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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-03-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Samaras: 'PASOK was part of the problem'
  • [02] PAOK supporters block Egnatia highway in protest against away game ban
  • [03] Attack on Glezos, GSEE leader
  • [04] Austerity measures passed
  • [05] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] Samaras: 'PASOK was part of the problem'

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras admitted that his party should have been "more decisive" when in power during an interview appearing in the newspaper "Imerisia" on Saturday. At the same time, he said the current ruling party had been "part of the problem".

    "New Democracy owes an apology for not having been more decisive when it was able. But PASOK was a party of this problem, this negligence. It was not part of the solution," he asserted.

    Samaras insisted that a series of Parliamentary probes launched by the government into the events of ND's governance would be damaging for the country during a time when it was taking such harsh measures in order to recover.

    Regarding the prospect of Greece resorting to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if no help was forthcoming from its EU partners, Samaras said that such as move would be "dangerous" and a "bad omen for Greece but also for Europe as a whole".

    "If we do not save ourselves, no one can save us. And if we decide to save ourselves, then it will be easier for Europe to help us and for markets to support us, so that we will not need help from the IMF," he underlined.

    Concerning the economic measures adopted by the government on Friday, Samaras claimed that the government had "miscalculated".

    "On paper it had cut 4 per cent of the deficit through the Stability and Growth Programme and then another 2 percent of the deficit with the measures announced on Wednesday, with the hope of achieving a reduction of the deficit not by 6 percent but by 4 percent."

    ND's leader also predicted that the austerity measures carried a high risk of social upheaval because "there are blatant injustices, gross injustices and these will cause justified rage".

    [02] PAOK supporters block Egnatia highway in protest against away game ban

    Some 500 supporters of the Thessaloniki-based football team PAOK closed off the Egnatia highway at Kamara on Saturday, in protest against a police ban to prevent team supporters from attending away games.

    The gathered protestors occupied the highway in one direction as they marched toward their team's home field in Toumba, forcing vehicles onto smaller roads.

    [03] Attack on Glezos, GSEE leader

    Attica police on Saturday announced the start of an investigation into the attack on trade union leader Yiannis Panagopoulos during Friday's large-scale rally outside Parliament, in protest against the measures announced by the government. They also issued an announcement concerning the incident in which the elderly leftist politician Manolis Glezos was sprayed in the face with tear gas by police.

    Panagopoulos, who is president of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation representing the private sector workforce, was attacked by unidentified individuals from within the crowd and had to be admitted to hospital.

    The announcement said the spraying of Glezos was an accident that occurred as the police guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were attempting to drive back a group that was attacking police, harrassing the Evzones guards stationed outside Parliament and causing damage.

    "Police rushing to the scene proceeded to arrest one individual that took part in the incidents and was holding a plank...when a group of individuals moved against police attempting to free the detainee, police forces made limited use of tear gas against those resisting the arrest, which caused Manolis Glezos to suffer respiratory discomfort and he was then taken to hospital."

    Twelve people were detained for incidents that took place during Friday's demonstration before Parliament, of which five were placed under arrest.

    Both Panagopoulos and Glezos are still in hospital but not considered any danger.

    Athens was the scene of several marches and rallies on Friday, as well as incidents of violence and vandalism that echoed the events of the previous December, while shops throughout the downtown section were closed.

    Caption: Veteran leftist politician Manolis Glezos, aged 88, as he was being sprayed in the face with tear gas at close quarters by police during a demonstration organised by trade unions outside Parliament on Friday, in protest against the wage cuts and hefty hikes in indirect taxation that were being voted on the same day. ANA-MPA - Symela Pantzartzi.

    [04] Austerity measures passed

    The Greek Parliament on Friday passed a draft bill for harsh austerity measures announced by the government, including sweeping public-sector wages cuts and hefty hikes in indirect taxation. The bill was passed with the support of ruling PASOK and the nationalist, right-wing party Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS). The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) walked out of the vote and there was a verbal exchange between PASOK spokesman Christos Papoutsis and Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis.

    The package of measures had been approved by the cabinet on Wednesday to help meet a target of reducing the country's fiscal deficit by four percentage points in 2010. Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Friday said that no further measures would be required if these were fully implemented as envisaged.

