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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-02-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] FinMin rules out new salary reductions
  • [02] DIMAR refuses PASOK invitation
  • [03] Greek FM Avramopoulos concludes Ankara visit
  • [04] Medical 'miracle' in Thessaloniki
  • [05] National Bank's tender offer accepted by 85 pct of Eurobank's shareholders
  • [06] Gov't to ask banks to begin lending money to SMEs‏
  • [07] Soufli silk of the best quality

  • [01] FinMin rules out new salary reductions

    AMNA--Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras ruled out the imposition of new measures to further reduce salaries and pensions, or new taxes, and expressed his conviction that Greece was headed "toward a new 'haircut'" on the basis of the Eurogroup decisions in December 2012 that would ensure a primary surplus earlier than targeted, speaking in parliament on Friday.

    Stournaras was replying to a timely question submitted by main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras concerning the wrong fiscal multiplier assumption applied for Greece that was recently admitted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The question was addressed to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras but the premier, making use of the relevant provisions of the Rules of Parliament, assigned the reply to the Finance Minister.amna

    Earlier, Tsipras posed the question of whether the government will take new measures and their size financially given the budget revenue shortfalls in January and a recent statement by Finance Ministry Secretary General Georgios Mergos of a need to further reduce the minimum wage in Greece, spiraling unemployment and recession, and accused the government of not saying anything about the haircut and restructure of the Greek debt and not demanding, jointly with the other southern EU countries, a European conference on the debt "because it has surrendered to Mrs. Merkel's (German chancellor) strategy".

    "You are more 'memorandum' than the Memorandum, Mr. Minister, but that policy has failed," Tsipras said, and wondered how it was possible that even the IMF's hard-core technocrats had admitted that but the government was not.amna

    He further said that Samaras, who avoided coming to parliament to respond although he had assumed the 'proprietorship' of the programme, will also "assume the blame for its failure".

    Tsipras accused the government of having a "secret agenda" and predicted that salaries would fall further in 2014 and the country would sink into a condition of a "social crash", adding that Mergos' statement was "not incidental, it slipped from him, revealing the government's intentions".

    Replying, Stournaras noted that a haircut of 40 billion euros had taken place "without bloodshed".

    "I don't know whether you realized it," he told Tsipras, adding that Greece's partners were led to the haircut because "it could not have been otherwise".

    "Due to our negotiation, the summit decision of December says that if Greece achieves a primary surplus -- which, God willing, we will achieve this year -- we will also have a further haircut. We will have an additional haircut," Stournaras said, adding that since summer, the government has put forward the issue of the excessive dose of fiscal adjustment measures, but noting also that there is a positive aspect.amna

    "That fact that the programme is 'front-heavy' also has a positive dimension. We will achieve primary surpluses much earlier (than targeted) and these will enable our partners to proceed to a further haircut of the Greek debt," Stournaras said, stressing that the measures legislated in November 2012 "are the last massive load that the citizens were called on to shoulder" and "the Greek government will not take other measures for reduction of salaries and pensions and for increasing taxes".amna

    He explained that the programme now focuses on changes that will give momentum to the Greek economy, generate new jobs, bring coordination to the state, bring about a change of climate and restore confidence.

    As for the IMF's mea culpa over the fiscal multiplier, Tsipras commented that although "this is one of the few times that IMF officials are speaking of a mistake, anticipating, for their own reasons, the failure of the fiscal adjustment programme, the government is acting as if it has not heard anything". He further asked the Finance Minister to state clearly whether he agreed with European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Ollie Rehn's subsequent statement that the repercussions of the mistake in the multiplier were marginal.

    [02] DIMAR refuses PASOK invitation

    AMNA--Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party leader Fotis Kouvelis on Friday refused an invitation extended by the head of the PASOK party Evangelos Venizelos to participate in the preparatory procedures ahead of PASOK's congress.

