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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-01-11

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Monday, 11 January 2010 Issue No: 3393

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Papandreou: Economic and monetary crisis a crucial national threat
  • [02] 'Kallikratis' the codename of new municipality architecture
  • [03] Bomb explodes outside Parliament, condemnation by political leadership
  • [04] ND shadow gov't meeting on Tuesday, criticism of announcements after Cabinet meeting
  • [05] Tsipras at Berlin con'f of Euro left party
  • [06] Rally in support of Ecumenical Patriarchate held in Turkey
  • [07] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday
  • [08] Live Christmas trees planted in fire-stricken area in Pendeli
  • [09] Freighter train derailment in Serres, no injuries
  • [10] Terror suspect released under conditions
  • [11] Panathinaikos retains Super League lead
  • [12] PAO-OSFP supporters rumble
  • [13] Cloudy on Monday
  • [14] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

  • [01] PM Papandreou: Economic and monetary crisis a crucial national threat

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a cabinet meeting on Sunday, termed the economic and monetary crisis "a crucial national threat".

    Papandreou, however, expressed optimism over the favourable outcome of the struggle being waged by the government, calling on all Greeks and the mass media in particular to say "no to panic ."

    The major changes that have been scheduled for 2010, which he termed a year of great changes and reforms, must be turned into practice as a precondition for this.

    The prime minister made a positive assessment of the first 100 days of the country's governance which, as he said, "we assumed in a deep and multifaceted crisis with a large size debt and deficits that were bequeathed to us by the previous government."

    He added that the economy alone was not at the root of problems, but the country's way of governance as well.

    Papandreou further said that during the first 100 days the "government stood at the level of its historical responsibility which is to have the citizen as its first concern," adding that apart from changes in regional administration, great reforms and changes are also required in central administration.

    He stressed that the changes will meet with great resistances but expressed certainty that they will have the approval of the Greek people.

    Papandreou said that at the end of the coming week the stability and growth programme will be announced, as well as the proposals for government and legislative work that will be following in the near future.

    He said he would be giving a press conference at the Zappion Mansion in the middle of the week and would be announcing the main conclusions on governance so far and priorities for the coming period, while calling on ministers to do the same in their field of responsibility.

    The prime minister also announced the creation of a "prestigious advisory committee" on the modernisation and operation of the government and institutional bodies with the principle "the citizen first" always being the target.

    He stressed that the new architecture of self administration is part of the government's overall planning so that on November 14, 2010, local administration elections will be held for the new strong municipalities and the regions.

    Papandreou added that the "implementation of the great vision of the world of local administration will begin," terming this task extremely difficult and for which the consent of all is required and that the government shall seek.

    He further pointed out that resources for local administration will be secured in the framework of taxation policy and added that with the electoral law which will be voted in Parliament "a decisive blow will be dealt at black political money".

    Papandreou also referred to the government's struggle for transparency and expressed satisfaction for the positive response met by his initiative to request from the President of the Republic to convene a meeting of party leaders.

    Lastly, the prime minister also referred to the bomb attack that occurred in front of the Parliament building on Saturday, stressing that "no one and with no action can intimidate the country's political world" and underlined that "we are not going to let such an action pass like this."

    [02] 'Kallikratis' the codename of new municipality architecture

    Interior, Public Administration and Electronic Governance Minister Yiannis Ragoussis presented during Sunday's cabinet meeting the main principles of the new architectiure for municipalities which will bear the codename "Kallikratis", the name of one of the two architects of the Parthenon.

    The minister revealed that the programme will be ratified by May at the latest and local government elections on November 14, 2010, will be taking place in the new municipalities and regions.

    Rangoussis clarified that land planning will be carried out in the second phase of the bill's consultations. He added that the new archcitecture concerns both levels of local administration.

    With the "Kallikratis" programme the foundations will be laid for second stage regional local administration and 13 regions will be created in the place of the 76 prefectures. From the 1,034 municipalities currently existing less than 370 will be established, while the approximately six thousand legal entities and municipal corporations will be limited to 2,000. In addition, seven general administrations will be formed that will replace the present 13 state regions and the decentralised state entities, whose existence is imposed by the Constitution.

