|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-02-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 7 February 2011 Issue No: 3714
 PM Papandreou's trip to Cairo postponedPrime Minister George Papandreou has decided to postpone a planned trip to Cairo scheduled for Sunday following the latest developments in Egypt, after consulting with Egyptian authorities.
The decision to postpone the visit until some later date in the near future was announced by the prime minister's office late on Saturday.
"The prime minister is in constant communication with the Egyptian leadership and intends to carry out his visit at a time in the immediate future, as soon as the appropriate conditions exist," the announcement said.
It also noted that the Greek prime minister had spoken on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas about events in Egypt.
 Measures to cope with doctors' strikeAll employees and pensioners with the IKA-ETAM social insurance fund, the largest in the country, will be able to visit any of the 20,000 doctors that currently have agreements with the fund for the self-employed OAEE or the civil servants' fund OPAD as of Monday.
The measure was announced by the government of Friday as a means of coping with a lengthy strike announced by IKA-ETAM doctors protesting against government reforms in the health sector.
The government has announced plans to issue personal prescription booklets for patients, who in the meantime will qualify for primary care simply by displaying their IKA insurance booklet when they visit the above doctors in their private surgeries.
Until a system is in place, the OAEE and OPAD doctors have been instructed to write out prescriptions in their own personal prescription papers, recording on them the name, registry number and AMKA social insurance number of the patient involved.
Such prescriptions will be valid at all pharmacies collaborating with IKA-ETAM and will be paid using a process outlined in a draft law currently being discussed in Parliament, said IKA governor Rovertos Spyropoulos.
The doctors involved will be paid 20 euros for the first visit in a month and 10 euros for a second visit. The programme is voluntary and all OAEE and OPAD doctors that do not wish to provide services to patients from IKA-ETAM have been asked to inform the IKA-ETAM administration in writing or by e-mail.
Spyropoulos also pointed out that prescription books are due to be abolished from May, when the electronic prescription system is up and running.
Meanwhile, IKA doctors have changed their decision for an indefinite strike and called a series of rolling 24-hour strikes starting on Monday until Friday.
Also on strike from Monday until Thursday are hospital doctors in Athens and Piraeus while the national federation of hospital doctors will hold a three-day nationwide strike starting from Tuesday.
They want the government to withdraw its bill for health sector reforms and called the measures to give people access to OAEE and OPAD doctors a strike-breaking mechanism.
Pharmacists are also continuing strike action, with pharmacists throughout the country shut on Monday and those in Athens continuing the strike on Tuesday as well.
 Ragoussis promises full investigation of Siemens scandalEverything about the Siemens bribery scandal will be investigated, including the path of illegal money into party coffers, Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis stressed in an interview given to the Athens-based newspaper "RealNews" published on Saturday.
According to Ragoussis, no one would be immune from investigation, including former prime ministers, and he stressed the need for consensus.
Ruling out all prospect of elections before the end of the government's term in 2013, Ragoussis said the present Parliament would pass the planned changes to election law, which he said would seek to boost the autonomy of politics and make MPs more independent of specific interests and the pressures of clientist relations.
He also announced that an planned Parliamentary inquiry into the handling of economic policy would cover the period between 2004 and 2009.
The minister went on to criticise the 'I won't pay' and civil disobedience movement, saying that concerns were understandable but adherence to the law protected the weaker members of society above all and that the government was not ready to negotiate on "following the rules".
On the problem of illegal migration, meanwhile, he emphasised that Greece was governed by the rule of law and that this would be applied without exceptions, accusing those that arranged the occupation of the Athens Law School building by migrants of "exposing the country to an inconceivable danger".
 Illegal migrants will be deported, minister saysAll illegal immigrants in Greece will either be forcibly deported or voluntarily sent back to their own country through a process that will include a subsidy, Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis revealed in an interview with the weekly newspaper "To Vima" published on Sunday.
"The country cannot cope with all the migrants that are here," he emphasised.
Concerning the issue that arose with the smuggling of migrants into an Athens Law School building so that they might hold a mass hunger strike, Papoutsis said that some people were striving to create a united "front" between those defending university asylum and those supporting the migrants' cause. He accused the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYN) party of being involved, saying that members of the party's youth group had been among those that facilitated the migrants' entry into the law school building.
Papoutsis also commented on the issue of terrorism, noting that among those arrested were young people that had never previously come to the attention of authorities, which should not now allow themselves to feel complacent that all the terrorists were behind bars.
