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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-08-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 12 August 2013 Issue No: 4431


  • [01] PM Samaras meets UN's Ban Ki-moon, visits Ground Zero
  • [02] PM's trip to U.S. a 'failure', SYRIZA says; urges inquiry into Amygdaleza riots
  • [03] Gov't spokesman replies to SYRIZA barbs over PM's trip to U.S.
  • [04] Dendias replies to SYRIZA, defends tough stance toward illegal migrants
  • [05] DIMAR wants ban on first home auctions to be extended until 2015
  • [06] Property confiscation at night-time, holidays violates human rights, Athens bar association says
  • [07] Samos residents protest outside former PM's hotel, demand Papandreou leaves island
  • [08] FinMin Stournaras admits 'austerity has reached its limits'
  • [09] PASOK leader opposes lifting foreclosures ban in 'Proto Thema'
  • [10] Four more venues to close for tax violations after SDOE raids
  • [11] Ten inmates from Amygdaleza migrant facility missing after riots
  • [12] Amygdaleza riots 'no surprise', Acharnes mayor charges
  • [13] Fire on Andros still raging; Evia fire partially extinguished
  • [14] Metochi, Kapandriti wildfire under control
  • [15] Wild fire at Kleindia between Pyrgos, Ancient Olympia
  • [16] Two hand grenades found on Thessaloniki street
  • [17] German man accidentally injured near Volos by bullet fired into the air
  • [18] More than 250 homes declared unsafe in Fthiotida after quakes
  • [19] Weak tremor in Halkidiki
  • [20] Sunny on Monday
  • [21] The Sunday edition of Athens newspapers at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Samaras meets UN's Ban Ki-moon, visits Ground Zero


    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday met with the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York, with the Greek premier outlining Greece's positions on all issues of concern, such Cyprus and the naming dispute of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    During the 45-minute meeting, "an array of issues of international and Greek concern were discussed," Samaras said. "We had a very fruitful discussion and it was an opportunity to explain to the UN Secretary General the Greek positions and viewpoints."

    Ban Ki-moon also raised for discussion a number of international issues, such as Syria. The meeting was also attended by a number of Ban's associates, including special envoy for the FYROM naming issue, Matthew Nimetz.

    Samaras also met with the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) David Harris.

    Earlier on Friday, the Greek premier visited Ground Zero, the site were the twin towers (World Trade Center) were destroyed in the September 11 terrorist attacks. A memorial service was officiated at the site by Archbishop Demetrios of America in the presence of Samaras, who was then briefed on the construction project for the church of St. Nicholas.

    [02] PM's trip to U.S. a 'failure', SYRIZA says; urges inquiry into Amygdaleza riots

    In announcements issued on Sunday, main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) again described the Greek prime minister's trip to the United States as a failure and also demanded an inquiry into allegations of mistreatment at the Amygdaleza migrant camp where a riot occurred just hours earlier.

    "The government tried to make a PR investment in the U.S. trip but essentially failed because [Prime Minister Antonis Samaras] neither wanted nor could stammer anything, being himself in direct confrontation with Greek society and tied to Mrs Merkel's chariot of memorandum austerity," the main opposition said.

    It warned that the two-party coalition government was preparing to lead thousands to joblessness while dismantling the social state and planning even harsher austerity measures in the autumn.

    In a separate announcement, it called for the immediate launch of an inquiry into allegations of police brutality at Amygdaleza and of injuries after the intervention of special police forces to quell the riot.

    "Greek and foreign organisations for human rights but also, more recently, the mayor of Acharnes have reported that conditions of incarceration at the Amygdaleza concentration camp are inhuman and humiliating, a fact made worse by the high temperatures," the party noted, adding that the conditions and the extension of the period of detention to 18 months pushed inmates to despair and prompted the riot.

    "This despair, as well as the riot, are the fruits of the inhuman policy of [Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias], who insists on the racist Xenios Dias and the implementation of detention even when their ineffectiveness is obvious even by the ministry's standards," the announcement added, calling for the immediate closure of camps and their replacement with open reception and hospitality centres for migrants and refugees needing international protection.

    [03] Gov't spokesman replies to SYRIZA barbs over PM's trip to U.S.

    Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Sunday dismissed main opposition SYRIZA's criticism of the trip to the United States carried out by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, accusing SYRIZA of "pettiness".

    "SYRIZA neither wants nor is able to appreciate the meaning of responsibility. The only thing it can do is demonstrate its embarrassment and pettiness over the prime minister's successful trip," he said.

    "The strenuous efforts of the Greeks are being acknowledged and our country is upgraded," he added.

    [04] Dendias replies to SYRIZA, defends tough stance toward illegal migrants

    Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias on Sunday defended his tough stance on illegal migration issues, in an announcement replying to criticism from main opposition SYRIZA. The main opposition party had demanded an inquiry into allegations of police brutality and bad conditions at the Amygdaleza migrant detention camp, where a riot broke out late on Saturday.

    "According to SYRIZA, the Hellenic Republic is called to overlook the inalienable right of every state and the provisions of Community directives, allowing the uncontrolled entry into its territory and unrestricted residence to all illegal migrants, wherever they wish. SYRIZA even goes as far as justifying reactions of a criminal nature to the right of the Greek state to restrain those that have illegally entered its territory! We deliver these outrageous claims to the scorn of Greek society," Dendias said.

    He called on SYRIZA to "abandon its irrationality" and realise that Greece could not just abrogate the exercise of sovereign rights in its territory.

    "We are sending a message within and outside our country: our goal is that every illegal migrant, provided that the appropriate bodies judge that he or she is not entitled to international protection, should be detained until they return to their country," the minister stressed.

    [05] DIMAR wants ban on first home auctions to be extended until 2015

    "The state must protect families' homes by extending a ban on first home auctions until 2015," the opposition Democratic Left (DIMAR) party said in a press release on Saturday.

    It added that it was unacceptable to attack the citizens' fundamental right to a home, especially "at a time of collapse, and in many cases of total loss of family income."

    On the contrary, what is imperative, DIMAR says, is "to allow more favourable settlement of 'red loans', which would make it easier to service such loans."

    "This also will reduce banks' bad debts," it said.

    [06] Property confiscation at night-time, holidays violates human rights, Athens bar association says

    The Athens Bar Association on Sunday condemned an Act of Legislative Content that will give the state powers to carry out property seizures during the night, at weekends and other holidays exempted from such activities under Greek law - including the judicial holiday period in August. According to its president Yiannis Adamopoulos, the act was both unconstitutional and counter to the European Convention on Human Rights.

    He pointed out that there were no exceptional circumstances or 'unforeseeable need' for imposing such a measure, while it directly contravened the principle of equality before the law since it gave no equivalent rights to private individuals against the state.

    Adamopoulos underlined, however, that the goal was not to extend what he called an "unacceptable privilege for a modern state governed by law" and stressed that resort to such extraordinary measures could only be justified if it could be shown that attempts to execute the order during normal working hours had proved impossible.

    He suggested that a measure giving the state such powers without any limitation can only seek to cultivate a climate of fear.

    "If, according to the well-known saying 'democracy is when someone knocks on your door at 6:00 a.m. and it's the milkman', then when citizens from now on find on their doors the executive organs of the state, the conclusions to which we are led concerning Greek democracy arise unforced of themselves," Adamopoulos said.

    [07] Samos residents protest outside former PM's hotel, demand Papandreou leaves island

    Local residents on the Aegean island of Samos on Saturday organised a protest they described as "symbolic" outside a hotel on the island's main town Pythagorio, demanding that former Greek premier George Papandreou leave the island. Papandreou had been staying at the hotel since August 5.

    The demonstration was peaceful and organised vial social networking sites, lasting roughly an hour.

    Financial News

    [08] FinMin Stournaras admits 'austerity has reached its limits'

    Austerity has reached its limits, in the sense of horizontal wage and pension cuts, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras says in an interview with the weekend issue of Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper, adding that the government has still room to cut expenditure in some areas, such as the wider public sector.

    Stournaras appears confident that it will be possible to correct a likely budget hole in 2014-15, estimated by the EU at 4.0 billion euros, but lower by the Greek government.

    The finance minister refrained from making a prediction regarding a possible hair-cut to Greek debt, saying that a discussion on the issue may open in November when more indications will be available.

