|Monday, 19 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-06-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 7 June 2010 Issue No: 3510
 ND leader attacks gov't over pensions memoMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Sunday attacked the government and those that supported a memorandum signed between the government, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on pension reform.
Addressing a ND pre-conference event on the party's policy, Samaras underlined that not even PASOK's own ministers had been aware of the contents of this memorandum when the vote was held.
"Imagine if we had also voted in favour of PASOK's positions, which bound the country for four years without knowing what we were voting for," Samaras said.
"The crisis is bringing a general insecurity, and society will seek firm, tried-and-tested principles. There cannot be growth with social cohesion when pensions of 480 euros are being cut," the ND leader underlined, stressing that ND had to propose an alternative solution sought by society.
"We have to convince people that we will change everything, not leave them the same or just manage them better," he emphasised.
He also criticised ND's previous practice of "not fighting its battles on the ideological front", due to the mistaken belief that ND could not promote its ideology if it was to remain a pluralist party and would not win over undecided voters.
Samaras criticised a view that the majority of Greeks supported centre-left ideology, saying that the majority did not support centre-left policies.
"The people chose us to change Greece and voted against us because we did not change it," Samaras said, adding that Greece was now experiencing a bankruptcy of a 30-year-old system that bore the stamp of the centre-left and the populist rhetoric of PASOK.
ND's ideology was social neo-liberalism, which sought to liberate the business environment, support enterprise and change the production model while protecting the social state, which acts as a protective shield for citizens.
He also underlined that ND was not a party for the upper class only but one that addressed all Greeks at all levels of society.
On foreign policy, Samaras underlined that ND's policy was not just about 'red lines' and conflict but also the search for converging views and cooperation at all levels.
"We seek honest friendship with our neighbours that cannot co-exist with casus belli threats.
"We understand main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras' need to apologise to the Greek people, even in delay, over his party's decision to vote against the Greek economy's support plan, through which, Greece is today in the position to cover with safety its current borrowing needs and to guarantee the stability of the finance system," government spokesman George Petalotis responded on Sunday evening.
"Once again ND proved that irresponsibility before crucial problems and the choice of easy populism, one that caresses the ears, may prove disastrous for the country," he said, adding: "We are aware of Samaras' difficulty to react to the demand for total transparency ... What ND must understand eventually is that the transition of responsibilities, the factitious incrimination as way of summing up and disorientation are old fashioned, used by the same party that led the country to its worse condition.
"It is time Samaras and ND to understand that by depreciating institutions and personality not only do they not escape from their responsibilities but they create even more rage and disgust to the Greek citizens."
 EU Commission spokesman's letter on pension reforms in local dailyThe spokesman for European Commissioner for monetary affairs Olli Rehn, Amadeo Altafaj, has claimed, in a letter published by the Athens newspaper "To Vima" on Sunday, that reports in the Greek press that pensions are to be slashed by roughly half are a "misunderstanding".
Altafaj stressed that nothing in the EU-ECB-IMF agreement with the Greek government calls for the cutting of pensions by half and explained that final amount of pensions will range from 65 percent up to 80 percent of a person's salary for all but the very highest income groups.
An EU official explained that the 45 percent or 48 percent pensions reported in the Greek press represented only the 'contribution-based' part of the pension, multiplied by 40 years of work. Each pensioner would then also receive the basic 'welfare' pension not based on contributions, bringing the total to between 65 and 80 percent of working salary.
In response to the publication of the letter, the Greek Labour ministry issued an announcement confirming that this was the correct interpretation of the agreement in the Memorandum.
 Unions protest against social security reformsA demonstration was held in Athens on Saturday in protest of government reforms in the social security sector, organised by the two largest labour unions in the country, GSEE and ADEDY.
The demonstrators called on the government not to proceed with "unbearable demands", while claiming that pension rates and the retirement age limits are not responsible for the crisis, pointing the finger instead at contribution evasion and accumulated debts to funds.
 LA.OS threatens walkout from Siemens scandal probePopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis on Sunday announced that his party may refuse to continue participating in the Parliamentary Examining Committee investigating the Siemens case unless his demands to the committee chairman are met. He stressed that LAOS was not at all satisfied with the developments within the committee.
"We have already raised four issues verbally with the Committee chairman, which we intend to put into writing tomorrow, on Monday. If [our demands] are not met, then we will depart," he said.
LAOS had no "appetite or desire" to take part in "cover-ups", Karatzaferis added.
"They have to understand that the whole truth must come out. Especially that truth that some people have been trying so studiously to hide for so long. Which is the small party that took part in the elections and took money from Siemens," he said.
 Tsipras re-elected Synaspismos presidentAlexis Tsipras on Sunday was re-elected as president of the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party.
According to an election committee announcement, 1,038 party delegates voted in the process. Tsipras collected 785 votes, while delegate Giorgos Vlahogiorgos took 56 votes. Additionally, 162 blank votes and 35 invalid votes were cast.
 Papoulias receives Ukranian president YanukovychPresident of Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday received Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych at the presidential mansion in Athens.
Papoulias referred to the warm welcome he received during his visit to Ukraine.
On his part, Yanukovych noted that he was raised near several ethnic Greek villages and that he hails from the southern city of Mariupol -- "there are a lot the things that connect the two countries. It is not accidental that the ethnic Greek Diaspora feels at home in Ukraine".
Finally, Yanukovych thanked Papoulias for the congratulations he sent him for his recent election in the country's helm.
 Moderate earthquake shakes CreteAn earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale shook the prefectures of Iraklion and Rethymno on the island of Crete at 15:21 on Sunday.
According to the Athens National Observatory Geodynamic Institute and the Thessaloniki University Geophysics Laboratory it was a relatively weak tremor with an epicentre 285 kilometres souhteast of Athens, in seas northwest of Iraklion.
