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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-03-24
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Karamanlis-Buckovski Meeting Positive Approach24 Mar 2006 11:12:00 (Last updated: 24 Mar 2006 12:53:48)
By Vivian Papastefanou
The first meeting between Greek PM Kostas Karamanlis and his FYROM counterpart, Vlado Buckovski, took place in a friendly climate in Brussels, on the sidelines of the EU Summit. Buckovski underlined that both countries have to continue building on mutual understanding for the only pending matter, the name, while he voiced the belief that new opportunities for resolving the issue will present themselves after the countrys general elections in June. According to diplomatic sources, the Greek PM underlined, "As a European country, Greece considers that one of the criteria in advancing FYROMs European prospects is finding a mutually acceptable solution over the name." As per the same sources, the negotiations should take place under the aegis of the United Nations. Karamanlis also repeated Greeces fixed stance on the European prospects of the Balkan countries. Diplomatic sources also mentioned that the situation in Kosovo and other matters of the area were discussed during the meeting, with both countries views on Kosovo converging. In addition, they underlined that Greece is FYROMs number one business partner and investor, and it wishes to continue reinforcing those relations with the neighbouring country. As for the matter of the countrys accession to NATO, there would be no problems provided it joins the Organisation with the name FYROM.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
Employment and Growth
 Topped the EU Spring Summit Employment and Growth23 Mar 2006 22:51:00 (Last updated: 24 Mar 2006 12:39:13)
Sources: NET, NET Radio 105.8, ANA
The proceedings of the Spring EU Summit on energy policy, employment and labour relations are concluding Friday. In addition, on the same day, Greek PM Kostas Karamanlis will meet the PM of the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Vlado Buckovski, at the request of the latter. According to Buckovskis statements, the meeting will not focus on the issue of the neighbouring countrys name. On Thursday, the first day of the Summit, the Austrian Presidency submitted a revised conclusions draft, which provides for all unemployed school leavers to be offered employment, vocational training or some other type of employment within six months, starting from the end of 2007. In addition, the EU25 gave the green light to the European Commission to map a common energy policy that would allow, among others, joint negotiations of Member States with suppliers and contributions to countries facing energy deficiencies. During his intervention at the European Council, the Greek PM stressed, "The new cooperation for growth and employment, with particular emphasis to the promotion of social cohesion and the protection of the environment, constitutes a point of reference in confronting common European challenges, which arise from globalisation and the aging of the population." Karamanlis also underlined that a basic priority of the EU Member States is the timely implementation of national reform programmes and this priority should be the clear result of Thursdays session of the Council, that is, an even greater speeding up of reforms.
The Greek PM termed the defining of particular actions as necessary priorities in the course of achieving the objectives on a European and national level as a positive step. He also noted that particular attention should be paid on issues concerning research and development, the improvement of the business environment and the creation of job opportunities.
He clarified, however, that priority actions do not constitute new targets, but form part of the revised Lisbon Strategy, as decided last year.
Karamanlis also voiced his disagreement towards the quantitative analysis of objectives in particular sectors, as the Austrian EU Presidency had proposed beyond what had been agreed on. He noted that quantitative objectives, when set up, should be realistic so as not to create problems of credibility for the Union.
He also noted that the creation of more jobs, especially jobs for young people and women, remains the main priority. Within this context, he added, "We are promoting a series of integrated actions, aimed at facilitating easier access to the labour market and we are already ascertaining the first results with a drop of unemployment below 10% in 2005."
With regard to businesses, the Greek PM referred to a series of reforms being implemented for the improvement of the business environment and the support of small and medium-size enterprises, noting that the preservation of high growth rates is accelerated though boosting competitiveness, extroversion and new business initiatives. He also mentioned that all EU policies should aim primarily towards small enterprises, particularly regarding the improvement of legislation.
