|Saturday, 19 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-02-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 16 February 2010 Issue No: 3423
 PM Papandreou arrives in MoscowMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/V. Mourtis)
Prime Minister George Papandreou arrived here on Monday evening and will be holding high-level meetings on Tuesday with the Russian political leadership, President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, responding to the latter's invitation.
A review is expected to be made, during the prime minister's meetings, of progress that has been achieved in a wide spectrum of sectors, to which bilateral cooperation is extended.
In this framework, economic, commercial, military and political issues will be discussed. It is the Greek government's desire, on the model of very close cooperation on energy issues, as is being proved by the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline and the South Stream natural gas pipeline projects, that bilateral cooperation be extended to other sectors as well such as boosting Greek exports in the Russian market and attracting more Russian tourists (Greece supports the speedy progress of discussions on the abolition of visas for the holders of Russian passports).
The Greek side considers as being of crucial importance for bilateral cooperation the planning of 2014 as "Greece Year" in Russia and "Russia Year" in Greece. This planning coincides with the holding of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and provides the opportunity for the activation of Greek companies in relevant preparations, as well as for the exchange of know-how in the wake of the extremely successful Olympic Games hosted by Athens in 2004.
Moreover, views will be exchanged on issues of regional and international interest.
Papandreou is being accompanied on his visit to the Russian capital by Minister of State Haris Pamboukis, Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, the deputy responsible for energy Yiannis Maniatis, government spokesman George Petalotis and Culture Ministry Secretary General Lina Mendoni.
 PM's interview to ITAR TASSMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
Speaking in an interview with the Russian ITAR TASS news agency, Papandreou termed the level of Greek-Russian relations excellent adding that relations between the European Union and Russia have a strategic character.
"I express special satisfaction over my first visit to Moscow with the capacity of prime minister and I am convinced that my talks here will confirm the excellent level of our bilateral relations that reflect the traditional friendly relations of the two peoples throughout the centuries," the prime minister said.
"The European Union's relations with Russia are strategic and are based on the common interests of the two sides both in the political and the economic sector," Papandreou said and added that "mutual dependence and mutual supplementation between the EU and Russia particularly in the sectors of energy and the economy is a fact which is widely acknowledged since Russia is the biggest supplier of energy resources for the EU."
According to the Greek prime minister, Greece was and is absolutely and steadfastly in favour of cooperation between the North Atlantic Alliance and Russia "even in difficult periods."
"We support the deepening of political dialogue and practical cooperation and in particular we appreciate Russia's cooperation in efforts for the stabilisation of Afghanistan," he added.
Papandreou hailed the initiative by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev "which gave the inaugural momentum for the dialogue for a new European security architecture" that began and is developing on the basis of the so-called "Corfu Process."
Referring to the issue of Cyprus, the prime minister said that for the success of the talks Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community must proceed with a compromise.
"Unfortunately, there has not been substantive progress on important issues during the 15-month talks. We are aware that the negotiations are difficult but we believe that an agreement is possible. However, if Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership do not show the necessary political will for compromises, corresponding to that shown by (Cyprus) President (Demetris) Christofias, then I fear that it will be very difficult for us to have success in the talks," Papandreou stressed.
 'Ria Novosti'MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th . Avgerinos)
Visiting Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking to the Russian news agency "Ria-Novosti", stressed that Greece is expecting political support and not economic aid from the European Union.
"Greece did not appeal for economic aid to the international community or to the European Union. Greece intends and is capable of solving its problems alone," the prime minister said.
"We want to see and we are already seeing to a considerable degree political support on the part of European countries and their unshakeable adherrence to our unity," Papandreou further said, adding that "Greece found itself in the centre of attention in past weeks but as we are all aware it is a much wider problem, in which Portugal, Spain and the entire European economy are included."
Papandreou also criticised money markets, saying that "similar forces caused the global economic crisis a year ago and we Europeans must coordinate our response to it. The discussions held at the European Union's summit last week reflect this principle precisely."
Referring to the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, the prime minister said that the work for its construction can begin in six months.
