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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-09-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Weekend News Bulletin

Monday, September 14 2015


  • [01] No renegotiation of memorandum, Djisselbloem says after Eurogroup
  • [02] Merkel says Greece must take on responsibility for protecting EU borders
  • [03] Political figures could well be 'hidden' in Lagarde list, Falciani tells 'Vima'
  • [04] Greece abides by all treaties, PM Thanou stresses after meeting on migrants in Mytilene
  • [05] People will not allow reinstatement of 'bankrupt' political system, Tsipras tells 'Ethnos'
  • [06] Marginal leads for SYRIZA in weekend opinion polls
  • [07] 'I will be prime minister,' ND leader Meimarakis says at TIF press conference
  • [08] Ministerial order gives investigating authorities full access to bank account records
  • [09] Potami's Theodorakis calls for governments made up of 'new faces'
  • [10] Greece does not need to depend on loans, KKE's Koutsoumbas tells 'Vima'
  • [11] Popular Unity asks caretaker government to facilitate voters' travel for elections
  • [12] Country heading toward SYRIZA-ND alliance, Lafazanis said
  • [13] Five industry captains call for new policies in joint article to ANAMPA
  • [14] FTSE Russell reclassifies Greece to Advanced Emerging market
  • [15] Death toll from latest migrant tragedy near Farmakonissi rises to 34
  • [16] Tables turned as four Iranian migrants assist in rescue of injured fire men
  • [17] Missing Syrian migrant found drowned in Evros
  • [18] Athens Headlines at a glance Politics

  • [01] No renegotiation of memorandum, Djisselbloem says after Eurogroup

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vassilaki) Eurogroup President Jeroen Djisselbloem has ruled out any renegotiation of the memorandum with Greece, except in the framework of the programme reviews. Speaking after a Eurogroup meeting held in Luxembourg on Saturday, he said that the issue restructuring Greece's debt will be addressed later in the autumn.

    According to European Stability Mechanism (ESM) chief Klaus Regling, the next tranche of bailout loans amounting to 3.0 billion euros can be disbursed in November, if the required prior actions have been implemented.

    European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said the priorities for the first review are the 2016 budget, a series of public-sector reforms and ensuring the independence of tax authorities.

    Djisselbloem said the Eurogroup was briefed on the preparations made to implement the agreed reforms by the Greek caretaker government's Finance Minister George Chouliarakis, while noting that it was currently not possible to pass legislation. He stressed the need for a government to be formed as soon as possible, however, in time for the first assessment by the institutions in October, when the first prior actions must have been passed.

    [02] Merkel says Greece must take on responsibility for protecting EU borders

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti) German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that Greece could be doing more to protect the European Union's external borders while asking for an urgent intensification of talks with Turkey.

    "Greece must also take on its responsibilities," she said on Saturday, noting that all EU member-states must contribute to receiving the refugees, not Germany alone.

    "Part of this mission is the protection of the external borders of the EU - and the protection between Greece and Turkey. Today this is not assured," she said, repeating that only those fleeing war or political persecution would be able to remain in Germany.

    [03] Political figures could well be 'hidden' in Lagarde list, Falciani tells 'Vima'

    Political figures may well be "hidden" behind the dummy companies and money routes revealed by the "Lagarde list," whistleblower Herve Falciani said in an interview with the Greek newspaper 'Vima' published on Sunday.

    "I am certain that all the mechanisms that were followed by the list's system will show that behind the companies and front men and all the circles of money are hidden political figures," he was quoted as saying, adding that the new government presented a "unique opportunity" to deal with the major problem of corruption.

    The former HSBC employee had testified to four Greek prosecutors in Paris on Friday, as part of their investigation into Greek bank account holders revealed in data stolen by Falciani in 2008, regarding 130,000 of the bank's customers.

    The list, which in Greece is referred to as the "Lagarde List," was passed on to Greek authorities from the then finance minister and current International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde.

    Falciani's testimony and his interview with ERT on Saturday were also seized upon by SYRIZA, who stressed that the parties that had dominated politics in the last 40 years were unlikely to allow much progress in the investigation.

    "If the next government lets the prosecutor work, we will succeed [in uncovering the truth]," the party added.

    Speaking to ERT, Falciani had described the prosecutors who interviewed him in Paris as "tense" and thanked them "because what they did was very courageous".

    "And I see the same thoughts, the same effort that I witnessed in the Tsipras government. It was very difficult for the Tsipras government to move on but also for the prosecutor," he said, noting that they had also discussed ways to uncover new leads. "We agreed that if the next government lets them work, we will do that," he added.

