|Monday, 18 February 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-05-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 17 May 2010 Issue No: 3494
 Banks under scrutiny for Greek crisis, PM saysGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Sunday, speaking to the international news network CNN, noted that Athens has not ruled out legal action against specific US investment banks if it arises that Greece fell victim to "negative practises".
Speaking on the programme "Fareed Zakaria GPS", the Greek prime minister stressed: "We are right now have a parliamentary investigation in Greece, which will look into the past and see how things went the wrong direction and what kinds of practices were negative practices. There are similar investigations going on in other countries and in the United States. This is where I ... hear the words fraud and lack of transparency. So yes, yes, there is great responsibility here."
Nevertheless, he warned that the Greek government will first let the due process proceed and investigation results to be presented before making judgments.
Asked about austerity measures, Papandreou reminded that the budget deficit has been cut by 40 percent compared to last year.
"So that's beyond our target, 10 percent up in revenues from VAT, and I think this determination is not just mine, it's not just my government's determination; it's the Greek people's determination to turn things around, to make big structural changes," he said, noting that opinion show unhappiness, but at the same time majority support for the measures.
Moreover, queried over German reluctance in the beginning to sign-off on a eurozone-IMF support mechanism -- which later concluded at a whopping 110 billion euros -- he emphasised that the money is not free, "this is a loan. So there is a wrong picture sometimes, which is saying we're handing out money to Greece. That's not so. We're paying back the loans we're getting."
 Economic policy mix is wrong, ND leader insistsMain opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras again attacked the government through an interview given to an Athens weekly on Sunday, days after his party voted against a raft of government-proposed austerity measures for dealing with the crisis.
In the interview, Samaras insisted that if the current mix of economic policy continues, the outcome will be very bad.
He underlined that if ND had condoned the measures passed by the governing majority in Parliament, "then for years there would be no other opposition, save the cries of demonstrators".
"If I am wrong and the mix of policy is the right one, then our refusal to vote for it has not harmed the country. If I am right and the policy mix is wrong, theí I have offered a great service by voting against it because I have created an alternative prospect in the face of an apparent impasse," he said.
Concerning a decision by one-time ND foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis to vote in favour of the government's bill, which led to her subsequent expulsion from ND's Parliamentary group, Samaras pointed out that Bakoyannis knew the party's line when she cast her vote and said he is unconcerned by the prospect of her forming a new party.
On the issue of a political catharsis, ND's leader said his party wanted to find and expel those that had shamed New Democracy, but not to discredit the entire party.
"We have no objection to investigating all scandals. We are first in wanting the guilty found and punished. But we will not allow a selective investigation of only those cases involving New Democracy, when much more serious scandals concerning PASOK remain in the dark," he said.
Warning of recession
Speaking on Saturday during an event by the party's affiliated college grouping and a movement of SME professionals affiliated to ND, he said "the government after making consecutive mistakes in the last months, voted a series of measures aiming at fiscal adjustment. But, these measures by themselves may lead the country into a deep recession."
He also said that his party had from last December asked for measures to downsize the deficit and proposed 23 specific proposals to enhance the market of low or zero fiscal cost, a different, as he said, mixture of economic policy.
Additionally, he noted that IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn clearly stated on Friday that the agreed to austerity measures were proposed by the Greek government.
 Greece to support 2020 Istanbul Olympic bid; Erdogan signs Olympic Truce initiativeThe signing of the Olympic Truce initiative by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan concluded a landmark two-day visit by the Turkish leader to Athens.
Appearing at a brief ceremony in front of the imposing Panathinaiko Stadium in central Athens -- the venue for the first modern Olympic Games of 1896 -- with his counterpart, George Papandreou, Erdogan referred to the "great honor in signing my name to this book; to put my signature for a world of peace".
Papandreou, a major proponent of the Olympic Truce concept since his tenure as foreign minister ahead of the 2004 Athens Games, emphasised the importance of Turkey's support for the idea, which sends out a clear message "by Turkey and Greece to the world".
Moreover, Papandreou said Greece will actively support a bid by Istanbul to host the 2020 Olympic Games.
"We are particularly pleased that Greece has expressed its support, and will extend its know-how (in case Istanbul hosts the Games)," Erdogan added.
Earlier, the two leaders had a private lunch with their spouses at the central Athens hotel where the Erdogan couple stayed.
