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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-02-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Monday, 9 February 2015 Issue No: 4881

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras launches debate on government policy statements in Parliament
  • [02] Investigations into causes of crisis, the signing of bailout memorandums
  • [03] PM urges MPs to give vote of confidence 'so we can win back the lost dignity of the Greeks'
  • [04] PM Tsipras: 'We have a realistic plan and negotiating strategy'
  • [05] PM Tsipras: immediate measures to relieve humanitarian crisis
  • [06] Tsipras announces Parliamentary investigation into causes of Greek crisis
  • [07] FinMin Varoufakis says premier's policy statements were 'an important moment'
  • [08] Defence minister on PM's speech: 'Everything is changing'
  • [09] ND expresses support for 'national effort' but also 'deep concern' over its chance of success after PM's speech
  • [10] Tsipras speech 'reflected ease of opposition, not responsibility of government,' PASOK says
  • [11] Varoufakis suggests New Deal financed by EIB
  • [12] Alt. Min. for Social Insurance Stratoulis says government will implement the Thessaloniki programme
  • [13] SYRIZA MPs focus on negotiations with creditors, government policy statements
  • [14] PM Tsipras to visit Vienna on Monday
  • [15] Economy Minister Stathakis denies telling WSJ that Greece may face liquidity issues in March
  • [16] Greece now negotiating with dignity, Defence Minister Kammenos says
  • [17] Tax justice an 'uncrossable line' for ANEL, party spokeswoman says
  • [18] Wieser, Costello arrive in Athens late on Sunday
  • [19] Cyprus will support Greece's position in European bodies, government officials say
  • [20] Alt. Defence Minister Isichos calls for immediate end to escalating violence in Ukraine
  • [21] Russia's Nato envoy on ties with Greece, EU
  • [22] Austrian Chancellor Faymann says "Grexit option" should be averted
  • [23] Opinion poll shows support for government confrontation with creditors
  • [24] Negotiations within EU will not relieve people's plight, KKE says
  • [25] Justice minister meets with the president of France's Constitutional Council
  • [26] Council of Audit rules that civil servant found guilty of bribery should not lose pension as consequence of conviction
  • [27] New Democracy condemns arsonist attack on MP Stylianidis' car
  • [28] All-year-round tourism season in Greece is a top priority, Alt. Tourism Minister Kountoura says
  • [29] Weather to deteriorate sharply from Sunday afternoon
  • [30] Snowfall and low temperatures in northern Greece
  • [31] Evros farmers hard hit by floods, deputy minister Sgouridis says
  • [32] Greek authorities in search-and-rescue operation for shipwrecked irregular migrants
  • [33] Rain and snow on Monday
  • [34] The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Tsipras launches debate on government policy statements in Parliament

    Launching a three-day discussion on the government's policy statements that will culminate in a vote of confidence on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday unveiled to the Greek Parliament a plan that was in a large part based on the platform that SYRIZA had presented before the elections.

    At the same time, he underscored a determination to confront the pathogenic and dysfunctional systems at home, including a "regime of political and economic power that in recent years has sunk our country into crisis and discredited it internationally."

    "The course of reconstruction and rebuilding our country will be lengthy. Supported by the boundless strength of a united and sovereign people, we will make the vision a reality. With the constant trust and support of our people, we will build a Greece that is economically self-sufficient, independent and sovereign, an equal partner in the EU and the Eurozone," he said.

    The prime minister repeated that the negotiation with Greece's European partners must culminate in an agreement for the reduction of the debt, since the government programme would not be able to contend with the deinvestment and recessionary spiral if the Greek economy "continues to be squeezed in the vice of an unsustainable debt and the obligation to achieve unreasonable, impossible and groundless primary surpluses, which do not leave any fiscal margins for a growth respite."

    Tsipras appeared optimistic that an agreement will be reached with Greece's creditors on a transitional "bridging programme" that will allow time for a negotiation on a more final solution for the country's debt, provided that Greece's partners admit that the issue of the debt is not a technical but a political issue.

    He also noted that, beyond the debt, "there are issues on which we could agree with our partners tomorrow morning, if the will exists. The government has a plan and positions - we are not drawing them up now."

    "We have a realistic plan, we have a negotiating strategy and, above all, we have no other commitments beyond serving the nation's interests," the prime minister said.

