|Friday, 23 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-04-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 12 April 2010 Issue No: 3465
 Eurogroup finalises 30 bln euro safety net for Greece if neededBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Eurozone member countries on Sunday agreed to a 30 billion-euro borrowing scheme for Greece for one year, if required, Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary affairs Olli Rehn announced on Sunday afternoon, following an urgent teleconference of eurozone finance ministers on the Greek economy.
The lending interest rate will be around 5.0 percent, and all eurozone countries will participate in the financial safety net, which can be swiftly activated if needed. Participation by the IMF is also envisioned, at roughly one-third of the lending, and at a lower interest rate, according to reports.
In an ANA-MPA dispatch from Nicosia, Prime Minister George Papandreou said the decision of March 25 by the Eurogroup was materialised into a specific form on Sunday.
"Today, European solidarity turned into substance," Papandreou said from Nicosia, where he arrived for an official visit to the Republic of Cyprus.
"With today's decision Europe is sending a clear message, namely, that no one can now play with our common currency; no one can play with our common destiny; the EU is and will remain a community of common values, goals and solidarity," he added.
"It is now necessary to continue with a serious and determined plan, in every sector of our policy in order to have the results we want for our citizens and Greece," he concluded.
FinMin hails Eurogroup plan
Meanwhile, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou described the finalised plan for an EU support mechanism for Greece as a "very important decision".
In a follow-up to the EU summit decision of March 25, the support framework for Greece on Sunday took on a specific form that will be available when needed.
He explained that the framework comprises bilateral funding by eurozone member countries under the coordination of the European Commission.
For 2010, the contribution of the eurozone member countries will be 30 billion euros, which will be supplemented with the participation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said, adding that for the following years there will be further capital available, while the cost will be approximately 5 percent steady interest for a three-year loan and under 4 percent in fluctuating interest, Papaconstantinou elaborated.
As of Monday, a technical committee will meet in Brussels to finalise the mechanism, he said, adding that members of the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Greece will participate in the committee.
Papaconstantinou noted that the Greek government has not asked for activation of the mechanism, although it is now immediately available.
"The target is, and we believe, that we will continue to borrow unobstructed from the markets," the minister stressed.
He said that the message that emerges from Sunday's decision, finalised during an urgent teleconference of the Eurogroup finance ministers, is that the European Commission and the European countries in their entirety have already acknowledged the efforts being made by Greece, particularly following the results of the execution of the Budget in the first quarter of 2010.
"Today's decision is especially important, for Greece but also the eurozone. It is the result of the efforts of the past few months and shows the confidence that our European partners now have in Greece," Papaconstantinou concluded.
PM warns speculators: The loaded gun is on the table
Prime minister George Papandreou warned speculators that a "loaded gun" is "on the table", stressing that activation of the EU support mechanism for the Greek economy is not Greece's first choice but "if it is needed, it is there", in an interview appearing in a Sunday newspaper.
The interview appeared just hours before an extraordinary teleconference of eurogroup finance ministers to "concretize" the EU support mechanism for the Greek economy, in order to work out the details of how the safety net for Greece will work if Athens opts for its activation.
"We waged a battle so that there will be a European support mechanism, and we won it," he said, noting that after the latest developments, with the terms of the support mechanism clarified, "the gun on the table is loaded, and the speculators know this...consequently, we have a safety net".
"Greece's place is in the eurozone," the prime minister stressed in his interview with the Sunday edition of To Vima newspaper, adding that "any other scenario is ludicrous".
Papandreou further said that it remains to be seen whether the support mechanism will convince the markets, but if it doesn't it is there to be used.
"We have not lost a minute" in the effort to bring Greece out of the quagmire that it was led to by "mistakes, omissions and decades-long mentalities", and which was "exacerbated to an inconceivable degree between 2004 and 2009", Papandreou replied to a question on opposition claims that the government procrastinated in taking measures.
"Never before has a Cabinet been so productive in draft laws tabled in parliament," Papandreou noted.
Indicating his PASOK government's intentions on economic and social policy, the premier stressed that "all the fronts" need to be opened up today" because "I believe that we must make the changes now so that they will yield in 2-3 years".
"This government is called on to do the hardest and the most in the shortest time possible. Some changes will inconvenience all of us, from how a minister functions to how the civil servant will function, but for the better," he explained.
Regarding the ministers, Papandreou said that the pre-elections pledge for "evaluation and accountability everywhere and for all" still holds true while, to a question on public disagreement by government officials, he noted that "this is within the framework of the dialogue required by collective work" and added that it was surprising to many that discussions of substance take place in his Cabinet, which was not so in the past.
