|Monday, 18 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-06-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 27 June 2011 Issue No: 3822
 Critical week for the economyA critical week opens for the Greek economy on Monday, as the Medium-Term fiscal programme, ratification of which has been set out by the EU as a condition for the smooth financing of Greece, goes before the parliament plenary.
The programme will be put to vote in parliament on Wednesday amidst reactions by the opposition and trade unions, while its Implementation Law will be voted on by the House on Thursday.
Greece's two major umbrella federations GSEE and ADEDY, representing the private and public sectors respectively, have called a nationwide 48-hour strike on Tuesday and Wednesday while the Medium-Term programme will be debated and voted on in the 300-seat parliament, in protest of austerity measures and the Medium-Term programme, as well as planned nationalisations of state utilities and organisations.
 FinMin acknowledges Medium-Term programme measures 'unjust', but serve pressing national needGreece's new finance minister Evangelos Venizelos acknowledged that the measures contained in the government's Medium-Term fiscal programme and its Implementation Law are tough and in many instances unjust, but added that he took the responsibility of introducing them upon his assumption of the ministry because they were the only way at this time to serve a pressing national need.
In a statement on Saturday evening, Venizelos said: "I am fully aware that the measures contained in the Medium-Term fiscal program and the Implementation Law are heavy and in many aspects unjust. I undertook the responsibility of introducing them, barely having been a week at the Finance Ministry, because only in this way is an urgent national need served at this time."
He said that finalisation of the 28 billion euros Medium-Term programme, of which 5.6 billion euros are still outstanding, "needed to be done in order to close this circle of negotiations and for fulfillment of the conditions for the prompt disbursement of the (12 billion euros) 5th tranche of the 110 billion euro (EU-IMF bailout) loan", adding that "these 12 billion euros of this 5th tranche are absolutely necessary in order to service the cash needs of the public sector, which in reality is servicing of the immediate and vital needs of the citizens".
Venizelos reiterated that the ministry is at the same time planning the next step, which contains three points: First, ensuring the viability of the state debt, "without which the sacrifices of the Greek people will be in vain"; Second, immediate change of taxation policy and the creation of a National Tax System that will remedy injustices and discrepancies and will restore the moral and social balance of the measures; and, third, negotiation for a new support programme that will lead Greece not only back to the markets but also the restoration of its fiscal and economic independence.
"It is very easy for one to voice harsh criticism of the tax measures which, by their very nature, are unpleasant for the citizens. But that's not what this is about. It is about existing, necessary moves of salvation. What the country urgently needs is stabilization of the situation so that, immediately afterwards, all the required improvements will be made and the prospect that the entire Greek society seeks will be formulated," Venizelos continued.
"It is, therefore, a shame that the collective psychology of the country is undermined and a sense of impasse and injustice prevails, without at the same time no one undertaking the responsibility for an integrated counter-proposal that is less painful for the citizens but on the other hand safe, and not dangerous, for them and the national economy," the finance minister added.
In these coming days, we will have the opportunity in parliament to say all the bitter and harsh truths, so that every one may assume the responsibility of his choices," Venizelos concluded.
 Papaconstantinou: Mid-Term programme 'fully agreed with Troika'The Medium-Term fiscal programme put to the Cabinet for approval last week had been fully agreed with the Troika, former finance minister and current environment minister George Papaconstantinou said, and referred to official statements by both the EU and the IMF on the certainty of disbursement of the 12 billion euros 5th tranche of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece.
In a statement on Sunday, and in an indirect reply to comments by Evangelos Venizelos -- who replaced him at the finance ministry in the recent government reshuffle - he said that he had agreed to incorporate in the Medium-Term plan proposals by ruling PASOK MPs that his predecessor (Papaconstantinou) had rejected, Papaconstantinou said the Medium-Term programme put to the Cabinet for approval had been "totally agreed with the Troika".
"There is no more important target at this time than keeping the country alive and continuing to function, and to not need to live through the repercussions of a payments default," Papacon-stantinou said, stressing that room exists for improvements. "So long as we achieve our targets, the mix and the measures can be improved, and this has happened in the past," he added.
 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds telephone conversation with Greek FMUnites States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned to Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis on Saturday to congratulate him on the assumption of his new duties.
The two ministers had the opportunity during their discussion to exchange views on developments in this part of the world.
 Samaras calls for different econ policy 'not founded on excessive taxation'Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Sunday called for a "different economic policy" that would "not be founded on excessive taxation".
There is a better tomorrow for the country, provided there is a change of policy, said Samaras, who was attending the 31st annual get-together of Sarakatsani in Pertouli.
