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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-11-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 22 November 2010 Issue No: 3651


  • [01] Papandreou hails results of NATO summit
  • [02] Finmin briefs PM on talks with troika officials
  • [03] Samaras newspaper interview: Government policy has stifled market, plunged country into recession
  • [04] Bakoyannis formally announces new political party, "Democratic Alliance"
  • [05] Cyprus President due in Athens on Monday
  • [06] Deputy FinMin: Reduction of over-inflated public sector
  • [07] Municipal employees strikes on Monday and Tuesday
  • [08] New toll station near Thermopylae
  • [09] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday
  • [10] Culture and Tourism Forum held in Thessaloniki
  • [11] Spinalonga island to reopen as tourist attraction
  • [12] Armed Forces Day celebrated
  • [13] Road Accident Victims remembered
  • [14] Lanthimos' 'Dogtooth' wins first prize at Ljulbljana film festival
  • [15] Guilty ruling for captain, crew, of sunken Togo-flag freighter
  • [16] Corinth Canal shut for two days due to rock fall
  • [17] 'Colossus' returned to Patras
  • [18] Man arrested with 46K cannabis, half kilo heroin
  • [19] Authorities find 1.2 million packets contraband cigarettes
  • [20] Bulgarian national arrested for Sept. 3 murder
  • [21] 'Body packers' arrested smuggling cocaine into Greece
  • [22] Two injured in boat collision
  • [23] Super League soccer results
  • [24] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance Politics

  • [01] Papandreou hails results of NATO summit

    LISBON (ANA-MPA - V. Mourtis)

    Addressing Greek reporters covering the NATO summit on Saturday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou emphasised the importance of the two-day meeting of NATO leaders in Lisbon, both for the Greek side and more generally.

    Papandreou noted that NATO's new Strategic Concept was attempting to change the structure and orientation of the Alliance through the admission that the problems today were different from those of the Cold War era. For this reason, the Alliance was seeking to create a new basis for relations between its member-states but also its relations with other partners, such as Russia and international organisations.

    The Greek premier said that the two-day summit had not led to any unpleasant surprises but had a positive outcome in terms of Greece's particular interests and sensitivities. Concerning Turkey's stance, he pointed out that Greece's neighbour had signed the final communique without presenting any objections.

    Papandreou especially highlighted the start of cooperation between NATO and Russia, saying it was a very important step after the Cold War, noting that the anti-missile shield in which Russia is now also a participant signifies cooperation and not enmity.

    Concerning Afghanistan, Papandreou noted that the discussion carried out aimed at stability and the withdrawal of foreign powers from Afghanistan.

    Greece's Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos, on his part, referred to the changes in NATO's command structure in order to make the Alliance more flexible and to avoid creating artificial or 'technical' problems, including in Greek-Turkish relations. He said that talks were due to begin on NATO entities, such as headquarters, bases etc.

    Economic issues and the European financial support mechanism were also discussed by leaders attending the NATO summit, with particular significance for Greece. Sources said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had not been swayed from her views concerning the financing of such a mechanism but was open to holding bilateral talks on Greece's proposals but also the views of other EU member-state leaders on this issue.

    During a meeting with Papandreou on Friday, Merkel had agreed that the issue should be discussed between their aides, initially, while not ruling out a convergence between the positions of the two sides before the EU summit in December. The Greek proposal is also starting to gain some support among other countries.

    Apart from Papandreou and Venizelos, the NATO summit was also attended by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and government spokesman George Petalotis.

    Papandreou departed from Lisbon late on Saturday afternoon to return to Athens.

    [02] Finmin briefs PM on talks with troika officials

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou has briefed Prime Minister George Papandreou on the results of his marathon two-day talks with EU and IMF inspectors in Athens, sources at the prime minister's office said on Sunday night. According to the same sources, the prime minister's advisor on economic issues Lucas Papademos, a former European Central Bank vice-president, was also present.

    Talks between Papaconstantinou and the troika officials began on Saturday morning and continued until late on Sunday night. Finance ministry officials said that the discussion would focus mainly on the implementation of structural reforms included in the memorandum. Thorny issues on the table were labour issues and sector labour agreements, as well as transfers of staff in public utilities and state enterprises.