    In his reply, on which there was unanimous agreement between the members of DIM.AR's executive committee, Kouvelis said: "DIM.AR cannot become part of PASOK's preconference dialogue and internal correlations. Nor can it participate, even indirectly, in the preconference processes of another party that is seeking a new definition of its 'identity', especially when this arises through a broad spectrum of views. Not only as a matter of principle. Chiefly, because this process is constraining rather than facilitating the processes for reconstituting a broader area of the democratic left, of social democracy, ecology and social movements."amna

    Kouvelis also cites DIM.AR's estimation that the issue of convergence and alignment of the centre-left "is not an issue that depends on a 'summit' meeting, especially when processes within the broader area are unfolding, have different approaches, are still seeking coinciding policies, strategic orientations and new social alliances."amna

    He ends the letter by noting that DIM.AR will follow the proceedings of PASOK's conference "with keen interest" and study its conclusions and decisions.

    Receiving DIM.AR's reply, Venizelos expressed his sorrow at Kouvelis' refusal, and commented that his response had been "bewildered" and "defensive". He added that PASOK will insist on making overtures seeking to rally and bring together all the forces of the centre left.

    [03] Greek FM Avramopoulos concludes Ankara visit

    AMNA-- Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos's contacts in Ankara were concluded in a cordial atmosphere on Friday. It was decided that the session of the Greece-Turkey High Cooperation Council will take place in Istanbul on March 5, with the contemporaneous holding of a business council session.

    The topic of the Greek minister's contacts was the preparation of the Greece-Turkey High Cooperation Council's session.

    Details of a series of agreements that will be signed in Istanbul in March were also discussed during the working dinner between the two delegations, headed by the ministers Dimitris Avramopoulos and Ahmet Davutoglu.

    As regards the business council, it was decided that businessmen from the two countries will participate.amna

    Avramopoulos held a meeting at noon with his Turkish counterpart Davutoglu and then with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Avramopoulos departed for Athens after the completion of the contacts.

    [04] Medical 'miracle' in Thessaloniki

    AMNA--In a world-wide medical first, a large 14cm tumor was removed from the lung and heart of a 19-year-old woman on February 5 at the Balkan Medical Center in Thessaloniki, where the patient spent only two days in intensive care after the surgery before returning to a regular hospital room, and is due to be released from hospital on Friday, just 10 days after the landmark surgery.

    The woman's heart function is excellent, and the rapid biopsies made, before the surgery was completed, and subsequent examinations confirmed that the incision areas were free of cancerous cells, according to the head of the team of cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons that carried out the procedure, Evangelos Sivitanidis.

    The woman was first operated on at the age of 13 for osteosarcoma in the lower extremity, and one and a half years ago underwent a second operation for a metastasis in a section of her left lung, which was also removed. She was recently hospitalized again after being diagnosed with a relapse of the same sarcoma (tumor) in the left lung, with infiltration of the left ventricle of the heart via the pulmonary vein.amna

    According to Sivitanidis, such tumors are extremely rare and are categorized as inoperable. The only removal of such a tumor in the international medical bibliography was 22 years ago (Tokyo, 1991), but involved a much smaller tumor with fewer complications, and was not made in the "tough ground" of a previously operated on area.amna

    "But the life of a 19-year-old girl was a wager that had to be won permanently," Sivitanidis told AMNA.

    [05] National Bank's tender offer accepted by 85 pct of Eurobank's shareholders

    AMNA--Around 85 pct of Eurobank's shareholders accepted National Bank's share swap tender offer which ended on Friday, National Bank officials said.

    The official outcome of the tender will be made on Monday, to be followed by a board meeting by National Bank on Tuesday.

    Following completion of the public offer, Eurobank will operate as a subsidiary of National Bank Group for a few months, until completion of the legal merger of the two banks. The new National Bank Group will have assets totaling 174.2 billion euros, a loan portfolio of 113 billion euros and deposits of 84.6 billion euros. The merger will allow synergies worth 570-630 million euros annually from the end of 2015 through a rationalization of its branch network and ATMs in Greece and Southeastern Europe.