    In spite of a primary deficit of 900 million euros in the first half of 2013, Stournaras appears confident that July data will point to target attainment, as "more state revenues will be achieved in the second half."

    As far as the auctions of primary residences by banks is concerned, Stournaras says "nobody wants bad payers to be excluded, because that means there will be no mortgages; banks will just stop lending." He reassured however that people who, owing to the current tough conditions, cannot pay for their first home mortgage "will not be hit."

    He further explains that "liquidity in the market will not improve unless bank deposits are brought back," calling on depositors to repatriate their funds as "rumours about a hair-cut to deposits is not even worth denying."

    Stournaras reiterated that "the worst is behind us," saying that an early election would only make things worse as it would mean "delays."

    [09] PASOK leader opposes lifting foreclosures ban in 'Proto Thema'

    Government Vice-president, Foreign Minister and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, the junior partner in Greece's coalition government, opposed plans to end a home foreclosures ban and warned that this would "help no one" if it went ahead, in an interview with the newspaper "Proto Thema" on Sunday.

    "The ban on foreclosures must not be lifted. The primary residence of poor and middle-income households cannot be put in jeopardy," he said.

    "This would help no one - not even the banks, which want loans to be settled and serviced rather than 'knock-down sales' of the homes of this level of borrowers," he added.

    Venizelos offered assurances that there was no new austerity cuts and described the debt as "sustainable". He also dismissed euro exit scenarios as "practically foolish" and said he shared the concerns of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for "Greece's final exit from the crisis and for it to once again become self-supporting and essentially equal within Europe".

    To support his views, he pointed to the "impressive structural surplus" already achieved by Greece and the fact that all sides "must understand that the crucial figure was an increase in GDP".

    "In terms of market impressions, steadfast political support from the partners is of critical importance," he added, stressing that this support must not be seen to waver.

    [10] Four more venues to close for tax violations after SDOE raids

    The finance ministry's SDOE financial crimes squad ordered the temporary 48-hour shut down of another four venues caught committing tax violations during raids on Saturday night. They include a beach bar in the vicinity of Kavala, in northern Greece, a club in Ptolemaida, a bar in western port of Igoumenitsa and a souvlaki shop in the town of Mytilene on Lesvos that failed to issue legal receipts.

    General News

    [11] Ten inmates from Amygdaleza migrant facility missing after riots

    Ten of the foreign nationals being held at the Amygdaleza facility for illegal migrants were found to be missing during a head count on Sunday, following violent riots that broke out at the centre late on Saturday night and continued until the early hours of Sunday morning.

    Calm was restored at around 1:00 a.m. but 10 of the inmates managed to escape during the commotion, while another 14 attempted to escape and were arrested before they managed to get away. The Attica Security police are conducting an investigation into the incident and have so far definitely confirmed the participation of some 41 inmates in the riots, so far.

    The problems at the centre, where migrants are held while waiting to be deported, began at around 9:10 p.m. on Saturday night during the distribution of meals. Groups of individuals from a total of 1,620 migrants held at the centre suddenly attacked the guards, throwing stones, bottles of water filled with gravel and other objects. Others set fire to bags of rubbish, mattresses and huts.

    A large police operation was mounted, with reinforcement sent by the Attica General Police headquarters, and order was restored about an hour after midnight. During this operation, 11 Pakistani nationals, two Afghan nationals and a man from Bangladesh were arrested in the vicinity of the centre while trying to escape and eight Pakistanis and two Afghan nationals are still missing.

    Ten of the police officers were injured by stones and other objects thrown at them while no injuries of the foreign nationals have been reported. There was also extensive damage to the facilities at Amygdaleza, such as broken doors, windows, mirrors, while eight of the huts were burnt down entirely.

    Police have arrested 17 Pakistani nationals, nine Afghan nationals, 14 Bangladeshi nationals and one Moroccan on suspicion of participating in the riots and are examining the possible participation of others. Those arrested are to be charged with rioting, causing grievous bodily harm, resisting authority, attempted escape and causing damages. They will be led before an Athens prosecutor.

    Police sources said that the trigger for the riots was the announcement that the maximum period of detention at the centre will be extended to 18 months, from one year until now. The same source also confirmed that the power supply to some of the huts in the centre had been cut, saying this was due to works being carried out.

