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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-01-27
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM on economy, relations with TurkeySTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/V. Mourtis) - Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday termed the securing of a five-year joint venture loan of five billion euros a "positive vote for the country" despite the fact, as he said, that the loaning was costly.
Papandreou told Greek reporters following the end of his visit here that, in any case, it is a first good message for the country, "but we have a lot and systematic work to do for Greece to regain its credibility and this was only the beginning."
Referring to the farmers' mobilisations, Papandreou said that the farm sector is experiencing a deep crisis and for this reason a solutioin to all the problems that have been accumulated is difficult.
Papandreou was also asked about his meetings in Davos, which he will be visiting on Thursday and Friday, accompanied by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, and said that he will be having many meetings with the mass media, mainly with the financial media.
He also said that next week he will be visiting India in the framework of the government's effort to have good relations with four big countries, such as China, India, Brazil and Russia.
Furthermore, Papandreou was asked about Greek-Turkish relations and whether he is more optimistic now and said that it is always difficult for one to judge and mentioned the example of 2004, since it had appeared then that some issues were heading for a solution.
He added that many efforts must be made and termed the latest statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglou positive.
Questioned about revelations in the Turkish press regarding the intentions of the Turkish armed forces, he said that everything is being evaluated but at the same time everything is not taken at face value and this, as he said, due to the many internal tensions existing in Turkey and which can affect the relations of the two countries.
Papandreou also expressed hope that political will exists for some steps to be taken.
Commenting on the immigration problem, the prime minister pointed out that the country is not a free-for-all and that it has to be able to grant political asylum to those in need.
 ND leader meets farmers' representativesMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday called on prime minister George Papandreou to "shoulder his responsibilities and proceed immediately to a dialogue with the farmers, so that a solution to their problems may be found".
Samaras made the statement during a meeting in Athens with representatives of the farmers' unions of Western Macedonia, Epirus and Thessaly.
He also said that ND had backed the farmers last year, as it does thies year, but added that his party objected to the roadblocks set up throughout the country, noting the major economic problem that Greece is facing.
Samaras was briefed by the representatives on the problems faced by farmers.
 Gov't on agricultureAgricultural Development and Foods Minister Katerina Batzeli on Tuesday presented a package of measures designed to create a national strategy for farming over the coming months, after the end of a two-day conference on farming issues in central Athens that was shunned by farmers manning protest road blocks around the country.
Among the key measures presented by the ministry's leadership was the injection of some 5.5 billion euros in cash to boost liquidity and incomes in the agricultural sector in 2010, as well as reforms of the agricultural compensation organisation ELGA to make the distribution of compensation more equitable, greater participation of younger farmers in the sector's union organisations (up to 60 percent), steps designed to lower production costs and measures to control the market and close the gap between producer and retail prices for farm products.
Regarding the last issue, the government intends to ensure that retail prices are no more than 100 percent over that paid to farmers, while wholesale prices should be up to 30 percent over that paid to farmers. Those violating those limits will face additional taxes, while the ministry also intends to create a databank of companies that violate food safety laws or charge excessive prices.
Other measures will seek to improve farming as a profession, including eligibility for life-long learning programmes at the education ministry. Batzeli said that one of the main obstacles to improving the operation of the agricultural economy were outdated attitudes, including that which said that farmers should live off subsidies.
In the short-term, she promised completion of an IT system for paying farm subsidies and the payment of sums still due for 2009, followed by prompt payment of those due in 2010.
In terms of controlling the market for food and agricultural products, Batzeli said the government's policy would focus on reducing the number of middlemen and also cutting back their profit margins, clamp down on the practice of passing off imported products as Greek, set up mechanisms and cross-referencing links with other systems to trace imported products and closely monitor the supply chain.
She also promised a reorganisation of the farmers' insurance fund OGA along the lines of that in other social insurance funds.
The minister also announced plans for a national agricultural research programme, the start of national debate on the new CAP, linking agricultural land with the new nationwide spatial plan and possibly subsidising interest on the purchase of agricultural land by new farmers, and promised greater transparency in the payment of subsidies to farmers, saying that these payments would from now on be posted on the Internet.
 Draft law on labour relationsEmployment and Social Solidarity Minister Andreas Loverdos delivered to social partners the draft law on labour relations on Tuesday.
The draft law includes clauses for subsidisation by the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) for social security contributions for the hiring of young employees over the next four years (for the first year 100 percent, the second 75 percent, the third 50 percent and the fourth 25 percent).
Loverdos underlined the ministry's effort to drastically reduce contribution evasion, as well as the expenditures of funds in the sector of health and medical and pharmaceutical care.
 Áthens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
The farmers' roadblocks and the repercussions on the market, the draft law on labour relations, the migrants' issue and a new four-year subsidised programme aiming to tackle unemployment, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "240,000 hirings in public sector (in the period 2010-2013) although the state coffers are empty".
APOGEVMATINI: "16,100 job opportunities".
AVGHI: "OAED (state Manpower Employment Organisation) will finance with one billion euros salaries and employers' social security contributions in enterprises hard-hit by the crisis".
AVRIANI: "Guild-like respond with strikes over the 10 percent cutbacks of in benefits".
CHORA: "On Marco Polo's path in search of 10 billion euros - Papaconstantinou (finance minister) hastens to China for loan".
ELEFTHEROS: "Draft law containing all the changes in labour relations".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou 'blocks' Agriculture Minister Katerina Batzeli - He found cash for Fthiotida the prefecture's farmers, but for the farmers throughout the rest of the country he said that the coffers are empty".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Ten 'roadblocks' to employment sector chaos - Package to support the 8-hour working day and social security".
ESTIA: "Prime Minister George Papandreou must give farmers an ultimatum".
ETHNOS: "Acceleration of initiatives ahead of EU Summit".
IMERISSIA: "25 billion euros deal between Athens and Beijing".
KATHIMERINI: "Disagreement inside government over the farmers - Charges for political inciting and search of an alternative way".
LOGOS: "Obstinacy and roadblocks continue - Farmers insist on their demands".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Plans for new borrowing increase the spreads".
NIKI: "We are sinking, but we will are not change - The political system is being disdained, and everyone is acting nonchalant'.
RIZOSPASTIS: "Free money to capital, charity for the labourers".
TA NEA: "Storm of price hikes in 700 staple goods".
TO VIMA: "Flexible work even in the DEKO (Public Utilities and state organisations)".
VRADYNI: "Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras warns of unpredictable developments due to continuation of roadblocks".
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