|Monday, 19 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-10-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 15 October 2012 Issue No: 4199
 PM Samaras: We are at the moment of truthPrime minister Antonis Samaras expressed conviction that Greece is going through the final rough patch, in an interview with Kathimerini newspaper appearing on Sunday, adding that "we changed the image of Greece, and this is acknowledged by everyone", calling German chancellor Angela Merkel's recent visit to Greece as the "culmination of this great effort".
Samaras sent a clear-cut message that there will be no 'discounts" on the structural changes, including the civil servants' placement on 'availability'.
On the next tranche of the EU/IMF bailout loan, he said "it is realistic that we will receive it", but warned that a "piecemeal" disbursement of the loan installment would be "exceptionally hazardous", whereas "if we don't get it, the consequences will be dramatic".
Noting that the agreement with the Troika on the fiscal measures needs to be completed by October 18 and also that the EU-IMF disagreement on the sustainability of the Greek debt will also have to be overcome by that date, he said that "after that it is only a matter of days for the new agreement to be passed by parliament".
He said that it is realistic that the tranche will be disbursed, as Greece is doing everything necessary, and this has been full acknowledged, but warned that a fragmented disbursement of the 31.5 billion euros trance would be exceptionally dangerous.
Asked what he will do to overcome the obstacle of government members who reject the structural changes, Samaras replied: "We are at the moment of truth. Everything that needs to be done is being done. And everyone is doing his share. I make no 'discounts' on this. As for the structural changes, there is no justification for any delay. From anyone. And for no reason whatsoever."
He said that he will make no discounts on the structural changes, not even on the 'availability' (suspension) of civil servants, noting that they will receive half a salary for a period of one year. "We cannot over-indebt ourselves, we cannot keep cutting salaries and pensions, while holding on to supernumerary and unfit employees in the public sector at a time when unemployment in the private sector has skyrocketed. This 'pimple' must be 'burst', and we will do it in the mildest way, but we will do it".
Samaras reiterated the need for liquidity, warning that "without liquidity there is no modern economy. In the last year there has been no liquidity due to the blow suffered by the Greek banks from the 'haircut' of the Greek debt".
"This lack of liquidity must be overcome very soon," he said.
He also said that existing proposals for investments must be exploited and that the major investment opportunities in Greece need to be showcased.
"Already, there are proposals for significant investment programmes in infrastructures, ports and airports, in natural resources such as gold, and in modern tourism, in hotel complexes and marinas," he said, noting that with the elimination of uncertainty and with the recapitalisation of the banks "I believe that the spark will be lit for a major inflow of real investments in Greece, perhaps for the first time in hears.
"New investments mean an exit from the recession, and employment. This will put us on an upward course. It will fully stabilize the country and pave the way to long-term growth," the premier said.
Replying to criticism that he was now applying that which in the past he had condemned, Samaras said that the time has come to correct the mistakes of the past, not only those of the recent years but the mistakes made in Greece for decades.
"That is what we are doing...only now we are no longer on our own, Greece's effort is now acknowledged by everyone, the country's credibility is being regained at a rapid pace and very soon the light will appear at the end of the tunnel. Today, we are not pointing out mistakes, but we are correcting all the mistakes of the past and building the future," Samaras said.
He added that the country needs to acquire credibility that is founded on consistency between words and deeds, and said his government is waging the battle in that direction, and that the first results have appeared, with Merkel's recent visit to Athens the "culmination" of the effort made in the recent period, "which is continuing".
"Change of image and regaining confidence is what we all credibility. And this, believe me, demanded much work both inside and outside Greece. the culmination of this great effort was the Merkel visit," he said.
 SYRIZA criticizes PM's newspaper interview, draws reaction from governmentThe destruction is here due to the continuation of the Memorandum policy, and prime minister Antonis Samaras' conviction that this is the "last rough patch" the country is going through is of equal credibility as his anti-Memorandum statements while in the opposition and his pre-electoral promises of a renegotiation of the Memorandum, main opposition SYRIZA said in a press release on Sunday night, commenting on statements by the premier in an interview appearing in a Sunday newspaper.
The SYRIZA statement said that Samaras has been left only with vague promises for a growth that is constantly coming but losing its way, and the blackmail of the destruction that will result from a collapse of his government.
It also said that Samaras' effort to equate the working peoples' struggles with the actions of fascist groups could simply be perceived as the last grasping straw of a prime minister who will soon have the same fate as George Papandreou, if it were not so dangerous and offensive to democracy itself.
In a reaction, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou accused SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras of insisting on considering Europe a 'prison' and of aspiring to lead Greece back to the drachma.
"In his agony to satisfy the extreme components (of SYRIZA), he is indifferent of the fact that he is harming Greece," Kedikoglou added.
