|Friday, 17 August 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 19 September 2011 Issue No: 3893
 Cabinet meeting on Mon.; FinMin criticises NDA Cabinet meeting will be held on Monday after the completion of a teleconference by government Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos with representatives of the EC-ECB-IMF "troika", during which additional spending cuts will be detailed.
"If we want to avoid bankruptcy and for the country to stop being blackmailed and humiliated, we must undertake crucial decisions," he said on Sunday, after briefing Cabinet members over developments at the informal Eurogroup meeting on Sunday in Poland.
"We must meet fiscal targets and achieve a primary surplus in order to proceed immediately with all reforms," he said, adding that a "fluid situation prevails in Europe and internationally, which creates multiple problems and allows profiteers to wage attacks against the heart of the euro."
He also said that during the tense situation it is crucial for Greece not to become the scapegoat.
Venizelos began his televised comments with an attack against main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, saying that he was negatively surprised with what Samaras said in Thessaloniki during his address at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
 Opposition parties react to Venizelos' statementsFinance Minister Evangelos Venizelos' televised press conference on Sunday drew a series of sharp reactions from opposition parties.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis called Venizelos' address 'delirious' for attributing, as the former claimed, the government's economic policy failure to politicians and journalists "who dare to disagree with the government's views."
"What we are hearing is unprecedented, their policy has failed and others are responsible. The prime minister's visit to United States has been postponed, an extraordinary Cabinet meeting took place and up to now the only result was an unbelievable attack against ND leader Antonis Samaras," he said, adding:
"If Mr. Venizelos believes that each time he contacts Mr. Samaras he will obtain the main opposition's silence, he must be living in other periods and under other regimes. They are undertaking measures, which then prove unproductive, and then say that ND is responsible. The government is teetering; Mr. Venizelos is on a rampage and Mr. Papandreou is hiding behind his vice-president, and the people do not believe their eyes".
Communist Party (KKE) referred to "blackmail" against the working people, while the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) said Venizelos' address was held "under huge stress". Synaspismos said the government is exercising a policy that leads the country to default.
 FinMin contacts with Samaras, opposition leadersOn Saturday Venizelos spoke by phone with Samaras, following an initiative by the former.
According to ND sources, Venizelos detailed the prevailing difficulties and the critical juncture for the country, ahead of the implementation of the July 21 Eurozone council decisions.
Venizelos later spoke by phone with Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis, briefing him on the situation after a Eurozone meeting in Poland.
According to LA.O.S sources, Karatzaferis proposed snap elections in case the government and main opposition New Democracy (ND) do not reach a consensus.
Finally, Venizelos briefed Coalition of the Left (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras in a telephone call late Saturday night on the latest developments concerning the Greek economy following an informal Eurogroup and Ecofin meeting earlier in the day in Wroclaw, Poland, and the cancellation of Prime Minister George Papandreou's scheduled visit to the US.
According to sources, Venizelos outlined the climate he met at the Eurogroup-Ecofin meeting in Wroclaw, intimating that new collection measures could be required as difficulties were ascertained in collecting the extraordinary surtax on real estate announced by the government last week, among other problems.
Tsipras -- who was in Spain for the Spanish Communist Party festival -- replied to Venizelos that the Greek society's endurance has been exhausted from the constant taxation, the same sources said.
 Samaras: Gov't 'captive' of own mistaken policy, calls for snap electionsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Sunday warned that the PASOK government is a 'captive' of its own mistaken policy and unable to attain its targets, while he reiterated a call for early general elections, during the customary press conference at the 76th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
Samaras spoke of "tax-enthusiasts" in the government, ones who have "broken all records" in the economy, given that "there is no book on the economy in any country that says that in times of recession you increase taxes ... Last year, they didn't believe me. This year, don't they see the results?" he asked, referring to the government.
"Do they want to save Greece with the Greeks, or the economy without the Greeks?" Samaras asked, putting the question to the government and to government vice president and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
Samaras pointed out that wherever the government raised the taxes over the past seven months, revenues have fallen against the corresponding period of the previous year, and cited as an example figures showing that revenues from vehicle circulation fees slumped by 80 percent and revenues from fuel fell by 20 percent.
