|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-05-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 20 May 2013 Issue No: 4363
 Visit to China 'absolutely successful', gov't sourceSHANGHAI, China (ANA/MPA-S. Goutzanis)
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' official visit to China with a delegation of ministers and business repre-sentatives, which wrapped up Saturday (Greek time), was "absolutely successful," according to a government source summarising the results of the trip.
Chinese railways and container giant COSCO, the latter already active in the port of Piraeus, will participate in the privatisation of TrainOSE, Chinese businesses are interested in the Athens International Airport and a Chinese group is interested in regional airports, the source said. The Greek delegation also met with hi-tech Huawey and ZTE companies, which expressed interest in opening a research facility and a logistics centre in Greece and Chinese businesses are interested in privatisation of Kasteli on Crete, among other collaborations.
In tourism, Greece is going to promote the country through Chinese television while it is also looking to facilitate visa processing for tourists from this country, as Chinese President Xi Jinping told Samaras that 400 million Chinese would travel abroad in seven years. Shipping is another promising sector, as 60 pct of Chinese oil and 50 pct of imports to China are transported on Greek-owned tankers and ships.
The source noted however that "it is important that we do a 'follow-up', something that has not been done in our country up to now. There will be a special government group reviewing opportunities that opened and checking what projects need to be done, who is involved, whether the job was done or not, where it got stuck, and what can happen to help it move." The general direction will be given by the government of China itself, even in entrepreneurial projects, although there is a private sector as well, especially in Shanghai, the source noted.
Samaras, who will be heading back to Greece after paying an official one-day visit in Baku, Azerbaijan, is the second European leader to visit China since the present government came to power in March, after French President Francois Hollande.
 Samaras to wrap up China visit with business meeting in ShanghaiHANGZHOU, China (ANA/MPA-S. Gutzanis)
There is no culture without growth and no growth without culture, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said at the World Cultural Forum in Hangzhou, China, on Saturday.
In his keynote address at a forum on "Strengthening International Cooperation to Build an Ecological Civilisation", Samaras focused on balancing growth and environmental concerns, peppering his speech with ancient Chinese and Greek references to the concept of harmony, common to both ancient cultures.
On an official visit to China May 15-19, Samaras spoke of the need for humans to "switch from a consumption-oriented to an ecological global culture" and called on politicians to "look beyound the horizon" in order to "win the ecological battles of today."
At Hangzhou, Samaras also met with the president of the Political Conference of the Representatives of the People, Yu Chi Sen. A lot of Greek businessmen are active in the greater Hangzhou area shipping sector, the premier said, a sector that links Greece to China.
Samaras will be wrapping up his official visit in Shanghai, where he will meet with the mayor of the city and later address the Greek-Chinese Business Forum, before heading to Baku, Azerbaijan, for an official one-day visit before returning to Greece.
 More than 450 B2B meetings during premier's China trip, ministry saysThe prime minister's official visit to China provided an opportunity for more than 450 meetings between Greek and Chinese business people in Beijing and Shanghai, the development, competitiveness, infrastructure, transports and networks ministry said in an announcement on Sunday. These meetings indicated strong Chinese interest in infrastructure projects, privatisations, real estate and cooperation in the financial sector, the ministry said.
It noted that the business delegation that accompanied the prime minister, put together with the collaboration of Invest in Greece, the Greek Embassy in Beijing and the Greek consulate in Shanghai, had the opportunity to participate in business forums held in the two Chinese cities, attended by large numbers of Chinese businesses.
This included 135 Chinese businesses with 257 participants in Beijing, representing China's tourism, services, financial and investments sectors. There were 271 B2B meetings with Greek companies at the forum, with each of the 87 Greek companies attending having an average of four meetings with Chinese counterparts.
In Shanghai, there were 120 Chinese firms taking part and a total of 184 B2B meetings with Greek companies, with more than half concerning the tourism, real estate and shipping sectors.
In statements at the Shanghai forum, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras stressed the need for follow-up actions to maintain the momentum built up in Greek-Chinese economic relations and announced that 20 important Chinese companies from Shanghai will be visiting Athens on June 17-21 to discuss investments and business collaboration in Greece. The visit is to be organised by Invest in Greece and Shanghai's Greek consulate.
