|Friday, 23 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-01-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 2 January 2012 Issue No: 3963
 PM calls for collective effort, systematic workPrime minister Lucas Papademos called for a collective effort with systematic work and social solidarity, and without barren antagonism, in a New Year's message on Saturday.
Papademos called on the Greek people for a collective effort so that Greece will permanently avert an irregular, disastrous default in the critical first quarter of 2012, so as to remain in the euro and return to a growth orbit.
"The next three months will be particularly critical. The decisions to be taken will determine Greece's course over the next decades. It is our duty to work systematically.
With a plan, a collective effort, clear goals and persistence in their materialisation, with the responsibility and cooperation of the political forces, we can turn 2012 into a year of hope," the transitional prime minister said, and stressed the need for the steps that commenced in 2011 and kept the country standing on its own two feet to not be stopped.
"The efforts that were made, the sacrifices of the Greek people and the solidarity of our partners resulted in Greece's averting economic disaster and in our taking substantial steps towards exiting the crisis," he said.
Papademos called on everyone to contribute to dealing with the uncertainty and social repercussions of the crisis, given that "our society was and is sorely tried".
He said that incomes were reduced and unemployment increased, while thousands of families, especially in these days, were suffering the consequences of the crisis. "We must stand at their side, as befits a society of humanity and solidarity. No one should be alone. We are one people, one nation, in a common tribulation," the premier added.
Papademos recalled that struggles and sacrifices of preceding generations, which did not abandon the effort for a better tomorrow, and set out as his priorities the streamlining of the state, building the economy on firm foundations, and rendering the Greek economy competitive once again.
"We are a proud people. We will safeguard our place in Europe. The euro is our currency. The Europe of the developed countries is our common home," he stressed.
On the global situation and the crisis in the eurozone, Papademos said that "we are living in the worst post-war international and domestic crisis", adding, however, that "we can overcome the crisis.
"But magic solutions do not exist," he warned, and called for unity in order to exit the crisis.
 PM spends New Year Day with homeless, poorPrime minister Lucas Papademos and his wife visited the indoor stadium in the Rouf district of Athens on Sunday and partook of a New Year's meal for the homeless and poor from the wider Athens area organised by the City of Athens in the context of its solidarity programme, in the absence of television cameras.
The Papademos couple was greeted at the venue by Athens mayor George Kaminis and government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis.
In the absence of television cameras, which were not allowed access, the Papademos couple, Kaminis and Kapsis ate with and exchanged wishes for a good year with the homeless and poor, and listened to their requests for boosting social welfare programmes.
Papademos said it was a great pleasure for him that he had the opportunity to celebrate the New Year "with our fellow citizens who have greater need".
"It was a lovely and warm atmosphere," he said, and congratulated the Mayor and the volunteers, expressing hope that more people would follow their example.
 President urges consensus, personally guarantees Greece will emerge from crisisPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, in a New Year's Message, urged consensus among all the members of the government, all the political parties, the trade unionists, the intellectual and business world and the state functionaries, as well as those who form the public opinion, and personally guaranteed that Greece will exit from the crisis.
Papoulias stressed that "in 2012 we will either succeed or we will fail definitively", and sounded the warning bell for salary and pension earners, warning: "The austerity measures and excessive taxation of salary earners and pensioners are not the only way. Austerity without dignity means dissolution of the social cohesion."
He said that the formation of the cooperation government under prime minister Lucas Papademos is a significant step "that must not remain suspended", adding that "the front against Greece's exit from the eurozone must be indissoluble, because it is our duty to avert a national disaster, with unbearable consequences, especially for the weak".
Unfortunately, however, the perception prevailing in the eurozone is that a restrictive policy is the response to the crisis, the President said.
He also stressed the need for clamping down on tax evasion, "an issue of national survival", and the creation of a new social contract for protection of the weak, which, he said, will be ensured only if "those who have" are treated on terms of equality before the law and the state".
"I do not believe that balancing the numbers brings happiness to the peoples. The solution is in growth and employment. This is why it is crucial that we show immediate results. Only in that way will we be able to demand from our partners an improvement of the adjustment programme, and developmental assistance in order to come out of the recession," Papoulias stressed.
He expressed wishes for all the Greek people, its military, those working in hospitals and those hospitalised, the Greek seamen and every citizen not celebrating this year, and urged the Greeks living abroad to keep in their hearts their homeland "which frequently hurts them".
 President voices support for Papademos governmentPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias voiced support for the transitional government of prime minister Lucas Papademos on Sunday, speaking to reporters after the traditional ceremony at the Presidential Mansion where the political, military and judicial leaderships exchange wishes for the New Year.