 Erdogan on overflights; Greek-Turkish tiesTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a particularly frank tête-à-tête briefing with Greek media editors on Saturday morning, repeatedly answering questions about airspace violations in the Aegean -- a sensitive point for Athens -- and even curtly responding to queries over the military's role in Turkey.
In fielding the overflight questions during a morning press conference, Erdogan first called on media representatives not to ignore the positive aspects of Greek-Turkish relations and to not operate as a mere "radar", simply reproducing reports regarding airspace violation stories.
"In the seven and half years that I am prime minister I have not bombed anyone. If you (the press) aren't calm, how will you correctly report the messages, so that there is peace in our region?" he asked, before turning to the issue of the overflights themselves.
In touching on the previous day's proposal by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, namely, submission of prior flight plans by Turkish authorities for whatever flights of warplanes, Erdogan said he would examine the proposal.
"We, the two countries, are not in a state of war. Until now we operated via the NATO station, which transmits information about our flights to both sides. I cannot see why, however, we can't brief each other about our flights, simultaneously with (briefing) towards NATO," he added.
Moreover, he repeated Ankara's position that Turkish warplanes fly - in such Aegean overflights -- unarmed, in contrast with Greek fighter planes, as he said.
"If we remove this difference, we will have made a step towards peace."
Athens has long chaffed at what it calls a systematic infringement of Athens FIR regulations by Turkish warplanes, flights that often result in violations of Greek airspace and even overflights of populated islands. Greek officials have also warned of the danger of mid-air interceptions leading to accidents, which have occurred in the past.
Asked about the role of the military in the neighbouring country's political system, Erdogan dismissed criticism by pointing to the swift developments following the uncovering of the "Sledgehammer" affair, while stressing that "democracy must develop in parallel with the economy. I have been premier for seven and a half years and no one has pressured me."
Turning back to specific Greek-Turkish relations, Erdogan repeated that the Aegean should become a sea of peace, "there are fears by both sides, and they will be overcome, though. Give us and our associates a little time."
Along those lines, he mentioned that Ankara has proposed linking its power grid with Greek islands, a proposal he said has been met with suspicion.
"We do have any designs against your country. We are a large country and we have a great deal of land to exploit," he said, while noting that he earlier met at the hotel with three ethnic Greeks from Istanbul.
"Unfortunately, because of certain events, which they did not desire, they left Turkey to live here (Greece). I told them to return, if they want; we will activate the bureaucratic procedures so that this is possible."
Asked about the still unresolved Cyprus issue, the influential Turkish head of government responded that the new Turkish Cypriot leader, Dervis Eroglu, has a different stance than the latter's predecessor, Mehmet Ali Talat, "however, we, as guarantor powers, must facilitate the (negotiations) process".
Referring to the issue of closely watched defence spending, Erdogan said that when he came to power defence was in first place in terms of budget spending, whereas education now takes its place, following by spending on health, leaving defence as number four or five, as he said.
Asked about the Kurdish question, the Turkish PM cited what he steps aimed at democratisation being promoted by his government, stressing, in fact, that his ruling party has 60 Kurdish MPs.
 Erdogan's Athens visit 'historic', Turkish foreign minister saysISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)
The visit to Athens by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's was a "historic moment" that has "finally given a new form to Greek-Turkish relations," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a conference on Turkish diplomacy at Istanbul's Four Seasons Hotel on Sunday.
Rejecting suggestions that a "neo-Ottomanism" was permeating Turkish foreign policy, Davutoglu said he had been impressed by the sincerity of the Greek side and stressed that Turkey "had not signed those agreements in order to take over the islands of the Aegean."
"We are planning our common destiny, our common future," he added, while noting that his government "has a historic obligation to bring Turkey closer to the European Union".
 Alt. FM, Serbian Dep. PM hold talksRegional and international relations dominated talks on Saturday between Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and visiting Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Ivica Dacic.
Additionally, the Greek initiative "Agenda 2014", dealing with the western Balkans' European prospects was also discussed.
 Interior minister to visit AnkaraInterior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis is due to visit Ankara in the near future, at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart Besir Atalay. The interior ministry revealed that Ragoussis will be accompanied on the visit by representatives of Greek local government.
