12 January, 2005
The New Year is particularly crucial and of decisive importance, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Tuesday.
Addressing the first cabinet meeting of 2005, the Greek Premier stressed that the main axes of government strategy were clearly outlined in ND party's program.
Karamanlis said it was necessary to invest in education and culture, to implement a new economic and development policy, to reinvent the state and stressed that the government's goal was to build the necessary strategic bases for the country to achieve the growth rates it deserved.
Commenting on a fiscal audit of the economy, the Greek Premier said it was a difficult effort that needed to be done and to be successful. "Now is the time to ensure fiscal balance for the country," Karamanlis noted.
He urged political forces and social partners to show self-restraint and said "it needed consensus, responsibility and self-restraint from all of us, government, politicians, social partners and productive forces."
Karamanlis stressed that everyone should contribute to reducing spending, to effectively cut expenses and to achieve a more effective use of public assets.
The prime minister underlined that the government needed to achieve its growth goal to deal with unemployment and to improve living quality in the country. "Our priority is productivity, quality and competitiveness," he said.
The country needs to be more attractive to investments, the economy to become more export-oriented and to achieve a more effective use of community funds.
Karamanlis said that the government would seek bold reforms and structural changes rapidly and noted that priority was to strengthen the country's regions. "There is no strong Greece without strong regions," he noted. The prime minister said that dealing with citizens' daily problems was the essence of politics, noting that unemployment, price increases, healthcare, education and state services to citizens were policy priorities. "We do not hide any problems, we highlight them and work for their solution in alliance with citizens," Karamanlis said.
He also urged for a combat against corruption and combatting bureaucracy. Karamanlis said that after completing a round of talks with government ministers he would begin visits to each ministry and urged ministers to adhere to the government's program.
Karamanlis said that the government has done "a very good work" so far and stressed that the government's candidate for the next President of the Republic, Karolos Papoulias, was a clear proof that the government acknowledged its responsibility towards Greek citizens and the country and its devotion to new ideas. "We bring a new political culture," Karamanlis said.
Source: Athens News Agency