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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-04-26

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

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] Crisis is Deepening
  • [02] Unheralded Visit to Iraq
  • [03] No Added Economic Measures
  • [04] Optimism over Oil
  • [05] Intra-Party Reactions in PASOK
  • [06] Diamantopoulou-Arapoglou Meeting
  • [07] Karamanlis-Meimarakis Meeting
  • [08] Paleokrassas' Deposition on 17N
  • [09] New Blasts in Egypt
  • [10] Harsh Penalties for Knockoffs
  • [11] 1,000 Secret CIA Flights
  • [12] Olympic Referred to EU Court
  • [13] Alvaro to Sport the Greek Colours

  • [01] Iran Threatens the USA Crisis is Deepening

    26 Apr 2006 21:04:00 (Last updated: 26 Apr 2006 23:20:13)

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos


    The crisis triggered off by Irans nuclear programme is deepening, shortly before the UN ultimatum demanding Iran halt uranium enrichment expires. On April 28, UN nuclear watchdog head Mohamed ElBaradei will submit his report on Tehrans nuclear programme before the permanent members of the UN Security Council. However, Tehran remains firm on its stance, defying the warnings issued by the international community. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei added Wednesday insult to injury anew, vowing that US interests worldwide will be struck if Iran is attacked.

    "The Iranian nation will respond to any blow with double the intensity," argued Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Earlier, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had stated that his county would not give up on its legitimate and sacrosanct rights.

    Only if the international bodies respect Irans rights and do not strip us of our rights, will we respect their resolution, the Iranian President has said.

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had also stated that Tehran was ready to offer its nuclear know-how to all parties interested. The White House blasted Iran for pursuing the escalation of the crisis, underlining that it is about time the UN Security Council stepped in.

    Washington wishes sanctions to be imposed under article 7 of the UN charter, which also foresees military action.

    However, China and Russia keep opposing any military action against Iran, and are opting for a diplomatic solution.

    And as tension is running high, Israel is to launch a spying satellite, aiming to record anything happening on Irans nuclear plants.

    Read the story on other sources:

    BBC: Iran leader issues warning to US

    Related News:

    Iran Issued Warning

    Tehran Won't Back Down

    [02] By Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld Unheralded Visit to Iraq

    26 Apr 2006 21:32:00

    Sources: BBC- NET

    US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made Wednesday an unheralded visit to Iraq. As for Rice, it was her second visit to Iraq within three weeks. The two US Secretaries met US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and senior US military staff and then held 50-minute talks with Iraqs new Prime Minister-designate, Nouri Maliki. Their visit officially meant to offer their support to Maliki, however, diplomatic sources cited it could be linked to pullout scenarios, following the mounting domestic pressure applied to the Bush administration.

    Pullout Plans

    Speaking at a joint news conference with Mr Rumsfeld, top US military commander in Iraq General George Casey hailed Iraqs selection of new government leaders as a "major step in the process" towards returning US troops home.

    However, he avoided defining the timeline of the withdrawal. Mr Rumsfeld, in turn, said he and General Casey had also discussed how best to work with Iraqs new leaders on the dividing up of the security of Iraq between domestic and US forces. He also congratulated the Iraqi security forces on they impressive progress made.

    In the meantime, the appointment of Fox News TV and radio host Tony Snow to the post of the White House spokesman is viewed as an effort to improve the profile of the Bush administration. Toni Snow, 50, is the first media person to earn such a post in the White House.

    Related News:

    Rice in Iraq

    [03] To Reduce the Deficit No Added Economic Measures

    26 Apr 2006 17:33:00 (Last updated: 26 Apr 2006 23:25:30)

    Sources: NET - NET 105.8 - ANA

    On Wednesday, Greek Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis denied the possibility of implementing added measures to reduce the deficit. Moreover, he clarified that the deficit will drop to under 3%, despite the fact that 2006 was a tough year for the Economy, as was the case in 2005. However, the upward spiralling of oil prices has proven a sore point in implementing the budget, with the Economy Ministry closely monitoring the developments. Apart from the oil prices, though, the Ministry is also concerned over the progress of the interest rates. Although the European Central Bank is not revealing anything over its future moves, analysts are not ruling out the possibility of the rates exceeding 3% by the end of the year.

