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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-05-28

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

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Battle for European Constitution
  • [02] OTE Unionists Divided
  • [03] Reactions Against Rubbish Tip
  • [04] Blinded by Love
  • [05] Energy Crossroads
  • [06] New Secretary for SYN
  • [07] Electronic Cheating
  • [08] Kofi Annan in Sudan
  • [09] Saudi Monarch in Hospital
  • [10] Fruitless Nuclear Conference
  • [11] Hotels for the Four-Legged!

  • [01] Shortly before the referendum in France Battle for European Constitution

    28 May 2005 21:27:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    The moment of truth for the European Constitution is approaching. In a few hours, 42,000,000 French citizens are called to go to the polls to decide on the future of Europe, while already in French Guyana, Martinique and Guadeloupe the voting has begun and all of Europe is waiting for the result with bated breath. The polls open at 8am local time and close at 8pm, while in Paris and Lyon the voting will end at 10pm. While it seems unlikely that the "no" vote, leading with 51% to 56% in opinion polls, will be defeated, and the negative stance of the French is not backing down, undecided voters will perhaps have the last word. What, however, are the factors driving the French away fro the "yes" vote and what are the possible consequences of a defeat of the Constitution?

    Concern over Enlargement

    The Constitutional Treaty of Europe has been discussed at length in France and its articles have frequently been the subject of analysis and have caused political clashes.

    The French "no" initially appears to have its roots in the dissatisfaction with the Chirac government, and especially the way it has handled the matters of immigration, the economy and unemployment, which reaches a historic record of 10%. The French President attempted to change this with his last televised speech, in which he called on voters not to link the referendum with domestic French affairs and not to use it as a method of condemning the government.

    At the same time, the French appear to be concerned that the European Constitution legalizes liberal economic policy and moves Europe towards the Anglo-Saxon economy model, concurrently restricting the influence of their country in future developments.

    Another point pushing the French towards the "no" vote is the future accession of Turkey to the European Union. In fact, this possibility was the main topic on the recent election campaign. Especially the right-wing opponents of the Chirac government took enormous advantage of the situation, despite the fact that accession negotiations with Ankara are not dependent on the referendum.

    The Next Day

    Whatever the reasons might be for a French rejection of the European Constitution, the question remains for the next day for the Chirac government and the whole of Europe.

    The supporters of the Treaty stress that after a French "no", the EU will enter a cycle of inward-looking policies, with national interests put above those of Europe, decision making made difficult and Enlargement frozen. In fact, analysts do not rule out the formation of a nucleus of states who will attempt European fulfillment, leaving behind Euro-skeptics.

    Domestically, the rejection of the European Constitution will bring the Chirac government closer to a reshuffle. The Press and politicians in the country are wondering who the next PM will be, as this will affect the policy followed by Mr Chirac during the last two years of his term in office.

    Furthermore, significant developments are also expected in the ranks of the Socialist Party, whose National Council is meeting on Monday morning. Opposition within the party may call for an emergency meeting.

    On the other hand, if the French should vote "yes", the European Constitution and the Chirac government will have survived a major test. Supporters of the Constitution state that the EU will emerge stronger against the model of the liberal economy and that the euro will be strengthened.

    In any case, if the "no" vote should finally win, there is still a possibility that the referendum may be repeated. This happened with the "no" vote from Denmark to the Maastricht Treaty and the Irish refusal to ratify the Nice Treaty: successive referenda were held until the desired result was achieved. Of course, a repeat referendum could enrage the French and alienate them further from the European Constitution.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    Related News:

    Moments of Anxiety in France

    [02] Tension in meeting on voluntary redundancy OTE Unionists Divided

    28 May 2005 18:51:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Fierce clashes in the trade union movement continue to arise with the administration-workers agreement on voluntary redundancy and the abolition of permanent positions within OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications). Tensions rose during the second day of the meeting of the OME OTE trade union in Thessaloniki, where many differing opinions were voiced. Trade unionists who support the Left expressed their strong opposition to the agreement, while the Chairman of GSEE Christos Polyzogopoulos did not rule out the possibility of expelling members who turn to PASKE and signed. For their part, PASKE accused Mr Polyzogopoulos of double standards, claiming that he was informed about the agreement. The developments in OTE also received comment from the Minister of Tourism Dimitris Avramopoulos, the deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos and the president of SYN Alekos Alavanos.

