|Saturday, 16 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-04-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 26 April 2010 Issue No: 3477
 FinMin at IMF summit: Rescue package in MayWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA - A. Ellis)
Negotiations on the framework of a rescue package for Greece are likely to be concluded by early May, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said here on Sunday. He was speaking during a press conference held at the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after his meeting with IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Papaconstantinou stressed that the framework will be a three-year programme for the stabilisation of the Greek economy based on the strictest terms, which will be implemented.
He noted that the cuts already made by the Greek government have restricted the public deficit by 40 percent in the first three months of this year and that the government was proceeding with other measures and reforms. Among these he listed a new tax system already passed into law and planned privatisations and mergers of state enterprises, along with what he called pending major reforms to ballooning Greece's social insurance and pension system.
The minister called on markets to take the important measures the Greek government has already taken into consideration, as well as those that were being drawn up and would be put into effect in the near future.
"I understand that markets continue to want to be convinced but all the things we are doing are a very strong statement," he added.
All the decisive measures taken by the Greek government seek to gain the trust of markets, the minister noted in response to other questions. He ventured a prediction that the start of an economic recovery for Greece may come in 2011, after the recession of the current year, when the Greek economy will be more competitive and returned to positive growth rates.
Papaconstantinou stressed that Greece's case was different that of other countries that had resorted to the IMF, since this now concerned a common support mechanism designed to protect the integrity of the euro. He emphasised the European contribution to the mechanism, pointing out that two-thirds of the loan will be given by Europe, while adding that Greece was the one that was taking the necessary measures "and no one else can do that for us".
Among these measures he listed a reduction of public-sector spending by 10 percent, although he noted that wages are not the only aspect of competitiveness. Additionally, he used as an example the opening of so-called closed professions, which will also contribute to a better and more efficient functioning of the economy.
The Greek finance minister, after earlier meetings with his counterparts from Brazil, the United States and Russia, is next scheduled to meet his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the IMF Spring Meeting.
 Press question on German position; dismisses bankruptcy spectreDuring the same press conference, Papaconstantinou expressed his confidence that the German government absolutely supports the eurozone economic support mechanism for Greece, when asked to comment on the Berlin government's recent statements.
Along these lines, he said markets will also appreciate efforts to "clean up" Greece's economic data and statistics.
Moreover, the Greek minister, who has been jettisoned into the international financial spotlight over recent weeks due to the Greek debt crisis, warned that "whoever is betting on Greece's bankruptcy will lose their money."
Finally, he expressed satisfaction with the course of negotiations with the IMF and called a recent statement of support by US Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner "very positive".
 Strauss-Kahn statement after meetingWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA - A. Ellis)
After a meeting held here on Sunday with Papaconstantinou, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said the IMF had accelerated talks with the Greek government on an EU-IMF support mechanism for Greece.
"The Minister and I had a very constructive meeting and I am impressed with the Greek authorities' determination to take the actions necessary to put their economy back on track.
"Since we received the request for financial support last Friday, our discussions with the authorities have accelerated. The IMF, the European partners, and everyone involved in the financing effort recognizes the need for speed. I am confident that we will conclude discussions in time to meet Greece's needs.
"We are all aware of the seriousness of the situation and the courageous efforts being made by the Greek people," Strauss-Kahn said, according to an announcement issued by the IMF immediately after the meeting.
 PM from Rhodes on eurozone-IMF supportGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Saturday promised that his government will "make every effort so that people not responsible for the economic crisis won't pay", speaking to supporters on the Dodecanese island of Rhodes, a day after announcing Athens' request for activation of a euro-area-IMF economic support mechanism.
Papandreou reiterated that the support mechanism may not be the best possible, but it's the one "we've got", and also a solution that is for the most part European.
"Due to our budget deficits, the EU, along with the IMF today, arrived here ... it is a form of guardianship ... And it is not at all pleasant," he said.
Papandreou also lashed out at the previous New Democracy (ND) he succeeded, saying the previous government caused the massive ballooning of the public debt and to significant deficits.
Papandreou's addressed in the Kremasti square concluded a two-day tour of tiny Kastellorizo, in the extreme southeastern Aegean, and the popular holiday island of Rhodes.
