PM wants unity on jobs

Prime Minster Costas Karamanlis yesterday called on opposition politicians to back his government’s economic reforms in order to help Greece shed its high unemployment rate. During a parliamentary debate between party leaders last night, Karamanlis said that New Democracy was working to lower the number of people out of work but that this target would be more easily achievable if the other parties were supportive. «While you talk about fighting unemployment, you react to every reform that aims to increase employment,» the premier told the opposition ranks. «To face unemployment, you need a strong social conscience from workers, unions and political parties.» PASOK leader George Papandreou accused the government of not learning from its mistakes and lacking ideas on how to create more jobs. Opinion polls usually find unemployment is voters’ greatest concern, even though – as Karamanlis pointed out – the latest figures show that it has fallen to 9.7 percent from 11.3 percent at the beginning of 2004. He cited Ireland as the example Greece should follow to lower unemployment, saying it showed what a united front could achieve. Some 4.4 million Greeks have jobs but the unemployment rate for those aged under 29 is still over 19 percent. Synaspismos Left Coalition leader Alekos Alavanos said this was the highest rate in the eurozone and attacked the government’s economic policies as favoring big business. The government also came under attack in Parliament last night for its handling of the phone-tapping affair, on the same day that former New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert wrote to the Communications Privacy Protection Authority (ADAE). Evert asked ADAE to look into the possible involvement of Greek electronics giant Intracom in the snooping after it was revealed that one of the Vodafone communications centers being targeted by the spy software was in Intracom’s complex in Paeania, east of Athens. Evert also said that the head of technical services at Vodafone, Nikos Mastorakis, used to work at Intracom. Evert claimed that it would be impossible for the tapping to have taken place without the knowledge of Mastorakis or other top technical staff at Vodafone.

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