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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-06-28

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

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] Long Dialogue
  • [02] Heated Arguments in Parliament
  • [03] Love Is in the West!
  • [04] Complete Decoupling
  • [05] On Public Administration
  • [06] Permanent Status by End of Year
  • [07] Local Government Employees on Strike
  • [08] Tension in Holy Sepulchre Exarchate
  • [09] Clean Energy for Ever
  • [10] Contacts for Coalition in Bulgaria
  • [11] EFET Impounds Spices

  • [01] Over Social Security Long Dialogue

    28 Jun 2005 15:12:00 (Last updated: 28 Jun 2005 19:17:36)

    By Betty Savourdou

    The minister of Economy asked all bodies to take part in an unconditional dialogue over social security in order to see the actual dimensions of the problem and come up with a jointly acceptable solution. With regard to bank employees pension problem, Giorgos Alogoskoufis repeated that the Government is dealing with it, without burdening IKA or the Public Sector. The Government Spokesperson moved on the same wavelength stressing, "We didnt conceal that dialogue is starting, we simply said there is no social security issue now," adding that the Government is following a policy with strategic goals, providing for the problem, even if it should occur after ten or fifteen years. Opposition parties voiced their reaction, while IKA employees sounded the alert over IKAs viability if special funds will be integrated. In particular, they stressed that the total cost from the integration of funds rises to 13.5 billion euros for the main and supplementary pension.

    IKA-Public Sector Not Burdened

    As per Mr Alogoskoufis, there would be a general issue of social security, as the Reppas law has many flaws and has in essence transferred the entire IKA funding cost to the Public Sector and the budget.

    Showing the magnitude of the problem in an interview he gave on Tuesday, the Minister of Economy revealed facts and figures according to which, the social security system deficit is expected to rise from 4.1% of the GDP in 2005 to 8.3% in 2030 and 13.8% in 2050.

    We should proceed with social dialogue immediately and face all problems, said Mr Alogoskoufis, noting that the system cannot be changed from redistributing to capitalising.

    However, the Economy Minister stressed there is a problem and mentioned the fact that based on the current regime, an employee is awarded with an regular salary for the 35 years of his working life, while for another 20 years after becoming a pensioner, he receives 80% of the salary he was paid as an employee.

    What is more, the Minister repeated that all government commitments stand to the full, that age limits will not increase, nor pensions will decrease, clarifying that "starting social dialogue is one thing and changing the regime is another."

    Mr Alogoskoufis also repeated that the government's regulation will deal with the problem of bank employees' pensions, without transferring the cost to IKA or the Public Sector, because banks will pay for the entire cost.

    Especially referring to the Commercial Bank, Mr Alogoskoufis noted that its actuarial deficit rises to 1.5 billion euros, while its own capitals to 1.2 billion euros and further added that if its social security problem is not solved, then it will have to declare bankruptcy.

    With regard to the problems caused by bank strikes, the Minister said a legislative regulation will be promoted to solve these problems.

    "We Are Not Concealing the Problem"

    "We are starting a new dialogue with all social partners and parties, without any time pressure or any other kind of pressure, aiming at finding converging views after having recorded the problems, stated T. Roussopoulos on Tuesday.

    "We will either conceal the problem, like PASOK governments have done in the past, or we will lay it on the table and discuss it in the best possible way," he underlined.

    Answering a relevant question, Mr Roussopoulos clarified that all pre-electoral promises stand to the full and there is no issue of increasing age limits or tax contributions.

    We don't wish to deal with the problem hastily, stressed Mr Roussopoulos, while he also implied the problem may have been solved in the following three years.

    "Social Dialogue is a Trap"

    In a PASOK Steering Committee meeting today, it was stressed that PASOK will not be defined by others, nor by Evert, Manos and Dragasakis' amendments, as George Papandreou has already stressed since the beginning of June that banks should pay the cost and not tax payers.

    In an announcement, KKE stressed its flat opposition to the social security dialogue, urging workers at the same time not to consent to government policies.

