|Saturday, 21 April 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-05-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 11 May 2009 Issue No: 3190
 PM: ND must 'stand united' for Euro pollsPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis launched yet another attack on main opposition PASOK's leader George Papandreou on Saturday, emphasising that PASOK's president was misrepresenting the reasons why Parliament was closing early.
Addressing a meeting of ruling New Democracy's Central Committee held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, he also urged members of his party to stand united in the battle for the EuroParliament elections.
"The government has nothing to hide, nothing to cover up and wants the country to go to EuroParliament elections on political terms," Karamanlis stressed, adding that PASOK's reaction to the decision was misleading since it was hiding the fact that Parliament nearly always ended its sessions early before the European Parliament elections.
The premier then went on to repeat previous criticism against Papandreou, accusing him of "resorting to extremes," of trying to write off his party's "sinful past" by using irresponsible sensationalism, trying to deceive voters and being unable to appreciate the critical nature of the current period.
Karamanlis also completely rejected PASOK accusations that the government was itself behind an organised smear and scandal campaign, stressing that "even political nerve has its limits".
"It is well known who the mud-slingers and slanderers are in this country. It is known who defames even the country itself," he added.
Commenting on Papandreou's reaction to Friday's announcement that Parliament was closing early for the European Parliament elections on June 7, the premier noted that PASOK's leader had "revealed himself".
"He shows that he does not understand that the situation is critical. He reveals that he has no plan, no vision for the country. All his visions begin and end with the same craving: how to take power. All his visions begin and end with the same irresponsible views. He does not hesitate to sacrifice the nation's interests on the altar of party-political and personal ambitions. He does not want, he cannot, contribute to the Greek people's struggle to emerge from the crisis," Karamanlis stressed.
Papandreou and his party had failed to support necessary changes and failed to propose any realistic policies for the country's progress, opting instead for populism, wish-lists and an attempt to shift public debate to "grey" areas and scandal, Karamanlis asserted.
"He prefers to sound appealing than to be useful to the country. This cynicism cannot be allowed to pass in our society. This cynicism cannot get very far," the premier underlined.
Outlining his own vision for the upcoming electoral battle, he stressed that ND must forge ahead united with clear goals, striving to solve the problems of the people, to shield the country from the global crisis and to ensure new prospects for the future.
"Talk about our work, talk about our goals. Openly. Honestly. We dare to be compared in all areas," Karamanlis stressed, adding that the government had chosen the path of responsibility and would neither trade nor change this.
The prime minister also referred to the symbolic significance of beginning the party's campaign for the European elections in Thessaloniki, the heart of the Greek province of Macedonia, on Europe Day when the EU celebrated its foundation and linked this decision with ND's founder Constantine Karamanlis.
"We are proud because the greatest achievement of our country since democracy was restored was due to the efforts of our party, the efforts of Constantine Karamanlis," he underlined.
"Our positions for the present and future of Europe were and are clear: we want Europe to have a single voice and strong international presence. A Europe that is able to formulate effective policies in the face of major global challenges," Greece's premier stressed.
In a message to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Karamanlis noted that the country's progress toward EuroAtlantic structures depended primarily on its own choices and urged Skopje to put aside excuses, nationalism and historically unfounded obsessions. "History cannot be written off, history cannot be rewritten," he emphasised.
Turning to the government's measures for the economic crisis, the prime minister again emphasised that support for weaker social strata was a priority and referred in detail to the government's work in Thessaloniki and northern Greece.
"We share together the vision of a strong Macedonia and Thrace in a strong Greece. Together we are unfolding its implementation. Northern Greece - Macedonia, Thrace - are evolving today into an international transit hub, a trade and banking centre for southeastern Europe, a diverse energy conduit," he said, listing the major public infrastructure currently underway that would bring this transformation about.
 ND secretary predicts victory in June 7 pollsRuling New Democracy Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis on Saturday said he was certain that voters would put their faith in ND and Costas Karamanlis when they went to the polls on June 7, during his address to a meeting of ND's Central Committee in Thessaloniki.
"We are certain that in spite of whatever mistakes were made, which we recognise, and in spite of individual behaviours that may have been hurtful, people will focus on the seriousness and responsibility of our actions and condemn those that are irresponsibly populist and obsessed with scandals," he stressed.
 PM: We will tackle the challenges head on"We are determined to tackle the challenges of the times head on and convert the international crisis into a national opportunity," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stressed on Sunday. The premier was addressing the regional conference of ruling New Democracy's youth party ONNED, which took place in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.
"Not even for a moment did we think of hiding the truth, of making things look better than they are. The only people that do not concede this are those who see the crisis as an opportunity for petty political gain. The leadership of PASOK defames the country abroad, chooses levelling, denial and nihilism. PASOK's leader is investing in scandal, in polarisation, in misinformation," Karamanlis added, stressing that ND would "not follow" and remain "focused on the big, crucial issues".
