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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-03-23

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

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] Battlefield Paris
  • [02] Hostages Released
  • [03] Strict Timetables
  • [04] Dimitris Reppas Elected Secretary
  • [05] New Civil Servant Code Presented
  • [06] New Violence Surge in Somalia
  • [07] Hope and Scepticism
  • [08] Raises in Farmers' Pensions
  • [09] Hostage Situation in Athens

  • [01] Demonstrations Continue Battlefield Paris

    23 Mar 2006 16:06:00 (Last updated: 23 Mar 2006 22:45:19)

    Sources: ANA-Reuters-AFP

    The De Villepin Governments law on youth employment (First Employment Contract) triggered new demonstrations in Paris on Thursday. Despite the draconian security measures during a new student protest, groups of young men with their faces covered torched rubbish bins and cars, smashed storefronts and pillaged them, while the Police proceeded with 420 arrests. Meanwhile, trade unions are feverishly preparing for the "Black Tuesday," as they have called 28 March, the day they have scheduled to stage a mass general strike that is expected to paralyse the country. Clearly manifesting their objection to the First Employment Contract (CPE), which, as they argued, is to create "disposable" young employees, the students stand firm on their claim for the laws withdrawal. French PM Dominique de Villepin also stands firm in principle, yet he did not rule out some amendments and called for a meeting with the union leaders in a bid to resume dialogue without preconditions. He also came up against an unexpected objection, this time coming from his Government and the Interior Minister and intra-party rival for the 2007 Presidential elections Nicolas Sarkozy, who suggested a six-month trial period for the CPE First Employment Contract.

    Blow to Government's Unity

    In his interview with Paris Match magazine, Sarkozy distanced himself from de Villepin over the CPE youth job law, underlining that although he stands by the PMs side, he cannot side with his views.

    Mr Sarkozy warned that in view of the mass demonstration, the risk of rekindling the rioting in the poor Paris suburbs runs high.

    The blow to the Governments unity is but apparent, prompting some PMs of the ruling party to compare Prime Minister de Villepin with Titanics captain, since the crisis keeps escalating. Citing government sources, paper Le Parisien argued that French President Jacques Chirac is much disturbed and asked de Villepin to step up measures to revive his relations with the union leaders. Unless things get better as soon as possible, the Prime Minister will be removed from his post, Mr Chirac was quoted as saying.

    However, no date has been set for the meeting with the union trades, whose leaders met Thursday to discuss their further stance.

    In the meantime, an unexpected incidence cast a shadow over Wednesdays collective actions. A student died of heart failure, possibly during a sit-in outside the Sorbonne University, which has been taken over by the students.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Streets Around the Sorbonne on Fire

    [02] Hostage Situation in Castalia Ended in Safety Hostages Released

    23 Mar 2006 17:57:00 (Last updated: 23 Mar 2006 22:56:20)

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: ΝΕΤ-ΝΕΤ 105.8-ANA

    The three women held hostages for four hours by an armed, drug addict male, 26, in private mental clinic Castalia were set free. Following the negotiations, Greek police special forces stormed the clinic, arrested the young male and freed the three women, without anyone sustaining injuries. The arrestee was taken to the police station. Earlier, Public Order Minister Byron Polidoras, who had been in a meeting with Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras, broke it off and ordered the operation plan drawn up during the 2004 Olympic Games to be implemented.

    Successful Police Operation

    As per the police, the 26-year-old had been admitted to the clinic suffering mental problems. He was discharged from the clinic a month and a half ago.

    The male tried to enter the clinic, but he wasnt allowed entrance, therefore, he searched for an isolated place and jumped over the rails. He then stormed the building and locked himself up along with the receptionist, a nurse and an accountant in the Accounts Department, on the first floor of the building.

    Police negotiators and police special forces rushed to the scene and cordoned off the area.

    The young male was arrested four hours later, when one of the special police negotiators, who was constantly in touch with him, got the chance to catch him when he broke the plastic partition wall of the Accounts Department.

