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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 <>


  • [01] PM: we cannot allow Greece to go bankrupt
  • [02] Greek mountaineers to conquer the Himalayas
  • [03] Austerity measures passed
  • [04] KKE: measures 'dangerous'
  • [05] More strikes on the way
  • [06] GDP shrinks in Q4 2009

  • [01] PM: we cannot allow Greece to go bankrupt

    Prime Minister George Papandreou underlined his determination to stop the country going bankrupt in an exclusive statement to the weekly financial newspaper "Kosmos tou Ependyti" appearing on Saturday.

    "We will not allow it to be said again 'unfortunately, we are bankrupt'. I will give, we will give our all in order to save the country," Papandreou said, referring to the historic and laconic phrase with which his predecessor Harilaos Trikoupis had announced to the Greek Parliament in 1893 that the Greek government was unable to service its debts.

    "We will fight passionately anyone that opposes the efforts of the government and our people to put the economy in order. Starting, first of all, with the speculators. It is not just unfair, it also undemocratic, at the same time that the government is making a superhuman effort, for some 'boys' in New York and elsewhere to be sitting in front of their computers undermining it," he said.

    The prime minister referred specifically to the way the speculators had orchestrated their attack on Greece and said that punishing those responsible "was an issue for all of Europe, not just ourselves". He also promised that in three years time, Greece will be a "different" country.

    He underlined that the sacrifices would yield results and that in three years time, the country's public finances will have been restored to health.

    "In three years time, perhaps sooner, Greece will be a country with credibility, prestige and a hopeful future for its citizens," he said.

    [02] Greek mountaineers to conquer the Himalayas

    A Greek team of mountaineers from Thessaly will depart on March 26 on an expedition to the Himalayas in Nepal. The team aims to climb Island Peak at an altitude of 6,189 metres. The team is comprised of four men and two women aged between 20 and 40. The team is headed by veteran mountain climber Nikos Magitsis, who conquered Mt. Everest, the world's highest peak, in May 2004. The Greek mountaineers are expected to return to Greece on April 11. Magitsis is one of the select few summiteers in the world to have scaled the highest mountains on all seven continents.

    [03] 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.

    [04] KKE: measures 'dangerous'

    The measures passed by the government were "clearly dangerous for the interests of the workers," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga said at a rally organised by the KKE-affiliated trade union faction PAME on Friday.

    She said her party had walked out of the debate on the bill because "it was not worth the trouble to discuss such a draft bill".

    "Any kind of discussion on improving the bill would not just be a form of disorientation but also dangerous. At a stage when whatever comes to Parliament is tragic for the workforce, we are fighting before a draft bill comes to Parliament," Papariga said.

    According to KKE's leader, the measures were not just "repressive but a tragedy for the people" and she issued a general call for people to attend the rally on Monday, International Woman's Day, so that "Athens and other cities will truly drown [in people] and say: stop the measures, we will spoil your plans".

    [05] More strikes on the way

    Greek trade unions will reply with more strikes and rallies to the austerity measures passed by the government in response to the crisis, holding the next 24-hour general strike on March 11.

    General strikes on that date have been declared by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union group for the private sector, and the civil servants' union ADEDY.

    Strikes were organised by GSEE and ADEDY and several smaller unions and federations on Friday, while the centre of Athens and Thessaloniki were essentially shut down by a series of large rallies and marches that included violent incidents, attacks on police and vandalism targeting banks and luxury cars.

    Caption: Scene from the march organised by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated trade union group PAME against the government measures on Friday. Further rallies and marches were held later the same day by GSEE and ADEDY.

    [06] GDP shrinks in Q4 2009

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris) - The Greek economy shrank by 0.8 pct in the fourth quarter of 2009, on a quarterly basis, Eurostat said on Thursday. The EU executive‚s statistics agency, in a report, said the Eurozone economy grew by 0.1 pct in the fourth quarter of 2009.

    On an annual basis, Greece‚s Gross Domestic Product shrank 2.6 pct compared with the fourth quarter of 2008, while Eurozone‚s GDP fell by 2.1 pct and the EU-27 the GDP was down 2.3 pct.

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