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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-06-08
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Gov't denies rumours of Greek defaultGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Monday strenuously denied rumours speculating about a possible default by Greece and a return to the drachma.
"We have recently become witnesses of various rumours about an alleged return to the drachma, alleged rescheduling of the debt, hybrid money systems and various other things that we are hearing for the first time," Petalotis said, adding that such groundless rumours could only create confusion and disorientation in Greek society as it tried to overcome the crisis.
"Naturally, we categorically deny all these fanciful scenarios, wherever they may originate from and in whatever way they are disseminated in Greek society," Petalotis added.
The spokesman stressed that people should feel confident in the government's implementation of the Stability and Growth Programme, saying that this will "put us on a different course from here on".
He criticised those spreading rumours of a default for undermining the Greek public's sense of financial security, while refusing to comment on how these rumours had arisen, noting only that "everyone has own their views and motives for making statements about the Greek economy".
Petalotis emphasised that the government was working and had made a very great effort for the creation of the EU-IMF support mechanism, "without which we could not now speak with the certainty and security we do now."
"We are trying through our actions to reassure the Greek people and instill a sense of economic security in citizens during very difficult conjunctures in which we act and give prospects and a target in Greek society," he said.
He also emphasised that assessments by Brussels concerning the implementation of the stability and growth programme were "not in any way linked with fanciful scenarios of bankruptcy and return to the drachma".
According to Petalotis, the indications concerning the implementation of the stability and growth programme were so far positive, both in terms of reducing spending and in terms of increasing revenues. He also noted that the government did not have enough figures yet to be able to make a final estimate concerning revenues, so that no assessment could justify the kind of rumours that had circulated.
He also denied that the government was considering additional austerity measures.
 Katseli on lifting of cabotageEconomy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli participated in an interministerial meeting held at the Maximos Mansion on Monday on the issue of cabotage.
"As you are aware, the direction given by the prime minister and his announcement is that we must proceed swiftly with the lifting of cabotage for the sea cruise as well. We discussed the last details of the draft law that will be coming to Parliament in the coming days. They are the terms that are jointly acceptable by all the agencies that deal with the cruise issue, so that our country will become a sea cruise centre for the entire Mediterranean," Katseli said later.
According to the discussion held during the interministerial meeting as well, the draft law will be tabled in Parliament during the coming days.
 South Stream pipelineMOSCOW (ANA-MPA / Th. Avgerinos) -- The founding charter of the joint Greek-Russian company that will undertake the construction and exploitation of the South Stream natural gas pipeline was signed here on Monday by the Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator (DESFA) and the Russian Gazprom.
The signing of the charter by DESFA CEO Giorgos Paparsenos and Gazprom Deputy Chairman Alexander Medvedev took place in the presence of Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis and Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin, co-chairs of the 7th Greek-Russian Joint Interministerial Committee meeting held earlier in the Russian capital.
A memorandum of understanding between the Greek and Russian transport ministries was also signed as well as a protocol of the 7th Greek-Russian Joint Interministerial Committee meeting.
The new company, called South Stream Greece S.A., will be headquartered in Athens, with each side holding an equal 50 percent stake in the joint venture.
According to the relevant Greek-Russian interstate agreement, the pipeline, which passes through Greece, will transport Russian natural gas to central and southeastern Europe via the Black Sea, while it will also contribute to diversifying natural gas sources and enhance Europe's energy security. Other states participating in the pipeline are Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria.
The pipeline will supply the Greek market with approximately 1.5-3 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, and serve as a transit hub for Europe.
Kouvelis expressed satisfaction over the interministerial committee meeting conclusions, while referring to the Greek business mission he said it "was a follow up and a tangible implementation of the agreements reached during the talks of the prime ministers of Greece and Russia, George Papandreou and Vladimir Putin."
He stated that "the South Stream project is of major geopolitical importance for Greece," adding that the signing of the company Charter constitutes a proof of commitment as regards the speeding up of the Greek-Russian energy plans.
He underlined that consultations on the acceleration of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project continue and reminded the recent meeting of the Greek and Bulgarian ministers of environment in Athens.
As regards the launch of the Thessaloniki-Moscow freight train service, it was termed as an important step to further boost Greek exports to the Russian market.
On his part, Levitin stated, referring to the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project, that the "Bulgarian side is not rejecting its implementation," adding that "the postponement observed is due to additional studies conducted. However, the intensive work by the Greek and the Russian companies continues."