    In statements on Wednesday, Papaconstantinou said the measures offered a clear response to the European Commission and to markets.He admitted that they were patently hard but necessary because they determined the country's ability to borrow in capital markets. He added that Greece was doing what it has to do and that talks with the European Union and its partners would continue in the coming days and weeks to ensure the necessary support. He left the door open, however, for Greece to refer to the International Monetary Fund if the country did not find the necessary EU support.

    Papaconstantinou said the measures announced by the government was all it could do for 2010, while the government was taking additional permanent measures on the request of the European Commission, IMF and the European Central Bank and containing, or lowering payroll cost in the public sector. He added that payroll cost in the public sector has risen by 40 pct in the last five years. Papakonstantinou said the measures in the incomes policy were of permanent nature and would be implemented as long as the country remained under the supervision of the EU.

    The government will examine any corrective moves after the country would be in a position to exit the EU's supervision procedure and will introduce a new payroll system in the public sector, Papaconstantinou said. All cutbacks in the incomes policy will be introduced retrospectively from January 1st.

    The Finance minister said he expected the Greek economy to shrink by more than -0.3 pct -projected in the state budget- but below forecasts made by the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Greece (of a recession between 1-2 percent).

    Papaconstantinou said tax revenues in February were short of budget targets because of a series of strikes in the audit mechanism.

    [05] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The meeting between Prime Minister George Papandreou and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the demonstrations in Athens in response to the government's austerity measures - including the injury of veteran politician Manolis Glezos and the head of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) trade union federation Yiannis Panagopoulos - dominated headlines on Saturday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "City centre a living hell once again. Explosive rally by GSEE-ADEDY (civil servants' union)".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Rehearsal for an uprising. Frustrated protestors-strikers turned the centre of Athens into a battlefield".

    AVGHI: "The river is rising" [sees Friday's strikes and rallies as a harbinger of major strike action and large-scale demonstrations].

    AVRIANI: "Greeks, wake up. No one is going to help us. The foreigners have been stringing us along for years now". [warns that Papandreou's trips abroad will not result in offers of aid from Greece's EU partners]

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Instead of emirs we are ...whiners! Papandreou is running to the courts of Europe and the U.S. begging when we have endless black gold in the Aegean" [claims that there are plentiful reserves of oil in the Aegean that successive governments have refused to drill for].

    ELEFTHEROS: "A 'heroic' reappearance of PASOK's para-state. They sent the 'annoying' president of GSEE to hospital."

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Speculators's dinner at the Grande Bretagne. With a view of the Acropolis and Greek bonds as the 'main course'!"

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Secret speculators' dinner in Athens, initiative by Goldman Sachs for a run on Greece and the euro."

    ESTIA: "The government's big mistakes. Announcing the measures in installments".

    ETHNOS: "We had our fill of Merkel's....words. Praise for the measures but no promises for help".

    KATHIMERINI: "Triple message from Berlin. Angela Merkel: Structural changes are demanded, it will need time, we will support the euro".

    LOGOS: "No thrift in the attacks of the police. Unacceptable attack on Manolis Glezos and Yiannis Panagopoulos.

    NIKI: "When we were building the Parthenon...you were still dressed in sheepskins."

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Abolish the anti-working-class measures on the streets of the struggle for rift-overthrow".

    STO KARFI: "Others partied and others paid. They are being booed wherever they appear." [article on how the former premier Costas Karamanlis and the main architect of his government's economic policy George Alogoskoufis spent their time on the day the government announced the harsh austerity measures.

    TA NEA: "One salary less in the private sector as well. From the autumn, by order of Brussels".

    VIMA: "Opinion poll: 46 percent say 'yes' to measures but a overwhelming 'no' to bonus, VAT, PPC" [cites overwhelming opposition to government cuts in holiday salaries, higher VAT and higher electricity rates]

    VRADYNI: "Great ANGER. Dynamic mobilisations by workers but also misbehaviour".

    FINANCIAL PRESS

    EXPRESS: "Support for Greece with protection via the euro".

    IMERISIA: "ECB shield for Greece. Decision for a 'wave-break' against speculators"

    KERDOS: "Beer and sympathy from Merkel. Praise for the measures but we neither asked for nor received financial assistance."

    KOSMOS TOU EPENDYTI: "'The people's sacrifices will bring results'. Weighty exclusive statements from the prime minister.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "German recipe for development in seven sectors".


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