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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Karamanlis carries out visit to Messinia
  • [02] Climate change rallies held in Greece

  • [01] Karamanlis carries out visit to Messinia

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis carried out a visit to Messinia in the Peloponnese on Saturday, where he had a meeting with local business people and officials at the Messinia chamber of commerce and inspected work for the construction of the Tripoli-Megalopolis national highway.

    In his speech during the meeting, the prime minister said there was an imperative need to join all forces available during this time of crisis for the global economy, and for all sides to commit to the effort.

    "Only by steadfastly following the road of responsibility can we ensure that the repercussions of the crisis are the least possible for the real economy, for enterprise, employment and household incomes," he stressed.

    He also stressed the government's strong concern to help those worst affected by the crisis, which had prompted it to establish "seven, new, tangible and targeted measures to support the less privileged, those on small pensions and the unemployed," such as the welfare actions announced in Parliament on Friday.

    The government, the premier said, was supporting small and medium-sized enterprises by increasing liquidity, by transferring as many funds as possible from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) for the new period to assist them, by giving them access to loans through the Guarantee Fund and through programmes to boost employment and competitiveness for micro-enterprises and small enterprises.

    Karamanlis said that the Greek economy was showing strong resilience to the crisis and stressed that this was not a coincidence but a result of the reforms and fiscal overhaul that had been carried out in Greece in the past years.

    He noted that this strategy had also allowed the government to reduce taxes from 27 percent to 25 percent and to not impose any new taxes in 2009.

    The premier then pointed to the support made available for farmers, listing measures for the support of new farmers and to help farmers with servicing loans and receiving compensation for crops lost due to natural disasters.

    He then referred to several infrastructure projects that were underway in Messinia, which were designed to boost the competitiveness of the prefecture's agricultural and business sectors, and pointed to the measures taken so far to assist farmers and livestock breeders stricken by the 2007 mega fires.

    Among these he emphasised work to complete the Corinth-Tripoli-Kalamata highway, due to be delivered in 2011, which he said would give the Peloponnese a fast highway built according to European standards that would shorten travel times from Corinth to Kalamata to roughly 75 minutes and from Corinth to Sparta to 90 minutes.

    Earlier, the prime minister had visited the work being carried out on the Tripolis-Megalopolis road, accompanied by Deputy Employment Minister Sofia Kalantzakou, Deputy Education Minister Andreas Lykourentzos, a number of MPs for the region, Messinia Prefect Dimitris Drakos and ND Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.

    He inspected a section of the Rapsomati tunnel, the bridge under construction at Thoknia and the section of the road from Paradisia-Tsakona that had collapsed in the winter of 2003 and was being rebuilt.

    Afterwards, Karamanlis said that the projects were making satisfactory progress and would be completed within the set deadlines.

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (right) is presented a work of art inspired by the olive tree - the main crop of Kalamata - by Messinia Chamber of Commerce President George Karabatos (left), while the chamber's vice-president Constantinos Papadimitriou looks on (centre). Karamanlis paid a visit to the prefecture of Messinia and addressed its productive classes at the prefecture's chamber of commerce in Kalamata on Saturday.

    [02] Climate change rallies held in Greece

    Rallies took place in Greek cities on Saturday, especially Athens and Thessaloniki, as people turned out in response to Global Day of Action on Climate Change.

    The gathering at Syntagma Square in the heart of Athens began at noon and was joined by 54 movements for the city and the environment, 27 local authority bodies, 13 trade unions, 10 environmental and social groups, as well as members of the public.

    At the same time, events are being held throughout the world in the first 10 days of December, coinciding with the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali on December 3-14.

    The central slogan at the Athens rally was "The climate has changed. Have we?", with environmental groups stressing that the measures taken to arrest the march of climate change are minimal and inadequate, while global consumption rates are 30 percent above the world's capacity to replenish its resources.

    For Greece, in particular, they warn that the current economic model driving growth is untenable, while the rise in global temperatures will bring the Greek climate closer to that of north Africa, especially after the destructive fires that made it even more vulnerable to global warming.

    They forecast that life in Greece will become unbearable in coming decades and that the current productive model based on construction, large highways and tourism, combined with a thoughtless waste of natural resources, will lead to disaster.

    Groups participating in the rally stressed that Greece should conform to Kyoto Protocol targets and actively promote a global agreement imposing drastic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, drastically cut back on the use of fossil fuels for power production and construct no more coal-fired power stations, as well as taking measures to clean up polluting industry, promoting use of renewable energy sources, take measures for energy conservation and withdraw the recent General Spatial Plan and that for tourism.

    Demonstrators in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki formed a human chain around the site of the Thessaloniki International Fair and the 3rd Army Corps, creating a symbolic blockade around the area, in order to highlight their demand that it be converted to a green space available for use by people in the city.

    Caption: Scene from a rally that took place in Syntagma Square in Athens on Saturday, to demonstrate against climate change. ANA-MPA - Katerina Mavrona.

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