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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-10-01

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 1 October 2012 Issue No: 4187


  • [01] Greece has 'zero risk' of leaving eurozone, PM tells NY Times
  • [02] 'Europe will vote Greece', PM tells 'Vimagazino'
  • [03] PM to meet European Commissioner, EU-IMF 'troika' representatives on Monday
  • [04] PM has successive meetings on changing the state
  • [05] Foreign minister concludes visit to UN General Assembly
  • [06] European Commissioner Stefan Fuele due in Athens on Monday
  • [07] PASOK leader attends PES Congress, calls for new policy 'beyond austerity'
  • [08] KKE calls for abolition of all taxation on heating oil
  • [09] MP Dragasakis denies 'Parapolitika' report as 'mudslinging'
  • [10] Greek government dismisses reported 'Samardziev' slaying as hoax
  • [11] Minister's visit ends unrest at Patras prison
  • [12] Ecumenical Patriarchate announcement condemns intolerance of 'religious differentness'
  • [13] 'Capital and vision' conference held in Athens, addressed by development minister, MPs
  • [14] Dep. Development minister on isles' exploitation
  • [15] Tourism head: Existing model worn out
  • [16] Bank workers' union threatens strike if bank health funds are merged with EOPYY
  • [17] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday
  • [18] Flights disrupted by radar malfunction
  • [19] Fifteen in custody following clashes in Agios Panteleimonas
  • [20] Attack against police precinct in Athens
  • [21] Makeshift bombs found at university
  • [22] More illegals ferried to Samos from opposite Turkish coast
  • [23] Super League results
  • [24] Hot and sunny on Monday

  • [01] Greece has 'zero risk' of leaving eurozone, PM tells NY Times

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has ruled out all possibility that Greece might leave the euro in an interview with the New York Times published on Saturday.

    "There is absolutely zero risk that Greece is leaving the euro," Samaras told reporters Rachel Donadio and Liz Alderman. At the same time he noted that euro-membership was coming at a higher political and economic cost, which had led to violent protests and mass demonstrations in Greece, Spain and Portugal.

    According to Samaras, this 'new social phenomenon' sweeping Europe was something that the international community needed to pay attention to:

    "This is the product of this huge crisis and this huge recession we're in," he said. "So that should ring a bell to our allies and to the Western world: that if this happens in Greece and in Spain and tomorrow in other countries, that they should make sure this will not intensify."

    The article emphasises the magnitude of the task facing Samaras as the Greek economy unravels and the difficulties that the Greek premier must negotiate, not least whether Greece's creditors will agree to sign off on the package of austerity cuts finally agreed by his coalition government and release much needed financial aid that will grease the wheels of the country's stalled economy.

    Along with a message to Greeks at home to "keep the faith" and remain hopeful, Samaras also had a clear message for Europe:

    "We are changing, but at the same time you have to help us, you have to help the situation," he said. The alternative, he added, could be "the end of Greece."

    The Greek premier insisted that the latest round of austerity cuts will be the last and will be manageable if Greece's creditors allow the government to put them into effect gradually over four years, extending the loan period until 2016.

    The last part of the interview focused on the issue of illegal migration and the rising anti-migrant sentiment among ordinary Greeks that helped sweep nationalist Golden Dawn from the edge of the political wilderness straight into Parliament. Samaras described the "waves of illegal immigrants" arriving in Greece as a major problem that would get worse if the situation in Syria deteriorated further but he appeared confident that Golden Dawn was a "bubble that would burst" without the need for "extreme measures".

    [02] 'Europe will vote Greece', PM tells 'Vimagazino'

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras stressed his confidence that Greece's European partners will continue to support the country, in an interview granted to the Greek Sunday supplement 'Vimagazino' released this weekend.

    "Europe will vote Greece. The partners will see the changes being carried out. We are sending the right messages and restoring the country's credibility," Samaras said, predicting that things will get better.

    Regarding the latest package of austerity cuts agreed by the party leaders in the coalition government last week, the prime minister emphasised that the package had to be finalised and voted on in the space of a few days in order for Greece to receive the next tranche of vital bailout loans.

    "The next tranche is necessary in order to restore liquidity to the economy. It cannot delay. Even healthy businesses are threatened with failure and unemployment is growing," Samaras said.

