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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-01-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM meets Development, Education Ministers
  • [02] Papandreou: PASOK Congress not a battle of officials
  • [03] Interview: EBEA president
  • [04] Bank robber killed
  • [05] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] PM meets Development, Education Ministers

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Monday with development Minister Christos Folias at the Maximos Mansion.Later was due to receive Education Minister Evangelos Stylianidis.

    On Sunday, Karamanlis received the teenage "Youth Parliamentary Deputies" participating in the annual Youth Parliament events at his office in Parliament, urging them to continue to struggle for their dreams and ideals.

    After welcoming them to "the heart of Democracy" and thanking them for their participation in the annual sessions, the Greek prime minister said he listened carefully to their main observations at the plenum and stressed that the institution of the Youth Parliament is of heightened importance.

    The two-day annual Youth Parliament concluded in Athens on Sunday, with Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas assuring the 300 young parliamentarians from schools throughout Greece, Cyprus and ethnic Greek communities around the world that their positions and statements "will not be lost in the minutes of Parliament", but instead the state will listen to and consider the concerns and observations they raised.

    Sioufas extended the greetings of all wings of parliament to the young parliamentarians, who he said had been given the opportunity to perceive the principles of Democracy "which functions with freedom but also rules, which are set out in the Rules of Parliament".

    "You realised the value of dialogue through rules. There is no Democracy without freedom of speech, but also without restrictions for the sake of the other person's freedom", Sioufas said.

    During a two-day session attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis, ministers, deputy ministers and representatives of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), the young MPs expressed their concerns and worries over the major issues of the country, and issues concerning the young people, and also put forward proposals and demanded solutions.

    Items on the agenda included education, the problem of narcotics, road accidents, unemployment, environmental protection, public administration, woman's position, migration, the health system, the Cyprus issue, and neighbouring EU candidate Turkey's adherence to European standards and principles.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis

    [02] Papandreou: PASOK Congress not a battle of officials

    <!--Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Monday afternoon will meet with Foreign Minister of Serbia Vuk Jeremic. On Saturday Papandreou appeared optimistic that the course to the party's next congress had started off on the right footing, stressing that the event will be the "springboard for a new course for Greece and a new course for PASOK to win the next general elections", speaking at the closing session of the PASOK congress' central organising committee meeting.Papandreou also launched a scathing attack against the ruling New Democracy (ND) government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, while he further warned party members that the PASOK congress should not be seen as a "battle of officials".The PASOK leader said the country was going through a crisis (a reference to the Zachopoulos affair) undermining the institutions, while he referred to an abuse of authority, deification of wealth, prevalence of the law of the powerful, and the buy-off of consciences.He accused the government of leading the country on a decline, with its conservative policy, which would not stop unless the conservative policy was overturned, and accused the prime minister personally of "serving the powerfulHe further accused the premier of not fighting corruption.Papandreou also charged that "no one today knows who's governing the country", questioning whether the country was being run by the elected prime minister, "the opaque interests that back him, or those with whom he was engaged in 'mutual coercion'."One thing was certain, he added, "it is not the Greek people who are governing".

    Turning to the stance of the other left-wing parties, Papandreou accused them of "levelling rationales" for vote-grabbing reasons. In his own address, high-ranking MP Costas Skandalidis referred to a crisis of governance and a crisis in the representation of the political system, and stressed the need for deep-rooted changes to the political system and transition to a qualitative system of governance.Former minister Evangelos Venizelos, in turn, said he was in agreement with the basic policy positions set out by Papandreou for a change of the political system, but he criticised other aspects of PASOK's policy as well as internal party issues, pointing to the issue of internal party democracy, as he said.Venizelos said he agreed with Papandreou that the Nov. 11 party leadership election -- where he and Skandalidis were also candidates for the PASOK helm -- was "history", as was the Sept. 16 general election. "But those dates determine, to a great degree, the present and future of the party and the country", he said, adding that commitments undertaken ahead of the Nov. 11 party election "are still valid".Venizelos said he respected the outcome of the internal party election, but stressed that he was giving Papandreou "space" to unfold his choices and implement his policy, without setting out is own participation in the implementation of the policy selected by the party. He added that the commitment he had undertaken concerned his participation in pre-congress dialogue and contacts with the grass roots.

    Caption:ANA-MPA file photo of main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou-->

    [03] Interview: EBEA president

    Exclusive interview with EBEA president

    Greek exports were negatively affected by the ongoing mobilisations by dockworkers, Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) president Constantine Michalos, in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA.

    Michalos also said the liberalisation of labour relations and ensurance of the viablility of the social security system must take the priority this year in the government's planned reforms.

    To a question on what should be the priority reforms for the government in 2008, given that the business community in Greece has repeatedly called for speed in the reforms, Michalos said that the liberalisation of labour relations and ensurance of the viability of the social security system were the two important points.

    He said that flexible forms of work needed to be legislated, so as to render more flexible the system of hiring and dismissal.

    Self-employment also needed to be boosted through the elimination of beaurocratic counter-incentives and the provision of tax incentives, ans well as the encouragement of employee mobility.

    On the social security system, he said it was commonly agreed that the anti-economy operation of the national system downgraded Greece's credib ability, and the growth potential of the Greek economy.

    EBEA, Michalos continued, believed that the reform of the social security system must be carried on on the basis of the existing structure of the current system, and along the rationale of modest reform from within a social dialogue.

