|Tuesday, 23 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-02-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 20 February 2012 Issue No: 4002
 PM Papademos addresses cabinet meeting, rules out commissioners at each ministryPrime Minister Lucas Papademos, addressing a cabinet meeting on Saturday, stressed that "on the issue of pensions, an extensive and intense discussion was held with the troika. The reduction could not be avoided. The repercussions, however, are milder than they have appeared. For someone receiving a pension of 1.500 euros, his pension will be reduced by 12 percent for the amount exceeding 1,300 euros. Meaning, it is beind reduced by 24 euros. As regards the issue of a commissioner or commissioners at each ministry, this will not be discussed. Permanent monitoring apparatuses are already anticipated and function for the implementation of the programme, that will be strengthened. There is no question of a commissioner."
Papademos also briefed the cabinet meeting that during the discussions he had over the past three days with leaders of EU countries, as well as with heads of institutional partners, he underlined the need for the immediate taking of measures to support economic activity, a "proposal that was received positively" and added that he expects "that in the next two weeks there shall be a specific and substantive response to this request".
The taking of decisions in light of the Eurogroup meeting on Monday, the promotion of the necessary actions that must be completed in the next three weeks in the framework of the implementation of the new programme and in light of the conclusion of the loan contract and the approval of the draft law of the Environment, Energy and Climatic Change ministry on issues of particular importance for the growth of the economy are the three urgent issues for which the prime minister convened a cabinet meeting.
According to what Papademos said, last week the Finance and Labour and Social Security ministries examined a series of additional measures amounting to 125 million euros so that the package on curbing expenditures by 325 million euros can be completed and added that the measures were based on certain criteria and among them a "substantive criterion is for them to have a steadfast and not a temporary character, meaning that they affect expenditures in a permanent way and therefore lead to a substantive and permanent reduction of the fiscal deficit."
As regards the Environment ministry's draft law, Papademos said that with it "the arrangement of important issues is pursued that concern, among other things, the development and utilisation of the Elliniko coastal site and of Aghios Kosmas, as well as the utilisation of the country's energy potential with the enactment and implementation of the "ILIOS" programme.
Lastly, Papademos underlined that the immediate support of economic activity constitutes a priority of the government's economic policy.
The meeting chaired by Papademos took final decisions concerning the measures that the country must take in order to receive the new bailout loans, including the time schedule for voting on them by the end of February.
An urgent draft bill on the cuts to pensions and the minimum wage will be tabled on Monday, along with a second urgent bill on issues concerning health care, pharmaceuticals and the restructuring and merger of supplementary pension funds.
The government has not ruled out the possibility of settling outstanding issues relating to the PSI bond swaps during a cabinet meeting next Tuesday through a Legislative Act.
It was decided that a public offer for the PSI bond swaps will be set on March 8 and concluded on March 11.
There was also heightened confidence at the meeting that the Eurogroup will approve the new economic programme for Greece after the briefing given by Papademos concerning his talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and other European leaders.
 PM Papademos departs for BrusselsGreece's Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, a technocrat at the head of an interim coalition government, was due to depart for Brussels later on Sunday for meetings with top European Union officials. These meeting are taking place ahead of Monday's crucial Eurogroup meeting, where Eurozone governments will make final decisions on whether to approve a second bailout package for Greece.
Sources say that certain critical issues concerning the deal have not yet been finalised, making it necessary for the prime minister to travel to Brussels in order to contribute to a final agreement and secure the Eurogroup's approval of the loans.
 ND leader outlines proposals for exit from Greek crisisNICOSIA (AMNA - A. Viketos)
In an interview with journalist Mihalis Papadopoulos of the Cyprus newspaper "Simerini" published on Sunday, main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras outlined his proposals for Greece's exit for the current crisis, starting with general elections.
"Specific things are needed now. Elections, so that a new government emerges with a fresh and powerful mandate, but also a new course toward growth. We will honour the goals of reducing the deficit but add another two priorities: growth and social cohesion," Samaras said.