"It is my sentiment that, with the Papademos government, there is an abatement, the dust cloud has settled," Papoulias said, asked by reporters whether he saw a restoration of the climate of society's confidence in the political system.
Papoulias added that the prime minister was facing a war against him. "I see it in the newspapers, with comments that could have been avoided, since we all say and seek a lot of money from Europe," he said.
The President appeared optimistic on the country's course, noting that the economic figures at his disposal indicate that the conditions are better for dealing with the crisis, as well as the fact that during his own Christmas holiday in Germany, where he visited his children, he ascertained that the Greek businesses abroad are beginning to develop.
"Since a technocrat such as Mr. Papademos is optimistic, we should all share that optimism," the President continued.
On the need for unanimity among the political parties backing the government, Papoulias said that, from his own experience as minister in the past, he understands that a government with such breadth has difficulties. Besides, he added, the Italian government, with a much smaller size, also faces difficulties.
As for whether elections will take place before or after Easter (which falls on April 15 this year), Papoulias refrained from taking a position, referring reporters to the relevant statements by the political party leaders, but stressed that he is prepared to contribute if asked of him.
He also urged the mass media to broadcast the information they have in their true dimensions, instead of seeking to create sensationalism.
New Year wishes were presented to the President by prime minister Papademos, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis whose parties, together with the former ruling PASOK, are backing and participating in the cooperation government, as well as Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, while the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) was represented by Theodore Dritsas.
The ceremony was not attended by SYRIZA parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras, Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis and Democratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis, while parliament president Filippos Petsalnikos was represented by parliament's first vice-president Grigoris Niotis.
Earlier, the President and Prime Minister attended a doxology for the New Year at the Aghios (Saint) Dionyssios Areopagitou church.
 Papandreou: Hope that 2012 will open new horizons for GreecePASOK leader and former prime minister George Papandreou expressed the wish that 2012 will be a year that will open up new horizons for Greece, in a New Year's message released on Saturday.
"May 2012 be a year that will open up new horizons for our country, for all the Greeks, for us and our children," Papandreou said.
On outgoing 2011, Papandreou said that "it was a tough year for all of us", adding that "our country fought to safeguard its very existence".
"Despite the immense difficulties both collective and individual for each and every Greek, for every family, we have managed until now to stand upright," Papandreou continued.
He said that there was still a long road, struggle and much effort ahead, "but we also have, at the same time, decisively and all together, laid the foundations and conditions to exit the crisis, and we are in a position to open up a new page for Greece".
The coming year must be a year of immense collective effort, he said, stressing that the challenge to mobilise our strength is a big one, "but I remain optimistic that, with great effort, we will succeed".
 Samaras: Best New Year's wish is to take our fate into our own hands once again"The best wish is to take our fate into our own hands once again," New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said in a New Year's message released on Saturday.
He wished everyone "a good year", collectively and individually, and to Greece, and expressed hope that 2012 "will mark the end of the great trial our people are going through and the beginning of hope for our Greece".
 Samaras: Elections before EasterNew Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said that he will not tolerate obstructions and reiterated his firm position that elections must be held before Easter, in an article he wrote appearing in the Saturday edition of RealNews newspaper, stressing that it is in Greece's interests that it has a government with a fresh and strong mandate.
Samaras, who heads one of the three parliamentary parties backing the transitional government of prime minister Lucas Papademos, also said that if the bond swap agreement (PSI) is concluded earlier, elections could the also be held earlier.
He added that if a few additional weeks are required (beyond the February 19 date initially agreed among the party leaders in the formation of the cooperation government under Papademos), elections could be delayed for a short while. But not to after Easter (which falls on April 15 in 2012).
"I will not tolerate hindrances...Those who believe that this period offers itself for petty party expediencies, they should be aware that our (ND) patience is not inexhaustible," Samaras warned.
He further noted that no commitment has been undertaken for further cuts (in salaries and pensions), and also stressed that "in times of crisis, the politicians are obliged to manifest responsibility and determination".
 Papariga: 2012 will be worse than 2011Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga warned on Saturday that the new year, 2012, will be worse than the outgoing 2011, and urged for a counter-attack by the working people against the government, the state and the monopolies.
"Given that 2012 will be much worse than 2011 and the preceding years, what is needed today is a fighting, mass organisation of the working people, a counterattack aimed at the government, the state and the monopolies themselves, otherwise the following years will be exceptionally torturous and unbearable," Papariga said in a statement.
