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World leaders hail achievements in 2007, look forward to 2008

World leaders have delivered their New Year addresses, hailing the achievements in 2007 and looking forward to 2008.

US President George W. Bush called for continuing growth and vitality of the economy in his New Year message. “A future of hope and opportunity begins with a robust economy,” he said in his message released by the White House. The US president said that the underpinning of the US economy is strong, competitive, and resilient enough to overcome the challenges.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed on Monday the achievement of his nation in 2007 and wished everyone success in his last New Year speech as president. “We not only restored our territorial integrity but also we felt united. These years we worked together in order to preserve our country and turn it into a modern, free and strong state, which may be convenient and comfortable for citizens’ life,” he said in a 5-minute speech broadcasted midnight on Monday.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said in his new year speech on Tuesday that the government will begin in 2008 to change the society into one in which “people and consumers are protagonists.” In regard to a series of scandals of production date forgery in2007, Fukuda called on both the government and enterprises to think from the standpoints of the people and consumers. Regarding the blunder of losing some 50 million pension records, Fukuda vowed to conduct thorough reforms to the pension system.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Tuesday hailed the Cuban people’s victory in ruling their own destiny in his New Year address. The year of 2008 marks the beginning of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, which “symbolizes half a century of heroic resistance,” said Castro, the Latin American News Agency reported. “Let’s proudly proclaim to the world this record that makes us worthy of the fairest claim: the respect for its right to live and to the clean joy of our motherland,” he said.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in his address, promised continued reforms in 2008 to achieve more progress. “We are going ahead on the right path,” he said, noting the country embraces the year of 2008 “with a stronger economy whose indicators are on the rise and whose ability to attract investments and achieve higher rates of growth and work opportunities is continuous,” Mubarak said. Egypt is now in a better position and is making progress as “we enjoy peace, security, stability”, he said, bringing “high hopes for the future of our country and its people.” His Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian hailed 2007 as one of the “most successful years” in the country’s recent history in his televised New Year address. He said he believes in Armenia’s prosperous future and in the potential of its people.

The King of Norway Harald V called on the whole world to take responsibility for climate change in his traditional New Year speech. “We can no longer overlook all the signals and warnings about climate change and now is the time to take on a global responsibility and a common course,” the Norwegian broadcaster NRK quoted the king as saying. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg echoed the king’s call and expressed his optimism for meeting the challenges of climate change in his New Year’s speech on Tuesday. “It is mankind that brought about the climate problem and the problem can also be settled by mankind,” the Norwegian news agency NTB quoted the prime minister as saying. Stoltenberg was pleased with the agreement reached at the last minute at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007, saying “we now have a basis for a global agreement in Copenhagen in 2009.”

African Union Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare called for the establishment of a united Africa in his New Year speech. “We shall be required to enter into new alliances with the other peoples and governments of the world, and to strengthen those already in place, in the name of a united Africa, from Northto South, from East to West, an Africa neither black nor white, neither occidental nor oriental, neither sub-nor upper Saharan,” Konare said. “Our current battle against underdevelopment, pandemics, ignorance, marginalization and indecent life, pushes us to set up a strategy of action, enforcement and responsibility,” he said.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski hailed Poland’s achievements in2007 in his New Year address on Tuesday. Poland witnessed sustainable economic growth and consolidated its standing on the international stage in 2007, said the president in his address broadcast by state TV. In 2007 Poland signed the Lisbon Treaty and joined the Schengenzone, two moves of European integration which are benefiting the Polish people, he said. The president also hoped more Polish people can benefit from the country’s economic growth and all Poles around the world could be proud, enthusiastic and affectionate towards Poland.

Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko on Tuesday recalled 2007 as “a hard year” and looked forward to 2008 in his New Year address. “We have brought the Ukrainian ship out of the storm and now it is time for calm and coordinated work,” he said. Predicting that “everything will be fine,” Yushchenko foresaw 2008 as “a year of big opportunities.” (xinhuanet)