|Monday, 18 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-09-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 17 September 2012 Issue No: 4176
 Samaras on 2-year extension; interview with Washington PostGreek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras provided an extensive interview to the "Washington Post", dated Sept 14, where he responded to questions on practically every aspect of the country's economic situation and efforts by the Athens government to exit the severe debt crisis and punishing economic recession.
Samaras also detailed his latest contacts with the European Central Bank (ECB leadership) and the reforms, coupled with austerity measures, being eyed by his government. He also reiterated Athens' position over a two-extension of the economic adjustment package until 2016.
The entire interview can be found at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/an-interview-with-antonis-samaras-greek-prime-minister-on-austerity-and-unrest/2012/09/14/f80887dc-fdb4-11e1-a31e-804fccb658f9_story.html
 Tsipras at TIF: Blasts government presents 'integrated reconstruction program' for countryMain opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras lambasted the government and the three parties supporting the coalition government (New Democracy-ND, PASOK, Democratic Left-DIMAR), and presented his own party's programme for the "productive reconstruction" of Greece, during an address at the 77th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Saturday night.
Tsipras severely criticized prime minister Antonis Samaras, in the latter's address at the TIF the previous TIF, of "not apologizing in the least for the huge difference between what he said pledged last year, as the main opposition then, and what he is doing this year as the government".
Samaras, he said, at the opening ceremony of the 76th TIF (last year), had commenced his address by saying that he would tell truths, implying that he had not been telling the truth up to then.
"He was lying in order to get your vote. And whoever believed him was hoodwinked. Simply and cynically. Therefore, we justifiably ask ourselves: when today's prime minister had voted against the first Memorandum, was he seeking the country's return to the drachma? When Mr. Kouvelis (DIMAR leader Fotis) voted against the first and the second drachma, was he, too, seeking a return to the drachma?," Tsipras said.
On Samaras' recent statement that the imminent new package of measures would be the last, Tsipras commented: "It will neither be the last package, nor Mr. Samaras' last lie".
He also called the leaders of the three coalition government parties (ND leader Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and DIMAR leader Fotis Kouvelis) the "trinity of bankruptcy of the people and the country".
Tsipras further rejected the prime minister's description of SYRIZA as a 'Cassandra (doom-sayer) that he (Samaras) has belied", adding that the only one Samaras has belied is his own self "because since 2009 all of SYRIZA's political estimations on the repercussions for Greece's recourse to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) have proved true".
"We look the people straight in the eyes", Tsipras said several times, and issued a "patriotic and democratic" invitation for the people, regardless of how they voted in the June 17 general elections, to join his vision for a "new Greece".
"I did not come here to speak to you about yesterday. I came to speak about tomorrow. I came to invite you to plan and create together the Greece that we envision, to rebuild Greece, ridding the people and the country of the Memorandum of destruction, replacing it with a national plan for the developmental and productive restructuring of our country," Tsipras said.
It is time to put an end to the destruction, he said, giving detailed figures on the repercussions of the Memorandum, such as the skyrocketing unemployment and the problems in the health, education and other sectors, and presenting his own plan for leading the country to a "post-troika clearing".
Tsipras said that two-and-a-half years of application of the Memorandum has turned Greece into a wasteland, adding that the present government has devastated the salary and pension earners' incomes, trodden on every sense of social interest and shown the greatest possible social unfeeling, and "is acting like what it really is: a transitional management to accommodate 'friends' before the people take over power", predicting SYRIZA's rise to government.
Tsipras further charged that beyond the "violent devaluation of labor, properties and businesses", the Memorandum has also brought on another significant crisis, "the crisis of democracy", noting that a phenomenon of the crisis of democracy was the "rising threat of fascism" represented by the ultra-right Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) party "which was bread by the system and is its last support, a useful tool for disorientation and destabilization of democracy".
The SYRIZA leader pledged to annul the Memorandum and renegotiate the loan agreement when he came to power, adding that the through the renegotiation he aimed to achieve a moratorium on interest payments of the external debt for a specific period of time and the write-off a substantial part of the balance and its repayment with a 'growth clause', "precisely as occurred with Germany in 1953".
