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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-09-05

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

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] Reforms Are Key Priority
  • [02] Medicine List Abolished
  • [03] Humans Behind BSE?
  • [04] PASOK Asks for Financing Education
  • [05] Reactions Over Meimarakis' Proposal
  • [06] Curtain Calls For Parliament of Adolescents
  • [07] Dangerous Magic Markers
  • [08] Cable Cars Fall in Tyrol
  • [09] Powerful Blast Rocks Gaza
  • [10] Tax Reduction for Natural Persons
  • [11] China and EU Agreement
  • [12] Denial of Scenarios
  • [13] Relatives Demand Investigative Committee

  • [01] Karamanlis Meets With Sectors of Productions Reforms Are Key Priority

    05 Sep 2005 15:26:00 (Last updated: 05 Sep 2005 22:13:59)

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    On Monday, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis held consecutive meetings in view of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) with the subject of advanced reforms by the government in all areas. After the meeting with the Presidency of the Central Chambers Union of Greece, its President Giorgos Kasimatis appeared optimistic over the course of the economy, while he estimated that the bills voted "are in the right direction." As per Mr Kasimatis, the Union asked the PM for the speeding up of procedures, which he described as a one way street, while he noted that partnerships between public and private sectors should be materialised in time, and for the growth rates to be increased above 3.5%. Moreover, he noted the need of reinforcing exports and the tourist industry. Following, Mr Karamanlis met with the administration of the Panhellenic Confederation of Unions of Agricultural Coops (PASEGES) and discussed the problem of price differences received by the producers, and the price paid by consumers for agricultural products. Then, the Prime Minister discussed with the Presidencies of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities in Greece (KEDKE) and the Union of Prefectural Authorities of Greece (ENAE) the future of Local Governments.

    Optimistic Predictions

    During the meeting with the Presidency of the Greek Chambers Union the need to reinforce small-middle sized business was noted, while Mr Kasimatis estimated " we will have the capability to enjoy an economy which will lack nothing in relation to other European countries," within a year. However, he noted that this year should be one filled with hard work.

    As per sources, the issue of not increasing VAT for small-middle sized companies was also discussed.

    On his part, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said that the government listens to all partners, while its aim is to reduce the deficit and increase economic growth. "We consider that with the initiatives taken that the danger for generalised tax measures will be eliminated. The aim is for the tax decrease to concern natural persons, while it will start by 2007," noted Mr Alogoskoufis.

    Gap in Products is A Problem

    The Ministers of Rural Development and Development attended the meeting with the Presidency of the Panhellenic Confederation of Unions of Agricultural Coops (PASEGES).

    After the end of the meeting, the President of PASEGES, Tzanetos Karamichas, noted that the biggest problem is the low prices received by producers, in relation to the high prices paid by consumers for agricultural products, and added that the imported products is one of the factors of the farmers low income.

    On his part, Mr Basiakos spoke of positive results with the increase in agricultural products exports by 21% the first five months of 2005, and the decrease in imports by 4.7%. Moreover, he added that all the relevant bodies are targeted at the counter of gap in prices.

    On the issue of grants, the Ministry recorded the total amount received by farmers during the last three years, in order for the relevant corrections to be made and for grants to be reinforced.

    "Until the end of the year we will have the final rights of the farmers which will be enforced by the end of 2006 until 2013," said Mr Basiakos.

    Agreement on Local Governments

    Mr Karamanlis and KEDKE Presidency agreed to launch a national dialogue on the reorganisation and modernisation of the Local Governments.

    KEDKE President Paris Koukoulopoulos called the aforementioned agreement positive and pointed out that the centralised state poses obstacles to the countrys prosperity. "The reforms that will follow the dialogue will help the Local Governments to win the European bet," mentioned Athens Mayor Dora Bakogianni, while on the issue of economy, she noted that for the first time the relevant law is put into effect and the municipals revenues are not withheld by the state.

    As per information, the government is to grant the Municipalities with the bond return so that they receive the money they should have received long before.

    Furthermore, KEDKE voiced its objection to the recommended reform with regard to the election of mayors from the first round with 42% of the votes cast and counter-proposed 50% plus one.

