|Tuesday, 18 June 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-09-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 29 September 2014 Issue No: 4771
 'Freedom means to be upright and strong,' PM says at ND's 40th anniversary event"Freedom means to be upright and strong," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Saturday, addressing an event for the 40th anniversary since the founding of the New Democracy party. Explaining the government's policy choices, ND's president said the country was emerging from its six-year recession in the third quarter of 2014, would not need a new bailout and that the government was now delivering on its promise to end the economic crisis.
"We were never the ones who said: 'There is money'," he underlined to a packed audience in an Athos Palace Hotel banquet hall in Kallithea, Halkidiki. "We in New Democracy are proud of what we did 40 years ago and we continue to be proud. We have strong roots, we are firmly grounded in the present and ready to make the leap to the future."
The choice of venue was symbolic, since it was in the same banquet hall that ND's founder Constantine Karamanlis had held the party's first pre-congress in April 1977 and then its first congress in May 1979.
The prime minister also attacked main opposition SYRIZA, saying it would "never become a government because it did not even manage to become an opposition," and that SYRIZA will continue to lose voters now that things were improving since the attitude 'there is money' was more frightening to voters.
"They are playing with things that are well over their heads," he added, accusing SYRIZA of "incurable populism".
He stressed that the country will not need any more bailouts or memorandums, nor will it need the money from the current loan tranches that remain in the next year, while he also announced that measures to relieve the heavy tax burden were imminent.
"The worst is over," he said in response to questions, "and better times are coming." Whereas, a few months ago, the discussion was focused on whether new austerity measures would be necessary, now the main issue was the tax relief that was coming, he pointed out.
"A year ago, we were talking about how much higher unemployment would go. Now unemployment is starting to steadily decrease! A short while ago the debate was about how much longer the recession will last. Whereas now that the recovery is beginning, we are concerned about how fast the growth will be in coming years," he said.
The prime minister analysed ND's role in dealing with the crisis, stressing that the party may have made some mistakes over its history, failing to resist those things that led Greece to the crisis in the first place, but had not stooped to the populism that lay behind it and shown great responsibility, not hesitating to support the country during difficult times.
Referring to ND's initial opposition to the bailout memorandums while main opposition, he pointed out that the party had nevertheless supported most crucial measures to cut wasteful spending and for structural changes that should have been made years earlier, before the crisis was reached. "For this we are proud," he underlined.
He also pointed out that ND was later vindicated in opposing the terms of the first memorandums, since both the policy mix and multipliers of the programme were proved wrong, but had not opted to "rest on its laurels" at the country's expense:
"At the crucial moment, I preferred to change its course, to change its fate insteady of basking in the 'glory' of my country's destruction. Many warned me that I'd been given a hand grenade that could go off in my hands. I knew it! But I held on and I defused that grenade. I did not let it go off. Someone had to do it and it was us. This is the legacy of New Democracy."
For these reasons, he added, the party stayed upright when everything around it was tottering, acting as the main pillar of stability for the present, the main force that would bring the country out of the crisis and the main force that would bring the future of growth, competitiveness and an open economy.
He attack SYRIZA, by contrast, as a "ghost from the past" and as "sirens of populism": "They pretend they want to change the whole world but do not themselves want to change even the slightest thing that is wrong with Greece. They want the world to change but for Greece to make do with yesterday," he said.
The government, Samaras stressed was committed to leading Greece out of the memorandum as soon as possible, something that was happening now, and committed to carrying out and continuing to carry out reforms to make Greece a modern, European country.
Part of this effort he added, was a new Constitution that would allow the country to make faster and more decisive progress in reforms and bring growth and prosperity to all, announcing that this effort will begin in the coming months.
"This development for the Constitution will be the issue that will dominate 2015," he said.
"This is what freedom means: to keep a country upright, to strengthen it, to put it in international markets, to overcome its inflexibilities, upgrade its role in energy issues and geopolitically and everywhere. To overcome the crisis as quickly as possible," the prime minister stressed, adding that this was all happening as others were trying to once again mire the country in the deficits that had cast it down and humiliated it.
Among others, Samaras attacked the main opposition for 'mixed messages' concerning Greece's position in EuroAtlantic institutions, especially in light of the volatile situation in the Middle East when many countries were lining up to join the EU and align themselves with the West.
"At this time, to undermine the country's European position is therefore dangerous. To undermine the country's position in NATO is surely disastrous," he stressed.
Emphasing that support of national issues and religious symbols have always been core values of his party, Samaras also referred to the main opposition's 'silence' regarding the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, who were being driven from their homes in great numbers.
He wrapped up his speech by referring to the party's role in historic milestones of Greece's course, from its founding by Constantine Karamanlis and its entry into Europe right to the present day, as well as its warnings against the populism and policies that Greece had paid for so dearly.
Stressing that the party will continue to be the dominant political force in Greece, he urged the party's supporters and "all those that want to see Greece better and stronger," to join in the party's struggle.
The event was attended by former premier Costas Karamanlis, the nephew of the party's founder, several ministers, MPs and high-ranking members of the party. Speeches will also be made by Petros Molyviatis, Ioannis Varvitsiotis, Parliament President Vangelis Meimarakis, Vassilis Mihaloliakos and ND Political Committee Secretary Andreas Papamimikos.