    On the issue of political corruption, especially in relation to a money-laundering case lately revealed in the press, Samaras said that the 'zero tolerance' policy for corruption still applied since 'by leaving shadows we not only save the guilty but also tarnish [the reputations of] the innocent".

    He emphasised that the best defence was to immediately shed light on everything and reveal the whole truth and stressed that democracy did not face danger only from its enemies but also from the negligence of those who were appointed to defend it.

    The premier also underlined that the government's work will be judged in terms of progress and a reduction of unemployment.

    "Whenever the economy adjustment process is completed and liquidity returns, then I will give the battle from the development ministry."

    Commenting the course of the government's work, he said the "government has been working hard from the first minute" and referred to defence ministry's efforts against illegal immigration.

    Regarding state revenues, the prime minister said there are margins for further cuts in the health sector from waste in the acquisition of materials, adding that the battle against tax evasion remains the government's first priority. Samaras also estimated that promoting privatisations will enhance the Greek economy and will attract investments, which is a prerequisite for the country's progress.

    [03] PM to meet European Commissioner, EU-IMF 'troika' representatives on Monday

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is to receive visiting European Commissioner for enlargement Stefan Fuele at 11:00 a.m. on Monday morning, one hour after receiving the presidency of the Greek shipowners' union.

    At 6:00 p.m. Samaras is scheduled to hold a meeting with representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika.

    [04] PM has successive meetings on changing the state

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Sunday held a 'marathon' session of meetings with government ministers and ministry officials with the goal of speeding up the progress of reforms and change the way the Greek state functions.

    According to sources, Samaras is aiming to head a Greek 'strike force' that will immediately implement the changes that will improve and modernise state mechanisms.

    The meetings are taking place in groups and among those that passed through the doors of the Maximos Mansion on Sunday are Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and Mercantile Marine Minister Constantine Mousouroulis.

    [05] Foreign minister concludes visit to UN General Assembly

    NEW YORK (AMNA - P. Panagiotou)

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos concluded a round of meetings that he held on the sidelines of the 67th UN General Assembly, leaving for Athens late on Friday night.

    His final meeting was with members of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Manhattan, led by AJC Executive Director David Harris, who said an AJC delegation will visit Athens on January 24-25 and expressed support for the efforts of the Greek government to tackle the economic crisis. He once again praised the high degree of cooperation between Greece, the United States and Israel.

    Diplomatis accompanying the minister said that Avramopoulos had a number of useful and important contacts during his visit, including meetings with his Bulgarian, Armenian, Israeli and Palestinian Authority counterparts.

    They said his talks with the Israeli and Palestinian Authority ministers had touched on developments relating to the Palestinian problem and the Middle East, especially in light of the situation in Syria. With Israeli minister Avigdor Lieberman they also discussed issues relating to tourism and energy and carried out preparatory work for an intergovernmantal meeting to discuss cooperation in a number of vital areas, as well as cooperation between the Greek and Jewish diaspora.

    [06] European Commissioner Stefan Fuele due in Athens on Monday

    Stefan Fuele, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, is expected in Athens on Monday. His visit is taking place a few days before the release of the EU Commission's annual report on progress in the process of EU enlargement and confirms, according to diplomatic sources in Athens, that Greece remains an important factor in this process, despite the economic crisis it is going through, due to its geographical position as an immediate neighbour of western Balkans and Turkey.

    Ahead of his visit, Fuele spoke to AMNA concerning the progress being made by Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in this direction.

    With respect to FYROM, which has not yet received the green light for the start of accession negotiations, the Commissioner said that he had visited the country three times this year for the High Level Accession Dialogue launched in March as a tool to help FYROM, which already has the status of candidate-country, to achieve rapprochement with the EU and maintain the European agenda as a guiding force in changing the country.

    He emphasised that the High Level Dialogue was in no way a replacement for accession negotiations but a device employed by the Commission so that accession talks with Skopje might at some point begin.

    Fuele noted that Skopje would not have to apply again for the start of accession negotiations and that the European Commission had recommended the start of such talks for three consecutive years since 2009, adding that approving the decision was up to the EU member-states.

    FYROM's progress in the framework of High Level Accession Dialogue would be evaluated in an upcoming progress report to be adopted and released by the Commission on October 10, he added, as would that of Turkey.

    He explained that in Turkey's case, the Commission has adopted the 'Positive Agenda' process that again does not substitute for accession negotiations, in order to give a new boost to Turkey's reform efforts.

