|Thursday, 14 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-02-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 4 February 2013 Issue No: 4287
 TAP natgas pipeline agreement to be signed in Athens on Feb. 13The interstate agreement for the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will be signed by Greece, Italy and Albania on February 13 in Athens, Greece's foreign minister Dimitris Avramopoulos announced on Saturday after a meeting with the foreign minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, in Munich.
According to Greek foreign ministry sources, Avramopoulos had telephone contacts on Friday night with the foreign ministers if Italy and Albania, Giulio Terzi and Edmond Panariti respectively, to finalize the relevant details, while the deliberations are continuing among the three TAP countries on the text of the final agreement.
In joint statements after their joint meeting, Avramopoulos underlined the great prospects for cooperation between the two countries, especially in the areas of the economy, investments and tourism, while Mammadyarov spoke of the strategic relationship between the two countries, stressing that it is necessary for the bilateral cooperation to be extended to more sectors, beyond that of natural gas.
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is a natural gas pipeline project to transport gas from the Caspian region via Greece and Albania and across the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy and further into Western Europe. The project is aimed at enhancing security of supply as well as diversification of gas supplies for the European markets. TAP will open a new so-called Southern Gas Corridor to Europe and establish a new market outlet for natural gas from the Caspian.
TAP's shareholders are Axpo of Switzerland (42.5%), Norway's Statoil (42.5%) and E.ON Ruhrgas of Germany (15%).
The project is designed to expand transportation capacity from 10 to 20 bcm per year. TAP also envisages physical reverse flow of up to 80 per cent to further ensure security of supply during any operational interruption of gas deliveries.
The TAP route will be approximately 800 kilometers in length (Approx.: Greece 478 km; Albania 209 km; offshore Adriatic Sea 105 km; Italy 5 km).
Avramopoulos is in Munich for the International Security Conference, on the sidelines of which he is conducting a series of bilateral contacts with his counterparts and leaders from all over the world.
The Munich Security Conference (MSC) was founded in 1963 and has grown into one of the most important annual gatherings for policymakers on international security.
 SYRIZA leader: Halt application of Memorandum immediatelyMain opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras called for an immediate halt of the application of the Memorandum, speaking at the opening session Saturday of a SYRIZA central committee meeting, and demanded that the three-party coalition government take up the issue with its EU partners.
Prompted by the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) recent admission that a mistake had been made with the fiscal multiplier used for the Memorandum, Tsipras attacked the government for not putting forward a demand for a change of policy, and reiterated his proposal that a European conference be convened to deal with the debt problems faced also by all the countries of the EU south.
"We've reached the point where the lenders admit the mistake and the government insists on the mistake," Tsipras said, and posed the question: "What else is the government waiting for in order to put the issue to the partners? What is the reason why we should continue to apply the mistake? Because Mr. Samaras (prime minister) said that no one is without sin, because he doesn't want to ruin Mrs. (German Chancellor) Merkel's electoral campaign? And is he condemning an entire people, an entire country, to squalor and humiliation because he has assumed the responsibility and proprietorship of the programme?'
Tsipras defended his decision to visit and hold talks in Germany and the US recently, stressing that in his meetings in the two countries he put forward issues that no Greek government has ever done, such as the war reparations from Germany and the exercise of Greece's sovereign rights, as well as matters related to the economy and Greece's international relations.
"The diplomacy of subjugation ends with SYRIZA, and the diplomacy of demanding the just rights of our people begins," he said.
 Main opposition leader rules out post-electoral collaboration with PASOK, DIMARMain opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras stressed that the Memorandums are not the solution, but the problem, and expressed worry over the German policy line, which he warned will destroy Europe, in an interview with the Sunday edition of Kathimerini newspaper.
Tsipras further ruled out any post-electoral collaboration with the two junior partners in the three-party coalition government -- PASOK and Democratic Left (DIMAR) -- explaining that there were no margins for convergence with those parties.
The Memorandum, he said, must end, and this would happen when a Left-wing government, with SYRIZA as the core, is formed.
