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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 15-12-13

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] ESM chief reports 'convergence' with IMF on Greek debt in 'To Vima'
  • [02] ERT to host UNICEF Greece telethon for refugee children
  • [03] SYRIZA Central Committee meeting decides to hold party congress in April
  • [04] Archbishop: Cremation 'everyone's right' but not within cemeteries
  • [05] Protests held on first of three Sunday shopping days ahead of holidays

  • [01] ESM chief reports 'convergence' with IMF on Greek debt in 'To Vima'

    ANA-MPA -- European Stability Mechanism (ESM) chief Klaus Regling revealed that Greece's European creditors and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were getting closer on the issue of restructuring Greece's debt, in an interview with the Greek newspaper 'To Vima' published on Sunday.

    Regling noted that such a solution had a medium-term time frame and would not involve a nominal haircut of Greece's debt but an attempt to make its profile "gentler". Everyone wanted Greece to be attractive to investors, he pointed out, and an unsustainable debt was a deterrent.

    If the creditors succeeded in extending the period of the already very low debt repayments, that would attract investors in both the financial sector but also in the real economy, where the prospects were more long-term, he said.

    Regling expressed surprise at recent statements that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made about the IMF's role in the third memorandum, pointing out that IMF participation was expressly envisaged in a series of legal documents that Greece has signed, including the Eurogroup decisions last August.

    Asked if Grexit was still on the table, the ESM chief noted that the monetary union had been designed in a way that made no provision for any country's exit but added that "this possibility always exists when the commitments as a member of the monetary union are not respected."

    [02] ERT to host UNICEF Greece telethon for refugee children

    ANA-MPA -- Greece's national broadcaster ERT is to hold a telethon organised by UNICEF Greece on Monday, to raise funds to assist refugee children and their mothers. The telethon, called 'Help the Refugee Children' will start at 18:00 on ERT2 frequencies.

    Messages of support are to be sent by President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Parliament President Nikos Voutsis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Albania Anastasios, political party leaders, as well as other political figures and state officials.

    A number of Greek artists, journalists, athletes and writers are expected to arrive at the ERT studios to take part in the evening, while many municipalities in Attica and beyond have contributed to the pot by setting up collection boxes and holding other events in solidarity. A number of schools, both state and private, have also joined in the efforts to help.

    The telethon will be broadcast throughout the country by ERT's radio stations in Athens, Thessaloniki and elsewhere, and to Greeks throughout the world via "Voice of Greece".

    [03] SYRIZA Central Committee meeting decides to hold party congress in April

    ANA-MPA -- A two-day meeting of ruling SYRIZA's Central Committee ended on Sunday with the adoption of a draft resolution outlining conclusions on crucial policy issues. The final draft included some proposed modifications, while the meeting decided that the party's Congress will be held in mid April.

    It also announced a process of political dialogue with the Greek people in the run-up to SYRIZA's congress "that will provide answers to the scenarios constructed and put forward by various centres recently concerning political alliances and national unity governments."

    The text noted that SYRIZA's goals, during its second period of governance, will be a "deep and radical reform of the economic, productive and social model of the country, with emphasis on supporting worker rights and salaries, active support of employment, expanding the social state, protecting property and a redistribution of wealth in favour of those hit by the crisis and protecting the environment."

    It also referred to the party's role relative to the government and its work, calling for a "shared responsibility and an organic connection with the government," and to efforts to reorganise SYRIZA's youth group. On the refugees crisis, it noted the Greek government's role in highlighting its nature as a European, rather than Greek, crisis and problem.

    Addressing the meeting on Saturday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had noted a need for the party to be more closely linked and involved with the government. He clarified, however, that this was not so that it would become a part of the state and "joint manager of corruption and clientelist networks, as the parties of the old political system had done, but to ensure mediation between the government and society."

    Tsipras said that SYRIZA had to play a leading role in the formation and change of social relations, as well as having a constant and autonomous presence "on the ground" in neighbourhoods, trade unions, work places and other areas.

    [04] Archbishop: Cremation 'everyone's right' but not within cemeteries

    ANA-MPA -- While it was every person's right to choose to have his or her body cremated, this was contrary to the beliefs of the Orthodox Church and therefore crematoriums could not operate within Greek Church cemeteries, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos said on Sunday.

    Speaking on Mega radio station, the archbishop also expressed reservations about the prospect of civil partnerships between same-sex couples becoming law:

    "Should such a matter, which is a personal choice of some people, enter into family law? Must it go to Parliament and become a law of the state?" he asked.

    He was equally dubious about the building of a mosque in Athens and, while admitting that everyone had a right to a place of worship to practice his or her religion, cited the risks of religious fanaticism. "Given the current situation, it would be naive to rush without knowing who will run it. Without knowing whether it will be a place of prayer or a place for teaching and fundamentalism," he said.

    [05] Protests held on first of three Sunday shopping days ahead of holidays

    ANA-MPA -- Protests by shop keepers and sales staff in Athens and Thessaloniki marked the first of three Sunday opening days for shops during the Christmas season this year. Rallies were organised in Athens' main shopping high street Ermou and at the corner of Tsimiski and Agia Sofia Streets in Thessaloniki, followed by a march to Thessaloniki's centre that brought traffic to a standstill.

    The Federation of Private Employees of Greece said that the legal framework for shop opening hours and Sundays would drive out small shop keepers unable to cope with the competition from larger stores and further increase the burden on staff in the retail sector.

    Shops were open from 11:00 until 18:00 on Sunday and will also open for the same hours on December 20 and December 27.


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