|Tuesday, 5 December 2023|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-03-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 4 March 2014 Issue No: 4600
 Tough negotiations between gov't and troika ahead of Eurogroup meetingA government official stressed early Monday that a significant progress in government's negotiations with the troika of Greece's lenders has been made, however, "we are at a point that a political decision must be taken until the Eurogroup meeting on March 10" after a marathon meeting between the economic team, the heads of the troika and Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Administration Reforms Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
It is worth noting that at 3 a.m a minister clarified that after, according to him harsh negotiations, there aren't any technical proposals left. He added that "things are very tough'' and that there is still hard work to be done until Monday (the Eurogroup meeting for the approval of the tranche) in order to make an agreement.
Another minister called additional 'thorns' in the negotiations, issues regarding three ministries, the Administrative Reform (availability - layoffs), Health (non-prescription medicines) and Labour (changes in labour regime).
The meeting with the troika started on Sunday at 8 pm after the conclusion of a small Cabinet meeting at the Finance Ministry with the participation of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, Minister of Administration Reforms Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Development Minister Costis Hadzidakis, Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis and Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou.
Issues that remain still open are:
-The tools of OECD to strengthen competition
-the release of commercial leases
-The private debt and the implementation of the "Irish model" for the heavily indebted borrowers
An Administration Reforms Ministry top official said that "we remain adamant to our positions. Nothing has closed yet, we will meet again. It will be hard to finish by Friday. If we who have a simple job can't agree, you can imagine what it's like for other issues."
The Finance Ministry noted that there is no disagreement over any fiscal issue particularly on 2014's fiscal gap. However, according to the ministry's officials, troika continues to object over the allocation of the primary surplus.
Health Minister and Development Minister are expected to meet again with the troika on Tuesday and until Friday representatives of Greece's lenders will visit all the involved ministries. Government officials hope that by the end of the overall negotiations there will be an agreement in principle and that a political decision on the approval of the tranche will be reached at March's Eurogroup meeting.
 FM Venizelos after emergency EU mtg: 'Ukraine's territorial integrity must be respected'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
One of the greatest international political crises of recent decades is unfolding in Ukraine, government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said late on Monday from Brussels.
Venizelos, who is in Brussels to attend an emergency EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting, said that the Council sent clear messages based on international law on the necessity of respecting Ukraine's territorial integrity, the existing sovereign borders, international rules on dialogue and the need to avoid violence or threaten violence.
These messages are addressed to both Russian and Ukrainian governments, he added, while the Council "stressed the importance of inclusive and combinational nature of the interim government in Ukraine, with the participation of all social, political and ethnic parameters from all of the country's regions."
Responding to domestic political criticism, Venizelos said, "Some people in Greece do not understand what the threat is for Greece, if it acts in an amateurish and superficial way, like they propose... The way they deal with domestic politics is not feasible at European level... Irresponsible behaviour cannot be transposed on an international level. If they do so, the cost for Greece will be exorbitant."
 FM Venizelos talks with Ukraine's interim gov't before attending EU emergency meetingRelations between Ukraine and Russia are key to more than the immediate region and must be resolved with self-restraint, calmness, dialogue and within international law and conventional agreements, government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Sunday, after a meeting in Kiev with President of Ukrainian Parliament and acting President Oleksandr Turchynov and Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia.
The Greek official was paying an emergency visit on Sunday as chairman of the EU's Council of General Affairs, during Greece's EU Presidency.
Venizelos expressed his satisfaction that the interim Ukrainian government has pledged to continue the process of Ukraine's membership in the European Union by signing the EU's Association Agreement.
Prior to flying to Kiev, Venizelos had met on the same day with the Greek community in Mariupol to assure them of Greece's support and protection, an issue he brought up with Ukraine's interim government, which pledged its support.
