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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-01-20
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PASOK assails gov't econ policyMain opposition PASOK's spokesman for development issues Mihalis Chryssohoidis on Tuesday attacked the government's economic policies, saying that they had led to the paradox of consumer prices rising even as nominal inflation was falling.
Citing figures sent to the development ministry by industry and supermarkets, Chryssohoidis said that a new round of price increases of about 17 percent was being prepared. At the same time, the prices of basic goods in international markets were in freefall, he added, with price indexes for basic food stuffs having dropped between 14-28 percent compared to the record highs of the past year.
Unlike in Greece, he said, this situation had led to veritable price wars between retail chains in other European economies, as they struggled to cope with the financial crisis.
In a reaction to Chryssohoidis' statements, Deputy Development Minister George Vlachos expressed surprise that the main opposition MP had "sped to announce price rises in advance," without any specific and confirmed figures.
"Does he have privileged advance information from businesses? Is he trying to assist aspiring profiteers in a difficult juncture for the market? What the market needs today are responsible actions by everyone not irresponsible populism," the minister stressed, adding that the PASOK official's statements could only harm consumers.
 PM briefed by ND Parliamentary spokesmanPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday was briefed by ruling New Democracy (ND) Party parliamentary spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos focusing on legislative work issues. Responding to a relative question, Panagiotopoulos said early elections are unlikely, adding that the government is concentrating on overcoming the global crisis with the least possible consequences. As regards opinion poll results for ruling ND party, he said it can be reversed with the right decisions in the right direction, pointing out that they are already being made by the government focusing on a more socially oriented policy. He also underlined that he will not take over as ND Parliamentary group secretary, commenting that the prime minister asked him to remain at his post as the party's parliamentary spokesman.
 FM Bakoyannis due in RussiaGreek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is expected in Moscow on Tuesday, on her first trip abroad since Greece took over the presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). She is scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the following day.
In an interview with the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS concerning her visit, she said it would cover all issues pertaining to the OSCE but also bilateral affairs, especially in light of the recent natgas supply crisis.
"Political cooperation between Greece and Russia is at an excellent level," she said, adding that the two countries had similar opinions on most major international issues and worked together closely in the international organisations in which both were members.
In terms of bilateral affairs, Bakoyannis said she would focus on further developing economic cooperation so that it was in line with the very close political ties between the two countries, especially in the energy sector where she noted "huge" prospects to further consolidate and deepen relations.
The foreign minister also emphasised Greece's intention to be included in the new energy map being drawn in the region, stressing that the recent gas crisis had highlighted the correctness of Athens' policy of seeking a diversification of energy routes and to make Greece an energy hub for its surrounding area.
"In the modern international environment, a country that produces or is a transit country for energy resources acquires a strategic geopolitical and economic advantage," she noted, adding that Greece's aim was to become a "reliable, responsible and predictable partner, a strong link in Europe's energy chain" through projects like the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, or the TGI and South Stream natgas pipelines.
Asked whether her talks in Moscow would also touch on a proposal by Russian Premier Dimitri Medvedev for a new "security architecture" in Europe, she noted that the OSCE was "the right forum for this kind of discussion" and expressed hope that it would continue.
 Greek stocks end 0.45% downGreek stocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, following a negative trend in other European markets.
The composite index of the market fell 0.45 percent down to end at 1,652.51 points, off the day's lows. Turnover was a low 131.1 million euros of which 2.9 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Food/Beverage (2.33 pct), Oil/Natural Gas (1.19 pct) and Raw Materials (1.12 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Utilities (4.64 pct), Personal/Home Products (3.74 pct) and Constructions (3.58 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index eased 0.56 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.32 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index fell 0.59 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 126 to 59 with another 55 issues unchanged.
 Farmers block roads, close airportGroups of farmers went ahead with their threat to block major highways and other forms of protests on Tuesday - including the closure of an airport on Crete - ignoring appeals from the government to "avoid extremism".
Tractors rolled onto the tarmac at around 1:30 p.m. local time and blocked access to the Athens-Lamia national highway near the Lamia junction, as farmers from Fthiotida and Viotia prefectures chose this method to air their grievances. They later extended their blockade to the old national highway and rural roads as well, even as more farmers shut down the railway line near Davlia for half an hour as a symbolic gesture.
Meanwhile, farmers from Livadia, Orhomenos and Vagia -- all in south-central Greece -- blocked the national highway at the Kastro intersection.
Motorists struggling to find alternative routes found their journey times extended by as much as five hours as they were forced to make detours as far away as Arachova and Amfissa in order to circumvent the farmer blockades.
Caption: A scene from a farmers' protest in Irakleio, Crete on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. ANA-MPA / S. RAPANIS.
 Bolshoi to perform in AthensThe historic and world-famous Bolshoi Ballet, which dates back more than two centuries and is among the oldest ballet companies in the world, is due to appear in Athens for three performances in February. During a press conference on Tuesday at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron), where the performances will take place, the Ballets director and head dancer Yanin Gennady explained that it would include both the students of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and the Ballet's 11 soloists.
"It is always interesting to see the development of our students and the audience will be able to see their prospects and how, from the Academy, they finally become soloists in the Ballet," he said.
Gennady explained that the soloists would work with the students in a sort of "lesson on stage" and would perform a selection drawn mainly from the classical repertoire, with some forays into a more modern repertoire.
Among these will be sections of "The Nutcracker", "Swan Lake" and "Don Quixote", "Classical Symphony", "Russian Dance", "Ballet of the Dolls" and "Carnival of Venice".
The performances will be held in the 'Friends of Music' hall at the Megaron on Sunday, Feb. 1 at noon and 20:30 and on Monday, Feb. 2 at 20:30.
Caption: A file photo shows Danila Korsuntsev (L, Mariinsky Theatre) and Maria Alexandrova (R, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow) perform the fantasy ballet 'Swan Lake' during VIII International ballet festival Mariinsky in St.Petersburg, Russia, 18 March 2008. ANA-MPA/ EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV
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