|Monday, 20 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-06-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Weekend News Bulletin
Monday, june 1, 2015
 FinMin Varoufakis denies resignation rumoursFinance Minister Yanis Varoufakis denied on Sunday rumours on his alleged resignation with a post on Twitter . ?Rumours of my impending resignation are (for the umpteenth time) grossly premature...?.
 FinMin Varoufakis reveals plan for Greece's return to markets in 'Avghi'Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis outlined a plan that he said will allow Greece to return to borrowing from the markets, in an interview with the Greek newspaper "Avghi" published on Saturday.
Among others, the plan called for the issue of a low-interest, 30-year loan from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to replace the debt currently held by the European Central Bank (ECB), while simultaneously restructuring the rest of Greece's debt.
According to Varoufakis, the government's priority is a "combination of debt restructuring, investment injections and reforms that go beyond the inhumane practice of cutting pensions, benefits and wages." Such a combination, he added, will help Greek society escape the 'vortex' of a self-reinforcing crisis of debt and recession.
Varoufakis slammed the ENFIA property tax introduced by the previous government, saying it was a "hideous" tax that needed to be abolished. "As long as it is not abolished we all feel accountable to the Greek people. But its abolition, even if gradual, will take place when the negotiation has ended and we can find equivalent taxes from large property taxation and from gradated taxation of incomes that are now evading," he said.
The finance minister was also critical of a position expressed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who called for an additional 1.8 billion euros to be raised by increasing VAT.
"In an economy in the throes of deflation and debt, with a tax system that burdens the havenots, how can we increase public revenues by 1 pct of GDP via indirect taxation without causing even greater damage to the economy's engine, to production and the markets," Varoufakis said.
Replying to those speculating about his possible resignation, meanwhile, Varoufakis stressed that "none of us are going to throw down our shield".
 Economy Min: Agreement within the next daysROME (ANA-MPA/ Th. Andreadis-Syngelakis) ---"Deal exists" stated Economy Minister George Stathakis in an interview to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, clarifying that he foresees that "the deal will close within a few days" and a "Eurogroup to approve the financing will follow".
At a question if there will be a third support programme, Stathakis said "It depends on the debt sustainability and the growth project for the next three to four years, the framework is not clear yet. The aim of the agreement we want rules out the need of a new rescue programme.
Regarding the IMF, Stathakis said that "IMF's mission to Greece ends in March 2016. There is no reason to be extended.
"We have tabled realistic and reasonable proposals. The key issues are the VAT reform and the reduction of the primary surplus target, we ask for 1 pct in 2015 which will gradually grow to 3 pct in 2018. Review of the labour market's, of the energy and the privatisation regulations and measures for the private debt" he added.
The minister made clear that the main sectors on which the economic recovery will be based are maritime, tourism and knowledge. "Growth can go hand in hand with the social justice. In Greece we want to try it"
 'We are convinced a deal [on Greece] can be found soon,' French PM tells 'La Repubblica'There has been real progress in the talks on an agreement for Greece, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in an interview with the Italian newspaper "La Repubblica" published on Saturday.
Asked about the possible repercussions of a Greek exit from the Euro, Valls expressed conviction that a deal can be reached.
"From the start of the crisis, France has sought a solution acceptable to everyone. There has been real progress and we remained convinced that it is possible to arrive at an agreement soon. We are absolutely not working on a possible Greek exit from the euro," he said.
Valls was also asked whether parties like SYRIZA and Spain's Podemos belong to 'a Left of the past' and noted that care must be taken not to make pre-election promises that cannot then be kept in government, adding that this increased a "trust deficit" in politics and people's desperation.
 Interior Minister Voutsis: 'We need a solution and agreement within the week'Greece must arrive at a solution and an agreement with its creditors within the week, Interior and Administrative Reconstruction Minister Nikos Voutsis told the private broadcaster 'Skai' on Saturday, while he did not rule out the prospect of elections.
He predicted that the agreement reached would be "honest, clean, transparent but also quite painful," and warned that the government would not hesitate to call a snap election if its majority in Parliament was lost when the deal with the creditors was put to a vote.
"We will do what the Constitution calls for, in other words hold elections. We cannot tell the people we will press ahead with additional crutches," he said.
On the issue of party discipline, Voutsis noted that the Left "knows how to discipline itself when it is faced with the entire picture. Everyone will make their decisions having before them the people that voted for us. If something tastes sour, it tastes sour for all of us," he added.
The minister also ruled out any suspension or "time out" from the negotiations for one or two months until an agreement was reached, attributing paternity of this idea to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.
 Lafazanis wraps up trip to Russia, discusses pipeline projectsMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/ Th. Avgerinos) Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis discussed the next steps in the financing of the Greek public company that will participate in the pipeline carrying natural gas across Greek territory, during meetings in Moscow on Friday and Saturday.
