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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-05

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Oppoisition leaders meet Cyprus President
  • [02] PM on Social security reforms
  • [03] Gov't on FYROM

  • [01] Oppoisition leaders meet Cyprus President

    Main opposition PASOK leader met on Wednesday afternoon with visiting newly elected Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.

    Speaking to the press afterwards, Papndreou said he wished President Christofias success in his new duties, adding that the latter would have his support as leader of PASOK and also as Socialist International (SI) president "in the struggle for a just solution of the Cyprus problem."

    The PASOK leader said that the Annan plan "is part of history; new opportunities and new challenges are opening on the basis of the European Union acquis communautaire, given the fact that Cyprus is an EU member-state."

    "Of course, for the prospects of a solution, Turkey's will is necessary, as the Cyprus issue is a problem of occupation of one member-state of the EU by a candidate country," Papandreou added.

    On April 24 2004, 76% of the Greek Cypriot side rejected the Annan plan for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem, while the 65% of the Turkish Cypriot community endorsed it.

    KKE SG Papariga

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga met on Wednesday afternoon with President Demetris Christofias for talks on the Cyprus issue.

    "We considered it our obligation to remind President Christofias, whom we any way know for a long time, that he can count on KKE's support to the people of Cyprus and its president for a just solution of the Cyprus problem," Papariga told reporters after the meeting.

    Papariga, who was heading a party delegation, noted "we are on the same wave lengths and we share the same positions with the President of Cyprus, but a Cyprus solution does not only depend on the correct stance of the Cyprus presidency."

    The KKE SG also said that she discussed with President Christofias developments in the Balkans, especially the repercussions of the "creation of the protectorate in Kosovo".

    Papariga expressed her party's opposition to Greece's participation in multinational military forces deployed in the region, underlining that the government should "state its opposition to Kosovo's independence and not to offer its position as an "exchange" in the dispute over the name of FYROM."

    SYRIZA leader Alavanos

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos met with President Christofias on Wednesday afternoon.

    "We wished to the president success in his task for the resumption of talks on the Cyprus issue and its solution on the basis of United Nations resolutions and the agreed opinion of the two communities," Alavanos told the press afterwards.

    "The Cyprus issue is the great issue of Greek foreign policy. We do not speak of a name. We speak of an island occupied by foreign troops. Demetris Christofias' presidency creates new optimism and new possibilities of mobility," Alavanos concluded.

    [02] PM on Social security reforms

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Wednesday night, following an Inner Cabinet meeting, that changes which the government is promoting to reform the social security system "are positive and imperative".

    Karamanlis said that the changes aimed at the salvation of a system which has been led to a deadlock because, as he said, the more reforms are delayed the bigger the deadlock gets and the solutions imposed by tough reality will become more painful for all of society and mainly for the younger generations.

    The prime minister went on to say that if one did not wish to assume the political cost he could leave things as they are or make superficial changes, in other words transferring the problem and its deadlock to a future government, being aware that things will worsen in this way so that it will be that one that will shoulder the political cost.

    "Such an option would constitute extreme irresponsibility. Such an option is inconceivable for me. It is completely alien to my political philosophy, my course and my decision to be useful for the country, even if I am not likable temporarily. For this reason we took a responsible decision for the substantive reforming of the social security system," the prime minister said.

    Karamanlis noted that the reforms restructure the social security system, safeguard its longterm viability, they are mild and moderate, socially fair and serve the interests of society in its entirety even if they harm specific interests and specific privileges of the few.

    The prime minister said that due to the chaotic reality existing, great inequalities have been created with pensions, great irregularities in pensioning time and great differences in medical and pharmaceutical care.

    He further said that there are pensioners who receive a higher pension than the salary they had when they were working and others who are being pensioned for more years than they had worked.

    Focusing in particular on the main reforms, Karamanlis stressed the following:

    -Firstly, a bold and effective administrative reform since the 133 agencies and branches falling under the jurisdiction of the employment ministry will be reduced to 13. No fund whatsever will be excluded from the unifications. The main criteria for unifications are the similarity of those joining.

    Secondly, corrective moves will be brought about in extreme and socially unfair cases, without general time limits being harmed and, at the same time, incentives will be provided for staying at work for those desiring this. Corrective moves concerning special age limits and special pensioning preconditions will be implemented gradually and most will begin as of 2013. General age limits will not change, pensions will not be reduced and contributions will not be increased.

    Thirdly, institutional innovations will be promoted with the creation of the solidarity capital for generations where every year 10 percent from privatisations, 4 percent from VAT and 10 percent of social resources will be accumulated in this capital, which will remain intact until 2019. Central control will be enacted for the system of employment, pensioning, and treatment and every citizen will have a card with one number alone that will be essential for him to work, be pensioned or to receive treatment. The citizen will be served in a better manner in this way, contribution evasion will be tackled and extravagance will be curbed drastically.

    Karamanlis concluded his statement by saying that the reforming of the social security system will not stop "because few and privileged people are functioning as an establishment. Because we shall not sacrifice the future and the progress of our country."

    [03] Gov't on FYROM

    Greece has demonstrated through its actions which side is most interested in and decisively contributes to safeguarding stability in the wider region, stressed alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Wednesday. He was replying to a comment made by the foreign minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Antonio Milososki, over the name dispute.

    In a recent statement in Skopje, Milososki called on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to clarify whether he was more interested in the stability of his parliamentary group or the region. Antonaros refused to comment on the statements, rejecting them as "crude".

    Regarding the timeframe for the name issue negotiations, based on the statements made on Tuesday by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, he pointed out that the government has never stated that the NATO Summit in Bucharest constitutes a deadline.

    Greece participates in the UN-sponsored negotiations for a mutually accepted solution in a decisive, constructive and substantive manner, contributing to the efforts aimed at meeting the goal set, he pointed out.

    Responding to another question, Antonaros added that this was an appropriate time for a solution and Greece participates in the process in a constructive way.


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