|Monday, 18 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-11-17
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Dialogue on all major issuesThe government will begin broad-ranging national and social dialogue on all major issues where PASOK's programme has promised large-scale changes, government spokesman George Petalotis said on Monday, adding that all sides would be asked to state their positions.
"It is self-evident that rapid steps are required. Everyone will be heard. The government will make its decisions and will proceed to carry them out," he stressed.
Noting that the government's positions were well known, the spokesman said that the ministers in charge would adopt positions in individual issues when the time was ripe.
He denied reports of disharmony between members of the government, stressing that the government was doing excellent work in the short time since it took over power, and said that open invitation to dialogue obviously included the political parties, stressing that this was sincere.
"We seek dialogue and participation in the expression of opinions and positions," he underlined in response to questions, adding that the government desired discussion on major issues concerning the country, such as social insurance reforms.
Concerning the economy - and whether there were margins for dialogue given the strict constraints imposed by the EU - Petalotis said that an open dialogue on the economy would not just discuss different methods of taxation but also a different model of growth for the country.
"In these difficult economic conditions we are beginning to define what kind of economy we want from here on," he underlined.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Maximos mansion (government's headquarters).
 ND election race acceleratesThe election race for the new leader of main opposition New Democracy (ND) is accelerating, with just two weeks remaining before the ballots on November 29. The President of the Central Election Committee Dimitris Sioufas will on Tuesday present the election procedures. Meanwhile, former Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos announced on Monday his support for leadership candidate and former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
Two opinion polls were released in a same number of newspapers on Sunday regarding the upcoming main opposition New Democracy party's leadership election.
According to the results of an opinion poll conducted for the "Ethnos" newspaper, former minister Antonis Samaras leads the race with 45.3 percent, followed by former minister Dora Bakoyannis, who received 41.1 percent of respondents' preference, while Thessaloniki prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis garnered 10.5 percent.
In another opinion poll published in the Sunday edition of 'Kathimerini', Samaras was picked by 43 percent of respondents, followed by Bakoyannis with 35 percent. Psomiadis is third with 18 percent.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of candidate for ND leadership former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis(L) and candidate, former Culture Minister Antonis Samaras(R).
 Events commemorating Polytechnic uprising culminate on TuesdayEvents commemorating the 36th anniversary of the November 17, 1973 students' uprising at the Athens Polytechnic, which essentially led to the collapse of the seven-year military dictatorship in Greece (1967-74), culminate throughout Greece on Tuesday.
A three-day commemoration is held each year in tribute to a student uprising against the military dictatorship ruling Greece at that time, that was violently put down in the early hours of November 17, 1973 when the army and tanks were brought in to disperse the students that had taken over the Athens Polytechnic building and the civilians who had thronged to the site in support of the uprising.
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and parliament president Philippos Petsalnikos on Tuesday laid wreaths at the Polytechnic monument commemorating the uprising and those who died, while prime minister George Papandreou, education, life-long learning and religious affairs minister Anna Diamantopoulou and main opposition New Democracy (ND) former education deputy minister Spyros Taliadouros laid wreaths at the monument on Monday, and Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga laid a wreath on Sunday.
Pupils, students and other citizens of all ages have been steadily streaming to the monument throughout the three days, while parliament held a special session devoted to the anniversary on Monday evening, and messages on the anniversary were issued by the political parties
In a message marking the 36th anniversary of the Athens Polytechnic uprising, President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday stressed that it was for all Greeks "a reference point, a reason for collective self-respect and conviction that light can emerge from darkness."
"It is an anniversary that demands, apart from honours for the fighters of the uprising, also deliberation and a return to the question of whether the bread is enough for all, whether education is that which our children deserve, whether freedom is complete and not negotiable for minorities," he said.
Those who had stood up against the junta of 1967-1974 constituted models for behavior, life stance, and a code of values, Papoulias added.
The president noted that uprisings usually occurred without planning or design and by people that might later regret their actions or change.
"In reality, they do not belong to those that cause them but to those in whose name they take place. And they are almost always expressions of revolt and demands of a younger generation that always leads the way in major reversals," the president stated.
