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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-01-18

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] FinMin unveils gradual hikes in social spending
  • [02] National Council on Foreign Policy discusses Balkans
  • [03] Gov't on abuse of univ. asylum rules

  • [01] FinMin unveils gradual hikes in social spending

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday announced a gradual increase and restructuring of social spending aiming to allocate around 2.0 billion euros more in social benefits.

    Presenting the plan, the minister said social spending would gradually rise to 27 pct of GDP, up from 26 pct currently, and noted that a restructuring of social spending was necessary to become more effective. Instead of being focused, social spending was unevenly distributed to the population and not to households with real needs, Alogoskoufis said.

    He said fighting tax-evasion would also contribute to raising social spending. Alogoskoufis presented a survey by the National Statistical Service over the income and living conditions of Greek households in 2004. The survey showed that 19.6 pct of population lived in households with low incomes, slightly down compared with a 19.9 pct rate in 2003.

    Households facing the danger of poverty totalled 832,456 in Greece, while the default rate was higher for women (20.9 pct) compared with men (18.3 pct).

    Older people, aged more than 65 years, faced higher risks of poverty (27.9 pct) compared with younger people (16-24 years old) with a rate of (22.7 pct).

    Households living in their own homes faced higher risk of default (20 pct) compared with households living in rented homes (17.9 pct).

    Also households living in scarcely populated regions of the country faced higher risk of poverty compared with households in more populated areas.

    The survey was conducted on a sample of 5,568 households with 12,381 members aged more than 16 years old. The survey did not include population groups already considered poor.

    [02] National Council on Foreign Policy discusses Balkans

    Balkan developments, especially Kosovo, dominated Thursday's meeting of the National Council on Foreign Policy, chaired by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and attended by representatives of the political parties in Parliament, except the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

    Leaving the meeting, Bakoyannis said it had taken place in a good climate and thanked all the participants for their constructive imput.

    She noted that the status of Kosovo would be a central issue on the agenda of the next EU General Affairs Council and an upcoming NATO ministers' meeting.

    Bakoyannis said the discussion had also covered the other problems of the region, since the entire region was interlinked in one way or the other and, of course, was affected by the decisions that were taken.

    These included Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU and upcoming elections in Serbia.

    During the meeting, the minister also briefed Council members on the results of a recent trip to Balkan countries by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, as well as the conclusions of the last European Council meeting concerning Turkey's EU accession course.

    In addition to the political parties, the meeting was also attended by senior foreign ministry officials and diplomats.

    PASOK

    On his part, former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos, who represented main opposition PASOK, initially referred to a very "beneficial meeting," before underlining support for Athens' core position of backing Turkey's European prospects in tandem with the fulfillment of the EU candidate country's obligations to the Union.

    "...Obligations that Ankara has assumed quite a long time before the Annan plan (for Cyprus)," he added.

    "Additionally," Pangalos said, "the referendum on the Cyprus issue must not be bundled together with Turkey's criteria for accession, and functioning as a 'counter-weight' for Turkey." He also said issues involving respect of human rights in the neighboring country must be resolved.

    In terms of Kosovo, Pangalos said the issue affects the entire region, stressing that a "demand for sacrifices and concessions cannot be exerted from just the Serbs without some form of significant trade."

    Finally, Pangalos reminded that the FYROM "name issue" must be solved within the framework of the 1995 interim agreement between Athens and Skopje.

    Synaspismos rep

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) representative Panos Trigazis, meanwhile, referred to the "assumption of initiatives" by the Greek side in the Balkans, following the conclusion of the meeting.

    In touching on the thorny Kosovo matter, he was clear:

    "We are concerned that a possible unilateral independence of the region (Kosovo) will cause a chain reaction of instability in the western Balkans and a negative precedent for other international problems. A solution must be mutually acceptable and based on international law. We are against new fragmentations in the Balkans," he said.

    Regarding the FYROM "name issue", Trigazis called for a continuation of talks under UN auspices, while he echoed standing Greek policy of backing Turkey's course towards the EU as long as the former meets its obligations in full.

    "It should also not escape us that efforts for a peaceful resolution in the triangle 'Turkey-Greece-Cyprus' can be negatively affected by developments in the Middle East, where the Bush administration continues to insist on its catastrophic decision to continue the war in Iraq with the dispatch of more troops," he concluded.

    [03] Gov't on abuse of univ. asylum rules

    The need to revise university asylum rules in order to prevent abuse by those "bent on criminal action" was stressed by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Thursday.

    "The government has frankly stated the need to review the way of handling university asylum, in such a way so that asylum is not compromised ..." he told reporters at his regular press briefing.

    Commenting on the violence after a rally on Wednesday, during which masked self-styled youths barricaded themselves inside the Athens Polytechnic and lobbed fire bombs at riot police, Roussopoulos noted that "the images speak for themselves".

    "We saw police officers fall victim to firebombs that were obviously made within the university institution. This is a peculiar view in reference to the university asylum, in which there is an absolute reversal of meanings. Asylum exists so that there is freedom of thought, not for the manufacturing of firebombs," he said.


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