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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-05-27

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras to Putin: Strengthening relations is our strategic choice
  • [02] Russian president Putin received by President Pavlopoulos
  • [03] Russian Patriarch Kirill hopes for peace and concord in Mount Athos visit
  • [04] Athens-based businesses and an NGO a 'front' for migrant-traffickers, police say
  • [05] Greek budget records 2.717-bln-euro primary surplus in Jan-April‏

  • [01] PM Tsipras to Putin: Strengthening relations is our strategic choice

    Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived at the Greek government headquarters in the Maximos Mansion at 18:25 on Friday, after a short walk from the presidential palace, where he was met by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the steps leading up to the building. Putin was accompanied by the foreign ministers of Greece and Russia and the rest of the Russian delegation.

    Tsipras confirmed the high level of Greek-Russian relations as he welcomed the Russian President, speaking in front of the cameras. The Greek premier noted that "strengthening relations with Russia constitutes a strategic choice which is dictated both by the historically close, cultural and political ties, as well as the possibilities opening in front of us and the possibilities of strengthening stability in the region".

    He also said that Putin's visit comes at a time when Greece is turning a page, is ending uncertainty and can look into the future with greater optimism for growth and for restarting the economy. "All this could contribute in strengthening our relations in an environment of stability and prospects," Tsipras said.

    On his side, Putin said these high level meetings form part of the Greece-Russian Year. "In Moscow and St Petersburg we have discussed analytically the prospects in economic cooperation. Of course there are many problems and the circumstances are difficult, but there are certainly good prospects," the Russian leader said. "And of course, we must transform the good relations of our peoples to tangible economic results."

    Putin said the cooperation is not limited to energy, but also includes high technology, infrastructure and mutual investments, which he hoped will be discussed later today.

    The two leaders then went inside together for the start of a meeting between them, to be followed by meetings between the two delegations.

    The Russian president was accompanied by a large delegation, including several Russian ministers and the CEOs of Gazprom, Rosneft and other business people.

    The meeting between the prime minister and Russian president will be followed by a working dinner and talks between delegations from the two sides.

    The discussion is expected to focus on reinforcing bilateral economic and trade relations, including attracting Russian investments and promoting Greek exports to Russia, especially in the agricultural, energy and tourism sectors. The two sides are also expected to discuss ways to upgrade political dialogue on international and regional developments and on EU-Russia and NATO-Russia relations. Lastly, they will discuss cooperation in culture, education, science and technology in the framework of cross-cultural Year of 'Greece in Russia, Russia in Greece' in 2016.

    A series of proclamations and agreements will be signed, after which Putin and Tsipras will make joint statements to the press.

    [02] Russian president Putin received by President Pavlopoulos

    Russian President Vladimir Putin was received by President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos at the presidential mansion on Friday, immediately after his arrival in Greece, beginning the first of a series of meetings with Greek officials during his two-day visit.

    "You visit to Greece comes at a crucial time, not only for our region but for all of Europe," Pavlopoulos said as he met the Russian president on his arrival.

    "Close cooperation between Russia, the United States and the European Union to end the war in Syria is exceptionally important for our time," the Greek president added.

    Responding, Putin said it was time to "proceed with specific steps in order to exploit the opportunities that exist for strengthening bilateral relations," while noting an impressive increase in Russian tourists visiting Greece.

    [03] Russian Patriarch Kirill hopes for peace and concord in Mount Athos visit

    The spirit of concord and peace must prevail in the difficult times the world is experiencing, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill said during formal and celebratory mass held in his honour at the Protaton Church in Karyes, the seat of the self-governing body of Mount Athos, on Friday.

    Kirill expressed his respect for the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the representatives of the twenty monasteries of Mount Athos, adding that he came to pay his respects to its monasticism. He also spoke on the great importance placed by the Russian Church to Mount Athos, an event that is manifested in the numerous visits of Russian citizens in the area.

