|Sunday, 22 April 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 15 September 2008 Issue No: 2996
 Papandreou unveils PASOK's economic, social positions in TIF addressMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou provided a comprehensive overview of his and his party's policies during a televised address at the 73rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Saturday evening, the customary venue for political leaders' to unveil party strategy every autumn.
Speaking on Saturday evening, Papandreou emphasised that a future PASOK government will increase social spending and thoroughly modify the tax code in favour of low-income strata at the expense of higher income groups.
Among others, Papandreou, a former minister in several previous PASOK governments and one-time foreign minister in two consecutive Simitis governments, said he would abolish a unified property levy and reinstitute taxes on large property holdings.
Moreover, he said Church of Greece and related ecclesiastical holdings would lose tax exempt status for properties that are financially exploited.
Papandreou repeated that PASOK envisions a tax system where all income from work, stock transactions and dividends, rentals, excessive capital values etc., will be taxed via a unified rates scale. He also said a tax-free ceiling will be harmonised for all taxpayers, whereas the tax-free rate for self-employed professionals (plumbers, electricians etc.) will be reinstituted, a direct criticism of the government's plans to institute objective tax criteria for numerous categories of self-employed professionals in order to stamp out tax evasion.
Other measures he favours include reducing the tax rate for profits that are re-invested in the business or for creating new jobs.
In outlining measures he said PASOK supports for reducing citizens' excessive debt burden, Papandreou referred to the institution of a "homestead law" preventing foreclosure of an individual's primary residence, doubling the ceiling for allowing foreclosures and preventing the auctioning off of property for a price less than the objective rate as given by the tax bureau.
Turning to all-important pension and social security reform, Papandreou said he would the current government's latest measures, reversing whatever decreases in pension rates or increases in retirement ages, while at the same time using state coffers to finance a fund for self-employed professionals, along the lines of the Social Security Foundation (IKA). Conversely, he said he was committed to reversing the government's intent to reform the list of occupations defined as "heavy and hazardous", saying the government's decision to scale back the list was not based on scientific data and measurements.
In extending other benefits, Papandreou promised to expand a bonus for some 300,000 low-income pensioners, part of what he termed "implementation of a fair and viable social security system."
In closing the economic and social policy segment of his address at a TIF convention hall, Papandreou promised to spend 7 percent of annual GDP on education and research.
The PASOK leader mostly avoided attacking the government at length, charging however that "Greece is bankrupt, Greeks are becoming poorer and ministers are getting rich."
In touching on foreign policy issues at the end of his address, Papandreou cited the recent developments in the Caucasus as affecting outstanding issues for Greece's foreign policy in the Balkans and Cyprus.
In terms of relations with neighbouring Turkey, he reiterated that the Cyprus issue was an "open wound", while echoing Cyprus President Demetris Christofias' vision for a re-united Cyprus, whose interests and prosperity of all its citizens is guaranteed.
Finally, he said it was unacceptable that any other issues be raised in relation to the FYROM "name issue", calling on the government to categorically reject any such prospect in the recently tabled Nimetz proposals.
A day later, appearing at the same venue, Papandreou appeared at a wide-ranging press conference that lasted for nearly three hours, where he charged that the government is "finished", because it has come into conflict with the feelings of the Greek people.
In mostly echoing his comments from Saturday, Papandreou responded to a question on the resignation of merchant marine minister George Voulgarakis and if this means a partial assumption of responsibility, saying that responsibility is not isolated, "it lies with the prime minister and the government".
Replying to another question on whether he intends to restore former PASOK prime minister Costas Simitis to the party's Parliamentary group, he replied that he has spoken on numerous occasions about the accomplishments of the Simitis governments, and expressed certainty that the former prime minister, "as is the case with all of us," is also struggling to see the ND government leave power.
Papandreou ruled out the possibility of cooperation between his party and ND, since this would also include the obligation to compromise, as he opined, adding that he will not compromise with those who have compromised.
