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  Nr. 41 - September 2001
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Prime Minister's Visit

by Beate Beyer-Arvanitidis, September 2001
On the 29th of July 2001 at 9:00 p.m. at the Pan-drossos Hotel open-air restaurant, the local PASOK party organized a meeting and a speech by their President, Kostas Simitis. The Prime Minister of Greece was enjoying a three-day private visit to Paros. Tickets to attend the event were available from PASOK Paros at the price of 5,000drs.

Just before sunset the whole area around the Pandrossos was crowded with representatives from the main TV channels: monitors were installed, microphones were sound checked, police and security guards controlled the area around the windmill.

At 9:30 p.m. Mr. Simitis arrived, welcomed by loud applause and spectacularly colourful fireworks and a procession of torch-lit fishing-boats.

In a brief introduction Mr. Simitis outlined the main PASOK programme goals up to the year 2004. He then gave some specific details about programmes and government plans for Paros, promising funds for the following projects:

- a new airport (this proposal received very loud applause!)
- a covered gym to be built in Livadia, Paroikia.
- improvement in medical care by the provision of additional doctors.
- improved ferry connections between the islands.
- support for the Fisherman's Society of Paros-Antiparos.
- new units in the desalination programme to solve the water shortages.
- an environmental protection programme.

as well as funds towards other additional needs of the island.

Mr Simitis then spoke about the changes that will affect Greece with the implementation of the single common currency (the EURO) on 1st January 2002. He emphasised that he and his party are ready to move forward and to encourage the population of the country to progress to a new and modern Greece.

His view of the Nea Dimokratia (opposition party) policies was that they reflected the country's outdated economic programmes of the 1960's to 1980's.
His emphasis on change and the future was reminiscent of the PASOK slogan 'ALLAGI' (meaning 'change') employed by his predecessor and founder of the PASOK party, Andreas Papandreou, throughout the 1980s.

Greece has changed in many ways for the better through the 1990s, Mr Simitis explained. He cited as examples that the workforce is rewarded by higher wages and Greece has increased exports to the Balkan countries. Also in recent years the facilities for postgraduate studies, therapies and medical care have increased and are in the process of being improved still further.

He mentioned that he had been told that 5,000 (!) foreigners live and work permanently on the island Paros.

"This shows," he said, "that Greece is a country of immigration and development."

Following his speech and the appreciative applause, a buffet dinner was served. The event finished at midnight with participants having the chance of for personal handshake with the Prime Minister before he left.
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