|Monday, 19 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-12-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 13 December 2010 Issue No: 3668
 PM: 2011 a crucial year for agriculture sectorPrime Minister George Papandreou on Sunday addressed a regional conference on agriculture production in the Cretan port city of Rethymno, where he told participants that 2011 will be a year of major changes in the sector.
Papandreou outlined his government's priorities in the sector, while expressing a notion that agriculture production can become a key to leading the country out of the economic recession.
"We have a difficult effort to change the country ... we must break the fiefdoms and exploit the state correctly ... the agriculture sector may not have been organised correctly, but it has a future. We are beginning a major effort from Rethymno, a viable, organised effort to create wealth, because this is necessary for the country's interests," he said.
Papandreou also did not mince his words in referring to past government practices in the sector. "Now is the time to change things, so that the unknown, bureaucracy, petty interests and clientele relations."
Amongst other, the Greek PM cited the example of agricultural cooperatives in the country as a model to be avoided.
In pointing to the need for a rejuvenation of the agriculture sector in the east Mediterranean country, Papandreou said Greece spends 6.5 billion euros every year on the import of farm goods and produce, "many times on products that are inferior to ours".
Referring to the "basket of goods" of each region, he said each geographical department in the country will promote brand name products from the region, particularly emphasising the "Cretan basket" of products and diet.
"We need a brand name, an identity with a certificate of quality for every product of each region," he concluded.
Later in the day, Papandreou toured the Mediterranean Agronomy Institute, in concluding his visit to western Crete.
The Greek premier was briefed on the institute's operation.
Students from 25 countries are currently enrolled at the institute, which offers up to 120 courses.
Agriculture ministry officials, PASOK deputies from Crete and newly elected regional office-holders accompanied Papandreou.
 Samaras: I won't become an accomplice to government's deadend policyMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras accused the government of having missed the target in all areas, and stressed that he will not become an accomplice to the impasse the government is leading the country to, in a newspaper interview appearing on Sunday.
Samaras stated that he opposes mass layoffs, and warned the government not to use the crisis as a pretext for concessions on the national issues.
"Today's policy, as applied by the government, is a mistake and leads to impasses, and has been proved that it must change," Samaras said in an interview with the Sunday edition of Eleftheros Typos newspaper.
He reiterated that "when the time comes", ND will set up a parliamentary fact-finding commission on the Memorandum.
Samaras further said that the prime minister is "seeking accomplices, not consensus".
Questioned on his upcoming meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday, Samaras noted that, obviously, he will set out ND's views, which are known by everyone, including the prime minister. "In brief, I am interested in policy changes that will immediately create conditions of recovery".
"Immediate recovery; Nothing less," he stressed.
In a similar interview in the weekly newspaper RealNews, Samaras said that ND's immediate priority is recovery. "Because, so long as there is no recovery, the government will be constantly bringing harsh and unfair measures which will be sinking the economy further and bringing the people to despair".
"To that policy, I clearly say 'no'," Samaras added.
 ND leader in Thessaloniki on MondaySamaras will be in Thessaloniki on Monday for talks with representatives of the producer classes ahead of a debate in Parliament on the 2011 state budget, while he will also address a dinner co-organised by the local Chambers.
 Strauss-Kahn: Greek economy at 'crucial crossroads'; major reforms pendingThe Greek economy's reform programme is at a "crucial crossroads", because success depends on the promotion of a variety of major and radical change within the next few months, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn was quoted in the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Kathimerini".
"We will work with our European partners for a solution that allows Greece more room to breathe," he said, while hinted at the possibility of changes to an EU-ECB-IMF memorandum envisioned in the 110-billion-euro bailout plan.
Moreover, he reiterated the IMF's support in favour of an extension of the payback period for the support mechanism's loans.
 Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia reaffirm commitment for western Balkans' EU accessionSOFIA (ANA-MPA / B. Borisov)
The foreign ministers of Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia reiterated their volition to work closely for the accession of western Balkan states into the European Union, during a tripartite meeting here on Saturday.
FMs Dimitris Droutsas, Nikolai Mladenov and Vuk Jeremic, representing Greece, host Bulgaria and Serbia, respectively, signed a declaration stating as much, while a joint statement supporting Serbia's EU membership was also included, citing "the basis of the country's (Serbia) continuous, standing and unwavering progress in its economic and political reforms and in the fulfillment of necessary conditions and requirements."
"As partners in the EU and allies in NATO, Greece and Bulgaria share a vision of peace; a vision of stability and prosperity in our wider region and beyond," Droutsas said, before praising his Bulgarian counterpart for organising the three-nation meeting in the Bulgarian capital.