Referring to the upcoming student elections on May 13, he urged students to vote 'no' to nihilism and 'yes' to participation, expressing confidence that the student party affiliated to ND would once again emerge victorious.
He also highlighted the youth party's contribution to important reforms in education, stressing that this would help improve the quality of state universities and also referred to government action to alleviate unemployment among young people.
Criticising main opposition PASOK, he repeated that PASOK had "no plan for dealing with the crisis" and accused the main opposition of heaping censure on the government when they were themselves answerable for the problems of the past.
The prime minister had earlier visited the work site for the Thessaloniki metro and inspected the progress of the project, stressing in statements to reporters that the "Thessaloniki metro is no longer just words, it is becoming action".
"I visited the central worksite for the Thessaloniki metro and was briefed on how the work is progressing. The two tunnel borers are in full operation, the work is making rapid progress," he said, adding that the environment ministry had recently held a tender for the first extension of the Thessaloniki metro to the Kalamaria district, while there were plans for another extension to Stavroupolis.
"The Thessaloniki metro is the biggest public works project for transport and the environment that is currently being carried out in Greece and it will be one of the most modern metros in Europe," he said.
Earlier on Sunday, in honour of Mother's Day, the prime minister and his wife Natasa visited the SOS children's village in Plagiari, Thessaloniki and gave gifts to the 45 children aged six to 17 living and being cared for in the villages 10 houses.
He then visited Greece's only 'green' school, the vocational lyceum of Kalamaria, and was briefed on issues concerning school facilities by Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis. Following his visit to the metro, the premier was then shown around new municipal parks recently created on the city's coast by Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.
 Papandreou: government flouting institutionsMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Saturday accused the government of "acting counter to the institutions and democracy" with its surprise decision to shut down Parliament early because of the European Parliament elections.
Papandreou stressed in his address to PASOK's National Council that the decision harmed democracy and said that the government had "panicked in the face of the light of transparency".
"The preoccupation with scandal is the result of government neglect and its irresponsible stance of covering things up," PASOK's leader added.
Papandreou also forecast a rise in "selective scandal-mongering" by the government in coming weeks, which would target PASOK and its top members.
He then invited Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to take the "next logical step" after shutting down Parliament and call general elections on June 7, to coincide with the Euro polls, and thus "put an end to the government's downward slide".
Papandreou stressed that PASOK had a twin electoral goal: victory in the European Parliament elections and victory with an independent majority in the national elections. He termed the Euro polls a "referendum" that would send ruling New Democracy's government the message that Greeks condemned current policies and wanted another course.
"The citizens want to be done with the disastrous five years of ND, once and for all, and will decide to end the policies that serve big interests and put profits above all else," PASOK's leader underlined.
Greeks needed a government that could bring back hope and a sense of security, with a plan for dealing with the problems and the capacity to ably represent the country abroad. This would be the new PASOK government, he emphasised.
"Resorting to national elections will become inevitable," Papandreou predicted, noting that this would be PASOK's time for victory but also a time of grave responsibility.
"PASOK will take over a country in a very deep economic, political and social crisis, a crisis of values and international credibility," he pointed out and stressed his conviction that PASOK would succeed in changing Greece and restoring its strength and pride.
The first goal in this effort would be to restore people's faith in politics and the state by guaranteeing a state of law, equality before the law, and a developmental policy combined with protection of the weaker strata, Papandreou said. He also pledged to fight corruption, wasteful spending and to promote "green" economic growth.
Referring to the targets of European socialists in the June 7 elections, he pointed to the plans to revise the Stability Pact and thus end Europe's domination by neoliberal policies that undermined the social state, as well as the socialists' bid to gain a majority in the European Parliament so as to prevent the re-election of Jose Manuel Barroso as European Commission president.
"On June 7, the polls will mark the beginning of the end for ND's government," he stressed, urging members of PASOK throughout the country to wage the battle on the front line.
 Antonaros counters Papandreou's statementsGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros countered statements made by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou to PASOK's National Council on Saturday, accusing him of seeking "polarisation, demagoguery, populism, the way of concealment".
"He is trying to cover up his political inability to process and express serious, studied and usable proposals for the real problems of the country and its people," Antonaros said, accusing Papandreou of being concerned with only one thing, which was to take over power.
 PASOK leader calls for double elections in JuneMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, addressing an outdoor rally in the city of Kozani, Macedonia, on Sunday, said that with the closure of Parliament the government "closed the door to the light of transparency and to the doing of justice" and called on the government to agree to double elections on June 7, both Euroelections and national elections.
Papandreou accused the government of an "institutional deviation" and added that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was "terrified by transparency."
The PASOK leader further said that "with the unprecedented move of high-handedness, he is writing off all the scandals of his government."
Papandreou stressed that "at a crucial moment for the country I would expect from the prime minister to rise to the occasion" and went on to say "I call on you (the prime minister) for us to forge ahead, I call on you for a democratic solution, let's go to the people, proclaim national elections as well, give the people the possibility to judge us, to judge our parties, our proposals and our programmes."
