|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-06-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 20 June 2011 Issue No: 3816
 PM calls for autumn referendum; vote of confidence on Tues.Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Sunday reiterated his call for national unity behind the government's latest batch of austerity measures and accelerated reforms, opening a three-day vote of confidence debate that winds up on midnight Tuesday with an open roll-call vote.
Papandreou called on Parliament to give his newly reshuffled government a renewed vote of conference, noting that the country is at a critical crossroads and warning that an image of division among the Greek people was not helping the country.
Warning that a disorderly bankruptcy would be catastrophic, Papandreou stressed that the country's lenders, the EU and the IMF, want to see Greece standing on its own two feet, adding that the problems would not be solved if the IMF was asked to leave, and warning also that the country's liquidity will be very soon exhausted without the disbursement of the fifth tranche of the EC-ECB-IMF bailout package.
Papandreou asked for national consensus on several fundamental axes, and a referendum on major changes which, as he said, will be contained in an amended Constitution.
The axes for the national understanding, as he said, include acknowledgement that the external debt and annual budget deficits constitute a national problem and that "we must be the first to put our house in order". He noted that Greece will not be able to borrow (on the international markets) in 2012 "and this is an unexpected new complication that we need to look straight in the eye, and not with our heads buried in the sand", Papandreou elaborated.
The premier said that his new government will move along six axes:
Correction of injustices "that existed before and became apparent with the implementation Memorandum", noting that the Memorandum was not to blame for them; working for a new Constitution that will be comprehensible to every citizen, with a series of changes on which Greek society would decide with referendum; a programme of sweeping changes in public administration; changes to the country's production model; an efficient social state and safeguarding "major conquests" in the European Union.
In that same context, Papandreou underlined that the national issues are excluded from any negotiation whatsoever in relation to Greece's economic problem, and regarding the "collateral guarantees of the loan, we cannot accept terms that are derogatory for the country, otherwise we could reach a dead-end, with whatever that would imply".
Papandreou also assured that the people's sacrifices were not going to waste, noting the 5 percent decrease in the deficit achieved and a record increase posted in exports.
The fact that Greece has not succeeded in returning to the international markets in 2012 is a failure of the forecasts by the EC-ECB-IMF "troika", and not by Greece, whose proposals continue to be disregarded to a great degree, Papandreou stressed.
Finally, Papandreou launched a personal attack on ND leader Antonis Samaras, accusing him of torpedoing the consensus and the "historic opportunity for Greece to turn page".
He accused Samaras of asking for elections in order to drag Greece into new misadventures, and said the ND leader's proposals for the economy "lack credibility".
 Samaras insists on snap elections: 'Gov't has permanently lost people's confidence'Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras reiterated his call for early elections, adding that recourse to the people's judgement is the only real solution and the only path for Greece's exodus from uncertainty.
ND will not give a vote of confidence to the government in which not even Prime Minister George Papandreou believes in, and because he is persisting in a policy that only creates new problems, Samaras said.
He also accused Papandreou of "not daring" to proceed to the creation of a "national salvation government", but instead created a partisan government aimed at gluing together his ruling PASOK party, thus opting to prevent the collapse of his party instead of the unity of the Greek people.
Samaras reiterated his firm positions that a renegotiation of the terms of the Memorandum, jump-starting the economy and restoring social cohesion are the only conditions for consensus, and criticised the government of carrying on with the same, wrong policy 'recipe" that would lead the country to an absolute dead-end.
The main opposition leader further accused Papandreou of "hiding behind the troika's insistence", without negotiating.
Samaras also charged what he called an "orgy of populism" around the word "consensus", warning that the climate of consensus was not being enhanced but, on the contrary, was being undermined, by the prime minister's own associates who were distorting ND's positions abroad.
He warned that he will not tolerate this to continue, stressing that when he himself goes abroad, he wears the "national jersey".
Samaras said Parliament was being asked to give a vote of confidence to a government of "partisan gluing", one made up of "cadres who until yesterday were blaming each other" in order to salvage PASOK, and not the unity of the Greek people.
ND, he added, will persist with the position that the only way for Greece's salvation is elections.
"We will not destabilise the country. It has been destabilised enough by the government. We do not want to govern ruins tomorrow. We are not the same as PASOK. Regardless of the outcome of the vote of confidence, the government has permanently lost the confidence of the people. That is irreversible," Samaras concluded.
