|Tuesday, 23 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 29 October 2010 Issue No: 3631
 Greece commemorates WWII entry, wartime struggleThe Oct. 28 national holiday was celebrated with parades throughout Greece on Thursday, with the main commemoration of the 70th anniversary of "Ochi" (No) Day being the customary military parade in Thessaloniki and a pupils' parade through downtown Athens.
"We have a historic duty to secure for the young generation the right to a dignified life," president of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said in a message on the anniversary. Papoulias, who traditionally inspects the military parade in Thessaloniki on Ochi Day, was absent this year due to an infection that forced him to cancel his visit to Thessaloniki.
In his message, Papoulias noted that Greece "is at a critical turning point", and "crossing over is our duty to today's 18-year-olds who are beginning their journey with the weight of the debt on their shoulders and are called on to pay a bill for which they have no blame".
"The faster we rid ourselves of this burden, the faster the collective conscience will ease," he added.
The Oct. 28 "Ochi Day" national holiday, commemorating the anniversary of Greece's resounding "no" to then Italian dictator Mussolini's demand for free passage to invade Greece during World War II, brought Greece into the war on the Allied side. The day was also celebrated throughout the rest of the country with students' parades. The Thessaloniki parade was also attended by political party representatives, the armed forces leadership, MPs, and foreign diplomats.
In a message on the anniversary, Prime Minister George Papandreou drew a comparison between Greece's "resounding 'no' to the subjugation to the Axis forces, which led to war" with "today, when Greece is once again waging a difficult battle," adding that "we are already starting to win this battle too, with hard work, sacrifices and great difficulties".
The premier expressed his conviction that "as in every critical time in hour history, we will succeed today as well".
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, in his message, said "in this difficult period of economic crisis, we are inspired by the example" of the events being commemo-rated.
"We can take the country out of today's gloom and ensure a new prospect of recovery and hope," Samaras concluded.
Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos said that in today's period of generalised crisis "we are called on to act together, making every possible effort for an exit from the difficult situa-tion our country is in".
"We truly have difficult battles to wage. However, if we wage them together, we will emerge stronger from the present crisis," he added.
In a message, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said that 70 years after the historic day, "the modern-day content of patrio-tism identifies with the organisation and battle of the working class and popular strata for the bankruptcy of the plutocracy, and not the people, for the popular alliance, in order to pave the way for popular authority".
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) MP Kyriakos Velopoulos, speaking after the parade in Thessaloniki, expressed a conviction that "today, united, we can win this different 'war''.
The Radical Left Coalition (Synaspismos), in a message, said that every era requires its own "No".
"Today, we say no to every kind of intervention, to the dissolution of the social state, to the razing of labour relations, to the memorandum of social and economic bankruptcy, to racism and xenophobia, to the ecological destruction of the planet."
Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who represented the government at the Thessaloniki parade, said the crisis is an opportunity and that, "through political stability, social cohesion and national unity, we will succeed and we will win the wager".
"Today, we honour and celebrate the Greece that deserves to be proud, the Greece that has proven historically that it knows what national sovereignty and national dignity is," he said, adding that such anniversaries "also teach us, the present-day Greeks, and demand of us to be united, responsible and forward-looking."
 Samaras meets with European Council presidentBrussels (ANA-MPA)
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met on Thursday with European Council president Herman van Rompuy, during a two-day visit here for a meeting of European People's Party (EPP) leaders, hours before the opening of a crucial EU summit.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Rompuy, Samaras said the discussion on the problems connected with Greece's fiscal consolidation, and the proposals for the economic governance of Europe.
Specifically regarding Greece, Samaras said he informed Rompuy that ND endorses the fiscal streamlining, but stressed that there a severe problem has been created due to the measures taken under the current government's restrictive economic policy "which aggravates the recession more than it reduces the deficit".
On the discussion regarding European economic governance, he said ND is putting forward four principles: credibility and transparency, efficiency, fiscal discipline, and ensurance of social cohesion.
Samaras said he also informed Rompuy that "I will be catego-rically opposed to the idea of a controlled bankruptcy, which ma-ny sides are presenting as an essential element in the planned permanent European support mechanism".
He warned that "controlled bankruptcy is 'bankruptcy' for the country that undergoes it and 'controlled' for all the others", and would function not as a 'rescue mechanism' for the weak countries but as a mechanism that separates them from the other, the more powerful, countries".
"Instead of making the eurozone stronger, it would weaken the unity of the eurozone. And that would be a grave mistake," Samaras added.
Meanwhile, the government spokesman on Thursday attacked on main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras for his statements on the sidelines of the EP) summit in Brussels.