    ENAE Presidency also opposed the aforementioned reform as well as the creation of metropolitan municipalities.

    ENAE President Fophi Gennimata underlined that the election of mayors from the first round will turn the municipal elections into an arena of unworthy political alliances. However, Mrs Gennimata described the dialogue on the future of the Local Governments as positive, while ENAEs request that all competences be transferred back to the Prefectures was accepted.

    "The government totally supports the Local Governments," said Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulod, who participated in the meetings, and repeated that the government will realise its pre-electoral pledge regarding the formation of a new electoral system for the municipal and prefectural elections.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [02] Draft Law by Health Ministry Medicine List Abolished

    05 Sep 2005 18:47:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Sources: NET - NET 105.8

    The Draft Law prepared by the Health Ministry introduces radical changes in the pharmaceutical care system. Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said that the law abolishes the medicine list, provides immediate access to all medicines, abolishes the validation of prescriptions and offers easy access to expensive medicines, which are to be administered by private chemist stores as well. According to the recommended reforms, all medicines will be compensated by the social security funds with the exception of those that do not require a prescription and of dietary supplements. The Draft Law was sent to the bodies involved, which are going to submit their remarks within the coming fortnight, so that the reforms can be discussed in Parliament. Mr Kaklamanis noted that the law realises the governments pre-electoral pledge for a modern, transparent and efficient pharmaceutical care system aiming to protect the public health and safeguard the equal access of everyone to pharmaceutical care.

    In the meantime, the possibility of granting medicines free of charge to low pension earners and people suffering from chronic ailments is being examined. Speaking on NET radio station, the Central Council of Health President said that the competent bodies concluded in minimizing or even granting a zero contribution for the purchase of medicines for a large number of ailments and that the opinion will be sent to Mr Kaklamanis within the week.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Free Medicines

    [03] New Case Over Causes in Lancet Journal Humans Behind BSE?

    05 Sep 2005 15:30:00

    By Annita Paschalinou

    The investigations over the causes of mad cow disease shed light to a macabre scenario. A study published in the medical journal "The Lancet" states that it is very likely that the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which struck cows in Europe, descended from feed, a mix of animal and human residues infected by the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The disease came ahead of the spongiform encephalopathy and is related to mad cow disease.

    The Case

    As per Alan Colchester, a Neurology Professor in the University of Kent, the macabre case is as follows.

    The deceased in India and Pakistan are cremated in the context of special ceremonies and their ashes are thrown in a river, usually the Ganges.

    When poor families are unable to cremate their loved ones they simply throw them in the river. Then the bone collectors take over.

    They collect human remains, processing them with animal bones, and following sell them abroad as animal feed.

    Colchester claims that within 10 years, a percentage larger than 1/3 of the animal feed used in Great Britain was been imported from the above countries.

    The British Professor estimates that the animal feed infected by Creutzfeldt-Jakob is behind that mad cow disease, which broke out in Great Britain in 1986.

    Unanswered Questions

    The theory of the British Professor is being faced with skepticism from other scientists that see many unanswered questions. Professor Shankar of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India, states that there is no evidence over human remains infected by Creutzfeldt-Jakob in the Ganges River. If this was the case, he claims that there would be a wide range epidemic in northern India, a fact that has not been reported.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [04] The Political Council Met PASOK Asks for Financing Education

    05 Sep 2005 21:35:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    PASOK leader Giorgos Papandreou announced its partys pledges regarding education at the meeting of the partys Political Council. Mr Papandreou said that the issue of education is of national importance and that it constitutes PASOKs prime priority, while he pledged to offer the 40% of the funds from the 4th Community Support Framework, raise the states revenues in the 5% of the GDP, further enhance compulsory education and establish private universities. The Opposition leader stated that all dead-ends the young encounter should be lifted and that the cost Greek families have to bear should be reduced. Mr Papandreou also mentioned that PASOK wants the children to have a good command of the Greek language, to be fluent in English, to be fully aware of the mathematic practices and to be accustomed to using the Internet. However, the prospect of financing education through private funds sparked objections. PASOK parliamentarian Evagelos Venizelos underlined that the universities should remain public, while Thodoros Pagalos maintained the opposite and suggested that the universities should have a saying in the way students advance to the tertiary education scale. On her part, Milena Apostolaki disagreed with Mr Pagalos and said that the aforementioned suggestion is likely to undermine the credibility of the national level exams.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [05] Over the Lift of Permanency in DEKO Reactions Over Meimarakis' Proposal