No damage has been reported to authorities so far.
 Papoulias inaugurated the Environmental Museum of StymphaliaPresident of Republic Karolos Papoulias inaugurated at noon on Saturday the Environmental Museum of Stymphalia. The museum is situated in the prefecture of Corinth, northern Peloponnese on the site where, according to mythology, Hercules killed the Stymphalian birds. The Lake of Stymphalia is the southern-most mountainous wetland of the Balkans.
 Cyclist completes 1,600-km non-stop tourVeteran cyclist champion Stelios Vaskos arrived on Sunday afternoon in Trikala (central Greece) after successfully completing an attempt to cover 1,600 km non-stop on his bicycle.
The cyclist set off on Thursday at noon from Trikala and passed through the cities of Grevena and Thessaloniki, the Bulgarian cities of Sofia and Plovdiv before reaching the Turkish city of Edirne and then returning back to Trikala.
The cyclist was later for precautionary reasons to a local hospital.
 Football fans block Tempi to protest team's demotionDrivers heading through the Tempi pass on Sunday afternoon found their way blocked after 5:00 p.m. by supporters of the Iraklis soccer team, who had staged a protest against their side being demoted to the second division.
More than 1,000 supporters of the team drove up to the old toll posts and got out, staging an impromptu protest on the highway.
The protest is still underway, with a contingent of riot police monitoring developments at a discreet distance.
For the past hour or so, traffic in both directions has been diverted onto alternative routes.
 Teen girls questioned in elderly man's murderÁ 75-years-old man was found murdered, stabbed to death in his house in the northern Greece village of Kerkini.
According to police two teenage girls, 14 and 16 years old, are being questioned in relation to the crime.
 Iraklion jewellery shop robbedFour robbers managed to get away with 150,000 euros worth of jewellery when they held up the owner of a jewellery store in Agia Pelagia, Iraklio on the island of Crete on Sunday.
The four men were wearing hoods and carrying fire-arms, which they shot into the air as they made their getaway.
Police have launched a manhunt to locate and arrest the suspects.
 Serres breaks Guinness record for largest rice puddingThe people in the northern Greek prefecture of Serres entered the Guiness Book of World Records for the third time on Sunday by making and serving up the world's biggest ever rice pudding, weighing in at a whopping 2.5 tonnes.
This was higher than the previous record of two tonnes, while organisers also served up 303.74 kilos of rice pudding, again breaking the previous record of 200 kilos served in the last record.
The massive rice pudding was made in a cauldron that was 2.5 metres across and 1 metre in height, while it used up 300 kilos of rice, two tonnes of milk, 400 kilos sugar, 1,200 litres of water, 60-70 kilos corn flour and plenty of cinnamon.
Chefs from all of areas of Serres pitched in to break the old record, with the cooking process starting up at 11:00 in the morning and was completed at around noon, before hundreds of onlookers that were undismayed by the onset of sudden heavy rain.
According to the Guinness World Records Adjudicator Jack Brockbank, the attempt was a success and also very tasty.
The event was organised as part of the three-day 3rd International Gastronomy Festival organised by the Serres chamber of industry and commerce under the aegis of the Greek tourism ministry.
Other world records held by Serres include that for the world's biggest bougatsa pie, measuring 20 metres long and weighing 250 kilos, and last year's record for frying up 312.5 kilos of buffalo meat patties in four hours.
 Scattered clouds on MondayScattered cloud is forecast on Monday, with some brief showers and storms later in the day. Winds north northeasterly, 3-6 Beaufort. Temperatures between 12C and 29C. Cloud in Attica, with temperatures from 18C to 28C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 17C to 26C.
 The Sunday edition of Athens dailies at a glancePension reforms, especially the final amount of pensions and the new retirement age, and the Siemens case were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Personal wage scale in the civil service!".
APOGEVMATINI: "Greece in hock!".
ARTHRO: "Hot CD lists tax evaders"
AVGHI: "We need to rise above" (Article focusing on bickering within left-wing SYN and SYRIZA).
AVRIANI: "No one dares to touch Akis (Tsohatzopoulos - veteran PASOK politician and former minister that has recently come under scrutiny for possible attempts to hide real estate assets).
CHORA: "War without mercy between the 'holy' families. A storm over Bakoyannis meetings with Christoforakos [main suspect in Siemens bribery scandal]".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "He's seeking consensus within and outside PASOK". [story claiming plans by Prime Minister George Papandreou to carry out a reshuffle at end June].
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Pension system: Drastic cuts finalised that concern all, starting from 2015. All pensions at 65 and minus 30 percent".
EPOCHI: "Renewalist wing, by own decision, to quit Synaspismos. One step back. Two steps forward?"
ETHNOS: "The final measures for age of retirement in the new pension system".
KATHIMERINI: "Zero hour for markets because of wasteful state".
LOGOS: "EU-ECB-IMF troika demand 'yes' to everything regarding social insurance".
NIKI: "Social insurance fund collapse, pensioners unpaid." (claims social insurance funds are facing major cash flow problems that prevents payment of pensions).
PARON: "Mantelis threatens Simitis"
PROTO THEMA: "Speechless, the financial crimes squad (SDOE) counts offshore companies without end. That's a lot of houses, Akis."
REAL NEWS: "Real estate holdings and bank accounts that shock. Greek Croesus with four letters" [A story on the investigation into former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos].
RIZOSPASTIS: "Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE): General political battle at local and regional elections".
VETO ON SUNDAY: "Akis's four houses in Kypseli"
TO VIMA: "Letter from European Commissioner Olli Rehn's spokesman a bombshell: We didn't ask that pensions be cut by half.".
VRADYNI: "Winners and losers under the new pension system. The changes that are certain, the changes that are coming".
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