The minister also criticised the civil disobedience movement that had arisen, with people refusing to pay increased road tolls and public transport fares.
"Disobedience is a political action and requires exposure and a political reaction," he said, noting that those investing in mayhem bore "grave political responsibility".
"What do they mean 'I won't pay, I won't pay' from road tolls to taxes? What are they aiming at? The failure of the efforts of the government and the people? To a dead end? To conflict and violence?" the minister added.
 Culture minister promises help to theatre targeted by football hooligansCulture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Saturday promised to pick up the tab for damages inflicted on Friday night to the Karolos Koun Art Theatre, which became the hapless target of an unprecedented attack by football hooligans on the first night of a play entitled 'Travelling with PAOK, Stories of Larissis Station'.
The reference to a northern Greek football team in the play's title was enough to attract the attention of some 25 rival team supporters, who descended on unwitting theatre goers in Athens' Plaka district armed with iron bars and petrol bombs, shouting Olympiakos football chants, and started to work mayhem.
The culprits, who arrived some 40 minutes before the play was due to begin, broke into the theatre and set fire to the stage and props, while one by-stander was robbed - possibly, according to police, because he was a PAOK supporter. Police were called in but arrived too late to stop the damage or even catch those responsible.
In a call to the theatre director early on Saturday, Geroulanos promised that the culture ministry will cover the cost of all damages to the theatre and stressed that there was no room for violence in culture. He also promised to come and see the play as soon as he returns from a trip to Israel.
"The theatre is not a football stadium," he underlined and promised that the state will make every effort to isolate incidents of violence of this kind.
The Saturday night performance, meanwhile, will be attended by the general secretary for sports Panos Bitsaksis.
 Minister promises launch of investment law programmes by mid-MarchThe first programmes of the new investment law, handing out 650 million euro in subsidies and 1.5 billion euro in tax relief, will be announced on March 15, the Regional Development and Competitiveness Ministry announced on Sunday.
Total funds available for investment under the same law will reach four billion in the year, it added.
The above figures were given by Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis during a speech in Lamia on Saturday.
The minister said that May would see the launch of programmes such as an 'Enterprise Fund' that would give up to 1.2 billion euro for small and medium-sized businesses, the ENALIO fund for fisheries with 35 millione euro, and+ the Agricultural Enterprise Fund with an initial budget of 150 millon euro.
Also within the month, the ministry intends to unveil an action plan for making Greece friendlier to business and application of a law allowing the foundation of a company in a single day would begin in two months.
 Agriculture could be key for emerging from crisis, minister tells farmersAgriculture could be the key for Greece's exit from the economic crisis and for this reason will be supported, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Costas Skandalidis said while addressing a seminar in Pella on Saturday.
The minister pointed out that the government was setting up a new Agricultural Enterprise Fund that would initially have roughly 150 million euro at its disposal, adding that central Macedonia could have a privileged role in the new developmental model as a centre for research, innovation and for transporting agricultural products towards Europe.
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.374
Pound sterling 0.853
Danish kroner 7.514
Swedish kroner 8.889
Japanese yen 112.31
Swiss franc 1.305
Norwegian kroner 7.87
Canadian dollar 1.355
Australian dollar 1.351
 Work stoppage by buses on MondayAthens buses are planning another five-hour work stoppage on Monday, between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
During the work stoppage, the bus company staff will hold a general meeting to discuss the situation that has arisen after the government tabled in a draft bill on reforms to public transport in Parliament and to decide their next course of action.
Meanwhile, Athens metro staff have announced a work stoppage between noon and 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
 Farmers in central, northern Greece beginning mobilisations on MondayFarmers in the regions of Macedonia, Thrace and Thessaly will begin mobilisations on Monday following the "fruitless", as they termed it, meeting with the Agricultural Development ministry's leadership in which the issues concerning them were discussed.
Famers of the Independent Agricultural Societies of the Serres prefecture will take to the streets with their tractors at 11 on Monday morning. The farmers will have the Promahonas border checkpoint as their destination, while their intentions include the closure of the Greek-Bulgarian borders with their tractors.
In Larissa, the prefecture's farmers' committee has appealed to the region's farmers to participate in the mobilisation that will begin after 12 noon with an initial gathering at the Gyrtoni intersection.
