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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-01-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Ruling ND's party congress in June or July
  • [02] Papandreou to meet with Nimetz on Fri.
  • [03] Greek ministers attend concert in Istanbul
  • [04] Moody's upgrades Greek rating to positive

  • [01] Ruling ND's party congress in June or July

    A congress by the ruling New Democracy (ND) party will be held in June or July, the party's political council, chaired on Thursday by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis himself, announced. Senior party officials and government ministers emerging from the council session, among them new Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and ND secretary Lefteris Zagoritis, underlined that the announcement should finally put an end to speculation that the government intends to call early elections. Zagoritis said that the decision would entail new elections within the party, while announcing that he would stand for re-election in the new central committee that would emerge after the congress. Thursday's council meeting also made decisions regarding the constituencies where certain prominent party members will run for office in the next general elections, he announced. Specifically, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will run in the 1st Athens constituency, government spokesman and Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos will run in the greater Attica constituency; Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis in the Dodecanese islands and the New Democracy Euro-MPs Antonis Samaras, George Dimitrakopoulos and Costas Hatzidakis in Messinia prefecture, Larissa prefecture and the 2nd Athens constituency, respectively. Karamanlis, in his address to members of the council, referred extensively to the education sector, which has leaped onto the national limelight this week with the opening of a debate in Parliament on revising Article XVI. Among others, the premier noted that the government's priority of significantly upgrading state universities remains intact. Moreover, he said the ND government's reforms will proceed with society as a whole as its ally. Finally, he referred to the positive development emanating from Bulgaria and Romania's recent accession into the European Union, while reminding that Turkey's absolute fulfilment of criteria means that country's full membership.

    [02] Papandreou to meet with Nimetz on Fri.

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou will meet with special United Nations special envoy for the FYROM "name issue" Matthew Nimetz on Friday.

    Earlier, Papandreou spoke by phone with US Amb. Charles Ries, who briefed the former over an attack -- with a self-propelled projectile -- against the US embassy in Athens in the early morning hours. Papandreou expressed his condemnation of and abhorrence over the action.

    According to a PASOK announcement, the ambassador briefed Papandreou on the incident, and the PASOK leader stressed to Ries that the preceding PASOK governments had worked insistently and methodically, striking a strong blow to terrorism, "and we had the hope that we would not see such phenomena again".

    Papandreou further expressed hope that the incident would not create problems in the good bilateral relations between the two countries.

    [03] Greek ministers attend concert in Istanbul

    National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and Culture Minister George Voulgarakis attended the concert given by the Athens State Orchestra in the auditorium of Istanbul's Central Opera at the Ataturk Cultural Centre on Thursday evening.

    "Culture means peace, it means democracy, it means an atmosphere that can prevail and bring the peoples closer and see things from a different point of view," Voulgarakis said.

    Meimarakis said that, "I believe that these meetings help a further strengthening of relations with the aim of strengthening the climate of confidence. It is a known fact that different assessments and views exist that both countries have tabled, but this does not mean that there should be no corridors of understanding and communication."

    Turkish Defence Minister Vegdi Gonul is scheduled to host a dinner in honour of the two ministers.

    A second concert will be given by the Orchestra of the Istanbul State Opera at the Athens Concert Hall. The concerts are being organised in the framework of Greek-Turkish friendship initiative.

    Voulgarakis will meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Friday in Istanbul, before returning to Athens.

    Caption: A file photo shows the Athens State Orchestra during a performance at the Herod Atticus Odeon in Athens on July 23, 2006. ANA-MPA / H. Bilios.

    [04] Moody's upgrades Greek rating to positive

    Moody's Investors Service on Thursday apparently "rewarded" the Greek government's efforts to rein in the country's fiscal condition and to boost economic growth, announcing that it was upgrading the outlook of Greek state bonds to positive from stable and offering a credit rating of A1.

    The international credit rating agency predicted that the Greek economy would sustain strong economic growth over the medium term, thanks to an expected increase in investment and productivity, while fiscal consolidation will continue to help cut public debt.

    "Real GDP growth should be around 3.9 pct in 2006. Greece's GDP per capita on a purchasing power parity basis is expected to reach 80 percent of the EU-15 average in 2008 against 77.2 pct in 2005 and 64.3 pct in 1998," Sara Bertin, a Moody's vice-president and senior analyst said in a statement. "Growth should remain unabated over the medium term due to a pick-up in investment and productivity gains," she added.

    Bertin noted that the country's fiscal debt was reducing as the government "successfully controlled spending and raising tax proceeds".

    Moody's said it would continue to monitor the government's commitment towards fiscal consolidation, improving competitiveness and reforming the pension system. The credit rating agency also predicted that significant reforms would be made in the pension system, starting 2008.

    Commenting on the next general election in Greece, Moody's analysts noted that "the government elected in 2004 has shown its strong commitment to widespread reform of labour and product markets," and added that they "do no anticipate that the next elections, due to take place in the autumn of 2007 or spring 2008, will lead to any drastic changes in policy".

    Caption: A representative of the Athens Stock Exchange gives the last ring of the bell in front of the general index board in this file photo dated Friday 30 March 2001. ANA-MPA / EPA photo / PETROS GIANNAKOURIS

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