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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-05-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 13 May 2013 Issue No: 4357


  • [01] Tension continues between gov't and teachers
  • [02] ADEDY emergency meeting on Monday over teachers' strike
  • [03] SYRIZA wants Samaras to withdraw civil mobilisation of teachers
  • [04] PM holds several meetings as visit to Beijing is coming up
  • [05] PM's visit a 'new chapter' in Greece-China relations, Dep. Development minister tells ANA-MPA
  • [06] Cypriot FM reports U.S. interest in 'helping unfreeze' Cyprus issue
  • [07] PM Samaras congratulates ONNED's Kyranakis for election as YEPP president
  • [08] Kefalogiannis satisfied with ND pre-congress debate in Crete
  • [09] Ind. Greeks leader in Reykjavik for AECR meeting
  • [10] America Archbishop urges Obama to help protect Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
  • [11] Archbishop Ieronymos of Greece to visit US from May 15 to 21
  • [12] Labour minister hails CLA deal between bank workers, banking association
  • [13] National Bank to absorb 'healthy' portion of First Business Bank
  • [14] Bank of Greece appoints Commissioner at ProBank
  • [15] Nine injured, mostly police, at gold mine protest in Halkidiki
  • [16] Depeche Mode play to packed crowd in Attica
  • [17] Polish bus bursts into flames, passengers all safe
  • [18] Police arrest Danish driver transporting nearly half a tonne of cannabis
  • [19] Sixteen arrested during Greek Cup final
  • [20] Two Iranians robbed and injured at home, in Argoliko
  • [21] Man arrested for murder of elderly couple and robbery in Ioannina
  • [22] Traditional Kifissia flower show opens for 59th year in a row

  • [01] Tension continues between gov't and teachers

    An escalating row between the government and secondary educators has been fueled by the government's decision to issue a civil mobilisation order, forcing teachers to work through strikes planned during the nationwide university entrance examinations (Panhellenic Exams).

    OLME, the federation of secondary school teachers, is planning to hold a demonstration on Monday against the government's decision. It has also called on major labour unions GSEE and ADEDY to call a general strike on May 17.

    On Saturday, OLME board members met to examine ways to prevent the orders being served to them, as the government plans to do on Monday morning.

    Following the signing of the decision by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Saturday evening, Education minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos said that "the Prime Minister and the government have ended the agony of thousands of students."

    The minister added that the decision for civil mobilization of teachers was "politically correct and constitutionally necessary". The civil mobilisation order reads that there is "an imperative need" to prevent the "threatened negative effects" of the planned 24-hour strike or any other strike called during the exam period.

    OLME has resolved to hold a 24-hour strike on May 17, the first day of the nationwide exams, as well and a five-day strike between May 20 and 25. Their action is primarily staged against the government's decision to increase teachers' working hours by two hours a week.

    [02] ADEDY emergency meeting on Monday over teachers' strike

    The civil servants' union federation ADEDY Executive Committee is to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the possibility of a civil mobilisation order forcing striking teachers back to work.

    An ADEDY announcement noted that this will be the fourth time in 18 months that a Greek government resorts to civil mobilisation to prevent strike action, after the same method was enlisted to end strikes by local government workers, public transport workers and seamen, thus "proving through its actions that the fundamental rights of workers are now in suspension".

    It also criticised the government for using students' anxiety "as a pretext when it is exclusively responsible for the situation being created in education" and urged the government not to go through with obligatory staff transfers, dismissals and the closing of schools.

    [03] SYRIZA wants Samaras to withdraw civil mobilisation of teachers

    The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party has asked Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to withdraw a civil mobilisation order to secondary education teachers, preventing them from striking during the nationwide university entrance examinations, which it plans to impose on Monday morning.

    In a statement issued Sunday by SYRIZA's press office, the party says that the government should hold a debate with teachers after the Panhellenic exams are over.

    It also refers to an extract from an older Samaras speech in parliament saying that, "When you deal with social reactions by applying junta-style methods, you fuel social explosion."

    SYRIZA charges the premier as being untrustworthy and dangerous, as the "blackmailing and other practices by himself and his government are a direct attack on the vast majority of workers and society, and at the current conjuncture distress thousands of students."