Tsipras further warned that the extension of the debt repayment period is a "dangerous delusion" which the three parties of the co-governance have grasped at because "it extends the tribulations of the Memorandum and burdens the country with new loans to fill the fiscal gap that will arise".
He also reiterated his party's draft law for restoring the minimum wage and unemployment benefit to the level before the second Memorandum and reinstatement of the collective labour agreements.
Tsipras presented an "integrated programme for reconstruction of the country" containing 8 targets: 1) The immediate 'raising' of a protective shield for society in order to avert the developing humanitarian crisis; 2) Reduction of unemployment at a fast rate; 3) Ensurance of the necessary social service and infrastructures, with an increase in state funding for training, health and social protection; 4) The country's adequacy in food, medicine and fuel; 5) Reduction of the state's deficit-generation trait; 6) Materialisation of an integrated program for protection of the natural resources and the environment; 7) Development of public mass transport, especially railroad, throughout all mainland Greece and also the combined mass road transports, as well as marine transports among the islands, through the establishment of a social-public coastal shipping entity; and 8) Further strengthen of shipping, through the signing of a national program agreement with the shipping sector and shipowners.
For increasing state revenues, Tsipras proposed the progressive reform of the taxation system, the establishment of a full and completely electronic property registry, and the reorganization, modernization and staffing of the Tax Bureau offices with specialized personnel.
Tsipras further pledged to set up a public 'special purpose' bank specifically for the financing of businesses, while he added that SYRIZA will not allow the sell-off of state property and will put an end to the cover-up of scandals, and its priority is to draft a national strategy for exploitation of the country's natural and mineral wealth.
SYRIZA's programme for reconstruction focuses in specialized directions of production and development, name agro-tourism, tourism, energy, industry, environmental technology, research and construction, he said.
On foreign policy matters, Tsipras said he endorses a new, multi-dimensional, actively pro-peace foreign policy aimed at upgrading the country's international position and its role as a European, Balkan and Mediterranean country, "and this means improvement of relations with Turkey".
SYRIZA, he said, will also work towards a mutually acceptable solution to the FYROM name issue within the framework of the UN, a solution of a composite name with a geographical qualification for all uses (ergo omnes), but added that a necessary precondition for a viable solution and frank cooperation is not only the name but chiefly the elimination of the irredentist claims from the institutional creation of the neighboring state.
In a reaction to Tsipras' address, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that the SYRIZA leader has proven even to the most unbelieving that he is an old-type politico who promises everything to everyone.
"The only thing he did not clarify is in what...currency he will materialize his pledges," Kedikoglou said.
 Tsipras ready to assume governance 'even tomorrow'Main opposition SYRIZA leader said on Sunday that he is ready to take on the governance of the country "even tomorrow" if the leaders of the coalition government -- prime minister and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Renewal (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis -- admit that they can't, and told them that "if you are incapable of applying your own pre-electoral commitments, you have no right to keep the Greek people in a process of decline and should turn over you place to the forces that want Greece's reconstruction".
In a press conference during his visit to the 77th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), Tsipras said that the Greek people had been 'defrauded' in June's general elections, and asked if he was asking for early elections, he replied that if he did, he would say so straight out.
Tsipras said he was aware that a SYRIZA governance would not be easy and that the road would not be covered in a red carpet and strewn with rose petals, adding that many have placed their hopes for salvation in SYRIZA, but "no one will be saved if we do not all take our destiny into our own hands", warning that a SYRIZA government would soon "run out of steam" if the people "are not out on the streets, waging the struggle".
Greece, he continued, is the 'guinea pig' of the crisis, and what comes first is putting a stop to the country's downward path.
He said that the Samaras government will not survive for long if the 11.5 billion euros package of measures is legislated, and predicted that "therefore a golden compromised might be reached with the Troika" to "lengthen the rope with which we will hang ourselves", namely an extension.
