|Friday, 17 August 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-11-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papandreou addresses PASOK prefectural committeesMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met on Sunday in Athens with the heads of the party's prefectural and regional committees, as a nationwide conference was held by the party.
In his address, the PASOK leader said his party will again bring hope to the people, and will be re-transformed into a political movement that guarantees a more humane society.
Moreover, he referred to a "deep crisis" in terms of institutions, politics and society, which he blamed on ruling New Democracy. He also acknowledged that an "international dimension" to the crisis, while returning to ND's liability, saying the latter is unable to deal with the crisis.
Referring to the timely bank support plan, Papandreou said the government was only "feigning" a battle with banks, saying a draft bill tabled in Parliament actually benefits domestic banks.
He again reiterated PASOK considers it unfair for low- and middle-income earners to pay for the crisis when banks, major shareholders, the powerful and others bear the major responsibility for the crisis.
Beyond Greek borders, Papandreou, a former foreign minister in successive Simitis governments and the current Socialist International (SI) president, said the time was "ripe for socialist on an international level."
Along those lines, he cited the creation of a "powerful progressive voice on an international level", at which point he mentioned the election of Barack Obama.
Finally, he called on PASOK cadres to discuss with citizens their problems, and not PASOK's.
 Foreign ministry on collapse of Gjirokastr apartment buildingThe Greek foreign ministry on Sunday announced that Greece will be sending a special disaster response team (EMAK) from the northwest Greek city of Ioannina to assist Albanian authorities in extricating people from an apartment building that collapsed in the city of Gjirokastr. Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos also stressed that Greek consular authorities in southern Albania had responded immediately to the disaster.
"As soon as it became known that an apartment building collapsed in the city of Gjirokastr, the head of the Greek General Consulate Mr. Rizopoulos went to the scene in order to find out whether ethnic Greeks were among the victims," Koumoutsakos said.
The consul also made arrangements with authorities in the city to send the EMAK team, which will be comprised of eight members, a dog and three vehicles and take part in rescue efforts under the provisions of a 2006 Greek-Albanian Agreement for cooperation in civil defence.
In addition, the Greek-built military hospital in Gjirokastr has been placed on stand-by.
Three people whose identity is not known are still considered missing in the collapsed building.
According to Koumoutsakos, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was informed of the incident as soon as it happened and issued instructions.
 Bakoyannis takes part in Mytilene meeting on illegal migrationForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis took part in a meeting by all state services involved in dealing with illegal immigrants, which was held in Mytilene, on the Aegean island of Lesvos. The meeting took place on Saturday, at the same time as the Greek coast guard in the region launched an operation to rescue a group of some 40 illegal migrants stranded at sea on board a craft that had set off from the coast of Turkey, among them 14 children and six women.
In a press conference after the meeting, Bakoyannis stressed the problems faced by local communities in Greece but also the country as a whole from the increasing wave of illegal migrants, noting that this was a problem of "managing desperate people" that would not be short-lived but last several years as a result of the economic crisis the world was now going through.
The minister also underlined that the problem had to be dealt by Europe as a whole, because it concerned all its members:
"Greece receives refugees from the north and especially from the east. A similar problem is faced by Portugal, Spain and Malta, who receive refugees from North Africa. They cannot bear the full brunt of this affair alone. They need financial support and technical resources and it is positive that the French presidency and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in person have made this issue a top priority," she stressed.
Bakoyannis also had words of praise for the coast guard and police for their handling of the issue, as well as the "mature attitude" displayed by local communities.
Commenting on the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, meanwhile, Bakoyannis said this was hopeful for Greece and pointed out that Obama had supported all resolutions and proposals that were in line with Greek interests as a senator, while he had referred to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) by its provisional name.
 Justice minister's interview on Vatopedi probesThe government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis have amply demonstrated their desire for full disclosure of the truth concerning the Vatopedi monastery land swap deals, Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis stressed in a interview appearing in the Sunday edition of the newspaper 'Apogevmatini'.
He noted that the Parliamentary investigation committee would get to the "whole truth" concerning the affair and denied that there had been any delay in setting it up, adding that the government wanted a full investigation by both Parliament and justice on the case.
Asked about current laws for ministerial responsibility and whether the government intended to make changes, the justice minister agreed that the very short statute of limitations on offences carried out by ministers was "an issue".
"Changing this law, however, requires a revision of the Constitution. It is my personal opinion that the same laws should apply to ministers, on general lines, as to ordinary citizens," he added.
 ND Secretary to Athens dailyRuling New Democracy Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis stressed in an interview published by the newspaper "Eleftheros Typos" on Sunday that the government was in favour of protecting and assisting the poorer sections of society.