In a written statement, Petalotis notes that "Mr. Samaras attempts to overcome his unbelievable inconsistency and the tragic position he found himself in at the EPP Summit. He follows the known tactic of his party, by which it intends to deceive our European partners on ND's stance before the Greek reality."
 Reppas meets with French Secretary of State for Transport BussereauParis (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
Greek Transport, Infrastructure and Networks minister Dimitris Reppas had a working lunch in Paris on Thursday with French Secretary of State for Transport Dominique Bussereau.
The aim of the meeting was to sound out the French side's intentions concerning collaboration between the Hellenic Rail Organisation (OSE) and the French railway SNCF, following growing press reports of SNCF interest in acquiring a stake in OSE's operating unit Trainose.
The working lunch was also attended by the CEOs of the major companies in the sector from both sides.
Reppas was accompanied by OSE president Panagiotis Theofanopoulos, Trainose president Athanasios Ziliaskos, and Ergose (OSE's technical unit) president Ioannis Petropoulos, while Bussereau was accompanied by the presidents of SNCF, French Rail Network RFF, the French-British company Alstom Transport, and SYSTRA.
The Greek minister told reporters after the meeting an "open communication" was decided between the two ministries.
The Greek side aims at providing the French side with all the information of interest to it so that in the space of two to three months they will have a full picture of the Greek railway in order to take their final decisions.
"The first step has been taken," Reppas said, adding that the two ministries decided to "have a close cooperation in the area of recording the real data of the Greek railway...with this data, the proposals will be able to be made and replies given, on the basis of the mutual interest".
Asked whether the prospect of acquisition of part of the Hellenic Rail by the French was discussed, Reppas said that "this is not something that occupies us at this time...at this stage, that is not something that we are facing".
"What we want at this time is to implement the law on the basis of an operational plan that supports the law passed by the Greek parliament. We will do everything needed to streamline the Greek railway and make it functional. If along the way interest is expressed by credible countries, then indeed we could go on to an agreement," he said.
He further said that a collaboration with France, with the railway as the "point of reference", "is desired for the utilisation of this knowhow and experience, on the basis if equality and mutual benefit", and explained that the institutional framework provides the ability for such a cooperation through business schemes, chiefly in the area of operation, namely Trainose, the capital of which will acquire a corporate share composition in accordance with the law.
Reppas further said that there is a prospect of concession of the management to an individual "with due experience, reliability and prestige" so as to have a more efficient and qualitative management.
He said that discussions have also taken place with Chinese representatives who, given their interest in Thriassio, could also be interested in the railway in the context of combined transports.
Interest has also been forthcoming from other countries since the law was passed, Reppas continued, but clarified that "no one is prepared to 'propose' to us next week".
 Greek UN rep addresses committee on human rights promotion, protectionNew York (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greece's deputy permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Dimitris Caramitsos-Tziras, stressed the violation of the human rights of 200,000 displaced Greek Cypriots due to the Turkish invasion and occupation of 37 percent of Cyprus, addressing a meeting on Wednesday of the UN's Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues, in the Committee's ongoing discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights.
He also underlined the mass illegal sales of Greek-Cypriot properties in the occupied sector to third-country citizens, the destruction of the island republic's cultural and religious heritage in the occupied northern part of Cyprus and the transfer of Turkish colonists, which he said aims at altering Cyprus' demographic composition.
Caramitsos-Tziras called on Turkey to commence a substantive investigation into the missing persons from the Cyprus invasion and to provide all the relevant information it has to the European Court of Human Rights, as per the request of the latter.
He further reiterated Greece's full support for the UN-brokered inter-communal negotiations for a viable, functional and comprehensive agreement for the reunification of Cyprus on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, and in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the EU principles and values.
 Commission competitiveness overview on GreeceAddressing the public finances crisis should alleviate the liquidity problems in the Greek economy in the medium term and restore expectations at a level conducive to growth, according to a European Commission overview of competitiveness in the 27 EU member states that was released on Thursday.
According to the report, Greece's labour productivity per person employed is slightly above the EU average, but on a per hour basis stands at around 80% of the EU average.
Greece, the report said, "faces a serious problem of competitiveness, which is reflected in a large deficit in goods trade".
"While services trade is in surplus, mainly due to tourism and shipping, the deficit in goods trade has led to a current account deficit of around 11% of GDP in 2009. R&D investments in relation to GDP, particularly in the private sector, are amongst the lowest in EU and the innovativeness of the Greek economy depends heavily on imported technology and know-how," according to the overview.