Stressing the acute economic crisis Ukraine is facing, the Greek Foreign minister said that, as he came from a country with comparable experience and relevant know-how, he proposed an international convention to examine how the country could be financially supported, as the intervention of the International Monetary Fund would not be enough.
"Greece, as president of the European Union's Council, wants to contribute to the best degree possible to normalisation of the situation in UKraine," Venizelos said before his meetings in Kiev.
On Monday, he is attending an emergency meeting of EU Foreign ministers in Brussels to discuss the Ukraine crisis.
 Greece looking for best solution to Ukraine crisis, FM Venizelos says in MariupolGreece is fully behind the Greek community in Ukraine and will do everything it can to safeguard it, Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine, where he is paying an emergency visit on Sunday as chairman of the EU's Council of General Affairs.
"Greece, as president of the European Union's Council, wants to contribute to the best degree possible to normalisation of the situation in UKraine," Venizelos said in a statement released by the ministry, outlining his intention to meet with top-level Ukraine officials prior to an emergency meeting of EU Foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.
"I am going to Kiev," he said in an address to the Greek community of Mariupol, "to meet with the country's new leadership - the prime minister, Foreign minister and the president of Parliament - and what is utmost right now is to resolve the crisis in relations between Russia and Ukraine. The situation must be normalised, as foreseen by international law, between two neighbouring and friendly countries, which are also tremendously significant for the European Union as well, for Europe as a whole and for global peace, security and stability."
In his address, he said, "I want to assure you, as Greek citizens, that Greece has you under its full coverage and protection and we will utilise all options we have, national and European, so that you have this coverage, this care you must have, during these difficult times."
Venizelos noted he was aware of the community's long-standing problems and had been briefed for years by officials, but that at present he was there to "convey to you the message (of support) of the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, the prime minister, the Parliament, and all political powers - because we are united as a nation when there is a need to protect our compatriots everywhere in the world. The Foreign ministry and the government overall is on your side, and the General Consulate and Embassy in Kiev is your home."
According to ministry sources, Venizelos has been in constant communication during the crisis with Catherine Ashton, high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union, with his EU counterparts and with other international officials in the area.
 SYRIZA strongly attacks gov't, FM Venizelos on stance in Ukraine crisisMain opposition SYRIZA strongly attacked Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos for his stance over the Ukranian crisis noting that "the Greek government is again left behind in developments, on foreign policy issues" in an announcement on Monday.
The danger of war in Ukraine and the country's disintergration are very dangerous for the peace and the European people's prosperity, said SYRIZA, adding that Venizelos' visit to Ukraine was only a move to cover up the Greek EU Presidency's absence from the developments, it was a public relations visit and made no substantial contribution towards the solution of the crisis.
At the same time, said SYRIZA's announcement, the Greek Foreign minister said nothing about neo-Nazi groups' participation in the new Ukranian government which promote the abolition of the rights of the minorities, nor he condemned the attacks on historic buildings, monuments and against Ukranian citizens. It is clear, noted SYRIZA that human rights are being violated along with the democratic rights of the Ukranian citizens.
Regarding Venizelos' proposal on the offer of economic support to Ukraine with the participation of the International Monetary Fund "to which Greece will contribute with its 'know-how', it indicates how unrealistic are the Greek government's proposals and initiatives," Tsipras said, adding that "a country's foreign minister can't operate as a 'proxy' of powerful geopolitical interests and of financial credit forces. Europe should not find itself in the middle of a new Cold War."
He stressed that "peace must be safeguarded along with Ukraine's territorial integrity, the independence and the security of its citizens without zones of influence and foreign protector based on a viable, democratic and political solution within the context of international law. The sovereign people of Ukraine should be the one that will decide for its future in conditions of peace and democracy and the Greek government must serve this necessity to the international organisations that it participates."
 KKE leader: Greece must stay out of UkraineThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) "follows with great concern developments in Ukraine and wants to note especially now that there must be no involvement by Greece in the USA-EU plans for Ukraine, absolutely no participation in this dangerous game of competition with Russia."
