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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-07-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM urges youth to take part in changes
  • [02] Droutsas meets EU's Ashton
  • [03] Rangoussis meets OECD SG

  • [01] PM urges youth to take part in changes

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday urged the country's youth to actively take part in the process of changes in the country being advanced by his government, while he also appealed to the political parties to include young people in their ballots for the upcoming local government elections.

    Speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on social issues and rights, instigated by Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Papandreou lambasted what he called the "old clientilistic state", which he said was a factor of delay and dependence, due to the mentality it cultivates, in citizen-state relations as well as the relations the country traditionally cultivates with "its patrons", and stressed the need for a "revolution", with the youth as the spearhead, for changing that mentality.

    "We will achieve this revolution with the active participation of the young people, so that we will stop living the paradox in which today's generation is the most education, with the most qualifications and dexterities and the most well-travelled but faces the risk of living worse off than the previous generation," Papandreou said.

    The premier noted that his government, both before the last general elections that brought it to power and today, pledges a truly progressive policy for the young people, justice for all the generations.

    "Solidarity among the generations is at the crux of the new social security system. We will support the weak youth through a welfare system that we are creating, but we will also support the creative youth. The young people need liberation, not restriction, of their potential," Papandreou said, adding that his government will make use of the best international practices, explaining that he has asked a "top personality to head an international team that will evaluate our welfare system" and at the same time review the issues concerning the young generation.

    Changes are necessary, he continued, so that the youth will be at the spearhead of global knowledge. The time has come, he added, to link the tertiary education institutions with regional development.

    "Let's change Greece, together. Take your future in your own hands," the premier urged the country's youth.

    During a second turn at the podium, he stated that his government has passed more legislation against corruption than any other government in the past.

    Referring to main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, he said the question is "who has the will to change things" and not who is to blame for a situation.

    Responding to Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsiprasā demand for a referendum on social insurance system reforms, Papandreou said the government intends to present a draft law in Parliament allowing the referendum option in the future.

    He also stressed that his government proceeds with the implementation of a number of election campaign pledges including green buildings, new spatial plan, measures against corruption and excessive spending in the National Health System and establishment of parliamentary committees focusing on scandal investigation.

    Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou responding to a question on the transfers of university students she stressed that the issue will be settled in an imminent draft law.

    As regards the post-secondary education centres that appear as "colleges", she stated that parents should be very careful where they enroll their children in and clarified that students cannot attend courses in unlicensed education institutions.

    [02] Droutsas meets EU's Ashton

    European Union foreign policy priorities and issues of Greek interest were discussed on Friday during a meeting between Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and visiting High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union Catherine Ashton.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the EU official outlined her priorities in the immediate future, referring to the establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the promotion of good-neighborly relations across Europe and cooperation with EU strategic partners, like the United States, Russia and China.

    Ashton also referred to the "very substantive discussions" she had with the prime minister and national defense and foreign affairs ministry officials and underlined the support she was met with in Greece, stressing "the common goals and strategy shared". She pointed out that the Union will be able to have a single voice following the recent vote in the European Parliament for the operation of EEAS.

    "Greece can play a very important role in our neighborhood and its contribution can be considerable now that the Treaty of Lisbon is into effect," Ashton stressed.

    The meetingās agenda also included the course of EU-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and the prospect of the gradual integration of the western Balkan countries into the EU through the initiative "Agenda 2014" roadmap.

    On his part, Droutsas expressed Greeceās complete confidence and unreserved support to her work.

    He also underlined Greeceās special interest in the developments in western Balkans, the EU-Turkish relations and the need for reforms in Turkey, the Cyprus issue, the Middle East and the EU relations with its strategic partners.

    Earlier, Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos received Ashton.

    Talks focused on EU foreign, defence and security policy issues. No statements were made after the one-hour meeting.

    [03] Rangoussis meets OECD SG

    Interior, Decentralisation and Electronic Governance Minister Yiannis Rangoussis on Friday presented the progress of Greece's reformist effort in a spectrum of sectors such as administrative reform, central government and strategic planning to OECD secretary general Michel-Angel Gurria.

    Greece maintains close cooperation with the OECD for multiple programmes, including ASEP, Citizenship-Immigration and the Kallikratis programme, aiming at "the utilisation of the Organisation's technical-institution knowledge and its experience from other countries," Rangoussis said.

    Speaking to reporters, the Interior minister said that "it was a very important meeting," adding that "the Organisation is interested a great deal in Greece's experience and we had the opportunity of conveying the latest developments on the changes that we are doing in self administration and the state."

    Rangoussis also said that the OECD's secretary general is expressing himself "with an increasingly positive way on all that is changing, on all that is taking place in Greece."

    It was decided, during the meeting, the holding early next year of an international meeting, sponsored jointly by the Greek government and the OECD, that will focus on "institutional reforms taking place in Greece, some of which are considered unprecedented on an international level," the Greek minister added.

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