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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-19
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM: Europe will emerge stronger from crisisPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis arrived in Brussels on Thursday, where he will attend the two-day EU summit that opens that same afternoon.
Following a meeting by affiliated European People's Party (EPP) leaders prior to the summit, Karamanlis stressed that "more Europe" is necessary to deal with the difficult international economic conditions at present. He also noted that EPP leaders agreed over the need to better coordinate policies, as well as greater effectiveness and speed in taking decisions.
"It's certain that Europe, however, will exit the global crisis stronger, assuming that everyone acts with solidarity, protecting Europe's social acquis communautaire," he added.
Support for Jose Manuel Barroso's bid to again serve as president of the European Commission and the EPP's manifesto ahead of European Parliament elections in June were also discussed.
Karamanlis is accompanied by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Deputy FM Yiannis Valinakis.
The summit will focus on the global economic crisis, the credit situation, energy issues and climate change, as well as the European Neighbourhood Policy and the EU's relations with America.
In the evening, after the first session of the summit, Karamanlis will attend a traditional working dinner of the EU heads of state and government.
The second and final session of the summit commences on Friday morning, after which Karamanlis will make statements to the press before his departure for Athens.
 Papandreou: Crisis requires different policyMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, speaking to reporters shortly after the European Socialist Party's summit in Brussels on Thursday, said that a different policy was necessary to handle the present economic crisis.
"Europe needs a bold, progressive policy with a development perspective and the strengthening of the real economy," he said, adding that "inertia cannot lead to a solution to problems that are being created by the economic crisis."
The PASOK leader also stressed the need for supporting employment and protecting the financially weaker groups, through the activation of the welfare state.
Papandreou further referred to the need to boost "green development" through public and European Union investments and added that in the face of the economic crisis "big words are not needed, but actions and specific plan, that the European Socialists possess."
He met on the sidelines of the summit with many prime ministers and European Socialist party leaders, as well as with EU officials, such as Commissioner Joaquin Almunia and EU foreign policy representative Xavier Solana.
 Group claims responsibility for attack on MP's officeThe group "Revolutionary Liberation Action" on Thursday claimed responsibility for last night's attack on the offices of New Democracy MP Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in phone calls to the broadcasting network SKAI and the newspaper "Eleftherotypia".
The 5th-floor office of the Athens 2nd constituency MP in downtown Athens was targeted by arsonists late on Wednesday night, using a makeshift explosive device made of gas canisters and petrol that caused minor material damage to the office's door.
Police later announced that there was no permanent police guard stationed at the building, which was monitored by police patrols that had not detected anything untoward.
Commenting on the incident later, Mitsotakis said that recently there has been a worrisome peak in violence by organized, illegal groups, whose victims the previous week had been shop owners in Athens.
"I fervently defended their right to live freely and work in a safe environment," Mitsotakis said, adding that the result was Wednesday's "criminal action with the explosiion of a home-made explosive mechanism at the entrance to my political office".
Now is the time for actions, not words, he said, adding that the citizens "demand more".
"They demand security and, above all, that law and order be imposed," Mitsotakis said, adding that he will continue to defend the imposition of law and order "at any cost".
 Ecumenical Patriarch receives Serbian FM JeremicISTANBUL <font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek">(ANA-MPA / A. Kourkoulas) -- Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">(Vartholomeos) and <font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek">Serb<font size="3" face="Times New Roman">ian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic discussed issues concerning relations between the Patriarchate of Serbia and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">during<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> their meeting here<font size="3" face="Times New Roman"> on Thursday. Jeremic, who visited the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">the Fanar district<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek">, stated that he was deeply impressed and honoured. He<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> also referred to the multifaceted activities and<font size="3" face="Times New Roman"> the<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> global role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate<font size="3" face="Times New Roman">, underlining the "unique and charismatic personality" of the Ecumenical Patriarch.
 PASOK on new taxes, economic policyMain opposition PASOK on Thursday slammed the emergency one-off taxes and public-sector salary freezes announced by the government the previous day, saying they were the "very definition of political fraud and bankruptcy".
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had personally promised that there would be no new taxes as recently as November, PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou pointed out and claimed that the need for extra taxes was not a result of the economic crisis so much as "the government's financial incompetence".
On the benefits announced for those on lower incomes, he noted that these did not amount to much more than 0.80-1.5 euros per day for groups like pensioners.
According to Papaconstantinou, PASOK had a "radically different philosophy" on taxation policy as a whole, which would include a reduction in the taxation of company profits that were reinvested in businesses and created jobs and the taxing of dividend payments and profits on stock exchange transactions as income.
Papaconstantinou questioned what Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis could hope to achieve at the European leaders' summit beginning later today, noting that the premier would arrive "armed" with the tax measures announced on Wednesday, even though the European Council's agenda was actually dealing issues like stability and transparency for financial systems, the EU recovery programme, the Lisbon Strategy and preparations for the G20 meeting.
