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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-12-05

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

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


  • [01] FinMin: Return to growth in 2012
  • [02] Traffic restrictions in central Athens on Monday
  • [03] 9 arrests in urban terror swoop
  • [04] Streamlining of public sector
  • [05] Collective effort for economy
  • [06] Iranian FM due Monday

  • [01] FinMin: Return to growth in 2012

    Finance minister George Papaconstantinou predicted that Greece will return to positive growth rates in 2012, in a newspaper interview appearing on Sunday.

    "The changes we are making today in the state will produce visible results of better services to the citizens in the next 2-3 years," he said in an interview with the Sunday newspaper To Vima.

    "The return to positive growth rates as of 2012 will have a tangible effect in the market and on job positions," the minister added.

    Papaconstantinou further noted the seven structural changes planned over the coming quarter which, he said, will change the structure and operation of the economy.

    Those changes, namely the opening of closed-shop professions, deregulation of services, simplification of licensing procedures for setting up businesses, abolition of obstacles to investments, new labor relations, denationalisation and restructuring of the DEKO (public utilities and organisations) and liberalisation of the energy market, "will shakeups and upsets in the sectors that need to change, but, chiefly, will result in new opportunities".

    Papaconstantinou stressed that the country has no margins to delay, in the coming quarter or in any other quarter, as this would put the financing at risk and is also the demand of the social whole.

    "The long-term effort needed for our country to become what it deserves to be, to take advantage of all its prospects,, and to rid our lives of those structures that are holding us back, does not mean long-term recession and lack of a prospect," he added.

    More details on the subscriber's page of APE-MPE | Subscription request form

    [02] Traffic restrictions in central Athens on Monday

    Extraordinary traffic steps were announced by Athens police, effectively closing off the city center to cars, that will be in effect 10:00 a.m. Monday to 7:00 a.m. Tuesday due to planned events marking the 2nd anniversary of the shooting death of teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos by a police bullet on December 6, 2008 that sparked unprecedented urban rioting in the country.

    Central Athens will be closed to traffic from 10am Monday to 7am Tuesday while stopping and parking cars will be prohibited from 6am Monday to 7am Tuesday, police announced.

    The traffic prohibitions affect the entire length of Alexandras Avenue in both directions and its sidestreets, as well as Stadiou, Academias, Vassilissis Olgas, Panepistimiou, Amalias, Filellinon, Sygrou, Patission, Pireos, Vassilissis Sophias, Rigillis, Ypsilantou, Kokkali, Marni, Stournari, Bouboulinas, and 3 Septemvriou streets and their sidestreets.

    The restrictions also apply to Omonia, Syntagma, Kotzia and Kannigos Squares and their side-streets.

    Drivers are asked to avoid the wider city center.

    Public transport routes will also be subject to change in conjunction with the events.

    More details on the subscriber's page of APE-MPE | Subscription request form

    [03] 9 arrests in urban terror swoop

    A total of nine suspects were being held by counter-terrorism police on Sunday after a coordinated swoop on at least four terrorist hideouts in Athens, Piraeus and the periphery the previous night, while ballistic tests on weaponry found in the Athens and Piraeus hideouts did not identify the arms with past terror attacks.

    According to police, ballistics testing was continuing to ascertain link of the weaponry with other criminal acts.

    Police officials said at noon Sunday that the ballistics tests have been completed on various weapons found inside a garage in the Athens district of Nea Smyrni, where two suspects were initially apprehended.

    Suspicion has focused on the so-called "Revolutionaries' Sect" group, one of a handful of self-styled anti-state urban guerrilla cells that mostly operate in central Athens.

    The two suspects were allegedly carrying a knapsack with weapons when arrested.

    Besides the Nea Smyrni (Kessarias street) hideout, another apartment in the port city of Piraeus (Praxitelous street) also yielded a cache of weapons, including handguns and hand grenades.

    Yet another residence in the western Greece city of Agrinio was been pinpointed and being searched with micro-cameras before authorities enter, and a fourth hideout was later discovered in the Athens district of Kallithea where, according to police sources, weapons and printed material were found.

    Three individuals were detained in Agrinio and another was arrested in Siteia, Crete in relation to the same nationwide investigation. According to later information, the Siteia suspect has been identified as a university student from Athens, and only printed material, but no weapons, were found in his possession.