    [04] PM holds several meetings as visit to Beijing is coming up

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras held a series of meetings starting Sunday morning to give directives to ministries before he leaves for his official visit to China on May 15 to 19.

    On Monday, Samaras will chair a meeting on how to deal with the fires that break out every summer; it will be the third meeting on the issue since the start of this year.

    On the evening of the same day, the premier will address a meeting of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), to present his future plans on the Greek economy.

    [05] PM's visit a 'new chapter' in Greece-China relations, Dep. Development minister tells ANA-MPA

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' visit to Beijing next week opens a new chapter in relations between Greece and China, Deputy Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Notis Mitarakis said in an interview with ANA-MPA broadcast on Saturday.

    Currently in Beijing to prepare for Samaras' visit, Mitarakis stressed the fact that it was only the second visit by a European Union member-state leader to China since its new government took over, after a visit by French President Francois Hollande.

    "China, as we all know, is one of the great superpowers of the world. It is significant that the invitation to the Greek prime minister was among the first made by China's new political leadership," Mitarakis said, adding that the premier's visit would serve to further strengthen the already good relations between the two countries.

    Replying to questions, Mitarakis reported a positive climate in China ahead of the Greek premier's trip and said that the goal was to develop relations one step further, so that the business delegation accompanying Samaras was able to close specific deals for cooperation in investment and exports.

    The minister pointed out that China was already an active participant in the privatisation process in Greece and had expressed an interest in new tenders due to be held in the near future, with particular interest in infrastructure such as ports and airport.

    "This visit will be an opportunity for discussion on this to take place. There is also fairly significant cooperation between Greece and China in the shipping sector. Already, I should remind you, from 2010 there is a cooperation memorandum that set up a general framework and we are now proceeding to the implementation phase," Mitarakis said regarding the issues likely to be discussed.

    With respect to tourism, the minister said there was strong interest in boosting tourism to Greece on the Chinese side, while Greece considered China an important market and wished to cultivate it.

    "There is also great interest in the import of goods from Greece to China and for this reason, the prime minister's mission to China will include representatives of the exporters' sector and agencies," he added.

    At the same time, the minister stressed that the prospects for cooperation in China could not be realised without systematic hard work, pointing out that Greece was not the only country seeking to attract investments.

    "This is a very competitive area. Greece, at this time, offers important comparative advantages. It is important that we are able to progress to the implementation of investment plans that may have been discussed in the past or are starting now," he said.

    [06] Cypriot FM reports U.S. interest in 'helping unfreeze' Cyprus issue

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has indicated a desire to "help unfreeze" the Cyprus issue, Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told the ANA-MPA on Saturday after a series of meetings in Washington.

    During his meeting with Kerry at the U.S. State Department on Friday morning, the U.S. Secretary of State agreed that the economic crisis was not linked to either the Cyprus issue nor to hydrocarbon exploration being carried out by Cyprus in its Exclusive Economic Zone, the Cypriot minister added.

    "I think I was given the opportunity to refer to some issues, so that he is aware that the Cyprus problems in not an easy affair, because there is a long-standing situation but it is also a problem of trust of each side in the other," Kasoulides said. For this reason, he had outlined ways in which a climate of confidence might be restored, such as his proposal for the ghost town Famagusta, that would facilitate any negotiations and lessen the mutual suspicion between the two sides, he added.

    Asked how he would like the United States to help in the Cyprus issue, Kasoulides urged Washington to help with the proposals he had outlined for Famagusta and "not become discouraged with the first objections they may meet". The minister indicated that Kerry might discuss the proposal during his talks with the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglou when they visit Washington next week.

    Reporting on Kerry's position regarding Cyprus' search for fossil fuels in its EEZ and attempts to link a resolution of the Cyprus issue with the economic crisis, Kasoulides said that this was clear:

    "We were both agreed that the hydrocarbons could be a good means for all protagonists once the Cyprus issue is solved and that energy must not be a source of conflict but a tool, an incentive for cooperation and regional integration. It would be the worst development if it was used in the form of threats," he said.

    Replying to questions about the meeting on Friday, U.S. State Department Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said that Kerry and Kasoulides had "a good meeting" and noted that Cyprus was a good friend and partner of the United States.

