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Athens News Agency: News in English, 11-02-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Measures to cope with doctors' strike
  • [02] Conspiracy of Cells of Fire claims responsibility for justice ministry parcel bomb
  • [03] 'I won't pay' movement raises the bar throughout Greece
  • [04] Full investigation of Siemens scandal
  • [05] Ticket machines disabled
  • [06] Minister: migrants too many
  • [07] Bus strike on Monday
  • [08] Athens Newspaper Headllines 

  • [01] Measures to cope with doctors' strike

    All employees and pensioners with the IKA-ETAM social insurance fund, the largest in the country, will be able to visit any of the 20,000 doctors that currently have agreements with the fund for the self-employed OAEE or the civil servants' fund OPAD as of Monday.

    The measure was announced by the government of Friday as a means of coping with a lengthy strike announced by IKA-ETAM doctors protesting against government reforms in the health sector.

    The government has announced plans to issue personal prescription booklets for patients, who in the meantime will qualify for primary care simply by displaying their IKA insurance booklet when they visit the above doctors in their private surgeries.

    Until a system is in place, the OAEE and OPAD doctors have been instructed to write out prescriptions in their own personal prescription papers, recording on them the name, registry number and AMKA social insurance number of the patient involved.

    Such prescriptions will be valid at all pharmacies collaborating with IKA-ETAM and will be paid using a process outlined in a draft law currently being discussed in Parliament, said IKA governor Rovertos Spyropoulos.

    The doctors involved will be paid 20 euros for the first visit in a month and 10 euros for a second visit. The programme is voluntary and all OAEE and OPAD doctors that do not wish to provide services to patients from IKA-ETAM have been asked to inform the IKA-ETAM administration in writing or by e-mail.

    Spyropoulos also pointed out that prescription books are due to be abolished from May, when the electronic prescription system is up and running.

    Meanwhile, IKA doctors have changed their decision for an indefinite strike and called a series of rolling 24-hour strikes starting on Monday until Friday.

    Also on strike from Monday until Thursday are hospital doctors in Athens and Piraeus while the national federation of hospital doctors will hold a three-day nationwide strike starting from Tuesday.

    They want the government to withdraw its bill for health sector reforms and called the measures to give people access to OAEE and OPAD doctors a strike-breaking mechanism.

    Pharmacists are also continuing strike action, with pharmacists throughout the country shut on Monday and those in Athens continuing the strike on Tuesday as well.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [02] Conspiracy of Cells of Fire claims responsibility for justice ministry parcel bomb

    The terrorist organisation "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" has claimed responsibility for the parcel bomb sent to the office of Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis last week, in a proclamation posted on the website.

    In the lengthy proclamation, the group said that sending the parcel was the "least expression of solidarity" for the members of the group currently in jail and that Kastanidis had been chosen because of his refusal to agree to the prisoners' demand for an audio record of the trial proceedings.

    The group also disputed the minister's assertion that the bomb had been more powerful than those sent in November, accusing him of "communications tactics to present himself as a victim".

    "We will simply repeat that the precautionary measures were the same as those for the previous 14 packages so that no unrelated person would be injured," the proclamation claimed.

    There was also a reference to the events concerning the migrants at the Athens law school, with the group announcing their intention to officially participate in the "International Revolutionary Front - Informal Anarchist Federation".

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [03] 'I won't pay' movement raises the bar throughout Greece

    Members of the 'I won't pay, I won't pay' movement travelled to toll posts throughout Greece on Sunday, raising the bars and allowing drivers free passage without paying road tolls. From Manari to the Isthmus, in Attica and the north, they protested in this way against what they said were unfair and exploitative agreements that gave contractors a free rein.

    Sunday's action, which started at around noon and peaked at 3:00 p.m., was decided in January during a meeting of the nationwide coordinating action committees against hikes in road tolls and the companies failure to build alternative access roads for local communities.

    The aim of the organisers was to open all toll posts throughout the country, while in many areas they arranged rallies and transported people to the locations involved by bus.

    Speaking for the organising committee in the Oropos area, which blockaded the Afidnes toll post, Stratis Loupatatzis told the ANA-MPA that members of the movement were not fighting for lower road tolls but better contracts.

    "What we are seeking is the abolition of all the contracts that have been signed and follow a logic of pre-payment. We pay taxes on fuel and road taxes so that roads can be built. We will not pre-pay road tolls as well," he stressed.

    Loupatatzis pointed out that Oropos-area residents were currently having to shell out roughly 1,500-1,700 euro a year to get around their own neighbourhood.

    He also dismissed the legal action against members of the movement, saying that this was an attempt to frighten people into backing down.

    "We are waiting for group summons and we are ready to go to court because we have also filed complaints against the companies at the Council of State, asking for the concession contracts to be cancelled," he said.

    According to the "Citizens of West Athens" movement member Dimitrios Davos, meanwhile, the contracts signed were illegal and abusive.

    "It simply isn't possible to have to pay for something that hasn't been built yet," he stressed, while noting that the company that collected the road tolls on the Attica highway had contributed a very small percentage to the cost of construction and was set to make massive profits through the constant increases in tolls.

    "It's not so much an 'I won't pay, I won't pay' movement. It's more a 'I'm not getting paid, I can't pay' movement," he added.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [04] Full investigation of Siemens scandal

    Everything about the Siemens bribery scandal will be investigated, including the path of illegal money into party coffers, Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis stressed in an interview given to the Athens-based newspaper "RealNews" published on Saturday.

    According to Ragoussis, no one would be immune from investigation, including former prime ministers, and he stressed the need for consensus.