Asked why he was not collaborating with Prime Minister George Papandreou, with the two of them going to Brussels together for a renegotiation with the country's Eurozone partners, Samaras explained: "It is not a matter of faces. It is a political matter. They (government) have a different way of exercising policy, and (ruling) PASOK is muddled because it is in the midst of an existential crisis".
The only solution under the present circumstances is elections, the ND leader reiterated, and called for "clean solutions, with elections and a strong popular mandate".
He ruled out the prospect of co-governance with PASOK, adding that he couldn't care less if Papandreou wants co-governance for "a different reason" in order to "fall softly".
"I will not burn the country's biggest weapon, which at this time is clean solutions and elections," he said.
Samaras further said he has been vindicated in the predictions he had made, but does not feel pleased when the citizens tell him so.
The ND leader further reiterated his call for renegotiation of the Memorandum, stressing that "renegotiation of the Memorandum means jump-starting the Greek economy", but noted that in order to achieve this certain prerequisites are needed.
"The programme you are implementing has problems, there needs to be a Plan B and a clear mandate from the people which the stronger that is, the stronger will also be the one who goes to renegotiate".
He further rejected a Greek exit from the Eurozone, citing a bank report that the cost of Greece's exit from the Eurozone would be much greater than the cost of rescuing the country.
On a second bailout package for Greece, Samaras stressed that "if the new Memorandum is on the right track, I have no problem about voting in favor of it ... but if it is on the same rationale (as the current Memorandum) I will vote against it".
Samaras also pledged that when his party takes over the government it will set up a Parliamentary committee of inquiry to investigate how the country reached the Memorandum, "so that the people will learn the truth about how the (preceding) ND government turned over Greek spreads at 130 basis points and today the spreads exceed 2,000 basis points".
The main opposition leader said that a renegotiation of the Memorandum for jump-starting the economy, with social cohesion and dignity, reduction of the wasteful state, materialisation of the commitment to low pension earners, change of the law on acquiring citizenship and reduction of illegal migration were among the immediate priorities that an ND government will advance.
Asked if ND cadres are having "ministerial suits tailored", Samaras replied: "I know of no one having a suit sewn for my government. In order to have a new suit sewn, you must first have worn overalls and gotten them dirty."
Asked if he would seek the contribution of former prime minister and preceding ND leader Costas Karamanlis, Samaras replied that "Mr. Karamanlis, his opinions and experience, are invaluable", and that the relations between them are "very good".
Samaras further said he was not interested in winning the elections just for the sake of winning, but because he is interested in governing, and that is why he needs everyone at his side.
Asked if he would seek a governmental cooperation with the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis or Democratic Alliance (DISI) leader and former ND deputy and minister Dora Bakoyannis, Samaras said ND completely covers the centre-right area and that simply evoking the term centre-right does not automatically make someone a member of his party.
"The centre-right is not an apartment building, nor is it a one-family house. It is a crusade for the salvation of Greece, and there is no room in it for populists and opportunists," Samaras pointedly added.
Questioned over his criticism that the present government is 'investing' in the government's bankruptcy, Samaras replied that the PASOK government must give account for its two years of misery and disaster-mongering, adding that government cadres have spoken of the drachma, and not ND.
On the proposal set out by ND for the reserve labour measure, Samaras stressed that the ND proposal did not contain mass layoffs, but provided for employees above 50 years of age labor reserve until retirement, six years for employees between 40 and 50, and three years reserve for employees between 30 and 40.
Samaras further said that problems of "cacophony, indecision and lack of long-term prospect" exist in the European Union, adding that the problem is not the debt but the 'rigidities' and 'disabilities' of the euro itself.
Turning to foreign affairs, Samaras said that there is no room for opposition rhetoric on Turkey's stance towards Cyprus over the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and accused Ankara of a "delirium of provocations".
Cyprus, he continued, has absolute sovereign right to conduct explorations for hydrocarbons, adding that "Greece has lost precious time in declaring an EEZ, and what is needed first is its recognition".
On fYRoM 'name issue', he accused the neighboring country's prime minister of "extreme nationalism, which is leading him to the margins ... seeking an identity that does not belong to it (fYRoM)", while he endorsed a name for the landlocked one-time Yugoslav republic that will be used in relation to everyone (erga omnes).
