|Saturday, 16 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-01-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 18 January 2010 Issue No: 3399
 Papandreou, Christofias at delivery of rebuilt villageIn a ceremony on Sunday attended by visiting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, the tragedy-stricken village of Artemida, completely rebuilt with money donated by Cyprus, was officially delivered to inhabitants. The village had been completely destroyed in mega-fires that raged through the Peloponnese and the prefecture of Ileia in the summer of 2007, during which 23 of Artemida's inhabitants lost their lives.
"For decades now, during the problems faced by the Cypriot people, it was a habit to call Cypriots our brothers. Today, they have proved this themselves through their actions," Papandreou stated at ceremony.
"During difficult times we are not alone. As in the past, so in the future Greece will stand beside Cyprus and whole-heartedly support its efforts for a just solution to unite the island," the Greek premier added.
Christofias, likewise, noted that "when Greece runs to Cyprus' aid at difficult times and shows solidarity with Cyprus, then it should be considered a matter of course that Cyprus, with the powers it possessed, should come to the aid of Greece."
The Cyprus president said that the reconstruction project in Artemida had a total budget of 14 million euros, which included flood prevention works, support and safety works and aesthetic improvements for the village. In addition to the various works, Cyprus had decided a series measures for the financial support of local farmers that were gradually beginning, and had approved the building of a central sewage system.
Papandreou said that his own visit was a follow-up of a visit to fire-stricken regions last October, to indicate that his pledge for hope after the disaster would be translated into action.
He said a number of measures were being planned for the prevention of forest fires and to improve protection against them, a report on which was due at the end of the month. Among these he listed a re-organisation of the fire brigade, purchase of new vehicles and equipment, creation of new airborne units and updated protection plans.
The ceremony ended with the unveiling of the new village square, to be henceforth named Cyprus Square, in the presence of the delegation from Cyprus, the government and local government officials.
Papandreou and Christofias had earlier deposited flowers at shrines set up just outside the village in memory of the victims of the fires, as well as visiting a new oil press and one of the houses rebuilt with funds from Cyprus.
The premier and Cyprus president were each presented with an olive sapling by the village, as well as the key to the municipality of Zaharo, to which the village belongs.
 Samaras urges grass-roots elections for ONNEDAddressing main opposition New Democracy's youth group ONNED on Sunday, ND leader Antonis Samaras urged younger supporters of ND to follow the example of their elders and allow the grass-roots to elect ONNED's new leader.
"Open wide the doors of your organisation also and feel the same love and response from the ordinary ONNED member that ND felt when it changed everything, electing a president from the grass roots," Samaras said.
He was also scathing about the performance of ruling PASOK's government during its first 100 days in office, saying that even high-ranking members of PASOK complained about the "incompetence, dithering, confusion and contradictions" displayed in that time.
Samaras particularly dwelt on the government's proposed bill for giving migrants the right to acquire Greek nationality and stressed that "the more they try to make the Greek people forget their identity and history, the more they make Greeks rally around their values and ideals".
He underlined that Greece was currently the only country faced with uncontrolled waves of illegal immigration and that the current government was rushing to legalise everyone and thus attract even greater numbers.
Urging the government to reconsider, he said ND's position was that Greece adopt the same system currently existing in Germany, introduced under the social democrats of Gerhard Schroeder.
ND's leader also noted that there were areas where the current government was doing well and that ND would give credit where this was due and not follow PASOK's previous tactic of opposing everything indiscriminately, without offering solutions.
He indicated his own intention to break with some of ND's past practices in creating a new course for the party, noting that this might lead to reactions from certain quarters. While noting that no one could doubt the work done by past ND governments, he stressed that he only now paid heed to the general demand that ND should change, stop dwelling on the past and tackle the problems of the future.
 KKE: Election result not positiveCommunist Party of Greece's (KKE) central committee on Sunday announced its final conclusion on the outcome of the recent Oct. 4. general elections, together with the party's actions on the whole.
According to the announcement, the result was "not positive for the popular movement", but it highlights KKE's strength, as it said, "which will apparent in the future if the decision of the 18th congress of the party will be followed."
The conclusions are based on party's local organisations, general committees and other bodies' reports.
 Tsipras attacks gov't in addressAttacking ruling PASOK for failing to fulfill its pre-election promises, as he said, Coalition of the Left (SYN) party leader Alexis Tsipras on Sunday stressed that there was an alternative plan for Greece's exit from the crisis and this was the one proposed by the party and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) alliance.
Addressing a SYN party meeting, Tsipras accused the government of submitting to the dictates of the EU and the neoliberal lobby that dominated Europe. The measures being adopted for the economy would only create a vicious circle and lead to new problems, such as a rise in unemployment, he added.
"The medicine is worse than the disease itself. The people did not vote for [Prime Minister] George Papandreou so that he could carry out the policies announced by [former New Democracy leader] Costas Karamanlis," Tsipras stressed.
Tsipras, who is also head of the SYRIZA Parliamentary group, also referred to internal tensions within the party alliance and stressed the need to "stop questioning all choices".
 Papoulias receives Cyprus presidentVisiting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias was received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias upon his arrival in Athens on Saturday.
