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09 December, 1998
Prime Minister Costas Simitis called on business people and self-employed professionals to voluntarily restrict price hikes, if not dropping prices, in order to show an overall responsible attitude within the framework of cutting inflation. He was speaking at a dinner last night with which the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce's two-day conference at downtown Athens hotel concluded.
"We can predict with certainty that Greece will be the 12th member of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 2001," Mr. Simitis said.
However, he said that "the positive omens must not mislead us" since, as he noted, "considerable uncertainties are lurking on the international scene and world developments are not under control."
In this context, he said that the government will always be vigilant and will continue to decline the "easy way of compromises from which we would obtain easy political gains at the expense, however, of the country's overall interests."
"We have achieved a great deal. We are now a country which has regained its self-confidence and faced two international crises in a period of a few months, maintaining its basic course steady," he said and placed emphasis on the fact "that despite the tediousness of the adjustment process, the country succeeded in maintaining the cohesion of society."
Mr. Simitis further spoke of "delays and weaknesses" in the government's work, which he determined in the sectors of daily security, transport, health, relations between the state and the citizen and the quality of day-to-day life. He said they were sectors in which "we want to speed up our efforts."
"Society which is judging us would desire more ambitious results," he conceded and spoke of "a distance between reality and social expectation which lies at present, and will lie for the period until the elections in 2000, at the focal point of the government's effort."
Mr. Simitis also referred to the country's progress in the field of social policy, saying that there is "an unquestionable social convergence with the European Union countries. The distance which existed has been drastically reduced."
He called on business people and the cadres of Greek companies to prepare themselves in a multiple way for the upcoming introduction of the euro, whose advantages he described analytically so that "the possibility will not be given to your competitors to emerge comparatively stronger."
Mr. Simitis referred once again to the upcoming tough negotiations with the European Union's powerful countries which desire a restriction of EU funds concerning Common Agricultural Policy and the Structural Funds.
"It is not possible for such a thing to be accepted by our government," he said.
Lastly, Mr. Simitis referred to development policy in favor of small and medium-size enterprises.
Source: Athens News Agency