 Lawyers to continue strike actionGreek lawyers have decided to continue an abstention from court appearances until February 14, according to a unanimous decision taken by bar associations presidents meeting in Larissa on Sunday.
They also decided on a further meeting of the bar associations plenum next Saturday and a protest rally outside Parliament at around 1:00 p.m. on Friday to protest against a draft bill that would liberalise their profession.
 'I won't pay' movement disables public transport ticket machineMembers of the 'I won't pay' movement struck in several places throughout Athens on Sunday, disabling machines used to stamp tickets in buses, trolley buses and stations throughout the metro, electric railway and tram systems.
Several ticket machines were damaged after members of the grassroots movement visited the majority of stations and poured glue into the slots so that tickets could not longer be inserted. In some cases they succeeded in removing the entire ticket machine and getting away before they could be stopped by the private security guards at the stations.
The management of public transport companies estimates that the damage is extremely extensive, since apart from the cost of replacing and repairing the machines they are also losing revenue because commuters are unable to stamp their tickets, which can then be reused.
The same movement took similar action at toll posts on highways, raising the bars so that cars could pass freely.
Members of the movement were strongly criticised by Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas in an interview with the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper, who stressed that Greece would not acquire a "lawless identity" and again referred to those refusing to pay as "freeloaders".
"The reactions of those losing privileges confirm the depth of the changes we are making and presage the degree of their effectiveness," he stressed, saying the ministry was asking the citizens to act according to rules in a framework that contained both rights and obligations.
Concerning public transport strikes, Reppas said these would be an 'interval' and repeated his reluctance to resort to a civil conscription to force drivers back to work.
In the ticket system on Greek public transport, tickets are bought in advance and are inserted into a ticket machine when passengers enter the means of public transport they intend to use. The machine stamps a date and time on the ticket, thus making them valid for travel for a period of 1.5 hours.
 'I won't pay' movement raises the bar throughout GreeceMembers of the 'I won't pay, I won't pay' movement travelled to toll posts throughout Greece on Sunday, raising the bars and allowing drivers free passage without paying road tolls. From Manari to the Isthmus, in Attica and the north, they protested in this way against what they said were unfair and exploitative agreements that gave contractors a free rein.
Sunday's action, which started at around noon and peaked at 3:00 p.m., was decided in January during a meeting of the nationwide coordinating action committees against hikes in road tolls and the companies failure to build alternative access roads for local communities.
The aim of the organisers was to open all toll posts throughout the country, while in many areas they arranged rallies and transported people to the locations involved by bus.
Speaking for the organising committee in the Oropos area, which blockaded the Afidnes toll post, Stratis Loupatatzis told the ANA-MPA that members of the movement were not fighting for lower road tolls but better contracts.
"What we are seeking is the abolition of all the contracts that have been signed and follow a logic of pre-payment. We pay taxes on fuel and road taxes so that roads can be built. We will not pre-pay road tolls as well," he stressed.
Loupatatzis pointed out that Oropos-area residents were currently having to shell out roughly 1,500-1,700 euro a year to get around their own neighbourhood.
He also dismissed the legal action against members of the movement, saying that this was an attempt to frighten people into backing down.
"We are waiting for group summons and we are ready to go to court because we have also filed complaints against the companies at the Council of State, asking for the concession contracts to be cancelled," he said.
According to the "Citizens of West Athens" movement member Dimitrios Davos, meanwhile, the contracts signed were illegal and abusive.
"It simply isn't possible to have to pay for something that hasn't been built yet," he stressed, while noting that the company that collected the road tolls on the Attica highway had contributed a very small percentage to the cost of construction and was set to make massive profits through the constant increases in tolls.
"It's not so much an 'I won't pay, I won't pay' movement. It's more a 'I'm not getting paid, I can't pay' movement," he added.
 Officer shot during police pursuitA police officer was shot in the thigh during a police pursuit on Sunday, when the occupants of the vehicle being chased opened fire on the police car coming up behind them.
The incident occurred shortly before noon outside Livadia when a traffic police patrol hailed a black Audi with two people on board and ordered it to pull over at the entrance to the city on the Livadia-Arachova ring road. Instead of stopping, however, the Audi picked up speed and drove off in the direction of Arachova.
Two police patrol cars gave chase but, coming around a bend in the road roughly three kilometres further down, they found the Audi had stopped and its occupants waiting in ambush, opening fire on the police cars as they came around the corner.
