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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-04-06

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] Monaco's Prince Rainier Passed Away
  • [02] To the Commission for Approval
  • [03] LAFKA in Lump Sum with Interest
  • [04] Google Expands
  • [05] Response Submitted to the Commission
  • [06] Work Stoppage for Trolley Buses
  • [07] Reassurances Over Honey
  • [08] Iraq's New Presidential Council

  • [01] At the Age of 81 Monaco's Prince Rainier Passed Away

    06 Apr 2005 09:45:00 (Last updated: 06 Apr 2005 12:06:16)

    By Tina Valaoura

    Monacos Prince Rainier III lost the battle with death. Rainier was being hospitalized in the ICU since the beginning of last month, with serious lung, heart and kidney problems. As per the Principalitys official sources, the 81-year-old Prince died at 6:35am (local time). His successor will be his son, 47-year-old Prince Albert, who assumed the responsibilities of head of state a week ago, as any hopes of his fathers health improving had dwindled away.

    Longest-reigning European Monarch

    Prince Rainier III faced frequent health problems. He had undergone an open-heart surgery, as well as operations for an aneurysm in the aorta and partial removal of his lung. He was admitted into hospital on 7 March with severe respiratory and cardiac problems, while his health deteriorated on 22 March. His son, Prince Albert, was by his side up until his final moments.

    Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand had ruled the Principality of Monaco since 1949, when he succeeded his grandfather, Prince Louis II. He was the longest-reigning European Monarch and the second longest-reigning Monarch in the world, following King Adulyadej of Thailand.

    Rainier was born on 31 May 1923. He studied Political Science at the Universities of Montpellier and Paris. He served in the French Army in 1944-45 as a Lieutenant and later as a Colonel. In 1948, he founded Monacos Red Cross.

    In 1956 he attracted international interest when he married Hollywood diva Grace Kelly. He was responsible for expanding the Principalitys economy, converting the smallest state in the world, following the Vatican, from a gambling city to a tax haven for millionaires.

    During his reign, new chapters were added to the history of the Grimaldi dynasty and the curse it has been plagued with over the last seven centuries. In 1982, Grace Kelly was killed in a tragic car accident, a loss that cost Rainier dearly, leaving him a widower with three children: Caroline, Albert and Stephanie.

    His two daughters have frequently been in the limelight because of their failed relationships.

    Prince Albert, a bon viveur and a playboy, is known for his passion for sports. He dreamt of a career in football, participated in the Paris-Dakar rally, while he has a black belt in judo. Furthermore, he has represented his country four times in the Winter Olympic Games in bobsledding.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related News:

    Concern Over Rainier's Health

    [02] Updated Programme for Economy To the Commission for Approval

    06 Apr 2005 08:38:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: ANA - NET

    The Commission is called upon to pass judgment on the updated Stability and Growth Programme of the Greek Economy for the period 2004-2007, today in Brussels. The European Commissions expected positive assessment to the Economy Ministers Council will signal the defusing of pressures exerted on Greece, as the governments actions aiming towards fiscal equilibrium will have been considered sufficient, at least for now. During a discussion in Parliament about the fiscal bill, Giorgos Alogoskoufis repeated that the Government "is following a programme of mild, but unwavering fiscal adjustment," while the described the situation with the Economy as a minefield inherited from the PASOK government. "The governments predictions regarding the reduction of the deficits will not be fulfilled," declared PASOK, while the left-wing parties used harsh tongue concerning the political increase in taxes.

    Dispute in Parliament over Economic Measures

    The recent economic measures implemented by the Greek Government were at the focus of discussions during yesterdays session in Parliament, prompting a new round of disputes.

    PASOKs MPs described the economic situation as worst than that of the period 1990-93, while KKE and SYN distanced themselves from the two major parties and described the Oppositions criticisms as manifestations of political hypocrisy.

    Specifically, PASOKs rapporteur Mr Makrypidis said, "Todays populist right-wing government is worst than Mistotakis neo-liberal government," while he spoke of a reduction of the employees real income. He further noted, "The increase in VAT will undoubtedly lead small businesses to tax evasion in order to meet their financial needs."

    "The increase in VAT is a class-based measure, but it also has a past: Yesterday and the day before that. The two major parties coincide in their class-based choices for reinforcing profiteering of larger corporations, since indirect taxation affects poorer families," stressed KKEs MP Mr Aggelos Tzekis.