    Ruling out all prospect of elections before the end of the government's term in 2013, Ragoussis said the present Parliament would pass the planned changes to election law, which he said would seek to boost the autonomy of politics and make MPs more independent of specific interests and the pressures of clientist relations.

    He also announced that an planned Parliamentary inquiry into the handling of economic policy would cover the period between 2004 and 2009.

    The minister went on to criticise the 'I won't pay' and civil disobedience movement, saying that concerns were understandable but adherence to the law protected the weaker members of society above all and that the government was not ready to negotiate on "following the rules".

    On the problem of illegal migration, meanwhile, he emphasised that Greece was governed by the rule of law and that this would be applied without exceptions, accusing those that arranged the occupation of the Athens Law School building by migrants of "exposing the country to an inconceivable danger".

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [05] Ticket machines disabled

    Members of the 'I won't pay' movement struck in several places throughout Athens on Sunday, disabling machines used to stamp tickets in buses, trolley buses and stations throughout the metro, electric railway and tram systems.

    Several ticket machines were damaged after members of the grassroots movement visited the majority of stations and poured glue into the slots so that tickets could not longer be inserted. In some cases they succeeded in removing the entire ticket machine and getting away before they could be stopped by the private security guards at the stations.

    The management of public transport companies estimates that the damage is extremely extensive, since apart from the cost of replacing and repairing the machines they are also losing revenue because commuters are unable to stamp their tickets, which can then be reused.

    The same movement took similar action at toll posts on highways, raising the bars so that cars could pass freely.

    Members of the movement were strongly criticised by Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas in an interview with the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper, who stressed that Greece would not acquire a "lawless identity" and again referred to those refusing to pay as "freeloaders".

    "The reactions of those losing privileges confirm the depth of the changes we are making and presage the degree of their effectiveness," he stressed, saying the ministry was asking the citizens to act according to rules in a framework that contained both rights and obligations.

    Concerning public transport strikes, Reppas said these would be an 'interval' and repeated his reluctance to resort to a civil conscription to force drivers back to work.

    In the ticket system on Greek public transport, tickets are bought in advance and are inserted into a ticket machine when passengers enter the means of public transport they intend to use. The machine stamps a date and time on the ticket, thus making them valid for travel for a period of 1.5 hours.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [06] Minister: migrants too many

    All illegal immigrants in Greece will either be forcibly deported or voluntarily sent back to their own country through a process that will include a subsidy, Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis revealed in an interview with the weekly newspaper "To Vima" published on Sunday.

    "The country cannot cope with all the migrants that are here," he emphasised.

    Concerning the issue that arose with the smuggling of migrants into an Athens Law School building so that they might hold a mass hunger strike, Papoutsis said that some people were striving to create a united "front" between those defending university asylum and those supporting the migrants' cause. He accused the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYN) party of being involved, saying that members of the party's youth group had been among those that facilitated the migrants' entry into the law school building.

    Papoutsis also commented on the issue of terrorism, noting that among those arrested were young people that had never previously come to the attention of authorities, which should not now allow themselves to feel complacent that all the terrorists were behind bars.

    The minister also criticised the civil disobedience movement that had arisen, with people refusing to pay increased road tolls and public transport fares.

    "Disobedience is a political action and requires exposure and a political reaction," he said, noting that those investing in mayhem bore "grave political responsibility".

    "What do they mean 'I won't pay, I won't pay' from road tolls to taxes? What are they aiming at? The failure of the efforts of the government and the people? To a dead end? To conflict and violence?" the minister added.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [07] Bus strike on Monday

    Athens buses are planning another five-hour work stoppage on Monday, between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

    During the work stoppage, the bus company staff will hold a general meeting to discuss the situation that has arisen after the government tabled in a draft bill on reforms to public transport in Parliament and to decide their next course of action.

    Meanwhile, Athens metro staff have announced a work stoppage between noon and 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [08] Athens Newspaper Headllines

    Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

    The agreements in Brussels and the terms for extending the Greek bailout loans were the main front-page items in Athens' Sunday newspapers.

    APOCALYPSES: "Dismissals and new cuts in wages - the secret agreement with Merkel for 10 years of austerity".

    AVGHI: "Armageddon with the abolition of hundreds of schools".

    AVRIANI: "Giant four-billion-euro scandal shakes the system".

    CHORA: "New shock memorandum for 15 more years".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Minister versus the State - they are seeking 200 million euro compensation for the Olympic village". [runs story claiming deputy minister Dinos Rovlias is handling legal cases between contractors and the Greek state]

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "A 'German' payscale for the civil service - Brackets reduced to six, bonuses instead of benefits"

    EPOCHI: "Agreement of destitution"

    ETHNOS: "Merkel treaty for Europe and Greece - EU Summit opens the way for earth shattering changes".

    KATHIMERINI: "The EU plan for taxes, wages and pensions".

    LOGOS: "What is on the EU 'menu' for Greece".

    NIKI: "The 10 commandments of the Troika".

    PARASKINIO: "The piranhas in the hands of the public prosecutor! New shock at the Supreme Court for those fleecing the health sector".

    PARON: "30 years hard labour - the trade for 'salvation' through extending [loan repayment]".

    PROTO THEMA (weekly): "No more 'bonus' in the private-sector also. The 'troika' imposes new murderous package of measures".

    REALNEWS: "They are 'cooking up' an ambush! PASOK hoping for good news from Brussels".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Strike with PAME on February 23".

    TO ARTHRO: "A stop to spending by ministers".

    TO VIMA: "Euro...disobedience for Merkel's 'suit' - new shock for supplementary pensions in Greece".

    VRADYNI: "The new taxes you will pay - who will be burdened the most".

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form

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