In a response, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) charged that with the "strong and clear mandate" the ND leader is seeking from the people he is "calling on the people to accept the continuation of the torture and execution of the people's rights by a different executioner", adding that ND's proposal "also leads the people to bankruptcy", and with the reduction of state spending on the elementary social needs and 'reserve labor' comprises the other side of the same anti-popular policy that is expressed with today's tax raid".
The KKE, in a statement, said that "ND's positions and proposals reveal the insurmountable impasses and decline of the bourgeois parties and the euro-one-way", urging the Greek people to take a "strong and clear decision to be finished once and for all with the bourgeois parties and the euro-one-way, to rid itself of the Scylla and the Charybdis, to ensure with its struggle the path of development that ensures the people's needs".
The Coalition of the Left (SYN) said it is more than clear that the renegotiation of the Memorandum preached by Samaras is a veil for continuation of the fundamentally same policy as that of the present government, adding that ND's proposals on reserve labor, privatisations and an even larger reduction of that taxes of the large businesses leave no room for doubt that its policy comprises a shade of the Memorandum policy already being applied.
The Democratic Alliance (DISI) party accused Samaras of "extreme and shameless populism", saying he was speaking "out of place and time as if he hasn't realised in what era he is living".
The Democratic Left party said that "ND's alternative programme exhausts itself in generalised promises, without in there being in substance a proposal for the different policy it professes", adding that the best thing that Samaras has to do is to give explanations on the stance of its "European family parties" which "are basically responsible for the course of the EU and the Greek economy, with the policy imposed by the Merkel-Sarkozy-Barroso triangle".
 Samaras: Elections the only solutionSpeaking on Saturday evening, Samaras again demanded early elections, during a nationally televised address from the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), where he also emphasised that he will seek a "clear mandate from the citizens to govern."
"Those who talk about consensus and refer to co-governance must be aware that such schemes are unstable and precarious."
Referring to prime minister by name, he said that George Papandreou has only recently discovered, with delay, that the national interest is above the party's interest, "we are not all alike, Mr. Papandreou".
"Last year I told you what I propose, this year I will tell you what I will do," main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said opening his address at TIF.
Samaras said he will not follow the path of "false promises" and charged that current Prime Minister George Papandreou uttered "outrageous lies" during his address last Saturday at the same venue.
"ND did not desert the battle in 2009, Mr. Papandreou blackmailed for elections," Samaras charged, adding that the prime minister lied over the deficit and referred to Papandreou's words before the 2009 elections, namely, that "money exists", reminding that money for extra spending did not exist, either now or in 2009.
Referring to the latest EL.STAT furor, he said ND will be ruthless if it is proved that an organised plan to inflate the 2009 deficit rate is a fact.
He called the government's new surtax on real estate a 'total failure', noting that the people are excessively burdened.
Samaras underlined that ND does not want Greece to return to the drachma and asked the citizens' support, regardless of whom they have voted for during the last elections, "in order to get the country out of the crisis".
"The government is walking on a tight rope and Greece faces the risk of sinking ... we are all in danger and all together we will be saved ... We have made sacrifices and we will continue, but we must see results, not to be condemned in useless sacrifices without results," he underlined to a standing-room only auditorium of high-ranking ND cadres and supporters.
If elected premier, Samaras pledged that he will declare an Exclusive Economic Zone after a necessary review, while he charged that the Papandreou government has pitifully failed to follow Cyprus' example.
He also stated that he will re-establish separate tourism and merchant marine ministries, as strategic administration hubs.
Additionally, the former ND minister and Euro-MP charged that the government's reserve labour measure for the wider public sector leads to mass layoffs, explaining that ND's plan for the reserve labour measure does not foresees lay-offs.
 Samaras: Renegotiation of Memorandum realistic"Renegotiation of the Memorandum is realistic," ND leader Antonis Samaras underlined during his address at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Saturday.
"We do not disagree with the target, we disagree in the ways of implementation, we do not want to ease up the effort," he said, adding that this is what Ireland and Portugal achieved.
"We Greeks, can" was the message that Samaras reiterated several times during his address and appeared certain that the country will meet its targets.
Samaras referred to the changes he wants to push through if his party wins the next elections. A condition for these changes, he said, is a sweeping review of the Constitution, from the role of the president of republic to separation of a minister's post from the pool of MPs.