    At the same time, he emphasised the government's immovable decision to honour and fulfill all its election promises: "This commitment is the non-negotiable core of our policy. It is a matter of honour, credibility and respect for democracy."

    Unfolding the main directions of government policy, Tsipras said this will pivot around "recovering popular sovereignty in the country, restoring its equal role in the institutional framework of the European Union, dealing with the humanitarian crisis, restoring the dignity of the people, social justice and a cultural rebirth of Greece."

    "[These] are the main goals of the government of social salvation that we formed immediately after the elections," he said.

    Immediate measures to addres the humanitarian crisis

    The prime minister announced a series of immediate measures, whose implementation will start from Wednesday morning, to relieve the humanitarian crisis created by harsh austerity and the memorandums.

    Some of the first of these measures will be to re-hire the school guards and finance ministry cleaners laid off by the previous administration, as well as the fired administrative staff at universities and technological educational institutes, and to ensure that all the families that fell victim to "memorandum barbarity" have access to food, power, shelter and medical care.

    "The new government of social salvation is working to combine the country's institutional and financial obligations, which arise from an absolute respect for popular sovereignty," he underlined.

    Tsipras also indicated that his government will respect European treaties but not austerity, stressing that there was a specific plan with realistic proposals that will lead to a reordering of the country.

    "It is not our aim to threaten any balance in Europe. We respect the stability agreement but not austerity. The European treaties do not reference memorandums and austerity. The government has no right to ask for an extension of the memorandums and an extension of austerity. It has no right to ask for an extension of an austerity programme that was recently rejected by the Greek people in order to serve the tactical manoeuvring of political forces within the country," he said.

    Previous government "set us up to fail"

    In criticism targeting his predecessor and the previous PASOK-ND coalition government, Tsipras accused them "burning crops and bridges on their way out" and of deliberately setting up the new government to fail by arranging impossibly tight margins for the negotiations that would force Greece to once again accept memorandums.

    "I say this now with assurance, since in my contacts with European Commission officials I was informed that our partners' initial choice was a six-month technical extension of the programme and that after Greek insistence the time limit of February 28 was set," he told Parliament.

    "It is revealed to all, therefore, what was and is the goal of the previous memorandum government and the memorandum forces in our country. It was and remains the impossible deadlines, the blackmail of Greece and, finally, the failure of the new Greek government - in other words, the failure of Greece - in order to vindicate themselves."

    [02] Investigations into causes of crisis, the signing of bailout memorandums

    During his speech in Parliament on Sunday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced plans to set up a Parliamentary investigating committee that will explore the events that led up to the Greek crisis and the memorandums that accompanied the country's bailout.

    He also announced the introduction of a 12,000 euro tax-free allowance and the abolition of the Uniform Real Estate Ownership Tax (ENFIA) within the current year, to be replaced by a tax on larger real estate holdings. At the same time, he urged tax payers to pay the last installments of ENFIA owed for 2014.

    In the meantime, he said that all foreclosure auctions of main family homes and the transfer of mortgage loans will be frozen until new measures are submitted to deal with these issues.

    Among others, he said there will be an in-depth investigation of the PSI bond haircut in order to properly apportion responsibilities for the dire situation created for social insurance fund cash reserves.

    Wrapping up his speech after a full one hour and a half, Tsipras looked visibly moved as he called on MPs to give his government a vote of confidence, which he said would let him wage the battle of the negotiations and win back the pride and lost dignity of the Greek people and the country.

    "We categorically state that we will not negotiate our history, our pride and the dignity of this people. For us these are sacred and non-negotiable values. We are flesh from the flesh of this people. We are every word in the Constitution of this country. This is what we swore by and this is what we will serve to the end, vindicating the values of this people," he said.

    "I call on you to give a vote of confidence, for us to wage this battle for our country and win back the hope and lost dignity of the Greek people," he said.

    The debate will now resume at 11:00 on Monday morning, when ministers, Parliamentary spokespersons, MPs and possibly some of the opposition party leaders will be given the opportunity to address the session. The debate will continue until midnight on Tuesday, ending with a roll-call vote.

