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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-12-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 20 December 2010 Issue No: 3672


  • [01] PM calls for discussion on revised Lisbon Treaty
  • [02] ND spokesman on PM's address
  • [03] PM welcomes EU decision for permanent stability mechanism
  • [04] PM on Padoa-Schioppa's death
  • [05] FinMin addresses 2011 state budget Parliamentary debate
  • [06] Debate on 2011 budget begins
  • [07] Third instalment of IMF loan approved
  • [08] Protests on Wednesday
  • [09] Public transport strikes to continue all week
  • [10] Greece pays tribute to Jacqueline de Romilly
  • [11] NSW premier supports return of Parthenon Marbles
  • [12] Tasso Kavvadia passes away
  • [13] Tanker runs aground at entrance to Amvrakikos Gulf
  • [14] Olympiacos Piraeus widens Super League lead
  • [15] Cloudy and wet on Monday
  • [16] Agreement with Israel consolidates sovereignty, indicates Nicosia Politics

  • [01] PM calls for discussion on revised Lisbon Treaty

    Prime Minister George Papandreou has proposed the start of a campaign to collect up to a million signatures in favour of an official discussion within the European Union on a new and revised Lisbon Treaty.

    Papandreou put the idea forward on Saturday, during a meeting of ruling PASOK's Parliamentary group before the start of the debate on the 2011 budget, saying that such an initiative would be addressed to all European citizens, trade unions, national parliaments and non-governmental organisations.

    He also called for a working group made up of PASOK MPs and MEPs to promote the initiative, suggesting several former ministers such as Vasso Papandreou, Petros Efthymiou, Nasos Alevras and others.

    The prime minister also announced plans for a party congress to decide on policy concerning the country's course in the new European and international environment.

    At another point, he appeared optimistic that Greece's partners would agree to extend the repayment for the loans given under the stability mechanism.

    Regarding the debate on the budget, he urged PASOK MPs to "send out strong messages in Parliament and to all Greek society" and to "stand united for the sake of the country and Greeks".

    Referring to the European Union's summit that took place in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, Papandreou said that he began his intervention at the dinner for the EU's leaders saying that "either we shall write history or history shall write us off" since he believes that the EU has reached a crossroads and despite the positive decisions taken at the summit the dilemma of "further deepening of the EU, or breaking of its political, social and economic cohesion" remains.

    "We either proceed to a powerful economic and political governance, at least of the countries of the euro, or we shall become witnesses of a new, easy, but also destructve nation-alism, of introversion and mutual accusations," the prime minister said, stressing that Europe's joint reply, as in Cancoon recently, can in the same way provide solutions to the issue of poverty and to chronic rivalries in the wider region from the issue of Cyprus to the Middle East question.

    "A powerful Europe can reply to the appetites of markets which, either fear to invest in countries facing difficulties, or speculate shamelessly against them, through the so-called 'derivatives'," Papandreou told his party's deputies, stressing that in this framework Greece has been tabling proposals for months on the creation of an apparatus that under different names "reaches the central idea of a Fund, with the eurobonds as the epicentre."

    Papandreou further said that "the eurobond, among other things, will also reply to the markets, from where Europe will borrow for member-states, constituting a considerable shield against the high interest rates and the phobias of markets. But it would also be a strong guarantee for the international markets, that will no longer panic."

    The prime minister also referred to other proposals that are being promoted through the Party of European Socialists (PES) and the Socialist International (SI) on the tax on stock exchange transactions and the tax on greenhouse gases that could constitute own resources for the EU.

    [02] ND spokesman on PM's address

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos, commenting on the prime minister's address at the ruling PASOK party's Parliamentary Group meeting, said that "instead of waiting for 2013, the prime minister should look the citizens in the eyes from now, to feel the intense concern and extreme insecurity that they are feeling for today and tomorrow, due to the options, the mistakes and the omissions of the PASOK government."

    Panayiotopoulos added that "if Mr. Papandreou does not change his policy immediately, for us to pass to the recovery and growth of the economy, the dramatic recession, to which he himself has led us, will drag us to the bottom."