 Gov't accuses Samaras of 'nebulous philosophy'The government on Sunday accused main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras of a "nebulous philosophy" similar to that which led Greece to "fiscal chaos", commenting on the ND leader's press conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) earlier in the day.
"Mr. Samaras is pretending to forget his party's and his own personal blame -- as a minister in ND governments -- for today's state of the Greek economy," minister of state and government spokesman Elias Mossialos said in a statement.
He accused Samaras of throwing out numbers at will, without stipulating a specific and realistic proposal for exiting the crisis, of consuming himself with a description of the problems without saying where he will find the money to materialise his proposals, of promising tax reductions and increases in pensions in an effort to deceive the citizens that an easy way supposedly exists for solving the crisis, and of demanding elections but at the same time admitting that not even in that way will there be an immediate solution to the country's problems.
Mossialos further accused Samaras of having no compunction, speaking of a "pre-planned" recourse to the IMF while fully aware of the prime minister's struggle to find sources of financing for the country in exceptionally tough circumstances.
Samaras revealed that half his close associates were in favor of the Memorandum, "apparently because they realised that otherwise Greece would go bankrupt" but opted, however, to vote against it, preferring that the PASOK government take on the political cost and that he speaks from a safe position today, Mossialos continued.
The spokesman warned that Samaras was deluding himself if he believes that a "generalised citing of a nebulous 'different philosophy' will convince those who are going through truly hard times".
 Gov't official cites 15 conditions set out by 'troika' for 6th trancheA new round of closely watched and utterly crucial negotiations between the Greek government and the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" representatives will commence on Monday, with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos scheduled to hold a teleconference with the representatives.
Meanwhile, an email reportedly sent by a relevant general secretary of fiscal policy towards ministers and other general secretaries refers to no less than 15 new and immediate measures demanded by the "troika", including layoffs in the wider public sector, including teaching staff.
The email, signed by general secretary Ilias Pentazou, also cited the need for presidential decrees and ministerial decisions to expand the so-called "labour reserve" measure in all areas of the wider public sector; implementing the long-discussed equalisation of the tax on heating and diesel oil and even passing a law to withhold a taxpayers' salary or tax rebate to collect the so-called "solidarity tax" -- paid by employed people towards unemployment funds.
Other measures cited in the "laundry list" of measures ostensibly demanded by the "troika" and unveiled by the specific general secretary are cuts in pensions allocated by the merchant seamen's' (NAT) and Hellenic Telecoms (OTE) funds; slashing subsidies to the Greek Post Offices (EL.TA) for distributing the local press; a new legal framework in the public sector to cut severance pay and overtime; freezing primary and supplementary pensions until 2015; re-calculating (upwards) fines for illegally built structures; mergers or closure of 35 state-run agencies, as foreseen in the Mid-term Fiscal Strategic Programme, along with another 30 entities; immediate ministerial decisions to close or merge specific agencies and accurately recording all state assets.
Finally, the list includes a chronicling of all social and health benefits; collective bargaining agreements at 16 private hospitals, along with leasing agreements between the national healthcare system and private hospitals; slashes in OGA farm pensions and agreements with drug manufacturers to reduce prices.
 KKE leader: Make gov't, troika's life a hellCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Saturday called on the people to make the government's and Troika's (EC, ECB and IMF) "life a hell".
Closing the sessions of the 37th Communist Party youth (KNE) Festival in Athens, Papariga called the people to "immediate reaction, with the suspension of payments."
 PM postpones scheduled visit to USPrime Minister George Papandreou's scheduled visit to the United States has been postponed, according to a surprise announcement released on Saturday.
A statement issued by Papandreou's press office states:
"Given that next week will be extremely crucial for the implementation of the 21 July decisions in the Eurozone, and the initiatives that the country must undertake, Prime Minister George Papandreou has decided to postpone his scheduled visit to the United States."
Papandreou was scheduled to attend the UN General Assembly before heading to Washington D.C. for a series of meetings with US leadership and the head of the IMF.
 FM represents PM in meetings in UNNEW YORK (AMNA / P. Panagiotou)
Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis on Saturday met here with Archbishop of America Demetrios.
Lambrinidis referred to Prime Minister George Papandreou's postponement of his visit to the United States, noting that "these days are very crucial for the implementation of the 21 July decisions. We are present in all fields in Greece and in the UN."