 KKE: Elections yes, referendum noCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga opposed any referendum, but said 'yes' to early elections.
She clarified, however, that KKE was taking this position under a different viewpoint from the other parties, with the aim of a "popular class movement and a weak government" arising.
Papariga disagreed with the prime minister's proposal for a referendum, warning that it was only "the other side of the harsh suppression o the people's struggles".
She warned that the "reshuffled government, the same PASOK, cannot fool those it has been fooling until now", and charged that the present government will go down in history as the government that "locked in the controlled bankruptcy" of the country, "the consecutive Memorandums", and the "emergency mammoth borrowing of 90-100 billion euros".
However, she stressed, the government will "present all those as a victory".
 LA.O.S: Elections for power-sharing gov'tPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis called for early elections "that will produce an ecumenical government" as "the only government that can save Greece", and blamed the prime minister and the main opposition leader of "kicking the opportunity away" for a "national salvation government".
"Some sides did not want an ecumenical government because they chose facilitation of the two-party system over a national salvation government," Karatzaferis said, calling the prime minister's decision for a government reshuffle "cunning", adding that it led to a government of the "deep PASOK", which was "ineffectual" for Greece.
Prime Minister George Papandreou converted a parliamentary group "in a state of collapse" into a Parliamentary group of "granite".
"This is good for Mr. Papandreou, but bad for Greece," Karatzaferis said, adding that it would have been preferable that, instead of new finance minister going to (Sunday's) eurogroup meeting alone, all five Greek parliamentary parties went together to face Greece's European partners.
Karatzaferis also said his party will not vote in favour of the government's Medium-Term fiscal programme, "not because I don't believe it, but because I don't believe you (Papandreou)".
On the vote of confidence called by the premier, Karatzaferis advised Papandreou that "instead of attempting in vain to seek the vote of the opposition parties, see to it first that those who were elected with you vote for you".
 SYRIZA: Mainstream parties terrified of electionsCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) group leader Alexis Tsipras accused the two mainstream parties -- ruling PASOK and main opposition ND -- of wanting to avoid early elections, terrified that the two-party system will be overturned if elections were held now that the Greek people have taken to the streets in protest.
"Your big problem is that the Hellenic Republic has acquired a 'lower Parliament'," Tsipras said during a vote of confidence debate in parliament on Sunday, referring to the 'Indignants' movement in Greece, the main bulk of which has been gathered outside the Greek parliament for more than three weeks.
"Your parliamentary groups will give you a vote of confidence, but the 'Lower Parliament', the society that is agonizing, does not give you a confidence vote," Tsipras said.
Addressing Papandreou in particular, he said: "Your Parliamentary group may give you the vote of all of PASOK for a government with a specific work contract to put a tombstone on the Greek society, but not the vote of the society."
 PM in Brussels on MondayPrime Minister George Papandreou will be on Monday in Brussels and at four in the afternoon will meet with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and at 10:00 at night he will have a meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
 New FinMin: Commitment to economic adjustment programmeBrussels (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The Greek government's and peoples' strong commitment for implementation of the economic adjustment program was reaffirmed by the country's new finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, as he entered an informal meeting of the eurogroup in Luxembourg on Sunday afternoon.
As he headed into his first eurogroup meeting since assuming the finance ministry a few days earlier, Venizelos said: "We can achieve the targets thanks to the efforts of the people and to the cooperation and support of our partners".
The eurogroup is to discuss approval of the disbursement of a 12 billion euros 5th tranche of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece, and aspects of a second aid program.
 Eurogroup FinMins poised to approve 'in principle' 5th tranche of loan to GreeceBrussels (ANA-MPA/Special contributor E. Karanasopoulou)
The eurogroup Finance Ministers are expected to approve in principle the 5th instalment of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF 110 billion euro bailout loan to Greece at their meeting in Luxembourg on Sunday.
According to European diplomatic sources, approval of the 5th tranche was made possible following the "green light" from the IMF, which accepted that an agreement in-principal by the eurogroup for additional help to Greece would be sufficient for approval of the instalment.
Further, the same sources pointed out two important matters concerning the issue of Greece. The first is that even after the recent meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, great divisions remain regarding private sector involvement in a new rescue package for Greece. The second is that these talks could take time - even beyond September - in which case Greece would be running out of cash and dangerously approaching a default.
