|Saturday, 2 December 2023|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-09-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 10 September 2012 Issue No: 4170
 Samaras: Latest cuts the last; eurozone exit avoidedPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Saturday reiterated that Greece will overcome the current and deep economic crisis that it is facing, emphasising that unity will ensure that the international climate vis-a-vis the country will "continue to move in our favour".
Samaras spoke from Thesssaloniki, where he began a half-day visit to inaugurate the annual trade fair in the northern city -- the largest in Greece -- but symbolically breaking from a past tradition by not addressing local business and political leaders and returning to Athens the same day. Samaras also canceled the customary, and usually nationally televised press conference, that Greek premiers gave on the first Sunday of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
"The only thing I ask of you is to believe in yourselves; for the entire Greek people to believe in their strength," he said, stressing that the "Cassandras" of Greece's eurozone exit are proving wrong.
"The profiteers of destruction bet on our failure, we won't do them the favour ... The next six months, until the end of October, will determine many things, and it's up to us to succeed ... If we remain united in two years the situation will be much different from the one today. Not all the problems will have been solved, but the light at the end of the tunnel will be clearly seen," he said.
Samaras, who heads a coalition government dominated by his New Democracy party but is also backed by rival PASOK and the smaller Democratic Left party, said the most prominent achievement of his government since the June 17 election has been to keep Greece firmly in the eurozone.
"We promised a re-negotiation and are already improving the country's negotiating position, which is a condition for whatever improvement, with (other governments) already starting to listen to us. We promised to make recovery a priority, and that's what we've done. We promised to deal with illegal immigration and crime, and in a matter of weeks we did things that had not occurred in years," he added.
Samaras cited what he called "three truths" in statements immediately after inaugurating the 77th TIF, firstly, that Greece was eerily close to exiting the eurozone -- popularised as "Grexit" by international media and analysts.
"The out-of-Greece 'drachma lobby' appeared, momentarily, to have gained the upper hand. Greece would have died (in such a case) and would have suffered more with such a 'death' than any other country in world has suffered in peace time," he said.
A "second truth", according to the Greek prime minister, was the necessity to restore the Greek government's credibility in order to preclude any economic catastrophe. "We had to proceed rapidly and implement our commitments ... Thirdly, a reduction of spending had to implemented anyway."
Amid the pending finalisation of a latest package of austerity measures, budgeted at no less than 11.5 billion euros, Samaras repeated that the "these (measures) will be the last".
The latest austerity measures, widely expected to cut salary scales in the wider public sector and pensions, have expectedly generated heated opposition, especially amongst specialised professional clusters, such as law enforcement, the judiciary, medical staff at public facilities and educators.
"We are trying to avoid horizontal cuts, because they are unfair; above all, we are trying to make them (salary cuts) temporary. When the economy rebounds, these harsh cutbacks will slowly begin to be restored. I cannot tell you which ones, when and to what extent they'll be restored, but I can tell you that when the country again returns to growth, when we escape from deficits, we will start from those that have been the most unfairly dealt with: the low-income pensioners, those with large families, those in the middle class that are the most sorely tested, and those in uniform," he underlined.
 Party leaders meeting ends, new meeting on WednesdayGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, briefing reporters following the meeting between the three party leaders supporting the government at the Maximos Mansion on Sunday evening, said the government's cohesion is unquestionable.
"We are all trying for the best. There is no good person and bad person", he said and spoke of anxiety that existed during the meeting for the best possible result.
Kedikoglou admitted that an issue existed on some of the measures proposed by the EC/ECB/IMF troika and stressed that "we must convince on their effectiveness and pricing".
"And we do not want horizontal cutbacks in pensions," he added, noting that the question is for measures to be found which will be acceptable with the aim of maintaning the cohesion of society.
He also said that the time limits are narrowing and expressed the assessment that an agreement will be reached on Wednesday, at the new meeting of the party leaders.
On his part, PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos said that "we have not concluded, because the troika has not accepted the proposals of the economic staff in their entirety and we have made counterproposals because there are issues on which we cannot backtrack, the disability bonuses cannot be touched, we cannot be horizontal on cutbacks of pensions".
In parallel, he stressed that his relation with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is excellent and that there is no question of the government's cohesion, but cohesion of society and endurance of the economy.
