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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-11-05

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Papandreou meets with UN chief
  • [02] UN chief meets with ND leader
  • [03] J&P-Avax signs 156.5-mln-euro road project in Poland
  • [04] FinMin unveils draft State Budget

  • [01] PM Papandreou meets with UN chief

    Prime Minister George Papandreou met Thursday with visiting UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, the first UN chief to visit Greece, with talks focusing on the impact of climate change on migration waves, the Cyprus issue, the FYROM name issue, the UN's peacekeeping missions, and the millennium goals.

    "Greece places great importance on the UN, of which it is a founding member, while we also have a traditional long-standing and multifaceted cooperation and devotion to the principles of International Law," Papandreou said after the meeting, adding that the UN's mission for peace and cooperation throughout the planet was "decisive".

    Referring to climate change, Papandreou said that this was the planet's primary problem, and noted that the dialogue on the issue will culminate with the international UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen next month, adding that he will personally attend the summit and expressing hope that "we will reach a binding agreement".

    Papandreou said he reaffirmed to Ban the Greek government's dedication to that goal, and to the initiatives recently decided by the EU, as well as to the effort to turn the Greek economy into a green economy, stressing that the UN chief the country's support for his efforts.

    On the modern-day migration waves and Greece's chairmanship of the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development on Wednesday, at which Ban was one of the keynote speakers, Papandreou said he had stressed to Ban the need for development of both the countries of origin of migrants and the countries of destination of migrants, so that those migrants who eventually return to their countries may "convey knowledge, experiences, but also capital".

    Turning to the global financial crisis, the Greek premier said he had impressed upon Ban the need for protection of the working people and the financially weaker strata.

    "I briefed the UN secretary general on my latest initiatives aimed at creating a momentum both on the Cyprus issue and on the FYROM name issue," Papandreou continued, and welcomed the coincidence of views between himself and the UN chief, while he also assured Ban of further, close cooperation.

    The UN chief, in turn, expressed appreciation for the Greek premier's commitment to assist the Cypriots in achieving an agreement.

    "I believe that there is progress. The international community has high hopes from these talks, which must continue, and the UN special envoy for Cyprus, Alexander Downer, will continue to work with the leaders of the two communities," Ban said.

    On the FYROM name issue, Ban noted that the UN special mediator on the issue, Matthew Nimetz, was prepared for a resumption of the talks when the two sides are ready. He expressed satisfaction with Greece's preparedness, and also with Greece's assurances that it will fully back the UN envoy's role.

    Turning to migration, the UN chief said that the migrants have been of benefit to the Greek economy, but noted that concerns have been expressed over their living conditions, and expressed hope that Greece, as a destination country, will continue to safeguard and advance the immigrants' rights, and will also respect the procedures for asylum requests.

    Earlier, the UN chief noted that "this visit means a lot to me", and paid tribute to the Greeks' contribution to the meanings of democracy, human rights and the just state, while he also praised Papandreou's stance in the EU, adding that he looks forward to close cooperation between Greece and the UN.

    Caption: Prime Minister George Papandreou(R) and visiting UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon on Thursday 5 November 2009 at the Maximos mansion(premier's office) in Athens. ANA-MPA/PANTELIS SAITAS

    [02] UN chief meets with ND leader

    Visiting UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon met on Thursday with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis.

    During the half-hour meeting, the two officials discussed climate change, and the problem of ship piracy, while emphasis was also placed on matters of particular importance to Greece such as the developments in the Cyprus issue, and the ongoing UN-brokered talks for a resolution of the FYROM name issue.

    [03] J&P-Avax signs 156.5-mln-euro road project in Poland

    J&P-Avax on Thursday announced the signing of a contract wortrh 156.5 million euros for the construction of a motorway project in Poland, after winning an international tender.

    The motorway project is located in the southeastern part of Poland, part of A4 motorway which crosses the country reaching the borders with Ukraine. The project includes 21 bridges and two parking slots. The project is expected to be ready in 30 months.

    J&P-Avax has already signed another six work contracts in Poland, worth around 300 million euros.

    [04] FinMin unveils draft State Budget

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou presented the draft 2010 State Budget to a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, which he said aims at rekindling the economy, materialisation of the government's commitments, a developmental strategy, redistribution of the income, and enhancing transparency.

    Papaconstantinou said it was a great honor for him to present the draft budget, given that Greece was in the midst of exceptionally adverse conditions and exacerbation of the country's chronic structural problems, since the government is commencing a long-term program to boost the economy's competitiveness and regain the country's credibility.

    Presenting the fundamental principles of the budget, he said it was a "transitional budget" that was drafted in a short space of time, in cooperation with all the ministers, and materialises PASOK's commitments, supports the financially weaker strata, and is the first serious "tidying up" of the country's finances.

    He further noted the "exceptionally adverse" economic environment, with a reduction in GDP and decline in exports.

    The new budget will reduce the state expenditures and subsidies to agencies, abolishes the old car withdrawal incentives, and also reduces the armaments expenditures, while at the same time it reinforces the financially weaker classes, increases funding for education by one billion euros, foresees credits for the hiring of 3,000 employees in the National Health System (ESY), and raises the unemployment benefits, among other measures, the minister continued.

    Papaconstantinou further noted the main fiscal target, which is to reduce the state deficit from 12.7 percent of GDP in 2009 to 9.4 percent of GDP in 2010 through an increase in revenues and decrease of expenditures.

    Elaborating, the minister said that the increase in revenues will result from the activation of the mechanisms for collection of overdue debts and clamp down on tax evasion, an increase in taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, and the introduction of a more just taxation system, while the reduction of expenditures will result from a reduction of armaments spending and state consumer expenditure.

    Papaconstantinou further noted that the state debt currently stands at 300 billion euros, adding that it increased by 40 billion euros in 2009 alone.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou


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