|Friday, 1 December 2023|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-03-21
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Easter Benefit Given Earlier21 Mar 2006 14:41:00
April is the month of back payments for wages and pensions, while the Easter benefit will be given earlier, in relation to previous years. OAED (Greek Manpower Employment Organisation) will start paying Easter benefits and the unemployment benefits as of next Monday. In fact, Easter benefits will be given regardless of the waiting period for entitlement to the benefit concerned. What is more, OAED opened the process of submitting applications for the payment of family benefits to 355,000 beneficiaries.
Increases and Back Payments
The Greek Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) decided to prepay the unemployment benefit and the Easter benefit.
Over 260,000 unemployed will receive the regular unemployment benefits as of Monday 3 April until 24 April.
Easter benefits will also be given as of Monday 3 April regardless of the waiting period for entitlement to the benefit concerned.
Meanwhile, the process of submitting applications for the payment of family benefits to 355,000 beneficiaries starts on the same day. The benefit for 2006 starts at 98.64 euros for beneficiaries with one child and reaches 843.72 euros for beneficiaries with four children.
On Wednesday 22 March, IKA pensioners would receive back payments for January, February and March.
Public Sector pensioners, IKA pensioners and self-employed will receive the Easter benefit on 13 April. Civil servants, security and military personnel will receive the Easter benefit on the same date.
Translated by Sofia Soulioti
 Karamanlis Bakoyannis Meeting Preparations for US Visit21 Mar 2006 13:46:00 (Last updated: 21 Mar 2006 20:47:05)
Sources: NET, NET 105.8
Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyannis, who is embarking on an official visit to Washington on Wednesday, will hold a short meeting with US President George W. Bush on Friday. The preparations for the visit were at the focus of the meeting between Mrs Bakoyannis and Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis at Maximos Mansion. On Wednesday, the Foreign Minister will meet with her US counterpart Condoleezza Rice, with whom she will hold a wide-ranging discussion, focusing on the Greek-US relations in view of Turkeys accession to the European Union. "The relations of the two countries have been traditionally good and these contacts are always useful," stated Mrs Bakoyannis referring to her visit. On Tuesday afternoon, Mrs Bakoyannis met with the US Ambassador to Greece, Charles Ries, to prepare her upcoming agenda.
"Turkey Should Keep to Its Pledges"
Exiting Maximos Mansion, Mrs Bakoyannis commented on Erdogans statements that Turkey will not open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircrafts, stating that Ankaras specific stance is not in accordance with its European duties.
"If Turkey wants to approach the EU then it should keep to its pledges," she said.
Turkey, added the Minister, has assumed responsibilities, signed protocols and has the duty to implement them by the end of 2006.
Commenting on Ankaras threats, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Giorgos Koumoutsakos noted that Greece has the right to extend its territory to 12 nautical miles, based on International Law
"Its political adherence to the anachronisms of the past does not belong in the new era and that is why it will be proven a dead-end," he added.
The Foreign Minister will make her first visit to Cyprus on 4 April, accepting an invitation by her Cypriot counterpart, Giorgos Iakovou, and following relevant contacts during the recent visit of President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos in Athens.
During her visit to Cyprus Mrs Bakoyannis will meet with President Papadopoulos and Speaker of Parliament Dimitris Christofias, while she will hold discussions at the Foreign Ministry.
Criticism by PASOK
PASOKs section head for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Christos Papoutsis, criticised the Government for the way it is handling the Greek-Turkish matters.
"Instead of adopting the policy of inaction and making general recommendations, Mrs Bakogiannis is obligated to raise the matter in Cabinet and clarify whether the Government will concede or not to opening the first negotiation chapters concerning Turkeys accession course during the Austrian Presidency, where the unanimity of all Member States is required," noted Mr Papoutsis, adding, "Turkeys obligation to implement the extension of the Customs Union Protocol to include the 10 new Member States, as well as establishing good relations with all the EU Member States constitutes a part of Community acquis."
 Against the Government Papandreou Launches Attack21 Mar 2006 17:11:00
By Betty Savourdou
Sources: ΝΕΤ - ΝΕΤ 105.8 - ΑNA
George Papandreou harshly criticised the Government during PASOKs Steering Committee meeting on Tuesday. The partys President accused the PM of hiding in Maximos Mansion and refusing to deal with the citizens problems, while he also spoke of a completely deregulated Government. The discussion during the meeting focused on the Transport Ministrys DEKOs (Public Utilities and Enterprises), while it was mentioned that the Government lacks planning. At the same time, the members noted that George Papandreous proposal for unemployment was completely distorted, while the Governments efforts were described as a diversions and a sign of panic. Referring to the specific proposal, the leader of the Opposition claimed that it aimed at granting youths the right to enter the employment market without distinctions and with full labour rights. On his part, Government spokesperson Thodoros Roussopoulos credited George Papandreou with "populist cries" and "an effort to polarise the political climate," a stance which, as he said, demonstrated the PASOK Presidents inability to put forward serious proposals.
