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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM chairs Inner Cabinet meeting
  • [02] PASOK unleashes barrage of criticism
  • [03] Attica Bank says profits down 39.51% in 2008
  • [04] Pasal Development reports improved '08 results
  • [05] Top Greek diplomat: Skopje violating 'interim agreement'
  • [06] Gov't lambasts prospect of continued mobilisations by culture ministry 'minorities'
  • [07] OPAP cites 19.6% hike in net profits
  • [08] LAOS on"golden boys"salaries
  • [09] Gov't: 1.5% of GDP for R&D by 2015
  • [10] Bakoyannis at EU-OSCE meeting
  • [11] Stocks end flat on Tues.
  • [12] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] PM chairs Inner Cabinet meeting

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday chaired a meeting of the Inner Cabinet, focusing on the correctional system and protection of 'social tranquillity'.

    After the meeting, Justice Minister Nikos Dendias announced a series of measures for the correctional system designed to prevent prisoners escaping, as well as measures to help "protect society as a whole".

    The measures listed by the minister included making all prison hospitals part of the National Health System (ESY) and changing the way that prison councils were appointed, while prison governors will no longer be recruited from among persons currently serving in prison administrations.

    Dendias also announced plans for the construction of a type C high-security correctional facility for those serving lengthy sentences and a ban on the possession and use of mobile phones within correctional facilities, even by guards and prison personnel, which will become a criminal offence. Use of mobile phones by inmates will in turn carry severe disciplinary penalties.

    The minister outlined a new measure, where prison staff will be required to submit annual statements of their means and assets - similarly to justices, police, politicians and journalists. In addition, prisoners will no longer be transferred to courts in Athens and other big cities in order to stand trial but will be tried in the towns where they are being held.

    He then went on to outline measures designed to relieve overcrowding in Greek prisons, such as the conditional release of those whose sentences were convertible to fines that they could not pay or allowing women inmates with underage children to carry out community work instead of serving their sentence, except in cases where they are serving life sentences.

    Another measure in this direction will be to restrict the use of imprisonment on remand for certain categories of offences, since Greece currently has twice or three times the proportion of remand prisoners compared with other European countries, replacing this with release with restrictive conditions.

    Dendias announced that the Greek ombudsman would henceforth have the right to inspect the country's correctional facilities, including any findings in a special chapter of the ombudsman's annual report, while the regime for giving leave to prisoners will change, also taking into account the opinion of the public prosecutor.

    On public order issues, the justice minister said those arrested and convicted for destruction of other people's property, for inflicting lethal or bodily harm, of disrupting social peace and anyone seeking to conceal or alter their face through the use of hoods or other methods would face an additional sentences of two to 10 years, as well as any other offences they committed.

    Dendias added that "the Greek citizen does not hide, and is not afraid to show his or her face, especially when protesting", noting that attempts to hide one's identity would be seen as incriminatory in themselves. Abuse of public officials will be considered an automatically prosecutable offence.

    [02] PASOK unleashes barrage of criticism

    With a barrage of criticism covering a whole spectrum of issues, ranging from farm policy to economic policy to law and order, main opposition PASOK on Tuesday renewed its attack on the government and the areas where it considered that government policy had failed.

    The latest incidence of rioting and vandalism targeting shops in the centre of Athens figured prominently in the party's attack, with PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou accusing the police of "systematically appearing after the fact" when incidents of mass violence were involved.

    "This cannot but make us wonder about what instructions are being given to the police, because we do not believe that Greek police officers do not want to do their job," he said, while pointing out that there "is no asylum on Skoufa Street [where shops were targeted]," in response to questions concerning the issue of abolishing university asylum.

    The spokesman then cited a former New Democracy government public order minister George Voulgarakis, who had described the Greek Police force in 2004 as the most fully trained on a European level, to note that this model police force had since descended to its current low point because of party cronyism, lack of meritocracy and cashiering experienced staff.

    He expressed doubts as to whether the latest measures announced by the government would work, saying it was more a matter of government and the way that it viewed the role of the state.

    "The citizen can expect nothing from this government on issues of safety," he added, while repeating PASOK's position that "there are no dilemmas between public safety and people's rights".

