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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Kaklamanis sharply criticises left opposition; calls for local referendums
  • [02] FinMin: Focus on cutting deficit

  • [01] Kaklamanis sharply criticises left opposition; calls for local referendums

    Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Wednesday called for a presidential decree to allow the holding of local referendums, as the head of the Greek capital's municipal government launched into a scathing counter-attack against opponents of a controversial twin land development project and recent efforts to build an underground parking garage in Athens' most congested districts.

    During a press conference at city hall, Kaklamanis said the prospect of local referendums would free the municipality -- Greece's largest and most significant -- "from the stranglehold of the minority and the bureaucracy-bound procedures that systematically hinder the implementation of decisions related to the solving of critical problems and the improvement of citizens‚ quality of life."

    The Athens mayor, a former health minister, made extensive reference to the planned construction of an underground parking garage in the Kypseli district, a project scheduled for more than 25 years whose construction generated protests and heated reactions by the leftist opposition on city council, including Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) President Alexis Tsipras, a city councillor.

    Kaklamanis charged that Tsipras‚ municipal ticket has vehemently opposed the implementation of the twin urban regeneration project, which includes the construction of the new Panathinaikos football club‚s new stadium in the rundown Votanikos district and the creation of two large metropolitan parks.

    Synaspismos and its affiliated Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) have criticised and opposed the land development plan, charging that the construction of a large department store mall in Votanikos violates environmental and town planning codes. They also object to the transfer of municipal land to the developer.

    A Council of State (CoS) plenum is expected to decide early next month on a lawsuit filed by opponents of the twin urban regeneration project.

    The Athens mayor 12 trees that were cut in Kypseli for construction of an underground car park, while protesters failed to mention the 8,500 trees that were planted in the past two years.

    "They speak of 37 trees and 21 bushes on the corner of Kyprou and Patission streets, which were supposedly destroyed, but not the park comprising 157 trees, 124 large bushes and 189 small bushes and plants that will be created there ... They speak of the absorption of carbon dioxide by the trees that were cut but not of the great reduction in carbon dioxide that results from the operation of a parking garage.

    "... They shed crocodile tears for the 12 trees that were cut but ignore the fact that 150 trees were needed to produce the 2.5 tons of paper used to produce the posters through which they insulted the mayor (of Athens)," he said.

    [02] FinMin: Focus on cutting deficit

    LONDON (ANA-MPA) -- ‘he Greek government's economic policy remains absolutely focused on controlling and further reducing the fiscal deficit and this policy is not only the result of the country's obligations -- in the framework of an EU Stability and Growth Pact -- but also reflects the deep conviction that reducing deficits and achieving balanced budgets will benefit the economy and ensure sustainable growth, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said here on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said the fiscal deficit fell significantly from 7.5 pct of GDP in 2004 and said that the deficit would rise to 3.7 pct of GDP this year, affected by the global crisis. He predicted that the fiscal deficit would remain around this levels this year as well and that would begin falling from 2010 to below 3.0 pct of GDP in 2011.

    He stressed that the government's economic policy was based on two pylons, continuing a fiscal consolidation effort and strengthening economic growth through structural reforms.

    Papathanassiou said the government has adopted more conservative and realistic predictions over budget revenues this year, because of the effects of the crisis. Budget revenues are projected to be 2.5 billion euros lower compared with initial forecasts and underlined that the government was determined to intervene dynamically to contain spending and to save money. These measures included a 10-pct cut in spending on labour contracts in the public sector, setting a ceiling on public sector and the wider public sector executive salaries and reducing the number of board members to nine.

    The minister said that despite the fact that in 2008 and early this year, state bond issuance was affected by the global financial crisis, Greece managed to successfully overcome adverse market conditions.

    "Unfortunately, the Greek economy suffers from the burden of increased spreads. I want to stress that this development is not linked only with the fundamentals of the economy, or its rating by international firms. It is the result of market psychology, burdened by unjustified rumours related with the viability of the euro currency, the Greek economy's course, or Greece's and other countries' staying in the Eurozone," said.

    "The fact that the market imposes higher spreads on Greek bonds compared with bonds issued by countries outside the Eurozone, has not justification. Eurozone is not in danger. The euro currency remains strong offering protection shield to its economies. Its positive role during this crisis is highlighted by the fact that other EU countries, like Denmark, are discussing entering the Eurozone. Of course, there is no case of Greece, or other countries, exiting the Eurozone," he stressed.

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