 Samaras turned ND anniversary into 'requiem', SYRIZA claimsAttacking Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his speech at an event for the New Democracy party's 40th anniversary since its foundation, main opposition SYRIZA on Saturday claimed that the premier had converted the event into a "requiem".
"Instead of analysing the direction of his party's strategy, he resorted to a delirium of extreme-right prejudice and inanity against SYRIZA," a party announcement said.
As a result, the announcement added, Samaras had yet again failed to enlighten Greeks about the much-vaunted road for a disentaglement from the memorandums.
"Will he abolish the 462 implementing laws of the memorandum, the 25 Acts of Legislative Content and the hundreds of presidential decrees and ministerial decisions that carry out the memorandum? What exit from the crisis and what recovery does Mr. Samaras have the gall to talk about in an effort to deceive the Greek people," the announcement added.
Replying from the podium of the Halkidiki anniversary event later on Saturday, the prime minister accused the main opposition of creating a 'comic division' that was harmful to Greece.
"Is it a lack of respect? A lack of knowledge? Is it a lack of political morality? What matters here is that a family of a specific ideology that restored, promoted and fought for the good of Greece is now faced with a statement that is not good; not to the main opposition, not to all Greeks, especially when both we and the foreigners realise that there is such a comic, supposed division between Greeks," he said.
"I am certain that this statement by the main opposition does not express even those that vote for it," he added.
 'The hand-grenade exploded,' Kammenos says in response to PM's speech"The hand grenade exploded," opposition Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos said on Saturday, in a sarcastic aside prompted by remarks made by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras during his speech at an event for the 40th anniversary since the founding of New Democracy.
"The prime minister that broke all 18 of his pre-election promises now makes promises. The man who handed over the country's national sovereignty now talks of country. The servant of the new order talks of religion. The ruler that made Greece's middle class destitute now talks about dignity. The hand grenade exploded. Life to us," Kammenos said.
During his speech at an ND event in Halkidiki, the prime minister had commented that when he took over power, "I took a hand-grenade in my hands, held it, and eliminated it."
 Greek FM addresses 69th UN General Assembly, urges action on climate change and global crisis hotspotsNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/ P. Panagiotou)
Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Saturday addressed the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations, with a speech covering issues of both Greek and global interest at a time that he described as "rife with critical challenges that are putting the existing international system to the test." Among others, he underscored that climate change was a priority issue and stressed the need for a global and binding agreement for the transition to low-carbon economy.
"On a global level, climate change is without question among the major challenges and is an absolute priority. It is vital to achieve a global and legally binding agreement for everyone. The transition to a low carbon-emission, green economic model must be accelerated. Greece believes that the Climate Summit held this week offers a unique opportunity to intensify efforts to achieve such a global agreement," he stressed.
Venizelos underlined that Greece remains fully dedicated to the goals of the United Nations and remains fully in line with the European Union positions set out by the President of the European Council. He also repeated Greece's support for the efforts to reform the UN, including the Security Council, "so that the Organization can better adapt to the constant shifts of our time and strengthen its operational nature and effectiveness in the exercising of preventive diplomacy."
Greece's foreign minister also referred to the Ebola epidemic, noting it has become "a real threat to world peace and security, with serious social repercussions." He called for an international strategy to bring the virus under control and avert an unprecedented humanitarian crisis that could bring about the collapse of healthcare systems and the social fabric in the states that have been hit.
"We thus welcome the Secretary General's decision to create a new mission (UNMEER), and I assure you that Greece commits to providing its full support to every initiative undertaken to fight the epidemic," he said.
He then went on to pledge Greece's support for strengthening of cooperation between the EU and the UN in the sector of crisis management, through the implementation of the action plan for the peacekeeping operations of the United Nations.
"Today's complex challenges in the security sector require that we join forces on both the international and regional levels," he said.
Venizelos then noted "a number of unprecedented crises in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the European Union's Eastern Neighbourhood," stressing the need for a coherent and comprehensive strategy. He emphasised the critical role of the UN and the Security Council in this effort, as the only way to confront critical dilemmas, including that between democracy and security and highlighted the risk that the Ukrainian crisis posed to security and stability in Europe.
"We are concerned at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, and we support the country's territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty. We support the 5 September Minsk agreement, the full implementation of which can contribute to the resolution of this crisis through diplomatic and political means. The key is the achievement of an inclusive solution," he said.
Turning to the Middle East, Venizelos said that Greece welcomes the adoption, in Egypt, of the Israeli-Palestinian Ceasefire Agreement and expressed hope that this will lead to a re-launching of the political process aimed at durable peace.
He urged the UN Secretary General's newly appointed Representative for Syria to continue efforts to ensure the effective re-launching of the Geneva II political process, especially given the barbaric actions of ISIS and other jihadist groups in Syria and the Iraqi-Syrian border regions.
"Foreign fighters' joining jihadist terrorist organizations is a serious threat to regional and global security. As a member of the international alliance against ISIS and extremist jihadists, Greece fully supports the new Security Council resolution on how we, the international community, must act against ISIS and potential foreign fighters," he said.