    In particular, KKE supports that "reference to social dialogue regarding social security is a trap for employees," because "behind the so-called dialogue lies an attack to level social security rights" and "Alogoskoufis' statements confirm that workers are facing a collective attack against the total of social security and labour rights."

    "With the banks' social security amendment," concludes KKE, "the Government relieves banks from obligations that worth billions of euros, abolishes bank employees rights and burdens IKA with new costs."

    SYN estimated that the new regulation is trying to hide the perspective of bank privatisations.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [02] During the Discussion for Public Administration Heated Arguments in Parliament

    28 Jun 2005 21:30:00

    By Annita Paschalinou

    Sources: NET - NA

    The discussion among political leaders over Pubic Administration in Greek Parliament this afternoon fired up. The PM declared determined to proceed with all the necessary reforms in an effort to put an end to the mentality of protectorates, the lack of organisation and the incidents of corruption and vested interests. "Greece is not and will not get stuck in the past," he stressed, while he accused PASOK of barren denial and reaction towards changes. PASOKs President, who spoke next, accused the Government of imposing party politics on the State and taking care of its own. "Your party fell in Public Administration as if they were starved," he noted, while he added, "It is a shame. You came into office to supposedly practice meritocracy, but you are doing exactly the opposite."

    Wave of Changes

    "We received a State full of accumulated problems, party politics, bureaucracy and corruption," stressed the PM, while he appeared determined for changes, since "the future of Greece cannot be determined by the club of the privileged." The PM also accused PASOK of confusion, inconsistency and lack of proposals concerning changes, while he referred in detail to the measures taken by the Government for Public Administration.

    The new statutes being drawn up include the reviewing of the employees code, the bill for immigration policy, which is in Parliament, and the commencement of discussions with ADEDY (Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants Trade Unions) for the salary scale of public sector employees and the matter of heavy and health-hazardous occupations.

    "The changes have commenced, are continuing and will not stop," stressed the PM, while he added, "We are moving ahead with steady steps, towards a State envisioned by all citizens."

    Administrative Coup

    George Papandreou accused the Government of imposing party politics on the State and taking care of its own.

    He spoke of an "administrative coup" in Public Administration, with the removal of 25,000 of its employees and of party clearances in the Armed Forces, since just in the Air Force, more people were demobilised in a year than over the last four years, while 500 retired officers, even back from 1982, were brought back to service.

    Meanwhile, he described the high readiness reserves as praetorian forces, while he mentioned that the Government could not hire doctors in hospital, but hired 1,200 rural policemen, who are just party members wasting time in villages.

    With regard to the appointment of judges, Mr Papandreou warned that if the Government is dreaming of a new 1989, it better forget about it.

    Concerning the major suppliers of Greece, he said that the Government keeps assigning major works and supplies to the same ones, naming Messrs Bobolas and Kokkalis and reminding that ND had slandered people and parties with lawsuits.

    PASOKs President also launched a severe attack against the Government formation.

    "Mr Karamanlis, I am looking at you Government, all fifty of you God bless you, and I am wondering where is the small, versatile formation you talked about?" said George Papandreou.

    The Cogs of the State Machine

    KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga described Public Administration as a State machine, while she called on all public sector employees to stop being its cogs. She was in favour of 1300 euros as the lowest wage and pensions at 80% of the final salary, while she also supported the immediate lump-sum payment of back-pays and equal, free services for all public and private sector employees, and freelancers.

    Restructuring of State Falls into the Void

    "The restructuring of the State will not happen and we will all have to forget it," stressed SYN's President Alekos Alavanos, noting that the PM correctly did not include in his speech the phrase, " Governments come and go, but our State stays." He further added that instead of shrinking, the State is becoming more complicated and thriftless.

    SYN's President agreed that party politics are involved at the top and the foundations of Public Administration, while he noted that the social state is becoming languid, while at the same time, it is being stripped of public property, as is the case with OPAP, which is being handed over to private investors.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [03] Survey in Attica Basin Love Is in the West!