    He said they discussed "U.S. support for efforts to reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation under the auspices of the UN Good Offices mission led by Mr. Downer," and that Kerry had expressed U.S. support for efforts to restore the Cypriot economy to a path of stability and growth, as well as discussing energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and other issues.

    [07] PM Samaras congratulates ONNED's Kyranakis for election as YEPP president

    Prime Minister and President of the New Democracy (ND) party Antonis Samaras congratulated Konstantinos Kyranakis on Sunday on his election to the presidency of the Youth of the European People's Party (YEPP), the official youth wing of the European People's Party (EPP).

    In a statement, Samaras said that the election of Kyranakis, member of the ND's youth organisation ONNED, is a pan-European recognition of his work, moral standards and diligence as ONNED's Secretary for International Relations.

    "It represents both a starting point for new struggles in the area of education and culture, as well as in invigorating youth employment across Europe," the premier said.

    Deputy Manolis Kefalogiannis, secretary of the party's political committee, added his congratulations on behalf of the ND party. "It is a recognition and a challenge as well, both for him and for ONNED," he said.

    Kyranakis was elected during YEPP's three-day congress in Sofia, Bulgaria, that ended Saturday. The EPP is the largest group in the European Parliament and consists of centre-right parties hailing from EU member-states.

    [08] Kefalogiannis satisfied with ND pre-congress debate in Crete

    New Democracy deputy for the seat of Iraklio, Crete, Manolis Kefalogiannis expressed satisfaction with the turnout in the ND pre-congress discussion event, held in Iraklio on Sunday.

    "We are continuing our journey around Greece, with a stop in Crete. We are totally satisfied with the turnout," Kefalogiannis said, adding that "our ambition is to change everything. We will change everything within the party's structures."

    He added it was important to see so many people, many of them distinguished, taking part in the party's debate with the community in view of the Congress.

    Kefalogiannis reiterated that "we want to contribute positively to the effort by the government and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to transform Greece."

    During the pre-congress event, attending ND members of the Greek parliament, the deputy minister for Administrative Reform, Manousos Voloudakis and other party officials discussed the contacts made so far with agencies of Crete island on major development projects, such as the Kastelli airport, upgrading the Northern Highway, a new port in the island's south and other infrastructure projects.

    Discussion also touched upon PM Antonis Samaras' upcoming official visit to China.

    [09] Ind. Greeks leader in Reykjavik for AECR meeting

    Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos was in Reykjavik, Iceland on Saturday to take part in a meeting of party leaders in the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists. Kammenos arrived in Reykjavik on Friday and will take part in talks concerning the future of Europe, the response to the economic crisis and shaping anti-federalist strategy ahead of the European Parliament elections in May 2014.

    [10] America Archbishop urges Obama to help protect Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)

    Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Demetrios has sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, asking him to use his influence in order to ensure the safety of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, it was announced on Saturday.

    The announcement said the letter was sent in response to press reports in the Turkish press concerning a plot to murder the Patriarch.

    The letter also refers to the ongoing crisis in Aleppo, Syria where two Orthodox clerics are still missing after their abduction by terrorists and urges the protection of the Ecumenical Patriarch, stressing that the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul for the last 17 centuries was the "supreme Christian presence of a Christian religious leader in a Muslim country".

    [11] Archbishop Ieronymos of Greece to visit US from May 15 to 21

    Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece will be the first leader of the Church of Greece to visit the United States in the last half century when he begins his official visit on May 15, following an invitation by Archbishop Demetrios of America, leader of the Orthodox Church in North America.

    The Archbishop is expected to start his visit with the Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, greater Boston, where he will receive an honorary doctorate of theology.

    According to the Archdiocese in Athens, his agenda will include the following:

    He will lead the vespers at the College church on May 17; attend the College's commencement on May 18 (where he will be honored with the doctorate), then visit New York City in the company of Archbishop Demetrios; participate in a joint liturgy at the Holy Trinity Cathedral on May 19; visit the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America headquarters and the Greek-American School of St. Demetrios in Astoria on May 20; and hold a joint liturgy with Archbishop Demetrios celebrating the Saints Constantine and Helen at the Brooklyn Cathedral of the same name which is also celebrating its centennial, on May 21, when he will conclude his visit.