On the civil servants, he noted that life-long tenure is consolidated by the Constitution, but with amendment of the disciplinary system "the regime of impunity will cease to exist", while meritocracy will be restored, and all the Public Administration directors will be selected on the basis of merit, without party influence.
As for the burden that the civil servants will shoulder with the recent measures, Papandreou noted: "I have said repeatedly that our decisions are by necessity, not by choice".
Papandreou said that the big wager, not only for the government but for the Greek society itself, was dual: "To best make use of the country's inexhaustible potential for the production of wealth, but also to distribute that wealth fairly".
 PM Papandreou in Cyprus on SundayPrime minister George Papandreou is due in Cyprus on Sunday afternoon on a two-day working visit, during which he will meet with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and the leaders of the Cypriot parliamentary parties.
Papandreou, who also holds the foreign ministry portfolio, will be met at Larnaka airport by Cyprus foreign minister Markos Kyprianou and the Under Secretary to the President Titos Christofides.
According to the official programme of the visit, the Greek Prime Minister will be met at Larnaka airport by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Kyprianou and the Under Secretary to the President Titos Christofides.
On Monday morning Papandreou will hold a tete-a-tete meeting at the Presidential Palace with President of the Republic Demetris Christofias.
An extended meeting will follow with the participation of the leaders of the Cypriot parliamentary parties.
The meeting will also be attended by Papandreou's alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas and government spokesman George Petalotis, Greek Ambassador to Cyprus Vassilis Papaioannou, Cypriot foreign minister Markos Kyprianou, government spokesman Stephanos Stephanou and Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou.
On Monday afternoon Papandreou will be received by Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus before departing for Athens.
 Samaras blasts gov't at Central Committee meetingMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras blasted the PASOK government on its handling of the economy, addressing a party Central Committee meeting on Sunday.
Greece cannot withstand more measures -- neither the economy, nor society -- and that is why we may be faced with major changes, Samaras said, adding that his party opposed harsher measures, but also those measures taken that create a "vicious cycle of recession".
Criticising PASOK, he said that "never has a government managed to make so many mistakes in such a short time, for such foolish reasons of petty politics and with such immediate and painful results".
It was being proved today that PASOK had no plan other than to defeat ND, Samaras continued, and accused the government of "incompetence mixed with arrogance, double-talk mixed with lack of initiative, and gaffes mixed with contradictory messages in all directions".
He said the country was facing its biggest crisis ever, which was not a "deficit crisis" but a "public borrowing crisis".
Up until October, he continued, Greece was one of many EU countries facing a deficit crisis, but in the last few months it was the only eurozone country facing a borrowing crisis. Greece, he added, is the eurozone's weak link and had become notorious.
Last year, under the ND government, the economy had faced tribulations, but was not brought to its knees despite the mistakes made which, he said, have also been acknowledged by them prime minister Costas Karamanlis himself. The ND government, Samaras continued, had kept control, contrary to the current PASOK government which "lost control, inflated the deficit and then lost time, did not take measures immediately, took harsher measures with a delay, and also shattered the psychology of the markets".
The ND government had borrowed at interest rates "which we now yearn", Samaras continued, noting that in 2009 the Greek state was borrowing at 4.2 percent interest, while this year the country was borrowing at excessive interest rates while the Greek bond spread has more than tripled.
He also accused the PASOK government of devastating the taxation mechanism and inflating the deficit.
On the new taxation bill to be tabled by the government in parliament on Tuesday, Samaras said that ND rejects it in its entirety because it "further strangles the economy, does not effectively reduce the deficits, sends capital away, does not curb tax evasion, kills entrepreneurship, and crushes the middle class and the middle incomes without restoring social justice and working in favor of the weaker strata".
Turning to internal party issues, Samaras warned that he would not tolerate introversion.
Samaras also submitted a recommendation for organisational changes to the party, which was approved at the end of the Central Committee meeting.
High-profile MP and former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, whose relations with Samaras have been tense since he defeated her in the election for a new party leader to replace Karamanlis, did not attend the meeting, while Karamanlis departed the proceedings after Samaras' opening address.
 Samaras: Greece is in state borrowing crisisMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said that Greece is in a borrowing crisis, for which the PASOK government is exclusively to blame, during an address to an ND pre-Congress event in Larissa.
He also warned "all those who hurt the party" that "they have no place in the party, they are cut out".
In October 2009, he said, the Greek economy was in a deficit crisis, but "this also held true for most, almost all, the countries of Europe, and particularly of the eurozone".
"Greece was not the exception," he stressed, but "PASOK, with its unbelievable gaffes, with its procrastination, with its amateurism and inconsistency, transformed a deficit crisis into a borrowing crisis, which is much worse".