"The discussion now is evolving into Greece being a systemic risk - and it is", said a eurozone source with knowledge of what is going on in Brussels. "In this sense, it is vital that Greece understands that this is its last chance to conform with what is required, by adopting the Medium-Term programme and implementing it immediately," he added.
Eurozone ministers are awaiting Sunday's meeting with heightened interest, as it will be new Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos' first participation in the eurogroup since his assumption of the finance ministry on Friday after a broad government reshuffle in Greece, replacing George Papaconstantinou after 20 months in the crucial ministry, and his European counterparts are looking forward to hearing the new minister's positions.
 Greek IMF rep: Med-Term programme imperative for 5th tranche disbursementRatification of the Medium-Term fiscal program is the most fundamental of the three conditions that have been put forward by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for disbursement of the 5th tranche of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece, the country's representative to the IMF Panayotis Roumeliotis said in an interview appearing in a Sunday newspaper.
In an interview in the Sunday edition of Kathimerini newspaper, Roumeliotis warned that of the 12 billion euros 5th tranche is not disbursed, the country could face bankruptcy.
Roumeliotis said that the first condition has been achieved as regards the targets of the Memorandum until March, while the second condition concerns assurances from the EU that it will guarantee the financing of the Greek economy for the next 12 months. He explained that a political commitment on the part of the EU, which is expected to be forthcoming by next week's EU summit, would suffice.
The IMF representative further said that the possibility exists for an attempt to change the policy mix in the Greek economy provided that the relevant proposals have zero impact on the deficit reduction target. "The major issue is to succeed in abiding by our obligations and to boost the country's credibility, and on the part of the Europeans to agree, by September, on the new financing package for Greece," Roumeliotis explained.
He said that the amount of the second package would be 87 billion euros while if the private sector is included, it would be smaller. "In any case, with the new financing, things will be easier and Greece will breathe for two-and-a-half years," Roumeliotis said.
 New FM in Luxembourg for EU meetingsGreece's new foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis heads to Luxembourg on Sunday to take party in an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in the afternoon, called by EU High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy Baroness Catherine Ashton to discuss developments in North Africa and the wider Middle East.
The discussions will be followed by a working dinner, during which the Middle East Peace Process will be discussed.
On Monday, Lambrinidis will take part in a foreign ministers' Foreign Affairs Council meeting, which will discuss developments in the southern Neighbourhood, the Middle East and the relevant peace process, Sudan, Albania, Belarus, and matters pertaining to the European Neighbourhood Policy.
On Monday afternoon, an EU-Western Balkans ministerial meeting will take place on sidelines of the Council.
The EU foreign ministers' General Affairs Council will meet on Tuesday, with Greece represented by alternate foreign minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou. The agenda includes preparation for the EU summit meeting on June 23-24 and presentation of the European Council's program for the next 18 months.
This will be Lambrinidis' first participation in the EU foreign ministers' councils since the assumption of the Greek foreign ministry on Friday.
 FM in Cyprus for talks, first visit abroad after assumption of dutiesNicosia (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Cyprus and the Cyprus issue are a top priority for the Greek government, Greece's new foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis said on Saturday during a lighting visit to Cyprus, his first trip abroad after assuming the helm of the foreign ministry the previous day.
Following his arrival at Larnaca Airport at noon Lambrinidis, a Greek MP until his appointment to the foreign ministry, headed directly to Cyprus President Demetris Christofias' summer residence in the village of Kellaki, where he attended a working lunch and was briefed by Christofias on the course of negotiations on the Cyrus issue ahead of the Cypriot President's July 7 meeting in Geneva with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
On Saturday afternoon, the discussion on the Cyprus issue continued at the Cypriot foreign ministry where Lambrinidis met with his Cypriot counterpart Marcos Kyprianou.
The two foreign ministers also discussed European Union issues as well as the situation in the wider region.
In statements to the press after the talks, Lambrinidis said he felt moved and a sense of responsibility on being in Cyprus, adding that the visit was not only for symbolic but also substantial reasons. He was in Cyprus to be briefed and also for coordination and essential cooperation between the two countries, adding that his aim is for that cooperation to become even stronger.
He further stressed that, in this cooperation, the policy does not change when the ministers change.
