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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-04-27

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Debate on finance ministry omnibus bill begins
  • [02] Dendias: Greek society not racist

  • [01] Debate on finance ministry omnibus bill begins

    ANA-MPA -- Discussion of the government's draft omnibus bill, outlining a series of measures and prior actions agreed with the troika of Greece's lenders (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund), began before the Parliamentary Committee for Economic Affairs on Saturday.

    Among the speakers appearing before the committee was Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who said that an amendment to give work to the unemployed via local authorities proposed by coalition government partner PASOK was "in the right direction".

    The minister announced that the labour and finance ministry were now working together with PASOK to calculate the cost of the amendment and, if this was done by Sunday, would add the amendment to the omnibus bill. If not, he added, the legislation would be included in the next draft labour ministry bill.

    According to Stournaras, Greece had now covered approximately two thirds of the adjustment programme and was doing better than the forecasts in the first quarter of 2013.

    "We have a primary surplus, something that was forecast to be achieved at the end of the year. The debt was reduced and is forecast to fall below 110 percent of GDP in 2022. The unemployment rate will begin to fall from next year. Already in March we had more hirings and firings," Stournaras said.

    The debate on the bill began with a clash between the government and opposition over the decision to table the bill as urgent, thus restricting the debate before the full Parliament to just a few hours since the vote will be held on Sunday night.

    Stournaras defended the decision on the grounds that the Euro Working Group is due to convene on Monday in order to decide on the disbursement of the remaining 2.8 billion euros to be given to Greece from the previous tranche of bailout loans, as well as the 6.0 billion euros due to be given in May.

    Main opposition SYRIZA-EKM MP Efklidis Tsakalotos rejected this reasoning, however, noting that the government had been given ample time to prepare the draft legislation now presented at the last minute.

    "It is not our fault if you fight amongst yourselves, if you are inefficient, if you do not respect democratic process," he accused the coalition government, calling the draft bill "unacceptable".

    SYRIZA-EKM MP Panagiotis Lafazanis also objected to the decision to table the omnibus bill as a single article, saying this prevented MPs from accepting or rejecting individual measures on their merits and thus violated the Constitution.

    Similar objections were voiced by other opposition parties in Parliament but the urgent nature of the bill was finally approved by 26 votes in favour and 15 against.

    [02] Dendias: Greek society not racist

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou) Greek Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikolaos Dendias on Friday stressed that Greece was not a racist society, during a press conference given to outline the results of his visit to New York at the Greek press and communications office in the city.

    Commenting on issues of racism and the actions of extreme far-right groups like the Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party, the minister stressed that events like that recently in Manolada "were an affront to human existence" and stressed that the police response was immediate. He stressed that Greek society was not xenophobic and racist and that groups engaging in extreme behaviour like Golden Dawn will disappear once Greece emerges from the crisis.

    Dendias said that his contacts at the FBI and New York Police Department (NYPD) while visiting New York had focused on "deepening relations" between Greece and the United States. He stressed that they had also discussed ways to transfer U.S. know-how in law enforcement to Greece, as part of an effort to radically overhaul the Greek police force.

    "The model used in New York to fight crime interests us a great deal, we have studied it and are trying to implement it," he said. Since his visit had taken place so soon after the terror strikes in Boston, they were also an opportunity to experience the way U.S. authorities had responded and acted, he added.

    Questioned on migration issues, Dendias referred to the Independent Asylum Authority and the Migrant Reception Centres and overall government policy in this area, saying it had brought about "measurable results" and extracted praise from Greece's EU partners, with 30,000 migrants returned to their country of origin in recent months.

    He also pointed to the negative aspects of the EU's Dublin Treaty and said that Greece proposed a new model in which the EU dealt with such as issues as "friends and partners".

    Dendias was later due to visit the offices of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in Manhattan and meet its director and co-president Andreas Dracopoulos while he will also meet American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris.


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