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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-04-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Inner cabinet discusses South Stream deal
  • [02] South Stream a 30-year agreement
  • [03] General strike on Labour Day

  • [01] Inner cabinet discusses South Stream deal

    Education-related issues were the main focus of an inner cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday. Cabinet ministers were also filled in on the details of the Greek-Russian agreement for the South Stream natural gas pipeline by Development Minister Christos Folias.

    "The strategy we followed was once again vindicated and proved that it is moving in the right direction," Folias said, stressing that the major effort over the last four years was to ensure adequate energy supplies and a diversity of energy supplies to the country by connecting Greece with international energy networks.

    Another target was to support Greece's EU partners through the country's now very active role as a transit route for energy in southeastern Europe, he added.

    Regarding the economic benefits arising from the pipeline, Folias said that the main benefit was to ensure adequate energy supplies for Greece, with all that this entailed for markets, both for industries and private consumers.

    Questioned on the exact route that the pipeline would take, Folias said that the company would decide the entry and exit points from Greece under the agreement.

    The development minister also denied that there was displeasure in Washington over the deal:

    "There is no question of displeasure. Both we and the Americans agree that a diversity of energy sources for our country is necessary," the development minister said.

    Replying to questions on rising prices, meanwhile, he said that the problem was "being dealt with and we will soon see results".

    Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis told reporters that he had outlined his ministry's draft bill for reforms concerning disabled persons, prepared in consultation with organisations for the disabled.

    He described the new legislative act as "a clean bill without amendments, with ready-prepared presidential decrees that can go into effect immediately after the legislative processes are completed."

    According to the minister, the draft bill introduces a series of reforms that currently apply throughout Europe and make education mandatory for all people with disabilities.

    It also introduces an inter-disciplinary approach to caring for people with special needs, early examination of children facing problems and life-long state care, as well as continual assessment of children as they developed, so that they might be returned to the general education system where this was possible.

    Stylianidis said that the bill adopted the vast majority of the demands made by the disabled community and the carers of disabled persons in the past 20 years, while its overall aim was to create an environment providing equal opportunities for education and work for people with disabilities.

    The cabinet was also briefed on the negotiations underway regarding the management of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.

    [02] South Stream a 30-year agreement

    The Greek government on Wednesday unveiled the basic points of an Energy Agreement signed between Greece and Russia for the construction and operation of the South Stream natural gas pipeline on Greek territory.

    The Greek section of the natural gas pipeline will begin from the Greek-Bulgarian borders carrying natural gas to Italy. The agreement will have an initial duration of 30 years, carrying around 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas annually. Greece will absorb part of this quantity and will also receive transit fees. Under the agreement, Gazprom and Desfa will soon sign an agreement to set up a joint venture to take over construction and operation of the natural gas pipeline.

    The Energy Agreement seeks to upgrade energy security in Europe, supports the creation of a new natural gas pipeline system from the Russian Federation through the Black Sea, to supply Greece and other European countries. It also seeks to create the necessary conditions to plan, build and operate this system according to national legislations and international treaties.

    Under the plan, the new company will be preferably based in Greece, with both parts sharing an equal 50 pct.

    [03] General strike on Labour Day

    The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation covering private-sector workers, and the civil servants' union ADEDY on Wednesday invited the workers and pensioners to come out in force and take part in Labour Day events on Thursday.

    The two union federations, which together represent the majority of the Greek work force, will hold a rally at Pedion tou Areos in central Athens at 11:00 in the morning, followed by a march to Syntagma Square opposite Parliament and then to the Economy Ministry.

    In an announcement, they called on Greece's workers and pensioners to fight against the government reforms to the social insurance system, privatisations and attempts to introduce flexible labour laws, and to struggle to protect their income against austerity measures and high prices, their right to steady employment and their right to strike and freely unionise.

    Among those who will be participating in Thursday's Labour Day strikes will be public transport workers, except for the Metro and electric railway that will run during the day to allow people to attend the strike rallies in the city centre.

    Workers at ports and airports will join the strike action, while Olympic Airlines has announced that it will only carry out one flight per domestic destination and one flight to each foreign country in its network on Thursday.

    The trade union faction PAME affiliated to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) will hold separate Labour Day events, starting with a rally at Syntagma Square at 10:30, as will the Initiative for the Class Celebration of Labour Day, with a gathering a Omonia Square at 11:00 in the morning.

    Public transport workers to join Labour Day strikes

    There will be reduced or no services on most public transport networks on Thursday due to the participation of workers in the Labour Day general strike.

    Among those going on a full 24-hour strike will be staff on ETHEL buses, which will not run throughout the day, including services to Athens international airport. Also going on a full strike will be staff on the Proastiako suburban railway and the Athens tram.

    Trolley buses will run as normal from 7:30 in the morning until the end of their shift and the ISAP electric railway will operate from 9:00 in the morning until the end of the shift. There will be two work stoppages on the Athens metro, from the start of the shift until 9:00 in the morning and from 7:00 in the evening until the end of the shift.

    Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) staff will also hold a 24-hour strike and only the so-called 'social needs' trains will run on Thursday. Specifically, these are the E500 and E501 lines from Athens to Thessaloniki and back, the 604, 613 services between Thessaloniki and Dikaion, and the 741, 765, 766, 746 services from Thessaloniki to Florina and Kozani to Thessaloniki, as well as the 4324/302 and 305/4357 services between Piraeus, Kiato, Patras, Kalamata, Kiato and Piraeus.

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