A ministry announcement on the results of the minister's trip said that Russian commercial banks had expressed an interest in financing the project, which was supported by Russia's leadership. In talks with the Russian Deputy Finance Sergei Storchak, Lafazanis had stressed the importance of such a cash injection, which could be used for developmental purposes.
In addition to Storchak, Lafazanis also met Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and the head of Gazprom, Alexey Miller.
During the meeting with Novak, agreement was reached on necessary modifications to a 2008 agreement between Greece and Russia on the pipeline, a ministry announcement said.
 Public transport in crisis, Alternate Minister for Transport saysAlternate Minister for Transport Christos Spirtzis on Saturday painted a grim picture of the state of Greece's public transport services after five years of underfunding and understaffing due to the economic crisis, speaking to the ANA-MPA.
"The effort of previous governments to downgrade crucial areas of the public sector, such as public transport and the civil aviation authority, have clear aims," Spirtzis said, adding that the shortage of staff in the most crucial areas of each public service was "no accident," especially when millions had been squandered on reports by "experts".
He promised that the government will work together with the staff in order to halt the decline, in spite of the financial problems, for a "vital and effective public administration, public agencies that serve society and the citizen and reliable public transport..."
Public transport workers, on their part, reported problems caused by an ageing fleet and poor maintenance, noting that even essential spare parts could not be paid for.
Indicatively, according to an ANA-MPA report, there were currently 2,505 buses in the Athens public transport fleet while some 800 were languishing unused in the depots because there were no spare parts to repair them - not even new tyres.
According to the head of the OASA Technicians and Employees Union Apostolos Raftopoulos, at least 400 of these buses could go back to work the next day if they were fitted with new tyres. Maintenance was seriously hampered by a lack of funds, since suppliers couldn't be paid, but also a lack of staff after several mechanics had gone into retirement.
They also warned that much of the elderly fleet of buses would have to be withdrawn in the near future, with no money for replacements.
Similar problems are also reported in the public rail systems, such as the metro and tram.
 Gov't negotiating return to memorandums on worse terms, ND spokesman claimsThe present government lied to get into power and was now negotiating a return to memorandums with much harsher measures than those that it had denounced, main opposition New Democracy spokesman Costas Karagounis asserted on Saturday.
Noting statements made by European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, who had referred to the ND government's success in reducing deficits and also in starting a recovery of growth and investments, Karagounis stressed that the government had "slandered" and cut short this policy.
"With these lies they were elected and are now negotiating to return the country to memorandums," he added.
 Suspect killed in Volos operation had aided Paleokostas prison break, police sayIn a sensational new turn in the case, police on Saturday reported that the suspect killed during a counter-terrorism operation at Nea Aghialos in Volos was none other than the pilot of the helicopter in which notorious criminal Vassilis Paleokostas had in 2006 escaped from Korydallos Prison in Athens.
During the preliminary inquiry conducted by the counter-terrorism squad, the dead man was positively identified as 34-year-old Spiros Dravilas, also known by the nickname 'Karfakias', who was also implicated in an armed robbery carried out in Distomo last August.
Police arrested two individuals during Friday's operation, 44-year-old Spiros Christodoulou and 37-year-old Grigoris Tsironis. The latter arrest was considered especially fortunate, since Tsironis has been wanted for years as one of the 'robbers in black' that worked with the brothers Marios and Simos Seisidis. Along with the brothers, police had offered a 600,000-euro reward for Tsironis after an attack on the Agia Paraskevi police station using Kalashnikov rifles.
According to information given by authorities, four shots were heard from within the house during the police operation at Aghialos, before police had entered. The two suspects in custody then surrendered, claiming that the third suspect shot himself to avoid arrest.
Tsironis initially identified himself as Spiros Dravilas, causing confusion concerning the identity of the dead man. This was later definitively settled when the dead man's finger prints revealed his true identity.
The two men under arrest are to be led before a public prosecutor on Saturday afternoon.
In a press conference, Chief of Police Dimitris Tsaknakis confirmed that Dravilas committed suicide, shooting himself in the head after he realised the police had surrounded the house in Nea Aghialos. The police operation was mounted after the counter-terrorism squad uncovered information indicating that Vassilis Paleokostas may be involved in two serious armed robberies recently carried out in Thessaly.
Police said that the dead man, Dravilas, and 45-year-old Spiros Christodoulou were both at the Distomo robbery in August with Giorgos Petrakakos, who is wanted and still at large.
The three were uncovered after authorities spotted Dravilas driving a Nissan truck that had earlier been used in an armed robbery in Ambelonas, Larissa outside a supermarket in Volos. Police set up a surveillance operation, followed the truck back to the house in Nea Aghialos and soon after decided to move in.
A search of the house has revealed additional evidence, such as fire arms, ammunition and three stolen cars. All three men are believed to have participated in a robbery at Farkadona, Trikala on April 2 and the robbery in Ambelonas, Larissa on April 30.
Asked whether any of the three are linked to terrorism in any way, Tsaknakis said there was no evidence to confirm this, apart from the fact that convicted terrorist Nikos Maziotis had taken part in robberies committed by the gang in the past.