"This is one of the reasons why young people deserve our understanding, even for their mistakes," he said.
Caption : A lady lays a flower to the monument in the yard of Polytechnic school in Athens. ANA-MPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU
 EU ministers meet NATO chiefBrussels (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris) -- EU-NATO relations, with emphasis on the situation in Afghanistan, were the focus of a joint meeting of EU foreign and defence ministers with NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in Brussels on Monday, with deputy foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas and defence minister Evangelos Venizelos representing Greece.
In statements to the press later, Droutsas said that an exchange of views took place on the challenges facing the two organisations (EU and NATO) in crises management, for the purpose of sharing experiences and observations.
Droutsas said that Greece plays a primary role in this area, as a country with a significant participation in peacekeeping operations.
"We have presented a series of proposals for rationalisation of the EU-NATO cooperation, which in recent years has met with some obstacles," Droutsas said, noting that "our goal and desire is for Greece to co-formulate a framework for cooperation that will strengthen the abilities and effectiveness of the two organisations' action, always with full respect of their distinct roles and processes".
Venizelos, in turn, said that both the EU and NATO perceived that the big problem in Afghanistan is the democratic legitimisation of the (president Hamid) Karzai government, combating corruption, speeding up the procedures for the consolidation of the Afghanis' sovereignty for the responsibility of their country.
He stressed that emphasis must be placed on the procedures for institutional training and upgrading but also on the procedures for the building of a state in Afghanistan but without transposing the western-central model, adding that the cultural and multi-tribal environment must be kept in mind together with the need for creating a fundamental just state with justice, police, legislation and an elementary lawful order.
Referring to a recent decision by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) on the terms of Greece's participation in the NATO force in Afghanistan, Venizelos said it was a very responsible and functional stance with which Greece fully meets its obligations as a member of both the EU and NATO. "We are acting within a framework that is widely accepted," he noted.
Caption: ANA-MPA/EPA file photo of NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
 Clash on remote routes tenderHigh-profile Marfin Investment Group (MIG) chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos on Monday lashed out at the relevant transport deputy minister for the latter's handling of an airline route tender to so-called remote island destinations in Greece, saying recent developments in the sector are "very unpleasant".
Vgenopoulos sharply criticised Deputy Minister Nikos Sifounakis over what he called a "scandalous inability" and lack of specific policy in air transports, adding that the latter should have been aware of such matters since he has been responsible for transport issues in PASOK's shadow government during the previous five years.
Vgenopoulos said a recent decision by Greece's Civil Aviation Authority to award 15 remote destinations to two obscure airline companies for 2.2 million euros, despite the fact that newly privatised Olympic Air had offered to service 16 out of a total 24 remote destinations with zero subsidies and the remaining eight with a small subsidy covering operating expenses, highlighted the "lack of any policy in the air transport sector by the government".
Vgenopoulos noted, however, that Olympic Air would not resort to legal action but urged for the intervention of the Prime Minister and of the independent judiciary to examine the issue.
On its part, Greece other major private carrier, Aegean Airlines, reiterated its interest in servicing remote destinations in the country as well, saying it would participate in a tender next year to win a two-year contract for routes to remote destinations.
Aegean Airlines also criticised the commission responsible for the tender for its decision not to accept its bid for an interim four-month period.
In later statements, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas said the government was actively focused on promoting transparency and to safeguarding public interests.
Responding to accusations by Vgenopoulos over the handling of the tender, Reppas said the state must safeguard the credibility and legitimacy of any procedure during a period when several tenders are being launched with conflicts between various groups.
The minister said he would send Vgenopoulos' statements at the news conference to the general inspector of the public administration to examine all of the accusations made by the well-known Greek executive.
Reppas also provided his full backing for Sifounakis, noting that "Mr. Sifounakis is politically more than adequate for the specific ministry and for the government."
On his part, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, Odysseas Vlamis, said the exclusion of Olympic Air from the temporary tender for the remote routes was due exclusively to the fact that the company submitted an offer "on conditions", meaning combined transportations, something not allowed by the tendering terms. He stressed that at this point if Olympic had submitted a regular offer it would have taken 21 of the 24 remote routes.
