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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-02-17

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Finmin welcomes EU deficit-cut leeway
  • [02] Government on FYROM name, Kosovo crisis
  • [03] Papandreou on the European Constitution, the PASOK Congress, the Church crisis
  • [04] Pavlopoulos asks media to alert public in Evros in case of floods

  • [01] Finmin welcomes EU deficit-cut leeway

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday welcomed a European Union decision to allow Greece to lower its fiscal deficit over two years, rather than one.

    "Today's decision vindicates the government's initiatives on the restoration of transparency in public finances, and on fiscal revitalisation through a mild approach, without the adoption of special measures," Alogoskoufis told reporters after EU finance ministers approved the Commission's proposal for the two-year period until the end of 2006.

    Credibility had been restored after an informal audit of state accounts under the previous Panhellenic Socialist Movement government that was conducted by the government and the EU's statistics service.

    "The government's objective from the outset was to make necessary adjustments to the Greek economy avoiding abrupt landings, and based on the 2005 budget...That objective has officially been met today," he said.

    [02] Government on FYROM name, Kosovo crisis

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Thursday referred reporters to Wednesday's announcement by the ministry regarding negotiations for solution to a dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) regarding the republic's adopted name of 'Macedonia'.

    Finding a mutually acceptable solution would not only remove the 'thorn' in bilateral relations between Greece and FYROM but would also be a positive development for the entire region, which should not continue to be at the mercy of different agendas, he added.

    In a foreign ministry announcement on Wednesday, Koumoutsakos stated:"The firm will of Greece that the talks which are being held in New York for reaching a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue be speeded up and become substantial is known for some time now. This position of ours has been adopted by the European Union and constitutes henceforth a European position. Within the framework of these talks a series of proposals and alternative formulations have been presented. This procedure is in progress and is being held in accordance with specific practices and regulations, particularly with regard the character of its confidentiality. Greece continues to work constructively and systematically for the successful conclusion of this procedure. We hope that the other side will show the same constructive spirit."

    The spokesman also denied that there were any plans for Greece to participate in the six-nation Contact Group for Kosovo, in response to questions on Greece's involvement in developments in that area.

    Outlining Greek positions, Koumoutsakos said that any solution found for Kosovo should respect the area's multi-ethnic character, protect ethnic minorities, require the involvement of Serbia and Montenegro in the procedure and reject all possibilities of dividing the province or its annexation with other countries.

    He stressed that the priority was now to assess the situation in Kosovo.

    [03] Papandreou on the European Constitution, the PASOK Congress, the Church crisis

    Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou on Thursday proposed cooperating with the Coaltion of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party in order to push for a referendum on the ratification of the European Treaty.

    According to Papandreou, a referendum is necessary since the European Constitution will bring about radical changes. Furthermore, since Greece became a member of the then European Community in 1980, the Greek people have not had the opportunity to directly express their opinion regarding Europe's course, Papandreou said. "PASOK believes that the people need to know where Greece and Europe are headed," he added. Papandreou said that the issue will also be discussed at the upcoming PASOK Congress.

    The PASOK Congress will be held on March 3-6 and Papandreou said that he expects minimum confrontation within party ranks. He emphasised that the year that passed was a difficult one, following the party's defeat in the 2004 general election, but said that PASOK had made progress in its restructuring. "PASOK is moving forward united and making radical changes and it is emerging as a responsible opposition with a specific strategy," he stressed.

    In other comments he made on Thursday, this time during a press conference at Zappion Hall, Papandreou proposed that a referendum be held regarding the separation of Church and state.

    Speaking on the issue of the grave problems currently facing the Greek Church, Papandreou said that the major problem is not the individuals involved, but protecting the Church as an institution, and institutions in general, from the exploitation of individuals.

    [04] Pavlopoulos asks media to alert public in Evros in case of floods

    Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday requested the help of the mass media in keeping residents of Evros Prefecture up to date on developments regarding the water level of the Evros River, which is close to overflowing. Pavlopoulos asked that the media alert residents in the area in the event that evacuation becomes necessary.

    The entire state system has been on standby since early Thursday morning, due to the rising level of the Evros River, which has surpassed the maximum safety level. A large volume of water is flowing into the Evros River from Bulgaria, with which Greece has a bilateral agreement regarding waterflow. Due to heavy rainfall and the sudden melting of snow in Bulgaria, the volume of water flowing into the Evros River is five times greater than what has been agreed between the two countries.

    The ministry has also dispatched rescue teams and equipment to the area in case of an emergency, while the Defence Ministry has agreed to Pavlopoulos' request that part of the military be on standby as well.

    In the meantime, prefects from Greek, Bulgarian and Turkish regions met in Orestiada, northern Greece in order to prepare for a possible emergency.


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