    [03] PM urges MPs to give vote of confidence 'so we can win back the lost dignity of the Greeks'

    Wrapping up his speech after addressing Parliament for a full one hour and a half, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday looked visibly moved as he called on MPs to give his government a vote of confidence, which he said would let him wage the battle of the negotiations and win back the pride and lost dignity of the Greek people and the country.

    "We categorically state that we will not negotiate our history, our pride and the dignity of this people. For us these are sacred and non-negotiable values. We are flesh from the flesh of this people. We are every word in the Constitution of this country. This is what we swore by and this is what we will serve to the end, vindicating the values of this people," he said.

    "I call on you to give a vote of confidence, for us to wage this battle for our country and win back the hope and lost dignity of the Greek people," he said.

    [04] PM Tsipras: 'We have a realistic plan and negotiating strategy'

    "We have a realistic plan, we have a negotiating strategy and, above all, we have no other commitments beyond serving the nation's interests," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday in Parliament, launching a three-day debate on the government's policy statements.

    The prime minister emphasised the government's immovable decision to honour and fulfill all its election promises: "This commitment is the non-negotiable core of our policy. It is a matter of honour, credibility and respect for democracy."

    Unfolding the main directions of government policy, Tsipras said this will pivot around "recovering popular sovereignty in the country, restoring its equal role in the institutional framework of the European Union, dealing with the humanitarian crisis, restoring the dignity of the people, social justice and a cultural rebirth of Greece."

    "[These] are the main goals of the government of social salvation that we formed immediately after the elections," he said.

    [05] PM Tsipras: immediate measures to relieve humanitarian crisis

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced immediate measures, whose implementation will start from Wednesday morning, to relieve the humanitarian crisis created by harsh austerity and the memorandums, during his speech in Parliament on Sunday.

    Some of the first of these measures will be to re-hire the school guards and finance ministry cleaners laid off by the previous administration, as well as the fired administrative staff at universities and technological educational institutes, and to ensure that all the families that fell victim to "memorandum barbarity" had access to food, power, shelter and medical care.

    "The new government of social salvation is working to combine the country's institutional and financial obligations, which arise from an absolute respect for popular sovereignty," he underlined.

    Tsipras also indicated that his government will respect European treaties but not austerity, stressing that there was a specific plan with realistic proposals that will lead to a reordering of the country.

    "It is not our aim to threaten any balance in Europe. We respect the stability agreement but not austerity. The European treaties do not reference memorandums and austerity. The government has no right to ask for an extension of the memorandums and an extension of austerity. It has no right to ask for an extension of an austerity programme that was recently rejected by the Greek people in order to serve the tactical manoeuvring of political forces within the country," he said.

    [06] Tsipras announces Parliamentary investigation into causes of Greek crisis

    During his speech in Parliament on Sunday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced plans to set up a Parliamentary investigating committee that will explore the events that led up to the Greek crisis and the memorandums that accompanied the country's bailout.

    He also announced the introduction of a 12,000 euro tax-free allowance and the abolition of the Uniform Real Estate Ownership Tax (ENFIA) within the current year, to be replaced by a tax on larger real estate holdings. At the same time, he urged tax payers to pay the last installments of ENFIA owed for 2014.

    In the meantime, he said that all foreclosure auctions of main family homes and the transfer of mortgage loans will be frozen until new measures are submitted to deal with these issues.

    Among others, he said there will be an in-depth investigation of the PSI bond haircut in order to properly apportion responsibilities for the dire situation created for social insurance fund cash reserves.

    [07] FinMin Varoufakis says premier's policy statements were 'an important moment'

    "It was an important moment. I was personally moved," Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Sunday, when asked to comment on the speech given by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Parliament. The minister confined himself to that comment, refusing any other statement despite insistent questions regarding lies ahead at the upcoming negotiations between Greece and its European Union partners.

    Starting late on Sunday evening, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivered a 1.5-hour speech in Parliament that outlined the government's policy statements and launched a three-day debate that will end in a vote of confidence at midnight on Tuesday.

    [08] Defence minister on PM's speech: 'Everything is changing'

    The speech given by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Parliament on Sunday was "sincere and had clarity," Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos, Greece's defence minister and head of the junior party in Greece's coalition government, commented afterward.

    "Everything is changing," he told reporters, adding that the government had shown that it respects the country's national sovereignty.

