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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-02-22

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM meets with protesting farmers' delegation
  • [02] PM's meetings with Ministers continue
  • [03] PM's meetings with ministers continue on Friday
  • [04] Thunderstorm floods Athens streets, shuts down metro stop
  • [05] SYRIZA wants radical restructuring of political system structures
  • [06] FM Avramopoulos holds talks with UN's Ban Ki-moon
  • [07] Intense storm paralyses Athens
  • [08] Greek economy to return to growth rates in 2014
  • [09] ECB's profits from Greek bonds amount to 555 million euros
  • [10] Greece to launch tender for Thessaloniki Port in the next two months
  • [11] Social tourism programme to return

  • [01] PM meets with protesting farmers' delegation

    AMNA--The coordinating committee of farmers presented Prime Minister Antonis Samaras with a petition with their demands during a meeting with him Friday. The farmers are meeting with political leaders ahead of the establishment of a ministerial committee comprising the Finance and Development Ministries that will examine issues like the cost of the fuel used in farming work. The farmers have been blocking sections of roads in northern Greece over their demands.amna

    The farmers expressed their satisfaction for the meeting with Samaras. They said the premier told them that he stands by the farming world's side and he is aware that the primary sector is the only source of revenues for the economy's recovery.

    [02] PM's meetings with Ministers continue

    AMNA--Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday continued his round of meetings with ministry leaderships, to review and promote the acceleration of the government's work.

    Earlier, Samaras received Administration Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis, who said that after the conclusion of the meeting that the talks focused on issues regarding cooperation with other ministries.

    Manitakis also stressed that he has received the Public Administration Controllers Body report on civil servants who will face perjury charges.amna

    Samaras is currently meeting with Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and in the afternoon it is scheduled to meet Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis.

    [03] PM's meetings with ministers continue on Friday

    AMNA--Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' meetings with ministers will continue on Friday at the Maximos Mansion, government headquarters.

    At 10:00 a.m Samaras will meet with Administrative Reform and Electronic Governance Minister Antonis Manitakis; at 12:00 at noon with Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and at 18:00 p.m. he will meet with Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis.amna

    The meetings' purpose is to review each ministry's work over the last few months and to set priorities that will help the government be most effective. It will also give an opportunity to the premier to resolve any new issues that come up, wherever necessary.

    [04] Thunderstorm floods Athens streets, shuts down metro stop

    AMNA/

    A heavy and steady storm unloading rain and sleet in the greater Athens region created problems in transportation, flooding streets and interrupting sea transport.

    Water-logged streets made passage impossible for passenger vehicles and buses while flooding shut down the metro stop at Megaro Mousikis and the Thissio electric train stop, and the tram has stopped running. The thunderstorm, which began shortly after midnight, also flooded the National Road towards Corinth, the roads from Kifissos to Koumoundourou Avenue in Athens, and Posidonos Avenue, from the seashore to Syngrou Avenue, which leads into central Athens.

    Circulation shut down on the main artery of Pireos Avenue, which is under water from the Petrou Ralli to the Hamosterna areas and sections of Vouliagmenis Avenue. Other major roads shut down include Dimokratias Avenue in the Keratsini area of Piraeus, the Egaleo Peripheral Road and the National Road section from the Aspropyrgos bridge to the road leading to Athens.amna

    Hydrofoil schedules to the Saronic Gulf islands were also interrupted, especially the routes linking Piraeus with Egina, Angistri and Poros and those linking Hydra, Ermioni and Spetses. Routes between Salamina Island and Piraeus as well as Rafina and Marmari were also cancelled.

    The Attica fire brigade has received over 350 calls for help in flooding and from drivers trapped in their cars on Iera Odos, Pireos, Schistos Avenue by the Attiko Hospital and in Haidari west of Athens, while sections of the greater Athens areas experienced power failures.amna

    Despite the intensity of the storm and the possibility of further adverse weather on Saturday, with briefer and localized storms, the weather report forecast a gradual improvement throughout Greece by the afternoon.

