01 July, 2005
LONDON 1/7/2005 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his British counter-part Tony Blair discussed the restructuring of the European Union's budget, Turkey's European candidacy, the issue of Cyprus and the situation in the Balkans, particularly Kosovo and Skopje, during their meeting here on Thursday.
Speaking after his talks with Blair, Karamanlis said "we had a very useful meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and we discussed a wide spectrum of international, European and bilateral issues. Our talks, as was natural, focused on recent developments in the European Union and I had the opportunity of presenting to Tony Blair our positions and views, our proposals on these developments."
Karamanlis further said that "in parallel, we listened to Mr. Blair presenting the priorities of the British presidency on these issues and primarily, of course, on the ratification process for the Constitutional Treaty, as well as fiscal policies for the 2007-2013 period."
The prime minister added that relations between the EU and the western Balkans, relations with Turkey and the issue of Cyprus were also discussed.
"On a bilateral level, we had the opportunity with the British prime minister of confirming once again the excellent climate in our bilateral relations. I must stress as well that the meeting and the discussion took place in a very constructive climate and on this occasion I wished the British prime minister every success in the British presidency, which he is assuming now, and in the difficult task in the six-month period that is beginning," Karamanlis said.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis gave a speech at the Business and Economics Faculty of London's City University on Thursday night on the theme of "Greece: Looking behind the 2004 Olympic Games" in which he outlined the new institutional framework being created in Greece to attract foreign investments and develop businesses in the country.
"A wide program of changes and reforms is already fully underway in the economy, public administration, public health and education and the basic axis of our strategy is the transition to a state of increased capabilities, a state that will be smaller in the economy and more effective in its social mission," the prime minister said.
Karamanlis further said the fiscal adjustment remains a basic and imperative priority for government policy.
"Our aim is for this adjustment to be achieved with the mildest of processes. We are implementing a new economic and development model which is not based on state-fed development but on productive investments," he noted.
The prime minister said that as part of the effort to support enterprise, special plans are being promoted for tourism, industry and renewable energy sources.
Karamanlis also stressed the great importance of shipping for Greece.
"It is the sector in which we Greeks have proved how much enterprise can flourish when it finds a fertile environment. The benefits for the country are considerable. Revenues from shipping outstripped revenues from tourism for the first time last year," he said.
"Greece is the gateway to Europe for the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia. Greece is at the same time the place where European businesses can establish their headquarters to infiltrate the countries of southeastern Europe," the prime minister stressed.
Karamanlis concluded his speech by saying "post-Olympic Games Greece is a country of many prospects and opportunities. A country which is facing the future with optimism and self-confidence."
Karamanlis was scheduled to depart from London at the end of his speech.
Source: Athens News Agency