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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-03-31

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] President Pavlopoulos wraps up visit to Israel with Netanyahu meeting
  • [02] Ruling coalition submits proposal for parliamentary inquiry into political party, media loans
  • [03] Guide dogs are allowed in public transport, says OASA chief

  • [01] President Pavlopoulos wraps up visit to Israel with Netanyahu meeting

    Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos discussed the conflict in Syria and bilateral issues in a meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, in the last day of his official two-day visit to the country.

    According to the presidency, the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, also focused on the issue of migration towards Europe through Greece, as well the terrorist activity of the Islamic State. Pavlopoulos and Netanyahu also discussed the activities of the Greek-Israeli High Level Cooperation Council, and the trilateral cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel on energy.

    Earlier, in a visit to the Patriarchate in Jerusalem, Pavlopoulos said the EU must assume its responsibilities on the refugee issue. "The European Union must assume its responsibilities towards humanity and treat refugees with solidarity and love," he stated in a meeting with the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos.

    The messages sent by the Jerusalem Patriarchate, through the Christian teachings and the coexistence, are significant for the EU that is at a critical crossroads," Pavlopoulos noted.

    [02] Ruling coalition submits proposal for parliamentary inquiry into political party, media loans

    The ruling SYRIZA-ANEL coalition on Thursday tabled a proposal for a parliamentary examination committee to investigate the legality of bank loans given to political parties and media companies, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had announced in Parliament on Tuesday.

    The ruling coalition MPs proposed that the committee investigate whether these loans met the required criteria and had therefore been rightfully given. Specifically, they said the committee should examine the contents of the loan agreements, the amounts given and the purpose of the lending or refinancing. They also want the committee to investigate whether the credit rating of the borrowers met the credit rating standards set by financial institutions, whether any collateral or other guarantees were offered, as well as the amount of current debt and whether this was being properly serviced. In the case that payments are not up to date, the committee should also investigate what action has been taken and any political responsibilities of both lenders and borrowers.

    The MPs noted that, at a time when the Greek economy was in crisis and the banking system was collapsing, banks had continued to give loans to political parties on the basis of their future state funding, which depended entirely on their unknown percentage of the vote in future elections. They noted that the 'old' mainstream parties New Democracy and PASOK had thus come to owe hundreds of millions in loans given with their future state funding as collateral, even as their electoral percentages had collapsed.

    Equally suspect loans had also been given to mass media companies, in spite of the crisis, at very low interest rates and with properties of doubtful commercial value as collateral, they noted.

    According to the MPs, the banks, media and politicians had thus set up a "triangle" where the political parties supported banks by doing them various "favours" in exchange for funding, while the media supported the power system that, in turn, supported them and gave them access to cheap credit.

    Based on Parliament rules, the proposal must now be put to the vote before the plenum since it is signed by more than one fifth of MPs. A decision to set up an examination committee on a specific issue, such as this proposal, is then taken by a majority vote of all MPs present at the time of voting but not less than two fifths of the total, or at least 120 MPs.

    [03] Guide dogs are allowed in public transport, says OASA chief

    Blind and visually impaired people should be allowed to enter public transport with their guide dog, the head of Athens' Urban Transport Organization (OASA) said on Thursday.

    The announcement follows a meeting between OASA and representatives of the Greek Association for the Blind and the Greek Training Center for Guide Dogs, after which the chief executive of OASA, Giannis Skoubouris, said that staff have been told they have to abide by the two relevant laws voted in 2014, which clearly state that guide dogs are allowed in public transport.


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