    The head of the rights movement "United Against Racism and the Racist Threat" Petros Constantinou, however, asserted that the power was cut because inmates had activated air conditioning units without the consent of the guards about five days ago, whereupon the guards responded by cutting the power supply to the entire facility. He also claimed that the atmosphere at the centre started to deteriorate about two weeks ago, when Muslim inmates observing the Ramadan holiday were harassed by the guards.

    [12] Amygdaleza riots 'no surprise', Acharnes mayor charges

    The riots at the Amygdaleza migrants camp were no surprise, Acharnes Mayor Sotiris Douros claimed on Sunday in statements to the ANA-MPA.

    "Conditions of incarceration at the centre are dismally poor and the uprising of the migrants was something that we expected," the mayor said, noting that he had met the general secretary of the Citizen Protection ministry last Wednesday in order to express his concerns.

    Douros stressed that the 1,650 "stacked" into the facility were too many, while many were living in isoboxes where temperatures could reach 50C during the summer months.

    "The lives of migrants without documents are being constantly trampled on at the centre and the announcement that their detention will be extended, combined with their living conditions, made the cup spill over," the mayor added.

    [13] Fire on Andros still raging; Evia fire partially extinguished

    A wildfire on the island of Andros was still raging unchecked by Sunday afternoon, continuing to pose an an imminent threat to the village of Ano Pitrofos nearby. A second fire on the island of Evia, meanwhile, was reported to be partially under control.

    Fanned by strong winds blowing over the Aegean, the fire on Andros was burning low-growing vegetation and moving rapidly toward the village, which had been evacuated as a precaution. Meanwhile, the air turbulence caused by the strong winds made it impossible for four water-bombing airplanes sent to the area to assist in the fire-fighting effort, leaving only a single helicopter to operate from the air.

    Reinforcement were continuing to arrive on Andros to help fight the fire, in addition to the 12 men flown in by Super-Puma helicopter from Athens on Sunday morning. Ten firemen were sent in from the island of Syros while five fire engines from Athens are due to arrive at 5:00 p.m. on a ferry from Rafina.

    Forces on the ground on Sunday afternoon included 20 fire-men and five fire engines, in addition to a 12-man team flown in from Athens.

    Meanwhile, the fire in Polypotamos, near the town of Karystos on Evia, was reported to be partially under control though ground forces remained on the scene to fully extinguish the flames.

    [14] Metochi, Kapandriti wildfire under control

    A wildfire in Metochi, Kapandriti, eastern Attica, which broke out in a gorge just after 15:00 on Saturday afternoon, has been placed under control by fire fighters.

    An investigation is being carried out into the causes of the blaze.

    [15] Wild fire at Kleindia between Pyrgos, Ancient Olympia

    A wild fire that started on Sunday afternoon, in the Kleindia area near the border between the municipalities of Pyrgos and Ancient Olympia in Ilia prefecture, was continuing to rage unchecked after nightfall on Sunday evening.

    Reinforcement were sent into the area, boosting the fire-fighting force to 55 firemen, 26 fire engines and 52 men on foot. Water-bombing aircraft had to be withdrawn after darkness fell.

    The fire brigade's efforts are now focused on keeping the flames from spreading to inhabited areas and to the nearby Foloi forest.

    [16] Two hand grenades found on Thessaloniki street

    Two hand grenades were found on Lambraki Street in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki within 24 hours of one another, Greek authorities said on Sunday. The first was retrieved and neutralised by a bomb squad after being spotted on Saturday evening. The second was found on Sunday, tied onto a motorbike parked on the same street, a short distance away from where the first had been found.

    The area was cordoned off and the bomb squad called in to dispose of the second grenade, with traffic diverted until shortly after 5:00 p.m. when the bomb squad departed.

    Police bomb disposal experts, following a lengthy and delicate operation, were able to remove the grenade without triggering a controlled explosion. The motorbike was taken for inspection to the police forensics laboratory.

    According to authorities, the grenade found on Saturday was a defensive type that has a broader blast radius than the offensive types. The two grenades, the first of which was spotted by a passer-by on the ground outside a supermarket, are believed to be linked and have placed authorities on alert. They were both found within a few metres of each other, one on the corner of Lambraki and Katsimidi and the second on the corner of Lambraki and Epidavrou street.