Lambrinidis recalled that, as Europarliament vice-president and head of the ruling PASOK's parliamentary group in the European Parliament, he had worked with Christofias and Kyprianou and with politicians from all the Cypriot parties to advance, "with particular success in most cases", Cyprus' interests and the interests of Europe, but also "if a successful solution is reached" the interests of the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, as well...the interests of the region.
The Greek foreign minister described the ongoing negotiations on the Cyprus issue as "exceptionally sensitive" and reaffirmed that the struggle Greece and Cyprus are waging is for a comprehensive and mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus issue based on the resolutions of the UN and Cyprus' capacity as an EU member country.
Lambrinidis said he and Christofias also discussed the economic situation in Greece, and assured that" the efforts being made in the country today, under the George Papandreou government and with its determination, will result in the solution of all the economic matters that today appear to some as being catastrophic".
"It is not an easy course," he said, adding that about one and a half years ago everyone was betting that Greece would collapse, and continuing that those who did so have lost much and will continue to lose.
"Greece is determined to take all the measures needed and exit the crisis," Lambrinidis assured.
 Opinion poll results on MemorandumNearly half of the respondents to an opinion poll favour rejection of the 'Memorandum 2' by parliament so as to force immediate general elections.
According to a Kapa Research poll, appearing in To Vima newspaper on Sunday, 47.5 percent of the respondents nationwide were in favour of parliamentary rejection of the 2nd Memorandum so that early elections would be held immediately.
The poll, conducted nationwide on June 14-15, also indicated that more than one-third of the respondents, and specifically 34.8 percent, were in favour of ratification so that Greece would receive the next tranche of the EU-IMF bailout loan, while 17.7 percent of those asked declined comment.
 Large 'Indignados' style gathering in Syntagma SquareAnother "Indignados"-type gathering took place for the fourth consecutive Sunday in Athens' main Syntagma Square, the 26th day in the row that protesters have assembled in the square.
The social media-fuelled sit-down protest covered most of the square by late afternoon in front of Greece's Parliament, while a handful of other main plazas across cities in Greece hosted the same type of event.
The mobilisations in Greece coincided with similar rallies across European cities.
 Invest in Greece event in Crete, conference in AthensWith the purpose of exploring business and collaboration opportunities in Greece, some 40 commercial attaches from foreign embassies in Greece from Europe, Asia and the Middle East are currently in Rethymno, on the island of Crete, in the context of the Invest in Greece agency's "Synergassia" (Cooperation) initiative.
Invest in Greece is a state agency that aims to promote the Greek regions as investment and business locations, and in this context has organised a five-day business mission to the Region of Crete that winds up on Sunday.
The mission, comprising foreign economic and commercial missions and other foreign interests in Greece, is supported by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO), the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board and the Export Credit Insurance Organisation.
The program concerns cooperation with the Region of Crete so as to brief commercial attaches and other participants on opportunities in the area and enable them to meet with the business community in Crete, so as to convey the information and their experiences to businesspersons in their own countries.
Commercial transactions and collaborations is the focus of the local cooperatives and businesses, and in that context the participants in the mission visited the Creta Farm and the Association of Farm Cooperatives of Rethymno facilities, where they were briefed on the production methods of and tasted the local products and also discussed the course of the businesses and cooperatives of Rethymno, which is home to 19 exporting businesses.
Wiktor Anselm, Counselor at the Polish Embassy in Athens, said the visit is the outcome of the interest that exists for cooperation and investments, adding that the cooperation initiative is of historic importance and of particular interest to the diplomatic community. "We are impressed by the high level of development and the exceptionally high technological models of the facilities that we have visited," he said.
 PPC workers launch 48-hour rolling strikesPublic Power Corporation (PPC) announced they were launching rolling 48-hour strikes as of midnight Sunday, after talks between the workers' union GENOP and new finance minister Evangelos Venizelos on Saturday night and with new environment and energy minister George Papaconstantinou -- Venizelos' predecessor in the finance ministry -- on Sunday morning.
GENOP is demanding withdrawal of a provision in the government's Medium-Term fiscal program for further denationalisation of the PPC.
Although the meetings were held in a "good climate", there was no progress in the direction of meeting the trade unionists' demand, a GENOP announcement said.
 PAME rallies on SaturdayPAME, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated labour organisation, organised protest rallies against the government's Medium-Term fiscal program in Athens, Thessaloniki and other major cities throughout Greece on Saturday.