He said that "let those who accused us of scandals realise that we are the agencies of transparency and truth, it is we who are struggling for a law-abiding state, it is we who are struggling for a politcal system that will be rid of being held hostage by the various suprainstitutional and powerful interests."
The New Democracy party government, he added, "dissolved the country" during the five years that it has been in power and stressed that the citizens' money "was lost in the black hole of corruption and of state extravagance."
Papandreou said that the market "is suffocating, bounced cheques have exceeded 20,000,000 euros in 2008, businesses are closing down and the country is the champion of unemployment. Problems exist for tourism, while farmers and stockbreeders are in despair."
"Greece owes you. Lignite supported the growth of the Greek economy for 50 years, providing cheap energy and thousands of jobs," the PASOK leader noted, adding that "in the era of 'green development' lignite will maintain its position in the country's energy balance."
Papandreou promised that PASOK in government will turn western Macedonia into "a region of model green development and a pole of knowledge and innovation," while calling on citizens to vote for PASOK in the Euroelections to send a message to the government that they condemn its policies.
 Rasmussen urges vote for PASOK in Euro pollsThe current global economic crisis was the result of "conservative policies that had led the economy in the wrong direction," the head of Europe's socialist bloc Poul Rasmussen told main opposition PASOK's National Council on Saturday.
"The crisis was not predestined, not a rule of nature. It is paid for, however, by ordinary citizens. Other people created the crisis and other people will pay for it," the president of the Party of European Socialists (PES) pointed out, stressing that this was the "time for change" and that the socialists of Europe would "be one".
Rasmussen did not shy from criticising Greece's ruling New Democracy government in his speech, noting that "We do not close Parliament because we don't like criticism, which is a part of democracy".
At another point, while praising PASOK for introducing an "ombudsman" for its members, he commented that "if ND had a similar institution, it would have abolished it, in the same way that it closed Parliament last night".
Rasmussen noted that Europe Day in 2009 did not give people much reason to celebrate, as a result of the economic crisis, while Greece also had to contend with a political crisis in addition to the economic one.
He stressed the need for a new government in Greece and a new leadership in the European Commission, accusing current European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso of "not being a leader" and of consulting with London, Paris and Berlin before making any decision.
Apart from fighting Barroso' re-election, Rasmussen said European socialists wanted more generalised changes in Europe, so that market forces were no longer the ones deciding the direction of the economy but democracy and the people.
The PES president urged voters, especially young people, to come out in force to vote on June 7 and stressed that the outcome would be important for the EuroParliament but also for Greece.
"Karamanlis and his government are losing sleep, because what will come out of the June 7 polls is very important," he said.
 Party reactions to PM, PapandreouThe smaller opposition parties were strongly critical of addresses made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Saturday, as each launched his party's campaign for the European Parliament elections, as well as a decision to close Parliament early for the upcoming Euro polls.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) issued an announcement calling on voters to cast a "vote of disobedience" on June 7 and said the speeches by the leaders of the two main parties confirmed one thing:
"The working class, young people, small and middle-sized farmers and self-employed must now turn their backs on New Democracy and PASOK. They are both choked in anti-popular policies and the stench of scandals. The surprise closure of Parliament was an autocratic measure to cover these up," the party said.
According to an announcement by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), a radical change of course for the country was now more necessary than ever and urged voters to weaken the two-party system by casting their vote for SYRIZA.
"It is a provocation for the prime minister to express pride in his policies and be determined to continue them. Policies that breed general impasses and leads the greater majority of citizens to despair. The crisis that has struck the entire world amply proves the failure of the neoliberal model that the governments of the two-party system have served and still serve," it said.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party spokesman Kyriakos Velopoulos said in comments on Karamanlis' speech that the prime minister was repeating the same things over and over but failing to convince the voters, who saw no hope in ND.
 Papariga: Parliament's closure a 'surprise'Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Saturday described the sudden decision to close Parliament until after the European Parliament elections in June as a "literally unexpected action". Speaking in Germany, where she is currently on a visit, Papariga said her impression was that the move took even the government itself by surprise.
"We believe and we are certain about this, that this choice serves the write off of scandals because for any scandals that have occurred up until 2007 that is that, they are now statute barred," she added.
Papariga urged Greek voters not to erase from memory either the scandals nor the causes of the scandals, nor the more general responsibility of the two main parties for the corruption that pervaded public life ever more deeply.
 Alavanos slams Parliament closure, stresses MPs are not judgesThe head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos stressed in an interview appearing in the newspaper "Real News" on Sunday that Parliament was not a courtroom and that MPs were not judges. During a joint meeting of SYRIZA MPs and secretariat on Saturday night, meanwhile, he strongly criticised the government's decision to end the current session of Parliament early for the June 7 European Parliament elections.
"We are not a Parliament. We have become a court and one that actually covers up for everyone," he said in the interview, repeating SYRIZA's proposal that all cases referred to Parliament by justice be immediately sent back after a process that was basically a formality.