"PASOK managed, in a few short months, to convert the deficit crisis into a unique, only in Greece, and very heavy state borrowing crisis," he added.
Samaras blamed the preceding ND government for creating the big deficit because it had not done from the beginning, when it first took office, whatever it could to reign in the huge deficits and immense borrowing it inherited from its PASOK predecessors, and had hesitated in proceeding with changes.
 Six arrests in terrorism sweep; suspected members of 'Revolutionary Struggle' gangCounter-terrorism police investigators on Sunday arrested six people allegedly belonging to the "Revolutionary Struggle" ultra-leftist terrorist group, after first detaining them for questioning during a handful of house raids on Saturday.
A police spokesman said the six -- identified as Nikolaos Maziotis (39 years old), his wife Panagiota Roupa (41), Evangelos Stathopoulos (32), Christoforos Kortesis (31), Sarantos Nikitopoulos (32) and Constantinos Gournas (30) -- will be referred to a prosecutor on charges of participation in a terrorist organisation, based on evidence collected in the ongoing investigation.
A coordinated operation launched at dawn Saturday, which included house searches in the greater Athens area, turned up a large number of finds, which have been seized and are being examined at the police crime lab, the spokesman said
Indicatively, spokesman Thanassis Kokkalakis added, police found and seized in the house in the Kalyvia township, in southern coastal Attica prefecture, a computer hard disc containing proclamations from previous "Revolutionary Struggle" attacks and a draft proclamation for a future terrorist action, as well as hand-written texts, two of which are believed to be draft proclamations of the same self-styled anti-establishment terror group.
Police also found and seized hand-written diagrams of sites of planned terrorist attacks, according to reports.
In line with the legislation dealing with terrorism suspects, photographs of the detainees were posted on the Greek Police (EL.AS) website.
Terrorism-related proclamations, hand-written notes referring to a terror group's text and material that could be used to construct bombs were reportedly found in another residence searched, this one in the Athens district of Nea Ionia. Other residences searched were in the coastal town of Galazia Akti and a number of other points in Athens, police sources said.
Commenting on a relevant police announcement Saturday, main opposition New Democracy (ND) shadow minister, MP Nikos Dendias, said that "every positive development in the battle against terrorism can only have the universal support of the political world and the Greek society".
 Greek state, political leaders' condolences on Polish President's death in plane crashPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, the Greek government and political parties expressed shock and condolences over an airplane crash that claimed the lives of the Polish President and officials.
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias sent a telegram of condolences on Saturday to Polish parliament president Bronislav Komorowski on the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and a number of officials in an airplane crash.
"Deeply shocked by the news of the terrible airplane accident that resulted in the tragic loss of the President of Poland, his wife and other eminent Polish officials, I wish to express, on behalf of the Greek people and myself, the most genuine condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims,": Papoulias said in his telegram.
Alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas on Saturday sent a message of condolences to his Polish counterpart Radoslow Sikorski over the crash of an airplane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, the country's central bank governor and other officials.
"In these difficult moments, I express my deepest condolences and support to the government of Poland, the families of the victims, and the Polish people," Droutsas said in his message.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, in a statement, expressed his genuine condolences to the government and people of Poland over the tragedy of the loss of its President and many other officials and citizens.
"In these difficult hours, all we Greeks participate in the national mourning of our friend country and stand by the families of the victims," Samaras said.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, in a telegram to Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, expressed shock over the tragic loss of the Polish president, his wife and the other Polish officials, and expressed condolences and sympathy to the Polish people and the victims' families.
 Government spokesman on visit to IstanbulISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
Greek minister to the prime minister and government spokesman on Sunday commenced a visit to the "Hellenism of Istanbul", where he was greeted by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
"I am here at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, together with my associates, to pay tribute to the spirit of Greek Orthodoxy, a spirit that has been keeping us and Hellenism strong for many centuries," Petalotis said, adding that "we, as Greece, are always at the Ecumenical Patriarchate's side".
Greeting Petalotis, Bartholomew noted that this was not his first visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but his first in his new, difficult capacity as minister and government spokesman, and thanked the Greek official, prime minister George Papandreou and the Greek government for their interest in the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the "solution of the long-standing problems of the Church and the minority".
 Commission President fully satisfied withy Eurogroup agreement on Greek safety netBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso expressed full satisfaction on Sunday on an agreement reached earlier by eurogroup finance ministers during an urgent teleconference finalising the details of coordinated assistance to Greece should Athens request it.
