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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-09-20

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] "Firm With Our Goals"
  • [02] All Possibilities Are Open
  • [03] Counterstatement In Final Stretch
  • [04] Unexpected Change in Weather
  • [05] Changes on Military Service
  • [06] Fierce Criticism to Government
  • [07] Ecumenical Patriarch in Athens
  • [08] Arrest Warrant for Bourboulia
  • [09] CDU/CSU-SPD First Contact
  • [10] Grant to Education Ministry
  • [11] Feeling Lucky?
  • [12] Steps Against Extreme Weather Conditions
  • [13] EFET Fines Businesses

  • [01] Giorgos Alogoskoufis Points Out "Firm With Our Goals"

    20 Sep 2005 16:23:00 (Last updated: 20 Sep 2005 19:41:46)

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Greek Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis gave a Press Conference on Tuesday with regard to the International Monetary Funds recommendations. Mr Alogoskoufis repeated that the government is devoted to the objectives it has set regarding the economy policy. He also pointed out that the IMF is suggesting that immediate measures on the social security issue be taken and that reforms be accelerated. However, he stated that the Greek Economy Ministry "does not favour the likelihood of a sharp adjustment," describing the mild adjustment policy as "conscious." As for the social security issue, the Economy Minister said that although the IMF foresees problems to arise after 2010 due to an increase in aging population, the government is not to take any initiatives within its four-year term. Instead, it will launch a dialogue on the subject. It is noteworthy that the IMF experts embrace the governments efforts towards eliminating the deficit, improving business environment, boosting investments and raising levels of work market flexibility.

    Greek Economy Enjoys Remarkable Growth

    Commenting on the recommendations with regard to the labour market, Mr Alogoskoufis said that the report admits that the market has entered a turning point as instrumental reforms are underway, although the change rate is still slow and more reforms are suggested. However, he said that the government views the issue as finished.

    The report suggests that changes on the way the Public Sector operates be forwarded as well as that "profound reforms on the issue of expenditure management and tax administration be implemented."

    "Growth, job creation and social consensus are the governments prime objectives," repeated Mr Alogoskoufis and claimed that despite the growth stagnation in the Eurozone as well as the increase in oil prices and fiscal adjustment, the growth the Greek economy enjoyed in 2005 was remarkable.

    The report also includes recommendations for accelerating structural reforms, cost cuttings, deflating the Public Sector, improving costs monitoring and applying more powerful measures for the collection of taxes.

    In particular, the suggestions on structural reforms are related to the further liberalising of the market, the need for more privatisations as well as to further cuts in public expenses.

    SYN parliamentarian responsible for the economic and social policy Panagiotis Laphazanis stated, "The countries that applied the IMFs directives offered their people nothing but extreme poverty and hunger," and went on to say, "The implementation of the recent government reforms will make the Greek people pay a similar price."

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    IMF on Greek Economy

    [02] OA Developments at the Focus All Possibilities Are Open

    20 Sep 2005 12:34:00 (Last updated: 20 Sep 2005 21:36:03)

    By Athina Saloustrou

    The latest developments in Olympic Airlines are at the focus of a wide-ranging meeting held at this hour at the Eleftherios Venizelos airport hotel. GSEE (Greek General Confederation of Labour), OSPA (OA Employees Union) and labour centres representatives from the 23 areas where there are airports are taking part in the meeting. In the meantime, one of the two potential OA buyers arrived in Athens a while ago. In a recent interview, Olympic Investors founder Kostas Alexakis reaffirmed his interest in buying out Olympic Airlines despite the penalty imposed by the European Commission, which, as he said, does not affect him in the least, as it was something known for quite some time now. Mr Alexakis stressed he is only interested in Olympic Airlines and assured that all 1800 employees will keep their jobs if he reaches an agreement with the Government. He appeared very optimistic and stressed, speaking of his plans, that he will reinforce the fleet with eight new aircrafts and add new destinations. On the other hand, the Government leaves all possibilities open, as the main aim is to safeguard employees rights. Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said the Public Sector could take part in a joint stock-holding venture if the privatisation process should fail.