    [06] Gov't to ask banks to begin lending money to SMEs‏

    AMNA--Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis is expected to invite Greek banks to actively participate in an effort to support small- and medium-sized enterprises in the framework of recent contracts signed with the government and the European Investment Bank.

    Speaking in Parliament, the Greek minister said he will soon invite the Hellenic Bank Association to discuss developments on a series of financial support programs for SMEs. Hatzidakis stressed that the banking system needed to be recapitalize at first, in order to restore confidence in the Greek economy, while he noted that there have been steps forward but additional time was still needed.amna

    The government has unveiled a series of programs aimed at supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises, worth 1.6 billion euros. This capital will be earmarked for supporting businesses in the commerce, manufacturing and tourism sectors (456 million euros), IT companies (120 million), enterprise and employment (600 million) and working capital for SMEs (450 million).amna

    Hatzidakis said that the government has also approved a bank guarantee scheme, offering 50 pct subsidies to enterprises.

    [07] Soufli silk of the best quality

    AMNA--The northeastern Greek city of Soufli is the only producer of silk not only in Greece but in all of Europe, and indeed Soufli silk is considered to be the best quality silk in the world.

    The silk 'industry' started in the Byzantine years and it had never entered the minds of the families involved in silk production that this 'exceptional raw material' would have such a broad usage in the future.

    Soufli silk is considered to be of the best quality, even better than the Chinese, and the prospects lying ahead for the area are huge given that it is the only place in Greece and in Europe that breeds silkworms (sericulture) and processes the silk threads from the cocoons.amna

    Soufli, in Evros prefecture, is notable for the silk industry that flourished there in the 19th century, and is also known as the Town of Silk.

    The older Silk Museum in Soufli (Thrace) belongs to the Museum Network of the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation (PIOP). It is housed in the Kourtidis Mansion (1883) and was set up in 1990. The purpose of the permanent exhibition housed on the ground floor of the Kourtidis Mansion is to show the pre-industrial techniques by which silkworms were bred (sericulture) and silk was woven. It also deals with the socio-economic significance of these activities for Soufli and the surrounding area. The exhibition is arranged as four units with 46 separate sets of exhibits of two -dimensional documentation and information material (texts, photographs, drawings, maps) and items traditionally associated with sericulture and silk-weaving.amna

    The first exhibition unit relates the history of silk over time, beginning with China, continuing through Greek and Roman antiquity and Byzantium and covering both the West and the Ottoman period. The second exhibition unit has as its theme the stages in the breeding of silkworms from the production of the "silk-seed" to the suffocation of the cocoons. The third exhibition unit is devoted to the manufacturing of silk, from the cleaning and sorting of the cocoons to the weaving of the fine silks that Soufli is famous for. The fourth exhibition unit deals with the broader socio-economic background against which silk-weaving developed in Greece and the rest of Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with particular emphasis on the rise and decline of the silk industry in Soufli and its contribution to the development of the town. The printed matter on the Silk Museum consists of a leaflet/poster and a monograph entitled Sericulture in Soufli. An educational programme entitled "Unwinding a cocoon ..., addressed to the first classes of primary scholl and covering traditional sericulture and silk-weaving, has been prepared as part of the MELINA project (Ministry of Culture, Benaki Museum).amna

    A more recent addition to the silk museums in Soufli is the Art of Silk Museum belonging to the Tsiakiris Family Silkmills. Opened in September 2008 in a renovated Neoclassical building (1886) on the main thoroughfare of the town, it displays the full sequence of sericulture (with live silkworms on show most of the year) and shows the more industrial side of silk manufacture and weaving incorporating fully functional machinery and exhibits from the Tsiakiri factory and videos of the various stages and methods of production. It features both live and electronically assisted guided tours (available in several languages).

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