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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou: crisis calls for other priorities
  • [02] Greece, Malta focus on illegal migration problem
  • [03] Ecumenical Patriarch meets with Ieronymos in Athens

  • [01] Papandreou: crisis calls for other priorities

    The crisis now faced by Greek citizens was the result of political choices made by ruling New Democracy (ND), main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou asserted on Thursday. He also accused the government of "tragic delays" in dealing with the financial crisis and stressed that dealing with the problems required "other priorities".

    Speaking at the Andreas Papandreou Institute of Strategic and Development Studies (ISTAME) on the issue of cartels, PASOK's leader said that, depending on what policy was followed in dealing with banks, Greeks would know in a few weeks time whether thousands will be made jobless.

    According to Papandreou, the country had to deal with the constant deterioration of public goods and services in addition to the credit crunch and ND's policies had made Greece more vulnerable to the global crisis that was on its way.

    Referring to the package of measures to support banks announced by the government, PASOK's leader raised questions about how the 28 billion euros pledged by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis would be found and the fact that they were being handed out "without transparency, without rules and without guarantees".

    He said the government should at the very least have obtained a guarantee that banks would then use this money to support the real economy but instead borrowers were under additional pressure from higher interest rates and cutbacks in loans.

    "The government has either not understood or is trapped by its internal weaknesses, or even worse is using the crisis to cover up a policy of redistribution in favour of strong," PASOK's leader added.

    While agreeing on the necessity to support the financial system in order to restore cash flow to markets, he called for greater supervision and control of banks by the state, forcing bank shareholders to increase share capital in exchange for public funds and other measures to finance banks, hand out loans and supervise the financial system.

    He also made a number of proposals for the support of lower incomes, small and middle-sized businesses, subsidised social insurance contributions for first-time workers, jobs for older, unskilled workers and an increase in unemployment benefit, while calling for more measures to protect borrowers and the abolition of recent property tax measures taken by the government.

    On a European level, Papandreou said there should be a new European framework in which public spending and investments did not count towards the public deficit and welcomed statements by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in the direction of such reforms.

    PASOK's leader also urged a stronger supervisory role for the European Central Bank and a broadening of its remit in order to fight unemployment and foster growth in Europe.

    Turning to problems in Greece, meanwhile, PASOK's leader pointed to exorbitantly high prices and the government's inability to curb these, noting that the underlying explanation was a lack of rules that allowed the formation of cartels that destroyed the economy and encouraged corruption.

    "The government must establish rules regarding how we behave toward each other and to protect citizens," he noted and criticised the ruling party for expressing the will of specific interests and failing to protect people's income.

    PASOK unveils plan to support economy

    On Wednesday the main opposition PASOK party unveiled a package of five proposals to support the real economy and small- and medium-sized enterprises from the current global credit crisis., presented during a news conference by PASOK deputy Mihalis Chrysohoidis.

    The five-point proposals, drafted by PASOK party, envisaged abolishing so-called "gentlemen's pact" between the Economy ministry and banks. It also called for the state to buy a limited amount of banks shares along with establishing supervision of banks included in the program, setting up a funding mechanism for very small, small and medium-enterprises, and reducing the tax burden on SMEs and citizens.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    [02] Greece, Malta focus on illegal migration problem

    Bilateral cooperation on migration issues dominated talks here on Thursday between the interior ministers of Greece and Malta, Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Carmelo Bonnici, respectively. "The countries of the Mediterranean region, and specifically Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus, share common problems and their goal is to promote legal migration while taking measures against the illegal movement, with the purpose of protecting the people and human rights," Pavlopoulos stated after the meeting. The Greek interior minister also said that closer cooperation between these countries was proposed by his Maltese counterpart, aimed at creating a "cooperation framework that could later spread to other countries as well, such as France and Spain..." On his part, Bonnici referred to the finalising of the Pact on Migration and Asylum, adding that the goal is to continue the effort launched by the French EU Presidency. He also stressed that the illegal migration problem is common for the four aforementioned countries, which are also faced with a huge number of asylum seekers, unlike other countries. "We want the rest European countries to acknowledge this burden and support us," the visiting Maltese minister added.

    [03] Ecumenical Patriarch meets with Ieronymos in Athens

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Thursday received Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (Vartholomeos) in Athens.

    Ieronymos welcomed Bartholomew and referred to their recent meeting at a synod of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches.

    "We ascertained your wisdom, simplicity and love for the Church," Ieronymos said, reassuring the Ecumenical Patriarch "that all of us will provide our forces, however, small they are to the Patriarchate's mission."

    Bartholomew reminded that Archbishop Ieronymos escorted him to his visit to Kiev, adding that before this specific visit much speculation had been aired. "As you all saw it (visit) was useful, necessary and imperative".

    The Ecumenical Patriarch thanked Ieronymos for their common course, pointing at Ieronymos and Church of Greece's prospects.

    Later on Thursday, the Ecumenical Patriarch will address an audience at the Athens Megaron. On Friday afternoon he will visit the northeastern city of Drama and afterwards will pay a visit to the western port city of Patras.

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