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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-11-29

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Pension system reform imperative, PM tells ruling party's MPs
  • [02] First Athens-Beijing route inaugurated

  • [01] Pension system reform imperative, PM tells ruling party's MPs

    Reform of Greece's pension and social security system is imperative, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stressed in a speech to ruling New Democracy party's Parliamentary group on Thursday.

    According to Karamanlis, failing to act would be "hostile" toward future generations and it would be irresponsible to postpone a solution of the problem for reasons of political convenience:

    "It is our responsibility to deliver a system that is freed from its 'pathogenies'," he stressed.

    He underlined that the current system was plagued by inequity and distortions that existed at the expense of the many, and that the system was being driven to a complete collapse, whereby society's weakest members would find themselves swept away.

    Changes are necessary and making the system fairer would require a long-term process, the prime minister added.

    Karamanlis criticised those that he said are resisting dialogue, noting that the government had presented its main policy points, while stressing that no one could "defend inaction".

    "Imposing one's terms and absolutes betrays a refusal to conduct dialogue, a refusal to face problems and is an anti-social act. We have no right to shut our eyes to the problem, reforms are an act of responsibility," he stressed.

    Outlining the government's goals, plans and positions, he referred to ensuring a fair and viable social security system. He also cited the introduction, as of 2009, of a minimum pension that would be above the poverty line, the creation of a national fund against poverty from 2008 and plans to increase unemployment benefits and the EKAS income supplement for retirees drawing low pensions.

    The prime minister further emphasised the government's continuing efforts to boost employment and reduce joblessness, measures for education reform and development and the overhaul of the national health system.

    "It is our commitment and unwavering decision to continue reforms in all areas, in administration and local government, in education, for public security and the environment," he underlined.

    In terms of economic policy, he said the immediate priority was completing tax reforms, and he highlighted the public works programme now being prepared, which he said would be the largest Greece had ever known, as well as policies to boost small and middle-sized enterprises.

    Other priorities listed by Karamanlis were protection of the environment and regulating land use, promoting renewable energy sources, restricting emissions of pollutants and restoring the natural environment in fire-ravaged regions.

    The prime minister also highlighted the government's achievements in past years, such as high growth rates, exiting the excessive deficit procedure and reinforcing the economy, saying that these had laid a "firm foundation" for the country's future growth and development.

    Stressing that the country was now called on to find a "final solution to the problems it inherited from the past," Karamanlis said that there was no room for conservative attitudes that served a privileged few and called on MPs in his party to do their best to help bring about necessary changes and reforms.

    "The Parliamentary group is the link between the government and society. We all have an obligation to change those things that embitter and inconvenience the voters, to continue changes and reforms and come together as a strong fist against the problems of the country," he concluded.

    Caption: Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis addresses his ruling party's Parliament group on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007. ANA-MPA / M. MORAGIANNI

    [02] First Athens-Beijing route inaugurated

    <!--he maiden flight on the long-sought Beijing to Athens route -- via Dubai -- was by the Chinese carrier Air China on Thursday, as the airliner's Boeing 767 landed at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, where it was met by a welcoming committee and an inauguration ceremony.

    Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis gave a brief address in which he stressed that one of the government's main goals was to make Greece an international transport hub, which meant that it was not possible to ignore one of the fastest growing areas of the world, the Far East.

    He also highlighted the benefits of the new route on a political and economic level but also for tourism, stressing his conviction that flights between Athens and Beijing would become more frequent as the volume of goods and passengers increased to the benefit of both countries.Caption: An Air China airliner lands at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007 to inaugurate the Beijing to Athens via Dubai route. ANA-MPA/ ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

    -->


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