    Starting late on Sunday evening, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivered a 1.5-hour speech in Parliament that outlined the government's policy statements and launched a three-day debate that will end in a vote of confidence at midnight on Tuesday.

    [09] ND expresses support for 'national effort' but also 'deep concern' over its chance of success after PM's speech

    Main opposition New Democracy, in an announcement issued on Sunday after the end of a speech given by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to present the government's policy statements in Parliament, said that ND "supports the national effort for a beneficial agreement."

    "[ND] notes that for the first time, Mr. Tsipras has recognised that primary surpluses are a condition of national sovereignty and for reinforcing the country's negotiating position, while forgetting that this was an achievement of the previous government that he systematically fought," the announcement added.

    "ND expressed its deep concern, however, as to whether there will be a successful negotiation after all that was heard tonight," the party's statement concluded.

    [10] Tsipras speech 'reflected ease of opposition, not responsibility of government,' PASOK says

    The press office of the opposition PASOK party criticised the speech delivered by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Parliament on Sunday, saying it was filled with "generally worded commonplaces, lacking substance".

    "Mr. Tsipras spoke with the ease of the opposition and not the responsibility that behooves government," PASOK's announcement said, criticising the measures announced as vague and unrelated to SYRIZA's programme in Thessaloniki.

    It also said that the speech failed to present a serious and complete proposal to the Eurozone regarding the next steps and what the government actually means with the phrase "bridging programme". It pointed out that the speech did not even once refer to the current programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    PASOK remarked on the criticism levelled by Tsipras against the previous government for seeking only a two-month extension of Greece's programme and not six months, saying this contradicted the government's position in refusing to seek an extension of the programme itself.

    The party also said that it welcomed a Parliamentary investigation into the events leading up to the signature of the first two memorandums in 2010 and 2012, "as well as the sought-after Memorandum 3-bridge that we hope that does turn into explosive material for the complete destruction of the economy," the announcement concluded.

    [11] Varoufakis suggests New Deal financed by EIB

    ROME (ANA-MPA / Th. Andreadis-Syggelakis)

    Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in an interview on Italy's Rai 3 public television "Presa Diretta" talk show, to be aired on Sunday evening, underlined that "the Greek government will suggest a New Deal for Europe, like US President Roosevelt had done. A New Deal for Europe that will be financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) increasing 10 times the funds already allocated."

    Varoufakis said in the interview - a preview of which is posted on the talk show's website - that important Italian institution officials have told him "they stand in solidarity with our country but they cannot tell the truth because Italy is also at risk of going bankrupt and they fear of possible consequences on behalf of Germany."

    "The entire Europe is covered in a cloud of fear. We are at risk of becoming worse than the former Soviet Union," he said, adding that "we, the Greeks, don't have the monopoly on the truth. What we can do, for the rest of Europe and for Italy in particular, is to open a small door to the truth. We cannot find the truth on our own, but we can open a door and move so that you can join us. This way, we will be able to leave the darkness of present austerity and enter into the light of a European rational and sober discussion."

    "It is all about ideas and proposals that concern the entire Europe, because we, the Greeks, don't think that we have the right to ask for ourselves anything that will not be in effect for the Italians, the Portuguese or the Irish as well. Sooner or later, Chancellor Merkel will have to explain why she does not approve our proposals," Varoufakis said.

    [12] Alt. Min. for Social Insurance Stratoulis says government will implement the Thessaloniki programme

    Alternate Minister for Social Insurance Dimitris Stratoulis on Sunday underlined that the Thessaloniki Programme will be implemented during the government's term in office.

    Speaking on SKAI television, he said that the criteria for the EKAS benefit for low-income pensioners will not change, the retirement age will not increase, eligible for the 13th pension will be pensioners who receive under 700 euros a month, while the elderly without an income will receive a 360-euro pension.

    Referring to the self-employed, Stratoulis announced changes concerning, among others, the repayment of debts to social insurance funds and the number of work stamps (social insurance payment stamps) necessary for retirement. He also said that the 170 social insurance fund employees affected by the labour reserve measure will be rehired to cover staff shortages.

    [13] SYRIZA MPs focus on negotiations with creditors, government policy statements

    The SYRIZA ruling party parliamentary group meeting that ended late on Saturday night, focused on the government policy statements and the party's tactic in parliament, as well as, on latest developments in the negotiations with the country's creditors ahead of the Eurogroup and the EU Summit.

