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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-14
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Public sees government as obliged to take new tax measures, opinion poll showsThe majority of the Greek public considers that the government was "probably obliged" to impose the new economic measures - mainly consisting of a rise in indirect taxation - that were recently announced, according to an opinion poll conducted by VPRC for SKAI radio station. It also shows higher backing for the government's position on the primary media shareholder bill.
The results of the poll released on Thursday are based on 1000 interviews conducted over the phone among a random selection of households throughout the country between April 11-12.
Interviewees were asked "What is your opinion on the new economic measures recently announced: The government was probably obliged or was probably not obliged to take these measures." Of those responding, 62 per cent answered "probably obliged", 29 per cent answered "probably not obliged" and 9 per cent answered "don't know/ won't answer".
At least 43 per cent of interviewees that had voted for main opposition PASOK in the last general elections said the government had been obliged to take the new economic measures. Among voters of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party, 63 per cent said the government had been obliged to take the new measures, while only 44 per cent of voters for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said the government was obliged to take the measures.
Among right-wing parties, 83 per cent of Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) voters said the government had been obliged to take the measures, while the same figure among voters of the ruling New Democracy party was 84 per cent.
Confidence that the new economic measures would be effective was low, however, with 49 per cent replying that the new measures will probably not be effective, 37 per cent replying that they will be effective and 14 per cent replying "Don't know/won't answer".
In response to questions on whether the government or the main opposition was right concerning Greece's relations with the European Union in relation to the primary media shareholder bill introduced by the government, 28 per cent backed governing ND, 19 per cent backed main opposition PASOK, 23 percent said "neither", 3 per cent said "both" and 27 per cent replied "Don't know/won't answer".
The poll also showed a dip in the popularity of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, with 45 per cent viewing him positively (down from 48 per cent in March) and 44 per cent negatively (from 43 per cent the previous month).
On the issue of combatting corruption and graft, 40 per cent said they had more confidence in an ND government, 16 per cent in a PASOK government, 30 per cent said "neither" and 8 per cent answered "don't know/won't answer".
Asked to choose between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition leader George Papandreou as the "most suitable for prime minister", 45 per cent chose Karamanlis (down from 48 per cent a month ago) and 28 per cent chose Papandreou (up from 26 per cent the previous month), while 22 per cent answered "neither" and 5 per cent answered "Don't know/won't answer".
 Molyviatis briefs prime minister on Ankara talks, comments on Imia incidentForeign minister Petros Molyviatis on Thursday briefed prime minister Costas Karamanlis on the outcome of his visit to Ankara earlier this week, noting that the visit had been 'good and productive'.
Replying to press questions after the meeting, which criticised him for not walking out of the talks on Tuesday with Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul due to an incident at the Imia islets, Molyviatis said that: "If I had left, there would have ensued a rapid deterioration in Greek-Turkish relations, and we would have had a serious crisis, whereas, with our handling, a potential incident was defused, and there is calm".
Molyviatis, who returned to Athens on Wednesday from his working visit to Ankara, said that all the proper steps/handling had been taken, and that a demarche was also lodged with the Turkish side.
A Turkish coast guard patrol boat violated Greek territorial waters and approached the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean early on Tuesday, and a Greek fisherman also informed the Greek coast guard that the captain of the Turkish vessel requested that he leave the sea region. The Turkish vessel was shadowed by a Greek coast guard patrol boat and, further away, by a Hellenic Navy vessel.
The incident coincided with Molyviatis' arrival in Ankara for talks with the Turkish leadership.
Shortly after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, a second Turkish coast guard vessel violated Greek territorial waters and approached the Imia islets, replacing the first Turkish vessel, which left the region after sailing around Imia for 12 hours, as the Greek coastguard and Navy boats continued to monitor the situation.
The second Turkish patrol boat remained near Imia, inside Greek territorial waters, overnight, before leaving the area at roughly 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
The rocky outcrops near the "sponge divers' " island of Kalymnos -- identified on international maritime maps as the Imia islets -- brought Greek-Turkish relations to a nadir in January 1996 when the government of then Turkish premier Tansu Ciller disputed Athens' sovereignty over the islets and the surrounding sea.
 Economic sentiment lowest in 20 months in MarchGreece's Economic Sentiment Index fell to the lowest level in 20 months in March, reflecting declines in business expectations in the construction, manufacturing and consumer indexes, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Thursday.
The IOBE monthly report said, however, that the econonic sentiment index improved in the services and the retail sectors in March. Greece's Economic Sentiment Index rebounded in January after a steady decline in the second half of 2004.
The Economic Sentiment Index fell by 2.4 percentage points in the EU-25, remaining on a downward trend for the third consecutive month. The index eased to 99.7 points, falling below the long-term average for the first time since December 2003.
IOBE in its economic conjucture report said business expectations in the manufacturing sector worsened in March, with the index falling to 96.1 points from 98.4 in February. The decline reflects relatively flat demand and increased inventories, while prospects remain cautiously positive.
In the construction sector, the business expectations index eased to 59.6 points in March from 62 points in the previous month, reflecting negative forecasts over activity and employment in the sector.
In the retail sector, the index rose to 107 points, reflecting improved sales despite higher than expected inventories.
In the services sector, the index jumped to 93.8 points in March from 90.9 points in February, the highest level in six months.
 Greek minister Skandalakis concludes talks over Jerusalem Patriarchate in JordanAMMAN (ANA - P. Haritos) Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Panagiotis Skandalakis on Thursday concluded a round of meetings with the Jordanian government to discuss events surrounding the Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem.
The Patriarchate has been cast into turmoil amid calls for the resignation its Greek prelate Patriarch Irineos, enthroned in 2001, for allegedly agreeing to the sale of Church real estate in Arab East Jerusalem to Israeli interests.
During his visit to Amman, Skandalakis had talks with Jordanian Interior Minister Awni Yerfas and Marwan Muashir, minister in charge of relations with the Palace.
Skandalakis said the purpose of his visit was to make an assessment of the situation in relation to the Patriarchate and strengthen cooperation with the sides involved in order to find a way out of the crisis that will preserve the Patriarchate's Greek character and heritage.
He stressed that officials in all the countries he had visited had denied any consideration of a plan to make the Patriarchate predominately Arab, as suggested by rumours and press articles.
The Greek minister also said that he had asked all three sides involved to uncover the truth behind the charges against Patriarch Irineos and finally clear up the matter.
"All four of the meetings I had were extremely important because those I spoke with confirmed the Greek nature of the Patriarchate, the Greek-Orthodox status quo that existed and will remain - which satisfies us because this was the goal for which we have striven," he said.
Stressing that the entire issue had arisen from a report in a newspaper, Skandalakis said he had called for an investigation in which any evidence that existed was put on the table.
"We cannot just hypothetically carry on while the crisis remains. We must finally emerge from it," he added.
The previous day Skandalakis had visited the Holy Lands, where he met representatives of the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government in Ramallah and Tel Aviv to discuss the same issue.
On the sidelines of his visit to Jordan, meanwhile, the minister met members of Jordan's Greek community and was briefed on their needs and problems, while he promised to carry out a future trip devoted exclusively to issues concerning Greek expatriates in the area.
The Greek government has stated that it does not wish to interfere in the internal affairs of the Patriarchate and that its main priority is to preserve the Patriarchate's prestige as an institution, as well as its Greek character and heritage.
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