ND's leader, who arrived in Nicosia later on Sunday, stressed that Greece was going through the most crucial period in its post-war history as a result of the "mistaken economic formula, the inadequacy and the inefficiency of PASOK governments".
He especially criticised former premier George Papandreou's "outrageous announcement of a referendum" that he said brought Greece to the edge of the precipice, facing an immediate uncontrolled default.
Samaras stressed that such an outcome would have been devastating for the country, leading to a looting of its people and its wealth not just in terms of property but also in terms of human potential, democracy, freedom and indepedence.
He expressed his conviction that ND's decision to support the PSI and the new loan agreement had put some distance between the country and disaster but also underlined that nothing was finally settled and a difficult path still lay ahead.
Asked about his party's u-turn on the issue of the Memorandum and the loans, Samaras said that the current situation was very different from that in early 2010.
"At that time the debt was sustainable, now it is not. At that time, the Europeans - with Papandreou chiefly responsible - believed that the problem was mainly Greek. Now they understand that it is not, that it is spreading to all of the rest of Europe. Especially in the European south. Then our presence in the Eurozone had not been questioned. Now it has," he said.
Concerning the rioting in central Athens last Sunday, Samaras said that those responsible for the damage had been "prepared and organised" and that their actions had harmed all Greece, adding that his party had "unsettled accounts" with them.
Finally, he stressed that ND will always stand at Cyprus' side in seeking a democratic, European and workable solution to the Cyprus issue, adding that anything falling short of these criteria "would not be sustainable and, in the final analysis, not a solution".
 ND party leader Samaras arrives in CyprusNICOSIA (AMNA/A. Viketos)
New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras arrived in Cyprus on Sunday afternoon for a two-day visit, accompanied by party officials.
The visit is taking place at the invitation of Cypriot Democratic Rally (DHSY) president Nikos Anastasiades, who welcomed him at Larnaca airport together with Greek Ambassador Vassilis Papaioannou.
Samaras will start the programme of his visit on Monday morning, when he will be meeting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.
 Schaeuble interview: Greece will get bailout if it implements reformsBERLIN (AMNA - F. Karaviti)
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble has signalled that further bailout funds for Greece will not be staggered and that Monday's Eurogroup will approve an overall deal if Greece can deliver on the necessary reforms, in an interview published by the German daily "Der Tagesspiegel" on Sunday.
"If Greece can implement all the necessary promises and reforms by the end of February and clears any other open questions, then the second aid package can be approved," Schaeuble said in the interview. "I think that a staggered agreement or an agreement step by step would not be constructive."
He also came back to the issue of when Greek elections should be held, denying that his earlier comments - which drew an angry reaction from Greek President Karolos Papoulias - were an attempt to interfere with the country's internal affairs.
"I know of no such Mr. Schaeuble," he replied when pressed about the Greek president's reaction, suggesting that Papoulias' outburst may have been the result of a misunderstanding concerning his statements.
The German finance minister also appeared confident that any deal reached will be approved by the German Parliament on February 27.
He expressed his sympathy for ordinary Greek people suffering under the austerity measures, putting the blame on Greece's political and economic elite for the current situation.
Schaeuble stressed that he had only referred to Italy's example and denied that Germany was trying to impose its desires on Greece, quoting former Greek prime minister George Papandreou to point out that Greece had a series of problems that had built up over a long period and made reforms painful and difficult to implement.
He also denied that the Eurozone was "moving the goal posts" and demanding additional guarantees in order to approve the bailout funds for Greece, insisting that Germany only wanted Greece to implement the things unanimously agreed by the European heads of state and government, including the Greek prime minister.
"We all need an adequate guarantee that the agreements will be upheld, regardless of the outcome of the elections. This applied for Portugal, it applied for Ireland and exactly the same applies for Greece," he added, noting that the implementation of measures that remained outstanding by the end of February and improved assistance in implementation would contribute to ensuring this.
He noted, also, that the Greek government had finally supplied a list of the measures it will take and precise deadlines for when they would be implemented last Wednesday and that things appeared to be "on the right path".
Concerning a special fund from which bailout funds will be released, Schaeuble noted that an agreement would be made at the Eurogroup meeting on such an account that will "give priority to reducing debt".