    05 Sep 2005 16:16:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: NET, NET 105.8

    ND Secretary Vagelis Meimarakis proposal with regard to the lift of permanency for the newly hired in DEKO (Public Utilities and Enterprises) keeps triggering strong reactions in the political circles. When questioned on the subject, government spokesperson Thodoris Roussopoulos stated that Mr Meimarakis proposal is clear, since he said that the wider public sector enterprises are excluded from ASEPs (Supreme Council for Personnel Selection) proceedings. On his part, DAKE President Kostas Poupakis pointed out that DEKO lacks lawfulness and added, "Thousands of hirings have been made through subsidiaries outside ASEP and outside regulations," resulting in creating two-speed employees. On Monday, PASOK officials opposed the proposal, while the partys responsible for Employment issues Evagelos Venizelos said that it runs contrary to the Constitution. Furthermore, PASOK parliamentarian responsible for Education Andreas Loverdos accused the Government of trying to abolish ASEP and clearing the way for nepotism in the public sector.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Hirings Without Permanency

    [06] Meetings With Papoulias and Karamanlis Curtain Calls For Parliament of Adolescents

    05 Sep 2005 16:21:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    In the presence of Greeces political leadership, the proceedings of the 10th Meeting of the Parliament of Adolescents were completed in a special meeting of Parliaments Plenary Session. "Your presence and your uncompromised thoughts breathed life, youth and freshness," said the Speaker of Parliament Anna Psarouda-Benaki when addressing the adolescent MPs. "Your opinions voice the pace of our times and as soon as we study them through the minutes, we will single out those useful to our work," added the Speaker. The suggestions, concerns as well as the passion of the 350 adolescent MPs from Greece, Cyprus and abroad, particularly impressed the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister. Major issues, including education, unemployment, economy, foreign affairs, drugs, as well as the problems of the farmers and the Greek expatriates were at the focus of the adolescents speeches. They also voiced severe criticism over the role the Mass Media.

    Meetings With the Political Leadership

    "I am impressed by your passion, participation and concerns. You were all great," said the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias to the representatives of the adolescent MPs, who visited him in the Presidential Mansion.

    Mr Papoulias underlined the adolescents concerns as to whether their suggestions will be taken into consideration by the state.

    Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis also said that the adolescent MPs made quite an impression on him during his meeting with their representatives at his office in Parliament.

    "I paid attention to everything you said. It does not matter whether I agree or disagree or whether I deem some as realistic and feasible and that some require more time. All that matters is that I am impressed by the quality of your thoughts and suggestions that were voiced not only this year but the previous years as well. Involvement is what matters most. Being indifferent leads to stagnation," noted the PM.

    "We will take into consideration some of the realistic proposals. I am of the opinion that the Parliament of Adolescents is a very successful institution that can be further evolved. My optimism rests with the fact that the young think, criticise and they propose," concluded the Prime Minister.


    "We are ready to fight for our utopia," said Argolidas adolescent MP Eva Kazakou. Kazakou proposed that the school crease being a place for religious indoctrination, that freedom of religious be established and that teachers be assessed.

    Ioannis Arvanitis referred to the countrys national affairs. He spoke of expansionist policy on the part of FYROM, existing danger coming from Turkey and concluded that Greeces policy should be, "We claim everything that we conquered with blood."

    Tax evasion, unemployment and eradicating inflation by boosting productivity were the issues that topped Dimitris Enislidis speech. Enislidis suggested that the employees in the countrys remote places should be granted a premium and that checks in the tourism enterprises should be intensified.

    Apostolia Koutsimani from the Prefecture of Magnesia urged the state to prove that it will take into account the suggestions of the adolescent MPs.

