|Wednesday, 21 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-16
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM: Support for incomes, no new taxesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris) The plan for supporting the Greek financial system seeks to ensure stability and protect incomes, especially lower incomes, loan holders and depositors, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday. He also stressed his opposition to abandoning or greatly relaxing the EU Stability Pact because of the credit crisis.
"A reversal of the stability pact should be neither expected nor should it happen," the Greek premier told reporters during a press conference, in which he presented the decisions made by the European Council.
Karamanlis appeared sanguine about the state of the Greek economy in general, noting that Greece was in a better position than most European countries and that Greek banks were much less exposed to "toxic" products. Though the country would unavoidably be affected by the broader repercussions of the international credit crisis, he pointed out that even the highly conservative forecasts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted annual growth rates above 2 percent for Greece, significantly above those of other EU countries.
He stressed, meanwhile, that the government was closely watching the situation and ready to intervene if necessary.
According to Karamanlis, the measures to support the Greek financial system would not lead to a change of taxation policy and Greeks should not expect to see any new taxes. He said that the reforms already passed would broaden the tax base while not increasing the tax burden on low and middle incomes.
Regarding the EU Stability Pact, the Greek premier stressed that this was not divorced from real economic conditions but added that these issues would be discussed in more detail at the next ECOFIN Council. He warned people not to expect any radical departures from the implementation of the pact, however, saying that EU countries would continue to operate within its framework while taking advantage of recent revisions allowing greater flexibility in its implementation.
Under provisions introduced in the latest revision of the Stability Pact, greater "flexibility" in its implementation is allowed in "extraordinary circumstances", similar to the ones observed today as a result of the credit crisis and the fears of a global economic recession.
Karamanlis underlined the importance of providing support for small and middle-sized businesses and of a plan being prepared by the European Investment Bank. For the support of lower incomes in Greece, meanwhile, he repeated a pledge to activate the Social Cohesion Fund and provide benefits for heating to those hardest-hit by the crisis, such as pensioners and the unemployed.
Regarding the decisions taken by the 27 EU leaders, the Greek premier said these aimed to restore confidence in the financial system throughout the Community. To achieve this, the European Council on Thursday agreed on a series of measures, such as a European early warning mechanism that would point out dangers threatening the economies of EU member-states, regular meetings of national regulatory bodies on a monthly basis and EU initiatives in collaboration with the Community's international partners to reform the finance system.
Karamanlis also outlined decisions taken by the 27 EU leaders on a number of other issues discussed during the summit, which was originally held to discuss action against climate change.
With respect to the stalled Lisbon Treaty, blocked since its rejection in an Irish referendum, he said this would be discussed in depth at the December summit, when the Irish side was expected to present specific proposals.
Regarding action against climate change, he reported only that Greece would not seek to be exempted from the implementation of Community policies that had already been decided.
Karamanlis further told reporters that he had sent a letter to European Council President Nicolas Sarkozy and his other EU counterparts on the issue of illegal immigration and asylum, asking them to display a spirit of solidarity with all the countries that, like Greece, were on the frontiers of Europe and faced strong migration pressures. Greece had also clearly supported further strengthening FRONTEX, the EU agency charged with coordinating EU member-state cooperation in policing the EU's external borders.
Commenting on developments in Georgia, Karamanlis expressed satisfaction at the prompt withdrawal of Russian troops from the Caucasus.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
 Sioufas refuses to seek Vatopedi file from prosecutorParliament President Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday refused to ask judicial authorities to hand over the evidence file on the Vatopedi Monastery land deals to Parliament. Replying to demands made by main opposition PASOK MP Apostolos Kaklamanis and the head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos, Sioufas said that this would amount to interference with justice.
According Sioufas, he was not personally empowered by the Constitution and Parliament regulations to make such a request of the public prosecutor at present, while the judicial preliminary investigation was still underway.
He noted that, in the case that a Parliamentary investigation or preliminary examination committee were formed, it was possible to request the evidence pertaining to the case via Parliament's president.
