|Saturday, 23 June 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-10-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 6 October 2008 Issue No: 3013
 PM: Reforms continue to shield economy from international crisisPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressed a meeting of the New Demo-cracy-affiliated ONNED youth organisation's central committee on Saturday, stressing that the consequences of the international economic crisis are also affecting Greece, although the Greek economy remains shielded, given the reforms that the government has carried out.
Karamanlis said repercussions of the crisis, with the increase in oil prices as well as foodstuffs, affect prices across the board, as well as revenues and expenditures of the public sector, although he noted that the repercussions are far less for the country.
The prime minister went on to say that the Greek economy is maintaining high growth rates that are more than double those of the eurozone, unemployment has dropped to the lowest levels in years while the domestic banking system is showing resilience and added that weaknesses do exist that can be handled.
"We are going through a difficult era and we are experiencing the greatest crisis in the postwar period," Karamanlis said.
Moreover, the prime minister criticised the opposition, saying that some are trying to convince citizens that "these increases in international prices do not concern us and that the Greek government is to blame for everything ... They are out of touch with international reality. It is a display of petty partisanship that is unacceptable for the days that we are experiencing. The citizens are aware of the repercussions," he said.
Appealing to the youth organisation's members, Karamanlis said "keep the essence of politics, keep the flame of hope and of our joint struggles lighted."
Karamanlis underlined that "I shall not place any expediency above the interests of my country. I do not accept pressures from anyone. I am exercising the policy that my country needs," while adding "no to the levelling doubting of everything. No to opportunism that harms the country. Yes to the principles and the values that unite us."
The prime minister pointed out that reforms will be continued and that the government is working to strengthen the protection net for the sensitive social groups that are the most hard-hit by the repercussions of the international economic crisis.
Karamanlis concluded his address by saying "we are forging ahead without compromises, all of us together determined with optimism and vision."
Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, commenting on the address made by PM Karamanlis on Saturday, said that no matter how hard he tries he cannot convince Greek citizens that someone else is to blame for high prices, higher taxes, reduced income and the downgrading of education and the social state.
Papaconstantinou added that "whatever he (the premier) does, he cannot convince young people of this country that he has something to tell them about their future, that they have something to look forward to from him and his government. The country needs a change in course, a change in policy."
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) responded that the working classes must show no trust in the government's assurances.
"The factors that are leading the United States and countries of the European Union to recession and crisis exist in our country as well. The policy of the New Democracy party and of PASOK, the strategic options of the EU, are strengthening anarchy and the rottenness of accumulated capital, that is now all the more difficult to be reproduced," the announcement read.
"The disapproval and the combatting of the government's reactionary reforms in education, where basic options of the EU in the direction of readjusting education in favour of capitalists are being implemented, must not only be a matter for students and pupils alone, but for all working people and for the popular classes as well," KKE concluded.
The Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), commenting on the address, said the high tones in the PM's voice and vagueness "cannot conceal his fear towards the radical youth movement, that wants substantive solutions for the lives of young people and that is claiming a different world."
"Young women and young men are aware that the degrading of public education, uninsured labour and unemployment and the destruction of the environment are due to neo-liberalism, which Mr. Karamanlis is serving faithfully."
 Latest opinion polls on political sceneThe situation in the domestic political scene following Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' address at last week's meeting of ruling New Democracy (ND) party's central committee is reflected in three new opinion polls, the results of which appeared in the Sunday editions of the newspapers "Eleftheros Typos", " Paron", and "Kathimerini".
According to a MRB opinion poll on behalf of Eleftheros Typos, PASOK garnered 29.4 percent with regards to voters' intent (which party respondents would vote for if elections were to be held the following day), with ND just behind with 29.3 percent, followed by the Coalition of Left (Synaspismos) with 10.1 percent, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 7.2 percent, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party with 4.9 percent and the hereinto unknown Ecologists-Greens with 2.2 percent. The undecided vote was tallied at 15.4 percent.
