11 April, 2006
Visiting European Commissioner for health and consumer protection issues Markos Kyprianou met separately on Monday with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou for talks on health and consumer protection issues.
After his meeting with the prime minister -- which was also attended by health and social solidarity minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and development minister Dimitris Sioufas -- Kyprianou told reporters that he briefed Karamanlis on matters falling under his jurisdiction, with emphasis on the present situation concerning the avian influenza (bird flu) outbreak, as well as consumer protection.
Kyprianou said there was a "good cooperation", which would be continued at both bilateral level and at Council of Ministers level, adding that the cooperation with Greece was "satisfactory" and that "we are all working for the best implementation of the measures".
The Commissioner said that the EU's preparation for confronting the bird flu problem was "at the highest level worldwide".
He explained that, in the EU, the bird flu virus was detected chiefly in wild birds, while only two cases have been detected in poultry farms, and stressed that there was a high level of monitoring".
Kyprianou further noted that measures were announced last week for the support of poultry growers, and that funds were being sought for the Solidarity Fund, as well as for the creation of a strategic reserve supply in medicines as a precautionary step in the event that a pandemic broke out.
Replying to a question on "medical tourism", Kyprianou said that the European Commission endorsed such a prospect, which entails Europeans traveling for tourism but also to seek medical care in other member states where such services were prospectively less expensive.
Sioufas referred to consumer protection issues, and outlined the institution of Consumer Ombudsman that has been implemented, while he also spoke of the full operation of the secretariat general for the consumer and the changes to the legislative framework which "will give impetus to the consumer organizations".
"The strength of the consumers is the absolute weapon for better quality," Sioufas said, stressing that "it also leads to better operation of the market".
Avramopoulos, in turn, said that Greece had a full plan for confronting all the problems created by the bird flu.
"We re fully prepared, and there is no cause for concern," the health minister said, adding that "the National Action Plan and the reinforcement of the infrastructures throughout the country fully shield us".
Avramopoulos also announced plans to table two bills in parliament on medical and therapeutic tourism.
Kyprianou also met later with PASOK leader Papandreou, with whom he discussed matters of health and consumer protection.
Source: Athens News Agency