In a written statement, KKE Secretary General Dimitris Koutsoumbas said that "it becomes once again obvious what the reactionary role is of the EU and NATO, which are intervening in Ukraine's domestic issues, even to support neo-Nazi parties in order to serve their geopolitical schemes."
"The Greek people must be on alert. Capitalist crisis and imperialist wars are linked closely, and the populace has nothing to gain from Greece's participation in these schemes," he warned.
 DIMAR: International community must help UkraineThe most recent developments in Ukraine "show the necessity of an active intervention by the international community in order to avert bloodshed and safebuard the country's integrity," opposition Democratic Left (DIMAR) said in an announcement on Saturday.
"Besides an ending in extreme-right and nationalist violence, it is vital for the country to move immediately to democratically-held elections in order to restore legality," it added.
 Defence minister: Ukraine crisis must not lead back to zero-sum gameThe relations of the West with Russia are not a zero-sum game, and mutual understanding along with international rule must prevail, Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Monday from Boston.
Prior to the start of a congress on the future of Europe held at Harvard University, where he was keynote speaker, Avramopoulos said, "During these critical hours, diplomacy must rule and a political solution must be found. It is not just the peaceful resolution of a regional crisis that is at stake, but global stability as well."
The Defence minister said, "We have two enemies before us: nationalistic extremism and totalitarianism," adding that the post-World War II period "proved that our relations, between the Western world and Russia were not a zero-sum game. On the contrary, a modus operandi was found to bring the sought-after stability."
This hour is "again a time to reaffirm our commitment to the value of mutual empathy and understanding," he added, "which is the heart of international law," and expressed his optimism that the crisis will be overcome.
 Gov't spokesman criticises SYRIZA leader for 'pretending to be a European candidate'Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras "cannot overcome his bad habits even if he tries to pretend he is a European candidate," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said on Saturday in response to a speech made by Tsipras in Ljubljana, where he promoted his candidacy for European Commission president.
"It is a time for truth and specific action so that the Greek people can judge who can, and how, lead (the country) to the exit from the crisis best and fastest," Kedikoglou said, responding to Tsipras, who had said that his party would be the next government and its victory "will signify a deep rift with Greece's past."
In his speech, Tsipras had also criticised the banking system and called for the immediate cancellation of all memorandums and the coordinated revival of all European economies.
 Commissioner Andor to brief northern periphery on youth employment fundingThe European Union will continue to support social structures in high-unemployment peripheral regions of Europe, Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Commissioner Laszlo Andor said in the northeastern city of Kavala on Monday, but he also called on regional authorities to take the initiative.
Andor is in the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace area to attend a conference Tuesday, as part of Greece's EU Presidency, on "The role of peripheries in applying the Youth Guarantee scheme, 2014-2020."
The EU programme provides funds to help people up to age 25 "receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed," according to the programme's description.
The commissioner met with Kavala mayor Costis Simitsis, also president of the peripheral association of the area's municipalities, and said that "at the European Parliament we are responsible for making important decisions, but in order to turn our decisions into reality, the peripheries must play a leading role; we shall discuss the means of how they can achieve this in the best way possible."
During his visit, Andor also visited two EU-funded centres in Kavala - a centre for creative activities for individuals with physical or cognitive impairments and a model day nursery in the Neapoli district.
Also attending the meetings are EU and Labour ministry officials.
 Europe must help its citizens, Venizelos tells PES congressROME (ANA-MPA/Th. Andreadis-Syngelakis)
Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos attended the congress of European Socialists Party (PES) which on Saturday elected European Parliament President Martin Schulz as their candidate for the presidency of the European Commission.
Venizelos, leader of PASOK, said during his interventions that "European socialists want a Europe that helps its citizens; this is what Martin Schulz's candidacy represents."
