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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-01-31

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 31 January 2011 Issue No: 3708


  • [01] PM: Greece discussing loan repayment extension, not debt restructure
  • [02] FinMin: No further increases planned
  • [03] Foreign ministry to repatriate Greeks from Egypt
  • [04] Cyprus president due in Athens
  • [05] Tsipras in Istanbul, meets with Ecumenical Patriarch
  • [06] Holocaust victims remembered in Thessaloniki
  • [07] Development minister: Turnabout from recession in Q4 2011
  • [08] Agro-development minister calls for new growth model at event in Crete
  • [09] Eurostat chief: No cause for reservations on Greek statistics
  • [10] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday
  • [11] The Petrified Forest of Lesvos
  • [12] Major turnout anticipated for Battle of Crete 70th anniversary commemoration in May
  • [13] More public transport strikes this week
  • [14] Migrants Forum denies organisation of Law School takeover, migrants determined to continue hunger strike
  • [15] Suspect injured while trying to evade arrest during drug raid
  • [16] Georgia-flag freighter suffers engine failure off Rhodes
  • [17] Homicide of foreign national solved, victim's brother was the perpetrator
  • [18] Flooding on Rhodes, Kos
  • [19] Internet fraud arrest
  • [20] Greek soccer results
  • [21] Rainy, with snow on high ground, on Monday
  • [22] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance
  • [23] Cyprus in line with EU on Palestinian-Israel borders Politics

  • [01] PM: Greece discussing loan repayment extension, not debt restructure

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Prime minister George Papandreou stressed his government's determination to implement its program for the needed reforms and changes in Greece, as well as its efforts to achieve an extension for repayment of the country's EU-IMF support mechanism loan, while at the same time ruling out a restructuring of the Greek debt, in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Die Presse appearing Saturday.

    Papandreou further ruled out early general elections in Greece, stressing that elections will be held in 2013 at the end of the present term of office.

    Noting that the government's program needs to be implemented, the premier clarified that even if Greece had a zero debt, the reforms and changes would have been needed, since the system was not sustainable and competitive, there was a lack of transparency, and little had been invested in the sectors in which Greece has a competitive edge such as tourism, green technologies and innovation.

    On the loan repayment timetable over the next years, Papandreou stressed that debt restructuring is not an option for Greece, which has said that having more time to repay its debt would be helpful.

    The premier said that the longer repayment period for the loan should be more or less the same with that given to Ireland, since Greece was given a short period of time and thus the markets believe it will be difficult for the country to be able to repay such a large amount in just 4-5 years.

    He pointed out that it would be much easier on Greece if the same criteria were applied as for Ireland, which would calm the markets and critics, adding that the eurozone finance ministers have taken a relevant decision which, however, has not yet been applied.

    Questioned on the root problems, Papandreou pointed to a big black economy and tax evasion, compounded by wasteful spending of public money.

    Despite the negative growth of the past year, revenues from taxes have risen by 10 percent, and this indicates that the Greek economy still has a field for action, and that in tandem with clamping down on tax evasion there can also be a reduction in taxes, with achievement of higher revenues, Papandreou noted.

    He reiterated that the austerity program, as painful as it was, must be adhered to, stressing that the crisis must be utilised to solve some of the structural problems, while at the same time serving as an opportunity for a change in the structures in Europe.

    Asked whether early general elections will be held in Greece, given that some observers believe that a debt restructure would follow early elections, Papandreou stressed that elections will take place in 2013.

    [02] FinMin: No further increases planned

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    The Greek government is not planning further increases, such as in VAT rates, because that would not bring in much more revenues, finance minister George Papaconstantinou assured in an interview with the weekend edition of the Austrian newspaper Der Standard.

    He said that Greece has gone through a long and rugged road, and in just one year reduced its deficit by six percentage points while most of the structural changes are progressing or have been materialised, and the country has succeeded in restoring its credibility.

    The main concern, now, is to preserve that foundation, the minister added.

    To a question on the prospect of a buy-back of state bonds, Papaconstantinou clarified that it is a proposal that is on the table, noting that the proposal was not put forward by Greece and that there is no formal discussion, but it is being discussed as an idea, just like other ideas, at European level.

    Asked why Greece will not default and will not restructure its debt, as stressed by Greek prime minister George Papandreou in Davos, Papaconstantinou said it has to do with the tolerance of the public finances, the debts, and this depends on three factors.