Officials in Athens said that the issue remained open and would be decided by the Eurogroup. If the account is set up, the total sums for paying off Greece's debts that are agreed and any additional funds to finance Greece will go into a special account and disbursed when the country needs to pay off its loans. If the money is not enough to cover the running costs and reduction of Greece's deficit, the amount will be topped up by cutting spending or by increased productivity of the Greek economy, the same official explained.
 Relatively small turnout for trade unions' rally in SyntagmaNot more than 1,500 people responded to a call for an anti-austerity rally organised in Syntagma Square on Sunday morning by Greece's largest trade union federations, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) representing the private sector and the public sector union federation ADEDY.
There was a moment of tension at around noon when a delegation of Northern Epirotes (ethnic Greeks of southern Albania) was depositing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to commemorate the anniversary of the declaration of the 'Autonomous State of Northern Epirus' in 1914.
A small group of protestors broke through a police cordon and tried to reach the monument but were finally pushed back.
Some 300 protestors remained outside Parliament early on Sunday afternoon, while traffic was closed off on roads surrounding Parliament.
A second rally has been organised at 5:00 p.m. by Leftist groups.
In statements at the protest rally, trade unionists stressed that the measures imposed on Greece's population were unprecedented in their severity and also "take on the character of reducing democracy and blocking them is a democratic and patriotic duty".
They stressed that Europeans had supported a 'social Europe' and that Greece was only a "pilot scheme" for measures that would continue to be imposed on all European countries and could only be overturned through the coordinated action of all European people.
 Second rally in Syntagma Square on SundayA large crowd of people gathered in Syntagma Square in downtown Athens on Sunday evening to demonstrate against the policy of the government and the EC/ECB/IMF troika.
"A policy that following the ratification of the new loan contract is leading the majority of people to unemployment, poverty and wretchedness," representatives of the demonstrators told AMNA.
Members of third stage trade union and leftist organisations, as well as the Indignant Motorcyclists of Greece expressed their solidarity for all the Europeans "who with their dynamic mobilisations yesterday (Saturday) with the main slogan 'We are all Greeks' sent a resounding first message to the leadership of the EU, as well as the entire world."
One trade unionist said repeated and extensive mobilisations will continue "in all forms for the reversal of the anti-popular policies".
Trade union representatives announced the continuation of mobilisations in the middle of the week against the ratification of the application law that will be tabled in Parliament on Monday.
Lastly, they announced dynamic participation on February 29 in the European mobilisation against the policies of the EU.
 Police hold 60 people as preventive measure ahead of Athens rallyPolice went ahead with the preventive holding of people suspected of going to create disturbances before Sunday afternoon's rally in Syntagma Square.
Police picked up a total of 60 people from various locations in Athens who were taken to the police headquarters in Alexandras avenue for their identity to be ascertained.
According to reports, items have not been found that could be used in incidents.
 'We are All Greeks' rallies, demos held throughout worldDemonstrations and rallies in support of the Greek people were held in London, New York, Paris, Nicosia and many other capitals around the world on Saturday as people responded to the call of the "We are All Greeks" movement to protest against the extreme austerity measures being imposed on the country by its creditors.
More than 300 protestors gathered at Manhattan's Liberty Plaza near Wall Street, while more than 1,000 turned out at Paris' Trocadero Square on Saturday afternoon and there was also a large turnout in Nicosia, Cyprus where protestors called the measures "disgraceful" and stressed that they were directed against the sovereignty of Greece but also that of other peoples and countries as well.
 Opinion polls published in Sunday's press show variety of resultsAn opinion poll prepared by MARC for the newspaper Ethnos tis Kyriakis shows an eight-party Parliament with the New Democracy party coming first in respondents' preferences.
ND polls 24 percent, the Democratic Left 15.2, PASOK 13.9, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 11.9, the Radical Left Coalition 10.7, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) 6.9, the Ecologists/Greens 3.3, the Democratic Alliance 3.2, Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) 2.8 and the Citizens Panhellenic Charriot 1.7.
