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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-11-14
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM on defence spendingThe government was the first to want a reduction in defence expenditures, but not at the expense of security and peace, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stressed on Friday, replying in parliament to a question tabled by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance leader Alekos Alavanos, adding that armaments spending were curtailed by 15 percent in the 2009 State Budget.
"We are proving our determination for reduction of (defence) expenditures in action," Karamanlis said, given that his government: had opted for transparency, against the "secret funds and double ledgers" of the period of PASOK governance; has already contained defence expenditures to less than 3 percentage points of GDP while at the same time ensuring the high battle-worthiness of the Armed Forces; the increase in the defence ministry's expenditure for 2009 was the smallest increase in relation to all the other ministries; and armaments expenditures in 2009 were reduced by 15 percent in relation to 2008.
Karamanlis warned that there was "no room for populism in such matters", adding that the government was rendering the Greek people's desire for a secure and proud Greece into a policy of peace and cooperation with all its neighbors.
Such a policy, he explained, mandated a strong deterrent power, and a cost that depended on the geostrategic environment.
Karamanlis further recalled "for all those who feign ignorance, that our neighboring countries maintain defence expenditures that approach 5 percentage points of GDP, and this cannot be disregarded".
"Antagonism is not our choice. Involvement in reconaissance and interception of aircraft (warplanes violating Greek national airspace and/or infringing the Athens FIR) is not our choice. But we will not abandon the required vigilance against practices through which dispute of our country's sovereign rights and exclusive jurisdiction is attempted. Let that be clear. There is no room for second thoughts on this matter. Populism on such matters of vital importance is unthinkable," the prime minister stressed.
On Greece's participation in the international military mission to Somalia, he stressed that Greece, a top country in world shipping, could not be absent from international missions against the escalating dangers of piracy.
The premier further criticized those who, in the present critical economic conjuncture, "appear with 'packages' of promises of uncalculated cost and unappliable"
He said that "some quarters" pretend that they are providing "recommendational services" and engage in wishful talk, while others claim that they have magical solutions and that supposedly cannot find them itself. They are chiefly (although not only) those who claim that "the (global) financial crisis is supposedly nothing but an alibi for the government". They are those who are not interested in solutions, but only in the impressions of the moment. They are the eternal demagogues, the expressors of reaction and stagnancy, the prime minister said.
He added that the government fully understood the citizens who had problems in making ends meet, and "we are going through this difficult period together with the citizens, step by step, but at the same time hodling fast the helm of the country's course...We are forging ahead in a way that guarantees the maximum possible result, without, however, mortgaging the future".
Alavanos said that, instead of armaments, the government should proceed with a strong public investments program, adding that it was not possible that Greece should be the fourth country in the world in armaments, in absolute figures, and the number one country in the eurozone with respect to armaments spending, but also the last country in the eurozone in social protection spending.
He said that every Greek will contribute 432.8 euros to defence, for the purchase of weaponry, based on the 2009 budget, and estimated that for every F-16 jetfighter acquired, costing 45 million euros, the state could give a monthly unemployment benefit to 100,000 unemployed citizens and an EKAS low-pension benefit to 200,000 pensioners. Alavanos prposed that half the money earmarked for armaments expenditures be chanelled for backing of the economy, the SMEs, and boosting employment.
Earlier, Karamanlis reassured that the assets of the social security Funds are guaranteed by the Greek state, as are all the pensions of all the Greeks adding that there was absolutely no reason for worry by any pensioner or insured party. He was speaking in parliament in reply to a question tabled by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, who proposed that the state cover the losses suffered by the Funds from their participation on the stockmarket.
Karamanlis stressed that the social security Funds today were operating in a "shielded environment", and had no reason to liquidate or sell off assets, and reiterated that "in every eventuality, the State totally guarantees all the pensions".
Papariga called on the government for the state to purchase the stocks in the possession of the Funds, not at their current price but at their original purchase price, "to the degree that it is correct that we have a loss of at least two billion euros from the latest financial crisis."
She reiterated the KKE's disagreement with the 'placement' of the Funds' reserves on the stockmarket, "which we call gambling".
Karamanlis, in turn, questioned: "If we hastened at this time to a book-value restoration of the Funds, what would we gain?"
"Is it beneficial to convert an accounting difference into a real difference? Is it of benefit at this time to put an additional burden on the Budget and restrict its margins for social and developmental policies?," the premier asked, only to reply: "Definitely not. If we were to adopt the KKE's recommendation, we would not achieve nothing but transferring to the taxpayers a cost without any benefit."
Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis address in the greek parliament on Friday 14 November 2008. ANA-MPA/PANTELIS SAITAS
 Kassimis addresses UN eventGreece feels vindicated because it was among the first countries in the West which, in adopting specific policies, contributed to the opening of new channels of communication and dialogue with the Muslim World even before WWII, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis stressed on Thursday, addressing a high-level UN General Assembly meeting on the Culture of Peace, proposed by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. Kassimis stated that Greece shares the stance outlined by the French EU Presidency on the issue of interreligious dialogue, and referred to the country's positions and participation in international organizations contributing to the promotion and consolidation of "understanding and cooperation" among cultures, aimed at strengthening peace. He also referred to the fundamental importance of dialogue for the Greek culture. The deputy FM, speaking at a two-day high level meeting held within the framework of the 63rd UN General Assembly, also referred to the historical and timeless role of Greece as the crossroads of interaction and coexistence of cultural and religious trends. He also pointed out that a wide-range campaign on religious education will have to be launched allowing the peoples of the world to become fully aware of the true message of religions. Kassimis stressed that "these are materialistic times and an effort is being made by certain circles to uproot the timeless and universal values of our societies," adding that "no religion preaches hatred among people." The deputy FM also referred to the important Greek initiative "Building the future" launched 18 months ago in an effort to build "bridges of peace and cooperation in the region." A summer camp organized within its framework is being directed to children from Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Greece aged 12-14. Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis
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