|Friday, 17 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-04-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 18 April 2011 Issue No: 3767
 FinMin: IMF not discussing Greek debt restructureWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
International Monetary Fund (IMF) general director Dominique Strauss-Kahn reiterated the IMF position that a restructuring of the Greek debt at this time will not help because the cost would be greater than any benefit, during a discussion in Washington with Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou, the Greek official said after their meeting on Sunday.
"They are not discussing it," Papaconstantinou told reporters after the meeting, adding that "I am tired of saying it", that debt restructure is not on the table, and denied rumors that the Greek government has asked for extension of the repayment period for its entire debt.
Asked if he was telling the truth, the minister replied: "We are telling the truth to the Greek people every day."
Papaconstantinou said the talks with Strauss-Kahn covered the course of the Greek program and the first signs of recovery appearing despite the fact that "the climate continues to be heavy".
The IMF chief seemed pleased with the effort so far which, Strauss-Kahn is cited as saying, is going through its most difficult phase politically, given that the measures are causing expected reactions without the results having begun yet to be visible, and adding that this development is similar with that of programs in other countries in the past.
Strauss-Kahn considers the denationalisations program to be of key importance, and reiterated the need for the reforms to continue at a rapid pace, while he also touched on the issue of the shortfall in revenues.
Papaconstantinou said he noted to Strauss-Kahn, as he had to other high-ranking IMF officials he met with on Saturday, that at least 18 months are necessary to materialise the substantial changes necessary in the tax-collection mechanism in Greece.
The finance minister further anticipated that Greece's image in the markets will improve after the summer, due to the implementation of the program and the first positive developments, but also as a result of Portugal's entry into the support mechanism, which is expected to ameliorate the pressures in the eurozone markets.
"We are implementing a program for the markets to open up and to belie the 'Cassandras" (doom-sayers), as was done by other countries in the past," Papaconstantinou stressed, noting that, in any case, if a delay should occur in the country's access to the markets, there was the European Stability Fund (ESF).
 FinMin: Effort to reduce deficits continues, no debt restructureWASHINGTON(ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
The effort to reduce the Greek deficit that commenced in 2010 is continuing, and 26 billion euros in interventions have been announced, of which 3 billion euros are to ensure that the 2011 targets for the deficit reduction will be met, Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou told a press conference on Saturday on the sidelines of the spring session of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Washington, and once again denied speculation of a restructuring of the Greek debt.
This is a program that is founded mainly on containing expenditures and to a lesser degree on increasing revenues. As regards the containment of expenditures, the program is not founded on "horizontal measures" such as cuts in salaries and pensions, but on structural interventions that contain the salary cost of the public sector, reduce the operational and consumption expenses, better target the social expenditures, and reduce the deficits in the DEKO (public utilities and state organisations), Papaconstantinou said.
Regarding revenues, it is an effort to broaden the tax base and combat tax evasion and contribution evasion, he added.
The finance minister reiterated that the program, with all its individual interventions and annual expenditure ceilings, by ministry, will be incorporated in a draft law that will be tabled in parliament by mid-May.
He further described the program for denationalisations and exploitation of the state property as possibly one of the most ambitious programs in Greece in recent years, and spoke of interventions in a series of sectors crucial for the economy such as ports, airports, energy and telecoms, sectors that he said require private capital and private knowhow in order to be able to modernise and change and generate jobs, investments and growth.
It is anticipated that the program will raise 15 billion euros in revenues by 2013, and 50 billion by 2015, resulting in the prospect for a substantial reduction of the country's immense debt, Papaconstantinou continued.
That, he stressed, is the course on which the government has embarked. It will not be an easy course in a difficult conjuncture for the Greek economy, with the first signs of recovery having timidly begun to appear and are hard to see right now, but with unemployment continuing to climb and with the major problems faced by the Greek citizens.
The government is moving ahead and will not change course because it believes that only this path can bring the country out of the crisis, he said.
