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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-02-16
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papandreou meets Putin in MoscowMOSCOW (ANA-MPA - V. Mourtis) Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed their joint desire to further develop strategic relations between their two countries following their meeting in Moscow on Tuesday.
Their talks covered a broad range of issues, from political, economic and trade cooperation to cooperation in energy and culture, and was sealed with the signature of a special protocol for 2012-2014.
Outlining the results of the two-hour meeting, Papandreou stressed that economic cooperation between Greece and Russia was particularly significant at a time when Greece was up against serious economic problems. He stressed that this cooperation would help Greece to re-order and develop its economy during a time of crisis.
Replying to questions, the Greek prime minister also appeared confident that Greece would be able to weather the storm and emerge all the stronger - both politically and economically - since the crisis would provide an opportunity for changes long overdue. He emphasised that the Greek people were ready to support the changes that needed to be made, so that Greece could become a viable economy and an equitable society.
Papandreou pointed out that the current crisis was not just Greek or European but global, and said that Greece was responsible for making changes to its economy and society, outlining the government's goal to reduce the public deficit by four percentage points in 2010 and below 3 percent of GDP in 2013.
During their joint statements, Putin referred to the economic difficulties currently faced by Greece and appeared confident that the country could overcome the problems, while he referred to the "positive" message issued on Tuesday by EU finance ministers on this issue.
He expressed hope that Greek-Russian bilateral relations would help both countries overcome their economic difficulties and pointed out that the global economic crisis had not begun in Greece, Europe or Russia but originated in the United States, which also faced problems like a high public deficit and huge foreign debt in the same way as other countries.
A major part of their talks was devoted to energy cooperation, Papandreou told reporters. He said there had been an agreement to proceed quickly, in collaboration with Bulgaria, with the closely-watched Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project -- which envisions the transport of Russian crude from the Bulgarian Black Sea port to the Greek port in the NE Aegean as an alternate route to avoid the congested Bosporus Straits.
Papandreou said the two sides were also ready to sign a legal agreement for the foundation of a company based in Athens to coordinate their cooperation on the construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline.
Putin particularly emphasised the importance of the South Stream pipeline and other large-scale projects that would help develop the economy, noting that the South Stream was not just a bilateral Greek-Russian project but a major international project being carried out on free-market terms and without any funding problems. He noted that 10 European countries have so far asked to participate.
On bilateral trade relations, Putin said that these needed to be stimulated after shrinking by 40 percent during 2009 due to the economic crisis.
Papandreou said Greece was interested in the expansion of agricultural exports to the potentially large Russian market and they agreed to set up a joint Greek-Russian ministerial committee that met for the first time on Tuesday and will reconvene in Moscow in a few months.
The Greek side is also interested in further developing relations in the tourism and transport sectors, where Putin noted that Greece could become a major energy and transport hub in Europe and thus attract investments that would increase its significance in Europe.
The Russian prime minister particularly stressed the potential for cooperation in solar energy, natural gas and oil, while they also discussed the transfer of Greece's know-how from the organisation of the 2004 Olympics and the Olympic Truce to Russia, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
In terms of bilateral political cooperation, Papandreou said there were shared views on policies for the region and that Greece had made a significant contribution to the start of dialogue on a European security architecture, of which Russia was an inseparable part.
The Greek premier also noted the cooperation with Russia in the Balkans and thanked Moscow for its steadfast, persistent and fair position on the Cyprus issue
At the start of their meeting at the Kremlin, Putin had warmly greeted the Greek premier and said that he expected Papandreou's new Greek government to continue the progress achieved over the recent period in bilateral ties, while assuring that Moscow is interested in boosting relations.
Earlier, Papandreou was received by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who expressed hope that cooperation between Greece and Russia will become closer during Papandreou's term.
In a later meeting with visiting World Bank President Robert Zoellick on Tuesday, Medvedev referred to his earlier meeting with Papandreou and said that he had advised the Greek prime minister to seek the aid of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in solving Greece's deficit and borrowing crisis.
Earlier, Papandreou met with the speaker of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, Sergey Mironov and the chairman of Russia's State Duma Boris Gryzlov.
The Greek prime minister is accompanied by Minister of State Haris Pamboukis, Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, Greek government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis and Deputy Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Yiannis Maniatis.
 ND leader seeks meeting with PM(ANA-MPA) -- Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday asked for a meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou immediately after the premier's return from Moscow in order to discuss crucial issues concerning the economy and the latest developments in Greece's relations with neighbouring Turkey.
"ND's president believes that the critical nature of events must be faced on the basis of national responsibility and national understanding," ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos said.
 Shoot-out leaves 2 officers, passerby injured; 2 foreign nationals arrested(ANA-MPA) -- Two wounded police officers and the serious injury of a passerby were the result of a shoot-out Tuesday afternoon in the Vyronas district of east Athens between authorities and two bank robbery suspects, identified as Albanian nationals.
According to initial reports, the two suspects fled a police stakeout and took refuge in a bakery, before lobbing at least two hand grenades against pursuing police officers.
Both suspects were subsequently arrested, while the injured were transported to a nearby hospital.
The civilian caught up in the shoot-out was described as being seriously injured.
 FinMin on deficit crisisBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA) -- EU finance ministers on Tuesday gave Greece the "green light" to implement its economic stability programme, although they underlined the possible risks surrounding the programme.
"We move fast with solid steps to implement our commitments," Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told reporters after an Ecofin meeting here.
The Greek minister said Athens was ready to reassure its partners, international markets and above all Greek citizens that it would cut its fiscal deficit by 4.0 pct of GDP by the end of 2010 and noted that the government, in the next few weeks, would study all possible risks stressed by Ecofin and would discuss with the European Commission the need "to take any additional measures".
 SYRIZA question on '14th salary'Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday tabled a question in Parliament calling on the prime minister to clarify the government's intentions vis-a-vis the so-called "14th salary", a reference to numerous press reports over the recent period citing the abolition of the extra abolish the "14th salary".
Tsipras charged, in his tabled question, that "wage-earners and pensioners have become the target of the government as if they are the only ones to blame for the economic crisis."
He warned that such a decision would bring a long recession to the country with dramatic consequences.
 Stocks end 1.71% lowerStocks ended significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, hit by a jump in the Greek bonds‚ spreads. The composite index of the market ended 1.71 pct lower at 1,866.87 points, off the day‚s lows, with turnover shrinking to 167.060 million euros. The FTSE 20 index fell 1.31 pct, the FTSE 40 index dropped 2.30 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 2.09 pct down.
The Travel (0.74 pct) and Industrial Products (0.29 pct) were the only sectors to score gains, while Oil (5.72 pct) and Technolgoy (3.91 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Compucon (12.5 pct), VIS (9.73 pct), Druckfarben (9.43 pct) and Athina (9.30 pct) were top gainers, while Voyatzoglou (16.9 pct), Cardico (16.22 pct), Lamda Development (13.12 pct) and Desmos (9.09 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 149 to 38 with another 42 issues unchanged.
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