|Sunday, 17 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-03-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 2 March 2010 Issue No: 3434
 Rehn: Additional measures needed to cut Greek deficitEU Commissioner Olli Rehn on Monday tersely said here that additional measures must be taken by the Greek government in order to meet a Stability & Growth Programme target of cutting its double-digit budget deficit by four percentage points in 2010.
Rehn's comments came during a highly anticipated press briefing at the European Commission's offices in downtown Athens, following a whirlwind round of contacts with top Greek ministers, the Bank of Greece governor and PM George Papandreou earlier in the day.
The EU Commissioner for monetary affairs said the additional measures were discussed in his talks with Greek leadership, while emphasising that priorities must be properly set vis-a-vis public finances, particularly regarding expenditures. He reminded that it is up to the Papandreou government to determine when and where to announce the measures, with Greece set to submit a report to the Commission on March 15 on the effectiveness of austerity measures taken to date. A comprehensive review is scheduled for May, he added
In response to another press question, Rehn repeated that the Greek government has not requested economic aid from Brussels and that the eurozone is determined to take coordinated action to ensures the common's currency's stability.
Queried over rampant speculation in the local press that the Commission is pressuring Athens to cut the so-called "14th month salary" (Easter and holiday bonus) in the public sector, Rehn merely responded that various measures were discussed with the government.
He repeated, however, that the Commission has proposed a decrease in the state budget's outlays for salaries and bonuses, although it is up to the Greek government itself to chose the measures that will meet this target.
"The markets must be convinced that Greece will be able to achieve its goals regarding the decrease of the deficit, in the event that the government's plan and the additional measures are approved by the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank," Rehn said.
Asked whether the additional measures must be on the side of extra revenues or aimed at expenditures, he pointed out that in mid-February the Ecofin council advised the government emphasis expenditures, and the measures that will be taken in this direction should be of a permanent nature.
He said that he believes that the additional measures will achieve the 4-percentage-point reduction target, something he said is essential for European partners and markets to be convinced of the reliability of Greece's economic policy.
He reiterated that in his view it is very important that the government deals not only with immediate and short-term measures, but with a promotion of structural reforms to boost the competitiveness of the Greek economy as well.
 FinMin after meeting with Rehn: Government will do everything necessaryFinance minister George Papaconstantinou met on Monday with visiting European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn, and reiterated afterwards that the Greek government will do everything necessary, including additional measures, for the implementation of Greece's Stability and Development program.
Rehn said that additional measures are necessary, and encouraged the government to examine and announce the new measures.
Papaconstantinou said the meeting with Rehn was "open and constructive", adding that he outlined in detail the country's Stability and Development program, the measures that have been taken and are being materialised, the major changes in the budget and taxation, the bill that will render the national statistics service ESYE an independent agency, and all the initiatives taken by the government.
The finance minister underlined that every program has its hazards and risks, and that he discussed those problems with Rehn, adding that the government will do everything necessary, including new measures, for adherence to the Stability and Development program and reduction of the fiscal deficit by 4.0 percentage points of GDP in the current year.
Rehn expressed conviction that, together with the Greek government, the fiscal and economic difficulties will be faced.
He said it had come out from the meeting that measures are being implemented, and that the Commission welcomes this.
The Commissioner added, however, that hazards exist that must be confronted, adding that additional measures are necessary and that he encourages the Greek government to examine and announce the new measures for achievement of the target.
Rehn further added that he is aware that the effort is not easy, but the Commission will continue to back the Greek authorities to put the Greek economy back on proper track, to the benefit of the Greek citizens.
 Rehn briefed on public investments program by economy ministerEconomy, Competitiveness and Shipping minister Louka Katseli met Monday with visiting EU Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn, for what she called a "very constructive" discussion on the government's measures to boost the market and rekindle the Greek economy.
Katseli briefed Rehn on the fundamental policies such as the estimated 10.3 billion euros public investments program, and the course of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) covering the period 2007-2013, the absorption of which currently stands at 6 percent and is expected to exceed 15 percent by the end of the year.
She said she also briefed the Commissioner on the mobilisation of private investments, and particularly the promotion of simplification of procedures for the establishment, licensing and operation of private enterprises.
Rehn was further briefed on Greece's new development law and the package of policies aimed at promoting competitiveness and upgrading the ministry's services dealing with commerce, as well as the new financing instruments such as the Greek Developmental Fund.
Katseli explained that fiscal streamlining goes hand-in-hand with development and the improvement of competitiveness, adding that she will be in close cooperation with the Commission and actively support the advancement of Greece's Stability and Development program.
 Scuffles with protestors during Rehn's meeting with labour ministerSmall-scale scuffles broke out between protestors and police on Monday afternoon outside the General Secretariat for Social Insurance, as European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn was arriving at the building to meet Labour and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos.
Police said that about 100 individuals from the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Trade Unionists Network, who were taking part in a protest picket outside the building, along with members of the SYRIZA party alliance, started to shake the protective barriers around the building.