Papaconstantinou explained that it is one thing to cut salaries and pensions, another thing to contain the deficits in the DEKO, and another thing to reduce the salary costs of the public sector through a policy of one hiring for every five withdrawals, another thing to reduce the public sector's consumption expenses, and yet another thing to attempt to broaden the tax base of the public without increasing VAT.
"What we are trying to do at this time is to reduce the deficits. Because in this country, so long as the deficits are not reduced, the debt will continue to increase," he said, noting that the country spends each year 20-25 billion euros "more than we have".
"This is what it is all about," the minister said, adding that if this problem was not confronted now, the coming generations will continue being burdened with debts. "We will not do this," he stressed.
On the role of the international markets, Papaconstantinou warned: "Woe is it if the policy of this government depended on the daily fluctuations of the markets."
"We have a goal, and it is a very clear one: We will reduce the deficits, we will bring back growth, we will preserve the social cohesion in the country, and we will take it out of the crisis," he stressed, adding that, at this time, the course being followed is the only one that can bring the country out of the crisis. "Other paths exist, many of the. But the simply lead to bankruptcy, to the country's marginalisation, and we will not take those paths."
He recalled that, last year, many analysts were taking it for granted that the eurozone would break up and Greece would go bankrupt. Other countries in the past have gone through what Greece went through, and a majority of analysts had said then, too, that those countries would go bankrupt, that they would not succeed.
"But they were proved wrong," he stressed.
"We want to be judged on the basis of what we have accomplished, with whatever shortcomings and delays we may have, and on to what degree what we are doing is leading somewhere. I explain: high primary surpluses, which we created having already reduced the primary deficits to nearly zero this year, and having begun to create primary surpluses, in other words surpluses before interest, as of next year. We've done this before in the country and can repeat it. High growth rates: we have done this, too, again. And all the structural changes we are making lead to that, to the country being able to have a larger growth and of course a lower cost of borrowing, which is naturally aided by the recent decisions of the European Council with the reduction of the cost of borrowing for the official loans from the eurozone countries," Papaconstantinou elaborated.
Turning to the speculation of restructuring of the Greek debt, the finance minister said that no such discussion is taking place: "We are discussing absolutely nothing. Extending the repayment period for the loan from the EU and the IMF is one thing, and the private sector is something else. In the private sector we are not discussing anything at this time, and the talk about debt restructuring, the public debate unfortunately taking place in Greece, does harm to the country."
 Samaras: No consensus to government's econ policyMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras once again ruled out any consensus with the economic policy being carried out by the PASOK government, even if that means the collapse of the government and early general elections, in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Eleftherotypia newspaper.
Samaras stressed that ND is prepared for the prospect of early elections and opined that, in such an eventuality, his government will emerge with a clear mandate by the Greek people to implement its integrated program.
He further said that if the government seeks to pass its Medium-Term for 2012-2015 with an increased majority of 180 votes in the 300-member parliament, ND "will not succumb to that blackmail".
"We will not vote for more business shutdowns, more unemployment and more recession. There must be recovery of the economy in order that the sacrifices that have already been made will not go to waste. Without recovery, we will find ourselves in a deep crisis no matter how many measures the government takes. We will not vote for that, nor will we succumb to blackmail," Samaras said, adding that "if the government wants to, let it try it, and it will realise that we are not bluffing".
Samaras further warned that the talk about restructuring of the Greek debt "does not help".
The Greek economy is in a difficult situation, and such disaster-mongering only harm it, the ND leader said, and accused the government of preparing new, harsh measures that the country cannot withstand.
Speaking in Alexandroupolis on Saturday evening, Samaras stressed the need for the forging of a common migration policy with the seal of the European Union.
Samaras said that a common migration policy for the entire EU must finally be forged, otherwise the problem in the Mediterranean, especially now with "the fire that has been lit" in the Arab countries and North Africa.
The main opposition leader said he has spoken with his counterparts from Ireland and Spain and they all agree on the implementation of specific policies, such as FRONTEX, that will tackle the problem "which has immense dimensions".