    The troika officials will then present their conclusions after the latest inspection of the Greek economy in a press conference, originally scheduled to take place on Monday but later postponed until Tuesday next week.

    The government is optimistic that EU-IMF officials will agree to the release of the third instalment of loans to Greece, or 9 billion euro, under the financial support mechanism.

    The part of the loan given by the IMF is to be released within December, while that from the Eurozone member-states in January 2011.

    [03] Samaras newspaper interview: Government policy has stifled market, plunged country into recession

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras reiterated that there are no margins for cooperation "with those who accept the impasses of the Memorandum", in a newspaper interview appearing on Sunday, while he also rejected the idea of a "large coalition" of technocrats if the situation worsened, stressing that the job of technocrats is to state their opinion, but the decisions must be taken by politicians.

    In an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Kathimerini daily, Samaras also reiterated his firm position on the "correctness" of the "anti-Memorandum stance", but differentiated his position from that of the Left wing parties, and stressed that the economic program recently proposed by his party could wipe out both the structural and cyclical deficit of the country in a space of 18th months.

    Samaras further said that the PASOK government's economic policy has stifled the market and plunged the country into recession, which evaporates whatever benefit that may have resulted from the salary and pension cuts.

    For that reason, he continued, ND proposes boosting of construction activity though a 10-year subsidisation of interest on first-home loans which, Samaras explained, will provide "oxygen" to more than 130 professions. In addition, exploitation of the public sector's movable assets has nearly limitless prospects for bringing immediate liquidity and permanent public revenues.

    Samaras acknowledged that mergers of public sector agencies and cuts in DEKO (public utilities and organisations) spending are needed, but stressed his absolute disagreement to prospective layoffs in the public and wider public sector, warning that that would be a mistaken policy.

    He further warned that if the government continues with the same policy "we will soon realise that that which appeared as a 'bail-out' for the country was disaster".

    The ND leader also stated satisfaction with the results of the recent local administration elections, noting that his party's 10.4 percent difference behind the ruling PASOK party in last year's general elections had been bridged to just 2 percent in the local elections earlier in November.

    [04] Bakoyannis formally announces new political party, "Democratic Alliance"

    Independent MP and former New Democracy (ND) foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Sunday formally announced the founding of her new "Democratic Alliance" political party, symbolised with an olive tree and the colors blue and orange, which belongs to the Center of the political spectrum.

    At an event at the Olympics Badminton facility, Bakoyannis invited the 5,000 participants to sign the new party's Founding Declaration, describing her party as an "independent, participational democratic movement".

    Outlining the Democratic Alliance's fundamental principles and values, Bakoyannis said the party is opposed to new taxes institution of a single tax rate "in the region of" 20 percent, and stressed that it will pursue national understanding and agreement on reducing the number of civil servants so that, over the next decade, the public sector will function with two-thirds of its current manpower.

    She also spoke of a second social security reform and the institution of a constitutional fiscal regulation that would ensure balanced budgets, while she also criticised ND and its leader over their stance on the Memorandum.

    Bakoyannis made it clear that her party is determined to clash with the "phenomena of intransparency", while she also defended her decision to vote in favor of Greece's resorting to the European support mechanism, which differentiation from the main opposition party's official stance led to her leaving ND. "I disagreed, and disagree, with many of the measures and regulations contained in the Memorandum, but at that time last May, the dilemma was merciless for everyone: approval of the support mechanism or immediate default".

    Bakoyannis further announced that the new Democratic Alliance party's inaugural congress will be held in March.

    [05] Cyprus President due in Athens on Monday

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias is due in Athens on Monday night, and is scheduled to meet with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday morning.

    According to Cyprus government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said Christofias will brief the Greek premier on the outcome of his joint meeting in New York on Thursday with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

    Christofias is coming to Athens to attend an event at the Hellenic Parliament on Tuesday marking the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Financial News

    [06] Deputy FinMin: Reduction of over-inflated public sector

    Deputy finance minister Philippos Sahinidis preannounced a reduction of the currently "over-inflated and wretched" public sector, in a newspaper interview appearing on Sunday, stressing that there were no more margins for imposing additional taxes.

    In an interview with the Sunday edition of To Vima newspaper, Sahinidis said that "even if, in the ideal scenario, we achieve the program and targets we have set for 2011, the deficit will be at 17 billion euros".

