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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 09-02-14

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

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Turkish-Israeli Ties Sour Further
  • [02] US Stimulus Bill Passed-G7 Summit
  • [03] MIG & SWISSPORT Bid for OA
  • [04] Changes in Admission to Tertiary Education as of 2011-2012
  • [05] Focus on Crisis not on Elections
  • [06] Farmers Walk out of Meeting
  • [07] Parliament: Debate on Economy
  • [08] Hospitals without Doctors and Expendable Supplies
  • [09] Economy Debated in Heated Session
  • [10] G. Papandreou on Green Development
  • [11] First Talks on OA Completed
  • [12] SYN: Public Sector Should Become Tool against Crisis
  • [13] The Bill for Expatriate Greeksâ Vote Approved
  • [14] Scenarios per Co Operations
  • [15] Papandreou Criticizes Social Policy
  • [16] Defence Measures in France & Italy
  • [17] Big Freeze Grips WE
  • [18] Focus on Settlement of âOpen Disputesâ
  • [19] Bad Weather Kills 19 in Europe
  • [20] Plane Crashes in Amazon Jungle River
  • [21] Agreement on Obama Plan
  • [22] Nothing to Spark âTrade Warâ Says Obama
  • [23] Obama Strengthens Unions
  • [24] Tzipi Livni Enjoys Slim Lead
  • [25] Israel: Crucial General Elections
  • [26] Hamas Rises in Popularity
  • [27] Abbas in Cairo
  • [28] Olmert Warned âDisproportionate Responseâ
  • [29] Suicide Bomber Hits Foreigner Troopers in Kabul
  • [30] Iraq Provincial Elections
  • [31] Israel: Netaniahu Ahead

  • [01] Turkish-Israeli Ties Sour Further

    World -

    News

    Ties between Turkey and Israel soured further on Saturday, after the statements by Israeli General Avi Mizrahi. Turkey summoned Israel's ambassador over Mizrahi's comments, which it dismissed as "unacceptable."

    Answering to the criticism Israel came in for, Mizrahi said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogna should have "looked in the mirror" before slamming Israel for its offensive in the Gaza Strip.

    The Israeli General meant that the Turkish Premier should have first addressed his country's issues, including the conflict with the Kurds, the massacres and the displacement of the Armenian people between 1915 and 1917 by the Ottoman Empire that killed more than one and a half million people. Turkey, on the other hand, claims that the dead ranged between 300,000 and 500,000, denying it was genocide.

    The Turkish Army also blasted the Israeli general's comments as excessive and unacceptable.

    Turkish Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan systematically criticized the Israeli offensive in Gaza, souring the ties between the two nations, which singed a military cooperation deal in 1996.

    News item: 18955

    [02] US Stimulus Bill Passed-G7 Summit

    News

    After days of talks, the US Congress approved a $787 billion economic stimulus bill, which President Barack Obama said he would soon sign into law. In the meantime, the G-7's finance ministers, who met in Rome, termed the anti-recession campaign a keynote priority and committed themselves to jointly boosting growth, employment and the financial sectors. They also vowed to avoid protection measures.

    Obama's economic stimulus bill successfully overcome Friday the latest obstacles, since both the Congress and the Senate gave thumbs up for the $787 billion recovery plan.

    The passing of the bill, which is the biggest public spending in the US history, signalled Barack Obama's first important victory after assuming office on 20 January. The White House said, the President was due to sign it into law on Monday.

    The US President hailed Saturday the approval of the bill, which he termed as a "milestone on our road to recovery."

    In his weekly radio speech, Obama pledged to sign it into law to launch the investment required.

    However, the approval did not gain the bipartisan support the Obama administration had hoped for. The Republicans opposed the bill for it focused on public spending and not on tax relief, blaming the Democrats for failing to include the Republican proposals.

    The Obama administration sees the bill, which is a mixture of tax relief and public spending programme, as a means to save or create 3.5 million jobs and contribute to improving infrastructure in the USA.

    In the meantime, the G-7's finance ministers and central bankers met in Italy and vowed to turn the fight against recession into their keynote priority.

    In a statement they released after talks in Rome, they stressed that stabilizing global economy and markets would be their highest priority.

    Earlier, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has said that the economies of the developed nations were in deep recession and that global economy was flirting with recession.

    The US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, on his part, assured that the USA would cooperate with the G7 and G20 nations on a consensus to the reforms.

    News item: 18951

    [03] MIG & SWISSPORT Bid for OA

    Greece -

    Politics

    The Greek government's investment advisors received Friday a binding offer from Athens-based Marfin Investment Group (MIG) for the purchase of Olympic Airlines' flight operations and for its technical base assets (valued at 16.7 million euros), while there was another binding offer by Swissport for the purchase of OA's ground handling services.

    Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis expressed his satisfaction over the positive response of the two companies and clarified that talks would last for three weeks.

    In particular, the Minister said: "The government's investment advisors received a binding offer from Athens-based Marfin Investment Group (MIG) for the purchase of Olympic Airlines' flight operations valued at â¬45.7 million and for its technical base assets valued at â¬16.7 million, while there was another binding offer by Swissport for the purchase of OA's ground handling services valued at â¬44.8 million.

    The Greek state's proceeds to emerge from the sale would be increase from additional assets, including airplanes, ground handling equipment and technical base equipment, which were separately evaluated by auditors.

    The government, after taking into account: - the binding offers of MIG and SWISSPORT, - the valued prices which amount to the prices evaluated by the auditors, - the companies' requests for exclusive negotiations, - the proposals of the government's investment and legal advisors, and - the consensus of the EU Commissioner appointed to monitor the talks.

    decided the talks that have commenced to go on with exclusive negotiations that will last for three weeks. The government's goal is to achieved the national air carrier's healthy privatization.