    Differing Opinions

    The agreement on voluntary redundancy was the main bone of contention on Saturday in the annual meeting of OME OTE. The question of whether the trade union leaders should have proceeded with the agreement was the subject of intense discussions, and the meeting also saw tension and verbal attacks.

    In any case, on Friday evening, the trade unions voted 156 in favour and 44 against for the agreement on voluntary redundancy and the abolition of permanent positions, as well as an annual collective work contract.

    "The government is dealing responsibly with these matters, guided by its social sensitivity," stressed Mr Avramopoulos, while the deputy Foreign Minister described the agreement as "an innovative process."

    Concern as to who would pay the cost of voluntary redundancy was expressed by Mr Venizelos, who stated the view that neither the taxpayer nor IKA should pay, while Mr Alavanos spoke of "a great political scandal and a crime against worker relations, the public sector and insurance funds."

    Translated by Millie Williams

    Related News:

    Various Reactions Over OTE Agreement

    [03] Citizens of Western Attica angered Reactions Against Rubbish Tip

    28 May 2005 18:19:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Fierce reactions have come from the residents of Western Attica against the Ministry of Public Works and the Environments intention to transport treated effluents from Psytalleia to Ano Liosia refuse dump and the Mousama quarry in Petroupoli. On Saturday, the Prefecture Council of Western Attica convened over the matter, while on Friday evening, in the Municipal Council of Ano Liosia, a number of eggs were thrown by enraged citizens against the mayor, Nikos Papadimas and the municipal councillors. The Prefecture Council unanimously condemned the pending commencement of transport of treated effluents, as Prefect Aristeidis Arkoudaris stressed, "the residents of Western Attica have the same rights as everyone else," and the sites proposed by the Ministry are very close to residential areas.

    The mobilisation will start on Monday, when the residents and a committee chaired by Mr Arkoudaris will blockade the Ministry building and seek to arrange a meeting with Mr Souflias, while there is also a possibility of lodging a complaint with the European Court.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [04] Research into Viagra side-effects Blinded by Love

    28 May 2005 17:22:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    The Viagra pill against male impotency is under the microscope of the American Food and Drug Administration. The reason for the investigation is that there are at least 50 cases of blindness in men taking the "magical" blue pill. For their part, manufacturing company Pfizer deny that there is any evidence indicating that Viagra could cause blindness. However, they stated that the possibility of writing the side-effects on packaging labels is under discussion, although they speak of rare eye condition. The American Food and Drug Administration is conducting a thorough investigation into the case, although thus far no evidence has shown a connection between blindness and the blue pill, which is taken by at least twenty three million men around the world.

    Thorough Research

    The type of blindness is medically known as non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), and mainly appears in men who suffer from diabetes or heart problems.

    The American Food and Drug Administration is carefully investigating the matter, while in a statement they said that there is currently no evidence linking the disease to Viagra. This was also stressed by the manufacturing company, saying "there is no proof that the condition appears to a greater extent among Viagra users in comparison with other men of the same age and health condition."

    At the same time, according to the American authorities, checks are being made on the products of another company, a rival of Pfizer, to discover if there are similar cases of blindness.

    Viagra, which currently receives the lions share in the international market, with 68%, was first launched in 1998, as a wonder-pill against male impotency.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [05] Karamanlis-Sioufas meet at Maximos Mansion Energy Crossroads

    28 May 2005 15:06:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Energy issues, related to oil and natural gas were at the focal point of Saturday mornings meeting between the Prime Minister, the Minister for Development Dimitris Sioufas, the Chairman of Hellenic Petroleum, Efthimios Christodoulou and the Chairman of the Public Natural Gas Company, Rafail Moisis. As he came out of Maximos Mansion, Mr Sioufas described Greece as "an energy crossroads for Europe" and clarified that he had briefed Mr Karamanlis on the developments in the energy sector, with regard to the inauguration of the natural gas pipeline between Greece and Turkey, which is to take place in Alexandroupoli at the end of July, as well as the pending agreement on the submarine link for the pipe between Greece and Italy.

