|Wednesday, 21 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-15
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Inner cabinet on plan for fortifying economyA government plan for ameliorating impact of the global credit crisis on the Greek economy was discussed on Wednesday at an Inner Cabinet meeting, chaired by prime minister Costas Karamanlis.
The plan, presented to the Inner Cabinet by economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis, foresees a 28 billion euros increase in the banks' liquidity, and state guarantees and participation.
Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting that, in addition to fortifying the credit institutions, the goal was also to avert any repercussions for the citizens as well as for entrepreneurs from increases in interest rates, noting that there were substantial effects from rising interest rates.
The plan further aimed at ensuring employment, and shielding the real economy, the minister said.
Development minister Christos Folias said after the meeting that the government was confronting the isue of heating oil prices in a concerted effort, noting that it replied with results to the demoguery and populism being attempted through misleading comparisons.
 Papandreou: Parliamentary probe into scandalsThe government should consent to Parliamentary probes and hearings on all issues of graft and scandal that have emerged in recent years, main opposition PASOK's president George Papandreou asserted on Tuesday. He made the statement in response to the latest developments surrounding the Vatopedi Monastery land exchange probe, after two prosecutors in charge of the investigation attempted to resign both from the case and their office.
"The government is sinking under the weight of its actions while continuing efforts to cover up its responsibility. It has an obligation as Parliamentary majority to accept our proposals for the creation of committees of formal inquiry and investigation into every case of graft and scandal in recent years," he said.
He also urged the government to make this its final act, "so that the country might go to elections of redemption," and not to elections resulting in a cover up.
According to Papandreou, the country was in dire need of a responsible and reliable leadership that could lead it out of the biggest political crisis in recent years.
"This is the demand of the people that we will respond to," he added.
PASOK's leader then accused the government of "engineering the biggest coup in the justice system since the year's of the junta," in which its constant attempts to control and manipulate justice undermined all sense of democracy or the rule of law.
He said his party honoured the two prosecutors that "refused the unacceptable intervention of the government agents, who sought to conceal unacceptable, untransparent, illegal actions".
In addition, Papandreou accused members of the government of coordinated actions "seeking to loot the property of the Greek people".
"If the government operated on the lines of the most basic democratic principles, the political leadership of all the ministries involved would have resigned long ago," PASOK's leader stressed.
The government had been forced into a "disorderly retreat" by the resignation of the two prosecutors, he added, but was continuing to attempt hypocritical tactical manoeuvres and had not even withdrawn the "dictatorial" intervention that had led the prosecutors to resign.
The two prosecutors, Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou, submitted their resignations on Tuesday after Appeals Court chief prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos instructed them to continue a probe into the monastery's land deals, even though they had earlier recommended that the case file be sent to Parliament after turning up evidence of possible involvement by ministers in the case. Later the same day, Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis announced that the resignations had not been accepted.
 Athens Stock Exchange opening: DeclineAthens Stock Exchange opening: Decline
Equity prices were declining at the opening of trade on Wednesday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), influenced by the major European money markets, with the basic share price index down 1.70 percent, standing at 2,518.17 points at 10:45 a.m., and turnover at 13.9 million euros.
Individual sector indices were moving mostly downward, with the biggest losses in Public Utilities, down 2.58 percent; Financial Services, down 1.91 percent; Technology, down 1.90 percent; and Banks, down 1.54 percent.
The biggest gains were in Insurance, up 0.87 percent; Commerce, up 0.33 percent; and Chemicals, up 0.318 percent.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was down 1.73 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was down 1.09 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was down 0.75 percent.
Of the stocks moved, 34 were up, 86 were down, and 26 were unchanged.
 ND motion on Vatopedi affairThe ruling New Democracy (ND) party will be tabling a motion in parliament later in the day for the establishment of a parliamentary fact-finding commission on the exchanges of properties between the State and the Mt. Athos monastery of Vatopedi, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced on Wednesday morning.
Shortly after the commencement of an Inner Cabinet meeting, chaired by prime minister Costas Karamanlis, Roussopoulos told reporters that ND's standing policy regarding the setting up of fact-finding commissions is prior completion of the relevant inquiry by the justice system.
Following Tuesday's developments, Roussopoulos said, the prime minister decided that ND would on Wednesday call for the establishment of a fact-finding commission on the Vatopedi affair.
The two prosecutors assigned the politically charged Vatopedi Monastery land exchange probe tendered their resignations on Tuesday, while the goverment subsequent announced that the resignations were not accepted.
In response to the news that prosecutors Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou had resigned, Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis said Tuesday that their resignations would not be accepted.
"Government decisions attest to its determination to protect the public interest,? the justice minister stressed, pointing out that ?since the Vatopedi affair came to light, it has been the government's clear intention to have an in-depth investigation into the case."
?We are interested in the truth and nothing but the truth,? Hatzigakis stressed, adding that ?the resignations of the two prosecutors will not be accepted, and we call on them to re-consider and continue to perform their duties independently."
In a related development, Supreme Court Prosecutor George Sanidas announced that he agreed with the decisions taken by Appeals Court chief prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos, and that the entire Vatopedi case file will be sent to Parliament once the probe was completed and any evidence pointing to liability by ministers had been found.
He said Karoutsos had been correct when he instructed the two prosecutors in charge of the case - Kolioussis and Sotiropoulou - to continue their preliminary investigation.
In their letters of resignation, the two prosecutors are reported to have said that the investigation turned up evidence pointing to the involvement of deputy ministers, and that the case should to be sent to Parliament for evaluation.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos.
