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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-10-23

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou: 'Greece can become a model country'
  • [02] Greece honored at Belgrade book fair
  • [03] US, Greece focus on piracy
  • [04] Stocks end 0.93% up

  • [01] Papandreou: 'Greece can become a model country'

    Greece can become a model country and state, Prime Minister George Papandreou stated in an address to ruling PASOK's National Council on Friday. At the same time, he stressed that achieving this required the forging of social alliances and the participation of ordinary citizens in order to succeed.

    The prime minister announced that the government will soon launch an official process of dialogue and consultation with the "social partners" (employer groups and trade unions) in a bid to establish a broad consensus and alliance regarding the government's "road map" for reforms.

    "The fundamental principle of the alliance will be the respect of each toward others and of all toward the social whole," Papandreou emphasised.

    Regarding the role to be played by the PASOK party, Papandreou said that its job would be to "inspire, guide and control" the government.

    He stressed that the roles of the party and government could and should be discrete, while at the same time complementing each other. He admitted, also, that relations between the party and past PASOK governments had not always been correct, in that the party had been sidelined and left inactive, or even become a tool in the hands of the state and those lusting after power.

    "We want to give power to the citizens and civil society, not cronies," the premier underlined, adding that he would not allow this mistake to be repeated, nor convert the party into a go-between for transactions between the government and public administration.

    Instead, he promised a party that remained "more active, more dynamic, a workshop for producing democracy and participation, a party that is open, broad and innovative".

    Commenting on the results of the October 4 elections, Papandreou described the result as "our first and greatest conquest as Greeks" in that Greek citizens had overcome "pessimism and scepticism".

    "The people did not give us a mandate to simply manage power or to change faces [in government] but asked for a change in the direction of the country and a radical change in the method of government," he stressed.

    Papandreou also stressed the government's determination to carry out the promises made by the party before the elections, including the 100-day government programme, regardless of the pressures brought to bear by the European Union.

    The premier promised to wage battles at the EU against what he called "prevailing neoliberal attitudes" and a belief that the weak should be made to pay for the economic crisis, repeating promises for measures to support low and middle incomes.

    He stressed, however, that this support would be meaningless unless the government also put public finances in order, noting that these were now in a "unprecedented state".

    The massive deficit created by the previous government was not inexplicable but had shot up due to practices like client politics, waste, lack of control and lack of transparency, the prime minister said. The government's task was to put an end to such practices, starting by the introdution of transparency at all levels.

    Another priority in the effort to reform institutions would be measures to ensure political autonomy and end the dependence of the political system. Only a truly autonomous political system could put the interests of the many above the selfish ends of a few, the prime minister added.

    Papandreou additionally emphasised the need to curb waste in the public sector, citing the reduction of the state fleet of vehicles or the use of police to guard political figures as examples.

    The prime minister ended his speech by thanking the National Council's outgoing secretary Yiannis Ragoussis, now a member of the cabinet, and announcing his proposals for the new secretary and Political Council members, which would not include any members of the government.

    [02] Greece honored at Belgrade book fair

    BELGRADE (ANA-MPA / N. Pelpas) -- Greece will be the honored country at Belgrade's 54th International Book Fair to open on Monday.

    The Greek pavilion will present 40 publishers and 12 authors whose books were published in 2009 in the Serbian language or/and have received special awards in Serbia, National Book Centre of Greece (EKEBI) Director Catherine Velissaris stated in a press conference here on Thursday.

    The publications will include books on ancient Greece, poetry, children's books, scientific books, Greek books translated into Serbian, Greek language textbooks, dictionaries and books with religious content.

    Parallel events will include the screening of films from the Belgrade Film Library on "Greek literature in cinema".

    Serbia will be the honored country at the 9th Thessaloniki International Book Fair in 2012.

    [03] US, Greece focus on piracy

    International anti-piracy efforts, particularly off the troubled Horn of Africa, dominated US Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro's official talks in Athens this week, with the US diplomat being the first high-ranking Obama administration official to meet with new Papandreou government ministers following the Oct. 4 elections in Greece.

    Shapiro arrived in the Greek capital on Thursday to attend the US Coast Guard's Amver Awards ceremony at a downtown Athens hotel, given the massive Greek-flagged and Greek-owned merchant fleet plying the world's seas.

    Shapiro, who holds the political-military affairs portfolio at the State Department, met on Thursday with Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, Minister of Citizens' Protection Michalis Chrysohoidis and Alternate Defence Minister Panos Beglitis. He also met with shipping sector owners and representatives.

    Asked on Friday about his previous day's contacts, during a press briefing at the US embassy in Athens, Shapiro, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, cited Washington's promotion of the so-called "New York Declaration" aimed at fighting piracy off Somalia -- i.e. the NW Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden -- and protecting commercial shipping. He said the US administration briefed the new Greek government on the initiative and requested Athens' participation, given the strategic share of international shipping controlled by Greek interests.

    In response to a press question, Shapiro clarified that there is no US administration position or view favouring armed security guards aboard vessels, noting that the New York Declaration emphasises "best management policies" to prevent piracy, such as increased deck look-outs, making sure ladders are raised, accelerating to avoid pirates' speedboats and even repelling boarders with high-pressure fire hoses.

    Britain, Cyprus, Japan and Singapore are, besides the United States, signatories of the NY Declaration.

    Moreover, although he said no specific request was made to the Greek government to increase its military presence in the contact group of nations whose vessels patrol the waters off the Somali coasts, he added that more contributions would be "helpful".

    Shapiro said Washington's anti-piracy efforts have been upgraded as a direct result of the dramatic increase in incidents off Somalia, with particular mention made of the taking of a Chinese bulk carrier on Monday some 700 miles off the Somali mainland -- a development indicating pirates' reach into deep sea maritime lanes. The US official said the area off Somalia was a piracy "hotspot" and serves as a model of multilateral cooperation, thus being applicable elsewhere in anti-piracy operations.

    Deviating from a strictly anti-piracy framework, Shapiro stated that Greece has a "direct stake" in efforts to stabilise Afghanistan and that's country's wider region, when asked about the growing spectre of illegal immigration.

    Greece is increasingly on Europe's frontline vis-à-vis the illegal migration problem, with mostly Third World nationals using Turkish coasts to reach EU member-state Greece and the rest of the European Union.

    Caption: US Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro (L) meets with Alternate FM Dimitris Droutsas in Athens on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009 in Athens. ANA-MPA / A. BELTES.

    [04] Stocks end 0.93% up

    Greek stocks ended higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, with the composite index of the market gaining 0.96 pct to end at 2,838.13 points. Turnover was a lower 200.2 million euros, of which 10.9 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved upwards, with the Health (2.71 pct), Banks (1.69 pct) and Travel-Recreation (1.15 pct) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day, with Commerce (1.90 pct) and Constructions (1.46 pct) posting losses.

    The FTSE 20 index gained 1.12 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.32 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index dropped 1.19 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 117 to 95 with another 52 issues unchanged.


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