|Monday, 19 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-07-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 26 July 2010 Issue No: 3550
 EU-IMF inspectors in Athens for reviewA team of inspectors of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) "troika" have arrived in Athens for the first full review of the country's economic stability program since the activation of the support mechanism for the Greek economy.
The troika, which begins work on Monday, will draw up a report on the basis of which a second tranche of the economic aid package for the Greek economy will be disbursed.
The problematic DEKO (public utilities and organisations), state hospitals' debts, social security funds, tax revenues and local government finances will be under the inspectors' microscope.
The agenda of talks with the Greek authorities include deregulation of the energy market, the opening up of the so-called 'closed' professions, accelerating absorption of NSRF (National Strategic Reference Framework) funds, local government and hospital expenditures and restructuring the banking system.
An interim report in mid-July by the IMF found the Greek stability program to be "broadly on track", with the Greek authorities having made considerable progress in putting public finances on a sustainable path and having implemented major reforms ahead of schedule.
The challenge ahead of Greece was to revive its economy and make it more competitive and relevant, Prime Minister George Papandreou said in an interview with the Italian television channel Rai Uno that aired on Friday night.
According to Papandreou, after the crisis of 2008 markets had become very cautious and did not always respond to political actions, panicking at the slightest hint of any risk.
"All it takes is one article or the statement of one academic to drive them into the deepest insecurity and for the speculation to begin," he noted, adding that this had led Greece to resort to the financial support mechanisms of the European Union and the IMF.
In response to questions, however, the prime minister underlined that "Greek islands were not for sale" but needed to be more fully exploited. He stressed that the seas were a source of well-being for all, including foreigners, while if the Greek islands were sold the sea would be "closed" to all but a few people.
He also appeared confident that Greece would not have to face the prospect of bankruptcy, either now or in the future, stressing that the country had received European aid at a time when it had shown itself ready for strong change and was following the right path to succeed.
The interview was part of a programme that included a lengthy report on the state of the Greek economy, particularly the tourism, real estate and automobile markets, and the attitudes of trade unions to the austerity measures and cuts imposed by the government.
Among those interviewed was the head of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) Yiannis Panagopoulos, who said the union strikes were not aimed at the government so much as the policies imposed by the EU and IMF, which he said were treating the symptoms of the crisis rather than the cause.
"Three categories must make a more decisive contribution to reform: ship owners, bankers and large hotel chains," Panagopoulos added.
Replying indirectly, the prime minister admitted established inequality in Greek society that permitted systematic tax evasion by the rich and said that the new taxation bill aimed to redistribute both the burden and the wealth.
"This law will be useful both for fighting tax evasion and in obliging the richer social classes to also lift the burden of the crisis".
 Scathing criticism of politicians from PapouliasIn a speech filled with scathing criticism of Greece's political class, which he blamed squarely for the country's present decline, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Saturday blasted all those that he said had prevented Greece from becoming a modern, European democracy.
"The disapproval that is today levelled against the political system is often crude in its generalisation but justified at its core," Papoulias underlined.
The president was speaking at a reception held at the presidential mansion on Saturday morning to mark the 36th anniversary since the restoration of democracy, after the fall of the military junta that then ruled Greece in July 1974.
No less severe was his disapproval of those that displayed "trade union autism" in their protests while disregarding the interests of society as a whole.
The president's speech outlined the chronic problems in the country and stressed that the State had to first give an example, while he underlined the need to give prospects to the younger generations "that are shouldering the greatest burden in the crisis". At another point in his speech, he said that the demolition of the European social model was a "panic reaction" while he appeared confident that the EU would weather the storm because "the common interests of its people are strong".
In light of the economic crisis, this year's reception followed the simpler and less ostentatious pattern adopted in 2009, without a buffet in the presidential gardens or a live orchestra.
The event was attended by Greece's entire state and political leadership, including Prime Minister George Papandreou, main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and all the political party leaders except Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga. There were also representatives of the clergy, MPs, MEPs and several academics, in addition to other officials.
