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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-12
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM hails EU deals on econ crisis, climatePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday said he was satisfied with the decisions reached by European leaders for dealing with the global economic crisis, during the summit meeting held here on Friday. On domestic issues, meanwhile, he again appealed for an end to "acts of blind violence that have recently rocked Greece".
"Our general principle is to help those that need it, preserve our developmental potential and protect jobs and real incomes," he said in a press conference after the end of the European leaders' summit, reporting on the results of the meeting.
He stressed that the European Council, under an exceptionally successful French presidency, had managed to adopt a united stance on coping with the repercussions of the crisis.
The fiscal measures by EU member-states would be in accordance with both the flexibility provided under the Stability Pact and with the Lisbon Strategy targets, he added.
In terms of the Greek economy, Karamanlis said that it was holding up better than several others in Europe and that the Greek government had acted quickly and directly. He stressed that the Greek programme for dealing with the crisis was among the first approved by Brussels and that measures and actions for dealing with repercussions of the crisis would continue, chiefly in the direction of supporting small and medium-sized businesses.
At the same time, the prime minister underlined that short-term measures were not as important as continuing planned structural reforms based on a comprehensive plan.
Greece's greatest problem continued to be the huge public debt created over the last 30 years, the reduction of which required long-term policies, he added.
Karamanlis hailed the decisions taken at the European Council for combating climate change, adding that there had already been an in-depth discussion with the environment ministry on the Greek side, regarding the measures that will have to be adopted.
The Greek premier also welcomed a decision by Ireland to hold a new national referendum for the approval of the Lisbon Treaty within the coming year.
PM on rioting, protests in Greece
Replying to reporters' questions about the unrest and demonstrations in Athens and other cities throughout Greece over the past six days, since the shooting of a 15-year-old boy by a police officer in Exarhia the previous Saturday, Karamanlis stressed the need to put an immediate end to "acts of blind violence".
He stressed that these were extremely dangerous, both for society and for democracy.
Noting that the government was aware of the pressures that young people had to contend with, the Greek premier nevertheless underlined that the "exploitation of their anxieties by extreme elements must stop".
The sympathy with which the government viewed the concerns of youth should not be confused with blind violence and the actions of extremist groups targeting democracy, he said.
Karamanlis called on all political forces in Greece to decisively condemn acts of violence and said that there should be no ideological backing for extreme elements turning against democracy.
Asked whether he still considered the government's mandate to be strong, in light of its slim majority and the recent events, the Greek premier underlined that he did not intend to step down or call early elections.
"The country has a strong government and its strength is not measured by the number of MPs but by the reforms that it carries out," he said, adding that Greece was now up against a great economic crisis that demanded consistency, a responsible policy and "a firm hand at the helm."
On questions regarding the suspect land swaps between the state and the Vatopedi Monastery, Karamanlis noted that on a major issue that had unfolded over the last 10 years, the state had obviously not worked in the way that it should.
"Objectively, the state bears responsibility," Karamanlis told reporters, adding that he would wait for the findings of the Parliamentary investigation committee to be released before stating his position.
 Papandreou calls for new gov't mandateMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, speaking before his party's political council members Friday, blamed the ruling New Democracy (ND) government for the recent violent street protests in Athens and other parts of the country. "The government is solely responsible for everything taking place in the country for the past few days to say the least," he stated. He clarified that the government itself is the problem and called for early elections that will allow the Greek people to provide a clear mandate. "PASOK wants a strong majority but at the same time is open to collaboration with all progressive forces," Papandreou stated. "The country is in crisis, caused by a combination of the global economic crisis and the domestic economic, societal, institutional and value crisis. The latest incidents reflect its depth, while the causes of the unrest are much deeper than the teen's shooting death," he said. Papandreou pointed to what he called the reasoning of "non violence" and characterised as justified the rage expressed against looters. Meeting with Athens mayor
Earlier, Papandreou was briefed by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on conditions in the Greek capital, in the wake of rioting in downtown Athens this past week, as well as the measures the municipality will take to repair damages and support affected businesspeople and hoteliers.
"I briefed PASOK president George Papandreou on the state of the city. Today (Friday) we have an update on the situation. Up until now we have assessed (damages to) 366 business establishments and five kiosks. We will continue our assessment this evening and expect this figure to approach 400," Kaklamanis said.
 Greek stocks down 1.28%Greek stocks finished the week on the downside at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, succumbing to international trends. The composite index of the market ended 1.28 pct down to finish at 1,810.26 points, with turnover a low to moderate 135.2 million euros, of which 3.8 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with Oil/Gas (1.04 pct), Travel/Recreation (1.02 pct) and Mass Media (4.45 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Utilities (4.72 pct) and Commerce (0.76 pct) posting the biggest losses.
The FTSE 20 index fell 1.28 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.09 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index eased 1.00 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 145 to 58 with another 54 issues unchanged.
 Parliament debate touches on PPC rates, operationThe country's deficit in electricity production sector and any hikes in power rates were directly attributed by Deputy Development Minister Stavros Kalafatis to policies followed by previous PASOK governments. Responding on Friday to a tabled question by main opposition PASOK on what the opposition party referred to as the "deterioration of the Public Power Corp. SA (PPC), as well as the company's finances and the rising energy costs, Kalafatis reiterated that power rates will not increase in 2009, while he reminded that roughly 2.5 million households (43 percent of the PPC electric meters) were excluded from any envisioned hikes. Responding to PASOK's accusations that power rates have increased 23.4 percent in 22 months, he stressed that this was unavoidable due to the rising fuel prices, considering that 55 percent of the power utility's revenues are directly exposed to international fuel price fluctuations. However, he maintained that in real value PPC's rates are among the lowest in the EU. In response, several PASOK deputies charged that PPC sported pre-tax profits of 500 million euros when ruling New Democracy assumed power in 2004, whereas today the utility's losses reach 300 million euros, while accumulated debt is four billion euros. "The argument of international increases in the price of oil has been discredited ... In 2004 when the first messages of trouble surfaced, the price of oil was at very low levels; in 2005 it was the same, in 2006 also," PASOK deputy Apostolos Katsifaras said, adding: "Indeed there was an increase, which we do not ignore, but today the price of oil has fallen to near 60 dollars."
In response, the deputy minister said that the profits cited by the PASOK MPs were "virtual and fake". "Maintenance programmes for the production units and the grid had been completely abandoned," Kalafatis said.
 Greece signs deal with FrontexInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras on Friday signed a declaration for the supply of equipment with the European agency Frontex, responsible for coordinating efforts to curb illegal immigration into Europe.
The declaration was signed at the former public order ministry with Frontex executive director Ilkka Laitinen, while the two ministers stressed its importance for Greece.
"This is an extremely important step, because it essentially makes the borders of Greece the same as the borders of Europe. Through Frontex, Greece will be reinforced by the necessary equipment on all levels, so that it can more efficiently guard the borders," Pavlopoulos noted.
The minister pointed out that the effort to involve the European Union in the guarding of Greek borders was an initiative begun by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, adding that Frontex could eventually evolve into an organisation like Europol for the guarding of European borders.
The interior minister said there was a common effort with Laitinen to ensure that the European Parliament approved a higher budget for Frontex that would give it greater operational capacity.
Papaligouras noted that the eastern borders of Greece were "a particular vulnerable point of entry" for all the EU, while Laitinen said that Greece was doing what it should but was faced with an exceptionally difficult task that had to be carried out in a difficult area and a difficult environment.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of a Greek coast guard patrol boat.
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