    [07] PASOK leader attends PES Congress, calls for new policy 'beyond austerity'

    BRUSSELS (AMNA - V. Demiris)

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, head of the second-largest party supporting Greece's coalition government, on Saturday addressed the 9th Party of European Socialists' (PES) Congress, calling for a comprehensive policy that would go beyond the current narrow focus on austerity and fiscal discipline to establish a new model for growth.

    Venizelos also participated in a panel discussion 'Together for the Economy we need', where he underlined that the situation in Greece remains very serious and very fragile.

    "We are obliged to implement a programme of fiscal consolidation while at the same time experiencing a major recession in the last five years that cumulatively adds up to 24 percent of GDP," PASOK's president said. He also emphasised the the situation in Greece did not reflect the negative stereotype that the country lacked the ability to implement a successful fiscal consolidation programme.

    "The exact opposite applies. We have achieved a remarkable fiscal consolidation in the last 2.5 years. In terms of the primary surplus, we have a fiscal consolidation in the order of 12 percent of GDP at the same time as a recession at the level of 24 percent of GDP. In parallel, we have unacceptably high unemployment of 24 percent that for young people is higher than 55 percent," he said.

    Venizelos claimed that Greece had for the past three years served as a kind of "historical, political and social laboratory for the implementation of austerity policies without prospects," and he stressed the need for an entirely different approach.

    "We need a new European narrative that will include the vision of prosperity and the predominance of hope, both on a national and on a European level," he added.

    [08] KKE calls for abolition of all taxation on heating oil

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Saturday issued an announcement calling for the abolition of all taxes on heating oil in order to financially support the unemployed and poor families unable to afford heating.

    "The government's excuse that it will hugely increase the tax on heating oil in order to deal with tax dodgers is proved a clear scam, since it does not return the tax to the looted and suffering working class family," KKE said.

    [09] MP Dragasakis denies 'Parapolitika' report as 'mudslinging'

    Main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MP Yiannis Dragasakis on Saturday denied a report in the newspaper 'Parapolitika', which claimed that he had founded a company that now owed the state 6.1 million euro.

    Dragasakis said that he intended to sue and that the "professional mud-slingers will answer to justice", claiming the report was an effort on the part of unnamed circles to damage SYRIZA by targeting himself.

    According to the MP, the newspaper report was based on mistaken information since he had pulled out of the company cited in the report in October 1993 - as recorded in the government gazette of that time - and had since had no involvement with the specific firm in any way.

    [10] Greek government dismisses reported 'Samardziev' slaying as hoax

    The Greek government on Sunday strenuously denied reports appearing in the media of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) that an individual named Aleksandar Samardziev with ethnic ties to FYROM had been beaten to death by members of far-right Golden Dawn in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras dismissed the reports as a hoax "invented by a diseased imagination".

    "Such an incident never occurred," Delavekouras stressed, "We call on the FYROM government to be more careful and not allow room for cultivating artificial tension and nationalism."

    FYROM spokesman Aleksandar Georgiev, speaking in Skopje, admitted that there was no official confirmation of the report and the majority of the media later ran stories appearing on Sunday afternoon in the neighbouring country, admitting that the story was most likely a hoax.

    The fake story, which was reproduced by the majority of FYROM media on Saturday night, alleged that the victim Samardziev had been the victim of a beating by Golden Dawn and had died of his injuries in hospital. It was originally picked up from a social networking site, from a post made by the alleged victim's cousin and then 'confirmed' by a spokesman for a marginal nationalist organisation in FYROM.

    [11] Minister's visit ends unrest at Patras prison

    A visit by Deputy Justice Minister Costas Karagounis on Saturday was successfully in calming a climate of unrest at the Agios Stefanos prison in Patras.

    The minister and the general secretary for counter-crime policy Marinos Skandamis met a delegation of inmates and heard their demands, most of which will be satisfied once a justice ministry bill that includes articles for the decongestion of the prison system is passed into law.

    Sources said the meeting took place in a good climate after prisoners were informed that the new draft bill would soon be tabled in Parliament and meet many of their demands.

    Following the visit, the inmates decided to return to their daily prison jobs, such as making their food and bread and others.