    News item: 18925

    [04] Changes in Admission to Tertiary Education as of 2011-2012

    Greece -

    Politics

    The new way for admission to tertiary education and the changes in Lyceum will be introduced in the 2011-2012 academic year, said Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos, after his meeting with school students who visited him at his office. The Minister lent and ear to the student's worries and proposals, and termed such meeting as "a source of inspiration."

    "It is worth making the best of all our powers and of ourselves for a more qualitative education. Your worries are mine. Like you, we also want the Greek school in all corners of Greece to be creative. We want a school that shapes cultivated and responsible citizens, offering them knowledge. We want a school that is pleasant, because you spend the best years of you life in it," said the Education Minister.

    News item: 18902

    [05] Focus on Crisis not on Elections

    Tensions ran high during the off-the-agenda parliamentary debate on economy. The Prime Minister dismissed snap elections scenarios and urged the main opposition party to demonstrate a responsible stance regarding the election of the President of the Republic. Kostas Karamanlis stressed that no one could turn a blind eye to the newly-shaped conditions, further underlining that there is no time for fiscal matter to go loose. He then went on to argue that tough decisions, understanding and self-restraint are required. The Socialist leader, on the other hand, blamed the government for lacking a crisis management plan and called for snap elections anew. The opposition parties lashed out at the government, slamming it for having no plan to address the crisis.

    End to Snap Elections Scenarios

    The Prime Minister put an end to the snap elections scenarios, stressing that the keynote priority of his administration was the battle against the nation's problems.

    "It is not the elections that concern us especially now. We have another planning. Our priority is to battle the nation's real problems," stressed Karamanlis and urged anew the political forces to quit denial and divisive wranglings.

    Kostas Karamanlis blasted Socialist leader George Papandreou for consciously sticking to petty party expediencies, including his call for snap elections.

    "You'd better realize that. We are not playing games with the institution of the President of the Republic. You and your party officials are the one who directly or indirectly herald you can cause elections in 201 and that you plan to take advantage of the election of the President of the Republic to that end. If an agreement is needed, then it is one you need to broker with yourself and your people."

    "You call for elections, yet you do not want them," continued Karamanlis, further adding that what the nations needed was a responsible behaviour from all parties, instead of head-on political and social conflicts.

    He then reiterated that such a crisis required both the government's will and efforts and fundamental understanding, calm and consensus on the key issues.

    The Prime Minister appeared determined to follow a social policy, without violating the economy's tolerance limits and underlined that the government fully understood the worries of all social groups.

    At the same time, he requested social partners show responsibility in the drive to address the repercussions the global credit crisis inflicted upon the Greek economy.

    Addressing George Papandreou, Karamanlis noted, "If some fail to realize the perils of the global storm, they will be unable to offer anything to the country."

    "Political leader should not caress ears. Irresponsibility is an extremely dangerous recipe both for economy and society. I am determined to do anything in my power to ease the repercussions this unprecedented global storm on Greece. The developments in global and European economy have been radical, pressing and unpredictable. This is my worry and my priority," commented the Prime Minister.

    Papandreou: Elections Will Help Greece Resolve the Crisis

    The Socialist leader claimed that holding general elections before the elections for the European Parliament (or at the same time) and consensus for the election of the President of the Republic were the only contribution the Conservatives could make to the country, since the governing party failed in all sectors and proved incapable of addressing the crisis the country had plunged into.

    George Papandreou lambasted the government for mismanagement, exploitation and looting for its own people, further adding that it sought for accomplices to remain in power.

    "You lack a national plan. It is your ministers and leading party officials who confess that, not me. They only thing you have convinced us is that you serve petty political expediencies," said the Socialist President, also stressing that consensus could only be achieved on a plan that embraced the entire society and not the few and the strong.

    "There is no time to waste. Greece cannot wait. The government cannot address the crisis with the failed policies of the last five years. We have failed in everything. Your remaining in power is the worst solution for the country," argued Papandreou. "We do not call for elections just to come to power, but to help the country to resolve the institutional and financial crisis," commented he.

    KKE: No to Concession

    In her speech, KKE (Communist Party of Greece) Secretary General Aleka Papariga rejected the proposal for concession, inviting workers once more to launch a counter attack.

    She spoke of "barren ground" and argued that there are two ways to combat the crisis.

    "The first one adopted by the government is the one which aims at securing the vast majority of enterprises. In this way it will withstand the shock and enter the market again. However, KKE supports the armouring of the popular movement and hopes it will not lose but instead launch a counter-attack in order to overcome the crisis.

    The KKE Secretary General criticized the ND and PASOK parties for their policies on the issue of concession and pointed out:

    "We are not going to have any concession with any party. After the elections concession will proceed. This is what we fear and this is the climate which we shall try to spoil."

    Developing her party's proposals for the exodus from the crisis, Ms Papariga demanded a big rise in salaries and pensions, the abolishment of special taxes, as well as of the VAT, the increase of the tax-free income per person, the taxing of the capital and programme for popular housing," adding that KKE "rejects charitable funds and alms."

    In parallel, she criticized the ND (Conservatives), PASOK (Socialists) and SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) for the proposals on the exodus from the crisis, stressing that their philosophy is to save the capital. Alavanos: Proposal for Joint Action from the Left SYRIZA Parliamentary Group President Alekos Alavanos appealed to PASOK and KKE for joint action.