The Russian transport minister will accompany the Greek delegation to Sochi on the eastern Black Sea coast, the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Levitin stated that "there is room to further develop bilateral relations" as confirmed by a 70 pct increase recorded in the volume of bilateral transactions during the first four months of 2010, underlining the prospects of participation of Greek companies in Olympic Games projects currently under construction in Sochi.
He referred to the great prospects of cooperation in the tourism sector underlining the need for speedier issuance of entry visas for Russian citizens.
A new protocol on tourism cooperation with an emphasis on alternative forms of tourism was signed by the two sides in the meeting of the 2nd Greek-Russian tourism issues committee that took place within the framework of the 7th Greek-Russian Joint Interministerial Committee meeting. The protocol also referred to investments in seaports, hotel and spa infrastructures.
 KKE on political developmentsOpposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga underlined in a press conference on Monday that the political developments have brought indications of labor movement recovery, adding that this recovery should be stabilized and better organized.
Papariga underlined the "absolute deterioration of the workers' status" and warned of more packages of measures in addition to those included in the memorandum signed (with the IMF, ECB, EU troika) that will focus on sectors such as education and health or local administration.
The KKE leader stressed that "the people should consider the option of Greece's disengagement from the EU," pointing out that "such a likelihood has ceased to be regarded as taboo."
She stressed that in such crisis conditions local conflicts are likely to increase, citing the example of Turkey and Israel.
On the crisis in the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) andthe SYN-led Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance), Papariga said that the recent developments were "unavoidable", adding that "opportunism has always been the enemy of the popular movement."
Referring to the KKE, Papariga stated that the party has gradually modernized its agenda and positions and has adapted them to current developments.
As regards the bribery scandals involving politicians, Papariga stressed that they are symptomatic of the crisis and not its cause.
She expressed opposition to the draft law aimed at lifting the cabotage restrictions in Greek seas, stressing that such moves are "half measures", while responding to a question on local government elections, scheduled to take place in the fall, she said that the KKE ballots will not be limited to candidates that are party members.
 FM spokesman on flight plansForeign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Monday termed "absolutely inaccurate" reports on the country's alleged consent on the lifting of the obligation of submitting flight plans in the framework of ICAO.
"What is being said on a reported change in the international air traffic rules of ICAO and with our country's consent, are absolutely inaccurate. No amendment has been made to the Chicago Treaty and its appendexes, where the Greek demand is based for the submission of flight plans by all aircraft entering the Athens FIR," he said.
"The fragmental and inaccurate presentation of nationally sensitive data distorts reality and has as a result the creation of mistaken impressions," the spokesman added.
 Áthens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
The economic crisis and speculations of Greek bankruptcy, the drop in the euro parity to the dollar, the plunge on the Athens Stock Exchange , ruling PASOK secretary Sokratis Xynidis' implication in the Vatopedi monastery scandal and the turmoil in the Synaspismos party, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Xynidis scandal shocks PASOK ".
APOGEVMATINI: "PASOK prepares early general elections' scenery".
AVGHI: "To the 'morning after' with determination".
AVRIANI: "Operation 'annihilation' of PASOK former government Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and other historical PASOK members as well as current government ministers".
ELEFTHEROS: "The new electoral law will be Greek democracy's gravestone".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The newspaper reveals another document on Vatopedi with Xynidis' signature".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "PASOK historical member Akis Tsohatzopoulos' time runs out".
ESTIA: "Europe heading to an impasse".
ETHNOS: "Operation 'sweep' for civil servants".
IMERISSIA: "5.5 percent plunge in stocks on Athens Stock Exchange - 24.92 percent losses since May 1".
KATHIMERINI: "IMF becomes eurozone's partner".
LOGOS: "If you are a civil servant you must declare it from 12-23 July".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Euro's slump worries Eurogroup".
NIKI: "Economic and political bombs sow 'bankruptcy'.
RIZOSPASTIS: "There is hope for the people with escalation of the struggle against the political authority".
TA NEA: "SOS for the retirement superannuation in the public sector - Civil servants' fund at risk of collapse".
TO VIMA: "Suspicious rumors strike blow against the economy - Athens Stock Exchange in free dive".
VRADYNI: "Markets send out SOS - Professionals and owners of small enterprises send letter of agony to Prime Minister George Papandreou".
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