Venizelos said that "what is preoccupying us now is the specialisation of the measures to take place with internal fairness, because there are endurance limits", underlining that "we cannot exceed the endurance limits of the middle and low classes and for this reason there must be counterbalancing packages of measures, of strengthening growth, of social protection".
Democratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis said on his part that "we discussed the measures again, on the distribution of the measures. The discussion has not been completed and there has been no specific decision. One thing is certain, that I am pursuing that the measures be fair, not to be unequal, not to bleed any more the low incomes, for the economically weak of this country to be protected. And of course all this to be included in an overall framework that will exceed, not only the need for the 11.5 billion euros, but will exceed this package and will be part of a growth procedure. The recession is deep. Whatever measures, if they are not accompanied by immediate growth measures, will have no result.
"Our European partners must realise that the Greek people cannot stand any more. And for this reason I claim and recorded with all clarity, for me, for the Democratic Left, that nothing is a given fact at the moment," he added.
Lastly, he concluded that the troika must realise that whatever measures and whatever demands it puts forward have a society that is divided as the recipient.
 Independent Greeks party on meeting between the three party leadersIndependent Greeks party spokesman Christos Zois, in an announcement on Sunday evening on the meeting between the leaders of the three parties supporting the government, said that "nobody is interested and does not follow the meetings of the three government partners because all know well that they take place for the sake of appearances, since the measures have been 'locked', they have the approval of the creditors and the only thing that is under way is their communication managing".
 FinMin Stournaras concludes meeting with troika headsA meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the heads of the EC/ECB/IMF troika ended on Sunday evening, after 2.5 hours, while a senior Finance ministry official stated immediately afterwards that "the troika has expected objections on some measures that they do not fully understand and they want us to specialise them".
Asked if "in the case of specialisation there is the possibility of them being rejected by the troika", he replied "yes" and added that, however, "the package must be 'locked' as soon as possible".
In parallel, another senior economic staff official said that in essence the troika does not accept revenues from tax evasion being registered in the package of measures, pointing out that "we must prove first that we can be effective, through a gradual increase in revenues".
The meeting at the Finance ministry began at 4 in the afternoon and the Finance ministry's political leadership turned up with files that contained measures exceeding 17 billion euros so that, after objections by the troika, a "net" result of 11.9 billion euros to result for the 2013-2014 period. Asked whether the amount of the troika's objections is 2 billion euros, the senior ministry official declined to comment.
The meeting was attended on the Greek side by Finance Minister Stournaras, Alternate Minister Christos Staikouras, Deputy Minister George Mavraganis and other officials.
According to reports, the Greek side also presented the basic cases of the so-called "macroeconomic scenario", that mainly concerns recession and unemployment that are moving out of control and are linked with the debt's viability report.
As regards the package of measures there shall be initial indications in the draft plan of the new budget, that will be publicised by this coming Friday, while Stournaras will present the measures at the Eurogroup meeting in Nicosia on September 14.
 FinMin on talks with the EC/ECB/IMF troikaGreek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Sunday night that a packet of measures currently being discussed with the EC/ECB/IMF troika must be finalised as soon as possible.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the leaders of the three parties supporting the Antonis Samaras government at the Maximos Mansion, Stournaras added that the measures were now debated at a "technical work crews" level, noting that discussions "are being held in order to achieve the best mixture of measures."
The measures that have not been accepted are few, the minister concluded.
 SYRIZA on meeting between FinMin and troika headsAn announcement by the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party on Sunday evening, referring to the meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras with the heads of the troika, said that "for Mr. Stournaras the billions are figures. For Greek society however they are jobs, pensions, salaries, the closure of businesses, they are human lives with which no one is entitled to play."
It was added that Stournaras presented measures amounting to 17 billion "so that they can choose the first 11.5, but at the same time to also have a deposit for new measures later."
Referring to the meeting between the leaders of the three parties that support the government, the announcement said that the prime minister and the leaders of PASOK and the Democratic Left "are applying themselves to communication exercises to convince that they are anxious whether the measures are horizontal and injure social cohesion. They are trying in vain each for himself to deny his responsibilities. Our people know that their joint complicity is absolute and will judge all of them exactly in the same way for the crime they are perpetrating against Greek society".
