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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-03-15

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

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

Monday, 15 March 2010 Issue No: 3443


  • [01] Samaras: Gov't inflated deficit figure
  • [02] PM: People's sacrifices not in vain
  • [03] Athens reaction to Fuele statements over fYRom
  • [04] Tsipras on economy, government
  • [05] Pangalos criticism of leftist leader Tsipras
  • [06] Latest opinion poll results on austerity measures
  • [07] Decision on Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • [08] FinMin meets OECD SG
  • [09] Loverdos: Bill to include gradual hike in average retirement ages
  • [10] Gerekou visiting Moscow
  • [11] PPC union announces strikes this week
  • [12] Map of traffic cameras found in terror probe
  • [13] Foreign priest arrested in Thessaloniki on int'l warrant
  • [14] Murder victim linked to Pakistan embassy
  • [15] Stolen van used to ferry illegals
  • [16] Panathinaikos widens Super League lead
  • [17] Cloudy on Monday
  • [18] The Sunday editions of Athens' newspapers at a glance
  • [19] Christofias cautions Downer to remain within his duties as UN Adviser Politics

  • [01] Samaras: Gov't inflated deficit figure

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Saturday unleashed a scathing attack on the PASOK government over its economic policy amid the ongoing deficit and debt crisis, although he also appeared critical of ND policies when his party was in government.

    Speaking at a pre-congress party conference in the south-central city of Halkida, Samaras said the government is merely trying to blame its ND predecessor for all the problems it created, instead of searching for solutions.

    "We did not produce a deficit of 12.7 percent ... figures from the State (General) Accounting Office show that two-thirds of the shortfall in revenues for 2009 came in the last quarter (of 2009) ..." he said.

    According to Samaras, the current PASOK government cancelled a series of revenue-generating measures, calculated expenditures that were not initially budgeted, transferred revenues to the next fiscal year and literally puffed up the budget deficit to "as much as it wanted".

    In turning to his own party's tenure in government from March 2004 to October 2009, Samaras said ND bears responsibility for not changing the so-called "PASOK system", which it inherited, as he said.

    "ND is responsible for the 'mild readjustment' of the first three years in power, which were too mild and hardly a readjustment," he told party cadres.

    The former ND minister said successive PASOK governments in previous decades created a model of power that was entirely based on borrowing and the dispensation of clientele relationships, "when ND came to power in 2004 it simply managed this system instead of changing it."

    A day later, speaking an extraordinary conference of his party-affiliated youth wing, ONNED, Samaras cautioned against political introversion.

    "The red line that I am placing is the line of unity, both in terms of the younger generation and the party; what I will not allow or tolerate is a return to introversion for our youth and party," he said.

    Samaras said the party is recovering from a very recent and heavy electoral defeat, adding that "during a period when Greece is being tested by an unprecedented economic and social crisis, we saw our mistakes; we made our self-criticism and proceeded with our catharsis. Whoever with their behaviour insulted the Greek people have no place in our party."

    In again turning his criticism to the PASOK government, the former minister cited an "incredible delay and irresponsibility" on the part of the former to take measures in the face of skyrocketing borrowing spreads.

    Moreover, Samaras repeated that his party greatest mistake while in power was to avoid changing what he termed the "PASOK regime".

    [02] PM: People's sacrifices not in vain

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Saturday was quoted by a mass Athens daily as stressing that "the Greek people's sacrifices will not be in vain", referring to the recent batch of austerity measures announced by the government.

    "Our first order of business is saving our economy. It is the first and necessary step towards proceeding to the future," he said, in comments carried in an interview in the Saturday edition of the daily "Vima".

    "I will not tolerate scandalous favoritism being christened justice; the privileges of the few dubbed vested rights; provocative wealth as culture, parasitic profit considered as entrepreneurship and tax evasion as gumption," he added.

    Finally, he said the country's partners are recognising the volition to correct the problems facing the Greek economy, while at the same time acknowledging that Greece cannot be abandoned in the battle against international (financial market) speculators.

    [03] Athens reaction to Fuele statements over fYRom

    Athens immediately reacted on Sunday to reports of EU enlargement chief Stefan Fuele use of the so-called "constitutional name" when referring to the former Yugoslav Republic of Maceodia (fYRoM), a western Balkans EU accession candidate-state.

    Speaking in Athens, and in response to a press question, Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said the EU Commissioner is obliged to convey the EU's "common voice" towards candidate countries.

    "Anything else clashes with what has been agreed to within the EU framework; it sends a wrong message to the leadership and people of the neighbouring country and undermines continuing negotiations over the name, which are (being conducted) under the UN auspices," Droutsas added.

