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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-06-05
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM stresses need to cleanse politicsSpeaking in Parliament on Friday, Prime Minister George Papandreou emphasised the need to reform political institutions and called on main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras to make specific proposals for overturning a political system that had led Greece to its most difficult moments.
"Help to sort out the gaping wounds that drag us back. It is the national duty of all. Do not follow the petty party politics of your predecessor. I have said this and repeat it today. Unless a sense of justice and rule of law is conveyed, people will come after us with stones. I demand the contribution of all and your own proposals," Papandreou stressed.
Samaras countered by emphasising economic issues, saying that the country's greatest enemy was unemployment and announced that his party will soon submit an overall proposal for the economy. He also said it was a "mistake" to try to blame current problems on the past.
The exchange had been prompted by Samaras' question on the Greek central bank's decision immediately after the elections to extend the settlement period on its electronic bond trading platform to 10 days (T+10) and abolish penalties for failed trades - a decision that has exposed the central bank to criticism that it encouraged naked short selling.
According to Samaras, this was a "serious and unforgivable mistake" that proved the government did not know what it was doing, since over months when the country was being targeted by speculators the margins for such speculation had been enlarged without control.
"We ourselves omitted to control the speculators when we were the main victims of the speculation. There is no explanation for this mistake. You should at least admit this," Samaras underlined.
ND's leader also criticised the government of replying with a 45-day delay on an issue that had also been raised in Parliament by its own ruling PASOK MPs.
Papandreou left open the possibility of changing the regulatory framework governing the operation of the financial system and transactions. He agreed with Samaras that unemployment was one of the major problems facing the country, adding that it was among the government's immediate priorities.
The prime minister also emphasised, however, the government's insistence on ensuring transparency at all levels, with rules of accountability that would strike a blow against corruption and an investigation of all major cases of mismanagement, including those of the structured bonds and the Siemens scandal.
 ND leader on environmentMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, addressing a party conference on Friday on the occasion of International Environment Day, said that the time has come for the degradation of the environment to be reversed, damage to be remedied, as well as the balances that were upset.
Samaras further said that a 30-year model went bankrupt, a model that redistributed borrowed money from the next generations, adding that "we must lay the foundations for a new growth model that utilises the environment and does not loot it and we must invest in creativity, competitiveness, sustainable growth and the future."
The ND leader went on to say that "all our policies must take into consideration competitiveness as well and respect for the environment. We do not want 'dirty energy' even when it is very cheap and nor can we pursue absolutely clean energy when it is very expensive. An economy that is based on non-competitive energy is condemned to lose the battle of competitiveness."
Samaras also said that Greece has a huge energy potential from renewable sources - wind, solar, wave and geothermal - and underlined that it can utilise its nature, climate, mountains, islands and archipelago.
He also stressed that everything requires investments and the investments in such planning for utilising the environment have a very high performance when they are carefully selected. Lastly, he said that among the 23 measures for the recovery of the economy that he proposed are many that concern precisely this. The energy upgrading of the country and of its potential.
 Clinton talks with Greek PMWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T.Ellis) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held on Friday telephone talks with Greek Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou focusing on "the situation in Gaza, the issue of Iran and other regional issues", according a State Department spokesman.
Addressing reporters, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said that during their telephone contact, Clinton and Papandreou examined "some ideas" regarding the handling of the issue, and underlined that the U.S. was discussing with other countries "a broad spectrum of options" which would allow the international community to help Israel respond to challenges, both in offering more help to the inhabitants of Gaza and answering to its own legitimate concerns.
 Tadic wraps up visit to GreeceSerb President Boris Tadic ended his official visit to Greece by addressing the Greece-Serbia Business Forum organised by Thessaloniki's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stressing the traditional ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
Tadic addressed the forum on Thursday, accompanied by a delegation of roughly 40 Serb business people, stressing that bilateral ties will improve further once road infrastructure like Axis 10 is in place and his country joins the European Union.
The Serb president stressed that Greek companies will always be welcome in Serbia and thanked Greece for its political and economic support, while pointing to the "huge growth potential of the Serbian market".
"It is impossible for someone to think of growth and ensuring stability in the Balkans without taking into account our geostrategic position," he added.
Tadic referred to the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and similar agreements signed by his country with Russia, Belarus and Turkey, pointing out that they created a potential export market of over 800 million consumers.
He also promised to encourage Serbs to once again spend their holidays in Greece, which is already the most popular destination for Serbs holidaying abroad.
Serb Minister of Trade and Services Slobodan Milosavljevic highlighted the potential for economic cooperation in energy, manufacturing and tourism, while Greece's Deputy Minister of Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Markos Bolaris underlined the importance of Thessaloniki as a Balkans 'crossroads' and a hub for transport and logistics.
During Tadic's visit on Thursday, the Serb president also had a working dinner with Greek National Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos that was attended by Serb Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovac.
The meeting focused on the entire range of issues relating to southeastern Europe and the western Balkans, including bilateral relations and Serbia's prospects of joining the EU and NATO.
 Foreign Ministy on FYROM"Greece wants a solution to the problem with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) and has taken specific steps for imthe provement of bilateral relations," foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras underlined on Friday in response to a question concerning the name dispute.
Delavekouras stated, however, that a recent address by fYRoM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski had caused "concern" in Athens, as it indicated that Greece's desire was not matched by Skopje.
"Such rhetoric confirms that the name issue is used as a vehicle for nationalism and, at the same time, proves that there is an immediate need for a mutually acceptable solution," he said, adding:
"On our part, the effort will continue â¦ However, reaching a solution will be impossible if Greece is treated as the 'enemy'," the foreign ministry spokesman stressed.
Responding to a question on the European prospects of the neighboring country, Delavekouras pointed out that "our position is that a solution should be found on the name issue. We cannot talk about fYRoM's European prospect if no solution is found."
 Econ sentiment index downGreece's economic sentiment index fell to 61.9 points in May, after a temporary stabilization in April, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) announced on Friday.
IOBE, in a monthly report, said the May figure was not comparable with previous months' figures.
The services sector suffered the heaviest pressures in May, while consumer confidence continued falling to historic low levels for the third consecutive month. Greek consumers remain highly pessimistic over their expectations for the country's economic outlook, over their households' prospects and over developments in the labour market.
In the industrial sector, business expectations showed a decline in production, demand and new orders, while inventories were rising slightly.
In the services sector, business expectations fell to new record lows, with forecasts over the current level of business and demand were significantly worsening.
In the retail sector, business expectations over current sales fell slightly, while forecasts over demand were strongly down and inventories rose further.
In the construction sector, business expectations over the current level of business fell further, although employment prospects rose in May.
Consumers' savings showed signs of improvement in the next 12 months, after hitting record-lows in August, although forecasts over unemployment hit new record-highs.
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