 PASOK leader visits TIF, addresses PASOK event on youth problemsThe latest package of painful austerity measures will be the last, provided there is agreement with the EU-IMF troika, PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos told reporters on Sunday, in statements after attending an event at the 77th Thessaloniki International Fair on the problems of young people.
According to the leader of the second-largest party in the coalition government, Greece had achieved remarkable results in terms of fiscal consolidation so far.
In an earlier speech, Venizelos had urged all sides to hark back to the statements of all political leaders a year ago and work out for themselves who had been consistent and who had not. He also expressed his displeasure at those presuming to "wag their finger at PASOK", noting that the party did not accept lessons from anyone since it had "carried the cross" alone.
Concerning his meeting with the two other party leaders in the coalition government - Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis - on Sunday evening, he said that he will present proposals prepared by PASOK that have also been presented to the government's financial team, stressing that wage-earners and pensioners could not be asked to give any more.
According to Venizelos, the issue was not to make Greece 'likeable' to its EU creditors but to establish an equal relationship without negative stereotypes.
Venizelos had earlier met representatives of Thessaloniki business and professional associations, again stressing that his party had taken painful measures without considering their political cost and defending the often controversial decisions he had made as finance minister, such as the surtax on property.
He also met the managements of the fair organisers' TIF SA and Helexpo SA in light of a government plan to merge the two companies and the Greek exports promotion organisation into one.
 Papariga attacks SYRIZA, coalition at KNE-Odigitis festivalCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga addressed the KNE-Odigitis festival organised by her party's youth group in Thessaloniki on Saturday night, stressing that only the path of confrontation and reversal would bring results.
Papariga forecast that the crisis had not yet "touched bottom" and that there was worse yet to come, while even if a recovery should take place its benefits would not extend to the masses, who would be left languishing at the bottom "with no helping hand to raise them".
She attacked the three parties in the coalition government and main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), noting that the last elections had been a debacle for the former 'main' parties New Democracy and PASOK but not for the system that was able to use other formations, while SYRIZA was rapidly evolving into a proper centrist party.
 Police probe into Chryssi Avghi-linked attacks at outdoor street marketsPolice on Saturday commenced an urgent investigation into a disturbance at an outdoor flea market in the east Attica coastal town of Rafina a day earlier when video footage surfaced showing at least two Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) MPs -- at the head of a group of roughly 40 black-shirted men -- checking vendors' licenses.
Footage shows a group of men later smashing stalls at the flea market, held outside a cathedral on the occasion of its annual feast day, ostensibly because the vendors of those stalls, reported as foreign nationals, lacked necessary permits.
The video of the disturbance was later posted on the ultra-nationalist party's website, along with statements by the MPs warning that "illegal street trade by illegal immigrants" will not be tolerated by the party. They also warned that similar actions will continue nationwide.
A similar incident, also videotaped, was reported in the western Greece town of Messolonghi on Saturday, where another Chryssi Avghi MP elected from the area led a group of party cadres through a weekly outdoor produce market, before smashing a handful of makeshift stands set up by what they claimed where illegal street vendors.
The incidents generated immediate and angry responses by at least two parties, PASOK and KKE, which called on the relevant public order minister to take action against the Chryssi Avghi MPs and their supporters.
In a later statement, the controversial party stated that "the actions by our members are absolutely legal. The state should stop covering up for illegal traders and illegal immigrants."
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.289
Pound sterling 0.808
Danish kroner 7.563
Swedish kroner 8.613
Japanese yen 101.76
Swiss franc 1.231
Norwegian kroner 7.483
Canadian dollar 1.265
Australian dollar 1.246
 Several Greek tourists barred entry into Australia, 'Neos Kosmos' reportsMELBOURNE (AMNA - S. Hatzimanolis)
Dozens of Greek citizens visiting Australia as tourists have been refused entry and turned back at the border due to tougher Australian immigration rules, according to a report in the newspaper 'Neos Kosmos' that has not yet been officially confirmed by Australian authorities.
Based on the report, many Greek passport holders have fallen foul of tough Australian regulations that extend to those visiting the country on a tourist visa. On arrival, some were even temporarily held in migrant detention centres before they were put on the next flight home to Greece.
