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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM to begin official visit to Qatar
  • [02] No vote on PASOK's Vatopedi motion
  • [03] Lake Vistonida property of state, court inspector rules
  • [04] PM's itinerary for Qatar visit
  • [05] Budget revenues up 4.8% in Sept.
  • [06] Commissioner Kuneva in Thessaloniki
  • [07] Stocks drop 9.71% on Fri.

  • [01] PM to begin official visit to Qatar

    The government on Friday announced the itinerary of an official visit to Qatar by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, which begins over the weekend. On Sunday, the Greek prime minister will address a one-day business conference and meet with the Emir of Qatar, as well as the Gulf state's prime minister and foreign minister, while he will also attend a reception hosted in his honor. Karamanlis will also meet with expatriate Greeks and Cypriots at the new Greek embassy in Qatar, while on Monday he is set to tour several worksites of Greek construction companies active in the region. The prime minister will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas.

    [02] No vote on PASOK's Vatopedi motion

    No vote was held at the end of a Parliamentary debate on Friday regarding a main opposition PASOK motion calling for an inquiry into whether ministers are criminally culpable in the Vatopedi land swap case.

    The debate on the motion, tabled by main opposition PASOK, ended earlier than scheduled when Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas essentially confirmed the positions expressed by MPs still present in the chamber, namely, that "conditions for carrying out a valid vote did not exist, the legislature does not decide and the proposal is not rejected".

    "The fate of this motion ends today. Only a new motion can be brought again," Sioufas stated after the Parliament session.

    Only PASOK and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MPs remained in the chamber at the time, following the departure midway through the proceedings of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the earlier walkout by the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party. Ruling New Democracy MPs had stayed away from Friday's debate entirely, essentially making it impossible for the motion to pass.

    The debate came just two days after Parliament unanimously adopted a ruling party motion for a Parliamentary investigation committee on the Vatopedi Monastery land swaps, in which lands of marginal value and disputed status along the shores of Lake Vistonida were exchanged with prime public real estate. In a new development on Friday, a Supreme Court justice announced that the Vistonida land rightfully belonged to the state anyway, according to an improperly suppressed court decision back in 2003.

    KKE had walked out for fear that there would be an official record that the motion had been rejected by Parliament, which would rule out the option of tabling another motion for a Preliminary Examination Committee over the same events in the future.

    "We are departing so that the way remains open for a preliminary examination committee and so that the investigation committee does not degenerate and investigates all the events, so that full light is shed on this case," said KKE spokesman Spyros Halvatzis.

    Immediately afterward, SYRIZA MP Fotis Kouvelis raised an issue of whether the house could be considered quorate, citing Parliament regulations that require the assistance of majority party MPs in reading the register, collecting votes and forming the voting committee.

    He stressed that this was not a technicality but a fundamental and deeply political issue that concerned the operation of Parliament.

    "All this is the result of an unprecedented behaviour that is deeply insulting for Parliament. You cannot proceed with the vote," Kouvelis said, referring to the majority party's decision to abstain.

    PASOK spokesman Evangelos Venizelos agreed, noting that the government's "unheard of and tragi-comic initiative has placed us outside every Constitutional framework. Every Parliamentary regime is based on the principle of an explicit majority. Does this apply today? Is it possible to say that the conditions exist for a valid rejection of the motion," he said.

    Sioufas, on his part, countered that all the above had been known at the start of the debate but the main opposition had not asked for it to be postponed, so the vote would have to go ahead.

    Venizelos insisted, however, that PASOK's proposal remained on the table and was valid since the conditions did not exist for a vote in the chamber, at which point Kouvelis announced that SYRIZA also intended to walk out in order to prevent possible ministerial offences being written off.

    The motion tabled by PASOK sought an investigation into possible responsibility for the land swaps by three current and former members of the government. These included former spokesman and minister of state Theodoros Roussopoulos, who resigned on Thursday, former agriculture minister Evangelos Bassiakos and current Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas.

    The session ended when the Parliament president essentially "washed his hands" of the responsibility, declining to make the final decision:

    "Even though Parliament regulations say that the 'President decides', I will not decide. The decision is taken by you, who are the majority," he said, declaring the session closed.

    Government reaction

    Commenting on the outcome of the debate, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that "PASOK's effort to cheapen the institutions by turning Parliament into a theatre for making impressions has led nowhere".

    "The isolation into which the main opposition party today led itself should act as a lesson on where political cannibalism and irresponsibility inevitably lead," he added.

