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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-12-16

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

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] New British Proposal
  • [02] Hard Bargain
  • [03] US Bill on Torture Ban
  • [04] Flight Attendants on Strike
  • [05] Tragedy in Chinese Hospital

  • [01] Over EU Budget New British Proposal

    16 Dec 2005 10:35:00 (Last updated: 16 Dec 2005 13:26:53)

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    As of today morning, in Brussels, the 25 European leaders are making an ultimate effort to reach an agreement on the EU Budget for the period 2007-2013. After yesterdays negotiation deadlock, EU President Tony Blair held a round of separate meetings this morning with the heads of the 25 Member-States, in order to reach a compromise. At 12:00, Tony Blair will present a new improved proposal on the Community Budget, hoping he would have reached an acceptable solution earlier with mutual compromises from the Member-States that have raised objections on the already existing plan. However, the British Prime Minister stressed negotiations are tough and there is not much room for manoeuvre.

    Reserved Optimism

    At the same time, the British Prime Minister stressed the need of a common basis for an agreement; otherwise there is no reason to submit a new proposal, the third in two weeks.

    Despite negotiating difficulties, Tony Blair did not hide his optimism over finding a solution. Asked whether there is room for such a thing, he said he can see the basis of an agreement.

    British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw moved on the same wavelength and voiced his hope there would be a satisfactory result today, admitting however there are difficulties, as not all want to defend their national interests.

    Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso appeared equally optimistic and referring to the new British Presidency proposal, he stressed it "will surely be more ambitious."

    However, he addressed an appeal to the European leaders, especially to the British EU Presidency, to show responsibility and reach an agreement on the EU Budget for 2007-2013.

    On her part, new German Chancellor Angela Merkel was rather optimistic, while indirectly commenting Jack Straw's statements, she noted it is only natural for every country to be primarily concerned over its national interests.

    Berlin is the EU's main sponsor with an annual budget contribution that rises to 20%.

    Yesterday, the 25 presented their proposals with a brief introduction, also voicing their will for a compromise, but the discussion simply helped recording the disputes.

    Indicative of the Summit's climate is the Swedish Prime Minister's statement, who said there is a 50-50 chance the European leaders would finally shake hands.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Read the story on other sources:

    BBC: Hard bargaining over EU impasse

    Le Monde:Tony Blair fera une nouvelle proposition a 11 heures

    Related News:

    Hard Bargain

    Fight Over EU Budget

    [02] At the EU Summit in Brussels Hard Bargain

    15 Dec 2005 22:41:00

    By Anna Kourti

    Sources: ANA, NET AFP

    The credibility and cohesion of the European Union are at stake at the Summit on the EU 2007-2013 budget held in Brussels. The official dinner given by the UK Presidency late on Thursday night ended with all sides sticking to their stances and getting ready to fight a hard battle on day two of the Summit. "The objective of the UK Presidency is the Summit to conclude tomorrow night whether a deal is brokered or not. This is what Mr Blair said," pointed out Spanish Minister responsible for information issues Fernando Morelada. The UK Presidency is isolated despite the new proposal, which provides for a moderate increase and a CAP review, while France, which plays a leading part in the dispute with the British side, has expressed its straightforward objections to the abolition of the farm subsidies. Germanys stance remains a riddle, while Poland threatens to exercise its veto right. "We are convinced that a deal is quite feasible and we hope this will be the case on Friday. Total funds should reflect our vision of the EU. Given the total amount of the available funds, the UK-led proposal is restricting. A deal should be built upon a satisfactory solution on the cohesion and agricultural growth funds," stated Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis. Spanish Prime Minister Jos&#233; Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and French President Jacques Chirac met and agreed on reviewing the rebate to Britain. However, the leaders of the parties which belong to the European Peoples Party, the largest party in the European Parliament, issued a joint resolution, requesting a deal on the EU 2007-2013 budget be achieved. "The EU has entered a deep crisis following the negative results of the referendums held in France and the Netherlands on the European Constitutional Treaty, and a new failure would strike a heavy blow against the EUs credibility," underlined Wilfried Martens European Peoples Party (EPP) President.