He also stressed that he had been trying since 2004 to find ways of cooperation with ND on specific issues, although his efforts have been rejected and the only case in which there was cooperation was on the FYROM "name issue", because as he said, PASOK had succeeded in imposing it.
On the question of possible cooperation with the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), Papandreou said PASOK's first goal is a self-sufficient government and, even in such a case, it intends to rule via cooperation and a wide consensus. He further said the party has submitted its proposal to Synaspismos, which still stands.
Asked whether PASOK would pursue early elections, using the presidential election in 2010, the PASOK leader said PASOK honors Karolos Papoulias, a former PASOK minister, and would not involve him in petty partisan machinations.
As regards the question of whether he desires elections soon or elections without a "(statute of limitations) write-off of scandals", Papandreou said he desires elections as soon as possible without a write-off, calling once again on the government to clean up such cases.
Referring to the furor over property exchanges between the state and the Mount Athos monastery of Vatopedi, Papandreou said PASOK had no involvement in this case, and that no exchanges had taken place during its governance.
Focusing on the intention he announced on Saturday to tax certain revenue-producing ecclesiastical properties, Papandreou clarified that only the Church's exploitable property will be taxed while he expressed confidence that the Church will not be absent from an effort to implement the principle of social justice.
Commenting on a question on relations between the state and the Church, the PASOK leader noted that he desires "clear-cut relations", and that he had discussed this issue with the previous Archbishop and with the current one as well, stressing that he will proceed with the separation of the state from the Church.
Lastly, as regards voting rights for overseas Greeks, Papandreou pointed out that PASOK had rejected the government's first draft plan because it had conveyed petty partisan political differences to overseas Hellenism and, referring to the second plan, said it also does not serve expatriates' genuine representation.
In response to Papandreou's press conference, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos issued a terse reply, noting that "Mr. Papandreou has announced that he would present a comprehensive programme and substantiated proposals.
"What Greek citizens heard were vague exclamations and conflicting promises. The president of PASOK again succeeded in invalidating himself," Roussopoulos concluded.
On his part, ND secretary Lefteris Zagoritis said "Mr. Papandreou did not impress anyone. With his statements he failed to define targets and policies. His address was full of generalities and ambiguity.
On its part, the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) referred to a "frenetic and conflicting, and in conclusion, failed effort by Mr. Papandreou to enhance a social profile for his party ... In two consecutive weekends in Thessaloniki Mr. Karamanlis and Mr. Papandreou ensured the end of the two-party system."
Finally, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party charged that "it's certain that with his press conference today in Thessaloniki, Mr. Papandreou offered an injured prime minister the best present for his (Karamanlis) birthday ... Answers in slow motion, without substantive proposals; oft-repeated and rusted positions that are unable to meet today's needs..."
 New Merchant Marine minister sworn inNew Merchant Marine, Aegean & Island Policy minister Anastasis Papaligouras was sworn in on Saturday by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, following the resignation the previous day of George Voulgarakis from the post
Voulgarakis tendered his resignation on Friday in the midst of a political furor over his use of offshore companies to ostensibly reduce his tax load from real estate holdings and related transactions.
The swearing-in ceremony for Papaligouras, a former justice minister, took place in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
 9th meeting of Balkan communist and labor parties in Thessaloniki, at KKE initiativeThe 9th meeting of Communist and Labor parties of the Balkan countries took place on Saturday in Thessaloniki, held at the initiative of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), with delegations from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Turkey and FYROM.
Discussions focused on the recent developments in the Caucasus, the new escalation between the major powers and repercussions on the region, NATO involvement in the Balkans and NATO enlargement, Kosovo, workers' struggles and migrant issues, as well as the undertaking of new initiatives by the communist parties of the region.
Attending were delegations from the communist parties of Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey and FYROM, the new Communist Party of Yugoslavia, and the Turkish Labor Party.