She also pledged that the KKE will work in the direction of the people realising their irreplaceable and unexploited strength.
 Karatzaferis urges 'more seriousness' from PASOK, ND leadersPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis said that perhaps most of Greece's problems would have been solved, as they were solved in Cyprus, with the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the natural gas deposits found.
He warned that Greece was missing out on opportunities "because we never had governments representing the need to serve all those purposes".
Karatzaferis expressed hope that the new year, which will be an election year, "will give the opportunity to the Greek people to change the establishment, to change the old, to change the iniquitous two-party system and give a chance to new forces that have desire, imagination and experience so that we may give to the people more hope, more expectations, more satisfaction and, above all, to give back to them the smile they have lost all these years".
On the political situation, Karatzaferis said that the problems are immense and uphill, and warned that if full identity of views is lacking among the political leaders backing the cooperation government, Greece could fail.
"And if we fail now, we will fail permanently," he warned, and appealed to the leaderships of New Democracy (ND) and PASOK for "more seriousness" to finally find a leadership so that "we will have a result that will ensure optimism".
 Opinion polls indicate voters turning their backs on political partiesGreek voters appear to be turning their backs on the political parties, according to the results of an opinion poll conducted by Kapa Research appearing in the weekend edition of To Vima newspaper, while 77.2 percent of the respondents consider the salvation of Greece and its stay in the euro currency the top priority.
Regarding voter intent, undecided voters placed first with 29.5 percent, followed by 21.4 percent in favour of New Democracy (ND), 12.6 percent for PASOK, 9.3 percent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 6.2 percent for the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance), 5.3 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, 5.0 percent for the Democratic Left, 2.8 percent for the Ecologists-Greens and 2.5 percent for the Democratic Alliance party.
Asked to evaluate the political leaders, transitional prime minister Lucas Papademos received the most positive opinions with 66 percent, followed by Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis with 51.4 percent, ND leader Antonis Samaras with 35 percent, SYRIZA parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras with 30.6 percent, KKE leader Aleka Papariga with 26 percent, LAOS leader George Karatzaferis with 22.2 percent, Democratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis with 21 percent, and PASOK leader and former prime minister George Papandreou with 18.8 percent.
In the event that the next elections do not produce a self-sufficient government and a coalition government is formed, 40.1 percent of the respondents prefer current transitional prime minister Lucas Papademos to head such a government as premier, followed by 35.4 percent desiring the leader of the first party in votes to head the government, while 24.5 percent of the respondents were undecided.
In a separate opinion poll conducted by Metron Analysis, the results of which appear in the weekend edition of Eleftheros Typos newspaper, with respect to voter intent, 18.8 percent preferred ND against 11.0 percent for PASOK, followed by the KKE with 8.7 percent, SYRIZA with 6.9 percent, LAOS with 5.9 percent, Democratic Left with 3.8 percent, Ecologists-Greens with 3.7 percent and Democratic Alliance with 1.6 percent.
In a comparison with preceding Metron Analysis opinion polls, which are conducted every six months, PASOK has lost 15 percentage points in the space of one year, with most of the lost votes going to the 'undecided, abstention, blank and invalid ballots' category.
 Improved amendment submitted in Parliament on prison decongestionJustice Minister Miltiades Papaioannou has submitted an improved amendment in Parliament on measures for decongesting prisons so that better living conditions can be achieved for detainees in the overcrowded prison system.
It is believed that the amendment, that has been included in the bill on combatting manifestations of racism and xenophobia, will function in a favourable way for at least 1,500 detainees and will give the country's overstretched prisons a "breather". Greek prisons have a capacity for 9,700 detainees but currently house 12,586, of whom 7,000 are foreign nationals (57.4 percent).
 New Year begins with strikes in health sectorPharmacists and doctors are ringing in the New Year with strikes this coming week.
Pharmacists will cease giving medicines on credit to the insured of all the social security Funds as of January 1, while pharmacies will also be closed on Monday and Tuesday (Jan.2-3) during a 48-hour strike in protest of a reduction in the profit percentage of pharmacies to 15 percent, in an across-the-board 1.5 percent reduction of profit on the retail price of medicines and a further escalated reduction of 1.5 percent for pharmacies with a monthly turnover of more than 40,000 euros.
Doctors will also be on strike on January 2-5 in line with a 4-day strike called by the Panhellenic Medical Association (PIS), including IKA (state Social Security Foundation) and hospital doctors, also encompassing local Health Centers.