    Uncertain Outcome

    Upon his arrival at the Ministers Council, British Premier foresaw that the talks on the EU budget will be "very tough" with the result "very much in the balance." As per diplomatic sources, French President Jacques Chirac met with Tony Blair and underlined that a deal should be built on a lasting cut in the UK rebate. The French President reiterated his stance in his meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Premier Jos&#233; Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

    Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, whose country is to take over the EU Presidency as of 1 January 2006, voiced his conviction that the EU leaders are directed at brokering a deal on the EU budget, while Swedens Prime Minister G&#246;ran Persson tried to play down the likelihood of a new failure.

    On his part, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on the UK presidency to present a new 2007-2013 budget proposal for the bloc with further cuts in the British rebate offering more funds to the new Member-States. "The funds to be given to the new EU Member-States for the 2007-2013 period are of keynote importance," concluded Mr Rasmussen.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [03] Bush Said "Yes" US Bill on Torture Ban

    16 Dec 2005 09:07:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    After consecutive scandals on the abuse of prisoners suspected of participation in terrorist attacks, which has afflicted the USAs image, US President George Bush announced his support to the Bill promoted by Senator John McCain, which bans inhuman treatment of terror suspects. For some months now, the Bill promoted as part of budget reforms for military expenditure, constitutes the object of negotiations between the White House and the Congress, as the White House insisted legislation would significantly limit military and secret services. However, when both the Senate and the House of Representatives voted in favour of the Bill to restore the USAs international prestige, Bush did not have much room for manoeuvre, although international analysts speak of "a major blow to the Presidential prestige."

    McCain: Weapon in the War Against Terrorism

    The Bill is also a blow on Vice President Dick Cheney's prestige, as he had called all Republican Senators asking them not to support it.

    One of the White House's main arguments was that this measure would allow prisoners to sue interrogators and prison staff. However, both the Senate and the House of Representatives (the two Congressional bodies), controlled by the Republicans, disagreed. This important agreement was announced during a common Bush-McCain Press Conference, but the US President avoided to directly refer to the Bill. However, speaking about the Arizona Senator, he said, "We've been happy to work with him to achieve a common objective - and that is to make it clear to the world that this government does not torture, and that we adhere to the International Convention of Torture whether it be here at home or abroad."

    "We have sent a message to the world that the US is not like the terrorists," said Senator McCain, once a prisoner of war who was tortured in Vietnam, and estimated the Bill would help in the war against terrorism.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Read the story on other sources:

    CNN: McCain, Bush agree on torture ban

    BBC: White House backs torture ban law

    Reuters: White House, McCain in deal on torture measure

    Sky News: Bush Accepts Torture Ban

    [04] Flights Performed as Per Normal Flight Attendants on Strike

    16 Dec 2005 08:32:00

    Sources: NET, NET Radio 105.8

    As of today Olympic Airlines temporary flight attendants are going on strike, demanding to change their working status into permanent. The company's administration decided to open negotiation talks with the Transport Ministry leadership, aiming to find a commonly acceptable solution. As per an announcement, flights will be performed as per normal throughout the discussion period.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [05] 39 Patients Died to the Fire Tragedy in Chinese Hospital

    16 Dec 2005 07:50:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: Reuters, ANA

    At least 39 people lost their lives in China to a fire that broke on Thursday at a hospital, northeast of the country. Many were those that jumped off the windows of the four-storey building to escape, but lost their lives instead. Authorities voiced fears the number of victims could increase, as 70 more patients are still missing. For five hours, fire-fighters were battling their way through the fire, which according to first estimations broke out in the electric generator room. Rescue crews removed 152 patients from the hospital, of which 15 succumbed to their wounds while being transferred to other hospitals.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

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