    The first factor, he elaborated, is the state of the budget, noting that "much has been done here as well, and the direction is correct". The second factor is whether growth is satisfactory in order to reduce the debts "and here, too, all of the government's structural changes comprise a positive support for the economy". The third factor is the size of the interest rates that must be paid.

    Papaconstantinou noted that the Greek side hopes for a change of the borrowing terms of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF support loan and an extension of the loan's repayment period, which would be a help and, if it functions properly, will be sufficient to contribute to stabilisation and to reduction of the budget deficit.

    In any event, he added, the efforts being made should not be underestimated.

    [03] Foreign ministry to repatriate Greeks from Egypt

    Greece's foreign ministry on Sunday decided to send a military aircraft to repatriate all Greeks from Egypt who desire to return home.

    According to available information, all the Greeks in Egypt are well in health.

    The foreign ministry made the decision in cooperation with the Greek defence ministry, and is in constant contact with other countries also planning repatriation operations.

    According to a foreign ministry announcement, "activation of the repatriation plan for Greek citizens in Egypt desiring to return to Greece was decided this morning (Sunday) at a meeting chaired by deputy foreign minister (for overseas Greeks affairs) Dimitris Dollis".

    "The relevant planning provides for the dispatch of a military plane, in a follow-up to agreement reached with the national defence ministry at the outbreak of the crisis" in Egypt, the announcement said.

    "Due to the situation prevailing in Egypt, the departure of the aircraft will take place when the necessary conditions for the safety of the Greek citizens who have expressed desire to be repatriated are ensured," it added.

    The ministry further said that Greece's Consular authorities in Egypt are in constant contact with the Greek communities in Egypt, as well as with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, adding that according to information that has been received, all the Greeks in Egypt are well in health.

    It said that the Greeks in Egypt have been instructed to remain in their residences, due to the conditions prevailing in the streets.

    The ministry also said that it is in constant coordination with the other European and non-European countries that are also planning repatriation operations.

    [04] Cyprus president due in Athens

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias arrives in Athens on Thursday at the invitation of Greek prime minister George Papandreou, according to sources in Nicosia.

    Christofias and Papandreou, during talks on Thursday, will discuss the Cyprus issue in light of the recent meeting in Geneva between the UN chief and the leaders of the two communities on Cyprus, as well as energy issues following the agreement between Cyprus and Israel for establishing an Exclusive Economic Zone.

    Christofias is also due to make a state visit to Israel in mid-March.

    [05] Tsipras in Istanbul, meets with Ecumenical Patriarch

    ISTANBUL(ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader and vice-president of the European Parliament's European Left party, met on Sunday with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul.

    "I met a man with insight and understanding of the problems, which is also proved by his interventions on the burning issues of the times, his interest in the environment, in the huge problems of social exclusion and social marginalisation," Tsipras said after the meeting at the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    He said they also discussed the issue of the reopening of the Halki School of Theology, "a request that, in our opinion, should have already been satisfied".

    "He (the Ecumenical Patriarch) expressed his hope to me that this year, which marks 40 years since the closure of the Halki Seminary, is perhaps a decisive year for exerting pressure for its reopening," Tsipras told reporters.

    On their discussion on Greek-Turkish relations, Tsipras said that "our conclusions are positive and we hope that he will intensify these efforts, always in the direction of conciliation of the peoples and strengthening of Greece-Turkey relations, so that the Ecumenical Patriarchate's demands will be met but also that our volatile region will find stability and peace".

    [06] Holocaust victims remembered in Thessaloniki

    The memory of the Greek Jews of Thessaloniki who perished in ?azi concentration camps was commemorated on Sunday at an event at the Holocaust Museum, organised by the Central Macedonia Periphery and the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, in the context of events marking the National Day of Remembrance of the Greek Jew Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes.

    The event was held at the Holocaust Monument in Thessaloniki's Eleftherias (Freedom) Square.

    Prime minister George Papandreou was represented by infrastructure, transports and networks deputy minister Yiannis Magriotis, who spoke of the presence of the Jewish in the city of Thessaloniki for more than 4 1/2 centuries, and also the "martyrous journey" of the 50,000 Thessaloniki Jews that set out from Eleftherias Square in the spring of 1943.

    He also stressed the need for "acceptance of the different" today, and called on Turkey to acknowledge its own genocides, thus contributing to improvement of bilateral relations with Greece.

    Israeli ambassador to Greece Arye Mekel referred to the international acknowledgement of the Holocaust, as well as the need today that a sacrifice such as that of the 26 percent of the Greek Jews -- who were killed in the German concentration champs -- never be repeated.

