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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-03-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 14 March 2011 Issue No: 3742
 PM briefs Cabinet over Eurogroup decisions; dismisses election, reshuffle rumoursPrime Minister George Papandreou reiterated to his Cabinet, which convened on Sunday, that Friday's decisions by the Eurogroup constitute a "significant milestone" for the country and Europe.
He again noted that the Greek people's efforts are paying off, while noting that that the country's course is now squarely "in our hands".
Moreover, Papandreou called the main opposition's position in the wake of the Eurogroup's decisions "positive", while calling for such a productive stance in the future.
In other statements, the Greek premier requested more devotion to their portfolios by ministers and unity, warning that "reactions by vested interests will continue".
Finally, he dismissed the ubiquitous press speculation over snap elections, but more poignantly, scenarios over a looming government reshuffle.
In other matters, the prime minister reiterated the government's condolences to the Japanese people, adding that his office is in constant contact with the Japanese side in order to contribute to whatever efforts take place in the Far East country.
In reference to the situation in strife-plagued North Africa, he cited what he called a "citizens' revolution" and "authoritarian regimes backed by vested interests and a lack of transparency".
Finally, he condemned the violence by the Libyan regime and warned of a wave of illegal immigration from the region.
 PM sends condolences to Japanese premierGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Saturday conveyed his sincere condolences to Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan in the wake of Friday's massive earthquake and subsequent deadly tsunami, which struck northeast Japan.
"Greece, which in the past has suffered from similar natural disasters, fully understands the pain of the people struck by the earthquake, as well as the effort -- both emotionally and financially -- now needed to overcome such a disaster ... On behalf of the Greek government and in expressing the feelings of the Greek people, allow me to convey to you our solidarity," he said.
Meanwhile, a foreign ministry spokesman in Athens on Saturday announced that there has been no negative report dealing with the approximately 300 Greek nationals living in Japan.
 Samaras: Debt buy-back right would ease burden on Greek economyMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said on Saturday night that the right to buy back Greece's debt at a reduced price would be a "real easing" of the load for the Greek economy, given that the extension of the repayment period for Greece's 110 billion euro EU/IMF support loan and the reduction of the interest rate agreed by eurozone leaders in Brussels on Friday do not reduce the absolute size of the debt.
Samaras was commenting on a decision by Eurogroup leaders to extend the repayment period for Greece's 110-billion-euro bailout by the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund) to seven and a half years and reduction of the interest rate from 5.2 percent to 4.2 percent during an informal summit in Brussels on Friday.
The main opposition leader also accused the Greek government over a 50 billion euro privatisations programme, noting that such a plan gives rise to questions on the government's planning, and reiterated that the only solution was a change in the terms of the Memorandum.
"At the informal special summit, Greece achieved an extension for repayment of the 110 billion euros and a reduction in interest. The former (extension) had already been given to Greece by a decision of the Eurogroup summit of November 28, while the latter (interest reduction) had already been clarified days ago in statements by European Commissioner Olli Rehn and other officials," Samaras pointed out, noting that ND had advanced both aspects systematically for some time in its contacts with European officials.
Regarding the management of the debt, he continued, those two decisions are indeed a relief "without, however, reducing the current absolute size of the debt".
"A real easing (of the burden on the economy) would be the right to buy back the debt at a reduced price -- the third demand that had been advanced by ND -- which was not accepted," Samaras said, adding that "a permanent solution for viability would have been the euro-bond, which was not even discussed" at the Eurogroup summit.
Samaras said that Friday's development reveals that "margins for negotiation had existed since last year, a negotiation that the government did not make at that time".
"However," he stressed, "neither the economic situation or society will breathe, nor will the eurozone summit decisions be sufficient to tackle the debt, unless the Memorandum terms are changed radically."
 Mixed reactions by partiesNews of the Eurogroup decision the previous evening to extend the loan repayment period for Greece's EC-ECB-IMF bailout as well as to cut one percentage point off the interest rate on the 110-billion-euro package received a mixed response by Greece's main opposition parties on Saturday.
A main opposition New Democracy (ND) official, MP Christos Staikouras, referred to a "significant decision for Europe, with positive repercussions for Greece", while noting that many of the decisions were proposals by ND.
Conversely, on the other side of the political spectrum, Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga dismissed what she called a "reactionary agreement", which she claimed will lead to new and harsher austerity measures. She also stepped up criticism by charging that PM George Papandreou was "lying" about the contents of the exact agreement.
On his part, right-of-centre Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) party president George Karatzaferis praised the development.
"We may not have achieved the maximum of our goals in this Europe (combination), but we did gain a great deal more that the pessimists expected. The issue now is who will manage this new opportunity, which was handed to us. Obviously, the backbone of this (Greek) government, which has failed miserably during the first 10 months of the Memorandum, cannot serve as the best guarantee for the future of Greece," he said.
In a negative tone, the leader of the leftist SYRIZA grouping, Alexis Tsipras, charged that the extension of the repayment period came at the expense of the "sell-off" of state property and a new Memorandum and burdens for the Greek people.
