|Sunday, 17 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-03-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 26 March 2010 Issue No: 3453
 Eurozone OKs mechanism for possible Greek assistanceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Euro-area countries on Thursday evening finalised a plan to establish a financial assistance mechanism available to Greece if the country requires it amid an ongoing debt crisis, following a closely watched meeting hours earlier by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to work out a compromise proposal.
"Greece of the eurozone is safe. Europe also took a major step forward. Today, we not only took decisions for Greece, but also for Europe; the EU came face-to-face with a major challenge and stood up to this challenge," Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said after a summit of euro-area members' heads of state.
"Europe, together with Greece, emerge stronger from this crisis," he said.
According to a general outline of the plan, eurozone leaders envision a comprehensive package of economic aid to Greece, the largest part of which would be covered through voluntary bilateral loans from member-states. Additionally, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) role is eyed as a way to tackle the Greek debt crisis, with Papandreou mentioning a "minority participation" by the IMF.
The package will be activated on the basis of specific conditions, and only as a last resort, a spokesman for Sarkozy said before the plan was finalised.
In concluding, Papandreou said his government was determined to tackle Greece's serious fiscal problem.
"It is positive that there is a plan that we consider as fully covering us," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said from Brussels.
"We consider the creation of a mechanism as a message of stability, one that has repercussions for the Greek economy," he said, adding that the IMF involvement was expected in such a mechanism.
 Franco-German agreement for assistance mechanism towards GreeceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
EU powers France and Germany reached agreement here on Thursday over a plan for possible assistance towards Greece if the country requests such aid, a spokesman for French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced on Thursday afternoon.
The spokesman said the plan was ironed out at a meeting between Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel just before the opening of a critical EU Summit here.
Providing the general outline of the plan, the spokesman said it is a comprehensive package of economic aid to Greece, the largest part of which would be covered through voluntary bilateral loans from eurozone member-states. Additionally, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) is also envisioned as a way to tackle the Greek debt crisis.
The package will be activated on the basis of specific conditions, and only as a last resort, the spokesman said.
He added that the 1 1/2-page text of the Sarkozy-Merkel agreement will be put before eurozone heads of state and government for approval.
In the event of agreement among the eurozone leaders, European Council president Herman van Rompuy will immediately convene an extraoardinary summit of the eurozone member countries either before or after the EU Summit dinner.
 Gov't spokesman"It is positive that there is a plan that we consider as fully covering us," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said from Brussels.
"We consider the creation of a mechanism as a message of stability, one that has repercussions for the Greek economy," he said, adding that the IMF involvement was expected in such a mechanism.
 PM in Brussels: EU Summit opensBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
"We have taken very important decisions and are determined to put our house in order," prime minister George Papandreou said on Thursday evening before going into the EU summit in Brussels.
Papandreou told reporters that regardless of the decision to taken by the EU, Greece was on the right path and will continue to do its duty so as to ensure that its economy is viable, proper and transparent, and with prosperity.
The Greek premier also expressed his appreciation to the European leaders that have supported Greece in this difficult period, and especially on the measures being implemented.
"We are on the right path for reduction of the deficit in 2010, and this proves that there is a very positive trend for the Greek economy," he said.
Papandreou further noted that the challenge today was a major one for reinforcing and fortifying the eurozone, so that the appropriate measures may be taken for the stability of the euro and in order to proceed to a Europe with greater prosperity.
 PM: Greece's course will be positive, despite EU Summit outcomeBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/G. Milionis)
Greece's new course will be a positive one, regardless of the decision that will be taken at the EU Summit, prime minister George Papandreou said on Thursday in Brussels before joining a European Socialist Party (ESP) meeting held just before the critical European Union summit in the Belgian capital.
"Whatever the decision taken today, our new course will be a positive course for Greece. That is the course we will follow," Papandreou said.
"I say this today, which is a symbolic and important day for Hellenism," Papandreou stressed, referring to the anniversary of the March 25, 1821 commencement of the Greek revolution against Ottoman rule, adding that "we will succeed on our own".