    Central Macedonia regional chief Panagiotis Psomiadis stressed that Thessaloniki does not write off the nightmarish moments lived by the city's Jews.

    Financial News

    [07] Development minister: Turnabout from recession in Q4 2011

    Regional Development and Competitiveness minister Michalis Chryssohoidis anticipated that Greece will exist from the recession sooner than the predictions of "various mal-intentioned and well-intentioned prophets", in an interview with RealNews newspaper appearing on Sunday, and acknowledged that development had been put on a back-burner in 2010 due to the more pressing threat of default.

    The minister said the government aspires to Greece making the much-sought turnabout in the last quarter of 2011.

    He also said that all the speculation about restructuring the country's debt "is a debate that leads nowhere", while on early general elections speculation he said "it is lacking in content", stressing that "all those who dream of or desire (early) elections should propose alternative policies and viable solutions here and now".

    [08] Agro-development minister calls for new growth model at event in Crete

    The periphery in Greece is the place where a new growth model for the country can be created, Agricultural Development and Foods minister Costas Skandalidis said on Saturday, during an event in Hania, Crete, on the Kallikratis public administration reform plan.

    Skandalidis said it is necessary to re-start growth and enhance democracy.

    "We will change direction. If we don't, Greece cannot live as it is today. And it is a shape that we had to hit rock bottom to change course," he said.

    On the political system, he said that the political authority was exclusively responsible for the building of the state and its economic and growth model, noting that the political authority is not only the central authority but also the local authorities and everything that has to do with the organisation of society.

    If authority does not carry over into society, the existing growth model cannot be changed, the minister added.

    [09] Eurostat chief: No cause for reservations on Greek statistics

    There is no cause for the European Statistical Service (Eurostat) to have reservations on the Greek statistics, Eurostat director general Walter Radermacher said in a statement to an Athens newspaper appearing on Sunday.

    Radermacher, in a statement to Kathimerini newspaper, added that just as with every other EU member, Eurostat remains vigilant.

    [10] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.382

    Pound sterling 0.867

    Danish kroner 7.513

    Swedish kroner 8.923

    Japanese yen 113.66

    Swiss franc 1.304

    Norwegian kroner 7.996

    Canadian dollar 1.375

    Australian dollar 1.386

    General News

    [11] The Petrified Forest of Lesvos

    The Petrified Forest at Sigri, on the island of Lesvos, is one of the largest parks containing fossilised forests in the world, and is located in an area enclosed by the villages of Eressos, Antissa and Sigri.

    The formation of the Petrified Forest is directly related to the intense volcanic activity on Lesvos island during late Oligocene - middle Miocene periods.

    Along with the volcanic activity, hot solutions of silicon dioxide penetrated and impregnated the volcanic materials that covered the tree trunks. Thus the major fossilization process started with a molecule-by-molecule replacement of organic plant by inorganic materials.

    In the case of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos, the fossilization was perfect due to favorable fossilization conditions that preserved morphological characteristics of the tree trunks such as the annual rings, barkers, as well as the internal structure of the wood.

    One of the most famous attractions is the largest fossil tree trunk in the world, with a circumference of 13.7 metres and a diameter of 3.7 metres in the forest's Plaka Sigriou park, while the smaller Sigriou park contains an entire fossilised root system of several trees.

    Isolated plant-fossils have also been found in many other places on the island, including the villages Molyvos, Polichnitos, Plomari and Akrasi.

    The town of Sigri also hosts the Museum of the Petrified Forest.

    [12] Major turnout anticipated for Battle of Crete 70th anniversary commemoration in May

    A large number of Greek Australians and Australians plan to visit Greece in May to attend events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Crete.

    According to reports, the Cretans of Australia are planning a "mass incursion" on Crete to attend the 70th anniversary commemorations, as well as a large number of Australians whose ancestors fought in the strategic battle during WWII.

    A series of commemorative events will be held on Crete in May with the customary participation of war veterans from Greece, Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

    The Battle of Crete began on the morning of May 20, 1941 when German forces launched an unprecedented airborne invasion of Crete, code-named "Merkur". The operation was successful in that it wrested control of the island from Allied forces, although the victory was so costly in terms of paratrooper casualties that the Wehrmacht never again attempted a major airborne operation.

    The stiff resistance by ANZAC troops and local Cretans is also credited, by many historians, with delaying the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

    [13] More public transport strikes this week

    Commuters in Athens are in for more hassle this week, as public bus employees have called a 48-hour strike on Tuesday and Wednesday in protest of a draft law restructuring urban transports.