    "Being SYRIZA, we do not hesitate to cooperate with anyone, we neither ask for certificates of honorable living, nor a medical file. We do not hesitate to cooperate with Socialists and with a specific programme. We are not the system's life-boat", reported Mr Alavanos and replying to the PM on the issue of concession he had raised he said:

    "I heard from the government that it supports concession. The people do so because they do not wish to see a barren game. However, not only did the ND party fail but the whole system as well. And there cannot be a plan without change. We do not wish so, but the logic is conflicting."

    "The people should choose whether it will adopt our 20-year-long policy or adopt follow another route. Mr G. Papandreou referred to interesting points in his speech, such as "social justice against social injustice"; however, they cover points which they require basic breach. Work should be done and we cannot mock the world with vague talk. Regarding concessions adopted by PASOK and the ND parties on the doctors' salaries we cannot accept them,» reported Mr Alavanos.

    SYRIZA's policy as presented by Mr Alekos Alavanos demands "the return to the public sector" as a tool for development and the key conflict with developmental models imposed by the EU at a time when governments are violating them in view of the crisis.

    LAOS against Early Elections

    LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) President Giorgos Karatzaferis declared today he is against early elections, speaking of a casual solution, because, as he argued this money cannot be given to low-income earners and pensioners. "Although they argue in a shallow way that they support early elections, we are against them despite the fact that we shall gain more votes because we support what benefits Greece," he added.

    On the occasion of the issue with ND MP Giannis Manolis, the LAOS president reported that Greece should not be wondering whether the government will fall or not in these crucial times.

    He also criticized the fact that all are preoccupied with Mr Manolis at a time when there is crisis in their party, said Mr Karatzaferis. "The government is losing ground at the expense of Greece."

    Mr Karatzaferis proposed a coalition government, adding the situation could not continue in this way. The government cannot be hostage of Mr Manolis or Mr Dailakis. It is not time for elections. The present Parliament cannot produce a coalition government. All parties have good cadres.

    In parallel, he attacked Mr George Papandreou on the issue of elections, pointing out "Mr Papandreou reminded me actor Xanthopoulos. You say "we do not demand elections although this is what you really want." Referring to the problem of the economy, he proposed amongst others all tax-exemptions to be re-examined.

    "There are 117 tax exemptions in all. We should re-examine them all with social sensitivity and to the benefit of the society," Mr Karatzaferis stressed. He concluded by saying that the prime minister can find the way out from the crisis.

    News item: 18851

    [06] Farmers Walk out of Meeting

    Politics

    The majority of the farmers and deputies from Crete walked out of the meeting with Rural Development Minister Sotiris Hatzidakis, angered by the presence of Deputy Interior Minister Christos Markogiannakis. The farmers opposed to his presence, as they blamed him for the clashes that had broken out at the port of Piraeus between them and riot police.

    "We came here to discuss about agricultural issues and not about public order ones. We cannot share the same table with the one that called us terrorists and ordered our having been attacked with chemicals," said GESASE head Giorgos Goniotakis.

    Socialist deputy elected in Crete Mihalis Karhimakis denied holding talks with a person that targeted the political world.

    Hatzidakis, on the other hand, stressed, "My colleague has been mandated to observe law and order, and this is what he did."

    News item: 18849

    [07] Parliament: Debate on Economy

    Developments on economy during the financial crisis are the Parliament's main concern in the off-the-agenda discussion that is taking place today after the Prime Minister's initiation. Costas Karamanlis stressed that we are facing a very difficult time and spoke that this is the most severe post war crisis the humanity has ever encountered. Estimations constantly change every month changing from bad to worse. Mr. Karamanlis underlined that no one must disregard the conditions that are created around us. There is no room for fiscal slackness, Mr. Karamanlis stated, stressing that difficult decisions are required and noting that in times of crisis like today, irresponsibility against responsibility is not allowed while decisions taken must not be neither new liberal nor state oriented. Mr. Karamanlis appeared determined to follow a social policy without exceeding the economy's resistance limits.

    The Prime Minister promised that the programme for the sustainability of development will be applied in full even with reduced growth paces and simultaneous tackling of social problems.

    News item: 18837

    [08] Hospitals without Doctors and Expendable Supplies

    Greece -

    Politics

    National Health System Hospital doctors are staging a 48-hour strike as of tomorrow and hospital suppliers have stopped supplying hospitals with supplies because they argue they had not been paid up for the time being. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos will improve the bill on labour relations of National Healthy System hospital staff in the evening. He is to announce the precise provisions personally.

    Ending the session of the competent Standing Committee to which the employees' representatives made statements, he stated that all agreed as regards salaries will be abided, accepting in parallel several proposals of the opposition.

    Moreover, during yesterday's debate four ND MPs asked for improvements in the bill on Health. Messrs Thanasis Giannopoulos, Panagiotis Skandalakis, Kostas Tsiaras and Nikos Papadimatos disagreed with article 4 that concerns the hierarchal development of doctors, adding however that they would vote for it.

    "I am open to improvements and commit myself that all announced on financial issues are valid," said the Health Minister. He also added that until a plenary session is held on the bill, there will be improvement on finances.

    Earlier, referring to the minister's back-out on what had been agreed on the hospital doctors' salaries, their president Stathis Tsoukalos described it a serious political issue.

    "The bill is not included in the collective agreement for Hospital doctors that we had addressed," argued Mr Tsoukalos.

    In parallel, more National Health System employee representatives also criticized the bill in question.

    However, despite the competent minister's promises to improve and amend the bill, Hospital doctors across Greece are staging a 48-hour strike as of tomorrow, reacting thus to the Health Ministry's bill, which as they say, provides for small increases in basic salaries, compared to those agreed between their federation and the ministry's leadership.

