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Athens News Agency: News in English, 11-05-28

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Canadian PM in Greece
  • [02] Differences between main parties marginal, opinion polls show
  • [03] Finmin: fifth tranche not at risk
  • [04] PM: effort for consensus will continue
  • [05] Environment Week in Athens
  • [06] Syntagma protests continue

  • [01] Canadian PM in Greece

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper held talks with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, paid a visit to the Greek Parliament and attended a roundtable between Greek and Canadian business delegations in Athens on Saturday, during the first day of a two-day official visit to Greece.

    Papandreou and the Canadian prime minister, who arrived in Greece after attending the G8 summit in Deauville, discussed bilateral relations and global economic developments, including those in the Eurozone and the economic difficulties faced by Greece. They also signed a bilateral agreement for promoting the mobility of young people in the two countries.

    Arriving at the Greek Parliament on Saturday morning, Harper was received by Greek Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos. Noting that relations between Greece and Canada were good, he said that an effort will be made to make improve them further.

    Petsalnikos referred to the important role of the Greek expatriate community in Canada as a bridge between the two countries, noting that Canada had been a hospitable country for Greeks fleeing the seven-year military dictatorship of 1967-1974.

    The Canadian premier noted that there were roughly 250,000 people of Greek background living in Canada, including government minister Tony Clement and MP Costas Menegakis that had accompanied him on his visit to Greece.

    Petsalnikos presented Harper with the gold medal of Pericles, a symbol of Athens' Golden Age and of democracy.

    After visiting Parliament, the Canadian premier addressed a roundtable meeting of Greek and Canadian business people at the city's Hilton Hotel. At this, he stressed the need to develop bilateral trade and business relations between the two countries.

    He also underlined Canada's interest in concluding a free trade agreement with the European Union, now in the final stages of negotiation.

    On Sunday, Harper and Papandreou are due to visit the historic visit of Kalavryta, site of a WWII Nazi massacre, in order to pay tribute to the Greeks slain by the 117th Commando Division on December 13, 1943.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form

    [02] Differences between main parties marginal, opinion polls show

    Greece's two main parties are head to head in voter preferences while their combined share of the vote is less than 50 percent, according to the results of opinion polls appearing in Greek Sunday newspapers.

    Main opposition New Democracy was just slightly ahead of PASOK in a Pulse-RC poll published by 'Typos tis Kyriakis', with 19.5 percent of the overall vote compared with 19 percent for PASOK. Their positions were reversed but the difference even smaller in an ALCO poll published by the Sunday paper 'Proto Thema', with PASOK at 20.7 percent and ND at 20.4 percent.

    Following the two leaders in the Pulse-RC poll were the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 9 percent, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) with 5.5 percent, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) with 4 percent. The Ecologists-Greens received 2.5 percent and the Democratic Left, Democratic Alliance and Arma Politon, each received 2 percent, which would exclude them from any future Parliament.

    A further 3.5 percent of voters expressed a preference for parties other than the above, 23.5 percent said they would cast a blank vote or abstain, while 7.5 percent is undecided.

    Current prime minister George Papandreou and main opposition leader Antonis Samaras tied on the question of who was most suitable for prime minister, with each getting 20.5 percent preference, while 56 percent of those asked chose neither.

    Roughly three-quarters of those asked (74 percent) believe that Greece should renegotiate the terms of the Memorandum, while 53 percent is against early elections.

    A further 76 percent believe that the measures proposed by the government will not bring the country out of the crisis and 52 percent agreed with Samaras' decision not to back most of the government's measures. Another 53 percent agree with the ND leader's proposals for reducing taxation.

    Finally 46 percent believe that the privatisations announced by the government will help the development of the economy.

    Based on the ALCO poll, KKE will get 7.9 percent of the vote, LAOS 5.6 percent, SYRIZA 3.2 percent, the Democratic Alliance 2.6 percent, the Democratic Left 2.3 percent, the Ecologists-Greens 2 percent and the Arma Politon 1.1 percent.

    At the same time, 43 percent agree with Samaras' refusal to back the PM's proposals and 40 percent disagree.

    On the issue of raising taxes to increase public revenues, 82 percent are opposed to paying new taxes and 62 percent fear that the country will default and will be unable to pay wages and pensions.

