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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-19

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Eco-Greens unveil proposal for 'green' jobs
  • [02] Bureaucracy costs high in Greece, report
  • [03] Education Minister Spiliotopoulos' interview
  • [04] Truck drivers' mobilisation around Greece
  • [05] Bill for ex-pat vote tabled

  • [01] Eco-Greens unveil proposal for 'green' jobs

    Greece's 'Ecologists-Greens' or 'Eco-Greens' party on Thursday unveiled a proposal for the creation of 100,000 new jobs in the country through "green" investments to the amount of some 500 billion euros. The party said this was part of a campaign launched by the European Green Party that envisions the creation of five million such "green" jobs throughout Europe.

    The proposal was unveiled during a press conference by Mihalis Tremopoulos, who heads the Eco-Greens election ticket for the European Parliament elections. He said it would be discussed in two seminars entitled "From economic crisis and the crisis of the growth model to a Green Economy and a Green New Deal - Green solutions to the crisis" that will take place in Athens on February 20 and Thessaloniki on February 22.

    Tremopoulos noted in statements that "a real exit [from the crisis] exists only if we address the economic crisis with policies that also address the environmental crisis, especially the threat to the climate".

    Among the party's proposals are programmes funded by the state for projects such as the large-scale installation of insulation in buildings, funding for photovoltaic roofs to produce clean energy and diverting the existing construction industry to improving energy efficiency in existing buildings rather than building new ones, thus creating thousands of jobs without further burdening the environment.

    According to economist Thanassis Makris, for example, just the thermal insulation and bioclimatic adjustment of existing buildings would suffice to keep the construction sector occupied for the next 20 years. Other proposals made by the party refer to the energy sector, transport, forests, urban environment, water conservation, recycling and tourism.

    Speakers at the seminars planned by the party include Greens MEP and spokesman Pierre Jonckheer, in charge of economy issues and vice-president of the European Parliament's Green Party group and Hans-Josef Fell of the German Green Party, who founded the Energy Watch Group and framed the German Renewable Energy Sources Law with Hermann Scheer.

    [02] Bureaucracy costs high in Greece, report

    The cost of bureaucracy remains a heavy burden for Greek enterprises, despite improvements made by the government over recent years, a report by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry stated on Thursday.

    The report said that a survey, "Doing Business 2009", based on figures collected until June 2008, revealed that "red tape" cost fell to 10.2 pct of Gross National Income, with Greece ranking 133rd in a list of 181 countries, up from 152nd in 2007.

    The report said measures so far aimed to improve bureaucracy procedures have contributed in cutting costs by 50 pct approximately, but the overall cost imposed by long-term bureaucratic procedures in business starts remained at high levels in the country. The report said France ranks first in the world list with the lower cost, followed by Spain and Germany.

    Greece has the fourth smallest cost with 150 euros per day, while Belgium is at the bottom with 388 euros per day.

    [03] Education Minister Spiliotopoulos' interview

    "The schools I want will pay more attention to pupils and their free time, allowing them to develop all their creative skills; schools that can discover and motivate talent," new Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos stressed in an interview with ANA-MPA on Thursday, underlining that the objective is the creation of "citizens with a fundamental education" even if they choose not to attend a university or college. Spiliotopoulos admitted that the sector faces serious problems, underlining that the most important reforms will have to be implemented in elementary and secondary schools. He reiterated that dialogue on education will come without preconditions, pointing out that he will accept any useful viewpoint. Commenting on the decision by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) not to participate in the dialogue, Spiliotopoulos said education is and should be above and beyond political party conflicts, adding that both parties have useful views. He also stressed that education funding will have to be increased, finally reaching 5 percent of the GDP.

    [04] Truck drivers' mobilisation around Greece

    The customs posts at Evzoni, Doirani and Niki, in northern Greece, as well as the border crossings of Promahonas and Exohi, were blocked with by lorries and other large vehicles on Thursday due to mobilisations by truckers' union. Similar actions are planned for the ports of Patras and Igoumenitsa. The protesting truckers blocked access to other vehicles transporting goods allowing, however, passage to private cars and tourist coaches.

    Their demands include implementation of 24-hour checks on trucks with foreign license plates to tackle the problem of "pirating", i.e. foreign truckers illegally working in Greece. They also called for measures aimed at dealing with the problem of illegal migrants in seaports attempting to stowaway on Italy-bound trucks.

    [05] Bill for ex-pat vote tabled

    A landmark draft bill allowing Greek citizens living permanently abroad to vote in Greek general elections from their country of residence was tabled in Parliament on Thursday by the government.

    Under the bill, Greek citizens that have settled in foreign countries or are serving with a Greek state service abroad will be able to cast their vote in the country's general elections, and at polling stations within Greek embassies or consular authorities. They will have the option of voting for MPs included by political parties in their state deputy tickets, which must include at least three candidates that have lived abroad for at least a decade.

    The draft bill executes a provision in the Constitution allowing Greek citizens living abroad to vote from their country of residence and requires a two-thirds majority, or 200 of Parliament's 300 MPs, in order to become law.

    Announcing that the bill had been tabled in Parliament, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros expressed hope that opposition parties, especially main opposition PASOK, will not insist "on the barren position they have maintained until now and will not deprive expatriates of their right to vote, as provided by the Constitution, from their place of residence and not be subjected to the inconvenience of having to come home in order to exercise their right to vote."

    When asked if the draft bill included suggestions by opposition parties, Antonaros pointed out that there had been extensive dialogue before the bill was finally drafted.

    "Everyone can propose improvements. Dialogue is public. The government discusses everything. At some point, however, dialogue comes to a stop. Dialogue cannot continue without end. The majority has an obligation to table measures because the country cannot remain in a vacuum," he stressed.

    He also pointed out that the specific proposal was transitional and had to be proved in practice, adding that the government had proposed the measures that it considered to be the optimum solution for the specific problem.

    Regarding a request by the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) that expatriates vote in electoral constituencies and whether the bill could be amended to take this into account, Antonaros said the government was putting forward an alternative view that it considered to be more representative and more compatible with the reality of the situation in Greece.

    Caption: A file photo dated Sunday, April 22, 2007, shows flag-waving spectators at the annual March 25 Greek Independence Day parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City. ANA-MPA / DIMITRIS PANAGOS.

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