25 April, 2007
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, speaking during a roundtable discussion organised by the Economist magazine on Tuesday on "Highlighting the priorities of Greece in foreign and internal policy," said that changes and reforms are a strong and steadfast commitment.
Karamanlis said that the government has shaped the terms and preconditions for a reformist cycle with continuity and escalation, adding that "there can be no concessions and discounts on this path because only with changes and reforms can Greece assimilate the vibrations of the new era and turn them into advantages."
The prime minister referred to economic policy, saying that the initial results of the new economic and development policy confirm the correctness of the government's options and inspire optimism. He mentioned in particular that the deficit has been reduced to 2.6 percent of GDP and is continuing to fall with sure and firm steps.
Karamanlis further noted that growth rates are among the highest in the eurozone, the competitiveness of the economy has begun to improve, as is ascertained with the increase in investments, exports and the tourist influx, total investments are increasing considerably, tourism is registering a strong momentum and inflation, despite the increase in international oil prices, is following a downward trend, while employment fell to levels below 9 percent after many years.
The prime minister also focused on the country's foreign relations, referring in particular to Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
As regards neighbouring Turkey, Karamanlis said that the government is following a strategy of good neigbourliness and supports its European adjustment, but made it clear that "its full response to the principles and prerequisites of the European Union also means its full accession for us. The wager is up to itself and it must, if indeed it wants to move towards Europe, move along the lines set by the European Union."
On the question of FYROM, the prime minister said that modern-day Greece, exercising a policy of open horizons, is encouraging the European prospects of neighbouring countries and supporting their adjustment to European models.
"We make it clear that FYROM, in its course towards Euroatlantic institutions, must and should contribute to the achievement of a mutually acceptable solution to the pending issue of its name," he concluded.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, Tourist Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis addressed the Economist magazine's international conference on the issue of "Revealing new global priorities" on Tuesday.
Sioufas said that investments exceeding 30 billion euros are expected in the region of southeastern Europe in the next few years in the sector of electricity and natural gas alone, as a result of the overall strategy on deepening energy cooperation between the member-states of the Energy Community of southeastern Europe.
Focusing on the government's initiatives in the energy sector, Sioufas referred to the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline and the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline.
Avramopoulos referred, among other things, to the need "to remove guilt from the notion and practice of entrepreneurship," adding that "we must achieve at last what must be our goal, reconciliation between the country's business forces in a strong alliance with the state, casting bridgeheads in the international market."
Petralia said on her part that according to all the data concerning arrivals and bookings, more tourists than ever will be visiting Greece this year, while at the same time more investments than in any other year in the past are underway through the development law and though the Competitiveness Programme.
The minister also placed emphasis on safeguarding the quality of services provided in the tourism sector and stressed that the goal is to make high level quality a dominant and inseparable element of the Greek tourist identity.
Kaklamanis referred to the need to strengthen the role played by cities in growth and employment.
"If we turn our cities into strong poles of metropolitan development, centres of international European and global lavel, we will be able to personify our policies and develop a new relation of confidence with citizens," he said.
Source: Athens News Agency