    In an interview to the National Herald (Ethnikos Kiryx), based in New York, the Archbishop noted the importance of the contributions of Greeks abroad, calling them "a great chapter in our history" and "Greece beyond the borders of Greece". He sent his best wishes and "the brotherly greeting of the homeland to all those who have had to leave their country."

    Financial News

    [12] Labour minister hails CLA deal between bank workers, banking association

    Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Saturday hailed the agreement reached by the bank workers' union federation OTOE and the Union of Greek Banks on the terms of a collective labour agreement for the banking sector.

    An announcement issued by the ministry noted that the agreement, in addition to dealing with pay and regulatory issues, also included an express clause for the protection of employment.

    "This development underscores the significant capabilities that the social partners have, within the new legal environment that has been created in the area of labour relations, to act on their own and take consensual and mature decisions for the protection of employment, social harmony and cohesion," the minister said.

    Vroutsis express hope that the same positive outcome will be achieved in the negotiations for the National General Collective Labour Agreement, with employers and trade unions showing "maturity, mutual trust and responsibility" toward the huge number of workers and businesses they represent.

    [13] National Bank to absorb 'healthy' portion of First Business Bank

    The National Bank of Greece is to absorb the healthy portion of First Business Bank (FBB), following an offer made to the central bank that was approved by Greece's Fiscal Stability Fund shortly after midnight on Saturday.

    On Monday, FBB's network of 19 bank branches will operate as part of and under the responsibility of NBG, with all transactions with customers, deposits and loans being carried out as normal. According to a Bank of Greece announcement, NBG's offer for the healthy portions of FBB fully protects the deposits of all the bank's customers and ensures their continued, unobstructed service.

    FBB's licence to operate was revoked and it went into liquidation after it informed the Bank of Greece that it could not raise the necessary funds for recapitalisation.

    NBG will take over all the deposits and the majority of the loans, with the exception of those that have been declared non-performing. Any difference between the estimated value of the assets and the actual value will be covered by the Fiscal Stablity Fund.

    [14] Bank of Greece appoints Commissioner at ProBank

    The Bank of Greece on Saturday announced its decision to appoint Petros Fronistas as Commissioner at ProBank. The Commissioner is mandated to complete the long-pending capital increase procedures for the bank.

    All deposits are secure and the smooth continuation of the bank's business is ensured.

    General News

    [15] Nine injured, mostly police, at gold mine protest in Halkidiki

    Eight policeman and a female protester were injured on Sunday in total, during tensions in the northern Halkidiki peninsula's Skouries mining area, after residents rallied to protest the continuing operation of a Hellas Gold worksite.

    Earlier reports had said there were only four police injured, one with heavier but not life-threatening injuries transported to a Thessaloniki hospital. Of the rest, all were treated locally for light injuries.

    A spokesperson for the residents told ANA-MPA that clashes broke out when the riot police moved to block residents and then started using tear gas. The residents' protest, Tolis Papageorgiou said, was staged ahead of a meeting they were scheduled to hold on Monday with a chief prosecutori in Thessaloniki to lodge a complaint of what they allege is illegal gold mining by Hellas Gold.

    "The shooting of police in Halkidiki is a great provocation against the state of law in our country," Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikolaos Dendias said late on Sunday.

    "It is obvious that in a democratic country anyone has the right to protest. But it is also obvious that any claim must be ruled on by judicial or other authorities, and hooded individuals with hunting guns and molotov cocktails cannot impose their own sense of so-called justice." The minister also called on all parties and forces to condemn the incident explicitly, "without footnotes or reading between-the-lines."

    [16] Depeche Mode play to packed crowd in Attica

    British pop veterans Depeche Mode blew Greek fans away on Friday with a gutsy performance at Attica's Terra Vibe Park venue in Malakasa, Attica, in what was one of the season's first great open-air summer gigs near the Greek capital.

    The band played before a packed crowd, with most tickets sold months in advance and people converging on rural Malakasa from all corners of Greece in cars, motorbikes and buses. Despite some early glitches with the barcode system at the entrance, the sour notes were fairly quickly overcome and the evening progressed more smoothly, more than compensating fans for the three-year wait since the previous Depeche Mode concert in Athens was cancelled due to singer Dave Gahan's health problems.