Insecurity and Social Strain
Prior to the commencement of the meeting, George Papandreou stressed that insecurity and social strain prevail in the country, adding that the Government lacks planning and uses the fiscal inventory, the banks and SEV as scapegoats of its policy, thus supporting the few at the expense of the many.
"We see them reform their so-called reforms and deregulating the society, but in the end, we see them deregulating their own Government," he said, referring to the DEKOs and Olympic Airlines as examples.
At the same time, he noted that instead of providing solution to the problems, "the PM is hiding in Maximos Mansion, practicing opposition to the opposition, as if he had not been appointed PM for the last two years."
PASOKs President also underlined that the people have started looking towards PASOK, creating a huge responsibility for the party and its members.
As mentioned by Mr Papandreou, in the next few months, PASOK will focus on the problems of regional Greece, the people living in the countryside and the farmers.
"Invitation to Acrimony and Polarisation"
"Populist cries, and invitations to acrimony and polarisation clearly demonstrate Mr Papandreous inability to put forward constructive criticism, convincing arguments, and serious and realistic proposals," stressed Government spokesperson Thodoros Roussopoulos, commenting on Mr Papandreous statements.
"The sole proposal put forward by Mr Papandreou refers to the uninsured employment of youths," noted Mr Roussopoulos, adding, "The President of PASOK tried to deceive the Greek people when he declared in Parliament a few weeks ago that his proposal meant that the State was to pay the social security contributions."
"This, however, was not evident in the Lavrio speech, where the President of PASOK had noted that the youths will be employed this way, without the businesses or the youths being obligated to contribute social security funds, underling that this would not burden the parents, or the state, or the social security system."
PASOK spokesperson Nikos Athanasakis described the Government spokesperson as "an original distorter" of the proposals and statements made by the President of PASOK.
He also stressed that both the Government and Mr Roussopoulos "insist on distorting and slandering" Mr Papandreous statements, adding, "Populism, distortion and lies are all synonymous to ND, both as the Opposition and as the Government."
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
PASOK Steering Committee Meeting
 Week of Collective Actions21 Mar 2006 15:39:00 (Last updated: 21 Mar 2006 19:32:57)
By Betty Savourdou
Sources: NET - NET 105.8 - ANA
The collective actions in universities around Greece continue for the second day and will last throughout the week, as students and professors have joined forces. There is intense mobility within the universities, in view of the radical changes in their operational framework. On 6 April, the 5-member Deans Council will present a package of proposals to be voted upon. In addition, POSDEP (Hellenic Federation of University Teachers Associations) met on Tuesday with KKEs Secretary General and SYNs President. The protests are targeted against the privatisation of higher education, while demanding further funding. It is noted that a rally will be staged on Thursday in Athens. Furthermore, professors in TEIs (Technological Educational Institutes) have announced a 24-hour strike on Thursday, while University administrators will go on a 24-hour strike on Wednesday.
The Deans' Proposals
Some of the proposals by the Deans Council include:
abolishing the student capacity 3 years after the end of the normal course of studies abolishing student transfers towards central universities changing the regime for free books granting scholarships and loans to financially weaker students providing academic immunity solely to the members of the academic community voting by students during the deanship elections
The Education Ministry believes that evaluation is the key to reinforcing the quality of higher education. However, part of the academic community is reacting, despite the fact that Greece is the last EU country to implement an integrated evaluation system.
Speaking on radio station NET 105.8, Education Minister Marietta Giannakou opposed the arguments put forward by the academics in relation to insufficient funding. As she noted, the funds for Education have increased by 13.5%.
After meeting on Tuesday afternoon with University professors, Aleka Papariga spoke of a new package of reactionary measures in Higher Education, supported by the Opposition as well.
The KKE Secretary General asked for a joint front that would prevent this development.
POSDEP President Lazaros Apekis said professors are determined to defend public universities and avoid the amendment to the Constitution that would allow the establishment of private universities.
SYN President Alekos Alavanos also supported the students and professors collective actions. He stressed that collective actions are in accordance with the present situation, the European community, the youths in France, Greece and everywhere, and they aim at helping Greece move ahead.
Mr Alavanos also noted that he supported the effort to allocate 5% of the GNP to Education and 1.5% to research, as well as the effort to stop the universities from becoming profiteering ventures for major businesses.