    "And where will that money be found in 2012 if we do not limit the state?" he asked, stressing that the private sector is no longer able to sustain the public sector. "That is the truth," he added.

    The time has come for the political system to decide what it wants, Sahinidis said, adding "the public sector is over-inflated, wretched, it does not serve the citizen and, more importantly, we no longer have the money to sustain it".

    He noted that there were some DEKO (public utilities and organisations) in which remuneration was currently "44 percent higher than that in the public sector and 100 percent higher than in the private sector".

    Those specific DEKO "have reached the point of burdening the deficit by 2 billion dollars each year", he said, which equaled the money saved in the public sector from cutting the so-called 13th and 14th salaries.

    "Everyone must realise that the effort we are making is not a 100 meter sprint -- we took the measures and finished this year -- but a marathon," he added.

    [07] Municipal employees strikes on Monday and Tuesday

    Municipal employees have decided escalation of their mobilisations, and called two new 24-hour strikes on Monday and Tuesday.

    Following the decision, taken on Sunday at a meeting of the employees' Federation, this means that there will be no garbage collection on those two days save for a handful of exceptions that include trash from hospitals and outdoor produce markets.

    [08] New toll station near Thermopylae

    A new toll station will begin operating along the Athens-Lamia national highway at the Aghia Triada intersection near Thermopylae as of midnight Monday.

    The Aghia Triada toll station in Fthiotis prefecture is the first of two new toll stations that will be opened before and after the city of Lamia following the completion of works on the national road network in the area.

    The toll fees will be 1.55 euros for automobiles, 1.10 euros for motorcycles, 4 euros for trucks and buses, and 5.6 euros for heavy vehicles

    [09] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.378

    Pound sterling 0.862

    Danish kroner 7.515

    Swedish kroner 9.469

    Japanese yen 115.0

    Swiss franc 1.371

    Norwegian kroner 8.265

    Canadian dollar 1.406

    Australian dollar 1.401

    General News

    [10] Culture and Tourism Forum held in Thessaloniki

    "Culture is Thessaloniki's natural and comparative advantage, and it, together with the people that serve it, will contribute definitively to the city's economic, cultural and tourism development," culture and tourism minister Pavlos Geroulanos said on Sunday, winding up an international culture and tourism forum organised in the northern Greek capital by the local Makedonia Media Group.

    Geroulanos also outlined the "Crossroads of Cultures" that his ministry has planned for Thessaloniki, under which the city will host a different culture each year with various events. The guest cultures for 2011 will be the Arab world and Israel, in 2012 Southeastern Europe, in 2013 China, in 2014 Russia, and in 2015 the United States.

    "With this new program, Thessaloniki will contribute decisively to bringing the entire country out of the present crisis," the minister opined.

    [11] Spinalonga island to reopen as tourist attraction

    The island of Spinalonga, a one-time leper colony whose history was recently dramatised as a highly successful television series based on the book 'The Island' by Victoria Hislop, is to reopen as a tourist attraction at weekends after an initiative launched by the municipality of Agios Nikolaos in Lasithi, Crete.

    The municipality, local bodies and the 13th Byzantine Monuments ephorate have submitted a series of proposals to the culture and tourism ministry for giving visitors access to the island on a daily basis and are currently awaiting their approval.

    The island was closed to visitors due to a lack of staff and will now open at weekends until a more permanent solution is found, as well as to large, organised groups on week days.

    Local authorities had stressed that the extra publicity gained by the site due to the popular television series had greatly increased the interest of visitors and keeping the island open would satisfy demand and boost the local economy.

    During the Christmas holidays the island will be open daily except on major holidays.

    [12] Armed Forces Day celebrated

    The annual Hellenic Armed Forces Day was celebrated in Athens, with a joint concert of the Army, Navy and Airforce orchestras in the courtyard of the Zappeion Mansion as the highlight of the events.

    The official events opened early in the morning with the raising of the Greek flag on the Acropolis, followed by a doxology and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the parliament building in downtown Athens.

    The events wound up with the concert, that was held in place of the traditional reception hosted by the President of the Republic.

    More than 3,000 Athenians took advantage of the sunny, spring day to attend the outdoor concert.

    Similar events were held in all the prefectures throughout Greece.