He said a trend exists in Europe for a common migration policy, given the need to ensure that migrants from such areas as Sudan and Chad, "which are behind the circle of fire in the Arab world and North Africa, will not reach the sea, and from there on to Cyprus, Malta, Italy and Greece".
 Samaras tour of ThraceMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Saturday continued his tour of the northeastern Thrace region, where he met with several local officials and business leaders.
"I feel as if a period of abandonment is returning to Thrace; there's a deindustrialisation of the region, a skyrocketing of unemployment and a demographic vacuum, while the government is demonstrating what it has in store for Thrace, at least in terms of town planning: a migrant reception centre. This is unacceptable, Samaras said during a visit to the Rhodope prefecture commercial and industrial chamber in the city of Komotini.
Samaras called for a model and alternative ecological development amid an "open and democratic society". Moreover, he charged that the government is readying a merger process for the region's chambers of commerce.
Earlier, the ND leader was received by Metropolitan Bishop of Komotini Damaskinos, the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace regional Governor Aris Yiannakidis and Komotini Mufti Metso Jemali.
Samaras' two-day tour will conclude with a round of meetings with mayors in the region.
 KKE rally in downtown Athens on Monday eveningThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is organising a rally in downtown Athens' Syntagma Square on Monday evening, which will be addressed by KKE leader Aleka Papariga.
In an announcement, the KKE called on all working people, youth, self-employed professionals and unemployed to "give a resounding, militant reply to the escalation of the barbarous anti-popular measures" and to send the clear message of "no tolerance, no subjugation to the course of the people's bankruptcy that the government, EU and IMF are leading to in order to protect the interests of the plutocracy".
The KKE said that the path of heavy sacrifices to the benefit of the profits and competitiveness of the big-time businessmen will have no end, nor any benefit for the people, but instead leads the people to poverty and brought the crisis.
It rejected as fraudulent main opposition New Democracy's (ND) claim that a "different policy mix" benefiting the people exists, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis' calls for a "correct way of implementing the Memorandum", and the "form of debt restructure" proposed by the various groupings of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance).
All those forms of management of the crisis have the same result, demolition of the labour, social security and social conquests, and shutdown of the self-employed and small-size businessmen, the KKE warned.
The only solution for the people is a popular alliance, organisation, and a strong KKE, the announcement said, and urged an "organised disobedience and counter-attack so that the people will not pay the price of the crisis and the debt that the plutocracy created", Greece's "disengagement from the imperialistic wars", and "modern popular rights".
 Comments by opposition leaders Karatzaferis, TsiprasOpposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis on Saturday again called for the holding of snap elections and what he called political "partnerships", "because only this will allow for a solution amid a very difficult period," as he said in statements from the Ionian island of Corfu.
During his visit to the island, he met with Ionian Regional Governor Spyridonas Spyrou.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary leader Alexis Tsipras continued his harsh critique of the government, in a published interview set to be released in an Athens daily on Sunday.
Tsipras noted, characteristically, that the figures of the (EC-ECB-IMF) Memorandum "don't add up ... the memorandum has collapsed; the government should, finally, set its boundaries."
 President at Exodus of Messolonghi anniversary eventsPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias made note of the economic crisis and the country's exit from it, speaking in Messolonghi where he attended events marking the 185th anniversary of the heroic Exodus of Messolonghi.
"For true change to come about, our mentality must change...Not to demonise or victimise ourselves, but to realise that national is the true, as our great poet Dionyssis Solomos once said, even if it is an awkward truth," Papoulias said during an official luncheon.
"Many things do not depend on us, but on the decisions taken by the leaders of the European Union. Others, however, are exclusively our own obligation," the President continued, citing inter alia the modernisation of the state, the streamlining of the fiscal finances, the eradication of the black economy, consolidation of rules of transparency, equality before the law and the state, the restoration of confidence between the citizens and the state.
The exodus from the crisis entails changes, which a short while ago seemed incomprehensible, he said, adding that some of those changes are "painful or unfair", while others are "necessary and fair".