During statements on Saturday, Alavanos stressed that Parliament should be open at a time when Greece was in the midst of a period of crisis.
"It is not possible for Parliament to stay closed from May until October when we are going through a period of great crisis, living in conditions of an emergency situation," he underlined, while he also stressed the need for a new budget given that the present budget had failed.
SYRIZA's head also accused the premier of screening members of his party from the law and pointed out that the political life of the country had for years now centred around scandals without anyone actually being indicted over anything. Alavanos urged friends and members of SYRIZA to be on "constant alert", support the institutions and send their own message in the European Parliament elections.
 LAOS party meeting on Parliament closurePopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis chaired a meeting of his party's Parliamentary group and secretariat to discuss the presidential decree ending the current session of Parliament in view of the June 7 European Parliament elections.
In statements after the meeting on Saturday, Karatzaferis accused main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou of "scandalous irresponsibility" and said Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was suffering from a "phobic syndrome" over the successive scandals that forced the "premature and awkward closure of Parliament".
"Whatever the two of them do, we have in front of us a nearly month-long pre-election period and they will have to give account to the Greek people," he said.
 PASOK ahead in five opinion pollsMain opposition PASOK forged ahead of ruling New Democracy as the party most people intend to vote for in the European Parliament elections in five opinion polls published by Greek newspapers on Sunday, with leads ranging from 2.1 percentage points to 4.5 percentage points. The main opposition's lead was even greater in the four surveys that also asked voters which party they intended to vote for in general elections.
The smallest difference between the two parties was recorded in the survey carried out by the opinion poll firm 'Focus' published in the newspaper "Real News". This showed PASOK gaining 31.7 percent of the vote against 29.6 percent for ND. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) got 7.5 percent, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) 6.4 percent, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) 4.7 percent, the EcoGreens 4.2 percent and other parties 3.3 percent.
The gap between the leading parties widened by 3.7 percent when voters were asked to say how they would cast their vote in general elections, with ND getting 28.8 percent of the total, PASOK 32.2 percent, KKE 7.5 percent, SYRIZA 5.4 percent, LAOS 4.1 percent, the EcoGreens 3.9 percent and other parties 4 percent.
The survey carried out by PulseRC on behalf of the newspaper "Apogevmatini" showed PASOK ahead by 3 percent for the EuroParliament elections, with 31 percent saying they would cast their vote for the main opposition against 28 percent for ND. KKE received 6.6 percent, SYRIZA 5.6 percent, LAOS 4.4 percent, the EcoGreens 4.8 percent and other parties 2 percent.
An opinion poll by Marc for the newspaper "Ethnos" showed PASOK ahead by 3.2 percent for the EuroParliament elections, gaining 31.8 percent of the vote against 28.6 percent for ND. KKE received 8.1 percent, SYRIZA 6.2 percent, the EcoGreens 4.8 percent, LAOS 4.3 percent, and other parties 2 percent. For the national elections, the same survey showed PASOK getting 34.8 percent, ND 30.1 percent, KKE 8.2 percent, SYRIZA 6.0 percent, LAOS 4.5 percent, the EcoGreens 4.5 percent and other parties 1.4 percent.
The difference between the two main parties rose to 3.7 percent in an opinion poll conducted by ALCO for the newspaper "Proto Thema". PASOK was shown ahead with 30.2 percent, ND followed with 26.5 percent, while the KKE got 7.8 percent, SYRIZA 5.3 percent, LAOS 4 percent, the EcoGreens 3.5 percent and other parties 2.9 percent. In terms of the intended vote in national elections, the difference increased to 4.5 percent, with ND getting 27.2 percent, PASOK 31.7 percent, KKE 7.2 percent, SYRIZA 5.4 percent, LAOS 4.5 percent, EcoGreens 2.7 percent and the other parties 2.7 percent.
The largest difference for the EuroParliament elections was recorded by the Public Issue 'Barometer' published in the newspaper "Kathimerini", which showed PASOK ahead by 4.5 percentage points and getting a 28 percent share of the vote, against 23.5 percent for ND. KKE followed with 5.5 percent, then SYRIZA with 5.5 percent, LAOS with 5.5 percent, the EcoGreens with 4 percent and the other parties with 1 percent. Regarding the intended vote in general elections, the same polls showed a gap of 5.5 percent points between the two main parties, giving ND 35 percent and PASOK 40.5 percent.
 Opinion poll: PASOK ahead nationwide, lagging in northMain opposition PASOK is ahead of ruling New Democracy in voter preferences in Greece on a national level, while ND retains its lead in Macedonia and Thrace, according to an opinion poll published in the newspaper "Macedonia on Sunday". The opinion poll was conducted by the firm "Interview" on May 4 until May 6.
This showed that PASOK was in the lead by 3.1 percentage points as the party people intend to vote for in the European Parliament elections, with ND scoring 34.2 percent, PASOK 37.3 percent, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 8.6 percent, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) 6.9 percent, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) 4.7 percent and the EcoGreens 6.5 percent.