    Important Agreements with Turkey and Italy

    As the Minister of Development stated, at the beginning of July, the connection of the natural gas pipeline between Burgas and Alexandroupoli will be inaugurated by Mr Karamanlis and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Alexandroupoli.

    Concurrently, the process of talks between Greece and Italy regarding the submarine natural gas pipeline, the "energy Egnatia Motorway" which is under construction in Northern Greece and Epirus, are proceeding at a rapid pace. In the meeting today, those assembled discussed the Support Protocol to be signed by the two countries for the construction of the pipeline, which Mr Sioufas stressed upgrades the geographic significance of Greece in the energy sector.

    Finally, the meeting was also concerned with the development programme planned by Hellenic Petroleum in the fuel sector.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    Related News:

    Natural Gas Discussed at Maximos Mansion

    [06] Nikos Hountis New Secretary for SYN

    28 May 2005 13:07:00

    By Annita Paschalinou

    With 76 votes in favour, 10 blank and one invalid, Nikos Hountis has been elected by the Central Committee of Synaspismos as the first secretary in the history of the party. Earlier, opening the meeting, the president of SYN, Alekos Alavanos accused the government and PASOK of politics against the people, while he reiterated his partys position of "no" to the European Constitution. Speaking on government policy, Mr Alavanos said that there was an attack on workers, pensioners and wide social strata, who are adversely affected by government measures. "The continuing privatization of sectors and businesses in the public sector as well as the continuous undermining of the public nature of Education and Health threaten the quality of life of the vast majority of Greek citizens," noted the president of SYN. PASOK was also not to escape the criticism of Mr Alavanos. He accused it of making "generalized condemnations with no punch," and that it consciously supports government choices. Finally, he announced that SYN is starting a financial opening into the Media, believing "the modern Left needs frequency and picture," aiming to raise 400,000 euros.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [07] Three people arrested Electronic Cheating

    28 May 2005 16:34:00 (Last updated: 28 May 2005 19:26:37)

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Sources: ANA, NET 105.8

    Three people will appear before the Public Prosecutor; one schoolpupil and two university students, for attempting to give out the answers to questions on the maths exam in the Panhellenic examinations. As announced by the Chief of Attica Police, Brigadier Stefanos Skotis, at 07:45, the Principal of Vouliagmenis Lyceum noticed that there was a 30 metre cable carefully laid outside the school, which began at the central entrance and ended in bushes in the yard. He immediately informed the police, and an investigation showed that two university students, aged 24 and 20, intended to give the answers to questions to a pupil in the third year of the Lyceum. In any case, the questions on the maths paper are described as particularly demanding. Candidates studying the theoretical option of subjects had difficulty solving them, while pupils from science and technology options had greater experience in this type of exercise and were better prepared.

    Plan Hits the Rocks

    According to the police, the young people had laid the cable during the night. It was to have operated as an aerial to receive the signal. The signal would have been sent to a wireless camera inside a pen which the 19-year-old school pupil had about his person.

    The camera was to have recorded the questions onto a computer, which had been connected by the other two at the end of the aerial cable in the bushes. They would then have sent him the answers via mobile telephone, to be heard via an earpiece. However, the plan failed, as the 19-year-old pupil left the camera-pen in his car.

    The arrestees confessed that they had also sent the answers via mobile phone in this way during the Biology Exam. In their possession the police found a laptop computer, the wireless camera-pen, three mobile telephones, a television receiver for a computer, an aerial receiver, an aerial battery and the cable, all of which have been confiscated.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [08] Visit to refugee camp Kofi Annan in Sudan

    28 May 2005 19:33:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was enthusiastically received on Saturday at Kalma in the Sudan, where he is on a three-day visit. Mr Annan saw for himself the miserable living conditions for the approximately 120,000 refugees from Darfur province, while their representatives informed him that violations of human rights continue unabated. In his statements, the Secretary General mentioned the humanitarian work by the United Nations in the region and condemned actions of pro-government Arab civilian militias in Darfur. The latter are to blame for the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of about two million. As part of his visit to the Sudan, Mr Annan held talks with the Foreign Minister of the country, Mustafa Osman Ismail, and stressed the need for peace in the region in order for the refugees to be able to return. Finally, on Friday, he participated in a donors conference for the African Union forces to be sent to the Sudan.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [09] Conflicting information on his health Saudi Monarch in Hospital