    Satisfaction over Revenues

    At the same time, the Economy Minister appeared satisfied over the progress of the budget in the first quarter as well as the results of the European Statistical Service concerning the course of the Greek Economy.

    It should be noted that the net revenues of the regular budget for Q1 increased significantly by 18.6%, exceeding the initial target for a 10.3%-rise.

    Referring to the banks social security, Alogoskoufis pointed out that the procedures for inclusion to the Mutual Fund are continuing, adding that no extensions would be granted.

    Meanwhile, he hoped that the administrations and employees of loss-making enterprises would reach an agreement for pay rises for 2006-2007, as well as for the new organisational charts, within the set deadline.

    "The political crime of fiscal inventory will keep haunting the Economy Minister throughout his political life, no matter how many efforts he makes to distort evidence. He keeps defaming the country and burdening the citizens," commented PASOK parliamentarian responsible for Economy Vaso Papandreou.

    "No matter how hard PASOK is trying, the Greek people will not forget the dramatic situation of the countrys Economy. Its officials keep repeating the known lies, without convincing anyone," replied the Economy Ministry.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [04] Bush's Intervention Provides Relief Optimism over Oil

    26 Apr 2006 15:49:00 (Last updated: 26 Apr 2006 18:27:24)

    Sources: NET - ANA

    US President George Bushs move to temporarily suspend deposits to strategic petroleum reserves until November provided some relief to the international oil markets. The price of oil steadied around $73 per barrel, while the price of crude for November delivery dropped by 8 cents to $72.80 per barrel on Wednesday. At the same time, the Greek Economy Ministry is closely monitoring the developments and has already made provisions in the budget. Moreover, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis appeared confident that Greece would be safeguarded in the long run.

    Special Consumption Tax Freezes

    However, the increase in the special consumption tax that Greece had to proceed with has been temporarily frozen, while all licences to sell tax-free fuel at customs have been recalled. The main reasons were to avoid loss of revenues, and stamp out illegal smuggling and unlawful competition.

    According to the latest price checks performed by the Development Ministry on a sample of 2,300 fuel stations, the average price reached one of the highest levels ever in Greece.

    On 9 September, the price had reached 1.058 euros per litre; on 10 October it was at 1.026, while on 19 April is stood at 1.016.

    The price ranges between 1.002 euros and 1.093 euros in 42 out of the countrys 52 prefectures. The most expensive areas are: Rethymno (1.093 euros per litre), Evritania (1.091), Thesprotia (1.091) and Chania (1.087).

    In addition, the price difference in unleaded fuel between the cheapest and the most expensive prefectures is quite high. Specifically, the price in Rethymno is at 1.093 euros per litre and in Kilkis at 0.95 euros, i.e. 0.143 cents cheaper.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related News:

    Sioufas Optimistic over Oil and Economy

    [05] Within PASOK over Papadopoulos' Statements Intra-Party Reactions in PASOK

    26 Apr 2006 18:59:00

    Sources: ΝΕΤ-ΝΕΤ 105.8

    The statements by PASOK parliamentarian Alekos Papadopoulos, who proposed retirement before the age of 60 be halted, prompted reactions within PASOK. Speaking on the issue, relevant PASOK section head Evengelos Venizelos argued that complete proposals should be presented on the table, otherwise misunderstandings come up. In his interview with Ethnos daily, Alekos Alavanos had stated, "I disagree with my PASOK colleagues, who argue that our social policy should by built upon money lent. That would be irrational and tragically irresponsible." He further added that the existence of pensioners under the age of 60 is unconceivable. Giorgos Panagiotakopoulos, member of PASOKs Political Council, strongly reacted arguing that some were trying to please the conservatives.