Papandreou noted that the day was also a very important and hard day for Europe, constituting a "great challenge" on whether the EU will manifest willingness to support the eurozone, the common currency and the common course.
"I believe the messages will be such that they will show that all the EU leaders have risen to the circumstances," the Greek premier added.
Papandreou also noted the "bold measures" that Greece has taken, and reiterated the country's determination to "put our house in order".
He said the measures are the most radical ever taken by a government, and will put the country on a new course.
The premier added that the messages of solidarity forthcoming from all parts of the world indicate that "we are on the right path".
 Samaras addresses EPP meeting: Opposed to IMF involvementBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras opposed International Monetary Fund (IMF) involvement in a prospective EU support plan for Greece, if the country should need one, in a keynote address to a meeting of the leaders of the European Peoples Party (EPP) member parties in Brussels.
Leaving the EPP conference, Samaras told reporters that he waged a battle to reduce the cost of borrowing for Greece at a time when the country is fighting for breather measures in order to boost the economy.
"As a politician, I told them that the Greek people cannot handle additional harsh measures. As an economist, I told them that we are in a vicious cycle of recession. New measures will always be needed to achieve the targets. As a European, I told them clearly that I am opposed to the solution of the IMF," Samaras said.
He noted, however, that the majority of the EPP leaders were in favor of IMF involvement.
Samaras said that he would make further comments when a final decision is reached.
 Papandreou, Samaras telephone briefing on ESP, EPP meetings ahead of EU SummitBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras called prime minister George Papandreou to discuss developments at the European People's Party (EPP) and European Socialist Party (ESP) meetings that are taking place simultaneously in Brussels ahead of a crucial EU Summit that opens later in the day.
The Greek economy and a prospective European support mechanism are at the focus of both meetings, with Papandreou attending the ESP, the European Parliament grouping to which his ruling PASOK party belongs, and Samaras being the keynote speaker at the EPP Europarliament grouping to which ND belongs.
Samaras briefed the premier in detail on ND's views regarding the Greek economy and the support mechanism, and expressed his solidarity, stressed that Greece, today, is united.
The ND leader told Papandreou he opposed prospective International Monetary Fund (IMF) involvement, stressing that such an eventuality would be "outside the European philosophy" and not in line with the philosophy of the European single currency.
Finance minister George Papaconstantinou, who is accompanying Papandreou in Brussels, later phoned Samaras and briefed him on the more technical economic aspects, on the instructions of the prime minister.
 Barroso, Zapatero confident of European solution for Greece at SummitBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Thursday expressed confidence that the leaders of the 27-nation European Union will agree on a "European solution" for Greece during the EU Summit in Brussels.
In statements, the two men said they were confident that the Summit would end in agreement on the case of Greece.
Barroso reiterated that it was inconceivable that consensus is not reached on the "urgent problem of Greece, and appealed to the 27 leaders to reinforce the stability of the euro.
Zapatero said that bilateral lending by individual member states to Greece, a solution being mulled, was a rational option, adding that participation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is also acceptable, but insisted, however, that the solution must be "fundamentally European".
"The solution must begin in Europe," he said characteristically.
"When we speak of a common currency, we speak of a common responsibility," Zapatero said, stressing, to avoid misinterpretations, that "we will not be giving money to Greece, but will be lending money to Greece which it will return, with interest".
 Barroso reiterates appeal as EU Summit opens in BrusselsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso made a last-minute appeal for support to Greece, echoing his statements of the past few days, as he went into a critical EU Summit that opened Thursday evening in Brussels.
The Commission chief noted that this is a very important day for Greece, since it is also the anniversary of the start of the March 25, 1821 revolution for independence.
 Anniversary of March 25 Independence Day celebrated throughout GreeceThe March 25th national anniversary, marking the commencement of the 1821 revolution against Ottoman rule, was celebrated throughout Greece on Thursday, with the main military parade in central Athens and local school parades throughout the country.