    Sources said that the SYRIZA MPs were briefed on the course of the negotiations by Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragassakis and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis before an extensive discussion during which several deputies expressed their views.

    As regards the government policy statements, the SYRIZA parliamentary group is expected to adopt a tough stance toward New Democracy (ND) and PASOK, the same sources said, noting that the parliament will be briefed in detail on the situation in the government ministries and public administration.

    [14] PM Tsipras to visit Vienna on Monday

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is to travel to Vienna on Monday for a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann. The meeting has been scheduled at 11:00 local time and was arranged at the invitation of the Austrian chancellor, ahead of the EU Summit on February 12 where European leaders will meet to discuss the new agreement being proposed by the Greek government.

    The prime minister is to return to Greece the same day.

    [15] Economy Minister Stathakis denies telling WSJ that Greece may face liquidity issues in March

    Economy, Infrastructure, Tourism and Shipping Minister George Stathakis, in a tweet late on Friday night, denied saying that the Greek state may face liquidity issues in March during an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

    The minister said that at no time in the WSJ interview did he referred to a liquidity problem that Greece may face, adding that the policy statements that will be unveiled in Parliament will outline a plan for increasing tax revenues and thus securing the necessary cash flow. He underlined that there will be absolutely no problem until the summer, when the government expects that a deal on a new programme for Greece will be finalised.

    [16] Greece now negotiating with dignity, Defence Minister Kammenos says

    Greece now has a government that is prepared to negotiate with dignity, not on its knees, Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader and Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said in statements on the private television station SKAI on Saturday.

    The head of the junior member of Greece's coalition government, when asked to comment on the tough stance shown by Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel to Greek requests, noted that Greece's EU partners "are no longer talking to either Mr. Samaras or Mr. Venizelos," referring to the leaders of the previous ruling coalition.

    "The government was given a mandate by the Greek people to proceed with a change of policy and any change of policy will be in favour of the citizens that have suffered these five years from the 'mistaken policy', as some called it," Kammenos said. He pointed out that the policies imposed on the country had resulted in "70 pct unemployment among the young, 300,000 young people leaving the country, 80 pct of businesses closing, a dismantling of the middle class and impoverishment of the Greek people," stressing that this must end.

    He expressed his belief that the government had the support of all Greeks, which it had succeeded in uniting, stressing the importance of this fact. "What is under negotiation here is Greece - we do not negotiate with our heads bowed, nor on our knees. The Greek people have got to the point of destitution, we will not back down," he said.

    The minister, who was travelling to Evros to coordinate efforts to contain flood damage also announced a decision to reform the armed forces MOMA engineering and construction units, which in the past had assisted in building Greek infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.

    [17] Tax justice an 'uncrossable line' for ANEL, party spokeswoman says

    Ensuring tax justice is an issue that the Independent Greeks (ANEL), the junior member of Greece' ruling coalition, considers "an uncrossable line," party spokeswoman Marina Chrysoveloni said on Saturday.

    She stressed that the first target, in line with the party's election pledges, was to take the lists of tax evaders and make them pay, without any immunity, cover-ups or further delays.

    In terms of a fair distribution of the tax burden, she said this must be in line with the Constitutional provision that all should contribute according to their ability.

    "First off, this means abolishing the Uniform Real Estate Ownership Tax (ENFIA), rejecting any ideas for an overall taxation of the property of Greeks and a fast readjustment of tax office-assessed property values so that they reflect the actual price of real estate," Chrysoveloni noted, stressing that protection of Greeks' private property remains another of the party's 'uncrossable lines'.

    [18] Wieser, Costello arrive in Athens late on Sunday

    The head of the Euro Working Group Thomas Wieser and the head of the European Commission's delegation in the EU-IMF troika Declan Costello were already in Athens late on Sunday night, it was announced.

    According to high-ranking EU officials, the aim of their visit is to liaise with the finance ministry and assist with the best possible preparation for the emergency Eurogroup meeting on Greece that is to be held in Brussels on Wednesday.

    [19] Cyprus will support Greece's position in European bodies, government officials say

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/ A. Viketos)

    A number of Cypriot government officials on Saturday indicated that Cyprus will support Greece's positions during discussions at European bodies.