Law enforcement officers intervened to drive them back, making limited use of tear gas, and there were some scuffles that quickly ended.
The Commissioner entered the building through a side door and the protestors departed after about an hour.
 PM chairs Cabinet meeting on justice system; proposals madePrime Minister George Papandreou on Monday chaired a Cabinet meeting on justice sector issues, which was also attended by the presidents of the country's three highest courts and the Supreme Court prosecutor.
Papandreou stressed, in his opening remarks, that the people need to feel that justice protects them and that, in recent years, there has been a sentiment that the power of law has been overshadowed by the power of the mighty, and called on the high courts' functionaries to frankly state their views for a justice system worthy of the expectations of the Greek people.
"The justice system is not functioning in a way that protects the citizens from lawlessness, and the sentiment is that no one is punished in Greece, while the Greek citizens and leaders of the European Union countries are asking whether justice exists in Greece," Papandreou said, adding that frequently economic crime remains unpunished.
Turning to the crisis Greece is facing, the premier stressed that it is a political crisis that is only the tip of the iceberg of a generalised crisis, and that is why it is necessary to tackle the causes of the crisis and not only the symptom, namely the political crisis.
In recent years, he added, there has been corruption and extensive lawlessness in Greece, coupled by a weakness of the institutions to stop such lawlessness.
"The well-aimed and tireless efforts of members of the judiciary are not enough for independent justice to reach optimum performance. Legislative measures are also necessary," Supreme Court prosecutor Ioannis Tentes stressed, addressing the cabinet meeting on Monday, adding that the "responsibility for the smooth operation of the justice system is shared with the government."
In response to a relevant comment by Papandreou, the Supreme Court chief prosecutor also stressed that there is "no impunity in Greece today", adding that the members of the judiciary perform their duty.
Proposals ensuring the issuing of correct rulings, within a sensible timetable, were presented at the Cabinet meeting by Supreme Court President Ioannis Kalamidas.
He suggested the extension of criminal courts' working hours and a more frequent utilisation by the prosecutors of legal procedure articles, allowing the rejection of lawsuits and appeals. He also suggested the reduction of court trial suspensions; a decriminalisation of minor offences and their punishment with the imposition of administrative penalties; establishment of a judicial police force and the breaking down of the massive Athens' court of appeals into at least two appellate courts that will operate in the greater Athens region.
"It is essential to safeguard judicial independence ensuring that Justice will be administered in a transparent, unbiased and fair manner," Court of Audit President Giorgos Kourtis merely stated, noting that specific proposals will be delivered in written form to Cabinet members.
"The problems faced by the justice system are similar to those faced by the public administration and the Greek society," Council of State President Panagiotis Pikramenos stated.
He underlined that the problem is the large number of cases brought to the Council of State due to mismanagement and conflicting legislation, lack of regulations on a number of issues and a "thoughtless" litigiousness.
Pikramenos said that in 2009 alone, the Council of State reviewed a total 7,000 cases, corresponding to 580 a month or 25 a day, stressing that no effective solution will be reached unless the number of court cases is reduced.
His proposals to this end included judicial cost hikes, improvement of court personnel's performance and the abolition of obsolete procedures.
 German Chancellor on Greek economyBELRIN (ANA-MPA/P. Stangos)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday denied reports that an item would be entered in the German budget in view of possible economic aid to Greece, and ruled out any prospect of a bailout, stressing that what is essential is the materialisation of the measures that have been announced by the Greek government so as to gain the confidence of the markets.
In a televised interview on ARD public television, ahead of a meeting on Friday with Greek prime minister George Papandreou, whom she has invited to Berlin, Merkel said that, for the time being, the best way to help Greece is to make it clear that it has to fulfill its duties.
She reiterated he concern over the pressures on the euro in the midst of the chiefly Greek crisis, and insisted on the necessity of tackling the problem at its roots.
Noting Greece's high deficit and "lost credibility", Merkel said she appreciated the fact that the Greek government is planning very courageous economising and structural measures, adding that it now must be ensured that the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be convinced that the Greek Stability Program and spending cuts will be able to truly solve the problems.
Asked if "German billions" will be needed to bail out Greece, citing reports that a relevant item will be entered in the German budget, Merkel said that "there is no question" of such an eventuality, and cited the "No Bailout" clause in the EU Treaty.
She said that "right now we can help Greece by stating clearly that it has to fulfill its duties", and clarified that no other decisions have been taken.
Merkel, however, averted answering a question on the prospect of private banks kicking into action with capital from the state Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau (KfW), noting only that the essential issue is the Greek government's materialisation of its measures.
She said that Greece has announced that it will reduce its deficit by four percentage points of GDP by the end of the year, but added that this decision has not yet been set in motion in order that one could say that they (the measures) are being materialised, and therefore materialisation is the main issue.
"I hope the markets will trust in the efforts deployed by Greece," Merkel said, adding that, in that direction, "we truly want to support Greece".