    [04] Greece abides by all treaties, PM Thanou stresses after meeting on migrants in Mytilene

    Participating in a major meeting held in Mytilene to discuss the migrant and refugee crisis, caretaker Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou on Sunday stressed that Greece strictly abides by all European and international treaties, without overlooking humanitarian values and solidarity. She rebuked what she said were "isolated voices" criticising Greece for its handling of the refugee issue and the recent explosive rise in migrant flows.

    "To all those, who from the safety of neighbouring with partners in the heart of Europe, express easy criticism of our country, we urge them to consider the size of the responsibility of guarding European borders along 16,000 miles of coast line," she said.

    The prime minister then chaired a meeting attended by a representative of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the General Secretariat for Island Policy, the North Aegean Region authority, the Mytilene municipality, police force, coast guard, fire brigade, army, the emergency services and the local hospital.

    "Greece is handling an extremely serious international and European problem: the migrant and refugee issue that was recently significantly enlarged and coincided with the term of the caretaker government," Thanou noted in her opening remarks. She stressed that Greece was strictly implementing all treaties without overlooking the need to show solidarity and to respect the dignity of those fleeing violence and human rights violations at home.

    Calling the criticism against Greece "unacceptable," she urged the critics to consider whether the "Europe of values and the future can be build by once again erecting walls."

    "In our opinion, all the states have an obligation to realise that the solution is for everyone to make every possible effort together, in order to stop the root causes of this great refugee and migration flow. At the same time, while it is underway, to manage it together, since as I said before it is a European and international issue," she said.

    She noted that this view was also shared by the UN and that in her contacts with the European Commission, UN and UNHCR, as well as country ambassadors, the European and international nature of the problem was made clear and also that Greece cannot deal with it unaided.

    Thanou thanked both local residents and all the organisations involved in helping to manage the difficult situation that had arisen on the island, as well as Greece's armed and security forces, for their "tireless efforts" in dealing with the problems. She noted that the aim of her visit to Mytilene was to witness the situation at first hand, following the additional measures taken by the caretaker government and those taken by the previous government.

    Outlining the main thrust of the government's efforts, Thanou said that a crucial role was played by the coordinating body set up by the caretaker government, with staff from all the ministries and agencies involved in handling migration and refugee issues. She also announced that procedures for setting up a Management Authority, begun by the previous government, were near completion and that the country would be in a position to receive the first installment of 33 million euros in cash assistance from the European Commission by September 15.

    The prime minister said that a new temporary hospitality centre for refugees will soon open in Attica to decongest the city centre, as well as a similar centre in the Thessaloniki area to ease the pressure of migrant flows in Eidomeni.

    Meanwhile, she added, her visit had confirmed reports that the situation on Lesvos was much improved following the departure of roughly 20,000 refugees and migrants in recent days and she promised that "the effort will continue at the same intense pace."

    Before visiting Lesvos, the caretaker prime minister had also visited the island of Chios on Saturday, where she was again briefed by island authorities on steps taken to manage migration flows and met Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who is currently visiting the area.

    [05] People will not allow reinstatement of 'bankrupt' political system, Tsipras tells 'Ethnos'

    SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras repeated his conviction that voters will not reinstate the "bankrupt" political system of the past and that SYRIZA will win the upcoming elections, in an interview with "Ethnos" on Sunday.

    "Already, all the polls show that our support is rallying significantly," he noted, stressing that voters did not want the return of those that wanted to cover up past sins, give back all that was won in the negotiations and hide the lists of tax evaders back in their drawers.

    He said SYRIZA, during its seven months in government, had shown willingness, determination and a political plan to defend the interests of the majority by "ending the sickness of intertwined interests and cronyism."

    On the decision to call elections, Tsipras said this was unavoidable because his government had been overturned from within, by Leftist MPs. Asked about the possibility of collaborating with New Democracy in a coalition government, he said that the two parties would be unable to agree on policy and represented very different social interests.

    "ND is with Mr. Schaeuble's Europe. We are with the forces that wish for a social shift and a decoupling from neoliberal beliefs," Tsipras said.

    Addressing a rally in the coastal city of Kalamata on Saturday, Tsipras appeared equally confident that his party will emerge victorious on September 20 and promised to form a "government unite our people in a major patriotic and democratic invitation, under the flag of equality and social justice."

    He noted that a big SYRIZA victory would signal a major change in Europe, given the upcoming elections in Spain and Catalonia and a shift in balances within Europe.