"Let's take into account whether we have offered the utmost of our abilities to our country, whether we are close to those free people who put their 'Sacred City', Messolonghi, the homeland of all of us, above their lives," Papoulias said, and stressed the importance of collectiveness, reiterating that "it is time for all of us to look at ourselves in the mirror...attribution of blame to the other side, criticising the neighbor's trash, is not enough, when our own house also reeks."
 Opinion pollsThe Greek public appears to be turning its back on the two mainstream political parties -- ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND) -- although it is opposed to early general elections, according to the results of two opinion polls appearing in newspapers on Sunday.
According to a Public Issue opinion poll appearing in the Sunday edition of Kathimerini, voters indicated that the best choice for Greece's future would be an ecumenical (all-party) government, the choice backed by 23 percent of the respondents, following by a collaboration government of PASOK and ND (12 percent), a self-sufficient PASOK government (8 percent) and a self-sufficient ND government (6 percent).
To a question on the most critical aspect of the situation in Greece, a majority of 69 percent of the respondents pinpointed to the economy, while 35 percent pinpointed unemployment.
In a second opinion poll, conducted by Kapa Research and appearing in the Sunday 'To Vima' newspaper, the majority of the respondents said they were against early general elections, while voters who in the past had preferred single-party (self-sufficient) governments now prefer an ecumenical (all-party) government.
To a question on whether the government should implement the measures contained in its Medium-Term Program 2012-2015 or call early elections, 47.8 percent of the respondents opted for implementation of the program against 32.3 percent who preferred early elections.
Asked what government they wish to emerge from the next general elections, 56.6 percent of the respondents opted for an ecumenical (all-party) government, 23.6 percent opted for a self-sufficient government of the top party (highest vote-getter), and 8.7 percent wanted a cooperation government of the two mainstream parties.
Ruling PASOK's percentage of the voter intent (which party the respondent would vote for if general elections were held the following Sunday) dropped to 21.7 percent, with ND remaining second with 20.1 percent, while the undecided vote remained a high 30.1 percent.
 BoG annual general assemblyThe Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, will hold its annual general assembly of shareholders at noon on Monday.
Central bank chief George Provopoulos will unveil his annual report for 2010 during the general assembly.
 Lecture in Athens by Nobel laureate James Watson on DNA, cancerNobel prize-winning American molecular biologist James Watson, the 83-year-old "father of DNA", who made an address on Friday before a large audience, mainly composed of students, at the central auditorium of the "Dimokritos" research centre, said "I want to see the cure for cancer as long as I am alive."
The biologist, who has now turned his attention to cancer an issue which, as he said, is preoccupying him for over 60 years, expressed optimism that in five to 10 years there shall be considerable progress in the therapy of at least certain forms of cancer, with the help of research in genes and stem cells.
Watson made extensive historic references to the course of the discovery of the "double propeller" (the DNA molecule) by him and his associate Briton Francis Crick, at the laboratories of the Cambridge university, in 1953. He also gave advice to young people and candidate researchers, based on his prolonged experience, stressing in particular the value of collective work and cooperation with scientists of various specialities.
 Education minister condemns incidentIn a related development, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Friday strongly condemned an incident caused by hooded self-styled anarchist youth a day earlier. One of the hooded youths attempted to charge against the octogenarian Watson during a lecture at a University of Patras auditorium on Thursday evening.
"We should go beyond the self-evident condemnation of the insult directed to Medicine and Physiology Nobel laureate James Watson," she said, adding that the deplorable incident should be "the spark to awaken consciousnesses".
Diamantopoulou issued the statement in response to an attack by a hooded individual on Watson, one of the discoverers of DNA, who had been invited to give a lecture at the university of Patras.
"The response to the hood-wearing fascism that threatens scientific expression and fundamental academic freedoms with raw violence should be the people's activation and conscious action in dealing with the problems faced by the Greek universities. The circumstances call for tangible and broad-based consensus for radical and in-depth changes," she stressed.
 Two foreign nationals, members of international drug trafficking ring, arrested, 2.5 kilos heroin seizedTwo foreign nationals, members of an international drug trafficking ring, were arrested by Alexandroupolis police in the village of Mesti, Evros prefecture, for possession of 2.5 kilos of heroin.
