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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-05-11

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papoulias: Crackdown on tax evasion
  • [02] PM: Greece deserves social justice
  • [03] 4R quake jolts Evia island - felt also in Athens
  • [04] Pharmacists suspend strike
  • [05] Reforms in social security unveiled
  • [06] Samaras: Cut MPs to 200
  • [07] KKE criticises other parties
  • [08] Droutsas in Brussels
  • [09] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] Papoulias: Crackdown on tax evasion

    ANA-MPA/President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday reportedly called for stricter legal action and a "special offense" status vis-à-vis tax-evasion and tax evaders, speaking at a meeting of political party leaders' at the presidential mansion the same day, focusing entirely on measures and initiatives aimed to abate the debt crisis.

    The meeting, presided over by Papoulias, was attended by Prime Minister George Papandreou, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis. The leaders of Parliament's two leftist parties, the Communist Party (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliament grouping declined to attend.

    Papoulias called for stricter legal provisions to combat tax evasion to allow a more rapid adjudication of such cases; abolition of MPs immunity from prosecution while in office; changes in the law regarding ministers' liabilities; decreases in state funding towards political parties; changes in the statement of means regime for deputies as well as modifications in the electoral law.

    The Greek president proposed what he called a "zero tolerance" for politicians violating laws that apply to every other citizen.

    Turning to developments on the debt crisis, Papoulias said it was important that European leaders finally, albeit with some delay, provided a "strong message to speculators attacking the euro. The Greek problem is a symptom of the international financial system's illness, and the deficit in the eurozone's political integration."

    He added, however, that this doesn't mean that the severe crisis faced by Greece today is without its own domestic causes. "The crisis is not only economic, it is deeply political, because the client state and a model exercise power in an opaque manner is bankrupt. At the point we reached, our lenders are now imposing terms."

    Additionally, Papoulias, a former foreign minister, underlined that the civil servants' code must absolutely be followed, "so that rogue (public servants) are punished quickly and strictly ... something that is a prerequisite for a catharsis of the state apparatus".

    Finally, the Greek president referred to the shocking death of three bank employees, one of whom was pregnant, last week during violence along a protest march through central Athens.

    "The grief over the horrible death of three people, who fell victim to disgusting violence, is unbearable ... protests cannot be exploited to commit illegal acts. Everyone's freedom of protest stops where the right to life, freedom and work of the other begins. We must end this now," he emphasised.

    [02] PM: Greece deserves social justice

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a cabinet meeting on Monday afternoon, set as a precondition for the "future that Greece deserves the consolidation of a climate of social justice and mutual trust." He added that this "is needed by society, it is needed by the country".

    The prime minister stressed in his address that due to the measures that have been taken the feeling of injustice has been aggravated in society, something that he himself raised on Friday at the European Council meeting.

    Papandreou pointed out that the feeling of justice is very important in dealing a blow at impunity, something that concerns the entire political system. He further said that the government and his ruling PASOK party "are promoting the great reforms with changes and reversals, but with a steadfast democratic way that consolidates the feeling of justice".

    Referring to Monday's meeting of the Council of political party leaders, the prime minister said that he ascertained a positive response on many issues. However, he kept certain reservations because, as he said, all these will be judged in practice and added that "many things that are based on words are not supported in practice."

    [03] 4R quake jolts Evia island - felt also in Athens

    An earthquake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale jolted the island of Evia on Tuesday morning, and was also felt in parts of Athens and the wider region.

    The earthquake was recorded at 10:03 a.m. at a distance of 75 kilometers northeast of Athens, with its epicenter in the village of Psachna on Evia island.

    No damage was immediately reported

    [04] Pharmacists suspend strike

    The country's 11,000 pharmacies will operate as normal on Tuesday, since the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Society has suspended its strike, following the meeting held on Monday between the Society's directorate and Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli.

    The Society's president D. Vagionas said after the meeting that "Mrs. Katseli reassured us that there shall be no surprise and that the 'red lines' that have been set by the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Society will not be touched, as are the land planning and population criteria."

    The Society's board will convene again on Wednesday to reconsider the situation that has been created and to proceed with new decisions.

    [05] Reforms in social security unveiled

    The government on Monday unveiled a pre-draft legislation envisaging drastic reforms to the country's pension and social security system.

    Presenting the draft legislation, Employment and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos said the changes were designed to ensure the viability of the pension and healthcare system, rescuing the national economy and favouring positive assessments of Greece in the framework of the European Union and ensuring the smooth operation of an EU/IMF support mechanism for the country.

    The main changes of the new system include: introduction of a basic pension, guaranteed by the state, totaling 360 euros. Introduction of a retributive pension based on paid contributions and the working time which will begin operating from 2018, offering incentives for longer stay at work. The new system aims to raise the real average retirement age from 61.4 years currently to 63.5 by 2015, prohibiting all voluntary retirement programs and imposing penalties for early retirement.

    It also envisages that all civil servants will be included in the IKA system from 2013, introducing a single management agency for pension funds' reserves, integrating social insurance agencies and separating the healthcare from the pension system.

