The Greek Press Today
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05 April, 2006
A Europe that is more political, more democratic and more social is obviously necessary in a world where security, development and prosperity are the primary demands, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said addressing the Economist's 10th Roundtable with the Greek Government, on Tuesday in Athens.
"The common goal, as set out by the Lisbon Strategy, is to create in Europe the most dynamic and competitive economy," Karamanlis said during the conference, titled "Unveiling New Priorities in a Changing World."
EU member states' joint commitment is to implement policies regarding regional and social convergence, job creation, improving the standard of living and protecting the environment, he said.
However, Europe is obligated to simultaneously reinforce its foundation; to secure its territorial integrity and external borders; to collectively address new threats, whether it's terrorism or health risks; and to guarantee respect for citizens' individual and civil rights, the prime minister said.
The goal, according to Karamanlis, is for Europe to promptly adapt to changes while at the same time placing emphasis on its social role. "A Europe that will address the challenges of globalization, ensuring social solidarity at the same time; A Europe that will reinforce security for its citizens without violating individual rights," he explained.
He pointed out that presently, the relations between the EU and its citizens are undergoing a 'crisis', the integration process is experiencing delays and the question "What kind of Europe do we want" remains unanswered.
Karamanlis noted that in a world that is intensely competitive and full of challenges, the priorities are international cooperation, joint ventures and synergies in business, an outward-looking economic approach and the strengthening of economic diplomacy.
"Policies that reinforce stability and security are necessary. To this end, we've chosen the triptych 'peace-cooperation-development' as our guide," he said.
"We made important and successful steps in the broader region, but also in Asia; we are working intensively towards the continuous upgrading of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean; we are pursuing relations of trust and cooperation with all neighboring nations and we are supporting their European aspirations; and we proved this stance in practice also towards neighboring Turkey," Karamanlis noted.
Referring specifically to Turkey and its EU prospects, Karamanlis said that Turkey's EU accession course will depend on the neighboring country's respect for international law and treaties; human rights and religious freedom; and its relations with neighboring countries and its stance towards Cyprus.
"Our objective is to fully normalize Greek-Turkish relations. Our objective is the reunification of the Republic of Cyprus by achieving a functional and viable solution, in line with EU principles. Our objective is peace and cooperation, development and prosperity in our entire region," the premier said.
Karamanlis also referred to the importance of culture and education "in a world thirsting for principles, values and ideals, in a world that is at the same time characterized by the digital revolution."
He stressed the need to focus on the future, saying that "in a world that is radically changing, we will never be able to 'fix' the present if we are indifferent to the future."
The greatest challenge ahead, according to Karamanlis, is to develop actions aimed at preventing potential dangers and to create the right conditions necessary to capitalize on existing opportunities.
The prime minister also referred to the need to invest in competitiveness, "since competitiveness means a wealthy economy, benefits and investments for businesses and jobs and income for workers."
Within this context, the Greek government has declared the period 2005-2010 - milestone years for the Lisbon Strategy - as years of competitiveness.
According to Karamanlis, the Greek government is promoting policies aimed at creating a truly dynamic and competitive economy within a healthy fiscal environment.
"Because only a competitive economy can create new jobs; only a competitive economy can improve citizens' quality of living; only a healthy fiscal environment can maintain development over the long term," he said.
Karamanlis also referred to the world's changing demographics, saying that the world population has more than doubled over several decades and is continuing on an upward trend.
Tied in to this development, is the accelerating rate of environmental pollution and global warming, he said.
Referring to Greece specifically, Karamanlis said: "The basic element in the new development model we are creating, but also an immediate priority for the entire EU, is the implementation of a dynamic energy policy that will guarantee the safety of supply, competitiveness and respect for the environment. Our main priorities to this end are liberalizing the energy market, limiting our dependency on fossil fuels, capitalizing on biofuels and renewable energy sources and protecting the environment."
Another immediate objective, according to the prime minister, is to promote major international projects that will make Greece into an energy hub.
"At this point, I would like to highlight the political agreement for the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline; the beginning of construction of the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline; our country's leading role in creating the Energy Community," he said.
In summing up, Karamanlis said: "In a world of radical and structural change, foresight, inspiration, planning and vision are necessary more than ever. We must see every change as a challenge; every challenge as an opportunity; every opportunity as a possibility to change our country."
Source: Athens News Agency