    Promises

    In his interview with the Greek-American newspaper Greek News, Mr Alexakis, who speaks for Olympic Investors consortium, reconfirmed his interest in buying OA regardless of the fine imposed by the European Commission, since, as he said, he had been aware of that for a long time. Mr Alexakis pointed out that he is only interested in "Olympic Airlines" and assured that in case a deal with the government is achieved, no job cuts will follow. He also appeared optimistic with regard to a possible agreement, while referring to his plans, he stated that he is planning to buy eight new airliners and add more routes.

    Olympic Investors has won the bid for OAs sale and has signed a non-binding memorandum with the Greek Public Sector. Mr Alexakis repeated Olympic Investors intention to buy OA, however, he did not miss voicing his concerns over the amount of the fine imposed by the European Commission, and expressed his belief that the government will see to that. He also noted that Brussels fine did not take them by surprise, since it had been on the way for a long period of time. In fact, he argued that his company had taken into account its negotiations with the Greek government.

    When questioned whether he will maintain his interest in case OA is subject to liquidation, Mr Alexakis made it clear that OA will keep operating as normally, because if it is liquidated, it will stop being OA, and he stated that his company is not to proceed with the purchase of OAs parts.

    Commenting on his rivals questioning Olympic Investors credibility, he underlined that the 6.5 billion dollars of the York Capital are more that enough to buy Olympic Airlines. He assured that no downsizing will be employed and that the new route to Baltimore will lead to job creation.

    "There Are Scenarios"

    There are scenarios for Olympic Aviation," but Lazard Asset Management House would have to end their contacts first and then we would know what the interested parties are looking for and make all necessary decisions," said Government spokesperson Theodoros Roussopoulos.

    Asked whether the Public Sector would participate in Olympic Aviation, Mr Roussopoulos said the Governments political will was voiced by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, who said OA couldnt continue to operate in its current form.

    Regarding SYN President Alekos Alavanos proposal to form an investigative committee on OA, Mr Roussopoulos said this is a "delicate process and we need to be extremely careful. The Government is in favour of transparency and in favour of listening to all points of view."

    Actually, on Tuesday night in Parliament, Deputy Minister of Transport Anastasios Neratzis repeated the PMs pledge that "no OA employee will be left without a job," during a discussion on KKE MP Antonis Skyllakos question. The Deputy Minister also noted, "Greece adheres to all international norms on flight safety," while, on his part, Mr Skyllakos voiced fears that the privatisation of the company will lead to the compaction of cost on the expense of security.

    Concerns Over Tourism

    The Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agenmcies (HATTA) said it is ready to contribute to the rescue of OA and to participate in its joint stock-holding venture. The Association also sees serious implications on Greek tourism industry looming. The Thessaloniki Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB) voiced the same concerns, as well.

    An announcement signed by TCVB President Vasileios Brovas read that the penalty imposed is feared to result in a heavy upheaval in Greek tourism industry, and that the upward spiral of the first eight months will follow a dwindling course by the end of the year.

    Mr Brovas is of the opinion that alternative tourism is also to be affected, especially congress tourism, since the first thing a congress organiser takes into account is the citys airline connections.

    Thessaloniki does not have a sound airline connection with Europes major centres, despite enjoying an important congress infrastructure. However, it managed to significantly increase the number of international and national congresses to be hosted there during the last four-year period. Both OA and the private airline companies are to be held accountable for that success. As per TCVB, 82% of the tourists visit Greece by plane, while the percentage reaches 100% in the case of an international congress.

    Therefore, Mr Brovas called on the government to settle the issue as soon as possible, since, as he argued, any delay will lead the international congress organisers to other countries.