    "Despite the efforts of the regime of oligarchy and corruption to resurrect the bankrupt political system, we stand fast and carry the flag of the struggle with pride," he said, stressing that SYRIZA was fighting those that wished to turn the country's first Left government into a brief interlude.

    "Next Sunday the people will deliver the final blow to the bankrupt political system of indecency, submission and inequality," he said.

    Accompanying Tsipras in Kalamata was German MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament Greens Ska Keller, who introduced him saying: "We believe that only together can we achieve a better future. Without environmental justice, there can never be social justice."

    [06] Marginal leads for SYRIZA in weekend opinion polls

    A volatile political landscape in which SYRIZA has a marginal lead was revealed by opinion polls published over Saturday and Sunday, which converged in showing that an absolute Parliamentary majority for any single party in next week's is extremely unlikely.

    Based on a Kapa Research poll in Sunday's 'Vima', SYRIZA is ahead by just 0.5 pct with 26.7 pct of voter preference, followed by New Democracy with 26.2 pct. Golden Dawn ranks third with 7 pct, PASOK-DIMAR follow with 6.1 pct, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 5.9 pct, Potami with 5 pct, Popular Unity with 4.2 pct, Centrists Union with 3.6 pct and Independent Greeks with 3.1 pct. The unspecified vote stands at 10.2 pct.

    An Alco poll in 'Proto Thema' gives SYRIZA a 0.7-point lead but smaller vote share at 25.4 pct, followed by New Democracy with 24.7 pct. Golden Dawn ranks third with 6.4 pct, KKE follows with 6.2 pct, PASOK-DIMAR with 5.1 pct, Potami with 4 pct, Centrists Union with 3.9 pct, Popular Unity with 3.4 pct and lastly Independent Greeks with 2.6 pct, leaving them outside Parliament. The unspecified vote stands at 10.4 pct.

    An MRB poll in 'Real News' puts SYRIZA ahead with a 0.4 -point lead at 25.9 pct, followed by New Democracy with 25.5 pct. Golden Dawn ranks third with 6.1 pct, KKE follows with 5.7 pct, PASOK-DIMAR with 5.3 pct, Potami with 4.9 pct, Centrists Union with 3.9 pct, Popular Unity with 3.2 pct and lastly Independent Greeks with 2.6 pct, leaving them outside Parliament. The unspecified vote stands at 14.1 pct of the sample.

    A poll by Public Issue in the Sunday issue 'Avgi' ties SYRIZA and New Democracy with 31 pct each. PASOK-DIMAR move up to third place with 8 pct, followed by Golden Dawn with 7 pct, KKE follows with 6.5 pct, Potami with 4.5 pct, Popular Unity with 4 pct, Centrists Union with 3 pct, and lastly Independent Greeks with 2 pct, leaving them outside Parliament.

    RASS's opinion poll in PARON shows SYRIZA squeezing ahead of ND with 27.4 pct against ND's 27.1 pct, followed by Golden Dawn with 6.4 pct, KKE with 5.5 pct, PASOK-DIMAR with 4.8 pct, Potami with 3.8 pct, Centrists Union with 3.3 pct, Popular Unity with 3 pct and Independent Greeks with 2.3 pct. The unspecified vote is 13.1 pct.

    Polls published on Saturday also showed SYRIZA ahead by a very slight margin, ranging from 0.2-1 percentage points ahead of New Democracy, with both parties seen getting between a quarter and third of the vote.

    [07] 'I will be prime minister,' ND leader Meimarakis says at TIF press conference

    Speaking at the 80th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Sunday, New Democracy leader Evangelos Meimarakis signalled his party's willingness to collaborate with the other political forces after the September 20 elections.

    "Clearly I will both be prime minister and clearly I will address other forces if [SYRIZA leader Alexis] Tsipras does not want to," he told reporters during the party leaders' customary TIF press conference.

    Meimarakis announced his intention to set up a "national team" of negotiators drawn from all the political parties, as well as a "national team" for governance created along the same lines. Predicting that ND will win elections and likely open the next TIF, he nevertheless insisted that SYRIZA should join this 'national team' since Tsipras himself signed this memorandum.

    He slammed a litany of mistakes made by the SYRIZA-ANEL government during its seven months in power, saying that Tsipras had to reply to criticism made by his erstwhile coalition partner, Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos, about his decision to appoint Yanis Varoufakis as finance minister.