Another poll conducted by ALCO and published in the newspaper Proto Thema shows a nine-party Parliament.
ND polls 24 percent, the Democratic Left 11.5, PASOK 11, KKE 11, SYRIZA 8, LAOS 5, Ecologists/Greens and Chryssi Avghi 3.5 and the Democratic Alliance 3.
Lastly a poll carried out by MRB and published in the newspaper Real News shows ND getting 19 percent and PASOK 8.2.
 Epirus province eyes Israeli tourist marketParticipation of the Epirus regional authority and the lakeside city of Ioannina, in NW Greece, at the 18th International Mediterranean Tourism Market, which took place in Tel Aviv last week, reportedly attracted the interest of Israeli tour operators.
Alternative forms of tourism combining sports activities (kayaking, rafting, mountain-climbing, hiking etc), visits to alpine and sea destinations, tours of medieval Jewish monuments and archaeological sites in the region are the "strong points" for Israeli tourism operators.
A representative of Israeli tour offices is expected to visit the province of Epirus in the near future to examine the prospect of beginning chartered flights from Tel Aviv to the airports of Ioannina or Aktio (outside Preveza).
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.335
Pound sterling 0.843
Danish kroner 7.544
Swedish kroner 8.964
Japanese yen 105.96
Swiss franc 1.226
Norwegian kroner 7.61
Canadian dollar 1.328
Australian dollar 1.241
 Ioannina liberation celebration to take place in plain spiritThe city of Ioannina, in northern Greece, will celebrate the 99th anniversary of its liberation from the Turks, on this coming Tuesday, in a plain spirit. For the first time, President Karolos Papoulias will not be attending celebrations and the government's representation will not be taking place by a minister but by the Citizen's Protection ministry's secretary general.
The municipality announced that the established reception on the eve of the anniversary will not be taking place and the February 21 parade will be limited.
 Mother and son arrested for moral complicity in arson and attempted extortionA mother and her son, aged 48 and 29 respectively, were arrested on Thursday for moral complicity in arson and attempted extortion against a 36-year-old woman with whom they had financial differences.
The defendants sent a 40-year-old Albanian national to burn the 36-year-old's car, while they, in parallel, were sending SMS messages threatening her and her underaged children with bodily harm.
The defendants have been brought before a prosecutor, while the Albanian is still at large.
 Case of abducted 32-year-old Pakistani solvedThe case concerning the abduction of a Pakistani national for ransom has been solved. The 32-year-old was abducted on 4-1-2011 in Neoktista in Aspropirgos and was released following the payment of 3,200 euros.
The perpetrators were five Pakistani nationals, of whom a 53-year-old was arrested who had kept the abducted man in detention and had received the ransom money for his release, while one of his accomplices, who was recognised by the victim, is already being held in custody in a case concerning the abduction and murder of a 43-year-old fellow countryman of his.
The perpetrator arrested has been brought before a prosecutor, while his remaining three accomplices are still at large.
 Benaki lecture on Mogao Grottoes of DunhuangThe embassy of the People's Republic of China in Greece and the Athens-based Benaki Museum will host a lecture on the Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang, a World Cultural Heritage site of China, on Tuesday.
Fan Jinshi, the director of the Dunhuang Academy of China, will be the guest speaker at the event, to be held at the museum.
The Benaki Museum is located at 138, Pireos St. "http://www.benaki.gr"
 Incident between Libyans at Athens hotelAn incident between Libyan nationals occurred at the "President" hotel in the Athens district of Ambelokipi at 3:30 on Saturday morning, resulting in police closing the lane on Kifisias avenue leading to Athens for 15 minutes.
The tension was probably created due to political differences, but the incident did not develop further due to intervention by police. Three people were taken for questioning and were released later on.
 Police dismantle robbery ringPolice have dismantled a ring composed of Albanian nationals who carried out armed robberies at homes at nights, mainly in the southern suburbs of Athens. Police have arrested five people in Paleo Faliro, aged 26, 24, 23, 21 and 20, while another 25-year-old accomplice of theirs is being sought.