    In parallel, hospitals are in danger of remaining without expendable supplies, as their supplies demand to be paid up.

    Meanwhile, Hospital doctors opened the sessions of their 12th annual conference with their primary demand on hiring personnel and increasing their salaries. In the presence of all political parties, the employees sent and SOS on the Greek hospitals.

    "The government cannot be proud of its five-year-long management in the Health sector," stressed PASOK (Socialists) head, responsible on Health Giorgos Floridis.

    SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) Parliamentary President Alekos Alavanos argued that the provisions of the bill push doctors to receive bribes. SYN (Coalition of the Left) leader Alexis Tsipras hailed the conference.

    Tension prevailed at the conference when employees and members of first instance unions demanded to speak first on the occasion of an attack with sulphuric acid against cleaner Konstantina Kouneva.

    News item: 18815

    [09] Economy Debated in Heated Session

    The course of the economy amid developments in the front of the global financial recession and the decisions that were taken in Brussels will in the epicenter of debate due to be held in Parliament on Thursday. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has asked for the debate, during which political party leaders will deliver speeches. The wrangling commenced in Parliament today when tensions ran high between PASOK (Socialists) MP Thodoros Pangalos and ND MPs Thodoros Roussopoulos and Panos Panagiotopoulos.

    Pangalos: Souflias Absent from EU Councils

    The debate on the bill responsible for amending provisions on investments sparked tension in the Parliament.

    PASOK MP Th. Pangalos criticized the government on the way it handled the economy, accusing in parallel Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias of being absent from all European Public Works and Environment Councils.

    Mr Thodoros Roussopoulos described Mr Pangalos' allegations not true, commenting, "the government and Greece are present."

    "You could use such an answer to the government's acolytes," replied Mr Pangalos, to which Mr Roussopoulos reacted, rejecting the allegation that the government had had acolytes. "Journalists do not operate in this way," he said, inviting Mr Pangalos to name these individuals, as he did not know them and had never cooperated with them. "All governments have acolytes. You also had the junta and the para-state persons," replied Mr Pangalos.

    LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) MP Rodoulis commented "it is progress to acknowledge PASOK's clientele state."

    ND Parliamentary spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos pointed out that when the minister has a problem, the competent deputy minister can replace him at his order and in full cooperation with him, adding that the Environment Ministry is doing its job in the best possible way.

    Wrangling on the Economy and Elections

    Mr Pangalos accused the government of the present economic situation in Greece, arguing that it is not assuming its responsibilities and is always looking for scapegoats. As he said, the government loved Almunia in 2004; however, now he is to blame for all.

    In parallel, he argued that journalists' rumours say that after Thursday's debate in Parliament on the Economy, the prime minister intends to declare early elections. "We wish that this will happen, let God have mercy on Greece," said Mr Pangalos.

    Mr Panagiotopoulos disagreed, adding that the government would not respond to such untimely demands. "The people wish to be ruled, it wishes answers to the problems the crisis had created," he said.

    He also said that government cadres such as Ms Bakoyannis and Mr Pavlopoulos had been involved in the debate because PASOK raised the issue in the agenda.

    Sources: ÍĹÔ, ÍĹÔ 105.8

    Relative Articles:

    European Pressure for a Faster Reduction of the Deficit

    Euro-coordination against the crisis

    News item: 18808

    [10] G. Papandreou on Green Development

    Greece -

    Politics

    "The ruling party of ND is wasting the country's reserves, lacking a development plan. We [Socialist party] are focusing our policy on development and green economy," stressed Socialist leader George Papandreou while addressing the sitting of his party's council on green development and environment. Among the issues touched on at the sitting were the agricultural sector, environment, energy, public works, tourism, transport and island policy.

    Papandreou made it plain that green development does not necessarily mean environment protection, but it is closely related to the reorganization of the country's productive model based upon green technology. "Green development means investments and jobs in the agricultural and food sectors, in constructions, tourism, energy and transports. It is linked to public investments, social policy and employment," he added.

    News item: 18786

    [11] First Talks on OA Completed

    Politics

    Lasting for about two and a half hours, the first talks on the privatization of the debt-ridden Green national air-carrier, Olympic Airways, between the privatization advisors and the reps of the Marfin Investment Group came to an end. The privatization advisors briefed the representatives of MIG head Andreas Vgenopoulos on financial elements and legal issues. The MIG representatives, on the other hand, unveiled their investment proposals.

    According to information, the talks were held in a good climate, and MIG will have access to the data room of OA's three companies. In the talks to follow, the privatization advisors will try to improve MIG's offered cost, which is estimated to amount to â¬200mn.

    Talks are expected to have run their course in two weeks' time, while Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis stressed that the privatization bid could not be settled in a day. Prior to the talks, Hatzidakis had briefed the cabinet on the new round of the talks, expressing his optimism.

    Hatzidakis also said that if another businessman publicly expressed his interest, his proposal would also be negotiated.

    News item: 18785

    [12] SYN: Public Sector Should Become Tool against Crisis

    Greece -

    Politics

    The public sector should turned into the key tool against the credit crisis, underlined Alekos Alavanos, head of the parliamentary group of SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left), after his meeting with the ADEDY board. He also requested the government quit the policy of seasonal employees.

    Alavanos offered his backing to the grievances of the public sector employees during the talks he held with their union's board. He underlined that the public sector should become the tool to ease the repercussions inflicted by the global crisis.

    ADEDY chairman Spyros Papaspyros, on his part, heralded social struggles, stressing that the public sector employees would sacrifice none of their rights. He spoke of a environment unfavorable to public sector employees and did not miss stressing the need for social struggles and public awareness.