KKE political bureau member Dimitris Koutsoumbas noted in his address the differences between US, EU and Russian policy in the Caucasus and in the so-called 'Greater Middle East', which he said aimed at "redistributing the markets" and energy, and condemned the deployment of part of the US-initiated missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland.
He further warned that Russia's recognition of the break-away Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states does not solve the security problems in the Caucasus, while he also described as "hypocritical" the stance of the US, EU and NATO which "mutilated Yugoslavia and created the precedence of the protectorate Kosovo".
Referring to the Balkans in general, Koutsoumbas said that in putting forward "existing or non-existent" minority issues, an effort was being made to convert minorities into puppets in the hands of the imperialists in order to justify their interventions and changes of borders, and added that the KKE held steadfast positions against "domestic ethnicism".
On FYROM, he said a "disinformation operation" was being set up with the "name-mongering", all the more so given that the name was not the issue at stake, but rather the avoidance of irredentism.
 Alavanos newspaper interviewRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary leader Alekos Alavanos was quoted in the Sunday edition of "Avgi" as expressing his opinion that the two-party system is unable to draft a medium-term strategy.
He also said substantive differences with main opposition PASOK do not allow for cooperation between the two parties, while he also said an ongoing furor regarding the controversial exchange of properties between the state and the Mount Athos monastery of Vatopedi are a "typical, two-party and continuing scandal from 1998 to 2007."
 Latest opinion poll results unveiledAnother three major opinion polls were published on Sunday in a same number of newspapers, as the political season began in earnest with political leaders' customary presence at the Thessaloniki International Fair and the end of summer.
Specifically, a poll published in the Sunday edition of "Kathimerini" listed 61 percent of respondents as saying the Karamanlis government's re-election last year did not benefit the country, whereas 67 percent gave a negative opinion on efforts to deal with daily problems. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said the rate of the government's work was "slow". Additionally, 49 percent of respondents said the economy was their biggest concern, followed by unemployment, 43 percent, and inflation, 25 percent.
The poll was conducted by the firm Public Issue between Sept. 4-9.
Conversely, a poll in a Sunday weekly gave the difference between ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK at 0.4 percent: 27.1 percent to 26.7 percent. The Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) follows with 10.5; the Communist Party (KKE) with 7.2 percent and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) 3.9 percent.
In terms of respondents' predictions for which party will win the next general elections, ND was picked by 47.5 percent to 20.2 percent for PASOK.
The poll, conducted by the firm Alco between Sept. 9-12, was published in the weekly "Proto Thema".
Finally, an opinion poll published in another Sunday weekly gave ND a 1.1 percentage point lead over PASOK, namely, 30.9 percent to 29.8 percent. SYRIZA follows with 13.2 percent; KKE with 7.5 percent and LA.OS with 4.7 percent.
In terms of predictions of electoral victory, 68.3 percent of respondents picked ND; 24.1 percent pick PASOK. Karamanlis leads Papandreou by 50.3 percent to 30.5 percent on the question of most qualified for premier.
The poll, conducted by the firm Rass, was published in the weekly "Paron".
 Vatopedi says it will freeze controversial property titlesThe prominent Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos, in an announcement over the weekend, said it will deposit all of the money earned from the sale of real estate gained, in recent controversial exchanges with the state, with the Deposits and Loans Fund in the coming days.
The monastery added that it will "maintain, unchanged and untouched, the rest of its assets resulting from the Lake Vistonida exchanges..."
"...the titles will be submitted to a notary office in Thessaloniki and a notary deed with be prepared," the statement read, adding that in this way "we are delivering the aforementioned assets of our Monastery to the Greek state for safekeeping, while awaiting the completion of the public prosecutor's investigation."
 Greek ambassador to Serbia discusses enhancement of relations with Nis mayorBELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas)
Greek ambassador to Serbia Christos Panagopoulos paid a call on the new mayor of Nis, Milos Simonovic, to discuss ways for further developing relations between Greece and the wider region of southeast Serbia.