    According to what Rangoussis said, regional local administration will constitute the "vehicle" for green development. He also said that there will be a change in the way of controlling local administration resources, there shall be a compulsory presentation of administrative decisions in the Internet and an autonomous service for checking local administration bodies will be established.

    Moreover, funds amounting to 650 million euros from ESPA will be revised and adjusted to support this change and for the hiring of the necessary scientific staff.

    [03] Bomb explodes outside Parliament, condemnation by political leadership

    A makeshift explosive device went off early Saturday evening in front of the Greek Parliament building. The time-bomb was placed in a trash bin located several dozen metres from Parliament's facade and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The explosion caused minor material damage but no injuries.

    The country's political leadership condemned the attack, while Prime Minister George Papandreou tersely warned that "Democracy cannot be terrorised".

    An anonymous caller phoned the Athens afternoon daily Eleftherotypia at 7:45 p.m. local time (17:45 GMT) and warned of an impending blast in 10 minutes' time at a trash receptacle outside parliament near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Police quickly evacuated the area and cordoned off the vicinity, and also warned the Presidential Guard (Evzones) which, however, remained in place.

    The incident's modus operandi resembles previous attacks by self-styled anarchist groups and so-called "anti-state" terror cells usually operating in the greater Athens area.

    Counter-terrorismm officers arrived at the blast site, while a massive police presence rushed to the vicinity, one of the Greek capital's most central locations.

    The home-made time bomb exploded just before 8:00 p.m., causing minor damage to Parliament's entrance facing Syntagma Square and breaking a 3rd-floor window in the parliament building, while metal shards were found in the parliament's courtyard.

    Police bomb disposal experts said later that the bomb was a 'fast-burning' device made of dynamite and of medium power, while no remnants were found of the explosive material.

    Reactions

    "Democracy cannot be terrorised," Prime Minister George Papandreou stated tersely as he arrived at the parliament building after the attack while Citizens' Protection minister Michalis Chryssohoidis stressed that "we are not afraid or panic-stricken", noting that "some want to terrify and panic us".

    Chryssohoidis stressed that the Parliament's vicinity "is of high symbolism" and therefore is accessible and will remain so.

    "Athens is a safe city and will not become militarised," he said, adding that the perpetrators should know that they will be brought before justice, and very soon.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman and MP Panos Panagiotopoulos said that the bomb attack at one of the most well-guarded spots in Athens was a "heavy provocation against the democratic Greek state's lawful order".

    "Beyond its apparent symbolism, this attack also targets the entire Greek society and hurts our country's image abroad, harming the interests of the Greek people," he said.

    Panagiotopoulos stressed that terrorism is a major problem that needs to be tackled immediately with across-the-board cooperation of the government, the political parties, the social agencies, the trade unions and the wider society of the citizens, adding that it is a given that ND will give its full support if the proper measures and correct policy are applied for combating terrorism in Greece.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement, condemned the attack, stressing that "this action must in no way comprise an act of resistance to the government's harsh and all-fronted attack on the people's rights", and warned that, on the contrary, such acts "aid and serve those who wish to daunt the people".

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) spokesman Costis Aivaliotis opined that the "domestic terrorists perhaps got the idea from the website of the Turkish arms (rocket and projectile systems) manufacturer Roketsan's website that shows the Hellenic Parliament in flames".

    "Democracy cannot be terrorised, it cannot be daunted, it cannot be struck down. On the contrary, it reinforces its determination to confront its underminers," Aivaliotis added.

    The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN), in an announcement, condemned the attack as "a provocation against democracy".

    "At a critical time for the Greek economy, as it faces the repercussions of a deep economic crisis, such acts only mislead and are exploited as an alibi to discourage the necessary social and political struggles against a policy that negatively affects the majority of the citizens," SYN added.

    [04] ND shadow gov't meeting on Tuesday, criticism of announcements after Cabinet meeting

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras will chair a meeting of his party's shadow government on Tuesday at the ND headquarters on Rigillis street in central Athens.

    Meanwhile, the party's officer (shadow minister) for the interior, public administration and e-governance, MP Christos Zois, said on Sunday that after 100 days in office, one would expect of the government to have set the standard high on Sunday, at its Cabinet meeting on the country's administrative reform, "because administrative reform is absolutely necessary for the Greece we desire".