    Alavanos also blasted Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos for the bill regarding hospital doctors, accusing him of going back on what had been agreed. "Mr Avramopoulos should respect his signature."

    Asked on Fotis Kouvelis' proposal, whereby SYRIZA should give a helping hand to the Socialist Party (PASOK) in case no independence government emerges from the parliamentary elections, Alekos Alavanos commented, "SYRIZA is doing well. We are a living political force. Society needs a radical, progressive movement and we will be by its side."

    Source: NET 105.8, NET, ANA-MPA

    News item: 18772

    [13] The Bill for Expatriate Greeksâ Vote Approved

    The government committee, which met on Tuesday and presided by Costas Karamanlis approved the draft bill on the expatriate Greeks' vote. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos did not rule out any changes to be introduced in the representation of regional administrative divisions and epistolary voting. He also called on the main opposition party to consent and do not deprive expatriate Greeks from their right to vote in Greece. As he stressed, their vote will be counted in the county and the parties will be allowed to have up to three candidates on the county electoral ticket. Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis informed the committee on the developments on Olympic Airlines, as well as on MIG's proposal, while earlier the prime minister had held a meeting with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    After the meeting, the Interior minister reminded that during the revision of the Constitution in 2001 a provision passed on the expatriate Greeks' participation in the Greek elections, stressing that when PASOK (Socialists) ruled it did not introduce a relevant executive bill.

    Mr Pavlopoulos stressed that it is known that the prime minister and the government had committed themselves from the beginning to vote for the executive bill. Since 2006, he added the first draft was discussed with the rest of the parties, since a 2/3 majority is required for the bill to pass.

    As he stated after the discussion that was held on the Interior Ministry's initiative, "we concluded with the parties on certain axes, which we depicted on a draft bill, which is now being tabled at Parliament."

    Those who are entitled to vote are expatriate Greeks who reside permanently abroad, those who serve Greek services abroad, as well as Greek employees of International Organisations. Special electoral lists will be created in consulates and the parties will choose three candidates for the county electoral ticket. These candidates should have been living permanently for at least 10 years abroad.

    This means that each party assigns the expatriate Greeks' representatives, whom he includes in the electoral tickets, meeting its own criteria.

    In this way, all expatriate Greeks will be represented and problems will not be created in relation to the removal of seats from the regions, so that the regions are represented.

    The bill is transitional, since the institution is being implemented for the first time.

    "What matters is for to be introduced for the first time and in the future we could see whether and if regions abroad could be represented, as well as discover who epistolary vote could be implemented," stated the Interior minister.

    The expatriate Greeks who vote are added to those who vote in the countey and in this way their percentage is taken under consideration in the distribution of seats for which party so that no problems are created regarding autonomy, which should exist on the basis of the electoral law each time.

    "We believe" added Mr Pavlopoulos "that all political parties will respond to this call", stressing that we cannot deprive expatriate Greeks from their right to participate in the Greek political life. It is our obligation as we know how much we owe them and how much they can help the Greek political life with their ideas. Referring to the bill, the government spokesman pointed out that the expatriate Greeks' vote constitutes the government's commitment and the Constitution's behest, adding that is neither related to the Euro-elections and nor to the next parliamentary elections.

    Mr Evangelos Antonaros reported that a dialogue had already taken place with all parties and the bill, which will be tabled by the majority, had been processed and will be implemented at the elections that will be held after 1 January 2011.

    In reply to a question as to whether the political parties have changed their positions in relation to the past, Mr Antonaros spoke of a transitional settlement on which the Parliament should have as say.

    News item: 18765

    [14] Scenarios per Co Operations

    Gallops regarding the parliamentary and euro parliamentary elections that were released in public on Sunday press, trigger new scenarios per early elections, not only about the time of the elections but also about the possibility of co operation in case the elected party does not gather parliamentary seat majority. Statements made by New Democracy, PASOK and SYRIZA members caused reactions.

    There is not any possibility of co operation between New Democracy and PASOK in a coalition government, Giannis Ragousis said in Ta Nea newspaper.

    The secretary of PASOK national council predicts that a referendum will take place on euro elections and comments on the government's plan.

    "The plan has a pre election agenda that has been applied, putting the country in a pre electoral period since the cabinet's reshuffle in January 7th", he stresses in "NEA".

    Governmental spokesman Mr. Antonaros stated: "Top PASOK members are speaking per elections and what will come up after the elections. This is not an issue that concerns New Democracy party".

    Mr. Antonaros accused PASOK of creating scenarios of early elections and stressed that the opposition party should not, does not want and can not co operate with ND.

    At the same time, while political heat rises as debate regarding the financial crisis continues, Mr. Chysochoidis said in "Real News" newspaper that anticipation and pretentious confidence are fatal sins.

    Former Parliament president answered: "If Mr. Chrysocoidis is anxious or confident about what is going to happen tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, he should make his own self criticism. I believe that PASOK does not need right now such self criticisms. Let's be serious.."

    Giannis Ragousis in his interview in Ta Nea newspaper attacks Alekos Alavanos stressing: "A possible denial of SYRIZA to co operate with PASOK is a denial for the assumption of responsibility regarding the country and the Greek people".

    "With a sense of responsibility we submit our agenda in order to help the country to come out from the dead-end the supporters of the "free market"have driven it into. We call on all political forces to attend our council, to carefully read our agenda and to express their views with the responsibility the circumstances require, SYNASPISMOS press representative Andreas Karytsis answered.