The two men had a 45-minute meeting that focused on the latest developments in the Cyprus issue.
 Papoulias to meet Turkish PM in Abu DhabiPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias is to have a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday morning, on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi where he is to be the keynote speaker.
The meeting was requested by Erdogan, who will also be among the speakers at the summit.
Papoulias departed for Abu Dhabi on Sunday, as the guest of United Arab Emirates President Khalifa bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan, in order to speak at the World Future Energy Summit taking place on January 18-21.
During his stay in UAE, Papoulias will have meetings with the president and his successor, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan. The World Future Energy Summit is taking place under the aegis of the crown prince.
He will also have a meeting with Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, another speaker at the summit, and tour the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the city, considered the third-largest mosque in the world.
 Politician Mihalis Papaconstantinou passes away at 91Politician and former minister Mihalis Papaconstantinou died on Sunday at the age of 91. He was born in 1919 in Kozani, studied law and served as agriculture, justice and foreign minister in the government of Constantine Mitsotakis in 1990-1993.
 Finmin interview with Athens dailyThe tax bill will have been made law by March, in record time, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said in an interview published by the Sunday newspaper "Vima".
He said this would carry out the government's pledge to abolish independent taxation and unfair tax exemptions, making all these liable to a uniform system of income tax.
Regarding income policy in the public sector, the minister said that for salaries above 2,000 euros a month there would only be "salary maturation" and that the benefits budgets would be slashed by 10 percent, while there will also be restrictions in public-sector hiring.
 Farmers' protests escalateTravel in central and northern Greece continued to be beset by obstacles on Sunday, with drivers needing an average of six hours to make the journey between Athens and Lamia due to tractor blockades set up along the main north-south highway.
At one point, farmers also blocked the old national road to Lamia and smaller roads, forcing drivers onto the single remaining road between Lamia and Thebes, where they could rejoin the national highway, going via Amfissa, the mountain village of Arachova and Livadia.
Having negotiated the difficult roads and weather conditions along this route, motorists were then faced with yet more delays and obstacles between Amfissa and Lamia, where they were once again forced off the main route onto minor country roads and had to go through the centre of Lamia in order to get onto the highway once again.
The same problems in reverse faced drivers heading south toward Athens, since tractors had blocked three key junctions and ruled out all possible alternative routes in between.
In the north, meanwhile, farmers continued tractor blockades at two points along the Egnatia highway, at the Kerdyllia intersection in Serres and at the Chrysoupolis intersection in Kavala, except for a brief interval when they opened the road between Thessaloniki and Kavala so that fans could attend a football match between the Olympiacos Piraeus and local Kavala football clubs.
The Egnatia highway spans northern Greece from the port of Igoumenitsa in the west to the extreme northeastern border with Turkey.
Tractors were also continuing to gather at Strymonikos in Serres and at Triglia in Halkidiki but without disrupting traffic.
Further south, in the prefecture of Larissa, tractors were gathering at Nikaia and at Farsala but again without obstructing the movement of vehicles.
Not so lucky were those using the Vogatsikos intersection near Kastoria, where farmers were setting up intermittent tractor blockades at half-hour intervals.
In areas where the highway was blocked, cars were diverted onto the older road network to get around the closed intersections.
Meanwhile, farmers in Grevena have decided to join in the fray and began mobilisations by gathering in front of the prefecture building on Sunday. They are due to hold a further meeting on Monday morning to decide whether they will blockade the Egnatia highway intersection near Grevena.
The farmer protests also figured high in Bulgarian news headlines, after the Bulgarian transport and interior ministries warned Bulgarians to avoid travelling by road to Greece for the next 10 days in case border crossings between the two countries were closed during farmer protests.
Farmers in Fthiotida, to the south, are now trawling for reinforcements in the villages and expect to have additional forces for the Alamana blockade by Wednesday. They appear unconvinced by the assurances given by the government and appear determined to keep up the blockades.
They claim that they have not received sums that were promised them and now face outstanding debts to banks and land rents.
Among those visiting the blockades were MPs like former agriculture minister Sotiris Hatzigakis and current Citizens' Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, who spoke with farmers at length about production costs and the gap in the price paid to farmers for their produce and that paid by consumers. The minister promised measures that would benefit markets and consumers.
Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis stressed during a visit to the farmer blockade in Alamana that the critical state of the economy left no room for any further cash support, stressing that he had personally signed for farming subsidies just before Christmas.
Farmers countered by saying that this was money that was "theirs" and should have been paid to them and stressed that the numbers cited as agricultural benefits in the media were inflated and that such sums had never reached them.
 Shot security van guard dies of injuriesA 45-year-old security van guard that was shot in an attempted robbery on Saturday afternoon died in hospital a few hours later. The unlucky security guard was shot in the head and chest by armed robbers just after picking up the day's earnings from a branch of the Jumbo toy shop chain on Vari-Koropi Avenue.
Police say that victim was shot through the head by an automatic weapon, possibly a Kalashnikov rifle, because shells from that type of weapon were found at the scene. The man was inside the security van at the time and the bullets are believed to have pierced the door frame to hit him in the head.