"There is a better tomorrow. The most difficult thing that I see throughout all of Greece is the dejection, the feeling of depression, something that does not suit the Greeks. That must be overturned, and you give hope only when you have specific, serious elements of a different policy that at the same time acknowledges the huge problem," the ND leader said.
Addressing the local municipal council, Samaras outlined the meetings he had in Europe, noting that he described the reality "for example, that the economy cannot hold up in an excessively taxed country, in a dried up market, in a period in which economic activity has reached zero, that it can't hold up in this immense recession to ask for and take more taxes because if you ask for them you will not find them".
 ND party leading PASOK by 1.4 pc., poll showsThe main opposition New Democracy party is leading the ruling PASOK party by 1.4 percent, according to a poll carried out by the MARC company and published in the Sunday newspaper Ethnos tis Kyriakis.
According to the poll, ND garners 21.4 percent of respondents' preferences, followed by PASOK with 20 pc, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 7.5 pc., the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party 5.8 pc., the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) 3.6 pc., the Democratic Alliance 2.8 pc., the Democratic Left 2.8 pc. and the Ecologists Greens 2.2 pc.
The majority of citizens (68.2 percent) is against early elections, while one out of two believes that the government must implement the Medium-term programme, but clarifies that it must renegotiate it. However, 22.7 percent wants the programme not to be implemented even if the country goes bankrupt.
Moreover, 60.3 percent favour consensus, while 65.7 percent do not believe that the new government formation will implement a fairer policy with the distribution of burdens.
Lastly, 70 percent believe that if ND leader Antonis Samaras is elected prime minister he would follow the same policy as Prime Minister George Papandreou.
 KKE leader continues Crete tourCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking during a press conference in the city of Hania on the island of Crete on Saturday, said the dignity of the people is currently linked to the gallant response to extortions and it is linked decisively with the struggle against the strategy being followed in Greece.
Papariga added that the war currently taking place against the people is a systematic and a longterm one and that the people will not receive even one euro from the new loan that the country will be receiving.
"Before the war being launched, the people must reply with their own war, the aggressive war," she concluded.
 Papariga addresses party event in ChaniaCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga stressed the need for a political alliance in order for the country to exit the crisis, speaking to a party event in Chania, Crete, on Saturday night.
Papariga reiterated her opposition to a referendum, opting instead for early general elections.
She anticipated that elections would be held soon and that they could "become a courageous step forward", provided that the two mainstream parties -- ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy -- declined in votes and the KKE emerged stronger from the polls.
Papariga made a renewed attack on the Memorandum, the Medium-Term fiscal programme and the measures being advanced by the government.
She said that the crisis was deepening not only in Greece but in the eurozone as well, and predicted that even if Greece succeeds in overcoming the crisis "we will be in shackles for the next 100 years from the debts".
 KKE leader addresses rally in IraklioCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, addressing a rally in the city of Iraklio on Friday evening, called on the people to trust the party, stressing that the course to stop the downward trend is in the hands of all and that her party's policies have been vindicated.
Papariga criticised the government for its policy, as well as the main opposition New Democracy party, while also criticising leading trade unionists as having compromised.
Referring to the 48-hour strike, she called for the biggest participation possible, saying that 5 and 6 million people can come out and calling on the working class to reject every extortion.
 Coalition leader Tsipras gives interview to Sunday newspaperCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Alexis Tsipras, speaking in an interview with the Sunday newspaper "Avghi tis Kyriakis", said the "medium-term is a plan that is not viable. It has already touched its internal contradictions and mainly with popular reaction. This government has no chance of having a long life. It is a government with a project contract. But even in the event that the medium-term passes through Parliament, its implementation will proceed with great difficulties. Society knows that it is a new road map, disastrous and condemned to failure, that is being promoted after the bankruptcy of the first memorandum."
Tsipras said the medium-term equals bankruptcy and stressed that "it is a question of time for insistence on this policy to lead, apart from the bankruptcy of the ordinary people, to economic bankruptcy as well."
The Coalition leader further said that "the European model is unable before the deep economic crisis," adding that "it cannot cope with it, and the countries are coming one after another face-to-face with the problem of the debt...The only path of survival for Europe, is a great reversal that will mean emancipation from the markets, and the change in policy, so that the crisis can be handled."
 Gov't vice president Venizelos meets with visiting Ecumenical PatriarchGovernment vice president and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos met on Saturday evening with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who is in Athens for the opening of the Athens 2011 Special Olympics.
During the half-hour meeting, Venizelos asked to be briefed on developments in matters concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek community in Istanbul.
