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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-03-15

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece decides against purchase of additional F-16s
  • [02] Karamanlis-Verhofstadt meeting on EU issues, Cyprus
  • [03] Greece to continue structural reform programme until 2008, FinMin says
  • [04] Papandreou on Consumer Rights Day
  • [05] Former premier George Rallis dies of heart failure

  • [01] Greece decides against purchase of additional F-16s

    The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) on Wednesday decided against the purchase 10 additional F-16 Block 52+ fighter planes, available as an option under a previous agreement for the procurement of 30 aircraft of the same type.

    Following the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Defence Minister Vangelis Meimarakis announced that KYSEA had decided against the additional purchase "with respect for the money of the Greek people and Greek taxpayers and a sense of responsibility, so as not to disrupt the balance of power and the fighting capacity of the Greek Airforce."

    At the same time, the Council had voted to continue the implementation of its 2005 decision for the purchase of the original 30 fourth-generation F-16s.

    Meimarakis said that a committee will be set up to assess the operational aspects and the cost factors and would make its recommendation to the next KYSEA so that it could decide the next moves concerning the procurement.

    The defence ministry stressed, meanwhile, that the decision to waive the option for the 10 additional F-16 Block 52+ planes would in no way affect the approved future structure of the Greek Airforce, which calls for the acquisition of 60 modern fighter jets.

    Commenting on the decision, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the purchase of the 30 original F-16s preserved the balance of power, which remained unchanged in the region over the long term.

    "There is also the economic aspect of the issue. Given that there is no change to the balance of power in the Aegean, it was judged that we should respect the money of Greek taxpayers," he said.

    Responding to questions about a possible Eurofighter aircraft purchase, the spokesman stressed that KYSEA had decided on the purchase of "a specific number of 60 aircraft" and that the F-16 deal had begun the process for acquiring the first 30.

    There now remained the task of deciding on the purchase of the additional 30, which must be fourth-generation planes. The specific type of plane would be decided at the next KYSEA meeting, the spokesman said.

    Roussopoulos also pointed out that there had been no change to the total number of aircraft that Greece would purchase, only a decision not to use an option to purchase an additional 10 F-16s.

    According to the spokesman, the number 60 preserved the balance of power and, in fact, slightly improved on the 7:10 ratio of the past in Greece's favour. The government had therefore decided against using the option, he added.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [02] Karamanlis-Verhofstadt meeting on EU issues, Cyprus

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met visiting Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt on Wednesday for talks that focused on European Union issues and the Cyprus problem.

    Karamanlis said that Greece and Belgium both supported European integration and had similar views on this issue, stressing the need for faster progress in political unification and active promotion of deepening within the EU, which has lagged behind enlargement.

    Noting that Euro-zone countries might have a special role in this process, Karamanlis also reiterated that the concerns of Europe's citizens must be taken into account as regards the European Constitutional Treaty.

    According to the Greek premier, his talks with Verhofstadt covered issues such as EU enlargement, the Lisbon strategy, the situation in the Balkans and the Cyprus issue, as well as Turkey's EU accession prospects.

    Verhofstadt confirmed that the two countries approached the idea of European integration in the same way. Speaking about economic and social governance, meanwhile, he underlined that the countries with a common monetary policy could contribute to integration and the future of Europe.

    The Belgian premier said that the meeting had been an opportunity to discuss issues that will be considered at the EU summit next week, as well as the Cyprus issue.

    Verhoftstadt underlined Belgium's great interest in the Cyprus problem and said that it was time to seek a solution within the framework of the United Nations, while referring to the need for cooperation and understanding between the two communities on the island.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [03] Greece to continue structural reform programme until 2008, FinMin says

    The Greek government will continue its structural reform programme in the economy until 2008 with the aim to cut the country‚s fiscal deficit to 1.7 pct of GDP, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday, during a press conference.

    The Greek minister said the government would reduce the fiscal deficit to 2.6 pct in 2006 and 2.3 pct in 2007, after a 4.3 percent ratio in 2005.

    Alogoskoufis said there some pending issues with Eurostat on the methology used to measure data by pension funds and municipal authorities and stressed that a positive evaluation of the country‚s Stability and Growth Programme by the European Union, and a positive recommendation by an ECOFIN council on Tuesday justified the government‚s policy and proved that a Stability and Growth Programme for the Greek economy was reliable.

    He added that EU Finance ministers did not asked for new measures but to reduce fiscal deficits in the process of the four-year programme.

    Alogoskoufis said tax revenues rose 6.4 percent last year, exceeding a budget target of a 5.0 percent growth rate, while tax revenues grew by 17 percent in the first two months of the year. The Greek minister acknowledged it was difficult to maintain similar growth rates throughout the year, but efforts would continue towards this direction. Higher tax revenues reflected effective tax inspections, mainly to large enterprises, Alogoskoufis said.

    The Greek minister met earlier with representatives of the two largest trade unions in the country, GSEE -Greece‚s largest trade union umbrella- and ADEDY -civil servants‚ union- and reiterated that pay increases included in a government‚s incomes policy for 2006 were the maximum the budget could afford and was compatible with a government policy of reducing the fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP this year.

    Alogoskoufis noted that the government would not take part in collective pay talks but it was supporting the institution of collective pay negotiations.

    The Greek minister announced that the unemployment rate fell to 9.7 pct of the workforce in the fourth quarter of 2005. Alogoskoufis predicted that the unemployment rate would end below 10.0 percent last year.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [04] Papandreou on Consumer Rights Day

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday stressed the important part played by consumer movements and citizens, in his message for International Consumer Rights Day.

    He said that PASOK's actions and systematic work were building "relations of trust" with consumer movements and the general public, so that "we can win this difficult battle".

    "In a global society and economy, the consumer movement has an important role to play in public health issues, product safety, food quality and the setting of prices," he noted.

    "Today, when the policies of (ruling) New Democracy are allowing anarchy and profiteering in the market while at the same time shrinking the income of Greek citizens, the role of the consumer movement acquires additional significance, as does the more general participation of citizens in matters that concern their daily lives," Papandreou underlined.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [05] Former premier George Rallis dies of heart failure

    Former Greek prime minister George Rallis died of heart failure on Wednesday at the age of 88.

    He was a scion of one of Greece's great political families, whose father and grandfather had both served as Greek prime ministers in their time.

    Rallis was first elected into Parliament in 1950, as an MP for Athens with the Peoples Party, and the last time he ran for election was in April 1990.

    He was given a ministerial post for the first time in 1954 and served at various times as minister of state, transport and public works, interior affairs, public order, minister to the Prime Minister's Office, education and religious affairs, Coordination and the foreign ministry, before taking over as prime minister at the head of a New Democracy government on May 10, 1980 until October 21, 1981.

    As foreign minister of Greece, he had handled the process for the country's accession to the then European Economic Community.

    Messages of condolences were sent by President of the Repvblic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, House President Anna Benaki-Psarouda, main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou and other political leaders.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.


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