"European socialists must convince citizens that a united Europe does not mean unemployment, recession and austerity, but growth, social cohesion and employment," he added.
 Deputy FM Kourkoulas attends Human Rights Council meeting in GenevaDeputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas is in Geneva on Monday to attend the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council.
Kourkoulas will intervene on behalf of the European Union, as representative of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.
He will speak on the same day at the Conference on Disarmament, where Greece has the status of observer.
 Public Order Minister co-chairs EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meetingEU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on Monday in Brussels will focus on the European Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training as well as issues regarding the undocumented migration. Greek Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias co-chairs the meeting.
On his arrival to the meeting, Dendias stated among others that "we will discuss a regulation proposal on European Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training, which is as he said, of major importance for the Greek EU presidency and very important for Europol and Cepol. We will also discuss the migration flows and pressures".
 Gov't condemns bombing attack on ND party official's office in PlakaGas canisters placed during the night damaged the office of lawyer and New Democracy Political Committee member Failos Kranidiotis early on Sunday morning in central Athens.
The explosion, shortly after 1:00 a.m., damaged the entrance of the office on 12 Skoufou Street in the Plaka district.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou condemned the bombing and said "all democratic forces must raise a wall against the adherents of violence and terrorism."
New Democracy party also strongly condemned the attack, warning that "whoever tries to use violence to terrorise their political adversaries and create impressions of insecurity need to understand they will not succeed."
 SYRIZA condemns bombing of ND official's office SundayThe condemnation of the bombing of ND official Failos Kranidiotis' office early on Sunday "is self-evident, as is the condemnation of any such act," main opposition party SYRIZA said on Sunday.
"Any attempt to reintroduce the theory of two extremes and the use of such acts for purposes of petty political intents will fail," it added.
 Former PM blasts government for Hellenic Petroleum appointmentFormer prime minister George Papandreou called on the government on Saturday to revoke its decision to appoint Yiannis Papathanassiou president of Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), stressing that the former Finance minister is greatly responsible for the country's progression to catastrophe, along with former premier Costas Karamanlis.
In an announcement, Papandreou said the government's decision is "unacceptable" and that it is "deeply troubling" and infuriating, as it comes, along with other similar decisions, "in direct contravention of the painful efforts by the Greek public for Greece's exit from the crisis and for changing what is wrong."
Papandreou also criticises his party, PASOK, for allowing the appointment, as a ruling coalition member.
In explaining his criticism, the former premier said the issue was not Papathanassiou himself, but the return of mentalities and behaviours of the Karamanlis government that led the country to crisis and that were applied by the former Finance minister. He charged him with hiding the truth from the Greek public during his tenure as minister, as, despite the Hellenic Statistical Service's (ELSTAT) reported deficit of 16 percent, Papathanas-siou told Eurostat that the deficit was only 6 percent. The real fiscal data, he said, is signed by Karamanlis and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and is included in the introductory report of last year's draft budget, which they voted in Parliament.
Papathanassiou and the views he represents are bearers of a catastrophic policy that "harmed the public interest and did not respect the money of Greek citizens," he said, unlike the transparency that the PASOK government tried to establish.
 High attendance at Greek kiosk in New York travel showNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greece is a popular holiday destination for American tourists, according to travel agents and other visitors to the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) kiosk at the New York Times Travel Show in New York City, taking place from February 28 to March 2.
The show was held at the Javits Centre, and is held annually.
It was a great success and a very important exhibit for Greece, the head of EOT's office in the United States, Grigoria Kamaterou, told ANA-MPA. "There was a long line of visitors at the Greek kiosk who wanted information on tourism in Greece. Most knew quite a few things about Greek history and the islands and were looking for the one thing that differentiated Greece from other places they had been to; they knew they could find this difference, this uniqueness, in Greece," she said.
She added, "Greece as a product is outstanding by itself, and the only thing we do is to showcase it."
