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

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Election can be won, time to look problems in the eye
  • [02] Italian Navy's school ship 'Amerigo Vespucci' sails into Cretan port
  • [03] FM on foreign policy at TIF
  • [04] ΚΚΕ nationwide meeting

  • [01] Election can be won, time to look problems in the eye

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis justified his decision to call early general elections next month, stressing that he has always told the truth to the people about the state of the country and will continue to do so, and expressing confidence that his ruling New Democracy (ND) party will win the upcoming national elections for the third consecutive time, speaking at the traditional press conference at the 74th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Sunday.

    He also said it was time to look the long-standing inherent problems of the Greek economy in the eye, and said the policies he announced the previous day were tought but practicable, and definitely not tragic, adding that a difficult two years were ahead, but would produce results.

    On the snap elections he has called for October 4, Karamanlis said that "nothing can be taken for granted", adding his conviction that "this battle can be won" and stressing that "I will give my all, as never before", speaking during a press conference at the 74th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

    Asked if he planned to resign from the helm of his ruling New Democracy party in the event that ND loses the elections, Karamanlis replied: "No, I am not resigning. For as long as I feel useful, I will remain at the front line of the battles and ideals."

    The premier ruled out the prospect of a post-electoral collaboration either with main opposition PASOK or the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party in the event no party achieved a self-sufficient majority vote, explaining that collaborations "cannot give solutions to today's problems". Specifically regarding LAOS, Karamanlis said it was a party with extremist ideology, stressing that there would be no collaboration "with the extremes".

    Karamanlis reiterated that the exclusive criterion for his decision to seek a "fresh popular mandate" by calling snap early elections had been "the national interest alone" and, addressing himself to the people, added: "That's who I am. I presented my policy to you. There may have been certain mistakes and weaknesses, but I am determined to carry out what I say, and I will do so."

    Asked whether cadres whose names had been implicated in scandals would be included on the ND ballots, Karamanlis stressed that "everyone is judged on his overall conduct", and asked the press to be patient for a few days until the candidate lists were completed and made public.

    To a question on whether he believed that ND will win the upcoming elections, Karamanlis replied: "Yes. As simple as that"

    Economy

    Turning to the economy, Karamanlis said the time has come to "look in the eye the long-standing inherent problems of the Greek economy", and mainly the excessive public debt. He warned that there were two difficult years ahead for the country, and reiterated his announcements made the night before at the prime minister's annual TIF address for streamlining of the public sector, tackling tax-evasion and a "redoubled" continuation of the structural changes.

    "It is certain that the recipe will produce yield, but this requires two years of efforts," the premier said in reply to a press question, warning that if the necessary, difficuult, decisions are not applied now, "the bill will come a little bit later, but much heavier".

    To another question, he clarified that "I never spoke of an increase in taxes", and personally guaranteed that there will be no suspension of payments by the Greek state up to the end of 2009.

    Karamanlis explained that with the "tough, but not tragic, and practicable" policies he announced on Saturday night, a fiscal balance could be achieved in two years' time.

    An immense state debt has accured over the past 30 years, and the target is to have permanently and structurally reversed this tendency in two years, the prime minister stressed, adding that he has never "implied that the state of the economy is tragic", while Greece had "avoided the worst" in the global financial crisis.

    Asked why the government had not implemented earlier the measures announced on Saturday, Karamanlis explained that the policies of the preceding years had without doubt been in the right direction, had produced results and will continue to do so, "but what changed things and made them more urgent was the crisis".

    He reiterated the government's determination to stamp out tax evasion with better cross-checks, more audits, stricter penalties and the requirement of proof that income justifies lifestyle while, asked whether the measures announced would adversely affect the lower incomes, the prime minister stressed that "when you declare war on tax evasion, it is not the weaker incomes that are hit".

    Karamanlis also described as "totally wrong" the view that government policy, such as that for boosting the small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), was not aimed mainly for the economically weaker, noting that, since early 2009, a total package of more than 3 billion euros has been chaneled to support the working people, the unemployed, and employment opportunities.

    Noting that some 95 percent of Greek enterprises were SMEs, he asked "should we not have set up the guarantees fund program, which kept alive 50,000 enterprises and preserved the jobs in them?"

    To a question on the Fund against Poverty, the premier stressed that the Fund, as the government more generally, has done much for the social fabric and will continue to do so, but always on condition that the measures taken are within the limits of the economy's endurance.

    "Overall, and despite the tough fiscal conditions, the support of the real economy resulting from the government's policies and EU programs has been great, and impressive," Karamanlis said, stressing that this policy will be continued, but "I will not risk blowing everything up into the air in order to appear more agreeable".

    Foreign policy

    Prime minister Karamanlis urged Turkey that "it must do many things, more than it has done to date", in reply to questions during his press conference at the TIF.