The two men reviewed economic relations between the two countries, including the organization of three business missions from Greece to Nis, the signing of a protocol between the Nis Chamber of Commerce and Industry and those of Thessaloiniki, Katerini and Serres, and also the organization of a series of mutual visits by groups of businessmen.
On the construction of the PanEuropean Corridor X that crosses Serbia, Panagopoulos stressed that Greece's interest in the project remains undiminished, adding that Athens has earmarked substantial funds under the Hellenic Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (HiPERB).
Discussion also focused on cultural cooperation, with Simonovic expressing interest in the establishment in Nis of a branch of the Hellenic House of Culture that will be opened soon in Belgrade by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, adding that the municipality of Nis would provide the necessary building premises.
The Greek ambassador also visited the city of Pirot, where he attended a memorial service at the Greek Military Cemetery where 353 soldiers and offices of the Third Greek Infantry Division who were killed in 1918, during World War I, are buried.
 Alogoskoufis at Ecofin, Eurogroup CouncilsNICE (ANA-MPA/A. Lidorikis)
Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, addressing the informal Ecofin and Eurogroup Councils here over the weekend, said that apart from coordinated action at European Union level, each country will also apply its own policy in accordance with its specific problems and fiscal limitations.
The minister said that some countries have experienced ebbs in the construction sector and in the home purchasing market, while others have competitiveness and exports problems, whereas reactions cannot be identical in all the countries.
"Greece had set out with very high fiscal deficits in 2004, it has achieved great progress, but it is one of the countries that are close to the 3 percent limit and certainly it has not secured the mid-term target which is zero deficits. This effort must be continued and whatever initiatives that we take for growth, employment and social cohesion are surely within the framework of the country's fiscal possibilities and the predictions of the Stability and Development Pact," the minister pointed out.
Bank of Greece Governor George Provopoulos, who participated in the informal Eurogroup Council, confirmed views voiced by senior officials of major Greek commercial banks that the Greek banking system is healthy. He added that one should not be concerned about Greek banks and noted that the Bank of Greece is monitoring developments with great care.
 President attends memorial service for WWII era massacre on CretePresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday attended a series of memorial services in the Viannou district of Crete on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of a massacre of hundreds of local residents by Nazi troops occupying the island during WWII.
The main event took place in the morning at a memorial erected at the site of the massacre, in the Seli Amiron region.
"Today is a day of remembrance of Nazi barbarism, when a group of people that wanted to conquer the world in the name of a criminal and barbarian ideology," Papoulias said, adding: "Today's Germany has been taught a great deal from its own past. All of us have learned that we must resist every form of barbarism, and that we must give the fight for democratic ideals."
 Nat'l day for remembrance of Asia Minor genocide observedThe Athens Prefecture and the Federation of Asia Minor Societies of Greece organised an event on Sunday on the occasion of the National Day of Remembrance of the Genocide of Asia Minor Greeks (1914-1922).
Political party representatives stressed, in their messages, cited the "the unforgettable homelands and the hundreds of thousands of victims of the elimination of Asia Minor Hellenism are living inside us, rendering the duty of national accord and of peaceful co-existence among peoples imperative."
The federation's president, Thanassis Lagodimos, referred in his address at the Athens Cathedral "to the ethnic cleansing that the Young Turks decided on 100 years ago" referring to two phases in 1914-1918 and 1919-1923.
"These phases produced 1.4 million victims and 1.5 million refugees who had arrived with empty hands to new homes, bringing with them memories of culture, knowledge, skills, talents, ideals and creation. However, 90 years after this hideous crime and 86 after the massacre and destruction of Izmir, we are still calling on the Turkish government to recognise the genocide."
The European Union, he concluded, which Turkey is aiming to join, constitutes the suitable forum, for it to be obliged to fulfil this minimum historical and moral obligation.