"The Karamanlis government is aware of the situation and has taken immediate measures," he said, and warned bankers refusing to join the government's scheme for supporting bank liquidity to "set aside arrogance, rigidity and a tendency for mega-profits at this difficult time," stressing that these "were not justified".
He also denied the existence of a "gap" left in the running of the government's affairs by the departure of former minister Theodoros Roussopoulos, stressing that Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros had stepped in to take over the former minister's duties.
 PASOK's Ragoussis sees recovery for partyMain opposition PASOK was in the midst of a major political recovery that had a sound basis and was in no way accidental, PASOK National Council Secretary Yiannis Ragoussis stressed on Sunday while addressing a meeting of party officials at prefecture and regional levels.
Ragoussis also said that Greece was currently undergoing a "very deep governmental crisis" that was taking place on several levels and daily evidenced in the actions and omissions of members of the government.
As factors in PASOK's recovery, he cited a "new relation of trust" with voters and also the activities of PASOK leader George Papandreou as Socialist International president, as well as the "humility" with which the party had greeted its improved showing in opinion polls and its decisive response to evidence of wrongdoing within its ranks, which allowed people to understand that PASOK would also react in the same way as a government.
"We must always retain our awareness of the fact that we are not the 'bosses' or 'rulers' of tomorrow and that we will simply replace a system of power that is in decline," he stressed.
 PASOK affiliated youth group holds nat'l con'fMain opposition PASOK's affiliated youth wing met on Saturday at a downtown Athens hotel for a national conference, its first since the election of a new secretary last July.
According to youth organisation officials, higher education issues and issues of employment and job security will top the group's agenda.
 KKE leader urges voters to 'break free' of main partiesCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Sunday urged working class voters to "break free" from the two major parties at this crucial juncture for the economy, during a speech at an event in the west Athens district of Peristeri.
She predicted that both parties would embark on a major effort to persuade people that they were better able handle the crisis than their rivals and that this would raise the dilemma of whether the worker movement would be incorporated or go on the offensive and counterattack.
In an analysis of the current economic crisis, Papariga said that KKE had predicted it long ago and that it would not destroy capitalism but change the balance of power in the capitalist system, initiating a new cycle whose victims would be working-class people.
She noted that even social-democrat economists agreed that the crisis in Greece would be deep and last longer than in other countries. She also claimed that the 28-billion-euro package for banks would not address needs but simply lead to more profits for banks.
 Tsipras: EU must change policyThe leader of the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) Alexis Tsipras on Saturday reiterated that his leftist party considers decisions by the 27 EU member-states at a recent summit as merely confirming that the world is amid the greatest economic crisis in decades.
He also called on the Union to change direction and abandon failed policies.
Tsipras again repeated his party's demands for cuts in interests rates and a freeze on foreclosures in the country, as well as state subsidies for low-income wage-earners and pensioners.
 Papoulias at Mytilene liberation eventsPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias attended events marking the 96th anniversary since Mytilene on the island Aegean of Lesvos was liberated from Ottoman rule, held on Saturday. The president attended a celebratory mass and then laid a wreath at the town's liberation memorial, after which he watched a parade by schools and the military.
He was later declared an honorary citizen of Mytilene and attended a dinner held in his honour by Mytilene Mayor Nasos Giakalis, before returning to Athens.
 FinMin on 28-bln-euro bank scheme in press interviewFinance Minister George Alogoskoufis repeated in an interview with the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Ethnos" that the government had "means and ways" to pressure banks into participating in the government's 28-billion-euro 'rescue' package designed to shore up their liquidity, despite their current reluctance to join the scheme.
Regarding the budget, meanwhile, he said any changes to this would be limited and ruled out a sharp increase in state spending.
"Of course there will be some modifications because there are new conditions in the last two months. But these modifications will be small. It is not our aim to continue increasing deficits, especially when we will have to pay the very high international interest rates that exist in such conditions, in order to have additional state spending. Under current conditions, every increase in the deficit causes increased spending due to increased interest-rate margins," he said.
Questioned about pressures within his own party for "development with a social face", the minister said that the government would "exercise social policy for those having real need, where this was possible," and stressed that it was not easy to combine all social needs.
Alogoskoufis repeated that the bank liquidity support scheme sought to make the 28 billion euros injected into the economy available to enterprises via the banks, as well as to those that had taken out consumer and housing loans.
"In some cases it will be necessary to suspend repayments or partially suspend repayments in order to deal with the increased cost of money, a measure that will chiefly concern the young unemployed for their housing loans and small or middle-sized enterprises, while the 'period of grace' will be at least a year," he added.