The narcotics were discovered during a search of their car by police with sniffer dogs, hidden under the carpet of the co-driver's seat in five plastic packets, which contained a total of 2.586 kilograms of heroin, while a small quantity of cannabis was also found in a hiding space under the hand brake.
Police were acting on a tip-off that members of an international ring were trafficking narcotics in Greece, Turkey and other Balkan countries.
The two arrestees were wanted in Greece, Albania and Turkey.
The car and drugs were confiscated, while the two detainees, aged 22 and 23, will be taken before the Alexandroupolis prosecutor.
 Events in Thessaloniki remember Armenian genocideThree-day events culminated in Thessaloniki on Sunday to commemorate the 96th anniversary of the commencement of the Armenian genocide in then Ottoman Turkey, with events organised under the auspices of the Central Macedonia regional authority.
Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis spoke at the main event at the Vellidio conference centre, which was attended by several local and regional officials.
The Armenian Genocide has been officially recognised by the Greek Parliament, with April 24 commemorated every year as a day of remembrance.
 Super League resultsSuper League champion Olympiacos Piraeus thrashed relegated Larissa 6-0 at home in the final week of play of the 2010-2011 season on Sunday. Second-place Panathinaikos was downed 3-2 away by Olympiacos Volos, while AEK Athens finished the season third, coming in 0-0 against Iraklis Thessaloniki at home.
In other action:
Atromitos Athens-Kavala 0-0
Asteras Tripolis-Panionios 3-1
PAOK Thessaloniki-Kerkyra 2-0
Panserraikos-Ergotelis Crete 0-4
Standings after the 30th and last week of play:
1. Olympiacos Piraeus 73 points (champion)
Play round contenders
2. Panathinaikos 60
3. AEK 50
4. PAOK 48
5. Olympiacos V. 47
6. Aris 45
7. Kavala 40
8. Ergotelis 39
9. Xanthi 36
10. Panionios 35
11. Iraklis 35
12. Atromitos 34
13. Kerkyra 33
14. Asteras 31
15. Larissa 25
16. Panserraikos 24
 Rainy, windy on MondayRain and wind is forecast for most parts of Greece on Monday, with light snowfall on high ground and northerly winds of 8 beaufort velocity in the Aegean.
Overcast in Athens, with light rainfall in the north and east of Attica prefecture, winds of 5-7 beaufort, and temperatures ranging from 8C to 12C.
Overcast in Thessaloniki, with winds of 3-4 beaufort and temperatures ranging from 7C to 14C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe new package of measures announced by the government and persistent speculation of debt restru-cturing dominated the headlines in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
AVGHI: "Elections in order for the country to be saved".
AVRIANI: "Simitis (PASOK former prime minister) is a bigger criminal than George (Papandreou, current PASOK prime minister)".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Road map to impasse - 13 traps threaten the new governmental plan".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Shock and awe in government and markets from the plan/parody".
ETHNOS: "Measures/shield against 'yellow card' from (EU-IMF) 'troika' - The behind-the-scenes that led to Friday's (the day the new measures were announced) storm".
KATHIMERINI: "Last chance for the government and the economy".
KERDOS: "The 10 changes that affect our pockets".
LOGOS: "Road map without exit on the horizon".
NIKI: "Is debt restructuring bankruptcy?"
PARON: "Papandreou panic-stricken - He froze when he realised the true state of the economy".
PROTO THEMA (weekly): "George Papandreou changing composition (of Cabinet) - Evangelos Venizelos the key face in the economy - Papaconstantinou (current finance minister) in other key ministry".
REALNEWS: "Secret bargaining on 'haircut' of the debt".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Everyone at Syntagma Square tomorrow (Monday) for the KKE rally at 7:30 p.m."
TO VIMA: "Restructure now - Shock recommendation by Simitis - Interview with the former prime minister".
VRADYNI: "Who will foot the bill - New 'tsunami' coming after Easter holiday".
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