    Also, Athens Metro and ISAP train employees have called a 24-hour strike for Monday.

    Bus employees will further hold a 5-hour work stoppage on Monday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to attend a union general assembly that will formalise the strike.

    [14] Migrants Forum denies organisation of Law School takeover, migrants determined to continue hunger strike

    The Greek Forum of Migrants, an association of migrants' organisations in Greece since 2002, on Sunday denied that it had organised the takeover of an Athens University Law School downtown Athens building by some 250 hunger-striking migrants last week, responding to a plethora of criticism it has received by media and political circles.

    In a statement, the Forum said that from the outset it has backed the demands of the 300 hunger-striking migrants in Athens and Thessaloniki, adding that their move resulted in "making known the just demands of the migrants lacking residence permits or other documents", but clarified: "We had no involvement, however, with the organisation of the protest or the movement of people from Crete, as erroneously claimed by various media and political circles."

    "From the first moment, we informed the hunger-strikers that it was a risky effort with the hazard of aberrations that would not contribute to the resolution of their demands" the Forum said.

    Responding to other accusations that it is financed by the ruling PASOK party, the announcement stated that "the Forum has not received funding from anyone".

    "It participates, however, as a partner in European programs, whenever it can, and has received donations from schools, foundations and other agencies".

    "It is characteristic that the Forum does not have staff, nor its own offices, and is accommodated in premises of its members. One of its long-standing demands is to have formal funding (a percentage of the fee paid by migrants for renewal of their residency permits) so as to render possible their representation," the announcement said, adding that, contrary to Greece, migrants' organisations in other countries received state funding since they are considered interlocutors for the measures taken for migrants.

    The Forum further clarified that it is not affiliated with any specific political party.

    Meanwhile, the 237 illegal migrants, who were relocated early Friday from the Law School building to a neoclassical building a few kilometers away and another 50 in Thessaloniki said on Sunday they are determined to continue their hunger strike in demand of their legalisation.

    The non-governmental organisation Medecines du Monde and other NGOs are taking care of the hygiene condition of the migrants, and have placed chemical toilets and portable showers at the new location, while doctors have been conducting preventive examinations of the hunger strikers. A total of 123 migrants are housed on the first-storey and semi-basement of the building, while the others are camped out in tents in the yard.

    [15] Suspect injured while trying to evade arrest during drug raid

    Two men were arrested and a third was seriously injured while attempting to escape in a drug raid in Athens late Friday.

    Police, acting on a tip-off, initially arrested two men in the coastal town of Porto Rafti, near Athens, after finding 2.5 kilos of cannabis in their possession.

    After the arrests, police, accompanied by a prosecutor, went to search the 5th-storey apartment occupied by the two detainees in downtown Athens where they found a third man, who fell off a balcony while trying to evade arrest, suffering serious injury.

    The injured suspect was rushed to hospital, where he was reported in critical condition.

    Police said the apartment was being used as a narcotics lab.

    [16] Georgia-flag freighter suffers engine failure off Rhodes

    A Georgia-flagged freighter developed engine problems on Saturday as it was sailing off the island of Rhodes.

    A tugboat and coastguard vessel were heading to the area, 35 nautical miles southeast of Rhodes, to assist the "Rona".

    The freighter, with a 10-member foreign crew on board, was transporting salt to Turkey when it suffered an engine malfunction.

    The crew was reported to be safe and well.

    [17] Homicide of foreign national solved, victim's brother was the perpetrator

    Thessaloniki police said Saturday that they have solved the homicide of a 34-year-old Burkina Faso national at a plant nursery in Nea Magnisia on Thursday, identifying the perpetrator as the man's older brother.

    Police said the victim's 40-year-olld brother, after an argument between the two that developed into a fist fight, hit the younger brother several times with a log then attempted to end his own life by stabbing himself in the stomach.

    The suspect is hospitalised under police guard at a Thessaloniki hospital.

    [18] Flooding on Rhodes, Kos

    A state of emergency was declared Saturday afternoon in several towns on the islands of Rhodes and Kos following severe flooding caused by heavy rainfall throughout Friday.

    The state of emergency was declared in the towns of Lindos, Archaggelos, Afantos and Kallithea on Rhodes, and in the towns of Asfendoni, Pyli, Kardamaina, Antimacheia and Kefalo on Kos.

    The unprecedented rainfall, which was compounded by a hailstorm on Kos, caused flooding throughout both islands resulting in destruction to infrastructures, farm crops, shop merchandise and home appliances.

