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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-04-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM defends farm sector policy
  • [02] Nimetz arrives in Athens

  • [01] PM defends farm sector policy

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou clashed in Parliament on Friday during a debate over a tabled question in the legislature by the latter on developmental policy in the agricultural sector. Karamanlis accused Papandreou of distorting the truth, and criticised the preceding PASOK governments of having led a shrinking farm sector and immobility, while Papandreou charged that the New Democracy government has "made a mess" with the EU's new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), adding that the government's statements "sounded good in 2004, but are judged by the farmers, who have an extremely poor impression of ND's work".

    The premier also accused PASOK of "forgetting" the Mediterranean products, which were of the most interest to Greece, during the negotiations for CAP, "whereas we succeeded in their inclusion, with the best possible terms ... This is the truth, and it doesn't change, no matter how many lies you invoke," Karamanlis said.

    Responding to other criticism by Papandreou, Karamanlis asked "is it truly pro-agriculture, a policy that was not absorbing EU funds up to 2004, and our policy against the sector, which raised the absorption rate from 18 percent, to 80 percent today?"

    He also criticised the past PASOK governments of attempting to muzzle farmers' protests, whereas the ND government endorsed dialogue and consensus solution of their problems, and of delaying payment of compensations by up to 1-1 1/2 years whereas under ND the farmers receive their compensation on time.

    Karamanlis stressed that his government knew very well the difficulties that the agricultural sector has gone, and was going, through, as well as the opportunities that were lost.

    "From 1981 to the present, immense EU funds have entered the country, for farming subsidies as well as for infrastructure projects in the agricultural sector, but unfortunately populist and party expediencies and profiteering perceptions prevailed," the premier said.

    Noting the international state of affairs and the need for the development of a flexible agricultural policy, Karamanlis stressed that the government was obliged to look at, and prepare for, the risks as well as the opportunities ahead, in order to ensure a better prospect for the farming sector.

    "Contrary to what the main opposition leader claims, Greece is applying a structured policy for agricultural development," Karamanlis said, citing as an example the "Alexandros Baltatzis 2007-2013" Agricultural Development Program, with an overall budget exceeding 6 billion euros, which was "among the first programs that were approved by the European Commission".

    He explained that the program contained important measures aimed at improving the competitiveness of agricultural production, protection of the water resources, boosting environment-friendly crops, and protection and enhancement of the country's forest wealth while, in addition to the developmental programs, EU subsidies in the new Programming Period (2007-2013) would reach 18 billion euros.

    Papandreou, in turn, accused the government of having forgotten the agricultural sector, and Karamanlis of not keeping his promise to negotiate, himself, the interests of the Greek farming sector in the EU.

    'You promised that you would wage battles in Brussels, going yourself to the council of (farm) ministers meetings. You never went. Your ministers went, and every time they negotiated our products, the decisions were painful, such as those for the tobacco producers," Papandreou accused Karamanlis, and wondered whether "it was incompetence, or a conscious policy in favor of the tobacco industries and the middle-men".

    He called on Karamanlis to "listen to the protests of the farmers, and particularly the fire-stricken, whom you have totally forgotten", adding that PASOK was building new relations of trust with the agricultural sector "and we will always be at its side, with plans and interest in the growth of the agricultural economy".

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] Nimetz arrives in Athens

    The UN mediator for the nagging "name issue" between Greece and the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) arrived in Athens on Friday a day after holding meetings with the political leadership in Skopje.

    Diplomatic efforts appeared more-or-less revitalised following Greek governmentās refusal to sign-off on FYROMās NATO invitation earlier this month.

    "The Greek government is eager to resolve this issue, looking for a way thatās honorable for both sides," the United Nations mediator, veteran US diplomat Matthew Nimetz, said after his meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    Moreover, the Greek FM said the UN envoy did not table any new proposal for solving the 17-year-old dispute, which recently poisoned bilateral relations at the political level.

    "This (visit) merely affirms the resumption of negotiations, something that the Greek side wanted," Bakoyannis said, adding that Nimetz is taking into account that the neighbouring country is now in a pre-election period.

    "Whatās important to us is that the negotiations remain alive. Greece has no problem. It has a stable government and a political scene that agrees on the goals and policy that we have set," she told reporters after the meeting with Nimetz.

    On his part, the UN envoy noted that a joint communiqu? issue at the conclusion of the Bucharest NATO summit earlier this month - which calls for FYROM to receive an invitation to join NATO once the āname issueā is solved - did affect the situation.

    Greece followed through on its oft-repeated promise to block an invitation for the neighbouring landlocked state unless a "mutually acceptable" solution to the pesky "name issue" was achieved beforehand.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of UN mediator Matthew Nimetz.

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