The Greek kiosk was visited by government officials and travel agents from other show participants, including Greek Consul General in New York George Iliopoulos, Consul Manolis Kambourakis and Press and Communications Officer Nikos Papakonstantinou.
 Cost of 'Lent table' down by about 4 pct this year, ESEE saysThe cost of the "Lent table" this year is lower by about 4 percent, compared to last year, mostly due to a drop in fresh and frozen seafood prices, according to estimates provided by the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE).
In a statement on Saturday, Confederation president Vassilis Korkidis said that the estimates were based on prices at the main Athens and Piraeus fish markets. On average, prices dropped by around 4 percent, while some products dropped as much as 10 percent or more, he said.
Other foodstuffs however showed a slight increase, while the staples of Lent meals like tarama (fish roe) and the "lagana" (flatbread) remained at 5.50 euros per kilo, and 2.80 per loaf, respectively.
Overall, he said, the cost of a meal during the "Kathari Deftera" (Shrove Monday) weekend, preceding the start of Lent, dropped by 2.52 percent from last year, or about 88.95 euros.
In statements on Wednesday, February 26, ESEE had said that lower prices of basic products prices will not necessarily lead to improved living standards, and connecting them is misleading.
Commenting on a report by the Research Institute of Retail Consumer Goods - according to which the market basket of consumer goods in Greek super markets was cheaper in February 2014 compared to those in England, France and Spain - ESEE stressed that wages in Greece have been dropping as well.
 Few Athenians brave rain to attend Clean Monday events on Filopappou HillOnly a few Athenians braving rainy weather went to the Filopappou Hill on Monday for "Clean Monday", which marks the first day of the Eastern Orthodox Lent - or Shrove Monday - with the consumption of shellfish, taramosalata (fish roe salad), lagana (unleavened bread), halvah and legumes. It is also traditionally a day for flying kites.
Officials of the municipality of Athens handed out about 2,000 servings of lagana, olives and halva. Only a few kites were flown, due to the heavy rain. Live music was also cancelled because of bad weather.
"The weather cancelled our plans but we are here with the brave ones, sharing food and having a good time," said the mayor of Athens Giorgos Kaminis.
"Today at the Filopappou Hill Athenians gave their best self to their fellow citizens and a good example of a municipality of sharing citizens who can really do wonders," said Athens mayoral candidate for Aris Spiliotopoulos.
Gavriil Sakellaridis, who is also a candidate for mayor of Athens, stressed: "We want to remind everyone that it is up to us to be able to bring back into our lives optimism, hope and joy".
The three were joined by a fourth mayoral candidate, Nikitas Kaklamanis, former mayor of Athens, at the Ambelokipi district KAPAPs park, where the city held another similar event for Clean Monday.
 Composer Mikis Theodorakis home from hospitalComposer Mikis Theodorakis returned home after a week-long hospitalisation for pneumonia at a private clinic in Athens.
According to doctors, there is no reason for him to remain in hospital. They said he left the clinic in high spirits.
 400 kilos of cannabis hidden in truck under orangesIgoumenitsa Port Authority found 400 kilos of cannabis early Monday in a truck with Bulgarian plates that was preparing to board a ferry to Italy.
The drugs were hidden under a load with oranges in the back of the truck and were found with the assistance of a sniffer dog.
The truck and the drugs were confiscated and the truck driver, of Serbian nationality, was arrested.
 79-year-old beats estranged wife to death, attempts suicideA 79-year-old man was arrested on Friday after beating his estranged wife, 73, to death in the Avdella village of Evros region, northeastern Greece.
According to police, the man was in his wife's courtyard and got into an argument with her. He then hit her on the head and neck with a wooden cane, fatally injuring her, before knifing himself on his hands and abdomen.
Police confiscated a cane and a 28-cm knife, while the man was taken to the Alexandroupoli University General Hospital where he is under guard. Police at Didymoteicho, northeastern Greece, is investigating.