 Employees Threaten with Collective Actions Talks about the New Olympic Airlines21 Mar 2006 18:46:00
By Mary Lou Tzempelikou
Sources: ΝΕΤ - ΝΕΤ 105.8 - ΑΠΕ
On the issue of Olympic Airlines, the Government is moving towards the solution of a new company with private management. However, the future of the national air carrier depends on the capitals by potential investors and the ECs decision on the repayment or not of the state aid given in the past and which amounted to 500 million euros. The matter was discussed on Monday during the meeting between the Greek PM and the Minister of Transport and Communications, Michael Liapis, who said that the proposal would be submitted to the EU soon, so as to be approved by the Commission. On its part, the company filed lawsuits demanding 1 billion euros in unpaid dues from the public sector. Government spokesperson Theodoros Roussopoulos described the Governments effort to form a new company as a "sensitive process", speaking of delicate procedures that have to be followed.
According to information, the business plan will be presented to the Commission by the end of the month, while it provides for 2,190 employees and flights to all the European capitals, the Middle East and northern Africa.
Employees Threaten with Collective Actions
The new company will keep the logo and will carry a name similar to Olympic Airlines, but it will go by the name Pantheon Airways until everything is finalised.
The Commission is awaiting binding bids from everyone that has expressed interest in participating in the new company before approving the business plan.
On the other hand, the employees are not ruling out the possibility of going on strike, if there is no dialogue prior to the formation of the new airline company.
Asked why the public sector needs to from a new company, seeing that Olympic Airlines does not look like it will be closing down, NDs Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis stated that in any other case, the money received by the national air carrier would have to be returned to the EU in the form of fines.
Reactions from the Opposition
The matter was also discussed during the PASOK Steering Committees meeting. Speaking about the issue, party President George Papandreou accused the Government of disregarding the company, aiming at selling it off piece-by-piece, while he also mentioned lack of coordination.
The statements made by PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos were along the same lines. He claimed that Olympic Airlines is being given away to the monopolies, while the Government is retuning to PASOKs plan, after two years of further undermining the company.
Furthermore, in a written statement, former Transport Minister Christos Verelis described Olympic Airlines as "the Governments Choo-choo train", accusing the relevant ministers of trying to avoid their personal political cost.
"In Paris Pantheon, they bury the ashes and bones of historic figures of Frances political and cultural life. In Greece, the Government constructed a Pantheon to bury Olympic Airlines, which carries a great history. I personally believe that it will be the Governments plans that will be buried in the end," declared SYN President Alekos Alavanos, answering to a reporters question concerning the changes to the company. He further added that his party will give a struggle to save the national air carrier.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
Olympic Airlines at the Focus
 Culture Minister's Visit Acropolis Museum Ready in a Year21 Mar 2006 18:17:00
By Vivian Papastefanou
Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis appeared satisfied with the progress of works for the new Acropolis Museum, after touring all the levels of the construction site. Mr Voulgarakis declared that the works will have finished by 2007, while the President of the Organisation for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum, Dimitris Pandermalis, stated that the glass enclosure will have been constructed by August 2006. In addition, glass partitions will have been placed in the hall that will host the Parthenon sculptures by the end of July, while the four basements, the ground floor and the first floor have already been constructed, and the whole frame will have been erected by the end of April. Furthermore, the exhibits will start being moved from the old Museum this coming summer. Finally, visitors will gradually start gaining access to the halls of the new Museum, even during the moving of the antiquities.
The new Acropolis Museum, which covers an area of 23,000 sqm, consists of four basements, a ground floor, an inclined level, which will host the findings from Acropolis, and a first floor, which will host Archaic and Post-Parthenon collections. The cost of the venture is estimated at 129 million euros, including indemnities.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
New Acropolis Museum
 ERT Pioneers in Digital Technology21 Mar 2006 15:47:00
By Vivian Papastefanou
ERT's first digital channel, Prisma+, signaled a new era for Greek television. Prisma+ was aired on Monday and offers full accessibility to people with hearing and visual problems. Government spokesperson Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Tuesday, "The establishment of a TV programme addressing people with disabilities is a pioneer initiative on a European level." As he stressed, Prisma+ is a multi-choice channel, friendly to people with hearing and visual problems, which will be broadcast daily for seven hours, including sign language interpretation and subtitles. What is more, NETs central news bulletin at 20:00 CET will be broadcast with simultaneous sign language interpretation, thus allowing all social groups to have access to information.
Mr Roussopoulos underlined that subtitles selection techniques and a separate audio channel providing narrative description to people with hearing problems will be put to effect during the pilot stage. It is noted that Prisma+ includes children's programmes, entertainment and informative shows, news bulletins, documentaries, Greek and foreign TV series and feature films.
ERT's next step is to air two more digital channels, Cine+ and Sport+, thus allowing the Public Television to enter the digital era.
Translated by Sofia Soulioti