Currently, Australian law requires that tourists visiting the country must not only have a return ticket to go back to their own country but also supply proof that they have sufficient funds to support themselves for the duration of their tourist visa. Those failing to convince passport officers that they are genuine tourists, either because they do not fulfill the criteria or because they state that they intend to look for work, are often barred entry into the country.
The number of Greeks visiting Australia either as migrants or as tourists has increased sharply in recent months, including the number of Greek-Australians choosing to return to the country. As a result of the crisis, many Greeks also visit the country as tourists in order to sound out the possibility of migrating there more permanently. As a result of the country's migration policy, many have gone to great expense to travel there without finally being able to see the country.
According to some estimates, at least 20 Greek nationals have been taken to such migrant detention centres in Australia in recent months.
 Greek film wins European film award in VeniceThe Greek "Titloi Telous", directed by George Zois, received the award for the Best European Film (European Film Awards 2012) for short films in the 69th event of the International Film Festival of Venice which came to an end on Saturday.
The film,with this award, immediately joins the list of candidates that will contest the award for the best directing of short films, at the European Cinema Academy 2012.
The "Titloi Telous", lasting for 11', will be screened at the "Nichtes Premieras" in Athens (September 19-30).
 Police detain 31 during protests in ThessalonikiPolice in Thessaloniki detained a total of 31 people during incidents that occurred after the protest rallies held at the start of the 77th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Saturday, with 16 arrested during the course of the night.
The latest round of arrests occurred when a group of youths attacked police at Fountain Square with stones and then went on a rampage, committing various acts of vandalism. Among those taken into custody are seven teenagers aged between 16 and 18 years of age. Two police officers were lightly injured and those arrested are being held until they appear before a public prosecutor.
The protest rallies organised by trade unions, political parties and other organisations ended relatively peacefully at around 9:00 p.m. on Saturday but violence erupted at around 10:00 p.m. when the group of youths attacked police ranged around the square. Police responded by use of tear gas and pushed the youths toward Kamara while they damaged metal rubbish bins, set fire to rubbish and continued to throw stones as they went.
Earlier, police had carried out "precautionary" detentions of 36 individuals who were all later released without charge.
The central rally of the protest, organised by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' union ADEDY, took place on Egnatia Street in front of the statue of Eleftherios Venizelos. It was followed by a march led by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras, which ended outside the offices of the Macedonia-Thrace ministry. A delegation of the protestors met with the minister Theodoros Karaoglou and presented him with a resolution outlining the demands of Greek workers. The protest then dispersed without incident.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga took part in a separate rally organised by the KKE-affiliated trade union group PAME on Aristotelous Square and also led a march that ended outside the site of the TIF, where members of PAME on a pick-up truck threw watermelons into the street in protest against the government's policy for agriculture. The main body of this rally then headed for the KKE youth group festival in Stavroupolis.
A third gathering of protestors belonging to the non-Parliamentary left, ANTARSYA, organisations opposed to gold mining ventures in northern Greece and various anti-establishment, anarchist groups congregated around at Kamara and held other marches.
 Man arrested for transporting weapons in refrigerator truckA 30-year-old man was arrested on Sunday after police found weapons hidden inside a refrigerator truck that he had boarded onto a ferry boat leaving the port of Iraklio for Piraeus.
Inside the truck, police found a Kalashnikov rifle with an empty clip and a bayonet, as well as 60 rounds of ammunition.
Th 30-year-old was arrested for dealing in arms while police are also looking for a 35-year-old owner of a courier company that delivered and placed a number of parcels inside the refrigerator truck.
An inquiry is being conducted by Iraklio security police.
 Bangladeshi man in hospital after beating on MykonosA 42-year-old Bangladeshi man was rushed to Attiko Hospital from the island of Mykonos by helicopter on Saturday, after sustaining serious injuries during a fight with a 38-year-old Greek man in a nightclub.
According to police, the victim was punched and kicked by the 38-year-old DJ during a fight that began as an argument over the state of the toilets that the Bangladeshi man was in charge of cleaning. After he was hit at least two times, the victim fell down and seriously injured his head.
The club DJ has been arrested while police have launched an inquiry into the incident.
 Would-be thieves caught after police pursuit in ThessalonikiA bag-snatching in the Thessaloniki district of Kalamaria in the early hours of Sunday developed into a fully-fledged police chase around the northern Greek city and outlying areas, as far as Nea Triglia in Halkidiki.
