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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-11-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM and justice minister discuss ruling for judges' pay hike
  • [02] FM urges 'tough line' on Turkey's EU course
  • [03] EU awaits details of bill on charities in Turkey
  • [04] Government backs court ruling for contract workers

  • [01] PM and justice minister discuss ruling for judges' pay hike

    The issue of the special judiciary salary court will be dealt with in the process of the Constitutional revision, justice minister Anastasis Papaligouras said on Monday, speaking to reporters after a meeting with prime minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Papaligouras expressed certainty that all sides involved will realize that excessive financial demands should not be made in a particularly difficult period for the country.

    He also added that the problems faced by the country‚s economy will be dealt with adequately and for the long-term, pointing out that all Greek citizens should display a sense of unity and justice as far as the country‚s economic potential is concerned.

    Papaligouras further confirmed that he had a telephone communication with the Supreme Court presiding judge, but he declined to reveal the contents of their discussion.

    Last week, the salary court granted an application of an Appeals Court judge for a pay hike and back pay amounted to several thousand euros.

    The premier also met Agriculture minister Evangelos Bassiakos on Monday, who briefed him on farm subsidies and measures for dairy farmers, and sent a letter of congratulations to newly elected President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega.

    On Tuesday, the prime minister will chair a meeting of the Cabinet on the draft budget for 2007, which will be tabled in Parliament on the same day.

    Supreme Court president not to seek higher pay

    Meanwhile, Supreme Court President Romylos Kedikoglou on Monday stressed that he is not to receive a pay hike, in spite of a court ruling awarding substantial pay increases to Greece's top judges.

    "I have neither sought nor will I seek an adjustment of my pay, I have waived my rights since I have neither filed a suit and do not intend to do so," he told reporters.

    The pay of the Supreme Court president is pegged to the pay of Greek members of Parliament, who would also automatically qualify for higher salaries.

    Kedikoglou noted that the pay increases for members of the judiciary, according to a preliminary ruling by a special salary court, would range between 15% and 25% and that each higher court president would get ‚¨1,150 net, while the two years back pay awarded would come to ‚¨20,000-‚¨22,000 and will be paid over a lengthy period of time.

    [02] FM urges 'tough line' on Turkey's EU course

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday said Athens wanted the EU to take a tough line on Turkey, in statements published by Financial Times Deutschland regarding the course of the Euro-Turkish relations.

    In the interview, Bakoyannis states that Greece calls on EU member-states to send a clear political message and take all necessary measures in case Ankara does not open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and airplanes by December.

    "We cannot continue like this, as if nothing has happened," Bakoyannis is quoted as saying in the interview, while she also points out that there is an agreement that Turkey's EU accession process will be affected if it does not meet its obligations.

    After stressing that the European partners should adopt a consistent stance, Bakoyannis stated that she supports the Finnish EU Presidency efforts to lift the impasse, while pointing out Turkey's refusal to participate in the talks. She also reiterated that Greece has no place in these talks.

    The foreign minister also noted that Greece supports Turkey's EU accession under certain preconditions. "Turkey does not have only supporters in the EU. At this moment, its policy offers arguments to its opponents," she stated characteristically.

    According to the foreign minister, Europe should send a clear political message to Turkey for internal EU credibility reasons. "The ball is in Turkey's court," she underlined.

    Bakoyannis did not rule out the likelihood -- if it is deemed necessary -- to reconsider Turkey's EU accession timetable, stating characteristically that "if Turkey refuses (to meet its obligations) we should reconsider".

    [03] EU awaits details of bill on charities in Turkey

    Representatives of Turkey's numerous charitable foundations, all falling under the domain of the state-run General Directorate for Religious Property (Vakuf), are still awaiting to see details of a draft bill passed by the Turkish assembly, expected to be unveiled later on Monday.

    According to reports here, European diplomats and representatives of the EU Commission in Ankara referred to a "wait and see" attitude on whether numerous demands by Europe and private foundations in the country will be fulfilled with the new law.

    Similar statements were made by representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the latter is keenly following developments in coordination with the representatives of Jewish and Armenian groups in Turkey.

    The bill deals with all faith-linked charitable foundations, including the very large Muslim "vakufs" in the country.

    The bill was ratified by a vote of 241 in favor to 31 against, with the opposition in the Turkish assembly strenuously opposing the bill and calling for the postponement of beneficial provisions for foundations and charities until Turkey becomes a full EU member-state.

    Later reports also speculated over whether the Turkish president will veto the legislation.

    One of the primary demands by the EU and local communities focused on establishing a framework for foundations that passed into the hands of the state due to a lack of recognised and functioning boards of directors.

    Members of recognised Vakufs also want the return of properties that after 1974 passed into the hands of third parties.

    On the plus side, the draft bill reportedly foresees the right of permanent residents of Turkey, who are not Turkish citizens, however, to serve on the boards of foundations.

    Caption: A view of the courtyard at the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, better known as the Fanar. ANA-MPA photo / STR

    [04] Government backs court ruling for contract workers

    Public-sector staff left out in the cold by a recent law for converting temporary contracts to permanent jobs staged a protest in central Athens on Monday, while the government insisted that its measures were honest and fair.

    "The government ended the 'captivity' of contract workers in a way that was honest and clearcut, offering a solution to a problem facing many Greek citizens that the previous government had kept hostage. The government's pledges became action, with measures that were fair and reflected the interests of the workers and the needs of the public sector," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said.

    His view was not shared by municipal and East Attica region contract workers that failed to qualify for permanent jobs, who picketed the Interior Ministry at Klathmonos Square to demand that the criteria of a relevant presidential decree be made broader. They warned of planned take-overs of East Attica public buildings and further protests with the participation of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) workers' union POE-OTA, representing staff in the former state telecoms company. Meanwhile, temporary fire-fighters were holding their own protest outside the economy ministry in Syntagma Square with similar demands.

    The contract workers said they were seeking permanent positions and payment of backpay, while they would appear before the Council of State on November 23 to apply for a broadening of the criteria of the interior ministry presidential decree.

    The protests came in the wake of last week's ruling by the Court of Audit, which said that temporary staff excluded by the decree could not then be awarded a permanent position by the courts without going through the ASEP process and that they should be taken off the payroll. The specific case concerned contract workers at Argostoli municipality that had been awarded permanent positions by a lower court but had not been paid because their payment orders had been blocked by an earlier decision of the Court of Audit. The Court of Audit was considering their application to have the ruling for their non-payment reversed.

    Commenting on the dispute, Antonaros described the issue as "legally complex" and said that it was being treated in an over-simplified manner.

    "There is the issue of backpay, regarding which efforts are being made so that this is paid to employees by employers," the spokesman noted.

    "There is also, however, the framework that governs the hiring of permanent staff by the public sector; here we are talking about employees that were hired with temporary contracts without going through Supreme Council of Staff Selection (ASEP) procedures and are now trying to convert this contract to an indefinite one. This conversion is not possible," Antonaros added.

    Regarding the cases where a final ruling had been made, meanwhile, the spokesman stressed that the government respected independent justice and that the decision had been made by the Court of Audit plenum.

    Asked if the government was considering a Constitutional revision to curb the right of courts to issue rulings on pay increases, benefits and back-pay for public sector staff, Antonaros said that this was "one of the government's proposals that was on the record".

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