    [05] SYRIZA wants radical restructuring of political system structures

    AMNA -- Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, addressing the Committee created by the party for the study and proposal of changes in the state, the political system and the constitution, stressed the need for a radical democratic restructuring of the political system's structures.

    Tsipras pointed out that the country's establishment forces, which as he said are responsible for the extensive economic ruin of Greek society have an "institutional agenda" and this is determined by the priorities that are dictated by the needs of the most tough, the most extreme, the most "gangster-like" capitalism, against the social cohesion and the demands of even elementary social justice.

    Tsipras added that in against this, "it is necessary to counter propose a new institutional state organisation, based on the triptych: Equality, Solidarity, Justice."amna

    He explained that "the working group is being organised at the initiative of SYRIZA, however the target is for it to function as a wide committee of the Left and the progressive democratic sector, regardless of party origin or current party affiliation". mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Verdana;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language: Tsipras concluded his address by saying that "we have the challenge of making an unprecedented reversal in our country and to stop the ruin of the economy, society and the people". He added that the outcome of this historic challenge "will not only depend on our possibility to stabilise the economy and remedy the big injustices. It will also depend to a great extent on our ability to replace the old and the rotten, all these failed and perforated structures of our political system, with new, healthy, stable and effective ones".amna

    [06] FM Avramopoulos holds talks with UN's Ban Ki-moon

    AMNA -- Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, speaking after his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the international organisation's headquarters on Thursday evening, said that Greece has delivered a verbal note to the UN "for our rights to be consolidated that emanate from the common law, as well as the contract law of the sea".

    Avramopoulos said that the Greek government, "in July 2012, made a demarche to Turkey on the granting of research licences, in regions of the Greek continental shelf, to the Turkish oil company. Because, in the period that lapsed since then, Turkey did not revoke these grants - without of course going ahead with research and I wish to believe that it will not do so in the future - we considered as next step to communicate this issue with a verbal note to the United Nations Organisation for our rights to be consolidated which emanate from the common law, as well as the contract law of the sea. Meaning that the islands have a continental shelf and that the regions in which Turkey granted the research come under the regions of the Greek continental shelf. Greece desires friendship and cooperation with Turkey, as well as with all the countries of our region, through relations, however, based on mutual respect and legality, particularly when this concerns issues touching on sovereign rights of ours as well as the exploitation of natural resources in a period when growth is what is required for Greece and Europe".amna

    Referring to the content of his meeting with the UN secretary general, Avramopoulos said "we had a very useful and constructive meeting" and that "we had the opportunity of exchanging views on crucial issues of our foreign policy, as well as on regional developments in the wider region of the Middle East and North Africa."amna

    [07] Intense storm paralyses Athens

    AMNA--A heavy and steady storm unloading rain and sleet in the greater Athens region created problems in transportation, flooding streets and interrupting sea transport.

    Water-logged streets made passage impossible for passenger vehicles and buses while flooding shut down the metro stop at Megaro Mousikis. The tram has stopped running and the electric railway (ISAP) is not running between the Omonia and Tavros stations due to a felled tree.

    The thunderstorm, which began shortly after midnight, also shut down circulation in sections of the National Road in both directions, and Posidonos Avenue, from the seashore to Syngrou Avenue, which leads into central Athens.

    Parts of Pireos Avenue, a major Athens road, is under water from the Petrou Ralli to the Hamosterna areas while sections of Vouliagmenis Avenue have also flooded. Other major roads shut down include Dimokratias Avenue in the Keratsini area of Piraeus, the Egaleo Peripheral Road and the National Road section from the Aspropyrgos bridge to the road leading to Athens.amna

    Hydrofoil schedules to the Saronic Gulf islands were also interrupted, especially the routes linking Piraeus with Egina, Angistri and Poros and those linking Hydra, Ermioni and Spetses. Routes between Salamina Island and Piraeus as well as Rafina and Marmari were also cancelled.

