PM sees more reforms ahead

As Greece’s leaders sent their New Year messages yesterday, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said that the government will continue down the road of reforms in 2007 and finish off its program. «The year 2007 will be a decisive one. A year that will call upon us to continue with changes… and reforms that drive this country,» he said. «We are in the middle of a difficult journey. We are determined to see it through until the end, aware of the benefits of our efforts for the community,» he said. The message is the latest indication that the prime minister has no intention of calling early elections. There has been much speculation in the press that voters will be called to the polls before the government’s current four-year term ends in March 2008. Political commentators believe that the course of the controversial education reforms this month will largely determine the timing of the next elections. Karamanlis added that 2006 was a difficult year but that that the positive signs from government policies are starting to emerge. «We welcome in the New Year with self-confidence and optimism that is supported by everything we have achieved,» added Karamanlis. President Karolos Papoulias called for community unity in his message and said that every year should be better than the previous one, on the back of the country’s stable democracy. «This will occur if all of us, without fearing different opinions, focus our attention on the progress of our society,» he added. Meanwhile, PASOK leader George Papandreou was more downbeat and criticized the government for failing to build on the work done by the previous, Socialist government. «With hard work and sacrifices, Greeks have seen in previous years their lives improve significantly. Unfortunately, those steady and ambitious steps forward have not continued. People are not satisfied with the country’s progress,» he added.

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