The results of the meetings indicate strong Chinese interest in the food and tourism sectors, while a number of agreements were signed concerning real estate, building on recently passed laws giving automatic long-term residence permits to non-EU nationals that purchase property valued at above 250,000 euros.
The meetings between Greek and Chinese high-tech firms also highlighted unexplored potential for collaboration in the area of technology and the development of products and services, as well as joint research. Meetings between Greek banks and Chinese financial institutions showed mutual interest in further developing cooperation.
A memorandum of cooperation signed by Invest in Greece and China Development Bank, in the presence of the Greek and Chinese premiers, is expected to further boost the momentum for cooperation between Greek and Chinese businesses. Under the deal, China Development Bank will forward investment plans drawn up by Invest in Greece to Chinese businesses and, subject to assessment, also finance their implementation. In the agreement, China Development Bank warmly welcomed the Greek government's intention to set up an 'Institute for Growth' for Greece and pledged to consider its participation in this international venture.
Other agreements signed included the protocol of cooperation between China Development Bank and the Hellenic Republic Assets Development Fund (HRADF) to promote Greece's privatisations programme in China and encourage the active participation of Chinese companies.
Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transports and Networks Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis also had a series of meetings with Chinese officials and business groups during the visit. Among these was a visit to the Huawei and ZTE R&D centres in Shanghai, during which the two sides planned the next steps in their collaboration to further boost the presence of the two telecoms and electronics firms in Greece.
Huawei's plans include setting up a transit and logistics centre for its products and an R&D centre, in collaboration with top Greek high-tech firms, while ZTE intends to turn Piraeus port into a transit and logistics hub for supplying its products to Europe and the Mediterranean.
 PM Samaras hailed as 'reformer' in 'Welt am Sonntag' opinion pieceBERLIN (ANA-MPA - F. Karaviti)
In an opinion piece on Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras with the headline 'The reformer' appearing on Sunday, the German newspaper 'Welt am Sonntag' hailed the Greek prime minister as the "Man of the Day" and underlined his dedication to efforts for reform, as well as his successes to date - among them his trip to China.
According to Florian Ender's article, the Greek premier helped to show that even a country in the deepest of crises can be stabilised and governed, much to the surprise of austerity-weary Europe.
He also described Samaras as having "chutzpah" and the audacity, during his visit to Beijing, to compare his own crisis-stricken country with "a vast empire, with more money than it knows what to do with," by saying that the two countries were both essentially ancient cultures and inviting the Chinese to "participate in the Greek success story".
Noting that the Chinese side had remained silent on whether it shared this assessment of the situation, Ender noted that "self-confidence, in any case, has returned to Athens" and offered the opinion that it was "also the pride of one who has been underestimated, which allows the Greek prime minister to stand tall, both within his country and in the world."
Though possibly, the author added, this might be pride bordering on recklessness, given that the Greek premier has announced that Greece will return to the markets within the next year.
Ender pointed out that unemployment in Greece continues to increase and that an end to the recession that has already lasted six years "is more a hope than a forecast". At the same time, he added, no one can overlook the progress made when comparing the current situation with the political chaos that existed a year ago, in between the country's two elections, and the period when speculation was rife of a possible Greek exit from the Eurozone.
He also compared the present situation with Samaras' own statements regarding austerity and reforms before his election to government, which at that time made him seem extremely unreliable, and said that no one could deny the Greek prime minister credit for two seemingly impossible achievements: to satisfy the country's creditors while at the same time stabilising, to some extent, Greek politics and Greek society.
Florian referred to the statements by European Commissioner Olli Rehn to the German newspaper, in which the Commissioner noted that Samaras "surprised many with his ability to keep to a course of reforms and thus restore confidence in Greece."
Noting a recent improvement in Greece's credit rating by Fitch, including its assessment of the country's competitiveness, Ender noted that Greece's violent lowering of unit labour costs cannot be overlooked, nor its aggressive privatisation programme.
"For entrepreneurs, the country is once again a choice for investment. This helps Samaras and his country" he added.
 PM Samaras' visit to AzerbaijanPrime Minister Antonis C. Samaras (L) on Sunday concluded a working visit to Azerbaijan, meeting Azeri President Ilham Aliyev (R) in Baku for talks on energy issues.
According to sources, the meeting was held in a friendly and welcoming climate and the two leaders discussed the prospects for bilateral cooperation in economic affairs, energy, tourism and culture.