 SYRIZA's Central Committee approves political resolutionA political resolution proposed by the Radical Left Coalition was on Sunday approved by a large majority of the party's Central Committee, rejecting however four amendments put to vote by the Left Platform section of SYRIZA.
The political resolution outlines the party's positions on cancelling the Memorandum of Understanding (signed as part of Greece's bailout loan), accelerating in-party processes towards the consolidation of SYRIZA, and coping with the propaganda of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party.
The text stresses the position that SYRIZA and its leader Alexis Tsipras will continue efforts to raise international awareness over Greece's problems, as these were caused by the terms of the loan contracts and the Memorandums.
On a political level, SYRIZA intends to push ahead with its campaign for the convention of a European conference on the public debt problem of Greece and all the countries of the European South.
In addition, following the recent acknowledgement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of errors in the Greek programme, the party's policy on both political and communication levels is to be intensified.
 Social Solidarity Network unveiledSome 30,000 enterprises from Macedonia, Thrace and Epirus have joined forces for the creation of a Social Solidarity and Assistance Network, which was unveiled on Saturday in Thessaloniki at an event that was attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
The Network, created by the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece in collaboration with the local Chambers, Exporters Association and Commerce Association, has already signed memorandums of cooperation with 20 charity and other organizations while another 20 are due to be signed.
Papoulias, who traveled to Thessaloniki especially for the event, welcomed the 'praiseworthy effort', which he said is the first of its kind and Greece, and expressed hope that it would be copied by others.
Federation of Industries of Northern Greece president Nikos Pentzos called the Network a "humanitarian institution", noting that in 2010 his Federation had taken up an initiative to support the vulnerable population groups, having anticipated the hard times that were coming, while the joint agreement for the creation of the Network itself was signed last February.
"We want to give back to society what it has been giving to us all these years," Pentzos said, adding that the Network provided assistance this past Christmas to more than 5,000 people.
He added that the companies taking part in the network, despite the hardships they are facing themselves, want to show their 'social face' and develop social offer and solidarity, through the provision of food, money and other goods to individuals, groups, charity foundations, organizations and agencies.
 FM on official visit to FranceForeign minister Dimitris Avramopoulos is in Paris for an official visit at the invitation of his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.
Avramopoulos will meet with Fabius on Monday, following earlier talks with chairperson of the French National Assembly Committee on Foreign Affairs Elisabeth Guigou.
 Gov't 'fully supports' FinMin, spokesman saysFinance minister Yannis Stournaras has the full support of the government, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou affirmed on Saturday, speaking on private To Vima radio station.
"Yannis Stournaras enjoys the respect of all of us. He is doing a very difficult job, and is doing it very well," the spokesman added.
In a newspaper interview on Saturday, Stournaras said he was following the policy that the country has agreed with the signatures of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos and the consent of the political parties supporting the coalition government.
Replying to criticism he has drawn over the economic policy and chiefly on the taxation on real estate, he added that "the prime minister understands me and fully supports me...he is my best ally".
 Venizelos 'joins' the debate on IMF's errors in the Greek programmeJoining the latest debate on the "errors" made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in designing the Greek loan programme, PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos rejected the rationale of such debate and the way it is being conducted.
"The debate that started in the last few days scares me," he confesses on an article posted in his personal webpage.
Venizelos rebuffs the view that the entire affair is about a simple "technical" error on the part of the IMF, as well as that responsibilities lie solely with the IMF.
As far as what has to be done now is concerned, the PASOK leader stressed that the second programme contains a clause on "deeper recession," which leads to "renegotiation and review of the loan contract."
Venizelos believes that Greece's European Union partners should realise that their insistence on neoliberal fiscal compulsions has led Greece to a much worse recession, but stresses that the solution is in Greece's hands, and is primarily "political and social".
According to the PASOK president, Greece should persevere with "the implementation of the budget and a consistent promotion of structural reforms," believing that this is a "point of balance" in Greece's relations with European Union partners.
