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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-05-10

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

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

Monday, 10 May 2010 Issue No: 3488

CONTENTS

  • [01] IMF approves immediate dispatch of 5.5bln euros to Greece
  • [02] Statement of Euro Area leaders
  • [03] FinMin: Priority was to avoid bankruptcy
  • [04] Alternate FM to participate in EU meetings
  • [05] Meeting of party leaders' council on Monday, without KKE, SYRIZA
  • [06] Social security bill debuts on Mon.
  • [07] KKE on economic developments
  • [08] Polls: Majority accepts austerity, bailout measures
  • [09] Pharmacies on strike Monday, Tuesday
  • [10] Greece honours Mauthausen concentration camp victims
  • [11] Russian consulate of Thessaloniki hosts events marking WWII victory
  • [12] Film 'Etel Adnan - Exiled Words' to be screened in Beirut
  • [13] Two foreign nationals arrested on European warrants
  • [14] Drug arrest
  • [15] Foreign detainee found hanged in Hania prison
  • [16] Super League playoff results
  • [17] Fair on Monday
  • [18] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

  • [01] IMF approves immediate dispatch of 5.5bln euros to Greece

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)

    The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) executive board on Sunday approved a three-year 30-billion euro "stand-by arrangement" for Greece in support of Athens' recently approved spending decreases and tax hikes, urgent measures aimed at avoiding sovereign debt default.

    According to an IMF press release here, the "front-loaded" programme immediately frees up roughly 5.5 billion euros to Greece as part of joint support mechanism with the eurozone, for a combined 20 billion euros in immediate financial support. In 2010, total IMF financing will amount to about 10 billion and will be partnered with about 30 billion euros earmarked by the EU.

    "The Greek government should be commended for committing to an historic course of action that will give this proud nation a chance of rising above its current troubles and securing a better future for the Greek people," IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn stressed, adding:

    "Today, the IMF has demonstrated its commitment to doing what it can to help Greece and its people. The road ahead will be difficult, but the government has designed a credible program that is economically well-balanced, socially well-balanced-with protection for the most vulnerable groups-and achievable. Implementation is now the key. Together with our partners in the European Union, we are providing an unprecedented level of support to help Greece in this effort and-over time--to help restore growth, jobs, and higher living standards."

    [02] Statement of Euro Area leaders

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)

    Eurozone leaders decided in the early hours of Saturday to activate a 110-billion-euro support mechanism for Greece, in a 3-year joint programìå with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under which the euro area member countries are ready to contribute 80 billion euro.

    The leaders of the 16 eurozone countries also agreed to establish a 70 billion euro stabilisation fund to insulate member states against speculative attacks by international financial markets, the draft of which will be submitted to an extraordinary meeting of EU finance ministers on Sunday for approval.

    After the meeting, the euro area heads of state and government issued a joint statement covering four key topics: implementation of the support package for Greece, response to the current crisis, strengthening economic governance, and regulation of the financial markets and the fight against speculation

    The full text of the joint statement appears below:

    1) Implementation of the support package for Greece

    In February and in March, we committed to take determined and coordinated action to safeguard financial stability in the euro area as a whole.

    Following the request by the Greek government on April 23 and the agreement reached by the Eurogroup on May 2, we will provide Greece with 80 billion euros in a joint package with the IMF of 110 billion euros. Greece will receive a first disbursement in the coming days, before May 19.

    The programme adopted by the Greek government is ambitious and realistic. It addresses the grave fiscal imbalances, will make the economy more competitive, and will create the basis for stronger and more sustainable growth and job creation. The Greek Prime Minister has reiterated the total commitment of the Greek government to the full implementation of these vital reforms.

    The decisions we are taking reflect the principles of responsibility and solidarity, enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty, which are at the core of the monetary union.

    2) Response to the current crisis

    In the current crisis, we reaffirm our commitment to ensure the stability, unity and integrity of the euro area. All the institutions of the euro area (Council, Commission, ECB) as well as all euro area Member States agree to use the full range of means available to ensure the stability of the euro area.

    Today, we agreed on the following:

    - First, consolidation of public finances is a priority for all of us and we will take all measures needed to meet our fiscal targets this year and in the years ahead in line with excessive deficit procedures. Each one of us is ready, depending on the situation of his country, to take the necessary measures to accelerate consolidation and to ensure the sustainability of public finances. The situation will be reviewed by the Ecofin Council on the basis of a Commission assessment by the end of June at the latest. We have asked the Commission and the Council to strictly enforce the recommendations addressed to Member States under the Stability and Growth Pact.

    - Second, we fully support the ECB in its action to ensure the stability of the euro area.

