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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-02-22

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Stability Programme Approved
  • [02] Final Decision Due Next Week
  • [03] Greek President Returns from Ioannina
  • [04] French Justice Favours Papantoniou
  • [05] Bakoyannis-Iakovou Meeting
  • [06] Major Public Works in Thessaloniki
  • [07] New Tension in Iraq
  • [08] EU Bans Mercury
  • [09] SE European Economy Ministers' Summit
  • [10] Following the Same Economic Policy
  • [11] Olympiacos Starts off on Right Foot
  • [12] Aris Won the Derby
  • [13] Denationalising Banks and DEPA

  • [01] Stability Programme Approved

    22 Feb 2006 15:54:00 (Last updated: 22 Feb 2006 17:15:18)

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: - 105.8-ANA

    The European Commission report hailed Greeces efforts to curb deficit under 3% of the GDP as positive and underlined that this goal could be feasible without taking any additional measures. The report also acknowledged all efforts made so far by the Greek authorities, while it noted that the stability programme presented by the Greek Government is to yield long-term benefits. Greek Economy Minister Georgios Alogoskoufis expressed his satisfaction over the European Commissions positive report and pointed out that the European Commissions assessment gave a boost to the efforts made by the Government to achieve the necessary fiscal purgation. Furthermore, he pledged to implement the Budget, so that the deficit falls under 3%, adding that fiscal adjustment, high growth rates and decline in unemployment, are the Ministrys main objectives.

    Keep up with the Measures

    The European Commission also noted that the goal of fiscal adjustment is feasible even if the securitizations of the Public Sectors overdue debts will not be taken into account, while it acknowledged that the temporary measures amounting to 0.6% of the GDP have been considered.

    However, the report underlined the need to speed up reforms regarding the pension system, so that "Greece can avoid the rise in public spending to pay pensions in the future."

    Despite the positive report, the European Commission is asking Greece to:

    continue implementing the necessary permanent measures aimed to fix the excessive deficit by 2006 the latest, boost efforts to control other factors apart from borrowing that affect the amount of deficit, and control spending on pensions by applying the already decided reforms regarding the pension system.

    The Greek Economys stability programme will be assessed by the Economy Ministers Council scheduled to meet in Brussels on March 13.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [02] New Deadline for Bourboulia Final Decision Due Next Week

    22 Feb 2006 14:03:00 (Last updated: 22 Feb 2006 22:02:38)

    By Anna Kourti

    Sources:

    Former Greek Examiner Konstantina Bourboulia received a new deadline by the Paris Appellate Court regarding her extradition to Greece. The Paris court is due to take its final decision on March 1. Former Examiner said, "I will not stand a fair trial in Greece," denying bribery accusations, as well as her involvement in the extrajudicial ring. Mrs Bourboulias defence line was a straightforward attack against the Greek State. On his part, the French Prosecutor wondered how is it that an Examiner had 14 different bank accounts in both Greek and Swiss banks. The Prosecutor also argued that all objective evidence has been collected so that she is extradited to Greece as soon as possible.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [03] After Concluding his Official Visit Greek President Returns from Ioannina

    22 Feb 2006 18:20:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: ANA

    At noon on Wednesday, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias, inaugurated the Stavros Niarchos Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Unit in Ioannina. The clinic forms part of the Ioannina University Hospital and was built with a grant donated by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Other facilities of the hospital that were built with grants donated by the same Foundation are the short-term residential facility for relatives of patients and the International Centre of Hellenic Culture and Vocational Training. The new unit specialises in the rehabilitation of patients who have suffered severe locomotor injuries from road accidents or serious illnesses, and will fill the void that existed in Epirus and the surrounding prefectures.

    Earlier, Mr Papoulias inaugurated 128 new commission homes in Kato Marmara, at the Panorama settlement, which were then handed over to their new owners. The ceremony was also attended by Deputy Employment Minister Gerasimos Giakoumatos, who described the homes as a model for the construction of similar housing projects throughout Greece.

    On Wednesday morning, the Greek President visited the Living and Training Centre for Adults with Autism in the village of Zitsa. The Centre was constructed with grants donated by Dr Georgios Gyras and the "Mana tou Pogoniou" Brotherhood. This model Centre for individuals with autism was the first to operate in Greece. It opened its gates in 2001, while the expenses are covered by the Mental Health Department of the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity.

