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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM: Responsibility to country comes first
  • [02] PASOK to table draft law
  • [03] Papariga visits OA Technical Base

  • [01] PM: Responsibility to country comes first

    The government's responsibility for the country and for the financially weaker citizens, comes before everything else, prime minister Costas Karamanlis said on Monday, opening a meeting of his ruling New Democracy (ND) party's parliamentary group, while he also stressed that the public's bank deposits were "absolutely guaranteed".

    "Above all is our responsibility to the country, our care for the financially weaker, the people facing difficulties, who live with worry for the next day," Karamanlis told his MPs.

    "The citizens demand to hear a clear-cut message on the country's course, the repercussions of the international crisis, and their day-to-day lives," Karamanlis said, and assured that "the government is in a state of constant vigilance, with a plan and clear-cut positions".

    Greece, he said, is called on to withstand the pressure of the international state of affairs and to look forward with a plan, with determination, and with a sense of social responsibility.

    Of exceptional importance was the fact that, in the midst of the international crisis, the Greek banking system "is secure and credit-worthy", while "the citizens' deposits are absolutely guaranteed", the premier said, stressing that the Greek economy "is shielded, and has strong resistance".

    Karamanlis explained that the global economy was going through "a deep crisis of an unpredictable duration", and referred inter alia to the rise in interest rates, the acceleration of inflation, and the substantial increase in unemployment in many EU member countries.

    In an extensive reference to the international economic crisis and its impact on the European and Greek economies, Karamanlis noted that the global economy, over the past year, has been going through a crisis, which influences the prices of raw materials and petrol.

    Regarding the eurozone in particular, he said the international crisis was causing a substantial deceleration of growth, spurring the biggest inflation rate in the last 15 years, and a rise in interest rates and inflation.

    "We are well aware of the effects on the Greek economy and the domestic pathogenies," Karamanlis said, noting that it was causing price increases, a rise in interest rates, and a slowdown of the growth rates.

    However, he added, "the Greek economy is shielded by the reforms the government had carried out, and has strong resistance".

    "The deficit has been reduced, the growth rates continue to be among the highest in the eurozone, and the unemployment rate is being reduced. The results of our policy affirm its correctness, and mandate a continuation and acceleration of the reforms policy," Karamanlis stressed.

    The prime minister called for "increased cooperation" among ministers and parliamentary deputies, warning that "there will be no tolerance for closed doors by those who hold public posts".

    "From today on, we are enhancing this cooperation, boosting our overture to society, and renewing our commitment to the citizens," Karamanlis said, and called on his MPs to put forward proposals and recommendations based on their input from the people.

    The premier also criticized the opposition, saying that "some claim that there is no crisis, some do not see the rise in the international prices of oil and raw materials", adding: "What responsibility can those who do not see the crisis have? What credibility can those have, who promise benefits of millions of euros without saying where they will find the funds for them?".

    "Those who are irresponsibly making promises, distorting (the true conditions), misleading (the public), leveling (everything), causing denial, nihilism and extremity are far removed from the reality. Even in these difficult times, due to the international crisis, they cannot find anything positive. They are acting without credibility and irresponsibly," the premier charged.

    Turning to his government's priorities, Karamanlis said the first was the reinforcement of the financially weaker, by combating high prices and unemployment, allocation of a heating subsidy through activation of the Fund against poverty.

    The reforms, he explained, were not an end in itself, but a response to the needs: "Why should the taxpayers pay three million euros a day for Olympic Airways (OA) and the Hellenic Rails Organization (OSE), when those monies could be channeled to upgrading education and social security, to boosting growth, the production of wealth and the social dividend?"

    In self-criticism, Karamanlis acknowledged that "mistakes have been made, there have been delays, the government's cooperation with the parliamentary group has slackened", and gave instructions to his deputies and ministers: "I want to hear the proposals, recommendations and views of all of you".

    He also said that the ND parliamentary group would meet more frequently, while the ministers would establish a specific day in the week for collaboration with the MPs.

    "There is no tolerance to closed doors," the premier said, adding that the ministers would provide responses immediately to all the MPs, while all the ministries would move in the direction of the changes and reforms, and proceed with specific timetables for tackling the problems.

    Another priority of the government, according to the prime minister, was the reform in the education sector, noting that the dialogue was proceeding for change of the higher education entrance system.

    "We are moving forward to our third electoral victory," Karamanlis said, and stressed to his MPs: "You know the principles and values I serve. My only goal is contribution to the country. I will not compromise with the established interests."

    [02] PASOK to table draft law

    Main opposition PASOK will later in the day table in parliament a draft law for the immediate confrontation of the problems faced by the Greek citizens, party leader George Papandreou said on Monday, following a broad meeting with PASOK parliamentary officials.

    The meeting, which took place after the traditional blessing at the opening of the new parliamentary plenary session following the summer recess, was held to examine the party's planning for the new parliamentary period.

    Papandreou said that PASOK, "contrary to others", turns its words into action.

    "Today, we are here to prove once again our consistency with the commitments we have assumed towards the Greek people for backing the family income, particularly that of the low and middle income brackets," Papandreou said.

    The PASOK leader further said that more legislative initiatives would be forthcoming from the party.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou

    [03] Papariga visits OA Technical Base

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga accused the current New Democracy (ND) and former PASOK governments of systematically downgrading the national air carrier Olympic Airways (OA) with the purpose of selling it or even shutting it down completely. Papariga, who made the comments before visiting the OA Technical Base and ahead of her meeting with OA worker union representatives on Monday, stressed that everything being said as regards alleged OA inherent weaknesses are nothing but lies. She underlined that OA should not be sold and expressed the hope that no buyer will be found, suggesting that the entire issue of privatizations made during the past 20 years should be put on the table. Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of <font color="#FFFFFF" size="3" face="Verdana">Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga
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