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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM calls for responsibility across-the-board
  • [02] Papandreou: Gov't has failed everywhere
  • [03] Taxi driver ran over by car trying to escape arrest
  • [04] PPC and Halyvourgiki in energy project joint venture
  • [05] Unemployment at 7.8 pct in November 2008
  • [06] Papariga bashes mainstream parties
  • [07] The crisis is a failure of the system
  • [08] ASE : Small drop

  • [01] PM calls for responsibility across-the-board

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis called on the political forces, professional associations and social partners to act responsibly in order to face the repercussions of the global financal crisis on the Greek economy, speaking in parliament during an off-the-agenda discussion held at his own initiative.

    Karamanlis explained that agreement was not required on everything, but a "no to everything" stance was detrimental to tackling the challenges faced by the country. "The future of our society, the future of our country, relies on the clash between responsibility and irresponsibility," he said, adding that his New Democracy (ND) government's choice was a given fact and unchanging: "It is the policies that prove responsibility in action. The policies that mitigate the repercussions of the global storm. The policies that serve the security of all the citizens."

    The premier also predicted that "the global crisis will not be easily or speedily overcome".

    Everyone, he continued, was obliged to "adaptour actions in accordance with the developments".

    "It is our duty to join forces to limit, as much as possible, the adverse repercussions. It is our duty to contain our demands, but also to put a check on the ways of going after those demands. It is our duty to think about the future as well. Incidents such as last December's vandalisms or the closure of roads last month, seriously harm the economy, the entire society. They hurt our country's image. The pressure of the international environment is intensifying. The difficulties are multiplying," the premier said.

    Karamanlis noted that the government understood the concerns, worries and hardships of the social groups, adding that "the government adopts every fruitful and realistic proposal, wherever it originates from".

    "We aspire to a synthesis of views, far removed from one-sided ankylotic viewpoints. We do not choose our actions on the basis of extreme statist perceptions, nor neoliberal obsessions. Words are useless unless they are turned into specific measures and actions," Karamanlis added.

    He reiterated that there was no such thing as a 'plan without a cost' or 'magic, cost-free solutions', nor did the proposals of those -- businesses or trade unions -- who do nothing other than indicate "what the others should do for them" comprise a solution.

    The critical nature of the circumstances required of the credit system to actively contribute towards boosting the liquidity of the economy by extending credit and reducing interest, of the business community to take advantage of the programs being implemented in order to maintain its personnel, of the trade unions to comprehend the real problems faced by the working people and to refrain from actions that aggravate the problems and increase unemployment, of the public functionaries to stand beside the citizens and investors and, especially of all the politica forces to act responsibly.

    Addressing himself to the opposition, the prime minister stressed that the country could not withstand head-on collisions and arbitrariness, nor a competition in promises of benefits, which he said would constitute mockery of the citizens.

    At a time when the entire world was in a "state of emergency", "emergency decisions" were required, with the government seeking the best possible balance among growth, fiscal streamlining and fortifying the financially weaker strata, Karamanlis said, noting that, in that context, the banks were obliged to comply with their obligations. He warned that the government would exercise close, constant and strict control. The liquidity enhancement program "does not give away anything to anyone, not one single euro".

    Those who have opted for distorting the turth "are making a mistake", and those who have chosen the path of irresponsibility and arbitrariness in these critical circumstances are hurting the real economy, Karamanlis warned.

    Particularly regarding the containment of public expenditures, the premier said that cutbacks were being made in all the "flexible expenses", with expenses for trips, public relations, overtime, and participation on committees at the top of the list.

    "I am absolute on all this," Karamanlis said, stressing that the government's program would be fully implemented, and all those responsible for its implementation "are required to completely adhere to the relevant policies".

    "I will not allow divergences. All that we have said will be done. All that we have commited ourselves to will be fully applied," the prime minister concluded.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis

    [02] Papandreou: Gov't has failed everywhere

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said that recourse to early general elections before or simultaneously with the European Parliament elections and consensus on the election of a new President of the Republic were the only contribution that the New Democracy government could make to the country, given that the ruling party had failed in all sectors and was unable to take the country out of the crisis, speaking in parliament in an off-the-agenda discussion.

    Outlining the basic differences between the PASOK and ND policies, Papandreou said an exit from the crisis was feasible, through "policies that embrace the whole of society and secure its consent".

    Papandreou accused the government of having "failed everywhere", charging that in the five years of ND governance the country's growth rate had dropped to half, "before the crisis", the per capita income has remained unchanged, thus putting an end to the real convergence of the economy, the public debt had jumped by 43 percent, burdening the Greek economy by 80 billion euros, and Athens had climbed 40 positions in the list of the most expensive cities in Europe, while two years after the commencement of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) not a single euro has been absorbed.

    "Everything touched by the ND government has become an object of mismanagement, exploitation, and of a divisive policy, a prey of the 'political friends' and Mr. Karamanlis now asks for our consent on his national plan. What national plan?" Papandreou questioned, and replied himself to the question: "You don't have a national plan. I'm not the one saying this, but your own ministers and top cadres. They only thing you have convinced us of are that you have a petty party plan. This is well-known in Rigillis (ruling New Democracy party headquarters) where they write up lists of 'political favor' hirings in order to buy the consciences of young people for a crust of bread".

    According to Papandreou, a way out of the crisis does exist, through exploitation of the national wealth, with investments in education, the human potential and green growth. He conceded deficits in the economy were legitimate, provided they arose from such investments, "but not for the financial accommodation of the 'political friends'," and consensus could be achieved on a program "that doesn't embrace the strong and powerful but, rather, the entire society".

    "There is no time to lose. Greece cannot wait. The government cannot take us out of the crisis with a rehashing of its failed policies of the last five years. You have failed. You have failed everywhere. The worst solution for the country is your remaining in power," Papandreou said, addressing himself to the government.