At the centre of attention once again were resistance fighters against the dictatorship and also 12 students and young scientists that had distinguished themselves in their respective fields, including this year's top-scoring candidate in the nationwide university entrance examinations, disabled highschool student Rafael Papadopoulos.
 Droutsas to attend EU foreign affairs councilAlternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas will represent Greece on Monday at the EU Foreign ministers' general affairs meeting in Brussels.
The meeting will focus on the Belgian EU presidency's program for the September 16 summit, the EU-Iceland negotiation framework and other EU affairs.
 Pangalos favors sweeping reshuffle 'at time to be chosen by PM'Government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos spoke in favour of a sweeping government reshuffle, rather than the replacement of 1-2 ministers, at a time to be chosen by prime minister George Papandreou, who he said has the exclusive authority for such a strategic move, in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Ethnos newspaper.
Replying to questions, Pangalos rejected criticism that the ruling PASOK party, as government, was doing the opposite of what it had been saying when it was the main opposition party, and stressed that the major reforms being advanced, such as that of the social security system, as well as the austere economic measures that have affected the largest part of the Greek society, are "necessary" in the sense that their aim is to streamline the public finances, ensure balance in the social security system, avoid default, and restore the country's credibility in the international markets.
Pangalos acknowledged possible delays and mistakes while, on media reports of disagreements and clashes among ministers, he stressed that "there is no such thing as a government without disagreements". The aim, he added, is a synthesis of all the views, which is in the interests of the country.
He expressed conviction that the Greek people's sacrifices will not be in vain, and criticised the opposition that every time a weakness of the government arises, it claps its hands in joy but doesn't present convincing alternative proposals.
Pangalos opined that main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras was committing "political suicide" because he was trying to carry on with the failed policy of former premier and ex ND leader Costas Karamanlis.
As for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), he said that it publicly expresses its opposition to the country's form of government and social system, while the other parties of the Left suffice in engaging in a "pseudo-revolutionary phraseology".
 Cyprus solution 'dividend' would run to billions, PRIO paper predictsNICOSIA (ANA-MPA - A. Viketos)
Achieving a solution to the Cyprus issue will yield a major "peace dividend" translating into billions of euros per year for both Turkey and Greece, according to research carried out by an award-winning team of economists and published by the Cyprus Centre of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).
According to the research paper unveiled on July 22, Turkey stands to gain an estimated 17 billion euros a year, with new annual gross revenue of 12.3 billion euros and annual cost savings of 5.1 billion euros. This is equivalent to 3.5% of Turkey's GDP. A preview of benefits for Greece estimates savings in the region of three billion euros.
The research, entitled, The Day After III: The Cyprus dividend for Turkey and Greece, is the third in the series of Day After reports written by the three-woman team Özlem Onuz Çilsal, Praxoula Antoniadou Kyriacou and Fiona Mullen.
The authors look beyond Cyprus to the region, analyzing the peace dividend that awaits Turkey after a solution that unites the island, while also previewing the benefits for Greece. As always, the estimates made by the three economists are based on analysis of hard statistical data. They find that Turkey will not only make significant savings from property litigation and military expenditure but also stands to make huge financial gains from the transformation of the Turkey-Cyprus-Greece region into one of lasting peace and stability. This, in turn, will have positive spillover effects for tourism, transport, financial and business services, and last, but not least, energy.
Indicatively, they see additional revenues of 3.3 billion euros per year in tourism and transport, an estimated 7 billion euros boost to financial and business services, two billion euros for exports and a potential 33 billion euros for foreign investment as a result of opening the energy chapter in the accession talks with the EU, currently blocked as a result of the Cyprus issue.
The authors also predict 5.1 billion euros per year in savings from property litigation (2.4 billion per year), military expenditure (2.2 billion euros per year) and from having to financially support the isolated Turkish-Cypriot regime in north Cyprus (480 million per year).
The authors' preview of the economic benefits to Greece identified savings of 2.3 billion euros per year in military expenditure, 50 million euros per year of income from gas transit, 110 million euros of additional tourism revenue and 19.8 billion euros per year in foreign direct investment.
