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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 15-04-11

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] ND leader: 'Gov't has torn down all we built in 2.5 years'
  • [02] Police on trail of international migrant-trafficking ring; five arrested
  • [03] Extra ferry trips laid on for Orthodox Easter break
  • [04] First Easter for Izmir's historic St. Voukolos Church since 1922
  • [05] Lagarde voices concern over Greek economy's medium-term prospects
  • [06] Government planning tax offices specialising in 'hidden wealth', Tsakalotos reveals

  • [01] ND leader: 'Gov't has torn down all we built in 2.5 years'

    ANA-MPA -- Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras lashed out at the government on Saturday, saying it had torn down "all we built over 2.5 years."

    Samaras deplored the reappearance of hoodie-wearing rioters, protest occupations of public buildings, "illegal immigrants everywhere," incidents and even contact with terrorists.

    "However, a country that in addition to its economic problems also has citizens living in insecurity and fear cannot get ahead nor stand firmly on its feet," he stressed.

    Replying to the criticism, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis accused Samaras of "once again investing in fear."

    "Trying to conceal the non-existence of any alternative proposal apart from the Memorandum, he chooses to resort to his known far-right rants," Sakellaridis said, adding that "Greek society and democracy are not frightened but need a more serious main opposition."

    [02] Police on trail of international migrant-trafficking ring; five arrested

    ANA-MPA -- Police on Saturday said that they were continuing an investigation to dismantle an international migrant-trafficking ring, following the arrests of two Greek nationals aged 54 and 57, two Italians aged 55 and 37 and a Turk aged 43 for allegedlly attempting to transport 54 irregular migrants from Astakos to Italy for a fee of 135,000 euros.

    The 54 migrants from Syria, Somalia, Iraq and Iran were loaded onto a truck in Aspropyrgos, Attica on Good Friday and taken to the location Ichthyka, Aitolikos where the two Greeks and the 53-year-old Turk were waiting for them, in order to hide them until the boat from Italy arrived.

    The two Italians sailed to the area from the sea, where they were spotted by Messolonghi coast guard officers and arrested. The coast guard alerted the police, who launched a search on the mainland and found the migrants and the three men arrested on Saturday morning.

    Authorities are now seeking the driver of the truck that transported them from Aspropyrgos and will also investigate the phone records of nine mobile phones found on the suspects. They are also examining the migrants for further information concerning the ring's activities.

    Based on information collected so far, the migrants were approached in various locations in Attica and each asked to pay 2,500 euros for passage to Italy. For the time being, the migrants are being held in the police headquarters at Messolonghi.

    [03] Extra ferry trips laid on for Orthodox Easter break

    ANA-MPA -- Extra ferry journeys and measures to facilitate travellers over the Orthodox Easter break were taken by the Greek coast guard on Holy Saturday.

    Coast guard officers were station at all departures points in Piraeus port to help those wanting to travel, given that the bad weather of the past two days had disrupted ferry lines. The Piraeus traffic police have also mobilised to assist the movement of vehicles to the port. Those intending to take their cars are advised to arrive at least one hour before departure.

    There will be 12 ferries departing from Piraeus on Saturday, instead of the eight originally scheduled. There have been no changes to ferry schedules from the ports of Rafina and Lavrio, with five ferries departing from Rafina and four from Lavrio.

    The ferry "Nissos Mykonos" finally left Syros harbour after winds dropped on Friday night and will its return journey will include stops at the islands Fournoi, Chios, Mytilene, Limnos and Kavala on its return journey, in addition to Ikaria and Samos.

    A total of 9,564 passengers departed from Piraeus port on Friday night after a sailing ban was lifted, while 6,589 left for the islands of the Saronic Gulf, 4,328 departed from Rafina and 832 from Lavrio. Initial figures indicate that levels of passenger traffic for ferries have dropped slightly since last year, possibly due to the bad weather.

    On Good Friday in 2014 there were 13,268 passenger departures from Piraeus, 7,810 for the Saronic Gulf, 7,540 from Rafina and 2,390 from Lavrio.

    Bad weather forecasts did not dampen the spirits of holiday-makers this Easter, with hundreds of thousands of cars leaving Greek cities and heading for the countryside to spend the holiday. According to figures at Athens exits, traffic was at similar levels to the previous year, falling by just 1 pct, though it remains significantly lower than the last pre-crisis year in 2009.

    A total of 92,423 cars had gone through the Afidnes tolls toward Lamia between Thursday and the afternoon of Holy Saturday, while another 126,000 passed through the tolls at Elefsina. In the same period in 2014, 93,283 cars had gone through Afidnes and roughly 128,000 through Elefsina.

    In 2009, by contrast, the number of cars leaving via Elefsina in that period was 30 pct higher at 180,000 and the numbers leaving via Afidnes on Thursday alone were more than three times as many - 76,000 in 2009 as opposed to 23,164 in 2015.

    Motorists travelling in northern Greece on Saturday were warned to expect problems as a result of flooding, rock falls and heavy rainfall throughout the road and rail network in Macedonia, Thrace and Thessaly, with serious delays expected until the damage is repaired and traffic fully restored.

    [04] First Easter for Izmir's historic St. Voukolos Church since 1922

    ANA-MPA -- After a hiatus lasting nearly a century, the message of Christ's resurrection will once again sound in the historic Orthodox church of Saint Voukolos (Aya Vukla) in Izmir, which held its first Holy Week services since 1922.

    The recently renovated and restored church held its first Good Friday service and procession, through the streets of Izmir the previous day, while the Easter divine liturgy will take place at midnight. The Orthodox community in Izmir will also hold a banquet at the church on Sunday, after the Easter services.

    [05] Lagarde voices concern over Greek economy's medium-term prospects

    ANA-MPA -- Referring to Greece in an interview with seven major European newspapers, including Italy's "La Repubblica", International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde expressed concern over the Greek economy's medium-term prospects but also the fact that low and middle incomes had borne the brunt of the crisis. The interview was given last Tuesday and published in 'La Repubblica' on Saturday.

    Lagarde said that much work remained to be done to improve the economy's prospects and that this required a high level of cooperation, adding that there was a "rich spirit of cooperation" on the part of the IMF.

    She disagreed with a statement made by Brazil's IMF representative Paolo Nogueira Batista that IMF rules had been "broken" in Greece's case, describing them as "inaccurate" and "clearly biased". Among others, she noted that the IMF had carried out a study on the fiscal adjustment demanded of various countries and discovered that the effort required of the Europeans was significantly larger, in terms of volume and content, than that required of countries in the Middle East.

    Noting the high cost demanded of the poor and middle classes, she said an effort was being made to change this and a system set up to transfer the cost of bank bailouts from the general public to the shareholders of the financial institutions that found themselves in difficulties.

    [06] Government planning tax offices specialising in 'hidden wealth', Tsakalotos reveals

    ANA-MPA -- Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos revealed government plans for measures against tax evasion and corruption and for 'hidden wealth' tax offices, in statements published by the Sunday edition of the newspaper 'To Vima'.

    Tsakalotos said these measures would allow Greece to achieve balanced budgets and a primary surplus in the area of 1-1.5 pct of GDP.

    He noted that a first step was improving the collection rate for VAT and a measure for broadcasting frequency licences.

    "The major negotiation in June over the debt will be the most crucial. It is critically important that there be a satisfactory settlement of the debt to make this sustainable and rid the country of excessive costs for servicing it, especially in times of recession as at present," he said.

    Tsakalotos also repeated assurances that a zero-deficit clause for pensions will not be implemented, noting that the government might consider changes to "some extreme cases of early retirement, which we also agree on, but no more."


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