The Ecumenical Patriarch, in turn, described the task undertaken by Venizelos as "difficult".
 PM Papandreou to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on MondayPrime Minister George Papandreou will be having a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in Parliament at 10 on Monday morning.
 'Indignados' continue Syntagma Square rally for 33rd dayThe "Indignados" assembled in Syntagma Square in downtown Athens and outside the Parliament building on Sunday for the 33th day and the fifth Sunday.
They demonstrated their opposition to the implementation of the memorandum and the ratification of the medium-term programme, while they are preparing for a more dynamic presence during the 48-hour general strike declared by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY), on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the aim of annulling the measures contained in the medium-term programme.
Meanwhile, from 7 on Sunday evening and for over an hour, members of the "I won't pay" movement blocked ticket validation machines at the Syntagma metro station, preventing passengers from validating their tickets.
 BoG chief calls for 'powerful jump-start' of reform effortGreece's central bank chief stressed the need for a powerful jump-start of the reform effort and also consensus of the political and social forces of the country so as to safeguard, "as the highest national duty", Greece's European perspective, in a newspaper interview appearing on Sunday.
George Provopoulos, governor of the Bank of Greece, said in an interview with Kathimerini newspaper that Greece's time for convincing the eurozone and the markets that it can handle the problem of the debt's viability was "running out", warning that "whoever thinks that if Greece leaves the Memorandum we will return to the previous condition is making a big mistake".
He said there are no alternative solutions outside the Memorandum.
"Preservation of the delusions undermines the rallying of society in the great effort. In this rallying, we all have the duty to shoulder our share of the responsibilities," said Provopoulos, who also criticised the government, however, of delays and omissions in the materialisation of the Memorandum, which, he said, have harmed the country's credibility and increased the uncertainty.
The central bank governor further warned that the government's Medium-Term fiscal programme does not place adequate emphasis on containing expenditures, while the burden on the taxpayers has exhausted their limits.
Stressing that the banks are not at risk, he noted however that they need to adapt their business model on the basis of a total re-establishment of forces.
 Hellenic Imperial Airways company begins New York flightsNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
The Hellenic Imperial Airways company carried out its first flight to New York on Friday. The Boeing 747 aircraft arrived at Kennedy airport at 9:20 at night (local time), 10 minutes earlier than its scheduled time.
After Olympic's flight had stopped about two years ago, the Greek flag has been hoisted at the entrance to the international Kennedy airport again as of Friday.
Hellenic Imperial Airways general director Costas Mavrikis, speaking to the ANA-MPA, said "we want to cover the vacuum that had been created," adding that "we are starting with four flights a week and, according to demand, our aim is to establish a daily Athens-New York flight and vice-versa."
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.443
Pound sterling 0.901
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 9.317
Japanese yen 115.77
Swiss franc 1.208
Norwegian kroner 7.899
Canadian dollar 1.417
Australian dollar 1.367
 Opening ceremony on IOA founding anniversaryThe opening ceremony of the 51st International Conference for new participants was held at the Pnyx hill, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the International Olympic Academy's (IOA) founding.
IOA president Isidoros Kouvelos stressed in his address that the difficult economic conjuncture that Greece is experiencing also has repercussions on the IOA's functioning, but added that the operational deadlocks were overcome with the Internataional Olympic Committee's support.
"We aspire to turn the IOA into a continuous research workshop on the problems that the implementation of Olympic Education is facing in every end in the world," he added.
 Police arrest person in 'fixed games' casePolice have arrested one out of five persons for whom arrest warrants have been issued regarding the "fixed games" case and who was still at large. The arrest took place in the city of Karditsa and according to initial reports the person is a booker who was running an illegal betting shop. Immediately afterwards he was brought before a prosecutor and requested and received a time limit to prepare his testimony on Tuesday.
 Prosecutor orders investigation into uantity of electricity supplied during ongoing PPC workers' strikeAn Athens prosecutor on Sunday ordered an urgent preliminary investigation regarding the quantity of electricity provided to consumers due to ongoing rolling strikes by Public Power Corporation (PPC) throughout the past week that have caused rotating power cuts throughout the country.
Eleni Raikou, director of the Athens First Instance Prosecutors' office, ordered the investigation following a letter by the PPC administration on Saturday night complaining that a temporary ruling by a First Instance court requiring that the level of electricity power supplied during the PPC employees federation's (GENOP) rolling strikes should be equivalent to the levels of June 23.
GENOP is holding rolling 48-hour strikes since midnight of last Sunday, June 19.