Kaklamanis said he had repeatedly asked Sioufas to request the file in view of next week's debate on a motion tabled by PASOK for the formation of an ad hoc preliminary examination committee to investigate possible criminal liability by Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and two former New Democracy ministers for the affair.
"It's not just us that want this. Even ND MPs would like to be informed on the contents of the file before they vote for or against PASOK's proposal," Kaklamanis stressed.
In a letter to Sioufas, SYRIZA's Alavanos made the same request and pointed to the "serious possibility" that Parliament would in a few days vote on this major and highly sensitive political issue without having knowledge of the evidence that turned up during the prosecutors' investigation, on a issue that "troubles the conscience of every MP personally, beyond party lines".
He called on Sioufas to publicly and strongly demand that the Supreme Court Prosecutor George Sanidas turn over the evidence file to Parliament, "as he should already have done," so that the evidence it contained could also be taken into account during the debate on PASOK's proposal.
The issue hit the headlines on Tuesday when the two appellate court prosecutors assigned to the case, Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou, both resigned from the case and their office after their recommendation to send the file to Parliament was ignored by their superiors, Appeals Court chief prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos and Sanidas.
The prosecutors claimed that evidence in the file implicated members of the present government in relation to the Vatopedi Monastery land exchanges, which traded prime pieces of state-owned land with land on the shores of Lake Vistonida having marginal value.
On Wednesday, Karoutsos announced that the preliminary investigation by his office would continue under a third prosecutor assigned to the case just a week before, Efstathia Spyropoulou, in spite of the fact that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had earlier tabled a motion for a Parliamentary investigation committee to look into the affair.
Setting up a Parliamentary preliminary examination committee targeting specific individuals, such as that requested by PASOK, requires an absolute Parliamentary majority of 151 votes or more.
If Parliament rejects the motion, however, no new proposal to press charges based on the same actual events can be tabled, which means PASOK must secure the support of both other opposition parties and some members of the governing majority that has 152 MPs in the 300-seat Parliament.
 Thessaloniki prosecutor warns parents, pupils over continued sit-insThessaloniki first instance court prosecutor Dimitris Papageorgiou on Thursday warned regional secondary education department heads over continued sit-ins at public schools by groups of protesting pupils, referring to criminal acts and calling on headmasters to take action. According to the prosecutor, pupils participating in school sit-ins are violating article 334 of the criminal code, citing interruption and disturbance of a public service. He also warned that parents and guardians could face charges of child neglect. Various forms of sit-ins are reported in roughly 50 public schools in the Thessaloniki area, based on figures provided by the ministry of education. Beyond the interruption of classes, the government has pointed to widespread vandalism at schools after such mobilisations.
 Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre to house police divisionsThe Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre, built east of Athens proper, along with its surrounding grounds (30.5 hectares), will be turned over to the ministry of interior for a period of 30 years without any obligations in return on its part. According to the contract signed with Hellenic Olympic Properties SA, which is responsible for the management of 2004 Olympic Games facilities, the existing building complex (roughly 39,000 sq.m.) will house the greater Athens (Attica prefecture) police operation division, the Greek Police's special forces (EKAM) and the bomb disposal unit, while a new building will house the passports' division. The Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre was the site of shooting events at the 2004 Summer Olympics of Athens. The venue is located within the limits of the Markopoulo municipality, east of Athens and near the capital's international airport.
 Greek stocks end 5.30 pct downGreek stocks suffered another blow in the Athens Stock Exchange, pushing the composite index of the market 5.30 pct lower to end at 2,255.25 points. Turnover was a moderate 278 million euros, of which 7.4 million euros were block trades. Most sectors moved lower with the exception of the Financial Services sectors which ended 0.09 pct up. Constructions (9.43 pct), Banks (7.24 pct), Personal/Home Products (7.01 pct) and Healthcare (5.88 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The FTSE 20 index dropped 5.82 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 4.37 pct down and the FTSE 80 index eased 2.52 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 216 to 30 with another 27 issues unchanged.
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