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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 08-11-28
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From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Medvedev-Castro MeetingThe meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro was held in the framework of the constant cooperation Cuba and Russia enjoyed.
The meeting was part of Medvedev's Latin-America tour, during which oil, military and trade agreements were signed with Venezuela. The Russian tour in countries near the USA and the meetings with leaders whose relations with Washington are not that good is in fact a crystal clear message manifesting Russia's upgraded role in world affairs.
News item: 16117
 Chief Monk Efraim QuitsChief monk Efraim is to quit leadership of Vatopedi Monastery, after being urged to do so by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Efraim left the Phanar after having committed to inform the Monastery's brotherhood, before officially tendering in his resignation to the Patriarchate. The statement issued by the Phanar's Holy Synod stressed that the Ecumenical Patriarchate would keep being interested in the case, further offering its trust in Justice.
Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros dropped hints at the opposition, claiming that some were trying to prolong the list of witnesses to earn time, create impressions and probably degrade the inquiry committee's work.
He also noted he was expecting some answers by PASOK spokesman Giorgos Papakonstantinou. "Mr Papakonstantinou will not manage to shift interest and attention from something so simple, no matter how hard he tries. He has made controversial statements. Claiming that it is a personal matter, he convinces no one. Silence is not an answer," said he.
Papakonstantinou, on his part, blasted the government for undermining the society. The PASOK spokesman underlined that every new testimony multiplied the evidence burdening all implicating parties.
Asked whether the Ecumenical Patriarchate was late in his reaction, Papakonstantinou stressed he could not judge Bartholomew's move, further adding that the scandal should not influence the relation between the Greek society and the Church, which should step up measures against it.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA-MPA
News item: 16093
 Greek Nationals Are Safe-Greece Condemns HitsThe two Greek nationals trapped in one of the two luxurious hotels in Mumbai were safe and sound and all necessary procedures for their coming back home were underway, said a spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry. In the meantime, a C 130 military airplane is on standby. Both the Greek government and the opposition parties vehemently condemned the terror attacks in India.
"I want to condemn in the most intense and vehement manner the cruel, terror attacks in India. They make us all feel angered and indignant. Nothing can justify coward hits against civilians. The good of human life is above everything else. We express our most heartfelt sympathy to the victims' families. Greece is willing to join a humanitarian campaign. From the very beginning, we told the EU crisis management centre we were on standby to send a military airplane to transfer injured people to Greece if necessary," stressed Kostas Karamanlis.
"I express my repulsion, sorrow and comfort to the victims' families in India. I have already sent a letter to the government on behalf of PASOK [Panhellenic Socialist Movement] and of the International Socialist," stressed Socialist leader George Papandreou.
"It feels that uttering our justified pain over the innocent victims of the bomb hits in Mumbai is not enough. We are particularly concerned, for this region is really wealthy, suffering at the same time from major problems. With a history of religious and nationalistic conflicts and separatist movements. Right now, we cannot determine the main motives. But the ones who usually gain are those who want to earn markets," commented Aleka Papariga, secretary general of the Greek Communist Party (KKE).
"Extremism and bigotry clash with Democracy. We should not just condemn such hits and then turn a blind eye, but we have to undertake initiative, so that this plague can been stamped out," stressed Kyriakos Velopoulos, spokesman for Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS).
News item: 16092
 Greek Opposition Leaders Back ChristofiasGreece -
The Cyprus row topped the meetings Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, who is on a two-day visit to Athens, held Friday with opposition leaders Aleka Papariga, Alekos Alavanos and Giorgos Karatzaferis.
Papariga offered KKE's (Greek Communist Party) backing to Christofias' efforts to solve the Cyprus and voiced her concern over the latest developments in the Aegean..
Alekos Alavanos, head of SYRIZA's (Coalition of the Radical Left) parliamentary group, argued that Turkey's provocative stance should be addressed within the EU, while Giorgos Karatzaferis, president of LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally), said that everyone should stand by Christofias in his great mission.
Source: NET/NET 105.8
News item: 16087
 Dispute over PrivatizationsIn response to SYRIZA deputy, Fotis Koubelis question on privatizations of ports and the Olympic Airways, Mr. Karamanlis stressed that reforms would be accelerated, clarifying that reforms helped in the smooth dealing with financial crisis.Mr. Karamanlis described as success the high interest of investors for the country's two largest ports and the Olympic Airways. SYRIZA spokesman, F. Koubelis portrayed as mistake the privatization of Olympic Airways and the two large ports of the country.
SYN party deputy, Fotis Koubelis expressed fear for the future of the country if the government continues intensification of privatizations, maintaining that Olympic Airways and Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports are of strategic importance and sea and air gates could not be given away to private investors. In parallel, he criticized the government for handing over a state service without having provided for effective supervision terms and allowing formulation of conditions for monopoly behaviour when in other European ports there are over two port service providers. Regarding Olympic Airways, Mr. Koubelis said that the government has reached the easy solution of privatization without taking into consideration that Greece is a tourist destination, Greeks abroad prefer the Olympic Airways and the company is among the safest airways worldwide.