"The institutional framework, including research on affects on the environment and the agreement on transit can be completed in the next six months and construction work can begin immediately after this," Papandreou concluded.
 Russian sources on Papandreou's Moscow visitMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th.Avgerinos)
The construction of the "South Stream" natural gas pipeline and the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline will be at the focus of talks between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and visiting Greek Prime Minister on Tuesday, according to the Russian "Interfax" news agency.
"These important common projects are in the course of their active impementation," the agency quoted a Kremlin source as saying. The same source added that "special attention will be given on trade and economic cooperation."
"Despite a marked decrease of the volume of trade caused by the international economic crisis, there exist good prospects for intensifying the mutually beneficial Greece-Russia partnership relation," the same source told Interfax.
According to the Kremlin, during the talks, issues of international interest, particularly President Medvedev's initiative for a new pact on European security, Russia-EU relations and Russia-Nato relations, will be also discussed.
 Gov't statement on PM's comment regarding EU, econ crisisThe Greek government spokesman issued a statement on Friday evening following press questions regarding same-day attributed comments to Prime Minister George Papandreou over a "timid" response by the European Union vis-à-vis the economic crisis.
"It is obvious that there was timidity, awkwardness and polyphony (of views) by the EU over the past few months of the crisis, the result being to undermine unified support (by the EU) over this period. Conversely, during last night's (Wednesday) Summit in Brussels a 'significant decision' was taken, something that the prime minister praised at today's (Thursday) Cabinet meeting (in Athens). The EU provided us with political and institutional support," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said in a prepared statement.
"The battle, however, that Europe is waging today against international speculation is not over a battle to transform policies and regulations in order to deal with international markets' ills," he said, concluding:
"We are also waging this battle today for our own credibility, so that our country can again stand on its feet."
 Poll: Tough measures backedA majority of respondents in a recent poll reportedly favored the government's handling of the ongoing and severe economic crisis in the country as well as related measures.
According to results of a poll published in an Athens weekly, 60.7 percent of respondents said the recently measures were "heading in the right direction"; 65 percent said the measures were "fair and necessary" (24.9 percent disagreed), while 63.7 percent blamed politicians for the serious crisis.
The poll was conducted by the Alco firm and published in the weekly "Proto Thema".
 Bakoyannis: Some in ND attempting to show that I'm not wantedFormer foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis gave her first full-length press interview, published on Sunday, in which she is quoted as saying she feels somewhat "unwanted" in main opposition New Democracy (ND) party "because some people are trying to show me that I am unwanted".
Her interview, appearing in the Sunday edition of the daily "Vima", comes more than two months after Bakoyannis lost out to Antonis Samaras in a hotly contested ND leadership race to succeed former prime minister Costas Karamanlis.
Conversely, the former minister dismissed any notion of establishing a new political party, stressing that "parties are created when there are serious social needs; when there is a vacuum of representation for a segment of society."
 FinMin on Greek stability and growth programmeBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris-M. Aroni)
Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, in statements he made during a press conference organised on Greece's economic state by the European Policy Center a few hours before the convening of the Eurogroup here on Monday, reiterated the Greek government's determination to implement the stability and growth programme strictly with the aim of reducing the monetary deficit below the 3 percent limit by the year 2012.
Papaconstantinou stressed that the Greek economy's two major problems are the monetary crisis and the economic recession.
The minister said that the present government "inheritted serious monetary problems from the previous one that swelled with the economic crisis and came to the surface." The result of the complete collapse of the receiving apparatuses of the previous government was that the present government ascertained last October that the deficit was more than double the one which had been announced in June, meaning 12.5 percent of GDP from 6 percent, he added.
Moreover, Papaconstantinou noted the government's "readiness to proceed in March, after the Commission's relevant evaluation, and provided that it is considered necessary, with the adoption of additional measures." He further said that what is required now, after the declaration of support that was adopted by the EU's heads of state and governments at last Thursday's summit, is the existence of specialisation of the support apparatus that will be activated if it is considered necessary.