    Mr Papoulias departed from Ioannina airport and returned to Athens late on Wednesday afternoon, thus concluding his six-day visit to the city.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related News:

    Papoulias' Message to Ankara

    K. Papoulias in Ioannina

    [04] Accusations Ruled as False and Defamatory French Justice Favours Papantoniou

    22 Feb 2006 16:56:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: , ANA

    French Justice convicted Liberation daily for its article implying that former Greek National Defence Minister Giannos Papantoniou had been bribed at the takeover of frigates for the Greek Navy. Mr Papantoniou underlined that those who supported the slanderers have to recall and went on to blast the government for adopting the accusations. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, on the other hand, pointed out that he does not comment on Justices rulings under any circumstances.

    The French daily published in September 2005 a defamatory article against Mr Papantoniou, citing false and slanderous, as it was later proven, accusations made by former Shales Company executive official, who had been fired, detained for three months. He is now facing penal and civil prosecutions in France.

    The former Greek Minister filed a lawsuit, while he refused the compromise the paper suggested. On February 20, 2006, the 17th part of the Paris First Instance Court found the paper and its editor guilty of defamation and ruled that the paper failed to conduct a solid investigation into the matter and that it did not mean well.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [05] In a Cordial Climate Bakoyannis-Iakovou Meeting

    22 Feb 2006 16:12:00

    By Anna Kourti

    Sources: , ANA

    Athens and Nicosia enjoy a joint stance in favour of a fair, viable and functional solution on the Cyprus issue respecting the EUs values and the UNs resolutions. This is what Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Dora Bakoyannis stated shortly after her meeting on Wednesday with her Cypriot counterpart Giorgos Iakovou. On his part, the Cypriot FM voiced his contentment over his collaboration with Mrs Bakoyannis, expressing his certainty that this collaboration will be built upon the joint policy the two Governments have long formed. Mrs Bakoyannis is to meet in the afternoon with the Turkish State Minister Ali Babacan.

    Statements

    Furthermore, Mrs Bakoyannis supported the resumption of the settlement process, without stifling timelines and arbitration, so that success is more likely.

    The Greek FM hailed her collaboration with Mr Iakovou as excellent and said that they also reviewed the case and assessed the current situation.

    On his part, the Cypriot FM underlined that certain issues that are most likely to be brought up at the imminent General Affairs Council were discussed.

    It should be noted that Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos is to pay Athens a visit in Marchs first fortnight.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [06] New Era for the Northern Greek City Major Public Works in Thessaloniki

    22 Feb 2006 18:57:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: NET - ANA

    A new era is starting for Thessalonikis transport system, as three major public works will soon be underway and will significantly facilitate the local citizens. Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias gave a relevant Press conference on Wednesday, while he also met with the Minister of Macedonia-Thrace, Giorgos Kalantzis, Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis and Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos. The new ventures are the Metro, the underwater tunnel and the extension of the Macedonia Airport runways. "Thessaloniki is entering a new era of great development projects," stressed Mr Souflias during the Press conference, while he added that he feels satisfied for having participated in the effort, but also because his name will be linked to the city he studied in. The total cost of the works is estimated at 1.7 billion euros.

    State-of-the-Art Metro

    The construction works for the Metro will begin in May 2006, while it will be ready by 2012. It is estimated that it will serve some 250,000 passengers daily, while it will be 9.6km long and will have 13 interim stations. In the future, it will be extended towards Kalamaria, Stavroupoli and Kordelio, while it will eventually reach the airport.

    As per Mr Souflias, Thessalonikis Metro will be more contemporary than the one in Athens and one of the more sophisticated ones in the world. For added safety, the trains will travel in two separate tunnels, while clear-glass doors will be installed at the platforms and will open automatically as soon as the train arrives at the station. In addition, the trains will be fully automated, without drivers, while the carriages will be air-conditioned. Finally, passengers arriving to the city by train will be able to change over to the Metro at the New Railway Station.

    The cost of the venture is estimated at 1 billion euros, while Mr Souflias described the fact that 34 petitions and appeals were filed as unprecedented, despite the Greeks "love for lawsuits".