The invitation was made during a meeting between the two men leading up to the Greece-Turkey High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council. During this meeting, they discussed issues falling within the purview of the two ministries, particularly the organisation of the public sector, decentralisation and local government.
Ragoussis briefed him on the changes being made in the areas of staff recruitment, choice of managers, transparency and the Kallikratis programme merging local authorities throughout Greece.
 Samaras addresses ND event on familyMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Saturday referred to the "unprecedented", as he said, economic crisis facing the country and the need to support the family in order to safeguard social cohesion.
Samaras made the statements on the occasion of world family day, and speaking before his party's social solidarity and family planning secretariat.
"Our supreme priority is to avoid developments that bring the economy nad society to their knees; our supreme priority is the family, because this is the core of society and social cohesion, and because the family today is sorely being tested," he said.
 KKE rally in central AthensThe Communist Party (KKE) held a rally in downtown Athens on Saturday morning, with party leader Aleka Papariga delivering the main address before a crowd of supporters at the Pedion tou Areos square.
Papariga reiterated her party's scathing attacks against the government, other parties on the left and right and against what she called the bougeousie classes and political establishment.
She referred to "barbarian" austerity taken by government, while charging that an effort is underway to "criminalise" communist ideology in the country with the pseudo-dilemma, as she said, of "do you respect and obey the constitution, yes or no?"
 Karatzaferis interview with FreeSunday paperIn an interview with the Sunday newspaper "FreeSunday", Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader attacked all and sundry, including main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras for engaging in "populist rhetoric".
In this, he accused Prime Minister George Papandreou of political blunders, blamed the parties of the Left for the violent incidents during demonstrations and castigated the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) for "getting too big for their boots and believing that politicians are their underlings".
 SYRIZA's Tsipras urges united front for the LeftCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras made an overture to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in an interview with the latest issue of "FreeSunday" newspaper, calling for a "new pole of the forces of the Left, the socialist area and ecology to directly challenge the traditional two-party system."
He noted that "sooner or later, Perissos [where KKE headquarters are based] will follow the road of unity in the face of the situation that is emerging".
Tsipras also defended his decision not to attend a meeting of the political party leaders under the president, saying his "conscience was clear" and that those responsible for the current situation were known.
"The Left finally, as a whole, did not trap itself into a meeting of prefabricated and false consensus with a policy of insanity. It was a historic decision of the Left to refuse to accept part of the responsibility, which does not in any case belong to it, for non-reversible destruction," he said.
 Gov't condemnation of Jewish cemetery vandalismThe Greek government on Saturday issued a stern condemnation of the incidents of vandalism and desecration at Thessaloniki's Jewish cemetery, which occurred in the early morning hours of Friday or late Thursday evening.
Three suspects, two men and a woman, 21, 18 and 17, were arrested as suspects in the incident northern port city.
"The government unequivocally condemns the vandalisms at the Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki. Such instances of racism and hate have no place whatever in Greek society, which stands opposed to such acts of violence and chauvinism. The responsible authorities will do whatever is necessary so that the perpetrators of these acts are led, as soon as possible, before justice," government spokesman George Petalotis underlined.
According to reports, the trio was picked up by a police patrol after being spotted acting suspiciously outside the cemetery. A knife was found in the possession of one of the suspects, and according to police, the likelihood of their being associated with extremist groups is being investigated.
Anti-Semitic graffiti was sprayed on gravestones and on the cemetery's wall, while a can with flammable liquid was found inside the cemetery but there were no signs of arson, police said.
Earlier, the Central Jewish Council of Greece (KIS) and the Jewish community of Thessaloniki condemned the desecration of the northern port city's Jewish cemetery.
"Three suspects have been questioned by police, and we are convinced that the state will condemn this heinous act and take all necessary measures to bring the culprits to justice. Phenomena of anti-Semitism and similar views must be eradicated, guaranteeing the people's right to exercise their religious beliefs," according to a statement issued by the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki.
 Opinion polls show tide of anger against politiciansGreeks are angry with the way the major parties in the country have handled important issues and intend to express this discontent when they are next called on to vote, according to opinion polls published in three large-circulation newspapers on Sunday.
According to a poll conducting by the firm ALCO and printed by 'Proto Thema', 91 percent of Greek citizens are angry with political parties and politicians. Of these 95 out of every 100 respondents say their anger would be assuaged by the removal of politicians who could not explain the origin of their assets, while 93 in 100 say they would feel better if those involved in scandals went to jail.