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos referred to the martyrdom of the Metropolitan of Smyrna Chrysostomos, as well as to atrocities of the period.
 Monument dedicated to Ss Cyril & Methodius in ThessalonikiMunicipal authorities in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Sunday unveiled a monument dedicated to Ss Cyril and Methodius, the two Byzantine Greek brothers born in the city in the 9th century AD.
The canonised saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church are credited with devising the Glagolithic alphabet used to transcribe Old Slavonic, thereby opening way for the Cyrillic alphabet, as well as preaching Christianity in Pannonia and Great Moravia, thus earning the distinction of "Apostles to the Slavs".
The monument, a stele shaped as an open book with depictions of the two saints and engraved Cyrillic letters, was erected in front of an Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the two medieval Thessaloniki brothers, who are also shown facing north.
The work, commissioned via a nationwide tender, is the creation of sculptor Dimitra Stavrinidou, engraver Vangelis Galinos and architect Dimitris Galinos.
 Conference in Cairo on teaching of GreekCAIRO (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)
The Cairo Ambetios School and the office of the Coordinator of Education in Northern Africa and the Middle East is organizing the 2nd conference for the "learning and teaching of the Greek language in Arab speaking countries", in Cairo from November 23-24.
 Olympiakos remains atop football standingsOlympiakos Piraeus beat Xanthi 1-0 away and stayed at the top of the Super League football standings, together with ambitious Ergotelis Crete, after matches taking place over the weekend.
PAOK Thessaloniki and AEK Athens drew 1-1 at Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki and both are in second place together with Larissa, two points from the top. Panathinaikos Athens also beat Super League newcomer Panthrakikos Komotini 3-0 at the Athens Olympic Stadium, ahead of Tuesday's Champions League match with Inter Milan in Athens.
In other action:
Iraklis Thessaloniki-OFI Crete 1-1
Panseraikos Serres-Panionios Athens 0-1
Levadiakos Livadia-Thrasyvoulos Athens 1-0
Asteras Tripoli-Larissa 0-0
Ergotelis Crete-Aris Thessaloniki 3-0
Standings after two weeks of play:
1. Olympiakos 6 points
2. Ergotelis 6
3. Larissa 4
4. PAOK 4
5. AEK 4
6. Panathinaikos 3
7. Aris 3
8. Xanthi 3
9. Panionios 3
10. Panseraikos 3
11. Levadiakos 3
12. OFI 1
13. Iraklis 1
14. Asteras 1
15. Panthrakikos 0
16. Thrasyvoulos 0
 Cloud, rain on MondayCloudy and rainy weather with southeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 18C and 33C. Cloudy in Athens, and temperatures ranging from 23C to 33C. Cloudy and rainy in Thessaloniki, 18C to 26C.
 The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceFallout from Friday's resignation of merchant marine minister George Voulgarakis and related political developments, such as a furor over controversial property exchanges between the state and a Mouth Athos monastery (Vatopedi) along with the ever-present opinion polls, dominated the Sunday editions of Athens' dailies. Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's address at the Thessaloniki Fair on Saturday evening came too late to make it into the exclusively morning editions.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Supplementary pension for one million self-employed professionals".
APOGEVMATINI: "(PM Costas) Karamanlis gives the signal for new beginning: Time for work!"
AVGHI: "(Radical Left Coalition parliamentary leader) Alekos Alavanos: (Abbot of Vatopedi monastery Efraim as Rasputin".
AVRIANI: "(Code name) Roccos as minister of PASOK. Swiss judicial authorities broke codes and opened bank accounts related to Siemens' slush funds".
CHORA: "Everything passed through Vatopedi abbot Efraim's hands. National disgrace that must be erased here and now".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The 49 'holy' contracts that burned Voulgarakis".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "They kicked him (Voulgarakis) out, so what? Voulgarakis exit doesn't defuse tension in ruling New Democracy party".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Government before the firing squad first 'victim' is George Voulgarakis".