Before the parade, a memorial was held at the main Athens Cathedral, officiated by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece and attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Health Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou representing the government, Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos and representatives of political parties and the country's military and religious leadership.
Prime Minister George Papandreou and main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras were both in Brussels for an EU Summit and European People's Party (EPP) session, respectively.
"As in 1821, a wave of Philhellenes hastened to manifest their solidarity to the Greece, so today in Brussels a tough battle is being waged, and we ask the solidarity of the Europeans," Papoulias said after the parade.
Xenoyiannakopoulou said the obstacles will be overcome "with unity and solidarity for democracy", while Petsalnikos stressed that "we can achieve prosperity in Greece through struggles and a responsible attitude".
Only infantry divisions took part in this year's parade, following a defence ministry decision to avoid the use of costly motorised units from outlying military camps.
PM Papandreou's message
In his message, Prime Minister Papandreou stressed that March 25 "symbolises the strength of will of an entire peoples to break its bonds and demand its most fundamental right, freedom, its very existence".
"In 1821 the Greeks rose up and won their freedom, Greece's independence, its right to determine its fate itself. 189 years after the start of the great Struggle, Greece is once again today at a critical crossroads, as it has found itself many times in its history. What was sought then was our liberation from the yoke of the conqueror. Today, it is our liberation from all that led us to today's big economic and social impasse, to the biggest crisis in our recent history," the premier stressed in his message.
"All we Greeks are called on to work together, to make every possible effort for an exit from the present crisis and the rebirth of our country. For a Greece in which justice, solidarity, equal opportunities and potential prevail," the premier continued, adding: "I am certain that, once again, we will stand worthy of our history, emerging stronger and once again standing firmly on our own two feet."
"It is the minimum tribute we are called on to actively pay to those who, 189 years ago, believed in the impossible and succeeded in making it possible," the premier's message concluded.
Samaras message on 1821 anniversary
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, in a message on the anniversary of the March 25, 1821 Revolution against Ottoman rule, said that Greece's current situation highlights the deeper meaning of the anniversary, and shows to all the path of responsibility and contribution to the country.
"We are determined -- and we are proving this in action -- to respond to our duty and contribute, with all our power, so that our country will emerge from the crisis in the safest and quickest way. We are dynamically present in the battles that our country is waging today," Samaras said in his message.
Hellenism, he continued, "has proven many times that it can overcome mistakes and adversities, set high goals and attain them".
"Today's anniversary dictates unanimity and a common effort to reclaim the self-confidence that will quickly lead us to recovery and an exit from the crisis," Samaras concluded.
Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos expressed a certainty that Greece will overcome its present difficult situation on its own power, in statements after the March 25 parade in Thessaloniki.
Greece, he said, has a strong economy, is an EU and eurozone member country, ranks 30th country in the world with respect to GDP, 15th in the world with respect to investments and savings, has big economic prospects, and can overcome -- and will overcome -- the difficulties on its own strength.
Regarding Turkey's provocations in the Aegean, Venizelos said that Greece was carefully and vigilantly monitoring what was happening in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. It was taking account of the situations, without underestimating them or exaggerating them.
ND deputy Costas Gioulekas stressed that the main opposition party "supports Greece, supports our country, but not the government...we are not giving blank checks in hard times, however, we put in our support, and this is what (ND leader) Antonis Samaras is doing on his trip abroad".
 Obama proclamation on occasion of Greek Independence DayWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)
US President Barack Obama on Thursday signed the annual proclamation issued by the White House to commemorate Greek independence day on March 25, the first successful national uprising against the dour Ottoman empire in the Balkans during the 19th century.
"Today, as we commemorate the 189th anniversary of Greece's independence, we reaffirm the ties that link our nations together as allies and warm friends. We also honor the accomplishments of Greek Americans and their immeasurable contributions to the United States.