 New terror group assumes responsibility for the murder of Domokos prison chief wardenA new terror group named "Militia Organisation Popular Justice" assumed responsibility for the assassination of Domokos prison chief warden Makis Galimanis on February 21, in Stylida.
The group's reclamation was posted earlier on Sunday on the anti-establishment website "indymedia".
Counter terror police is currently examining the reclamation which says that the warden's murder is "popular justice" and calls the victim, among others, "people's enemy and brutal torturer".
The 47-year-old chief warden of Domokos' high security prison was gunned down as he left his house in the area of Kouvela, near Lamia, in central Greece.
Galimanis was shot 20 times in the head and chest.
 Arrest for migrant trafficking in EvzonesPolice on Saturday reported the arrest of a 44-year-old Albanian man on charges of attempted migrant trafficking. They said the suspect was arrested by Doirani security police while attempting to smuggle 38 irregular migrants across the Greece-FYROM border, assisting their exit from Greece.
The man has been charged with assisting the exit from the country of third-country nationals.
Among the 38 migrants were 34 Syrians, two Palestinians and two Iraqis. They were all aged between 18 and 47 years old.
 216 undocumented migrants rescued during the nightGreek coast guard rescued 213 undocumented migrants in six different incidents near the islands of Kos, Chios and Lesvos during the night.
All migrants are safe and well and no missing persons have been reported.
 Yacht catches fire in Alimos marina, no injuriesAll three passengers on board the yacht "Geofun" were reported to be safe and well after a fire broke out on board at 3:10 on Sunday morning, while the yacht was docked in Alimos marina in Attica.
According to the coast guard, the fire started on the upper deck and then spread quickly to the rest of the boat. A security firm called the fire brigade, which sent five fire engines and 15 firemen. The fire burned strongly due to large amounts of flammable materials until it was put out but did not pose a threat to nearby craft.
The coast guard has placed floating barriers in the sea around the yacht, which has suffered extensive damage and developed a list.
 Tourist hit by lightning in critical but stable condition, doctors reportA Russian tourist who had to be resuscitated after she was struck by lightning is in a stable but critical condition, doctors reported on Saturday. The woman was part of a group of tourists who were caught in a brief rainstorm while visiting the Knossos archaeological site on Crete on Friday morning and were injured in a lightning strike.
The injured tourist, who suffered a heart attack, was rushed to the nearby Venizelio Hospital, which opened its emergency room specifically to receive her due to the seriousness of her condition.
She underwent abdominal surgery and was then transferred to the hospital's intensive care ward, where doctors say the next 48 hours will be crucial.
The other tourists injured in the incident were taken to Iraklio University Hospital, while their health is not considered to be in danger. Seven people were admitted to the hospital as a precaution and are expected to discharged soon.
 Quake measuring 3.9 Richter reported near Kozani, northern GreeceAn earthquake measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale was reported 19 kilometres south of Kozani in northern Greece shortly after 5:00 on Saturday. It was followed by a series of smaller tremors, less than 3.0 Richter, that were mainly felt because of their epicentre was quite near the surface, seismologists said.
 Malia resort on Crete awards 'loyalty' prize to 140 tourists who visit every yearThe Malia beach resort in Crete's Iraklion prefecture has chosen to thank its most loyal visitors, who come to Malia each year for their holidays, with a special prize for their loyalty.
In a ceremony held at the resort on Friday night, the local council and the Chersonissos Municipality's deputy mayor for tourism presented the awards to 140 tourists from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom that love Malia and keep coming back for more.
"It is especially touching to see here today three generations, grandfathers, children and grandchildren, that choose Malia for family holidays," said deputy mayor for tourism and employment Efthymis Mountrakis as he presented the awards. He also thanked the prize recipients for their support at a time when Greece was great difficulties and called them "our best ambassadors abroad, who have a real, intimate picture of the people you can convey."
...at a glance
 Athens HeadlinesAVGHI on Sunday: The plan for the country's foray into the markets
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Troika proposes 53 pct replenishment for pensions
EPOCHI: Unrelenting until the agreement
ESTIA: Zappio then, Grexit now!
ETHNOS: Hard game with bluffs and background
KATHIMERINI: Agreement with the creditors or a 'time out' from the euro
LOGOS: Economy 'frozen' in first trimester
NAFTEMPORIKI: Ways to transcend [the impasse] sought
PARON: Alexi, don't let down the people that believed in you
PROTO THEMA: The cost of an 'honest' agreement. Necessary compromise hurts
REAL NEWS: May the Holy Ghost 'enlighten' them
RIZOSPASTIS: The people must stand fast against the new anti-popular commitments
SUNDAY DIMOKRATIA: Elections in July
SUNDAY KontraNews: Elections and major reshuffle immediately after agreement is
TO ARTHRO: Crisis of confidence. After the lenders in society as well
VIMA ON SUNDAY: Days of responsibility
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