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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-02-02

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM to meet political leaders on Tuesday
  • [02] Samaras: United front against corruption
  • [03] Opposition parties on corruption
  • [04] Investment interest
  • [05] Tourist arrivals to grow

  • [01] PM to meet political leaders on Tuesday

    Prime Minister George Papandreou will be meeting with the leaders of Greece's parliamentary parties on Tuesday afternoon, according to an announcement issued by the premier's press office on Monday night.

    Papandreou will meet at Maximos Mansion successively with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis, main opposition New Democracy (ND) president Antonis Samaras and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary president Alexis Tsipras.

    [02] Samaras: United front against corruption

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Monday called for a "united front" against corruption in the country, speaking during an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on the issue.

    He also accepted a proposal by PM George Papandreou for one-on-one meetings between political leaders, but also insisted on his proposal for the immediate establishment of a Parliament committee to focus on the issue of combating corruption.

    Conversely, he called on the ruling party to abstain "from trying to give lessons in responsibility" to ND vis-à-vis the ongoing farmers' mobilisations, reminding that Mr. Papandreou, as he said, "did not hesitate to greet Cretan farmers at the port of Piraeus, essentially encouraging them to drive to Athens with their tractors."

    He also pointed to then PASOK criticism of a 500-million-euro bonus package towards farmers as mere "crumbs", with the then opposition promising to double the amount, as he said.

    "Today, as prime minister, you (Papandreou) cannot even allocate half that amount, while I, as the main opposition leader, neither head to roadblocks or encourage the farmers' to escalate their mobilisations," Samaras said.

    Beyond the strictly domestic agenda, Samaras also repeated his demand for a full disclosure of a recent letter sent by Papandreou to Turkish prime minister, and the latter's earlier epistle to the Greek premier.

    [03] Opposition parties on corruption

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga told Parliament on Monday evening, during an off-the-agenda debate on corruption, that her party stood against the "anti-popular, anti-workers policy that (ruling) PASOK and (main opposition) New Democracy support."

    Papariga also rejected Prime Minister George Papandreou's proposal for consensus and support of the government's policy in handling the current economic crisis, expressing support for the ongoing farmers' mobilisations in the country and her qualms over establishing Parliamentary inquiry committees.

    Responding to the premier's invitation for bilateral meetings with party leaders, Papariga said: "It is not our practice to refuse such meetings ...There is not the least bit of consensus in joining our forces in support of the government's economic policy."

    "For us, Greece's prestige is related to whether sovereign rights were ceded to the European Union and NATO or not. And they were ceded. From this point of view, we don't give a cent over what corrupt foreign companies say about Greece's prestige," Papariga noted.

    Citing what she called an existing problem of corruption and lack of transparency, the KKE leader nevertheless rejected any suggestion that these are the reason behind the problem but a part of it.

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis, speaking in Parliament on Monday evening during an off-the-agenda debate on corruption, called for immediate action against the phenomenon, saying that "multiplying the image of non-credibility does not serve the country's interests."

    "We are in a war; we are experiencing a very harsh situation. It is not time for speculations in order to gain some votes ... If we really want to eliminate corruption we don't need so much talk, or so many committees of inquiry," Karatzaferis said.

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras Monday evening rejected the government's policy, charging that it is playing "communication games" and called on the prime minister not to link an exit from the current economic crisis to the "war" against corruption.

    "Ten years have passed with four general elections and two changes of government, and all these in the name of transparency and the fight against corruption. We missed all the opportunities. We missed two constitutional reforms and all political initiatives that offered an exit from the impasse," Tsipras said while speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on corruption.

    "The problem will not be solved either by meetings chaired by the President of the Republic nor through such parliamentary debates. The problem is long-standing and involves the two mainstream parties," he added.

    [04] Investment interest

    ANA-MPA/There are large investment programs in Greece and discussions have already begun with the co-responsible ministries, with relevant announcements expected over the next month, economy, competitiveness and shipping minister Louka Katseli said on Monday in reply to questions after addressing an event titled "Banks and Economy, the next step".

    Katseli said that 5-7 foreign countries have manifested interest in immediate major productive investments in the country, and the problem that exists, but will be immediately confronted, is the complex bureaucracy in issuing licenses and setting up enterprises, adding that simplification of the procedures required for setting up a company will be achieved with new legislation to be drafted in February, while by end May the second phase of the effort will be advanced concerning reducing bureaucracy in licensing procedures.

    The target, she added, was for Greece to be listed several levels higher in the international competitiveness list by the second half of the year.

    The minister also stressed the need to set up a credible system of monitoring the financial and credit system, given that the present monitoring system is "decimated" as it is overseen by four different authorities, which results in limited information and lack of transparency.

    Initially, there will be collaboration among the four authorities, followed by the creation of a single financial/credit monitoring authority, which her ministry will put to consultation.

    [05] Tourist arrivals to grow

    Tourist arrivals are expected to rise by 2-3 pct this year, while tourism revenues will remain on a negative trend which started in 2008 -when the international economic crisis began- the Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) said on Monday.

    In a report on Greek tourism trends, ITEP said it was unsafe to make accurate forecasts over tourist arrivals in the country because of a volatile environment prevailing in the global economy. Even more unsafe was making predictions over tourism revenues this year, it stressed.

    The World Tourism Council expects a slight recovery in international tourist arrivals this year, supported by a recovery of the global economy, although other agencies predict that European tourism would be stable around 2009 levels.


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