EPOCHI: "Voulgarakis the vehicle in effort to re-create the two-party system."
ETHNOS: "Maximos Mansion (government house) gave its blessing to 'sacred dealings' by Vatopedi monastery".
KATHIMERINI: "Electorate enraged. Conclusions of latest opinion poll a year after elections".
LOGOS: "In anticipation of new initiatives by prime minister".
NIKI: "Karamanlis powerless; He can't provide answers to problems".
PARON: "Political developments in prime minister's hands but will he beat them to the punch or be overthrown"
PROTO THEMA: "The 'high priest' of 'holy business': four abbots, a minister and a prosecutor point to (Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros) Roussopoulos".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Children's education an issue of popular movement; 'big capital's' option is to cultivate ignorance," is the headline by the communist party's official gazette.
TO VIMA: "ND's star is setting, what Maximos mansion is afraid of".
VRADYNI: "Express building permits by public works ministry".
 Turkish side must show good will, ChristofiasNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
A Cyprus solution is possible if Turkish Cypriot side will demonstrate equally good will and will come to the negotiations' table with reasonable positions, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has said.
Speaking during the unveiling of a memorial devoted to three missing persons since 1974 Turkish invasion, in a small village of Nicosia district, Politiko, Christofias underlined his determination to work hard with the aim to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem, to end Turkish occupation and reunify the country.
"We can reach a solution if the other side will demonstrate the same good will our side shows. If it will come to the negotiations table with reasonable positions," Christofias stressed.
He also pointed out that a solution is possible if Turkey cooperates towards a just, viable and functional solution in the best interest of all Cypriots.
Referring to statements made by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat after their first substantive meeting on September 11, in the context of direct negotiations aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus problem, despite the commitment they both have undertaken to refrain from public statements, President Christofias expressed his regret.
"This behaviour does not help improve the climate between us and between the two communities," he said and added that he will abide by the commitment, clarifying this does not constitute a sign of weakness but of a serious approach and self-confidence.
The solution must be based on the 1977 and 1979 High Level Agreements, on UN Resolutions and the principles of international and European law, he said adding that a solution can only be achieved on the framework of a bizonal bicommunal federation with only one sovereignty, one citizenship, with political equality of the communities as provided by the Security Council's relevant resolutions.
Referring to the issue of missing persons, Christofias stressed that it is a humanitarian issue and the government face it as such. He also made special reference to the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) which undertaken a joint bicommunal project to exhume and identify remains of missing persons in Cyprus.
Cyprus government has recently bought a new excavator and two other vehicles to help speed up the procedure of exhumations, he said.
He also mentioned Cyprus government's efforts to persuade Turkey to open Turkish army's archives as well the archives of other services in order to gain access to information and evidence to help solve the cases of the missing persons.
 ECHR President pays official visit to CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Jean Paul Costa arrived Sunday in Cyprus for an official visit at the invitation of the Supreme Court President.
Costa said he was happy to be in Cyprus for two reasons.
''First to strengthen the traditional cooperation between the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court in Cyprus but also because I will be received by higher political leaders of Cyprus, the President of the Republic and the President of the House of Representatives and it will be very good also to have some backing from your country to our Court''.
As he explained, ECHR has 47 member states and "it is a very important international court". Costa also pointed out the huge number of applications ECHR receives, ''which means a huge workload for the Court and we need not only traditional support and cooperation but also some political understanding and support from the highest leaders of every country,'' he said.
Costa expressed hope the presence of the Court's delegation will be useful for Cyprus, the Supreme Court and the authorities.
Costa, is being accompanied by the Cypriot Judge at the ECHR George Nicolaou and the ECHR Registrar.
On September 15, Costa he will be received by President Demetris Christofias and meet House President Marios Garoyian.
In the evening, the Supreme Court will host an official dinner in Costa's honour.
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