Venizelos also pointed to the link between the crisis and the increasing refugee pressure on countries in the surrounding region, such as Greece, creating what he called a "grave humanitarian situation." He stressed that military means alone could not eliminate the jihadist threat and called for an inclusive process of national dialogue in Iraq and reconciliation to counter this threat to the country's national unity and territorial integrity.
Among others, he highlighted Greece's concern at the displacement of civilians, and strongly condemned the systematic persecution of Christians and other religious communities, while also noting the threat from the ongoing violence in Libya.
 On Cyprus and FYROM name issueOn key issues in Greece's foreign policy, he reiterated Greece's positions concerning the name dispute with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Greece's full respect for the UN process mediated by the UN Secretary General's envoy Matthew Nimetz.
"Greece has already taken very considerable steps to date. We are awaiting corresponding steps from the other side. We propose a mutually acceptable compound name [with a geographical qualifier before the word 'Macedonia'] for all uses and purposes - erga omnes," he said.
Venizelos also underlined Greece's support of the European and Euroatlantic perspective of its northern neighbour, stressing that these do not hinge on the name or on Greece, but on respect for the general criteria in place for all accession-candidate countries. "It hinges on issues of democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights, harmonious inter-ethnic relations and freedom of the press. As the relevant European Council conclusions say, "tangible steps" need to be taken on these issues," he added.
On the Cyprus issue, he pointed out that this summer marked the 40th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the ongoing illegal military occupation of the territory of a UN and EU member state.
"Greece fully supports the dialogue between the leaders of the two communities, within the framework of the February 2014 joint communiqu?, and President Anastasiades' initiatives for confidence-building measures that can create new momentum on the island.
"A just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem must be in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the high-level agreements (1977 and 1979), the February 2014 joint communiqu?, and the European acquis. The Cypriot people must express their agreement to such a solution through referendum. We also attach great importance to maintaining the UNFICYP's mandate, level and concept, and to the UN Secretary General's Good Offices Mission. And we welcome Mr. Eide's appointment as his new Special Advisor for Cyprus.
"A just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue and respect for international law - particularly the International Law of the Sea - are two critical factors on which the full development of Greek-Turkish relations depends. These relations have great potential and are critical to the stability of the wider region, as they are relations between two NATO member states, while Greece also supports Turkey's European perspective," he said.
 Greece, Cyprus and Egypt agree on trilateral summit at foreign ministers' meeting in NYNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/ P. Panagiotou)
Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos had a trilateral meeting with the foreign ministers of Cyprus and Egypt, Ioannis Kasoulides and Sameh Hassan Soukry, respectively, at the offices of Greece's permanent UN representation in New York.
After the meeting late on Friday, the three sides announced their common will and intention to hold a trilateral summit for Greece, Cyprus and Egypt in Cairo as soon as possible and said their next meeting on a foreign ministers' level will be held in Nicosia.
Venizelos, who also met Shoukry prior to the trilateral meeting with Kasoulides, said the trilateral configuration was an "exceptional tool for political cooperation" between the three sides and called Egypt a key country for anything having to do with the Arab world.
"We have seen very specific proof of this in recent weeks, with the ceasefire in Gaza and the Egyptian initiatives in Libya. The role of Greece and Cyprus, as EU member states, in the stability of the wider region is always very important. From this perspective, our trilateral cooperation is a platform for stability in the wider region," he said.
Talking to journalists after the joint statements, Venizelos said the three country had a "very rich agenda" of issues to discuss, which related to energy, implementing the Law of the Sea and especially current crises.
"That is why we decided to hold another meeting very soon, on the ministerial level, in Nicosia, and to organize a Summit Meeting, preferably in Cairo, as soon as possible," he explained.
The minister said that Greece has been invited by Egypt and Norway to a Donors' Conference for the reconstruction of Gaza to be held in Cairo on October 12, noting that this was "important as a prerequisite for the reopening of the dialogue in the Middle East on a solution to the Palestinian problem, which underlies all the problems in the region."
On the delimitation of maritime zones, Venizelos said that this was examined in the bilateral part of the meeting with his Egyptian counterpart.
"We looked at the progress in the work of the technical committees on the delimitation of the maritime zones, within the framework of the International Law of the Sea. And we agreed that the next meeting of the technical committees would take place as soon as possible - this time, in Athens. And we have very positive indications regarding the stance of the Egyptian side, which is faithful to the implementation of the International Law of the Sea," he replied to reporter's questions.
He also replied to questions on Greece's aid to the Kurds, saying that Greece had not been asked to provide anything other than ammunition by its allies and stressing that this participation by Greece was voluntary and given to boost the country's international credibility:
"You can see that, for the international and regional balance of power, for Greece's credibility, for the protection of national interests, for our having a strong position in the Cyprus issue, in Greek-Turkish issues - so that we can defend our own issues, which are always at the core of our policy - we have to have international credibility. And this is what we are trying to do, through diplomatic and political means, with humanitarian assistance, as well as through sending ammunition to the Kurdish forces in Iraq, in cooperation, of course, with the government in Baghdad, because this was something that could be done easily."