Regarding who was the most suitable for prime minister, 42.3 percent of respondents preferred Premier Costas Karamanlis, followed by 36.6 percent who preferred PASOK leader George Papandreou, while 20.1 percent responded "neither of the two".
As for which party respondents believed would win elections regardless of their own voting preference, ND led with 43.5 percent, against 34.6 percent for PASOK.
The MRB poll was conducted nationwide between Oct. 1-2 on a sample of 1,050 respondents.
In a second opinion poll, conducted by RASS on behalf of Paron, ND gained 31.3 percent with respect to voter intent, with PASOK a close second with 31.1 percent, followed by Synaspismos with 9.3 percent; KKE 7.2 percent, LA.OS 4.4 percent, the Ecologists-Greens with 2.7 percent, and undecided voters at 12.9 percent.
As for the most suitable for prime minister, Karamanlis led with 45.9 percent over 32.8 percent for Papandreou, while 20.2 percent responded "neither of the two".
Regarding which party they expected would win elections, regardless of personal voting preference, ND led with 47.5 percent against 44.8 percent for PASOK.
The RASS opinion poll was conducted nationwide by telephone between Sept. 29 and Oct. 3 on a sample of 2,000 respondents.
According to the third opinion poll, conducted by Public Issue on behalf of Kathimerini, 74 percent of respondents believed ND was currently undergoing a crisis, while 45 percent believed that PASOK needs a change of leadership.
Asked which party was capable of best governing the country, PASOK led with 34 percent against 30 percent for ND, while 25 percent of respondents replied "neither of the two parties".
The Public Issue opinion poll was conducted nationwide by telephone between Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, on a sample of 1,190 respondents.
 Interior minister on administrative reformInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, speaking at a press conference held in the framework of the 24th Conference of Regional Secretary Generals on the island of Poros on Saturday, said that the next reckoning for local administration first and second stage representatives in 2010 will be taking place with the administrative reform, on condition and with the precondition that the necessary funds and infrastructures will have been secured.
Pavlopoulos also reassured the first and second stage representatives that "no reform will take place unless the economic problems are resolved first" and referred to the first reformist Kapodistrias plan, saying that the mistakes and omissions of the past will not be repeated, when local administration officials had been expecting at least three billion drachmas and had received only 1.7 billion.
Lastly, Pavlopoulos referred to the new administrative period of the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF), reiterating that funds that will be channeled into regions will be increasing (nearing 80 percent) and expressed satisfaction over the rates with which European Union funds are being absorbed.
 KKE leader addresses party rally in SerresCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga opined that general elections could be called in 3 months' time, in 6 months, in 1 1/2 years, or "now, suddenly", addressing a KKE rally in the village of Rodolivous, Serres prefecture, and accused the ruling New Democracy (ND) party and main opposition PASOK of "putting the blame" for the country's problems on each other.
As for the other opposition parties, she said that they were focusing their attention on the scandals, because it is to their benefit to do so, while leaving the essential problems unscathed.
Particularly regarding the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA, the SYN-led parliamentary alliance), it was the "main carrier of opportunism", Papariga said during the Saturday night rally.
SYRIZA, she continued "has a Leftist air, but not substance", and "does not differ from PASOK", while "its main core is comprised of former KKE cadres, who represent its opportunistic part", given that "the said cadres left the ship like rats", and adding that the ship must send them away even further.
Regarding the government, Papariga said that it was "invoking the international economic crisis" on the problems in Greece, "but the crisis has not yet reached Greece".
She anticipated, however, that the crisis will also reach Greece, and stressed that measures need to be taken "because the repercussions of the crisis will be dramatic for the working people".
Papariga criticized government policy in all areas, and called on the working people to "strengthen the popular movement and reinforce the KKE".
In statements earlier, the KKE leader said that, as the days went by, instead of the big problems facing the country, particularly those of the economy, being at the focus, "we literally have a theatre of the absurd in parliament where a shouting match is taking place that sows confusion and delusions among the people".