    According to PASOK MP Mihalis Chrysohoidis, who as PASOK minister for public order had presided over the dismantling of the urban terrorist group November 17, phenomena of violence were not new but the government was attempting to provide answers without addressing the problem but by focusing on communications approaches that it tried to impose through the media.

    "The regime of lawlessness must be defeated, along with the regime of disorderliness that exists in the country and the regime of dismantling the security forces, which the government itself has achieved in recent years. These must be dealt with. Because it seems that the police, on the one hand, have put down their hands and, ministers, on the other hand, have laid down their pens," he said.

    The MP had earlier presented the results of a study carried out by PASOK over the past five years (March 2004 - March 2009), according to which the amounts spent each month by a family of four on basic goods in Greece had increased by 273 euros, or 34.1 percent.

    The rise in spending on food was even greater, coming to an additional 243 euros a month and representing an increase of 37.7 percent, he added, while noting that pre-tax fuel prices in Greece were among the highest in Europe and were rising most rapidly.

    Chrysohoidis also asked that the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) be redesigned to take into account the current economic crisis.

    The spatial planning framework announced by the government was blasted as "catastrophic for the country" by PASOK, with Papaconstantinou saying that it would be reversed when the party came into government, while the head of the party's sector for farming issues Vassilis Exarhos called for immediate measures to protect farmers from cartels and bad creditors.

    Reply to government over ECB meeting

    Responding to the government's criticism of a meeting between PASOK leader George Papandreou with European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet and ECB Vice-President Lucas Papademos, Papaconstantinou on Tuesday expressed surprise at the reaction.

    The spokesman stressed that the meeting offered citizens an opportunity to be enlightened on the "progressive positions concerning the exit from the economic crisis", while he called on the prime minister to brief the people on his positions at EU Summit meeting on Thursday and Friday.

    He repeated PASOK's position that restrictive measures could not be the only response to the crisis, which required a developmental plan to support income and investments.

    Referring to a news report on ?European Commission doubts as regards the Greek economic figures,? Papaconstantinou stated that the Greek government's 2004 financial audit was both the cause of the country's current predicament and an alibi used by the government for not meeting its pledges.

    [03] Attica Bank says profits down 39.51% in 2008

    Attica Bank of Tuesday said its 2008 after-tax profits fell by 39.51 pct to 12.61 million euros, compared with 2007, while its pre-tax and interest earnings eased 13.31 pct to 18.15 pct.

    The bank said group assets totaled 4.520 billion euros, up 15.79 pct from 2007, while lending (pre provisions) totaled 3.517 billion euros in 2008, up 16.65 pct from the previous year.

    Mortgage loans grew by 20.8 pct to 582.1 million euros, while consumer loans grew 11.2 pct to 327.1 million euros. Its leasing loans portfolio jumped 52.9 pct to 228.6 million euros after completion of a merger with Attica Leasing SA.

    Attica Bank said its non-performing loans rate was 5.53 pct at the end of 2008, slightly down from 5.57 pct a year earlier.

    Saving deposits totaled 2.951 billion euros, while net interest rose 10.79 pct to 103.47 million euros. Net commission revenues were 35.27 million euros slightly down from 2007.

    [04] Pasal Development reports improved '08 results

    Pasal Development on Tuesday said its consolidated after tax and minorities profits rose to 19.9 million euros in 2008, from 8.9 million euros in 2007. Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) also rose to 26.6 million euros from 15.8 million euros in 2007 while consolidated pre-tax profits jumped to 23.6 million euros from 13.5 million. The company attributed its improved results to the completion of a new shipping mall in Athens and a new logistics centre in Elefsina.

    Pasal Development said net borrowing was 134.6 million euros at the end of 2008, while the value of its real estate property totaled 220.2 million euros, up from 125.3 million euros in 2007. The company said it would skip dividend payment for the year.

    [05] Top Greek diplomat: Skopje violating 'interim agreement'

    GENEVA (ANA-MPA) -- Greece's permanent representative to the UN here on Tuesday charged that the current government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) has violated the September 1995 "interim agreement", signed by Athens and Skopje.

