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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-03-04

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

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] Marginal Lead for ND
  • [02] Gradual Reduction of Taxes
  • [03] Enlisting Sharks!
  • [04] Hamas Rejects Recognition
  • [05] Clash Over Appointments
  • [06] Greek FM Meets with Plassnik
  • [07] Small Delays with Flights
  • [08] Last-Minute Goodies
  • [09] Bribe Scandal Led to Separation
  • [10] Alliance Confirmed
  • [11] Series of Attacks in Baghdad
  • [12] Lonely Win for PAOK
  • [13] Panathinaikos Wins Thriller Game
  • [14] Easy Victory for AEK
  • [15] Stressful Win for Xanthi
  • [16] Bird Flu Cases and Death
  • [17] Apollon Patras Stands its Ground

  • [01] Three New Opinion Polls Marginal Lead for ND

    04 Mar 2006 21:27:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Three nationwide opinion polls, conducted in Greece from 28 February to 2 March and published in Sunday newspapers, give New Democracy the lead over PASOK. The governing party is ahead with less than a percentile unit, while it continues to be viewed as the party that will win the next elections. Kostas Karamanlis is considered more suitable for the position of Prime Minister, while the citizens are critical of the New Governing, claiming that the pre-election pledges are not being fulfilled, as well as the Opposition. On Tuesday 7 March, Mr Karamanlis will chair a Cabinet meeting, on the occasion of the two-year anniversary since New Democracy was elected to power.

    Difference between 0.2 and 0.5%

    In the opinion poll conducted by Kappa Research and published in Vima tis Kyriakis, the governing party is ahead of PASOK in voter intention by 0.5%, gathering 33.9%, as opposed to 33.4% for the main opposition party. In addition, KKE received 7%, LAOS 4.6% and SYN 3.2%.

    According to the poll conducted by Metron Analysis on behalf of Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia, ND gathered 34.4%, as opposed to 34.2% for PASOK, followed by 6.5% for KKE, 4.1% for LAOS and 3.7% for SYN.

    Finally, in the opinion poll conducted by Rass for Paron tis Kyrakis, the difference between the two major parties is at 0.3%, in favour of ND. Specifically, the governing party received 31.1%, PASOK 30.8%, KKE 6.1%, LAOS 5.4% and SYN 3.7%.

    In addition, as per Metron Analysis poll, 47.1% of those asked believe that ND will win the next elections, as opposed to 33.4% who believe that PASOK will emerge victorious. In Rasss poll, 48.4% believe that ND will surely win, or has the greatest chance of winning, as opposed to 33.9% for PASOK.

    In the question "Who do you consider more suitable for Prime Minister", Kostas Karamanlis retains his lead over George Papandreou. Specifically, as per Kappa Research, Mr Karamanlis is ahead by 45.4%, as opposed to 37% for the President of PASOK, while, according to Rass, the percentages are at 45% and 28.2% respectively.

    Harsh Criticism

    The citizens were very critical of the first two years of NDs governing.

    As per Metron Analysis, six in ten citizens believe that the Government of ND is socially harsh and conservative, while seven out of ten in Kappa Researchs poll believe that the Government has not fulfilled its pre-election pledges.

    In addition, as per Rass, two years after the elections, 46.6% of those asked has a worst opinion of ND, 31% the same and 20.7% better.

    However, the citizens were also critical of the main opposition party.

    In Rass poll, 65% disagree with the view that PASOK is ready to govern the country.

    At the same time, four out of ten citizens told Metron Analysis that PASOK and George Papandreou are doing better lately, but the same percentage expressed its indifference or disappointment towards the main opposition party and its leader.

    "We are facing the major problems left behind by PASOK in Greece. We are in the middle of our effort. The people trust us. They trust Kostas Karamanlis," commented ND secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [02] As of 2007 Gradual Reduction of Taxes

    04 Mar 2006 19:03:00 (Last updated: 04 Mar 2006 22:04:57)

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Sources: NET - Newspaper "Ta Nea"

    The gradual reduction of tax rates and the increase of the tax-free threshold to 12,000, planned by the Greek Economy Ministry as of 2007, are expected to provide a boost to the incomes of wage-earners and pensioners. As announced by Giorgos Alogoskoufis in an interview to newspaper Ta Nea, the tax rates, which are at 30% and 40% currently, will be reduced to 25% and 35% respectively by 2009, in an effort to benefit even more taxpayers. In addition, the tax scales will also be widened by 2009. Specifically, the tax for revenues of 13,000 euros will be 250 euros in 2009, as opposed to 300 euros in 2006; for 35,000 euros, the new tax will be 5,750 euros, as opposed to 8,100; and for 60,000 euros, it will be 13,000 euros, as opposed to 18,100 euros.