 Junker: IMF aid to Greece not necessaryInternational Monetary Fund (IMF) aid to Greece "is not necessary", Eurogroup leader and Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean-Claude Junker said in an interview with the German financial newspaper Handelsblatt appearing on Monday.
Junker noted that the Greek citizens must remain strictly focused on the target of curtailing the fiscal deficit in order to convince the money markets following the recent speculative actions that aggravated the crisis.
 Head of Euro-Parliament Socialists calls for solidarity; meeting with PM"The measures already taken by the government are very tough. In the case of the adoption of additional ones I think that the EU should make its solidarity toward Greece more specific," Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament Chairman Martin Schulz said Monday after his meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou at the Maximos Mansion in Athens.
"The message should be that the problems that exist within the eurozone should be resolved within its framework and in compliance with the spirit of solidarity between the member-states," he concluded.
The prime minister also hosted a reception in honor of Schulz and the PASOK party MEPs.
Earlier, Schulz met with Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.
After the meeting, Papaconstantinou cited what he called cooperation to promote Greece's issues at the European Parliament by the socialist group, which he called a "clear voice" that supports Greece in an extremely difficult situation.
The FinMin said the latter group is placing European solidarity at the forefront, especially amid the difficult decisions facing the Greek people.
On his part, Schulz characterised the volition of the Greek government to undertake specific austerity measures as very significant, "which are difficult yet necessary". He added that European socialists are sending a clear message that Europe's duty is to insure solidarity amongst European countries.
"We support and back Greece," he reiterated, calling on this message to be conveyed to all European institutions.
 Alternate FM confers with Europarliament Socialist Group leaderVisiting president of the Socialist group in the European Parliament Martin Schulz on Monday expressed the Group's complete support for Greece in its difficult economic situation, after a meeting with Alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas in Athens.
Schulz stressed that the situation is difficult and "respect for the immense measures being taken by the Greek government to face the economic crisis is mandatory".
Referring to European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn's concurrent visit to Athens, the president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Group underlined that "the government's measures must first be implemented and become conscience among the Greek people before the imposition of additional measures on the shoulders of the people is attempted".
On his part, Droutsas, in statements after meeting, characterised "the confidence shown by the European parliament and the Socialist Group in the Greek government" as an "important indication of solidarity".
The two officials also discussed issues of Greek interest, including Greek-Turkish relations and the "Agenda 2014" initiative for the integration of the Western Balkan countries in the Euroatlantic institutions, and also the course of the Cyprus issue ahead of Schulz's visit on Tuesday to Nicosia where he will have a series of meetings with Cypriot officials.
 U.S. ambassador and Droutsas prepare PM's visit to WashingtonU.S. Ambassador to Athens Daniel Speckhard had a meeting with Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Monday to arrange the details of a visit by Prime Minister George Papandreou to Washington next week, when the Greek premier will meet U.S. President Barack Obama.
"I know that President Barack Obama is greatly looking forward to this meeting with the Greek prime minister," Speckhard said as he left.
He said the 45-minute meeting had focused on preparing a good agenda for the talks between Papandreou and Obama.
The ambassador said that these would revolve mainly around the economic situation and a broad range of strategic issues, while he appeared confident that it would be highly productive and a successful visit.
 Romanian FM Baconschi in AthensÁlternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and visiting Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi discussed bilateral, regional and international issues here on Monday.
2010 marks the 130th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, with the EU and NATO allies reiterating efforts to further promote cooperation in the sectors of trade, environmental protection and political ties.
Baconschi, who also met with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, also referred to the tripartite cooperation between Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, noting that Bucharest is aiming for another meeting by the three countries' leadership in May.
The commemoration of the anniversary of Greek-Romanian diplomatic ties will be celebrated with an exhibition of historical and diplomatic documents o display in Athens and Bucharest.
After the meeting, Droutsas said Bucharest is showing a substantial interest in south Balkan developments and Athens' "Agenda 2014" initiative, while expressing his hope that all concerned countries will take necessary steps to boost their European prospects.
He also referred to Romania and Greece's mutual cooperation on transport and environmental issues in the Black Sea.
On his part, the Romanian minister expressed his country's solidarity to Greece amid the current economic crisis and implementation of its closely watched Stability Programme. As he stated, Greece is fifth in investments in Romania, whereas Bucharest foresees further development. He added that several Greek banks are active in Romania, calling for a further increase in their activities in the Romanian market.
Baconschi also referred to energy security issues and to proposed gas pipeline projects, saying they will offer sufficient supplies and "independence to the European market."
Finally, in response to a press question on the fYROM "name issue", he expressed a hope that "while the UN procedures are underway, and given that the Greek government has declared its flexibility (on the matter), we expect from the other side to discuss a mutually acceptable solution".