"Manufacturing accounted for 11% of employment and GDP in 2008 with food/drinks/tobacco, refined petroleum and basic metals and metal products being the most important sectors. The trade balance showed a clear deficit for manufacturing, mainly due to transport equipment, chemicals and electrical and optical equipment, with no sector showing a surplus," it added.
"Towards an innovative industry: EU programmes play a major role in both R&D and innovation activity", it continued.
"Towards a sustainable industry: The environmental performance of the Greek industry can be characterised as rather poor due to weaknesses in the regulatory and administrative environment. The main current funding instrument for environmental policy is the Operational Programme Environment and sustainable development," the report said.
Concluding, the report noted: "Addressing the public finances crisis should alleviate the liquidity problems in the economy in the medium term and restore expectations at a level conducive to growth. Improving the business environment through actions such as those planned in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will contribute to this by reducing the costs of doing business in Greece across the board. However, there remains the structural problem of specialisation in low-skills, low technology and low growth sectors."
 Commission calls on Greece to implement European Court ruling on illegal landfillsThe European Commission on Thursday called on Greece to implement a European Court of Justice ruling concerning illegal landfills.
"Despite being condemned by the Court in 2005 for not taking enough measures to close down and rehabilitate all existing illegal landfills, several hundred continue to operate across the country. At the recommendation of Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for Environment, the Commission has decided to issue a complementary letter of formal notice under ongoing infringement proceedings. If the appropriate action is not taken by the Greek authorities, the Commission may decide to refer the case back to Court and request financial penalties," a Commission announcement said.
"The case concerns illegal landfills that continue to operate in Greece in violation of EU waste legislation. Since the Court ruling in 2005, progress has been made by Greece through the closure and rehabilitation of many illegal landfills and the establishment of an adequate waste management system. The majority of these projects have been co-funded by the EU," the announcement said.
"According to the initial calendar, all illegal landfills should have been closed and rehabilitated by the end of 2008. A letter of formal notice was sent in April 2009 reminding Greece of its obligations. However, according to the latest figures available to the Commission, some 316 illegal landfills continue to operate and 429 are still in the process of being rehabilitated. The Commission is therefore sending a complementary letter of formal notice. If the appropriate action is not taken by the Greek authorities, the Commission may decide to refer the case back to Court and request financial penalties," the announcement added.
Directive 2006/12/EC on waste is a key instrument to protect human health and the environment from the negative effects caused by the collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of waste. The Directive obliges Member States to dispose of waste without endangering human health and without harming the environment.
 Commission asks Greece to review direct award of ICT services contractThe European Commission has called on Greece to review the award of a contract for ICT services, in a "reasoned opinion" on Thursday.
"The European Commission has acted to ensure that EU rules on public procurement - the spending of public money by public authorities - are respected in Greece. The Commission is concerned that Greece has breached EU public procurement rules by directly awarding a public service contract for developing an information system used by the Greek Government's citizens' services network (KEP). EU public procurement rules are designed to ensure fair and transparent competition for public contracts in Europe, thereby creating opportunities for European companies while ensuring best value for public money. If the rules are not respected, there is a risk of a closed market and waste of public money. The Commission's request to Greece takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If Greece does not reply satisfactorily within two months, the Commission may refer this matter to the Court of Justice," a Commission announcement said.
"In 2007, following a public procurement procedure, the Greek authorities awarded a contract to a company for the development of ERMIS national portal, an online one-stop shop where citizens and businesses can go for all their dealings with the Greek Government. Soon after, the Greek authorities awarded a supplementary contract worth 1.5 million euros to the very same company for the development of an information system to be used by staff working in the Greek government's KEP centres. KEP centres are government service centres where citizens can obtain information and official documents such as birth certificates, licences and identification papers. The Greek authorities used a negotiated procedure to settle the terms with the company for the development of the information system. No prior contract notice was published," the announcement added.
"In the Commission's view, the development of the ERMIS online portal is different from the development of the internal information system. The contract should therefore not have been awarded on the basis of a supplementary contract following a negotiated procedure, but rather in a formal tender procedure with a Europe-wide publication of a tender notice, as required by the rules of the applicable EU public procurement Directive, 2004/18/EC," according to the announcement.
"Informed of the facts by a complainant, the Commission asked Greece in a letter of formal notice to comment on the situation in May 2010. As no satisfactory response was provided, the Commission has decided to initiate the second stage of the formal infringement procedure by issuing a reasoned opinion," it added.
 Commission sends 'reasoned opinion' to Greece, Austria, Portugal for implementation of Animal Health DirectiveThe European Commission on Thursday urged Greece, Austria and Portugal to implement the EU's Animal Health Directive 2008/73 in national measures, in a "reasoned opinion" notified to the three countries under EU infringement procedures.
