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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-11-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM addresses event on Medical School
  • [02] Papandreou attacks gov't plan on banks
  • [03] House ratifies plan on banks
  • [04] Souflias meets Danish counterpart
  • [05] Improving conditions in prisons

  • [01] PM addresses event on Medical School

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis praised the work of the Athens University's Medical School, while speaking on Thursday night at an event held at the Athens Concert Hall on the occasion of the 170th anniversary of the School's founding.

    Karamanlis stressed that the Medical School of the Athens Kapodistriako University has been pruducing for 170 years considerable work in peak medical research and in preparing capable, informed and responsible doctors and its work ranks it among the leading medical schools in the world.

    The Medical School, together with the Law, Philosophy and Theology Schools, was one of the four founding schools of the first modern Greek University, the Athens National and Kapodistriako University in 1837, the prime minister stressed and added that this work is being continued today fully and in accordance with international excellence models.

    Karamanlis then referred to the government's reformist effort in the sector of education, particularly in Higher Education where, as he said, "government policy is already supporting higher education establishment self rule, meritocracy in the judgement and development of their staff, the effective and transparent management of public expenditures for Higher Education."

    He went on to say that his goevernment "is enacting their smooth functioning. It is ensuring the student's freedom of choice with the abolition of the one book and it is consolidating democracy with the establishment of the students' universal vote for the election of bodies."

    Karamanlis concluded his address by saying that the government's aim is to have Greece transformed from a country having students leaving to study abroad, to an International Education Centre that will utilise education as its comparative advantage in the international environment.

    CAPTION: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressing the event on Thursday night. (ANA-MPA photo)

    [02] Papandreou attacks gov't plan on banks

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Thursday criticised a government plan to boost liquidity in the banking system, insisting on his party's position that the plan constitutes a "blank cheque" to the banks which was given following "negotiations that took place under the table."

    Speaking in Parliament, during a debate preceding the ratification of the plan, Papandreou claimed that the lion's share of the 28 billion euros will be channelled to cover openings resulting from bonds issues and from loans to shipping that financial institutions have made.

    Papandreou said that PASOK "has every reason to support every serious measure because being tomorrow's government it wishes to have the best of preconditions to take the country out of the crisis."

    "This money is not yours but it belongs to the Greek people and we demand transparency. You are not giving us any guarantee that the liquidity will go to small and medium-size enterprises and to households," he said.

    "If we waste the last ammunition with the guarantees of the public sector and no results are produced then developments will be dramatic and PASOK, being in government tomorrow, will be called on to handle a situation infinitely worse than the present one," he further said.

    Papandreou further said that "a different government is necessary to enable the country to get out of this crisis," adding that "a government that will restore taxation justice, that will support the average and low incomes, that will restore basic functions of the social state, education, health, welfare, employment and insurance, that will create new wealth, by investing in knowledge, in research, in innovation, on the basis of the green development model. A government that will put an end to extravagance, political favours, untransparency and corruption" and this, as he said, "will be a PASOK government."

    Replying to Papandreou, Alogoskoufis said that it is not the government that carried out secret consultations with the banks but PASOK's leader, who saw bankers one by one secretly.

    "The government did not adopt the proposals of a representative of a bank, which has its headquarters abroad and is struggling rabidly against the plan to boost the liquidity of the economy, since it has invested in the degradation of the Greek credit system and of the Greek economy," he concluded.

    CAPTION: PASOK leader George Papandreou addressing Parliament on Thursday afternoon. (ANA-MPA photo)

    [03] House ratifies plan on banks

    The discussion on the bill on the programmne for backing bank liquidity amounting to 28 billion euros was completed in Parliament late on Thursday afternoon with the ratification of all its clauses. Voting in favour were the deputies of the government majority, while the opposition voted against it in its entirety.

    Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis said that the European Commission presented in early November its autumn predictions on the European economy, and they are for the worse regarding growth and employment, however its predictions for Greece are far better compared to the Eurozone's average. He stressed that the plan was ratified by the European Commission and the approval was announced officially on Thursday.

    The minister placed emphasis on that "by decision of the Finance minister the terms are set for the implementation of the plan and the participation of financial institutions in it," adding that "with the decision the criteria for allocating liquidity to the financial institutions are set. The basic criteria are their capital adequacy, their share in the local credit market and their contribution to the financing of small and medium-size enterprises and of housing loans."

    Alogoskoufis clarified that "liquidity being created and amounting to 28 billion euros does not constitute a burden for the state budget," while stressing that with the successful implementation of the plan the public sector will be receiving an amount of up to 500 million euros annually from banks.

    He expressed the conviction that "ultimately, all the elements of the Greek banking system will rise to the occasion in this difficult period" and that "if they do not rise, there is the public sector that can ensure that they will rise."

    CAPTION: Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis addressing Parliament on Thursday. (ANA-MPA photo)

    [04] Souflias meets Danish counterpart

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias met in Athens on Thursday with Danish Environment Minister Troels Lund-Poulsen.

    The two ministers exchanged views on all the important environmental issues facing the international community and on environmental policy which is being implemented by the European Union.

    In this context, an in-depth debate took place on the issue of climatic change in view of the meeting of the United Nations‚ member-states in Poznan, Poland, (December 1 to 12) but also on the World Conference which will be held in December 2009 in Copenhagen, for the post-Kyoto era.

    Furthermore, the two ministers discussed the issue of the promotion of ?green? energy, in view of the ?Package for Energy? which is being advanced by the European Commission and will be discussed in the next EU Environment Ministers meeting on December 4.

    CAPTION: Environment Minister George Souflias (L) and Danish counterpart Troels Lund-Poulsen (R) in Athens on Thursday. (ANA-MPA photo)

    [05] Improving conditions in prisons

    The new measures announced by Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis for improving conditions in Greek prisons will result in the gradual release of 5,500 inmates by April 2009, while the draft law will be tabled in Parliament for approval within the day, the justice ministry announced on Thursday.

    The inmate population will be reduced to 6,815 individuals from 12,315 today, thus settling the prison overcrowding problem, considering that the country‚s correctional facilities are designed to hold a total of 8,243 inmates.

    Based on the new measures, a total of 1,740 inmates serving sentences of up to 5 years will be immediately released if they meet the terms outlined in the Penal Code, while nine individuals with severe health problems will also be among those whose prison sentences will be terminated effective immediately.

    A hunger strike in protest to overcrowding and poor living conditions was launched in all Greek prisons earlier in the month with the participation of thousands of inmates.

    Commenting on the draft bill, main opposition PASOK spokesman for domestic affairs Haris Kastanidis said the bill was inadequate and, in spite of containing some positive measures, could not address the problem as a whole.

    He pointed to a need for different kinds of measures that struck directly at the cause of the problem, which changes to the penal and judicial code. As an example, he cited article 282 that governed the way that suspects were remanded in custody.

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