    Answering to a reporters question as to whether he feels the need to thank his predecessors at the Ministry for the efforts concerning the Metro, Mr Souflias noted, "Efforts for the Metro were made both by Kostas Laliotis and Vaso Papandreou. Should I say that they lucked out in the assignment method? Should I say that their efforts were fruitless? It is a fact. We received few things and we thank them for those few."

    In the meantime, as announced by Mr Souflias, the relevant Organisation for Planning and Environmental Protection of Thessaloniki has already commenced a study in order to deal with the traffic problems that will arise during the works for the Metro and the underwater tunnel. He also clarified that Karatzaferis nomination for Thessaloniki Mayor is not linked to his announcement for the construction of the Metro.

    "The relevant letter from the EU giving the green light to the construction works was received last Friday, so, naturally, the announcement was made on Monday," noted the Minister.

    Awaiting the Green Light for the Tunnel

    The European Commission is expected give the green light for the construction of the underwater tunnel in the next two months, while a contactor will probably be assigned in September.

    According to the Public Works Ministry, the underwater tunnel will be used by over 90,000 vehicles daily, while currently, all of those pass through the city centre.

    Mr Souflias also pointed out that the Ministry is reviewing the option of including the company Egnatia Odos SA in the venture.

    Finally, referring to a series of smaller ventures, the Minister said that after meeting with the three officials in Thessaloniki, it was agreed that those works will be recorded by the Ministrys General Secretary, so as to be jointly funded by the Economy Ministry.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related News:

    Thessaloniki Metro Underway

    Related Links:

    Attiko Metro

    [07] Vengeance Due to an Attack at a Mausoleum New Tension in Iraq

    22 Feb 2006 13:01:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    The attack against a mausoleum in the Iraqi city of Samarra triggered off a storm of reactions by the Shia Muslims. Two unknown people managed to seize the five guards of the shrine, which contains the tombs of two reverend Shiite imams, and detonated explosives, which heavily damaged the shrines golden dome and a minaret. Shortly after the blast, the unknown perpetrators broke free. Thousands of protesters packed the streets, chanting "Death to the Americans who brought us terrorism," and "Shias Rebel," while muezzins kept reading extracts from the Koran. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual head of Iraqs Shia Muslims, has declared a seven-day mourning and called for mass demonstrations. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who is also a Shia, declared a three-day mourning and urged the citizens to "close the road to those who want to undermine national unity."

    The mausoleum in question is the most sacred Shia site in Samarra, a Sunni-dominated city, while the two imams buried there are Prophet Muhammads descendants.

    This attack is expected to heighten the conflict between Sunnis and Shias, a conflict that has already run high after the result of the 15 December elections.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Read the story on other sources:

    C: Iraqi blast damages Shia shrine

    Jerusalem Post: Explosion destroys dome of Iraqi Shiite shrine

    [08] In Medical Products EU Bans Mercury

    22 Feb 2006 20:02:00

    Sources: ANA

    In the context of initiatives taken to prevent mercury from being released to the environment, the European Commission decided to propose a ban on the use of the toxic metal in a series of medical products, starting from traditional thermometers. But apart from those, the ban will also apply on all mercury measuring devices and instruments; including blood pressure gauges, manometers and sphygmomanometers, as well as barometers sold within the EU.

    Extremely Toxic

    In the relevant Press Release, the Commission noted that the toxicity of mercury poses a threat to human health, the ecosystem, and the flora and fauna. Specifically, the disposal of mercury in waste storage and landfills favours the creation of methylmercury, which eventually ends up in the food chain, jeopardising the health of people consuming fish and seafood.

    According to the figures released today by the European Commission, some 33 tons of mercury are used in the EU annually to produce the abovementioned devices, while 25-30 of those tons are used in traditional thermometers.