    Speaking at a continuing session of the UN's Human Rights Council, Amb. Frangiskos Verros emphasised that even a mere reading of statements by fYRoM leaders over the past few days proves that the landlocked one-time Yugoslav republic is violating the agreement of 1995.

    Verros stressed that Skopje is obliged, under the interim agreement, to refrain from interfering or attempting to interfere in Greece's internal affairs by claiming so-called "protection of human rights" for any Greek citizen.

    He concluded by saying that every international judicial body will be able to ascertain this violation.

    [06] Gov't lambasts prospect of continued mobilisations by culture ministry 'minorities'

    The government will not accept any blackmail by minorities that show no respect towards the country's monuments or to settlements reached by the overwhelming majority of the culture ministry employees, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Tuesday, referring to mobilisations by several dozen contract employees that mostly targeted the Acropolis archaeological site. "A small minority is threatening sit-ins at the Acropolis and other monuments, demanding that 3,000 former temporary employees receive permanent worker status, knowing that their demands are both illegal and infeasible," he said. The spokesman reminded that Culture Ministry Antonis Samaras submitted an amendment providing for the immediate payment of outstanding wages that resulted from the abolition of the special account in November 2008, adding that all temporary employees will benefit from the measure. Furthermore, work contracts will be renewed until November while the rehiring of temporary employees will be made possible from November 2009 until November 2010, he stressed. The cost of this resolution is estimated at 10 million euros, Antonaros stated, stressing that it is a substantial agreement amidst the current economic circumstances. In an unrelated development, and in response to a press question on whether the legal framework <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">for controversial<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> university asylum is adequate, Antonaros said relative legislation was recently passed and if implemented can be effective.

    [07] OPAP cites 19.6% hike in net profits

    OPAP SA, Greece‚s state-run lottery and football pools operator, on Monday reported a 19.6-pct increase in its consolidated net profits to 728.5 million euros, up from 608.9 million euros in 2007, while adding that net profits fell 7.2 pct to 178.9 million euros in the fourth quarter of 2008

    Consolidated sales totaled 5.52 billion euros last year, up 9.0 pct from 2007, reflecting strong sales by KINO. Sales in the further quarter 2008 totaled 1.54 billion euros, up 1.4 pct.

    Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) grew 30.5 pct to 1.057 billion euros last year, from 810 million euros in 2007, while EBITDA margin rose to 19.1 pct from 17.0 pct over the same period, respectively. EBITDA fell 4.1 pct in the fourth quarter of the year. OPAP said higher EBITDA results reflected lower operating spending and lower administration spending.

    Commenting on the results, Christos Hatziemmanouil, chairman and chief executive of OPAP said the organization presented a spectacular increase in its 2008 results despite adverse economic conditions and stressed that the organization would seek to maintain strong profitability this year.

    OPAP said it would seek shareholders‚ approval to a plan to pay a 2.20-euros per share dividend to shareholders, up from 1.74 euros in 2007.

    [08] LAOS on"golden boys"salaries

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday tabled in parliament a question addressed to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on public organisations staff salaries.

    "In this period of global financial crisis, the salaries of managers in the wider public sector are a provocation to society, particularly the salaries of those who have been appointed by your government in the Public Utilities and organisations (DEKO) that are listed on the Stock Exchange," stated Karatzaferis in the question he tabled, and asked:

    "Do you consider it expedient to take measures to contain, and if possible eliminate, the phenomenon of 'golden boys' and 'golden girls' in the administrations of the companies and organizations of the wider public sector?

    Karatzaferis further asked whether the government intended to introduce new legislation establishing ceilings on the remuneration of the executives of the organizations and companies of the wider public sector, including those listed on the stock exchange.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS)George Karatzaferis.

    [09] Gov't: 1.5% of GDP for R&D by 2015

    Greece aims to spend 1.5 pct of its Gross Domestic Product on research, technology and development by 2015, with the private sector accounting for 40 pct of investments, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis announced on Tuesday.

    Addressing a meeting of the National Council for Research and Technology, Hatzidakis acknowledged that Greece was still lagging in achieving this goal, although he stressed that the government was making a serious effort and urged for the contribution by all interested parties.

