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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-21
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM: Gov't is producing lasting public benefitThe government was not pursuing ephemeral impressions, and did not fear temporary political cost when it was certain that it was producing lasting public benefit, prime minister Costas Karamanlis said Friday in parliament, during an off-the-agenda discussion on the youth's rights to education and culture, initiatived by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga.
"We don't bow down to populism when the citizens, as always, need relations of trust that are vindicated in the pasing of time," he added.
In a clear reference to the social security system, Karamanlis stressed that the reforms being advanced by the government "produce results" in the long-standing problems and "open up new roads and prospects of hope", and, referring to "the pessimistic view that the youth are headed towards a worse future", Karamanlis stressed that "the future would be grim if we had not proceeded with the reforms necesssary".
The premier rejected criticism that unemployment was growing, noting that he was not doing this to glamorize situations; "On the contrary, we look upon the concealment of problems, inertia in the face of imposses, and phobia towards solutions, as a huge mistake".
An even bigger mistake was the attempt to distort the reality, the attempt to dispute the policies that produce measurable results, the attempted reaction to reforms that produce solid solutions, he continued, adding that "such practices do not contribute to the country moving forward", and stressing that "the future demands assumption of responsibilities by everyone, and bold decisions that are far removed from dogmatism".
Specifically regarding the claims of increased unemployment, Karamanlis said that "the reality belies the razing criticism", given that unemployment was running at 8.3 percent, "which is the lowest annual rate in the last 15 years".
Noting that unemployment remained the biggest social problem in the country, he said that it also remained in the target sight of the policy of his New Democracy (ND) government, which will "continue to finance human potential development programes with increased national and Community funds".
On Education and charges of "Greece's global record in export of (university) students", Karamanlis said that if the situation was perpetuated, all those who persistently and irrationally refused the revision of Article 16 of the Constitution (which would allow the establishment of private universities in Greece) would be to blame.
He announced that the national plan for combatting narcotics, with the emphasis on prevention, the development of new therapeutic structures and the advancement of new regulations for the social and productive reintegration of former users, would be tabled in the coming days in the authoritative parliamentary committee, while also planned were an organisational upgrade of OKANA (Organisation Against Drugs, the national coordinator and services and programs provider in the fields of prevention, treatment and reintegration) and the introduction of methadone units in public hospitals.
Karamanlis reiterated that his government has opted for "changes and reforms" to avert perpetuation of the problems, and policies that look out for the young people's needs and open up new paths of opportunities and security.
Modern-day policy needs to be selected with the future as the criterion, and must serve, in action, the values of solidarity ad social justice, Karamanlois said, adding that policies with tangible results and policies that produce benefit for the many, for the present and the future, must be applied: "That is what we have said, and that is what we are doing. Our choices and positions prove it," he concluded.
Speaking in turn, Papariga said that "one important difference between us and other parties is that we don't speak about 'opportunities' but about 'rights'. The term 'opportunities' means that a large section of the youth are chasing after chimeras -- and whoever succeeds, succeeds. We say 'rights', and that, in the framework of the collective rights there should be the ability for personal evolution".
Papariga criticised the existing system in education, beginning from pre-school all the way up to secondary and higher education, calling it "outdated" and aiming at producing "cheap labor". She said that "no youths under 18 years of age should work, but should be getting an education...in the framework of a 12-year general, mandatory education, with professional training beginning after 18 years of age", while artistic education "must become an inseparable element of the education process, from kindergarten all the way to university".
The reality, however, was different, she said: Not only were youths abandoning school, but many were working during their working at jobs during their years of education -- "30 percent of the AEI (university) students and 60 percent of the TEI (technical college) students, according to statistics, frequently in 'black' labor, resulting in the downgrading of their studies".
She charged that no measures have been taken to eliminate the phenomenon, and called for reinforcement of the family, with truly free education, and, in the case of working students, steps should be taken so that they would be working 6-hour days with 8-hour wages and time off for exams.
Caption:Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday 21 March 2008 in parliament.ANA-MPA/PANTELIS SAITAS
 Papandreou: PM lives in another planetMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou described ND's policy on education as an "extremely class policy" and accused the Prime Minister of "living on another planet, giving pretty descriptions of ND's supposedly immense work, while in reality nothing of that is true".
He said that PASOK championed a new leap for the young generation, while charging that the new social security bill being passed by the government would create a "labor Middle Ages", which he pledged his party would abolish when it took over the government.
"With your bill, there will be no ability for serious pensions, but fear, particularly among the youth, with uninsured work, without payment and overtime. You are bombarding the yougn general with insecurity," Papandreou said, adding that his party had a specific proposal to put forward, that begins at birth, up to 26 years of age, with the creation of provisions for 4-year financing with full social security, from state dispensation".
Papandreou further criticised the Left's stance on Article 16 of the Constitution, stressing that efforts should focus on upgrading the public universities, and adding that an absolute priority was to solve the issue of their autonomy, with full self-administration but subject to evaluation.
Caption: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou. ANA-MPA/PANTELIS SAITAS
 Greek, FYROM FM's meetGreek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met on Friday morning with her FYROM counterpart Antonio Milososki in Brussels in the framework of the UN-mediated negotiations on the FYROM name issue.
After the meeting Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumtsakos stated: "The two Foreign Ministers met today, ahead of the NATO Summit meeting in Bucharest (in early April), in order to advance the ongoing efforts, and with the aim of the UN process leading to a mutually acceptable outcome."
He said that the US hosted Friday's meeting, aiming to support the achievement of agreement, in the framework of the negotiations taking place under the UN chief's personal envoy on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz.
"It was a useful discussion and a frank exchange of opinions. The two Ministers underlined the commitment of the two governments to achieve a solution. Both sides look forward to their next meeting with Matthew Nimetz on 25 March in New York," Koumoutsakos said..
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis
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