    [03] PM welcomes EU decision for permanent stability mechanism

    Prime Minister George Papandreou has welcomed the results of the European Union summit and the decisions taken for a permanent European stability mechanism. In statements after the end of the EU leaders' summit on Friday night, Papandreou said that such a mechanism would ensure the fiscal stability of the entire eurozone, speeding up structural reforms and boosting growth.

    He also welcomed the decisions taken as a "first step" toward a more powerful economic governance of the EU.

    "We started out 14 months ago as a newly elected government in exceptionally difficult conditions and, at a very rapid rate, we diagnosed the extent of the crisis, made proposals, fought for European policies and at the same time struggled to restore our credibility and to strengthen Greece's voice," the Greek premier said in a statement.

    He said the systematic effort had paid off and Greece was once more seen as credible by its European partners.

    "We knew that the crisis in our country had its basic roots and causes in viewpoints and practices that had to be changed. And we are doing this. We are changing Greece," he added.

    According to Papandreou, the Greek government had managed to convince its European partners that the economic problem was not confined to Greece but also a matter of supporting and coordinating policies on a European level.

    As a result, a support mechanism had been set up that now acted as a shield and allowed Greece the time to carry out the necessary changes that would allow the country to eventually stand on its own feet and emerge from the crisis.

    According to the Greek premier, the crisis was a painful experience but one that could also act as an opportunity, both for Greece and for the European Union.

    Concerning the idea of issuing eurobonds, the premier pointed out that this was a Greek proposal that had also been repeated and adopted by others and he expressed satisfaction that a dialogue was now underway in Europe on this issue.

    He said that this discussion in Europe was "a challenge for further deepening cooperation and coordination between the members and institutions of the EU".

    [04] PM on Padoa-Schioppa's death

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Sunday expressed his great sorrow at the sudden death of economist Tommaso Padoa Schioppa in Rome on Saturday night. The 70-year-old economist, hailed as one of the intellectual architects of the euro, had been enlisted by Papandreou as his advisor in tackling Greece's spiralling debt crisis.

    Schioppa was at a dinner when he started to feel unwell on Saturday night. He rushed to a hospital in Rome but doctors were unable to help him, pronouncing his death as a result of a massive heart attack.

    "He was an exceptional person and a great scientist," Papandreou said in a statement, hailing the Italian economist's priceless contribution to the creation and course of the euro and describing him as "a great European".

    The Greek premier stressed that Schioppa had immediately responded to the Greek premier's proposal that they work together in tackling the great crisis that had erupted in Greece:

    "He knew well that the crisis that began in Greece had European dimensions. And he contributed to the proposals that Greece presented in recent European summits for dealing with a generalised economic crisis," Papandreou said, expressing his deepest condolences to the family.

    [05] FinMin addresses 2011 state budget Parliamentary debate

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, speaking in Parlia-ment on Sunday evening during the debate on the 2011 budget, stressed that "we have not sold our soul", adding that the policy being followed is the only one that can save the Greek economy from bankruptcy.

    Papaconstantinou further said that despite the efforts that Greece will make, its ultimate success will depend on the recovery and protection of the eurozone and for this reason the upgrading of Greece's image and prestige is of great importance to enable it to participate with its own say in crucial European decisions.

    "We are proving on a daily basis that all the sacrifices we called for, we are not squandering them on personal strategies, but on a stronger voice for the country and its prime minister, for a reliability and prestige that Greece thought it had achieved, but that that it lost over the past 5-6 years," the Finance Minister said.

    Papaconstantinou underlined that the government received a huge deficit amounting to 36 billion and a public debt of 300 billion and has undertaken to reduce the deficit by 30 billion in four years.

    [06] Debate on 2011 budget begins

    The five-day debate on the 2011 budget resumed in Greek Parliament at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday after the opening speeches delivered on Saturday by the rapporteurs of all the political parties represented in Parliament.

    In general terms, the government has defended the new budget and the opposition parties have largely rejected it as fake.

    Following the party rapporteurs, it is now the turn of government ministers and party sector-heads to address the Parliament and the debate will culminate on Wednesday with the speeches of the party leaders.