    - Third, taking into account the exceptional circumstances, the Commission will propose a European stabilization mechanism to preserve financial stability in Europe. It will be submitted for decision to an extraordinary ECOFIN meeting that the Spanish presidency will convene this Sunday May 9th.

    3) Strengthening economic governance

    We have decided to strengthen the governance of the euro area. In the context of the Task Force headed by the President of the European Council, we are prepared to:

    - broaden and strengthen economic surveillance and policy coordination in the euro area, including by paying close attention to debt levels and competitiveness developments;

    - reinforce the rules and procedures for surveillance of euro area Member States, including through a strengthening of the Stability and Growth Pact and more effective sanctions;

    - create a robust framework for crisis management, respecting the principle of Member States' own budgetary responsibility.

    The President of the European Council decided to accelerate the work of the Task Force. The Commission will present its proposals next week on May 12.

    4) Regulation of the financial markets and the fight against speculation

    Finally, we agreed that the current market turmoil highlights the need to make rapid progress on financial markets regulation and supervision. Increasing transparency and supervision in derivatives markets and dealing with the role of rating agencies are among the key priorities for the EU. We also agreed on intensifying the work on crisis management and resolution in the financial sector and on a fair and substantial contribution of the financial sector to the costs of crises. The work on assessing whether more steps are necessary in view of recent speculation against sovereign debtors should be sped up. The President of the European Council therefore intends to discuss these issues at the June European Council, on the basis, where needed, of Commission proposals.

    [03] FinMin: Priority was to avoid bankruptcy

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou referred to "radical changes" in so-called "closed professions", the operation of the state, the tax system as well as in the labour and retail markets, in statements published in an Athens daily on Sunday.

    He also distinguished between "vested rights", one that "have been rightfully obtained", and others concerning trade union claims, "to which the state succumbed at some time and which we must consider again."

    Papaconstantinou stressed that the country found itself in a major dilemma, but a simple one at the same time: It would either take painful measures in the sense that it also affects citizens who are not to blame for the situation, or it "would go to the wall".

    "When you ask to borrow 110 billion euros, the ground for negotiating is limited," he noted. "Evidently, it is not fair for the pensioner to pay for the crisis ... but the main issue at stake was for us to secure that the country will not go bankrupt.

    "If the programme succeeds and the deficit is reduced with speedy rates, we have the possibility to ask and to negotiate differently," Papaconstantinou said.

    His interview was published in the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Vima".

    [04] Alternate FM to participate in EU meetings

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas will participate in the European Union's General Affairs and Foreign Affairs Councils in Brussels on Monday.

    "Today, all of Europe is undoubtedly facing a major challenge. The economic crisis created conditions that threaten the European structure itself, and require collective, decisive action by the European leaders. Decisions are required such as the one taken the day before yesterday that will guarantee the stability of our common currency. That will safeguard the stability of Europe," Droutsas said on the occasion of Europe Day on Sunday.

    "It is our duty to consolidate and defend the progress that we have achieved. To continue, not to disprove the hopes of the first visionaries of United Europe, but to carry them out ... Greece is in the front line of this historic course. Its place is there and it shall remain there," he added.

    [05] Meeting of party leaders' council on Monday, without KKE, SYRIZA

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will convene the Council of Political Party Leaders at noon on Monday, at the request of Prime Minister George Papandreou, for an exchange of views on the course of the economy and the country.

    The meeting will be attended by premier and ruling PASOK party leader Papandreou, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis.

    The country's two Left parties represented in parliament -- the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance have refused take part in the meeting.

    KKE leader Aleka Papariga in a terse statement on Friday said simply that she will not attend the meeting of political party leaders, while SYRIZA parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras, who is also leader of the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party that heads the SYRIZA coalition, informed President Papoulias in a letter on Friday that he will not take part in the meeting, stressing that "we cannot assume responsibility for irreversible destruction".

    Government spokesman George Petalotis later slammed the KKE and SYRIZA decisions not to participate in the council of political party leaders, speaking in Brussels where he was accompanying the prime minister for an urgent eurozone summit to approve activation of the EU support mechanism for the Greek economy.

    "At the time that Prime Minister George Papandreou and the government are waging a battle for the country's economic salvation, at the Eurozone Summit which is underway in Brussels, and when social cohesion is extremely necessary, the KKE and SYRIZA are looking for excuses again not to participate in the council of political leaders under the President of the Republic," Petalotis said.

    "Unfortunately, their only contribution to this great effort by the Greek people is once again absolute refusal as well as no respect for democratic institutions," the spokesman added.

    [06] Social security bill debuts on Mon.

    Employment Minister Andreas Loverdos will present an eagerly awaited draft bill on social insurance reforms, during a Cabinet meeting on Monday, with the draft bill up for approval by ministers before being tabled to Parliament.