The foreign minister will now represent the Greek premier in some of the latter's scheduled meetings, along with his participation in special sessions within the framework of the 66th UN General Assembly.
 Greek FM meets with UN chiefNEW YORK (AMNA / P. Panagiotou)
Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis met here on Sunday with UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, on the sidelines of the 66th UN General Assembly.
"Greece will not militarise talks before the Turkish provocations in the Aegean, and responds with arguments," Lambrinidis said after the meeting.
Escalation of tension by Ankara, the Cyprus issue, the fYRoM "name issue" and the situation in the Mideast as well as economic developments in Greece and Europe were among the issues discussed in the meeting with the UN chief.
Referring to the Turkish provocations, Lambrinidis said Greece took immediate actions and has already consolidated its sovereign rights internationally.
"Everyone is aware, all governments and companies involved, on where they can or cannot conduct surveys. What I have pointed out many times is that it is a huge mistake to militarise the discussion ... because Turkey wants to, because it does not have arguments. And for this reason it provokes tension. We have arguments, and we are safeguarding our country's interests and will continue to do so," he emphasised.
Regarding the fYROM "name issue", the Greek FM said that he presented to the UN chief Greece's position, while also noting that Athens has expressed its readiness in the procedure for a name with geographic determinant.
 Illegal migrants, trafficker arrested after police chaseA 31-year-old man was arrested on Saturday on charges of transporting illegal migrants with his car.
The vehicle, sporting Bulgarian plates, did not stop at a police checkpoint at Xanthi interchange on Egnatia motorway in NE Greece and sped away.
After a pursuit the suspect abandoned the vehicle with the illegals inside near the city of Kavala and attempted to escape on foot. Police found seven Iraqis, one Afghani, a Syrian and an Iranian national in the car.
 Foreign nationals arrested on felony drug chargesTwo foreign nationals were arrested on Saturday in the northern Greek cities of Thessaloniki and Veria with drug dealing charges. A 31-year-old Albanian was arrested in the Ambelokipi district of Thessaloniki when a search in his residence revealed more than five kilos of cannabis, 605 grams of heroin and a handgun.
In a separate incident, a 23-year-old Albanian man was arrested while he was on board a city bus. A search in his travel bag revealed 1,095 grams of cannabis and 210 grams of heroin. The suspect in 2010 had been arrested and remanded in custody at Korydallos prison facing robbery charges. He was later released under restrictive conditions.
 Fair turning stormySudden change in weather in the afternoon with a drop in temperatures in most parts of the country is forecast for Monday. The change will initially affect the northwestern parts with heavy storms during the night. Winds will be variable and wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Temperatures in the north will range from 13C to 35C. Fair on the islands, 20C-33C. Sunny in Athens, 23C-35C; Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, 19C-31C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glancePolitical and economic developments following the Eurogroup decision on Saturday for disbursement of the 6th tranche of the EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece under conditions, reactions to the new extraordinary surtax on real estate and the cancellation of prime minister George Papandreou's scheduled visit to the US in light of economic developments in Greece and Europe were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
AVGHI: "Society-Government: 40 days of showdown".
AVRIANI: "PM returns from London panic-stricken, paves the way for government of national salvation or snap elections".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Industry of political favors being set up with the reserve labor measure".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Social 'earthquake' hits government".
ETHNOS: "End to tax exemption for professionals with imposition of 'algorithmical tax' based on seven objective criteria such as real estate and other assets".
KATHIMERINI: "Merkel-Sarkozy: You're on your own, unless..."
LOGOS: "2011-2012 two unforgettable years".
NIKI: "How to gain money - All you should now about the banks' offers".
PROTO THEMA: "Layoffs in the major DEKO (public utilities and organisations) too - 20,000 employees from Public Power Corporation, Hellenic Petroleum, AteBank, Athens and Thessaloniki Water Boards and Port Authorities, Postal Bank in reserve labor status".
REALNEWS: "At the time that the country is sinking, war of dauphins breaks out in PASOK over succession to the party leadership".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Rally in Syntagma Square on Wednesday, 21 September, against the surtaxes".
TO PARON: "RASS opinion poll: Elections between November and February - 73 percent say no Papandreou re-election".
TO VIMA: "Default thriller - Eurogroup rejects Greek government's measures as insufficient".
VRADYNI: "Public sector: The changes for those who retire this year".
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