    News item: 18721

    [15] Papandreou Criticizes Social Policy

    Greece -

    Politics

    PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) cadres, responsible on social policy met today under George Papandreou's chairmanship and discussed the increasing unemployment, job cuts, the closing of small and medium-sized enterprises, the deterioration of labour relations and the expansion of poverty and inequality. Mr Papandreou stressed in Parliament, where the meeting was held, that social policy is a top priority for PASOK

    Within the framework of the meeting, the PASOK cadres discussed the repercussions of the financial crisis on low-income earners and pensioners and the measures that should be taken for their protection.

    Mr Papandreou spoke of unprecedented poverty and inequality, lack of policy on employment and the reduction of unemployment on behalf of the government and spoke of National Health System that is collapsing.

    He also stressed that the central issue is the rephrasing on behalf of PASOK of the issue of financing the social state, the basic axes of which should be dignified living, the right of work, the reduction of poverty, a viable Social Insurance System and the reduction of the cost of health for the average Greek family.

    It was stressed that PASOK is expected to unfold its programme on the above issues on the basis of the proposals made on these issues and which include the national plan for the restructuring of Greece, developed by the main opposition party.

    News item: 18696

    [16] Defence Measures in France & Italy

    Europe

    The situation is deteriorating in the global economy with the unemployment indices to be rising dramatically in many countries. Industrial production in Germany has collapsed while in Italy Silvio Berlusconi announced measures in support of the car industry. Meanwhile, OSCE predicts an even deeper recession in the biggest economies worldwide, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy reiterated his proposal for the community's solidarity to countries with a high debt such as Spain, Italy and Greece. In the USA, two more Banks went bankrupt, while Tuesday' vote in the American Senate on Obama's rescue plan has been described crucial.

    Germany, the biggest Eurozone economy and one of the biggest worldwide has sustained the unemployment shock after its surge. At the same time, its industrial production has recorded a record drop of 12%.

    In neighbouring France, which has also been affected by the crisis, Nicola Sarkozy announced tax cuts amounting to eight billion euros for enterprises and measures for the poor.

    The measures the Italian government will take include incentives for the purchase of new cars (about 1,000 euros for the withdrawal of old cars and 2,000 euros for the purchase of cars that are friendly to the environment.)

    Cars and motorcycles will not have to pay road tax for the next years, while as per the Italian Press, the government is ready to approve the reduction of the relevant taxes by 20% for purchases amounting up to 10,000 euros.

    Finally, the national Fund for the support of small and medium-sized enterprises and technicians will be aided with 600 million euros.

    Besides, the International Monetary Fund has announced that nobody can rule out the continuation of the economic recession until 2010.

    With its report, the International Monetary Fund has confirmed its forecast released on 28 January, as per which Italy's GNP will withdraw for the next three years. For this reason it is concerned over the increase of the public deficit, which will reach 2.9% of the NGP in 2009 and 3.9% in 2010.

    Sources: ÍĹÔ, ÍĹÔ 105.8, ÁNA-ĚPA

    Relative articles: Agrement on Obama Plan

    News item: 18663

    [17] Big Freeze Grips WE

    Europe

    Extreme weather, which killed 25 people in West Europe, hit several Eurpean countries again. Paris, Madrid and Geneva are covered in white while England has the worst snow it has seen for 18 years. Heavy snowfall has severely disrupted travel in London, closed schools and airports.

    Heathrow Airport authorities warned passenger traveling to and from Heathrow Airport that heavy snowfall during the night and more snow forecast would cause significant delays and cancellations. Gatwick Airport, the second largest in London, and Stansted in the northeast part of London are expected to face similar problems while London City Airport has closed runways until new announcement Britain's Meteorological Service has warned of extreme weather and up to 15cm snow in several parts of southeast England, among them London, which sees the worst weather since the 90's while low temperatures are forecast to last for many days. Heavy snowfall in Paris, the capital of France during the night has caused travel problems and delays in flights to and from Paris. Civil Aviation authority has asked airway companies to cancel 30% of flights from De Gaulle Airport as more snowfall is forecast.

    News item: 18429

    [18] Focus on Settlement of âOpen Disputesâ

    World -

    Europe

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni, who is to visit Belgrade first stop of her tour of West Balkans in her capacity as President of OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) , told Serbian "Tanyiung" news agency that Serbia's role in Southeastern Europe is particularly important. Mrs. Bakoyianni underlined that OSCE Greek Presidency would focus on "settlement of open disputes", improvement of inter-border cooperation, immigration, strengthening justice, combat of human trafficking and protection of human rights in general.

    Mrs. Bakoyianni said that OSCE delegation to Serbia significantly contributes to reforms in the judicial sector, combat of organized crime and the building of institutions for the protection of human rights. She stressed that OSCE can assist countries in the region to overcome problems, reminding that the basic principals of the organization are respect to international law and use of multisided diplomacy for the creation of a conciliation climate.The Greek Foreign Minister described as excellent cooperation of OSCE delegation with the Serbian government. In response to Serbia's European orientation, Mrs. Bakoyianni said that Greece backs Serbia's European integration and believes that Serbia's admission to the EU will highly contribute to peace and stability in the region and Europe in general. Greece's stance has not changed regarding Kosovo unilateral declaration of independence said Mrs. Bakoyianni. "Greece's foreign policy is drawn on the grounds of international law, taking into consideration our national interests, stability in the region and European values" she stressed. Concluding her interview with "Tanyiung", Mrs. Bakoyianni referred to Greece-Serbia bilateral relations, which she described as excellent, substantial and long-lasting and expressed certainty that cooperation at political and economic level would help both countries overcome the impact of the world financial crisis.