    Iraklis Milakis from Herakleion, Crete lashed out at the role of the Mass Media and spoke of disinformation.

    "The scaremongering generated by the Mass Media, the idea of star system favoured by the reality shows and the perception of easy fortune-making are like drugs for the young," he pointed out and asked a student channel be produced so that the young can be informed correctly.

    Evagelia Polymerou from the Prefecture of Fthiotida also criticised the Mass Media, but her approach was different. She made reference to the connection between the issue of terrorism and the Mass Media by mentioning her personal story.

    As she said, her father lost his eye in a terrorist attack launched by ELA, a radical leftist terrorist group.

    Some of the Mass Media did not only handle the issue of the terrorists correctly, but they tried to lay the blame elsewhere. "But, who is going to give my father convincing answers?" she wondered.

    Malvina Maria-Georgiou from the Prefecture of Thesprotia referred to the problem of transplants and to the organ donor shortage and accused the state and the society of idleness. Special reference was made to the politicians who are organ donors, including ex President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, and added, "They paved the way, we have to turn it into an avenue."

    Maria Beroukas who mentioned the problems that Greeks living in Albania face moved the audience. "We want to have rights and not only obligations. We request negotiations with Albania so that we are granted double citizenship. We deserve this recognition. Being foreigners in our country hurts. Being singled out in Albania does not bother us. But being singled out in Greece really hurts," she said.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [07] Contained Chemical Substance Dangerous Magic Markers

    05 Sep 2005 16:01:00

    By Vicky Keleri

    Chinese magic markers entitled Gel Pens are recalled and their sale and distribution banned after a decision by the General Secretariat for the Consumer. The product was considered unsafe as the gel ink it contained diethyleneglycol, a dangerous substance that should not be swallowed. The case surfaced after a complaint to Justice Authorities filed by the parents of a child that swallowed the dangerous ink and underwent stomache washing.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [08] At Least Nine Dead While Helicopter Was Involved Cable Cars Fall in Tyrol

    05 Sep 2005 16:22:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    Nine people were killed when two cable cars fell on a mountainside in Soelden, in the Austrian Alps, in the province of Tyrol. A Police spokesperson stated that details over the accident have been made known, but a helicopter seems to be involved. A Red Cross spokesperson stated that around ten people have been injured in the accident, which took place near a busy ski resort. Austrian network ORF stated that the helicopter was carrying construction materials to the top of the mountain for the cable car station, when cement block accidentally dropped on the cable cars and resulted in the fall of at least one of them. The local Civil Protection Authority announced that the victims were tourists, while rescue crews rushed to the scene.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [09] The Causes of the Blast Are Unknown Powerful Blast Rocks Gaza

    05 Sep 2005 21:22:00

    By Betty Savourdou

    Sources: Reuters - AFP

    The powerful blast that occurred on Monday night in the Shujaiya district claimed the lives of four people and wounded further 25, including women and children, while three houses were destroyed. The causes of the blast have not yet been specified, however, the Palestinian security forces reported that the blast occurred in a neighbourhood that is populated by Hamas militants. On his part, the Israeli army spokesperson said that Israel was not involved in the blast.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [10] As of 2007 Tax Reduction for Natural Persons

    05 Sep 2005 17:14:00 (Last updated: 05 Sep 2005 21:33:10)

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    The next wave of tax reductions regarding the natural persons only is to commence as of 2007, announced Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis exiting his meeting with the Prime Minister and the Central Union of Chambers of Greece (KEEE). When questioned about the possible further rise in VAT, Mr Alogoskoufis noted, "The danger of indiscriminate tax measures has worn out," thanks to the governments initiatives. Finally, he underlined that the government is paying attention to all social partners, since it wishes its reforms to be to the benefit of the society as a whole. He also added that irrespective of the fact that Greeces economic growth is doing way too better than the rest of Europe, the government remains dedicated to its objective, namely the elimination of deficits, for it is a process that requires continuous boosting. Meanwhile, in his memorandum to the PM and the political leaders, Athens Champer of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) President Drakoulis Fountoukakos highlighted the crucial situation in 2006 economy planning, while he praised the governments reforms. Commenting on the Ministers statements, SYN parliamentarian responsible for economic policy Panagiotis Laphazanis stated that he clears the way for the implementation of new tax measures even within 2005.

