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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-01-20
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM meets UN High Commissioner for RefugeesThe establishment of an independently operating Asylum Agency and the creation of a new framework of operation for migrant reception centers were announced by Prime Minister George Papandreou in statements he made at the Maximos Mansion, after his meeting Tuesday with visiting UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.
As the premier said, the other five government priorities are border protection, adoption of measures against illegal migration, appropriate management of the political refugees issue in compliance with international obligations (to ensure the protection of those who are really persecuted or faced with serious risks), cooperation with the UN High Commission, the EU and the neighboring states and the smooth integration of legal migrants (the second generation in particular) into the social structures.
The prime minister stated that the intention of the government is to reform the asylum system to be in full compliance with the Geneva Convention and the European legislation.
"We are witnessing a huge increase of the migration flow, illegal migration and refugees, associated with the multiplication of economic crises, the alteration of global demographics, regional conflicts that unfortunately intensify and climate change," the prime minister stated.
He pointed out that "it is certain that the potential of Europe and Greece to receive and integrate is limited."
The new framework of operation for the migrant reception centers was associated by the prime minister with the implementation of a border protection policy to avert the inflow of illegal migrants. He added that the goal is to create special primary reception centers in the most affected regions.
The prime minister stated that he agreed with Guterres that the cooperation of countries that border with the EU is imperative to ensure that those who are really in need will be protected while reducing the burden faced by EU member states. The issue of Turkey was also discussed within this context, the prime minister stated.
PM Papandreou stressed that the priorities announced will consolidate the sense of security in society and, at the same time, protect fundamental human rights.
He also stated that they discussed the recent developments in the EU and the adoption of the Stockholm programme that stresses the need for real solidarity between the EU states as regards the asylum issue. He pointed out that the immediate operation of the European Asylum Agency is imperative as it will help the member states deal with the continuous migration flow and the large number of asylum seekers.
Papandreou stated that he reminded the UN High Commissioner that the implementation of Dublin II Regulation resulted to a disproportional burden for Greece and underlined the need to amend the criteria and create a mandatory solidarity mechanism between the member states.
He also stated that he briefed Guterres on the government initiatives that will be voted into law in a few weeks giving hope to the migrants that live legally in Greece for many years, and particularly their children, who will be acquiring the Greek nationality at birth.
"The specific provisions also include a special reference to those with recognized refugee status," the prime minister stated, adding that "legal migrants and recognized refugees will have the right to vote in local administration elections."
The prime minister concluded that Greece is counting on the UN High Commission assistance to face those issues.
On his part, Antonio Guterres expressed full support to the government initiatives, adding that "migration is a human rights issue as well as a national security protection issue."
He stated that having people in an uncertain situation is not right adding, however, that only those who are properly identified and really need protection should be allowed to stay ensuring that human rights and national security will be respected.
Guterres stated that the measures announced by the government are positive and acknowledged that Greece is making a disproportionate effort offering notable service to the European Union. He invited the EU to fully support Greece and share the burden, adding that the UN High Commission will express its full support to Greece in Brussels, underlining that European policy cohesion is necessary to face the problem.
CAPTION: Prime Minister George Papandreou (L) with visiting UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres (R) at the Maximos Mansion on Tuesday. (Photo ANA-MPA)
 Parliament passes bill on taxation on parental asset transfers, cigarettes, alcoholThe parliament plenary late Tuesday passed a bill on parental property and asset transfers and taxes on cigarettes and alcohol titled "Amendment of the Taxation Code on Inheritances, Parental (asset) transfers, and Winnings from Lotteries, and the National Customs Code" tabled by the Finance Ministry.
The bill was passed with the votes of the ruling PASOK party MPs, while the opposition MPs voted against it.
 FinMin satisfied over ECOFINBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis) - Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday expressed his satisfaction over a statement issued by the ECOFIN Council over the credibility of Greek public statistics and the acceptance of the government‚s updated three-year economic stability plan by his EU counterparts.