    [19] Internet fraud arrest

    A 28-year-old man was arrested in Thessaloniki on Saturday for fraud over the internet.

    Police said the detainee uploaded sale advertisements for high-technology products, including television sets, PCs and cell phones, on websites on the Internet, but failed to send the products to buyers, who deposited the money asked in a bank account, or sent products of substantially smaller value.

    A search of the man's work premises turned up two cell phones, a hard disc drive, two credit cars and 1,000 euros in cash from the bogus sales, which were all seized.

    The detainee will be led before a local prosecutor.


    [20] Greek soccer results

    Olympiacos Piraeus downed Olympiacos Volos 1-0 away on Sunday and retained its lead in the Greek Super League standings over the weekend. On Saturday, second-place Panathinaikos Athens beat Ergotelis Crete 2-0 at home, while AEK Athens downed Xanthi 2-0 away.

    In other action:

    Iraklis Thessaloniki-Kerkyra 0-0

    Panionios Athens-Kavala 1-1

    Atromitos Athens-Asteras Tripolis 0-0

    Larissa-Panserraikos Serres 2-1

    Aris Thessaloniki-PAOK Thessaloniki 0-0

    Standings after 20 weeks of play:

    1. Olympiacos Piraeus 51 points

    2. Panathinaikos 44

    3. PAOK 34

    4.AEK 33

    5. Kavala 28

    6. Atromitos 26

    7. Olympiacos Volos 25

    8. Ergotelis 25

    9. Aris 25

    10. Xanthi 24

    11. Kerkyra 24

    12. Iraklis 23

    13. Panionios 21

    14. Asteras Tripolis 20

    15. Larissa 17

    16. Panserraikos 16

    Weather forecast

    [21] Rainy, with snow on high ground, on Monday

    Rainy weather is forecast in most of Greece on Monday, with light snowfall on high ground.

    Overcast, with chance of drizzle in Athens, and temperature ranging from 3C to 10C. The same in Thessaloniki, with light snowfall on high ground, and temperatures ranging from 2C to 8C.

    [22] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

    The Siemens kickbacks scandal, the migration issue and economic and taxation issues were the main front-page items in Athens' Sunday newspapers.

    AVGHI: "We will all be accountable - Migrants are poor, working people without documents and without rights, who are being targeted".

    AVRIANI: "The massacre in Egypt ignites fires in our neighborhood".

    CHORA: "Merkel (German chancellor) now demands change to Greek constitution".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Debt restructuring brings storms".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Who the parliamentary fact-finding commission on the Siemens scandal 'forgot' - The commission report does not explain who ministers became rich and how the political parties were 'paid'."

    ETHNOS: "Zero tolerance - New dogma against illegal migration".

    KATHIMERINI: "The 'taboos' of the post-dictatorship Greece now falling".

    LOGOS: "Siemens: A report that could turn into a fiasco".

    NIKI: "104 meetings, 500,000 euros, no result - Parliamentary fact-finding commission on the Siemens scandal".

    PROTO THEMA (weekly): "Harsh measures for 2012-2014 with 'trimming' of salaries, pensions - Government ready to sign Memorandum no. 4".

    REALNEWS: "Siemens scandal: Guilty silence of political parties over the kickbacks to their coffers".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Struggle for the rights of Greek and migrant workers".

    TO ARTHRO: "The vise tightens around the (former) party leaders - The implications of the Siemens scandal very close to (former PASOK and ND prime ministers, respectively) Simitis, Karamanlis".

    TO VIMA: "Course through minefield - Migration issue, strikes, terrify government".

    VRADYNI: "The new salaries in the public sector - The changes emanating from transfers and single salary scale".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [23] Cyprus in line with EU on Palestinian-Israel borders


    The Cyprus government, in line with the European Union, will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, between Israel and the Palestinians, unless agreed by the two parties.

    This was said by Cyprus Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou, who in a written statemenet on Sunday said the President of the Republic of Cyprus, replying to a letter of the President of the Palestinian National Authority, referred to the decision of the Cyprus Government of 1988, on the issue of recognition of the Palestinian state, which remains valid.

    Concerning the borders of the future Palestinian state, the Cypriot official added, "the position of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus is in line with EU well known position that, it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, unless agreed by the two Parties".

    "The Cyprus Government stresses, in this context, the utmost importance of the resumption of talks between the two parties as soon as possible for a solution of the Palestinian issue through negotiations", Stefanou conluded.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS

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