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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-06-09

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou: Greece is safe
  • [02] Tour operators reaffirm flight schedule to Greece this year
  • [03] Bourazani Environmental Park, a veritable Garden of Eden
  • [04] Siemens bribery case
  • [05] Renewalists split from SYRIZA
  • [06] ASE opening: Rise

  • [01] Papandreou: Greece is safe

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing the intra-institutional body that convened under his chairmanship on Tuesday, stressed that "Greece is safe. Without the mechanism we would still be at the mrcy of rumours and statements today. We are saving Greece with our decisions and in parallel we are rebuilding Greece."

    He added that "because I saw that terror talk is continuing by many of the mass media I want to state categorically that we are within the course of this programme."

    The prime minister further said that "there are small and natural deviations - there will always be - which we are trying to cover, but we are and we shall ultimately be consistent with our commitments."

    Papandreou reiterated that the government's work is not limited only to certain measures, but to great changes as well, that have been delayed in the country for decades and stressed that this period "also coincides with the changes that we are doing".

    "And it is clear that the changes we are promoting in the economy and the state have a determining importance in our course towards the November elections," he added.

    Papandreou went on to say that "the first period of our governance which in essence will close at the end of the year has no similarity with other political periods since our government came to power with an explicit mandate for breaking away and a universal change (and at the same time) we found ourselves in the position of having to face the biggest crisis in recent Greek history, a crisis that is economic, moral and of institutions, the size of which simply confirmed and made even more imperative the need for breaking away from the past, which was also the basic content of our pre-election speech."

    The prime minister mentioned that the government has taken considerable steps to turn into practice the country's radical change with the restoration of Greece's reliability, with the promotion of deep changes in economic management and the tax system, with the restoration of meritocracy and lawfulness in the state, with the breaking of untransparency and bureaucracy and with the radical change of the production model in the direction of viable and "green" growth.

    Papandreou also said that the government "is proving on a daily basis that it has the boldness and the will to radically change the political system and to consolidate rules of transparency and accountability."

    [02] Tour operators reaffirm flight schedule to Greece this year

    Large tour operators reaffirmed their flight occupancy rates to Greece in the coming months, without cutting their scheduled number of flights and aircraft.

    Representatives from TUI and Thomas Cook reassured Culture and Tourism Deputy Minister George Nikitiadis, during meetings in Rhodes and Athens, that they would continue normal operations to Greece and expressed their optimism over a rapid recovery of tourism in Greece.

    The Greek minister met with TUI's executives, Will Waggott and Johan Lundgren in Rhodes and Thomas Cook's top executive Peter Constantis in Athens and discussed ways to further expand cooperation with the two tour operators.

    Nikitiadis plans a series of similar meetings with other companies in the tourism and travel industry.

    [03] Bourazani Environmental Park, a veritable Garden of Eden

    The Bourazani environmental park in Epirus is a veritable Garden of Eden, with 850 species of plants and trees, including 51 species of wild orchids, the biggest number in Europe in such a small expanse, 113 species of butterflies of the total 232 species in Greece and 430 in Europe, wild tulips, 172 species of birds, 17 species of reptiles, 12 species of fish in the waters of the Aoos River, and 22 species of libellulas, including the largest in Europe.

    Organised tours to the park are booked daily in the afternoon hours.

    The Environmental Park also contains a Wildlife park with deer, elks, boars and other wild animals.

    [04] Siemens bribery case

    The Parliamentary examination committee investigating the Siemens bribery scandal on Tuesday decided unanimously to write a letter to the prime minister and request that he lodge a demarche with Germany over the case. The MPs say the German government should be asked to instruct the electronics giant Siemens to fully cooperate with the investigation by providing evidence of the bribery in Greece, while the issue must also be raised with EU bodies.

    During Tuesday's session, the committee had a chance to examine two files confiscated by Greek authorities from the desk of a secretary working for the former Siemens executive considered a main suspect in the case, Mihalis Christoforakos. In these were listed the names of various individuals that had received domestic appliances and other electronic goods from Siemens or companies that worked with Siemens.

    It also heard testimony from the former deputy public order minister under New Democracy, Panagiotis Hinofotis, and from former interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos concerning the problems arising with the security system C4I provided by Siemens, which they had refused to accept delivery of due to substantial deficiencies that affected the proper working of the system.

    The seized files on those accepting appliances and electronic goods included several familiar names, though it was not clear in all cases whether the goods were a gift from Siemens or finally paid for by the recipient. The first or 'blue' file contained a summary list showing that either former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos or his daughter Areti, as well as aides of the former minister, have received appliances and equipment worth 1.34 million drachmas between 1998-2001 and an additional 13,993 euros until 2004.

    Also in the blue file were records of a 1997 invoice for 283,000 drachmas in the name of Triantafyllia Daskalaki, a relative of the then General Bank president Giorgos Daskalakis, and a Siemens donation to PASOK's youth group in 2003 amounting to 15,000 euros.

    The second or 'red' file contained only invoices related to an order made by ND MP Kyriakos Mitsotakis - who was exposed some months ago for having received 160,000 euros worth of equipment for his two campaign offices in the 2007 elections but later asserted that he had paid for them - and one for 6,252 euros to an aide of former ND minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    The evidence in the files was dismissed as "small change" by many of the MPs present, however, who hinted that it was designed to divert attention from the real bribes.

    "Company gifts of 30 and 40 euros are pitiful when the real question is to find what happened to kickbacks of hundreds of millions linked to the signature of the contracts for OTE, OSE and C4I," said ND MP Stavros Kalafatis.

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party MP Kostas Aivaliotis withdrew from the committee, saying as he departed that the evidence sent on the gifts by Siemens did not lead to uncovering the real events. "The whole thing leads to a cover-up and LAOS is departing unless there is an intention for full revelation in the investigation of the Siemens scandal," he said.

    [05] Renewalists split from SYRIZA

    Four MPs from the renewalist wing of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance on Wednesday withdrew from the SYRIZA coalition, and declared themselves Independent MPs.

    Up to now SYRIZA parliamentary rapporteur Fotis Kouvelis, Nikos Tsoukalis, Thanassis Leventis and Grigoris Psarianos submitted their resignations from the alliance during a meeting of the SYRIZA parliamentary group and sent a letter to parliament president Philippos Petsalnikos informing him of their decision and announcing that they will remain in parliament as Independent MPs.

    Leventis will also submit his resignation from the post of parliament 7th vice-president.

    A fifth renewalist, Dimitris Papadimoulis, will remain a SYRIZA MP.

    [06] ASE opening: Rise

    Equity prices were rising at the opening of trade on Wednesday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the basic share price index up 1.59 percent, standing at 1,431.20 points at 11:15 am, and turnover at 14.661 million euros.

    Individual sector indices were moving mostly upward, with the biggest gains in Health, up 3.88 percent; and Insurance, up 3.55 percent.

    The biggest losses were in Media, down 1.40 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was up 1.75 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was up 0.72 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was up 1.21 percent.

    Of the stocks traded, 82 were up, 22 were down, and 11 were unchanged.


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