    Speaking to reporters, Loverdos said the measures were aimed to reconstructing the social insurance scheme, by rescuing it from collapse, while at the same time it will contribute decisively to achieving the government's primary target of avoiding bankruptcy, restructuring public finances and taking the country into a new cycle of sustainable growth.

    [06] Samaras: Cut MPs to 200

    A package of "bold reform" measures to help overcome the ongoing economic and political crisis was proposed by main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras during the meeting of political party leaders, chaired by President of Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday.

    The measures include changes in the law on ministers‚ liabilities, reducing the number of Parliament deputies to 200, adoption of measures for greater transparency in the management of public funds, adoption of statement of means for civil servants, banning party cadres from heading up public organisations and stricter controls on political party finances.

    Samaras also suggested holding a Constitutional revision to promote necessary reforms.

    He underlined the importance of "national understanding" and called for the immediate withdrawal of the legislation on migration and the "Kallikratis" public administration mergers plan, pointing out, however, that his proposal for withdrawal of the two draft laws was rejected by the prime minister.

    He reiterated that a public real estate property should be utilised to allow the economy to exit what he called the "vicious circle" of recession and underlined that a "crusade" should get underway to limit bureaucracy and regulate the "investment environment". He also said that there should be no initiatives on national issues under the present circumstances.

    [07] KKE criticises other parties

    A statement issued by the Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) central committee on Monday called on the working classes to "claim the power" by "organising its own front and turning its back to the political parties responsible for the current situation, and the trade union leaderships."

    The KKE proposal suggesting a new course for Greek society will be outlined in the rally on Saturday, May 15, in Athens, according to the statement.

    Meanwhile, a meeting of the political party leaders, which was held earlier on Monday under President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, was derided as a "circus".

    The statement also pointed out that "the crisis is European and not a Greek phenomenon" and called on the working classes "to withdraw their vote of confidence from ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND), to isolate the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) and resist being fooled by the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA)," terming the latter as "unreliable".

    [08] Droutsas in Brussels

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris) - Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas expressed his satisfaction over the references contained in the European Union's common position that will be presented at the EU-Turkey Association Council taking place on Monday.

    According to the alternate Foreign minister, the EU's common position places emphasis on the promotion of the constitutional reform in Turkey, hailing the Turkish government's relevant intention.

    Droutsas further said that without these reforms and the structural changes in the Turkish state and Turkish society there can be no genuine vision of Turkey's full accession to the EU.

    As regards issues of special Greek interest of the common position, Droutsas said that Greek positions are fully covered. Regarding the relations of good neighbourliness and the issue of Cyprus, the Council returns to the positive formulations of the conclusions of December, while there is explicit reference to Sea Law.

    The alternate Foreign minister also mentioned that in the relevant text the adoption of the latest Confidence Building Measures is hailed and Turkey's obligations towards minorities, their property rights and the Ecumenical Patriarchate are recorded, while mention is made of the recent relevant opinion by the Venice Committee.

    Referring to relations between the EU and Russia, an issue discussed at Monday's General Affairs Council, Droutsas said that the EU and Russia share common interests and face common challenges. For these reasons, as he said, the strengthening of this relation is supported with the enlargement of the field of cooperation to issues that will have an impact on the daily lives of citizens, such as trade relations, Russia's participation in the World Trade Organisation and the starting of a substantive discussion on the deregulation of the visa system.

    [09] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The reforms in the social security system announced on Monday by Employment Minister Andreas Loverdos, the euro parity increase and the profits in stock markets together with the fall of spreads after the EU-IMF announcement of a 750 billion euros support mechanism for EU countries threatened with default, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Prime minister George Papandreou, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis agreement on the 3 burning issues at the extraordinary Political Leaders Meeting chaired by President of Republic Karolos Papoulias".

    APOGEVMATINI: "No guarantees on the pensions' size".

    AVGHI: "Shock in pensions too - The state will not guarantee on the size of the pensions".

    AVRIANI: "Dramatic changes in social security - All the new amendments on pensions and retirement ages".

    ELEFTHEROS: "The diary of reversals in the social security system - Loverdos' big ploy with pensions".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Triple shock in pensions - Loverdos' social security bill will be reviewed by the EU and IMF".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "40 years of work to get a pension equivalent to 35 years of work".

    ESTIA: "We were giving false data since 1998 - IMF kept warning us'.

    ETHNOS: "The pensions for the old and the newly insured".

    IMERISSIA: "Hopes for stabilisation - EU-ECB (European Central Bank) intervention calms the markets".

    KATHIMERINI: "Breather in the eurozone - Markets' enthusiastic reaction - Moody's insists".

    LOGOS: "Heavy penalties for early retirement - All the changes in social security with examples".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The markets are 'celebrating' the 1 trillion dollars (EU-IMF) package".

    NIKI: "Civil servants: How you will not get fired".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Way out exists and also hope for the people".

    TA NEA: "The entire new social security bill - Deliberation begins today, will be tabled in parliament in May".

    TO VIMA: "Extensive cuts in all pensions - Loverdos: Without changes, the social security funds will collapse".

    VRADYNI: "Pensions of penury - All the changes contained in the social security draft law".


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