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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM at EPP: priority to supporting poor
  • [02] Papaconstantinou to ANA-MPA: PASOK can guarantee a new course
  • [03] Slain teen's family seeks on-site ballistic investigation
  • [04] Teen death discussed in Parliament
  • [05] Annual IOBE report on entrepreneurship in Greece

  • [01] PM at EPP: priority to supporting poor

    Brussels (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris) -- Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis underlined here on Thursday during a European People's Party (EPP) Summit, convened to focus on global financial crisis, that the European economy is faced with a slowdown that entails consequences for all countries. In statements made after the meeting, he pointed out that a collective response is necessary through the coordination of national strategies and interventions, adding that the priority is to help the most vulnerable social groups and preserve a developmental momentum as much as possible while protecting job positions. The EU commitments on environmental policies aimed at dealing with the global climate change, the Lisbon Treaty ratification issue and the EPP preparations in view of the Euro-elections in June 2009 were also examined, the prime minister said. Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] Papaconstantinou to ANA-MPA: PASOK can guarantee a new course

    The country needs an immediate change of course that PASOK was ready and able to guarantee, said the main opposition party's spokesman George Papaconstantinou in an interview with the ANA-MPA on Thursday. He stressed that that elections should not long delay because the country was currently "ungoverned".

    "We are the bearers of the only alternative, ambitious but also realistic plan for governing the country," he said, adding that PASOK could lead Greece to "a new page of progress".

    Noting that the present government's inability to impose order in Greece was now the top story in all the world media, Papaconstantinou asserted that it lacked the prestige needed to defend the country's interests abroad, making early elections imperative.

    He also underlined, however, that all the investigations into scandals that have rocked public opinion will be completed in order to ensure that culpability by politicians was not concealed or covered up.

    Regarding the violence and rioting that have rocked the country in the past few days, Papaconstantinou spoke of a "double failure" by police.

    "The foremost criminal act in the annals of the post-junta era has been the cold-blooded taking of a child's life by those forces dedicated to the protection of human life. Following this there was chaos. The government displayed provocative zeal where it should not have and unprecedented incompetence where lives and properties were truly at risk. There is blatant political responsibility for this string of failures," the spokesman underlined.

    Papaconstantinou denied, however, that there was a "general problem of violence" in Greece and pointed out that the vast majority of protestors had demonstrated and expressed their anger at the boy's killing peacefully.

    "What we do have is an especially strong atmosphere of anxiety and pessimism - even I would venture to say despair - about the future. And New Democracy's responsibility for this climate is decisive. Because it cut short the hopes of a people that were lauded by the international community during the 2004 Olympic Games. Then we had hope and faith that we could succeed. Now, not only is the opportunity lost, but the country slid very quickly into the worst sort of phenomena of corruption, abuse of authority, lawlessness and, finally, economic crisis," he said.

    On the topic of the economic crisis, the spokesman said that the biggest threat to the Greek economy was the present government.

    "It took an economy that was at its strongest point in decades and managed to have us relegated once again to the second division of countries in the EU," Papaconstantinou said, blasting the government for policies that redistributed wealth in favour of the wealthy and undermined the country's developmental prospects, particularly the sharp reduction in public investments.

    [03] Slain teen's family seeks on-site ballistic investigation

    The family of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos plans to lodge a request for a ballistic investigation and inspection of the site where the teenager was shot and killed. This was revealed on Thursday by one of the lawyers representing the family, Dimitris Tsovolas.

    In his statement, Tsovolas was scathing about the memorandum submitted to the examining magistrate the previous day by the police officer charged with murder for the shooting incident, particularly the references to the dead schoolboy's character and a claim he had been expelled from school that was later denied by the school itself.

    "They are continuing to shoot at Alexis and, sadly, not in an honourable way, provoking society. The family and ourselves ask that his memory be respected and that seriousness be shown. I think that at there should have been an apology, even if only for form's sake. Unfortunately, they followed another route," he said.

    The lawyer had earlier that morning informed the examining magistrate that the family of the slain boy wished to file a civil suit in the case and be present at the trial of the two officers accused in connection with his death.

    Authorities have yet to officially announce the results of the ballistic investigation on the bullet that killed the 15-year-old nor confirmed claims made on Wednesday by the lawyer representing the accused, who said that the initial findings pointed to it having ricocheted before hitting the boy.

    The shooting of the boy by the two officers on Saturday night sparked five days of non-stop rioting, demonstrations and violence throughout Greece, that left the country and its government reeling. Youths donning the anarchist 'uniform' of hoods and masks ran rampage through the streets and clashed with police, embarking on an unprecedented spree of destruction, burning and looting that has caused hundreds of millions of euros in damages, according to initial estimates.

    [04] Teen death discussed in Parliament

    "Nothing justifies the line of defence adopted by the man whose actions led to the death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos," Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said, speaking in Parliament on Thursday. Pavlopoulos condemned the "murderous act" and expressed faith that "justice will be served", responding to questions by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Spyros Halvatzis and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group Leader Alekos Alavanos on the police shooting death of the 15-year-old in central Athens over the weekend. "Isolated incidents, no matter how heinous, cannot mar the image of police acting within the framework of legality," the interior minister said, adding that "it is our duty to condemn all those who take advantage of crimes or errors committed by police to turn against society as a whole⦠the enemies of democracy will not remain under a hood for much longer. We show no tolerance and never will." KKE MP Halvatzis said expressions of police arbitrariness are not isolated incidents. Referring to the hooded youths, he said many of those participating in the recent rioting were not students. SYRIZA's Alavanos said his party "fights against the system's injustice" and "condemns violence". He also called on government and MPs to "show understanding of the thousands of students across Greece, who have expressed their rage for the loss of a peer and the repression they are experiencing". "Responsibility for the teen's death is in the prime minister's hands," he said, adding that the government cannot remain in power. Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) George Karatzaferis, referring to press claims according to which a SYRIZA MP is said to support terrorism, called on Alavanos to deny the report.

    MPs held a minute of silence in memory of Alexis Grigoropoulos.

    [05] Annual IOBE report on entrepreneurship in Greece

    The Entrepreneurship in Greece 2006-2007 annual report, prepared by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), shows an improvement in a number of qualitative characteristics while, at the same time, pointing to a decline in primary entrepreneurship indices. According to the report, more than 1.3 million people are involved in business activities in Greece, while roughly 900,000 are planning to enter the business sector in the next three years. The IOBE report is the fifth issued within the framework of its participation in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) research programme. The early stage entrepreneurship, GEM's basic index, records a considerable decline in 2007 - the lowest ever - which affects both prospective and new entrepreneurs. Specifically, in 2007, 5.71 percent of the 18-64 age-group in Greece (roughly 388,000 people) was at the early stages of launching a business activity (including the self-employed) compared to 7.9 percent in 2006.
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