    News item: 18426

    [19] Bad Weather Kills 19 in Europe

    Europe

    An unprecedented spate of bad weather with driving rains, snowfalls and gale-force winds has been sweeping across Europe, killing at least 19 people in Spain, France and southern Italy. An avalanche in NE Turkey killed 10 climbers.

    At least four people were killed Sunday in southern Italy due to the inclement weather conditions.

    In eastern Spain, three blazes, which were caused by the bad weather, were contained late on Sunday, after reducing several hectares of forest land to ashes.

    In Portugal, about 600 people were blocked in roads, said the country's civil protection authority.

    News item: 18152

    [20] Plane Crashes in Amazon Jungle River

    Twenty-four people perished and only four survived when their small plane crashed in an Amazon jungle river on Saturday. Official information about the causes of the accident remain sketchy, however, survivors said that one of the engines stopped just before the pilot tried an emergency landing in the Manacapuru river.

    Source: ANA-MPA

    News item: 18684

    [21] Agreement on Obama Plan

    America-USA

    The plenary session of the US Senate will vote for Obama's plan to save the American economy on Tuesday, after an agreement reached by the Democrats and some Republicans.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that at least three Republican Senators have agreed to support Obama's revised plan, securing majority to the Body.

    Senators have trimmed the plan to $780 billion in tax cuts and spending on infrastructure, housing and other programs that would create or save jobs. However, the US regulative authorities announced that two more banks went bankrupt and will undergo Federal check, raising the number of bankrupt Banks to 30.

    The new package falls short of Obama's previous plan by $140billion. 42% of the $780 billion includes tax-cuts and the rest o58% new government expenses. In the last 24 hours, Obama abandoned his reconciliatory tone, describing unacceptable and irresponsible the delay on passing the packet.

    Banks Go Bankrupt

    The US regulative authorities announced on Friday that two more banks in Georgia and California went bankrupt. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, FDIC has announced that it now has control of Alliance Bank, reaching an agreement with California Bank & Trust to guarantee for all deposits.

    Aliance Bank, which had five branches, had assets amounting to $1.14 billion and deposits of $951 million. FDIC believes that the cost of the above development will reach $206 million.

    The US regulating authorities also announced that FirstBank Financial Services Inc had gone bankrupt. Regions Bank will cover the Bank's deposits. The Bank's assets amounted to about $337 million and its deposits $279 million at the end of 2008. The cost for FDIC is expected to reache $111 million.

    25 Banks underwent check in 2008, compared to three in 2007.

    Sources: NET, NET 105.8, CNN, ÁNA-ĚPA

    News item: 18656

    [22] Nothing to Spark âTrade Warâ Says Obama

    US President Barrack Obama seems most likely to avoid including anything that might spark a trade war in a planned economic stimulus package after EU and Canadian criticism of a "Buy American" clause in the $800bn package, which is being debated in the US Senate. Obama also said he's going to crack down on businesses using taxpayer money to excessively pay executives, with mechanisms to keep that from happening. Meanwhile, he admitted his mistake in handling the nomination of Tom Daschle as his Health secretary, who withdrew on Tuesday following revelations that he failed to pay some $140.000 in back taxes. I owe to admit my mistakes saying: "I don't want to send the message that the politically powerful people are treated differently from average people who are working every day and paying their taxes".

    Criticism against "protectionism"

    In an interview with ABC, Mr Obama said he did not want to include anything in a planned economic stimulus package that would spark a trade war, "The US does not want to start sending a message that somehow we're just looking after ourselves and not concerned with world trade". His response came after EU and Asian countries criticism about protectionism policy over a "Buy American" clause in the economic stimulus package. In his statements to NBC, he stressed that the crucial point is to defrost credits and grant loans to help US economy overcome recession. In the meantime, the US President is going to crack down on businesses and particularly banks using taxpayer money to excessively pay executives, saying that they must agree that salaries must not surpass $500.000 a year. Obama believes in greater transparency and wise use of taxpayer money and would call state services and businesses to release their executives salaries.

    Sources: Reuters, ÁNA-ĚPA

    BBC: Obama wants to avoid 'trade war'

    CNN: Obama: 'I screwed up' on Daschle appointment

    News item: 18512

    [23] Obama Strengthens Unions

    America-USA

    US President Barrack Obama signed on Friday three executive orders to bolster unions in the workplace and strengthen workers' rights. He pledged to reverse labour policies from his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, that unions have long contended favoured employers over workers. Barrack Obama said there could not be a strong middle class without a strong labour movement.

    "Labor part of the Solution"

    "I believe we have to reverse many of the policies toward organized labour that we have seen over the past eight years, policies with which I have sharply disagreed," Obama told a gathering at the White House. "Labour is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution," he said to loud applause from an audience that included representatives of labour unions and business groups. On Thursday, Obama denounced as "shameless" lavish Wall Street bonuses for senior financial executives at a time when taxpayers' money was shoring up a financial system in crisis. "I read an article writing that Wall Street bankers gave themselves bonuses mounting up to 20 billion dollars...It is the height of irresponsibility, it is shameless. What Wall Street folks, who are asking for help, must do among others, is to show restrain, discipline and greater sensitivity", said the American President.

    Sources: Reuters, ÁNA-ĚPA

    News item: 18366

    [24] Tzipi Livni Enjoys Slim Lead

    Middle East - Iraq

    Interpreting the results of the snap elections held Tuesday in Israel, analyst forecast political uncertainty. The leaders of the two major parties, however, claimed victory. The governing centrist Kadima of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has 28 seats and the right-wing Likud opposition Benjamin Netanyahu 27, election officials said. Tzipi appealed to Netanyahu to join a national unity government that she would lead. Ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu came third, pushing the Labour party into fourth place.

