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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-01-03

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Changes in PASOK political council posts
  • [02] Athens' details views on Turkey EU course
  • [03] FinMin unveils top economic priorities for '07

  • [01] Changes in PASOK political council posts

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday announced the assignment of responsibilities for members of the party's political council, with the sectors of regional organisation and campaign mobilisations remaining under the scope of the council's secretary.

    In addition, PASOK's political council members -- the majority of whom are top MPs and former ministers -- were tapped to oversee the opposition party's strategy at the regional and provincial level.

    [02] Athens' details views on Turkey EU course

    A recent EU foreign ministers' council that focused on Turkey's accession course sent a &quot;united and clear&quot; message to the neighbouring candidate-country, the foreign ministry spokesman wrote in an Athens daily over the weekend.

    Spokesman George Koumoutsakos said the EU's message succinctly underlines that the &quot;only full-proof way for a smooth course leading to accession is by meeting obligations and commitments.&quot;

    Koumoutsakos added that EU decisions also confirmed the correctness of Athens' policy, often expressed via the phrase of &quot;absolute adjustment-full accession&quot;.

    The foreign ministry spokesman's signed article in the Sunday edition of the mass morning daily &quot;Vima&quot; appeared on the occasion of the formal accession of Bulgaria and Romania into the Union on Jan. 1, 2007.

    &quot;European leaders have realistically come to the decision that they will not close the European Union door but, at the same time, they will be strict when evaluating candidate-states' compliance with the Union's criteria, prerequisites and principles,&quot; he noted in his article, entitled &quot;Europe's circle of charm&quot;.

    Among others, he also stresses that the response to the dilemma between a more unified bloc instead of yet another enlargement is a major consideration.

    Koumoutsakos adds that Greece does not share calls for a &quot;special EU-Turkey relationship&quot; or the view, according to which, membership can be achieved without clear-cut terms. He notes, characteristically, that a sudden EU decision to delineate the boundaries any future and final enlargement would break the bloc's &quot;circle of charm&quot;, eliminating the vision and incentives from potential member-states, which look forward to a future accession and are willing to make an effort toward the European prospect and acquis.

    Koumoutsakos said a special EU-Turkey relationship that is not clearly defined would have the same result. Finally, he stressed that expansions cannot be completed without clear-cut terms, while candidate-countries not meeting obligations and commitments should not be treated with flexibility.

    [03] FinMin unveils top economic priorities for '07

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday said 2007 would be a year of continued economic reforms by the Karamanlis government.

    Presenting economic priorities for the New Year, the minister said the government would implement new legislation on restructuring public sector enterprises and utilities, as well as promoting joint projects between public and private sector companies, an endeavour he estimated was worth 800 million euros.

    Alogoskoufis said a new round of privatisations includes the bourse-listed Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), the Postal Savings Bank as well as the already privately-managed Mont Parnes Casino of Athens, while he noted that a privatisation of natgas supplier DEPA would be agreed with the company's shareholders.

    Alogoskoufis said the ministry's policy priorities in 2007 also include draft legislation on regional growth, a new draft bill to sell state-owned real estate assets, a new customs code, implementing a "Basel II" regulations on domestic financial institutions, legislation on better organising the domestic capital market, establishing a new national commission to combat tax evasion and legislation to promote transparency and more comprehensive information to investors.

    He added that the government would continue its fiscal restructuring to achieve balanced or slightly surplus budges by 2012, in tandem with maintaining high growth rates, reducing unemployment to 6.5 pct of the workforce by 2009 as well as supporting social cohesion. Alogoskoufis said a decision by the EU to lift monitoring of the Greek economy should be expected no sooner than July or October 2007, while underling the significance of maintaining a fiscal deficit below 3.0 pct of GDP.

    Deputy Minister Petros Doukas said government spending and interest payments would total 88 billion euros in 2007, while budget deficits are expected to reach 53 billion euros. Doukas said state borrowing this year would total 33 billion euros.

    Caption: An ANA-MPA file photo of Alogoskoufis.


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