 Fireworks display celebrates advent of New Year in AthensAthens celebrated the advent of the New Year, 2012, with an impressive fireworks display in the city center at midnight Saturday.
The fireworks illuminated the sky over the ancient Parthenon temple atop the Acropolis Hill, as Athenians thronged to see the spectacle first hand and share a moment of pleasure and hope that 2012 will bring back smiles to the country, which is beleaguered by economic crisis and deep recession compounded by heavy austerity.
 Piraeus Port Authority welcomes first ship to enter port in new yearThe first ship to enter the port of Piraeus at 2:00 after midnight on Saturday, as the new year arrived, was welcomed by the administration of the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) and the Piraeus Harbour Authority at noon on Sunday.
The vessel was the "Blue Star Delos" that plies the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Thira route.
OLP's president and managing director offered honourary gifts and books to the captain and crew, wished them a good year, to have good voyages in 2012 and continue to serve the islands in the best possible way.
 45 migrants found locked up in abandoned vanPolice on Saturday detained 45 illegal migrants found locked up in an abandoned van in the Nea Philadelphia suburb of Athens.
DIAS motorcycle police spotted a parked van, and 45 migrants -- 42 from Afghanistan, 2 from Iraq and one from Egypt -- locked in the back of the van.
An investigation turned up that members of an organised migrant-smuggling ring had approached the migrants in various parts of central Athens and offered to smuggle them into Italy via Igoumenitsa port, at a cost of 1,000-1,500 euros each.
Some of the migrants pre-paid the asked sum, while the rest were to pay upon their arrival in Italy.
For reasons as yet unknown, the migrant smugglers did not carry out the transportation, and abandoned the van with the migrants locked inside at the spot where the police found the vehicle. Six migrants, members of the ring, were being sought by police.
 Foreign national arrested with 107 kilos of hashishA 42-year-old Albanian was arrested on Saturday on the Athens-Patras national highway after 107 kilos of hashish were found in his car's trunk.
Police found the drug during a routine check.
The hashish, totaling 107.697 kilos packaged in 103 packets, was seized together with the car and two cell phones.
 Contraband cigarettes seized in trucks near Greek-Bulgarian border, drivers soughtA large quantity of contraband cigarettes was seized by police on Saturday near the Greek-Bulgarian borders.
Police found and confiscated 115,000 packets of cigarettes hidden in two trucks parked in a remote area near the border.
The trucks carried Bulgarian license plates.
Police are searching for the drivers on both sides of the border, in cooperation with the Bulgarian authorities.
 Explosion in Perama, no injuriesAn explosion occurred at dawn Saturday outside a fish tavern in the area of the fishermen's wharf in Perama.
The explosion caused only material damage, and harbour police investigating the incident tentatively attributed it to a settlement of accounts over personal differences.
A quantity of explosive material has been recovered from the site, which was sent to the harbour authority's laboratory for analysis.
 Fine weather on MondayFine weather was forecast throughout the country on Monday.
Scattered cloud in Athens in the morning, with winds of 3-5 beaufort velocity and temperatures ranging from 04C to 14C. The same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 01C to 09C.
 The Saturday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAn account of 2011 and estimates for 2012 in conjunction with the state of the Greek economy dominated the headlines on Saturday in Athens' dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "What we paid in 2011, what 2012 is bringing - 10 new surtaxes and 'haircuts' of salaries and pensions - 15 tax burdens".
AVGHI: "For a new beginning: 2012 reasons to halt the vicious circle and injustice".
AVRIANI: "Greece going bankrupt with mathematical precision".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "33 billion euros in capital outflow from Greece to tax havens at end 2010, IMF survey shows".
ETHNOS: "Upsets with shadows in the case of the (resigned financial) prosecutors".
KATHIMERINI: "Provopoulos (Bank of Greece governor): The drachma (return to) would be hell".
KERDOS: "In the constellation of recession".
LOGOS: "Social security issue opens with increase of retirement age to 67".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Tax bill for the new year at 7.5 billion euros".
NIKI: "What we gain, what we lose if we return to the drachma".
PROTO THEMA: "The way you're going, you will go bankrupt in 2012, Mr. Papademos".
REALNEWS: "First the measures, then elections - Troika ultimatum to government on new Memorandum".
RIZOSPASTIS: "KKE (Communist Party of Greece) message to the people: 2012 must be a year of labour and popular counter-attack".
TO ARTHRO: "Controlled default within two months".
TO VIMA: "Economy and state funds in dire straits".
VRADYNI: "Public sector: All the changes in salaries and pensions".
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