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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-04-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou disputes effectiveness of gov't reforms
  • [02] Athens supports Ban Ki-Moon's UN candidacy

  • [01] Papandreou disputes effectiveness of gov't reforms

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou sharply criticised the government's economic policies during his address in Parliament on Thursday, part of an off-the-agenda debate he personally requested on the subject.

    In response to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' earlier criticism of a "hidden programme" by PASOK, Papandreou shot back by saying that "(ruling) New Democracy is implementing its own hidden programme, taking off the centrist mask that it used in order to come to power," he said, while calling on the premier to join him on joint tours of the provinces.

    "Let's go together to Imathia, Pieria and Kilkis (prefectures in west and central part of the Macedonia province of northern Greece), let's visit Macedonia, which is plagued by unemployment, so you can say there that joblessness has fallen during your tenure. There, we can also talk about my proposals in Lavrio, and we'll see who is promoting uninsured work?" Papandreou said from Parliament's podium.

    In criticising the government's social spending, Papandreou said more was owed to pensioners, beyond the "insulting increases" in monthly payments, "you have already collected (the money) with increases in the VAT rate; you are deducting (the pension increases) on a daily basis by winking (with approval) to profiteers".

    Papandreou also accused the government of allowing massive increases in fuel costs to eat away at Greek households' income, saying a 20-percent hike was recorded in Greece last year as opposed to a 12-percent EU average.

    Additionally, he took aim at most of the government's reforms to date, saying more flexible shop hours have not led to more retailing jobs; unification of banks' pension funds is still at a standstill despite three laws; cutting overtime pay transferred a billion euros to employers; and that the ‚primary shareholders' law got bogged down at the European Union level.

    He also blamed the government for a significant decrease in profitability at the state-run and bourse-listed power monopoly, PPC, over the past two years, as well as a 300-million-euro deficit at the state-run telephony utility, OTE, following an agreement for the early retirement of several thousand OTE staffers.

    Among others, Papandreou also referred to an increase in the number of bounced checks, citing a 40-percent increase, or 1.5 billion euros, since 2004.

    Finally, he also took exception to a government decision slashing the corporate tax rate, saying some 200 million euros alone was returned to shareholders of listed companies this year, when net profits of those same companies totaled 6.3 billion.

    Caption: PASOK leader George Papandreou addresses Parliament on Thursday, April 13, 2006. ANA-MPA photo / P. Saitas.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [02] Athens supports Ban Ki-Moon's UN candidacy

    The Greek government on Thursday said it would support the candidacy of South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon for the post of United Nations Secretary General, after the S. Korean official met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Athens, accompanied by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    The time has come for Asia to have a secretary-general at the United Nations, Bakoyannis told reporters as she and her S. Korean counterpart left the meeting with Karamanlis, saying that Athens would support Ban's candidacy and that he had a high chance of getting the position.

    Ban thanked the Greek government for supporting his candidacy and stressed that the UN was now called to face the new challenges created by international conditions. He also expressed satisfaction at the level of bilateral relations in the economic, trade, tourism and cultural sectors.

    During an earlier meeting, the two ministers had also confirmed the excellent bilateral relations between Greece and S. Korea in the shipping sector and expressed a desire to work to further strengthen bilateral ties, especially in economic relations.

    Afterwards, Ban had conveyed his country's thanks for the services offered by Greeks during the Korean war and emphasized that the new UN Secretary-General must be objective, work deeply and have integrity in order to be able to accomplish the UN's Millennium Targets.

    Greece is currently one of the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.

    Caption: South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon addresses reporters in Athens on Thursday, April 13, 2006, as his Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis looks on. ANA-MPA photo / O. Panagiotou.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

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