    On the contrary, however, "we saw a composition of ideas, with statements of intentions, and public relations ruses", he added.

    Zois said that administrative reform is not possible without reform of the public administration, "but we did not hear anything about such a reform".

    Further, administrative reform is not possible without funds, but "all we heard were nuances of new taxes, which will also possibly include an increase in VAT", he added.

    Thirdly, there can be no administrative reform without spatial distribution of the new municipalities being formed with the merger of existing municipalities and communities planned by the government, "but again the government said nothing about better facilitation of the citizens", he continued.

    Fourthly, there can be no administrative reform without new authorities and transfer of the corresponding funds, "but yet again the government said nothing about better facilitation of the citizens," Zois added, and accused prime minister George Papandreou of not touching on the substance in his statements to the Cabinet.

    [05] Tsipras at Berlin con'f of Euro left party

    Radical Left Coaliton (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group head Alexis Tsipras on Saturday attended the Berlin conference of the European Left Party, where he referred to the "common action of leftist forces and the promotion of alternative proposals at the national, European and international level."

    Moreover, the leader of the left-wing Greek party said the ongoing international crisis not only affects the economy but the EU's model as a whole, opining that the Union is "unable to manage the crisis and uses countries with a high deficit, such as Greece and Ireland, as guinea pigs for their plans to deal with the crisis; as a chance to deepen the dominance of markets within the neo-liberal framework."

    [06] Rally in support of Ecumenical Patriarchate held in Turkey

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Turkish citizens held an unprecedented rally outside the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Saturday night in support of minorities, waving banners and shouting "hands off the Patriarchate and (Ecumenical) Patriarch Bartholomew".

    The support rally was organised by a coalition of Liberal and Leftist organisations known as the "70 million steps against coups", and demonstrators chanted slogans such as "Fraternity of the Peoples", "Freedom", "Down with Ergenicon" and held banners calling for judicial condemnation of coup leaders.

    A spokesman for the coalition read out the aims of the demonstration, noting that "three bloody coups, one post-modern coup and a coup via electronic message have taken place" in Turkey the space of 50 years, while political parties were being outlawed and elected mayors were being imprisoned, and a journalist was recently murdered in front of authorities.

    Financial News

    [07] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.438

    Pound sterling 0.900

    Danish kroner 7.500

    Swedish kroner 10.307

    Japanese yen 134.43

    Swiss franc 1.493

    Norwegian kroner 8.234

    Canadian dollar 1.489

    Australian dollar 1.573

    General News

    [08] Live Christmas trees planted in fire-stricken area in Pendeli

    More than 2,100 live Christmas trees were planted on Sunday in a 20-stremma (five acre) expanse in the fire-stricken Megaro Doukissis Plakendias area in Pendeli.

    The tree-planting project was organised by the Pendeliko Protection and Regeneration Association (SPAP) with the support of SKAI private radio and television station and the participation of the City of Athens and other municipalities in Attica prefecture.

    Local residents turned up with the live tree plants they had decorated for Christmas to join in the effort.

    The City of Athens also took part in the project with the 250 fir tree saplings that had made up its environment-friendly Christmas tree in downtown Syntagma Square throughout the holidays, while the municipality of Halandri donated 1,500 trees and the non-governmental organisation Greenbelt planted 300 trees.

    Also among the participants were alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas, who planted the ministry's live tree and his own tree from his home, MPs, and mayors of nearby municipalities.

    [09] Freighter train derailment in Serres, no injuries

    A freighter train from Bulgaria loaded with scrap iron derailed in the area of Rodopolis, Serres prefect on Sunday morning, but no injuries were reported.

    Three of the train's 19 cars derailed as the train was heading from Strymonas to Velestino, thus disrupting train itineraries from Thessaloniki towards Alexandroupolis.

    Passengers of the disrupted route were being conveyed by OSE (Hellenic Rails) buses to their destinations, while a massive operation was in progress to remove the derailed cars from the train tracks.

    OSE has also set up a team of experts to investigate the causes and circumstances of the accident.