    A further 68 percent wants Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou replaced, while seven in 10 believe that the government's new measures are moving in the wrong direction. More than half, 54 percent, agree with the dismissal of excess public-sector workers and 60 percent agree with the privatisation of public utilities, 61 percent with the abolition of public-sector agencies while 68 percent completely disagrees with the sale of public land and buildings.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form

    [03] Finmin: fifth tranche not at risk

    The fifth tranche of the bailout loans to Greece was not at risk, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said during a weekend news programme broadcast by a nationwide private TV channel on Saturday.

    "The Greek government is doing the things it must do and it is obvious that if we do them - which we will - the release of the loan will continue. It is obvious that nothing is at risk," Papaconstantinou said, reassuring viewers that there was absolutely no reason to worry.

    "We have taken all the provisions needed so that there will be absolutely no problem," he emphasised, adding that a solution was always found when the time approached.

    "But in order to find this solutions, we must make sure the country is doing what has to be done. And we are doing what we must," he added.

    Concerning the meeting of the political leaders and the main opposition's insistence that the government adopt New Democracy's 'Zappion II' programme in its entirety, Papaconstantinou replied that the government was open to discussing elements of the plan but could not adopt it in full because in its present form it would raise the deficit once again.

    According to the finance minister, Prime Minister George Papandreou had said as much to New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and invited him to look at various elements of Zappion II with EU-IMF troika officials, stressing that he was prepared to discuss anything provided it resulted in a reduction of the deficit and not an increase.

    On the issue of state-run public utilities and other agencies, Papaconstantinou said that they had begun reform programmes, their deficits significantly reduce and some were headed for privatisation, adding that some would be abolished if this was necessary though it was not easy.

    He said the target set by the government was to reduce the workforce in the public sector in 2014 by 25 percent relative to that of 2009 and that it would achieve this by not replacing staff that left, ending contracts that were not permanent and closing entire agencies.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form

    [04] PM: effort for consensus will continue

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Saturday stressed that he was determined to continue to strive for a national consensus, in reply to questions after his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who is on an official visit to Greece.

    Papandreou expressed hope that the other political powers in Greece will respond to this effort and show that all sides understood the critical nature of these times. He also sharply criticised those daily prophesying Greece's doom and dwelling on its problems, stressing that the country had already achieved many its targets though much remained to still be done.

    He underlined his determination to continue with the fiscal stabilisation programme, saying that this was the answer to the doom-sayers, and his faith that Greece will soon weather the crisis and enter a sustainable and competitive course.

    The Canadian prime minister, on his part, expressed conviction that Greeks would finally manage to solve their problems and succeed in emerging from the crisis with a thriving economy, benefiting the eurozone and the global economy.

    He said the Greek premier had briefed him on the measures already taken and planned by the Greek government, expressing his admiration for the determination showed by Papandreou in implementing the programme for exiting the crisis.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form

    [05] Environment Week in Athens

    City of Athens officials on Saturday officially declared the start of Environment and Volunteer Week in Greece's capital, with a series of events taking place in the framework of the Athens Spring Flower Show that began last week.

    In a bid to raise environmental awareness among Athens residents, especially students, the muncipality has organised a series of events and volunteer programmes throughout its seven districts in order increase greenspaces and make the city friendlier to people and the environment.

    After the inauguration, there was a presentation of innovative composting methods to create fertiliser using domestic and garden wastes, which was followed by a concert by the municipality orchestra.

    Throughout Environment Week, there will be a pavilion at Kotzia Square run by the municipality's animal shelter, where visitors can learn about issues relating to the protection of strays and pets, as well as adopt stray puppies that will be kept on site.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form

    [06] Syntagma protests continue

    The "Indignant" netizens of Athens turned up outside Parliament to protest for a fourth consecutive day on Saturday, once again converging on Syntagma Square from all directions for the 6:00 p.m. kickoff. A mismatched crowd of all ages and from all walks of life, from school children to old-age pensioners, began to arrive on foot or on bicycles, anxious to once again demonstrate against the austerity measures announced by the government.

    The movement shows no signs of abating, with 13,000 turning up for Friday's protest in spite of heavy rain falling on Greece's capital, and similar protests taking place in other major Greek cities. Some have camped out in tents at the square and the Internet invitation has been renewed for Sunday, when similar protests are planned in all European capitals.

    The protests were organised via Facebook, without the involvement of political parties or trade unions, and were inspired by Spain's 'Los Indignados' movement.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


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