 Tsipras: Coordinated action throughout EuropeCoalition of the Left party leader Alexis Tsipras called for coordinated action in order to "paralyze Europe", with demonstrations and strikes during the March 25 EU summit, with the aim of upsetting the policies entered into motion in Brussels on March 11, in his closing address to a three-day conference on the economic crisis organised by his party.
Tsipras also stressed the need to "safeguard democracy" during this time of crisis, warning that "democracy is in danger", in a reference to a recent decision taken by the governmental majority in parliament that the actions of finance minister George Papaconstantinou related to the Memorandum do not require parliamentary approval.
Greece, he said, was faced with a new authoritarianism, and safeguarding democracy was one of his party's goals in the immediate future.
The SYN leader sharply criticised Prime Minister George Papandreou's stance at Friday's summit as well as his policy in general, stressing that austerity and the Memorandum are not the only option, but a policy choice.
 LA.O.S leader: No regrets on voting in favour of Memorandum"I have no regrets regarding the Memorandum," opposition party Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis said regarding his voting in favor of the Memorandum, in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Ethnos newspaper.
"I am proud that Greece exists today, thanks to my own vote, too. It would not have existed. We would have gone bankrupt and we would have been done with since last May," Karatzaferis said.
The LA.OS leader said that precious efforts and opportunities have been lost over the last 10 months, and called on prime minister George Papandreou to go ahead with a government reshuffle and "to dare and make changes, because the government (in its present composition) cannot carry on".
 Minister defends Helliniko developmentMinister of State Haris Pamboukis on Sunday was quoted as reiterating that development of the eponymous Helliniko site in southern coastal Athens, a massive urban tract of land surrounded by upscale suburbs, can serve as the "stimulus" of growth for the entire greater Athens area.
Pamboukis, who heads up effort to exploit the property and has been in talks with Qatari investors, said he does not favour an international tender process, noting, for instance, that the Qatar sovereign fund will not participate in such a process, while a tender process will mean years of delay.
Asked how transparency will be safeguarded in such a likelihood, the minister cited the prospect of an open invitation, "with guarantees and an international contract that offers greater guarantees for the state's interests. He added that any agreement will then be submitted to Parliament for ratification.
Pamboukis' interview was published in the Sunday weekly "Vima".
 Menendez meets with visiting Greek Dep. MinisterNEW YORK CITY (ANA-MPA)
Issues affecting Greece and Cyprus were discussed here in detail on Saturday between visiting Greek Tourism & Culture Deputy Minister George Nikitiadis and US Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), with the latter expressing his support for Athens' positions on several matters.
 Athens condemns latest provocation in Turkish-occupied Cyprus with arrest of MEPsGreece on Sunday sternly condemned the latest provocation by occupation forces in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus, following the arrest of four European MEPs and the Cypriot Orthodox Church's expert on cultural heritage in the occupied territories.
"This is an illegal act by an illegal regime, and a blatant disregard of European institutions," foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said.
Cypriot MEP Eleni Theocharous, Bulgarian MEP Mariya Nedelcheva along with Polish MEPs Jaroslav Walesa (the son of former Polish president and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa) and Artur Zasada were detained with Cypriot Orthodox Metropolitan Porfyrios. The latter is the Cypriot Church's Brussels-based delegate to the EU and an expert on pillaged and desecrated cultural heritage in the occupied north. Another two Greek Cypriots, former MP Yiannakis Matsis and Loizos Afxentious, were also detained.
According to an ANA-MPA dispatch from Nicosia on Sunday, Matsis and Afxentious continue to be held, possibly on "charges" by the pseudo-state of entering a forbidden military zone, namely, the fenced-off area of Varosha.
 President: Times demand bold decisionsPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias called for bold decisions to tackle the crisis, but also self-criticism, during a lunch he hosted in honor of Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece and the Holy Synod members marking the Sunday of Orthodoxy, which is the first Sunday of Lent.
"The situation around is worsening due to the acute economic crisis. Chronic problems of the past, which today are projected in the difficult present, portend a difficult future. The times demand bold decisions by all of us and self-criticism both at individual level and at institutional level. The crisis we are going through is not only the result of harmful and off-target policies adopted. It is a crisis of values," the President stressed.
Papoulias praised the Church's social work in the relief of vulnerable population groups, stressing that especially in these days that work should comprise a central aspiration and mission, adding that the cooperation between State and Church needs to be strengthened.
The Archbishop, in turn, said it is mandatory to "see the political state of affairs beyond the picture, the causes of the crisis beyond the economic recession, and view the crisis as an opportunity for restructuring".
 Sunday of Orthodox celebrated by Ecumenical PatriarchateISTANBUL (ANA-MPA)
The Ecumenical Patriarchate on Sunday celebrated the Feast of Orthodoxy -- the first Sunday of the Great Lent -- at its Fanar- district seat, with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew officiating at the Divine Liturgy.
Pilgrims from Greece and around the world congregated at the Patriarchate's Aghios (St.) Georgios Cathedral, while the Greek government was represented by Alternate Education Minister Fofi Gennimata. Former minister Fani Palli-Petralia, European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros, members of the diplomatic corps and members of the visiting Serbian prime minister's entourage attended the service.
