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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-04-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PASOK leader calls for new 'national pact'

  • [01] PASOK leader calls for new 'national pact'

    Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou called for the creation of a new 'national pact' in order to help society assimilate and play a leading role in upcoming changes, during his speech at the Economist's 10th Roundtable with the Greek Government in Athens on Wednesday.

    "There's another path that invests in people and society, a new national pact which requires the social alliance of all social and productive forces, allowing us to reach an agreement through consensus and negotiation so that we can establish a climate of certainty and security for the changes that are up ahead," he said.

    Papandreou once again hailed the agreement reached between the General Confederation of the Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) regarding a national collective labour agreement on Monday.

    Referring to the international environment, Papandreou said that basic standards for workers must be defined and should include trade union liberties, the right to collective bargaining, the abolishment of forced and child labour, as well as the elimination of discrimination.

    He stressed that volition, consensus and dialogue are required to achieve these objectives.

    Papandreou noted that there is a difference between labour flexibility and transforming labour into a commodity. "Labour is not only a commodity but an identity of man," he noted.

    Referring to EU enlargement, Papandreou said that effectively, it means that certain countries will have to adapt to new principles and institutions as defined at the Copenhagen Summit.

    He said that he had always been a supporter of western Balkan countries and Turkey joining the EU and defended his policy when he served as foreign minister, saying that at the time the then PASOK government had taken small steps regarding a rapprochement with Turkey, which the then main opposition New Democracy party had mocked.

    Papandreou hailed "on a political level" the decision by National Bank of Greece to acquire a Turkish bank. "I expect more from the government and the business community," he added.

    He pointed out however, that while the political significance of the acquisition is undisputed, the financial side of the deal must be examined closely so that it does not become an alibi for a reduction in the bank's insurance funds' percentages.

    The main opposition leader also referred to the country's economy, citing bureaucracy and corruption as the two obstacles to the economy's smooth functioning and as deterrents to foreign investment.

    "Our goal is a highly-specialised workforce, and the combination of fiscal stability with investment," Papandreou said.

    He said that the Greek economy remains 'inward-looking' and accused the government of not capitalising on opportunities created by the Athens Olympic Games.

    Papandreou also noted that while the year 2005 was designated the Year of Competitiveness, investors withdrew roughly 1 billion from the country, an unprecedented phenomenon, according to the PASOK leader.

    Finally, Papandreou said that he was in favour of an outward-looking approach for the Greek economy.

    "It shouldn't be our borders that protect the Greek entrepreneur but his value and competitiveness that protect him and make him feel certain about the future," he said.

    The three-day Economist conference, titled "Unveiling New Priorities in a Changing World," concludes on Thursday.

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