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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-05

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't will follow path of responsibility, PM says
  • [02] Alavanos' 'no' to PM's proposals
  • [03] NATO FMs meeting

  • [01] Gov't will follow path of responsibility, PM says

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, in a message to the Greek people on Thursday evening, after holding talks with opposition party leaders, presented the framework on consensus that he had discussed with them and expressed his disappointment over the "negative stance shown by the parties on the appeal for consensus," while stressing that the government "will follow the path of responsibility" and that every party "is responsible for its options and actions."

    Karamanlis pointed out that the crisis is becoming all the more intense and noted that the huge, as he termed it, public debt inherited by the New Democracy (ND) government provides no ground for flexibility. He revealed that 12 billion euros are needed every year for interest and added that the debt is a threat for the country's economic stability.

    The prime minister presented the main points contained in the consensus framework that he presented to the opposition party leaders, and on which he believes the country must move on, so that the repercusions of the economic crisis can be handled in the best possible way and which are the following:

    -First, observance of the rules applied in the European Union on stability in the economy.

    -Second, coordinated actions to decrease the high public debt that constitutes both the huge and longlasting issue harassing the country.

    -Third, the gradual decrease of deficits must be the top priority and the focal tool. What is necessary in this case is an effective decrease of public expenditures, the restriction of extravagance and not new taxation measures.

    -Fourth, the public debt and the decrease of deficits determine the real endurances of Greek society, in relation to growth and social policy, and if control is lost, as the prime minister stressed, the situation will become uncontrollable and possibly dangerous.

    -Fifth, the prime minister said that in some of the country's crucial sectors, such as, for example, tourism, special development actions are necessary and, of course, always with the observance of EU rules.

    -Sixth, the prime minister noted that "under these difficult circumstances in particular it is our duty not to encourage excessive claims since the situation does not allow bidding for the highest benefits."

    "Under the crucial circumstances that we are experiencing, there is no ground for competition," the prime minister said, adding that "unfortunately, I did not ascertain today a mood for an understanding on the self-evident."

    Karamanlis also said that at a crucial time, like the one being experienced, all must rise to the occasion and underlined that every party is responsible for its options.

    Lastly, Karamanlis made it clear that there is no dilemma for the government.

    "We have chosen the path of responsibility and we are insisting on it. As far as we are concerned, the economy is a big national issue and our target is to curb the consequences of the crisis as much as possible," the prime minister concluded.

    [02] Alavanos' 'no' to PM's proposals

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group President Alekos Alavanos held talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday stating afterwards that "I entered the Maximos Mansion as leftist opposition and I am departing as leftist opposition."

    Alavanos added that a discussion was held on the crisis and pointed out that "such a deep crisis does not need superficial agreements. It needs deep change and we are moving in this direction."

    He also informed the prime minister in writing of SYRIZA's proposals and positions, noting that they concern 25 points and initiatives that must be taken immediately, according to SYRIZA.

    Alavanos said that, on the other hand, "I heard 6 points from the prime minister, in his philosophy, that I think are the points that must not be implemented."

    Alavanos further pointed out that SYRIZA, "being a leftist and movements' force, will support the struggles of the working people," in this way rejecting the position of not providing benefits, while reiterating that his party is in favour of the speedy nationalisation of the National Bank which, "together with the Agricultural Bank and the Post Office Savings Bank, can constitute a great promoter of liquidity."

    [03] NATO FMs meeting

    NATO foreign ministers held an informal conference in Brussels on Thursday, focusing on the "Declaration on Allied Security", that will constitute the political basis for revising and shaping NATO's next strategic doctrine, relations between the Alliance and Russia and developments in Afghanistan.

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said in a statement that Thursday's extraordinary meeting of the ministers was in essence a conference in preparation for the Alliance's anniversary summit to be held in early April in an area, France and Germany (Strasbourg and Kehl), of special political and historical significance.

    According to the minister, special emphasis was placed during the discussions on preparing the Declaration on Allied Security. The Secretary General presented a draft on the Declaration and initial observations and remarks were made on the text. Its finalised form, following processing at Permanent Representatives level, is expected to be adopted at the summit.

    Bakoyannis said that Greece believes that the starting point and foundation stone for these texts must be, apart from common interests, the Alliance's fundamental principles and values, such as the principle of solidarity between member-states.

    "We also place special weight on developing an equal relation, close and productive cooperation between NATO and the European Union, that will be based on the principle of respect for the institutional autonomy of the two organisations," she said.

    On the question of relations between NATO and Russia, Bakoyannis stressed that "they must be of a sincere and substantive dialogue", as well as of "cooperation on handling common challenges such as, for example, international terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and of weapons of mass destruction and the situation in Afghanistan."

    In her view, the full utilisation of the institutional framework of the NATO-Russia Council is necessary and useful. In parallel, the foreign ministers accepted the activation, following the NATO summit, of the Council at ministerial level.

    A review and assesment of the situation in Afghanistan was also made during Thursday's conference, as well as of the Alliance's contribution to the international community's efforts to achieve the stabilisation, reconstruction and democratisation of the country, particularly in light of the upcoming presidential elections.

    "Greece believes that efforts made so far by the international community have led to the conclusion that the solution to the issue of the stability of this country and of the wider region cannot and must not be of an exclusive military nature," the Greek foreign minister said, pointing out that Afghanistan needs a multilevel and spherical approach and clear priorities focusing on a series of issues, such as economic and social development and the combatting of corruption and of the drugs economy.

    "In this framework, the development of the Alliance's relations with Islamabad is important," she said.

    Moreover, an assessment and review of the Alliance's presence, with the NATO KFOR force, in Kosovo was also made.


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