    Finally, as per the Commission, some exceptions will be made for medical products that are mainly used in hospitals, since it is impossible to substitute the mercury in those.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [09] Greek PM Will Make a Speech SE European Economy Ministers' Summit

    22 Feb 2006 19:43:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: ANA

    The Economy Ministers of countries of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) will participate in a Summit, which will take place on Thursday in Athens and will focus on the economic prospects of SE Europe. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis are scheduled to speak the Summit, since Greece is serving as chairman of the SEECP for this current period. Economy Ministers from ten countries, as well as representatives of the Austrian EU Presidency will attend the meeting. The countries that will be represented, apart from Greece, are: Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Romania, FYROM, Serbia-Montenegro, Croatia and Moldova.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [10] As per the Governor of the Bank of Greece Following the Same Economic Policy

    22 Feb 2006 17:36:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: NET - ANA

    In his report on monetary policy, which was handed to Speaker of Parliament Anna Benaki-Psarouda on Wednesday afternoon, the Governor of the Bank of Greece, Nikos Garganas, noted the need to continue the countrys fiscal adjustment for a number of years. Mr Garganas pointed out that the structural changes should be immediately promoted, focusing on the labour and social security issues. With regard to the wage policy, he noted that the raises should be on par with the inflation rate. However, he described the 3.7% growth and the 3.5% inflation rates for the past year as satisfactory.

    In his annual report, the Governor of the Bank of Greece highlighted the need to deal with the crucial challenges, including the high unemployment rate, the low standard of living, the inflation rate that is higher than the Eurozone average, the current account deficit and the public debt. As he pointed out, only by focusing on those, can Greece achieve fiscal surplus and significant reduction of the public debt in the long run.

    For this reason, he asked for wage increases to be compatible to the levels for achieving and preserving price stability, stricter regulation of current expenditures, expansion of the tax base and restriction of tax evasion. He also pointed out the need for immediate reforms in the social security system, so that the fiscal pressures arising from the ageing of the population could be dealt in ways that are socially just and that do not unfavourably affect the long-term prospects of the economy.

    Moreover he proposed the implementation of measures that would improve overall competitiveness and encourage exports of labour-intensive products, so the Greek economy can meet the challenge of competition in international markets.

    He also noted that those measures would have to contribute towards upgrading the quality of the labour force, partly through improving training, restricting the inflexibilities of the labour market, boosting competition in products markets, and improving the business environment and the operation of public administration and the public sector in general.

    Finally, he pointed out that significant steps have been taken up until now, however, economic purgation demands more, so as not to jeopardise the stable economic environment.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [11] Olympiacos Starts off on Right Foot

    22 Feb 2006 22:53:00

    By Vasilis Kalpinos

    Olympiacos started off the round of 16 for basketballs Euroleague in the best possible way, as it defeated Unicaja Malaga 87-84 for Group D. The game inside the packed Peace and Friendship Stadium was a real thriller, while Olympiacos managed to secure the victory with a 3-pointer by Quincy Lewis just 13 seconds before the final whistle. In addition, Olympiacos was the only team to defeat Panathinaikos, both at home and away, during the Euroleague preliminaries. The score per period: 24-21, 42-46, 69-62, 87-84.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [12] Aris Won the Derby

    22 Feb 2006 19:44:00

    By Vasilis Kalpinos

    Aris coasted a 91-79 home victory against PAOK at the game that ended match day 17th of Basketballs Division A1. Aris players performed better and put an end to PAOK five-win streak. Andrea Matsons players scored their eleventh victory and climbed to fourth place on the scoreboard, while PAOK number eight victories. The score per period: 25-17, 44-35, 75-63, 91-79.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [13] At the Intermisterial Committee Denationalising Banks and DEPA

    22 Feb 2006 14:55:00

    By Anna Kourti

    Sources: NET - ANA

    The progress of the 2006 Denationalisation Programme was at the focus of the Interministerial Denationalisation Committee, which convened on Wednesday afternoon and was chaired by Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis. The meeting was also attended by Employment Minister Savvas Tsitourisdis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas. The Committee decided on the following: to commence procedures to float the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) on the Athens Stock Exchange, promote the Agricultural Banks denationalisation and precipitate the Emporiki Banks denationalisation process. A denationalisation counsellor will be appointed in a few days. In addition, it was decided that the Government will make available about 20% of Emporiki Bank, which will include the direct participation of the public sector, via DEKA (Public Securities Organisation SA), as well as the indirect participation of the public sector via OAED (Greek Manpower Employment Organisation) and OGA (Agricultural Insurance Organisation). At the same time, the Committee considered the option of floating the Greek Postal Savings Bank on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis


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