 Negotiations with Troika enter final stretchThe Greek government's negotiations with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'Troika' of Greece's international lenders on a new 13.5 billion euro austerity package over the next two years (2013-2014) have apparently entered the final stretch, as a new round of deliberations with the government's economic staff began on Sunday afternoon.
The Troika heads met with Labor Minister Yannis Vroutsis and deputy minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos as well as with Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis, on Sunday afternoon at the finance ministry.
The troika representatives began their meeting with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras at 9:30 Sunday night, with a senior Finance ministry official indicating that negotiations may not conclude on Sunday. "We will not finish today. There are open issues on all fronts," the official said.
According to the same official, the issues concerning the Employment ministry and the Administrative Reform ministry were discussed, while negotiating on the package amounting to 13.9 billion euros, the prior actions and the issue of the banks' recapitalisation were now at the focus.
"If we can hold out, it will take us about four hours," the official added.
According to a senior official of the Administrative Reform ministry, a blockage occurred earlier in the negotiations between Administrative Reform Minister Manitakis and his deputy minister Manousos Voloudakis with the troika heads, since the creditors' representatives are insisting on their demand for the suspension (layoffs) of 15,000 civil servants by the end of the year. The Greek officials left the Finance ministry's building after 1.5-hour of talks.
Speaking to reporters on his departure, Manitakis said "be a little patient. Things will take place at the right time". Asked whether "will you ultimately prefer salary decreases instead of layoffs?", he replied "I prefer to do what must be done".
In parallel, sources of the Administrative Reform ministry said that a new meeting with the troika on Monday is possible.
It was also revealed that after a one-hour stoppage, negotiations resumed between the troika and Employment Minister Yiannis Vroutsis with the participation of Finance Minister Stournaras.
In marathon meetings on Saturday, the Troika reintroduced the 'hot potato' of labor relations on the table once again, with the Troika demanding the full liberalization of the labor market, as well as layoffs in the wider public sector and the retroactive abolition of tax exemptions as of this year, instead of in 2013, in order to shore up a shortfall of 1 billion euros in the National Organisation for Healthcare Service Providers (EOPYY, the new unified primary healthcare organisation).
 Marathon deliberations with Troika on SaturdayTax exemptions will be abolished retroactively as of 2012, while the austerity measures that will be required for the two-year period 2013-2014 will amount to 18 billion euro if an extension for fiscal adjustment is not given to Greece, a senior finance ministry official told AMNA after the conclusion of the governmental economic staff's meeting with the heads of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'Troika' representing Greece's international lenders on Saturday evening.
The source attributed the retroactive abolition of the tax exemptions and any other measures taken retroactively to the one billion euro 'black hole' (shortfall) in revenues that arose in the last two weeks in the National Organisation for Healthcare Service Providers (EOPYY, the new unified primary healthcare organisation).
"The EOPYY is a big, unexpected, thorn," the source said, adding that cutbacks will also have to be made in the Public Investments Programme to cover this black hole.
At the same time, additional measures of 9.2 billion euro appear to have been decided for 2013, while the burning issue of a total upset of labor relations demanded by the troika to be legislated as a "prior action" in order for the 31.5 billion euro tranche of the EU-IMF bailout loan to be disbursed to Greece.
Before the disbursement, which the finance ministry expects in mid-November, Greece will also have to legislate the new tax law, the law on the recapitalization of the banks, and the full opening of the so-called 'closed' professions.
In a marathon deliberation that lasted more than seven hours on Saturday, essentially all the packages of measures 'opened', such as the fiscal package of 13.9 billion euro in government spending cuts over the next two years and the list of 89 'prior actions' under the Memorandum, as well as new demands by the Troika on labor relations and the macroeconomic scenario for recession in the Greek economy.
The high-ranking finance ministry source told AMNA that the Troika now seems to believe that recession in 2013 will be just below the initially forecast 5 percent, where as the finance ministry insists on the budget forecast of 3.8 percent recession.
Questioned on the Troika's demand for radical upset of the labor relations, the ministry source said that, in his opinion, the problem is not the job market but the products and services market. On the layoffs in the wider public sector demanded by the Troika, he said that the finance ministry prefers the term "suspension".
He also said that the holiday benefits of the civil servants and pensioners will be abolished as of 2013, and not retroactively from 2012.
The source further said that the finance ministry, which considers "a new haircut of the Greek debt would mean exit from the euro", expresses "contained optimism" that after the disbursement of the tranche the climate will change for the Greek economy, as "very many investors are waiting to come and invest" in Greece, following which "2013 will be a surprise year".
He also noted that if the extension is given, Greece's primary surplus will be zero in 2013, rising to 1.5 percent of GDP in 2014, 3.0 percent of GDP in 2015, and 4.5 percent of GDP in 2016.