This was the recommendation from the Hellenic National Defence General Staff and the Ministry of National Defence, Venizelos added, and was judged by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and himself to be very important in terms of the regional balance of power and the protection of national interests.
 FM Venizelos meets with Israeli counterpart in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)
Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Sunday met with Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on the margins of the 69th UN General Assembly in New York.
The two officials discussed the whole spectrum of bilateral cooperation and the Greek-Israeli political and economic relations.
According to diplomatic sources, Venizelos and Liberman had constructive and wide-ranging talks. More specifically, they discussed the issue of the upcoming Greek-Israeli political consultations, on the level of Foreign Ministry Secretaries General, in November, and they agreed to hold the next High-Level Intergovernmental Cooperation Council in 2015 in Athens, which will take place on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Moreover, Venizelos and Liberman discussed the latest developments in the Middle East and the wider region, as well as the prospects for energy cooperation opening up on a bilateral level between Greece and Israel as well as trilaterally together with Cyprus.
Venizelos wound up his meetings on the margins of the 69th UN General Assembly and will return to Athens.
 Greece expects Skopje to take steps toward solution, Venizelos tells FYROM's PopovskiNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/ P. Panagiotou)
In a meeting with the foreign minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Nikola Popovski here on Saturday, government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos stressed that Greece's position has not changed and that Athens now expected Skopje to take steps toward resolving the name dispute between the two countries. The two ministers met on the sidelines of the 69th UN General Assembly.
Diplomatic sources based at the UN said that Venizelos pointed to statements and actions on FYROM's part, which did not help cultivate a climate of trust and relations of good neighbourhood.
Regarding the name dispute, the same sources said, Venizelos told Popovski that Skopje should not expect support from European capitals or elsewhere since the international community was well aware that the authorities in Skopje must now make decisions to move forward in good faith and with a desire to compromise at the appropriate steps so that the differences might be resolved.
The two men also discussed energy issues, with Popovski asking the Greek minister to confirm that Greece was positively disposed to linking the TransAdriatic Pipeline (TAP) to FYROM's gas network. Venizelos replied that everything he told FYROM Premier Nikola Gruevski during his visit to Skopje in the framework of Greece's EU presidency continues to apply absolutely and the two countries can proceed irrespective of the outstanding dispute over the name, adding that meetings must be held between the respective energy ministers in both countries to discuss the technical details.
 Foreign ministry replies to statements by FYROM's Popovski to local mediaPrompted by the statements of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Foreign Minister Nikola Popovski to the media, the Greek foreign ministry on Saturday issued an announcement rejecting his suggestion that the Greek side does not see the resolution of the name issue as a priority. Popovski was speaking to FYROM news media following a meeting in New York with Greek government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
In its announcement, the Greek foreign ministry stressed the following points:
"Mr. Venizelos reiterated to Mr. Poposki the publicly well know and clear positions of the Greek side, which participates actively, responsibly and in good faith in the talks under the direction of the UN Secretary General's personal envoy, Matthew Nimetz. In this context, Mr. Venizelos noted that Mr. Nimetz is waiting for FYROM's representative to the discussions to confirm dates that are suitable for the next meeting in New York, as Ambassador Vassilakis has already accepted the October dates initially proposed by Mr. Nimetz.
"Mr. Venizelos reiterated that Greece has already taken significant steps in the direction of a mutually acceptable compound name with a geographical qualifier; a name, however, for all uses, domestic and international (erga omnes). Consequently, what is being awaited is the responsible stance and response of the other side.
"Mr. Venizelos also underscored that the issues concerning FYROM's perspective for accession to the European Union and to NATO are judged collectively by the member states of each organization, based on the general criteria and the procedures in effect for the accession of new members. Thus, the critical issues are always those of democracy, rule of law, interethnic relations, regional stability, good neighbourly relations, avoidance of all direct or indirect 'irredentist' policy. The Conclusions of the December 2013 European Council on enlargement policy and the June 2014 Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers on the Open Doors policy set out this collective position.
"Mr. Venizelos also observed that the name issue holds the central position in the domestic political debate in FYROM. The Greek position on this issue was formulated a long time ago, enjoys broad consensus, and is not impacted by coincidental domestic political expediencies.
"Mr. Venizelos also raised the issue of the recent provocations from the Deputy Speaker of the FYROM Parliament, Antonio Milososki, in Olympus, as well as from the President of the country, Gjorge Ivanov, at the United Nations, noting that such statements and unacceptable actions do not help to cultivate a climate of trust and good neighbourly relations.
"Finally, responding to a relevant question from Mr. Poposki, Mr. Venizelos confirmed the Greek position - which he had set out during his visit to Skopje this past March, as the President of the Council of the EU - in favor of the construction of an interconnector pipeline between the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), in Greece, and FYROM. This interconnector pipeline strengthens the dynamic and importance of the TAP and offers the neighbouring country an alternative source of natural gas supply."
 FinMin Hardouvelis in round of meetings ahead of troika arrivalFinance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis is to begin a round of meetings with other government ministers on Sunday, to prepare for the arrival of the troika representing Greece's international lenders on Tuesday.