    [04] Tsipras on economy, government

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) president Alexis Tsipras, addressing the Central Political Committee's two-day discussion on Sunday afternoon, regarding the party's positions in light of the special congress that were approved with a big majority, assessed that the state of the Greek economy "is going from bad to worse".

    "And what is unpleasant is that the measures that the Greek government announced and is being called on to implement are measures that will lead us very deep into the crisis and recession," he said.

    Referring to the economic situation and to political developments, Tsipras said that "with the threat of monetary bankruptcy and the way with which the government handled it, we are proceeding speedily, if we are not before the gates, to social bankruptcy."

    Tsipras called on the prime minister to tell the truth to the Greek people and added that "his policy, with mathematical precision, will bring bigger deficits, greater recession and new measures, that will be even harsher."

    [05] Pangalos criticism of leftist leader Tsipras

    Government Vice President Theodoros Pangalos, speaking in an interview with an Athens weekly on Sunday and referring to internal party debates, said "either we are all together or, if we radically disagree now, we must take positions of responsibility."

    Pangalos added that "the problem is that there cannot be two attitudes in a party, one attitude realising the magnitude of its responsibilities and another trying to be nice, meaning to handle developments in a selfish way and with the intent of impressing."

    Additionally, Pangalos sharply criticised Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alexis Tsipras, saying "he is not a serious politician ... he's in favour of the dissolution of everything ... he's posing as a representative of a party in Parliament only to exit (Parliament) and lead demonstrations that include non-parliamentary elements, which neither respect institutions nor the values of this country and its symbols."

    His comments were published in the weekly "Realnews".

    Synaspismos response

    In response to Pangalos' stinging comments, the Synaspismos' press office charged that "Mr. Pangalos is not only a common slanderer, a known provocateur and an impassioned critic of the left and of social struggles, he is at the same time vice president of this government as well. His post renders the prime minister responsible for all that he (Pangalos) says. We are waiting, therefore, for Mr. Papandreou's public position (on this issue) immediately."

    [06] Latest opinion poll results on austerity measures

    The latest opinion poll published by an Athens daily again displayed a "mixed picture" over the government's recently announced austerity measures to deal with a debt and deficit crisis plaguing the Greek economy.

    Specifically, a poll published in the Sunday edition of the "Ethnos" daily shows that a majority of respondents consider the recent measures as "necessary". However, a majority also considers that the measures are "unfair" and potentially ineffective.

    Exactly 60.2 percent of respondents agreed that the austerity measures were necessary, as opposed to 35 percent who believe milder measures could have been implemented. Conversely, 65.7 percent of respondents said the measures were "probably unfair".

    Furthermore, 52.6 percent of respondents believe that the sacrifices of the Greek people will not be rewarded, as opposed to 41.1 percent who said such sacrifices will pay off.

    Finally, in terms of political parties' support and asked which party they would vote for if general elections were held now, ruling PASOK was preferred by 34.5 percent; New Democracy by 23.2 percent of respondents; the Communist Party garnered 8.5 percent of respondents' preferences; 6.8 percent picked the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) and the Radical Left Coalition gained 4.1 percent.

    The poll was conducted by the Marc firm.

    [07] Decision on Ecumenical Patriarchate

    ANKARA (ANA-MPA/A. Ambatzis)

    The European Commission for Democracy through Law, better known as the Venice Commission, took an important decision with specific political dimensions as regards the prospect of resorting to the European Court of Human Rights on such issues as the lack of a legal status for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Universality and the Halki School of Theolody, and concerning Turkey's relations with the Council of Europe.

    It is an "opinion" adopted by the Commission on March 13 on the issue of the "legal status of the religious communities in Turkey and the right of the orthodox patriarchate of Istanbul to use the adjective Ecumenical." Special importance is given to the "opinion' by the fact that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe asked for it from the Commission.

    The finalised text of the "opinion" mentions that the Lausanne Treaty sets no restriction regarding the use of the adjective "Ecumenical" on the part of the Patriarchate, while it is noted that this right also emanates from article 9 of the European Treaty on the Rights of Man.

    It is mentioned that "from the European Treaty on the Rights of Man no obligation emanates for the Turkish authorities to proceed with the use of this title, when referring to the Patriarchate or recognise it officially. If the authorities do not want to use this title, they are formally free by the European Treaty not to do it, provided that they do not obstruct third parties from using it."

    Financial News

    [08] FinMin meets OECD SG

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou met at the ministry on Sunday with Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary General Angel Gurria.

    Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis and the heads of the Information Systems General Secretariat and the Public Debt Management Organisation were also present at the meeting. No statements were made afterwards.