 Rehn: Support mechanism ready by early MayWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)
EU Commissioner for economic & monetary affairs Olli Rehn on Saturday predicted that a euro-area-IMF support mechanism for Greece will be ready by early May, speaking during a press conference at the IMF headquarters on the sidelines of a G-20 summit here.
"We are working very intensively, the decision is in the hands of the euro-area member states and they will all follow their own constitutional procedures," Rehn told reporters.
"We should be able to complete the work on the joint program by early May," he added.
 Samaras: PASOK drove Greece to IMFWith accusations against ruling PASOK for lying and deliberately driving the country into the arms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Sunday said the ruling party was "fully responsible for what happened and what will happen from now on". He was speaking in Kalamata, southern Greece during an ND conference on health.
"We handed over to PASOK a deficit crisis and PASOK is now handing Greece over to the IMF with a borrowing crisis," he said, noting that PASOK had not been forced into this course of action as it claimed but had chosen it and made it unavoidable through its actions.
"There are two things apart from the debt and deficit that lead a country into a borrowing crisis: these are competitiveness and credibility. Today, our political system has suddenly discovered the massive debt and deficit. It has not yet discovered the continuous collapse in our competitiveness," he said.
Samaras conceded that the previous ND government had made grave mistakes, especially in its failure to fight 'statism' and to re-establish the state and in its inability to control the debt because it had bowed to considerations of political cost.
"For all this we owe an apology to our supporters and the Greek people. But we will definitely not excuse ourselves to those who tried to block every attempt by ND governments to rein in the chaos of public finances and resorted to ruthless populism," he added.
ND's leader referred to the failure of the political system and a state that was constantly producing less, borrowing more and collecting less and less tax revenue, and this always from the same unfortunate groups. "Such a state is doomed to sink," he emphasised.
He also attacked PASOK for "having the temerity" to try to shift the blame for the situation onto others:
"But you all know who took over the country with a debt of 29 percent of GDP in the '80s and handed it over with a debt of 110 percent of GDP in eight years and you all know you brought populism to Greece.
According to ND's leader, the way out for Greece was to take immediate measures to boost the economy, structural measures that will immediately increase competitiveness and measures to use the property of the state-sector in order to emerge from the over-borrowing crisis in the medium term and shake off IMF supervision.
The government was unable to do any of the three, while ND had to manage to regain the trust of the people, Samaras added.
Gov't reply to Samaras
Replying to attacks from main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, during an ND conference in Kalamata, government spokesman George Petalotis on Sunday said that ND's leader "had spoken as though he had never been a minister under Mr. Karamanlis".
"We remind Mr. Samaras...that their governments did not make 'mistakes' but committed real crimes against the country," Petalotis added.
"When the Greek state had borrowed 180 billion euros between 1830 until 2004 and then in five years borrowed another 120 billion, this is a crime against all Greeks and the future generations," the spokesman said.
The figures revealed by Eurostat were merciless and showed the extent of the crime committed," he added.
 SYRIZA criticises EU-IMF optionLaunching a personal attack against Prime Minister George Papandreou for resorting to the EU-IMF support mechanism, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Sunday repeated a proposal for a national referendum on whether Greece should remain within the mechanism.
Tsipras stressed that Papandreou had made the decision without consulting anyone - not even his own cabinet, party and Parliamentary group - while there had been no discussion in Parliament.
He also slammed a decision that he said was pushing Greece into the arms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the worst possible terms and would take the country decades back.
SYRIZA's leader said both PASOK and main opposition New Democracy bore grave responsibility for creating an unproductive model of growth supported on excessive consumption, easy credit and easy turnover, big ideas, corruption and graft. But while the previous ND government had pushed this model to its limit, it was the clumsy and criminal choices made by the PASOK government of the last six months that brought the country to "ground zero and the brink of social bankruptcy," Tsipras said.
 Rass poll: PASOK ahead despite IMF fearsIn spite of strong fears over the possibility of resorting to a loan from the IMF and EU, PASOK was still firmly ahead in an opinion poll conducted by the firm Rass and published in the newspaper "Paron" on Sunday.
This showed main opposition New Democracy (ND) trailing 8.7 percentage points behind ruling PASOK as the party people intended to vote for in a telephone survey of 1,001 persons nationwide.