The meetings will discuss the open issues that are likely to dominate discussions with the EU-IMF troika representatives. First to be arranged is a meeting with Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on labour issues, social insurance and settling debts to social insurance funds to take place at 19:30 on Sunday evening. There will follow a meeting with Development and Competitiveness Minister Nikos Dendias at 11:00 on Monday and a succession of meetings with Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis and lastly, Health Minister Makis Voridis at 17:30.
The meeting with Dendias will focus on reforms, the new National Strategic Reference Framework for 2014-2020, the founding of the Institution for Growth (IfG) investment fund and promoting the government's plan for support of entrepreneurship, including the measures for non-performing loans, revising laws for SA companies and the bankruptcy code.
 Labour Minister Vroutsis meets with Finance Minister HardouvelisLabour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Sunday evening had a meeting with Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis in view of the negotiations with the representatives of Greece's international lenders due to start on Tuesday.
After the end of the meeting a top Labour ministry official, who was asked on whether a legislative amendment providing for the settlement of social security funds arrears in multiple installments would be soon tabled, said "there is no such issue at this moment" but added "we are in no position to know whether the prime minister, based on what he said in Thessaloniki, will make such an intervention."
The official appeared optimistic over Tuesday's meeting between the Labour minister, the International Labour Organisation and the social partners on mass layoffs and changes to legislation for unions, adding the outcome should be positive.
Vroutsis on Monday is leaving for Geneva; he is expected to return to Athens on Wednesday and meet with the troika on Thursday.
 Labour min expected to meet with troika on Thursday, sources sayLabour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Thursday is expected to meet with the representatives of the country's international lenders, according to sources.
Negotiations are expected to be tough and, according to the same sources, will mainly focus on Labour ministry issues, such as the deregulation of mass layoffs and the changes to legislation related to unions.
Troika technical teams last week visited the General Accounting Office and asked to be briefed on the revenues of the insurance funds. The settlements of arrears to the social security funds are expected to dominate the meetings of the coming week.
Vroutsis on Tuesday in Geneva will participate in a meeting with social partners, coordinated by the director-general of the International Labour Organisation on the changes to legislation related to unions.
 Troika's visit will 'puncture' hopes of exit from memorandums, SYRIZA saysThe upcoming visit by the troika representing Greece's lenders will eliminate any expectations of an exit from austerity and bailout memorandums that the government is trying to cultivate, main opposition SYRIZA said in an announcement on Sunday.
According to the party, the tax relief promised by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was not just inadequate and failed to overturn the existing 'memorandum' framework but would extend it to perpetuity.
It also said the government, facing society's outcry, was trying to present the extension of the 'emergency' solidarity levy and the reduction of the special consumption tax on heating oil as a success, while at the same time planning a new round of dismissals in the public sector and the full deregulation of labour relations.
"It is becoming clear that the government remains trapped in the implementation of the memorandum at all costs and cannot convince anyone that it is capable of any real divergence from this," the announcement said.
The government also came under fire from SYRIZA's Parliamentary spokesman Panagiotis Lafazanis earlier, who called on Greece to undertake a major initiative to write down the greater part of its debt, without conditions. Lafazanis accused Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of not even raising the issue of Greece's debt during his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or even the issue of the forced occupation loan extracted from Greece by the Nazis in World War II, which the German side never repaid.
 PASOK comments on statements by SYRIZA officials on the Greek debtMain opposition SYRIZA is "in a total mess", PASOK said on Sunday commenting on statements by SYRIZA members regarding the debt settlement, adding that some of SYRIZA officials "pretend they are 'realists' and some others that they are 'rebels."
"(SYRIZA deputy Yiannis) Dragasakis in an interview to a Sunday newspaper dismissed anything related to the Seisachtheia (a set of laws instituted by the Athenian lawmaker Solon regarding the cancelling of debts) and the unilateral cancellation of the debt and proposed that we apply what has already been applied since 2012, when we had the most impressive haircut on a global level and the radical restructuring of the debt.
Because obviously the long grace period and the impressive extension of the average maturity of debt to 16.5 years (2.5 times more than the European average) is what Mr. Dragasakis calls the "retiring of debt," PASOK said.
"On the other hand, (SYRIZA's Parliamentary spokesman Panagiotis) Lafazanis and (MEP Giorgos) Katrougalos continue talking about the unilateral abolishment of the memoranda and the haircut of the greater part of the debt," it added.
"They all underestimate and make a mockery of the Greek people, threatening all the things that have been achieved after a long and difficult effort for a primary surplus. SYRIZA should put an end to the fireworks and the improvisations and should come to the national negotiation team so as to find out what is happening with the debt. Respect to the sacrifices of the Greek people is the least SYRIZA's aspiring leadership should demonstrate," PASOK concluded.
 Council of State rules cuts of public employees' lump sums constitutional, sources sayThe Plenary of the Council of State ruled that the reduction of the public sector employees' lump sum was constitutional, sources said on Sunday.
The court, according to sources, in a closed-door meeting ruled that the motion filed by a pensioner teacher against a decision by the Public Sector Employee's Welfare Fund, under which she was granted a reduced lump sum, should be rejected.