As regards the economic recession, the minister stressed that the Greek economy is facing a series of structural problems, such as the functioning of the public sector, the pensioning system, as well as problems in the sector of health and education. He also referred to the lack of the Greek economy's competitiveness which is reflected in the foreign balance's deficit.
Outlining measures to curb public expenditures that were announced by the government, the Greek minister referred to the freeze on salaries in the public sector. More specifically, he mentioned the curbing of bonuses for civil servants by 10 percent on average in 2010. He explained that this corresponds to a decrease in nominal remuneration by 4 percent of GDP, on average, compared to 2009.
On the question of state revenues, Papaconstantinou focused on measures announced by the government such as an increase in taxes for fuel, cigarettes and drinks, the cracking down on tax evasion and the shifting of the tax burden to higher incomes.
 Eurogroup president on Greek economyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker said here Monday that it was up to Greek authorities to prove whether the plan they adopted to bring Greece's deficit down by 4 per cent in 2010 is adequate.
Speaking to reporters before the start of an euro-area countries' meeting, Juncker also noted that Greece's commitment should be implemented absolutely and added that in next March assessment a decision will be made on whether additional measures will be needed.
 Shrove Monday ushers in LentThe beginning of Lent commenced in Greece on Monday, as the day is marked by the religious holiday of Shrove Monday or "Clean Monday", ahead of Orthodox Christian Easter on April 4 this year. Traditionally the advent of Lent in the east Mediterranean nation is accompanied by an extended family dinner of seafood, flattened bread ("Lagana"), olives, pickled produce and other non-dairy and non-meat items -- in keeping with the 40-day fast followed by the faithful ahead of Easter, known in the Greek Orthodox faith as the "Great Lent".
Additionally, the Shrove Monday custom calls for the flying of kites by young and old throughout the country. In Athens, the best-known spot for kite-flying is on the Filopappou Hill, to the south of the Acropolis.
Different customs and rituals, however, are celebrated in Greece and Cyprus, depending on the region.
Despite the relatively early date for Lent and Easter in 2010, Shrove Monday is often seen as the unofficial beginning of Spring as well, although this year's commemoration will witness the northern parts of the country blanketed in snow.
 Evros prefecture on red alert due to floodsThe Evros prefecture, northern Greece, in the north of the country is in a red alert state after over 30,000 acres of land have been flooded.
At noon on Monday, the settlement of Poros near Feres was evacuated after an embankment broke in the region of Petalo, while vehicles and people have been forbidden from approaching the region. Inhabitants have been taken to relatives' homes and to hotels.
Moreover, in the morning inhabitants of the village of Lavara were obliged to leave their homes and in five homes belongings were taken to the town hall of the municipality of Orfeas. Flooded homes are estimated as being about 70.
 Suspect in policeman's fatal shooting arraignedA 30-year-old Ukrainian national was led before a local prosecutor on Saturday on homicide charges related to the fatal shooting of a police office last year in the central Athens district of Kypseli.
The man's 34-year-old brother, the alleged "shooter", is wanted in the case. The detained man was arrested in the working-class Piraeus district of Perama a day earlier, along with two women.
Both men are wanted in the Ukraine on numerous felony warrants.
According to police, a service revolver belonging to the fallen officer was found in the residence.
The alleged gunman managed to flee during the raid after he saw police outside the residence. The fugitive stopped a passing SUV, forced the driver out and fled in the vehicle. The vehicle was found at the port of Perama shortly afterwards.
Policeman Spyros Theodorou was shot by a man on April 2, 2009 from behind as he and his partner were questioning a suspect on the street, and following a phone call reporting a car theft. The other officer was shot but later recovered.
Theodorou, 30, died from his wounds two months later.
 One foreign national found dead; trio injured in fracasTwo separate and bloody incidents in central Athens left one Albanian man, 27, dead and three foreign nationals, identified only as Asian, injured in early morning hours of Sunday.
The Albanian man was found shot and barely alive just before dawn near the Fokionos Negri square of Kypseli district. He died en route to a hospital.
In the other incident, the three men were injured with multiple stab wounds in a fracas between them during a quarrel in an apartment off Omonia square.