The court ruling was issued on Friday, after discussion of a petition by the PPC to have the strike declared "illegal and abusive" was discontinued for Monday.
The PPC asked for judicial intervention for the reopening of several electricity plants so as to restore the level of electricity power available to the public to Thursday's (June 23) levels.
 PM, FinMin on death of professor Yiannis ManoledakisPrime Minister George Papandreou expressed sadness over the death of professor and member of the Athens Academy Yiannis Manoledakis, while also extending his condolences to his family.
Government vice president and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos also made a similar statement and the Coalition (SYN) party's press office issued an announcement on Manoledakis's death.
 Two foreign nationals arrested for possession of exlosives, underworld connections being investigatedTwo Albanian nationals aged 36 and 50 were arrested after 12 kilos of explosives were found hidden in a stolen car they were driving in the Neos Kosmos district of Athens, police said on Sunday.
They said they were investigating the two arrestees' possible connection with the underworld.
Police said that the two Albanians were in a car on an overpass on central Syngrou Boulevard when the vehicle veered off course and crashed into a protective railing between the two directions of the lanes, resulting in their injury and the immobilisation of the car.
Although injured, one of the Albanians opened the car's boot and threw over the bridge a metal box containing the explosives.
An investigation of the metal box revealed 12 kilos of explosives in gel form.
The two detainees were taken to hospital, where the one was admitted and was under police guard.
The second detainee was led before a prosecutor on Friday, while the first, after his release from hospital, was taken before a prosecutor on Saturday.
Security police believe the explosives were destined for bomb attacks on stores and nightclubs in clearing of accounts between underworld rings.
Both detainees have been referred to an investigating magistrate.
 Drug traffickers arrested in IraklioDrug squad police in the city of Iraklio, on the island of Crete, arrested three Albanian nationals who were preparing to sell two kilos of heroin. Police, acting on information received, carried out an operation in the region of Pateles in Iraklio, where they were staying, and succeeded in arresting them before they attempted to sell the drugs that they had hidden in their car.
 Police arrest four migrant smugglersPolice in Thessaloniki arrested four foreign nationals who were carrying in a truck 15 Afghan illegal immigrants, each of whom had paid 1,500 euros, in a rural region in the prefecture of Larissa.
The migrant smugglers, Bulgarian and Iraqi nationals aged between 29 and 38, used a warning car to accompany the truck that contained the illegal immigrants, among whom was a minor.
Police investigations revealed that the 15 illegal immigrants' final destination were various European countries, mainly Italy.
 Gunmen make off with ATM from fuel stationThree armed gunmen held up a gas station in the Achanes region of Athens at dawn Sunday and made off with a bank ATM.
The three men drove into the fuel station with a van just before 5:00 a.m. and, holding the station's employees at gunpoint, loaded the ATM machine into the van and sped off.
The amount of money in the ATM was not yet known.
 Arsonists target bank in PetralonaA home-made incendiary device exploded in the early hours of Sunday at the entrance of a five-storey building housing a ground-floor branch and upper storey offices of ATEbank in the Petralona district of Athens.
The 3:00 a.m. explosion and ensuing fire caused serious damage to the bank's outdoor ATM machine and inside the branch, as well as a parked motorcycle.
The home-made fire-bomb comprised two small propane canisters and a glass bottle.
The fire was extinguished by the Fire Brigade.
An investigation was launched to identify the perpetrators.
 Forest fire near ElefsinaA fire broke out Sunday afternoon in a pine forested expanse near Skalistiri, Elefsina.
The fire was in a difficult to access area, making approach by fire-fighting engines extremely difficult, according to the Fire Brigade.
Five fire-fighting planes and one helicopter were battling the blaze from the air, assisted on the ground by a team of 20 firefighters with 10 fire engines and a 15-strong team on foot.
 Special Olympics officially underwayThe 2011 Summer Special Olympics in Athens officially got to a start on Sunday morning, after an impressive opening ceremony on Saturday night at the historic Panathenian (Kallimarmaro) Stadium in central Athens, the venue of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
With the "Flame of Hope" burning bright against the blue Athenian until July 4, the 13th Special Olympics bring together 7,500 athletes from 183 countries across the globe who will compete in 22 Olympics-type sports.
With the Special Olympics athletes are 2,500 coaches, 40,000 family members and 3,000 media representatives, as well as 25,000 volunteers.
Greece's President Karolos Papoulias declared the opening of the Special Olympics after the parade of athletes and members of the national delegations into the Stadium.
