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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-01-03

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Prime minister briefed over economic developments
  • [02] Sioufas meets Austrian envoy on natgas

  • [01] Prime minister briefed over economic developments

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday was briefed by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis over economic developments in the country.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Alogoskoufis said 2006 was the year of implementing economic reforms and stressed that the government was working towards reducing its fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

    The Greek minister, replying to reporters' questions over whether the European Commission would offer an one-year extension to reduce its deficit, said "one more year never harmed anybody" and noted that the government would maintain its mild adjustment policy. "We have not asked for an extension, but if the Commission make any such offer it would be welcome," Alogoskoufis said.

    Opposition raps finmin

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Friday sharply criticised Finance Minister George Alogokskoufis for statements he made after his meeting with the prime minister earlier in the day.

    "Mr Alogoskoufis' statements are a glaring confession of the government's failure. Only ten days after the budget was voted, they are admitting, according to Mr Karamanlis, that this credible, frank budget cannot be implemented," Vasso Papandreou, PASOK's economy spokeswoman, told reporters.

    "They have confessed that they knowingly fooled the Greek parliament and the Greek public. This is a change of tack, an extension of (EU) supervision and austerity," Papandreou said.

    Separately, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology stated that the government had admitted it wanted extension of supervision of the economy by the European Union.

    The party's economic and social policy spokesman, Panayotis Lafazanis, forecast that the government would adopt additional tax measures this year and extend austerity for wages and pensions for many more years, hurting the less well off.

    Ministry rejects criticism

    The finance ministry later released a statement rejecting the criticism

    "The government's aim with the 2006 budget is to lower the deficit to below 3.0% for the first time since the country's entry into the eurozone. We are tending the Greek economy, and it is growing," the statement said.

    "This this seems to displease officials of the opposition, who, when they were in government, for years misled the Greek public and the European Union," it added.

    [02] Sioufas meets Austrian envoy on natgas

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Monday met with Austria‚s ambassador to Athens Herbert Kr?ll for talks on the ongoing Ukraine-Russia natural gas dispute, in light of Austria‚s assumption of the current EU rotating presidency.

    Specifically, Sioufas briefed the Austrian envoy over his separate meetings, a day earlier, with both the Russian and Ukrainian envoys, Andrey Vdovin and Valerii Tsybukh.

    The minister also stressed that Athens was absolutely behind the Austrian presidency‚s initiatives on the matter.

    In a related development, PASOK deputy and former Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou said the recent row over a crucial natgas agreement between Moscow and Kiev demonstrated that Greece must be fully prepared to deal with possible energy supply problems.

    She also criticized the government for poor long-term planning and for spasmodic actions in the energy sector.


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