All three were hospitalised.
 Robbers dressed at police hijack bank manager, open ATMsRobbers made off with an undisclosed amount of money from a bank's two ATMs after abducting the same bank's manager during a bogus police traffic stop in the central port city of Volos on Friday afternoon.
According to reports, the three suspects, two of whom wore police uniforms, signalled the bank manager to stop for a routine traffic inspection. He was subsequently taken, at gunpoint, back to the bank in a closed van and threatened in order to open the ATMs.
The man was left tied up in the bank.
 Farmers again block Promachonas border postProtesting farmers again blocked traffic on the important Promachonas border post on the Greek-Bulgarian frontier on Saturday morning, following an opening of the road the previous days.
The blocking of border posts by disgruntled farmers over the past few weeks has generated international media attention and heated criticism on both sides of the border.
 Chinese New Year's celebrated in central AthensA special event in downtown Athens was held on Sunday in front of town hall to mark Chinese New Year, and specifically the Year of the Tiger, as festivities coincided with the last weekend of carnival celebrated throughout Greece.
The event was co-organised by the city of Athens and the Chinese embassy in Greece.
In opening the event, China's ambassador to Greece, Luo Linquan, cited the fact that Sino-Greek diplomatic relations already number 38 years, while noting that trade and investment relations culminated with the 2006 signing of a strategic partnership agreement between Beijing and Athens.
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis also spoke at the event, which featured traditional Chinese troupes.
 Shock loss for PAOLeague-leader Panathinaikos Athens lost ground to second-place Olympiacos Athens on Sunday after suffering a shocking 2-0 defeat at the Athens Olympic Stadium to Kavala, the most ambitious provincial team this season. Conversely, Olympiacos came within three points of bitter rival Panathinaikos by easily downing a touch Asteras Tripolis team away hours earlier.
In other action:
Panthrakikos Komotini-AEK Athens 1-2
Panionios Athens-Iraklis Thessaloniki 0-0
Levadiakos-Atromitos Athens 1-1
Aris Thessaloniki-Ergotelis Crete 2-1
PAS Yiannina-PAOK Thessaloniki 0-1
Standings after 22 weeks of play:
1. Panathinaikos 52 points
2. Olympiacos 49
3. PAOK 47
4. AEK 36
5. Aris 35
6. Kavala 30
7. Atromitos 30
8. Asteras 29
9. Ergotelis 28
10. Xanthi 25
12. Larissa 24
14. PAS Yiannina 21
15. Levadiakos 20
16. Panthrakikos 9
 Cloudy, rainy on TuesdayCloudy and rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 0C and 19C. Cloudy with possible showers in Athens, with southerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 8C to 16C. Cloudy and rainy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 11C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe ongoing deficit and state debt crisis plaguing Greece, its international repercussions, measures to deal with the crisis, and reactions to measures, again dominated the front-page headlines of Athens' Sunday newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Reduction of 70 percent in pensions".
APOGEVMATINI: "Personal 'piggy bank' for supplementary pensions".
AVGHI: "Medicine worse than the ailment".
AVRIANI: "George (Papandreou, the prime minister) should go to China and find investors for utilities, ports, banks and buyers for Greek bonds".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Economic terror scenaria."
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Say goodbye to the Greece you knew -- IMF, Commission, ECB and our sorry state ... help country turn back years".
EPOCHI: "Europe is 'Animal Farm': 'Guardians' in power, 'pigs' in rebellion."
ETHNOS: "The final plan for Greece from ... guarantor powers".
KATHIMERINI: "Check's due: Europeans demand extra measures".
LOGOS: "Terror scenarios for wage-earners and pensioners".
PARON: "Nightmare 'Plan b' by France, Germany".
PROTO THEMA (weekly): "New objective tax criteria."
RIZOSPASTIS: "Campaign for social insurance and dealing with anti-popular storm".
VIMA: "Dora Bakoyannis: I feel unwanted -- Samaras, Karamanlis have disappointed me".
VRADYNI: "The salvage package (of measures) for the Greek economy".
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