Regarding the Bolkestein Directive, Karamanlis described the finding of a compromise solution in the European Parliament as a success, which, as he said, should be supported. He also mentioned that any future discussions in the Council should take into consideration the committee proposals, which will be submitted next month and which will include the amendments adopted by the European Parliament.
Referring to the Common Energy Policy, Karamanlis noted that Greece is adopting the vision of the European Commission on energy strategy. He also noted the need to promote an effective coordination plan between Member States. In addition, Karamanlis voiced his support for the Commissions initiative to issue the Green Book, underlining the need for the creation of regional energy markets. Furthermore, he used the treaty of the energy community for the creation of an energy market in SE Europe, which was recently signed in Athens, as an example. He also noted that Greece has already proceeded with differentiating supplies in the energy sector and is developing into an energy transit hub, with a network of pipes carrying oil and gas destined for Europe and the USA.
Finally, referring to the European Councils conclusions draft, which will be discussed Friday, he noted that it would be inexpedient to make quantitative pledges regarding targets, while he asked for the new strategic report on energy to be ready by the end of 2006, and not 2007 as provided for by the plan, so that it can be implemented quicker.
In Athens, an announcement issued by PASOKs Economy sector noted that Greece is diverging from the European average. In answering, alternate Government spokesperson Evangelos Antonaros noted that the negative consequences of PASOKs policy are recorded in the European Statistical Services figures.
Employment and the Future of Europe
 Employees & Students Won't Back Down Villepin-Trade Unions Meeting24 Mar 2006 10:07:00
By Betty Savourdou
Sources: AFP - BBC - ANA
Dozens of people were injured and at least 420 were arrested during the violent incidents that broke out in Paris and other French cities Thursday, on the sidelines of the major protests by students and pupils opposing the law on first employment. A 21-year-old man sustained serious injuries to the head and is hospitalised in Paris. French PM Dominique de Villepin is scheduled to meet with the trade unions on Friday afternoon, with the latter remaining fixed on their stance and demanding for the law to be repealed. However, as per an article in todays Parisien, "The First Employment Contact (CPE) is dead," claiming that Villepin is prepared to proceed with great concessions during Fridays meeting. Moreover, on Thursday, the biggest students union, Unef, launched an appeal for the collective actions to continue. At the same time, 67 out of the countrys 84 universities and 1,014 out of the 4,330 high schools have been taken over by students.
Thousands of Protesters on the Streets
Thursday nights incidents in Paris were quite violent, as hundreds of masked protesters gathered in the square opposite the Inavides buildings, close to Matignon, throwing rocks and bottles against police, who responded with tear gas. Some 60 people, including 27 police officers, were injured in the French capital.
According to the organisers, 450,000 students and pupils participated in Thursdays protests, while the police speak of 220,000 protesters.
However, the French PM suggested a different avenue on Thursday, proposing an open agenda meeting with the trade unions.
"We dont have any clear information that the Prime Minister is going to withdraw the CPE, but that is exactly what were going to tell him to do," Jean-Claude Mailly, the leader of Labour Force union, said on RTL radio.
"This afternoon, the five of us will say [...] if you withdraw it, were ready to start negotiations straight away," he added.
Moreover, the deans of universities asked to meet with President Jacques Chirac, who, as per newspaper Parisien , is pressuring Villepin to negotiate.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
Read the story on other sources:
BBC: Key French talks over labour law
Le Monde: Les syndicats maintiennent la pression contre le CPE, Villepin ouvre le dialogue
 Accusing Lukashenko of Rigging Arrests in Belarus24 Mar 2006 09:23:00 (Last updated: 24 Mar 2006 13:05:02)
By Betty Savourdou
Sources: Reuters - Associated Press - ΝΕΤ 105.8
An eventful night was recorded on Thursday in Belarus, as 200 opposition supporters who had gathered in October Square in Minsk were arrested during a police operation. Alexander Milinkevichs supporters are complaining of rigging in the recent elections, when Alexander Lukashenko was elected President once again. "The authorities are destroying freedom, truth and justice," Milinkevich told the Associated Press, while at the same time urging his supporters to participate in the rally that will be staged Saturday in the Belarusian capital. Moreover, the European Union appealed to the authorities of Belarus to release the protesters. Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson called Belarus "the last dictatorship in Europe," urging the EU to intervene.