    As noted by Mr Alogoskoufis, the Ministrys main priorities are the stamping out tax evasion and the equal distribution of taxes. "Dealing with tax evasion is a gradual process, while it will take time. However, the public sector arsenal keeps being upgraded due to the new technologies. The possibilities of cross-references are becoming greater and we will utilise them to the fullest, because that will allow us to perform more objective audits," underlined the Minister.

    Finally, with regard to social security, Mr Alogoskoufis stressed that the Government aims at discussing all the "injustices" of the system, noting, "It is unfair for different social security preconditions and earnings to apply for the various Funds. Some employees are forced to pay more than others and receive less."

    Speaking on British network BBC, the Greek minister voiced his optimism over the progress of the Greek economy, speaking of a reduction for the deficit to under 3%.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [03] In the US Navy Enlisting Sharks!

    04 Mar 2006 17:01:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Scientists are aspiring to enlist sharks at the services of the US Pentagon, as they have created a neural implant that can stimulate the olfactory system, leading the fish towards a specific direction. The device, developed by biologist Jelle Atemas team at Boston University, will be able to make sharks trail enemy ships or perform recognisance missions, since electrodes embedded in the animals brains will control their movements from a distance. As a matter of fact, the system in question could even decode the feelings of the fish while they are swimming. The research programme, which is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Hawaii and aims at studying the strong smell sense of sharks. However, the results of the research are also expected to be used by the US Navy.

    Underwater Spies

    The researchers at Boston University are using a portable computer to transmit signals to the implants, while the shark is swimming in a tank.

    The electrodes stimulate either the left or the right olfactory part of the brain, so the shark moves towards that direction, as if tracking an interesting smell. The stronger the signal, the more sharply it turns.

    The neural implant is also being used at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, by a team monitoring the electroreceptors of sharks. As they are claiming, the sharks can spot the bioelectric fields of other creatures, as well as the Earths magnetic field. According to the researchers, understanding how the electroreceptors operate would facilitate the surveillance of ships, since the sharks would be able detect their electronic traces.

    The Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, USA, is already planning on implanting the device into blue sharks and releasing them into the ocean off the coast of Florida, so as to test the possibilities of the research programme in practice. However, since the radio signals cannot penetrate water, the experts will use sonar to communicate with the sharks. The signals will be received by sonar receivers, in the shape of fish, which will be dragged by the sharks.

    However, the possibilities do not end here. The State University of New York Health Science Center has embedded implants in rats. The implants stimulate the part of the brain that is wired to their whiskers, so when the rat thinks that something has touched the left or right part of the head, it turns towards that direction. The New York Police Department has also expressed interest in the programme.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Read the story on other sources:

    Íew Scientist: Stealth sharks to patrol the high seas

    The Independent: Pentagon develops brain implants to turn sharks into military spies

    [04] Of Israel Hamas Rejects Recognition

    04 Mar 2006 14:56:00 (Last updated: 04 Mar 2006 18:53:25)

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: ANA - Reuters

    Despite pressure by Moscow, a Hamas spokesperson clarified Saturday that the Islamic group, which recently won the elections in the Palestinian territory, is not willing to recognise Israel. As for the reasons leading to this unyielding stance, Hamas deputy political leader Moussa Abu Marzouk told Reuters in an interview that recognising Israel would negate all Palestinian rights. A delegation of the Islamic group arrived in Moscow on Friday to hold discussions with the Russian leaders. On the same day, and after initial talks, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov pressured the leadership of Hamas to recognise Israels right to exist, but to no avail.

    On the other hand, in a telephone conversation Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin briefed German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his meeting with Khaled Meshaal, saying that the situation in the Middle East was viewed under a new light, following the visit of the Palestinian group to Russia. He also discussed with her Irans nuclear programme, after the recent meetings between Russian and Iranian officials.

    On Friday night, Putin had held a similar conversation with French President Jacques Chirac.

    Primakov Speaks of US Fiasco

    At the same time, speaking at a conference on international relations, former Russian PM Yevgeny Primakov described Hamas recent victory in the Palestinian elections as a "complete fiasco" for US diplomacy in the Middle East.

