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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-12-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] 2010 budget adopted; PM pledges change
  • [02] Cloudy, wet weather forecast on Sunday
  • [03] KKE demands ship fire probe
  • [04] Sharp drop in trade deficit
  • [05] Taxi strike over stabbing death
  • [06] Concern for Patriarch

  • [01] 2010 budget adopted; PM pledges change

    Prime Minister George Papandreou underlined his government's determination to change things in the country as he wrapped up a five-day Parliamentary debate that ended with the adoption of the 2010 budget. He also pledged transparency in all the government's actions, stressing the need to restore the trust of ordinary citizens in the Greek state and the country's credibility in the eyes of its European partners.

    Parliament finally adopted the 2010 budget in the early hours of Thursday, with 160 deputies of the ruling PASOK party voted in favour and 139 deputies from the four opposition parties voting against. One deputy, out of the 300-member House, was absent.

    "Those who seek to downgrade our great institutional reforms regarding the state should ask themselves why our efforts failed in the past," Papandreou said in his address to MPs.

    "We should, all together, prepare a strict timeframe regarding necessary reforms," Papandreou said.

    He went on to cite transparency, a fairer tax system leading to a more equitable redistribution of wealth and reliability as the key principles that would govern the government's budgets in the future.

    "In this difficult conjuncture, each must contribute according to their capacity. Because there are 500,000 unemployed that need real support, and social inequalities provoke tensions," the premier said.

    Referring to the government's work since its coming to office last October, Papandreou said the cabinet has already approved nine bills, and added that the difference between his PASOK government and the previous New Democracy government was not quantitave "but concerns the orientation it serves: Who is being served by it. Our option is crystal clear: We serve the Greek citizen and only him."

    [02] Cloudy, wet weather forecast on Sunday

    Cloudy weather and rain, especially in western and northern parts of the country, is forecast on Sunday. The day will start with strong southerly winds reaching up to 8 Beaufort in the Aegean. Temperatures will range between 8C and 22C but fall sharply on Sunday night. Cloudy in Attica, with possible rain from the afternoon, and temperatures between 13C and 20C. Rain in Thessaloniki, with temperatures between 8C and 14C. Rain is also forecast in areas on the route of diversions bypassing the Tempi Valley, where a major landslide has cut off the main national highway between north and south Greece.

    [03] KKE demands ship fire probe

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Saturday demanded a thorough investigation into the causes of a fire on board the Greek-owned freighter "Aegean Wind" the previous day, while it was sailing off the coast of Venezuela. Six of nine missing merchant seamen, three of them Greeks, had been recovered dead by the Venezuela coast guard on Saturday, while another five members of the vessel's crew suffered minor injuries.

    Expressing its sorrow and support for the families of the sailors killed, KKE was also critical of the government for statements that appeared to exonerate the owners Atlantic Bulk Carriers Management Ltd of responsibility before any investigation had been carried out.

    The party stressed that it was unacceptable to "attribute the death of so many workers to bad luck, at a time when the number of employer crimes on land and at sea has radically increased."

    The policy that served competitiveness and the profitability of capital had led, in addition to a reduction in wages and the rolling back of basic labour rights, to dangerous working conditions, the party said.

    [04] Sharp drop in trade deficit

    Greece's balance of trade deficit fell by 46.7 percent in October 2009 to 1,910.7 million euros from 3,582.2 million euros in October 2008, according to provisional figures released on Thursday by the national statistics service ESYE.

    The decline of the trade balance deficit resulted from a 39.8 percent drop in imports-arrivals and a 25.3 percent drop in exports-dispatches.

    The trade balance deficit for the 10-month period January-October 2009 also dropped by 43.3 percent to 20,562.6 million euros from 36,288.7 million euros in the corresponding period of 2008.

    Caption: Container terminal (EPA)

    [05] Taxi strike over stabbing death

    Taxi drivers in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki were on strike until 14:00 on Saturday, in protest over the murder of a fellow taxi-driver in the region of Pylaia on Christmas Day.

    The 32-year-old victim was found dead in his vehicle on Friday with six stab wounds to the neck and was buried on Saturday. Police say that robbery did not appear to be a motive for the killing, since the unlucky victim had money on him when he was found.

    This is the second murder of a taxi driver in the city this month.

    A 32-year-old taxi driver was found stabbed to death in the early morning hours of Friday, Christmas Day, in the Pylaia district of Thessaloniki. The driver, who also owned the cab, featured stab wounds to the neck.

    [06] Concern for Patriarch

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou) Archbishop of America Demetrios has sent letters to U.S. President Barack Obama and top U.S. officials, expressing concern about the safety of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul and seeking their assistance in his protection.

    The letters were sent before Christmas Day and addressed to Obama, U.S. Vice President Jo Biden, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Speaker of the U.S. Congress Nancy Pelosi and the leader of the Democrats in the Senate Harry Reid.

    The letter also asks them to help secure the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul to continue operating and carrying out its mission.

    Archbishop Demetrios wrote the letters in the wake of incensed reactions from Turkish officials and some Turkish media to statements made by Bartholomew in an interview with CBS, during which the Patriarch complained that his treatment by Turkish authorities often left him feeling "crucified" and "like a second-class citizen".

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during a visit to the island of Crete in Greece.

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