    The minister stressed that if the PASOK party does not succeed in saving the country, the political system in its present form will cease to exist. He admitted to delays in the implementation of development initiatives, pointing out that Greece has no more time to lose.

    "We are struggling to save the country, disregarding the personal or collective cost. Our criterion is the salvation of the homeland and not the time of our staying in power," Loverdos underlined.

    [07] KKE on economic developments

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said that the developments in the EU reveal that the claims and quandaries used by the government and its allies are "misleading", and aim at forcing the people to accept the harsh measures.

    A press release on Saturday commenting on the eurozone decision to activate the support mechanism for the Greek economy also said that the harsh sacrifices decided by the 16 eurozone countries for all the EU governments to impose on the peoples aim at protection of the over-concentrated earnings and capital of the monopolies 'which are responsible for the crisis'.

    An indicative example, it added, is their decision for a 600 billion euros injection to bankers, at the same time that they are reducing the salaries and pensions of the people in order to curtail the deficits, thus leading the working people and small enterprises to poverty in order that the euro will prevail over the dollar and for their own monopolies to prevail in the growing competition inside and outside the EU.

    [08] Polls: Majority accepts austerity, bailout measures

    A bevy of opinion poll results gauging public sentiment vis-à-vis the latest austerity measures by Greece to meet conditions for a 110-billion-euro bailout package were published by Athens' Sunday editions.

    One opinion poll, published by the "Vima" newspaper, shows that slightly more than half of respondents in a nationwide poll consider the latest batch of austerity measures accepting the package of measures, 55.2 percent. Conversely, 44.6 percent of respondents rejected the government-sponsored pay cuts, higher taxes and labour market changes.

    Moreover, 74.8 percent of respondents said Greece must remain in the eurozone, while 71.3 percent believe political parties must now operate within a framework of consensus, whereas 22.2 percent underlined that parties must actively oppose the measures.

    The opinion poll was conducted on Thursday and Friday, the days Parliament debated and voted on the bill slashing state spending, by the firm Kapa Research.

    In another poll, this one published by the weekly "Realnews", a whopping 98.6 percent believe the political system is responsible for the current crisis. Interestingly, 82.7 percent of respondents also consider that labour unions' leaderships are responsible for the crisis, with the business world following at 76 percent.

    A slight majority of respondents in the poll, 52.2 percent, believe that a different handling of the crisis would have averted recourse to the eurozone-IMF support mechanism. Along those lines, 59.1 percent of respondents believe sacrifices to secure the bailout packages will not bear results.

    The poll was conducted by the firm MRB.

    Finally, yet another poll published in the weekly "Proto Thema" shows majority support for the bailout scheme, 54.2 percent. In regards to the violence that marred the large demonstrations in Athens last week, 74 percent of respondents agreed with the position of restricting strikes "within reasonable levels".

    Some 56.5 percent of respondents believe the two leftist parties in Parliament, KKE and SYRIZA, have contributed to social tensions with their stance. The poll was conducted by the firm ALCO.

    General News

    [09] Pharmacies on strike Monday, Tuesday

    Pharmacies will be closed throughout Greece on Monday and Tuesday in protest to the government's planned changes to their operational institutional framework.

    The Panhellenic Pharmacy Association, which staged a 24-hour strike on Friday, has decided a new 48-hour strike for Monday and Tuesday, demanding that "safety valves" be found to avert the penetratin of private interests in the field of pharmaceutical care.

    If the government commits itself to the above, the pharmacists agree to dialogue and call on the government to submit a clear policy on medicine and pharmacies.

    [10] Greece honours Mauthausen concentration camp victims

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis) - The memory of 3,700 Greeks who lost their lives during World War II at the Mauthausen Nazi concentration camp, in Upper Austria, was honoured on Sunday with a religious service, addresses and the laying of wreaths at the Greek monument at Mauthausen.

    More than 10,000 pilgrims from throughout Europe attended ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of the camp's liberation on May 5, 1945.

    [11] Russian consulate of Thessaloniki hosts events marking WWII victory

    The Russian consulate in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Sunday organised events marking the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 -- May 8 in western Europe and May 9 in Russia.

    A wreath-laying ceremony was held in the early afternoon at the Russian section of the city's Allied cemetery, better known as Zejtinlik, while a memorial service was later held for the Allied fallen at the Prophet Elijah cathedral in the Nea Santa township of Kilkis prefecture, north of Thessaloniki.

    Finally, the opening of a special photo exhibition was held at the Russian Centre of Thessaloniki, dedicated to the 65th anniversary of end of the Great Patriotic War, as WWII is known in Russia.

    [12] Film 'Etel Adnan - Exiled Words' to be screened in Beirut

    A film by director Vouvoula Skoura entitled "Etel Adnan - Exiled Words", referring to the life and work of the noted Greek-Lebanese poet and painter, will be screened in Beirut from May 12-17.