    Asked what the business community considered to be the most significant problems regarding the function of the markets and entrepreneurship, Michalos stressed that the number one problem was bureaucracy.

    A radical change of the structures, and of course change of mentality, not only on the part of the political system but more so on the part of the business community, was mandatory, he said, adding that liberalisation of the markets and the 'opening' of the 'closed' professions was a priority that the government needed to forge ahead with, in the framework of the reforms, as well as further reduction of the taxation rates on businesses.

    Questioned what would be EBEA's stance on a prospective new increase in VAT rates in the future, Michalos said that a VAT increase in the coming months, as has been rumoured on occasion, would spark a series of price hikes in goods and services, which in turn would burden inflation and be rolled over to the consumer.

    Asked to elaborate on a recent statement he made that the increase in the prices of goods and services in Greece, influenced by negative international trends, requires immediate interventions on the market so as to alleviate the side-effects to both economic growth and social cohesion, Michalos said that, in the framework of the Chamber's role as an advisory institution to the government at each given time on matters of economy and growth, and given that high prices in recent months due to the international state of affairs, EBEA has made specific, practical proposals in two basic branches of the economy, those of foods, particularly agricultural products, and that of fuels.

    Regarding fuels, EBEA's proposal concerns a decision/survey by the Competition Committee, on the basis of which hypermarkets and supermarkets should be eligible for licences to petrol stations, Michalos said.

    However, continued, this should be done in combination with another series of measures, with subsidies from the finance and development ministries, so as to achieve an "automation" of the existing fuel stations (the so-called self-service statins) and flexible working hours for those stations, in order to compress their operational cost and, by expansion, compress the end prices paid by the consumer.

    With respect to foods, and particularly farm products, EBEA's proposal is that the government should licence, in the country's 13 Peripheries, an equal number of auction marts that would operate under stockmarket rules, given that the middlemen, as everyone knows, played the primary role at this time in the marketing of agricultural products, Michalos said.

    The objective, he added, was to circumvent the middlemen, who benefit no one at this time, and enable the farmer, with his own means of transport to be issued to him based on the size of his farm expanse, to daily transport his production to the local auction mart and electronically, in accordance with the demand ans supply of the day, formulate the price.

    Asked if he believed that the developments in the international economy will bring harder days to Greek entrepreneurship, Michalos said that the negative international situation has already resulted in record high petrol prices, and not only that, citing also a 110 percent increase in grain prices in the past year.

    He said all these aspects influence the Greek industry and the products sold on the Greek market. EBEA, he continued, believed that these phenomena were conjunctural and that, in the second half of the year, things will have returned to more rational levels.

    To a question on whether the continuing employee strikes at the Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports will influence exports and the smooth supply of the market with the necessary goods, Michalos said that Greek entrepreneurship was already being negatively affected.

    He said that EBEA had met with representatives of the dockworkers, with their Federation, and made it clear that all the sides involved were steadfast against the mobilisations, despite the initial reservations of the business world to the first privatisation plan tabled by the preceding Merchant Marine ministry leadership, adding that there was no justification today.

    EBEA, he continued, believed that there was no reason today for the strike actions to continue, and warned that, if the labour action continued past this current week, many problems would be created in the exports and imports sector.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Constantine Michalos

    [04] Bank robber killed

    An armed man was killed by a special guard on Monday morning as he and an accomplice attempted to make a getaway after a hold-up at a Postal Bank branch at Attikis Square in Athens. The accomplice managed to escape, with an unknown amount of money.

    According to police, the two armed men rushed into the Postal Bank and, at gunpoint, grabbed an as yet unknown amount of money.

    A special guard, who was at the teller booth making a transaction at the time, raced after the two armed men as they exited the bank, and shouted at them to surrender. The culprits turned around and threatened the guard, who fired at them, resulting in the death of one of the armed men, while the second robber escaped.

    Athens Security Police officers were investigating the incident.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of an armed robbery in a Postal Bank branch in Athens

    [05] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Testimonies on the Zachopoulos affair and an opinion poll on behalf of newspaper "Eleftheros Typos" showing people's dismay over to the two major parties (New Democracy and PASOK) dominated headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Main opposition leader George Papandreou and high ranking PASOK member Evangelos Venizelos' paths split - Venizelos' leaving the party was confirmed during the meeting of party's Congress Organising Committee".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Theatre of the absurd - Critical week for clearing up the Zachopoulos scandal".

    CHORA: "The Prime Minister's fast decline and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's collapse - The behind-the-scenes in the Zachopoulos serial".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Themos Anastasiadis (PROTO THEMA newspaper co-publisher, rumoured to be the "courier" of the Zachopoulos DVD) second testimony - The most critical day of the DVD case is Monday".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Government's new plan on social security reforms - Government accelerates reforms in small doses".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Youth Parliament: Please protect our dreams".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Examining magistrate is called on to untangle the government from the DVD courier knot".

    ESTIA: "Institutions are malfunctioning - Politicians are the only ones to blame".

    ETHNOS: "Turkish landmine via imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan- Ocalan is being 'facilitated' in filing lawsuit against Greece" demanding compensation.

    TA NEA: "Examining magistrate focuses on five contradictions - The most critical week in Zachopoulos affair".

    VRADYNI: "Mayor of Athens Nikitas Kaklamanis' proposal for co-governance - Kaklamanis states his views to the newspaper".

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