Specifically, 31.4 percent of respondents said they would vote for PASOK, 22.7 percent said ND, 7.9 percent the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 4.7 percent backed the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, 4.5 percent the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and 3.3 percent the Ecologists-Greens. A further 2.2 percent named another party, 3.9 percent said they would cast a blank/spoiled vote and 19.4 percent were "undecided".
The poll was conducted before the government announced that it was asking for the EU-IMF support mechanism to be activated and responses to what people considered likely to happen if the IMF were called in were pessimistic: 62.9 percent agreed that the IMF "will impose extreme austerity measures and increase unemployment" while only 26.2 percent agreed with the statement that the IMF "will put the country in order by stopping the squandering of public money and forcing the political system to do the things it ought to have done already". A further 7.3 percent agreed that both the above scenarios would happen while 3.6 percent replied "don't know/won't answer".
 Jerusalem Patriarch in FanarISTANBUL (ANA-MPA)
Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos is on a visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar, Istanbul. The visit began on Saturday, when he met Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, while Patriarch Theophilos due to inaugurate the renovated church of St. George that belongs to the Jerusalem Patriarchate in Istanbul on Sunday.
According to Theophilos, the aim of his visit is to discuss issues concerning both Patriarchates but also general matters concerning the Greek Orthodox churches.
Patriarchs Bartholomew and Theophilos were also to jointly hold a Sunday service at the newly renovated church of St. George.
 Law scholar Tsatsos passes awayNoted constitutional law scholar and one-time deputy Dimitris Tsatsos passed away on Saturday at the age of 77.
Tsatsos served as a deputy in the mid 1970s and in the 1990s, while he served for many years as a distinguished law professor in the country and in Germany
 Events in Athens commemorate Armenian genocideA central political rally in central Athens, followed by the laying of wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, capped off weekend events on Sunday commemorating the 95th anniversary of the commencement of the Armenian genocide in then Ottoman Turkey.
Similar events took place in the northern port city of Thessaloniki and in the northeastern Thracian city of Komotini.
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis attended the events on Sun-day, while former Parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis was an honored guest at the events, as he was the legislature's speaker when Parliament recognised -- April 25, 1996 -- the Armenian Genocide, adding Greece to the list of countries that recognise the annihilation of much of the Armenian population in the Ottoman territories.
Representatives of all political parties also attended, as did the Armenian ambassador to Greece, Amb. Gagik Ghalachyan..
 New board for ethnic Greek community of CairoCAIRO (ANA-MPA)
The ethnic Greek community in the Egyptian capital has elected a new 11-member board of commissioners, with Christos Kavalis re-elected to the post of president of the board.
The new board's term will last until 2012.
 Police operation in western Macedonia's four prefecturesÁ major police operation in the four prefectures of the western Macedonia region -- Grevena, Kastoria, Kozani and Florina -- led to the detainment and subsequent deportation of 106 Albanian nationals without residency or travel documents.
During the same operation, a trio of local men was arrested on antiquities smuggling charges.
More than 1,000 people and 861 vehicles were checked during the 24-hour operation throughout Friday, authorities said.
No cars in downtown Thessaloniki on Sat.
A pilot programme in the northern border city of Thessaloniki witnessed only city transit buses on the main thoroughfares of the metropolis' centre, part of an initiative by the merchants' association to promote pedestrian ways in the congested city.
The measure was implemented between noon and 7 p.m.
 Taxi driver charged with ferrying illegal migrantsÁ taxi driver from the northwestern town of Grevena was arrested on Saturday and charged with transporting illegal immigrants for a fee.
The driver and five illegals were arrested during a routine traffic stop, while the vehicle was impounded.
 15k in 'Athens Fun Run'Roughly 15,000 Athenians of all ages took part in the 27th Athens Fun Run that was held in the city on Sunday, as part of the Athens City Games 2010.
A classic sporting event organised by the City of Athens and the City of Athens Youth and Sport Organisation (ONA), the race has two routes: the 8-kilometre route for the general public starting at the Panathenian Stadium and a shorter 3.5-kilometre route for the disabled beginning at Syntagma Square.
"The Athens Fun Run is the biggest sports festival in the city," Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis said, adding that this year's race was doubly symbolic because of the economic crisis that Greece is undergoing, with the large-scale participation acting as a message of hope and optimism that Greeks can beat the crisis and the International Monetary Fund.