    At the same time, the police special forces stormed the building and seized him, bringing a happy end to the hostage situation.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Hostage Situation in Athens

    [03] For Changes in DEKOs Strict Timetables

    23 Mar 2006 17:43:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Sources: NET

    The changes promoted by the Government regarding DEKOs (public enterprises) are radical and will take place without any divergence in the timetable. DEKOs with deficits would have to change their personnel regulations within 38 days, as their unpaid debts, which reached 12.2 billion euros at the end of 2005, leave no room for wrong choices. Transport Minister Michalis Liapis sent a clear message to all those receiving fictitious wages and bonuses from OSE (Hellenic Railways Association), one of the most unprofitable DEKOs. "The provocation from those few came to its end. Justice will be restored and employees can be sure there will be equal treatment and meritocracy," stressed the Minister, adding that those few who dont work and yet get paid have created the wrong image for DEKOs.

    Changes for Purgation

    With a total loss of 5 billion euros (560 millions in 2005 alone), OSE tops the black list. ETHEL (Greek Thermal Buses), ISAP (Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways), ILPAP (Athens-Piraeus Trolley Buses), TRAM and its subsidiaries follow suit.

    Based on the promoted changes, OSE employees will be given raises from 3% to 5%, new employees will be hired with 7-month contracts, which will then become permanent, while executive positions and relevant benefits will downsize.

    Meanwhile, employees in all DEKOs will be paid less overtime as opposed to last year, benefits in cash, benefits in kind, severance pays and commission fees will be reduced, while strategic and business plans for eight DEKOs have already been approved and 14 more are pending approval.

    "We move ahead with radical changes, vital for Greece," stressed Mr Liapis, adding there will be an honest dialogue with employees and their rights won't be hurt.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [04] New Secretary of PASOK's Parliamentary Group Dimitris Reppas Elected Secretary

    23 Mar 2006 13:51:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: ΝΕΤ-ΝΕΤ 105.8-ANA

    Dimitris Reppas was unanimously elected anew to the post of secretary of PASOKs Government Group, during Thursdays meeting of its new seven-member presiding board. PASOK MP Giannis Drivelegas was also unanimously elected deputy secretary, while MP Athanasia Merentiti was elected treasurer. Petros Katsilieris, Theodoros Koliopanos, Giannis Paraskevas and Emmanouil Fragiadoulakis were elected members. The new presiding board held a meeting with PASOK leader George Papandreou. As it was made public, the presiding board of PASOKs Parliamentary Group will convene every second Wednesday.

    Meeting with G. Papandreou

    After congratulating the new presiding board, Mr Papandreou discussed with them the aims and priorities of PASOKs Parliamentary Group.

    Mr Papandreou put particular emphasis on the initiatives, as well as the opposition strategy in Parliament, and noted that the new presiding board took on their duties amid a crucial political period.

    Re-elected to the post of the secretary of the partys Parlaimentary Group, Dimitris Reppas underlined that all the PASOK MPs will do their best for PASOK to win the following general elections.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [05] Press Conference by Interior Minister New Civil Servant Code Presented

    23 Mar 2006 13:41:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: ΝΕΤ-ΝΕ 105.8-ANA

    While presenting on Thursday the new Civil Servant Code, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos hailed the new Code as modern, socially fair and an outcome of a wide-ranging consensus and dialogue with the Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants Trade Unions (ADEDY). He also voiced his conviction that it is to be a long-term one, thus safeguarding the unhindered continuation of the public administration. At the same time, he put particular emphasis on the objectivity of the criteria for transfers and reappointments of executive staff and assured he is open to changes, provided that they are suggested by ADEDY, so that the codes objectivity is further enhanced.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Public Sector Turns Page

    [06] At Least 15 Died in Clashes New Violence Surge in Somalia

    23 Mar 2006 14:36:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: ANA, Reuters

    A new surge of violence is tearing Somalia apart. After last month's bloody clashes, which claimed the lives of at least 60 people, paramilitary groups have been engaged in new bloodshed in Mogadishu. At least 15 people died and 46 were injured on Wednesday at the northern part of the Somali capital during clashes between armed forces affiliated to two powerful businessmen. Occasional clashes aiming to take control of parts of the capital, have spread to ports outside the city, while inhabitants are fleeing their homes once again in fear that violence will escalate.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [07] ETA Asks for Peaceful Solution to the Basque Issue Hope and Scepticism

    23 Mar 2006 12:43:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: ANA-Reuters-BBC

    The day after the Basque separatist group ETA declared permanent ceasefire finds Spain with mixed feelings. In its second message within the last 24 hours, published by Basque paper Gara, the group is calling on Spains Government to enter the path of dialogue for a peaceful solution to the Basque issue. "The object of this decision is to drive the democratic process in the Basque country in order to construct a new framework in which our rights as a people will be recognised [] Now is the time for compromise ... time to make important decisions and turn words into action," read ETAs statement. Spains Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero welcomed the ceasefire as a chance to put an end to the long-running bloody ETAs activities, yet he did not hide his scepticism.

