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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-03-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Airbus develops engine failure mid-air, returns safely to Thessaloniki
  • [02] Alternate FM Droutsas' interview with Der Spiegel
  • [03] Dodecanese union anniversary celebrated
  • [04] Opinion polls on measures

  • [01] Airbus develops engine failure mid-air, returns safely to Thessaloniki

    An Aegean Airlines Airbus 320 with 146 passengers aboard developed engine trouble mid-air en route from Thessaloniki to Athens on Sunday and was forced to return to Macedonia Airport, where it landed safely.

    Macedonia Airport chief Savvas Vassiliadis told ANA-MPA that the airbus took off from Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport at 15:32 and a few minutes later, at 15:46, developed engine trouble and made a forced return to Thessaloniki, where it landed safely at Macedonia Airport.

    He said all the passengers of the airbus, which was carrying 4,700 gallons in fuel, were well and safe and will be accommodated on other flights.

    [02] Alternate FM Droutsas' interview with Der Spiegel

    Alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas praised the "excellent Greek-German relations", in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, but he also stressed that the matter of war reparations from Germany remains open, although "in no instance do we like this with our efforts for streamlining the Greek public finances".

    Asked how tense the relations between Greece and Germany are, Droutsas attributed the tension in the past few days to the feeling that the pressure and criticism on the Greek people sometimes reach the limits of taunting and spite. "All these have caused exacerbations and misunderstandings," he added.

    To a question on whether there are still "open accounts", citing recent statements by Greek government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos on the nazi occupation forces in WWI, which took the money and gold of the Greeks, without ever returning them, and that Hitler had imposed a 3 billion dollars 'loan' and left Greece with an additional debt of approximately 5 billion euros after the nazi forces withdrew from Greece, Droutsas noted that Pangalos' statements reflected the fact that the Greek people felt truly annoyed, "but I am certain that this does not reflect the true relationship between the two countries".

    As for the "open accounts", and in response to a question whether the invocation of Germany's history is a disorientation manoeuver, Droutsas noted that "these issues continue to be open and up for discussion"..."and when a discussion is emotionally charged to such a degree, then these are used as tools".

    "But both sides will not allow themselves to be disoriented by such a discussion," he added.

    Droutsas further clarified that the Greek government has never asked for financial aid from its EU partners, nor does it intend to do so. "What Greece expects from the EU is that it will send a unanimous message that Greece, with the measures it has taken, is on the right path".

    "It is a matter of our credibility. We need the absolute solidarity of our partners so that the markets will calm down again," Droutsas added.

    [03] Dodecanese union anniversary celebrated

    The 62nd anniversary of the Dodecanese Islands' union with Greece was celebrated on Sunday with parades and other events throughout the island complex.

    The main event took place on the island of Rhodes, at which the government was represented by government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos, while MPs from main opposition New Democracy (ND) and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, MPs from the Dodecanese and local and regional officials also attended.

    [04] Opinion polls on measures

    Although the majority of respondents in four opinion polls appearing in newspapers on Sunday acknowledge that the measures taken by the Greek government for fiscal streamlining are necessary, they nevertheless describe them as "unfair and tough" and believe they will chiefly impact the lower income brackets.

    According to a Kapa Research opinion poll appearing the Sunday edition of To Vima newspaper, 69.1 percent of the respondents believe that the measures will be temporary, although finance minister George Papaconstantinou has stated that they will be permanent, while 59.1 percent say they have confidence in the effort being made by prime minister George Papandreou to bring the country out of the crisis.

    However, 95.1 percent stress that the measures, in order to succeed, must also be combined with a developmental policy.

    Further, 86.5 percent of the respondents say that the measures must not become harsher with the imposition of new taxes, while 75.9 percent oppose the measures' extension to the private sector as well.

    Also, half of the respondents believe that the reduction in their incomes creates new class differences and rifts in the country's social fabric, while 86.9 percent believe it highly likely that a social uprising will erupt, and only 45.6 percent see the mobilisations organised by the country's two largest umbrella federations, GSEE and ADEDY, as "positive".

    In an Alco opinion poll appearing Sunday in Proto Thema newspaper, 86. 2 percent of the respondents say the measures are "unfair" and 71.9 percent consider them "harsh".

    Despite the measures, 41.0 percent of the respondents continue to have a positive or improved impression of the government, although 64.0 percent believe the measures will prove inadequate for tackling the economic crisis.

    One a one-by-one assessment of the measures, the respondents disagree with five of the 12 measures, believing they impact the middle and low incomes. More specifically, the respondents consider as "very negative" the VAT increase (80.8 percent), the increase in fuel prices (80.3 percent), the freeze on pensions (75.4 percent), and the cuts in the Christmas, Easter and summer holiday bonuses (70.5 percent), while 54.7 percent consider the reduction in benefits in the public sector as "negative".

    According to a Public Issue opinion poll appearing in Sunday's edition of Kathimerini newspaper, 36 percent of the respondents attribute the biggest blame for the "fiscal collapse" to older governments: 28 percent to the preceding New Democracy (ND) governments of Costas Karamanlis from 2004 to 2009; 14 percent to the older PASOK governments of Andreas Papandreou in 1981-1989 and 1993-1996; and 12 percent to the PASOK governments of Costas Simitis in 1996-2004.

    The respondents also strongly disagree with the increase in tax on fuel (78 percent), the freeze on pensions (74 percent), the cutbacks in Christmas, Easter and summer holiday bonuses (72 percent) and the increase in VAT (68 percent).

    In a Pulse RC opinion poll appearing in Sunday's issue of Eleftheros Typos newspaper, the overwhelming majority of the respondents (90 percent) attribute blame for the present state of the economy to older governments -- 81 percent to the Karamanlis governments and 76 percent to the Simitis governments -- while 46 percent put the blame on the delays by the current PASOK government of George Papandreou.

    The respondents further object to the measures, in declining order, for cutbacks in the Christmas, Easter and summer holiday bonuses and in remuneration, and the increases in VAT and the tax on fuel.

    However, with respect to voter intent (what party the respondent would vote for if general elections were to take place the following Sunday), the incumbent PASOK presents a 12 percentage point lead over main opposition ND.

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