    28 Jun 2005 19:05:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    A survey conducted in the Attica Basin by the Company for the Study of Human Sexuality comes to crash the age-old myth that "love is blind", since, as per the results, the standard of living and the education level of a prospective partner seem to significantly affect sexual behaviour. According to the phone calls received by the Company, people living in the western suburbs and football fans are stuck on love, while a few kilometres to the north of Athens, in the areas that are considered more posh, the men and women seem to want other things. It is also interesting that most of the calls were placed by men, which demonstrates that the matter of sex is perceived differently by the two sexes, as well as the fact that women stick to the stereotype that ones sexual life is not open for discussion.

    Honey, I'm Going Shopping

    The subject of sex seems to be more popular in the western suburbs.

    According to the results of survey, which was conducted on a sample of 2,752 people living in the Attica Basin, 42% of the people who called lived in the western suburbs, as opposed to only 15% living in the northern suburbs.

    As per the companys chairman, Kostas Konstantinidis, the northerners consider power, money and consumer goods as great aphrodisiacs, while the excuse to avoid sex is not the traditional headache, but shopping sprees!

    Finally, 82% of the calls were placed by men, while only a few women (18%) called to show interest on the partners. So, it seems that women still consider sex taboo, since none of them talked about themselves.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [04] From Grants on Smoke, Oil, Cereals Complete Decoupling

    28 Jun 2005 13:09:00 (Last updated: 28 Jun 2005 22:00:13)

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    The Cabinet, presided by the Prime Minister, convened on Tuesday to decide on Greeces final positions regarding the new Common Agricultural Policy, which will be implemented as of 2006. During the meeting, Cabinet members decided upon the complete decoupling for smoke, oil and cereals, while they rejected the scenario of partial coupling for some crops as unprofitable for Greece and farmers. As Minister of Rural Development and Food Evangelos Basiakos stated, the overwhelming majority of farmers unions and political parties are in favour of complete decoupling. Other EU Member-States have made similar decisions, thus ensuring a common negotiation position when the EU reopens the issue of Common Agricultural Policy.

    After the end of the meeting, Mr Basiakos clarified that crop seeds are excluded from complete decoupling so as to ensure the total of Community funds in the following years.

    The Minister of Rural Development also mentioned there is a withholding percentage of 10% according to each product, which will be granted for the preservation of quality standards in production so as to reinforce competitiveness in Greek agriculture and establish its future.

    As a result, for most products, farmers will receive the average of previous grants in the form of cheques and the sum will remain the same until 2013.

    What is more, a significant part will be given to farmers for the preservation of quality standards in cultivation.

    It Was Decided in Particular:

    Olive Oil: complete decoupling (100%) and the grants will result from the production average of the four-year period 1999-2003 Arable Crops: grants will result from the average of the three-year period Cattle, Sheep and Goats: grants will result from the average of the three-year period Smoke: decoupling rises to 100% Cotton: there is a special regulation providing for partial coupling by 35%.


    "Although a bit late, the Minister has announced what has been PASOKs stance, ie the complete decoupling of funds for production. [] Although a bit late, he realised what it is that secures Community funds and protects the income of Greek framers," was mentioned in PASOKs announcement, which also asked Mr Basiakos to publicise the individual rights of producers.

    In an announcement on the issue, KKE speaks of agricultural production shrinkage that will surely worsen farmers' lives and urges all farmers to react and "not give in to the temptation of grants," while it also describes the new Common Agricultural Policy as "disastrous."

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [05] Discussion among Political Leaders On Public Administration

    28 Jun 2005 18:01:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Following PASOK President George Papandreous initiative, the Governments policies on the area of Public Administration are at the focus of a discussion among political leaders in Parliament this afternoon. The issues of social security, which started being discussed yesterday in Parliament, as well as the government policies on the wider public sector, are also expected to be raised during the session. In his letter to the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Papandreou spoke of the "siege" of Public Administration, while the Oppositions stance was discussed on Monday in a meeting between Mr Papandreou and his partys Political Council.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related News:

    Citizens' Interests Undermined

    Public Administration on the Agenda

    [06] One in Two Will Become Permanent Permanent Status by End of Year

    28 Jun 2005 19:09:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: 105.8, NA

    According to the targets set by ASEP (Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection), the procedure of converting contract workers to permanent employees, as per the Pavlopoulos Decree, will be completed by the end of the year. During a Press conference today, ASEPs President Giorgos Veis announced that up until today, 2,247 agencies have sent 56,627 applications to ASEP. The first reviewing of the applications filed by 27,085 contract workers in 845 public sector agencies has been completed, while final decisions have been made for 6,273 contract workers in 346 agencies. As per the results so far, only 50% of the applicants fulfil the necessary conditions. At the same time, according to Mr Veis, the results for the appointment of teaching personnel will be made public around mid-July, beginning with schoolteachers, kindergarten teachers, literature teachers and mathematicians. Meanwhile, Mr Veis announced that candidates for the ASEP exams would be able to submit their applications through the post as of 1 July, using special envelopes, which cost 3 euros each.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related Links:


    [07] Nationwide 24-Hour Strike Local Government Employees on Strike

    28 Jun 2005 16:28:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Municipal and provincial employees have called a 24-hour nationwide strike for tomorrow 29 June, asserting their institutional and financial demands. The Panhellenic Federation of Workers Associations of the Local Government (POE-OTA) has also scheduled a rally at their offices on Karaiskaki Square at 10:30am, while they will then march towards the Interior Ministry. According to POE-OTAs announcement, the Federation has decided to go on strike, "thus voicing their reaction to the governments policies, which aim at overturning the current labour and social security regime, as well as their discontent over the non-fulfilment of their financial, institutional and social demands, including extending IKAs Heavy and Health-Hazardous Occupations Regulation to Local Government employees."

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related Links:


    [08] Arguments and Negotiations Tension in Holy Sepulchre Exarchate

    28 Jun 2005 13:19:00 (Last updated: 28 Jun 2005 21:05:59)

    By Vicky Keleri

    The delegate of the Jerusalem Patriarchates suffragan, Archbishop Gerason Theofanis, and the former Holy Sepulchre Exarch, Archimandrite Theoktistos, filed lawsuits against each other, at the advise of their attorneys. It all started when Archbishop Gerason, who had been sent by the suffragan, Metropolitan Bishop Kornilios of Petra, arrived in Athens to assume his new duties, but Archimandrite Theoktistos did not allow him entry. The current Exarch, Theoktistos, refuses to withdraw from his position claiming that a commissioned Exarch, appointed by the suffragan, cannot take up his duties. Actually, members of the clergy siding with Eirinaios are in the building and called the police for protection. Upon finding the door locked, Gerason called a locksmith, while the new legal representative of the Patriarchate, Alexandros Lykourezos, also arrived at the scene. Frangiskos Ragousis, attorney of former Patriarch Eirinaios arrived at the Holy Sepulchre Exarchate a little while later. Archbishop Gerason and Archimandrite Theoklitos visited the Acropolis Police station, where the Patriarchate delegate filed a lawsuit against the former Exarch, as the latter refused to give up the Holy Sepulchre Exarchate. At the same time, the former Exarch filed a lawsuit for violation of entry to the Exarchate, which is now guarded by police.

    [09] A Star on Earth Clean Energy for Ever

    28 Jun 2005 12:17:00 (Last updated: 28 Jun 2005 14:37:25)

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: Reuters, ITER, BBC

    On Tuesday, the ministers of the six countries forming the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) consortium reached a historic agreement, assigning France the construction of an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, which will pave the way to producing clean and inexhaustible energy. ITER is aiming at building an international thermonuclear experimental reactor that will harness the same energy that heats the sun to generate electricity. The decision for ITERs construction assignment was reached in a meeting behind closed doors in Moscow with the participation of the six countries forming the consortium: Japan, the USA, South Korea, Russia, China and the European Union. The importance of this experiments success is extremely high, as nuclear fusion produces no greenhouse gas emissions and only low levels of radioactive waste.