Taking part in Saturday's marathon deliberations with the Troika at the finance ministry were finance minister Yannis Stournaras, labor minister Yannis Vroutsis, alternate finance minister Christos Staikouras, deputy finance minister George Mavraganis and deputy labor minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos.
The Troika will hold consecutive meetings on Sunday afternoon with labor minister Yannis Vroutsis, finance minister Yannis Stournaras and administrative reform minister Antonis Manitakis.
 FinMin Stournaras says 'we are on good path'Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, speaking in an interview with the newspaper "RealNews", indicated an agreement with the troika by the EU summit for all aspects of the measures and then a solution for the viability of the debt and the extension so that the tranche will be disbursed after the end of October.
"We are on a good path, which of course still remains long. We must close the fiscal and the structural issues, which we shall agree with the troika until the summit on October 18. Both this week and after the Brussels conference we shall discuss more analytically the viability of the debt and the funding of extension. When we conclude, we shall proceed with the ratification of the prior actions in Parliament. I believe that we shall have a final agreement at the Eurogroup, that will take place towards the end of October. Immediately after the disbursement of the tranche the economy will be able to breathe and recover, and we shall also be able to start the big changes that must take place in the country, without the stress of the current suffocation".
 Fuchtel: Reforms a very difficult ventureThe reforms are a very difficult venture, German federal deputy labour minister Hans-Joachim Fuchtel said in an interview with TO VIMA newspaper appearing on Sunday, adding: "The new thing here is that everything must be done from the beginning. I compare it with bees: if they know in which direction to fly, then they will bring honey to the beehive. Let's hope this is what will happen in Greece, too".
Fuchtel said that today everyone was looking at the Troika "and not giving even a glance to the reform that has begun in the health system, or in local administration".
"Only such actions give impetus to the reform movement and show that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Now we must work hard for the materialisation of the programmes," he said.
Fuchtel added that German chancellor Angela Merkel is briefed by him, with a special weekly report on the development of Greek-German relations.
He said his main mission is the transfer of knowhow from the German local administration to the Greek local administration, such as on waste management, for example.
 Government spokesman Kedikoglou gives newspaper interviewGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, speaking in an interview with the newspaper "RealNews", left open the possibility of a reshuffle after the ratification of the measures.
He said that all the ministers are giving the best they have and at the same time they are waging the struggle to achieve the common target and added that there is no permanent status in ministerial positions.
The spokesman also said that the debt's haircut is not included in the government's agenda, but says "yes" to lower interest rates.
 KKE party on new package of measuresThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Saturday, stressed that "while the government and the representatives of the EU are completing the repulsive package of measures, they have already started bargainings and contradictions on how the next even bigger haircut will take place and that will be accompanied by new memorandums, whatever the government may be, since it accepts the EU and the existence of the business groups."
It also stresses that "only the people can stop and put an end to this 'deadend' of barbarism and impoverishment, with its organising and counter-offensive, if they rid themselves of the dilemmas and obsessions of the parties and the forces defending the EU and capitalist profit-making".
 KKE calls for labor-wide uprising against 'dictatorship of the monopolies'The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) called for a labor-wide uprising against the dictatorship of the monopolies, in a comment on Sunday on the new austerity measures and changes to labor relations.
"What working person will accept that he and his children live in a labor regime of a 13-hour elastic, six-day temporary job, with a salary of 300-500 euros without insurance and a pension of poverty after 70 years of age?" the KKE asked, adding that "these are being methodically advanced by the government, together with the EU, because these are the demands of the big capital".
 Davutoglu newspaper interviewTurkey is dedicated to good neighbour relations with Greece, Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in an interview with To Vima newspaper appearing on Sunday, adding that Ankara has the necessary political will to conciliate its differences with Greece on all outstanding matters, with respect for the mutual and legal interests of the two countries on the basis of international law.
On the Greek island of Kastelorizo, he said that Turkey has a clear political and legal position, founded on international law, but knows that Greece maintains a different view "on maritime jurisdiction in areas of the eastern Mediterranean".
On oil exploration in Cyprus, he said that it appears that some of the fields to be given as concessions "overlap with the Turkish continental shelf (in the eastern Mediterranean) to the west of the island", adding that Turkey will not allow foreign oil companies to conduct, without licences, exploration for drilling and exploitation of oil and natural gas in the overlapping areas.
 Tourism minister on outcome of visit to New YorkNEW YORK (AMNA - P. Panagiotou)
Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni ascertained during her contacts in New York, on the occasion of the "Greek Investments Conference" held at the installations of the "Bloomberg" group, a "revival of interest" for Greek tourism by officials of the tourism industry in the United States.
Referring to the results of her meetings, Kefaloyianni told AMNA that for many years the U.S. had been a "forgotten market" for Greek tourism, stressing that considerable ground exists and "new prospects are already being created and a new potential".