Asked whether he would consider trying his hand at another ministry, Alogoskoufis ruled this out for the present due to the current economic crisis, saying it would be tantamount to 'deserting the battle'.
"I have major challenges before me for the economy. My answer might have been different if these challenges and the crisis did not exist," he added.
 Athens Classic Marathon on SundayThe 26th Classic Athens Marathon was held in Greece's capital on Sunday, with Kenya's Paul Nicholas Lekuraa finishing in first place for the men's race with a time of 2:12:42 and Japan's Mai Tagami finished first among the women with a time of 2:36:58.
The finish in the men's race was particularly sensational, with three athletes coming in with a time of less than 2:13:00 for the first time in its history and the winner decided literally at the finish line by a matter of seconds.
The race also doubled up as the Greek national championship, with 39-year-old Georgia Abatzidou finishing third overall in the women's race and becoming Greek champion for the sixth time in her career, with a time that allows her to vie for the world championship. The Greek title for the men was won by George Karavidas of AEK for the second consecutive year.
Held at the same time as the Marathon race in the city were 10-kilometre and 5-kilometre races for men and women that started and finished at the Panathinaiko Stadium in central Athens.
 Marathon runner dies of heart attackThe 2008 Marathon did not escape a note of tragedy, however, when a 60-year-old runner taking part in the 10-kilometre run suddenly collapsed and died of a heart attack during the race. The unlucky man was identified as Dimitris Nikolaidis, who collapsed on Mesogeion Avenue, very near the Henri Dunant Hospital where he was immediately taken.
Another accident involving a runner also occurred nearby, when one of the participants suffered broken bones as a result of a fall.
 Foreign national charged in homicideA 38-year-old Romanian national on Saturday was charged in the murder of his 35-year-old wife on Thursday. The former claimed he was handling a handgun in the couple's home in downtown Athens, when it accidentally went off, lodging a bullet in the victim's neck.
 Panathinaikos-Olympiakos 0-0League-leader Olympiakos Piraeus held cross-town rival Panathinaikos Athens to a score-less 0-0 tie on Sunday to stay atop the football standings of the Greek Super League and one point ahead of PAOK Thessaloniki, who topped Panionios Athens 2-0.
Results of other games over the weekend:
Panserraikos - OFI Crete 1-2
Asteras Tripoli - Panthrakikos 0-0
Thrasyvoulos - Aris Thessaloniki 1-2
Ergotelis Crete - Larissa 2-1
Iraklis Thessaloniki - Levadiakos 1-0
Xanthi - AEK Athens 1-1
The standings after nine matches
Ergotelis Crete 15
 Cloudy, chance of rainCloudy weather with some light rains is forecast in most parts of Greece on Monday. Temperatures between 8C to 16C in the north, 7C to 20C on the rest of the mainland and 14C to 19C on the islands. Winds light to moderate. Cloudy with some rains in Athens, with temperatures between 13C to 18C; Cloud in Thessaloniki, 12C to 16C.
 The Sunday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glanceThe spat between banks and the government over the 28-billion-euro 'rescue' package and an MRB opinion poll dominated headlines in the Athens press on Sunday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "New price hike 'up in the air'. We are heading for a January reduction, not an increase in electricity rates" [Claims development minister has vetoed planned rate increases by the Public Power Corporation].
APOGEVMATINI: "Ministers should be equal with citizens before the law". [Cites interview with Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis on recent scandals]
AVGHI: "Half a million workers to get no raise in 2008".
AVRIANI: "Trepekli's accounts opened in America." Runs story on investigation into George Trepeklis.
CHORA: "Big Brother for unauthorised development".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Let the people decide the divorce of Church and State."
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Terror is here! 'Bleak' future seen by nine in 10 Greeks".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Far West banking. Cost of credit cards above 23 percent."
ETHNOS: "Freefall for [ruling] New Democracy and [Prime Minister Costas] Karamanlis".
KATHIMERINI: "The world with Barack Obama".
LOGOS: "The government... in danger from bankers".
NIKI: "Government throws in the towel".
PARON: "Karamanlis or the bankers? Who's in charge, finally?"
PROTO THEMA: "Unfeeling bankers, incompetent government".
RIZOSPASTIS: "To the anti-worker handling of the economic crisis: 'Strong class movement and popular alliance for a counterattack".
TO ARTHRO: "Newly minted 'pimps'. Big bankers and the extortionist dilemmas."
TO VIMA: "Global 'New Deal' for exiting the crisis. Markets not reacting to constant [cash] injections".
VRADYNI: "Real estate: the slide gives rise to opportunities. Areas with the biggest reductions".
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