    Presenting the goals of his ministry in research and development, he said the focused on close cooperation between research centres and the market so that research and innovation would help in improving living quality, research infrastructure integrated and open to the rest of Europe and the world, encouraging joint ventures between public and private sector enterprises in promoting research and technology.

    Hatzidakis said the government has created five innovation "poles", in Patras, Irakleio, Thessaloniki, Larissa and Kozani, linking educational institutions, research centres, enterprises, technology parks and other organisations.

    It also funds six joint ventures on R&D development in western Greece, Crete, eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Attica, Ionian islands and northern Aegean, with a budget of 572 million euros. Hatzidakis stressed that the government planned to offer financial support of 7,000 euros to each small-and medium-sized enterprise for promoting R&D actions and initiatives.

    Caption: A file photo dated Oct. 25, 2006 shows the propeller of a wind-powered floating desalinisation plant developed by Greek researches to alleviate water shortages on numerous small and arid Greek isles. ANA-MPA / STR

    [10] Bakoyannis at EU-OSCE meeting

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris) Addressing an EU-OSCE Troika meeting held here on Tuesday, Greek foreign minister and current chairperson of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Dora Bakoyannis stressed the need for stronger cooperation between the European Union and the OSCE in order to further develop European security architecture.

    Bakoyannis called for extended dialogue on security issues and announced Greece's willingness to organise an informal ministerial meeting to promote dialogue on this issue in Greece during the summer.

    Regarding Georgia, she noted that last month's decision to extend the mandate of 20 OSCE observers in that country demonstrated recognition of the importance of having a continued OSCE presence in the area.

    Bakoyannis stressed that continuing the work of the OSCE mission in Georgia was of crucial importance and that the Greek OSCE chair was working hard to secure agreement to the OSCE's continued presence.

    Discussion during the meeting also covered the latest developments in Kosovo, Albania and Serbia.

    [11] Stocks end flat on Tues.

    Greek stocks ended with minor changes in the Athens Stock Exchagne on Tuesday. The composite index of the market ended at 1,584.10 points, unchanged from Monday, while turnover remained a disappointing 107.1 million euros, of which 15.3 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Health (2.75 pct), Media (2.11 pct) and Constructions (0.84 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Financial Services (1.98 pct), Telecoms (0.72 pct) and Raw Materials (0.59 pct) scored gains. The FTSE 20 index eased 0.14 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.26 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.51 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 100 to 89 with another 61 issues unchanged.

    [12] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    New police measures against vandalisms and government measures to curtail state expenses and combat the economic crisis dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "4,000 doctors and 5,500 medical staff hirings in National Health System (ESY)".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou makes major mistake- Government spokesman accuses Papandreou of defaming the country abroad".

    AVGHI: "Government calls in Scotland Yard and ......arrests the University asylum - Government announces regulation on the university asylum, abatement in demonstrations and rallies".

    AVRIANI: "Police officers' idleness puzzles police authorities on the effectiveness of the new measures".

    CHORA: "Bankruptcies in market - Dramatic increase in bounced checks in February"

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "The hooded groups of troublemakers are in a 'rigged' match against the state - The source where the 'orders' come from is unknown".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Ruling new Democracy MP's furious with Police's mess-up".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "British spirit in counter-terrorism squad - Former Scotland Yard chief Sir Ian Blair in Athens".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Stores shutting down - Bounced checks reach record number".

    ESTIA: "A speedier exit from the crisis is possible, under conditions".

    ETHNOS: "They are changing the Police's 'face'."

    KATHIMERINI: "Resent over the insecurity - Public opinion in agony - Police special squads in downtown Athens".

    LOGOS: "The government is planning....Cutbacks in state expenses".

    NIKI: "Despair in market - The bounced checks increased by 230 percent in one year".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "All together we will demonstrate on Tuesday demanding that the plutocracy pays for the crisis".

    TA NEA: "Brussels demands new audit: You are shamming us with false data".

    TO VIMA: "Mopeds Plan - Rapid reaction squads in the centre of Athens".

    VRADYNI: "Bounced market - Enterprises' bounced checks 'hit red' in the first two months of 2009".

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