Arrestees to Be Tried
Despite the fact that he has been governing the country for the past 12 years using methods reminiscent of the Soviet era a practice that has made him a social outcast of the West Lukashenko, who will be sworn in next Friday, is very popular, as he has achieved economic stability.
The arrestees have been transferred to a detention centre awaiting trial.
It should be noted that 25 March is Independence Day and is celebrated by the Opposition in commemoration of the first, but temporary peoples republic of Belarus in 1918; a celebration that is not recognised by the countrys current regime.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
Read the story on other sources:
BBC: Belarus riot police halt protests
CBS: Belarus Police Detain Hundreds at Protest
Major Protest on Saturday
 Held in Friendly Climate Bakoyannis-Rice Meeting24 Mar 2006 00:05:00 (Last updated: 24 Mar 2006 09:31:46)
Sources: NET Radio 105.8, NET
The first meeting of Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis with her US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, was held in a friendly climate in Washington. Talks focused on bilateral relations, the European-Cypriot affairs, the Cypriot issue and the developments in the Balkans and the Middle East. The US State Secretary congratulated Bakoyannis or Dora, as she called her for her work as Mayor of Athens, while she accepted an invitation to visit Athens. Rice repeated that Greece constitutes a "strategic partner", noting that both countries share the common will to resolve many international problems, without, however, necessarily agreeing on everything.
Joint Press Conference
During the joint Press conference that followed the half-hour meeting, Bakoyannis spoke of Greeces strong political and economic presence in the western Balkans, whose future, as she noted, lies on their European path. In this context, she pointed out that the resolution of the issue with Kosovo requires stability in the area and consideration for the views of everyone involved.
As for Cyprus, the Greek FM, who had contacted Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos prior to departing Athens, underlined the need for a united, bi-communal Cyprus, by finding a solution based on the UN Security Councils resolutions, the proposals of the Secretary-General and the principles governing the EU, as Cyprus is one of its Member States.
Also referring to Cyprus, Rice said that the islands reunification must be achieved based on democratic values, however, she did not refer to UN Secretary General Kofi Annans plan.
Referring to the "strategic partnership", the US State Secretary made a special mention of the excellent relations between Greece and the Muslim world, which could be used to promote peace. Bakoyannis agreed to this, saying that Greeces ties with Islam go back 14 centuries, and this experience allows the country to play a significant role in bridging the gap between the West and Islam.
Referring to the Greek-Turkish relations, Bakoyannis repeated Greeces support towards Turkeys European prospects, but added that the neighbouring countrys future depends on the implementation of the EU principles, both in the interior, as well as in the relations with other countries, and specifically Greece and Cyprus.
On the other hand, Rice stressed that the USA supports the stable improvement in relations between the two countries, which commenced with the 1999 earthquakes, underlining that many bold steps have been taken. The State Secretary added that both countries could try harder, believing that Athens and Ankara have many common targets with respect to stability in the Balkans, Iraq and dedication to the common values, since Turkey is becoming more democratic as time goes by.
Crucial Contacts in the USA
 Three Justices Suspended23 Mar 2006 17:35:00
By the decision of the Supreme Court, three of the six justices charged with breach of duty because of their implication to the extra-judicial ring were temporarily suspended. The decision concerns former head of the Athens First Instance Court Gerasimos Dionisatos and First Instance Court Presidents Nikos Potamianos and Georgia Labropoulou. The Supreme Court also reviewed the case of 30 more justices, including presidents of Appellate Courts, charged with concealing assets, but did not pass sentence on 23 of them. As for the remaining 7, the discussion was postponed and will resume shortly.
