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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-06-04

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM : Initiatives on the crisis will continue
  • [02] Direct railway link with Russia, Ukraine
  • [03] KKE leader visits Hellenic Weapon Industry
  • [04] Athens metro works
  • [05] GDP up 0.3pct
  • [06] Economic sentiment up

  • [01] PM : Initiatives on the crisis will continue

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis stressed that his ruling New Democracy (ND) party was aiming for victory in Sunday's European Parliament elections, adding, however, that the 'day after' the elections the government will carry on with its initiatives for tackling the impact of the global financial crisis, speaking on private television on Thursday morning.

    Noting that a vote cast in the Euroelections was different than that cast in national elections, Karamanlis said that he would seriously take into consideration the outcome of Sunday's vote but added that it was not a vote to elect a government or prime minister.

    The premier conceded that he would have acted differently in a number of instances, if his government did not have a slim majority of 151 MPs in the 300-member parliament, but stressed that he was not susceptible to blackmail or coercion: "In all my 53 years, I have never bowed to blackmail, ever, from anyone, either within or outside the party."

    Regarding the issue of Siemens bribery scandal defendants Michalis Christoforakos (Siemens Hellas former CEO) and Christos Karavelas (Siemens Hellas former executive), who have fled from the country, Karamanlis said that this occurred before the indictments were made, while he noted that although there may have been some delay in the process, this would not be the first time that such insufficiencies have arisen in services staff.

    Karamanlis categorically rejected, however, that anything had happened intentionally, "and I d not believe that any Greek government would do something like this intentionally".

    He further added that the period being investigated did not concern ND, since it had been under the term of the previous government (PASOK) that the contracts in question were signed.

    The high-profile Siemens slush funds investigation in Greece involves several major contracts signed in 1997 between Siemens and the state-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE S.A.) to install digital technology at the latter's telephone substations.

    Asked whether foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, who assumed the political responsibility regarding the delay, should have resigned, Karamanlis explained that assumption of the political responsibility does not mean that one should resign, but rather acknowledgement that a problem has arisen in a specific matter. "It doesn't mean that everyone must abandon their post because a dysfunction has appeared," he said, adding that "it is the prime minister who judges whether some changes need to be made".

    The premier also reiterated his intention to remain at ND's helm, even in the event of defeat in the national elections, provided that «those around you and more widely consider you capable and worthy, and want you at their side in this fight".

    On opposition calls for early general elections, Karamanlis said that national elections should be held after the crisis has ended.

    On the economy, he said that the reforms must continue, reiterating that he believes in mild adjustment, and added that jobs have been safeguarded in Greece, in comparison with the rest of the EU, while he also insists on reinforcing social sensitivity within the margins of the economy's abilities.

    [02] Direct railway link with Russia, Ukraine

    Hellenic Rail (OSE) has announced the operation of a weekly direct route linking Greece with Ukraine and Russia, which is set to begin next week and that will operate throughout the summer.

    The itinerary Kiev - Thessaloniki - Kiev will begin on Wednesday 10 June and the return route will take place every Friday, beginning from June 12.

    The route Moscow - Thessaloniki - Moscow will commence on Friday 12 June and the return route will run every Monday, beginning June 15.

    The last route will take place on Sept. 21.

    [03] KKE leader visits Hellenic Weapon Industry

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga visited on Thursday the Hellenic Weapons Industry (EBO) in Mandra, near Athens, where she stressed that Greece needs to acquire a strong state defence industry.

    "When we say disobedience and insubordination to the EU, we mean that Greece must have a state defence industry that undertakes as many projects as possible for the country's defence, and naturally not offense armaments," she added.

    Papariga said it was necessary for such units as that in Mandra, which had the infrastructure to manufacture modern weaponry systems, to undertake such projects. This is an obligation of the country's governments, "and a very big responsibility, because we are not speaking of any production, but a production that is associated with the country's defense capability, and its disengagement, to the degree possible, from its dependence on markets abroad, on the foreign monopolies, which could put pressure on us in difficult times".

    The country needs to rid itself of the situation in which units such as that in Mandra, with the capability of building modern weaponry systems, have been left with only 136 employees today, while the armaments sector is literally dominated by private concerns, purely for the purpose of profit, she added.

    [04] Athens metro works

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis paid a visit to an under-construction metro station in Alimos on Thursday, accompanied by Environment and Public Works Minister George Souflias. In statements at the site, the prime minister stressed that the government had given priority to the biggest public transport and environmental project of the country.

    "We are extending the metro in the southern suburbs, the western neighbourhoods, in Peristeri, Anthoupoli and Haidari," he said.

    The work would continue toward Piraeus and the "forgotten" regions of the capital in Aghia Varvara, Korydallos and Nikaia, without big words but with big works that changed the daily life of citizens and improved overall quality of life in Attica, he added.

    "Some people might systematically invest in denial, in the levelling of all things and lies. They cannot change, they are stuck in yesterday. But Greece is changing, progressing and going forward. This is the reality and truth of our work," Karamanlis stressed.

    Earlier, Souflias announced that the metro system will have spread to the municipalities of Ilioupolis, Alimos, Argyroupolis and Elliniko by next spring.

    Before visiting the metro site, the prime minister had visited the Attica Traffic Police headquarters and praised the serious work done by the police daily. He urged them to do their best during the coming election weekend, when traffic on the national road network would be increased due to voters travelling to the regions where they were registered to vote.

    [05] GDP up 0.3pct

    Greece's GDP grew by 0.3 percent in the first quarter of 2009 year/on/year against the corresponding quarter in 2008, although it posted a 1.2 percent decrease against the preceding quarter (4th quarter 2008), according to figures released on Thursday by the national statistics service ESYE.

    Also, net Fixed Capital investments fell by 6.3 percent in first-quarter 2009 against the same quarter last year, attributed to a 30 percent reduction in transport equipment, a 19.8 percent reduction in housing, and a 23.4 percent reduction in mechanical equipment, despite a 35.5 percent increase in sundry constructions that was spurred mainly by an increase in the expenditures of the Public Investments Program.

    Further, overall consumer expenditure rose by 1.0 percent in the first quarter of the year over the corresponding quarter in 2008, attributed chiefly to a 6.1 percent increase in public consumption, while private consumption posted a marginal decline of 0.1 percent.

    Finally, imports fell by 16.8 percent in the first quarter of 2009 against Q1 2008, while exports dropped by 20.2 percent in the same comparison.

    [06] Economic sentiment up

    Greece's economic sentiment index recovered to 49.2 points in May, after several months of decline, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Thursday.

    IOBE, in a monthly report, said the retail and services sectors were less pessimistic over their outlook, while the manufacturing sector also recorded a new slight improvement, construction sector worsened and consumer confidence was unchanged at April's levels.

    The report said that the economic sentiment index has reached its lowest level in the two-month period from April to May, although it noted it was still difficult to say that this development signalled the course of a recovery.

    The manufacturing sector reported a marginal improvement in inventories and a marked recovery in production forecasts, although expectations for demand and new orders fell slightly.

    Business expectations in the services sector showed an improvement in demand and business activities, although expectations of the current trend of demand worsened slightly.

    In the retail sector, expectations improved significantly, for demand and current sales, while inventory levels fell significantly.

    In the construction sector, business expectations worsened in May, while consumer confidence was unchanged at April's levels.


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