    Primakov, who is considered an expert in Middle East matters and has also served as Russian FM, claimed that the West is making a mistake, as, even after the elections, it continues to view Hamas as a terrorist group and keeps trying to cut off funds to the Palestinians.

    However, he added that Hamas should participate in the peace plan provided for in the road map.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Read the story on other sources:

    Reuters: Hamas rejects recognition of Israel despite pressure

    Ha'aretz: Hamas says recognition of Israel not on agenda

    Related News:

    Hamas in Moscow

    [05] Papoutsis' Statements Clash Over Appointments

    04 Mar 2006 13:55:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    The statements of PASOK Foreign Policy, Security and Defence head Christos Papoutsis over the appointments in the Armed Forces triggered that harsh reaction of Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis. Commenting the recent appointments of high-ranking officers, Mr Papoutsis said among other things, "Meritocracy is dead. Nepotism and party politics rule." "Men and women in the Armed Forces have no political identity, nor 'daddies', as I have repeatedly stressed," answered the Defence Minister and called PASOK and Mr Papoutsis to say "whether PASOK knew Officers' political beliefs all these years and if to release the names so we can learn who these people are."

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [06] Balkans and European Developments at Focus Greek FM Meets with Plassnik

    04 Mar 2006 13:00:00 (Last updated: 04 Mar 2006 20:18:17)

    Sources: NET, ANA

    On Saturday, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met with her Austrian counterpart and President of the Council of the European Union, Ursula Plassnik. The agenda of the two Ministers focused on the developments in the Balkans, the prospect of the European Constitutional Treaty, the relations of the European Union with the Muslim world after the publication of Prophet Mohammads cartoons, as well as the acceptance of the Customs Union Expansion Protocol on behalf of Turkey. Regarding the last matter, Mrs Plassnik repeated her firm position that Turkey should implement it without deviations, stressing any developments will be closely monitored. Earlier on Saturday, Dora Bakoyannis met with UN special envoy to Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari, whom she informed on her recent contacts in Belgrade and Pristina.

    Balkans and European Developments

    In statements after the meeting, the two women underlined the need to reinforce the European prospect of the western Balkans.

    "Despite the difficult changes that need to happen on the inside, the Balkan countries should know their integration to the European family awaits them at the end of the line," stressed Dora Bakoyannis.

    Mrs Plassnik noted the importance of reinforcing these countries to make the Balkans a zone of stability and prosperity.

    Referring to the European Constitution, the Austrian Foreign Minister stressed a dynamic policy of transparency is necessary for Europeans to reestablish their faith in the Architecture of Europe and pledged to have set up a "choreography" of future moves by the end of the Austrian presidency.

    Regarding Prophet Mohammad's cartoons, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis underlined that the freedom of Press is a fundamental principle of democracy in the European Union, just like religious respect. Lastly, answering a question regarding Iran's nuclear programme, Plassnik stressed Tehran needs to return to the process of building up trust with the international community.

    Meeting with Metropolitan Bishop of Austria

    Dora Bakoyannis has also met with Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop Michael of Austria to whom she promised to help return the Greek Church of the Assumption in Budapest to the Hellenes of Hungary and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    Following WWII, the church had come under the Patriarchate of Moscow. The change of regime in Hungary allowed the Ecumenical Patriarchate Exarchy to take action, as it was officially recognized by the Hungarian authorities.

    However, despite relevant representations by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Moscow categorically denies to return the Church of Budapest, as well as other churches, to the rightful descendants of their founders, i.e. Greeks currently living in Hungary.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [07] Security Personnel on Strike Monday Small Delays with Flights

    04 Mar 2006 19:28:00 (Last updated: 04 Mar 2006 22:09:59)

    The Federation of Greek Security Personnel announced a new 24-hour strike as of 11pm Monday. Three flights were disrupted at Athens Eleftherios Venizelos Airport on Saturday morning, due to the new 24-hour-strike by security personnel. However, no other problems were recorded and the excursionists of the three-day weekend are departing as normal. On Saturday, 380 flights were scheduled to depart from Athens Airport, while the Federation stationed double the number of emergency personnel at the check-in counters, as a gesture of goodwill. At Macedonia Airport in Thessaloniki, members of the Federation staged a protest for the instigated, as they are claiming, dismissal of their colleagues. In any case, Saturdays strike had been announced 20 days ago and is not related to Fridays, which caused many problems, and was deemed illegal and excessive by the First Instance Court.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [08] Increased Market Inspections Last-Minute Goodies