    [06] Diamantopoulou-Arapoglou Meeting

    26 Apr 2006 17:16:00

    Sources: NET - ANA

    A PASOK delegation headed by Anna Diamantopoulou met with the President of the Hellenic Bank Association, Takis Arapoglou, and discussed the problems encountered by consumers in their relations with banks. The talks focused on the problems associated with enormous household loans and the policy being followed with interest rates, especially in consumer loans.

    Diamantopoulou mentioned that the rise in consumer loans is a serious issue that greatly affects the citizens income, asking that a framework for the protection of consumers be established.

    At the same time, she voiced her concerns over the terms and conditions for loans, noting the need to review the policy followed by banks, especially in the interest rates for consumer loans.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [07] Wide-Ranging Discussion Karamanlis-Meimarakis Meeting

    26 Apr 2006 13:43:00

    By Vivian Papastefanou

    Sources: NET - NET 105.8 - ANA

    The meeting between Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis in Maximos Mansion on Wednesday focused on US State Secretary Condoleezza Rices visit to Athens, the issue with Iran and the upcoming municipal elections. After the meeting, Meimarakis declared that Greece is in favour of a diplomatic solution to the issue with Iran, while he expressed the belief that the USA will not be resorting to military operations in the country. As for the possibility of using violence against the military base in Sudan, on the occasion of the NATO Summit in Sofia on Friday, the Defence Minister stressed that Greece had conventional obligations towards NATO which it ought to keep.

    Referring to the upcoming municipal elections in October, Meimarakis underlined that the governments are judged during the general elections, while other political messages emerge during local elections. He also mentioned that a self-governing person from the wider centre-right sector should be nominated for the post of Athens-Piraeus Prefect, staying clear of party members and active politicians.

    He also added that the current mayors and their actions are judged during local elections and not New Democracy that supported them. As for the names of the nominated prefects that ND will be supporting, he noted that party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis would be making the relevant announcements soon. Finally, referring to the possible nomination of Giorgos Karatzaferis, Meimarakis said that the party was not concerned, but it was monitoring the situation.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [08] Tension Ran High Paleokrassas' Deposition on 17N

    26 Apr 2006 14:37:00


    The Athens Five Member Appellate Court assigned to carry out the 17N trial focused Wednesday on the case relating to the rocket attack against the car of former Economy Minister Ioannis Paleokrassas in 1992. It is noted that the attack, which was mounted in broad daylight near Syntagma Square, resulted in young university student Thanos Axarlian being killed and several passer-bys injured. In his deposition, Paleokrassas, who is attending the trial in the capacity of the plaintiff, argued that apart from him and his chauffer, his wife and a 18-year-old friend of his daughter were also on the car on that day, and added that they escaped danger because the rocket exploded on the pavement. Paleokrassas stated he himself was driving the car and that his chauffer was on the seat of the co-driver and that he heard a hollow sound the moment he was taking a turn. "I felt there was an explosion and initially thought that bombs had gone off," said and further added, "As soon as I stepped outside, I saw the road melted." When asked by Prosecutor Efterpi Koutzoumani on the reasons why 17N orchestrated an attack in the heart of Athens, instead of another place, Paleokrassas claimed that the perpetrators chose Syntagma Square for symbolic reasons. They meant to show, in other words, that they could strike blows in the heart of the capital. He also noted that the 17N members knew that passer-bys were most likely to get killed or injured, for the shock wave following a rocket explosion is quite huge. Paleokrassas underlined that the attack against him had no political impact, whatsoever. When he touched on the tragic victim of that attack, namely Thanos Axarlian, his voice was shaking.