    "If you ask me whether I consider Turkey's attitude encouraging, especially in the past year, I will say 'no'," Karamanlis said characteristically, noting that the Greek government's policy on Greek-Turkish affairs is crystal clear.

    "We have a clear-cut policy. The target is full normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations and Turkey's EU accession prospect, on condition, however, that it meets and adopts all the prerequisites" set out by the EU, Karamanlis stressed.

    "I believe that this is a very correct policy that leads to clear messages. We've said it to everyone. We've said it to our partners. Our neighbors also know it," the premier added.

    Karamanlis also said that he is satisfied with the handling of Greece's national issues, noting characteristically that "I have recorded good performance on the national issues".

    To a question by ANA-MPA on seeming hesitations of the new Bulgarian government on the materialisation of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and Russia's stance on such a development, the prime minister expressed conviction that the project will progress, and recalled that a central part of his government's policy was "to render Greece an energy hub".

    "I believe that the strategic importance and political will to proceed with this project exists on all the sides," Karamanlis added.

    [02] Italian Navy's school ship 'Amerigo Vespucci' sails into Cretan port

    One of the world's biggest and most impressive saiboats and the pride of the Italian Navy, the 'Amerigo Vespucci', sailed into the port of Heraklion, Crete, on Sunday, where it will remain docked until Wednesday.

    The Amerigo Vespucci, which is used as a training vessel by Italy's Navy Cadets Academy, sails annually around the world as an ambassador of the arts, cultue and maritime tradition of the neighboring country.

    Heraklion is the final stop of the Amerigo Vespucci's training journey this year, during which it also visited ports in Bulgaria, France, Romania, Tunisia, Turkey and the Ukraine.

    The sailboat's skipper paid courtesy calls on the Heraklion political and military authorities.

    The vessel is the tall ship of the Marina Militare, named after the explorer Amerigo Vespucci, and its home port is Livorno, Italy.

    The Amerigo Vespucci is the second of two school ships ordered in 1925 by the Regia Marina, inspired by the syle of the large late 18th-century 74-cannon ships. The first was the Cristoforo Colombo.

    The Amerigo Vespucci was built in 1930 at the (formerly Royal) Naval Shipyard of Castellanmare di Strabia, and was launched on February 22, 1931. It has been carrying out journeys since then, with the exception of the the period during World War II, mostly throughout Europe, but it has also traveled in the past to America and the Pacific, while in 2002 it sailed around the world.

    [03] FM on foreign policy at TIF

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Sunday inaugurated the ministry's pavilion at the 74th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), and spoke on foreign policy issues.

    Bakoyannis said that the coming period will be critical for the country's foreign policy as well.

    On the FYROM name issue, she stressed that Greece must do its hardest in order to have a good outcome, and accused the Gruevski government of attempting to rewrite history and of cultivating fanaticism and intolerance among the FYROM people, thus taking the neighboring country further away from its Euro-Atlantic prospect.

    Bakoyannis further stressed that the "red lines" that have been demarcated by the Greek government "are in force".

    On the Cyprus issue, Bakoyannis noted that difficulties existed in the talks process for a solution, but added that prerequisites also existed for a solution.

    She called on Turkey to actively manifest a "European deportment", noting that this is the way that leads to European Union membership.

    Bakoyannis added that she is proud of the work she has accomplished at the foreign ministry, because this put forward the Greece of extroversion, the Greece that is everywhere, while she also made special note of the development of economic diplomacy and its contribution to promoting and boosting the Greek economy.

    Turning to the snap early general elections on October 4, Bakoyannis said that prime minister Costas Karamanlis' decision to seek a "fresh popular mandate" had been a "brave" choice. She noted that difficulties exist, but also light, hope and vision.

    "All we who served in the government are ready to wage the good, the correct, battle and we will vindicate us and the ND voters who entrusted us and supported us," Bakoyannis said.

    Bakoyannis said that despite indications that rallying among the ND voters was still quite low, she nevertheless was totally confident that it would increase following the prime minister's address at the TIF Saturday night and his press conference on Sunday.

    [04] ΚΚΕ nationwide meeting

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga addressed on Sunday a nationwide meeting of party and affiliated Communist Youth Organisation (KNE) officials for preparation ahead of the October 4 general elections.

    Papariga outlined the KKE platform during the meeting, which was followed by a discussion.

    Papariga called for strengthening of the KKE and weakening of the two mainstream parties (ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK) on the basis of the fact that, on the bottom line, "they are the same".

    The 'morning after' requires a strong people with a strong KKE, she stressed, because new anti-popular measures were on the horizon, aind indeed in the midst of crisis.

    There was no room for manoevering, but rather, obstruction of those measures was necessary in order to gain time and perhaps even to gain something, in order to organise the counter-attack, she advised.


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