|Monday, 18 June 2018|
Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-01-06
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM Samaras: Optimism and strength to succeedAMNA/ Prime Minister Antonis Samaras sent a message of optimism that Greece will succeed, in a brief statement after attending the 'Blessing of the Waters' ceremony on Sunday, in observance of the Epiphany holy day, in Piraeus.
"From Piraeus, the most important port in the Mediterranean, I want to send a message of optimism that we will succeed," Samaras said.
"The Greek people's strength, the entrepreneurship of the Greek and, above all, the optimism and unity that exists today, have, I believe, always been the tools that gave us progress and prosperity and will give them to us once again," he said.
"Today, on the feast of the Epiphany, the wish that was given to us and the hope that we received from the Blessing of the Waters ritual instills in us once again optimism and strength that we will succeed," the prime minister added.
 Greece on road to recovery, first indications in second half 2013AMNA/ Greece must maintain the trust of its partners, which it earned with great difficulty, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on private television on Sunday, warning that otherwise all the sacrifices made so far would be put into question.
Stournaras, speaking on private MEGA television station, left no room for fiscal relaxation, and opined that if the government remains devoted to the adjustment programme of the Greek economy, the first signs of recovery will begin to appear in the second half of the current year.
"2013 will be a rough year, as we have 9.2 billion euro in measures to implement. But we are on the right track. Greece has earned the confidence of its partners with great difficulty. We cannot turn back. 2013 will be the year of consolidation of confidence and our credibility. We will see the first indications of recovery in the second half of 2013," Stournaras said.
He noted that the first positive messages from the execution of the budget appeared in the last months of 2012, which enables the government's economic staff to harbor the optimistic forecast that the country's primary deficit will end the year below the targeted 1.5 percent deficit to GDP ratio target, at 1.2-1.3 percent of GDP.
Stournaras was also optimistic on the execution of this year's budget, noting that provided all the targets are surpassed, there will be a possibility for reasonable benefits in 2014. "If we do better on the 2013 targets -- which is very likely -- we will be able, in 2014, to channel 70 percent of the excess to social benefits, but targeted benefits to those who have genuine need".
 Inclement weather throughout the countryAMNA/ Authorities in Northern Greece are on alert as meteorologists have predicted a rapid turn for the worse in the weather conditions as of Sunday night with rain, snowfall and a drop in temperatures.
The temperature plunged to -3C in Florina on Sunday morning, while a light snow fell in the city, although without causing problems.
The Kaimaktsalan ski resort in Pella prefecture closed temporarily on Sunday due to storm winds, as did the ski resort in Pelion.
The Thessaloniki port authority issued a warning that dangerous weather conditions were expected, with winds reaching 7-8 beaufort velocities.
Temperatures in Attica prefecture also dipped, with the maximum not expected to exceed 6-7C in the north of the prefecture, while early Monday the temperature will drop even further to near zero.
 Apostolos Tzitzikostas new regional chief for Central Macedonia peripheryAMNA/ Apostolos Tzitzikostas was elected as the new regional chief of Central Macedonia periphery on Saturday, with 33 votes against 17 votes for the other candidate Dionyssis Psomiadis, the brother of the ousted regional chief Panagiotis Psomiadis.
"The Central Macedonia periphery is changing page. We will keep the good things and leave behind us everything that hurt us. United, the entire team of deputy regional chiefs and regional councilors will work hard to give our best and to bring the best possible results for the citizens of our periphery," the 35-year-old Tzitzikostas said after his election.
Tzitzikostas, the son of New Democracy (ND) former MP and ex-minister George Tzitzikostas, had been elected as an MP for Thessaloniki on the ND ticket in 2007 and 2009, and as of 2010 had been a deputy regional chief for Thessaloniki. He will replace Psomiadis for the remainder of the current term of office.
Psomiadis was removed from office after being convicted for reducing a fine served on a gas station owner.
 Greece top destination choice for Austrian tourists in 2013Vienna (AMNA/D. Dimitrakoudis) -- Greece has once again risen to the top preference of Austrian tourists as a tourist destination, following a reduction in the number of Austrian visitors' arrivals over the past two years resulting for the Greek debt crisis, according to Josef Peterleitner, director of the Austrian branch of Europe's leading travel group TUI and president of the Austrian Travel Agents Association (OERV).
In statements appearing in the weekend editions of the large-circulation Austrian newspapers 'Kleine Zeitung' and 'Oesterreich', Peterleitner notes that despite the reductions in bookings in 2011 and 2012, Greece was nevertheless the top airport destination for Austrian tourists in 2012.
He further said that TUI anticipates that Greek tourism will recover quickly, adding that Greece is already the top destination in bookings this year on the Austrian tourist market, with Turkey in second position.
Given the present trend, Peterleitner said that bookings for Greece have risen by nearly 20 percent compared with 2012, adding that TUI has expanded its itinerary to Greece where, he noted, prices have been kept at 2012 levels, which makes holidaying in Greece an affordable option.
He noted that the fears of strikes and unrest in Greece in 2012 had not come true, and on the contrary the quality of services was good and visitors were left satisfied.
According to the two newspapers, the top destinations in the Austrian tourists' preferences for vacations this year are Greece, followed by Turkey, Spain, Egypt and Tunisia, respectively.
Austrians will be able to get a "first taste" of holidaying in Greece at the Greek National Tourism Organization's (GNTO) pavilion at the International Fair for Holidays that opens in Vienna on Thursday, with more than 15,000 visitors expected during the four-day travel industry exhibition.
More than 500,000 Austrian tourists visit Greece on average annually, making Austria the top source of arrivals of foreign tourists to Greece, in proportion to its 8.4 million population, in the past several years.
 Epiphany observed throughout Greece with 'Blessing of the Waters'AMNA/ The religious feast of the Epiphany -- the Twelfth Day after Christmas -- was observed throughout Greece on Sunday with the traditional "Blessing of the Waters" Orthodox Church rite in ports, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and fountains in front of cathedrals. The ritual commemorates Christ's baptism in the River Jordan, termed the Epiphany by St. John Chryssostom (from the Greek word for 'manifestation', 'epiphaneia').
The main blessing of the waters ceremony was officiated in the port of Piraeus, Greece's largest port, by Metropolitan Serapheim of Piraeus and attended by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, several ministers and MPs from various parties, and other officials
A cross was cast into the waters by the Archbishop, symbolizing the christening of Jesus Christ, and retrieved by Navy frogmen.
Similar rituals were observed throughout Greece, with young and older men braving the cold weather and icy waters to retrieve the cross, bringing them good luck in the coming year.
In Athens, the ceremony was held at the Reservoir in central Kolonaki district, attended by several ministers, MPs and Athens Mayor George Kaminis.
In Thessaloniki, the ritual was officiated by Metropolitan Anthimos, attended by ministers, MPs, Thessaloniki mayor Yannis Boutaris, new regional chief for Central Macedonia Apostolos Tzitzikostas and representatives of the local authorities.
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