The KKE, she continued, particularly in view of its upcoming 18th Congress and the positions for the Congress that were recently unveiled, was opening up a discussion "on the other solution, the other road that exists: the road of struggle against the repercussions of the economic crisis which, when it reaches Greece -- which it has not yet done -- will be very heavy for the people", adding that her party was optimistic and fighting against the attempts at disorientation.
On Sunday, Papariga unveiled in Grammos a bust of Petros Kokkalis, a resistance fighter who served as minister of health and welfare, and temporarily of education, in the Provisional Democratic Government of 1947 declared by the Communist Party of Greece.
The bust was unveiled on the site of the mountain hospital run by the KKE-affiliated Democratic Army of Greece (DSE), where Kokkalis provided services as a surgeon, with the make-shit facility capable of treating 1,000-1,200 wounded and sick fighters.
Kokkalis was born in Livadia in 1896, studied medicine at the Universities of Athens and Berlin, and was elected a professor of Athens University, before joining the EAM in the National Resistance, taking to the mountains, while on December 24, 1947, following the declaration of the Provisional Democratic Government he was named minister of health, welfare and provisionally of education.
"We are here today to pay tribute to an exceptional human being, an outstanding scienties, a communist, who throughout his life practiced what all true scientists should do, dedicating his science and his life to the struggle for the success and social liberation of thehuman being," KKE political bureau member Theodosis Constantinidis said, speaking during the unveiling ceremony, which was organized by the KKE as part of the events making the 90th anniversary of the party's founding.
 KKE Central Committee publicises 'Positions'The "Positions" of the Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) Central Committee were publicised on Saturday and will be the focus of an intraparty dialogue until the 18th congress that will be held on February 18-22, 2009.
The positions express satisfaction over the party's course since the 17th congress and make observations regarding weaknesses that have been recorded, strong criticism of the capitalist system, also in light of the international economic crisis, and an analysis and criticism of the policy of the rest of the political forces.
The Central Committee's positions are contained in seven chapters that refer to all of the international political and economic issues of the modern-day era, as well as to developments in the country.
 SYRIZA leader addresses protest rally over monasteries' land claimsCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos and several party MPs and cadres on Sunday addressed a demonstration in Ouranoupolis, Halkidiki, protesting exchanges of state-owned prime land expanses along Lake Vistonida with the Mt. Athos monastery of Vatopedio, and claims by monasteries of land expanses throughout the country.
Alavanos called the Vistonida case a "long-running scandal involving the two mainstream parties" (ruling New Democracy and main opposition and former ruling party PASOK), and reiterated his call for the establishment of a parliamentary fact-finding committee to investigate "all the open cases throughout Greece". He further proposed that politicians who handled the affiar also be called to testify in the ongoing prosecutor's inquiry "not as suspects, but as witnesses", so that any responsibilities they might have, if such exist, will become apparent.
Alavanos also blasted claims of land by, and concessions of land to, monasteries, in the regions of Halkidiki and Xanthi, and also to the Toplou monastery in Crete.
He said that SYRIZA will insist on legislation for the return of "state, municipal and private expanses to their rightful owners", in motions to be tabled in parliament "on every case, separately", while he also demanded that a representative of the Greek state be present at all court trials with the monasteries, stressing that there was strong legal basis for dispute of the deeds that have been placed in question.
"The 'golden bulls' (golden seals) should be placed in the artifacts museums on Mt. Athos and of Toplou Monastery. Byzantine emperors cannot determine what will happen in the Greek republic," Alavanos said.
A gold bull, or chryssobull (from the Greek words chrysso=gold and boulos=decree), was a golden ornament representing a seal tht was attached to decrees issued by Byzantine emperors and later by monarchs in Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
He called the Vatopedi monastery leadership (abbot Ephraim) and leaderships of a few "other monasteries" a "mafia", separating them from the total of the monasteries and monks, but warned that "silence, too, is complicity".
Alavanos said that Mt. Athos "could be a paradise on earth, if it hadn't degenerated, at least in certain monasteries, into a mafia headquarters, a trading house and place of real estate dealings", adding that "Ephraim's skete (monk's cell) is in Korydallos (prison)".