    "More Deciding Steps Are Needed"

    In his memorandum, Mr Fountoukakos pointed out that EBEA thinks that the recommended reforms have been delayed and requested more deciding steps be taken in 2006, before the country enters the electoral campaign.

    In a Press Conference that was triggered by his memorandum, Mr Fountoukakos underscored that the delays undermine productivity and stressed that the reforms should be immediately put into effect and enjoy the backing of the Opposition parties, for they relate to the countys future.

    EBEA President also spoke of immediate actions towards tax reductions, introduction of flexible and alternative forms of employment, lift of the permanency in DEKO, connecting productivity and salary and placing the countrys industry to the international market.

    According to EBEAs estimations, the optimistic scenario regarding the inflation will not come true, while the upward spiral of the oil prices spreads more concerns.

    On his part, Mr Laphasanis described the fact that the government is adopting the extreme neo-liberal proposals of the EBEA as worrying and predicted that 2006 will be a year of harsh and partial austerity and demolition of social structures.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Reforms Are Key Priority

    [11] Awaiting Ratification By EU China and EU Agreement

    05 Sep 2005 13:38:00

    By Vicky Keleri

    Sources: BBC, Reuters

    The discussions on textile products ended in an agreement between China and the European Union, as EU spokesperson Francoise Le Bail announced. She stated that the details on the agreement, which awaits ratification by the 25 European leaders, will be announced during the next hours, however she stated that it is fair and the two sides will share the weight of the added imports in 2005. As per Le Bail, the negotiations in relation to how the products will be released as soon as possible are still underway. However, there are questions over how the agreement will be accepted, since many countries that own large textile industries, such as Fance, Italy and Spain oppose the increase of imports from China. On his part, British PM Tony Blair, on a visit in China, appeared "reservedly optimistic" over reaching a solution, which he described of "vital importance."

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [12] Over DEKO Integration in Transport Dept. Denial of Scenarios

    05 Sep 2005 15:02:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    Transport Minister Michalis Liapis stated that there is no thought of integrating Public Utilities and Enterprises (DEKO) into one, while he described relevant Press articles as inaccurate. The Organisations will continue holding their autonomous administrative character as independent DEKO, noted Mr Liapis, explaining that a single body will be created which will steer all of their transport actions. The Minister once again repeated that the social and public character of transport will be retained, which constitute a social operation, should be affordable and for the service of the citizen, thus their funding will continue. Mr Liapis made these statements replying to a relevant question during his trip to Thessaloniki where he inaugurated the first OSE train route from Athens to Thessaloniki in 4 hours and 15 minutes.

    New Routes

    The decrease of time was achieved by the improvement of traffic control, while new modern trains with 224 seats, air conditioned carriages of high standards with a speed of 200km/h were routed. The new routes depart Athens at 07:50 and arrive in Thessaloniki at 12:05, while they depart Thessaloniki at 07:22 and arrive in Athens at 11:37.

    Upon arriving in Thessaloniki, the Transport Minister stated that OSE continuously upgrades its services and with interventions and investments in modern trains, railroads are becoming more competitive in relation to other means of transport, since they offer faster, economical and safer transport to the passengers.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [13] Of the Air Tragedy Victims Relatives Demand Investigative Committee

    05 Sep 2005 14:33:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    The relatives of the victims of the air tragedy in Grammatiko insist on the immediate forming of an investigative committee, and at the same time object to the discussion of the issue of the Transport Committee in the Cypriot Parliament. On his part, the President of the Cypriot Committee stated that relatives are not satisfied by President Tassos Papadopoulos statement over forming an investigative committee later on, and demands that criminal examiners take on the case without delay. Mr Kyprianou said that the delay could lead to the loss of evidence, and the change of intentions to whoever holds evidence and announced that the relatives will gather outside Parliament to express their opposition to a discussion in the Transport Committee in order to avoid political discussions.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

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