    Meimarakis said that Tsipras found himself in a "strategic vacuum" as a result of the positions adopted by himself and senior SYRIZA cadres. When asked to explain his insistence that Tsipras join a post-election coalition, Meimarakis said the question was why Tsipras refused and whether "he wants to stay outside and start stone-throwing."

    "If Mr. Tsipras wants to participate in the government as vice-president, I will discuss this with my staff," he added. In the case of cooperation with SYRIZA on a government level, Meimarakis clarified that Tsipras must supply cabinet members that agree with the implementation of a specific programme.

    Referring to the programme he unveiled on Saturday, Meimarakis stressed that everything within it was realistic and feasible. He emphasised that his government's first priority will be to bring investments and create jobs. He also promised to implement the minimum guaranteed income, support the health system, activate NSRF funds and change the laws on ministerial accountability.

    "Do we want to go forward or back? With cooperation or arrogance? With truths or lies," he asked, indicating that these were the real dilemmas in the upcoming elections.

    [08] Ministerial order gives investigating authorities full access to bank account records

    Investigating authorities such as the finance ministry, Financial Police, the financial and corruption prosecutors or the authority against legalising criminal income will be given fully access to the bank account records of tax payers' bank under investigation, according to a minister order signed by caretaker Alternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis and published in the government gazette.

    The decision, published on Saturday, extends and modifies the bank account and payment accounts records system and is expected to eliminate a number of bureaucratic and other problems in the system that had not been resolved.

    This will greatly facilitate investigations relating to terrorism and organised crime, in addition to those linked to tax evasion, corruption and money laundering.

    [09] Potami's Theodorakis calls for governments made up of 'new faces'

    The head of the Potami party Stavros Theodorakis again called for cooperation and coalition governments formed around a "core" of faces new to politics and did not simply recycle the old ones. In an interview with 'Ethnos' published on Sunday, he also underlined that even one vote made a big difference in the upcoming elections.

    A strong Potami party will propose the formation of a "lean" cabinet where the old ministers are a minority and reforms are at the centre of policy, he said.

    "If Potami has 10 pct then they will listen," he added, noting that the party tried to do all the things considered "forbidden" in Greece.

    "In Parliament we did not join any camps. We exercised a creative opposition. We submitted complete proposals on all issues. We supported the country in Europe."

    [10] Greece does not need to depend on loans, KKE's Koutsoumbas tells 'Vima'

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas stressed, in an interview with 'Vima' published on Sunday, that KKE did not consider Greece a helpless country that must depend on loans to survive.

    "On the contrary, Greece has industrial production, wealth-generating resources, mineral wealth, an experienced and able labour and scientific personnel and a great capacity to solve its food supply problem and carry out exports," he noted.

    "If all these become social property with the people in power taking charge of society and the economy, then it can develop all this productive capacity for the benefit of its people and, of course, develop equal and mutual relations with other countries," he added.

    [11] Popular Unity asks caretaker government to facilitate voters' travel for elections

    The Popular Unity party, in a meeting at the weekend, asked Greece's caretaker government to take measures that will facilitate the movements of voters during the elections, such as free or discount travel to where they vote.

    "Road tolls, ferry travel, air travel and road transport are all a public good. They are executed by private companies as a concession and are generously subsidised by the state budget," the party points out, saying the caretaker government is fully authorised to take such measures.

    The party notes that repeated elections and the recent holidays may have left many voters unable to cover the cost of yet another trip to their home town, especially for those on lower incomes and those coping with the increased costs for children at the start of the school year.

    [12] Country heading toward SYRIZA-ND alliance, Lafazanis said

    The country is heading toward a great SYRIZA-New Democracy alliance and collaboration, Popular Unity leader Panagiotis Lafazanis asserted on Sunday, speaking at Hania during his last stop of a tour of Crete.

    "These two partners in voting the third memorandum are heading toward joint government," he said, adding that this political "union" could bring only disaster since it involved "implementing the third memorandum in the harshest way."

    Lafazanis arrived on the island on Saturday and visited several areas of Crete and talking to local residents and repeating his party's positions in favour of ending austerity measures.

    Financial news

    [13] Five industry captains call for new policies in joint article to ANAMPA

    The heads of five of the country's largest industry and manufacturing associations joined in calling for a new industrial policy to return Greece to normality, in a joint article to the ANA-MPA on Sunday.

    The articles is signed by Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) President Theodoros Fessas, Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (FING) head Athanassios Savvakis, the Association of Industries in Thessaly and Central Greece (AITCG) President Evripidis Dontas, The Attica-Piraeus Industry Association President Dimitris Mathios and Peloponnese Federation of Industries head Kleomeni Barlou. In it, they outline a common position and the main thrust of a new policy proposed by industry at "the most crucial juncture of the crisis, when our country is faced with two simultaneous and critical challenges.

