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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-12-05

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Mitsotakis, Steinmeier discuss economy, politics, Italian referendum and Cyprus
  • [02] Seamen to continue strike after talks with minister break down
  • [03] Austrian FinMin Schelling sees improvements in Greece but rules out debt reduction

  • [01] Mitsotakis, Steinmeier discuss economy, politics, Italian referendum and Cyprus

    Economic and political developments in Greece and Germany, as well as migration were discussed between New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Athens on Monday. Mitsotakis and Steinmeier also discussed Italy's referendum, EU's future, the presidential elections in Austria and Cyprus.

    "I also informed Mr. Steinmeier on our continuing support of [Cypriot] President [Nikos] Anastasiades' efforts for a just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem, especially now that talks to reach an agreement are intensifying," Mitsotakis said, adding he also expressed his concern about statements by Turkey that attempt to create tension at a time when "composure and prudence are required to address the major geopolitical challenges in our region."

    He also stressed the need for a national plan to pull Greece out of the crisis.

    [02] Seamen to continue strike after talks with minister break down

    The Greek seamen's union federation PNO on Monday said it will continue strike action after the breakdown of talks with Shipping and Island Policy Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis to end their 48-hour strike. The strike began at 6:00 on Sunday and is scheduled to end at 6:00 on Tuesday.

    PNO representatives had earlier met the minister, following a rally and march to the ministry, in order to discuss the problems faced by sailors, as well as the problems created as a result of their strike action.

    There are currently thousands of school children stranded on Greek islands, unable to return from planned school trips, and farmers are unable to send their produce to market. Another 24-hour strike by seamen is scheduled for December 8.

    In statements after the meeting, Kouroumblis noted the problem with the school children stranded on Crete, as well as the potential loss of European market share for farmers, saying that neither PNO nor the government could just ignore these problems.

    He said he had asked PNO to set a date to discuss social insurance and pension issues with the labour minister within the week, in order to find solutions.

    "The assurances they were given by the government do not give PNO room to continue the strike. I await its decision and, based on this, I will meet my own responsibilities to the children and the farmers," the minister said.

    He also sought to reassure PNO that the government would not bow to pressure to further increase taxes on sailors, making them equal to other categories of employees, and that the current 10 pct and 15 pct tax rates will remain.

    PNO's Secretary General Yiannis Chalas declined to comment on the results of the meeting, while noting that there was no firm commitment from the minister. He noted that the stranded school children "could be sent home in two airplanes." Other trade unionists also pointed out that Kouroumblis had been unable to make any firm promises on the issues of the strike.

    [03] Austrian FinMin Schelling sees improvements in Greece but rules out debt reduction

    VIENNA (ANA/ D. Dimitrakoudis) The situation in Greece was better than originally expected, with a return of growth and more tax revenues for the first time, Austrian Finance Minister Hans Jörg Schelling said on Monday, in statements before the start of the Eurogroup.

    According to an Austrian Press Agency (APA) despatch, Schelling said this indicated that reform efforts were paying off, while he continued to rule out any nominal reduction of Greek debt, noting that "no one will accept that."

    The minister said that a discussion might be held on managing the debt profile, with respect to repayment times and interest rates, as announced by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). He also appeared open to proposals in view of low interest rates.

    Schelling noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was expected to again participate in the Greek programme in the first quarter of 2017, and to submit a new analysis on the sustainability of Greece's debt. He said the IMF appeared to admit there was improvement but its positions on Greece were different to those of the European Commission, which he said was "essentially odd".


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