One of the bullets penetrated the door of the unarmoured police vehicle, injuring the driver in the thigh. The two men then got back into their vehicle and disappeared.
A larger police sweep of the entire area was launched imme-diately and a black Audi, possibly the one being driven by the two suspects, was soon afterward found abandoned.
The injured police officer has been taken to Livadia hospital.
Livadia police said that the police had sought to inspect the vehicle as part of an investigation taking place in the area over the past few days into a series of robberies targeting bank ATM machines. Eye witnesses had reported seeing a black Audi at the scene of the robberies but police have not yet confirmed whether this was the vehicle involved.
The Audi found by police is now being searched for clues, while a manhunt is underway to find and arrest the two shooters.
 Conspiracy of Cells of Fire claims responsibility for justice ministry parcel bombThe terrorist organisation "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" has claimed responsibility for the parcel bomb sent to the office of Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis last week, in a proclamation posted on the Athens.indymedia.org website.
In the lengthy proclamation, the group said that sending the parcel was the "least expression of solidarity" for the members of the group currently in jail and that Kastanidis had been chosen because of his refusal to agree to the prisoners' demand for an audio record of the trial proceedings.
The group also disputed the minister's assertion that the bomb had been more powerful than those sent in November, accusing him of "communications tactics to present himself as a victim".
"We will simply repeat that the precautionary measures were the same as those for the previous 14 packages so that no unrelated person would be injured," the proclamation claimed.
There was also a reference to the events concerning the migrants at the Athens law school, with the group announcing their intention to officially participate in the "International Revolutionary Front - Informal Anarchist Federation".
 Pirate attack on Greek-owned ship foiledA Greek-owned freighter with seven Greek seamen aboard succeeded in foiling an attempted pirate attack, the Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries ministry reported on Saturday.
The ship was sailing 290 nautical miles southwest of India, travelling from Singapore to Yemen, when a pirate ship attempted to approach the vessel. The captain of the ship, which had a total crew of 31, carried out a series of escape manoeuvres that managed to avert the attack.
 Fire at Agios Panteleimonas Monastery on Mount Athos extinguishedFire engines will be remaining at Agios Panteleimonas Monastery on Mount Athos until Monday morning to tackle a possible new breakout of the fire that had started on Saturday afternoon.
The fire was tackled by six fire engines and had been placed under control since Saturday night. According to the Fire Brigade on Mount Athos, the fire has been extinguished but because the area is inaccessible the fire engines will remain on standby in the event that it starts again from a location that cannot be seen.
 Makeshift bomb explodes at student organisation premisesA makeshift explosive device went off in the early hours of Saturday within premises used as a meeting place by the student organisation 'Sfendona' in Thessaloniki. The blast caused damage to the entrance of the venue, nearby shop fronts and parked cars.
An inquiry has been launced by the counter-terrorism service, which said the explosion was caused by a pipe stuffed with gunpowder set off by a slow-burning fuse. They also noted that this was the second time the specific venue has become a target since 2009, when a similar explosive device was planted in the entrance.
 Protest in Syntagma against 'Citizen Card'Hundreds of monks, priests and members of religious congregations staged a protest in Syntagma Square opposite Parliament on Sunday, to protest against plans to introduce a 'Citizen Card'. This was the second protest against the measure, following a similar protest in December.
Organisers of the protests against the proposed card announced plans for a further protest on March 27, a major religious feast.
The protestors carried banners and placards with slogans such as "Orthodox Greeks resist".
 Olympiacos retains Super League leadPacesetter Olympiacos Piraeus beat Xanthi 1-0 at home in games played for the Greek Super League over the weekend, while Panathinaikos Athens subdued PAOK Thessaloniki 1-0 away and AEK Athens lost 2-1 at home from Aris Thessaloniki.
In other action:
Asteras Tripolis-Larissa 1-1
Panseraikos Serres-Iraklis Thessaloniki 1-2
Ergotelis Crete-Panionios Athens 2-0
Olympiacos Volos-Atromitos Athens 2-0
Standings after 21 weeks of play:
1. Olympiacos Piraeus 54 points
2. Panathinaikos 47
3. PAOK 34
4. AEK 33
5. Kavala 31
6. Aris 28
7. Ergotelis 28
8. Olympiacos V. 28
9. Atromitos 26
10. Iraklis 26
11. Xanthi 24
12. Kerkyra 24
13. Panionios 21
14. Asteras 21
15. Larissa 18
16. Panseraikos 16
 Fair on MondayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -3C and 19C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 2C to 18C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 1C to 15C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe agreements in Brussels and the terms for extending the Greek bailout loans were the main front-page items in Athens' Sunday newspapers.