 Name issue solution a 'matter of political will', Droutsas assertsSKOPJE (ANA-MPA - N. Frangopoulos)
Finding a solution to the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was now a matter of political will, Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas asserted in sections of an interview appearing in the Skopje-based newspaper "Dnevnik" on Monday.
"We can find a solution even tomorrow, if the necessary political will exists. We won't be inventing the wheel. We have been discussing the issue for 16 years. The limits of each side are clear. And the outline of the solution has been determined. What is required now is political will and Greece has this," Droutsas said.
Asked how he envisaged a solution "without winners and losers," Droutsas stressed that this would be a name with a geographic determinant for every and all uses.
"Now, it is an issue of having the political will to take the next step. A solution without winners and losers. A name that you will be proud to use and which will reflect the reality. A name that will finally allow us to focus on the things that unite us. And in these difficult times, I think it is a mistake to raise obstacles to our cooperation," he added.
Only parts of the interview with Droutsas were published in 'Dnevnik' on Monday, with the full interview due to appear in Tuesday's issue.
Greece objects to FYROM's use of the name 'Republic of Macedonia' on the grounds that it paves the way for future territorial claims against the wider geographic region of Macedonia, 51 percent consists of the northern Greek province having the same name and other parts of which lie in Bulgaria. The Greek side additionally disputes claims made by FYROM's Slav population to descent from Alexander the Great, an ancient Macedonian king and general born in a town that now lies well within the Greek side of the border.
 ND leader Samaras confers with ADEDY leadershipMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met on Monday with the presidium of the civil servants' umbrella federation ADEDY.
Shadow alternate finance minister Christos Staikouras said afterwards that the government was holding deliberations in the absence of the social partners, while the prime minister was casting blame on ND, the European Commission, speculators and rating firms for the present state of the economy.
"This government is to blame for nothing. However, five months after it took office, the only measures it has taken are in the direction of raising indirect taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and fuel on increasing taxes on real estate," Staikouras said, adding that all other measures are simply being announced, but not implemented, and constantly being altered towards the worse, and cited the incomes policy as an example.
He said that ND once again calls on the government to put aside its incessant "measures-talk" and actually take measures and enrich its policies with "developmental breathers" that were recently proposed by ND, because the tolerance and endurance of the Greek society is not unlimited.
On the prime minister's proposal for a freeze on pensions, Staikouras noted that in mid-January, in statements on incomes policy, the prime minister had pledged that for incomes of up to 2,000 euros, there would be a raise above the inflation rate and a gradual reduction of benefits, while 15 days later, after his address to the nation, he spoke of a freeze on salaries and an across-the-board 10 percent reduction in benefits.
How, he added, according to "leaks", it appears that all those were changing again for the worse.
The government must finally take the proper action, and it must enrich its policies with the 23 developmental breathers that ND has proposed, Staikouras added.
ADEDY president Spyros Papaspyros said after the meeting that the problem is the recession, and the country needs to come out of the recession and tackle the problems, warning that ADEDY intends to continue with more mobilisations.
 KKE rejects employment minister's invitation for discussion on social security issuesThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday rejected employment minister Andreas Loverdos' invitation for a meeting to discuss social security issues.
In a letter to Loverdos, KKE leader Aleka Papariga attributed the rejection of the invitation "to the fact that we are certain that this meeting cannot provide briefing, because it is known what the government intends to do on the pretext of the deficits and debt in order to proceed with the most barbarian anti-popular measures we have witnesses in recent years".
Papariga said in her letter that "dialogue and consultation have developed into a purely ornamental process, at least based on our own experience and positions, a process that aspires to keeping the people on hold, cultivates a pointless and chiefly dangerous waiting attitude among the people".
"Only those parties that share the government's strategic concept or disagree on matters of secondary importance can contribute to such a 'dialogue', especially in conditions of crisis," Papariga continued.
Consequently, she added, "a meeting today can only cause disorientation, delusion and confusion, all the more so since we have clearly said to the people that now is a time for mass, organised action".
 Papariga at event on Women's DayCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking on Monday at the Apollon stadium in the Athens district of Rizoupoli on the occasion of Women's International Day (March 8), appealed for popular reaction, while also calling on the people "to disprove the prime minister who is claiming that he is being stopped by citizens in the street who propose to offer their wages and salaries."
Referring to statements by EU commissioner for the economy Olli Rehn, she said that it is "inconceivable and impossible" for the Greek people "to accept to deliver to the sharks of money achievements that they have gained with blood, toil and sacrifices."
Papariga further said that the ruling PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy parties "must be held accountable to the people, as well as the other opposition parties, which claimed that the European Union is a one-way path and that Greece cannot stand on its feet without the EMU and the euro."
 SYN leader in Nicosia: Cyprus issue is 'first and foremost a European problem'NICOSIA(ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader, on a visit to Nicosia with European Left chairman Lothar Bisky, said on Monday that the Cyprus issue is "first and foremost a European problem", adding that the EU cannot remain silent in the face of the division of one of its member countries, "in front of dividing walls and in front of occupation troops that blatantly impinge the European acquis".
