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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-08-21

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government underlines intent to continue reforms
  • [02] Heatwave pushes power consumption to new high
  • [03] Bakoyannis on Middle East tour from Tuesday
  • [04] PM briefed on local election, heatwave measures

  • [01] Government underlines intent to continue reforms

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos underlined the government's unflagging intent to continue reforms while outlining the hallmarks of political and economic policy in the coming period to reporters on Monday.

    He stressed that the government had from the first opted for a different developmental model, one that broke with the past and emphasised reforms designed to boost enterprise, competitiveness, foreign exports and investment abroad, in the belief that only an economy with these features could guarantee a better future for all Greeks.

    At the same time, the government had also emphasised mild economic adjustment to reduce the huge deficits of the past and restrict public-sector wastefulness, Roussopoulos said. These efforts had yielded tangible results that had been acknowledged by international organisations and had proved the pessimists wrong, he added.

    "Instead of a recession we have had growth. In the two first trimesters of 2006 we had growth rates of 4.1 percent. Instead of an increase in unemployment we have had a reduction, from 11.3 percent in the first trimester of 2004 to 9.7 percent in the first trimester of 2006. Public debt and the public deficit have been significantly reduced, from 6.9 percent of GDP in 2004 to 4.5 percent of GDP in 2005, while the latest figures show that we are now within EU limits. Demand is increasing, while the retail trade index rose in the first five months of 2005 by 4.8 percent in relation to 2004 and by 7 percent during the same period this year," Roussopoulos reported.

    He also pointed to the strong incentives provided under the government's new developmental package, under which 1,403 investment schemes worth a total of 2.2 billion and directly creating 7,166 new jobs had received approval in the 16 months since it went into effect.

    Roussopoulos refused to say, however, whether the prime minister intended to announce an easing of fiscal austerity measures in view of these positive results in September, noting only that the government had made clear pre-election pledges that it intended to honour by the end of its term.

    Regarding high prices, meanwhile, the spokesman admitted that there were problems and that the government had taken a series of actions to combat price gouging and unjustified price hikes.

    In response to questions regarding reforms in education, meanwhile, Roussopoulos underlined that these had neither stopped nor been postponed, and that the education ministry had unveiled its draft bill for public dialogue.

    [02] Heatwave pushes power consumption to new high

    Greece on Monday reported a new all-time record in electricity consumption, totalling 9,961 MW breaking a previous record of 9,665 MW from August 2005.

    Consumption peaked at around 13:30, at the height of a blistering heatwave that has swept the countries and pushed temperatures up to 42 degrees centigrade, and then started to gradually drop off.

    There were also local consumption records in Attica and the Peloponnese but demand was covered without any interruption in supply.

    Speaking to reporters, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas reiterated that the ministry has taken all necessary measures to ensure the supply of electricity energy around the country, while Nikos Stephanou, the ministry's secretary-general, stressed that the country's electricity grid could operate under heavier loads totalling 10,700 MW. Sioufas underlind that two major electricity power stations began operations recently, one in Thessaloniki and another in Lavrio, Attica.

    [03] Bakoyannis on Middle East tour from Tuesday

    Outlining the goals of a Middle East tour by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis that begins on Tuesday, ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Monday said that it signalled Athens' strong interest in developments in that region, especially since Greece will take over the presidency of the United Nations Security Council on September 1.

    The first stop on Bakoyannis' tour will be Cyprus, which played a vital role in the evacuation of foreign nationals from besieged Lebanon, where she will be Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos for talks that will also cover the latest developments in the Cyprus issue.

    She is also scheduled to have talks with the political leadership of Lebanon, Israel and Jordan and with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

    Asked why the foreign minister's tour did not include a stop in Damascus, the spokesman said that the time "was not considered ripe" for a visit to Syria, while pointing out that Bakoyannis had spoken with Syria's minister for information in Athens just 10 days earlier.

    On Tuesday before her departure, the foreign minister will meet Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in the morning and attend a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) at midday.

    According to Koumoutsakos, Bakoyannis will seek to contribute to diplomatic efforts for the full implementation of UNSCR 1701 during her meetings with Middle East government officials and will also press for full respect of the truce, in order to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid.

    Other goals of the trip include the support and reinforcement of the Lebanese government; understanding Israel's security concerns; attempting to establish a permanent and stable solution for the Palestinian problem; and promoting efforts for peace that are as broad and comprehensive as possible, moving away from the logic of exclusion and allowing the contribution of all sides wanting to help.

    Responding to questions about the international peacekeeping force planned for Lebanon, Koumoutsakos said the details of its structure and other rules of engagement had not been finalised but noted that Athens was considering participation in order to promote lasting peace.

    He clarified that Athens' was not contemplating the deployment of land forces, however, but possibly a Greek Navy frigate, a specialised unit of underwater commandos and a limited number of officers to help in the running of the force.

    [04] PM briefed on local election, heatwave measures

    Interior, public administration and decentralisation minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos briefed prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday on the course of preparations for the October local government elections, as well as measures taken to confront the ongoing heatwave that has gripped Greece since Friday.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Pavlopoulos said that all the necessary measures had been taken for the eventuality of problems arising from the high temperatures -- which are expected to hit 42 C in several parts of the country, including Athens, on Monday.

    He noted that, according to the National Meteorological Service (EMY), Monday would most likely be the last day of the heatwave while high temperatures were also anticipated for just a few hours on Tuesday. He said that the current temperatures were not unusual for this time of the year, adding that every time such weather conditions occurred it provided an opportunity for examination of the Civil Protection system and its operation.

    Regarding preparations for the municipal and prefectural elections, Pavlopoulos said that all preparations were underway so that the citizens could exercise their right of vote without facing problems.

    Questioned on public order minister Vyron Polydoras' recent proposal for dialogue on demonstrations in the centre of Athens, aimed at limiting inconvenience to the public while at the same time safeguarding the Constitutional right of assembly, Pavlopoulos said the proposal was correct and democratic, as it invited all the sides concerned to dialogue. He added that anyone who refused the dialogue would only be engaging in evasion, since all sides would be able to put forward their views, even if they disagreed, in the context of the dialogue.

    To another question on information that main opposition PASOK, when it was in government, and on the basis of a letter by then prime minister Costas Simitis, was contemplating taking the same measures as those proposed by Polydoras, Pavlopoulos said that every time PASOK finds itself in the opposition, it forgets all that it has done when in government, where as New Democracy does whatever it does publicly and through dialogue.


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