In their first Day After report, the authors analyzed the main business opportunities that would arise from the reunification of Cyprus and quantified the peace dividend for the key sectors that would benefit. In their Day After II report, having researched the investment and reconstruction needs in the first few years, they went one step further by extending their analysis to the whole economy. They found that a peaceful solution that unites the island would generate EUR 12,000 per year per family on the island, create 33,000 new jobs and raise the real GDP growth rate by 3 percentage points per year on average for at least the first five years.
In an address at the launch of the report, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Cyprus Alexander Downer stressed that it was "a timely reminder of what business people on this island have been telling me for a long time: that a solution will bring huge opportunities for Cyprus, Turkey and Greece. And these benefits will long outlive any of the short-term costs".
 Finmin upbeat about economy's prospects in interviewFinance Minister George Papaconstantinou was upbeat about the prospects of the economy and the results of the government's effort so far, during an interview printed by the newspaper "Kosmos tou Ependyti" on Saturday.
He said the reform programme was going as planned and appeared unworried by the slow increase in state revenue, which lags behind the forecasts, predicting that the results would become apparent when the second VAT increase was incorporated from July 1.
The minister also revealed that the state had collected roughly one billion euros in outstanding debts in the first six months of 2010.
 Evros Chamber's new premises inauguratedThe crisis can bring new opportunities for the country's growth, since it can spur businesses into becoming more competitive with respect to other European states, Central Union of Chambers of Greece president George Kassimatis said on Sunday during an extraordinary meeting of the union's executive committee on the theme "Impact of the economic crisis on the real and local economy" held in the framework of the inauguration of the Evros Chamber of Commerce and Industry's new premises.
"We are in a period in which we are all called upon to overcome the economic crisis and turn it into a challenge for the future," said deputy economy, competitiveness and shipping minister Markos Bolaris, who inaugurated the new building.
The 14th Alexandroupolis Trade Fair was also inaugurated, which is organised every two years by the Evros Chamber to project local products.
The Trade Fair will run through July 28.
 Air traffic controllers' 'work-to'rule' action may delay flightsGreek air traffic controllers' will launch a "work-to-rule" protest on Monday, after a series of rolling 24-hour strikes called by their union and due to start Sunday were stopped by courts as illegal. The action is expected to cause delays in flight schedules as not all aircraft will be allowed to approach Greek air space.
The strike was called by the union in protest against pension reform plans and a halt to new recruitment.
 Strike by truck owners on SundayOwners of state-licensed road freight vehicles have moved planned strike action forward to Sunday, after the government announced planned legislation to open up the currently closed road freight market. The strike had originally been scheduled to start on August 27.
The decision may lead to problems in the supply and distribution of goods on the market at the height of the tourist season, including petrol.
In an announcement, the truck owners' association accused the infrastructure, transport and networks ministry of acting without any warning and focused especially on the value given to the vehicle licence, pointing out that the state sold them licences at triple the current value.
 Lines outside petrol stations as truck strike loomsConsumers fearing petrol shortages as a result of a truck owners' strike starting Monday were queueing up to fill their cars with petrol on Sunday afternoon, while some petrol stations had already run dry.
The strike is being held in protest against a draft bill to open up the road freight market, including that of fuel, that is currently served only by licenced vehicles.
It is expected to cause serious shortages of goods on the market, while the first problems were apparent on Sunday as huge lines formed outside petrol stations, with motorists trying to stock up on petrol before they depart for their summer holidays.
Coming at the peak of the tourist season, the strike is a heavy blow to struggling tourist enterprises, which have so far seen their turnover reduced compared to last year's levels and had pinned their hopes on the July-August period to raise their sales.
The strike may even affect ferry lines, since truck owners have said they will not make an exception for ships.
Apart from fuel, shortages in basic consumer goods may also start to appear in the coming week.
Infrastructure, Networks and Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas is due to hold a press conference on Monday morning to answer questions on both the truck owners' strike and a "work-to-rule" protest by air traffic controllers that is expected to cause flight delays. Both groups are protesting against draft bills recently unveiled by his ministry.