The judges, sources said, ruled by majority that the legislative amendments on the reduction of the lump sum did not violate the constitutional provisions related to equality, proportionality and social security. The ruling is expected to be issued by the end of the year.
 Strong lead for main opposition SYRIZA in Public Issue pollA Public Issue poll on the "estimated electoral influence" of the political parties returned a strong lead for main opposition SYRIZA, which forged ahead of New Democracy - the leading party in Greece's ruling coalition - by 11 percentage points. The results of the survey were published in the newspaper "Efimerida ton Syntakton" on Saturday.
Specifically, on the question of estimated electoral influence, SYRIZA increased its percentage to 36 pct (from 31 pct in July) and ND rose to 25 pct (from 24 pct in July). The newly formed Potami party dropped to 9.5 pct (from 10.5 pct) but remained in third place, followed by far-right Golden Dawn (7.5 pct from 8.5 pct), the Communist Party of Greece (unchanged at 6.5 pct), junior coalition partner PASOK (5.5 pct from 7.5 pct), Independent Greeks (4 pct from 4.5 pct) and lastly Democratic Left (DIM.AR) with 1 pct (from 1.5 pct). Other parties received 5 pct, down from 6 pct in July.
Based on these findings, the number of Parliamentary seats that each party would receive if elections were held are the following: SYRIZA 146 (within a range from 142-150), ND 66 (61-72), Potami 25 (20-30), Golden Dawn (16-24), KKE 17 (15-20), PASOK 15 (12-17), Independent Greeks 11 (8-13) and DIMAR none.
Asked which party they considered most likely to win an election held now, irrespective of their personal preferences, 64 pct of respondents said SYRIZA (up from 54 pct in July) and 24 pct said ND (down from 32 pct in July).
On who was most suitable for prime minister, 38 pct replied the current premier Antonis Samaras (from 43 pct in July), and 34 pct said SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras (from 29 pct in July). Another 28 pct said 'neither' or did not express an opinion.
Voters appear to be evenly divided on whether there should be early elections due to the election of a new president of Greece, with 49 pct believing it is "probably unnecessary" and 46 pct saying it is "probably necessary" and 5pt not expressing an opinion.
The survey also asked respondents to state their opinion on the best governing regime for the country. In response, 75 pct said that "democracy is preferable to any other form of government" but 12 pct said that "in certain cases a dictatorship might be preferable to a democracy" and 11 pct replied that "for people like us it makes no difference if we have a democracy or a dictatorship". Another 2 pct declined to express an opinion.
The poll was conducted nationwide in a period from September 15-23.
 KKE celebrates 40th anniversary since legal reissue of 'Rizospastis'The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) celebrated the 40th anniversary since the legal re-issue of the party's newspaper "Rizospastis" in 1974, following the redemocratisation of Greece.
"These days are special for us. They are days when we bring to mind the hard, long course of our newspaper 'Rizospastis', its heroic moments, the sacrifices and tireless work of Communist journalists, correspondents, distributors and all those that worked, under the most difficult conditions, to ensure that it was up to its task at all times as the organ of KKE's Central Committee, as a companion and guide," said the paper's director Kyrillos Papastavrou, addressing the event at the party's headquarters in Perissos on Saturday.
 Potami leader spells out party's terms for joining coalition to 'Eleftheros Typos'Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis outlined the terms that his party will set in order to participate in a future coalition government, in an interview published by the Sunday edition of "Eleftheros Typos".
"Potami is not here to appoint its own supporters, it is coming to ensure that 'Team Greece' will get into the ministries," Theodorakis stressed, saying that the ministers that would make up a coalition government will be a major factor in the party's decision to join a ruling coalition.
"Our own concern is not whether SYRIZA or New Democracy will invite us to govern. Our own proposal is to the people, who must understand that there are solutions other than the 'left' and 'right' solutions of the past," he added.
Noting that his party was in favour of strong governments, without frequent elections, Theodorakis nevertheless stressed that the fundamental goal was change: "We want to change everything in the country but without tearing it down," he said.
Concerning main opposition SYRIZA, he said his main fears were not for his savings but because "in SYRIZA there seem to be many that do not seem to be properly in touch with reality." As examples, he cited attacks by the party's members on Matteo Renzi, statements about quitting NATO or a policy of 'open borders' at a time of heightened migration pressures.
He also echoed the opinion that large numbers of PASOK's 'old guard' had now taken up with SYRIZA, from ministers to 'secret advisors', and were hoping for a second chance at a political career via the party.
 Golden Dawn demonstration outside party officesMembers of the far-right Golden Dawn party on Saturday demonstrated outside the party's offices in Athens and Thessaloniki, in a protest held on the first anniversary since party leader Nikos Mihaloliakos and senior party officials were remanded in custody ahead of trial as the leaders of a criminal organisation.
 Tourist injured during Maziotis arrest to seek compensation from GreeceMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA/ S. Hatzimanolis)
The 19-year-old Australian tourist that was caught in the crossfire and injured during the arrest of terrorist Nikos Maziotis in central Athens has announced that he plans to sue the Greek state for compensation.
The legal firm representing the young Australian said their client "was seriously injured and was not given proper medical attention at a hospital in Athens," adding that his treatment was continuing in Melbourne and he was unable to play football due to his injury.