The attempted robbery began after the slain guard and two colleagues had climbed back into their vehicle and were about to set off. They were set on by two unidentified armed men that blocked their exit using a pair of stolen vans that they had set on fire and then started shooting against the armoured van.
The other two guards suffered minor respiratory problems as a result of inhaling smoke from the two blazing vehicles but did not open the doors, so the would-be robbers were finally forced to give up and flee on motorbikes being driven by two accomplices.
The injured man was taken to Asklipio hospital in Voula, where he later died, while police are still searching to locate and arrest his attackers.
 Ref attacked at U-12 boys' football matchPolice in Veria have reported the arrest of two men aged 51 and 56 in Agia Varvara, Imathia prefecture for beating up a 19-year-old referee at a match of the local boy's championship in Imathia.
The two detainees apparently verbally assaulted, threatened and then attacked the young ref during a game held on Saturday. The game was interrupted but finally continued with a 10-minute delay, while the two men will be led before a Veria misdemeanours court prosecutor.
 Week-long hunger strike by Grevena prison inmatesA prisoners' rights group on Sunday claimed that 400 inmates of Grevena prison were now in a sixth day of a hunger to protest against poor conditions at the prison.
The group accused prison staff at Grevena of treating inmates "without any respect for their dignity and human rights".
The prisoners complain that they are routinely denied prison leave without adequate cause, or their requests are simply ignored - an issue that has also come to the attention of the national ombudsman in a special report.
 Five arrested in migrant-trafficking bustA border police patrol on Sunday arrested two suspected migrant traffickers and three illegal immigrants that were intercepted while driving down the Alexandroupolis-Orestiada national road.
The private vehicle was judged suspicious-looking and flagged down by police shortly after midnight.
 Patras Carnival kicks offThe Patras Carnival kicked off on Saturday night with an impressive opening ceremony complete with fireworks display and the entrance of the Carnival King to the tune of the municipal band at Georgios Square in the city.
Among the attractions were a huge helium balloon hovering above the square, from which a female acrobat scattered confetti on the crowds below, a video wall showing highlights of past carnivals, dancing and a tribute to the late Michael Jackson.
This year's carnival season will be one of the shortest due to an unusually early Easter, culminating in just one month with the grand parade on Feb. 14.
 Greek Superleague resultsPanathinaikos Athens on Sunday increased its lead over second-place Olympiacos Piraeus to seven points after easily downing last-place Panthrakikos Komotini 2-0 at home, shortly before Olympiacos lost ground from a score-less tie against a feisty Kavala side away.
PAOK Thessaloniki - Asteras Tripolis 1-0
Iraklis Thessaloniki - AEK Athens 1-1
Xanthi - Ergotelis Crete 1-0
Atromitos Peristeri - Larissa 2-1
Panionios Athens - Levadiakos Livadia 2-2
PAS Yiannina - Aris Thessaloniki 0-1
Standings (After 18 weeks)
ASTERAS TRIPOLIS 26
PAS YIANNINA 18
 Rainy, cold on MondayRain and low temperatures are forecast on Monday, especially in the southeast of the country, some snow in the north. Temperatures will range from 0C to 16C, with northerly winds measuring between 3 and 7 on the Beaufort scale. Light rain in Athens, 6C and 11C. Same in Thessaloniki, 3C-8C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe economy, the three-year stability programme sent to the EU and slashed benefits were the main front-page items in Athens' Sunday newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Rampant price-gouging at expense of farmers-consumers". [article on tractor blockades by farmers and their demands]
APOGEVMATINI: "9Richter 'quake' for real estate market. Exclusive: new regulatory plans and town planning measures to change construction map throughout Greece".
AVGHI: "A noose around the neck of the economy and society".
AVRIANI: "If the stability programme does not yield results in the next three months...rescue plan with national emergency government".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They are cutting services, 'freezing' benefits. What the inspectors from Brussels have demanded from the labour minister".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "A 'viceroy' for the figures. European Commission to place permanent inspector at Greek Statistics Service to continually monitor revenues and spending".
EPOCHI: "1,000,000 unemployed, 1,000 days austerity, 100 days of PASOK".
ETHNOS: "Double cutbacks of main and supplementary pensions. The government's final proposal for the new social insurance system".
KATHIMERINI: "The three wagers facing the [Stability] Programme. European Commission's approval, acceptance by the markets and carrying it out in spite of reactions at home".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Popular resistance and struggle to prevent the anti-popular measures. Against the black front formed by PASOK-ND-EU-plutocracy".
LOGOS: "Government optimistic that Stability Programme will be approved. [Prime Minister George Papandreou], Papaconstantinou arrange barrage of meetings with European officials".
NIKI: "With a ...shrimping net. Race for the return of five billion euros to Greece".
PARON: "Dark scenarios of consensus. Mitsotakis-Kyrkos suddenly set to save us".
REALNEWS: "MPs drawing sinecure salaries at ERT. Two members of PASOK Parliamentary group receiving double salaries".
VIMA: "Benefits slashed. What's happening with new taxes. Revealing interview with George Papanconstantinou".
VRADYNI: "How and when the 'closed' professions will open. An immediate priority on the government agenda".
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