    [03] "25" Receive Full Document On Wednesday Counterstatement In Final Stretch

    20 Sep 2005 19:49:00 (Last updated: 20 Sep 2005 23:47:43)

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: ANA, NET 105.8, Reuters

    The European joint counterstatement to Turkeys refusal to recognise Cyprus, is headed towards a final approval stage on Wednesday. The full document will be sent to the governments of the "25," which will reply in writing to the British Presidency. Yesterday, the President of the Cypriot Republic, Tassos Papadopoulos, favourably replied to the developments, saying that the three aims, set by Cyprus on the content of the "25" counterstatement, have been fulfilled, estimating that they will remain unaffected in the final document of the EU counterstatement, while today the Greek government saluted the agreement. In an announcement, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mr Koumoutsakos spoke of "A clear European answer, which includes the total of Greece and Cyprus declared aims," and which "constitutes a birth certificate of a de facto recognition of the Cypriot Republic by Turkey, which, at the same time, sets sound foundations for the je dure" recognition." However, if for any reason the official acceptance of the document is not achieved, the issue will be attempted to be finally resolved from the EU FMs Council Meeting, in September 26.

    No Objection Over Main Document

    Regardless of the fact that the European answers content had been agreed on in principle, and was expected to be adopted today without discussion, the Cypriot delegation at the last minute objected on some points, and asked for a last discussion before the final ratification. European diplomats estimate that this delay will be temporary and will be overcome soon. Diplomatic sources stated that Cyprus does not dispute the main terms of the joint counterstatement, but a paragraph in the appendix. The Member-States will pledge, based on the specific paragraph, to not discuss the issues covered in the aforementioned document during the discussions, in the context of accession negotiations.

    Nicosia approved the content of the counterstatement. As Mr Papadopoulos stated, upon his return to Cyprus from New York, the Cypriot three aims were the following: a. To make clear that Turkeys declaration will have no legal effect, b. the implementation of the Protocol on its part could not be affected by its reservations and c. the full implementation of the Protocol by all Member-States, including the Cypriot Republic. Mr Papadopoulos noted that on the issue of the counterstatement, the fulfilment of Cypriot sides positions are not pending; but the objection of the British Presidency, which wants to reconnect the recognition issue together with a solution for the Cypriot issue.

    Greek diplomatic sources in Brussels described the references included in the counterstatement as satisfactory, since it is noted that if Turkey does not respond to its duties, in accordance with the Protocol, this will have consequences on the broader procedure of its accession negotiations with the EU. Furthermore, it is made clear that the EU recognises only the Cypriot Republic, as an entity of international law, while for the first time in a community document the need of Turkeys recognition of Cyprus is stated.

    The developments caused the reaction of Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who accused the EU of adopting a policy, which obstructs the resolution of the Cypriot issue. Mr Talat described the agreements in Coreper as "sad," and said that the reconnection of the recognition with Turkeys accession course in the EU, as well as the lift of restrictions, of Turkey to the Cypriot Republic, unilaterally, "is not a European approach."

    In Coreper on Wednesday, the Ambassadors of the "25" will focus on the context of the discussions with Turkey, the procedures and the main directives which have to be adopted before October 2, whereby the EU FMs will arrive in Luxemburg to officially start accession negotiations with Turkey. The discussion on the negotiation context will not be easy, since France, as well as Austria, are striving for specific references, which leave the event of the non-accession of Turkey open, even if accession negotiations end.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [04] Unexpected Change in Weather

    20 Sep 2005 18:01:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    On Tuesday, the General Secretariat of Civil Protection issued an Emergency Dangerous Weather Conditions Forecast warning citizens, since in the afternoon rain and thunder will occur. The forecast concerns the northern Ionian Islands, Epirus, western Mainland and western Macedonia, while according to EMY rain and strong thunderstorms will occur in Macedonia, Thessaly, and quite possibly in the northern Aegean and Thrace, but the conditions will gradually subside. Relevant bodies and services after being briefed by the General Secretariat of Civil Protection are on full alert.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [05] Military Education is Upgraded Changes on Military Service

    20 Sep 2005 13:37:00

    By Vicky Keleri

    The Government Committee, which held a meeting chaired by the Greek Prime Minister at Maximos Mansion, reached crucial decisions with regard to military service. The Committee decided to free of their military services those you father three children as well as to reduce the military service to nine months for those who have their third child while serving. Furthermore, fathers to one child are to serve six months only. The Committee also approved the draft bill that moves towards upgrading military education, so that military academies can be equal to Universities. After the meeting of the Government Committee, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis met with Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and PPC Chairman Giannis Palaiokrassas.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [06] Focus At Mercantile Marine Fierce Criticism to Government

