|Thursday, 22 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-15
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Justice hangs on to Vatopedi case as PM seeks Parl't probeAppeals Court chief prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos on Wednesday announced that an investigation of the Vatopedi Monastery land exchange deals by his office will continue, in spite of a move by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis the same day to set up a Parliamentary investigative committee to examine the case.
According to Karoutsos the investigation will continue under Appeals Court prosecutor Efstathia Spyropoulou, the third prosecutor just recently assigned to the case, and was expected to be completed in about a month's time.
One of the first steps she is expected to take as part of her investigation is to summon employees of the Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation and the Legal Council of State to testify as suspects.
It is not yet known whether the two prosecutors originally assigned to the case, Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou, intend to return after their resignations were not accepted by the justice ministry. Sotiropoulou was back at work on Wednesday, serving on a panel of judges in a trial that began on October 6, while Kolioussis stayed away and claimed to be unwell.
Under the law, their resignations will become automatically accepted after 30 days if they have not proceeded to retract them.
The two prosecutors resigned from the case and their office on Tuesday, citing an inability to comply with the instructions they received from Karoutsos to continue investigating a case that, in their judgement, pointed to the involvement of ministers and had to be sent to Parliament.
Karoutsos and Supreme Court Prosecutor George Sanidas defended the decision to continue investigating on Tuesday, saying that the evidence turned up by the two prosecutors was not sufficient to support criminal charges against those involved.
 Political party reactions to Parliamentary probe of Vatopedi caseGreece's political parties had mixed responses on Wednesday to a government move for a Parliamentary investigation committee to look into the Vatopedi Monastery land deals. Some urged that Parliament skip straight to an ad hoc preliminary examination committee that might decide whether liable ministers should stand trial.
Main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou urged the government to accept the proposal for an ad hoc preliminary examination committee, adding that this would make an investigative committee redundant, and asked the other parties to support the proposal.
The spokesman also said the government was in a panic and had sounded a "disorderly retreat" for fear of revelations that would prove undeniable responsibility by its members, in a desperate attempt to protect those responsible and buy time.
A Parliamentary spokesman for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Achilleas Kantartzis repeated his party's demand for a full investigation of the Vatopedi land deals, both through a Parliamentary investigation to reveal the full extent to which the state's property had been looted by transactions under New Democracy and PASOK governments and, if ministerial culpability arose, to then move to an ad hoc preliminary examination committee.
SYRIZA Parliamentary Group leader Alekos Alavanos called for an investigative committee to go as far as a decade back in probing possible political responsibility in the Vatopedi Monastery land exchange deals with the Greek State.
Alavanos also stated that the case file should be sent to Parliament, adding that a preliminary examination committee should be set up immediately if "ruling New Democracy (ND) party government ministers and deputy ministers are found liable, as the prosecutors assigned to the case maintain".
He also disagreed with PASOK's stance of equating an investigation committee with a preliminary examination committee, noting that the latter would focus exclusively on investigating the scandal as this related to ND and also because it could lead to a trap that would work in favour of ND and the guilty parties.
"According to Parliamentary regulations, if Parliament decides not to set up such a preliminary examination committee, then no new proposal to press charges based on the same events can be tabled," he added.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, on his part, supported going directly to a preliminary examination committee and said that his party would not support the motion for an investigation committee tabled by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
"We will not compromise nor accept the Karamanlis proposal. We want a preliminary examination committee because an investigative committee means a lot of talk but little substance," he added.
 Athens: FYROM PM cultivating nationalistic climate in his countryA foreign ministry spokesman in Athens on Wednesday again to pointed to widely reported statements by the premier of the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as genuinely nationalistic.
"Mr. (FYROM PM Nikola) Gruevski is cultivating a climate of nationalistic hysteria in his country," spokesman George Koumoutsakos charged, ominously warning that the current government in Skopje is reviving the spectre of tyranny in the heart of the Balkans.
"...which, consequently, leads most assuredly down the path of isolation of his (Gruevski) country from European and Euro-Atlantic institutions," said Koumoutsakos, who, in fact, cited the Shakespearean line of "Serpent's egg".
In statements carried by media outlets in Skopje on Tuesday, Gruevski was quoted as calling the brief detention of a television crew from Skopje -- near military training grounds in extreme northwest Greece -- a "serious precedent", as well as an "abuse" of Greece's status within the European Union and "an attempt to demonstrate power instead of democratic capacity of a 21st century EU member-state..."
 28 billion support packageEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday said an inner cabinet meeting approved a package of measures aimed at offering protection to Greek banks and strengthening the Greek economy amid an international credit crisis.
Presenting the package, Alogoskoufis said the government will offer a state guarantee worth 15 billion euros to all financial institutions in the country and noted that the move was aimed at cutting the cost of financing. Also, the package includes the issuance of special bonds to financial institutions, up to 8.0 billion euros, with banks offering adequate insurance for these bonds. The government will also offer up to 5.0 billion euros to strengthen Greek banks' capital base, with the Greek state purchasing banks' preference stocks.
The Greek minister said that any bank interested to be included in the measures will have to apply for approval with the Bank of Greece. Alogoskoufis said that an international credit crisis has taken unprecedented dimensions, creating problems to banks, undermining confidence and liquidity problems in markets.
The banking system in Greece, he add, has solid basis, but because of the crisis there was always the problem with rising interest rates and lack of liquidity. Alogoskoufis said the package of measures was taken to ensure fair competition, since other countries have taken similar measures to protect banks.
The measures are compatible with actions agreed during an ECOFIN meeting and an special Eurozone summit last week. The Greek minister reiterated the government's political commitment to protecting all bank saving deposits and noted that the package of measures would not put a burden on the country's fiscal condition.
Bank of Greece's governor, George Provopoulos, told reporters that Greek banks will take advantage of the government measures to avoid facing any competitiveness problems and said that the package of measures will be table to Parliament in the next 10 days.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of FinMin George Alogoskoufis
 Greek stocks plunged 7.04 pctGreek stocks plunged 7.04 pct in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, following a sharp drop in other European markets over fears of a global economic recession. The composite index of the market ended at 2,381.57 points, with turnover at 281.3 million euros, of which 19.1 million euros were block trades. All sectors moved lower, with the Financial Services (9.56 pct), Constructions (9.32 pct), Banks (8.39 pct), Personal/Home Products (7.84 pct), Raw Materials (7.45 pct) and Utilities (6.81 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The FTSE 20 index dropped 7.53 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 5.88 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index ended 5.06 pct down. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 218 to 39 with another 22 issues unchanged.
 Inflation slows to 4.7% in Sept.Greek annual inflation slowed to 4.7 pct in September, from 4.8 pct in August, Eurostat said on Wednesday. The EU executive's statistics agency, in a monthly report, said the inflation rate in the Eurozone eased to 3.6 pct in September, from 3.8 pct in August, but remained sharply up compared with a 2.1 pct reading in September 2007. In the EU, the inflation rate was 4.2 pct in September, from 4.3 pct in August and 2.2 pct in September 2007.
The Netherlands (2.8 pct), Germany (3.0 pct), Portugal and Ireland (from 3.2 pct each) recorded the lowest inflation rates, while Latvia (14.7 pct), Bulgaria (11.4 pct) and Lithuania (11.3 pct) the highest rates.
The inflation rate fell in 17 member-states, it remained unchanged in two and rose in eight member countries.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo.
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