Venizelos hospitalized for scheduled med tests
 Venizelos hospitalized for scheduled med testsPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos was admitted to a Thessaloniki hospital on Sunday for a series of planned medical examinations.
He will remain in hospital for a day to complete gastrointestinal and heart check-ups.
Venizelos' planned visit Monday to Heraklion, Crete, has been postponed to Monday, February 11.
 DIMAR leader: Country must move forward, rid itself of MemorandumsGreece needs to move forward and rid itself of the regulations of the Memorandums, Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis said on Saturday during his party's cutting of the traditional New Year 'pita'.
The government, he added, must meet the responsibilities it has undertaken "and prove that this year will be the last year of sacrifices".
Further, the duty of DIMAR, a junior partner in the three-party coalition government, is to protect the weaker strata of society and the unemployed, and immediate action to incorporate the young people into the core of employment, he said.
Kouvelis noted that DIMAR had taken on the responsibility of substantially contributing to Greece's continued stay in the euro, and from the same position of responsibility it is working for stabilization and recovery, under conditions of democracy and with the greatest possible protection of the society.
 Ind't Greeks: Patriotic Front neededIndependent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos called for the creation of a uniform national patriotic front that would obstruct the sell-off of Greece's mineral wealth and would not allow its control by the foreign lenders, addressing a press conference on Saturday ahead of the opening of his party's 1st Pre-Congress in Kavala.
Kammenos said that it is the government's duty to safeguard the country's mineral wealth along with the national property of the Greeks, adding that an end must be put to the continuous effort to avert the country's growth.
"Greece can live without Memorandums and the Greeks can bring growth to their land on their own," Kammenos stressed.
 KKE leader addresses striking seamen's demonstration in PiraeusStriking seamen held a demonstration in the port of Piraeus on Saturday, launching a second consecutive 48-hour strike after talks with Merchant Marine Minister Costas Mousouroulis ended in a deadlock on Friday.
A meeting between Mousouroulis and the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation on Friday fell through, prompting a 48-hour extension of the two-day strike launched on Thursday, which will end at dawn Monday, while the PNO executive committee is due to convene again on Sunday to decide its further action.
The strikers are demanding the withdrawal of a Merchant Marine Ministry omnibus bill, the provisions of which, they say, will lead many seamen to unemployment and to the collapse of their social security/pension funds.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga addressed the seamen's rally on Saturday, charging that: "At the time when the bosses of Greek shipping are in first place world-wide, in Greece a bill is being prepared that will send the last remaining thousands of seamen to unemployment, after a series of other measures with the abolition of cabotage at their core."
"At the time that Greece has the ability to resolve the problem of communication with the islands, a large number of our islands are facing problems in winter, but also in the summer, since the only thing they (government) care about is the smooth operation of the ships, which bring foreign exchange to the big hotels," Papariga said.
Another protest demonstration will be staged on Sunday.
 KKE on continuing protests by farmers and seamen"The people's alliance and a counter-attack is the only way to repudiate authoritarianism and measures degrading the people," a statement issued Sunday by the Press Office of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said, while commenting on the continuing protests of farmers and seamen.
Workers "should stand firmly beside the poor and middle peasantry struggling for survival against the policies of the government and the European Union. At the same time, the peasantry must support the struggle of the seamen and other workers in defense of their basic rights," stressed the Communist Party.
 FinMin sees return to growth beginning in OctoberGreece will return to growth beginning in October, while 2014 will be a year of recovery, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras predicted, in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Kathimerini newspaper.
He said that 2014 will be a year of recovery, and the government will be able to proceed with "corrections" to the measures it has taken.
Stournaras also challenged main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to reveal to the public what he was told by the German finance minister and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials on his positions, during his recent visits to Germany and the US.
 Dev. Minister to confer with Task Force chiefDevelopment, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Costis Hatzidakis will meet with European Commission Task Force for Greece chief Horst Reichenbach on Monday afternoon.
The meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Ministry's Syntagma Square building, will focus on re-starting the works on the four road axes, the course of implementation of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and administrative reforms.
 Shipping Minister: Will try to find solution, despite economy restrictionsMerchant Marine Minister Costas Mousouroulis pledged that the government will try to find a solution to the problems faced by seamen although, he noted, the margins are limited due to the country's economic situation, in a statement on Sunday following a further 48-hour extension of an ongoing strike by seamen.
Earlier Sunday, the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation unanimously agreed a second 48-hour extension, until dawn Wednesday, to a strike initially launched on Thursday.
Mousouroulis ruled out, for the time being, the prospect of a "civil mobilization" of striking seamen forcing back to work, noting that the dialogue was continuing given that the problems "are a fact" for both sides -- the Greek seamen and the coastal shipping companies.
Mousouroulis has invited PNO as well as the Association of Passenger Shipping Companies to a new meeting, following the collapse of similar deliberations on Friday.
 Mousouroulis asks for help from ship owners to deal with seamen's strikeMerchant Marine and Aegean Minister Kostis Mousouroulis asked for 'assistance' from ship owners in order to find a solution to the continuing industrial action by seamen, during a meeting on Sunday afternoon with members of the Association of Passenger Shipping Businesses (SEEN).
According to ministry sources, ship owners viewed positively Mousouroulis' efforts to begin negotiations with seamen on the signing of collective labor agreements, and highlighted the difficult economic situation in which many companies have fallen due to a drop in passenger numbers and the lack of liquidity on the part of banks.
Attending the meeting were SEEN president Michalis Sakelis, the vice-president of international journeys Spyros Paschalis and AKEK president Giannis Vardinogiannis.
The signing of collective labour agreements is to be at the centre of a meeting by the board of SEEN, expected to be held within the week.
 Seamen extend strike to dawn WednesdayStriking seamen have extended their strike for a further 48 hours, to dawn on Wednesday, by unanimous decision of the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO), in a second two-day extension of industrial action that was launched on Thursday.
Thus, ships will remain docked at ports until 6:00 a.m. Wednesday.
Strikers will stage a demonstration at noon Sunday at Piraeus, Greece's largest port.
PNO secretary general Yannis Halas, speaking to AMNA, once again called on the government to resolve the problems faced by seamen, warning that the provisions of the Merchant Marine Ministry's new omnibus bill would have the immediate result of more Greek seamen finding themselves unemployed.
Panhellenic Union of Merchant Marine Seamen (PENEN) president Antonis Dalakogiorgis accused the government of intransigence over the seamen's problems, adding that the draft law abolishes thousands of jobs for Greek seamen, the result of which will be unemployment in the sector skyrocketing even further and the financial collapse and bankruptcy of the seamen's social security/pension funds.
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.384
Pound sterling 0.874
Danish kroner 7.572
Swedish kroner 8.731
Japanese yen 127.67
Swiss franc 1.253
Norwegian kroner 7.538
Canadian dollar 1.384
Australian dollar 1.332
 Three perpetrators of double bank robbery linked to terrorist organizationTwo of four young men arrested for simultaneous armed robberies of two banks on Friday in the town of Velvendo, Kozani, are wanted as suspected members of a terrorist organization, police confirmed on Saturday, a day after the counter-terrorism squad took over the investigation into the incident.
Arrest warrants were outstanding against 25-year-old Ioannis Mihailidis -- dubbed by media as 'the archer', who had been arrested and released under restrictive terms during violence in downtown Athens in February 2011 carrying a bow and arrows -- and 22-year-old Dimitris Politis.
Police on Sunday said that a third suspect, 25-year-old Nikolaos Romanos, is also believed to be a member of the same terrorist group, as his fingerprints were identified with those found at the organisation's two hideouts.
The fourth suspect was identified as 24-year-old Andreas-Dimitrios Bourzoukos.