    He also commented on the one thousand-year anniversary from the first presence of Russian monks on Mount Athos celebrated this year, noting it is an additional reason for his pilgrimage.

    [04] Athens-based businesses and an NGO a 'front' for migrant-traffickers, police say

    An group of companies and a non-governmental organisation, all based in Athens, were acting as a front for migrant trafficking outfits operating around Omonia Square, the Hellenic Police (ELAS) announced on Friday. The rings supplied refugees and migrants will fake documents in the EU but also third countries, and were dismantled as a result of a months-long investigation by the Attica Aliens Police, in collaboration with police forces in other EU countries and Europol.

    The two organisations were separate but operated simultaneously and collaborated with each other over the last two years, according to police. They were both dismantled during a police operation held on Wednesday under the code name 'Ermis' held under the EMPACT programme for fighting illegal migration.

    The police investigation revealed an international network with 105 members, of which 64 were in Greece and 51 in other countries. Authorities have so far arrested 16 individuals in Greece, among them eight Bangladeshi nationals, six Sudanese, one Pakistani and one Syrian. At least three individuals were arrested in the Czech Republic and four in France.

    Police also discovered two workshops for used to make fake documents in Athens, including forged passports reported as lost in the Schengen system.

    The alleged mastermind of one organisation was a Bangladeshi national that had set up a group of businesses that included a hotel, restaurant, travel agency, money transfer bureau, shop and internet service provider, as well as the NGO 'Hara' that were fully legal but served as a front for his illegal activities.

    The NGO's role has not been fully clarified but authorities know that it provided food and other services to foreign nationals using legal procedures. It is now being investigated for money laundering.

    The ring operated mainly by producing fake travel documents and other papers and used airline flights to move people to Europe and between European countries, investigators said. It charged fees ranging from 100 euros to 3,000 euros for its fake documents and services.

    The second organisation operated in a similar way to the first but was manned mainly by Sudanese and centred around a mobile phone accessory outlet in Athens.

    The members of the gang are linked to individuals that have prior arrests on similar charges in Athens and Chios. They were all led before an Athens first-instance prosecutor.

    [05] Greek budget records 2.717-bln-euro primary surplus in Jan-April‏

    The Greek state budget recorded a primary surplus of 2.715 billion euros in the January-April period, up from a primary surplus of 2.103 billion in the same period last year and sharply higher compared with a budget target for a surplus of 566 million euros this year.

    The general government's deficit was 154 million euros in the four-month period, from a deficit of 510 million last year and a budget target for a shortfall of 2.284 billion euros.

    State budget net revenue amounted to 16.014 billion euros in the January-April period, down 0.9 pct from targets, while regular budget net revenue was 14.104 billion euros, up 2.3 pct from targets. Corporate tax revenue surpassed targets by 24 pct in the four-month period, direct tax revenue was up 26 pct, insurance tax revenue was up 27.2 pct form targets, vehicle registration duty revenue surpassed targets by 4.1 pct, indirect tax revenue was up 75.3 pct and other non-tax revenue surpassed targets by 32.2 pct.

    On the other hand, income tax revenue was 6.0 pct lower from targets, special categories income tax revenue fell short by 6.8 pct, property tax revenue was down 10 pct, VAT on oil products was down 20.4 pct, VAT on tobacco was down 4.8 pct, special consumption tax on energy revenue was down 4.5 pct and other indirect tax revenue was down 23.9 pct.

    Tax returns totaled 978 million euros, surpassed targets by 62 million euros in the four-month period, while Public Investment Programme revenue amounted to 1.910 billion euros, down 470 million euros from targets.

    State budget spending amounted to 16.168 billion euros, down 2.278 billion from targets in the January-April period. Regular budget spending was 15.249 billion euros, down 2.077 billion from targets reflecting a decline in primary spending by 1.817 billion. Regular budget spending was down by 255 million euros compared with the same period last year. Public Investment Programme spending was 919 million euros, down 201 million from targets.


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