APOCALYPSES: "Dismissals and new cuts in wages - the secret agreement with Merkel for 10 years of austerity".
AVGHI: "Armageddon with the abolition of hundreds of schools".
AVRIANI: "Giant four-billion-euro scandal shakes the system".
CHORA: "New shock memorandum for 15 more years".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Minister versus the State - they are seeking 200 million euro compensation for the Olympic village". [runs story claiming deputy minister Dinos Rovlias is handling legal cases between contractors and the Greek state]
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "A 'German' payscale for the civil service - Brackets reduced to six, bonuses instead of benefits"
EPOCHI: "Agreement of destitution"
ETHNOS: "Merkel treaty for Europe and Greece - EU Summit opens the way for earth shattering changes".
KATHIMERINI: "The EU plan for taxes, wages and pensions".
LOGOS: "What is on the EU 'menu' for Greece".
NIKI: "The 10 commandments of the Troika".
PARASKINIO: "The piranhas in the hands of the public prosecutor! New shock at the Supreme Court for those fleecing the health sector".
PARON: "30 years hard labour - the trade for 'salvation' through extending [loan repayment]".
PROTO THEMA (weekly): "No more 'bonus' in the private-sector also. The 'troika' imposes new murderous package of measures".
REALNEWS: "They are 'cooking up' an ambush! PASOK hoping for good news from Brussels".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Strike with PAME on February 23".
TO ARTHRO: "A stop to spending by ministers".
TO VIMA: "Euro...disobedience for Merkel's 'suit' - new shock for supplementary pensions in Greece".
VRADYNI: "The new taxes you will pay - who will be burdened the most".
 Spokesman: No strategic interest justifies Turkey's invasionNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
No strategic interest justifies and legalizes the violation of the international law and the UN Charter by Turkey since 1974, when it illegally invaded and occupied part of Cyprus, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said over the weekend while commenting on statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who in a reaction to the massive demonstrations organized by Turkish Cypriot workers in Cyprus Turkish occupied areas against Turkey's policy referred to Turkish strategic interest in Cyprus.
The spokesman also made cleared that the Republic of Cyprus had not been involved in the demonstrations in Cyprus Turkish occupied areas, adding that these demonstrations send messages to Turkish Prime Minister concerning the illegality of Turkey's presence in Cyprus.
"They (the Turkish Cypriots) told him (Erdogan) that they have their dignity, as Greek Cypriots do, and that is why the Cypriot people is struggling to get rid of occupation and live freely in their own reunited country and be the masters of their own homeland," he said.
The spokesman said that Erdogan spoke about strategic interests of Turkey, which are served by the presence of his county in an independent state as the Republic of Cyprus. "No strategic interest justifies and legalizes the violation of the international law and the UN Charter by Turkey since 1974 when it illegally invaded and occupied part of Cyprus," Stephanou said.
He said that Turkey's illegalities are clearly indicated in UN and many other international organizations decisions and resolutions. "So Turkey must understand that Cyprus is for Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins, and should respect and implement UN resolutions for Cyprus, so that the country becomes free and reunited."
Stephanou also said that during the last period, Turkish officials make provocative statements against the Republic of Cyprus and the EU.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
 UNSC discusses Cyprus problem with Ashton and MerkelUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon discussed among other issues the Cyprus problem during meetings he held in Munich, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, with EU High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
According to a UN spokesman, Ban discussed Iran, Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Somalia and the Middle East with Ashton.
The Secretary General asked Ashton to update him on the EU3+3 talks with Iran. The Secretary General reiterated his support for her work in this regard. On the Middle East peace process, the Secretary-General emphasized the importance of the role of the Quartet. The Secretary General and Ashton discussed the way forward.
During their meeting, Ban and Merkel discussed the Middle East peace process and the importance of the role of the Quartet, climate change, sustainable development, Cyprus as well as UN reform, including the Security Council.
The Secretary-General congratulated Germany on its election to the Security Council, and said he counted on continued German support in tackling the many challenges facing the international community.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
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