The victim was hit in the leg by shrapnel, during an exchange of fire between Maziotis and the police in pursuit, and taken to an Athens hospital, where his injuries were described as relatively minor. Though the injury was inflicted by a bullet fired by Maziotis, the compensation claim is against the Greek government.
At the time of the incident, he had sat down to eat at a restaurant in the Monastiraki area when he saw someone running, chased by police. He then heard three shots and, after the first, fell to the ground and tried to get inside the restaurant but was injured by bullets Maziotis had aimed at the police.
 Development Minister briefed on Thessaloniki initiative to support start-upsDevelopment and Competitiveness Minister Nikos Dendias on Saturday had a meeting with the board of the Alexandria Innovation Zone in Thessaloniki, also attended by Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Orfanos. The meeting focused on the Thessaloniki Start Up Innovation Hub programme to assist 28 new businesses.
During the meeting, Dendias said he supported initiatives like the Alexandria Innovation Zone and wanted to encourage them, noting that based on a study carried out by the Israeli Yozma and other successful examples and good practices abroad, a comprehensive plan to support innovative business was now being implemented.
"Our goal is to create an 'innovation ecosystem' with the appropriate financing tools in order to generate a new entrepreneurship," he said.
 Ferry services cancelled due to bad weather; normal services restored in AtticaNormal ferry services had been largely restored in the Attica ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio by Sunday afternoon, after several earlier services around Greece were cancelled due to bad weather and high winds of 7-8 Beaufort in the Aegean. Some problems continued, however, affecting high-speed ferry links and one ferry bound to the Cyclades.
Among the services cancelled was the passenger-car ferry "Sea Jet 2" scheduled to set sail from Piraeus for Sifnos, Milos, Folengandros, Ios and Thira, which will now set sail at 7:00 on Monday morning. Also postponed to 7:00 on Monday is the route of the passenger-car ferry "Aqua Jewel" from Syros to Kea and Lavrio, while the passenger-car ferry "Highspeed 5" will depart from the port of Iraklio, Crete at 10:00 on Monday bound for Thira-Naxos-Paros-Mykonos and the passenger-car ferry "Dodecanissos Pride" will set sail at 8:30 on Monday from Rhodes, bound for Symi-Kos-Kalymnos-Leros-Leipsous-Patmos.
 Inquiry launched into death of nurse at psychiatric hostel for teensHealth Minister Makis Voridis on Sunday ordered the launch of an official internal inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of a male nurse at a psychiatric-care hostel for teenagers run by the Sismanogio General Hospital in Pallini.
The death occurred on Saturday night following an altercation between two of the hostel's three inmates, while authorities are waiting for a coroner's report to shed light on the cause of death. The nurse was found unconscious by a colleague, who called an ambulance. A female nurse that had earlier intervened to break up the fight between the inmates had also been attacked.
 Drama police crack attempted murder of police, hostage-taking caseThe Drama Security Police on Saturday said they had finally cracked a case involving the attempted murder of police officers, a hostage situation involving two civilians and an attempted burglary, all committed by the same individual in July 2009, identifying a 39-year-old Romanian man as the main suspect.
They said the suspect was already serving time in prison on similar charges of attempted murder, abduction, aggravated cases of theft and weapons law violations. Additionally charges will now be pressed against him for the 2009 incidents in Drama.
According to the findings of a police investigation, on the night of July 4, 2009 the suspect attempted to break into an apartment in Drama but was disturbed by the owner before he completed his task and fled. After the incident was reported, Drama security police arrived on the scene to investigate and spotted the suspect, giving chase when he ran away to avoid arrest.
During the pursuit on foot, the 39-year-old took a gun out a bag he was carrying and shot against the police officers without hitting either. He took refuge in a parking lot where he took two civilians hostage at gunpoint, forcing them to drive him to another part of the city before letting them go and making his escape on foot, thus evading capture.
 Protest against bus fare hikes in ThessalonikiA protest against plans to raise fares on public transport buses was held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Saturday by Action Committees from the Western Neighbourhoods and Toumba-Harilaou. The protestors object to plans to raise the price of tickets on Thessaloniki transport company (OASTh) buses by 25-35 pct, to 1.00 euro for the single-journey fare and 1.20 euros for the two-journey fare.
Protestors stressed that this was unacceptable in a time of shrinking incomes and stressed that in addition to the higher cost, the changes reduced the duration of the two-journey ticket to 70 minutes, instead of 90 minutes, pointing out that a passenger from Evosmos could not reach Kalamaria using public transport in 70 minutes.
They called for free public transport for the unemployed, school children and students.
 Participation in ADEDY civil servants' strike at 8.49 pct, ministry saysStaff participation in the strike called by the civil servants' union federation ADEDY last week stood at 8.49 pct, the administrative reform ministry announced on Sunday.
The announcement was based on figures sent by the ministry concerning the turnout for last Wednesday's strike to the public-sector personnel departments.
Specifically, participation in ministries stood at 8.89 pct, in decentralised administration at 6.08 pct, in the public-sector-law entities of decentralised administration at 3.52 pct, in regional authorities at 5.27 pct, in municipalities at 8.76 pct and in independent agencies at 9.37 pct.
