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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-02-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] MEDSOS seeks probe into reports of toxic waste dumping at sea
  • [02] Bond market closing report
  • [03] ND refers to gov't 'insistence' on granting citizenship to migrants
  • [04] Major pension reforms unveiled

  • [01] MEDSOS seeks probe into reports of toxic waste dumping at sea

    The environmental group Mediterranean SOS Network has demanded an immediate investigation into reports that toxic and radioactive wastes may have been deliberately dumped into the Mediterranean Sea, including the seas around Greece, in letters sent to government ministers on Tuesday.

    The non-governmental organisation has written to Citizens' Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili and Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis. It cites reports of deliberate dumping of dangerous wastes made by environmental groups in other countries and stresses the great threat to public health and marine biodiversity that this poses.

    MEDSOS says evidence of such a trade in toxics dumped on the seabed has been reported by the Italian environmental group Legambiente as early as 1990, stressing the need for bilateral cooperation between the Italian and Greek governments to tackle the problem and calling for the intervention of the ministries and judicial authorities of both countries.

    The environmental groups estimate that there are more than 637 'poisonous' ships currently sunk and hidden in the Mediterranean, some of them in the Ionian Sea off Greece's western coast.

    It urges the Greek government to immediately request evidence from Italian authorities regarding the 'suspect' shipwrecks and then set up a committee of experts to assess this evidence in collaboration with Italy.

    The letter sent to the four ministries is also signed by WWF Hellas, the Environmental Radioactivity Laboratory at the Institute of Nuclear Technology-Radiation Protection of the National Centre for Scientific Research 'Demokritos', the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, the Laboratory for Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography at Patras University, the Athens University Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) Maritime Transport Laboratory and School of Shipbuilding and Mechanical Engineering.

    [02] Bond market closing report

    (ANA-MPA) -- The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds shrank spectacularly to 324 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 367 bps on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 6.40 pct and the German Bund 3.16 pct. Turnover in the market totaled around 1.0 billion euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.22 pct, the six-month rate 0.96 pct, the three-month rate 0.66 pct and one-month rate 0.42 pct.

    [03] ND refers to gov't 'insistence' on granting citizenship to migrants

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Tuesday reiterated its disagreements with a high-profile government draft law extending citizenship to eligible second generation children of migrants.

    ND migration policy secretary Theodoros Soldatos, a former MP, cited conclusions of a recent study (2010) -- conducted by the Athens University philosophy, education and psychology -- showing that approximately 50 percent of young second-generation migrants, responding to a relevant survey, considered themselves Greek, while approximately six in 10 young first-generation migrants said they considered themselves as nationals of their parents' country of origin.

    Consequently, the questioned the government's rationale behind granting Greek citizenship at birth, while at the same time rejecting ND's proposal for granting eligible individuals citizenship upon reaching adulthood and assuming they submit a request.

    "ND wants immigrants that choose to take root in our country; to assimilate into our society; to feel as Greeks and to become Greek citizens through our education and culture. We do not want them to simply 'get their papers' with summary procedures and prouduce a new 'ghetto' ... We can the assimilation of foreigners in order to combat xenophobia and racism. We do not what 'ghettos' that nourish and produce racism," Soldatos stressed.

    He also focused on what he called the government's insistence to grant citizenship under "extremely elastic conditions".

    [04] Major pension reforms unveiled

    (ANA-MPA) -- The government on Tuesday unveiled a package of changes to the country‚s pension system aimed at ensuring the system's viability in the coming decades.

    In presenting the measures, Labour & Social Insurances Minister Andreas Loverdos said the plan focuses on four major changes: ending voluntary and early retirement schemes with an aim to raise the average retirement age by two years, i.e. to 63 by 2015; permanently separating pension and healthcare systems; establishing an agency to manage pension funds‚ reserves and assets, as well as changing the method of calculating monthly pension payments.

    The government has already instructed agencies for stepped up inspections to reduce overspending, social contribution evasion and informal employment.

    Loverdos also said pension funds‚ reserves now total 29.55 billion euros. Additionally, he said the government aims to further integrate social insurance agencies into three groups, while healthcare services will be gradually included in the country‚s National Health System.

    Finally, retirement ages for men and women employed in the public sector will be gradually equalised by 2013, fulfiling a standing EU demand.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo.

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