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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-10

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Pension reforms debut in Parliament
  • [02] PASOK congress begins March 13
  • [03] FM briefs EU counterparts
  • [04] Dev'p minister on power supply

  • [01] Pension reforms debut in Parliament

    Debate on the government's crucial social security reform draft bill begins in a Parliament committee on Tuesday amid a bevy of announcements by unions threatening industrial actions in order to block the reforms.

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will meet with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos just before noon on Tuesday, followed by a separate meeting with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.

    In high-profile comments last week, Karamanlis reiterated that envisioned changes aim at no less than ensuring that future generations have adequate pensions.

    [02] PASOK congress begins March 13

    Main opposition PASOK party has entered the final stretch leading to its congress on March 13, as party leader George Papandreou stressed that the party will enter a new phase with the congress.

    Papandreou noted that there had been a crisis "that hurt and that created cracks and wounds" in the party, which, however, are being healed.

    He added that the aim of PASOK's congress is for the first step to be taken for the creation of new self-confidence for the Greek people since, as he said, government policy, together with untransparency and the production of scandals, are leading to public depression and pessimism and one of the goals of the party is to reverse the climate of pessimism.

    Replying to a quesion on reforms in PASOK, Papandreou said he has committed himself on the party proceeding with reforms and stressed that changes will be brought about in PASOK and there will be a new and strong unity.

    Commenting on steps for PASOK's departure from the crisis, he said that the main aim is shaping new self-confidence that will be created step-by-step and in a systematic way.

    Also focusing on the question of new political unity, the PASOK leader said that this requires all working together and underlined that posts are not being allocated in PASOK but work.

    Responding to another question on whether he is being supported by the party's cadres, Papandreou said that it is the democratic right of every person in a democratic party to have his views. He pointed out that the struggle on November 11 was waged and closed and stressed that the struggle of Greece has to be waged now and it shall be waged by all together.

    Addressing an accross-the-board press briefing at Zappion Hall, Papandreou called for the immediate withdrawal of the social security draft bill and spoke of "so-called reforms" that are creating huge problems for working people, pensioners and the social security system.

    He also spoke of high prices that exceed, by far, the increase in oil prices and of costly "supposed free education" that is creating a great burden for the pockets of working people.

    Papandreou, lastly, referred to the fourth anniversary of the New Democracy party coming to power, saying that "they might be blowing out candles there, but during these four years the hopes of the Greek people for a new course for the country were also blown out."

    [03] FM briefs EU counterparts

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who represented Greece at the EU's General Affairs Council on Monday, briefed her counterparts on Greece's positions regarding the nagging FYROM "name issue" and on developments in the western Balkans, especially in Serbia and Kosovo.

    Speaking to reporters, the foreign minister said she reiterated at the Council the same positions outlined at NATO's ministerial session.

    Bakoyannis repeated that Greece's aim is to find a mutually acceptable solution concerning the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) name before the NATO summit in Bucharest next month. She also called again on the government of Skopje to attend negotiations that are underway with the same positive attitude that Greece is showing.

    Replying to a question on ostensible mediation by Washington between Athens and Skopje on the name issue, Bakoyannis said Greece welcomes all of its partners and allies who wish to assist efforts to find a solution.

    She stressed, however, that negotiations are a process that, in principle, are taking place under the auspices of the United Nations and, in particular, by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz.

    As regards developments in Serbia, EU foreign ministers agreed that every effort must be made to enable the country to receive a positive message on its European future and that all EU countries are determined to support its course towards the Union. The Council of Ministers also expressed a hope that political developments in Serbia will strengthen its European prospects.

    The Greek minister reiterated that the EU must sign a Stability and Cooperation Pact with Serbia, stressing that it is not fair that a democratic country should be punished "for sins perpetrated in the past, during a period of dictatorship."

    On the question of Kosovo, the Council of Ministers expressed its concern over the situation prevailing in the province and agreed with the presence of the European political force there.

    On her part, the Greek minister told her counterparts that Athens desires a stronger presence of the UN "in the sense that every move that we shall make in Kosovo will be in harmony with the UN Security Council's Resolution 1244."

    Lastly, with regard to negotiations between Greece and Washington on the abolition of passport visas for Greek citizens travelling to the United States, Bakoyannis said that over the past year Greece has started the so-called "visa waiver" process, during which talks are taking place with the US administration to have the requirement abolished.

    She also noted that an EU position exists that contains general directives on this issue, stressing that EU countries, whose citizens do not need a visa for the United States, had reached an agreement on a bilateral level and Greece is doing likewise.

    [04] Dev'p minister on power supply

    Development Minister Christos Folias on Monday referred to the country's power supply amid wildcat strikes by local unions representing striking employees, noting that "we examined all the eventualities for this week."

    He said coordination of all the involved agencies are continuous, so as to utilise every possibility in order for the Greek households to have smooth electricity supply.

    The minister said that "from then on it is clear that the government and the development ministry do not bargain in the name of the public interest, the interest of the many. The corner stone of democracy is equality and it is time for this to be aware by everyone."


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