The SYRIZA leader reiterated his demand for distinction of the roles of Church and State, and for "structural separation of the Church and STate", and announced that his parliamentary group, despite its respect for the "moderation and good will of the new Archbishop", will not attend Monday's blessing in parliament (marking the commencement of the new plenary session after the summer recess) in a show of protest over the monasteries' claims.
 Tsipras addresses rally in KoropiCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) President Alexis Tsipras addressed a party rally in Koropi, east of Athens, on Friday evening, criticising the government primarily for its economic policy.
"We are seeing a government under demolition in the past days, a government reminiscent of yards for old materials, that is sinking in scandals, disrepute and crude selfishness," he said.
Tsipras also referred to the main opposition PASOK party, saying that public corporations are under the control of the Stock Exchange due to the policy of its own governments, while also criticising the policy of PASOK governments in the sectors of education and labour relations as well.
The Coalition leader stressed the need "for a new correlation of forces to emerge from the present two-party setting, that is tottering, that is collapsing" and concluded by saying "we are confident that the next election, whenever it may take place, will be an election of hope for a great change, for a great reversal in the country's political affairs."
 Education minister inaugurates National Youth Council conferenceEducation and Religion Minister Evripidis Stylianidis inaugurated the 10th regular National Youth Council (ESN) conference on Saturday morning, stressing that with their proposals and positions on the issue of education, young people are facilitating the political leadership of the day in taking the appropriate decisions.
The minister placed emphasis on initiatives taken by young people both for themselves and for society, he termed their contribution to the political agenda constructive and promised to take their proposals into serious consideration in planning the ministry's policy.
Stylianidis also thanked the ESN for its support for the Local Youth Councils that were elected in the country's local administration bodies, giving young people in each local society the opportunity to express their views on every issue of local interest.
 University of Western Greece to be establishedEducation minister Evrypides Stylianidis on Sunday announced that the government was planning the establishment of a University of Western Greece, in realization of prime minister Costas Karamanlis' pledge.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's Aetoloakarnania prefectural organi-zation, held in Agrinio, Stylianidis said that he has signed the relevant Presidential Decreee for the establishment of the 4th Department and, with the commencement of its operation, the administrative committee of the new University would also begin operation.
Stylianidis further said that a school buildings program comprising 43 projects and budgeted at 59 million euros was currently underway in Aetoloakarnania.
 Development minister: Greece waging its own battle against 'high prices global war'The high prices was a "world war" and Greece was "waging its own battle against it", development minister Christos Folias said on the weekend, addressing a meeting of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's prefectural conference in Serres, adding that "there have been results, but we (the government) are not satisfied, as we want more".
Referring to the 34th anniversary of ND's founding on October 4, 1974, Folias said he was very proud to be serving and participating in the work of the present government.
Replying to press questions on two recent opinion polls in which the main opposition PASOK party posted, for the first time in years, a lead over the ruling ND, Folias said that it was just a matter of time before ND regained the lead in opinion polls. Folias also met with the presidium of the Serres Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
 Transport minister holds talks with OA pilot representativesTransport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis held talks on Saturday morning with representatives of the two unions of Olympic Airlines pilots, focusing on developments in the company.
The minister presented to the representatives the dialogue framework being promoted by the ministry and concerning the pilots in particular, combined with the plan on Olympic's transformation.
Hatzidakis reiterated the government's determination for a social package of measures for all of Olympic's employees which, as he said, provides an ultimate protection net.
 Greece's first biogas plant inaugurated in KavalaGreece's first biogas plant was inaugurated in Kavala on Saturday night by Drama-Kavala-Xanthi supra-prefect Costas Tatsis and Kavala prefect Theodoros Kalliontzis.
The new, ultra-modern plant will produce biogas and organic fertilizer through a state-of-the-art integrated animal waste management system.
The 3.5 million euros model unit, unique in Greece, was built by the listed company KREKA S.A., based in Kavala, and was co-financed under developmental law 3299/2004 by the company's own-capital (50 percent) and the economy and finance ministry (50 percent).