    "The view that we are increasing VAT to cover the deficits demonstrates preparations for corresponding measures in the futures," declared SYNs rapporteur Giannis Dragasakis.

    "We are not happy that we had to resort to these tax measures. However, we chose the sectors that would have the least possible impact on growth and society in general, responded Mr Alogoskoufis. Furthermore, referring to the 1% increase in VAT, he admitted, "This is the very first time that Nikos Christodoulakis was proven right, since we was well aware of the real situation with the Economy back then."

    Mr Christodoulakis reacted immediately saying that Mr Alogoskoufis "was proven wrong, just as he was regarding the rise in growth rate, as well as other issues, while he keeps multiplying the dead ends for Greek Economy."

    In the meantime, as per Deputy Economy Minister Adam Regouzas, a significant 11.4% increase was recorded in the public debts for March, compared to the corresponding month last year. Mr Regouzas went on to express his optimism for achieving the 2005 budget targets. Specifically, tax revenues increased by 7.8%, customs revenues by 18.6% and VAT revenues have also increased. As a result, the increase in revenues for the first quarter will amount to 5.3%, as opposed to the 7.2% target set by the budget on annual basis.

    Assessment for the Stability Programme

    In the meantime, today in Brussels, the Commission will be assessing the updated Stability and Growth Programme of the Greek Economy and will then pass on the baton to the Economy Ministers Council, which will review the matter on 12 April. The European Commission is expected to approve the programme, as it believes that "at the moment no added steps for the excessive deficit are necessary," as far as Greece is concerned.

    It should be noted that in its assessment, the Commission did not take into account the scenario that provides for an increase in the Greek GDP by 2.9% in 2005, and 3% in 2006 and 2007, as well as the recent tax measures, which it considers as having averted the deficit from increasing to 4.5% in 2005 and 4.4% in 2006.

    The Commission will propose to the Council to address a series of recommendations to Greece, while the countrys compliance to these will be reviewed in the relevant report that will be submitted by Athens in October.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [03] According to Court of Auditors LAFKA in Lump Sum with Interest

    06 Apr 2005 12:39:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    Sources: NET 105.8, NET

    An important development came today in the case of LAFKA (supplementary pension contributions) retrospective payments, as the decision by the judge of the Court of Auditors has leaked. Deputy Commissioner of State Ioannis Sbirounias proposes that the State pay all that is owed from LAFKA, retrospectively, in a lump sum and with interest to retired military officer Nikolaos Papaioannou. However, just this recommendation by the Deputy Commissioner of State, which rules in favour of the retired brigadier, creates a new precedent in the LAFKA case, and is considered especially significant in legal circles, as the recommendation will establish the decision according to judicial practice and will constitute a reference point for retrospective payments with interest to be made to all those in the same situation, estimated to be about 900,000 pensioners. At the same time, there is already a political decision on the payments.

    The Political Decision

    The Prime Minister himself announced that the retrospective payments would be made to all the pensioners in six-monthly installments. For IKA pensioners, the retrospective payments go back 5 years from the date the case was filed and 3 years for the Public Sector. The decision by the Court of Auditors for the retired brigadier will be released in 15 days, and according to the code of practice, it is expected to concur with the recommendation.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [04] Video search soon to be available Google Expands

    06 Apr 2005 11:55:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: Reuters, BBC

    It is already the largest search engine on the Internet. However, it would seem that this is not enough for Google. In a few days, apart from webpages and pictures, on Google users will be able to search for video too. The new service was announced by one of the founders of the company, Larry Page, at an annual cable television conference in San Francisco. Already since January, through Google Video, users have been able to see pictures from television programmes on American networks Fox News, NBA and PBS. Until now, however, users have simply been able to see a "frozen image" from a programme and read a caption. However, it wont be long before the video search engine becomes a reality, and Google will allow users to upload their own videos. However, as Mr Page stresses, there is some concern, mainly over the type of video users will upload. "Its hard to predict what will happen, but we will figure out ways to make it work," stressed Larry Page. According to a Press spokesman for the company, over the next few days, more information about the service will be made available.

    Get to Work!

    "Were always looking for ways to expand partnerships," Google co-founder Sergey Brin said. Google already works with major companies, as they provide them not only with a search engine, but also television networks. In fact, in the US, an agreement has been reached with Current, a new network to which it provides statistics on users favourite pages, based on Google searches.