    After Greek support band 'Space Blanket' and Essex-based F.O.X. had warmed up the crowd, Depeche Mode hit the stage to riotous applause at 9:00 p.m. and kept their audience electrified for more than two and a half hours with old favourites from their 1993 album 'Songs of Faith and Devotion' and tracks from the more recent 'Delta Machine', ending with "Never Let Me Down Again".

    The band will leave Athens to continue their European tour, with 34 concerts in 25 European countries and an estimated 1.5 million fans, before they cross the Atlantic to tour North America.

    [17] Polish bus bursts into flames, passengers all safe

    A tourist bus with Polish licence plates burst into flames late in the afternoon on Sunday at Egnatia highway, near the town of Paramythia in northern Greece. All 54 on the bus were evacuated with the help of the Igoumenitsa fire brigade before the fire gutted the bus.

    According to early assessments by the fire brigade, the fire broke out in the engine while the bus was in a tunnel. The accident caused a kilometer-long traffic jam on either side of the road.

    [18] Police arrest Danish driver transporting nearly half a tonne of cannabis

    A Danish national was arrested on Saturday morning in Aspropyrgos, on the national road leading to Corinth, for transporting 415.6 kg of unprocessed cannabis.

    According to the police, the cannabis was found in 330 packs in a pull-out section of an international transport van, and the arrested 42-year-old driver is considered a key member of an international narcotics ring. He will be led before a prosecutor in Athens.

    The driver was heading towards Denmark and his official paperwork showed he was carrying spices and local produce; cheese, olive oil and nuts were also found in the van.

    The police has notified Danish authorities through Europol to check on the receiving end, while it is checking for more accomplices.

    [19] Sixteen arrested during Greek Cup final

    Sixteen people were arrested on Saturday by police before the start, during and after the end of the soccer match for the Greek Cup final in Athens' Olympic Stadium, and were later taken before a public prosecutor.

    Seven of the arrestees (five of which are minors) were arrested for possession of pyrotechnics, fireworks and smoke bombs. Another four were arrested because they worked as security guards without qualifying and were unlicensed.

    Of the remaining five, two were arrested for drugs, two for illegally entering the pitch and one because of a pending conviction.

    The five minors were released by order of the juvenile public prosecutor.

    [20] Two Iranians robbed and injured at home, in Argoliko

    Police in Nafplio, Peloponnese, have launched a hunt to locate and arrest the unknown culprits who beat and robbed two Iranian nationals in Argoliko, Argolis.

    The two men were at home when the armed strangers broke in and beat them. They run off taking all the money they found, leaving the two Iranians injured. They were later taken to Noafplio Hospital, where one of them will remain for treatment.

    An initial investigation is being carried out by Nafplio Security Police.

    [21] Man arrested for murder of elderly couple and robbery in Ioannina

    Ioannina police on Sunday arrested a 30-year old man, suspected for the brutal murder of an elderly couple in the village Ktismata Pagoniou, as well as for the village's coffee shop hold up.

    The arrestee, an Albanian national, was walking along the Ioannina-Athens national motorway, and carried backpack in which police found a hand grenade.

    According to a senior police officer, an inquiry is in progress, and so far the suspect has admitted his actions. He told police he was released from Nafplio prison three months ago, where he had served a sentence for theft.

    [22] Traditional Kifissia flower show opens for 59th year in a row

    The annual flower show of Kifissia, a tradition that has attracted garden enthusiasts for nearly sixty years to the northern suburb's main square, opened in the presence of Agriculture Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris and other officials this past week. It will run to Sunday, May 26.

    "It is a fact that the sector of floriculture is dynamic and Greek flower producers are able and active," Kifissia Mayor Nikos Chiotakis said, adding that the Agriculture Ministry could help them improve exports, thus contribute to the trade balance and the economy overall.

    Tsaftaris responded that "exports of flowers are increasing sharply recently" and said the government was building a large flower auction house in greater Thessaloniki, in the north, that would support exports. Outlook for the sector was very positive, he added.

    According to a city of Kifissia press release, over 2,000 flowers cultivated in Greece will be on sale at the 59th Kifissia flower show. It will be open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and entrance is 1.5 euros except for children under 12 and lower-income groups.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ANTONIS SKYLLAKOS

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