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.3
Pound sterling 0.843
Danish kroner 7.511
Swedish kroner 9.516
Japanese yen 113.38
Swiss franc 1.359
Norwegian kroner 8.029
Canadian dollar 1.349
Australian dollar 1.454
 High temperatures send Greeks to beaches in drovesHigh temperatures throughout Greece sent Greeks to the beaches in droves over the weekend, while according to forecasts a respite was expected on Monday.
Temperatures reached up to 42 degrees Centigrade in many parts of the country throughout the weekend.
The weather is expected to cool of on Monday throughout the country, while some cloud is expected, with the possibility of local showers or even brief storms, in central and eastern Macedonia and Thrace.
 Wildfire in Kastritsi, near PatrasA fire broke out shortly after 3:00 Sunday in the Kastritsi area, north of the western port city of Patras.
A strong force of 40 firefighters with 14 fire engiines were battling the blaze, assisted by five firefighting aircraft and a helicopter, and a 15-strong team on foot.
The fire was was buring forest and farm expanses, while firefighting efforts were hampered by strong winds in the area.
 Second major fire near PatrasA second major wild fire has broken out near the port city of Patras, just a few kilometres from the first fire blazing in the Kastritsi area north of the city.
The second fire is near the village of Platani in an area of land designated as forest. A force of 10 fire-men with five vehicles have been sent to put out the blaze, while they are being assisted by three water-bombing aircraft and two helicopters.
The fire brigade reported that the first fire in Kastritsi, which had broken out at 15:00 in the afternoon, was gradually being contained and fire-fighting forces were trying to get it under control. They said fire-fighting efforts are being hampered by strong winds blowing in the area.
 Fire in Laconia partially containedA fire broke out shortly after noon in a farming area in Gerolimenas, Laconia prefecture, and was quickly fanned by strong winds.
The fire was partially contained by late afternoon, due to the efforts of a strong firefighting force on land and in the air, and firefighters said that there was currently no active front.
 Woman shot, police suspect ex-husbandA 35-year-old Albanian woman was shot in the head and seriously injured during a quarrel with her former husband, in what police believe was a shooting motivated by jealous rage.
The incident occurred in Athens on Friday evening and the injured woman was found lying in the road and taken to hospital, where doctors say she is in critical condition. Lying near the spot where she was found, police found a bullet casing matching a 22-calibre pistol.
According to information obtained by police, the woman was arguing with her former husband, also Albanian, who shot her and then fled. The suspect is now being sought.
 Man wanted on international warrant arrested in ThessalonikiTwo foreign nationals were arrested in Thessaloniki on Sunday, one of whom was wanted ona n international arrest warrant.
According to police, a 29-year-old man was arrested on an international warrant, who is wanted by the Albanian authorities for attempted homicide, causing bodily harm and perjury.
A 22-year-old woman was also arrested, on charges of perjury and harboring a criminal.
 Man arrested for child porn on the InternetA 38-year-old man was arrested in Trikala on Friday and charged with disseminated child pornography over the Internet. The arrest was carried out by the Thessaloniki electronic crime squad in collaboration with local Trikala Security police. During a raid on the man's home, police found and confiscated a lap-top and a hard disk containing files of child porn.
 Eight illegal migrants arrested at EvrosEight illegal immigrants that had entered into Greece by crossing the Evros River in a boat were intercepted and arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning, after border police pursued the vehicle that had picked them up.
The migrants had each paid 6,000 U.S. dollars for their passage into Greece and were riding in a vehicle stolen 24 days earlier in Attica. The driver did not stop when flagged down by police and abandoned the vehicle a kilometre down the road and disappeared.
 Two armed robberies in AthensTwo armed robberies took place in Athens on Saturday morning, one targeting a jewellery shop in Kallithea and the second a supermarket in Glyfada.
Two robbers took part in the jewellery heist, threatening the owner at gunpoint and getting away with a quantity of jewellery of as yet unknown value.