    The debate will close shortly before midnight on Wednesday with an address by Prime Minister George Papandreou and a roll-call vote will begin at precisely 12:00.

    Financial News

    [07] Third instalment of IMF loan approved

    The International Monetary Fund has agreed to release the third instalment of a loan to Greece, amounting to 2.5 billion euro. The decision was taken during a meeting of the IMF board on Friday that carried out a second review of the Greek economy's performance and also discussed the possibility of extending the repayment of the loans to Greece.

    With the release of the third instalment, the total amount loaned to Greece by the IMF so far comes to 10.5 billion euro.

    In statements after the meeting, IMF deputy managing director Murilo Portugal said that the IMF programme in Greece was continuing to yield results and that Greek authorities "commended for their determined implementation of difficult and ambitious macroeconomic policies and structural reforms."

    He noted that inflation was falling and competitiveness in Greece was improving while stressing the continued importance of comprehensive and timely reforms to safeguard the impetus for growth and viable levels of public debt.

    IMF officials appeared confident that under-execution of the budget will allow Greece to achieve the fiscal targets for the end of the year and that the repercussions of the recently revised deficit figures would be fully offset by the government's intention to continue working toward the original programme targets for 2011.

    They underlined the need for more aggressive fiscal structural reforms in order to achieve lasting results, noting that taxation administration and the handling of public finances remained a priority, requiring comprehensive action plans with specific deadlines for reforms in state enterprises, the health sector and others.

    Emphasis was also given to labour reforms, such as opening closed professions and market deregulation in tourism and the retail sector.

    [08] Protests on Wednesday

    Protest rallies outside Parliament are being planned by Greek trade unions next Wednesday afternoon, when MPs will be wrapping up the debate on the 2011 budget.

    The rally is being organised by the umbrella trade union groups General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), representing the private sector, and the civil servants union federation ADEDY.

    In an announcement on Sunday, highschool teachers also announced their intention to join the rally, calling two-hour nationwide work stoppages between 12:00-2:00 p.m. on Wednesday for the morning shift and 2:00-4:00 p.m. on Wednesday for the evening shift. Similar protests and demonstrations will also be held in other Greek cities.

    [09] Public transport strikes to continue all week

    More public transport strikes are expected in Athens throughout the coming week as workers continue protest action against government plans for wage cuts and involuntary staff transfers.

    Strikes announced so far include a 24-hour strike on Monday by all means of public transport, except buses that will run on a reduced schedule between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

    This will be followed by a four-hour work stoppage by all means of public transport on Tuesday, between the hours of noon and 4:00 p.m. and a further 24-hour strike by all means of public transport on Wednesday.

    For Thursday there is a decision by Athens buses to only run between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. but decisions by other groups of public transport workers are still pending.

    Finally, there will be another four-hour work stoppage on all means of public transport on Christmas Eve between noon and 4:00 p.m.

    General News

    [10] Greece pays tribute to Jacqueline de Romilly

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Sunday paid tribute to renowned Hellenist and member of the French Academy Jacqueline de Romilly, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 97.

    Papandreou said that Jacqueline de Romilly honoured Greek thought, devoted herself to the promotion of Greek literature and arts and participated in every public discussion that shed light on the ideas and values of ancient Greek culture.

    "With her work for Greece she promoted Greek culture abroad as well. Her incessant contribution to Greek letters was recognised with her election at the Athens Academy, as well as with her naturalisation as a Greek," the prime minister said.

    "Jacqueline de Romilly stood by Greece in difficult moments and promoted humanism that distinguishes the Greeks," Papandreou stressed.

    Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou said that "Hellenism has lost a great friend and a steadfast ally in its efforts for promoting the Greek language and Greek culture."

    On his part, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said that Greeks "bid farewell with gratitude to the great Hellenist and Academician Jacqueline de Romilly," adding that "the honour and gratitude which we Greeks owe to her will be everlasting".

    The Culture and Tourism ministry expressed its profound sorrow and grief over the death of Jacqueline de Romilly, stressing that more than a friend of Greece, she was a Greek, she was proclaimed a member of the Athens Academy, an ambassador of Hellenism, while receiving Greek citizenship in 1995.