The suspects in the attempted robbery are two men aged 26 and 27 years old, who at around 3:30 a.m. attempted to snatch a briefcase containing 200 euro and documents from a 49-year-old man that they hit with the butt of a gun. One of the robbers also fired twice into the air as a scare tactic but the bullet ricocheted and hit his accomplice in the leg.
The two would-be robbers grabbed the bag and fled but were chased by a Thessaloniki police patrol car all the way to Nea Triglia, where the vehicle they were driving crashed with the pursuing police car and smashed into a garden gate. The two suspects then abandoned the vehicle and attempted to escape on foot but the injured perpetrator was soon arrested and taken to hospital. The stolen briefcase, its contents and the gun were also recovered on the scene.
The second suspect was arrested early on Sunday morning at his house at Nea Flogita, Halkidiki.
 Fires raging on Evia, Salamina and in ManiA number of forest fires broke out around the country on Sunday, on the island of Evia, on the island of Salamina near Piraeus and in the Mani region of the Peloponnese.
The fire on the island of Evia began at 10:00 a.m. in lowing-lying vegetation at Platanistos, Lygia but due to strong winds spread to the village Kastri and caused damage to buildings in the village. The fire continues to threaten inhabited areas and a large fire brigade force on the ground is trying to get it under control, assisted by two fire-fighting aircraft and a helicopter.
Also serious was the fire that began in an expanse of forest at Krini in eastern Mani, in the prefecture of Lakonia. The fire brigade said the fire is raging inside a ravine and is fanned by strong winds, hampering efforts to put it out. A force of 14 fire men and seven fire engines, as well as six water-bombing aircraft in the air, is currently attempting to extinguish the flames.
The fire on Salamina is also burning an area of forest near Perani, with a force of 16 fire men, eight fire engines and one helicopter deployed to put it out.
A fourth fire was reported around noon in a rubbish dump surrounded by low-lying vegetation in Anavyssos but this is considered under control by the fire brigade.
 Fire in Gorgopotamos, Fthiotida; arson suspectedA fire broke out late on Sunday afternoon in the Gorgopotamos region in Fthiotida, beginning in two separate locations about one kilometre apart. Because the fire started at two points simultaneously and also because of sightings by local residents of a man on a large motorbike leaving the scene of the fires at high speed, the fire brigade has strong suspicions that deliberate arson may be involved.
Two water-bombing aircraft from Lamia airport have been sent to help put out the flames, while the fire brigade notes that unless the fires are put out before nightfall they could become dangerous as they are heading toward a remote and densely wooded area.
 Messinia man arrested after confessing to setting 21 firesA 32-year-old Greek man from Messinia was arrested by fire brigade arson investigators on Sunday after he admitted to setting 21 fires in the region.
The suspect was first apprehended for setting a fire that began at Dorio in the Oihalia municipality in Messinia on Saturday. He has admitted to setting a total of 21 fires in the municipalities of Trifylia and Oihalia in Messinia since September 3.
He will be led before a Kalamata first-instance court public prosecutor on Monday.
 Four killed when car goes over cliffFour people, three women and a man, were killed shortly after 3:00 p.m. when the car they were riding in veered off course, crossed into the opposite lane and then fell over a 250-metre cliff on the 11th kilometre of the Lamia-Amfissa road. The four were driving along the Amfissa road to Lamia and the cause of the accident is unknown.
The accident was reported by a local shepherd that heard the impact of the car falling at the foot of the cliff and authorities later retrieved the four bodies but have not yet identified the car's occupants.
This is the second accident of this kind to occur at this spot in less than a month, following the death of a 28-year-old man that lost control of the vehicle he was driving about 20 days ago.
 Youths attack police in ExarhiaA group of youths attacked a contingent of police with stones and petrol bombs in the Athens district of Exarhia in the early hours of Sunday morning, shortly after midnight.
The attackers also set fires in rubbish bins before running away.
No one was injured in the attack, while no one was arrested or detained.
 Fair on MondayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday. Winds 3-8 beauforte. Temperatures between 16C and 33C. Fair in Athens with northerly 4-7 beauforte winds and temperatures between 23C and 32C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 21C and 31C.
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