    04 Mar 2006 16:38:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    The market is moving to the beat of the long weekend of the Carnival. Consumers rushed to get all the last-minute goodies for Ash Monday. Development Ministry panels are performing thorough inspections, mostly on seafood. After confiscating 710kg of bad seafood on Friday, 350kg of shrimps and squids were confiscated on Saturday too, as they were sold as totally defrosted, although they were frozen. The confiscated quantities were destroyed and shop-owners will be sued and fined. According to the Consumers General Secretary, Thanasis Skordas, there is sufficiency of products and a wide range of prices, while he asked consumers to look for quality and affordable products. The Athens Varvakeios Market will be open from Sunday midnight until 13:30 on Ash Monday, while open-air markets will operate as per normal.

    Prices for All Pockets

    According to calculations, seafood and Lenten products are sold 8% higher compared to 2005 and prices vary according to quality.

    Frozen squids are sold 3 to 7 euros a kilo, while fresh could reach 18 euros. Frozen octopuses range from 6 to 12 euros and fresh reach 14 euros.

    Frozen shrimps cost from 3 to 10 euros, fresh from 25 to 40 euros, while halvah costs from 3.5 to 9 euros a kilo and fish roe from 7 to 20 euros.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [09] Berlusconi Got in the Middle Bribe Scandal Led to Separation

    04 Mar 2006 14:19:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: Reuters, ANA

    British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell is to separate from her husband David Mills after the strain of a probe into their finances, Mills's lawyer said on Saturday. Jowell, a close ally of Prime Minister Tony Blair, survived a inquiry this week into whether she had broken a ministerial code over the couple's financial arrangements. But she has remained under pressure as doubts lingered over her tax-lawyer husband's business dealings in Italy, where he faces a high-level corruption probe. The investigation left open the possibility of links between Mills and a graft allegation against Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. According to revelations in an Italian newspaper, Berlusconi bribed Jowell's husband with 600,000 dollars to give fake testimonies in 1997 and 1998 regarding Fininvest and the money were used for purchasing a luxury house. However, Mills and Berlusconi deny any wrongdoing. "This whole business has imposed a dreadful strain on my client and his marriage," Mills's laywer said in a statement. "They hope that over time their relationship can be restored, but, given the current circumstances, they have agreed a period of separation."

    Read the story on other sources:

    BBC: Tessa Jowell splits from husband

    [10] Bush and Musharraf Against Terrorism Alliance Confirmed

    04 Mar 2006 11:17:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: Reuters, BBC, CNN, ANA

    US President George Bush completed his visit in Pakistan amidst demonstrations and under draconian security measures. While meeting with his counterpart, Pervez Musharraf, he thanked him for Pakistans contribution in the war on the terror. "President Musharraf made a brave decision after 11 September, when Pakistan chose to fight terrorism," underlined the US President during a joint Press Conference with President Musharraf. At the same time, he confirmed the "strategic partnership" between the USA and Pakistan in the war on terror and underlined President Musharrafs commitment to stamp out terrorism. However, he underlined there is still a long way to go, noting, "More work remains to be done to defeat al-Qaeda. The best way to achieve this is to share good intelligence, to locate them [al-Qaeda], and then be prepared to bring them to justice". On his part, General Musharraf said the US-Pakistani alliance against terrorist would continue.

    George Bush disagreed on the plan to build a pipeline carrying natural gas from Iran to India through Pakistan, while he rejected any nuclear deal with Islamabad, like the one signed with India.

    However, he reassured Pakistan over his countrys full collaboration in the departments of Economy, Investments and Education and repeated Washingtons commitment for a "broad and lasting strategic partnership" with Pakistan.

    Draconian Security Measures

    At the same time, Islamic and other political parties were staging protest rallies against Bush's visit, thus voicing their opposition to the two countries' alliance.

    In fact, the Police in Punjab placed Pakistan's former cricket captain-turned-politician Imran Khan under house arrest to prevent him from taking part in a protest against Bush's visit.

    Khan had been planning to lead a march from Rawalpindi to the Pakistani Parliament to protest against the US policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

    Because of the protests and in fear of extremist actions, US military helicopters were flying above the area throughout George Bush's visit.