In Macedonia and Thrace, ND retains a strong lead of 9.5 percentage points, with ND getting 41.9 percent, PASOK 32.4 percent, KKE 5.4 percent, SYRIZA 6.8 percent, LAOS 5.5 percent and the EcoGreens 5.2 percent.
 Verelis: my resignation a 'catalyst'Explaining his unexpected decision to resign from Parliament last week, former minister Christos Verelis underlined in an interview with the newspaper "Realnews" on Sunday that he had wanted to send a message to fellow politicians.
"There are politicians that will not accept having people spit on them," he stressed, adding that he hoped that his resignation would act as a catalyst that would be use by politics "as an opportunity to extricate itself from the current situation".
He dismissed attempts to link him with those seeking to undermine the position of PASOK's leader George Papandreou as "stupid," pointing out that he had not resigned from PASOK and remained on the party's National Council.
Should the country's political system fail to take the steps "indicated" by his actions, he predicted, Greek politics would lose all value in people's eyes.
"I am not interested in Parliamentary immunity. I am interested in only one thing. To be able to exist as someone that will help bring about transparency in public life and to stop politics generating feelings of contempt in the Greek people," he added.
He denied that his actions were prompted by concerns about revelations concerning the Siemens affair or contracts awarded by the Greek Railways Organisation OSE, pointing out that he had not awarded the Siemens contracts nor signed something with OSE.
 Papariga meets Greek expatriates in GermanyCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga had meetings with various federations and bodies representing Greek communities in Germany and Europe, as well as parent associations, during her visit to Dusseldorf in Germany.
The meetings were held on Saturday, with Papariga expressing KKE's support for the demands of parents, teachers on education issues concerning children of Greek migrants to Germany, pointing out that these issues were also relevant to Greece and the children of foreign workers now living and attending schools there.
While in the area, Papariga laid a wreath at the monument for Soviet soldiers in the Gerresheim cemeteries.
 Tsipras concludes visit to GermanyCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alexis Tsipras, speaking Sunday at the end of his two-day tour in Germany, expressed confidence that on the night of the Euroelections "SYRIZA (the Radical Left Coalition) will record the biggest election result that our side has ever recorded in an election struggle."
Tsipras visited Berlin and Munich, where he met with members and agencies of the Greek community and addressed a number of events.
During his stay in Berlin, Tsipras also met with Klaus Ernst, Vice President of the German Left in Germany's Federal Parliament.
Tsipras said after his meeting "our targets are common. To change Europe, to create the preconditions for a different European perspective for a Europe of peoples and not a Europe of bankers."
 SYRIZA protest on Europe DaySupporters of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) held a demonstration in downtown Athens on Saturday, the annual anniversary of Europe Day, to protest in support of the environment and policies that put the planet above profits.
The demonstration was held in Syntagma Square opposite Parliament and the Greek foreign ministry building on the square, which had been covered by a massive banner celebrating the 30th year since Greece officially joined the European Union.
Elsewhere in Greece, the two main parties took advantage of the symbolic message of the anniversary to launch their respective campaigns for the European Parliament elections on June 7.
 President inaugurates GSEBEE general meetingPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias stressed the important role of small-scale manufacturers in the country's productive and economic fabric, as well as the state's sincere concern that they thrive in the midst of the economic crisis. He made the statement while officially opening the start of the annual general meeting of the General Confederation of Professionals, Artisans and Merchants of Greece (GSEBEE) on Saturday night, held on the topic "Small businesses a basic pylon of the real economy".
Papoulias blamed the current crisis on inadequate control of the financial system and the dominance, beyond reason or experience, of an illogical faith in the magical powers of the market. He said that the crisis was also affecting Greece and further exacerbating existing structural weaknesses, with small and medium-sized businesses most acutely affected.
The meeting was next addressed by Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, who again expressed support for SMEs and stressed their importance for the economy and for employment, noting that they accounted for seven out of every 10 new jobs created.
Employment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia referred to the stronger impact of the crisis and lack of liquidity on SMEs and underlined her ministry's genuine interest in helping them, especially in terms of protecting existing jobs. She said the ministry was adapting action and policies, speeding up action dealing with problems focused on vulnerable production groups like construction, tourism and retail trade.
Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis talked about coordination on a European level to find a joint solution for overcoming the repercussions of the crisis on SMEs, stressing that the state and his ministry would stand by the 940,000 businesses in this category and do its best to deal with the problems.
Other speakers included Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP George Mavrikos, main opposition PASOK secretary Yiannis Ragoussis and GSEBEE President Dimitris Asimakopoulos.
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.353
Pound sterling 0.897
Danish kroner 7.508
Swedish kroner 10.596
Japanese yen 134.43
Swiss franc 1.526
Norwegian kroner 8.710
Canadian dollar 1.570
Australian dollar 1.784
 President attends memorial events for Athanasios DiakosPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Saturday attended events held in Lamia in honour of Athanasios Diakos, one of the legendary heroes of Greece's 1821 war of independence, who was brutally murdered as a captive of the Ottoman Turks after the battle for the bridge of Alamana when he refused to embrace Islam.