The Sofia meeting focused directly on the western Balkans EU prospects, especially Serbia's course towards the Union.
Droutsas also cited momentum on the issue through Athens' "Agenda 2014" initiative, aimed to boost the European prospects of a handful of countries that comprise the western Balkans. Along those lines, he said a priority of Greece's EU presidency in 2014 is to produce specific dates for the full accession of all western Balkan states.
On his part, Mladenov referred to a "historical responsibility" on the part of Bulgaria and Greece to substantively help the accession process of regional candidate-countries, adding that the latter must also fulfill all criteria for accession and prove their devotion to democratic values and principles, in practice. He also referred to an increased emphasis on regional cooperation, one of main topics of discussion during Saturday's meeting.
Moreover, Mladenov said good-neighbourly relations in the region are an "extremely important" ingredient in solving bilateral or multilateral problems.
Finally, Serbian FM Jeremic repeated that EU membership for his country is a "strategic priority", before thanking Sofia and Athens for their support towards Belgrade.
The Serbian foreign minister cited the importance of the Thessaloniki EU Council of 2003 for the accession process of western Balkan states and the subsequent Greek initiative "Agenda 2014" to provide specific dates for full accession.
 Latest opinion poll resultsRuling PASOK was leading over main opposition New Democracy (ND), despite a decline in the former's popularity, according to a 'political barometer' opinion poll conducted by Public Issue on behalf of Kathimerini newspaper and SKAI tv/radio station in December.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was up in popularity, as were the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance.
With respect to electoral influence of the political parties, PASOK was leading with 39 percent against 30 percent for ND, followed by the KKE with 11 percent, LAOS and SYRIZA with 5.5 percent each, the Democratic Left and Democratic Alliance with 2.5 percent each, and the Ecologists-Greens with 2.0 percent.
Prime Minister George Papandreou remained the 'most suitable for premier' with 42 percent against 20 percent for ND leader Antonis Samaras.
Six in ten of the respondents believe that neither of the two mainstream parties (PASOK and ND) is able to confront the country's problems, while 27 percent believe that a PASOK government and 7 percent believe that an ND government can tackle the problems.
Eight in 10 respondents said they were dissatisfied with the way democracy was being served, while an equal proportion said they are night satisfied with their lives today.
 FinMin: Target is to maintain as many jobs as possibleThe first target at this time is to maintain as many job positions as possible, finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said in a newspaper interview appearing on Sunday, responding to criticism of the government over salary reductions in the private sector.
In an interview appearing in RealNews newspaper, Papaconstantinou brushed off as "hypocrisy" accusations that workers' conquests of many decades are being uprooted with a bill on labor relations tabled in parliament on Thursday, adding: "I believe the solution we came up with is balanced, and in no way marks the end to collective labor negotiations...The business contracts are contracts, in other words the result of negotiations between the contracting sides. They are not unilateral decisions."
The minister anticipated that the changes will start producing yield in 2011, while he also described as a very positive development the prospective extension of Greece's EU-IMF support loan repayment period.
On the workers' mobilisations, Papaconstantinou stressed that "between bankruptcy and the reactions, I opt for the latter", noting: "between the choice of seeing enraged masses outside the closed banks and closed state funds, which would mean the country's bankruptcy, and the social and professional groups seeking milder regulations for the branch they represent or expressing their reaction to a specific situation, it is clear that no one would choose the former".
On development, the finance minister stressed that a prerequisite for the country to return to growth is restoration of fiscal balance.
"That is why we chose to implement the (economic stabilisation) program, putting the biggest weight on adjustment in the first years...And, of course, development is produced as the outcome of all the reforms and changes in our program, in order to create a more competitive economy. In other words, development is produced as a result of all our policies and not, naturally, with wishes or magical recipes," the finance minister stressed.
 Development minister pledges to stamp down on rising pricesRegional development minister Michalis Chryssohoidis pledged to stamp down on rising prices and expensiveness on the market, in an interview in To Vima newspaper appearing on Sunday, while he reiterated that there will be price reductions by Christmas despite a rise in fuel prices.
Chryssohoidis backed the changes being made by the government, but added that in specific sectors "special attention is necessary to avoid social tension".
He added that more self-criticism is needed "by those who led the country to this situation", and also a more responsible stance from here on.