According to ONA president Vassilis Kikilias, this year's fun run was the most successful and he was proud that it came at the end of his four-year term.
 Panathinaikos F.C. wins Cup FinalAthens Panathinaikos prevailed as top team of the 2009/2010 season on Saturday night, securing both the championship and the premier league Cup with its 1-0 victory over Thessaloniki's Aris FC in the Cup Final match at the OAKA Olympic Stadium.
The winning goal was scored by left-wing Sebastian Leto in the 64th minute of the game, securing for the Athens team their 17th Cup in Panathinaikos' history and forcing the side from the north to concede yet another in a long string of defeats in its bid for the Cup, which it hasn't won since 1970.
 Police arrest 34 at Cup FinalPolice said 34 soccer supporters arrested in the vicinity of the Olympic Stadium before the start of Saturday's Cup Final game will be led before a public prosecutor to be charged on Sunday.
Of these, 18 are supporters that were arrested for their involvement in violent incidents and for possession of fireworks, fire-crackers and other banned objects.
Also arrested was the individual that had signed as a contractor with a security firm because he had employed staff without the necessary work permit, while some 40 security guards were brought in for questioning and 15 working for six different security firms were arrested for not having a work permit.
Before the start of the game there was some limited violence, mainly outside Gate 35 where Panathinaikos FC fans attacked police, and in other locations where rival supporters came to blows. These were quickly resolved by prompt police intervention and the use of flash grenades.
During these incidents, 18 police officers were injured and six had to be taken to hospital for first aid.
 Cloudy, wet on MondayCloudy, overcast weather with scattered showers and high winds in the Aegean are forecast on Monday, with lower temperatures to the east. Winds from mainly northeasterly directions, between 3-8 Beaufort and temperatures will range from 9C to 24C. Cloudy and wet in Athens, with temperatures between 14C and 19C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures between 12C and 19C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe ongoing negotiations about the terms of the EU-IMF support mechanism and the changes that will result from Greece's decision to borrow from the Eurozone and the IMF were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Everything is changing in jobs, salaries, pensions. Forget everything you knew up until yesterday, our creditors say".
APOGEVMATINI: "Mergers on the table once more. Reactions and proposals from municipalities around the country". [refers to mergers of municipalities under local authority restructuring plans]
AVGHI: "IMF State reform! The intervention of the international organisation is not restricted to the economy, it strikes at the heart of the political system, it operates as a quasi-government".
AVRIANI: "Greek nationality to 50,000 [Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia citizens]. Self-proclaimed 'Macedonians' celebrating and now preparing to claim property in Greece".
CHORA: "Greece the backdoor into Europe for US! The aim is to weaken the eurozone".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Cracks in PASOK due to IMF. Papandreou's tragic choices and disastrous outcome a blow to his image".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Every man for himself repercussions of resorting to support mechanism on the economy, society and politics".
EPOCHI: "Disobedience! Our own one-way street. Let us begin from May Day".
ETHNOS: "Last minute bargaining for the final text of the agreement. [German Chancellor Angela Merkel] and IMF pushing for even harsher measures".
KATHIMERINI: "Truth and myths about IMF era. Radical changes to contracts and firings".
LOGOS: "The story also has a ... bad IMF. Three years 'uphill struggle'. What the resort [to IMF-EU loan] means for the citizens".
NIKI: "Rise up Andreas [late premier and founder of PASOK Andreas Papandreou] and see us...Civil war in PASOK over IMF and Kallikratis [bill for restructuring local government]".
PARON: "Rass: Opinion poll blasts the government. Wave of rage over mistaken handling".
PROTO THEMA: "Scenarios about savings and bonds. Life with the IMF in the next three years."
REAL NEWS: "The great robbery. Revelation: Today's valuation of structured bonds".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Popular alliance now. Resort to EU-IMF mechanism pre-planned".
VETO: "The day after. The nightmare scenarios and the traps. The keys of the state to IMF yuppies".
VIMA: "A painful end to life on credit. Resort to IMF to bring reversals in living standards".
VRADYNI: "Kiss of life for unemployed. The government plan for boosting the market before the IMF. Who can benefit from the new Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) programmes".
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