    The dedication includes discussions at the Al-Madina theatre, where film director-director Nidal al Achkar, with the participation of writers, poets, film directors, such as Fawwaz Traboulsi, Akl Awit, Issa Makhlouf, Joumana Haddad, Brigitta Engling (Head of Theatre in Stockholm), Kathrin Tiedemann (head of Freis Forum Theater in Düsseldorf ) etc., will discuss and analyse the multifaceted work of Adnan.

    Additionally, Nagy Souraty will direct a new historical play by Adnan in English, entitled "Crime of Honor", as well as poems read out by the author herself and other Lebanese poets in Arabic.

    As part of the dedication, the film by Skoura will be screened in the presence of the film director herself.

    The film "Etel Adnan - Exiled Words" is based both on Adnan's correspondence with history professor Fawwaz Traboulsi, which has also become a book, entitled "Letters to Fawwaz" and extracts of discussions with Vouvoula Skoura in Paris and Skopelos from 2003 until 2006.

    Etel Adnan was born in Beirut (1925) to a Greek mother from Smyrna and a Syrian father, with philosophy studies in the Sorbonne, UC-Berkeley and Harvard.

    [13] Two foreign nationals arrested on European warrants

    Two Albanian nationals wanted on European arrest warrants were arrested Saturday by police at Krystallopigi, in Florina prefecture, northern Greece.

    The two men are wanted by the Italian authorities for setting up and heading a criminal organisation that trafficked large quantities of drugs and aggravated exploitation of women for prostitution. The detainees will be taken before a western Macedonia region prosecutor.

    [14] Drug arrest

    A foreign national was arrested by Serres police on Saturday along the Kilkis-Thessaloniki national highway, with 692 grams of heroin in his possession.

    The 27-year-old man was arrested while dropping off two packets of the narcotic substance on the highway to be picked up by an accomplice, who identity is unkown.

    The detainee will be taken before a Serres prosecutor.

    [15] Foreign detainee found hanged in Hania prison

    A 22-year-old Lebanese national was found hanged in his cell on Sunday, which he was sharing with another detainee at the Aghia prison in the Cretan port city of Hania.

    The man was found by a prison warden at 8:05 in the morning during a routine check.

    An investigation by a medical examiner ruled out foul play, while his fellow cell-mate said he was unaware of the incident.

    The foreign national had been sentenced to three years and one month in prison on multiple counts of grand larceny.

    Sports

    [16] Super League playoff results

    AEK Athens beat Aris Thessaloniki 4-2 and PAOK Thessaloniki edged Olympiacos Piraeus 1-0 on the third day of playoffs on Sunday, with a qualification spot in the European Champions League at stake.

    Standings:

    PAOK 10 points

    Olympiacos 7

    AEK 5

    Aris 3

    Weather Forecast

    [17] Fair on Monday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 29C. Fair in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 28C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 27C.

    [18] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

    The unprecedented debt crisis looming over Greece and speculation over new austerity measures by 2014, along with deliberations over looming social security reforms mostly dominated the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Unified wage scale of austerity. Applicable throughout in wider public sector".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Social security sector bargaining over two provisions, at tomorrow's cabinet meeting."

    AVGHI: "Social despair, political overthrow: V-PRC opinion poll".

    AVRIANI: "If IMF wasn't bad enough .. now 'Sultan' coming for Aegean division and suspicious business with 10 Turk ministers and 100 entrepreneurs," a reference to a coming visit by Turkish PM Erdogan.

    CHORA: "Flames engulfing eurozone".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Opinion poll: ND 'yes' for Dora Bakoyannis' expulsion. PASOK 'no' to austerity measures and ousters".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Political bankruptcy. Can the system overcome crisis?"

    EPOCHI (weekly): "Social resistance!"

    ETHNOS: "New (austerity) measures, in doses through 2014".

    KATHIMERINI: "Social turbulence in IMF era".

    LOGOS: "Europeans agreed to bailout plan, but... there still fear of default".

    NIKI: "They've scooped up (UK) pounds from banks. Hysteria for gold has overtaken Greeks".

    PARON (weekly): "He's (PM) erecting ballot boxes. They're (government) seriously considering early elections for June".

    REAL NEWS (weekly): "Prison gates to open for ministers. Legislative initiative by justice minister (to overturn immunity clauses)".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Intensification of struggle by unified momentum by workers, farmers, youth etc".

    VETO (weekly): "High treason!: One trillion euros owed to us by Germany. They 'toyed' with the war reparations".

    VIMA: "Political parties in pieces. Domino effect brings changes".

    VRADYNI: "Pensions: The major changes".

    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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