    [13] Road Accident Victims remembered

    Greece commemorated the World Day of Remembrance for Road Accident Victims, designated internationally on November 21 each year, at a special event held on Saturday.

    According to statistics presented at the event, road accidents are the first cause of death in the 18-44 age bracket.

    In the last 50 years, the number of lives lost in traffic accidents is equal to the population of a large city, while injuries are equal to the population of Thessaloniki.

    From 1965 to 2008, a total of 150,000 people perished and 1.5 million were injured in road accidents throughout Greece. Road accidents account for 3,650 deaths annually, more than 10,000 injuries resulting in paraplegia and another 45,000 other injuries, while approximately 2,500 children are left with permanent disabilities, according to official statistics.

    [14] Lanthimos' 'Dogtooth' wins first prize at Ljulbljana film festival

    Giorgos Lanthimos' film 'Dogtooth' has come away with the first prize at the 21st Ljubljana International Film Festival (LIFFe) held in the Slovenian capital on Sunday, adding yet another award to its list of distinctions.

    The 96 minute film won the film festival's 'Kingfisher Award', with the panel of judges stressing the film's rare unsettling quality and its painfully direct messages.

    The film has so far won numerous awards in a number of film festivals, including one in Cannes, while it has been nominated as best foreign language film at the Academy Awards.

    [15] Guilty ruling for captain, crew, of sunken Togo-flag freighter

    The captain and five-member crew of a Togo-flagged freighter that sank off Cephallonia island on Thursday, causing a 2,000 square meter oil slick, were on Sunday found guilty of deliberately causing a shipwreck and causing marine pollution by a local court of misdemeanors on Sunday, and were sentenced to 5 and 4 years imprisonment respectively without suspension.

    An oil slick covering approximately 2,000 square meters was caused off the Myrtos coast of Cephallonia island from the sinking of the Togo-flagged freighter "Christine" on Thursday morning.

    The wreck of the "Christine" was located by an amateur fisherman on Thursday 1.5 nautical miles off the bay of Myrtos after he spotted a life-raft adrift near the spot.

    The freighter's six-member Ukrainian crew swam to safety, emerging at Fiskardo beach, and went to the local port authority on Thursday afternoon, where they told authorities that the freighter, which was sailing from Albania to Bulgaria carrying three vehicles, developed engine failure and a rift, and sank after taking on water.

    The six men were arrested, while a preliminary investigation into the circumstances of the incident was ordered.

    The six are temporarily detained at a local police lock-up facility.

    [16] Corinth Canal shut for two days due to rock fall

    The Corinth Canal linking the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf will be closed to ships for 48 hours due to the fall of rocks in a landslide on Saturday morning. The Isthmus coast guard has announced that work to re-open and secure the canal has already begun, using special work crews.

    [17] 'Colossus' returned to Patras

    The ferry boat "Colossus" owned by the NEL shipping line was being returned to the port of Patras with the assistance of a tug-boat on Saturday.

    The "Colossus" had run aground on rocks in Vassiliki Bay near the island of Lefkada, breaching its hull from prow to stern. The ship had set sail from Corinth for Ancona, Italy with a crew of 20, carrying 58 trucks and 11 drivers.

    [18] Man arrested with 46K cannabis, half kilo heroin

    Thessaloniki police on Saturday announced the arrest of a 22-year-old Albanian national for drug dealing.

    In the young man's apartment, police found 38 packages containing 46.138 kilos of cannabis, three packages containing 586 grammes of heroin, two packages containing 48.7 grammes of cocaine and an electronic precision scale.

    Also in the apartment were 3,210 euro believed to be proceeds from drug sales, while the suspect was known offender who had been banned from entering Greece for reasons of public order. The suspect will be led before a Thessaloniki first-instance court prosecutor.

    [19] Authorities find 1.2 million packets contraband cigarettes

    The Piraeus coast guard on Saturday reported the discovery of a warehouse containing 2,444 crates of contraband cigarettes, or a total of 1.222 million packets of various brands. The lost tax revenue from the sale of these would amount to 4.026 million euro.

    In addition to palettes loaded with crates of contraband cigarettes, there were also two trucks with Dutch number plates that were also loaded by contraband cigarettes.

    The coast guard discovered the warehouse acting on a tip-off and has also arrested a 28-year-old foreign national that was guarding the warehouse, while a 34-year-old whose name was on the warehouse lease is being sought. The contraband and the trucks were confiscated.