    [09] Loverdos: Bill to include gradual hike in average retirement ages

    The government, via the relevant labour and social insurances minister, on Sunday referred to a series of high-profile provisions in a pending social security reform draft bill, including a prohibition on early voluntary retirement and a gradual increase in the average retirement ages.

    In published comments on Sunday in an Athens daily, Minister Andreas Loverdos also cited the establishment of a single and unified entity to manage funds' assets, although without combining one funds' assets with another's.

    Loverdos was also quoted as saying that people who have established vested pension rights by 2013 will not be affected. Additionally, he said the measures will be immediately implemented.

    Finally, he said there was no intent by the government to promote a roll-back of the so-called "14th (monthly) salary" in the private sector.

    The comments were carried in an interview published in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily "Eleftheros Typos".

    [10] Gerekou visiting Moscow

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)

    Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou began her visit to the Russian capital with the aim of making Greece one of the main destinations of Russian tourists, as a result of the specialisation and qualitative upgrading of the country's tourist product.

    "A mutual respect for each other exists between the Greek and Russian people that is based on spiritual refinement, hospitality, the religious and cultural origins. We want to promote these elements in the Russian market combined with the mild climate, the sea, the sun and its gastronomy, so that our country will constitute a main tourist destination for the Russian visitors," Gerekou told the Russian-language review "Ellada" that is published in Moscow for the fourth year in cooperation with EOT (the Greek Tourist Organisation) and the national news agencies of Greece and Cyprus.

    As of Monday, Gerekou will be holding successive meetings with Anatoly Yarochkin and Vitaly Mutko, the respective heads of the Federal Tourism Organisation and the Sports ministry, as well as the government of Moscow and the biggest tourist companies that specialise in sending Russian tourists to Greece.

    [11] PPC union announces strikes this week

    The union representing employees of the state-run power company, listed Public Power Corp. (PPC), have announced industrial actions at two main power plants, in Megalopolis and Ptolemaida, on Monday, as well as a 48-hour strike nationwide on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    The union, GENOP-DEH, is vociferously objecting to recent pay cuts affecting PPC's workforce and a projected decrease of 10 percent of the state's funding towards the utility's insurance fund.

    General News

    [12] Map of traffic cameras found in terror probe

    An ongoing investigation into the background of a man gunned down during a shootout with police last week in the Dafni district of central Athens reportedly turned up a detailed map showing the positions of street traffic cameras in the Greek capital, replete with handwritten notes.

    The map was discovered in an Athens apartment belonging to Lambros Fountas, a 35-year-old biologist shot and killed in the incident.

    Fountas, who worked at a medical diagnostic centre, possessed a handgun and hand grenade at the time of the fatal gunfire exchange.

    The anti-terrorism squad is also checking "orphan" keys found in Fountas' apartment along with taking DNA samples, given that an accomplice fled the scene of the Dafni incident.

    Authorities, according to reports, believe the victim was a primary member of one or more so-called "anti-state" urban terrorist groups active in the Greek capital.

    [13] Foreign priest arrested in Thessaloniki on int'l warrant

    Police in Thessaloniki arrested a 47-year-old foreign priest on Friday after acting on an international warrant issued by Serbia.

    The man is charged with felony fraud counts in Serbia, and now faces deportation to that country.

    He was arrested in coastal Perea district to the east of Thessaloniki.

    According to reports, the clergyman served as a board of directors treasurer for a foundation in Serbia assigned with the renovation of monasteries. He is charged with embezzling more than 73,000 euros.

    [14] Murder victim linked to Pakistan embassy

    The body of a man found in a central Athens district in the early morning hours of Saturday may belong to an employee of the Pakistani embassy in Athens, as police found related documents on the victim's body.

    The crew of a police cruiser initially spotted the body, which displayed serious stabbing wounds, in the Kolonos district of Athens, before calling an ambulance.

    The man was pronounced dead upon arrival at a nearby hospital.

    An investigation is underway.

    [15] Stolen van used to ferry illegals

    A total of four local residents and 10 illegal immigrants were arrested in the early morning hours Saturday on a stretch of the Egnatia motorway near the northern city of Thessaloniki after authorities attempted to intercept a stolen van.

    The illegals along with the 30-year-old driver and his 25-year-old female co-driver were arrested in the vehicle, reportedly used to deliver newspapers.

    Another couple, 39 and 27, were arrested in another car on charges of acting as a lookout for the following van.

    The illegal immigrants had been allegedly picked up in the extreme NE town of Alexandroupolis after sneaking into Greek territory from Turkey.

    In an unrelated development, police recovered a total of 62 grams of cocaine after arrested three men, including an 18-year-old foreign national in the northern city of Thessaloniki over the weekend. According to reports, the cocaine was divided into numerous small packets for sale to street buyers.


