|Wednesday, 21 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-01-24
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Samaras slams government 'inertia and laxity'Main opposition New Democracy President Antonis Samaras accused the government of general inertia and laxity during an interview published on Sunday by the newspaper "Typos tis Kyriakis" under the headline: "I will not rule over ruins".
"The fact that we support the government in what is necessary for overcoming the crisis does not mean that we are giving up. Just as I promised to support them in times of difficulty, in the same way I will ring the 'warning bell' every time they founder. The economy cannot withstand such goings-on," Samaras said.
ND's leader once more expressed the party's disagreement with the closure of roads by protesting farmers, which he said was the harbinger of worse to come.
"Unfortunately, the state does not have a farming policy but only a policy for distributing subsidies and other financial support," he said, adding that this long-term failure of policy was generating more and more desperation among farmers and increased numbers of road blocks.
On the process of reorganising ND after its electoral defeat, Samaras said that the party had now overcome the period of introversion and indicated that he was in a position to assess when criticism was useful.
He also noted that ND was not afraid of the parliamentary probes being proposed by ruling PASOK, stressing that his party had nothing to hide.
On the issue of giving nationality to the children of migrants, Samaras said that nationality should be given to the children of legal migrants in Greece after they complete nine years of mandatory education.
 Farmers stand fastProtesting farmers remained at their roadblocks throughout Greece on Saturday and Sunday, obstructing the flow of traffic on many roads and determined to force the government to concede to their demands.
The border blockade at Promahonas, on the Greek-Bulgarian border, was temporarily opened from Saturday night as Serres farmers were awaiting the results of their meeting with Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Katerina Batzeli on Monday.
Their representatives stressed, however, that they were ready to escalate their protest action from Monday, not ruling out a blockade of the Thessaloniki-Bulgaria rail connection, if their demands were refused.
Their protests have had an impact on the local ski resorts, which had expected heightened traffic as a result of the recent snows but had few visitors, since few excursionists braved the prospect of finding roads closed by tractors.
In addition to several intersections and border crossings, farmers used tractors to obstruct the passage of trucks and heavy goods vehicles at the port of Igoumenitsa in northwestern Greece, preventing truckers from boarding ferries for Italy or leaving the port.
Goods vehicles coming off the ferry "Champion" of ANEK lines remained trapped inside the port after their arrival from Italy.
A public prosecutor has visited the port of Igoumenitsa to hold talks with the farmers, while several trucks that had intended to board the "Superfast" ferry to Italy were waiting outside the port.
In a comment on the protests in the newspaper "Free Sunday", Batzeli stressed that the yearly going forth of tractors onto the roads every winter by farmers was doing them a disservice and "sending the wrong messages to society, which saw and judged them."
The minister stressed that representatives of all production and social bodies will be meeting at Zappion on Monday for the start of dialogue on farm issues, while the invitation to the representatives of the farmers at the road blocks to take part and outline their positions and proposals remained open.
Batzeli also stressed that the amounts demanded by farmers were excessive: "given that those eligible for farming subsidies number nearly 900,000, if we gave 15,000 euros for every agricultural enterprise the total would be in the region of 13.5 billion euros," she pointed out.
 Tsipras speaks with farmersCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party president Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group, visited a road block set up by protesting farmers in Alamana on Sunday and underlined his support for their cause, as well as criticising statements made by agriculture minister Katerina Batzeli in the press.
"I felt great surprise when I read in the papers today the dismissive way that the government deals with you," Tsipras told farmers, stressing that the government should have spoken directly with the representatives of the farmers at the road blocks instead of accusing them of chasing after publicity and the cameras.
According to Tsipras, farmers were the most "productive force in the country" and the current crisis could not be overcome if Greeks only consumed and did not produce anything. He also emphasised the problems of the official trade union structures for farmers, saying that they were part of the problem, and the failure of successive governments to ensure the smooth payment of EU subsidies to farmers because of the weaknesses of state administrative systems.
In an interview with the newspaper "Free Sunday", Batzeli stressed that if farmers took to the roads in their tractors as a "winter tradition" every year, they would be "doing themselves an injustice and sending the wrong messages to society that watches and judges".
 KKE on migrants, farmersIn an announcement on Sunday, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Political Bureau has proposed the legalisation of all immigrants living and working in Greece and the granting of nationality upon adulthood to all young people in the country, if they desired it.
The announcement was issued in response to the government's announcement of plans to facilitate the granting of Greek nationality and voting rights to legal migrants and their children.
The party noted the problems faced by some 250,000 children of migrants that have been born or spent the larger part of their lives in Greece, noting that they have to contend with the insecurity and the minimal rights afforded to their parents, are not registered in local authority rolls, cannot obtain birth certificates and, in some cases, are unable to obtain a passport from their parents' country of origin.
It criticises the government's draft bill, saying that this only concerns a part of the migrant population and does not deal with the migrant issue as a whole.
Regarding the right of migrants to vote in municipal elections without having Greek nationality, KKE notes that this right is restricted to those that are ethnic Greeks, EU member-state citizens or that have long-term residence permits and does not allow them to be elected as mayor or municipal councillor.
Papariga tour of farmer road blocks
Visits to the farmers' road blocks in Nikaia and Alamana were made on Saturday by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, who expressed the KKE's support for their struggle.
Papariga urged farmers to draw up a common set of demands and exert joint pressure on the government, while she dismissed the dialogue on farm issues starting in Athens on Monday as little more than a sham and said that the speech on farm issues made by Prime Minister George Papandreou was "provocative".
She expressed support for the farmers decision to protest by closing roads and border crossings, saying that this was justified when they had been fighting over the same issues for the past decade.
"If you withdraw from the road blocks you will lose everything," she stressed in Alamana, noting that the government was aware of their demands and had to answer them, while stressing that the government's policy on farming was "incorporated in the dictates and choices of the EU".
 Greek Press ReviewAthens' Sunday newspapers at a glance
The economy, the fiscal crisis, slashed benefits for civil servants and farmer protests were the main front-page items in Athens' Sunday newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Who loses and how much from the cutbacks in benefits".
APOGEVMATINI: "Shock changes for civil servants".
AVGHI: "Alexis Tsipras: Time of responsibility for all of us".
AVRIANI: "Antonis Samaras threatens rebels with expulsion".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "'We are not giving ourselves to anyone,' Antonis Samaras message to recipients within and outside New Democracy".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis thanks Christoforakos" [reveals letter from former prime minister Costas Karamanlis to main Siemens kickbacks case suspect Michalis Christoforakos, thanking him for his support after the 2004 elections].
EPOCHI: "Road block for the policy of recession and unemployment. Social eruptions begin".
ETHNOS: "Pangalos bombshells. The restoration of the economy will be a terrible ordeal. There is no plan B...if we fail, we are ruined".
KATHIMERINI: "Fiscal crisis strangling markets".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Universal militant action for the strike on February 10 with PAME".
LOGOS: "Between the tractors...and the deficit! The government caught between the Clashing Rocks of the economy and the farmer protests".
NIKI: "Fears that major earthquakes are coming. Richter in Brussels frighten Greece".
PARON: "Instead of him, Borissov! Unheard of. The Bulgarian prime minister came to open the road blocks".
REALNEWS: "The threat of bankruptcy and Athens' reaction. Nightmare!".
TO VIMA: "The 'Titanic' Syndrome. Government caught between farmers and markets as the country threatened with bankruptcy".
VRADYNI: "Civil servants lose up to 750 euros".
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