    [20] Bulgarian national arrested for Sept. 3 murder

    Police in Hania have a arrested a 42-year-old Bulgarian national accused of being an accomplice in the murder of a 45-year-old Bulgarian in Kilkis. The arrest was made on Friday and announced on Saturday.

    The suspect was caught based on an arrest warrant issued in Kilkis where he is charged that on September 3, along with his 48-year-old brother, he fatally injured a 45-year-old Bulgarian by hitting him on the head.

    [21] 'Body packers' arrested smuggling cocaine into Greece

    A man and a woman from Romania, aged 23 and 20 years old, respectively, were arrested on their arrival at Athens airport on Saturday after they were found to be smuggling quantities of cocaine concealed in their digestive track.

    The couple had swallowed small cylindrical packages of the drugs and were caught after arriving on a flight from Brazil via Munich.

    Police initially found 19 such packages of cocaine weighing 162 grammes in the woman's handbag. The couple then confessed to having swallowed more drugs and their consent was obtained to admit them to hospital, where they gradually passed a further 37 packages of drugs (14 by the woman and 23 by the man) weighing 520 grammes in total.

    The couple will now be led before a public prosecutor to be charged.

    [22] Two injured in boat collision

    Two people were lightly injured on Sunday when two boats collided off the coast of Niforeiko in Patras, western Greece.

    Two of the three people on board an amateur boat were injured after the vessel collided with an inflatable speedboat.

    The injured people were initially rushed by ambulance to the local medical center and from there to the University Hospital in Rio.

    Both vessels suffered damage in the collision, but not marine pollution was caused.


    [23] Super League soccer results

    Olympiacos Piraeus beat 3-0 PAOK Thessaloniki at home and Panathinaikos Athens beat Iraklis Thessaloniki 4-2 at home, while AEK Athens lost 2-1 to Kavala away, in games played over the weekend .

    In other action:

    Olympiacos Volos-Asteras Tripoli 1-1

    Xanthi-Panseraikos Serres 2-0

    Atromitos Athens-Ergotelis Crete 1-1

    Aris Thessaloniki-Kerkyra 2-0

    Larissa -Panionios Athens 0-1

    Standings after 11 weeks of play:

    1. Olympiacos P. 24 points (10 games)

    2. Panathinaikos 24

    3. Kavala 18

    4. PAOK 17

    5. AEK 16

    6. Aris 16

    7. Iraklis 15

    8. Olympiacos Volos 15

    9. Asteras 14

    10. Kerkyra 13

    11. Xanthi 11

    12. Panseraikos 11

    13. Larissa 11

    14. Atromitos 11

    15. Panionios 10

    16. Ergotelis 10 (9 games)

    [24] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

    The Greek and European economies and Greece's draft 2011 state budget were the main front-page items in Athens' Sunday newspapers.

    AVGHI: "Memorandum...with crutches - Prime minister to hold meetings with 'old and new' party leaders, seeking officials willing to back the budget and prospective new harsh measures".

    AVRIANI: "We're heading full-speed to bankruptcy in February, markets predict".

    CHORA: "Human sacrifices on the Troika's altar".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Burning quarter for Greece and the euro".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "10 reasons for someone not to live in Greece".

    EPOCHI: "Dark Europe".

    ETHNOS: "Kallikratis (public administration reform plan) recipe everywhere - In hospitals, universities and Tax Bureau offices".

    KATHIMERINI: "The economy amidst the Symplegades (Clashing or Cyanean) Rocks".

    LOGOS: "Budget from...the past - Places Greece on threshold of artificial bankruptcy".

    NIKI: "Ultra-luxury cars which have been put in hock (at vehicle pawn shop), for a handful of euros

    PARON: "They're turning us back 30 years...Tears and poverty".

    PROTO THEMA: "They're also eyeing the retirement superannuity".

    REALNEWS: "Merkel 'cutting' the euro in two!".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Front of counter-attack everywhere, for development that benefits the people".

    TO ARTHRO: "Eurozone with 'dual' euro".

    TO VIMA: "Sudden death for thousands of public sector agencies".

    VRADYNI: "Drastic salary cuts - Labor relations turned topsy-turvy".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS

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