The four men were arrested Friday after a police pursuit and another four were wanted, hours after a double bank hold-up by eight suspects of an Agricultural Bank (ATEbank) and Post Office Bank (TT-Postbank) branch in Velvendo on Friday morning.
The counter-terrorism squad took over the investigation after heavy weaponry was found in their possession.
The four detainees were taken in for interrogation by the Thessaloniki police counter-terrorism squad, where it was found that arrest warrants were outstanding against two of the suspects for participation in the "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" organization, while the other two detainees are university students active in the anti-establishment sphere.
The four detainees were taken before a Kozani prosecutor, under draconian security measures, for indictment on charges of setting up a criminal organization, several counts of robbery, aggravated charges of illegal possession of arms, resistance to authorities, aggravated charges of causing damage to foreign property, endangering the safety of transportation and causing bodily harm.
The four were transferred to Athens on Sunday, where the two with outstanding warrants against them will be led before a prosecutor for execution of the warrants.
Meanwhile, police were continuing a search by land and air to locate the other four suspects of the double bank robbery that were still at large, while an extensive investigation was being conducted in the wider Kozani region for a possible safehouse used by the suspects.
The names and photographs of the four were released by police at the instructions of the Kozani prosecutor, and the counter-terrorism squad has appealed to the public for information, which they hope will lead them to uncovering possible safehouses or the suspects' implication in other terrorist or criminal activities.
The police headquarters have appealed to the public to communicate with the counter-terrorism squad at the telephone numbers 170, 1014 and 1064 or e-mail email@example.com, promising full anonymity.
Mihailidis and Politis were found to be in possession of fake IDs. There are three arrest warrants outstanding against Mihailidis and two against Politis. Fingerprints of both were found in a 'Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire' hideout discovered in Kallithea.
Giving details of the double heist and subsequent manhunt, western Macedonia police chief Vaios Hondros told a press conference on Saturday that the two robberies were conducted by eight heavily armed men, who took a dentist hostage in their attempt to escape and threatened police when they tried to arrest them.
He said that a van that was intercepted in Veria turned up heavy weaponry, including two Kalashnikovs, a Scorpion submachine gun, and a Zastava and a Beretta pistol, which have been sent to the crime lab for a ballistics examination to ascertain whether they have been used in the past in other offences.
He said that two teams of heavily armed men simultaneously rushed the ATEbank and nearby PostBank branches at about 10:00 a.m. Friday. Initially two of the robbers, wearing hoods, shattered the ATEbank glass facade with a hatchet and grabbed 175,940 euro in cash at gunpoint, while a third accomplice was keeping watch outside. At the same time, two other robbers, also wearing hoods, rushed the entrance of the Postbank and took 4,020 euros from the tellers at gunpoint, while again a third accomplice kept watch outside. A sixth accomplice was keeping watch at a short distance.
The robbers initially took off in two vehicles, which they later abandoned for a van. They subsequently stopped a jeep driven by a dentist from Kozani, and forced him into the van with three of the robbers, while the other four boarded the jeep and headed towards Veria.
Police spotted the van and opened pursuit, eventually stopping it inside the town of Veria. One of the suspects threatened police with a gun, but police managed to arrest the three suspects and free the dentist. A search of the van turned up the weaponry and part of the stolen money.
Earlier, a second van had been spotted, driven by the 8th suspect outside Kozani, who was waiting for his accomplices to escape. The second van had been disguised on the outside to resemble an ambulance, and the suspect attempted to torch the vehicle to destroy his traces, but sped off at the sight of the police, who managed to catch up with him and arrest him near the Ptolemais mines.
 Weaponry found in Velvendo bank robbers' possession not used in previous crimes, ballistics report saysThe heavy weaponry, namely three Kalashnikov firearms, an automatic Scorpion submachine gun and to pistols found in the possession of four men arrested for the simultaneous armed robbery of two banks in the town of Velvendo, Kozani on Friday have not be used in prior terrorist or criminal actions, a ballistics report said on Sunday evening.
 AMNA, state media journalists to strike on MondayJournalists working in state mass media and the broader public sector are to hold a 24-hour strike on Monday, in industrial action called by the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists' Unions (POESY).