    This programme signals the beginning of an international scientific cooperation, while it is estimated that it will create 100,000 new job openings. The cost rises to 10 billion euros, making it the most expensive joint scientific programme after the International Space Station (ISS).

    The six members participating in the programme have voiced different views regarding the site of the reactor, as Japan, the USA and South Korea preferred Rokkasho in north Japan, while the other three members pointed Cadarache, southern France, as the most suitable site.

    "This is a great success for France, for Europe and for all of the partners in the ITER," French President Jacques Chirac said in a statement issued by his office minutes after the announcement in Moscow.

    "The international community will now be able to take on an unprecedented scientific and technological challenge, which opens great hopes for providing humanity with an energy that has no impact on the environment and is practically inexhaustible," he said.

    Japan earlier withdrew its bid, after a deal was worked out for the "runner-up" to receive a generous concessions package. According to the package, Japan will get 20% of the project's 200 research posts while providing only 10% of the expenses.

    A Star on Earth

    Nuclear fusion is considered a much more "clean" solution to nuclear fission and fossil fuels.

    Scientists describe the ITER project as building a star on Earth, referring to the huge amounts of energy produced. It will be the first fusion device to produce thermal energy at the level of conventional electricity-producing power stations, and will pave the way for the first prototype commercial power station.

    In a fusion reactor, energy is produced when lighter atoms, ie hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium, are fused together to form heavier atoms.

    To achieve controlled fusion reactions on Earth, as an energy source, it is necessary to heat a gas to temperatures exceeding 100 million Celsius - many times hotter than the centre of the Sun. The technical requirements to do this, which scientists have spent decades developing, are immense. But the rewards, if ITER can be made to work successfully, are extremely attractive.

    Even though the venture is difficult, benefits will be huge as inexhaustible energy will be produced by water that will not pollute the atmosphere. One kilogram of fusion fuel would produce the same amount of energy as 10,000,000 kg of fossil fuel.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [10] Coalition with Centre-Right Ruled Out Contacts for Coalition in Bulgaria

    28 Jun 2005 16:45:00 (Last updated: 28 Jun 2005 22:10:56)

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    The Bulgarian Socialist Party, which won the elections on Saturday, but did not acquire the majority in Parliament, is seeking partners to form a new Government. According to their announcement, the Socialist Party ruled out the possibility of a coalition with the centre-right wing and especially ex-king and outgoing PM Simeon Saxe-Coburgs National Movement. The negotiations are expected to be long and tough, since the leaders of the three centre-right political parties entering Parliament announced that they would not be supporting the Socialist Partys Government, nor would they be participating in negotiations for a coalition. As per the Socialists, the main subject of the negotiations would be the coordination of a political formula, which would constitute the foundations of a future government coalition. Furthermore, the matter of the new PM, who would probably be Sergei Stanishev, leader of the Socialists and former Minister, will be discussed following the resolution of the first issue, ie. the formation of a coalition.

    Official Results

    According to the final results announced by the central electoral committee, the Bulgarian Socialist Party received 34.17% (82 seats), followed by the National Movement with 22.08% (53 seats) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms with 14.17% (34 seats).

    The Attack party came in fourth with 8.75% (21 seats), followed by the Union for Democratic Forces with 8.33% (20 seats), the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria with 7.08% (17 seats) and the Bulgarian National Union with 5.42% (13 seats).

    The voter turnout reached 66.62%.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [11] Containing Hazardous Dye EFET Impounds Spices

    28 Jun 2005 18:27:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: NET 105.8

    Greeces Food Authority (EFET) impounded spices owned by the company Jotis AEVE, as they contained Sudan-1 dye. EFET was informed via the EUs Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) that the spices in question, under the name "Captains Mix" for hamburgers, which come in a 100gr plastic sachet, or a 40gr glass bottle, contained the specific hazardous dye. After a sample check, EFET impounded all similar products. The alarm was sounded by the European Commission. Initially, and following EFETs request, the company informed the Authority in writing that the products in which the dye was detected were only distributed to Hungary, while none of them entered the Greek market.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related Links:


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