    20 Sep 2005 17:59:00

    By Vicky Keleri

    Sources: NET, NET 105.8

    Speaking in the PASOK Steerers meeting, George Papandreou made an attack against the government, accusing it of not planning ahead, but just taking measures pressured by interests, while noting that on the other hand PASOK is planning the future for the citizens. Furthermore, Mr Papandreou imputed the government and Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis of a weakness to respond to major foreign policy issues. The meeting of the Steerers discussed mercantile marine and coastal shipping issues, while the PASOK President described Mercantile Marine Minister Manolis Kefalogiannis as an attorney of ship owners. Moreover, the Section Head of Development, Anna Diamantopoulou, spoke of a shipwreck by the Minister, and presented PASOKs perspective "for the states substantial intervention in the Greek island territory with the following main pillars:"

    The strict adherence to regulations and the continuous substantial and strict inspections securing the sail worthy of coastal shipping vessels. The prevention of illegal price rises in tickets and the enactment of cuts, which will be taken up by the state budget, in underprivileged classes. The reorganisation of the network in border routes.

    "Fireworks Don't Solve Problems"

    In an announcement, the Ministry of Mercantile Marine replied to PASOKs criticism and spoke of contradicting statements by the members of the Main Opposition Party, which "proves the complete lack of understanding and their complete confusion."

    "Interests, stock exchange games, monopolies in coastal shipping are occurrences bred by PASOKs policy and its controversial choices, and refer to the life and work of the last 20 years. The problems in coastal shipping are not solved with fireworks, but with specific proposals," the announcement concludes.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [07] Will Meet With Prime Minister Tomorrow Ecumenical Patriarch in Athens

    20 Sep 2005 19:08:00

    By Vicky Keleri

    Sources: NET, NET 105.8

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is in Athens, after the conclusion of his eight-day visit in northern Greece. Earlier today, Mr Bartholomew met with persons with special needs, and gave his blessing to students in the Florina Prefecture. Tonight, he will attend a banquet in his honour hosted by the Minister of Education, Marietta Giannakou. On Wednesday, at 12, Mr Bartholomew will meet with Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis. Following, he will welcome former President of the Republic Kostis Stefanopoulos, while later on he will attend a dinner hosted by the Athens Archbishop, Mr Christodoulos. In closing, in the afternoon in a special ceremony in Panteios University he will be proclaimed honorary Doctor of the Institution.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [08] Arrest Warrant for Bourboulia

    20 Sep 2005 15:11:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    A new arrest warrant against a judiciary worker, involved in the extra-judicial ring, was issued on Tuesday. This time, the warrant concerns former interrogator Konstantina Bourboulia, and was issued after a decision by the Appellate Council, thus ending the dispute between the Appellate interrogator and the Appellate Prosecutor, in relation to the issue or not of the warrant. The warrant is on capital offence charges of abuse of power and legalisation of incomes from illegal activities. The cause of the Appellate Councils decision was the dispute of relevant Prosecutor Panagiotis Nikoloudis and special Appellate interrogator Mr Sideris. Two months ago, the former interrogator was sentenced to three years and ten months on misdemeanours charges, over her handlings in the interrogation of the Stock Exchange scandal in 1999-2001.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [09] Aiming at Forming a Coalition Government CDU/CSU-SPD First Contact

    20 Sep 2005 13:56:00 (Last updated: 20 Sep 2005 21:13:17)

    By Athina Saloustrou

    The Christian Union, which consists of the Christian Democrats and the Christian Social Unions and topped Sundays German elections, the Social Democrats (SDP) and the Free Democrats (FDP) are holding a meeting on Thursday to form a coalition government, reported a CDU source. Head of the Christian Union and President of CDU Angela Merkel announced on Sunday night that CDU/CSU is to proceed with the negotiations with all political parties except the Left Party, to form a coalition government under her lead. On his part, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, after announcing that his party is the real winner of the elections and that he can remain in office, also said on Sunday night that the negotiations are to commence within the week. SPD President Franz Muentefering stated the same in the night of the elections as well. SPD explained that CDU and CSU are two different parties and therefore SPD outvotes CDU. In the meantime, Mr Schroeder stated that he wanted negotiations with other parties "without preset conditions.

