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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-05-21
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papandreou meets Lebanese PMBEIRUT (ANA-MPA - V. Mourtis) Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou met his Lebanese counterpart Saad Hariri here on Thursday for talks that focused mainly on bilateral economic cooperation.
In statements afterward, the two premiers said their meeting had been very constructive and had led to agreements on important issues. Papandreou reported great interest on the Lebanese side in carrying out investments in Greece, while Hariri agreed with Papandreou's proposals for EuroMediterranean cooperation and said they had discussed expansion of economic cooperation.
According to the Lebanese premier, the talks had touched on tourism, trade, energy and reforms, while he stressed that Greece had valuable knowhow obtained by hosting the Olympic Games that was needed by Lebanon.
Regarding tourism, in particular, he said there was a great interest in tourism in the general region of Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and other countries in the area.
On his part, Papandreou stressed that Greece had always been close to the Arab world and referred to the need for stability and peace in the troubled region of the Middle East, noting that Greece and Lebanon had common positions in favour of an independent Palestinian state.
"I feel that we know the basis for a solution to the problem and what is needed now in the will of the international community to act," he said.
On strikes in Greece
Questioned about the strikes taking place in Greece on Thursday against the measures taken by his government, Papandreou said he could understand the reactions but insisted that the reforms and changes were necessary in order for Greece to deal with the crisis.
Referring to the EU-IMF support mechanism for Greece and the loan thus secured by Greece, Papandreou stressed that Europe had taken a historic decision. In comments on a decision by Germany and the Euro area to ban trades in naked shorts of eurozone bonds, the Greek premier said the decision indicating that the European Union was determined to defend itself.
"We want markets to be useful for economic growth and operate according to rules," he said, expressing hope that the United States and the G-20 will follow Europe's example in this.
 Samaras on student elections, CoscoMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras visited the offices of the party-affiliated youth group ONNED on Thursday, following Wednesday's positive result for the party-affiliated student group DAP-NDFK in student elections.
"You have been winning for many years. This year, however, you won under very adverse and difficult conditions," Samaras told ND's youth.
"In this way, you also gave a reply as well to those who want the party's perspective to darken. The reply is that you are the perspective, it is youth. We are together, you are by our side. And on behalf of all I congratulate you. And on behalf of the party I thank you very much. Congratulations to all. It was an amazing success," he added.
ONNED president A. Papamimikos said on his part that "it was a great victory, a great battle waged by DAP women and DAP men, who for the 25th consecutive year held the blue flag high in the universities and in the TEI (technical institutes). The flag of hope, the flag of optimism, the flag of confidence."
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party Merchant Marine Political Responsibility sector chief Yiannis Plakiotakis said on Thursday that the statement by government vice president Theodoros Pangalos that PASOK's criticism of the contract signed by the ND when it was in office with COSCO was a misunderstanding was "comical and tragic".
Plakiotakis said better late than never and noted that "we must also remind that the contract in question was signed during ND's governance, and this contract, for which PASOK is now jubilating, is very beneficial for our country."
 Finance Ģin. on public debtThe "net" increase in the public debt during the first quarter of the current year amounts to 5.8 billion euros, while the remaining 6 billion euros - out of the 11.8 billion euros of the total increase in the Central Government's debt - express the increase in the State's fund availables compared to the beginning of the year.
This was announced by the Finance ministry, which stressed that the specific change in the public debt is in full agreement with the borrowing programme prepared for 2010.
 Govāt on Vatopedi affair"We respect the independent operation of investigation committees; we will wait for their findingsā¦The people can see for themselves who is responsible for the situation we are in," government spokesman George Petalotis said on Thursday.
He made the statement when asked to comment on a main opposition New Democracy (ND) party proposal suggesting that Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou appear before a parliamentary examination committee investigating the Vatopedi land swap affair.
Petalotis stressed that "the government is determined to respect the findings of the committees and there will be no procrastination in making specific the responsibilities if they exist, even in the case of criminal charges."
"The autonomy of the MPs is guaranteed by the Constitution and it would have been unthinkable to set restrictions in the questions they table," Petalotis said when asked if the 10 ruling PASOK party MPs, in essence, have turned against the finance minister with a question they tabled seeking information on the Bank of Greece (BoG).
Petalotis said "the MPs express their concern for the state of the Greek economy," adding that "the government respects the duty of the MPs to exercise parliamentary control."
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.
Called to clarify why he denied, with a statement to Reuters, speculation over Greece's exit from the euro-zone, Petalotis said he rejected such rumours because he was asked by the specific news agency, explaining that "the rumours are not limited inside Greece and to specific political figures."
"Spreading rumours is a very popular sport and, unfortunately, when we haven't even considered taking the country out of the euro-zone, we have no other choice than to comment on and deny the obvious. We have reached that point," he said.
 IMF on Greek measuresWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA) -- An International Monetary Fund (IMF) official on Thursday clarified that the organisation has not recommended the abolition of the so-called "13th" and "14th" salaries in Greece's private sector.
IMF foreign relations director Caroline Atkinson said such a proposal was not included in the programme agreed to with the Greek government in order to activate a eurozone-IMF support mechanism.
Nevertheless, Atkinson reiterated that the IMF believes there is an issue of the Greek economy's competitiveness, something that Athens is dealing with, namely, by abolishing various restrictions on the operation of free trade in the country and opening up so-called "closed professions".
In conclusion, she said the significance lies in Greece combatting the twin spectre of low competitiveness and high public debt, something that recently enacted measures aim to address and rectify.
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
Government's measures to tackle tax evasion, the enhanced fiscal discipline and the controlled bankruptcy mechanism in the EU promoted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the nationwide labour strike on Thursday, and Cosco and Qatar major investment projects in Greece, dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Bank loan and credit card repayment facilitations (for pensioners and civil servants) from National Bank of Greece".
APOGEVMATINI: "Changes in local administration reform 'Kallikratis' plan".
AVGHI: "People set social security reform as their red line to the government - Thousands of people protested on Thursday and sent a message against the government's reforms under IMF-EU recommendations".
AVRIANI: "Labour Minister exposes the 'ridicule' with the parliamentary fact-finding committees: "We are making fools of ourselves by presenting five different findings (one report from each of the five parties represented in parliament) on the Vatopedi monastery scandal".
ELEFTHEROS: "5 percent VAT on blue movies - 10-21 percent on food - Government characterised porn DVDs as 'educational for society'."
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Economy Minister Louka Katseli, government spokesman George Petalotis, ruling PASOK parliamentary spokesman Petros Efthymiou and PASOK party secretary Socratis Xynidis, pull the carpet out from under Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou over the bond scam".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Euro-war against speculators - Initiatives to restrain' the markets' lawlessness intensify".
ESTIA: "The reactions to the measures seriously hinder their implementation".
ETHNOS: "Multinational tricks with prices - Surcharge for consumers - Revenues loss for the state".
IMERISSIA: "50 billion euros in secret incomes - 9 billion euros tax loss for the state every year".
KATHIMERINI: "9 billion euros loss in state revenues from tax evasion on incomes".
LOGOS: "Five different conclusions on the Vatopedi case - New clash among parties".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Major investment programmes underway".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Resounding message of rejection of the barbarous antipopular policy".
TA NEA: 'Life raft for 300,000 loans - Immediate facilitation for civil servants".
TO VIMA: "Repayment restructuring for mortgage loans and credit cards".
VRADYNI: "National Health System in state of collapse - A four-year-old child from Xanthi (northeastern Greece) died helpless".
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