 Four foreign nationals arrested for human trafficking in Evros River areaFive foreign nationals were arrested on Saturday for human trafficking involving 24 people they smuggled into Greece through the northeastern border area of Marasia.
According to police, four Syrian nationals - aged 20, 26, 26 and 29 - used a dinghy to cross Evros River and bring in the country 24 undocumented migrants from Turkey. The migrants were picked up by a Turkish national, 35, who put them on a truck and was planning to release them further into Greece.
The five were arrested in the Orestiada area by police who also confiscated the truck, the dinghy and 1,400 euros. They will be led before a prosecutor in Orestiada.
The immigrants include 14 Syrian and 10 Afghani nationals.
 Ministry issues ban on Olympiakos basketball fans for Monday's gameOlympiakos club fans are prohibited from organizing mass transportation to the basketball game between Olympiakos and Apollon Patras, taking place on Shrove Monday (Kathari Deftera), March 3, at 5:00 p.m. at the Patras team's home turf in Perivola.
Western Greece Police Headquarters passed on a request by the Achaia prefecture police to the Ministry of Culture and Sports. The decision was signed by Deputy Sports Minister Ioannis Andrianos.
 Super League resultsPanathinaikos ended Olympiakos' winning streak by defeating them at their home base by 3-0 on Sunday's game (March 2) of the Super League.
The results are as follows:
Veria-Apollon Smyrnis 1-1
Asteras Tripolis-Panthrakikos 1-0
Platanias-PAS Yiannena 3/3
Standings after 27 weeks of play:
1. Olympiakos 74
2. Atromitos 55
4. Panathinaikos 50
5. Asteras Tripolis 48
6. Panetolikos 34
9. Kalloni 33
10. PAS Yiannena 32 (26 games)
11. Xanthi 32
13. Panionios 31
14. Levadiakos 30
15. Apollon Smyrnis 26
16. Platanias 25 (26 games)
17. Veria 24
18. Aris 19
 Rain on TuesdayRain and thunderstorms in the morning in most areas of Greece, abating and restarting in the evening, especially in western Greece. Southerly winds from 4 to 6 Beaufort rising to 8 in the Aegean Sea. Temperatures from 6C to 18C. In Athens, overcast leading to rain and possibly a brief thunderstorm in the afternoon, improving at night. West-southwesterly winds 3-5 Beaufort that will pick up strength to 7 Beaufort before dropping at night. Temperatures from 8C to 16C. In Thessaloniki, the same, with winds reaching up to 5 Beaufort. Temperatures from 7C to 13C.
 The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance.Sunday newspapers came out on Saturday due to the holiday weekend; Monday is "Clean Monday", the first day of Lent in the Greek Orthodox Church --
AVGHI: "(Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras prey to memorandum, reactionary party members, (gov't Vice President Evangelos) Venizelos - Governing system tottering towards elections"
DIMOKRATIA: "Former restaurateur who cursed those down and out" about journalist Stavros Theodorakis, founder of a new party
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Party with NSRF funds for non-existent projects"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Double hurdle: new taxes, new memorandum - The message the gov't sends IMF and Berlin"
ESTIA: "George Koumoutsakos the obvious choice - Counterweight to SYRIZA populism," about the New Democracy candidate for prefect of Attica Region.
ETHNOS: "The perfect derby: New Democracy-SYRIZA together at starting point - Metron Analysis poll 90 days before elections" about the main ruling party and the main opposition
KATHIMERINI: "The Crimea in the role of touchstone"
LOGOS: "Everything goes through tax service sieve"
NAFTEMPORIKI: "European growth in red danger zone - All options under review on economy-supporting measures"
RIZOSPASTIS: "They're giving away beaches, lakes and rivers to businesses through townships!"
TO VIMA: "Political break-up - From massive parties to poltical small businesses and Ltd companies"
VRADYNI: "Changes in the insurance system - 5 reasons to go on pension right now"
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