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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-05-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM proposes creation of Euro-Med Cooperation
  • [02] Parties clash in Parliament over BoG
  • [03] Discussion and ratification of renewable energy sources bill completed
  • [04] Castle of Fairy Tales in the Peloponnese
  • [05] Nationwide strike Thursday
  • [06] Mykonos still popular
  • [07] ASE opening: Decline
  • [08] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] PM proposes creation of Euro-Med Cooperation

    Beirut (ANA-MPA/V. Mourtis) -- Greece's prime minister George Papandreou proposed the creation of a Euro-Med Cooperation Forum, addressing an Arab Economic Forum in Beirut during a visit to Lebanon.

    Speaking at the opening session of the 18th annual Forum, organised by the Arab League, Papandreou also outlined the Greek government's initiatives for simplifying procedures for the licensing and operation of foreign businesses in Greece, noting that an ad hoc team has been set up for that purpose coordinated by the premier himself.

    Regarding the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, Papandreou said it would lead to economic and social development that would extend beyond the Mediterranean.

    It is an ambitious idea, Papandreou said, adding his conviction that such a cooperation could lead to the creation of a zone of peace, stability and security in the wider region.

    Stability in the region is not a simple matter and does not concern each country separately, he explained. He cited climate change as an example, warning that it could aggravate the existing problems related to water and food supply and create new hazards not only to human health and the ecosystem but also to the economies of the countries.

    Papandreou cited his recent meeting with Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Athens as an example. "We sat at the same table and discussed many sectors of cooperation, and these types of cooperation can create stability in the region and a new developmental model," he said.

    The Greek premier also referred to Greece's recent borrowing from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), stressing that the country's recourse to the EU support mechanism translated into guarantees for Greece and gave it the needed time to advance the major changes planned, such as those in the economic and business sectors.

    [02] Parties clash in Parliament over BoG

    A tabled Parliament question on the Bank of Greece (BoG) by 10 ruling PASOK MPs sparked a sharp confrontation between the parliamentary spokesmen of PASOK, main opposition New Democracy (ND) and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Wednesday.

    PASOK parliamentary spokesman Christos Papoutsis offered his full backing to the party MPs who tabled the question, stressing that their move is within the framework of a new understanding as regards parliamentary control.

    ND parliamentary spokesman Costas Markopoulos, meanwhile, charged that the government had justified the BoG decision when a relevant question was made in the past.

    On his part, SYRIZA's parliamentary spokesman Panagiotis Lafazanis said the question on the BoG is a "bomb" and wondered why the government showed no interest when a relevant question was tabled by him.

    The question tabled for FinMin George Papaconstantinou concerns changes made by the Bank of Greece on Oct. 5, 2009, one day after the elections, to rules for the clearing of transactions involving Greek bonds.

    Previously, such trades through the Greek Electronic Secondary Securities Market were considered complete if the securities were delivered to the buyer and the corresponding sum was paid to the seller within a period of three days (T+3). Any transaction not completed within this time was considered "failed" and penalties were imposed.

    On Oct. 5, however, the BoG adopted a process of automated recycling of such failed transactions for a total of 10 days (T+10).

    According to PASOK MP Vasso Papandreou and nine other ruling party MPs who signed the question, this decision essentially introduced Over-The-Counter (OTC) private negotiation rules in an organised market, with international markets alerted to the change by Euroclear on Oct. 29.

    On Dec. 10, 2009 the BoG also conceded to a demand by Greek banks to waive penalties for those who could not produce the securities after the 10 day extension.

    According to the MPs tabling the question, extending the time period for finalising trades creating much greater margins for speculation and manipulation to lower prices. The longer a trade is not finalised, the greater the buyer's ability to "push" bond prices down in order to buy them at a lower price at the end of the period, while at the same time having the opportunity to gain from higher CDS values through so-called 'naked short selling'.

    The changes made by the BoG allowed such naked short selling to take place without the speculator having to incur any penalty, the MPs noted, while they rejected BoG claims that the changes were made to harmonise with a new common European platform for securities trades, pointing out that the new system was only approved by the ECB in April and was not due to begin operating before the end of 2014.

    Finally, they point out that the BoG decision coincided with the period when the price of Greek bonds began to fall and spreads against the German bunds began to rise alarmingly and facilitated the speculative attack on Greek bonds.

    [03] Discussion and ratification of renewable energy sources bill completed

    ิhe discussion and ratification of the articles contained in the bill on promoting and developing renewable energy sources has been completed at the Parliamentary Plenum.

    Environment Minister Tina Birbili termed the bill one of the most important steps for a new energy model that will provide an impetus for the country's development and will create new jobs.

    She reiterated that by the end of June Greece will submit to the European Commission an integrated plan of action in pursuit of the targets of 20-20-20 (20 percent decrease in greenhouse gases, 20 percent increase in energy performance and in addition an increase in the percentage of renewable energy sources to 20 percent) so that the state and investors will know, as she said, what "we need every year for renewable energy sources".

    Birbili conceded that certain problems remain, but added that one bill cannot solve all the longlasting problems that exist, but what is important is that all agree on the target.

    [04] Castle of Fairy Tales in the Peloponnese

    The municipality of Filiatra, located in Messinia Prefecture in the Peloponnese, southern Greece, has its own Eiffel Tower thousands of miles away from the original in Paris, France.