"It is not enough to simply enough to refer to the events but it is imperative that we also receive the correct messages of struggle and sacrifice," Papoulias said in a brief address and linked Diakos' sacrifice with the sacrifice of "all those that have given their life for national independence and dignity".
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on 'occupied' foundationsISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos said on Sunday that the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Synod has decided to resort to justice regarding the 23 foundations and communities that have been arbitrarily termed "occupied" by the Turkish administration.
The Patriarch reiterated the "bitterness and indignation" that he feels every time he is faced with "this tragic problem and spectacle".
"Whenever I am here or in the other parishes as well with the same problems I feel bitterness and indignation," he said.
Addressing a large congregation of pilgrims from Greece, schools carrying out an educational excursion and members of the ethnic community, the Patriarch stressed that "we are officiating here."
The Patriarch clarified that the Synod has decided to escalate its resorting to justice, even to the European Human Rights Court.
 Events in Thessaloniki for end of WWII, tobacco workers uprisingAn event commemorating the WWII fallen was held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Saturday, marking the 64th anniversary since the end of the war. The event was attended by war veterans, their descendants and representatives of local authorities that deposited wreaths at the Allied Forces Cemetery (Zeidelik) in the city, in the presence of an honour guard.
Among those present was the 86-year-old veteran radio operator Vera Alexandrova Ivanova, who had served at the former Soviet air base in the Caucasus and taken part in operations in Romania, and 87-year-old Pavlos Stafylidis who had also fought on the front in the Caucasus and the Ukraine as a mine collector and was among those that had entered Berlin with the Russian troops on the day the war ended.
Events marking the anniversary and the tobacco workers' uprising in 1936 were also organised by trade unions and other bodies in the city.
 Shadow puppeteer Spatharis passes awayOne of the best-known and highly regarded masters of traditional Greek shadow theatre, Eugenios Spatharis, passed away at an advanced age on Saturday night. The man who for decades devoted his life to keeping alive the legacy of "Karagiozis" and the entire shadow puppet tradition in Greece had been in KAT hospital in critical condition for some days, after a bad fall that would finally prove fatal.
His funeral will take place next Wednesday in the Maroussi cemetery, with a service beginning at 16:00 in the afternoon in the local cathedral. On the say day, from 10:00 in the morning until 15:00 in the evening, his body will be on display in the Spathario Shadow Theatre Museum in the municipality of Maroussi.
Spatharis was born in Kifissia in January of 1924, the son of original shadow puppeteer Sotiris Spatharis, and became involved with painting and the making of shadow puppets after completing his studies. He began to perform himself during the German occupation of Athens during WWII, putting on shows in theatres, embassies, the Gennadion library and other venues. He continued to be involved in shadow theatre throughout his life, giving countless performances in Greece and abroad and participating in international festivals and conference on the genre.
He put on several plays based on the hero "Karagiozis" - including some using real actors instead of shadow puppets with Greek theatre companies - as well as recording and releasing about 15 Karagiozis plays as vinyl records. After 1980, his performances were also broadcast on television.
Spatharis was a member of the Chamber of Artists of Greece and the UNESCO International Theatre Institute, while he has carried out several international tours. He also took part in several painting exhibitions in Athens, Zurich, Paris and New York.
He was awarded the Rome Prize in 1962, the Toscanini medal in 1978 and several other awards, while in 2007 the Greek culture ministry awarded him the title of 'Grand Master' in recognition of his great contribution to his art.
In 1991 he established the Spathario Shadow Theatre Museum in the municipality of Maroussi, northeast Athens, which has been open since 1996 and seeks to promote the Greek shadow theatre traditions.
Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou extended his condolences to the family of shadow puppeteer Eugenios Spatharis who passed away on Saturday night.
"Eugenios Spatharis was an authentic popular creator. He expressed with genuineness and directness the soul of Hellenism through the Shadow Theatre, that he served with his profound artistic temperament for decades, highlighting it in parallel as a genuine popular expression of our culture," the PASOK leader said in his statement.
"The message of justice, as a value that can heal the wounds of a deep social injustice that the Greek citizen esperienced and is experiencing, was reflected in the most emphatic way in his work, through his stories on the 'white cloth', that emitted the humanity of their protagonist, as well as of their creator," Papandreou added.
 Seminar on volunteerism and forest protectionThe head of the Civil Protection General Secretariat Margaritis Mouzas on Saturday said that setting up a complete system for volunteerism was among the priorities of the civil protection agency. He was speaking at a seminar on "Volunteerism and protecting Forests" organised by the Latsis Foundation in Kifissia.
Speakers during the seminar presented the results of a survey among 1,000 volunteers in 160 organisations on crucial issues for action, carried out by the Latsis Foundation and Eurobank. This showed that volunteerism was not adequately developed and that the main weaknesses were a lack of moral rewards and incentives, difficulties in obtaining equipment, lack of training and an inability to certify skills.
