|Monday, 17 February 2020|
Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-04-11
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM Tsipras: FYROM police stance towards refugees in Idomeni is shamefulThe first joint front against austerity policies and in favour of adopting alternative policies in the EU was formed by the governments of Greece and Portugal on Monday, following a joint admission by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Portuguese counterpart AntÃ³nio Costa that the memorandums didn't provide the solutions to the countries' problems.
The two leaders met in Athens to discuss economic, political and refugee issues, as well as the need to have more solidarity in the EU and form a wider front of progressive forces which will promote alternative policies in the region.
Speaking during a joint press conference after the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, Tsipras asked for the July agreement on Greece's economic program to be implemented, warning that he will not accept conditions on starting a talk on debt relief, as the deal didn't include any conditions. He said once talks on debt start, they will lead to some conclusion.
The premier then continued by taking a jab at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying that despite admitting its mistake on the Greek program, it insists on its mistake, but at some time "we must get serious". He then said the Greek economy is outperforming its projected targets and insinuated that there might be some sides that do not want the first program review to conclude, so as to avoid starting debt relief talks.
Commenting also on the economy, Costa said the adjustment program implemented in his country left behind serious problems, such as a jump in public debt from 97 pct of GDP to 130 pct, poverty, unemployment and social problems.
Answering questions on the refugee crisis, the Portuguese prime minister said his country will welcome a significant number of refugees from Greece. Tsipras publically thanked him for the move and noted that Portugal, a country with a small population and economic problems is welcoming refugees, while other countries with better economies are refusing to take them in.
Costa urged the EU to rise to the occasion and not allow the entire burden of the refugee crisis to fall on one country like Greece, because this is a European problem.
Commenting on the joint declaration signed by the two leaders, Tsipras emphasized the common targets highlighted for a change of policy in the EU and on the need to end austerity policies. The only divergence between the two countries, the Greek premier noted, is on the issue of debt relief, with Portugal openly being against cutting it, while the Greek side believes it is unsustainable.
Asked about the incident in Idomeni during the weekend when protesting refugees and migrants were pushed back by FYROM border police with teargas and rubber bullets, Tsipras said that Idomeni is and continues to constitute an embarrassment for European culture, adding the cause of the situation in the makeshift camp is the unilateral actions of some countries who decided to close the borders. He then stressed that this is a situation that cannot be changed and that the government is doing all it can to convince all these people that they have to move to organized facilities.
Tsipras also said that in this effort, apart from the objective difficulties, the government has to deal with some NGOs which are doing the opposite job by trying to convince those people to remain there, regardless of the fact that this move poses enormous risks, as it appears that these NGOs are more concerned with receiving funding, rather than helping.
Asked about Sunday's clashes in Idomeni, the prime minister said they constitute a "double provocation" because they were encouraged by some "solidarity volunteers", representatives of NGOs, some of whom are foreign nationals and don't live in the country.
The second provocation, he said, is the stance of FYROM authorities, who responded with teargas and rubber bullets against people who were clearly unarmed, which constitutes a great shame for European civilization and for the countries who want to become part of this civilization. "I expect European authorities, international organizations and the UNCHR to say something on what happened yesterday," he added.
 President Pavlopoulos criticizes Fyrom authorities during meeting with Portuguese PMCountries that adopt unacceptable behaviours in terms of humanity, such as FYROM's behaviour against refugees on Sunday, do not have place either in the European Union or in the NATO, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday said during his meeting with visiting Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
Moreover, Pavlopoulos referred to the need for further strengthening the EU institutions in order to support a real European intergration that will put an end to the huge democratic deficit observed lately in the European Union.
Pavlopoulos noted that the very essence of the European Union is not the currency but the human being and characterised the refugees issue a problem of existence for the European Union. He said that we must behave to refugees with humanism and solidarity adding that phobic syndroms do not have place in Europe.
The Greek president referred to the need for the agreement between EU and Turkey to be implemented as well as to the need the conflict in Syria to end. On terrorism, he stated: "Terrorists and particularly ISIS jihadists are the representatives of a new barbarism and commit crimes against humanity and that is how they must be treated."
Addressing the Portuguese prime minister, he noted that Greece and Portugal have much in common adding that they are two countries with clear European orientation that can contribute in the European Union's future.
On his part, Costa thanked Pavlopoulos for the warm reception and expressed his country's will for a closer cooperation between the two countries while on the refugees issue he stated that beyond everything it is a humanitarian crisis and estimated that EU should focus on the refugees protection adding that Greece can't bear the burden by itself and it must be allocated to all the European state members.
Costa made a special reference to solidarity, noting that the closing of the borders does not constitute a solution and expressed Portugal's readiness over the relocation of refugees. He pointed out that 2,000 positions are available in Portuguese universities for young people that want to continue their studies.
He stated that he clearly supports the monetary integration in EU and he pointed out the need to invest in growth and to proceed with a structural reform of the eurozone.
 Government extends ban on sale of NPLs until May 15The Greek government extended on Monday the current ban on selling non-performing loans (NPLs) to funds until May 15 through an amendment tabled by the economy ministry to parliament.
According to the amendment, banks are not allowed to sell NPLs which mortgage the main residence, consumer loans and those of small and medium-sized businesses. The move was taken to allow the government more time to formulate the relevant legislation which is currently being debated with Greece's lenders.
The amendment also extends for two more months (until June 30) a relevant law passed by the previous government until a new framework is prepared to reform the debts of small businesses and professionals to the banks.
 Greek police in Lesvos started examining asylum applications on SundayGreek authorities started examining asylum applications at Moria's hotspot on the island of Lesvos, adding that almost all refugees and migrants who arrived on the island after March 20 have submitted applications, police said.
Speaking to public broadcaster ERT, Brigadier general Zacharoula Tsirigoti, the head of Greece's immigration police, said about 3,500 refugees and migrants are currently in Moria and have all submitted an application. Out of those people, about 700 vulnerable groups have been transferred to the municipality's accommodation center in Kara Tepe, while only 15 people have said they want to return to Turkey.
Tsirigoti also said the asylum service has been strengthened by an additional 46 officers from Brussels and Athens and its aim is to examine 50 applications per day. She added that Syrians will be returned by plane to Adana in Turkey where Turkish authorities have set up a refugee center.
She also said the readmission procedure will stop during Pope Francis' visit and resume when he leaves the island.
 Wage employment in private sector up in MarchWage employment in the private sector grew in March as the hiring/dismissal balance showed a surplus of 29,351 job positions, official data showed on Monday.
A monthly report by "Ergani", the IT system of the Labor ministry, said that new hirings totaled 149,028 in March, while dismissals amounted to 119,677. On an annual basis, the hiring/dismissal balance showed a surplus of 7,038 job positions. In an announcement, Ergani said that the March performance was positive for the fourth successive year and it was the highest performance in March since 2001.
In the January-March period, new hirings totaled 377,876 and dismissals amounted to 344,042, for a surplus of 33,834 new jobs, the second highest quarterly performance since 2001.
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