Expressing full satisfaction over the outcome of her contacts, the minister said "all are beginning to realise that serious work is being done in Greece" and that "with the reforms taking place in all the sectors of the economy, it is becoming very attractive for tourism investments as well".
Kefaloyianni further said that she is planning to visit the U.S. again in December with the main aim of consolidating and strengthening cooperation with companies and people promoting Greek tourism.
She also referred to the Greek American community as being a "unique and valuable" ally for the attraction of investments and tourists from the United States.
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.316
Pound sterling 0.818
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 8.813
Japanese yen 103.23
Swiss franc 1.227
Norwegian kroner 7.511
Canadian dollar 1.286
Australian dollar 1.284
 Police arrest jailbreaker after shootout at Kokkinos Mylos cemeteryPolice arrested an Albanian jailbreaker following a chase and shootout with four gunmen at the Kokkinos Mylos cemetery in the Athens district of Nea Philadelphia on Friday night. Police are searching for his accomplices and the weapons used in the clash.
The arrested man aged 34 was an inmate for drug offences in the Trikala prison, in central Greece, and escaped spectacularly with the assistance of three armed accomplices of his from the city's hospital on Friday afternoon.
Another Albanian was detained for questioning to ascertain whether he is one of the participants in the shootout at Kokkinos Mylos and among those who had helped the 34-year-old to escape.
The chase had begun shortly after midnight on Friday when police spotted a car with four people near the Kokkinos Mylos cemetery and hailed it to stop after considering it suspicious. However, the occupants fired on police with Kalashnikov weapons and they returned the fire.
 Tension in Nafplio during Kapodistrias memory eventTension was created on Sunday during the laying of wreaths at the statue of Greece's first governor Ioannis Kapodistrias, in the square of the city of Nafplio bearing the same name, in the framework of events in memory of the 181st anniversary of his assassination, organised by the municipality of Nafplio.
The tension was created when a representative of a group of members of the Golden Dawn party was prevented by the organisers to lay a wreath, resulting in offensive slogans being heard. After the ceremony ended and during the departure of dignitaries a member of the Golden Dawn party group laid the wreath.
 Macedonian Struggle memorial events in ThessalonikiMemorial events took place in the city of Thessaloniki on Sunday in the framework of the Memory Day of the Macedonian Struggle (1904-1908).
A religious ceremony was held in the morning at the Saint Demetrius cathedral in the presence of the vice regional governor of the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Unity Apostolos Tzitzikostas.
The laying of wreaths at the memorial of the 3rd Army Corps followed.
 Overcast on Monday, rain in north and westThe weather will be forecast throughout Greece on Monday, with rain and sporadic storms in the north and west of the country, receding in the afternoon.
Athens will be partially cloudy, with northerly winds of 3-6 beaufort velocity and temperatures of 17C to 29C.
Lightly overcast in Thessaloniki, with chance of local showers and improvement in the afternoon, and temperatures ranging from 18C to 27C.
 Greece draws 0-0 with Bosnia in World Cup 2014 qualifierGreece drew 0-0 with Bosnia-Herzegovina in a World Cup 2014 qualification Group G soccer match played at Karaiskaki Stadium in Piraeus on Friday evening.
The standings after three games played are: Bosnia 7, Slovakia 7, Greece 7, Lithuania 4, Latvia 0 and Liechtenstein 0.
Greece's next game is away with Slovakia on October 16.
 Real Madrid beats Panathinaikos 85-78 in Euroleague basketball gameReal Madrid beat Panathinaikos Athens 85-78 in a Euroleague basketball game played in Spain on Friday evening. The 10-minute intervals had the following results: 22-20, 35-44, 59-60, 85-78.
 The Sunday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glanceAGGELIOFOROS: "8 'shock' taxes coming on real estate".
AVGHI: "Political solution without Memorandums".
DIMOKRATIA: "Prime Minister: We've become a second Bulgaria".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Pensions, retirement ages, heath spending being swept away".
ETHNOS: "The big solution - How the extension of the debt will be effected".
EXPRESS: "The 13.5 billion euro package of measures stifles the economy".
KATHIMERINI: "We're passing through the final rough patch - Interview with the prime minister".
KERDOS: "32 billion euros in loans in 9 months with expensive interest-bearing treasury bills".
NIKI: "Solutions for 'haircut' of your credit cards".
PROTO THEMA: "How they 'baptized' the palace a small industry for cheaper electricity".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Everyone turn out for the strike, with PAME (Communist Party affiliated labor organisation) on Thursday, October 18".
REALNEWS: "Change of ministers after the agreement (with the Troika on the package of measures)".
TO ARTHRO: "Merkel's harsh message".
TO VIMA: "Thomsen's (leader of IMF delegation in Troika) account...and Samaras' confession".
VRADYNI: "Be ahead of the reversals - What is to be done with the retirement ages and remuneration".
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