He said the Cyprus government's efforts for a viable and just solution that will reunite the island and create conditions of co-existence of the Cypriot people "is a cause of the European Left in its entirety, because this is at the core of its humanistic ideology".
Tsipras said that the Cyprus issue is at a critical turning point, and opined that Turkey's upgraded role in the international scene, combined with the new, fragile geopolitical balances arising as a result of the global economic crisis, render extremely difficult the efforts of the Cyprus government and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.
"We are here to support and encourage him to unwaveringly continue these efforts, because only in this way can a solution be found and, we hope, have reciprocation from the other side and for the Turkish government's intransigent stance to cease," he added.
Bisky, in turn, said that President Christofias briefed the European Left delegation on the negotiations process aimed at resolving the Cyprus issue. He added that the European Left parties are cooperating to support those efforts.
"President Christofias is on the correct pat for the reunification of Cyprus," he added.
 Bisky, Tsipras meet with Cypriot officialsNICOSIA (ANA-MPA / A. Viketos)
European Left (GUE/NGL) President Lothar Bisky and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras met here on Monday with Cypriot House of Representatives Speaker Marios Garoyian.
Both political leaders reaffirmed the European leftist parties' support towards efforts for a solution of the Cyprus issue in accordance with the principles of international law, while Garoyian briefed them on current developments.
Tsipras and Bisky also exchanged views on the Cyprus issue with AKEL party parliamentary spokesman Nikos Katsourides.
Tsipras had separate meetings on Monday with the presidents of DHSY Nicos Anastassiades, EDEK Yannakis Omirou, European Party Demetris Syllouris and Cyprus' Green Party General Secretary Ioanna Panagiotou.
 Condolences from Parliament president for people of ChileParliament President Filippos Petsalnikos has expressed the deep condolences and the "undivided support of the Greek Parliament to the struggling people of Chile for the victims and the incalculable damage caused by the disastrous earthquake."
In a letter he addressed to the presidents of the Senate and the House of Representatives of Chile, Jovino Vasquez and Rodrigo Alvarez respectively, Petsalnikos stressed that "the Greek people who have experienced the repercussions of disastrous earthquakes in the past, are watching with special sensitivity the tragic consequences of the disaster and wish for the speedy relief of the sufferers and the reconstruction of the regions that were destroyed."
 Gov't welcomes ADM decision to acquire majority stake in Skaramangas ShipyardsThe Greek government on Monday welcomed a decision by the shipbuilding group Abu Dhabi Mar (ADM) to invest in the Greek shipbuilding and repair sector through the acquisition of a majority stake in the Hellenic Shipyards S.A. at Skaramangas, and the Abu Dhabi emirate's authorities' support of that decision.
A Communications and Information General Secretariat announcement said that the new consortium scheme to be headed by ADM (with 75.1 percent of the Skaramangas stake), which also includes ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS, with a 24.9 percent stake), "has the complete approval of the Greek government".
According to the announcement, the Greek government aspires that the new consortium scheme will complete its negotiations with the national defence ministry as quickly as possible.
With the new consortium scheme and ADM's entry in the ownership and control of the Skaramangas Shipyards, a long-term viable solution is being achieved in the context of the national strategy for the development and strengthening of the country's shipbuilding industry, together with the ensurance of the jobs at the shipyard, the announcement added.
 Katseli on Skaramangas ShipyardsEconomy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, referring to the announcement by the Information Gerneral Secretariat regarding Skaramangas, according to which the Greek government hails the decision of the Abu Dhabi Mar group to invest in the Greek shipbuilding and repair sector, said that "at a difficult economic conjuncture, it is very important that a shipbuilding and repair colossus, such as Abu Dhabi Mar that has four shipbuilding yards under its ownership, trusts and invests in Greece."
The minister added that "it is transforming, in this way, the Skaramangas Shipyards into a shipbuilding base for it, not only for the building of submarines of the Greek War Navy, but also for the building of surface warships and submarines of other emerging economies as well."
 President meets with central bank governorPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias met on Monday with Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos, who said that the country is witnessing an overall crisis that concerns the economy and society, warning that piecemeal, one-dimensional or short-term solutions are not the answer.
In a brief interchange with the President in front of reporters, Provopoulos said that there needs to be a reorientation of economic policy in a completely different direction than that followed to date.
"It is the only way to exist the crisis," he continued, and expressed optimism over the outcome of the effort.
Provopoulos added that the way out of the crisis is not a matter of one year, and that more effort is required from everyone.
 ND leader meets heads of shipowners' unionMain opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Monday had a meeting with the board of the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) at his party's central offices in Rigillis Street.
ND sector head for shipping issues Yiannis Plakiotakis, in comments after the meeting, stressed that shipping was a major pillar of the Greek economy and strongly criticised the government's decision to split up the former merchant marine ministry into three separate services, which he said had led commercial shipping to a "state of disintegration".
