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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-01-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou in Strasbourg
  • [02] Samaras: Climate in ND has changed
  • [03] Parliament unanimously passes motion for fact-finding commission on Vatopedi Monastery-Lake Vistonida land swap deal
  • [04] FinMin signs decision on creation of 10 pc reserve
  • [05] Procedure for re-election of Karolos Papoulias next week
  • [06] Econ. Minister on agriculture
  • [07] Droutsas at Council of Ministers
  • [08] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] Papandreou in Strasbourg

    STRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira) - Prime Minister George Papandreou will be addressing the Plenum of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on Tuesday.

    Papandreou's address will be taking place at 1 p.m. (Greek time) and, according to the procedure, he will be replying to questions put to him by deputies at the end of his address.

    Earlier, the prime minister will be having a brief meeting with reporters.

    Papandreou will be welcomed by the Parliamentary Assembly's new president, Turkish deputy Mevl√ľt √avusoglu, who was elected on Monday.

    It is the first time, 61 years after the founding of the Council of Europe, in May 1949, that Turkey assumes the presidency of the Parliamentary Assembly.

    PACE 318-member elected Mevl√ľt √avusoglu (Turkey, EDG) as its new President at the opening of its plenary session in Strasbourg (25-29 January). √avusoglu succeeds Llu√≠s Maria de Puig (Spain, SOC) as the Assembly's 25th President. He is the first Turk to hold the office since Turkey's accession to the Council of Europe in August 1949.

    [02] Samaras: Climate in ND has changed

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, addressing an event on the cutting of the New Year's cake "pitta" of the Women's Issues Secretariat on Monday, stressed his determination to create the new New Democracy that will meet the demands of the times.

    "The climate in New Democracy has changed. Our party is also changing already. We are proceeding with our regrouping. With the 8th Regular Congress of Positions and Principles that we announced the day before yesterday, we shall also take the next step: We shall proceed with the rennaisance of our party," he said.

    Samaras outlined the problems facing the country due to the economic crisis and focused on his opposition tactic.

    "The economy is the focal and most dramatic problem that the country is experiening today. We cannot let the country collapse so that we shall come and rule among the ruins. We cannot let the Economy go bankrupt so that we shall come to manage a bankrupt state with tied hands," he added.

    "Greece can still avoid bankruptcy. It has great inert resources and a huge reserve of unused comparative advantages. In the Economy we need more competitiveness, the restructuring of markets, the combatting of inflexibilities, the release of the creativity of the middle class, the restoration of the credibility of the Greek economy in international markets, the attraction of productive investments and the immediate revival of economic activity. And two more things: the acquittal of entrepreneurship. And the immediate combatting of unemployment," Samaras stressed.

    The ND leader also referred to the party's restructuring, saying that the 800,000 voters who came to the ballot boxes "demand from us to regroup quickly and, overcoming the syndrome of defeat, to enter a power orbit again. So that we can return dynamically."

    Samaras also praised the role of women in modern-day Greece and added that he wants the women in the front line for the effort to regroup the party.

    [03] Parliament unanimously passes motion for fact-finding commission on Vatopedi Monastery-Lake Vistonida land swap deal

    The Parliament plenary in the early hours of Tuesday unanimously voted in favor of a motion tabled by 128 MPs of the ruling PASOK party for the establishment of a parliamentary fact-finding commission to investigate anew a controversial land swap exchange between the Mt. Athos Monastery of Vatopedi and the state, in the case referring to areas surrounding Lake Vistonida.

    According to critics of the series of controversial deals, the state exchanged prime real estate holdings throughout Greece, including buildings in the Athens Olympic Village, for remote tracts of land where development is either restricted or prohibited, such as forestland, RAMSAR-protected areas around Lake Vistonida, even archaeological sites.

    The case concerns suspect land deals by the Vatopedi Monastery, where low-value property on the shores of Lake Vistonida was exchanged for prime pieces of public real estate in other parts of the country in transactions carried out by Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation which were approved by ministers.

    The parliament plenary adopted a proposal by parliament president Filippos Petsalnikos that the fact-finding commission comprise 19 MPs proportional to the seats held by the five parties represented in the 300-member House.

    The commission will be set up on February 1, while it is slated to complete its inquiry by March 15.

    [04] FinMin signs decision on creation of 10 pc reserve

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou has signed a ministerial decision by which the creation of a 10 percent reserve is anticipated aiming at decreasing the credits in the budgets of all ministries, with the exception of expenditures for salaries and pensions and expenditures serving the public debt.

    The decision is based on the commitment of the stability and development programme on the creation of a reserve amounting to 10 percent that will be used in the event of special needs for the implementation of the budget.

    According to an announcement by the Finance Ministry, the government for the better checking of expenditures will proceed with the release of credits on a monthly basis and the monitoring of expenditures and the assumption of obligations by joint groups of officials of the Finance Ministry and of other ministries.

    [05] Procedure for re-election of Karolos Papoulias next week

    Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos disclosed on Monday, while speaking to reporters, that the procedure for the re-election of Karolos Papoulias to the Presidency of the Republic is expected to begin in the middle of next week.

    The specific date for the vote in Parliament will be determined at the Conference of Presidents this coming Thursday.