    "On the one hand, the need to urgently implement all the structural reforms and fiscal adjustments of the agreement with the creditors. Secondly, to plan and implement policies that will work as a developmental counterweight, making use of the many opportunities that exist, and restricting the new cycle of recession that lies ahead of us, thus avoiding structural unemployment."

    [14] FTSE Russell reclassifies Greece to Advanced Emerging market

    Global index provider FTSE Russell has reclassified Greece from a 'Developed' to an 'Advanced Emerging' market in its annual country classification review for 2015.

    In the review released on Saturday, it said the decision was made due to the imposition of capital controls on Greek investors, the long period in which the Greek stock market remained closed and the continued economic instability in Greece.

    The new classification goes into effect from March 2016.

    General News

    [15] Death toll from latest migrant tragedy near Farmakonissi rises to 34

    The confirmed deaths from the latest incident involving migrants in the Aegean continued to climb and has now risen to 34, Greek authorities reported on Sunday. The tragedy unfolded early on Sunday morning after a migrant-laden wooden boat carrying at least 100 people capsized in waters east of Farmakonissi. The victims now include four infants and 11 small children, as well as 10 women and nine men.

    The discovery of four women, a man and one small boy trapped in the hold of the overturned boat raised the death toll to 34 from the previous reported figure of 28. The six bodies were found by an Underwater Missions Unit that searched the hold.

    The dead bodies have been collected by a Greek Navy cannon-boat and are expected to be taken to Rhodes. The survivors have been taken to Leros.

    A search-and-rescue operation was mounted at dawn, when a distress call was received on the 112 emergency number. A Super-Puma helicopter has been scouring the area to search for possible survivors and boats rushed to the scene from Mytilene and rescued 68 people from the water. Another 29 successfully reached the shore unaided. The search is continuing since survivors are not able to confirm how many people were on board the capsized vessel.

    According to authorities, bad weather conditions with winds up to 7 on the Beaufort scale as well as overloading were the main cause for the boat capsizing.

    Shipping Minister Christos Zois, who was on the nearby island of Lesvos to attend a meeting on the migration issue, has issued orders to Coast Guard Chief Rear Admiral Athanassios Athanasopoulos and his second-in-command Nikolaos Patrinos to make their way to Farmakonissi from Mytilene using coast guard boats.

    [16] Tables turned as four Iranian migrants assist in rescue of injured fire men

    In a poignant twist of fate, two Greek firemen needing rescue on the island of Lesvos found help from four Iranians that had just alighted on the island as migrants from the Turkish shore.

    The four men were walking the long trek from Sykamnia where they had come ashore to the port town of Mytilene and became eye-witnesses of an accident involving a fire engine that came off the road and fell down a steep ravine, with two fire men trapped inside.

    The four immediately descended the five-metre slope to their aid and tried to extricate the injured men trapped in the vehicle. They also stayed on hand and assisted in the operation to extricate the firemen and deliver them to an emergency services (EKAB) ambulance.

    [17] Missing Syrian migrant found drowned in Evros

    A 22-year-old Syrian refugee missing since last Monday has been found dead, Evros authorities reported on Sunday. The unlucky man apparently drowned in an effort to cross the Axios River in the Evzones region in Evros and was swept away by the current. He was found on Saturday morning by a shepherd, washed up on the river shore, and identified by his 20-year-old brother.

    The Syrian, along with a group of his compatriots, had attempted to cross the borders into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) early last Monday morning but was unable to enter the neighbouring country's territory and turned back to Eidomeni. The young Syrian attempted to "take a shortcut" by diving into the river but had not properly estimated the depth of the water at that point. His companions at first attempted to find him themselves, not alerting any local residents or the authorities until the evening of the same day.

    [18] Athens Headlines at a glance

    AVGHI: 'National' fraud in ND's court.

    DIMOKRATIA: Ministries handed over to lenders.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: The 206 days of chaos and farce that brought the collapse

    ETHNOS: ND is with Schaeuble's Europe.

    KATHIMERINI: Evangelos Meimarakis: Government with non political figures as well.

    PROTO THEMA: Stavros-Fofi, the new coalition government.

    REAL NEWS: The IMF is returning and bringing new measures.

    RIZOSPASTIS: With our ballot we fight for a strong KKE.

    TO PARON: 60.8 see Tsipras victory.

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