Investigations have revealed that over the past four months and with a different composition every time, they entered homes during night or early morning hours and using pistols and knives stole cash, valuables, mobile phones and electronic and electric items and in some cases cars.
Police have solved 12 robberies so far in the districts of Alimos, Aghios Dimitrios, Nea Smyrni, Ilioupoli and Vyronas.
A search of the apartment they lived in revealed and led to the confiscation of mobile phones, burglary tools, knives, gloves and other items. The perpetrators have been brought before a prosecutor, while their participation in other offences is also being probed.
 Killing of 72-year-old in Krinida solvedPolice have solved the killing of a 72-year-old that took place in his home in the city of Krinida on February 11, with police investigations leading to two young foreign nationals.
According to an announcement by police, a file of proceedings has been prepared for intentional homicide and robbery against a 17-year-old Bulgarian national and a 23-year-old fellow countryman of his who, however, have not been arrested and who are believed to have escaped to Bulgaria.
Police investigations revealed that the two perpetrators, taking advantage of their familiarity with the victim, entered his home and used force to take money from him, resulting in his death. They stole from the home 800 euros and banknotes not in circulation and drachma coins and Cyprus pounds.
 Super League resultsPanathinaikos Athens beat Ergotelis Crete 2-0 away in games played for the Greek Super League over the weekend, while Olympiacos Piraeus beat Panionios Athens 2-0 at home and the game between AEK Athens and OFI Crete was postponed.
In other action:
Xanthi-Asteras Tripoli 0-1
Panetolikos Agrinio-Levadiakos Livadia 0-2
PAS Yiannina-Atromitos Athens 1-2
Kerkyra-Doxa Drama 3-1
PAOK Thessaloniki-Aris Thessaloniki 0-0
Standings after 22 weeks of play:
1. Panathinaikos 54 points
2. Olympiacos 52
3. PAOK 39
4. AEK 37 (21 games)
5. Atromitos 34 (21 games)
6. OFI 32 (21 games)
7. Asteras 31
8. Aris 30
9. Xanthi 29
10. Panionios 23
11. Ergotelis 23
12. Levadiakos 22 (20 games)
13. PAS Yiannina 18 (20 games)
14. Panetolikos 18
15. Kerkyra 18 (21 games)
16. Doxa 12 (20 games)
 Showers on MondayCloudy weather with slightly warmer temperatures is forecast on Monday, with many areas experiencing brief showers and rain. Winds will blow from mainly southeasterly directions, ranging from 0-6 Beaufort. Temperatures will range from lows of -2C in parts of northern Greece to a maximum of 15C in the islands of the Aegean and Crete. Light showers expected in Athens, with temperatures from 6C to 12C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 2C to 11C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe worldwide demonstrations in support of Greece, the tough negotiations before the upcoming Eurogroup meeting and polls showing that conditions favour the emergence of new political parties dominated the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
AVGHI: "They tremble at democracy".
ARTHRO: "Difficult responsible choices from [main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis] Samaras".
AVRIANI: "We are all Greeks".
DEMOKRATIA: "National shame. They are now 'waiving' compensation from WWII occupation".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The new scene in the centre-right in view of elections in April".
EPOCHI: "Merkozy attacks, peoples mobilise".
ETHNOS: "'Cerberus' commissioners at all ministries".
FREE SUNDAY: "System topsy-turvy"
KATHIMERINI: "Last chance for reaching a deal".
LOGOS: "How to save your money..."
NIKI OF DEMOCRACY: "Safe refuges for our money".
PARASKINIO ON SUNDAY: "[Defence Minister Dimitris] Avramopoulos to... Merkozy: Don't fear elections in Greece".
PARON (weekly): "German boss in banks!".
PROTO THEMA (weekly): "[Greek technocratic PM Lucas] Papademos the second 'party' with 20 percent".
REALNEWS (weekly): "They are getting 'written off' by the citizens".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The people must prevent the worst by fighting for popular power".
TO VIMA: "79 measures in 10 days!".
VRADYNI on SUNDAY: "Guide: How to give your debts a 'haircut'".
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