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Athens News Agency: News in English, 12-02-07

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] FinMin: Negotiations with troika 'tough'
  • [02] Gov't seeks to cut spending by 1.3 bln euros this year
  • [03] Heavy rain in greater Athens floods homes and shops
  • [04] Construction of border fence begins
  • [05] Drive to collect expired or unused pharmaceuticals in households

  • [01] FinMin: Negotiations with troika 'tough'

    AMNA--Finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said that the ongoing negotiations with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' leaders were "very tough" and great pressure was being exerted on Greece and the Greek people, in a statement in the early hours of Tuesday after completion of three hours of talks by prime minister Lucas Papademos and Venizelos with the troika that lasted until 3:00 a.m.amna

    "The negotiations with the troika on the new programme are continuing and it is obvious that very great pressure is being exercised on Greece, very great pressure is being exercised on the Greek people, the Greek citizens, who are called on to face a dramatic and acute quandary, because the salvation of the country, its continued presence in the euro, the PSI, the finalisation of the new loan agreement and the disbursement of the money, which is of vital importance for the salvation of Greece, entail a very large social cost, they entail sacrifices," Venizelos stressed.

    "No on wants to restrict salaries and pensions or the standard of living of the Greeks. But on the other hand a failure of the negotiations (with the troika), a failure of the programme, default by Greece, entails even greater sacrifices," he said.amna

    Venizelos said: "The negotiation with the troika is so tough that we are constantly closing fronts and new fronts open up elsewhere, it is like the Lernaean Hydra. And because no one is a Hercules on his own to face the Lernaean Hydra we need...to wage this battle together, we need to convince the Greek people, to give then the picture of the entire plan, and to proceed to the solution that we have chosen, which is to remain in the euro, to stay in Europe and to fight to regain the lost ground."

    "A lot of work, a very great effort and persistence are needed so that we may be proud once again," he added.

    [02] Gov't seeks to cut spending by 1.3 bln euros this year

    AMNA--The Greek government is seeking ways to cut spending by 1.3 billion euros additionally this year in order to achieve a target of measures to cut spending by 1.5 pct of GDP (around 3.3 billion euros), demanded by the troika.

    The new measures, according to creditors, must cover losses in tax proceeds, both from an anticipated cut of minimum wage in the private sector and a higher-than-expected recession (the country’s GDP is projected to shrink by more than 3.5 pct this year) in Greece. In parallel, an additional spending cut must replace any losses from social insurance contributions because of a lower minimum wage and higher unemployment.amna

    The issue was discussed during a meeting, held at the General Accounting Office, by Finance Alternate Minister Filippos Sahinidis with ministry officials and members of the troika’s technical group. The government has already agreed to cut health spending by 1.1 billion euros, defense spending by 400 million euros and to save around 440 million euros from cutting subsidies to municipal authorities.

    [03] Heavy rain in greater Athens floods homes and shops

    The Fire Brigade received more than 150 calls as a result of heavy rainfall in the greater Athens area on Monday afternoon.

    More specifically, 20 calls concerned flooded homes and shops and 136 the removal of fallen trees and objects from streets that created problems for traffic.

    Traffic confusion was also created in many streets due to traffic lights failing to function.

    [04] Construction of border fence begins

    AMNA--Construction of a fence along the Evros River on the Greek-Turkish border officially commenced on Monday, budgeted at 3,162.5 million euros, is due for completion in late August or early September.

    Citizens protection minister Christos Papoutsis declared the commencement of the construction of the fence in the Kastanies region, after earlier inaugurating the Border Surveillance Operational Center in the town of Nea Vyssa, where earlier a group of demonstrators protested against the construction of the fence and the Center.amna

    Inaugurating the Center, Papoutsis said that the fence is a project with a practical as well as a symbolic value, as it will discourage migrant-smugglers and illegal immigration as well as send a message that Greece is not a free-for-all. "We will not allow Greece to be turned into a transit country (of illegal migration) to the other countries of the European Union," he said, adding that Greece cannot endure more non-legal immigrants and that the government's actions aim at the tranquility and safety of the local population.

    Referring to reactions against the fence, he said its construction will go ahead, as it is a law of the state.amna

    On the new asylum law, Papoutsis said that all asylum-seekers entitled to asylum would receive it, while for the rest the message is clear, they should not attempt to illegally enter Greece because they will be either deported or voluntarily repatriated.

    Papoutsis said that the fence, a "project of cooperation between the Turkish and Greek authorities to deal with illegal immigration", will have 25 thermal cameras, while the Center would ensure the constant surveillance of the borders.

    [05] Drive to collect expired or unused pharmaceuticals in households

    AMNA--A drive to collect and ensure proper disposal of large quantities of pharmaceuticals that are currently languishing unused in Greek households was announced by the health ministry on Monday.

    According to the ministry, four in 10 Greek households is currently sitting on quantities of unused drugs, many of them past their expiration date, with an estimated total value that may exceed one billion euro.

    Working in collaboration with the National Pharmaceuticals Organisation and the Panhellenic Pharmacists Association, the ministry intends to put up 12,000 special bins at pharmacies throughout the country in March, where people can deposit medicines they no longer need.amna

    The quantities of drugs that are collected will then be taken to the Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Technology, which will undertake to send them to specialised disposal centres abroad where they will be neutralised and burned.amna

    The ministry's goal is to create a similar unit for destroying expired pharmaceuticals in Greece.


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