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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-04-14
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM briefed on administrative reformsInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday briefed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on the government's reforms to the country's administrative structure.
After the meeting, Pavlopoulos said that he has been in talks with the national municipal and prefecture unions KEDKE and ENAE, respectively, and that "the issue of local government finances was finally being put on the right basis, which is the foundation on which it is possible to build the administrative reform".
The focus on the financial aspects was the main difference between the present reform and previous attempts under PASOK governments, which had created new structures but then not provided them with any economic support, the minister said.
"We are starting off by laying the foundations for financial support, so that the now more powerful local government organisations can carry out their duties, and then moving on to central reforms," he added.
Pavlopoulos said that Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis had reached an agreement with KEDKE to boost the finances of municipalities, with 90 percent of road tax revenue and emergency funds transferred into municipal coffers. Talks were still underway with the prefecture union ENAE, he added.
After studies carried out by the Local Government Institute for KEDKE and ENAE were completed, and based on this new economic basis, the prime minister will hold meetings with the governing boards of the two unions to agree on the structures and send the draft bill to Parliament, the minister concluded.
Costas Karamanlis will meet on Tuesday morning with economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis.
Afterwards, Karamanlis will chair a meeting of the Inner Cabinet, which will discuss matters falling under the competency of the interior ministry, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced on Monday, during a regular press briefing.
Earlier, Karamanlis met with employment minister Fani Pali-Petralia, who told reporters afterwards that implementation has commenced of the new social security law, as have the procedures for the unification of the social security funds.
She said she briefed the prime minister in depth on the detailed plan, and on the ministry's policy aimed at increasing employment and reducing unemployment in the country.
Asked whether the government was planning to liberalise the dismissals ceiling and changes to labor relations, Petralia said that both the government's and her own positions were "specific and absolute", adding that the framework of the government's policy concerned one thing: the model of full-time and quality work.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis
 FM meets UK envoyForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday met the British government's special envoy for the Cyprus issue, Labour MP for Enfield Mrs. Joan Ryan, who is currently visiting Athens.
"Now is the best opportunity that Cyprus has for reunification based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation," Ryan said in statements after her meeting with Bakoyannis.
The British premier's envoy said that activity surrounding the Cyprus issue and to bring the two sides closer together should encouraged, following the meeting between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
"As guarantor powers we are making every effort in order to support and encourage progress," she added.
Caption:ANA-MPA file photo of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis
 Sioufas addresses SEECPGreek parliament president Dimitris Sioufas stressed the need for specific policies, actions and initiatives to render the region of southeastern Europe an "islet of stability, growth and creativity", addressing the 7th assembly of parliament presidents of the Southeastern Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP) which opened in Sofia on Monday with the theme "enhancing the role of parliaments in the Interparliamentary Regional Cooperation of the countries of the region".
"The region of SE Europe can evolve from the weak link of Europe throughout the 20th century into an area of political stability, peace and cooperation among the peoples, today, a magnet for investments, and a region with high economic growth rates that ensure prospects of prosperity for our peoples," Sioufas said, adding that the "key" to achieving this goal was the region's European prospect.
Reiterating Greece's support for EU accession for all the countries of the region, Sioufas noted that the benefits would be mutual: the SE Europe countries need the European Union and accession to its institutions, on the one hand, but on the other EU integration rlied on the incorporation of the entire neighborhood into a new European status quo, into the large European family.
Sioufas called on his colleagues from the SE European countries to forge new road in that direction and, beginning with the Sofia meeting, to undertake new, specific initiatives to upgrade the SE Europe parliamentary assembly and to render the national parliaments the guarantors of policies that bring the countries and the peoples of the region closer together.
He further proposed upgrading of the Regional Secretariat through representation ensuring trhe greatest possible representation of the member countries, more frequent meetings of the assembly, and its reinforcement as the guardian of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, encouraging the members' governments in that direction.
In fact, the Hellenic Parliament, in support of the enhancement of the SEECP parliamentary assembly, intended to propose new initiatives in that direction in the near future, Sioufas announced, adding that he would issue invitations soon to his colleagues to meet in Athens for a special session on the topic "Advancement of common policies for enhancement of development and cooperation among the peoples of SE Europe".
The parliament presidents also signed Memorandum of Understanding for Inter-parliamentary Cooperation in SE Europe, and adopted a Declaration on the importance of the regional parliamentary cooperation.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Parliament president Dimitris Sioufas
 Sahara dust covers GreeceSahara dust that covered the entire country over the past few days is starting to recede, while the National Weather Service (EMY) has predicted rains and northerly winds on Monday, which are expected to clear the skies from the whitish haze.
The phenomenon is not an unusual one and when the weather is rainy it is experienced as mud rain. According to meteorologists, the whitish color skies is the result of particles of dust from northern Africa that remain trapped in the humid atmosphere due to the unusually high temperatures for the season, coupled by southerly winds.
This time its duration was longer due to the persistent southerly winds, which carried the dust as far north as Thessaloniki.
The situation will improve on Tuesday but the phenomenon is expected to be repeated again at the end of the week, meteorologists said, adding that there is no hazard for the public, while only those with pulmonary diseases or asthma should be more careful.
Meanwhile, a new cleaning method will be used in the Thermaikos Bay, Thessaloniki, for the removal of objects that have piled up on the sea bed, contributing to its pollution.
A side scan sonar device, used by the local Frogmen Club to map the bottom of the sea, will locate objects weighing up to a ton in order to be removed following an initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace.
 Children and Mass MediaThe need to form a roadmap or code of ethics was underlined by Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, addressing a one-day conference Monday on "Children and Mass Media: protection of minors in audiovisual and information services" hosted by the Secretariat General for Communication - Secretariat General for Information (SGC-SGI) in Athens. Roussopoulos stressed that all those responsible should manifest interest in the relation between minors and the media, underlining the need for a wide-ranging public debate that will be continued in an online forum. He also pointed out that all proposals approved should be implemented through appropriate regulations and mostly through self-regulation. He said that the existing legislation and European directives are adequate, but stressed, however, that the new technologies make the creation of a new culture imperative for ensuring the protection of children. Public television ERT SA President-CEO Christos Panagopoulos described television is the dominant information medium that creates social trends, pointing out that no new legislation can be compared with the power of television stations that divide television views into target groups focusing mainly on the 15-25 age-group.
Caption:Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday 14 April 2008 .ANA-MPA /ALEXANDROS BELTES
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