    The total number of arrests over the weekend has reached nine.

    Specifically, police said they have recovered, from the Athens and Piraeus hideouts, three sub-machineguns (Scorpions), seven automatic handguns (Glock, CZ, Baikal), three assault-style rifles (AK-47s), silencers, ammunition, four hand grenades and up to 50 kilos of ANFO-type explosives along with 200 grams of TNT.

    Law enforcement speculation is focusing on whether the armed suspects were preparing a terrorist attack to coincide with the two-year anniversary (Dec. 6) of the shooting death of a teenager in downtown Athens by police, an incident that led to unprecedented urban rioting in the country, much of it fueled by youths linked to anarchist circles.

    The apartment in Piraeus had been leased a year ago by two men claiming to be college students from Cyprus, with several months of rent paid in advance.

    Police believe the hideouts belong to the Revolutionaries' Sect, which emerged after the riots sparked by the shooting death of 15-year-old pupil Alexis Grigoropoulos during incidents in the Exarchia district of central Athens on December 6, 2008. The group has claimed the killings of investigative journalist Socratis Giolias in July and a counter-terrorism police officer.

    More details on the subscriber's page of APE-MPE | Subscription request form

    [04] Streamlining of public sector

    The number of civil servants in Greece will have been reduced by 200,000 by the end of the government's 4-year term in office, interior minister Yiannis Ragoussis said in a newspaper interview appearing on Sunday, while salaries at ministries, where "scandalous benefits" continue to exist, will also be trimmed down.

    In an interview with the Sunday newspaper To Vima, Ragoussis spoke of mismanagement of the human potential in the public sector for decades, which he said has evolved into a mentality that is destructive to the public interest.

    It was only a matter of time for such a public sector to go bankrupt, the minister said, and announced that a circular will be issued in the coming days asking for a list of staff shortages as well as one of capable employees whose abilities are not being taken advantage of in the services in which they are employed.

    Ragoussis stressed that there will be no dismissals of tenured civil servants, explaining that the reduction in staff numbers will result from the freeze on hiring and the ratio of "one hiring per five retirements", the reduction in the number of contract employees after the expiry of their contracts, termination of the STAGE program, and the reduced needs in the local and regional governments resulting from the 'Kallikratis' public administration reform program.

    More details on the subscriber's page of APE-MPE | Subscription request form

    [05] Collective effort for economy

    A collective effort for restructuring of the economy is necessary if Greece is to remain a modern and prosperous country, Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos said in a newspaper interview appearing on Sunday.

    "If we want Greece to remain a modern, prospering country, we have only one choice: acceptance of and active participation in a collective effort for the restructuring of the economy," Provopoulos stressed in an interview with the Sunday edition of Kathimerini newspaper, adding that immediate, sweeping changes in the public sector "are a one-way street".

    The central bank chief called the Economic Policy Program being applied since May "a historic opportunity for the country", if applied in all the areas it covers, "with persistence, consistency and determination", adding that "phenomena of hesitance, timidity or administrative unpreparedness, wherever met, must be dealt with immediately".

    Provopoulos reiterated that restructuring of the Greek debt is neither necessary, nor desired, nor likely, while the only open prospect is that of extending the repayment period for Greece's 110 billion EU-IMF loan.

    He further said that Greece's return to the markets is feasibly by the end of 2011, provided the fiscal and structural targets are met and clear indications are given that the economy is on the threshold of recovery.

    More details on the subscriber's page of APE-MPE | Subscription request form

    [06] Iranian FM due Monday

    Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki arrives in Athens on Monday for a two-day visit to Greece, the Greek foreign ministry announced.

    During his stay in Athens, Mottaki is to meet Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas at noon on Monday for talks covering international and regional issues and also bilateral cooperation.

    The two ministers will make joint statements to the press after the meeting.

    Droutsas will also host a lunch in Mottaki's honour at the foreign ministry.

    The Iranian minister is also due to meet President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias early on Monday afternoon.

    Caption: Iranian foreign minister Manuchehr Mottaki during a previous visit to Athens in July 2006. (ANA-MPA/S. Pantzartzi)

    More details on the subscriber's page of APE-MPE | Subscription request form

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