The animal waste management system comprises a furnace where dead animals and material hazardous to the public health, such as bones, blood, entrails are incinerated, and an anaerobic digestor -- an aneorobic digestion processing and biogas production unit in which manure, expired milk and other foodstuff unfit for consumption will be destroyed.
A treatment process of the above waste produces biogas, namely methane, which is used as fuel for the needs of the venture, such as heating or for combining of the organic waste in the bio-reactor, as well as for the production of steam and heat for the sterilization of solid waste and the operation of the incinerator. The biogas left over from the above activities is stored in a special container and is used for the production of electricity.
Anaerobic digestion is a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. It is widely used to treat wastewater sludges and organic wastes because it provides volume and mass reduction of the input material. As part of an integrated waste management system, anaerobic digestion reduces the emission of landfill gas into the atmosphere. Anaerobic digestion is a renewable energy source because the process produces a methane and carbon dioxide rich biogas suitable for energy production helping replace fossil fuels. Also, the nutrient-rich solids left after digestion can be used as fertiliser.
KREKA managing director Grigoris Kioutsoukostas stressed that the benefits of the recycling of organic waste were not only financial, but mainly environmental, ntoing that "through the recycling of waste, we have succeeded in re-using, to a large degree, the raw materials from unsuitable for consumption waste, resulting in the conservation of natural resources, and in our consuming less energy".
The prefect and supra-prefect both stressed the importance and necessity of creating more such units, that aim at protection of the environment and improve the modern-day living conditions.
 Holy Synod discusses religion classes issue, defers on cremationA Holy Synod session of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece, chaired by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos, were concluded on Saturday evening.
Ieronymos informed the plenum on an education ministry initiative to end the compulsory teaching of religion classes in primary and secondary schools.
According to ministry circular, Orthodox and non-Orthodox pupils are not obliged to attend the lessons and may request their exemption without submitting any reason.
The issue was thoroughly discussed by the Holy Synod metropolitans (bishops), who agreed over a decision to send a letter to Education Minister expressing their concerns.
Ecclesiastical leaders also decided to consider the issue of cremation at a next meeting of the Holy Synod.
 Theft at Skinaka ObservatoryTwelve photovoltaic frames have been stolen from the Skinaka Observatory on Mount Psiloritis, on the island of Crete, that is located at an altitude of 1,750 metres and is not linked to the Public Power Corporation's (DEH) network.
This unprecedented act, according to the Observatory's director Yiannis Papamastorakis, constitutes the first phenomenon of damage over the 22 years of the Observatory's operation.
 Fire at factory belonging to 3e companyExtensive damage was caused by a fire that broke out in a factory belonging to Coca-Cola's 3e company at 2 a.m. on Saturday. The facility is located on the Vari-Koropi motorway.
Fourteen fire engines were used in the effort to extinguish the blaze, that was ultimately achieved at 7 a.m. but not before serious damage was caused to the building that covers an area of about 2,500 square metres.
Firefighting forces remained on standby to ensure that the blaze was put out completely, while the causes of the fire will be investigated by a committee of experts from the Fire Brigade service.
 TRAM, HLPAP work stoppages on MondayTRAM employees have called work stoppages on this coming Monday, seeking satisfaction for their institutional and financial demands. The work stoppages will be taking place between 8 and 10 in the morning and 8 and 10 at night. In essence, however, the TRAM will be absent from streets about 90 minutes both before and after each work stoppage.
The employees' union of the HLPAP trolley bus service has also called a four-hour work stoppage from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. to enable them to participate in their sector's General Assembly.
 Foreign nationals, alleged smuggler arrested in NE GreeceAn alleged migrant trafficker and four undocumented foreign nationals were arrested on Saturday by border guards near the border town of Ferres, and specifically on 12th kilometer of the Alexandroupolis-Komotini highway in extreme northeast Greece.
The arrests came a routine traffic stop conducted by border guards on the 29-year-old suspect's vehicle.