Tsipras said that an extension of the debt repayment time is not the issue, because "after two 'haircuts' the debt continues to be non-viable". There must be a "political and permanent solution" with write-off of a large part of the debt and a moratorium on payments to the lenders, he added.
He also said that SYRIZA does not agree with the "rationale of equivalent measures" because "the equivalent pains and sacrifices are just that: sacrifices".
He criticised Samaras, saying that the prime minister has appeared only once in parliament, during the government's policy statements, and since then has been "shut in the glass ball of the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters), and meets only with Venizelos and Kouvelis".
Tsipras reiterated that SYRIZA will not allow the sell-off and looting of the state wealth and, to the criticism that with his stance he was obstructing investors from investing in Greece, replied: "Do you see any investor for us to obstruct?"
He further accused the government of not having the political will to stamp out tax evasion.
Gov't spokesman: Tsipras has nothing new to offer
With his appearances over the weekend at the 77th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras could not hide his party's full absence of a plan and programme, thus admitting that he has nothing new to offer, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said Sunday, commenting on Tsipras' address Saturday and press conference earlier Sunday at the TIF.
"With his appearances in Thessaloniki, and in the end addressing only the components (of SYRIZA), Mr. Tsipras was unable to hide his party's full lack of a plan and programme..." Kedikoglou said.
He said that through a flurry of "targets, principles and poles with complexes" Tsipras desires "the resurrection of statism, adopting guild-like rationales", without one mention of competitiveness, investments and reduction of the wasteful state spending which are "the chief parameters of a truly viable national plan for an exit from the crisis and for a developmental prospect for the citizen and the country".
"It is sad that a young person speaks with outdated terminology of the past," Kedikoglou added.
He said that Tsipras was "outside the realm of reality" in speaking of 8 billion euros in additional taxes in an economy in recession and of tens of billions of euros in additional state expenditures in a country with an acute deficit problem.
"Flirting constantly with bankruptcy, Mr. Tsipras proves once again to be a consistent servant of the 'lobby of the drachma' and all those behind it," Kedikoglou continued, adding that Tsipras "is not organizing the overturn, as he claims, but the destruction".
PASOK on Tsipras address
PASOK party's central committee secretary, former energy minister Yiannis Maniatis, charged on Sunday that the positions expressed earlier by SYRIZA head Alexis Tsipras on energy matters were identical to those promoted by PASOK.
He also noted that the most lucrative portion of whatever mineral wealth lies in Greek territory is hydrocarbons, oil and gas, something he said was ignored by SYRIZA in August 2011 when the leftist party voted against a draft bill establishing a unified hydrocarbon entity.
KKE on Tsipras address
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said Sunday that main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' positions presented at an address on Saturday and press conference earlier Sunday at the 77th annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) were a mish-mash of excerpts from corresponding addresses by former prime minister and ex-PASOK leader before 2009 and current prime minister and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras "from the time that he was acting the part of an anti-Memorandum" proponent, "interspersed with hollow leftist and patriotic slogans".
Just like Papandreou and Samaras, the SYRIZA leader proposed again the other 'mix' of management and negotiation inside the EU which proved to bring only memorandums and destitution to the Greek people, a KKE announcement said.
The KKE added that the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), the big-time businessman and the EU "must be satisfied with SYRIZA's speedy adaptation to the convenient and useful, for them, governing Left."
"The radical Leftists must make their own conclusions, because what the Greek people don't need right now is a new defrauding, a new disappointment," the KKE said.
 President attends Battle of Rimini commemoration in Italy, to meet with Italian counterpart on MondayROME (Th. Andreadis)
Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Sunday attended the annual memorial service for the Greek soldiers that perished in the Battle of Rimini in Italy. The Battle is considered the largest attack by the Allied Forces in 1944 at the Gothic Line which separated nazi-controlled Italy from free Italy.
Papoulias, who arrived on Saturday afternoon, laid a wreath at the monument at Rimini and spoke with survivors of the Battle.
He will leave on Sunday evening for Rome, where on Monday afternoon he will meet with his Italian counterpart President Giorgio Napolitano at 14:30, after which the two Presidents will make joint statements.
