis inaugurates a European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) biennial conference in Athens on Monday, Sept. 8, 2008. ANA-MPA / STR

    [02] PASOK leader meets with labour heads

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met on Monday with the presidium of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), headed by the labour umbrella federation's president Yannis Panagopoulos.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Panagopoulos said it the union had submitted a draft economic policy to Papandreou, calling for a "major redistribution of income" to bring it to the level of 1981 under the government of the late PASOK founder and George Papandreou's father, Andreas Papandreou, as well as the safeguarding of social security and the public sector

    Panagopoulos, who also heads the PASOK-affiliated grouping within GSEE, said the labour unions asked Papandreou to include these items in a party platform to be announced later in the week at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), as well as for PASOK's support for the "social struggles that will take place over the coming period."

    The labour leader said, in reply to press questions, that "the prime minister had told us not to expect any surprises in Thessaloniki ... but we were surprised because it appears that we working people, pensioners and wage-earners, are living in a different country than the prime minister and his government".

    Papandreou launched a series of meetings on Monday ahead of his visit to the 73rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF)

    The PASOK leader will be in Thessaloniki from Sept. 11 to 14, combining his visit to the TIF exhibition with other activities and events, while he will outline PASOK's positions in an address on Saturday, before giving a press conference the following day.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of PASOK leader George Papandreou.

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