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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-04-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PASOK on FYROM's Nato prospects
  • [02] Govt cuts GDP estimate for '08-10
  • [03] Jewish community slams flag insult

  • [01] PASOK on FYROM's Nato prospects

    Main opposition PASOK party on Thursday commented on a decision by NATO members, at a Bucharest summit the previous day, not to issue a membership invitation to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), following the objections raised by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    "Greece's objective was not the tabling of a veto, but finding a solution to the (neighbouring republic's) 'name issue'," newly appointed party spokesman George Papaconstantinou told reporters.

    "Given the point where things were led to by the government, through its backtracking, double meanings and a murky political landscape, the prime minister achieved what is self-evident, namely, what we have insistently demanded and what the Greek people demanded and expected. The prime minister moved along the red lines laid down in a timely fashion by PASOK, something that has become the property of the Greek people. The problem, however, is that Greece's objective has not been achieved," Papaconstantinou said, in referring to the fact that the dispute still remains.

    "Greece must exit the (NATO) summit reinforced, with a stronger negotiating position, and within this framework the president of PASOK will continue the political initiatives he has already undertaken with a meeting he had (Tuesday) with the prime minister, while examining the final conclusions of the summit," he added.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    [02] Govt cuts GDP estimate for '08-10

    The Greek economy has a strong dynamism but was affected by international economic conditions and its prospects, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday.

    The Greek minister, speaking to reporters, said the government was revising it forecasts for Greek economic growth, following a pattern of other European countries, due to international economic developments, although he stressed that budget targets remained unchanged.

    Specifically, Alogoskoufis said international uncertainties grew since last autumn, oil prices went further up and foreign exchange markets remained in turmoil over this period, leading national governments to revise their economic forecasts for the period 2008-2010. There will be revisions of all stability and growth programs in the EU but the current climate did not support discussion over extending targets to presenting balanced budgets by 2010.

    Alogoskoufis said Eurozone GDP would be cut to 1.8 pct this year, from a 2.2 pct growth forecast made in September 2007, while Eurozone's inflation rate would rise to 2.6 pct from 2.1 pct.

    World economic growth would be cut to 3.8 pct this year, from a 4.8 pct forecast made in autumn 2007, while estimates over international oil prices were raised to 90-100 US dollars per barrel, up from a forecast of 78.8 dollars made last autumn. Alogoskoufis also noted that international commodities prices grew by 12.7 pct, up from an earlier forecast for a growth rate of 4.3 pct and underlined that the Economic ministry would proceed with a revision of its economic growth forecasts.

    However, he reassured that any impact on the Greek budget would be insignificant since spending will not be raised as a percentage of GDP, while revenues will not fall.

    Greek economic growth for the period 2008-2009 is revised to 3.6 pct, rising to 3.8 pct in 2010, while the inflation rate in the country was expected to rise to 3.5 pct this year, up from an earlier estimate of 2.9 pct, reflecting higher imported inflation pressures. Alogoskoufis said real average wages would be raised more than 4.0pct in the country.

    Presenting the government's incomes policy for 2008, Alogoskoufis said public sector workers will receive a 4.5 pct pay increase, while pensioners a 5.0 pct pension increase this year. Payment will be made in two tranches, starting from Jan. 1, 2008 with the second tranche in October 2008.

    The Greek minister said he expected the unemployment rate to fall to 7.5 pct of the workforce this year, although at a slower pace because of higher labour costs.

    Commenting on developments with listed Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), Alogoskoufis said the government was nearing an agreement to create a balanced management scheme, ensuring the future of the telecoms and telephony utility.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis.

    [03] Jewish community slams flag insult

    The historic Jewish community of Thessaloniki on Thursday issued a statement sharply condemning the recent defacing of the Greek flag in billboards put up in the city of Skopje -- the white Cross on the flag was replaced with a Swastika -- as well as a local magazine's caricature of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' dressed as an SS officer.

    "The defacing of the national symbol and the attempt to depict the Greek prime minister to a Nazi officer constitute unacceptable actions and an insult to the Greek people as a whole including members of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki," the statement reads, days after the billboard posters appeared -- and subsequently disappeared -- in the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    The statement adds that these actions become more heinous because Greece was among the first countries in Europe to clash with the tide fascism and the first to defeat Axis Forces on the battlefield in WWII, referring to the Albanian front (1940-1941), "where Jewish and Christian Greeks fought side by side."

    "Furthermore, the use -- for the sake of creating impressions -- of symbols that are directly linked with the period of the worst crimes committed against humanity is an insult to the memory of the six million victims of the Holocaust and those who survived the horror of the Nazi concentration camps," the statement reads.

    "Our Community welcomes the stance adopted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a descendant of the Mallah family from Thessaloniki, who backed Greece's positions on the self-evident Greekness of Macedonia," the statement concludes.

    Caption: A file photo dated Wednesday, 28 January 2004, shows ignitaries laying wreaths at the Holocaust Monument in Thessaloniki, an event organised to honor the annual Holocaust Memory Day. ANA-MPA

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