In this poll, the winner of any election held now would be the 'undecided' vote (including blank and spoiled ballots, absention, and undecided voters) with 36.1 percent. Ruling PASOK is seen following with 26.3 percent and main opposition New Democracy with 18.3 percent.
A Public Issue Barometer poll printed in 'Kathimerini', meanwhile, shows one in two citizens rejecting single party rule and less than one in five (19 percent) in favour of one party having a governing majority. About 35 percent of voters are in favour of coalition governments, while 15 percent favour a non-party government that is not made up of politicians.
This poll also shows a majority of Greeks doubting the current government's ability to manage the country's affairs, with only 22 percent satisfied with its performance (down 9 percent since the previous poll). Main opposition New Democracy does even worse, with only 8 percent expressing confidence in its ability to manage the country.
The lack of faith in politicians is also reflected in the MARC poll published by 'Ethnos'. This shows low regard by the majority of Greeks for both parties and trade unions, which are considered to have mishandled the issues.
Specifically, 87.8 percent of those asked said that the burden of the measures was unfairly distributed while 47.5 percent predict that the government will not complete its four-year term, as opposed to 42.6 percent that believe the opposite.
 Strauss-Kahn: austerity measures will bring resultsSpeaking to the newspaper "Ethnos on Sunday", International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said he was convinced that the Greek austerity programme will bring results and allow Greece to exit from economic crisis.
Strauss-Kahn expressed understanding for people's reaction to the measures, pointing out that he would be demonstrating in the same way if he was a member of a Greek trade union.
If Greeks wanted to avoid struggling with problems for decades to come, however, they had to make an effort now, he added.
Strauss-Kahn underlined, meanwhile, that the IMF were not "policemen" but more like doctors having to dish out bitter medicine and unwelcome advice.
"A doctor gives medicine. We give you money and tell you that you have to change your behaviour," he said, expressing hope that the government would manage to implement the austerity programme because it was "absolutely imperative for Greece to do this" and there was no alternative for overcoming the crisis.
The IMF chief noted that the problems were not confined to Greece, since sustaining a large debt was difficult for most countries after the global economic crisis, but that Greece was a special case because it had entered the crisis with an enormous debt to begin with.
On the role of the IMF, he said the fund was acting as an intermediary because European countries were not used to dealing with such problems and it had taken them months and months to take decisions.
"I am convinced that if the problem had been settled in February, it would have been less costly," he said, noting that the IMF's involvement had been requested in April and the issue was then settled in two weeks.
He also noted that the IMF had initially called for a longer-lasting and less painful programme, that efforts were made for every to lend at the same rate as the IMF but that these efforts were not successful.
 Draft bill on developmental law posted for discussion on InternetThe fundamental principles of a draft bill on developmental law proposed by the government have been posted on the Internet for a period of public discussion that opened on Saturday, May 15 and will end on Tuesday, May 25. The draft bill can be viewed at the site http://www.opengov.gr/ypoian.
According to the Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping ministry, the new developmental law forms part of a new strategy for economic growth and for promoting a new business model. This aims at a dynamic and viable economy spearheaded by green development, while promoting competitiveness, productive reformation, employment and regional convergence.
 Event by Palestinians in ThessalonikiPalestinian residents of Thessaloniki held an event on Saturday in a downtown hotel on the occasion of the 62 years from the displacement of the Palestine refugees.
Several local entities and personalities were honored at the event and specifically, the Thessaloniki Labour Centre, Thessaloniki Bar Association, the Hospital Doctors' Union, State School Teachers' Federation of Thessaloniki, the Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace, the Thessaloniki Prefect and the mayors of Evosmos, Thermi, Polihni, Sykies and Stavroupolis and political parties' delegates, together with journalists Eleni Zerva, Pavlos Nerantzis, Pantelis Savvidis and Michalis Stratakis.
Main speaker of the event was the Palestinian envoy to Greece Samir Abu Ghazaleh.
 One killed, one seriously injured in attacks by robbersOne man was killed and a second seriously injured during separate attacks in the greater Athens area on Sunday for the purpose of robbery.