The Greek President will return to Athens on Monday night.
 FM in US on WednesdayForeign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos will represent Greece at the 67th UN General Assembly on Sept. 25 in Manhattan.
The Greek FM will arrive to the United States on Wednesday and will have a series of meetings in Chicago, Boston and New York.
 Barroso: If Greece abides by commitments then it must remain in eurozoneEuropean Commission Manuel Barroso reiterated that if Greece eliminates any doubts of its commitment to reforms, and if other countries eliminate doubts over Greece's determination to remain in the eurozone, "then we can make it".
"If Greece abides by its commitments then it must remain in our family," he said.
Barroso said the EU needs progress, adding that "at national level this means structural reforms, which have been being postponed for decades; this means confronting vested interests and reforms in the labour market, in order to succeed ..."
 Chryssi Avghi leader: Minister responsible if anything happens to party MPsChryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) party chief Nikos Mihaloliakos warned, in published statements, that "Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias will be held responsible if anything happens to the party's (CA) deputies," charging that the ultra-nationalist party's MPs are being "targeted".
Mihaloliakos also denied that party members engaged in recent street raids, saying this "demonisation of us, claiming we conducted (storm trooper-like) raids, and that are impersonating law enforcement, is ridiculous".
Asked whether he condemns a series of riotous incidents blamed on his party's supporters, he referred to 'impulsive' acts, stressing: "I neither condemn nor do I agree with them. They are part of political life and they occur always."
His comments were part of an interview in the Athens weekly "Realnews".
 Justice Minister on Chryssi Avghi, law on 'hoodies'Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, in an interview on Saturday, said he is against Alternate Interior Minister Haris Athanassiou's proposal to further criminalise the wearing of hoods during protests under a special law.
He also expressed an opinion that problems must be faced at their roots and not covered up.
Furthermore, he expressed opposition to legislative measures aimed at reining in the ultra-nationalist Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) party, but instead said the deeper reasons of this phenomenon (the rise of political extremism) should be examined.
 Judicial officials, doctors react to salary cutsThe unions representing judges, magistrates and judicial staff have called for a walk-off from courtrooms between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., beginning on Monday and lasting until Sept. 30.
The industrial action comes in opposition to projected salary cuts for the judiciary, with a union representing prosecutors expected to join the mobilisations.
The action also foresees no work beyond normal business hours, with prosecutors expected to avoid tabling recommendations to judicial councils, except for criminal cases.
Meanwhile, union representing state hospital doctors have called a work stoppage on Monday, except in emergency cases.
The action also comes in reaction to planned salary cuts in the public health sector.
 Robbery arrest in CorinthA 29-year-old man was arrested in Corinth prefecture on Saturday and charged with running a criminal ring that allegedly committed at least nine armed robberies and burglaries in the greater Corinth region, beginning in late July.
Another two men, 30 and 42, have also been identified as suspects, according to police.
A search of a Roma (gypsy) settlement outside the city where the three men reportedly resided turned up what police said were stolen household items and a car.
The trio allegedly targetted gas stations, shops and kiosks.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceMain opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' address Saturday night at the 77th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) and the economy were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
AVGHI: "Let's rebuild Greece".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "The prime minister with crutches - Will not live out the winter".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Foreign investors in battle positions over the choice state properties".
EPOCHI: "We will annul the Memorandum, ratify hope".
ETHNOS: "Extraordinary police measures against Chryssi Avghi (ultra-right Golden Dawn party)".
EXPRESS: "Outstanding tax cases targeted for 1.2 billion euros in revenues".
KATHIMERINI: "Where the troika is headed".
KERDOS: "Receipts coming back, the tax-free limit on the way out".
LOGOS: "What we are offering, what the Troika is asking".
PROTO THEMA: "The Germans will be monitoring the Greeks' bank deposits".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Struggle for relief measures on the road of counter-attack".
TO PARON: "The IMF leaving in next 18 months".
TO VIMA: "The new tax on real estate".
VRADYNI: "How much private and public sector salaries will be cut by".
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