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15 May, 1997
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday officially opened the process of "social dialogue" which, he said, was aimed at shaping "a new social balance which will generate major structural interventions in turn accelerating the developmental course of the economy."
"We want a substantial and frank dialogue to develop and I assure you that as far as the government is concerned, no decisions will be taken in advance and merely imposed during the process of dialogue," Mr. Simitis said.
Stabilization of the economy, improvement of growth rates and the upgrading of the country's production infrastructure may constitute "messages of hope", but they do not suffice, he said.
At this point, Mr. Simitis warned of the "serious consequences" if Greece failed to meet EMU convergence targets.
"The drachma will be devalued, inflation will rise, borrowing from abroad will increase, unemployment will grow and prosperity will take a nose-dive," the premier said. Mr. Simitis indicated that unemployment would feature prominently in the social dialogue.
"We are not interested in attaining a better standard of living for just a few at the expense of employment. The government will make every effort to ensure that not only the incomes of those in employment improve, but also that conditions are created which afford access to the labor market for those currently out of work," Mr. Simitis said.
The social dialogue, he stressed, will not have succeeded if it merely ends in "compromise agreements" for the preservation of vested interests.
"To succeed, it must bring to the forefront the new forces of the country and establish new ways for these forces to communicate with each other and ensure creative cooperation," the premier added.
Source: Athens News Agency