    The Lawyers of D. Koufontinas and Xiros Walked Out

    In her deposition, eye witness Athina Merkoupi, who got a leg injury after the shock wave hurled her metres away, said she saw Thanos Axarlian lying on the road covered in blood. She went on to say, "He must have died on the spot, for he was dead when he was hurried to hospital." Merkoupi further argued that, to her mind, the perpetrators meant to kill many more apart from Paleokrassas and that is why they mounted the attack in such a busy place.

    In the meantime, tension ran high, when the courts chief forbade the defence to pose questions on the motivations behind the attack against Paleokrassas.

    In particular, the lawyers of Dimitris Koufontinas and Christodoulos Xiros walked out from Wednesdays hearing, because, as they said, the court was influenced by recent articles citing that both the Chief Judge and the Prosecutor were displaying tolerance towards the defendants and their lawyers.

    Chief Judge Dionissis Vertelis answered the court was not influenced by articles, adjourned the hearing for Thursday and ordered the minutes of Wednesdays hearing be sent to the Prosecutor and the Athens Bar Association.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [09] Two Persons Wounded New Blasts in Egypt

    26 Apr 2006 14:10:00

    By Betty Savourdou

    Sources: Reuters, AFP

    On Wednesday noon, two suicide bombings occurred near an airport used as a base by the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), in the region of El Arish, at the Sinai Peninsula, in Egypt. As per an MFO spokesperson, the targets of the suicide bombers were vehicles of the organisation, while the attacks resulted in the wounding of two of its members. Men from the US, France and Italy are taking part in the international force and their mission is the observance of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    Read the story on other sources:

    BBC: Bomb targets Egypt peacekeepers

    Related News:

    Bloodshed in Egypt

    [10] Imprisonment and Harsh Fines Harsh Penalties for Knockoffs

    26 Apr 2006 17:58:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: ΝΕΤ-ANA

    The EU directive foresees heavy fines and imprisonment to bring Member States criminal legislation into alignment so as to combat counterfeiting and piracy. The European Commission proposed all parties involved in creating and promoting knockoffs to the market be given a minimum sentence of four years imprisonment, as well as fines ranging from 100,000 euros to 300,000 euros.

    As per the EUs figures, the phenomenon has assumed mammoth proportions in the EU market.

    It is noted that some 103 million knockoffs were confiscated in 2004, while the number of confiscated products from 1998 until 2004 has posted a 100% increase.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [11] Over European Territory 1,000 Secret CIA Flights

    26 Apr 2006 17:51:00

    More than 1,000 secret CIA flights have been carried out on European territory since 2001, without the European states demanding any explanations, said a European Parliament report. The EU investigators closely studied a series of cases and the testimonies by dozens of witnesses who said they had been kidnapped by US agents. The report showed that CIA planes made several undeclared stopovers on European territory, violating an international air treaty requiring airlines to declare the routes and stopovers.

    EU Countries Displayed Guilty Inertia

    Italian politician Giovanni Claudio Fava, who drafted the report, said that documents provided by the EUs air safety agency, Eurocontrol, showed that the governments of the European countries, where the aforementioned flights were carried out, requested no information on the flights. As Fava noted, the EU governments showed guilty inertia, since they couldnt possibly be unaware of the nature of these flights.

    At the same time, the European Council is carrying out another inquiry into the same issue, aiming to determine whether the EU treaty on human rights was infringed or not. The EU ParliamentCommittee has not been vested with the power to conduct interrogations, but, upon is set-up last January, it has carried out probes and interviews that confirmed CIAs responsibility for the abduction and detention of terror suspects on EU Member States territory

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [12] For Illegal State Aid Olympic Referred to EU Court

    26 Apr 2006 12:37:00 (Last updated: 26 Apr 2006 16:50:20)

    Sources: Europa, NET

    On Wednesday, the European Commission, after a recommendation by its Vice-President Jacques Barrot, decided to refer Greece to the European Court over illegal state aid of 540 million euros given to Olympic Airways in 2002-2004. The new decision follows the one made in 4 April, when the Commission had given Greece a 2-month deadline to recover state aid of 161 million euros given to OA in 1998-2002.