Speaking to reporters, after an ECOFIN meeting in Brussels, the Greek minister said the Council acknowledged the big problems still existing but welcomed the first steps taken by the government towards resolving these problems. "We are paying the lack of credibility in the past," he said, adding that a new law -currently drafted by the government- would strengthen the statistics collection system in the country and noted that the new leadership of the statistical service would be elected by the Parliament and will include representatives by banks, independent agencies and probably a representative of Eurostat if this was legally acceptable.
Papaconstantinou said the government‚s stability plan envisaged that the biggest part of fiscal consolidation would be achieved in the first two years of the program and will include reforms in the tax system, the pension system, budget drafting methods and regional administration. He said that the first reactions from the EU were positive and noted that the biggest problem now will be the implementation of the program.
The minister said he hoped that Greek statistics could regain their credibility by October and said that as long as this issue was pending it was creating a climate of uncertainty in international markets.
 Olympia Doukakis in AthensOscar-winning Greek American actress Olympia Doukakis on Tuesday, gave a lecture titled "The story of a woman: a discussion with Olympia Doukakis" at the American College of Greece, which invited her to Greece
Olympia Doukakis spoke of her life, her family, the Greek school she attended and her Greek influences. She also spoke of her career, her goals and the difficulties she encountered at the beginning, as well as of the awards she received and her activist work and also replying to questions from the audience.
Caption: Greek American actress Olympia Doukakis gives a press conference in Athens on Monday 18 January 2010. ANA-MPA/MARGARITA KIAOU
 ASE opening: RiseEquity prices were rising at the opening of trade on Wednesday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the basic share price index up 0.70 percent, standing at 2,116.19 points at 11:00 a.m., and turnover at 22,976 million euros.
The biggest gains were in Food and Beverages, up 2.34 percent and Telecoms, up 0.89 percent.
The biggest losses were in Mass Media, down 0.63 percent and Raw Materials down 0.45 percent.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was up 0.89 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was down 0.05 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was up 0.58 percent.
Of the stocks moved, 36 were up, 25 were down, and 15 were unchanged.
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
Ecofin's initial approval of the Stability and Growth plan, Brussels' pressure and the bi-monthly monitoring of the country's fiscal affairs beginning from March, the escalation farmers protests, the citizenship issue for migrants, and the radical changes to the existing taxation system, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Main opposition New Democracy (ND) will set up a 'household budget' observatory".
APOGEVMATINI: "PASOK MPs and Ombudsman set 'roadblocks' on migrants' citizenship issue".
AVGHI: "Twenty-three members of SYRIZA's (Coalition of the Radical Left parliamentary alliance) Secretariat call for the resignation of the parliamentary group's spokesman Fotis Kouvelis".
AVRIANI: "Olympic Airways (the former national carrier which was recently privatised) owes to the state social security Fund (IKA) 660 million euros (from the time that it was state-owned)".
CHORA: "Athens to pass exams every quarter".
ELEFTHEROS: "Taxes, via a devious way, for workers and pensioners".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Tax Bureau offices to be abolished - Will be replaced by Citizens' Tax Service Centers".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Alert over the farmers' roadblocks - Government apprehensive - Inner Cabinet to meet on Wednesday".
ESTIA: "The (October) general elections hurt the country - They led to fiscal derailment".
ETHNOS: "Household employees to be paid with coupons".
IMERISSIA: "Changes in Tax Bureau offices"
KATHIMERINI: "Expensive borrowing due to distrust".
LOGOS: "Farmers escalate mobilisations".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "EU will every month monitor the course of the new measures".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Domestic agricultural production to feed the people".
TA NEA: "Hike in Loan and credit card payment installations - Banks preparing increases in interest rates".
TO VIMA: "This is the man who is playing games with Greece and euro - The 'John Paulson Hedge Fund' manager John Paulson and the London-based 'speculation' operation".
VRADYNI: "2 percent surtax on real estate and incomes - New permanent 'extraordinary' tax on the pretext of the social security issue".
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