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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-03-07

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Eurogroup's Dijsselbloem says institutions to return to Athens 'possibly tomorrow'
  • [02] 'Open the borders,' plead desperate refugees in Idomeni, as EU leaders bargain
  • [03] Greek construction group Ellaktor to built segment of TAP pipeline

  • [01] Eurogroup's Dijsselbloem says institutions to return to Athens 'possibly tomorrow'

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki) - Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the institutions will return to Athens "possibly tomorrow" to complete the first review of Greece's adjustment program.

    Speaking after the Eurogroup meeting at a joint press conference with European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, and the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Klaus Regling, he said the preparation has been satisfactory but that more work needs to be done to complete the review. He specified that there are fiscal gaps that need to be covered and reforms that have to be deepened.

    On his side, Moscovici expressed his satisfaction with Eurogroup's decision to ask for the return of the institutions to Athens, noting that this positive development is due to intensive work between the institutions and the Greek authorities in recent weeks. He stressed however that work needs to continue on a number of issues: the operation of the privatization fund, taxation, social security reform, the creation of an independent authority on public revenues and resolving the problem of non-performing loans.

    Concerning fiscal targets, Moscovici said that in the Commission's view, Greece will have to achieve a primary surplus of 3.5 pct of GDP in 2018. "We will work together to agree on the measures which will lead us to the achievement of this goal," he said.

    Asked about the completion of Greece's first program review, the Commissioner said it could be achieved soon as it is in everyone's interest, all the more so considering Greece's refugee crisis. He said the review could be completed before the Orthodox Easter on May 1, noting that the institutions are returning to Greece to find a solution as soon as possible. Moscovici also said talks on debt relief will start soon.

    The managing director of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), Klaus Regling, said ESM representatives will visit Athens on Tuesday and stressed the need to complete the review soon, noting that the Greek economy's liquidity margins are tight and that the country must avoid falling into arrears. He reminded that ESM has already disbursed 21 billion euros, which is one fourth of the total amount of the program (86 bln euros).

    On his side, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos confirmed that the heads of the institutions will return to Athens.

    "The institutions agreed to return. The IMF also agreed to return, despite some differences," he told journalists, noting that the meeting was "very good".

    "We expect further talks, to complete the first review in time and to have a conversation about debt. I'm sure that when logical people sit around a table, they'll find a logical solution," he added.

    [02] 'Open the borders,' plead desperate refugees in Idomeni, as EU leaders bargain

    Grimly hanging on and determined to stay close to the gateway north, despite ever-deteriorating conditions at the woefully inadequate Idomeni camp, the refugees stranded in Greece had only one message for Europe's leaders as they met on Monday to seek a solution to the refugee crisis: 'Open the borders'.

    They knew little and cared less about the politics and the bargaining in Brussels, clinging only to the hope that the obstacles barring their path to central Europe will somehow be lifted, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary. In the meantime, since most now realise the wait could be a long one, they busied themselves setting up makeshift shelters, using blankets to protect themselves from the cold and huddling around open fires with their families to cook and keep warm, trying to eke out what little money they have left as long as possible.

    Authorities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Monday tightened the criteria even further, now accepting only Syrians and Iraqis from specific areas in those countries where conflict is taking place and turning back those from Damascus, Baghdad and other towns considered "less dangerous". Only a few hundred were allowed to cross the border in the 24 hours before 6:00 on Monday and FYROM had not let even one refugee pass throughout the morning.

    This has not deterred those seeking a chance at a new life in Europe, with an estimated 400 newcomers arriving at the already overstretched Idomeni camp each day. They are determined to stay as close as possible to the no-man's land with FYROM, in case there is any change and a decision is made to let more people through.

    There are even a few dozen Afghans who still believe they will be get through, despite the blanket ban for all nationalities apart from Syrians and Iraqis. One young Afghan had been camping out at Idomeni with his family for 20 days, waiting.

    "What can I do? I will stay here and if they don't let us [pass], I will set fire to myself and burn," he told the ANA-MPA.

    Doctors Without Borders are now working to expand the camp, installing new toilets and putting up four large tents, each fitting up to 200 people. This was still not enough and additional chemical toilets to the 180 already installed will be needed, aid worker Antonis Rigas told the ANA-MPA.

    "The camp was designed for 2,500 people and now it has become gigantic," he said.

    Based on the last figure released by Greek authorities, there were now 8,550 refugees crammed into the camp at Idomeni, while FYROM authorities had only allowed 337 people through in the 24 hours before 6:00 on Monday.

    [03] Greek construction group Ellaktor to built segment of TAP pipeline

    Greece's biggest construction group Ellaktor said on Monday that subsidiary Aktor, along with French-based global pipeline contractor Spiecapag, will construct the first out of the three segments of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) in northern Greece.

    TAP envisages the construction of a 760-km pipeline stretching from the Greek-Turkish borders to the coast of Albania.

    The specific section concerns the construction of a 48-inch diameter pipeline, 180 kilometers in length, stretching from the Turkish border to Kavala, as well as additional facilities for its operation. Completion of the project is expected in about two years, the company said.


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