According to the spokesman, the recovery plan adopted by the EU last December had included a series of actions to boost purchasing power, competitiveness, ensure that banks returned to their traditional role as creditors, fiscal measures for public investment, VAT reductions and lower social insurance contributions.
"The Greek government has done none of these," he stressed, while noting that the European Commission had rejected both the updated Stability and Development Plan and the National Reforms Programme submitted by Greece. While the Commission had asked for permanent structural reforms, he added, the measures announced by the government were one-off measures that did not address structural weaknesses.
Asked to comment on PASOK's insistence on 'green development' policies and the reservations expressed by economist Paul Krugman during talks with PASOK leader George Papandreou, Papaconstantinou clarified that the economist had merely said that green development was not a solution in itself for exiting the crisis, since some of the investments had a long-term horizon.
On the other hand, the spokesman added, 'green development' was something that "we must do anyway".
"This direction is a one-way street and this is apparent from the importance given to these sort of investments by countries like the United States under its new administration, but also by many European countries," Papaconstantinou stressed, while adding that PASOK considered that Europe should have taken additional action to overcome the crisis.
Turning to other issues, Papaconstantinou again expressed doubts about whether new measures announced by the government would be effective in protecting public safety and preserving order. He also asked the government to clarify what had caused the death of a woman inmate who died in transit to Crete from Athens, while condemning a bomb attack on the office of New Democracy MP Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Responding to an announcement by Environment Minister George Souflias about establishing an independent environment ministry by 2010, the spokesman noted that this was the first time that he had seen "the prime minister publicly replaced".
"There will, of course, be an environment ministry in 2010 because it will have been founded by the PASOK government after it has won the elections," he added.
 Greek shipping support for MIGMarfin Investment Group (MIG), Greece's largest business group, belongs mainly to the Greek shipping community and would have never reached its current position without the active support of the shipping industry, MIG vice-chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos said on Thursday.
Addressing a reception at the Piraeus Shipping Club, Vgenopoulos said MIG was the main investment arm of worldwide Greek shipping, investing in the east Mediterranean country and in more than 40 countries.
He stressed that business leaders have a duty to take actions and initiatives supporting the economy and the society in times of an international economic crisis and noted that representatives of the Greek shipping industry were doing their duty by preserving job positions amid adverse economic conditions, maintaining high wage levels and continuing investments, many of them through MIG.
The high-profile MIG executive said a global economic crisis looks like a partly destroyed train running at low speed, risking passengers' lives, moving towards the exit of a tunnel.
Commenting on the Greek economy, Vgenopoulos emphasised on a lack of competitiveness and its high public debt. The situation was getting worse from a lack of liquidity in the market, he said, adding that the domestic banking sector's significant presence in southeastern Europe was worsening conditions.
Vgenopoulos said lower profits by domestic banks would hit public revenues as well, while commenting on an agreement reached with the Greek state to buy national carrier Olympic Airways and its ground service, he said it the result of collective efforts reached after negotiations with several members of the shipping community.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of MIG vice-president Andreas Vgenopoulos.
 Ai Stratis Greece's first 'green isle'The small and remote northern Aegean of island of Ai Stratis (Aghios Efstratios), situated a few miles southwest of Limnos, is projected to be transformed into a "green island" by exclusively using renewable energy sources, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis announced Thursday. Pilot projects budgeted at 10 million euros, funded by the General Secretariat of Research and Technology, will be underway and completed before the end of the year, to be followed as early as June by similar initiatives by a commercial scale on slightly larger islands, namely, Nisyros and Tilos. According to the ministry, only three completely "green islands" exist in the world, King Island in Australia, Samsoe in Denmark and Utsira in Norway. Aghios Efstratios aspires to become a member of this exclusive group. Oil-fired generators currently used to meet the island's electricity needs will be replaced by wind generators, photovoltaic systems and a bio-mass unit. The project also provides for the replacement of all mass transportation with electric-powered vehicles. A project study conducted by the Public Power Corp. (PPC), the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), the Center for Renewable Energy Sources (CRES) and the University of the Aegean will be completed in May. Hatzidakis underlined that the promotion of "green energy" use is a priority for the government and pointed out that since 2004 the installed power of plants using renewable energy sources was tripled from 430 to 1,350 MW.
 ASE above 1,600-level on Thur.Greek stocks ended strongly up, pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange above the 1,600-mark level on Thursday. The index rose 2.80 pct to end at 1,622.88 points, with turnover an improved 149.4 million euros of which 6.9 million were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Banks (6.32 pct), Constructions (3.70 pct), Utilities (3.04 pct) and Travel (2.77 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Financial Services (0.91 pct), Chemicals (0.55 pct) and Media (0.49 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 3.63 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.61 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 1.18 pct higher. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 136 to 68 with another 53 issues unchanged.
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