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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-12-20

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Short-term debt measures for Greece likely to be 'unlocked' on Wednesday, EU source says
  • [02] One-off pensioners benefit to be tax-free, non-seizable
  • [03] PM Tsipras calls Chancellor Merkel, offers condolences after deadly Berlin attack
  • [04] ANA holds Christmas party for its renovated offices, hands out awards
  • [05] Greece's FM Kotzias urges 'positive agenda' at EU-Arab League ministerial

  • [01] Short-term debt measures for Greece likely to be 'unlocked' on Wednesday, EU source says

    BRUSSELS (ANA/ C. Vasilaki) A consensus to unlock the short-term debt relief measures for Greece decided on December 5 is likely to emerge on Wednesday, in exchange for a letter from the Greek side providing the necessary assurances, a European official told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency on Tuesday.

    The source appeared confident that full consensus would be reached on the basis of such a letter, in which the Greek side will state in writing its commitment to the targets and processes outlined in the Greek programme.

    According to another well-informed source, certain member-states expressed concern over the Greek government's "unilateral actions" in legislating for handouts and asked that the Greek side provide the said assurances in writing.

    The Greek side is expected to send the letters to the member-states by Wednesday afternoon, so that they can then instruct the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to proceed with the implementation of the measures for the debt.

    In order to formally take the decision to implement the measures, there has to be a meeting of the ESM Board of Directors, which is expected to take place before the end of the week. The measures were given then go-ahead after the Eurogroup on December 5 but then suspended when Greece announced plans to allocate a part of the primary surplus in order to hand out a one-off Christmas benefit to low-income pensioners and postpone a planned VAT hike on islands affected by the refugee crisis.

    A EuroWorking Group meeting on Tuesday ended "without a unanimous agreement" on whether to implement the short-term debt relief measures for the country, a European official had earlier told ANA, adding that a final decision "will be made on the process that will be followed in the future" by Wednesday afternoon.

    The same source noted that the exchange of views at the EWG was conducted "constructively" and that the discussion had focused on the possible options for 'unfreezing' the implementation of the short-term measures for Greek debt.

    [02] One-off pensioners benefit to be tax-free, non-seizable

    The one-off cash benefit for low-income pensioners recently passed by the government will not be taxed, nor offset or seized to pay off previous debts to the public sector, according to a last-minute amendment added to a spatial planning bill on Tuesday.

    Deputy Finance Minister Katerina Papanatsiou said the new amendment was judged necessary in order to clarify that the new welfare benefit for pensioners will be exempted from any kind of taxation or other contribution.

    The amendment is expected to become law on Wednesday, when the plenum votes on the draft bill. The original measure introducing the benefit was tabled as an amendment to the labour ministry draft bill on the social dividend that was passed last week.

    [03] PM Tsipras calls Chancellor Merkel, offers condolences after deadly Berlin attack

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the telephone and offered the sincere condolences of the Greek people for the families of the victims and the German people after Monday night's deadly attack in Berlin, a press release from the premier's office said.

    [04] ANA holds Christmas party for its renovated offices, hands out awards

    The Athens-Macedonian News Agency on Tuesday celebrated its recently renovated office space and newsroom, as well as its 113 years of full-time operation, with a Christmas party attended by several government ministers, officials, MPs and party press spokesmen, members of the foreign press and many of its own veteran journalists.

    Among those attending were Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media Minister Nikos Pappas, Administrative Reconstruction Minister and former government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili, General Secretary for Media and Communications Lefteris Kretsos, Alternate Environment and Energy Minister Sokratis Famellos, Deputy Sports Minister Giorgos Vasiliadis, SYRIZA MP Giorgos Kyritsis, main opposition New Democracy MP Sofia Voultepsi and PASOK press spokesman Pavlos Christidis.

    During the event, ANA General Director Michalis Psilos spoke briefly about the news agency's present and planned activities and new projects, while also announcing awards for members of the ANA staff that rendered exceptional service in the past year. The agency also presented honorary awards to its veteran journalists for their contribution to the ANA's prestige and history as the country's national news agency.

    [05] Greece's FM Kotzias urges 'positive agenda' at EU-Arab League ministerial

    Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Tuesday said that the European Union and the Arab world must work together to find solutions to crises in the region, starting with that between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, while seeking broader cooperation in the "spirit of the Rhodes Conference," in his address to the 4th EU-Arab League Ministerial in Cairo.

    He also noted the need for independence and territorial integrity for Iraq and Syria, noting that these were "two wars that must," while referring to the need for support to the National Government of Libya and the demands of all forces in the Libyan arena for inclusion.

    Talking to reporters afterward, Kotzias especially emphasised the need for a discussion focused on a positive agenda, in accordance with the "Rhodes spirit." He referred to a need to establish networks of cooperation between countries in the broader region of the Middle East and North Africa, in the social and cultural arena, in education and in research "that were able to give a much stronger impetus to a policy of stability and security in the region than the announcements and statements we are constantly making had hearing between us."

    "In this positive agenda there must be developed systems of cooperation, social subjects in the areas of education, research, economy, culture, with the organisation of friendship and culture weeks between the states in the region," he said, adding that the Greek initiative for the "Rhodes Conference" will be repeated in May.

    On the sidelines of the ministerial, Kotzias met his Tunisian counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui, the chairman of the Arab League, Foreign Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and Iraq's Foreign Minister Dr. Ibrahim Abdul-Kareem Hamza Al-Eshaiker Al-Jaafari. Agreements were made for cooperation between the foreign ministries, the prospects for developing ministerial cooperation and using Greece's experience within the EU.


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