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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Barroso-Karamanlis meeting in Brussels; enlargement discussed
  • [02] PES group briefed on Greek-Turkish relations
  • [03] FinMin briefs EU reps on pension reform, economy

  • [01] Barroso-Karamanlis meeting in Brussels; enlargement discussed

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met here on Thursday with EU Commission President Jos? Manuel Barroso for talks centred on issues found on an EU summit agenda this week.

    Efforts to ratify a draft EU constitution, enlargement and a series of political issues were discussed, according to the Greek premier.

    He added that the Union's enlargement, particularly in the Balkans and Turkey's European orientation were the object of talks.

    Additionally, the Greek PM cited Greece's positive efforts to slash its budget deficit and to increase absorption of 3rd CSF funds.

    Karamanlis will meet with his Italian counterpart, Romano Prodi, later in the afternoon.

    Caption: PM Karamanlis, left, and EU Commission President Barroso are shown during a previous meeting in July 2004. ANA-MPA photo / A. Voutos.

    [02] PES group briefed on Greek-Turkish relations

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris) Greece's main opposition leader George Papandreou on Thursday briefed the Party of European Socialists (PES) High Level Advisory Group for Turkey on the latest developments in Greek-Turkish relations following the recent mid-air collision of a Greek and Turkish fighter jet above the Aegean, in which Greek pilot Costas Iliakis was lost.

    In statements after the group met in Brussels, the president of Greece's Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) said that he had also informed the group about his conversation with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos over the phone the previous day and relayed the latter's thoughts about dialogue between the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities on the island.

    Papandreou noted the need to promote dialogue between the two communities on Cyprus in a substantive way, in preparations for a new initiative by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the Cyprus issue.

    Papandreou is vice-chair of the group, which is chaired by former Finnish president Paavo Lipponen.

    Members of the group also exchanged views on Turkey's accession prospects with European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn, who stressed that Turkey must fulfil all the obligations it has undertaken toward the EU, implement the Customs Union Protocol and speed up reforms.

    On his part, Papandreou stressed that it was absolutely essential that Turkey comply with the obligations it has undertaken as part of its European course, including protection of human rights within Turkey, that it fully implement the Customs Union protocol with all EU member-states, and maintain good-neighbourly relations with all EU member-states, including Greece.

    Referring to Greece's handling of relations with Turkey and its European prospects, Papandreou stressed that too much time had been lost and called for a new strategy that would not allow EU-Turkey relations to enter a period of immobility.

    He pointed out that the new discussion currently underway within the EU on the capacity for further enlargement could be used within the framework of such a strategy, by making respect for international law and good neighbourly relations important criteria in this debate.

    According to Papandreou, this would be significant for both Greek-Turkish relations and for the Balkans, in general.

    [03] FinMin briefs EU reps on pension reform, economy

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday assured that there would be no "surprises" for anyone with respect to reforms planned in the social security sector, during a meeting in Athens between representatives of the European Union and Greek ministries focusing on issues pertaining to the Lisbon Agenda.

    In his opening address, Alogoskoufis said that the social security situation in Greece will be evaluated, adding that the main opposition PASOK party was assisting in the dialogue in the sector, while next week Labour Minister Savvas Tsitouridis would meet with representatives of social partners.

    The European Commission representatives were also briefed by Alogoskoufis on the course to be followed for reform of the social insurance sector.

    A significant role will be played by the non-partisan "economic and social committee" (OKE), which will report also to the Greek parliament and "social partners", while the necessary conclusions regarding reform will be drafted and a computerised secretariat on social security will be set up at the labour ministry.

    Turning to economic developments, Alogoskoufis said that despite the adverse developments in oil prices, Greece's gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 3.7 percent in 2005 and the deficit fell to 4.5 percent from 6.9 percent in 2004, while state expenditures, as a proportion of GDP, also declined substantially, from 48.2 percentage points in 2004 to 45.4 percentage points in 2005, while there would be a further reduction in 2006, targeting a figure of 44.7 percentage points.

    Unemployment and inflation rates also declined in 2005, compounded by an increase in business competitiveness as well as the competitiveness of the Greek economy, which improved by seven positions between 2004 and 2005, Alogoskoufis added.

    According to the Swiss-based IMD International Competitiveness Center's annual world competitiveness report released in May, Greece improved its competitiveness ranking for 2006, climbing to 42nd from 50th place in 2005 among 61 countries and regions. The country recorded improvements in the government efficiency index (climbing from 52nd to 46th place), business efficiency (to 47th from 49th place) and infrastructure (to 33rd from 37th place).

    Furthermore, Alogoskoufis continued, exports rose by 13 percent in 2005, while the increase in the first quarter of 2006 climbed to 22.8 percent, with a positive impact on growth, while measures were also being taken to combat tax evasion and bureaucracy was being reduced.

    However, "we still have a long way ahead of us," Alogoskoufis said. He also spoke of transparency as a priority for the Karamanlis government.

    The Commission officials expressed satisfaction with the reduction of the budget deficit, and lauded the Athens' recent decision to set up an "Observatory for the Lisbon Agenda."

    They also explained that the purpose of their visit was to exchange views with the Greek side, adding that the opportunities arising from economic growth must be fully exploited.

    The EU representatives further said they were interested in briefing public opinion on the course of the Agenda.

    The aim of the Lisbon Agenda is to lead to an economic, social and environmental renewal within the European Union by 2010 in order to better adapt to a rapidly changing world. In March 2000, the EU summit in Lisbon approved a 10-year strategy intended to make the European Union the most competitive and dynamic economy in the world, with stronger growth, more jobs and an emphasis on social and environmental policies leading to sustainable development and greater social cohesion.

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