Samaras presented Aliyev with an official invitation from Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias to visit Athens, while the Azeri president invited the Greek premier to carry out an official visit to Azerbaijan.
During the meeting, Samaras also referred to his earlier acquaintance with the current president's father, Heydar Aliyev, when he was Greece's foreign minister in the early '90s and promised to carry out an official visit to Azerbaijan in the near future. The Greek premier then attended a dinner hosted by Aliyev in his honour at the presidential mansion. During his brief visit to the city, Samaras was also shown around Baku's cultural centre and museum.
 SYRIZA on PM's visits in China, Azerbaijan and the privatisation policyMain opposition SYRIZA-EKM on Sunday commented on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' visits to China and Azerbaijan, accusing the government that it has no plan apart from "turning the country into an immense Exclusive Economic Zone, a haven for local and international business capital and a hell for workers and the majority of society."
"While the Greek economy is collapsing as a result of the memorandum's policy and society is suffering from unemployment and poverty, the prime minister signs agreements to sell off the state's wealth and christens them 'investments'," the party's announcement said.
According to the announcement "the sellout of our strategic tools for growth and public property, the destruction of the environment and the dismantling of the welfare state, together with the starvation wages, turn the country into a third world state. Only the abrogation of the memorandum and its replacement wtih a national plan of productive reconstruction, development and support of the employment can halt the course towards disaster."
 Democratic Left leader calls for greater effort, collaboration to exit crisisThe Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party, a junior member of the ruling coalition, supports the government but the latter must also take society's interest into account, party leader Fotis Kouvelis said on Saturday.
Speaking at the party's central committee meeting, Kouvelis said, "We consider it self-evident that our support of the government must be reflected in the policies applied, and be expressed in specific ways to the benefit of society," taking into account "the limits of negotiation with the troika and the balance of power within the government."
Kouvelis supported the founding of a trilateral committee that would improve coordination among the ruling coalition parties (New Democracy, PASOK and DIM.AR), and warned that although Greece seems to be exiting the crisis, as recent feedback about its economy notes from abroad, there should be no relaxing of efforts.
He criticised Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) for criticising the government's policies without offering alternatives, and charged that the main opposition party was trying to create widespread political dissent. DIM.AR combined both a Leftist orientation and the need to play an active role in change.
Greece must retain the positive climate it has achieved and cover its fiscal targets for 2013 without introducing new measures reducting income, and must prepare for a new agreement with the troika of lenders in early 2014. The latest negotiation with the troika went well, he said, although he insisted that the party's proposal to reduce the high VAT rate in the food services sector should be implemented without delay in time for this summer's tourist season.
The DIM.AR leader also issued a call for "joint political action by all democratic and progressive citizens, movements and groups." He clarified, "We are calling for a rallying, not necessarily a joining in the party, as the aim we want to serve is great and needs wide majorities and new practices and agreements.
 DIMAR leader on possible reshuffle, reforms, electionsDemocratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis, leader of a junior member of Greece's ruling coalition, outlined his thoughts on the possibility of a government reshuffle, early elections, simple proportional representation and coalition governments, as well as necessary reforms, in an interview printed in the Sunday newspaper "Real News".
"I believe that a reshuffle should take place in July. I also think that the government should be smaller and reach the end of its four-year term," Kouvelis said, underlining that there was no reason for early elections.
DIM.AR's leader strongly supported cooperation between the political parties as "necessary and mandatory for the country," while he stressed that there must be no further cuts in pensions and salaries. He also emphasised the need for immediate measures to combat unemployment, speed up reforms and promote the major structural reorganisation needed in Greece's economy and the public sector.
Replying to a proposal by PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, who suggested that PASOK and DIM.AR run on a shared ticket in the next general elections, Kouvelis said his party was interested "a reconstruction and regrouping of the progressive area with a European orientation." He noted that any convergence should be sought based on the development of a substantive dialogue on specific issues and not through "political gimmicks". It is clear that we are not interested in party collaborations, he added.
Regarding party finances, Kouvelis said that this was not an internal affair concerning the parties only but also a matter for the law.
 Main opposition leader calls on 'democratic people to rise up'Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is committing mistakes in handling the extreme right, charged Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Saturday, asserting that only the Left could defend democracy successfully.