Plakiotakis called on the government to correct "its mistake" and said the only viable solution was to once again create a ministry for commercial shipping in collaboration with the coast guard.
UGS President Thodoros Beniamis confirmed that the crux of his meeting with Samaras were the problems that had arisen in operation of the shipping ministry after it was merged with the economy ministry.
 ND labor, social insurance sector meetingThe main opposition New Democracy (ND) party's labour and social insurance sector held its first meeting on Monday focusing on its organisational structure, ahead of a conference on labour issues in Halkida on March 13 and social policy conference, scheduled for Patras on May 8. The sector's officials will present online their proposals concerning the labor draft law and structural changes in social insurance.
 ANA-MPA interview with Serbia's Secretary for Tourism PetkovicThe promotion of tourist destinations in Serbia and Greece is at the center of the talks currently taking place between representatives of Serbia's economy and regional development ministry and tourist sector professionals in the prefecture of Thessaloniki, northern Greece, Serb Secretary for Tourism Goran Petkovic told ANA-MAP.
In an interview held on the sidelines of the 32nd International Tourism Fair in Belgrade, Petkovic stated that he has discussed with representatives of the Professional Chamber of Thessaloniki (EETH) the "mapping" and promotion of specific tourist destinations in both countries.
He underlined that northern Greece is a popular destination for the Serb people who are starting to discover the beauties of other regions as well, such as the Ionian Sea islands, the Peloponnese and Crete.
On its part, Serbia will put emphasis on the development of tourist destinations along the Danube River particularly those that are directly associated with the "Route of the Roman Emperors". The development of the specific route is a priority project for the newly established Tourism Center for the Competitiveness of the Danube, a regional initiative undertaken by six countries on the river's course namely, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia and Moldova.
Petkovic invited the Greek tourists to visit Serbia and discover its natural beauty, urging them to choose alternative and less popular destinations.
 Santorini launches campaign for new tourism seasonUnder the slogan "Santorini five senses gallery", the municipality of Thera (Santorini) inaugurated its campaign for the new tourism season.
The municipality of Thera participated in the International Tourism Exhibition of Milan (BIT 2010). Santorini was the only Greek municipality which participated with its own pavilion in the most important, for Santorini island, market internationally.
 Greek industries to host event at EWEC exhibition in WarsawA business cooperation event will be hosted by the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBEE) in Warsaw on April 21 and 22 within the framework of the European Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition (EWEC) to take place in the Polish capital on April 20-23.
Business meetings will take place in cooperation with the ten countries comprising the Enterprise Europe Network and will be attended by representatives of enterprises active in the sectors of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and, specifically, wind energy, solar energy, hydroelectric energy, geothermal power and biomass.
The annual exhibition is organized by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) for the past 25 years and this year's event will be attended by an estimated 200 exhibitors.
 Emporiki Bank opens three new branchesEmporiki Bank on Monday announced the opeaning of three new units in Athens and Thessaloniki, as part of a restructuring and development plan 2009-2013 aimed at strengthening and upgrading its branch network.
The three new branches, located in the regions of Ano Glyfada and Peristeri (Athens) and Nea Krini (Thessaloniki) will operate under a new retail banking model adopted by Emporiki Bank. The new modeal is based on functionability, easier access and speedier and more effective service.
 Greek PMI falls to 10-month low in Feb.Greece's seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), measuring business activity in the manufacturing sector, fell to the lowest level in 10 months in February, highlighting a significant weakening in the sector.
The PMI fell to 44.2 points in the second month of 2010, from 46.8 in January, with business conditions in the sector worsening on a monthly basis in the last six months, after a brief respite in August 2009. Generally, the sector has shrunk in the 16 out of the last 17 months.
Production fell significantly in the Greek manufacturing sector in February, with incoming business falling with the fastest rate since April 2009, reflecting a drop in demand (domestic and abroad).
Surplus workforce, combined with cost pressures, led Greek manufacturers to more lay-offs in February, with employment levels falling rapidly.
Inflow prices grew strongly in February, although it slowed for the second consecutive month, reflecting higher fuel and raw materials' prices.
 Winter sales down 20%, reportsTurnover in the winter sales season dropped by around 20 pct compared with the same period in 2009, with the clothing/footwear, paper/gifts, home equipment, electric and electronic products suffering mostly, Vassilis Korkidis, president of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE), said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters after completion of the winter sales season last week, Korkidis said the sales season painted a very difficult picture for the Greek market and the retail sector in particular.
According to early estimates, with the exception of the first week of the sales period - when turnover fell by 5-7 pct -- the following weeks the situation worsened significantly, with turnover falling by more than 15 pct to around 20 pct compared with the corresponding period last year.
Korkidis said that eight in 10 retail enterprises reported disappointing figures in their sales turnover and stressed that consumers shifted more to "no name" products, while they paid mostly in cash.
The retail sector hopes that a period of discounts and a forthcoming Easter holiday period could revitalise the market.