 Man charged with killing foreign womanA 31-year-old man was led before a Patras first-instance court prosecutor on Sunday as the main suspect in the killing of a 39-year-old foreign woman. The suspect turned himself to police in Patras on Saturday night, accompanied by a lawyer, and confessed to the killing.
Police conducted a search and discovered the woman's body in the bathroom of the man's home. A coroner said she had injuries to the neck and head but found no signs of struggle. The suspect and victim had met earlier in a club and ended up at the man's home.
 Armed robbery at Peristeri town hallTwo masked robbers grabbed cash and cheques worth 70,000 euros during an armed robbery at the Peristeri Town Hall early on Sunday morning. The two robbers held the building's guard at gunpoint while they broke into the safe using an electric circular saw, after which they grabbed its contents and disappeared.
West Attica Security Police have launched an inquiry into the incident.
 Ten injured in soccer supporters' clashTen people were slightly injured in violence that broke out after midnight on Sunday in the northern Greek city of Katerini, between rival supporters of the football clubs Aris and PAOK.
The incident began when roughtly 250 Aris supporters gathered outside a PAOK supporters club and began throwing objects at some 50 PAOK supporters in the building. The violence escalated when additional 200 PAOK supporters arrived on the scene and there was damage to five shop windows and eight cars in the area. The two sides were dispersed by police.
 Nun dies in monastery fireA nun at a monastery in Panorama, Rafina was found dead at noon, apparently killed by a fire that began in her room. Local residents had called the fire brigade after seeing smoke rising from the building but the nun was found dead after the fire was extinguished, possibly as a result of smoke inhalation.
The precise cause of death will be determined by a coroner's examination, while the cause of the fire is being investigated by the fire brigade.
 Feres border police arrest immigrant trafficker, 3 migrantsBorder police at Feres on Saturday announced the arrest of a 43-year-old foreign national, who was intercepted while transporting three illegal immigrants in a private car.
The arrest was made on Friday night at the 14th kilometre of the Alexandroupolis-Komotini road.
 AEK, Panathinaikos win in Super League playoffsPanathinaikos Athens beat PAOK Thessaloniki 1-0 away and AEK Athens beat Larissa 3-2 at home in the opening games of the soccer Super League playoffs played on Sunday.
Karagounis scored for Panathinaikos two minutes from time. AEK's goals were scored by Pavlis (14'), Manduka (40') and Blanko (80', pen.). Scoring for Larissa were Para (9') and Ilic (24').
The top team in the playoffs gains a place in European Champions League qualifying rounds.
 Hot and sunny on MondayHot and sunny weather is forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with possible showers in the north and west. Wind velocity reaching 2-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 9C and 31C. Sunny in Athens, with possible clouds later in the day and temperatures ranging from 13C to 29C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 27C.
 The Sunday editions of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe decision to break up Parliament early, the increasingly acrimonious political climate, the results of opinion polls and the rise of stocks on the bourse dominated the headlines on Sunday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Ballot box thriller as the opposition cultivates climate of dual elections after Friday's surprise move".
APOGEVMATINI: "A 3 percent starting point for a change of climate. Nationwide opinion poll by Pulse in view of EuroParliament elections".
AVGI: "Now they are also politically bankrupt" [refers to government's decision to break up the current Parliament early].
AVRIANI: "George [main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou] losing the game. The brave resignation of Christos Verelis a catalyst for developments in PASOK".
CHORA: "Siemens and Man the nightmare of Simitis group. Background: the violent clash within PASOK".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "He bought time...on credit with a 'receipt' from Aristotelis Pavlidis and the closing of Parliament as the 'delivery slip' ".
ELETHEROS TYPOS: "A volcano. Scandals, opinion polls, the economy. Down the final stretch for the elections with polarisation at its peak. War tactics by the team of [Prime Minister Costas] Karamanlis and George Papandreou".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Political scene on fire. Closure of Parliament in order to avoid scandals a boomerang for the government".
EPOCHI: "Closed due to scandals. New Democracy and PASOK trade accusations".
ETHNOS: "Legal....coup aiming to make scandals statute-barred".
KATHIMERINI: "Parties the 'hostages' of scandals. Surprise at the premature end of Parliament's work - tough encounter with the opposition".
LOGOS: "Scandal-mongering generates polarisation. ND and PASOK take up battle positions in view of EuroParliament polls".
NIKI: "New Democracy's facade has fallen. G. Papandreou: closure of Parliament an institutional deviation".
PARON: "The sack of Aeolus has opened. Verelis' strange resignation brings reversals".
PROTO THEMA (weekly): "ND launders better. While PASOK was floundering over Verelis, they shut Parliament in the dead of night and covered up all the scams".
REALNEWS: "Closed due to scandals. Storm of reactions over Parliament 'lockout'."
RIZOSPASTIS: "KKE: Call to alarm for the battle of the EuroParliament elections."
