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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM to meet President, party leaders
  • [02] Papandreou cites 'strangled' market
  • [03] Stocks end 1.62 pct lower

  • [01] PM to meet President, party leaders

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis intends to seek a common denominator that will enable consensus between the political forces of the country in dealing with the economic crisis, the government announced on Tuesday.

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that Karamanlis will have successive meetings on Wednesday with President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias at 11:30 and Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas at 13:00, and was seeking meetings with the political party leaders.

    A later announcement by the prime minister's office said that Karamanlis will have successive meetings to discuss the state of the economy and the international economic crisis on Thursday with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou at 11:00, with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga at 12:30, with Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis at 14:00 and with the head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos at 17:00.

    The spokesman stated that the premier had himself announced the start of this initiative to bring about a consensus, citing statements made by Karamanlis during a press conference in Brussels regarding what the government hopes to accomplish through these meetings, adding that it was only natural for discussion on such issues to occur at top level.

    Cabinet briefed on EU summit, Bakoyannis trips

    The inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis focused on the global financial crisis and the results of last weekend's EU summit meeting, held in view of the ECOFIN meeting to convene next week.

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou stated afterwards that ?each day we experience unexpected and unpleasant developments in the unprecedented financial crisis that touches economies worldwide and, therefore, Greece‚s economy as well.?

    ?The goal is to manage the crisis with the fewest possible consequences, particularly for the middle and lower incomes. Our plan aspires to contain the public deficit and support developmental actions that will create new sources of income and jobs for the Greek people. We are, however, on the lookout to protect the country‚s economy,? he stressed.

    On her part, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis briefed the inner cabinet on her trip to the United States and the international donors‚ conference for the rebuilding the Gaza Strip held in Egypt. Referring to the global economic crisis, she stressed that ?every day, new facts are creating concern across Europe, particularly after the EU Summit meeting and in view of the upcoming one.?

    ?Our goal is absolute coordination of all European countries, as well as cooperation and solidarity in efforts aimed at managing the crisis,? Bakoyannis stressed.

    Referring to an incident targeting Greek tourists in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), in the city of Ochrid, she stated that the foreign ministry has issued an announcement briefing the Greek citizens wishing to travel to FYROM on ?all the facts?.

    ?The unfortunate events in Ochrid show that (FYROM PM Nikola) Gruevski‚s election campaign rhetoric has an impact,? she commented.

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at a press conference on Saturday after the EU summit in Brussels.

    [02] Papandreou cites 'strangled' market

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday tabled a question for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Parliament regarding the lack of credit 'strangling' the Greek market. "The market has frozen, unemployment is increasing and prices are not falling in spite of the reduction in demand," Papandreou claimed. He also accused banks of failing to fulfill their role as providers of credit for the real economy, in spite of a drastic cuts in the interest rates of the European Central Bank, Euribor and the Greek government's 28-billion-euro support package. Papandreou cited a "deficit in policy" in terms of boosting demand, averting the repercussions of joblessness and restoring the lost confidence of Greek consumers prey to rampant and uncontrolled price gouging, as well as its failure to ensure that banks made credit available to businesses and households. In a press conference on Tuesday, meanwhile, PASOK MP Michalis Chrysochoidis called on consumers to boycott "the government of high prices". He strongly criticised "the unjustified inconsistency observed between the prices of producers and store prices in a number of basic products and foodstuffs," citing figures made public by producer and consumer price watchdogs. Referring to liquid fuel prices, Chrysochoidis stated that Greece is the 6th most expensive among the 27 EU member states as regards the pre-tax price of unleaded gasoline, while car fuel retail prices have recorded a notable rise in an international environment of dropping fuel prices. On the issue of worker layoffs, Chrysochoidis said that the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the country's largest trade union umbrella organisation, had recorded a total of 4,136 layoffs in February, a record-high 774 mandatory leaves and 180 worker suspensions. The issue of the overpriced natural gas was also underlined, being up to 20 pct more expensive than heating oil in certain regions of the country.

    [03] Stocks end 1.62 pct lower

    Greek stocks fell to new six-year lows in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, ignoring a recovery in other European markets. The composite index ended 1.62 pct lower at 1,510.99 points, with turnover an improved 137.6 million euros, of which 21.7 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Commerce (5.73 pct), Banks (4.66 pct), Insurance (4.57 pct), Healthcare (3.85 pct) and Food/Beverage (2.87 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Telecommunications (2.33 pct), Oil (0.61 pct) and Media (0.29 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 1.80 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 3.36 pct down and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.62 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 150 to 52 with another 43 issues unchanged.

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