    In statements to the Cypriot state radio station RIK, government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said that Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades will underline the need for a shift toward policies to create growth in Europe. "On this position there was a common understanding during the contacts made by the Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras in Cyprus," he said.

    The two sides also agreed that every country must move forward with its own reform programme and that Athens was now asking for time in order to implement this, he added.

    In Cyprus, work has been done internally and we consider that 2015 will be a year of growth, he said. "At the same time, we hope that the conditions will be created for us to soon return to the markets."

    Cypriot Finance Minister Harris Georgiades also promised to support Greece's positions at the Eurogroup meeting next Wednesday. He also reported signs of improvement in Cyprus' economy, presented during an informal review by the troika in Cyprus, which he said confirmed that the country was on a path of 'correction' and exit from the crisis.

    [20] Alt. Defence Minister Isichos calls for immediate end to escalating violence in Ukraine

    Alternate Minister of Defence Kostas Isichos called for an immediate end to the "continuously escalating violence" in Ukraine, announcing that there are plans for Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias to visit Moscow, Kiev and possibly Mariupol, where the presence of Ukrainians of Greek origin is strong.

    In an interview on ERT-OPEN radio on Saturday, he said that the Ukrainian government is held hostage by Euro-Atlantic rationales adding, however, that the Franco-German initiative can have positive aspects if military operations cease, even temporarily, particularly in the region around Mariupol where there are an estimated 100,000 Ukrainians of Greek origin.

    Referring to the stepping up of EU sanctions on Russia which, in turn, responds with increased countermeasures against the EU, he said that it is an extremely dangerous path, adding that Greece supports efforts for rapprochement between the two sides.

    Commenting on the relations between Turkey and Israel, he underlined that Greece should not only keep a balance but, at the same time, it should be a pillar of stability and peace for the two sides and the greater region.

    On the relations between Greece and Cyprus, he said that very close cooperation between the two countries is emerging as regards their strategy aimed at disengaging or easing as much as possible the increased supervision sought by the partners, in order for both countries to be on an economic growth path.

    He clarified that there are big differences between the two countries, both economic and geopolitical, and as regards the agreements with the partners but despite this, the governments of Greece and Cyprus will cooperate closely on the level of summit meetings where they can join forces on many issues.

    Referring to the fight against the jihadists and what Greece will do if the United States requested its assistance, he said that Greece will examine very carefully its role in the fight against the jihadists which is a necessary process by all countries.

    On the demands that could be made by the United States in the fight against the jihadists, he observed that "it is the international community, many countries, who are interested in fighting against this plague. Therefore, our cooperation with all the countries, in the West and in the East, against this threat is a very important factor."

    [21] Russia's Nato envoy on ties with Greece, EU

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/ Th. Avgerinos)

    Russia will continue to develop "the closest ties with Greece", as well as the rest of the countries in Europe, without putting them into conflict with its already existing ties with the European Union, Russia's permanent envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko told Russian reporters on Saturday.

    He said Russia believed that having closer ties with the individual members of international organisations, and with the international organisations themselves, created a stronger system for security and a better canvas for cooperation.

    Regarding the expectations of the new Greek government, he noted the traditional, historic bonds between the two countries and Greece's steadfast position for a correct understanding of Russia's role as a key factor for stability and security in Europe.

    "At the same time, Greece is a part of the western world and its policy is understandably led by these decisions that are taken at (supranational) bodies, with its own participation also," he pointed out.

    [22] Austrian Chancellor Faymann says "Grexit option" should be averted

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)

    "We should rid Greece and Europe of a Grexit option," Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann underlined in a newspaper interview ahead of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' visit here on Monday.

    In the interview to be published in Sunday's issue of Austrian newspaper "Kurier", Chancellor Faymann said that he is against a debt write-off but in favour of negotiations on technical loan terms giving Greece more room in the future to exit the crisis.

    Responding to a question on the telephone communication he had with the Greek prime minister last Wednesday, he said that Tsipras wants to have the opportunity to propose the way in which Greece will meet its obligations toward institutions and its EU partners.

    On whether he believes that Greece will be rescued or there will be a Grexit, the Austrian Chancellor said "it depends on the way PM Tsipras wishes to implement his reform plans," adding "we should save Greece and Europe from a Grexit."