    [17] German man accidentally injured near Volos by bullet fired into the air

    A 69-year-old German man was accidentally injured on Sunday in Milies, near the coastal town of Volos in Magnesia prefecture, by shots fired into the air by two unidentified individuals that may have been severely intoxicated at the time. According to police, the bullet ricocheted off a light fixture and slightly injured the German, who was standing nearby.

    The incident occurred around dawn on Sunday, when the two culprits were apparently having drinks inside a caravan parked inside an unfenced farm. At some point, one of them took out a shotgun and fired shots into the air, accidentally injuring the victim. They then got into an argument with another two individuals that demanded an explanation for their actions, exchanging threats and insults.

    The 69-year-old took himself to the Volos hospital where he was given first aid and the culprits are being sought.

    [18] More than 250 homes declared unsafe in Fthiotida after quakes

    More than 250 homes have been declared unsafe by government inspection teams visiting the villages of Fthiotida after last week's slew of strong earthquakes, it was announced on Sunday.

    Inspection teams have been reinforced with extra staff from other areas of Greece in the last two days, so that damage assessment might be completed by Monday, the ministry said. Experts expect that the number of homes that will finally be deemed unsafe will probably exceed 350 when the process is complete.

    Meanwhile, seismic activity continues around the villages of Reggini, Modi, Xyliki, Tithronio and Mendenitsa, where more than 300 aftershocks have made the earth literally tremble underfoot since the phenomenon began. Many local residents have taken refuge with relatives or are camping outdoors, abandoning homes declared unsafe by ministry inspection teams. Even church services were held outdoors on Sunday, due to fears of more earthquakes and damage sustained by churches in previous quakes.

    In addition to private homes, damage has also been sustained by many businesses and local residents are starting to clamour for state assistance - with Infrastructure Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis and Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras both promising a prompt response from the state on Friday.

    Some 40 tents were sent to Drymaia from Larissa on Saturday for the use of those made homeless and medical units have been set up in Reggini and Drymaia to cover the needs of the region.

    According to archaeologists, there is little evidence of damage to archaeological remains, including the Mendenitsa Castle, though more extensive damage has been recorded in at least three churches. Inspections of public buildings and schools are continuing, so that repairs can be carried out before the start of the school year in September.

    [19] Weak tremor in Halkidiki

    A weak tremor measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale occurred at 1:23 p.m. on Sunday near the northern Greek peninsula of Halkidiki, a popular tourist resort.

    According to the Thessaloniki University seismology station, the epicentre of the quake was in the sea about 17 km west of Nea Moudania, Halkidiki and 45 km south of Thessaloniki. The quake was felt in surrounding areas because of its relatively shallow depth, about 10 km below the surface. Seismologists are monitoring the phenomenon.

    Weather forecast

    [20] Sunny on Monday

    Sunny weather is forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, barring some cloud and brief showers on higher ground. Winds directions will vary from region to region, with strong northerly winds over the Aegean, and will range from 2-7 Beaufort. Temperatures are set to rise slightly to between 19C and 36C. Sunny in Athens, with temperatures from 23C to 34C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 22C to 33C.

    [21] The Sunday edition of Athens newspapers at a glance

    AVGHI: "They are promoting the 'zero work' model"

    ETHNOS: "Law of the night"

    KATHIMERINI: "Winners and losers from the single property tax"

    KYRIAKATIKI DIMOKRATIA: "Confiscations even at Mount Athos monasteries"

    KYRIAKATIKI ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "He left with one memorandum, came back with two"

    KYRIAKATIKOS RIZOSPASTIS: "No capitalist management mix. Popular alliance for its overthrow"

    LOGOS: "Escape by all means"

    NIKI TIS DIMOKRATIAS: "Auctions - seven ways to save your home"

    PROTO THEMA: "We won't fall over some old house"

    REAL NEWS: "Samaras ultimatum to his ministers!"

    TO PARON: "They are dividing up Cyprus"

    TO VIMA: "Operation Manhattan"

    TYPOS TIS KYRIAKIS: "Loan settlements and 'a la carte' haircuts"

    VRADYNI: "How to retire after 15 years work"

    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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