    [11] NSW premier supports return of Parthenon Marbles

    Australian politician Kristina Keneally, premier of New South Wales, announced during an event for Greek-Australian media on Sunday that she has become an honorary member of the Australians for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles Committee and supports their return to Greece.

    According to the radio station SBS, Keneally said the demand for the marbles return was "fair" and that they would be returning to their "rightful home".

    "The government of New South Wales is proud to support this demand for the return of the Marbles to Greece and its people," she said.

    [12] Tasso Kavvadia passes away

    Actress Tasso Kavvadia, the legendary female villain from the hey-day of Greek cinema, has passed away at the age of 91 and is to be buried at the Athens first cemetery on Wednesday.

    She made her name in film by playing the parts of harsh and unforgiving older women that gave the romantic leads a hard time - she was the bad mother-in-law, the unfeeling mother or disapproving sister that tried to prevent things from following their natural course. She participated in some 30 films between 1955 and 2001, her last roles being that of the grandmother in the 2000 film "Beware the Greeks" and the 2002 film "Alexander and Aishe".

    Apart from films, she had also worked in theatre and television, where her repertoire was considerably more diverse, while she also did work in radio and as a journalist and writer.

    [13] Tanker runs aground at entrance to Amvrakikos Gulf

    A tanker empty of cargo and with a crew of 12 Greek seamen ran aground at the entrance to the Amvrakikos Gulf, central-western Greece without causing any injuries or pollution of the sea.

    The tanker, heading for Elefsina, was detached by a tugboat and led to the port of Preveza from where it had set out.

    The vessel has been banned from sailing until it has been checked and its seaworthiness ascertained.


    [14] Olympiacos Piraeus widens Super League lead

    Olympiacos Piraeus beat struggling Larissa 1-0 away in games played for the Super League over the weekend, while Panathinaikos Athens lost 1-0 at home from Olympiacos Volos and AEK Athens also lost 2-0 away from Iraklis Thessaloniki.

    In other action:

    Kavala-Atromitos Athens 1-1

    Panionios Athens-Asteras Tripoli 0-0

    Ergotelis Crete-Panseraikos Serres 2-0

    Aris Thessaloniki-Xanthi 0-2

    Kerkyra-PAOK Thessaloniki 2-1

    Standings after 15 weeks of play:

    1. Olympiacos P. 36 points

    2. Panathinaikos 31

    3. PAOK 23

    4. AEK 23

    5. Kavala 21

    6. Xanthi 21

    7. Aris 20

    8. Ergotelis 20

    9. Olympiacos V. 20

    10. Kerkyra 19

    11. Iraklis 19

    12. Asteras 16

    13. Atromitos 16

    14. Panionios 15

    15. Panseraikos 15

    16. Larissa 11

    Weather forecast

    [15] Cloudy and wet on Monday

    Clouds and rain are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, especially in the north. Winds will blow from mainly southerly and easterly directions, between 3-8 Beaufort, rising in intensity from the afternoon. Temperatures will range from -1C to 19C. Possible showers in Athens, with temperatures from 10C to 18C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 4C to 12C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [16] Agreement with Israel consolidates sovereignty, indicates Nicosia


    The government is always working to defend and strengthen the Republic of Cyprus and to fully utilize any advantages that arise from moves that consolidate its sovereignty, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has said, in response to questions about an agreement Cyprus and Israel have signed to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone between the two countries.

    The bilateral agreement was signed on Friday between Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyrianou and Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau.

    "Efforts to delineate the country's EEZ are being made without any fanfare and in a specific, meticulous manner. The result was the signing of the bilateral agreement with Israel," he told the press, commenting on the agreement.

    "The government of Cyprus is always working to defend and strengthen the Republic of Cyprus and to fully utilize the advantages that derive out of procedures which aim to strengthen its sovereignty", the spokesman remarked.

    The agreement, he added, has opened up new opportunities and prospects.

    Cyprus has already signed similar agreements with Egypt and Lebanon with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ.

    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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