The man killed was a 50-year-old owner of a taverna in Kaisariani, who was set upon by presumed robbers and stabbed to death on Sunday morning. The injured man was a Syrian national that was shot by two armed robbers in his home in Pefki.
The taverna owner was found dead in a pool of blood inside his own taverna at 9:20 on Sunday, by an employee that had been sent out to do some shopping. A coroner said the man had been stabbed twice or three times in the neck and chest. Police suspect he was attacked by robbers and killed when he attempted to resist. The man had no money on him at the time, but it is unknown whether the culprits took money from the till.
The second incident occurred shortly after midnight on Sunday when two unidentified men entered the victim's apartment, where he lived with his pregnant wife and bed-ridden father. The culprits locked the woman and the old man in a room and then started to demand money from the victim. When he attempted to resist, one of the robbers fired a gun and seriously injured the Syrian in the head. The two robbers managed to escape while the injured man was taken to hospital, where he is now in critical condition.
An investigation has been launched by northeast Attica security police.
 Helicopter rescues elderly hiker on Paggaios MountainRescue workers had to enlist the help of a helicopter on Sunday morning, in their attempt to rescue an elderly Kavala man that had fallen into a ravine while out walking on Paggaios Mountain.
The man had lost consciousness while negotiating the precipitous slopes and injured his leg as a result of his fall. A younger relative that was out with him immediately alerted the fire brigade and rescue services but the slope was too steep for rescue workers to climb down, requiring the intervention of the helicopter to bring the man up and take him to Serres General Hospital.
 Two unidentified bodies found buried in ThessalonikiThe bodies of two unidentified men have been found in a rural area of Thessaloniki's Hortiati region, authorities reported on Sunday.
According to the accounts of local residents, the bodies were found buried and appear to be those of two men around 30 years old that were victims of murder.
Thessaloniki police are expected to make further announcements about the case once the coroner's examination has been completed.
 Results of the 5th day of Superleague playoffsOlympiakos Piraeus - Aris Thessaloniki 0-0
PAOK Thessaloniki - AEK Athens 1-0
Standings after 5th day
 Dip in temperature, some rainSome clouds and possibly rain are forecast on Monday, especially in the west and north of the country, accompanied by a slight dip in temperature. Winds brisk, ranging from 4-7 Beaufort, with temperatures from 9C to 28C. Cloudy in Athens, with temperatures from 14C to 26C. Sunny in Thessaloniki with cloud in the afternoon and temperatures between 13C and 23C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe new measures in the social insurance reform bill, the authorities attack on tax evaders and the visit to Greece by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Survival guide for the new social insurance system".
APOGEVMATINI: "Guide for those with social insurance. 20 questions and answers".
ARTHRO: "A scent of special courts". [sees government attempt to set up special courts on scandal cases involving politicians]
AVGHI: "Plans in the absence of the people".
AVRIANI: "They are setting up special courts to fool people and cover up their responsibility".
CHORA: "The war between government and businesses escalates".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Without red lines against Erdogan's attack".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Papandreou-Erdogan share mutual compliments but each stands firm on his positions...a nice atmosphere".
EPOCHI: "The countdown. When everything changes, why should everything stay the same?".
ETHNOS: "Thousands of 'paupers' under scrutiny from the financial crimes squad (SDOE) for tax evasion".
KATHIMERINI: "Powerful tremors in the political system".
LOGOS: "Falling in love with Erdogan. Turkish diplomacy's new dogma finds application in Greek-Turkish friendship".
NIKI: "Poor 'Psorokostena'. Greece 34 percent more expensive in relation to Germany". [Cites six billion euro losses in disposable income for pensioners and wage earners due to tax hikes, combined with runaway inflation of 5 percent in May].
PARON: "He came as an 'effendi'...Turkish prime minister oversteps all boundaries of provocation".
PROTO THEMA: "SDOE raid on Voulgarakis [former ND minister]. Operation 'Clean Hands' from Papandreou."
REAL NEWS: "We will reject all those that shamed us" [Interview with ND leader Antonis Samaras].
RIZOSPASTIS: "Forward for new battles. Counter-attack until victory".
VETO: "The list of 'golden' managers. Provocative salaries with names and surnames".
TO VIMA: "Lists of ministers to follow the tax dodgers". (claims files on wasteful spending by ministers have been sent on to justice)
VRADYNI: "Pensions: All the answers".
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