    After the development, main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou referred to a "collapse of the government's credibility" as a result of the ruling New Democracy party's absence from the discussion.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Parliament's main chamber.

    [03] Lake Vistonida property of state, court inspector rules

    Lake Vistonida and the lands that surround it, with the exception of the islet Ada Buru, are judged to be the property of the State according to a final but suppressed ruling that should have been issued by a Rodopi court in 2003, the justice ministry announced on Friday.

    This was the conclusion reached by Supreme Court Deputy President Ioannis Papanikolaou, inspector of courts, after he conducted a disciplinary inquiry into the stalling of a case before a Rodopi first-instance court that tried the suit brought against the Vatopedi Monastery by the Greek State in 2003. The court failed to issue a verdict in the final stages, after the State said that it waived its rights in the case.

    According to the inspector, the specific trial was shut down in a way that was not legal because the panel of judges had already convened and finalised their ruling, voting to hand over ownership to the state by 2-1. At that stage of the proceedings, the court had an obligation to announce its verdict and the two sides could no longer reach an out-of-court settlement or withdraw their suit, he said.

    Papanikolaou has now ordered that the court's ruling in the case be published within the next few days by a different panel of judges, the justice ministry said. Since this makes the contested lands the property of the Greek state, it means that all subsequent land swaps with other pieces of state-owned land are invalid.

    In the specific case, the court recognised the monastery's ownership of only 172 hectares on the islet Ada Buru, of a total 2,704.4 hectares initially claimed by the Vatopedi monastery.

    [04] PM's itinerary for Qatar visit

    The government on Friday announced the itinerary of an official visit to Qatar by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, which begins over the weekend. On Sunday, the Greek prime minister will address a one-day business conference and meet with the Emir of Qatar, as well as the Gulf state's prime minister and foreign minister, while he will also attend a reception hosted in his honor. Karamanlis will also meet with expatriate Greeks and Cypriots at the new Greek embassy in Qatar, while on Monday he is set to tour several worksites of Greek construction companies active in the region. The prime minister will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas.

    [05] Budget revenues up 4.8% in Sept.

    Budget revenues grew by 4.8 pct in September, for a growth rate of 5.7 pct in the nine-month period from January to September 2008, compared with the corresponding period last year, the Economy and Finance ministry said on Friday. The ministry, in a report, attributed the slower growth rate in revenues to a decline in building activity in the country. The finance ministry said budget revenues fell 0.4 pct in August, compared with the same month in 2007, reflecting limited proceeds from VAT payments (up 0.9 pct), a 5.0 pct drop in tax agencies' revenues and a 0.5 pct rise in customs revenues.

    VAT revenues grew by 1.0 percent in September, tax agencies' proceeds rose 3.9 pct and customs revenues were up 7.4 pct.

    [06] Commissioner Kuneva in Thessaloniki

    European Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Meglena Kuneva continued a visit to the northern city of Thessaloniki on Friday, where she noted that the European Commission wants to proceed with the establishment of a single EU retail market that will also have an electronic dimension. Kuneva said such a development will give consumers the opportunity to make safe purchases within the EU borders. "...The goal is the creation of an electronic cross-border market. Consumers shopping across Europe will be able to rely on a single set of core consumer rights based on the new Directive, adopted recently by the Commission. Therefore, Greek consumers will be able to do their shopping in Germany if prices are better without feeling reluctant to do so," she said. Kuneva is set to present a "Green Paper" in December on the options afforded to consumers regarding class action lawsuits over misleading practices by retailers, damage restoration or profiteering.

    Caption: A file photo shows European Commissioner for consumer protection Meglena Kuneva in Brussels, 19 April 2007. ANA-MPA / EPA / OLIVIER HOSLET

    [07] Stocks drop 9.71% on Fri.

    Budget revenues grew by 4.8 pct in September, for a growth rate of 5.7 pct in the nine-month period from January to September 2008, compared with the corresponding period last year, the Economy and Finance ministry said on Friday. The ministry, in a report, attributed the slower growth rate in revenues to a decline in building activity in the country. The finance ministry said budget revenues fell 0.4 pct in August, compared with the same month in 2007, reflecting limited proceeds from VAT payments (up 0.9 pct), a 5.0 pct drop in tax agencies' revenues and a 0.5 pct rise in customs revenues.

    VAT revenues grew by 1.0 percent in September, tax agencies' proceeds rose 3.9 pct and customs revenues were up 7.4 pct.


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