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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM briefed on Athens' initiative for secure EU borders
  • [02] Rehn urges FYROM to solve name issue
  • [03] Gov't blames strike for outages

  • [01] PM briefed on Athens' initiative for secure EU borders

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Tuesday with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos at the government headquarters in Athens. Referring to the ongoing strike action by public sanitation workers in various municipalities, Pavlopoulos left open the likelihood of the strikers being ordered back to work via a court order, saying that "a government examines all options when it comes to the protection of public interest and the citizens' rights." Commenting on the strike by the local government employees union, he said proposed social security reforms do not affect them and all parties involved will have to assume responsibility for their actions. Pavlopoulos also stated that the government will take all necessary measures for the protection of public health. In addition to discussing the strikes, Pavlopoulos said he briefed the prime minister on the positions he will back at the EU Interior Ministers' Council regarding the management of the external borders of the EU. He pointed out that Greece has maintained for years that Europe will have to create mechanisms that will protect its external borders mainly from illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings. He pointed out that specialised centres will have to be established for this purpose, underlining that the centre already operating in Piraeus can evolve into a European Centre for the Management of Sea Borders. Such an endeavour will have Greece's support under the precondition that human rights and personal data will be protected, he stressed.

    Meeting with FinMin

    Karamanlis was also briefed separately by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on the latest international economic developments ahead of an upcoming EU Summit, with the FinMin later telling reporters that problems have arisen with US economic growth and global inflationary pressure. Alogoskoufis added that the sharp increase in oil and raw material prices has not left Greece unaffected. He pointed to EU-wide reforms leading to better global competitiveness and measures to prevent inflation from becoming a permanent menace as the top priorities. On the domestic front and asked about sharp trade union and opposition reactions to the government's social security reform package, Alogoskoufis said that whatever mobilisations must take into account the country's constitution and laws.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] Rehn urges FYROM to solve name issue

    European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn on Tuesday urged the political leadership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to demonstrate the "political will" for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name dispute with Greece.

    During a speech on the European prospects of the western Balkans, Rehn referred to his recent visit to Skopje and stressed that the country was capable of completing reforms needed to meet criteria for EU entry, provided that it acted decisively.

    He said the issue of the name currently absorbed a great portion of the country's "political energy" and he urged the country's political leaders to seize the current opportunity for finding a formula to the "name issue" that is acceptable to both sides.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of EU Commissioner Olli Rehn.

    [03] Gov't blames strike for outages

    The Greek government on Tuesday dismissed charges, mostly aired by striking unionists and the opposition press, that it was behind numerous power cuts imposed throughout the country over the past few days, in response to reporters' questions.

    "The government has no reason to flip off the switch," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said characteristically, while pointing out that power cuts began during an ongoing strike by Public Power Corp. (PPC) employees.

    Asked whether PPC's staff might be forced to return to work, the spokesman said his statements on Friday still applied, and stressed that changes envisaged in PPC employees' social insurance fund did not harm their interests.

    He added that whereas every person insured with the Social Insurance Foundation IKA received 900 euros in state subsidies, every person insured by PPC was subsidised by the state to the tune of 18,000 euros.

    "I don't understand the reason why they are striking and using a state asset to achieve narrow union goals," Roussopoulos added.

    He also countered a proposal by PPC trade unionists, who called for a 50-percent reduction in allocated power to heavy industry instead of rotating power cuts, as a way of dealing with the power shortage. The spokesman noted that heavy industry only uses 10 percent of total daily consumption in the country, and again stressed that public utilities should not be turned against society.

    Meanwhile, a major power plant in the Megalopolis district in the central Peloponnese had its production literally decimated on Tuesday when a third unit had to be shut down due to a malfunctioning conveyor belt, which ostensibly could not be repaired.

    The development brought power production at Megalopolis down to 90 MW from a normal capacity of 850 MW and is expected to lead to more power shortages in the Peloponnese, especially in the southeast of the southern province.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo.

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