 Songwriter Rasoulis dead at 66Greek songwriter, singer and journalist Manolis Rasoulis was found dead in his home, at the age of 66, on Sunday by friends, while initial coronary findings indicate that the artist died four days earlier.
Rasoulis was born in Iraklion, Crete in September 1945, and as a child sang in the church choir of the town's patron Saint Minas, before leaving for Athens to study cinematography. He started his artistic career as a singer in the Plaka district in Athens, while at the same time writing for the Left-wing newspaper Dimokratiki Allagi "Democratic Change".
During the military dictatorship he went to London, where he stayed for six years and joined the Trotsky movement, where he first met Vanessa Redgrave with whom he collaborated twice in political performances.
In May 1968 he took part in the students' uprising in Paris and returned to Athens shortly after the Polytechnic students' uprising that paved the way for the collapse of the junta.
He resumed his singing career shortly after his return to Greece, in collaboration with composer Manos Loizos, but his later collaboration with Nikos Xydakis made his name a household word in Greece. Other collaborations included composers Stavros Kouyoumtzis, Socrates Malamas, Nicos Papazoglou and Christos Nikolopoulos, who put his lyrics to music.
Rasoulis frequently voiced his opposition to the so-called "musical establishment" and with recording companies, and was often called a "heretic" and "eccentric", and in recent years had withdrawn almost completely from the artistic scene.
His songs were popular in Israel, Turkey and Serbia, and even in far-away Japan.
 Two migrant-runners, seven illegal migrants arrestedTwo migrant-runners were arrested and seven illegal migrants were intercepted on Sunday near the Kipi customs house by a special police squad, in collaboration with Frontex officers.
According to an announcement by the Alexandropoulos police headquarters, police officers at dawn Friday spotted a group of illegal migrants heading towards the village of Peplo, near Ferres, led by a man. A few hours later a car arrived at the spot and picked up the illegal migrants, before heading towards Alexandroupolis.
Police signalled the car's driver to stop, but he sped off, heading into the opposite lane on Egnatia Road in the direction of Kipi.
Shortly before reaching the Kipi customs house, the vehicle stopped and the driver attempted to escape on foot, but was quickly intercepted and arrested.
Seven illegal immigrants were found inside the car and detained. Two hours later, a second migrant-runner -- who left the car after the migrants were picked up and headed on foot towards Evros river in order to return to Turkey -- was also arrested. Police found a cell phone and 12 Chinese passports in his possession, while two more cell phones were found in the possession of the driver of the vehicle.
Police later turned up that the car was stolen.
 Olympiacos loss to PAOKOlympiacos Piraeus failed to clinch -- mathematically -- the title on Sunday after dropping a game 2-1 away at the tough PAOK Thessaloniki stadium. Second-place Panathinaikos easily beat Iraklis Thessaloniki 3-1 away on Saturday, while AEK Athens firmly established itself in third place with a late goal at home against Kavala 1-0 on Sunday.
In other action:
Asteras Tripolis-Olympiacos Volos 2-1
Ergotelis Crete-Atromitos Athens 1-1
Panionios Athens-Larissa 1-1
Kerkya-Aris Thessaloniki 3-4
The standings after 26 weeks
1. Olympiacos Piraeus 64
2. Panathinaikos 54
3. ??? 43
4. PAOK 40
5. Olympiacos Volos 38
. Kavala 38
7. Aris 33
8. Iraklis 32
. Xanthi 32
. Ergotelis 32
11. Kerkyra 30
. Panionios 30
13. Atromitos 29
14. Asteras 28
15. Larissa 24
16. Panserraikos 20
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe fall-out from Friday's Eurogroup decision to extend the repayment period and to slash the interest rate of the 110-billion-euro bailout package for Greece, speculation over new austerity measures and exploitation of state property and assets, along with the ubiquitous reports of snap elections and government reshuffles mostly dominated the headlines in the Sunday editions of Athens' newspapers.
AVGHI: "Defence of democracy in Greece, Europe a debt for all".
AVRIANI: "Nuclear nightmare from explosion at reactor in Japan".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Solution 'package' with sell-off worth 50 billion euros and government reshuffle".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Small carrot, big stick (by EU towards Greece)".
EPOCHI: "Breather for government, asphyxiation in society (from Eurogroup decision)".
ETHNOS: "Respite from Brussels with tough conditions for Greece".
KATHIMERINI: "Breath of life with very strict conditions (by EU for Greece)."
LOGOS: "Prime minister's headache over lack of communication between ministers".
NIKI: "The 'haircut' and our bank deposits".
PARON (weekly): "(Government VP Theodoros) Pangalos: End! Crumbs and new measures bring about snap elections or reshuffle".
PROTO THEMA (weekly): "Raw command by Commissioner Olli Rehn: 'Sell property and save wages of 10 years'."
REALNEWS (weekly): "Reshuffle now a given, with PM George Papandreou now searching for ministers outside (ruling) PASOK".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Block anti-popular measures with organised popular disobedience," is the headline of the communist party's newspaper.
TO VIMA (weekly): "Agreement, breather the message towards markets".
VRADYNI: "Tsunamis of new (austerity) measures".
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