    As per Greek Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, the decisions of the European Commission for Olympic Airways were expected, since its complaints were the result of past mismanagement. He also stressed that OA will continue operating until September-October, while at the same time, the Governments contacts with candidate investors for the privatisation of the national air carrier would continue.

    In addition, Deputy Economy Minister Petros Doukas also offered assurances that OA would be flying until October, noting that the relevant ministries have prepared a response to the Commission on the complaints it has presented. Furthermore, he added that Arab companies have also expressed interest in OA.

    The Commission's Decision

    As per the decision, Greece has to quantify and recover all the unlawfully granted aid to Olympic Airways and Olympic Airlines since December 2002.

    The decision also asked Greece to immediately suspend all further payments of aid to Olympic Airways and Olympic Airlines, and gave Greece two months to inform the Commission of the steps taken to comply.

    Nevertheless, at this stage, the exact amount to be recovered has not been determined yet.

    In Relation to Aid Given After 11/9/2006

    On Wednesday, the European Commission decided to authorise some 2 million euros of aid granted by Greece to Olympic Airways in compensation for losses resulting from the closure of airspace between 11 and 14 September 2001, folloiwng the 9/11 attacks.

    However, in line with established practice in respect of other countries, the Commission is unable to accept measures taken to compensate for flights not carried out after 14 September 2001. The total amount to be recovered is accordingly about 2.8 million euros.

    In a communication on the repercussions of the terrorist attacks in the United States on the air transport industry, adopted in October 2001, the Commission accepted certain types of aid, including aid to insurance companies and aid to cover the costs resulting from the partial closure of airspace.

    The Greek aid scheme totalled around 5 million euros. The formal investigation conducted by the Commission following its decision of 27 May 2003 revealed that Greece had justified a direct link between the losses for which compensation could be given and actual flight restrictions, in an amount of 2 million euros of aid transferred to Olympic Airways. The particular losses concerned were incurred through cancellations of flights to the United States, Canada and Israel, whose airspaces were totally or partially closed to traffic during the days in question.

    On the other hand, another portion of the aid transferred to Olympic Airways either concerns flights not carried out after 14 September 2001 (i.e. beyond the period referred to in the Commissions communication) and has already been the subject of a final negative decision for other EU Member States, or it has not been justified by Greece.

    Finally, Greece has supplied no documents to substantiate the aid of around 140,000 euros paid to Aegean Cronus, and the Commission has likewise decided to recover that aid.

    [13] Alvaro to Sport the Greek Colours

    26 Apr 2006 10:49:00

    By Ilias Papaioannou

    The procedures for granting Greek nationality to Brazilian equestrian champion Alvaro Alfonso de Miranda Neto and his wife, Greek heiress Athina Onassis, commenced on Tuesday. The famous Olympian, who recently married Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis granddaughter, had expressed interest in competing for Greece at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. So the couple arrived at the Hellenic Equestrian Federations offices in Markopoulo, Athens, on Tuesday, to fill out the necessary documents that would grant them Greek passports. In addition, Athina Onassis participation in the European Equestrian Championship was also finalised.

    Great Success for the Hellenic Federation

    Upon departing the offices of the Hellenic Equestrian Federation, the Brazilian champion noted, "I hope for the matter to be settled in the next 15 days so that I will be able to officially compete with the Greek colours. It would be a great honour for me. I feel proud that I will be able to compete for Greece. On the other hand, Athina Onassis did not make any statements.

    On the part of the Federation, President Isidoros Kouvelos voiced his optimism that the matter with Alvaros nationalisation will be settled soon, underlining, "Mr de Miranda Netos inclusion in the countrys Olympic team will constitute a great success for the Greek Equestrian Federation. His wife is Greek, so there will be no problems with his inclusion in the Greek team."

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

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