Referring to the controversy surrounding a walkout of the extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party from Parliament Friday, the main opposition leader said the memorandum and democracy "are entirely incompatible and we see this incompatibility grow daily," and claimed that was obvious in "the civil mobilisations of strikers now being carried out preventively, in the continued, violent and unjustified oppression against goldmine protesters in Halkidiki (Macedonia), and in the now indiscreet political flirting of ND with the extreme Right."
"The Left is here to defend democracy at all levels," Tsipras added, and called on the Left "and all democratic people, "even those democrats affiliated with ND and watching helplessly Samaras' successive extreme-right lapses," to "rise up" and defend democracy.
 SYRIZA practices 'similar to those of extreme right', gov't spokesmanThe main opposition leader goes to great lengths to insult everyone, including the prime minister, in order to pander to his disorganised party, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said on Saturday, in response to charges by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras that only the Left could defend democracy. Tsipras made the comments during his speech to his party's central committee.
"In a new recital of incoherence and irresponsibility, Tsipras takes a stance against legality, threatens investors and even tries to slander the prime minister himself, in a desperate attempt to satisfy his party's factions, which are in disarray," Kedikoglou said in an announcement.
"Extremes are defined by their practices, and, unfortunately for SYRIZA, its similarities with the extreme-right party of Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) are many," the spokesman added.
 KKE on privatisations policy"The local and foreign business groups will be the ones that will gain from the privatisation of the country's ports, airports, water supply, energy and transport networks, that will increase their already huge profits," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said on Sunday, referring to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' visit to China and the government's privatisation policy.
"The people will again face new cuts in salaries and pensions and additional taxation, with new price hikes for services and public utility rates," an announcement said.
KKE called on the people to "struggle against the government's policy, as well as main opposition SYRIZA's position favouring collaboration with private interests, while it focuses its criticism only on the cost of privatisations, leaving aside the government-EU-plutocracy's policy as a whole.
 Alavanos' anti-euro 'Plan B' party officially founded on SundayThe 'Plan B' party started up by leftist politician Alekos Alavanos, with an exit from the euro as its main policy platform, officially came into being on Sunday, after the conclusion of its founding conference.
The proposal for the party's formation and its policies was unanimously approved, apart from two blank votes.
Alavanos is a past leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party now led by Alexis Tsipras, and acted as the president of its Parliamentary group.
 Terens Kouik confirms his resignation as Independent Greeks Parliamentary spokesmanMinister of State for the right-wing Independent Greeks party Terens Kouik on Sunday confirmed his intention to resign as the party's Parliamentary spokesman, in statements to the ANA-MPA. He did not, however, elaborate on the reasons for his decision, nor clarify whether he had sent a letter of resignation to make it official.
According to ANA-MPA sources, Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos on Sunday discussed Kouik's decision to resign with the party's Parliamentary group secretary Panagiotis Melas but had not yet received a letter informing him of Kouik's decision to resign.
The official procedure followed in such cases requires that a letter of resignation is sent to both the secretary of the Parliamentary group and the party's president.
 Defence Minister to visit Israel in JuneGreek Defence Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos on Sunday had a phone contact with his Israeli counterpart Moshe Yaalon.
The two officials discussed issues regarding the cooperation in military and defence as well as the security in the wider region on the occasion of the conflict in Syria and the repercussions to neighbouring countries as Lebanon and Jordan.
The two ministers agreed to meet in June in Israel to further boost the bilateral relations of the two countries in sectors of common interest.
 Finmin: Greece can return to markets in 2014, if things go well"We will return to the markets in 2014 under two conditions: that we have a primary surplus and a positive growth rate for even one quarter," said Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras in an interview to the Sunday newspaper 'Realnews'. Stournaras warned, however, that the situation was currently very fragile and "a small mistake would be enough to bring down what we have built with hard work."
Stournaras said that he was not worried that the Greek economy might backslide, however. "I am not afraid because I have confidence in Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who is watching everything closely and steps in whenever necessary," he said, adding that the only thing that would frighten him is "a negative development in one of the three parties that support the coalition government".
He expressed his optimism that a reduction in VAT for restaurants and catering services will be applied in June, adding that it is a 'just demand' but ruled out any possibility of a reduction in heating oil tax, noting that any drop in the tax on heating oil will lead to the rise in the contraband fuel trade.