The minister further said that growth cannot be achieved only through providing liquidity. "The Greece of statism, easy growth and corruption is finished. The Greece of the 'bubble' is finishing," he said, stressing that restoration of confidence in the country is needed, first of all, and a change of the psychology on the market, through the creation of a sense of prospects.
Regarding the new development law, he said it is the beginning of an effort to re-start the developmental process.
"Our goal is to create 50,000 new, dynamic enterprises over the next two years," Chryssohoidis said.
 Civil servants' strikeThe civil servants' union (ADEDY) has called for a three-hour work stoppage on Tuesday and a nationwide strike for Wednesday to protest wage cuts in state-run utilities and enterprises.
 Major oil spill caused after ferry rams into port on LesvosA large oil spill was caused at dawn on Sunday in the commercial port of Lesvos island from a major fuel leak from the passenger ferry Aegean Star.
The leak occurred when the ferry rammed into the right entrance to the harbor at dawn, causing an 8-metre rift.
The Aegean Star, headed from Hios to Lesvos in high seas and winds of 8 Beaufort velocity, rammed into the port of Mytilene at 5:20 a.m. Sunday.
The local port authority was informed of the incident one hour later, after the ship had tied in the port, although the leakage of crude oil had already started.
The passengers were safely disembarked, while a few of the trucks on board suffered damages due to the storm conditions.
Port authorities, aided by two coastguard patrol boats, the tugboat Ioannis and members of the Hellenic Rescue Team volunteers quickly set up floating barriers and spread absorbent material, and succeeded in trapping most of the oil slick, although some of the oil spilled over in a few points.
The spill was stopped at about 4:30 after the rift was sealed up.
The captain of the ship, the bridge officer on duty at the time of the accident, the chief engineer and the helmsman were arrested, by order of the Mytilene prosecutor, while the ferry was banned from sailing.
 State of emergency declared on SamosA state of emergency was declared Sunday on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, which has been hard-hit by adverse weather conditions that have affected all of Greece since Saturday noon.
Rising water covered the coastal road of the city of Samos, cutting off any access by pedestrians and vehicles, in stormy seas and wind velocities of up to 10 Beaufort, while snow also fell on high ground.
The emergency plan was activated late Saturday night, and the army placed sacks of sand along the entire coastal road to protect shops that were in danger of flooding.
Traffic was being diverted by police and port officials.
The problems continued on Sunday, spreading to Vathy and Aghios Constantinos, where the water level reached the seaside houses.
 Seven trapped in cars due to adverse weather on Crete airlifted to safetySeven people who were trapped in their vehicles due to adverse weather in the Nidas plateau in Rethymno prefecture, on the island of Crete, earlier in the day were rescued Sunday afternoon after a search and rescue operation was mounted.
The seven people, including four firefighters, were airlifted by an Airforce Super Puma all-weather helicopter to Irakleio.
Two of the firefighters were airlifted in a first flight by the Super Puma, which had taken off earlier from the Elefsina military airport, near Athens.
The remaining two firefighters and four civilians were airlifted in a second flight by the military helicopter.
All seven are reported to be well in health.
 Greek-owned vessel released by Somali piratesA Greek-owned ship was released by Somali pirates, according to an announcement by a EU naval force patrolling off the Horn of Africa. The freighter "MV Eleni" was hijacked by 12 armed pirates in the Gulf of Aden on May 12, 2010.
The 23-man crew included two Greek nationals -- the skipper and first engineer -- along with 19 Filipinos nationals, a Ukrainian and a Romanian.
According to the maritime affairs ministry, the vessel is headed to a port in Oman. It was carrying a cargo of metals from the Ukraine to China when hijacked.
No information was given on whether a ransom was paid.
 Mild quake in NW GreeceA weak earthquake measuring 4 on the Richter scale was reported on Saturday morning in the Florina region of northwest Greece, with an epicentre under the Lake Cheimaditida, 125 kilometres west of Thessaloniki.
According to seismologists, the tremor was felt across the western Macedonia region.
 Italy-bound illegals arrested in PatrasSix illegal immigrants were intercepted on a truck waiting to board an Italy-bound ferry boat on Friday at the western port of Patras.
Harbour corps authorities found the illegals hidden in cardboard boxes carrying ouzo bottles. The 35-year-old driver of the lorry was arrested, while the vehicle was confiscated.
In an unrelated development, 11 illegal immigrants, all identified as Pakistani nationals, were arrested by Rafina port authorities on Friday on a variety of drug trafficking charges. Up to a kilo of hashish was seized at a residence in the west Athens district of Peristeri, along with money, a precision scale and other drug paraphernalia.