Barroso said that Sunday's decision constitutes a clear and strong commitment, which proves that the eurozone does what is needed to secure fiscal stability and also to support Greece in accordance with the European Council decisions of February and March.
"With today's agreement, Europe proved that responsibility and solidarity go together," an announcement by Barroso said, adding that the Commission "contributed to the achievement of this agreement, and I am certain that it will help Greece to continue the strict adjustment of its fiscal finances and realise the necessary structural reforms."
 FinMin interview in Sunday newspaperThe EU support mechanism is a very important safety net, and it was critical that it be created and concretized, but we hope and believe that Greece will not need to use it, finance minister George Papaconstantinou said in an interview appearing in a newspaper on Sunday.
No new measure will be needed provided the existing Stability and Development program is consistently implemented, Papaconstantinou added in the interview with the newspaper Realnews.
Papaconstantinou further said that all the state bond issues have been oversubscribed, while adding that the borrowing interest rates will recede when it becomes apparent that a very serious effort is being made and is yielding.
The minister also said that a large majority of the Greek citizens are taking part in the effort being made for the country to stand on its own feet, on our own power.
 Greek NGO teacher Lerounis returns to Greece after release by Afghan Taliban militantsGreek teacher and NGO worker Athanassios Lerounis arrived in Athens on Saturday following his release earlier in the week by Afghan Taliban militants seven months after they kidnapped him in the Chitral region in northern Pakistan.
Lerounis, chairman of the non-governmental organisation Greek Volunteers, was kidnapped outside his museum in the remote Kalash valley last September, while his guard was fatally shot. He had been working on a cultural project in the area since 2001.
Professor Lerounis, a Greek teacher and social worker, was kidnapped on September 8, 2009 following an attack on the Kalash village of Brun, in Pakistan, where he lived. He was abducted outside the ethnological museum Kalash-Dur he had created himself in Pakistan to preserve and showcase the culture of the Kalash people. Lerounis has also founded two primary schools, three motherhood centers and the Kalash Cultural Center in Bumburate Valley.
Lerounis was released in Nooristan province in Afghanistan on Wednesday, and Pakistani officials took him to Chitral later that night. He was taken to the Greek embassy in Islamabad on Friday morning to await transportation back to Greece arranged by the Greek government.
A visibly moved and relieved Lerounis arrived Saturday at Athens' 'Eleftherios Venizelos' International Airport, where he thanked everyone who had helped in securing his release.
"I am very happy to be standing on Greek ground after so many months. A big thank you to the people in Pakistan, the Greek government and the personal interest of the prime minister, who acted as a human being and not a politician," Lerounis told waiting reporters.
Lerounis also thanked prime minister George Papandreou's personal envoy to Islamabad, ambassador-at-large Dimitris Dollis, and the Greek ambassador in Islamabad Petros Mavroidis, who accompanied the NGO volunteer on his flight to Greece, as well as all people who were supportive throughout his ordeal.
Dollis confirmed a statement by Wazir on Thursday that no ransom was paid, adding that Lerounis' release was a big success of the Greek government, Greek diplomacy and the country, and called Lerounis "an example of perseverance".
Asked if he would return to the Kalash tribe, Lerounis said that "with the support of the Greek and Pakistani government, I would like to return there some day and continue my work".
 Child killed when racing car veers off trackA child was fatally injured on Sunday when a racing car veered off the racing track at high speed and rammed into spectators in Polydendri, Attica prefecture, near the 30th kilometer of the Athens-Lamia stretch of the national highway.
The car seriously injured a father and his two underage children. The father was rushed to the Athens General State Hospital while the children were taken to the Aglaia Kyriakou Children's Hospital, where one of the children succumbed to its wounds despite doctors' efforts.
Police are investigating the circumstances of the accident.
 Ukraine-flag ship with contraband cigarettes seized off ThessalonikiPolice seized a Ukraine-flagged ship carrying more than one million packets of contraband cigarettes in the early hours of Saturday in the Thermaic Gulf just south of Thessaloniki, and arrested its 7-member crew.
According to a Citizens' Protection ministry announcement the police, in a coordinated operation, spotted the freighter "SVESA" in the sea in the area of Halastra at about 3:00 a.m. as the 7-member crew, all foreign nationals, were attempting to unload the illegal cargo.
The ship was immoblised and escorted by a Coastguard vessel to the port of Thessaloniki, where it arrived two hours later.
The freighter was carrying 2,024 master cases containing approximately 1,012,000 packets of cigarettes, although the precise count was in progress at noon Saturday.
The local prosecutor, who was immediately informed of the incident, ordered the arrest of the crew and a case file to be drawn up by the Special Audits Service.
The SVESA and the contraband cigarettes were seized.