    [23] Opinion poll shows support for government confrontation with creditors

    Three quarters, or 75 pct, of Greeks believe the new government is determined to carry out its election pledges and 72 pct consider the government's confrontation with the 'troika' to be right, according to an opinion poll released on Saturday.

    Rougly six in 10 (59 pct) believe that the clash between Greece and its creditors will continue into the coming weeks. The poll also showed that support for the government's positions does not come exclusively from those voting for the two parties that now form Greece's coalition government, SYRIZA and the Independent Greeks (ANEL), where backing for the government's moves stands at 91.5 pct and 91 pct, but also by 43 pct of those who voted for main opposition New Democracy (ND).

    The possibility that the country may be forced to leave the euro is feared by 35.5 pct of those asked, 9.5 pct hope for such an outcome and one in three does not believe Greece's exit from the euro is possible.

    Conducted by the University of Macedonia for the medial channel SKAI, it was the first poll gauging public opinion on developments in the wake of the Greek elections.

    [24] Negotiations within EU will not relieve people's plight, KKE says

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) ruled out any significant improvement for the Greek people as a result of the government's attempts to negotiate with Greece's creditors, in a statement issued on Saturday.

    "From the moment that the government, in all ways, expresses respect for the rules of the European Union and negotiates the terms of repayment of a debt not created by the people, it is certain that any agreement with the partners will not lead to a relief for the people, and especially not to recouping the huge losses they suffered all these years," KKE said.

    [25] Justice minister meets with the president of France's Constitutional Council

    Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos on Friday met with the president of France's Constitutional Council, Jean-Louis Debr? and France's ambassador to Greece, Jean Loup Kuhn-Delforge, to discuss the operation of Justice in the common European area.

    According to a press release, Paraskevopoulos discussed the overcrowding in Greek prisons and the slow administration of justice. He said the problems have deteriorated as a result of the economic crisis.

    The French officials expressed their hope that the Greek government will press along with reforms that will facilitate the administration of justice and offered to assist by providing expertise and training.

    [26] Council of Audit rules that civil servant found guilty of bribery should not lose pension as consequence of conviction

    The Court of Audit has ruled that a civil servant convicted by irreversible court decision should not lose all pension rights as a consequence of his or her conviction, it was announced on Sunday. The ruling was issued in the case of a tax office employee that was fired and stripped of his pension after being found guilty of accepting bribes.

    The court found that the punishment of removing the entirety of a pension and not just a portion based on contributions paid by the individual was excessive and out of proportion to the desired goal of justice, since its repercussions were life-long and also denied the person involved access to fundamental needs, such as health insurance and other benefits, at an age when the person's ability to make up the losses was doubtful if not negligible.

    According to the Court of Audit, the penal behaviour of the individual, independent of whether this was at criminal or misdemeanour level, was "not directly related to the pension status" and could not be a criterion for losing the right to a pension but was directly linked to the person's status as a employee and could lead to his or her dismissal.

    [27] New Democracy condemns arsonist attack on MP Stylianidis' car

    Main opposition New Democracy on Saturday unequivocally condemned an arsonist attack targeting the car of the MP Evripidis Stylianidis, saying that the "attempt to terrorise the political world" will not succeed.

    "Democracy can neither be blackmailed nor threatened," the announcement said.

    The car was torched and completely destroyed while parked outside the MP's house in Drosia in the early hours of Saturday morning, by unidentified individuals that were wearing hoods to conceal their features. Police that arrived on the scene found remnants of a plastic bottle bearing the label 'flammable liquid'.

    Financial News

    [28] All-year-round tourism season in Greece is a top priority, Alt. Tourism Minister Kountoura says

    The prolongation of tourism season in Greece to last all-year-round is a top priority, Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura on Sunday said during her visit to HORECA tourism sector trade show held at Metropolitan Expo exhibition center in greater Athens until February 9.

    Kountoura also said that among the top priorities is to promote and utilize the Greek tourism industry in the best possible way.

    General News

    [29] Weather to deteriorate sharply from Sunday afternoon

    Bad weather is expected to return from Sunday afternoon, with heavy rain and storms that will start in the north and spread throughout Greece. The weather service has also warned of snow, especially at higher altitudes and in eastern parts of the country, combined with a sharp drop in temperatures and near gale-force winds.

