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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-27

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM meets ministers, MIG's Vgenopoulos
  • [02] PASOK blames 'voiceless' government for EU pensions ruling
  • [03] Stocks end 2.46 pct lower

  • [01] PM meets ministers, MIG's Vgenopoulos

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday received Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and the executive vice-president of Marfin Investment Group (MIG) Andreas Vgenopoulos, whose group recently made a successful bid to buy Greece's ailing national carrier Olympic Airways.

    "We discussed issues concerning the economic crisis that is now rocking all of Europe, while we specifically discussed the issue of air transport," Hatzidakis said after the meeting.

    The minister confirmed that the talks had also been about OA, adding that the airline was making a new start and "turning a new page in the air transport sector".

    "We believe that what happened with Olympic is a step forward and points the way for continuing structural changes".

    Vgenopoulos, on his part, said that the prime minister had invited him to take part in a discussion that he found very interesting.

    "We discussed issues relating to Olympic Airways, air transport, tourism and matters concerning the economy, which is at a very difficult conjunction".

    Talks with agriculture minister

    Earlier on Friday, Karamanlis also met agricultural development and foods minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, who briefed the premier on progress in the developmental program for the Greek countryside.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, Hatzigalis noted that the "Alexandros Baltatzis" developmental program for 2007-2013 was being updated and "rekindled" for that purpose,

    The minister said that subsidies, support and indemnities in relief will be reaching Greek farmers by the summer, adding that these would assist more than half a million Greek farmers.

    Hatzigakis also briefed Karamanlis on a process of national dialogue with farmers now underway, which was urgently bringing the problem with agriculture back to the forefront.

    The problem, he explained, was both European and international, while adding that the national agricultural policy council would be restructured through the national dialogue aimed at participatory democracy and involving farmers in the solution of issues that concern them.

    Among the prime minister's other engagements on Friday were a meeting with former minister Marietta Yiannakou and attending a ceremony where world-renowned actress Irene Papas received the newly-established award "Internationally Recognised Greek Men and Women" from the Hellenic Parliament Foundation for Parliamentarianism and Democracy.

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (Left) converses with actress Irene Papas (Right) during a ceremony organised by the Hellenic Parliament Foundation for Parliamentarianism and Democracy on Friday, during which the actress received the newly-established "Internationally Recognised Greek Men and Women" award.

    [02] PASOK blames 'voiceless' government for EU pensions ruling

    Main opposition PASOK on Friday criticised the government's lack of response to a European Court decision axing early retirement for women in the public sector, while accusing Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis of giving a "wink and a nod" to employers seeking to flout employment rules by shedding staff.

    PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou also blamed the government for the unfavourable outcome, saying that it had not argued the case strongly enough at the European Court.

    "The lack of serious negotiations and the government's voicelessness leads us to conclude that the only thing that is possibly driving the government's policy at this time on the specific issue is the fiscal problem and nothing more. And this is extremely worrying," the spokesman stressed.

    "One would have expected that after the European Court's ruling was released there would be a major press conference, where the ministers responsible would explain to Greek citizens what our country's alternative options were," noted Papaconstantinou.

    "What will the government do? Will it go to a different legal framework so that these pensions will once again come under the logic of a social and not professional pension? Will it negotiate transitional periods? Will it protect the women that have already established pension rights?" the spokesman asked, pointing out that neither the employment minister nor the interior minister had been heard on these issues.

    Replying to questions that challenged PASOK's critical stance toward the premier's call for 'flexibility' in labour relations due to the crisis - with reporters pointing out that PASOK MP Anna Diamantopoulou had essentially said the same things in a speech given on Thursday - Papaconstantinou insisted that the main opposition's stance was different.

    "PASOK's position is that, in a time of crisis, you cannot wink and nod at businesses so that they shift the entire weight of the adjustment on their workforce," he underlined.

    The spokesman stressed that there was currently widespread abuse of the existing legal framework for labour relations and that the government should instead be making sure that such abuses did not exist.

    "It should have policies that support the real economy, support enterprise, support workers that live under the fear of dismissal or a change in their working relations," he said, adding that measures to support businesses struggling due to the crisis should not be open to abuse in a time when all economic activity was at risk.

    "We cannot let businesses decide when they are at risk or not at risk and to abuse the framework," he emphasised, noting that such abusive decisions, when generalised, would be extremely damaging for both the employees involved but also society as a whole. He also noted that a framework that was a useful tool in times of growth needed modification during times of economic crisis.

    PASOK would therefore abolish this framework when it came into power and introduce one that prevented abuses but allowed companies a degree of flexibility when they were on the verge of becoming bankrupt, he added.

    [03] Stocks end 2.46 pct lower

    Greek stocks ended sharply lower in the last trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange, as investors took profits after a five-day rally in the Greek market. The composite index fell 2.46 pct to end at 1,671.80 points, with turnover a low 142.1 million euros of which 6.2 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Constructions (7.20 pct), Banks (5.28 pct), Industrial Products (3.42 pct) and Financial Services (3.38 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Utilities (1.90 pct) and Oils (1.35 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 3.33 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.80 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index eased 1.37 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 159 to 53 with another 44 issues unchanged.

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