    Addressing the Spanish Parliament and referring to the likelihood of talks with the Basque group, Zapatero said that following so many years of horror and terror, a long and tedious process is ahead. Zapateros Socialist Government, which had demanded ETA denounce violence before talks open, has not yet announced how it is to respond to ETAs proposal for ceasefire as of Friday, claiming that it must examine the proposal.

    However, scepticism is running high, since ETA has broken two truces during the 90s. Spanish Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy maintained that the ceasefire does not mean denouncing violence, while Spains Association of Victims of Terrorism dismissed the truce, blasting ETA for concocting a new plan to achieve its political aims.

    In Quest of Peace

    On Wednesdays video aired by Spains television networks three men in mask wearing a black Basque beret appeared and read their message, claiming that ETAs "object of this decision is to drive the democratic process in the Basque country in order to construct a new framework in which our rights as a people will be recognised." "At the end of this process, Basque citizens must have the say and the decision on their future, thus giving a democratic solution to the conflict," continued the announcement, which concluded, " Ending the conflict, here and now, is possible. This is the desire and the will of Eta."

    The Spanish Press welcomed the announcement with hope and skepticism.

    "An Unprecedented Opportunity," was the title of El Pais, claiming that leaving the chance go unexploited would be irresponsible. It is not the annoncement of the truce that is new, but the fact that it followed a long period devoid of attacks, a fact that allows hopes to run high, also noted El Pais.

    Right-wing paper ABC claimed that ETA declared a permanent truce to achieve self-determination, while it went on to read that the Spaniards should repose their trust in the Government to handle the new turn of events.

    It is a statement and a content that cause concern rather than hope, wrote El Mundo in its editorial, which also noted that peace has no political price.

    Spains papers underlined that ETA used the term "permanent ceasefire" just like IRA did, and does not necessarily mean the end of violence.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    ETA Declares Ceasefire

    [08] Decision Signed Raises in Farmers' Pensions

    23 Mar 2006 17:24:00

    Sources: NET, ANA

    Ministers of Economy and Rural Development, Messrs ALogoskoufis and Basiakos, co-signed on Thursday the decision to give retired farmers a 7% raise in standard OGA (Agricultural Insurance Organisation) pensions and a 4% raise in additional and main social security. Based on these percentages, the minimum pension will gradually increase from 195.82 euros last year to 234.38 euros, pending on the year of retirement. Back payments will be given from 2 to 10 May.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [09] Man Holds Three People in Castalia Clinic Hostage Situation in Athens

    23 Mar 2006 14:03:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    A hostage situation is underway in private mental clinic Castalia in Glyfada, on the intersection of Ellinikou and H6 Streets. According to initial information, an armed man, 26, who is facing mental problems and had been admitted to the clinic in the past, has locked himself up along with three hostages in the Accounts Department, on the first floor of the building. His demands remain unknown. Police forces have rushed to the scene, have cordoned off the area and are trying to negotiate with the young man. As per first information, the police negotiators have managed to calm the young man down and are hoping they will soon be able to disarm him and free the hostages. The hostage situation prompted Public Order Minister Byron Polidoras to cancel his scheduled meeting with Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras to personally supervise the rescue operation.

    As per the police, the young man who suffers from mental problems and is a drug addict, had been admitted to the clinic in the past and was released a month and a half ago.

    On Thursday, he left his house located in Nea Smyrni and escorted by a friend of his, who was ignorant of his intentions, headed for the clinic. Upon his arrival, he was not allowed entrance. He jumped over the rails, instead. After causing extensive damage at the clinics reception hall, he locked himself up along with the receptionist, a nurse and an accountant in the Accounts Department, on the first floor of the building.

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