    The Attica fire brigade has received over 600 calls for help in flooding and from drivers trapped in their cars. Attiko Hospital is not accessible by Schistos Avenue.

    Meanwhile, central Athens and suburbs, especially in the south, experienced power failures. Heavy cloud cover has created poor visibility conditions in the city, which appears to be in predawn hours.amna

    Despite the intensity of the storm and the possibility of further adverse weather on Saturday, but with briefer and localized storms, the weather report forecast a gradual improvement throughout Greece by the afternoon.

    [08] Greek economy to return to growth rates in 2014

    AMNA--The Greek economy is expected to shrink by 4.4 pct this year, after shrinking by 6.4 pct in 2012, while a recovery is projected for 2014 (0.6 pct), the European Commission said on Friday.

    In its winter forecasts, the EU's executive said that the Eurozone economy will shrink by 0.3 pct this year and will return to an 1.4 pct growth rate in 2014. In its autumn forecasts, the Commission was predicting a 4.2 pct recession in 2013 followed by a growth rate of 0.6 pct in 2014 for Greece, while for the Eurozone it was forecasting a 0.1 pct growth rate this year.

    For the EU-27, the European Commission forecasts a 0.1 pct growth rate this year (0.4 pct in its autumn forecasts) and an 1.6 pct growth rate in 2014 (1.6 pct in its autumn forecasts).amna

    The unemployment rate is projected to jump to 27 pct this year (up from a 24 pct projection in autumn), easing to 25.7 pct in 2014. The budget deficit is expected to fall to 4.6 pct of GDP this year, from 6.6 pct in 2012 and to 3.5 pct in 2014, while the country's public debt is expected to rise to 175.6 pct of GDP this year from 161.6 pct in 2012, and to remain stable at 175.2 pct in 2014.

    The inflation rate is projected to be a negative 0.8 pct this year and a negative 0.4 pct in 2014.

    In its report, the European Commission stressed that Greece is emerging from a tumultuous 2012 with renewed commitment and action within a strengthened economic adjustment programme that enjoys strong backing from its international lenders. After the conclusion of a six-month review of the programme and the release of over 50 bn euros in December 2012, there have been some tentative signs of improvement. Banks have seen a reversal of deposit outflows and Greek market interest rates have been reduced significantly.

    The Commission noted that demand will contract further in 2013. Nevertheless, carryover from 2012 as well as the ongoing fiscal consolidation are projected to result in a further contraction of 4.4 pct of GDP in 2013. Investment is likely to continue underperforming in the short run, as the majority of businesses still face liquidity constraints or wait to see more evidence of a pick-up of the economy. Though exports are projected to grow as the economy is improving its competitiveness, they are likely to remain subdued due to still weak external conditions. amna

    It is expected that these factors will continue to dominate for most of 2013, only partially compensated by the reversal of the liquidity squeeze, notably as the government plans to repay arrears for an amount of up to 4% of GDP. In line with this contraction in demand, the unemployment rate is now expected to peak at 27.0% in 2013.

    The Commission forecasts the return to positive quarterly growth rates by end-2013 will be followed by positive full-year growth of 0.6 pct in 2014. This reflects ongoing positive supply-side developments. Reductions in unit labour costs and product market liberalisation are expected to create new business opportunities and to encourage job creation once the economy picks up.

    In addition, the bank recapitalisation process and the overall stabilisation of the country are setting the preconditions for a return of capital to the country and renewed credit flows to the private sector. With a large part of the fiscal consolidation effort already legislated, consumers and investors appear to start regaining confidence, which should strengthen domestic demand in 2014. Unemployment is nonetheless forecast to remain elevated at 25.7 pct.amna

    Greater flexibility in wage bargaining arrangements drives the forecast for decreasing labour costs. Compensation per employee is projected to fall by 7.0 pct in 2013 and by 2.0 pct in 2014. Together with the effect of structural reforms in the product market, this is expected to translate into HICP deflation of 0.8 pct and 0.4 pct respectively in 2013 and 2014, leading to a significant inflation differential vis-a-vis the euroarea average. This improvement in competitiveness, combined with euro-area recovery, should lead to export growth.