A single man armed with a gun ambushed the manager of the Lidl supermarket in Glyfada at around 5:00 in the morning, locked him in the accounts office, grabbed the safe containing 40,000 euros and disappeared. The supermarket manager was later released by another employee who came later and they reported the robbery to the police.
 Cloudy and wet on MondayCloudy weather and rain are forecast in most parts of Greece on Monday, while temperatures are expected to drop. Winds northwesterly in the north, southwesterly in other parts of the country, between 3-6 Beaufort. Temperatures to range from 18C to 35C. Cloudy and wet in Attica with temperatures between 23C and 33C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 21C to 29C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe Greek banks' passing of the Europe-wide stress tests and the arrival of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' inspectors were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Sunday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The Americans deceived me - Explosive revelation by Dimitrios Ioannidis (military leader involved in the 1967-1974 dictatorship, who is serving a life sentence at Korydallos prison) - Light shed on the dramatic behind-the-scenes of July 1974".
APOGEVMATINI: "Campaign on pensions - The government goes on vacation and Samaras (main opposition ND leader) launches counter-attack".
AVGHI: "Government giving 'earth and water'."
AVRIANI: "Gangs of extortionists and agents behind the blogs".
CHORA: "Maximos (government headquarters) Investment Group - Papandreou (prime minister wants to have full control over business activity".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The troika inspectors bringing new measures - They're coming tomorrow and will revise the deficit upwards..."
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Seven changes to taxes, receipts - Plans for higher VAT in restaurants, bars and cafes".
ETHNOS: "Double bomb by Zorbas for Alogoskoufis and 'blue' (referring to ND) funds".
KATHIMERINI: "2011 more painful, after the recovery - The chief of the troika inspectors Servaas Deroose (European Commission Deputy Director General for economic and financial affairs) calls for more responsible opposition".
LOGOS: "The success in the 'stress tests' reinforces confidence in the banking system".
NIKI: "High interest rates, higher yields - How to increase your money with time deposits".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Insubordination to the salary reductions - The government legislating prohibition of salary increases in the private sector".
TO VIMA: "The secrets of the 'Sect' (Revolutionaries' Sect terrorist group) - The ELAS (Greek Police) secret investigation before the murder of the blogger (journalist Socrates Giolias)".
VRADYNI: "Pensions: When is the most appropriate time to retire with full remuneration - Analytical charts".
 Christofias briefs Cameron on his proposals over a telephone conversationNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias briefed British Prime Minister David Cameron on his package of measures based on three proposals, with regard to the Cyprus problem, over a telephone conversation they had on Sunday.
According to an official press release issued here, Cameron called Christofias on Sunday and asked to be informed on the course of Cyprus negotiations on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of Cyprus and the Great Britain, which provides for a dialogue and pre-consultations on issues of common interest.
The Cyprus president extensively briefed Cameron on the situation in the negotiations, which is not encouraging, as he said, due to the completely different positions of the two sides on the property issue, the press release said.
In addition, President Christofias briefed Cameron on his proposal for a parallel discussion of three negotiating chapters, namely of property, of territorial adjustments and of immigration, nationality, aliens and asylum, with a view to speed up the talks and to facilitate the solution of the property issue.
Christofias also briefed Cameron on the other two proposals, included in the package he proposed.
The president has called on Turkey to implement the UN Security Council resolution 550 of 1984, which provides for the return of the city of Famagusta to the UN, with the simultaneous opening of the Famagusta port under the EU for Turkish Cypriot trade. The third proposal announced by the president concerns the international conference on the Cyprus issue, to discuss the international aspect of the problem, which should be called only when an agreement has been reached on the internal aspects.
According to the press release, the British prime minister showed understanding to President Christofias' analysis.
Christofias and Cameron expressed their common will to have a meeting in the near future, in London, in order to continue their discussion.
Finally, Cameron thanked President Christofias for the briefing and assured him that he will convey his views to the leadership of Turkey.
Peace talks began in September 2008 between President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who was replaced by Dervis Eroglu in April this year.
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