Athens – Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis expressed his confidence that Greece will win the “wager” for development and prosperity, in statements published in a special edition of the “Economist” that focuses on the so-called “Irish Miracle” — the economic boom in the Republic of Eire since its European Union accession.
Only days after a recent opinion poll gave Karamanlis a significant lead over his main opposition rival George Papandreou on the question of “more suitable” for the premiership, the Greek prime minister said his government’s goal is none other than to transform the country into a modern economic hub of the entire region, a Balkan or even Mediterranean economic “tiger”, as he said in using a term regularly applied to the super-charged economies of the Asia-Pacific rim.
Better quality, effectiveness and competitiveness in the economic sector was another theme that Karamanlis focused on, saying he’s also confident that Greece will meet the challenge.
In referring to the “Irish miracle” and the extent to which Greece can follow that European island-nation’s model of stunning economic growth and development — especially in terms of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and hi-tech multinationals — Karamanlis said a policy of immediate market deregulation, especially in the energy sector, should provide the first “investment jumpstart” in this direction. Other reforms, he added, to attract FDI’s will come in the legal and institutional framework governing business investment.
The 48-year-old Karamanlis also cited the government’s decision to proceed with the creation of “innovative cities” outside the congested and economically saturated greater Athens area, again, similar to the model employed in Ireland. Moreover, he cited the “Irish model’s” straightforward organisational parameters and the fact that it fully exploited the potential offered by EU membership as other yardsticks for accelerating Greece’s growth.
While acknowledging the fact that economic conditions are difficult at present, Karamanlis nevertheless said the challenge is both a personal and collective incentive for Greeks to ensure the country’s future development.
His entire interview was carried in the Greek-language edition of the Economist magazine, which was a supplement in the Saturday edition of the Athens daily “Kathimerini”.
Protesting farmers, mostly central Greece cotton growers, on Saturday agreed to suspend a high-profile roadblock they had set up at the Tempi Valley bottleneck, as farm tractors had cut-off the main Athens-Thessaloniki highway for roughly 24 hours.
Although the roadblock was called off, the vehicles would remain parked by the highway, farmers’ representatives said. Farmers in Macedonia also suspended roadblocks.
Cotton growers over the past month have threatened roadblocks with their tractors in order to gain better prices for their crop, whereas the representatives for the entire agricultural sector have complained for falling incomes for farmers and stockbreeders.