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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 08-05-23
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 "Focus on People"Greek PM Tours Macedonia
23 May 2008 14:34:00
Sources: ΝΕΤ, ΝΕΤ 105.8, ANA-MPA
Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis visited Friday noon the 424 General Military Hospital in Thessaloniki. In his address, the Greek Premier voiced the Governments trust to the Armed Forces, stressed that the health reforms advanced by the Government is focused on people, and made a reference to the army officials pay.
Kostas Karamanlis will then visit the city of Florina and the agricultural cooperative of the Prespes National Park.
At noon on Saturday, Karamanlis will address a two-day event organised by the Constine Karamanlis Foundation (on the theme Karamanlis in his home town, 10 years after his death), and in the afternoon will attend the unveiling of a bust of the late statesman in his birthplace, the village of Proti in Serres.
 Government Appears ReassuringIntensive Inspections
23 May 2008 10:58:00 (Last updated: 23 May 2008 16:32:59)
By Athina Saloustrou
Sources: ΝΕΤ, ΝΕΤ 105.8, ANA-MPA
The food safety agencies are battling against time to withdraw all the quantities of tainted sunflower oil that were imported in Greece either from Ukraine or from third parties. At the same time, all products containing more than 10% of sunflower oil were decided to be withdrawn from the market, while EFET is awaiting companies to determine which these products are. Greeces General Chemical State Laboratory said that various concentrations of toxic petroleum, ranging from 10 to 300ppm, had been detected in the suspect samples. The experts, however, have estimated that public health runs no risks. Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Vlahos called the first lab results as reassuring. In the meantime, a resolution on olive oil price-fixing was signed Friday.
The price-fixing decision was taken on the grounds that sunflower oil consumption amounts to 30% of the total oil consumption in Greece, and the recent turmoil coupled with the withdrawal of the sunflower quantities were feared to trigger off surges in commodity prices. By this decision oil prices are to freeze for as long as it takes.
"This means that any rise in oil products constitutes a breach that infers administrative penalties, stiff fines, referral to prosecutor and release of the offenders names. The provision takes effects as of 24 May," stressed Deputy Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros.
Sounding reassuring, the Government underlined that the inspections go on, while the opposition parties insisted on the political responsibilities.
Drilled to answer whether all tainted sunflower oil quantities had been removed from the market and whether the companies had answered on which of their products contain sunflower oil, Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Vlahos said that all required measures had been taken since the "first contaminated sample was detected, apart from the shipment indicated by the EU." "Instead of running to prove which are contaminated, we [Government] told the importing companies to prove which are clean and can work their way through the market."
"From the lost turkey, we moved to the tainted yogurts and now to the lost tonnes of sunflower oils. The Governments ignorance and contradicting statements, and the consumers stress continue," commented PASOK spokesman Giorgos Papakonstantinou.
He then went on to say that that none of the 10 questions posed by the Socialist party had been answered and repeated three of them: "How many tonnes of contaminated sunflower oil have worked their way through the Greek market? How many and what kind of foodstuffs contain this substance? Why dont authorities release the full list with the companies that pushed the contaminated sunflower oil to the market?"
"Panic should be avoided," General Secretary of Consumer Affairs Giannis Oikonomou told NET radio station. "The Government took measures as soon as it was informed, while it is being investigated whether the companies circulating the sunflower oil promptly informed the Government. Heavy sanctions will be imposed if needed," added Oikonomou.
The EU decided against imposing a ban on imports from Ukraine, viewing the measures taken by the Ukrainian authorities as sufficient.
Asked whether Greece would lift the ban on sunflower oil imports from Ukraine, Antonaros argued that Greece is collaborating with the EU food safety agencies and will follow any joint agricultural policy, as soon as it is shaped.
He further stated that there had been no new EU directives foreseeing stricter inspections. He noted, however, that Greece will make even stricter inspections, if necessary.
Translated by Areti Christou
 Oil Surge Spooks Markets23 May 2008 14:43:00
A rebound in oil prices kept inflation fears at the forefront of investors minds on Friday, weighing on Asian and European stocks and setting the scene for a poor start on Wall Street. European and U.S. bond yields, however, eased slightly after rising sharply this week as investors squared books ahead of holidays in the U.S. and UK on Monday. Crude oil was hunting higher ground, up $1.58 on the day at $132.41 per barrel, staging a recovery from a strong bout of profit-taking in the previous session that knocked prices more than 3 percent off a record high of $135.09. With worries on supply showing no sign of abating and oil bulls tantalised by the prospect of prices hitting $150 and even $200, markets are bracing for the possibility of dramatic second round inflation effects.