The five individuals are due to face a local prosecutor.
 Illegal migrant centre near PatrasA reception centre for illegal immigrants will be built in the Drepano district of western Greece, 15km from the port city of Patras, an area increasingly targetted as a "passage way" to western Europe by illegal migrants attempting to board Italy-bound ferry boats as stowaways in cars and lorries.
The interior ministry-funded centre will be able to host up to 1,000 undocumented migrants, according to reports.
 First snowfall in NE SerresThe first snow came early this year in northeastern Greece, as the Lailias ski center in Serres prefecture was covered in snow on Sunday morning.
The unusual weather conditions prevailing in the last days, coupled by a sharp drop in temperature, brought the first snowflakes early on this year, in the autumn.
 Greek Superleague results, standingsOlympiakos Piraeus retained its league-leading form on Sunday by defeating bitter cross-town rivals AEK Athens 2-0 at home.
Other results during the fifth week of play in the Greek Superleague:
Larissa - OFI Crete 4-3
Aris Thessaloniki - Iraklis Thessaloniki 1-0
Ergotelis Crete - PAOK Thessaloniki 0-0
Asteras Tripolis - Xanthi 0-0
Panathinaikos Athens - Levadiakos 2-0
Thrasyvoulos - Panserraikos 0-1
Panthrakikos - Panionios Athens 1-0
The standings after five games:
1. Olympiakos 13
2. PAOK 10
3. Larissa 10
4. Xanthi 10
5. Panathinaikos 9 (four games)
6. AEK 8
7. Ergotelis 8 (four games)
8. Levadiakos 7
9. Aris 6
10. Panserraikos 6
11. Panionios 5
12. Asteras Tripolis 5
13. Panthrakikos 4
14. OFI 3
15. Iraklis 2
16. Thrasyvoulos 0
 Mostly fair on MondayFair weather is forecast on Monday throughout much of central and southern Greece. Scattered clouds in the north, with temperatures ranging between 8C and 23C; 11C to 25C on the mainland and 14C to 24C on the islands.
Fair in Athens, 14C to 25C; sunny to partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, 9C to 20C.
 The Sunday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glanceTwo new opinion polls, political developments, the international fiscal crisis and the FYROM name issue were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "85,000 contract employees to be tenured".
APOGEVMATINI: "Kiss of life for the global economy", referring to US treasury secretary Henry Paulson's 700 million dollar bailout plan for the banking sector that was passed into law on Friday, adding Greek economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis' assurances that banking deposits in Greece were secure.
AVGHI: "Mini 'crash' for the (social security) Funds - They've lost one-fifth of their assets".
AVRIANI: "Attack against Alogoskoufis by the leaders of the European states" after his "decisive initiative to announce (governmental) guarantee of (the public's) deposits (in banks)".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Government averts (early general) elections by announcing benefits".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Early elections a game of Russian roulette: PASOK 29.4 percent, ND 29.3 percent (according to recent opinion poll)".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Crisis (in world economy), but not like that of 1929".
ETHNOS: "PM: I will call general elections when I want to".
KATHIMERINI: "The country in the grip of uncertainty, in the midst of international economic crisis".
LOGOS: "Karamanlis messages with many recipients", referring to the premier's address to the conference of the ND youth group ONNED's central committee.
NIKI: "They're grabbing another 6 billion euros from our pockets", in new "tax raid against salary and pension earners" in the draft 2009 budget.
PARON: "Nimetz (UN secretary general's special mediator on the FYROM name issue) preparing 'heavily anti-Greek' proposal, giving everything to Skopje".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Strong KKE (Communist Party of Greece) - Positions for the 18th party Congress".
TO VIMA: "Karamanlis' secret agenda for elections", adding that the prime minister was attempting, with initiatives, to win time until December 22 when the new budget will be voted in parliament, with the plan including a government reshuffle immediately after Christmas, and early general elections in the Spring if, by then, he has succeeded in reversing the political climate.
VRADYNI: "New regime in private sector pensions".
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