"It was the genius of America's forebears to enshrine the pre-eminent idea of democracy in our Nation's founding documents. Inspired by the governing values of ancient Greece, they launched the great American experiment. Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of our Declaration of Independence, later expressed his admiration for the Greeks and their heritage as they fought their War of Independence. Writing in 1823, he acknowledged Greece as "the first of civilized nations, [which] presented examples of what man should be."
"The Hellenic influence on America's scholarly traditions reflects our Nation's high regard for Greece's lasting heritage. Our physicians uphold the timeless ethics of Hippocrates, and our students learn the mathematics of Euclid and Pythagoras. Our law schools use the Socratic Method, and the structures of ancient Greece have inspired many of our most cherished buildings and monuments. Greek Americans have also shaped our Nation as leaders in every sector of American life, and their community has strengthened the fabric of our country with its vibrant culture and unique traditions.
Above all, we were blessed to inherit the Hellenic ideal of democracy, which lives on today in Greece and America, and reinforces the enduring bonds between our two nations.
"NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 25, 2010, as "Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy."
On her part, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton noted that "...As NATO allies, Greece and the United States work together on a wide range of common concerns. It is a partnership built on shared democractic values and aspirations."
Clinton also cited a visit to Washington this past month by PM Papandreou and what she called her support "for the resolve Greece has shown in these challenging times. And I am pleased that during his visit, we were able to welcome Greece into the Visa Waiver Program."
 Tourism minister optimistic that 2010 season will be better than last year'sCulture and tourism minister Pavlos Geroulanos said Thursday he was optimistic, despite the problems, that this year's tourism season will be better than last year's, in statements in Chania, on the island of Crete.
"I don't wish to make a prediction yet, because I think things are very fluid. The reality is that, when news items come out of Greece, which are not necessarily flattering for us, we worry that this could create problems. However, we maintain a reserved optimism, because many of the messages we have received are positive and, if they are maintained, I believe that we will have a better tourism season than last year," Geroulanos said.
The minister further noted the effort being made to showcase Greece's tourism product.
"The work being done at this time is being done with a minimum of means, but we are using everything we have at our disposal such as, for example, the interest in the cultural happenings in Greece, in order to attract visitors to Greece, and naturally to Crete," he said.
 Terrorism-related arrest reportedA 22-year-old college student was arrested by anti-terrorism officers on Thursday in the central city of Volos for his alleged links to "Conspiracy of Fire Cells" urban terror gang.
Five suspects were initially arrested following a police raid on a residence in the Halandri district of northern Athens last September during an investigation into the same group.
The man's fingerprint was reportedly found inside the residence, which authorities allege served as a bomb-making factory and safehouse.
 Arson attack on PASOK headquartersA group of some 15 people wearing hoods threw home-made fire bombs (molotov cocktails) at a riot police (MAT) squad outside the headquarters of the ruling PASOK party in downtown Athens in the first hours of Thursday, but no injuries were reported.
The perpetrators threw five molotov cocktails, four of which exploded on the pavement.
A fifth fire-bomb remained intact, and has been taken for examination to the police crime lab.
The attackers quickly fled the scene, evading arrest.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe EU Summit in Brussels, the Greek economy, and changes to the social security and taxation systems were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Thursday.
AVGHI: "The IMF (International Monetary Fund) a fuse for Greece and Europe - Merkel and Sarkozy advancing 'salvation plan' for Greece via IMF at today's (Thursday's) Summit".
KATHIMERINI: "Europe in nervous breakdown - The role of the IMF in supporting Greece divides the Europeans - Portugal (sovereign debt rating) downgraded (by Fitch ratings agency)".
LOGOS: "The social security 'bomb' will explode immediately after Easter (celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church on April 4 this year) - Big upheavals in pensions".
NIKI: "We seek a 'clear' European solution - Scenarios of 'controlled bankruptcy' as Greece wages a battle for survival".
PONTIKI: "They're 'saving' us without paying - IMF on the horizon".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Full abolition of rights in labor relations - Social Security - EU Summit".
TO VIMA: "Source of wealth documentation for first home, too - Tougher requirements for real estate holdings of over 200 sq. meters".
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