    [12] Ecumenical Patriarchate announcement condemns intolerance of 'religious differentness'

    ISTANBUL (AMNA -A. Abatzis)

    The Ecumenical Patriarchate on Saturday issued an announcement expressing deep sorrow "at a period of confusion, fluidity and religious outbursts into which humanity is entering, result in the expression of violence while there is observed a lack of respect for religious differentness."

    The Patriarchate also cited a previous announcement issued in August on the flare-up of violence around the world, in which it appealed to those involved in violent situations to put down their arms.

    "No one benefits from words filled with intolerance, from groundless accusations, from the inability to understand cultural differences and the condemnation of the other, which seeks to avoid responsibilities," the announcement notes.

    Financial News

    [13] 'Capital and vision' conference held in Athens, addressed by development minister, MPs

    Production based on private initiative will be the key for Greece to emerge from the debt crisis, Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Kostis Hatzidakis stressed in his address to the conference "Capital and vision" held at an Athens hotel on Saturday.

    "Greece will overcome the crisis only if it turns to production with work and a system and based on private initiative. And in the battle for Greece we must all be accounted for," he said.

    During a discussion on promoting Greek exports, Hatzidakis said the government's efforts were based on three main pillars: broadening the export base for products and services through incentives, reorganising the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board and by simplifying the licensing process and overall admistrative burden.

    The minister reported rapid progress in converting pre-customs and customs checks to electronic form and creating a 'one-stop' shop for exporters, noting that announcements will soon be made concerning the national strategy and road map for exports now being planned.

    Main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA-EKM) MP Yiannis Dragasakis, on his part, highlighted the impact of the crisis on society, saying that it had now become a humanitarian and social crisis, with 17 percent of Greece's population now living in households where no one was working.

    Dragasakis noted that the economy had entered a vicious circle which would result in the need for a new round of bailout funding that would in turn lead to a need for further measures. Concerning the reforms that must be carried out, he said these should not be imposed top-down by the political parties and external forces and called for a "a new block of social, economic and political forces working together that will lead to us envisioning a new Greece".

    Other speakers were relatively gloomy concerning the prospects of the economy, predicting continued recession in both 2012 and 2013. According to the head of the Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) Prof. Panagiotis Korliras, current estimates for the depth of the recession are between 6.1-6.5 percent in 2012 and between 3.5-3.6 percent in 2013 but once the impact of the additional measures is factored in this may drive recession up to 4.5-5 percent in 2013.

    On a more positive note, Korliras said the momentum of the recession appeared to be slowing down, so that if everything went well and the debate on whether Greece might leave the euro was finally settled, the economy might even start to grow again.

    The head of the Central Union of Chambers of Commerce Constantine Mihalos, on his part, highlighted a dearth of trust to grease the wheels of business activity and emphasised that Greece can only survive within the euro.

    "The lack of liquidity has created conditions of asphyxiation throughout the market. The element of faith, which is the basis for business activity, is almost entirely missing. Businesses have stopped trusting each other and transactions become every day more difficult. This triple crisis of demand, credit and faith has led even healthy businesses into a hole, so that we are daily seeing closures, downsizing of activities and negative investments," he said.

    He underlined that Greece could only survive financially if it remained in the euro area and that it would continue to need its EU partners' money as long as it continued to generate and primary deficit. For this reason, he added, the country had no choice but to meet its commitments and exhaust all room for negotiation so that it became part of the solution for the euro crisis.

    [14] Dep. Development minister on isles' exploitation

    Development Deputy Minister Nikos Mytarakis on Sunday said underlined that "the government's intention is to exploit state property and small uninhabited isles are included within this framework. The only condition for this not to happen is if there are specific reasons. We do not say that we will sell the islands but their potential commercial exploitation," he clarified.

    [15] Tourism head: Existing model worn out

    The newly appointed secretary general for the National Tourism Organisation (GNTO), Nikos Karahalios, on Sunday underlined that the existing model of tourism in the country, based on the "sun and sea" concept is worn out and out-dated.

    In citing priorities, Karahalios cited implementation of a report on foreign markets.He also said that emphasis should be given to existing Greek businesses and not only on how to attract new investments.

    [16] Bank workers' union threatens strike if bank health funds are merged with EOPYY

    The OTOE bank workers' union on Saturday expressed strong objections to a planned merger of the bank workers' healthcare fund with the National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) announced by the government. It also announced a 24-hour strike and escalating labour mobilisation, at a date to be decided later, if the government "dares to press ahead with its plans".