 Rouvas again at EurovisionThe Greek entry for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow this May, led by Greek pop performer Sakis Rouvas in his second attempt at the coveted title, was presented by the organisers at Greek state broadcaster ERT on Tuesday.
Rouvas said he looked forward to the work ahead and stressed that his past experience would be his greatest asset in this effort.
According to ERT executive Johnny Kalimeris, the Greek entry was fully prepared and all the participants were "the best in their field".
Network officials also announced that the date for the competition to choose the song to be performed by Rouvas had not yet been decided.
Caption: An undated picture of Greek pop-singer Sakis Rouvas in concert. ANA-MPA / EPA
 Reaction to FYROM provocationAthens sharply reacted on Tuesday to the latest provocation and peculiar meddling in its internal affairs by its landlocked former Yugoslav republic neighbour to the north, with a foreign ministry spokesman calling on the leadership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to focus on improving democracy in that country instead of ?distorting reality?.
Greeceās stiff rebuke came after an announcement by the Skopje government commenting on the arrest of four local residents a day earlier near the city of Florina, northwest Greece, on charges of obstructing a military convoy.
The arrests came during a protest by local residents against a military exercise at a designated firing range in the rural Meliti municipality, east of Florina, and specifically at the Lofous district, which lies a few kilometers south of the Greek-FYROM frontier. Florina is also the name of the prefecture.
The four individuals were initially charged with obstructing traffic and resisting authority, among others -- all misdemeanors -- while another three individuals were sought by police in the incident.
According to police authorities in the area, approximately 15 residents had set up a roadblock with a truck and a tractor on a country road leading to the firing range, thus obstructing the convoy, which consisted of four Greek Army armored vehicles and two military jeeps.
A similar incident was recorded two weeks ago when another small group of local residents unsuccessfully tried to block a military exercise at the same firing range, which is situated in a remote expanse within Meliti municipality, and which has been in existence since the 1950s.
The incident acquired a transnational factor, however, with the unprecedented statement out of Skopje, which expressed ?concern? for the local protesters while at the same time identifying them as so-called ?Macedonians?, a continuation of a recent campaign by the Gruevski government over the past few months to uncover a ?Macedonian minority? in the northwest part of the Greek province of Macedonia.
In a sharply worded response to the Gruevski government announcement, Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos merely referred to yet another "provocative attempt to blatantly distort reality" vis-a-vis EU and NATO member-state Greece.
"This conscientious attempt to cultivate a policy of nationalism and intolerance is irresponsible and could become dangerous. Mr. (Nikola) Gruevski (the FYROM prime minister) should finally realise that Greek citizens do not need self-appointed advocates, especially ones with obvious motives.
"Instead, he (Gruevski) should focus his attention and efforts on improving the worsening, as judged by international organisations and observers, state of democracy in his country," spokesman George Koumoutsakos stated.
The announcement was followed on Tuesday afternoon with a verbal protest made to the head of Greeceās liaison office in Skopje by FYROM Deputy FM Zoran Petrov, ostensibly over the brief detention of four members of a television crew from Skopje earlier in the day.
According to an ANA-MPA dispatch from Skopje, Greek diplomat Alexandra Papadopoulou responded that every country enjoys the inalienable right to check the identity of foreign nationals on its soil, especially ones shooting footage of military installations.
?As such, the verbal note is a distortion of the truth and is rejected as groundless,? she said.
Caption: Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos. (ANA-MPA)
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
Developments in the Vatopedi monastery scandal and the anticipated recovery of money markets dominated the front pages of Wednesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The resignations of the two Areios Pagos (Greek supreme court) prosecutors (investigating the exchanges of properties between the State and the Mt. Athos monastery of Vatopedi) were not accepted - The prime minister to bring the Vatopedi affair to parliament immediately".
APOGEVMATINI: "Everything on the scandal to be brought to light - Karamanlis instructions for the Vatopedi case file to go before parliament".
AVGHI: "Panic in the government over the Vatopedi scandal".
AVRIANI: "Everything to be brought to light, on orders of Karamanlis".
CHORA: "Goodnight, and good luck - For the first time, simultaneous resignation of two prosecutors" investigating the Vatopedi affair, while the government rejected the resignations.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Enough is enough, Ephraim (Vatopedi Monastery abbot) does not govern us - Citizens demand 'catharsis, now' from justice system - Parliament must attribute the responsibilities on the decade-long scandal - Hour of decisions for the prime minister".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Two prosecutors broke the 'omerta' - Karamanlis being forced into preliminary inquiry into Vatopedi affair".
ESTIA: "Gordon Brown (British prime minister) showed the way (out of the crisis) - Karamanlis' big opportunity".
ETHNOS: "They said 'no' to the cover-up plan - Two judiciary functionaries stood tall in the Vatopedi affair".
KATHIMERINI: "New storm over Vatopedi affair - Karamanlis intervention following resignation of the two prosecutors".
LOGOS: "The government to announce...new measures for protection of the banks - Government will collect an estimated 700 million euros from the 'possession tax' on real estate properties".
NIKI: "Two prosecutors uncovered them - Blatant intervention to cover-up the mega-scandal (Vatopedi)".
RIZOSPASTIS: "High-standard career training after Lyceum - KKE discussion and action campaign for the TEI (Technical Education Institutions)".
TA NEA: "Justice put before the firing squad - Extreme cover-up operation on Vatopedi affair".
TO VIMA: "From crisis to crisis - After the Economy, Justice - Political storm - Two prosecutors resigned".
VRADYNI: "Smiles for the borrowers, too, after the substantial rise on the money markets".
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