    [16] Panathinaikos widens Super League lead

    Panathinaikos Athens beat Asteras Tripoli 1-0 away over the weekend and remained at the top of the Greek Super League standings, while Olympiacos Piraeus was held to a 2-2 draw at home by PAS Yiannina and AEK Athens beat Kavala 3-0 at the Athens Olympic Stadium.

    In other action:

    Atromitos Athens-Iraklis Thessaloniki 2-1

    Levadiakos Livadia-Xanthi 2-1

    Panthrakikos Komotini-Panionios Athens 0-1

    Larissa-Ergotelis Crete 1-0

    Aris Thessaloniki-PAOK Thessaloniki 2-0

    Standings after 26 weeks of play:

    1. Panathinaikos 61 points

    2. PAOK 56

    3. Olympiacos 54

    4. AEK 45

    5. Aris 42

    6. Kavala 37

    7. Atromitos 35

    8. Panionios 34

    9. Iraklis 31

    10. Asteras 30

    11. Ergotelis 30

    12. Larissa 30

    13. Levadiakos 27

    14. Xanthi 25

    15. PAS Yiannina 25

    16. Panthrakikos 12

    Weather Forecast

    [17] Cloudy on Monday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -3C and 18C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 7C to 15C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 3C to 13C.

    [18] The Sunday editions of Athens' newspapers at a glance

    The economy and recently announced austerity measures mostly dominated the main front-page items in Athens' Sunday newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Clean-up of public sector (via cut-backs, changing of work status etc)".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Go-ahead for thousands of previously 'blind' land plots (with a view towards construction)".

    AVGHI: "Societal collapse", a reference to the recent austerity measures aimed at combating a massive public debt (roughly 300 billion euros) and a double-digit budget deficit.

    AVRIANI: "Brussels: Fire 10% of public utility and municipal staff and decrease public sector wages by another 15%", a headline based on an article claiming that the EU is demanding more cuts in order to approve an aid package worth 22 billion euros.

    CHORA: "(George) Papandreou's landing in ... Tierra del fuego ("Land of Fire", i.e. crisis-battered Greece, in this case)", noting that the Greek premier returned from meetings with the world's most powerful leaders with numerous promises but with little tangible results.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "10+1 'bombs' (i.e. measures) for social insurance reform".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Societal collapse", the second Sunday newspaper to use the same main headline in reference to unions' objections to austerity measures.

    EPOCHI (weekly): "Arise!", again a headline focusing on recent austerity measures and what the weekly says are coming changes in social security, labour relations.

    ETHNOS: "They're (EU) asking for lay-offs in public enterprises and local governments by June".

    KATHIMERINI: "German intervention in (EU) support plan", ahead of Monday's Eurogroup meeting.

    LOGOS: "EU support plan ... with attached conditions".

    NIKI: "Traps and changes in new (still pending) tax system".

    PARON: "Critical 12-minute one-on-one between (US President Barack) Obama and (Greek PM George) Papandreou: We got the visa (waiver), we gave away Skopje (fYRoM 'name issue')".

    PROTO THEMA (weekly): "1,000 businesses to be closed due to tax evasion".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Intensification of struggle against anti-popular measures"

    VETO (weekly): "George (Papandreou), be careful! Antonis (main opposition New Democracy leader Samaras)... wake up!"

    VIMA: "Halt, tax bureau: Safari for hidden incomes".

    VRADYNI: "Tax storm coming".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [19] Christofias cautions Downer to remain within his duties as UN Adviser


    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has cautioned UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer that he is a UN officer and when reference is made to quintet summit, the Republic of Cyprus is an interested party.

    The Cypriot president was invited to comment, after inaugurating a regional elementary and pre-junior schools of Asinou in the Nicosia district, statements by Downer at the illegal Bayrak radio station in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus.

    Downer was quoted as saying that the issue of guarantees involves three guarantor powers in Cyprus and that this should be discussed at a summit to be attended also by the two sides in Cyprus. However, he noted that guarantor powers Turkey, Greece and Britain have differing views over the issue.

    "Mr. Downer must appreciate that he is not the Foreign Minister, he is a UN officer, and whatever we say about a summit, the interested party is the Republic of Cyprus, while the Security Council is made up of five permanent members", President Christofias remarked.

    He said he will have a "friendly chat" with Downer and urged journalists not to make a big issue out of every statement that is made.

    "It is an open dialogue. Various people have differing views, we have differing views and we make them known. I do not make a scene but I will surely not allow anything to go through which might deserve reprehension", he pointed out.

    President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunify the island, divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied the island's northern third.

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

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