    According to Parliament's regulation, the election of the President of the Republic is registered in the agenda, whose announcement takes place five full days before the date set for the vote.

    [06] Econ. Minister on agriculture

    Outlining action being taken by the government to tackle chronic problems faced by Greek farmers, Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli on Monday said that it aimed at an overall reorganisation of the entire food supply chain from field to shelf, from the rationalisation of crops farmers chose to grow to ensuring proper competition at retail level and educating consumers.

    Addressing the two-day conference on farm issues that began on Monday at the Zappion building in central Athens, Katseli stressed that farmers were mobilising for a solution of accumulated problems at a time when the Greek government was having to take immediate measures to tackle the country's fiscal derailment, galloping public debt, a production deficit and a competitiveness crisis brought on by years of mistaken policy choices, inaction and the lack of a national programme for restructuring development and growth.

    She emphasised that dealing with these fiscal problems was imperative and that there was no margin for delays.

    The minister did not deny that the problems faced by farmers were real and major - noting that retail prices paid by consumers were often five times the prices paid to farmers - and said that one of the government's priorities was to support the liquidity of farmers and farming enterprises as much as possible, until the more long-term measures began to yield results.

    The measures outlined by Katseli moved along three separate lines: the first was to give farmers some immediate financial relief, such as through the TEMPME small loans programme, the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and developmental law.

    The second sought to ensure a policy of restructuring agricultural production and the third, designed to reduce fluctuations in the prices of agricultural products and drastically restrict the role of middlemen in setting final prices, was focused on ensuring the proper operation and monitoring of markets.

    One aim of government policy was to set up a system of recording national and world consumption trends and informing farmers, so as to mitigate the swings in agricultural production cycles, marked by shortages and high prices one year followed by a glut of the same products and a collapse of farm incomes the next.

    The minister said the government was setting up mechanisms and a systematic programme for checking and researching prices, along with more frequent price inspections in the secondary sector, that will allow the government to track the factors affecting production costs for agricultural products and foods.

    It was also taking steps to prevent imported meats and vegetables from being sold as Greek by increasing traceability by requiring food processors to keep accounting books and warehouse records, and introducing a register of importers/distributors, she said.

    Other planned measures cited the minister targeted open-air street markets and central markets for foods, ensuring better access to these for farmers, while she also pointed to additional data concerning quantities collected by the ministry's price observatory and expansion of an IT system at the central market in Rendi that will provide comprehensive data to all the market on available quantities, qualities and prices.

    [07] Droutsas at Council of Ministers

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis) - Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, speaking here on Monday after the end of the Council of Ministers' session, stressed that through his letter of reply to Turkish Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan, Prime Minister George Papandreou expresses Greece's desire for an improvement in relations between the two countries.

    The minister further said that a brief account is made in the letter of problems that continue to harass relations between Greece and Turkey, Greek positions are registered and the framework in which Greece seeks the solution is described.

    Droutsas also said that Greece proposes the intensification of the so-called exploratory contacts between Greek and Turkish diplomacy, underlining that these exploratory contacts cannot have an open timetable.

    "We must agree on a specific timetable through which we shall be able to find a solution to the issue of the continental shelf and, otherwise, to resort jointly to the International Court at The Hague," he said.

    Referring to the issues that preoccupied the council in Brussels, Droutsas said that a discussion was held on the programme of the Spanish EU presidency and in particular its plans to tackle the economic crisis and define the European Union's growth strategy until 2020.

    Droutsas also mentioned that the issue of EU enlargement was discussed and that he had the opportunity of reiterating the Greek proposal on the granting the prospect of a European accession to the countries of the Western Balkans by 2014.

    [08] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    ‘he Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The escalation of farmers' protests and the start of a dialogue in Athens, the impasse in meetings between government and farmers' representatives and the dramatic repercussions on the Greek economy, and the substantial offer of capital from foreign markets to the Greek state arising from the five-year syndicated bond loan floated on Monday carrying a high interest rate of 6.2 percent to be paid by the Greek state, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government at a loss - Incapable of finding solution to the farmers' issue".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Hypocrisy - Dialogue without the farmers at the Zappeion Mansion".

    AVGHI: "Farmers' rage over the government's intransigence".

    AVRIANI: "Foreign bankers and investors are robbing us".

    CHORA: "The farmers turned their backs to the social dialogue".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Prime Minister George Papandreou's letter ultimatum to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanding revocation of the casus belli".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli exposed - Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) left her uncovered".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "They lend to us and strip us - Government gets breather with the 8 billion euros (bond) loan but, the lenders had a party".

    ESTIA: "National consensus mandatory in order for the country to exit from the crisis".

    ETHNOS: "Blackout in roads, ports and border posts".

    IMERISSIA: "8 billion euros breather with a high cost".

    KATHIMERINI: "8 million euros...expensive breather".

    LOGOS: "Impasse on the farmers' front".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The 5-year bonds' success is extremely expensive".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Farmers' roadblock on the government's fraud-dialogue".

    TA NEA: "Breather from abroad, suffocation inside the country".

    TO VIMA: "Eight billion euros breather via a bond loan with extremely high interest - Government relieved".

    VRADYNI: "Dialogue without the farmers - Government's clash with farmers reaches the extremes".

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