    "Move aside and let Greece move ahead. A Greece with volition, credibility and reliability," Papandreou said.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou

    [03] Taxi driver ran over by car trying to escape arrest

    A 38-year-old taxi driver was injured when he was run over by a passing car earlyThursday while trying to avoid arrest for unethical customer selection practices in the KTEL intercity bus terminal in Kifissos, Athens. An undercover police officer spotted four taxi drivers who were engaged in customer selection and called on two of his colleagues to arrest them. Two of the cab drivers did not resist but the third sped off and the fourth one ran on foot toward the Kifissos Avenue exit. The 38-year-old crossed the road barriers on Kifissos Avenue and while trying to get across he was run over and injured by a passing car. He was rushed to a hospital where it was established by police that his license was taken away 10 days ago for unethical customer selection. The taxi driver who avoided arrest by speeding away in his car was also apprehended shortly afterwards.

    [04] PPC and Halyvourgiki in energy project joint venture

    Public Power Corporation (PPC) and Halyvourgiki SA on Thursday signed an agreement to set up a joint venture company which will build and operate two energy power units.

    The two power units, of combined cycle, will have a total power capacity of 880 MW and will use natural gas as fuel. It will be build within Halyvourgiki's facilities. Under the agreement, Halyvourgiki will control 51 pct of the joint venture company which will have an initial equity capital of 10 million euros.

    [05] Unemployment at 7.8 pct in November 2008

    Greek unemployment rose slightly to 7.8 pct of the workforce in November 2008, from 7.6 pct in November 2007, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the number of employed people totaled 4,553,911 in November, while the number of unemployed people was 384,988. Western Macedonia (14.5 pct), Western Greece (11.2 pct) and Thessaly (9.9 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates, while Southeran Aegean (5.4 pct) the lowest rates.

    Unemployment among men was 5.2 pct, while among women was 11.6 pct. The rate of unemployment among youths, aged 15-24, totaled 22.4 pct.

    [06] Papariga bashes mainstream parties

    Of course all the political parties should have a proposal for exiting the crisis in the economy, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said on Thursday, adding that her party's proposal constituted a recovery of the labour movement, which should be expressed with the deplore of the two mainstream parties -- ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK -- which have governed the country.

    Speaking during an off-the-agenda discussion in parliament, Papariga criticized the two mainstream parties, as well as the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) on their proposals for exiting the crisis, charging that their philosophy was "provided that capital is salvaged".

    The present situation was "a deep crisis of the capitalist system" which "will not pass with the state intervention recently discovered by PASOK, nor with the involvement of the state, as a progressive element, as SYRIZA says," Papariga continued.

    The KKE, she said, insists that the progressive, radical solution for every country was to give momentum to the development of all the productive abilities of the country, in order to achieve self-sufficiency, while she also called for a "clash with the monopolies".

    Outlining the KKE proposals, Papariga placed emphasis on "generous increases in salaries and pensions, abolition of the special taxes and VAT, raising the tax-free ceiling per person, taxation of indirect capital, a people's housing program", adding that her party "rejects the poverty funds and charity".

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Communist party of Greece leader Aleka Papariga

    [07] The crisis is a failure of the system

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos said Thursday that the present global financial crisis was the result of the accumulation of the policies that have been applied internationally and in Greece, adding that it was not only the New Democracy government that has failed, but the entire system.

    "I heard the government saying it wants consensus. The people, too, want it because they don't want to keep looking at a fruitless and sterile game. However, it is not only ND that has failed, by the system itself. And there can be no plan without change," Alavanos said in parliament during an off-the-agenda discussion on the economy.

    The present crisis, he said, was brought on by the example of Ireland, the toxic bonds and toxic policies that led to the collapse of the credit system in the US, "all the things that you admired and worshipped".

    The crisis, he continued, was brought about by the policy that put self-interest above collectivity, opted for shrinking of the public sector and abolition of the social state and, addressing the government said that "you should have realized this and have stepped down with dignity, seriousness and self-criticism, instead of toying with the people, with the tolerance of Mr. Barroso (European Commission president) and Mr. Trichet (European Central Bank president), who controlled every shepherd but not UBS or the Royal Bank of Scotland".

    The policy counter-proposed by SYRIZA demanded a "return to the public sector" as a tool of growth, and a clash with the developmental model imposed by the European Union, Alavanos said.

    Relief from the crisis could be achieved only with a "different" banking system with a public, national, renationalized bank at the core, with a return to the public sector as a value, tool, control and means, he said, adding that Greece should take advantage of the situation and enter the field of technology and communications, which meant re-acquisition of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) and university research, a turn-around in education beginning with its funding with 5 percent of GDP, and public universities instead of profiteering.

    He further said that a different stance was also required towards the EU, noting: "Armaments are necessary for our national defence, but not for NATO armaments, money for Afghanistan, bills for the prime minister's trips in order to achieve a friendly stance on one or another issue".

    What was needed was a boosting of demand and redistribution of the wealth, Alavanos said.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of SYRIZA leader Alekos Alavanos

    [08] ASE : Small drop

    Equity prices were declining on Thursday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the basic share price index down 0.18 percent, standing at 1,741.38 points at 14:25 p.m., and turnover at 55.9 million euros.

    Individual sector indices were moving downward across the board, with the biggest losses in Food and Beverages, down 1.61 percent; Public Utilities, down 1.04 percent; Travel and Recreation, down 0.93 percent.

    The biggest gain were in Technology, up 3.90 percent; Chemicals, up 2.52 percent; and Health, up 1.45 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was down 0.17 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was up 0.64 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was up 0.34 percent.

    Of the stocks moved, 91 were up, 87 were down, and 59 were unchanged.

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