 Taxi owners strike on Tuesday, WednesdayTaxi owners will hold a 48-hour strike on Tuesday and Wednesday in protest against government measures requiring them to provide receipts to customers.
 Stocks end 2.94% higherStocks recovered strongly in the first trading session of March as a significant decline in the Greek bond spread, combined with a positive trend in international markets, encouraged buying in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index of the market jumped 2.94 pct to end at 1,969.47 points, with turnover remaining a moderate 197.757 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index ended 3.27 pct higher, the FTSE 40 index rose 2.70 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 2.17 pct up. All sectors moved higher with the Raw Materials (4.69 pct) and Banks (4.01 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day. Livanis (18.18 pct), Lambrakis Press (10.76 pct), Desmos (10 pct) and Hellenic Fish Farming (10 pct) were top gainers, while Ideal (8.64 pct), Akritas (7.69 pct), Altec (6.67 pct) and Galaxidi (5.26 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 155 to 43 with another 40 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.66%
Personal & Household: +3.23%
Raw Materials: +4.69%
Travel & Leisure: +0.33%
Food & Beverages: +1.64%
Financial Services: +2.97%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 7.02
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.57
HBC Coca Cola: 18.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.26
National Bank of Greece: 14.40
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.18
Bank of Piraeus: 6.36
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 1.12 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover a low 83.375 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,558 contracts, worth 66.596 million euros, with 36,182 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 19,128 contracts worth 16.774 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,498), followed by Eurobank (1,269), MIG (1,523), OTE (977), Piraeus Bank (1,163), Alpha Bank (3,422), Marfin Popular Bank (1,112) and PPC (573).
 Bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank significantly to 319 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 6.29 pct and the German Bund 3.10 pct.
Turnover in the market totaled 1.283 billion euros, of which 337 million were buy orders and the remaining 946 million euros were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2015) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 424 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.24 pct, the six-month rate 0.99 pct, the three-month 0.71 pct and the one-month rate 0.48 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.363
Pound sterling 0.913
Danish kroner 7.502
Swedish kroner 9.843
Japanese yen 121.64
Swiss franc 1.476
Norwegian kroner 8.121
Canadian dollar 1.438
Australian dollar 1.522
 Deputy FM Kouvelis article in ANA-MPA periodical 'Greek Diaspora'"The Greeks abroad must feel, and know, that Greece is at their side", is the title of an article by deputy foreign minister Spyros Kouvelis appearing in the latest edition of ANA-MPA's periodical "Greek Diaspora".
Kouvelis stressed, inter alia, that "Greece must address itself to all the Greeks, regardless of their line of work, social role and place of residence", adding that in the context of a "green diplomacy", the active participation of the Greeks abroad in green growth, inside and outside the Greek borders, can become feasible.
The deputy minister further stresses the necessity of enhancing the teaching of the Greek language, which is "the most important connecting link between Greece and the Greeks of the Diaspora", stressing at the same time that "without the Greek language, 50 percent of Hellenism is at risk of being lost".
"All of us, together, must place the new, modern, creative and distinct Greece on the global map of green growth. We must put our country in an outstanding position in this new developmental era for the entire world. Together, all we Greeks, in every corner of the world, can and will do this," Kouvelis concluded.
 "Grand Prix Maria Callas" piano competition to be held in AthensThe annual international piano competition "Grand Prix Maria Callas" will take place in Athens from 5 -14 March. Competing in the competition, which is held in the framework of UNESCO's International Music Competition Federation, will be 20 pianists from Europe, Australia and Asia for the three awards, which are accompanied by cash prizes of 12,000, 6,000 and 3,000 euros respectively.
The competitors will perform seven concerts in four competition rounds, reflecting the competition's aim for a wide range of piano repertory.
The 36th annual competition is organised by the Athenaeum International Arts Centre and the Culture Organisation of Athens municipality, under the auspices of the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
 Karditsa, Greece's bicycle capitalAn overwhelming 70 percent of the residents of the city of Karditsa, central Greece, use bicycles for transportation, according to a recent study by environmentalist Victoria Topouzi of the Karditsa Development Agency.
According to the study Karditsa, which is situated in the heart of the Thessaly Plain, and due to its terrain, is one of the most conducive cities for the use of bicycles as a means of transport.
Indeed, each family has more than one bicycle, while many families have a bicycle for each member, the study showed.
Further, the bicycle is preferred by all social and financial groups of the local population, and regardless of place of residence (city center, surrounding districts).
The bicycle, an environment-friendly form of transport accessible to all ages and pockets, is used for work, entertainment, shopping and exercise, the study showed. The main purpose, however, is commuting to and from work, for adults, and for transport to and from school by children (37 percent), the study said.
 Four arrested in drugs bustPolice drugs squad officers on Monday announced the arrest of three Albanians and one Greek that were caught while negotiating the sale of 17 kilos of cannabis for 24,500 euros to an undercover officer in plain clothes.
