Ioannina.- Greek expatriates from Epirus met for three days in Ioannina, for the 1st World Congress of Epirotes abroad, that concluded yesterday. More than 300 delegates from the US, Europe and Australia participated in the congress held under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias.
The official opening of the congress took place on Friday. In a message to the opening session of the 1st World Conference of Epirotes living abroad, in Ioannina, northwestern Greece on Friday night, read out by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, the prime minister said his government was implementing a “national strategy of regional development which guarantees a dynamic, viable and balanced growth all over the country.”
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said that Greece was in a “new development orbit” since, as he said, the growth model, which encourages entrepreneurship, improves the competitiveness of Greek products and reinforces the extroversion of the economy, has been consolidated and was steadfastly improving.
“We promote changes and reforms far from dogmatic ideologies, safeguarding the terms and conditions for a better tomorrow. Our policies are already yielding tangible results,” Karamanlis noted.
Main opposition PASOK deputy Grigoris Niotis, on his part, conveyed a message by party leader George Papandreou.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Saturday outlined the government’s policy to spur regional growth.
Addressing an audience in Epirus, northwestern Greece, the minister reported that funding for the region under the government’s new development law was up to 55% higher than the previous legislation.
New Democracy party Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis also addressed the attendees of the 1st Expatriate Hellenes’ World Congress yesterday.
After describing the Congress a new start for Hellas’ boosting and international promotion, he conveyed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s greetings and wishes. He also praised the President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, describing him a “capable Epirote” since the Congress was taking place under his auspices.
He also stressed that Hellas was boosting its competitiveness today and developing dynamically, using effectively all its developmental tools in the Economy, Tourism and Culture. “Today, Hellas wishes to play a dynamic role in the international community. Thus, we should coordinate all our forces today. It is more determining than ever”, he said.
Being an Epirote, Mr Zagoritis referred to Epirus’ unique cultural heritage and to Epirotes, who prosper wherever they are and who with their struggles and diligence have honored and still honor their homeland.
He also admitted that the leadership had been unjust with Epirus for a number of years, since it had not been given the opportunity to develop. He also referred to Mr Karamanlis’ commitment to give priority to regional development, with Epirus having priority in that case.
“Epirus is one of the regions where the approval of entrepreneurial proposals has been given priority. The national, strategic reference framework 2007-2013, the next Community Framework focuses on regional development. Epirus will play a dynamic role in this development. The main objectives are the utilization of Community funds for the regional and community convergence, the use of its economic potential, the reduction of unemployment and the improvement of the quality of life. Many regional projects in the prefecture of Epirus have already been included in the Third Community Support Framework. These projects will project its physical and cultural richness, the creativity of its inhabitants, its historical role and substantial contribution in today’s effort for economic and cultural development”.
The ND party Secretary also referred to the expatriate Epirotes’ role and their contribution, describing them valuable and determining, adding that Hellas is by their side, as well as by the side of Northern Epirotes.