|Friday, 23 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-21
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papandreou: country needs new hopeMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou stressed that Greek society should listen to young people's fears about their future and provide them with a way out, in an interview published on Sunday in the newspaper "Proto Thema". He also stressed that Greece needed hope and new prospects, a way that went beyond crisis management but radically changed society.
"It is our obligation today to unite the Greek people, the social and progressive forces, around the solutions that we are proposing. To build a society that is not afraid to make room for our children's dreams. We deserve better and can do better," Papandreou stressed.
The main opposition leader slammed the present government as "incompetent" and said it was caught up in a decline that threatened to drag Greece into disaster along with it.
"We will not let them destroy the country," he underlined, saying that the state could not hide behind a lack of transparency nor could a handful of people hide acts of violence behind hoods and masks.
"Our democracy needs no kind of hood. It is not afraid. It demands the light of transparency, of dialogue, of meritocracy, truth and self-respect," Papandreou concluded.
PASOK spokesman: Voters want change of course
Speaking on Saturday, meanwhile, PASOK spokesman George Papanconstantinou said that the present government and prime minister were fast losing the confidence of Greek voters.
"We are watching the collapse of the citizens' trust in the government and in [Prime Minister] Costas Karamanlis personally," he said.
"Ever more urgently, citizens are seeking a change of course; elections, for a new government with a strong popular mandate, A PASOK government that will restore a state of law in Greece. That will once again give hope to young people, begin a plan for reorganising the Greek economy, give hope and prospects to our country once more," he said.
Replying to PASOK soon afterwards, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that the main opposition had finally revealed itself and its true motives but stressed that "they will have to wait a long time".
"The masks have now fallen. PASOK has only one thing in mind. How to regain power - in any way it can. Even by fishing in murky waters," Antonaros said.
"Greeks continue to trust the responsible stance of Costas Karamanlis and reject the irresponsibility of PASOK's leader, who does not hesitate even to malign the country abroad," he added.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of PASOK leader George Papandreou
 Support for islands, shippingThe government will not to allow the international economic crisis to stunt the growth of the Greek economy's two main 'powerhouses', the tourism industry of the Greek islands and shipping, Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasios Papaligouras stressed in Parliament on Sunday.
Speaking during the budget debate that ends with a vote late on Sunday night, Papaligouras said the ministry's budget for island policy had increased 17 percent in 2009, in spite of fiscal restrictions.
He went on to underline the serious problems faced by Greek cargo shippers, especially, as a result of a sudden decline in worldwide demand for products and and raw materials. The government first priority was to help the shipping industry remain competitive while keeping jobs in the sector at present levels, maintaining quality and ensuring adherence to international and European maritime regulations, the minister said.
Papaligouras noted that more funds were allocated to human resources management in shipping, to be used to subsidise social insurance for seamen, their training and wages for new members of the coast guard.
He also listed a number of welfare measures targeting unemployed and retired seamen in view of the current economic crisis, such as an increase in unemployment benefit by the seamen's pension fund NAT and a 5 percent increase in the EKAS income supplement for pensioners.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of a view from the Greek island of Santorini, one of the top tourist destinations in the country.
 Stylianidis: youth anger 'justified'Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis focused on the recent youth riots with high school students as the main protagonists during his address in Parliament in the debate on the draft budget.
Speaking on Saturday evening, Stylianidis said that they had been a spontaneous and justified explosion of anger by young people over the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos, who was shot down by a policeman in Exarhia, which others had tried to use for their own ends.
"Our students, completely justifiably, turned out onto the streets. They weren't doing politics. They were not serving any ends. They acted out, cried for the lost fellow student, condemned the reckless special guard and made demands. Behind them, however, some were looting. Certain others sought to recruit them, making them 'pushers' for foreign ideas that are rejected by democratic Greek society. Still others, with their behaviour, sought to drag Greece's international image through the mire, showing it not as a country that gave birth to democracy but as a country of disarray, nihilism and denial," he said.
The minister went on to urge young people to "take off the hoods" and "express themselves freely".
"No one has the right to hide your faces. We live in a real democracy. No one has the right to arm your hands with stones so that you can smash up the small shop owned by your father, who struggles to make a living," Stylianidis urged.
The minister went on to say that the improvement in the day-to-day running of universities in the current year, brought about through last year's educational reforms, was the "barricade" that prevented the explosion on the streets from transferring itself into schools.
Among these improvements he listed the construction of 580 new schools and another 1,233 on the way, reduction in double shifts from 6 percent in 2004 to 2.1 percent at present, an increase in teaching staff and prompt filling of empty positions, as well as the early distribution of school text books. All this had contributed to the smallest number of school sit-ins, strikes, lost class hours and university examinations in the past 15 years, he added.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.
 Clashes with police continueSix police vehicles were torched by unidentified hood-wearing assailants wielding petrol bombs in the west Athens district of Nea Philadelphia in the early hours of Sunday morning. The vehicles were parked outside the building of the police accounting department at Patriarchou Constantinou street, which also suffered damage in the attack.
At around the same time, rioting and clashes with riot police continued in the area around the Athens Polytechnic (National Technical University of Athens), with protestors again lobbing petrol bombs at police.
Earlier, a anti-racism rally in Syntagma Square had led to another violent confrontation between protestors and riot police when a group tried to deposit bags of rubbish at the foot of the new Christmas Tree set up in the square by the Athens municipality, replacing the tree torched on the first day of rioting triggered by the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos at the hands of police. Police used tear gas to disperse the protestors.
Protests over the events in Greece were also reported from abroad. Dozens were arrested and four police officers were injured in Hamburg on Saturday during clashes that broke out on the margins of a rally in support of the protest movement in Greek high schools.
There was also a small protest by some 15 demonstrators who picketed the Greek Consulate in New York to protest against police brutality worldwide.
Greece has been rocked almost daily protests, clashes with riot police and scenes of destruction since the killing of teenage Alexis Grigoropoulos, who was shot dead in Exarhia by a police special guard on December 6.
Caption: Youths protesting around the Athens Polytechnic (NTUA) lobbed petrol bombs at riot police stationed outside in the early hours of Sunday morning, in a street decked out with Christmas lights and decorations. ANA-MPA - Simela Pantzartzi
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