The strike will affect the state broadcaster ERT, AMNA, the general secretariat for information, the radio stations 'Athens 98.4' FM, 'Kanali 1 90.4 FM' and 'Epikinonia FM', and the Parliament television channel.
POESY demands the signing of collective labour agreements as well as the suspension of layoffs in Athens municipal 98.4 FM radio station and the safeguarding of the independence and polyphony of journalists.
The strike is from 06:00 a.m. on Monday until 06:00 Tuesday morning.
The AMNA staff is participating in the strike, and as such no news items will be posted and the AMNA website will not be renewed during those hours.
A meeting has also been called at the Athens Journalists' Union (ESIEA) at noon on Monday.
ESIEA demands preservation of the institution of Collective Labor Agreements and the signing of new agreements in the sector.
 Flame lit for 2013 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival in BrasovThe Olympic Flame for the XI European Youth Olympic Winter Festival (EYOWF) Competition was lit on Saturday during a flame lighting ceremony in Athens' ancient Panathenian (Kallimarmaro) Stadium, from where it will travel to the Romanian city of Brasov, host of the 2013 EYOWF, which opens on February 17.
The flame was lit by actress Ino Menegaki, in the role of a high priestess, from the direct rays of the sun, in a ceremony at Athens' ancient Panathenian Stadium, venue of the first Modern Olympic Games, where it was formally turned over Hellenic Olympic Committee president Spyros Kapralos to Brasov Mayor George Scripcaru.
During the biennial multi-sporting event, which will be hosted in Brasov and the nearby cities of Rasnov and Predeal from February 17 to 22, participants aged 14 to 17 from 37 European countries will compete in eight Olympic winter sports disciplines: Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Biathlon, Ice Hockey, Figure Skating, Short Track, Ski Jumping and Snowboarding.
 Super League resultOlympiakos Piraeus lost 3-2 to Atromitos Athens in a match played at home over the weekend, but continues to top standings in the Greek soccer Super League.
In other action:
AEK Athens-Panionios Athens 1-0
Xanthi-Platanias Crete 2-0
Asteras Tripoli-Panathinaikos 2-2
OFI Crete-Kerkyra 2-0
Aris Thessaloniki-PAOK Thessaloniki 2-2
Levadiakos-PAS Yiannina 4/2/2013
Standings after 20 weeks of play:
1. Olympiacos 51
2. Asteras 38
3. PAOK 36
4. Atromitos 35
5. Levadiakos 27 (19 matches)
6. PAS Yiannina 26 (19 matches)
7. Panathinaikos 26
8. OFI 26
9. Panionios 25
12. AEK 22
13. Aris 19
14. Veria 19
15. Platanias 18
16. Kerkyra 14
NOTE: Panathinaikos has had two points deducted.
 Cloudy, rain in west and northCloudy weather is forecast on Monday, with brief local showers in the west and north of the country, storms in eastern Macedonia, Thrace and the island of the northern Aegean, and a small drop in temperatures.
Athens will be lightly overcast, with temperatures ranging from 9C to 17C. The same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures of 6-14C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceAVGHI: "SYRIZA (main opposition party) the multiplier of social resistance".
DIMOKRATIA: "Uprising in New Democracy (ND)".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "It's a mistake to build castles in the sand".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Chaos with the taxes".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "We're changing the Constitution".
ETHNOS: "The 'parties of conservatism' in the trenches".
KATHIMERINI: "Stournaras (finance minister): Growth will begin in October".
LOGOS: "One in two citizens unable to pay".
NIKI: "Borrowers: Ten weapons to defeat the banks".
REAL NEWS: "Stournaras (finance minister) livid with his critics: Let them say whatever they want, I will persist".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Everyone turn out for the strike".
TO PARASKINIO: "They're building a new Yalta on Greece".
TO THEMA: "Untrustworthy politicians to the end".
TO VIMA: "The tax war".
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