    Furthermore, Google has shown a great deal of interest in blogging. In fact, in 2003, it bought the popular blog site,, while video blogging (vlogging) is also on the cards.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [05] For the Main Shareholder Response Submitted to the Commission

    06 Apr 2005 10:06:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    Sources: NET 105.8

    Barring any unforeseen circumstances, today, the Greek Government will be submitting to the competent EU committee the response for the main shareholder. According to sources, the letter contains two parts. In the first part, the Government provides clarifications on Article 14 of the Greek Constitution, concerning transparency. It also refers to the political decision made by the national delegation, since both major parties had ratified the change in the Constitutions Act. The second part asks the European Commission to provide specific explanations regarding its objections on the main shareholder issue.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [06] Work Stoppage for Trolley Buses

    06 Apr 2005 07:22:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Employees working on trolley buses will proceed with a 4-hou work stoppage today from 11am to 3pm. All trolley buses will not operate, while at the same time, ILPAP (Athens-Piraeus Area Trolley Buses) employees will participate in a general meeting.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [07] Controls Continue Reassurances Over Honey

    05 Apr 2005 22:17:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Informing the competent Parliamentary Committee, the Ministry of Development urged consumers to eat Greek honey fearlessly. At the same time, the ministry also reassured that controls will continue, while all quantities of honey to be detected containing more than 10mg of paradichlorobenzolium, will be withdrawn. "We were mobilised immediately, with responsibility and always aiming at consumers protection" stressed Minister Dimitris Sioufas, clarifying that the Government had already taken measures before the issue was publicised by former EFET president Nikos Katsaros. Mr Sioufas also spoke of "excessive wrangling" and "unjustified panic," while he called the geotechnical employees of the Ministry of Rural Development not to proceed with a strike, as they have already announced. PASOK Parliamentarians accused the Government of incompetence, absence and neglect, which exposed producers, consumers and public health in danger.

    PASOK Asks Assumption of Responsibilities

    Tension escalated when the Opposition asked the Ministry of Development to assume their political responsibilities and accused them of neglect, lack of coordination and non opportune information of consumers, both for the suitability of Greek honey and the problem that arose with yogurts.

    What is more, PASOK parliamentarians asked the government to immediately take an initiative and restore the credibility and reputation of Greek products abroad, because Spain and Turkey, exporting the same products, are eager to step in our shoes.

    Referring to the issue of yogurts, the deputy minister of Development Giannis Papathanasiou rejected the causes of the Opposition for political responsibilities, underlining that EFET is responsible for not informing the Ministry on time, a reason which caused the removal of its entire Board.

    At the same time, Mr Papathanasiou stressed that if "FAGE" has proceeded with violations, then all statutory penalties will be imposed.

    Controls Continue

    In the meantime, on Tuesday, certain batches of honey were withdrawn for super market shelves, while all brands continue to be checked.

    In a meeting held between Greek honey-producers and Mr Papathanasiou, the first reassured that despite all this fuss Greek honey continues to be the best of the market. At the same time, honey producers announced they will press charges against former EFET president Nikos Katsaros for his handlings.

    FGI (Federation of Greek Industries) Vice President and President of the Federation of Greek Food Industries Dimitris Daskalopoulos reassured that the quality of products produced by the food industry is checked on a daily basis by industries themselves and has significantly improved over the last years.

    As for the scientific community, it continues to be reassuring over the matter, underlining that it has not been proved that paradichlorobenzolium is harmful for humans.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Related News:

    Nutritional Alarm

    [08] After a Week of Deliberations Iraq's New Presidential Council

    06 Apr 2005 10:49:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    Sources: ANA

    Today, following a week of deliberations, the Iraqi Parliament will appoint the countrys new President and two Vice-Presidents, paving the way for the formation of the new Government. According to sources of the major political coalitions, the new President of Iraq will be veteran Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, while Shiite Adel Abdul Mahdi and Sunni Ghazi Yawar will be appointed as Vice-Presidents. The Shiite Islamic Alliance, which won the 30 January elections, and the Kurdish Coalition, which came second, had been locked in discussions concerning the formation of a new Government for the last two months. Their main disagreement concerned which Sunni politician was to be appointed as one of the two Vice-Presidents. The issue was resolved yesterday and the countrys former President, Ghazi Yawar was selected. The new presidential council is expected to appoint Islamic Shiite leader Ibrahim Jaafari as Prime Minister.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

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