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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-11-09
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Interview with Venizelos ahead of PASOK election"Promissory notes" will not be signed, main opposition PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos, one of the three candidates running for party president in Sunday's internal party election, said Friday in an interview with ANA-MPA. He also stressed that no "rejuvenating changes" can be made in the party using old faces and material.
Venizelos stated that the party president should act in a way that will further strengthen the party, adding that comparison with the leader of the rival party was inevitable.
He stressed that PASOK's popular appeal inherited from the late party founder and former prime minister Andreas Papandreou should be revived and, referring to economic interests, he commented that it was a "Sept. 18 invention", stressing that economic interests associated with the New Democracy government do not want him at PASOK's helm.
Asked whether PASOK rank and file would be able to put behind the division and at times extreme confrontation and forge ahead united, Venizelos said everything new, dynamic and victorious has the power to engulf what's old and stagnant, stressing that he is optimistic and pointing out that the ability to adjust based on political criteria existed.
Venizelos said the party president should increase the likelihood of a general election success. The president of PASOK has a complex role, being the guarantor of the party's unity, while expressing effectively and clearly the party's ideological principles and political positions, said Venizelos. "With old material and faces clinging together there can be no rejuvenating changes. I am glad because we are not signing any promissory notes", he said. He added that the PASOK leader, being a prospective prime minister, is compared with the head of the rival party and therefore, his competency for the premiership is an important factor.
Asked whether he believed that PASOK would have a better result if it presented itself to the electorate as a different party or as a better manager of power, Venizelos stated that he wants a united party that will represent the majority of the Greek people.
"PASOK is a party of the centre-left, progressive and popular", he said, adding that on the other hand it should also be a majority party as opposed to Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the rest of the parties of the European Left which are small or medium sized. Venizelos stressed that the broad popular appeal the party enjoyed under Andreas Papandreou should not be lost again, as it happened in the last general elections.
Asked to comment on recent media reports regarding economic interests and their "interference" with the political life of the country and whether that had played a part in the outcome of the latest general elections (September 16), Venizelos said that the economic interests talk was a September 18 invention aimed at making PASOK forget the painful 4 percentage point general election defeat in spite of the fact that its rival was the worst government the country has had in recent history.
Economic interests always have a say in the political scene not only in Greece but in every country, he said, adding that they played a role in the 2004 change of leadership in PASOK that took place under the pressure of opinion polls and press reports. Referring to ruling New Democracy and economic interests clinging to it, he commented that he has the feeling that he is not their choice for PASOK leader.
Asked what his first priority would be if elected PASOK president, Venizelos said that the people expect the new PASOK president and party to present a comprehensive plan for the country ensuring its unhindered operation while based on an alternative model of development. The people should feel that they are being respected, while income and opportunities should be redistributed within the framework of a radical state transformation, he said.
 Positive Commission report on Greek economyGreece's fiscal deficit is expected to reach 2.9 pct of GDP this year and to fall further in 2008 and 2009 to 1.8 percent, below the Maastricht Treaty's limit, the European Commission announced on Friday.
In its autumn forecasts for the Greek economy, the EU's executive arm, said it expected positive developments to continue in the Greek labour market, with unemployment falling steadily over the next two years to reach 7.5 pct of the workforce in 2009.
Greek economic growth will reach 4.1 pct this year and was expected to remain strong and above the EU average rate in the next two years, with 3.8 pct in 2008 and 3.7 pct in 2009. Economic growth in the Eurozone is projected at 2.6 pct in 2007, 2.2 pct in 2008 and 2.1 pct in 2009, while in the EU-27, economic growth is expected to reach 2.9 pct this year, 2.4 pct in 2008 and 2.4 pct in 2009.
The Commission also said it expected Greece's public debt to fall to 93.7 pct of GDP this year and to continue falling to 91.1 pct in 2008 and 88.8 pct in 2009. The public debt was 95.3 pct of GDP in 2006.
Greek inflation is projected to fall to 2.8 pct this year, from 3.3 pct in 2006, rising to 3.1 pct in 2008 and 2009, while unemployment is projected to reach 8.4 pct this year, from 8.9 pct in 2006, falling to 7.9 pct in 2008 and 7.5 pct in 2009.
The European Commission noted that it based its autumn forecasts on a Gross Domestic Product revised upwards by 9.6 percent.
The report said economic growth in Greece exceeded 4.0 pct in the first half of the year and said it expected domestic demand to remain strong in the second half of 2007, although it noted that higher imports will have a negative impact on the country's GDP. The Commission expects economic growth to reach 4.0 pct this year, slightly lower compared with 2006, but significantly higher compared with the Eurozone average.
Investment activity is showing signs of easing in Greece, after a strong performance in 2006, with public consumption still rising. The Commission said it expects Greek exports to grow by more than 6.0 pct this year and imports to rise as well, but at a slower pace compared with 2006.
The Commission forecasts a 3.8-pct growth rate in 2008 and a 3.7 pct rate in 2009, reflecting mainly strong domestic demand and noted that the possibility of higher interest rates and uncertainty in financial markets, combined with moderate wage increases, could lead to a further slowing down of private consumption, projected to remain above 3.0 pct by 2009.
Caption: Workers display a giant European Union flag at the Berlaymont building, the European Commission headquarters, in Brussels, on Tuesday 29 November 2005 as an advertisement for the new .eu top level domain on the internet. ANA-MPA/ EPA / OLIVIER HOSLET
 Athens cites united EU stance for KosovoGreek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Friday stressed that Athens was working to ensure that the European Union adopted a united stance on the issue of Kosovo, while he added that the region needs solutions "that can stand the test of time" to prevent problems from re-emerging.
Noting that Greece retained a deep knowledge of the region, he said Athens was talking to all sides and encouraging a productive approach to the process now underway to find a solution.
"We are making constant efforts toward all the parties involved toward a solution that is mutually accepted," he said, adding that a "minimum of mutual acceptance" was necessary for peaceful and productive coexistence.
"We do not believe in humiliation. The complete domination of one side by another has never in history contributed to stability, especially in the Balkans," he added.
He also pointed out that the issue of Kosovo was a European matter in which the EU, which was of great significance in the area, had an important say and therefore needed a single, uniform position. This was even more important and critical given that Europe had just emerged from two years of introversion with the agreement for the Reform Treaty, the spokesman added.
 Athens pushes for recyclable market bagsAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Friday met at City Hall with representatives of major supermarket chains to discuss the municipality's recycling programme.
Discussion reportedly focused on the possible replacement of plastic supermarket bags with bags made of fabric or reusable heavy-duty plastic, which have successfully introduced in other European cities such as Paris, Brussels and London.
Supermarket representatives responded positively and agreed to a second meeting in early December, once Kaklamanis discussed the matter with two relevant ministries and consumer associations.
According to a press release issued by the municipality, city officials reminded that a used plastic bag has a lifespan of 400 years.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.
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