The policeman was posing as a client and had made an appointment with one of the four in order to pick up the consignment of drugs. The drug trader came to the appointment with three accomplices and all four were arrested.
In a subsequent search of their car, police found 18 kilos and 940 grammes of cannabis.
 Taxi driver beaten and robbed in ArgosA taxi driver was robbed in Argos, southern Greece, by three foreign nationals whomade off with roughly 600 euros after beating him up and threatening him with a knife, police said on Monday.
The assault took place on Saturday at dawn when the three culprits flagged down the taxi. They fled the scene as soon as they realized that their victim had managed to activate the electronic security system notifying his colleagues that he is being assaulted.
 Cloudy on TuesdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 23C. Fair in Athens, with northwesterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 22C. Cloudy with possible showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 14C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe negotiations over additional austerity measures aiming to curtail the fiscal deficit, and European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn's arrival in Greece and his meeting on Monday with Prime Minister George Papandreou, dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The slot machines will finance the .....'Kallikratis' public administration reform plan".
APOGEVMATINI: "Government is 'chopping' the 13th salary and the Christmas bonus - The die has been cast by the government, which gave in to Brussels' demands".
AVRIANI: "Society heading to rift with the political system - The austerity measures which are necessary for the country to avoid bankruptcy provoke dangerous reverberations in the two mainstream parties".
CHORA: "Bargaining with Berlin and Washington - They are 'selling' us assistance together with F-16 and Eurofighter military jets".
ELEFTHEROS: "Turkish frigate reached near Rafina (northeastern Athens coastal town) - Its route in the Aegean Sea, the islands it approached".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Pressure for gradual pension cuts of up to 26 percent".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "All pensions freeze - 'Passion Week' for the Greek economy".
ESTIA: "Greece under supervision - That's where the blatant statism has led us".
ETHNOS: "Brussels wants all the pensions to be frozen - Olli Rehn in Athens with a social 'shock' recipe".
IMERISSIA: "Rescue ...week - Government to announce 3.5 billion euros measures".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Crucial negotiations on the new package of measures - European Commissioner Olli Rehn arrives in Athens on Monday".
TA NEA: "Major upheavals in taxation system".
VRADYNI: "Shock measures for 30 billion euros - French-German lending plan in exchange for harsh austerity".
 FM: no meetings which undermine the RepublicLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Republic of Cyprus cannot agree with meetings which undermine and downgrade the state, such as a meeting of representatives of the three guarantor powers and the island's two communities, on the issue of guarantees, Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has stressed.
Any such international meeting which concerns Cyprus, he pointed out, must provide for the participation of the Republic of Cyprus.
Speaking at Larnaka airport Sunday afternoon on his departure for Brussels, Kyprianou underlined that "the position of the Republic of Cyprus is clear: we do not agree with this kind of meetings which undermine and downgrade the Republic of Cyprus".
On the issue of guarantees, Kyprianou said that the Republic of Cyprus is party to the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee between the UK. Greece, Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus.
"The other three countries may very well be the guarantor powers; however, in an international convention there are contracting parties, and the Republic of Cyprus is a party to that international convention. Therefore, any kind of discussion on an international level, especially an official one, should include the Republic of Cyprus", he stressed.
The UK, Greece and Turkey, according to the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, "agree to recognise and guarantee the independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus. They undertake to prohibit, so far as concerns them, any activity aimed at promoting, directly or indirectly, either union of Cyprus with any other state or partition of the island," the Treaty says.
Turkey invaded Cyprus in the summer of 1974. Its troops continue to occupy the island's northern part, in spite of repeated calls by the UN to withdraw its troops. Ankara does not recognise the legal government of the Republic of Cyprus.
 Foreign Minister meets Commissioners in BrusselsBRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou held separate meetings on Monday in Brussels with European Commissioners for Enlargement Stefan Fule and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki.
Speaking after his meeting with Fule, Kyprianou said he expressed Cyprus' views concerning cooperation between the Commission's Enlargement Directorate and the Republic of Cyprus, adding that there was room for improvement and that cooperation could become much more productive and constructive, given that there were common aims.
They furthermore agreed to meet again soon to discuss specific issues, in the presence of their associates.
Replying to questions, Kyprianou said he presented the government's views on the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, and the Republic's objections concerning the regulation for direct trade, which are ''legal and based on principle.''
''We do not believe that it offers anything to the Turkish Cypriots financially or commercially. It is just to facilitate the upgrading of the pseudostate,'' he added.
Asked if they discussed relations between the EU and Turkey, Kyprianou said this issue would be on the agenda of their next meeting.
He added that he briefed Fule on developments in talks to solve the Cyprus problem and that they discussed the so-called elections in the Turkish occupied areas and how they might affect the talks.
Referring to his meeting with Damanaki, Kyprianou said he briefed her on developments in talks to solve the Cyprus problem, and that they discussed issues within her competencies, such as the exclusive economic zone.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
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