    In 2013 the government aims at primary balance followed by a primary surplus in 2014. This is supported by a package of savings measures amounting to 7.2 pct of GDP over 2013-14 which was adopted in November. Given interest payment reductions of almost 1 pct, due to the debt-reducing measures adopted by the Eurogroup in late 2012, the overall government deficit in 2013 is now expected to be 4.6 pct of GDP. The structural balance is estimated to reach a surplus of 1¾ pct.

    Gross public debt is estimated at 162 pct of GDP in 2012, 15 pct of GDP lower than in the autumn 2012 forecast, mainly thanks to the debt buyback operation carried out in December 2012. The debt ratio is projected to increase to 176 pct of GDP in 2013 as the economy contracts, after which it is expected to fall at an accelerated pace, supported by an improving budget balance and stronger nominal GDP growth.amna

    On the upside, there is a distinct possibility for a stronger return of confidence and the start of the recovery earlier in 2013. This would in turn have positive spillovers on the fiscal balance. Additionally, the repayment of government arrears in 2013 and the reversal of the liquidity squeeze may have a stronger impact on private sector demand thereby offering a bigger offset to fiscal consolidation than projected. amna

    On the downside, any hesitation in programme implementation, in both the fiscal and the structural area, may deter investors and weigh on demand. Employment may respond more negatively than forecast to the depressed demand conditions expected in 2013. The one-off costs of measures related to the banking sector and tax refund arrears, whose recording is currently being assessed by statistical authorities, are expected to impact the deficit in 2012 and/or 2013, although at least part of this statistical recording would not affect programme targets.

    [09] ECB's profits from Greek bonds amount to 555 million euros

    AMNA--The nominal value of Greek state bonds that the European Central Bank (ECB) has purchased amounts to 33.9 billion euros, implementing the two programmes on the purchase of titles, namely the Securities Market Programme and the Outright Monetary Transactions OMT, that was announced last September.amna

    In all, the nominal value of the portfolio of the bonds of the "problematic countries" Italy, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece that the ECB posesses at the end of 2012 amounted to 218 billion euros.

    Meanwhile, as appears from the annual accounts for the fiscal year ending on December 31 2012, the revenues obtained by the ECB from the Greek bonds amounted to 555 million euros compared to 654 million euros in 2011. The ECB's net profits for 2012 reached 998 million euros (2011: 728 million euros).

    [10] Greece to launch tender for Thessaloniki Port in the next two months

    AMNA -- The Greek government is expected to reach its final strategy on the privatization of Thessaloniki Port Organization this month, Takis Athanasopoulos, president of Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, in Thessaloniki, Athanasopoulos said the government was expected to clarify whether it will proceed with the privatization of the port or with the concession of port facilities (as several government officials have repeatedly said).

    Athanasopoulos said an international tender for the port of Thessaloniki will be launched in the next two months and noted that five large port operating international companies have already expressed interest for the tender (he stressed that Cosco was not among them).amna

    Hutchison was among the five interested parties, Athanasopoulos said, while he noted that the first criterion for choosing the winner of the tender would be its commitment to developing the port, while the proposed price would be a secondary criterion.amna

    [11] Social tourism programme to return

    AMNA--Labour Minister Yannis Vroutsis clarified on Friday that the social tourism programme which provides subsidised holidays to lower-income citizens will be reintroduced. He made the comments during an interview with private ANT1 TV.

    The programme had been suspended after the abolition of the organisation administering it.

    Participating Greek hoteliers noted that the programme supports the viability of a substantial number of lodgings - estimated to be over 2,700 - in regions hard to reach by tourists, such as remote islands.amna

    Benefitting from the programme are mostly low-capacity traditional lodgings, whose operation is important because they offer jobs and income to locals and prevent the desertification of these remote areas.


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