"They say that there are no heroes in our era. Just a few minutes ago, 7,500 real heroes paraded before us, 7,500 real winners," Athens Special Olympics Organising Committee president Joanna Despotopoulou told the gathered spectators.
"I think we're home," Dr. Timothy Shriver, chairman and CEO of Special Olympics told an enthusiastic crowd.
"Let me extend my thanks to the people of Greece," he said. "Despite all the difficulties and challenges this country is facing, Greece did not fail us, and the athletes of Special Olympics will not fail Greece".
A highlight of the event was a performance of legendary singer, songwriter and musician Stevie Wonder, who opened with his song "You can feel it" followed by "You are the sunshine of my life". Wonder also performed a duet of "That's what friends are for" with long-time Special Olympics supporter and recording artist Vanessa Williams, who co-hosted the show with noted Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis.
The opening ceremony also featured a rendition of Homer's "Odyssey", and performances by popular Greek singer Alkistis Protopsalti with Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo, and special presentations by actresses Zhang Ziyi and Maria Menounos.
After President Papoulias officially declared the Games opened, the Special Olympics flag was carried into the stadium by Pyrros Dimas, Nadia Comaneci, Edwin Moses, Michelle Kwan, Jermaine Edie, Ana Milivojevic and Ana Eduarda.
Members of the Greek and US Special Olympics teams led the athletes in the Special Olympics oath:
"Let me Win!
But if I Cannot win,
Let me be Brave in the Attempt!"
Finally, the Flame of Hope was run through the stadium to light up the Torch marking the start of the Games.
President Papoulias receives Special Olympics athletes delegation
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received on Sunday a delegation of athletes and officials of the Special Olympics, that are taking place in Athens as of Sunday, and referred to the message of courage and hope that the athletes of the Special Olympics are conveying.
The president spoke of the time that the Games are taking place, stressing that "it is the suitable one for you to boost the morale of the Greeks," adding that "you are giving us the strength, the hope to struggle and to overcome the difficulty."
Timothy Shriver, President of the World Movement of the Special Olympics, termed the athletes of the Games "messengers who are appealing to the Greek people as well as to the entire world with a message that needs no words."
Ioanna Despotopoulou, President of the Organising Committee of the Games, said that despite the economic crisis Greece decided to go ahead since, as she said, "we had given a promise to the kids that they will struggle in the country where the olympic ideals were born."
The delegation of 20 athletes was also accompanied by Deputy Health Minister Christos Aidonis, while Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos also attended the event.
 Ecumenical Patriarch attends ceremony in honour of Eunice Kennedy ShriverEcumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, speaking at a special ceremony held in the Athens suburb of Maroussi in honour of Eunice Kennedy Shriver (1921-2009), who inspired and implemented the idea of the Special Olympic Games, said "we shall continue all together to stand by our fellow men, to care and to do what we can to support them and to give them comfort in the difficulties of life."
The Ecumenical Patriarch added that "the difficulties are not only for the handicapped, but for the healthy as well. The church teaches us to struggle for the good struggle of life, always with love for all our fellow men."
He expressed his joy and satisfaction over the fact that "last (Saturday) night's great and historic event of the inauguration of the Special Olympics is continuing."
Referring to Eunice Shriver, he said "she was interested in people with mental problems.Whatever one does for people who offered so much to humanity is litte."
The event was also attended by the wife of the US Vice-President, Jill Biden, as well as Tim Shriver, president of the World movement of the Special Olympics and son of the person being honoured.
 Fair on MondayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 31C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 29C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 27C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe tax measures and cuts in incomes, and strikes ahead of the vote on the Medium-Term fiscal programme were the main front-page items in Athens' Sunday newspapers.
AVGHI: "Medium-Term programme equals bankruptcy".
AVRIANI: "PASOK created files on half the Greeks with 6 EYP (central information agency) illegal 'briefcases' (of phone tappings)".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government introducing tax on professionals' social security contributions with explosive provision".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "At the Medium-Term programme's razor edge".
EPOCHI: "Two days that will rock parliament".
ETHNOS: "Lifting of confidentiality of bank accounts without prosecutor's permission".
KATHIMERINI: "Provopoulos (central bank governor): "Time's up..."
LOGOS: "Attack on the incomes of the salary earners and professionals".
NIKI: "The interest rates 'drowning' the sacrifices".
PROTO THEMA: "Rigged game at the expense of all the Greeks".
RIZOSPASTIS: "48-hour general strike against the Medium-Term programme".
TO PARON: "The big looting".
TO VIMA: "Very expensive bailout - One salary sacrificed to...Troika and the country".
VRADYNI: "Pensions: The finalised regulations".
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