    In its announcement, OTOE said that it had submitted to the finance, labour and health ministers a study concerning the finances of bank health funds that proved their viability so that they might be finally excluded from a merger with EOPYY and converted into private-sector legal entities.

    [17] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. Dollar 1,31

    Pound sterling 0,81

    Danish kroner 7,57

    Swedish kroner 8,58

    Japanese yen 101,88

    Swiss franc 1,23

    Norwegian kroner 7,48

    Canadian dollar 1,29

    Australian dollar 1,26

    General News

    [18] Flights disrupted by radar malfunction

    Flights over a large part of Greek airspace were disrupted for over an hour on Saturday as a result of a malfuction in the radar system, the civil aviation service said in an announcement.

    The problem began with a power cut at 12:51 p.m. combined with a damaged central switch in the back-up system that was supposed to restore power, leading to a loss of image for the radar system of the Athens-Macedonia Region Control Centre.

    The civil aviation service announcement stressed that all flight safety rules were observed during the duration of the malfunction and that flight safety was at no time jeopardised during the incident. Air traffic began to be restored gradually after 2:10 p.m. and full operation of the radar system was restored by 6:00 p.m.

    A committee has been set up to determine the cause of the problem, assisted by the company that built the back-up electricity system.

    [19] Fifteen in custody following clashes in Agios Panteleimonas

    Fifteen people were taken into custody by police on Sunday night, during clashes between protestors in a motorcade and onlookers in the Athens district of Agios Panteleimonas.

    According to police, a large group on motorbikes had set off from Stournari Street in Exarhia at around 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, heading toward Agios Panteleimonas. At the corner of Fylis and Mythymnis road they clashed with onlookers and two people were injured in the fray.

    Police intervened and 15 individuals in the protest motorcade were taken into custody and are being questioned as part of a preliminary inquiry into the incident.

    [20] Attack against police precinct in Athens

    Hoodlums attacked a downtown Athens police precinct in the early morning hours of Saturday. The perpetrators threw makeshift fire bombs against the precinct, where four cars caught fire as well as two motorcycles. The attack bore the marks of previous attacks by self-styled anarchists and anti-state teens who usually target police facilities, mostly in central Athens.

    [21] Makeshift bombs found at university

    Nine makeshift propane canister bombs were located early Sunday at an underground passage to the theology faculty of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. On Saturday another nine makeshift bombs were found.

    A guard found the makeshift explosives in a bag.

    [22] More illegals ferried to Samos from opposite Turkish coast

    Waves of illegal migrants arriving from the opposite Turkish coast to the island of Samos escalating. Nineteen illegals, 12 men and seven women, aged from 17-75, as well as seven minors, all claiming to be from Afghanistan were arrested late Saturday on Samos.

    According to police, the Third World illegals had clandestinely landed on Samos four days ago after being ferried from Turkish territory.


    [23] Super League results

    Olympiacos Piraeus beat 1-0 away Atromitos Athens in games played for the Super League over the weekend, while AEK Athens lost 1-0 away from Panionios Athens. Panathinaikos Athens drew 0-0 at home with Asteras Tripoli.

    PAS Yiannina and Levadiakos Livadia will be playing in Yiannina on Monday October 1.

    In other action:

    Kerkyra-OFI Crete 2-1

    Panthrakikos Komotini-Veria 0-1

    Platanias Crete-Xanthi 3-2

    PAOK Thessaloniki-Aris Thessaloniki 4-1

    Standings after five weeks of play:

    1. Olympiacos 15 points

    2. PAOK 12

    3. Panionios 12

    4. Asteras 10

    5. Atromitos 8

    6. Platanias Crete 8

    7. Veria 7

    8. Aris 5

    9. Xanthi 5

    10. OFI 5

    11. Levadiakos 4 (4 games played)

    12. Kerkyra 4

    13. Panathinaikos 4

    14. Panthrakikos 3

    15. PAS Yiannina 2 (4 games played)

    16. AEK 1

    NOTE: Panathinaikos has had two points deducted.

    Weather forecast:

    [24] Hot and sunny on Monday

    Hot and sunny weather is forecast throughout the country on Monday, with variable winds of 4-6 Beaufort. Temperatures are forecast between 14C and 35C. Sunny in Attica, with temperatures from 19C to 35C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 18C to 32C.

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