    At the same time, traffic was prohibited on main road arteries and paramilitary groups equipped with arms and electronic surveillance devices were patrolling the city.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Read the story on other sources:

    BBC: Bush praises Pakistan terror role

    CNN: Bush reaffirms Pakistan alliance

    [11] Seven Dead and 25 Injured Series of Attacks in Baghdad

    04 Mar 2006 10:44:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: BBC, Reuters, ANA

    Seven people lost their lives and at least twenty were injured, when a bomb went off in a bus in Baghdad, across a market in Zafaraniya. At the same time, five more people were injured in two other blasts at the southern suburbs of the Iraqi capital. One exploded in Dura, injuring two commandos and a civilian, while the second, placed under a car, went off in Jafr-al-Nadaf, injuring two civilians. These attacks occurred shortly after the traffic ban was lifted. On Friday, traffic was banned in the capital in fear of attacks during prayers.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Read the story on other sources:

    BBC: Baghdad market blast kills seven

    [12] Lonely Win for PAOK

    04 Mar 2006 21:44:00

    By Stathis Petropoulos

    It was a lonely derby for PAOK, but its players managed to save the game, defeating Panionios with a two-point lead. The home team was ahead in the first three periods, but the players lost their concentration close to the end, losing their 10-point lead, However, Gagaloudis responded with a three-pointer seconds before the final whistle, giving PAOK the victory. The score per period: 25-14, 44-33, 65-55, 78-76.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [13] Panathinaikos Wins Thriller Game

    04 Mar 2006 21:35:00

    By Vasilis Kalpinos

    The game between Panathinaikos and Aris resembled a match from the past. Finally, following a very close game, Panathinaikos managed to defeat its opponent by 80-78, in a game for round 18 of the Greek A1 basketball championship. The victory came practically at the last seconds, as Scepanovic scored a two-pointer and a foul shot just six second before the final whistle. The score per period: 22-25, 41-51, 60-64, 80-78.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [14] Easy Victory for AEK

    04 Mar 2006 19:17:00

    By Vasilis Kalpinos

    AEK played much better than its opponent throughout the game and scored an easy victory over Colossos Rhodes with 78-63, in a game for round 18 of the Greek A1 basketball Division. This was AEKs ninth win in the championship, while it kept its spot in the top eight. On the other hand, Rhodes remained at the bottom of the rankings. The score per period: 27-14, 46-23, 65-47, 78-63.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [15] Stressful Win for Xanthi

    04 Mar 2006 19:43:00

    By Stathis Petropoulos

    In a match that does not stand out for its quality, Xanthi managed to defeat Egaleo by 1-0 and keep its home turf undefeated yet again. The home team played much better than its opponent throughout the game, constantly trying to score. On the other hand, Egaleo concentrated its efforts on not receiving a goal. The goal that saved the home team came in the 79, when Torosidis kick bounced off Zapropoulos and took Gennamo by surprise.

    Referee: Pamboridis (Kilkis) Yellow Cards: Antzas Maric, Moustogiannis, Jancetic

    XANTHI: Pizanowksi, Papadimitriou, Antzas, Lambriakos, Torosidis, Quintana (Garpozis 90), Maghradze (Fliskas 84), Zuela, Kazakis, Manso, Delgado (De Mattia)

    EGALEO: Gennamo, Popov, Psomas, Zapropoulos, Jancetic, Maric (Omo 53), Tsatsos, Skopelitis, Manousakis (Moustogiannis 46), Agritis (Saganas 73), Nikolopoulos.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [16] Bird Flu Cases and Death

    04 Mar 2006 12:36:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: Reuters, ANA

    Eight new bird flu cases were detected in wild ducks in Sweden, following tests performed on 31 wild birds found dead on the shores of southeastern Sweden, at the Baltic Sea. At the same time, head of infectious diseases special agency Pia Gustavsson confirmed the two ducks found dead on Tuesday in Oskarshamn were infected with the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus. The death toll in Indonesia has risen to 21, after Health Authorities confirmed the death of a four-year-old boy infected with the H5N1 deadly strain. The boy had touched chickens that died of bird flu. The World Health Organisation has confirmed 170 human cases, including 92 deaths, from 2003 until now.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [17] Apollon Patras Stands its Ground

    04 Mar 2006 18:49:00

    By Vasilis Kalpinos

    Apollon Patras scored a significant victory, defeating Iraklis by 70-59 in an away match for round 18 of the Greek A1 basketball Division. After this win, Apollon took a major step towards staying in the premier division, while Iraklis, which met its 13th loss in this years championship, is in danger of being relegated. The score per period: 17-11, 28-23, 43-45, 59-70.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

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