    Based on current forecasts, the bad weather will continue in the east and south until next Tuesday.

    Civil protection mechanisms are currently on stand-by for flooding in Evros, where settlements are considered at risk of flooding due to the large volume of water in the Evros River. Defence Minister Panos Kammenos and the Hellenic National Defence General Staff chief Gen. Mikhail Kostarakos visited the area on Saturday to help coordinate efforts by the army to assist local communities.

    [30] Snowfall and low temperatures in northern Greece

    Bad weather has returned to northern Greece as of early Sunday morning with snowfall on the mountains and a sharp drop in temperatures in lower altitudes and coastal regions.

    Snow has interrupted traffic on the Kastoria-Florina and Florina-Kastoria provincial road network via Vitsi, while motorists on the Arnissa-Vorra Pellas sky resort are advised to use snow chains.

    Snow is falling on the mountains in northern Greece and in Thessaly, in the central part of the country, with temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius.

    According to forecasts, the bad weather will continue until Tuesday with heavy snowfall and low temperatures in the eastern and northern parts of the country.

    [31] Evros farmers hard hit by floods, deputy minister Sgouridis says

    In statements after visiting flood-stricken areas along the Evros River in northeastern Greece on Sunday, Deputy Rural Development Minister Panagiotis Sgouridis said that an interministerial meeting must be held immediately to discuss the floods' extensive impact on the local farming economy.

    The deputy minister took part in two meetings in the area and talked with local authorities and farmers, as well as inspecting the areas worst hit by the floods.

    He reported that more than 22,000 hectares of farmland had flooded and this would greatly delay the time needed before these areas can be cultivated again, expressing fears that farmers may lose the current growing season entirely until the water drains. There is also damage to infrastructure, such as to 500 bore-wells and pumping stations, depriving farmers of tools to do their work.

    Losses among livestock were fewer but livestock farmers had already been hard hit by recent problems with catarrhal fever and other diseases, he added.

    He said the government would take immediate action to mobilise the necessary processes, so that compensation due is paid promptly by the agricultural insurance body ELGA.

    [32] Greek authorities in search-and-rescue operation for shipwrecked irregular migrants

    Eight dead and six rescued was the final toll of the latest incident at sea involving irregular migrants, whose boat had capsized near the Turkish coastline, opposite the island of Symi, the coast guard announced on Saturday. A search-and-rescue operation mounted earlier in response to an alert sounded by the Turkish coast guard was called off after Turkish authorities declared the incident over.

    Greek authorities had deployed a coast guard patrol boat and Super-Puma helicopter to comb the sea north of the island of Symi after being notified at 12:05 on Saturday that a boat carrying irregular migrants had overturned near the Turkish coast during the night.

    The Turkish coast guard had initially located one surviving migrant on an islet within its jurisdiction late on Friday, who claimed that there were 17 people on board the boat that overturned.

    Weather forecast

    [33] Rain and snow on Monday

    More bad weather, including snow in many places, is forecast for Monday, with strong winds and rain in coastal regions. Wind velocity will reach up to gusts of 10 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and scattered snowfall in the northern parts of the country, with temperatures ranging between -1C and 5C. Rain and storms in the western parts with temperatures between 03C and 12C. Clouds and snow in the eastern parts, especially at higher altitudes, with temperatures between 0C and 11C. Rain and storms over the islands, 6C-14C. Cloudy and wet in Athens, 4C-10C. Clouds and snow in Thessaloniki, -1C to 3C.

    [34] The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: Moratorium until the new deal

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Freeze the campaign pledges or face a definitive rift with the EU

    EPOCHI: Athens-Brussels a short distance away

    ETHNOS: It's all or nothing in eight days

    KATHIMERINI: Week of reason or collision

    KYRIAKATIKOS RIZOSPASTIS: Negotiations don't change the commitments to EU and capital holders

    PROTO THEMA: Everything not declared will be confiscated

    Realnews: PM makes angry telephone call to Draghi: "I don't yield to such practices"

    TO ARTHRO: Being in tune with reality is necessary

    TO PARON: Tsipras: I don't surrender

    TO VIMA: The ten days that will shake Greece

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