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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-05-10
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Meeting of Party Leaders CouncilPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will convene the Council of Political Party Leaders at noon on Monday, at the request of prime minister George Papandreou, for an exchange of views on the course of the economy and the country.
The meeting will be attended by premier and ruling PASOK party leader Papandreou, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis.
The country's two Left parties represented in parliament -- the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance have refused take part in the meeting.
KKE leader Aleka Papariga in a terse statement on Friday said simply that she will not attend the meeting of political party leaders, while SYRIZA parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras, who is also leader of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party that heads the SYRIZA coalition, informed President Papoulias in a letter on Friday that he will not take part in the meeting, stressing that "we cannot assume responsibility for irreversible destruction".
Government spokesman George Petalotis later slammed the KKE and SYRIZA decisions not to participate in the council of political party leaders, speaking in Brussels where he was accompanying the prime minister for an urgent eurozone summit to approve activation of the EU support mechanism for the Greek economy.
"At the time that Prime Minister George Papandreou and the government are waging a battle for the country's economic salvation, at the Eurozone Summit which is underway in Brussels, and when social cohesion is extremely necessary, the KKE and SYRIZA are looking for excuses again not to participate in the council of political leaders under the President of the Republic," Petalotis said.
"Unfortunately, their only contribution to this great effort by the Greek people is once again absolute refusal as well as no respect for democratic institutions," the spokesman added.
 Inner Cabinet convenes on social security billThe new social security draft bill will be unveiled during an Inner Cabinet meeting on Monday chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou. Soon after the Inner Cabinet's approval the bill will be tabled in parliament for ratification.
Employment Minister Andreas Loverdos stressed that if the PASOK party does not succeed in saving the country, the political system in its present form will cease to exist. He admitted to delays in the implementation of development initiatives, pointing out that Greece has no more time to lose.
"We are struggling to save the country, disregarding the personal or collective cost. Our criterion is the salvation of the homeland and not how long we stay in power," Loverdos underlined.
 Athens media stoppage 11-3 on MondayAthens mass media will hold a four-hour work stoppage on Monday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to attend the Athens Journalists' Union (ESIEA) regular General Assembly at a central Athens hotel.
The work stoppage involves all Attica prefecture media, including newspapers, public and private radio and television stations, and ANA-MPA.
According to an ESIEA announcement, excluded from the stoppage is coverage of the meeting of political party leaders to begin at noon chaired by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Apart from the political leaders' council, no other news items will be broadcast or dispatched from 11:00 to 3:00.
 Superleague play-offs resultsAEK Athens beat Aris Thessaloniki 4-2 and PAOK Thessaloniki edged Olympiacos Piraeus 1-0 on the third day of playoffs on Sunday, with a qualification spot in the European Champions League at stake.
PAOK 10 points
 We should have taken measuresMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said that the preceding ND government should have taken the appropriate measures for the economic crisis, even if this would have resulted in the toppling of the government, in a newspaper interview published on Monday.
In an interview with Ta Nea daily, Samaras also charged that the current PASOK government is seeking "co-culprits, not backing".
Samaras acknowledged that the previous government of ND should have promptly taken measures to face the economic crisis. "We should have, last summer, ourselves taken measures, which would naturally have been milder than today's measures. And they would have given early on the proper message to the markets. Would that we had taken the proper measures then, even if it had toppled us," Samaras said, noting at the same time that ND former prime minister Costas Karamanlis had, before the elections, "at least made his self-criticism" on this.
Samaras further accused the PASOK government of seeking a "blank check" in parliament, and of expecting the parliamentary parties to vote for "undetermined measures", while he also criticised it for refusing to convene the Council of Political Party Leaders "before he signed the (austerity) measures".
 EU signs 80bln eurozone loanBrussels (ANA-MPA) -- The loan agreement between Greece and the European Commission was signed on Sunday in Brussels for the 80 billion euros support mechanism for the Greek economy, finance minister George Papaconstantinou announced in the first hours of Monday after an urgent marathon 11-hour session of the EU economy and finance (ECOFIN) ministers, who also decided a mammoth 720 billion euros EU support mechanism, with International Monetary Fund (IMF) participation for the eurozone countries threatened with default.
The ECOFIN Council also said it "strongly supports the ambitious and realistic consolidation and reform program of the Greek government".
Papaconstantinou further announced that the IMF Board, in a meeting on Sunday, also approved a 30 billion euros loan for Greece.
He added that disbursement of the first tranche of the total 110 billion euros EU-IMF support package for Greece will commence in the next few days so that the country will not face problems with its borrowing needs and smoothly service its debt this month and in the coming months.
Papaconstantinou further said that the ECOFIN Council further decided the creation of a support mechanism of 500 billion euros from the EU and 160 billion euros from the IMF, which will operate under the same terms as that for Greece, to be available for the EU members, and backed Spain's and Portugal's commitment for significant additional fiscal adjustments in 2010 and 2011.
 Droutsas in EU meetingANA-MPA/Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas will participate in the European Union's General Affairs and Foreign Affairs Councils in Brussels on Monday.
"Today, all of Europe is undoubtedly facing a major challenge. The economic crisis created conditions that threaten the European structure itself, and require collective, decisive action by the European leaders. Decisions are required such as the one taken the day before yesterday that will guarantee the stability of our common currency. That will safeguard the stability of Europe," Droutsas said on the occasion of Europe Day on Sunday.
"It is our duty to consolidate and defend the progress that we have achieved. To continue, not to disprove the hopes of the first visionaries of United Europe, but to carry them out ... Greece is in the front line of this historic course. Its place is there and it shall remain there," he added.
 48h Pharmacy strikePharmacies will be closed throughout Greece on Monday and Tuesday in protest to the government's planned changes to their operational institutional framework.
The Panhellenic Pharmacy Association, which staged a 24-hour strike on Friday, has decided a new 48-hour strike for Monday and Tuesday, demanding that "safety valves" be found to avert the penetratin of private interests in the field of pharmaceutical care.
If the government commits itself to the above, the pharmacists agree to dialogue and call on the government to submit a clear policy on medicine and pharmacies, including a specific time-table, the Association said in a statement, warning that pharmacists will continue their labor action with 48-hour rolling strikes, if necessary.
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
EU decision to establish a support mechanism with IMF participation for eurozone countries threatened with default and the 18 fundamental changes included in the new social security bill, dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Sweeping changes in social security - Relevant bill to be released on Monday".
APOGEVMATINI: "Forty years of work mandatory for retirement".
AVRIANI: "The Europeans fooled us and led Greece to take out loans with delay and high interest rates and they stuck us with the IMF".
ELEFTHEROS: "Government is concealing the anti-popular measures package which is included in the agreement with the IMF".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Clout - Government handed us over to IMF - IMF is not the only solution".
ELEFHTEROTYPIA: "EU-IMF with 600 billion euros against the markets - Tough bargaining in Ecofin on a support mechanism based on the Greek model".
ESTIA: "A low euro parity is good for Greece - It acts positively for competitiveness".
ETHNOS: "16 changes in pensions and retirement ages - The final regulations for social security".
IMERISSIA: "They are shielding the euro - Alarm for a 600 billion euros support package".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Europe gives powerful triple response to the crisis".
TA NEA: "Lower pensions, more labour slavery - The final plan of the new social security bill".
VRADYNI: "Government baptizes the labour Middle Ages .....development - Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou preannounced new measures".
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