    [10] Terror suspect released under conditions

    A 26-year-old man arrested on Tuesday and charged with participation in the terrorist group "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" was released under conditions on Friday, after giving his testimony to the public prosecutor handling the case.

    The man denied all charges against him.

    According to police, the suspect's fingerprints were on a personal computer found in the group's safehouse in the Athens suburb of Halandri.

    Sports

    [11] Panathinaikos retains Super League lead

    Panathinaikos Athens edged Xanthi 2-1 away over the weekend to remain at the top of the Greek Super League standings and Olympiacos Piraeus subdued Larissa 2-1 at home, while AEK Athens was held to an unexpected 3-3 draw at home by Atromitos Athens.

    In other action:

    Ergotelis Crete-Panionios Athens 0-0

    Levadiakos Livadia-PAOK Thessaloniki 0-2

    Asteras Tripoli-Kavala 1-0

    Panthrakikos Komotini-PAS Yiannina 1-2

    Aris Thessaloniki-Iraklis Thessaloniki 4-2

    Standings after 17 weeks of play:

    1. Panathinaikos 44 points

    2. Olympiacos 39

    3. PAOK 34

    4. Aris 28

    5. Asteras 26

    6. AEK 25

    7. Kavala 23

    8. Panionios 23

    9. Ergotelis 22

    10. Atromitos 20

    11. Iraklis 18

    12. Xanthi 18

    13. Larissa 18

    14. PAS Yiannina 18

    15. Levadiakos 15

    16. Panthrakikos 2

    [12] PAO-OSFP supporters rumble

    Supporters of the two top-standing Greek Super League soccer teams Panathinaikos (PAO) of Athens and Olympiacos (OSFP) of Piraeus rumbled Saturday night in a municipal parking area in Athens' northern suburb of Maroussi, throwing rocks and other objects, but fled when a strong police contingent arrived at the scene.

    Police said that a group of approximately 100 Olympiacos fans left the Zirinio sport facility on motorcycles half an hour after the start of an Olympiacos volleyball team game with the Kifissia team, and went to the local Panathinaikos fan club offices in Maroussi, where approximately 50 PAO fans were saiting for them.

    Police took one young man in for questioning, and collected some 15 empty beer bottles and a plethora of rocks from the site of the rumble, during which eight parked cars were damaged.

    Weather Forecast

    [13] Cloudy on Monday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 0C and 16C. Cloudy in Athens, with westerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 7C to 16C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 4C to 11C.

    [14] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

    The economy, the government's first 100 days in office and taxes were the main front-page items in Athens' Sunday newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The encroached (state-owned) land up for sale (to the encroachers, be they individuals or building cooperatives, in exchange for deeds to the properties) in effort to raise money for the ailing economy".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Sweeping changes in education system and job market".

    AVGHI: "Stifling EU 'custodianship' on the economy".

    AVRIANI: "They're (government) withdrawing the shameful amendment on the property transfers tax".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Rage over the parental property transfers taxation".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Sur-tax on medium and large size real estate properties".

    EPOCHI: "They (government) take measures, we take to the streets - Drastic reduction in salaries and pensions, increases in VAT and fuel taxes, and privatisations being planned".

    ETHNOS: "Opinion poll: The people hope, and support - The people willing to make sacrifices, but want results".

    KATHIMERINI: "One-hundred days of arrhythmia - Lack of daring and absence of determination characterise the government".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "The people will raise obstacles against the attack by the government, capital and the EU".

    LOGOS: "Impasse in the government after the 'visit' of the EU experts".

    NIKI: "The photo-finish of the (government's first) 100 days (in office) - The Papandreou government tallies its victories and defeats".

    PARON: "What was behind the...'chance' meeting (on New Year's eve) between prime minister Papandreou and main opposition New Democracy's number 2 man Dimitris Avramopoulos at the latter's house in the village Elliniko in Arcadia prefecture".

    PROTO THEMA: "Closure of the professional premises of doctors and lawyers who do not give receipts".

    REALNEWS: "Ministers vs. ministers - Civil war in government".

    TO VIMA: "The ministers' Calgary - The thirty days that will judge the economy".

    VRADYNI: "The salaries that will be 'scissored' - All the changes in the public sector".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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