    On his part, the President of the Free Democrats (FDP), Guido Westerwelle, rejected any proposal to participate in a government with the Social Democrats (SDP), explaining that there is "nothing to be discussed." "There is nothing to be discussed, it is not the Social Democrats mission to make alliance proposals for government," stated Westerwelle in a Press conference. "There will not be a three colour alliance, which will unite SPD, the Greens and FDP, as this was unanimously decided by the Parliamentary team," he added. FDP, which received 9.8% of the votes in Sundays Parliamentary elections, wants to continue its traditional alliance with the Conservatives of CDU/CSU.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Huge Compromise!

    [10] Of 50 Million Euros Grant to Education Ministry

    20 Sep 2005 19:22:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    An important grant of 50 million euros in total, for the Ministry of Education, was approved on Tuesday. The emergency grant is derived from the budgets funds and will cover the heightened needs of education. As the Ministry of Education announced, 35mn euros will be given to Universities and Technological Education Institutes (TEI) in order to cover standing and operational needs of the institutions, while 15mn euros will be given to cover needs of education in general. The announcement also reads that the emergency grant, which was approved regardless "of the poor financial conditions," proves the governments interest and the importance it gives for the support of education.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [11] He Had Seven Treasures in his Home Feeling Lucky?

    20 Sep 2005 13:47:00

    By Annita Paschalinou

    For parents, children are all that matters in their life. However, in the case of a 55-year-old jobless man from France, his children proved to be a living treasure of 75.88 million euros worth! The man of Tunisian origin won the multi-nation Euro Millions lottery, jotting down his seven children's ages. The 55-year-old bought the winning ticket in "Cafe de l'Arrivee" at Franconville-la-Garenne in Val d'Oise, not far from Paris. He had one of his sons with him, who revealed the family's future plans on public television. "We will try to improve our life, but we will also try and help those in need," he stressed with a big smile on his face. Just for the record, the 55-year-old's seven lucky children are aged 12, 13, 19, 21, 38, 3 and 9. Keep the numbers in mind in case you're feeling lucky and don't have enough children to count for.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [12] Steps Against Extreme Weather Conditions

    20 Sep 2005 14:57:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    The Civil Protection Authority held a meeting on Tuesday chaired by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Civil Protection Authority Secretary General Panagiotis Fourlas, to discuss the management of possible problems to be presented on the national road network in the upcoming winter. The heads of all relevant Directorates responsible for monitoring the maintenance works nationwide also attended the meeting. The best possible coordination of all bodies involved to deal with the snowfall and frost phenomena was the focal point of the meeting. Exiting the meeting, Mr Pavlopoulos stated that there is always room to cover possible omissions so that that the Civil Protection Authority proves more efficient this year.

    Fourlas: "We Are Ready"

    He also said that as of this year, the effort will depend on specialised people and pointed out, "Prevention is the key in the case of natural disasters."

    On his part, Mr Fourlas stated that the Civil Protection Authority as well as all bodies involved are ready and that they aim to organise and equip the Authority so that it can be trusted. "We will stand by every affected Greek citizen. We are getting ready and I believe that we will also achieve good results, as we did last year."

    The meeting will be repeated at the beginning of the upcoming month to monitor the progress of the preparations.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [13] Inspections Continue EFET Fines Businesses

    20 Sep 2005 14:48:00

    By Vicky Keleri

    Sources: ANA, NET 105.8

    The Hellenic Food Control Agency (EFET) imposed 67,000-euro fines to 12 businesses, while following referred them to the relevant Prosecutor. The fines imposed were in the context of materialising precautionary checks by EFET inspectors in the market, in order to conclude if the legislation over the reassurance of hygiene and safety of foodstuffs is followed. Among others, the violators list includes the canteen of Thessaloniki Ippokrateio Hospital, foodstuffs businesses, confectionaries, grill restaurants and super markets. EFET notes that the inspections will continue and calls on businesses to adhere to the legislature.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou


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