He confirmed that Olympic had submitted an offer for the 16 remote routes with zero subsidisation, while for the remaining eight it wanted 5.9 million euros when a year ago the corresponding amount had been 4.8 million euros.
As regards new tendering that has been proclaimed for the nine remaining remote routes, since the 15 have been assigned to three other companies, the Civil Aviation Authority head said that this time Olympic submitted an offer without conditions and that the results will be announced in about a week.
CAPTION: ANA-MPA file photo of MIG Chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos
 Greece on pipelines projectGreece solidly supports the promotion of two pipeline projects, Burgas-Alexandroupolis and South Stream, along with a timely updating of an agreement with Russia for the supply of natural gas, as the current one ends in 2016, to cover increasing domestic needs, a relevant deputy minister said on Monday.
Environment, energy and climate change deputy minister Yiannis Maniatis made the statements following a meeting with Russian Amb. Vladimir I. Chkhikvishvili.
The minister said the two countries agreed to re-launch a joint working group to deal with the promotion of all issues related with a bilateral agreement. Maniatis added government ministers were expected soon to sign and to table to parliament a draft law covering environmental and issues related with the use of land. The Russian ambassador said his country was ready to begin the project as planned an in direct coordination between the governments of Russia, Bulgaria and Greece.
The Russia side briefed the Greek deputy minister over developments in the South Stream project.
Maniatis later met with British Amb. David Landsman and discussed energy issues.
 Vaccination against H1N1The vaccination programme against A/H1N1 novel influenza began in Greece on Monday with the administration of the vaccine to doctors and hospital staff.
According to the Greek monitoring centre for diseases, the response by doctors and nurses has been satisfactory and earlier objections concerning the safety of the vaccine had been largely swayed after the briefing given to the country's healthcare personnel.
Among the first to receive the vaccine at Athens' Evangelismos Hospital on Monday morning was Health Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou, who said she had herself vaccinated in order to support the effort and stressed that the "weapon" against the new flu was the vaccine.
Concerning the government policy on schools and 'swine' flu, the minister said that there was no change of policy at this time but that the progress of the disease was being carefully monitored and additional measures would be taken if necessary.
Greece's Pneumological Society also advised those with long-term respiratory problems to get vaccinated against H1N1 on Monday, stressing that doctors advising such patients to avoid the vaccine or failing to advise them to take it were guilty of bad practice.
It also advised smokers over the age of 40 to carry out tests to check whether they might be suffering from chronic obstructive lung disease that would make them more vulnerable to H1N1, stressing that many might be suffering from lung problems without being aware of it.
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Tuesday edition of Athens ' dailies at a glance
The status of "new flu" and the vaccination process, which started on Monday, developments in main opposition New Democracy (ND) party's leadership race, looming social security reforms and a caustic attack by a high-profile business executive on the government dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens ' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "(Aris) Spiliotopoulos supports Dora (Bakoyannis)".
APOGEVMATINI: "Dora's retort with Aris Spiliotopoulos".
AVGHI: "Government hesitant on social security - Decision for reforms in social security creates turmoil".
AVRIANI: "Corrupt state leading country to bankruptcy - (MIG chief Andreas) Vgenopoulos furious over 'fixed tender' by transport ministry against OA".
CHORA: "Mr. MIG: Bankruptcy of Greek economy has started - Vgenopoulos attack against government and Bakoyannis".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Aris by Dora's side".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "We crashed 10 years earlier - Social security: We've spent on pensions this year what was foreseen for 2020".
ESTIA: "Negative climate in economy - Taxes terrify people".
ETHNOS: "Electronic safari for VAT".
IMERISSIA: "Nervous breakdown at Athens Stock Exchange".
KATHIMERINI: "Market worried - Raise of spread, 50 percent increase in bounced checks".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Economy negatively affects stocks and bonds - Index plunges 3.26 percent on Monday".
NIKI: "2.8 billion euros in bounced checks".
RIZOSPASTIS: "ND and PASOK's laws on social security must be revoked".
TA NEA: "Doctors shun new flu vaccine".
VIMA: "Polytechnic, 36 years after".
VRADYNI: "Hikes in real estate taxes".
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