Responding, Mr. Karamanlis appear determined to continue reforms at an accelerated pace, stressing that abandoning reforms at this stage would be a big strategic mistake against the country. Specifically on the Piraeus port, the Prime-minister described as of decisive importance the agreement signed during China's president visit to Greece, adding that it strengthens Greece's political position and economy in sectors particularly affected by the current financial crisis. "It is a landmark in Greece's development to East-West bridge", said the Prime-minister stressing that it could only bring benefits for the country.
In reference to Olympic Airways company, he quoted the competent European Commssioner who projects the Greek plan as an example for other European companies while he underlined that tax payers would have a total benefit of over 500 million euros yearly, a sum that could be allocated to the sectors of Health and Education and generally to social policies. To exercise social policy demands above all responsibility and bold decisions. Each one of us must make his selections. "The interests of the majority can not be sacrificed on the altar of the minority. The few who react do not express Society and collective interest. We respect and ensure their rights but they can not determine on the base of their interests only the country's policies".
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA
News item: 16085
 Health and Illegal ImmigrationDuring Friday's Parliament session, Prime-minister, Kostas Karamanlis responded to questions submitted by opposition leader, G. Papandreou on the National Health System, SYN deputy Fotis Koubelis on privatizations and LAOS president G. Karatzaferis on illegal immigration. Criticizing PASOK party ruling, the Prime-minister stressed that it left huge debts in the health sector underlining that the government has been improving the NHS since 2004 with specific actions an the hiring of hospital staff. The main opposition leader launched an attack against the government's policy labeling it as dangerous for the country. In response to LAOS president question on illegal immigration, Mr. Karamanlsis said that it is not only a Greek problem but a big European issue, stressing that Greece along with other EU member countries is taking targeted actions to combat illegal immigration. Mr. Karatazaferis called on the government to asses the cost of illegal immigration for society and the state budget.
"We continue our efforts and want the cooperation of all parties because Health for all demands cooperation and constructive proposals" stressed Mr. Karamanlis. The Prime-minister blamed the main opposition leader for selective memory, underlining that he forgets hospitals debts, his statements about "health piranhas" and permits granted to private hospitals before 2004. Mr. Karamanlis underlined that a significant improvement has been achieved nowadays with the hiring of hospital staff (15.000 with permanent contracts and 3.000 ones with 8-month contracts), proportion of expenditures for state and private health care at "62 to 38", intensive care units beds increased from 365 to 520 while hospital supply system is radically changing with the new system to be implemented at the beginning of the new year. In response to insufficiencies noted by Mr. Papandreou visits to hospitals, Mr. Karamanlis underlined that he must have noticed the differences between the past and present, reminding that ATTIKON hospital which was inaugurated under 25% of its capacity has reached 90% today while all procedures to equip and staff Nikaia hospital are under way.
On his part, George Papandreou repeated PASOK's commitment "to turn the NHS into a valuable and dignified system to which all citizens would have access". Commenting on Mr. Karamanlis responses, he said that they symbolize the ND government hypocrisy because we have been hearing promises of improvement for 5 years and there has always been somebody else to be blamed either unionists, doctors, PASOK. He blamed the government for turning the NHS into a symbol of cheap excuses. Mr. Papandreou invited the Prime-minister to visit hospitals to see deterioration in the last 5 years and maintained that huge funds have been wasted and privileged structures abolished.
Concluding, Mr. Papandreou said that there is no public sector that functions, there is no government. Huge funds have been wasted to serve vested interests. The government must step down because it is dramatically dangerous for the present and future of our country".
Common EU Policy to Combat Illegal Immigration
In response to LAOS president, George Karatzaferis question on the issue of illegal immigration which is intensifying with unpredictable consequences for the country, Mr. Karamanlis stressed that only a common EU strategy could effectively combat illegal immigration. As Mr. Karamanlis said illegal immigration is indeed a big European and maybe a global problem which must be dealt with responsibility, taking into consideration its dimension. "Greece is a country with experience on immigration and deals with the problem with particular sensitivity for economic immigrants seeking for a better life, however it will not show any tolerance to slave trading rings, stressed the Prime-minister.
News item: 16080
 Great Public SacrificeNearly a full 48 hours after the siege that shook Mumbai began, the city is still racked by gunfire, with Indian Army troops continuing to battle the attackers and presumably trying to free hostages. The death toll in the attacks is rising, while hostages kept at the Oberoi Hotel and the Jewish Centre have been released. Security forces are still clashing with gunmen at the Taz Mahal Hotel. So far, more than 150 people have been reported killed and another 300 have been injured. Dozens of foreigners, including a Greek-Cypriot businessman, are listed among the dead. India blasted Pakistan for the attacks, since one of the gunmen arrested is Pakistani. Pakistan's government rushed to highlight the need for cooperation on terrorism, dispatching its intelligence service head in New Delhi to assist the investigations.
News item: 16070
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