    Haris Fournarakis, or Harry Fournier, returned to Filiatra from the US, where he had become a surgeon and made a fortune, in the 1960s and started to live out his fantasies. First he built the replica of the Eiffel Tower at one end of the town, then went on to build the Kastro ton Paramythion, the Castle of Fairytales, in his home town of Agrili, where he raised his family.

    Filiatra is built on the westernmost tip of Messinia Prefecture, and a replica of the Eiffel Tower welcomes visitors at the northern entrance of the city.

    The replica is 26 meters tall, much smaller in size than the original, and was built in the previous century by Dr. Harry Fournier (Fournarakis).

    The Filiatra Eiffel Tower, which is illuminated at night, was restored by the municipality in 2007.

    [05] Nationwide strike Thursday

    A nationwide labour strike was in progress on Thursday in the public and private sector, called by the country's two main umbrella federations GSEE and ADEDY in protest over the planned changes to the social security system, while they have also announced that a new strike will be called the day the relevant bill will be voted on in parliament.

    The strike will bring public transport to a standstill, as commuter buses, the Athens metro, trams and Proastiakos suburban railway will not be operating, while only the ISAP train service will operate from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Hellenic Railways (OSE) employees are also taking part in the 24-hour strike.

    International flights are not affected, as the country's Air Traffic Controllers are not participating in the strike, although some minor delays may occur in domestic flights mainly in small airports if members of the OSYPA federation representing Civil Aviation Authority employees decide to strike.

    No passenger or merchant ships will sail to and from the country's ports as seamen and dockworkers are participating in the strike.

    GSEE and ADEDY are staging a protest rally at the Pedion tou Areos park in central Athens followed by a march to parliament, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated PAME labor organisation is holding its own rally in Athens' downtown Omonia Square.

    Rallies are also scheduled in Thessaloniki and many other cities throughout Greece.

    Also on strike are the Hellenic Telecoms (OTE) and Public Power Corporation (PPC) employees, primary and secondary school teachers, lawyers.

    Public hospitals will operate only with a skeleton staff.

    [06] Mykonos still popular

    Tourists' satisfaction indicator regarding their holidays on the island of Mykonos amounts to 86.5 percent, according to the results of a survey conducted on behalf of the municipality by the MTC GROUP advisers company in cooperation with the Polytechnic of Crete.

    More specifically, Greeks visitors, that account for 30 percent of arrivals, stress by up to 83.5 percent their satisfaction, place greater emphasis on the criterion of entertainment and recreation and less on the remaining characteristics of the tourist product.

    On the other hand, foreign tourists are satisfied by up to 88 percent and place greater importance on the criterion of natural beauty, the climate and the feeling of relaxation and entertainment and recreation to a lesser extent.

    Another characteristic of Mykonos's visitors is the great spread regarding ages and nationalities and the low degree of dependence on tour operators.

    Visitors to the island choose to have a vacation on the island with friends, relatives or as couples and about 14 percent with a family.

    [07] ASE opening: Decline

    Equity prices were declining at the opening of trade on Thursday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the basic share price index down 1.41 percent, standing at 1,613.45 points at 11:15 am, and turnover at 19.569 million euros.

    Individual sector indices were moving mostly downward, with the biggest gains in Personal & Household Goods, up 0.92 percent; and Telecoms, up 0.75 percent.

    The biggest losses were in Health, down 2.15 percent; and Construction, down 1.66 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was down 1.73 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was up 0.02 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was down 0.35 percent.

    Of the stocks traded, 32 were up, 41 were down, and 19 were unchanged.

    [08] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The European front against speculation headed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Finance Ministry's meticulous investigation of specific categories of professionals for tax evasion, China's intended investments in Greece focusing on tourism and ports and the nationwide labor strike on Thursday, mostly dominated the headlines

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "They exonerate drug dealers and arm smugglers - They are annulling their sentences and appointing them in municipalities".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Government in nervous breakdown - In-party clearing up of accounts with 'leaks' and revelations feared by ministers".

    AVGHI: "Education a trade - IMF's memorandum hands over education to the powers of market'.

    AVRIANI: "Mutiny by 10 ruling PASOK MP's, including former Minister Vasso Papandreou - Question tabled in parliament against Bank of Greece (BoG) chief and Finance Minister ignites fire in government".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Ten MPs' stern accusation against Finance Minister".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Movement in PASOK over scam with bonds - Vasso Papandreou and nine more PASOK deputies 'expose' Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and BoG chief George Provopoulos".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Former Deputy Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou's case brings turmoil and fear of the possibility of the revelation of a similar case".

    ESTIA: "Unbelievable chaos over taxes - How unpaid debts skyrocketed".

    ETHNOS: "Rebuke of Tax Bureau employees over revenues".

    IMERISSIA: "New suspicious game with Greece and the euro - ECB and Switzerland rumoured to intervene in order to support the euro".

    KATHIMERINI: "Merkel's ultimatum to the North - She suggests controlled bankruptcy for those member-countries that will not take advantage of the EU support mechanism".

    LOGOS: "New list of debtors to the state underway - Meticulous inspection of artists, high school teachers and journalists".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Markets hit red due to the German measures".

    NIKI: "Cosco 'sees' Greece as its gateway to Europe".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Strike today - No one must be absent".

    TA NEA: "The Chinese are coming - They promise to make major investments in ports and tourism".

    TO VIMA: "Severe austerity in....painkillers too - Social security funds will not pay for them".

    VRADYNI: "Closed due to looting - Workers' message to government and EU".

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