Responding to his critics, the finance minister stressed that he was "here to stay." "I am not expendable, as a public figure, I am open to criticism when it is fair. I will not tolerate strikes below the belt [...] I will complete my mission whether they like it or not."
 34th Marathon Peace March ends in AthensThe 34th Marathon Peace March dedicated to the 50th anniversary since the murder of Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis concluded successfully late on Sunday evening, with a large turnout by the public.
The march started at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning in Marathon, on the east coast of Attica, and followed the route of the classic Marathon up to the Greek defence ministry on Messogion Avenue in Athens.
Temporary traffic diversions were set up throughout Attica and Athens until late in the evening, including the centre of Athens, due to the Peace March and other races taking place in the city.
 Education minister hails success of 10th International Book Fair in ThessalonikiAlternate Education, Religions, Culture and Sports Minister Costas Tzavaras on Sunday stressed the success of the 10th Thessaloniki International Book Fair held in the northern Greek city, which he said had belied the pessimists that doubted its success.
The minister noted that the General Secretariat for Culture had succeeded in the organisation of the fair and would also undertake to organise the 11th fair in May 2014.
He also underlined the need for tolerance, including religious tolerance, in society during a statement after announcing that Thessaloniki had joined an international network of cities against racism.
"We will not give any self-proclaimed protector the right to proceed with extremities that no society can put up with," he said.
The 10th International Book Fair was held in Thessaloniki from May 16-19, with dozens of presentations of books and authors, events and debates held on the sidelines. Participants included 180 publishers based in Greece and 30 from other countries, while the country of honour was the United Kingdom.
 Archbishop Ieronymos heads Sunday mass in Manhattan, N.Y.NEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)
Greece will find its way again, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos said while delivering a Sunday sermon to the Greek-American community at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan.
The head of Greece's Orthodox Church stressed that the country was going through "much pain" but would keep its spirit strong and underlined the need for unity. Referring to the Greek diaspora in America, he said it was "a Greece outside of Greece, which has all the attributes of Greeks throughout the ages."
After the sermon, Archbishop of America Demetrios presented Ieronymos with a cheque for 100,000 dollars, as an initial contribution to be spent on helping Greek children in need.
The joint service was attended by the Greek Ambassador to the United States Christos Panagopoulos, Cyprus' permanent representative to the United Nations, the consular authorities of Greece and Cyprus, the directors of Greek services in the U.S. and several other clerics, as well as representatives of the diaspora.
 Explosion in tavern on Salamina, two seriously injuredTwo persons were seriously and 11 others lightly injured at an explosion in a tavern on Salamina island at 10 a.m on Sunday.
According to Fire Brigade the tavern collapsed as well as the walls of two adjacent buildings that were not inhabited. A search is underway to found out whether there are any trapped people in the ruins.
 No damages, injuries from bomb explosion across from Greek embassy in LibyaA small bomb exploded midday Saturday on the street the Greek embassy in Libya is located, but there are no injuries or damages, according to the Greek Foreign Ministry.
In an announcement, the Ministry said that the bomb was placed next to a car parked on the street across from the Greek embassy and close to those of Saudi Arabia and Algeria.
 Fair on MondayFair weather and northwesterly winds are forecast for Monday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Scattered clouds in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 14C-32C. Sunny in the southern parts and in the islands, 15C-33C. Fair in Athens, 19C-32C; the same for Thessaloniki, 16C-31C.
 The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI TIS KYRIAKIS: "Social counterattack now".
EPOCHI: "Left direction with pluralistic structures".
ETHNOS TIS KYRIAKIS: "The way to the exit- How we will exit from the crisis and the memorandums".
KATHIMERINI: "New boost in Greek-Chinese relations'.
KYRIAKATIKI DIMOKRATIA: "Political vertigo - Balances of terror in all political parties".
KYRIAKATIKI ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Storm for 5.5 million euros in pensions".
KYRIAKATIKOS RIZOSPASTIS: "All to PAME (labour organisation affiliated to Communist Party) rallies to protect the collective labour contracts".
LOGOS TIS KYRIAKIS: "Trap to arbitrariness".
TO ARTHRO: "Battle for the second place - Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' flirt with the capital and the corrosion send voters to Chryssi Avghi".
TO PARON: "Shocking changes for salary earners".
TYPOS TIS KYRIAKIS: "The teachers' transfer procedure".
VIMA TIS KYRIAKIS: "China's touch".
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