Translated by Sofia Soulioti
 Alogoskoufis and Valinakis' Contacts Employment and the Future of Europe24 Mar 2006 08:47:00
By Vivian Papastefanou
The working dinner between economy ministers, attended by Giorgos Alogoskoufis, focused on developing the employment market in the EU Member States, a matter that will be included in the agenda of the unofficial Ecofin meeting in Austria next month. Specifically, on Thursday, the economy ministers analysed the Scandinavian model, and especially the model being implemented in Denmark, while the delegates also mentioned the Swedish model. Alogoskoufis mentioned that the latter is based on flexibility in the employment market, accompanied by strong social protection. He also mentioned that, according to the analysis, the model is based on great public expenditures a fact that was also underlined by most of his counterparts and in cooperation among employers, employees and the state. The trade unions agree on market flexibility, the employers offer employment opportunities and the government guarantees the income of employees for a set timeframe. Essentially, as noted by Alogoskoufis, the model is based on high taxation, so as to cover the great public expenditures.
Economy Ministers' Dinner
The Economy Minister declared that the Greek Government does not agree with the policy French PM Dominique de Villepin is trying to implement for youth employment and clarified that the conclusions drafts statement i.e. all unemployed school leavers to be offered employment, vocational training or some other type of employment within six months, starting from the end of 2007 pertains to youths who have not completed their high school education. As he said, as far as Greece is concerned, they would be supported through active policies from OAEDs (Greek Manpower Employment Organisation) programmes.
The Economy Minister also held talks with the Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, and discussed OTEs (Greek Telecommunication) plan for early retirement. As per Alogoskoufis, the EU has not given an opinion on the matter yet, however Greece is asking that a decision be made soon. The Minister also underlined that if the plan is rejected by the EU, then the money will be paid to the fund by OTE and not the State, as was the case until today. Alogoskoufis further mentioned that the EU does not encourage early retirement in general which is also noted in the Conclusions draft however, as he said, if it is proven that they are private-sector growth initiatives, then the plan might be accepted.
Another matter raised by Alogoskoufis with the Commissioner related to the tax-free reserves of businesses for the years 2003 and 2004, which the Commission considers as state aid. "It is a tough battle, but I am hoping that in the end, the businesses will not be required to return the money to the public sector," declared the Minister, reminding that it related to a law that was enacted by the previous government, but which has now been repealed.
Finally, they discussed the matter of privatising the Skaramanga Shipyards and the subsequent state aid.
Foreign Ministers' Dinner
The discussions during the foreign ministers dinner focused on the future of Europe and the fate of the European Constitution. Deputy Greek Foreign Minister Giannis Valinakis repeated that Greece is in favour of the enlargement and development of the EU, underlining that Greeces interest lies especially in the support of the Balkan countries European prospects.
It should be noted that the Austrian Presidency decided to invite Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn to this dinner. The Commissioner, however, indirectly voiced his annoyance towards the Media representatives.
On the matter of the European constitutional treaty, most of the delegates expressed the wish for it to continue, but stressed that more discussions should be held. Thus they suggested a special meeting "either in a castle or a monastery."
The ministers also discussed "Plan D" proposed by the European Commission concerning dialogue with the citizens. A first discussion on the procedure will take place in the June Summit.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
 Olympiacos Lost to Barcelona23 Mar 2006 23:15:00
By Vasilis Kalpinos
Olympiacos failed to claim the advantage of home grounds at the round of 8 in the Euroleague tournament, after loosing 67-74 to Barcelona. Although Olympiacos were better for three periods, a blackout in the last 10 minutes cost them victory. Michalis Kakiouzis did the trick once again, as he was in a fine day, and Barcelona regrouped to defeat the home team. The Greek team is now ranking second in Group D. It should be noted that over 15,000 fans, including Rivaldo and Efthimis Retzias, had packed the stadium to cheer and applause for Olympiacos. The score per period: 28-15, 43-33, 57-49, 67-74.
Translated by Sofia Soulioti