In a total of 65,502 employees at the above bodies, 5,564 took part in the strike, bringing the total to 8.49 pct.
 Police arrest gang suspected of 17 robberiesThe Greek police on Saturday announced the arrests, in the Piraeus district of Nikaia and on the island of Salamina, of three people suspected of at least 17 robberies, most of them targeting elderly people. They said a search was still on for a fourth suspect, believed to be part of the same gang.
They said three men aged 50, 53 and 26 were in custody and a 28-year-old Albanian national was being sought.
Over the last three months, the four men are accused to stalking people at bank branches, especially the elderly, watching them to see if they made cash withdrawals and then robbing them as they were leaving. Police believe the 53-year-old would usually enter the bank to locate the victims and then signal his accomplices, who would drive up on a moped and use force to remove the victim's handbag or case.
They also targeted cars, in which case the passenger on the moped would remove bags from the car window as they went past.
According to police, the gang is behind 13 purse snatchings targeting pedestrians and four thefts targeting drivers and car passengers in the areas of Keratsini, Korydallos, Piraeus, Perama, Nikaia and Salamina.
In a search of the suspects' homes, police found and confiscated a dozen handbags and 23 wallets, a bank receipt, a police-issued ID card, a bank account book with the details of a third individual, a cheque book in the name of a third individual, eight mobile phones, large numbers of keys and the sums of 4,475 euros and 230 U.S. dollars in cash.
They also confiscated two motorcycles that may have been used by the suspects in the robberies.
 'Greece Race for the Cure' held in AthensThe 'Greece Race for the Cure' to raise awareness of breast cancer was held in Athens on Sunday, where several central roads were closed to traffic in the morning while the five-kilometre run and two-kilometre walk were underway.
This was the sixth consecutive year that the race was organised by 'Alma Zois', Greece's nationwide association of women with breast cancer.
Thousands set off under the race banner "We run faster..than its shadow" and either ran or walked the cyclical route extending from the area outside the Zappion building to the U.S. Embassy. The money raised during the race will be used to finance research programmes into breast cancer, as well as psychotherapeutic support and information campaigns.
'Race for the Cure' is considered one of the key global initiatives for raising awareness of breast cancer and is organised for the past 31 years in more than 140 cities worldwide by the U.S. organisation "Susan G. Komen for the Cure". Its aim is to increase awareness of the disease and the ways of prevention/early diagnosis, as well as raising money to fund programmes to fight breast cancer.
The race began at 11:00 on Sunday and ended around 13:00 in the afternoon.
 Nikaia man self-immolates, dies of injuriesA 57-year-old man from the Piraeus district of Nikaia died on Sunday after he doused himself in a flammable liquid and set himself on fire. The motives for his action remain unclear.
Local residents at 2 Belogianni Road in Nikaia, where the incident occurred, managed to put the fire out and the man was rushed to Nikaia General Hospital with serious burns, where he died despite the doctors' efforts to save him.
 Super League resultsGames played for the Super League had the following results:
Platanias-Asteras Tripolis 0-1
Atromitos Athens-Olympiakos 1-0
Panathinaikos-Niki Volou 1-0
Veria-PAS Yiannena 2-0
PAOK-OFI Crete 4-0
Kalloni Mytilini-Panthrakikos 29/9, 19:30
Standings after 5 weeks of play:
1. PAOK 13
2. Veria 12
3. Olympiakos 10
4. Atromitos 10
5. Panathinaikos 10
6. Kerkyra 10
7. Asteras Tripolis 9
8. Kalloni Mytilini 7 (4 matches)
9. Panionios 7
10. OFI Crete 6
11. Xanthi 6
12. PAS Yiannena 5
13. Panthrakikos 5 (4 matches)
14. Ergotelis 4
15. Platanias 3
16. Panetolikos 3
17. Levadiakos 2
18. Niki Volou 0
 Mostly fair, scattered clouds on MondayScattered clouds and mainly northerly winds are forecast for Monday. Wind velocity will reach 8 on the Beaufort scale. Mostly fair in the northern parts of the country; temperatures between 6C and 22C. Same weather in the western parts with temperatures between 8C and 26C. Scattered clouds and local showers in the morning in the eastern parts of the country; temperatures 9-23C. Scattered clouds over the islands with possibility for local showers, 16-25C. Same weather in Athens, 15-23C; mostly fair in Thessaloniki, 15-23C.
 The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: "SYRIZA to get ruling majority"
DIMOKRATIA: "The '180' [votes in Parliament] just a pipe-dream. The riddle of early elections"
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Troika the 13th. It's coming on Tuesday and 'deposing' the government" [Greek superstition considers Tuesday the 13th to be 'bad luck', as opposed to Friday]
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Radical changes to pension funds and pensions"
ETHNOS: "The new law for [university] transfers"
KATHIMERINI: "All tax relief for the two years 2015-2016"
LOGOS: "Wages on a downhill slide"
RIZOSPASTIS: "'Black' labour ...in accordance with the law!"
TO VIMA: "Few taxes, lower income indicators"
VRADYNI: "How to retire with 18 to 25 years of insurance contributions"
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