|Monday, 19 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-05-18
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Energy policy strengthens geostrategic positionPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday stressed that his government was consistently implementing a responsible policy of multiple directions and alternative solutions that strengthens Greece's geostragic position and decisively contributes to the European Union's energy security, referring to last week's signing of the agreement for the South Stream natural gas pipeline, in statements to the press after a visit Monday morning to the development ministry and talks with minister Costis Hatzidakis and deputy ministers George Vlachos and Yiannis Bougas.
The premier said that the discussion, which was also attended by the ministry's secretaries general, encompassed all matters falling under the ministry's competence, and stressed that he had called on the ministry leadership to undertake, each week, "a new action that will make the lives of our fellow citizens more comfortable, that will make the Greek businessmen and consumers feel more secure".
Regarding market matters and prices, Karamanlis noted that the price reductions and cancellation of price hikes made in recent weeks were more than the price rises, while a substantial decline had been recorded in the prices of staple goods. He also noted the legislative initiatives for upgrading the Competition Commission and the new Market Monitoring Service (YPEA), as well as the measures taken in the oil products and dairy goods markets, stressing that protection of the consumer and combating illicit competition were a priority for his government.
The premier further noted the policies introduced to boost the liquidity of business concerns, and especially the SMEs via the TEMPME (Credit Guarantee Fund for Small and Micro Enterprises), stressing that a further 50,000 enterprises would receive loans under the second stage of the TEMPME program, raising the overall sum of loans extended with State guarantees to 9.5 million euros to a total of 77,000 enterprises. He also noted the Operational Program "Competitiveness-Entrepreneurship" under the Fourth Community Support Framework (CSF), the target for which is activation of 40 percent of its resources by end-October.
In the energy sector, Karamanlis highlighted the new institutional framework for renewable energy sources (RES), the energy yield of buildings and the energy conservation policies introduced by his government, stressing that the installed power in RES has tripled over the past five years.
All these, he said, place Greece on the path of green development.
Turning to the country's energy agreements, Karamanlis stressed that the Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline was heading speedily towards completion, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline was moving ahead without obstacles, and the Haskovo-Komotini natgas pipeline was also progressing, while a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) station was being planned in Northern Greece.
"I instructed the development ministry to carry on with the same methodicalness, the same and even greater determination -- to continue with the same extroversion, the same effectiveness -- the implementation of our energy policy. In other words, to continue to responsibly advance the country's interests".
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis
 Papandreou blasts government on migrationMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou criticised the government on its policy on illegal migration, in statements during a visit on Monday to the Central Port Authority in the western port city of Patras.
Papandreou said he has ascertained "the full and overall failure of the governmental policy on the issue of illegal migration and on refugees", adding that the result of that policy was hardship and suffering for the local societies, and downgrading of the lives of migrants and refugees, as well as hardship on the Harbor Corps employees.
He said that "a serious government should have done six things, which have not been done", elaborating that the country today lacks: serious guarding of its borders due to a downgrading of the Harbor Corps with respect to means and staff; a clear-cut policy on how and who is categorised as a political refugee and who is sent back; a clear-cut policy on how to incorporate the legal migrants and refugees into the Greek society and economy; and a clear-cut policy on boosting the guarding of the country's ports so as to send a powerful message to all the illegal immigration rings that Greece will not be a gateway for illegal immigrants to the rest of Europe.
Further, Greece has not activated its bilateral agreements with neighboring Turkey that provide for the return of all illegal immigrants coming to Greece via Turkey which, Papandreou said, PASOK had implemented when it was in government.
Also, the establishment of immigrant/refugee camps only worsened the situation rather than solved the problem, adding that the problem can be solved by a serious government through cooperation in the European Union.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou
 FM at OSCE forumForeign Minister and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson in Office Dora Bakoyannis, addressing the opening sesssion of the 17th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum entitled "Management of migration and its correlation and its linkages with economic, social and environmental policies to the benefit of stability and security in the OSCE region", which began Monday in Lagonissi, underlined the need to adopt medium-term and long-term policies aimed at dealing with the problems stemming from illegal migration on a global scale despite the unprecedented economic crisis.
"Instead of resorting to introversion and phobic reactions, it is imperative, more than ever before, to continue the policies aimed at dealing with the constantly growing problems of the environment or migration," the foreign minister stressed in her opening speech. She also expressed satisfaction for the substantive change in the viewpoints observed in the first part of the Forum held in Vienna and the expectation that the three-day meeting in Lagonisi will result in an agreement on a number of tangible recommendations that will prepare the ground for more initiatives in the sector of migration.
"Our intention is to encourage a more careful examination of the new tendencies and developments in the area of migration since 2005 while focusing on the aspect of security," she stressed. "Immigrants are human beings and society has a moral responsibility to create the necessary safety nets to protect and guarantee human rights and the integrity of the people," Bakoyannis said.
The FM pointed out the special interest expressed by Greece on these issues, stressing that the country has a long tradition of immigration inflow due to its geographic position and actively participates in the ongoing dialogue wishing to contribute to the multilateral efforts underway and the development of a more complete approach, while considering ways to include all interested bodies in a substantive dialogue.
Bakoyannis stated after her speech the the Greek OSCE presidency organised this internaional conference in order to focus on issues concerning migration and illegal migration and its relation to climate change. "We estimate that up until 2050, more than 150 million people alone will migrate due to climate change. For Greece, the effort is continuing in the framework of coordinated activities and through multi-lateral actions," she added.
The need to protect the rights of immigrants despite the economic crisis, underlined OSCE Secretary General, Ambassador Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, pointing out that "in periods of crisis it is of vital importance to acknowledge the contribution of immigrants to our societies and discard our xenophobic tendencies."
On his part, co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities Goran Svilanovic, pointed out that it is important to be aware of the benefits stemming from immigration, "benefits both for the country of origin and the reception country," he underlined. "Some of the
'healthiest' countries in the world have high percentages of foreign workers that they do not constitute national work force but, nevertheless, are supplementary," he stressed.
The forum is attended by roughly 150 foreign figures, international organizations, NGO and institutional bodies.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis
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