 OTE- Deutsche Telekom AgreementWithout Surprises
23 May 2008 18:03:00
Sources: ΝΕΤ-ΝΕΤ 105.8,ΑNA, ΜPA
Greek Transport Minister, Kostis Hatzidakis, who met with EU Commissioner on Information Society&Media, Viviane Reding and briefed her on his Ministrys program, stressed that OTE- Deutsche Telekom agreement does not hide any surprises or dark points. The EU Commissioner did not make any comments on the agreement, which will be tabled to the Parliament in the next days for approval.
Translated by Chrisanthi Sarantis
 Papandreou-Dacic Meeting23 May 2008 16:06:00
Sources: ΝΕΤ-ΝΕΤ 105,8-ANA/MPA
The accession of Serbias Socialist party to the Socialist International and the formation of a coalition government in Belgrade topped the talks held between PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) President George Papandreou and his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dačić. Socialist International wants to have its family extended and contribute to the promotion of the progressive powers both in the Balkans and in Europe, commented Papandreou. He further offered his backing to Serbias right to enter the EU institutions.
Referring to Serbias domestic situation, Ivica Dačić said he exchanged views with George Papandreou, taking it account that Serbias Socialist party, along with its two allies, plays an important role in the countrys political system.
Serbias Socialist party aims to join the Socialist International, lay the grounds for social justice and usher Serbia to the EU structures. He then thanked Papandreou and PASOK for the development of friendly relations with Serbia and for the stance on the Kosovo row.
Translated by Areti Christou
 Investment InterestFiscal Purging
23 May 2008 14:41:00
Sources: ΝΕΤ, ΝΕΤ-105.8, ΑNA-ΜPA
In response to relevant questions, Finance Minister, George Alogoskoufis, who is in the US, repeated once again that fiscal purging, inflow of foreign investments and strengthening of the Competition Committee are the key points to combat inflationary pressures. Mr. Alogoskoufis categorically ruled out scenarios about budget revisions, however, he expressed concern over negative global economic circumstances which are slowing down European economys growth and intensifying inflationary pressures.
He also underlined that the strengthening of the Competition Committee will deal with inflationary pressures from rises in oil and food prices and clarified that in no case will the reforms program be influenced by coincidental issues, such as rise in inflation rate, because it is being drawn on long-term basis. He also said that the international credit crisis has not had any negative impact on the Greek banking system because Greek banks have not been exposed to high risks as the large international finance groups.
Greek-International Economy Relations
Generally referring to international economy, Mr. Alogoskoufis expressed optimism that circumstances will return to normal in 2009 and this will help the Greek economy. He also reconfirmed higher interest for investments in Greece compared to the recent past, underlining that the US knows well that Greece plays a major role in the broader Balkan region. In parallel, he stressed that international economic organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund, have recognized the significant progress of the Greek economy, conveyed by the Managing Director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn during their meeting in Washington.
Foreign investors interest was reconfirmed at an event organized by the Hellenic Center for Investments (ELKE) with the participation of many representatives of American companies which have indicated interest to extend their activities in Greece.
Translated by Chrisanthi Sarantis
 Christofias-Talat Meeting23 May 2008 11:39:00
Sources: ΝΕΤ, ANA-MPA
Greek-Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat will hold a second meeting on Friday. Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said the two leaders will see whether the working groups and committees assigned to prepare the climate for direct negotiations have yielded some satisfying results.
"I am willing to have a friendly talk with Mr Talat in a joint effort to move on," argued President Christofias on Thursday night.
Christofias claimed that the goal is to make the work of the committees and working groups more effective, so that it can start bearing fruits. "We are pursuing a solution. This should be understood as soon as possible," stressed the Cypriot President.
 "US Pullout Could Be Catastrophic"23 May 2008 10:19:00
President George W. Bush warned Thursday that a premature US military withdrawal from Iraq would be "catastrophic for our country", strengthen Al-Qaeda and embolden Irans nuclear ambitions.
Bush said security had improved enough in Iraq to justify an ongoing drawdown that would see troop levels reduced by 25 percent from last year, but he gave no indication whether he supported even further troop reductions as General David Petraeus has indicated could take place.
Earlier Thursday Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, told Congress he expects to be able to recommend more cuts in US forces in Iraq before he leaves his post in September.
Bush, in a speech to thousands of army paratroopers recently returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina from 15-month tours in Iraq, said he remained adamant that US troops continue their "war on terror" to prevent renewed 9/11-style attacks on US soil.
"Withdrawal before success would send a signal to terrorists and extremists across the world that America is weak and does not have the stomach for a long fight," he said after observing a series of ceremonial parachute jumps.
"Withdrawal before success would be catastrophic for our country. It would be more likely that we would suffer another attack, like the one we experienced on September the 11th," 2001, he added.