The main demonstration in Athens, at central Omonia Square, was addressed by KKE leader Aleka Papariga.
In an announcement PAME called for escalation of the struggle and the clash with capital and the monopolies.
 Acropolis Museum celebrates 2nd anniversaryThe New Acropolis Museum celebrates its second anniversary on Monday.
The 25,000 square-meter Museum will be open to the public on Monday from 8:00 in the morning until midnight, to celebrate the event.
The Museum includes more than 4,000 exhibits spread over 14,000 square meters of exhibition space.
To mark the event, the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra will stage a free concert at 9:00 p.m., performing works by Strauss, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky and Piazzola.
 Maguy Marin at Athens FestivalNoted French choreographer Maguy Marin will on Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 June present her work "May B" to the Greek public within the framework of the Athens Festival.
Marin will also present from 27 to 29 June, for the first time to the Greek audience, her latest work Salves (2010).
 Pilot programme allows bicycles to use bus lanesA pilot program allowing bicycle riders to use bus lanes in central Athens goes into effect on Monday.
The pilot program will be in effect through September 18, and its results will help determine whether the measure will be permanently implemented.
Under the pilot program, bicycles will be allowed use of bus lanes throughout the day, in a single line and on the far right of the lane next to the pavement, without maneuvering around buses and other vehicles, so as not to hamper traffic.
 Unknown individuals attack policemenUnknown individuals attacked early Sunday a riot police (MAT) squad and motorcycle police (DELTA) squad in the Exarchia district in downtown Athens.
In the first incident individuals threw two makeshift firebombs against the MAT squad, which exploded on the street without causing any injuries. At the same time thirty persons attacked a DELTA squad in downtown Athens and threw five firebombs as well as stones at the policemen. A police officer was lightly injured in the hand.
 France's Ogier wins Acropolis Rally 2011France's Sebastien Ogier won the Acropolis Rally on Sunday, bringing him to third place overall in the World Rally Championship 2011 after seven rounds.
Ogier and co-pilot Julien Ingrassia, with their CITROEN DS3, clinched the 56th Acropolis Rally, after a close showdown with fellow Frenchman and Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb, who retains his number one ranking overall in the WRC.
The Acropolis Rally, dubbed the "Rally of the Gods", is the midway seventh round of the 13-round 2011 World Rally Championship.
According to the WRC, the Acropolis Rally is one of the most iconic events in the sport, and winning it earns significant kudos.
The ceremonial start took place beneath the historic Acropolis site at on Thursday evening, with a total of 42 crews participating in what is said to be the toughest race of the World Racing Championship (WRC).
Third place in the Acropolis Rally went to Finland's Mikko Hirvonen, followed by Norwegians Petter Solberg and Henning Solberg in 4th and 5th, Britain's Matthew Wilson in 6th, and Finland's Kimi Raikkonen and Juho Hanninen in 7th and 8th place.
Loeb was first overall after seven rounds, followed by Hirvonen, Ogier, Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala, Solberg, Norway's Mads Ostberg, and Wilson.
The WRC 2011 opened with the Sweden rally in February, followed by Mexico and Portugal in March, Jordan in April, and Italy and Argentina in May.
The next rounds after Greece will be Finland (July 28-30), Germany (August 18-21), Australia (September 8-11), France (September 29 to October 2), Spain (October 20-23), and Wales (November 10-13).
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceDevelopments on the economic front and new finance minister Evangelos Venizelos' first actions to improve the climate inside and outside Greece dominated the front pages of Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
AVGHI: "Moves of desperation".
AVRIANI: "Venizelos ready for 'war'."
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: " 'Beni's' (Venizelos) trick, of a 90-day duration, for early elections".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The same recipe (harsh austerity), with a different chef (Venizelos)".
ETHNOS: "The road opens for 'euro-Marshall plan' for Greece".
KATHIMERINI: "Reshuffle: Papandreou's last trump card".
LOGOS: "The international rating agencies insist on gambling on Greece's bankruptcy".
NIKI: "The weak link".
PROTO THEMA: "Venizelos: I will alter the 2nd Memorandum".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The popular alliance for reversal must become the protagonist of the developments".
TO VIMA: "The new 'czar' of the economy (Venizelos) promises fair...austerity".
VRADYNI: "Elections here and now - The only solution after the fiasco of the government reshuffle".
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