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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-06-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Nationwide labor strike Tuesday
  • [02] Parliament refers 5 former ND government ministers to House preliminary investigation commission in Vatopedi-Lake Vistonida scandal
  • [03] Athens 'Freeday': Weekly night-time bicycle outings
  • [04] Fiscal management legislation

  • [01] Nationwide labor strike Tuesday

    A nationwide 24-hour labor strike has been called for Tuesday by Greece's two major umbrella federations GSEE and ADEDY representing the private and public sectors, respectively.

    The strike will partly affect public transport, while the Greek media will also be taking part in the strike, which has been called in protest of the government's austerity measures and stinging changes in social security and labor relations.

    The ANA-MPA will also be taking part in the laboUr action, and as such no news will be disseminated from 6:00 a.m. Tuesday to 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, when transmission will be resumed.

    Protest demonstrations and marches are also planned throughout Tuesday in Athens, Thessaloniki and most cities throughout the country.

    Hellenic Railways (OSE) trains and the Proastiakos suburban railway will not be operating on Tuesday.

    Commuter buses will operate 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., the Metro, tram and ISAP train will operate from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and trolleys will run from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

    The civil aviation employees will be taking part in the strike, creating disruption in domestic flights, but air traffic controllers will not be on strike, therefore international flights will take place as scheduled. Olympic Air announced that 34 of its domestic flights have been cancelled as a result, while departure times for flights between Rhodes and Karpathos have been changed.

    [02] Parliament refers 5 former ND government ministers to House preliminary investigation commission in Vatopedi-Lake Vistonida scandal

    -PA/The parliament plenary on Tuesday voted to refer to a parliamentary Preliminary Examination Committee five ministers of the former New Democracy government for implication in the controversial land swap between the Mt. Athos Monastery of Vatopedi and the state, in the case referring to Lake Vistonida and surrounding areas.

    The plenary decided to refer five of the six ND former ministers proposed for referral by ruling PASOK, namely Evangelos Bassiakos, Petros Doukas, Alexandros Kontos, George Voulgarakis and Theodoros Roussopoulos, while it rejected referral of former ND minister Costas Kiltidis.

    [03] Athens 'Freeday': Weekly night-time bicycle outings

    What started out two-and-a-half years ago out as a weekly rendezvous among a handful of friends on Friday nights for a relaxing bicycle outing around Athens gradually attracted an increasing number of friends and, in recent months, after one of the excursionists had the idea of posting the outings on Facebook, the bicyclers have snowballed to more than 4,000 and the number continues to grow.

    The idea began in February 2008 when the five friends decided to combine exercise with recreation, and got together, took out their beloved bicycles, and embarked on a series of "different" tours of Athens.

    Soon, the five bikers became 10, by summer they became 100, and the following summer (2009), they had reached 600.

    But after one of the original five friends had the idea of posting the excursions on Facebook, the number snowballed to more than 4,000 and the outings also grew in destinations, covering an increasingly greater area and exceeding the strict borders of Athens proper.

    The outings, dubbed as "Freeday" on Facebook, have turned into a weekly social event, with people of different ages and backgrounds from all parts of the greater Athens area meeting and making new friends and sharing their love of bicycling and their desire to escape from the daily monotony and discover a different face of the city they live in.

    The bikers start gathering at the designated spot, a different one each time, at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, and set off for their weekly adventure at 10:00. The outing usually lasts a few hours, but some of the more avid excursionists continue throughout the night, taking in the sunrise at a different location each time.

    [04] Fiscal management legislation

    Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou on Monday presented a ministry legislation aimed at drastically changing ways of drafting, executing and monitoring state budgets through the creation of modern fiscal rules and principles in managing public money.

    Presenting the new legislation, titled "Fiscal management and responsibility", to Parliament, the minister said it was an intermediate stage of reforming the country's fiscal system, which will be completed by 2013 with the introduction of programs' budget. Papakonstantinou reassured that the government would fully adhere to budget targets this year.

    The new legislation introduces, among others, ministers' responsibility in drafting, monitoring and controlling their budgets, with the introduction of new management powers to the Finance ministry and limiting ministries' ability to exceed budget credits, without any consequences.

    It also envisages creating an independent Parliament Budget Office to support the monitoring and execution of budgets and supporting fiscal targets. The Parliament will be able to intervene during discussion of state budgets and altering funds.

    "Even if we did not have the obligation to bring our home back into order because of the memorandum, this obligation should have been the answer to the question "where people's money go", Papakonstantinou told Parliament.

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party expressed its support to the draft bill.

    ND deputies, Margaritis Tzimas and Manolis Kefaloyiannis said the legislation was fully moving towards the right direction and stressed that no one was proud for budgets drafted by previous governments, while they urged that the legislation should envisage sanctions for not adhering to fiscal management rules.

    SYRIZA and Laos deputies were cautiously positive towards the new legislation, while Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputies strongly reacted to the legislation.

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