In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may decide to refer these Member States to the EU's Court of Justice (ECJ), according to a Commission announcement, which added that Greece, Austria and Portugal have not communicated the measures implementing Directive 2008/73/EC.
The Directive simplifies procedures of listing and publishing information of animal health establishments. In particular, it gives the responsibility to Member States to draw up lists of approved establishments in the veterinary and zootechnical fields, keep them up-to-date and make them publicly available. In addition, the Directive obliges Member States to provide up-to-date information concerning national reference laboratories and certain other laboratories that they have designated in accordance with the relevant provisions of EU law, the announcement said.
The objective is to protect and raise the health status and condition of animals in the Community, in particular food-producing animals, whilst permitting intra-Community trade and imports of animals and animal products in accordance with the appropriate health standards and international obligations. As human and animal health have become more interconnected over the years, abiding by EU provisions on Animal Health also helps ensure and preserve public health, the announcement added.
Member States were supposed to implement Directive 2008/73/EC by January 1, 2010, but Greece, Austria and Portugal have failed to do so, it said.
The Commission initiated the infringement procedure, described in Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), early this year by sending a letter of formal notice to the three Member States. By the sending of a "Reasoned Opinion," the Commission formally requests those Member States to take action to comply with EU law within a period of two months. Subsequently, the Commission may decide to refer the Member States to the ECJ if action to ensure compliance is not taken, the announcement concluded.
 Search continues for man swept away by torrent in N. GreeceRescuers were continuing on Thursday afternoon a search operation for a 45-year-old man who was swept away by torrential waters the previous night in Thermi, Thessaloniki.
The man and his wife had rushed to the assistance of their 22-year-old son after he called them when his car stalled due to rising waters during heavy rainfall as he attempted to cross the torrent.
All three were swept away, but rescuers were able to locate and rescue the mother and son. Indicative of the force of the torrent is the fact that the son was found by rescuers five kilometres from the spot where his car had stalled.
The search by EMAK rescuers and volunteers was continuing for the father. Heavy rainfall and torrential local storms throughout Wednesday caused major problems and flooding of basements and ground floors throughout the country.
 Noted publisher Haris Patsis diesNoted Greek publisher, author and educator Haris Patsis passed away on Wednesday at the age of 97.
The distinguished scholar began his publishing career in 1945, while his same-name publishing house is best known for the 24-volume and later 36-volume "New Hellenic Encyclopaedia".
 Scorpions give last concert in GreeceThe veteran rock group Scorpions performed on Wednesday night for the last time in Greece, in the framework of the group's farewell tour entitles "Get your sting and blackout".
The sold off concert took place in the Peace and Friendship indoor stadium in the Athens coastal district of Neo Faliro.
The group offered lots of drumsticks to fans while they were handed a Greek flag, which the lead singer wore on his shoulders and afterwards left it in the centre of the stage.
The audience called the group back on stage for an encore, which turn out to be the hit "Rock you like a Hurricane".
George Gakis and the Troublemakers a five member classic rock bank and Fortissimo a 4 women violin bank as well as the group Firewind opened the concert.
The Scorpions next performance will take place in Kiev, Ukraine on November 2.
 107 kilos cannabis found in car abandoned after crashPolice found and confiscated a quantity of 107 kilos of cannabis in a stolen car that was abandoned after crashing with a truck along the Trikala-Ioannina stretch of the national highway on Thursday. The car crashed with the truck in the Trikala-bound lane, and the car driver fled the scene.
Police found three sacks in the car containing a total of 107.1 kilos of cannabis packaged in plastic bags.
An investigation turned up that the car had been stolen from Halkida, Evia.
 Cloudy on FridayCloudy skies and northerly winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 8 on the Beaufort scale. Mostly fair in the north with temperatures ranging from 2C-15C. Clouds and rain in central and southern Greece, 5C-23C; showers on the islands, 14C-23C. Cloudy in Athens, 6C-20C; fair in Thessaloniki, 7C-15C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe upcoming local administration elections and the economy were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Thursday.
AVGHI: "The Germans are coming, again", referring to the EU summit in Brussels.
KATHIMERINI: "The election-mongering (talk of early general elections) once again weakens the country in the markets..."
LOGOS: "IMF annoyed by the early general elections speculation".
NIKI: "How the Chinese (COSCO) want the port (Piraeus)".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Into the battle, with the KKE-backed ticket in the local government elections".
VIMA: "Green light (from European Commission) for lifting of tax confidentiality".
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