 Ecumenical Patriarch on Halki SeminaryThe creation of a Theological Seminary in Alexandroupolis or another area in Greece close in proximity to Istanbul, and recourse to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, are a few of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's options in the Halki School of Theology is not reopened, as repeatedly promised by the Turkish government, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said on Saturday in reply to questions by Turkish reporters.
The alternative solutions were presented by the Ecumenical Patriarch in reply to press questions during a luncheon hosted by Bartholomew for a group of Turkish newspaper columnists on the occasion of the Orthodox Easter.
 Six migrant-smugglers arrestedSix migrant smugglers were arrested in two separate incidents in Alexandroupolis and Florina on Sunday.
Four migrant smugglers were arrested and 31 illegal migrants were detained by border guards at the Ferres border station in Alexandroupolis.
The migrants, who were under discrete police surveillance, initially met with three migrant smugglers, all foreign nationals, in the rural area of Lagyna, while the fourth smuggler arrived on the scene shortly afterwards in a truck.
Police followed the truck, which was carrying the illegal migrants, and a private car, in which the first three smugglers were riding, and arrested the four migrant smugglers at the Ardani intersection on the Alexandroupolis-Komotini stretch of the national highway.
In a second incident, police arrested outside Florina two migrant smugglers, both of Bulgarian nationality, who were transporting two illegal migrants from Albania.
 Rupel battle commemoratedThe 69th anniversary of the battle of the Fort Rupel battle was commemorated on Sunday with a memorial service for the officers and servicemen that fell in battle during the German military invasion of the frontier.
 PAO wins football titlePanathinaikos Athens (PAO) mathematically clinched its 20th Greek first division championship on Sunday by downing a feisty Iraklis Thessaloniki club 2-0 at the Athens Olympic Stadium. Panathinaikos won the Greek football title on the next to last week of play.
In other action:
Asteras Tripolis-Aris Thessaloniki 2-1
Ergotelis Crete-PAS Yiannina 3-1
Levadiakos-AEK Athens 0-0
Panionios Athens-Larissa 0-3
PAOK Thessaloniki-Kavala 1-0
Panthrakikos-Olympiacos Piraeus 0-2
Xanthi-Atromitos Athens 2-1
Standings after 29 weeks of play:
1. Panathinaikos 67 points
2. Olympiacos 61
3. PAOK 59
4. AEK 50
5. Aris 46
6. Kavala 38
7. Iraklis 37
12. Atromitos 35
13. Xanthi 32
14. Levadiakos 31
15. PAS Yiannina 28 -- relegated
16. Panthrakikos 12 -- relegated
 FIFA World Cup trophy in Athens in context of 2010 World TourTens of hundreds of soccer fans of all ages thronged to the Athens Olympic complex (OAKA) to get a glimpse of and be photographed next to the FIFA World Cup trophy during a three-day stopover in Athens on the trophy's world-wide tour ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa that kicks off on June 11.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour began its journey from the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland on September 21, 2009 and will visit a total of 83 countries, travelling a total of 138,902 kilometers, more than three times the circumference of Earth.
During the Trophy Tour, fans are given the chance to enjoy a rare close-up view of the authentic FIFA World Cup Trophy and also have the opportunity to have a souvenir photo taken of themselves with the trophy, view a special 3-D movie showcasing memorable moments of the FIFA World Cup, participate in interactive displays and enjoy other entertainment
The 2010 FIFA World takes place in South Africa , kicking off on 11 June. It is the first time the 32 final teams are competing for the world's most sought after trophy on the African continent. The final will be played on 11 July 2010 at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe concretization of the EU support mechanism for Greece and the Employment ministry's bill on the social security system were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Turkey 'shipwrecks' in the Aegean".
APOGEVMATINI: "Four-speed real estate".
AVGHI: "From Papandreou's socialism to the...barbarity of the IMF".
CHORA: "The Athens 'vultures' who are investing in the country's bankruptcy".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The IMF entering our pockets".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Endurance test for Greece and the euro - Key-plan for support, with the sharks lying in wait".
ETHNOS: "Shock-therapy for the 'spreads virus' with...IMF prescription".
KATHIMERINI: "Countdown to (recourse to) IMF-EU".
LOGOS: "Waiting for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Management of the 'impasse' and 'enrichment' of the agenda".
NIKI: "We've loaded the gun - Hard poker between government-speculators on the support mechanism".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Struggle for our needs, clash with the 'rescue' of capital".
TO VIMA: "The gun is now loaded - Premier's interview with to TO VIMA on all issues".
VRADYNI: "Cutbacks on pensions - Who will see their incomes reduced".
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