VIMA: "Conflict without limits. Summer duel between Karamanlis-Papandreou. Polarisation and a closed Parliament on the way to the EuroParliament elections".
VRADYNI: "Free houses to 2,692 eligible applicants. 1,600 homes ready to deliver, 1,092 being tendered". [article on new homes built by the Worker Housing Association].
 Cyprus FM: Opening of Limnitis crossing point is among our prioritiesPAPHOS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou has said that the opening of Limnitis crossing point is among Cyprus President Demetris Christofias' priorities as well as his own.
Kyprianou said that he raised this issue during the recent meeting he had with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, elaborating on the practical and substantial importance of the opening of Limnitis crossing point, but also about the political importance of implementing what has been agreed.
He also stressed that the Republic of Cyprus cannot accept any absurd demands or preconditions posed by the Turkish side, noting that "the Turkish side has been committed and must give its consent to the opening" of the checkpoint.
The Cypriot FM said President Christofias has been discussing this issue in the framework of the National Council, adding that the effort for opening the checkpoint will not be abandoned.
President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to solve the question of Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Several crossing points operate along the demarcation line, which divides Cyprus into the northern Turkish occupied areas and the southern government controlled part of the country, to facilitate movement of people. Passage through Limnitis area, at the northwest, would cut short the journey to Morphou for Greek Cypriot residents in the area.
 Spokesman: We are striving to achieve a settlement the soonest possibleNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said here Sunday that the Greek Cypriot side wants a settlement of the Cyprus question urgently and is striving to achieve it the soonest possible.
Speaking during the funeral of the remains of five people from the same family who were killed during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, in the village of Palekythro, Stephanou said that only with the settlement of the Cyprus question the people of Cyprus would be vindicated. He assured that "we will continue to strive for the vindication of the relatives of our missing persons, who want to know and have every right to know what happened to their beloved ones" and added that the identification of remains constitutes a major development as regards the ascertainment of the fate of missing persons, but this is not enough.
Stephanou noted the need to proceed with the investigations that will ascertain the conditions under which these people were lost, as provided by the relevant European Court of Human Rights decision and assured that the Cypriot government will continue to support the work of the Investigation Committee on Missing Persons until they ascertain the fate of every missing person.
The remains of Andreas Souppouris (father, 48 years old), Areti Souppouris (mother, 39 years old), Dimitris Souppouris (brother, 6 years old), Julia Souppouris (sister, 2 years old), and Thekla Souppouris (aunt, 47 years old), have recently been located in a mass grave along with the remains of 12 other people, murdered during the same incident in Palekythro and identified through the DNA method.
Stephanou said that the settlement of the Cyprus question constitutes a firm goal for the Cyprus government, which remains consistent to the principles for a Cyprus settlement, as provided in 1977 and 1979 high-level agreements and UN resolutions on Cyprus.
"By insisting on the principles of international and European law, with determination and flexibility, we will continue to fight so that negotiations under way since last September will reach to settlement," he added.
Stephanou said that the settlement of the Cyprus question would be a compromising settlement that will however restore and safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms of all the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins.
He reiterated that "any problems at the intercommunal dialogue do not discourage us and do not make us accept the occupational and divisional status quo", adding that efforts will continue despite the fact that the key for the settlement is in Ankara.
Stephanou noted that division is destructive for Cyprus and added that there is no other alternative than to reach a settlement through intercommunal dialogue. He said that the settlement must provide for a bizonal, bicoummunal federation with political equality, as provided by UN resolutions, which constitutes a major compromise made by the Greek Cypriot community.
He said that this solution basis has been reaffirmed by Cyprus President during his meetings with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, with the very important addition that the federal unified Cypriot state would have a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality.
 Cyprus, Denmark and Poland FMs meet to prepare EU trio PresidencyPAPHOS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
An informal meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Cyprus, Denmark and Poland, the three countries that will hold the EU rotating presidency during the second half of 2011 and during 2012, was held here on Saturday.
Cyprus Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou, said that the preparation of the Presidency is of great importance, since it is expected to be held according to the Treaty of Lisbon, "which means common goals and common preparation".
Our partners, Kyprianou added, have already had joint meetings in respective capitals, but at a political level, it is the first time the FMs of the tree countries meet.
On his part, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller said the aim the meeting was to plan jointly the rotating presidency of the EU Council, what the 18-month programme will include and how the goals determined will be achieved.
Hopefully, he continued, "we will overcome the crisis in Europe, since we are making steps towards this direction, since we will also determine our financial targets until 2012."
Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radoslav Sirkoski said they had a productive discussion on procedures and on how the new institutions will operate under the Treaty of Lisbon and that they will also proceed with the discussion of other issues regarding the rotating Presidency of the Council.
The three countries will hold the 18-month rotating presidency of the European Council as follows: Poland will hold the presidency during the second six months of 2011, Denmark during the first six months of 2012 and Cyprus during the second half of 2012.
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