Additionally, a 58-year-old truck driver was arrested in Patras on Sunday after eight illegal immigrants were found hidden in the vehicle as it prepared to board an Italy-bound ship.
The illegal migrants had been hidden behind crates of oranges.
Port authorities seized the truck, while six of the illegal immigrants were also detained. The other two, who were minors, were released.
 Megaron concert at Aghios Panteleimonas cathedralA special concert performance was given on Sunday afternoon by the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) at the Aghios (St.) Panteleimonas cathedral in downtown Athens, part of an initiative by the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece to ease tensions in the same-name inner city district.
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, the visiting Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios as well as Megaron President Yiannis Manos joined Ieronymos at the event.
The Aghios Panteleimonas district, and in particular the square where the large cathedral stands, has shot to the national limelight over the past two to three years as the site of angry rallies by local residents -- often infiltrated by extremist nationalist groups -- against what they charge is an illegal immigrant fueled crime wave and downgrading of the neighbourhood. Rallies and protests by the former groups have been followed by counter-rallies by leftist groups and self-styled "anti-state" activists.
In an address before packed pews, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos emphasized that the "Church's mission is to unite people, just as music does; in the age of globalisation the Church must also contribute to the production of culture."
A stepped up security presence was evident outside the cathedral, as a group of protesters hurled abuse at some of the attendees.
 Two foreign nationals, escapees, nabbed in AthensTwo escaped convicts, both Albanian nationals, were arrested on Friday in southeast Athens after a brief police chase in southeast Athens.
Ammunition, a flare gun, a knife and various burglar tools were found in a vehicle carrying the two outlaws, who are suspected in a string of armed robberies adn break-ins around the greater Athens area.
According to reports, the two foreign nationals, 24 and 22, had escaped from the Tiryntha prison farm of southern Greece.
 Clash over landfill in eastern AtticaLocal residents in the Keratea municipality of eastern Attica prefecture mobilised on Sunday against the construction of a landfill in their district, with riot police subsequently dispatched to the scene to prevent further clashes.
 Olympiacos regains leadOlympiacos Piraeus broke away from Panathinaikos Athens on Sunday evening to top the standings of the Greek Super League after overcoming a tough Atromitos Athens side 2-1 at home. The win, coupled with Panathinaikos' 0-0 draw away against Asteras Tripolis, left the Piraeus club two points ahead of its Athens rival.
In other action:
Olympiacos Volos-Aris Thessaloniki 1-1
PAOK Thessaloniki-Iraklis Thessaloniki 1-0
Panserraikos-Panionios Athens 1-1
Ergotelis Crete-Kerkyra 3-0
AEK Athens-Larissa 4-0
Standings after 14 weeks of play:
1. Olympiacos P. 33 points
2. Panathinaikos 31
3. PAOK 23
5. Aris 20
7. Xanthi 18
8. Olympiacos Volos 17
10. Iraklis 16
12. Atromitos 15
15. Panionios 14
16. Larissa 11
 Rain, snow flakesRain and snow in the mountains is forecast for much of the country on Monday, especially earlier in the day. South to southwesterly winds up to 8 on the Beaufort scale. Temperatures between 0C to 15C in the north; 8C to 17C on the islands. Rainy in Athens, 5C to 15C; sleet in Thessaloniki, 0C to 5C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe latest round of austerity measures and accompanying reactions, both by the press and the political world, as well as ubiquitous media speculation over the course of the economy dominated the headlines in Sunday's papers.
AVGHI: "With rage on the streets".
AVRIANI: "Insurance companies collapsing with a bang".
CHORA: "Job market a jungle".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Samaras interview: 'I am not giving my consensus to Papandreou policy'."
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Greece: The poor house".
EPOCHI: "This December will also go down in history (of street protests)".
ETHNOS: "Heightened clashes on the streets, outside Parliament and in Europe".
KATHIMERINI: "Implementation of memorandum at crucial crossroads".
PARON (weekly): ""They're sinking the country: Proverty and unemployment the premier's holiday presents".
PROTO THEMA (weekly): "100 Commissioners taking over Greece: Troika government arriving, with German as its 'head'."
REAL News (weekly): "The conspiracy of the drachma".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Now the time for counter-attack against monopolies and their power".
VETO (weekly): "Drachma inside (country), euro outside: the harshest scenario for Greek tragedy".
VIMA (weekly): "Taiwan ... model, come what may. Wages in utilities, banks and businesses compressed".
VRADYNI: "How much the Christmas bonus will be this year; major cuts to bonuses".
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