    28 May 2005 16:13:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Sources: Reuters, BBC

    Saudi Arabias oldest monarch, King Fahd is undergoing medical examinations after being admitted to a Riyadh hospital on Friday evening. Information regarding his condition is unclear and often conflicting. Initially, medical sources stated that the King had pneumonia and a high fever and described his condition as very serious, while later on the countrys news agency, SPA, reported that he was well and that medical examinations were proceeding normally, with no further details offered. Moreover, the palace appealed for prayers to be said for his recovery, although later on Crown Prince Abdullah confirmed that the king is in good health. At the same time, the Saudi Interior Ministry denied reports that the country was in a state of emergency.

    Difficult Hour at the Palace

    At the hospital where the monarch is being treated, under draconian security measures, princes and members of the royal family from various points in Saudi Arabia are coming to visit.

    Opposition sources in London, cited by the BBC, report that if the monarch should die then there are likely to be clashes between the heirs over who seizes power.

    King Fahd suffered a heart attack in 1995 and since then the daily affairs of the worlds largest oil-exporting country have been handled by Prince Abdullah.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [10] Disappointment at the UN Fruitless Nuclear Conference

    28 May 2005 15:46:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    On Friday evening, the conference in the Plenary Session of the UN in New York concluded at a dead-end. Under discussion was the alteration of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), especially with regard to means of hindering the spread of nuclear weapons. The participants were unable to reach an agreement in three Committees that represent the three pillars of the NPT, which are disarmament, guarantees on national nuclear programmes and peaceful use of nuclear energy. "Fruitless" was the description given to the results of the conference by the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohammad El Baradei, while disappointment was expressed by the Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan. This failure comes at a very bad moment in the battle against the spread of nuclear weapons, as international concerns are continually increasing over the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programmes and the activities of the international network of nuclear smugglers.

    Deep Sorrow at the UN

    "After one month, the conference has ended where it began, with a system full of gaps, weakened and without a road map for it to be replaced," claimed Mr Baradei. At the same time, he asked the leaders of member states to make immediate pledges, while he noted that none of the five nuclear member states of the NPT (China, United States, France, Britain, Russia) had sent their Foreign Ministers to the conference.

    The Secretary General of the UN spoke of "an opportunity of vital importance" that had been lost, warning that the inability of member states to agree would weaken the NPT.

    Furthermore, Mr Annan noted that in the Summit Meeting in September, with more than 170 heads of state and governments participating, there would be another attempt to reach an agreement, and he called on leaders to "seize this opportunity in order to undertake bold commitments and face pressing challenges."

    As analysts observe, after the lack of agreement, the NPT is in danger of becoming redundant. North Korea left the Treaty in 2003 and declares that it has already built nuclear weapons, while since the end of 2004, Germany, France and Britain have been trying to ensure guarantees from Iran to the effect that it will not build an atomic bomb.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [11] In Italy Hotels for the Four-Legged!

    28 May 2005 13:35:00

    By Annita Paschalinou

    Sources: Reuters

    Do you want to go on vacation but have no place to leave your cat or dog? There is no need to worry anymore! The Italians, which have published a travel guide that includes hotels and restaurants that offer services for your four-legged friends, have given a solution to the dilemma faced by thousands of people and tourists. In the guide, which is entitled "In Italy with Dogs and Cats," the traveler can choose among 1,000 hotels, inns and 222 restaurants that offer pet-friendly services.

    Pet Menus and Services

    This is the third edition of the guide since 2001.

    This is the first year that it includes restaurants as well.

    According to Ornella Pavone, the guides editor, the aim is for the tragic phenomenon of abandoned animals, which in Italy reach 150,000 dogs and 200,000 cats yearly, due to people going on holidays, to stop. She states that she is quite satisfied by the interest of the hoteliers that seem to understand the advantages of pet-friendly services.

    An example is the Podere Terreno Country Inn, in the heart of Tuscany, which has been given "four-paw prints" (four stars!) as it has veterinary services on a 24-hour basis, excellent quality home-cooked food for dogs, in a farm which is situated near the inn.

    She calls on the Italians to vacation with their pets, since in most cases it will not burden them with extra expenses. She states that in most hotels pet accommodation is free.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou


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