    Period of Political Uncertainty

    The ultra-nationalists are expected to play a key role in the government formation talks, which are to last for at least two months.

    After the exit polls, Lieberman said he could be part of a coalition government with either Livni or Netanyahu. Lieberman finished third, thanks to his anti-Arab rhetoric and the pledge to wipe out Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

    Livni, on the other hand, said she would be the Prime Minister, calling on her rival to join a national unity government.

    Addressing her cheering fans, Livni claimed that the people of Israel could smile again as soon as they formed a government. Should she be appointed Prime Minister, she will be the first female head of the government after Golda Meir.

    Netanyahu, on the other hand, believing the nationalist camp won, he argued he would lead a right-wing government with 64 seats.

    President Simon Peres will have the final say, as he will decide after holding talks with the political parties whether to mandate Livni or Netanyahu to form a government.

    Source: NET 105.8, ANA-MPA

    Related news: Israel: Crucial General Elections

    News item: 18791

    [25] Israel: Crucial General Elections

    World -

    Middle East - Iraq

    Polls in Israel closed Tuesday night in the country's snap general elections. Results seem to be close. Preliminary exit polls suggested that the ruling Kadima party led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni enjoyed a slight lead over the opposition Likud of Binyamin Netanyahu. Right-wing Yisrael Beitenu is forecast to be third.

    Specifically, the preliminary exit polls gave Kadima Party 30 seats to 29 for the opposition Likud. However, Netanyahu is most likely to lead a government coalition, as he has the rightists and religious groups by his side.

    News item: 18790

    [26] Hamas Rises in Popularity

    According to Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, Hamas' popularity rose after the completion of the Israeli bombings in Gaza. Based on the survey's evidence, if elections was to take place today in the Western Bank, Hamas would ensure 28,6% of votes, Fatah leaded by Mahmud Abbas president would gather 27,9 while other Palestinian organizations would collect the rest of the votes. What is interesting is the fact that for the first time since 2006 Hamas that controls Gaza strip is on the lead compared to Fatah.

    In Gaza Strip (33,6%) Fatah gathers more votes than Fatah while in Western Bank Hamas is on the lead with 29% of votes compared to Fatah (24,5%).

    The person Palestinians trust more is Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (21,1%) while Mahmud Abbas comes second (13,4%). In addition, as shown by the gallop, Hamas comes first among the Palestinian organization Palestinian people trust (27,7%) and Fatah follows (26%).

    On reference to the question who is the winner of the war, 46,7% answered Hamas, 9,8% believe that Israel was the winner while 37,4% answered no one.

    If Israeli launched attacks in order to distinguish Hamas, then it achieved the exact opposite as its supporters rose.

    News item: 18565

    [27] Abbas in Cairo

    World -

    Middle East - Iraq

    Hamas agreed with Egypt's plan for long term ceasefire in Gaza said Arab channel " Al Arabyia", on Sunday night while Palestinian and Egyptian news agencies reports said that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas cancelled his visit to the Czech Republic, currently holding EU rotating Presidency, in order to meet with Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarrack to be briefed on the latest developments regarding Egyptian negotiators talks with Hamas. In the meantime Israeli aircraft bombed a Hamas security target in Gaza City, on Sunday without reports of victims. The attack was launched after Israeli Prime-minister Ehud Olmert vowed "disproportionate response" to rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza after 3 Israelis were injured by Palestinian rockets despite the ceasefire declared two weeks ago.

    However, Mahmoud Abbas has said talks were impossible with anyone who rejected the supremacy of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which he leads. Mr Abbas has accused Hamas of risking Palestinian lives and said its leaders must respect his authority.

    Sources : Reuters, ÁNA-ĚPA

    Relevant Articles: Olmert Warned "Disproportionate Response"

    News item: 18417

    [28] Olmert Warned âDisproportionate Responseâ

    World -

    Middle East - Iraq

    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has vowed a "disproportionate" response to rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza despite the unilateral ceasefire he announced on January, 18. Palestinian militants have fired at least 5 rockets against southern Israel since the declaration of the ceasefire but without reports of victims. He was speaking soon after at least two rockets hit southern Israel. Later three Israelis were injured in a mortar barrage by Palestinian militants. In the meantime, Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas is going to visit Cairo on Monday for talks with Egyptian officials regarding recent developments in Egyptian mediators talks with Hamas.

    Hamas officials are to meet with Egyptian mediators on Sunday. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the EU consider Palestinian reconciliation as a positive step for progress towards and end of Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza and a good start for resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

    Sources: Reuters, ÁNA-ĚPA BBC: Israel vows tough rocket response

    News item: 18407

    [29] Suicide Bomber Hits Foreigner Troopers in Kabul

    A suicide bomber rammed his car into a convoy of foreign troops in the Afghan capital, killing three Afghani civilians. The attack took place on Kabul's western edge near a bridge. The particular road is frequently used by US and NATO troops. Representatives of NATO and US troops said they were checking the incident.

    The attack occurred on the main road to the south of the country from Kabul which runs through Maidan Wardak, a province that has seen a sharp increase in violence in the past year as Taliban militants have moved into the area.

    News item: 18395

    [30] Iraq Provincial Elections

    World -

    Middle East - Iraq

    Iraq holds provincial elections on Saturday, its first elections since 2005 and some 15 million Iraqis eligible to vote are expected to participate. Provincial elections is considered as a test about the country's stability and popularity of Prime-minister Nuri Al Maliki. Despite tight security measures three mortars exploded near polling stations in Tikrit but there were no reports of casualties. Thousands of security forces are patrolling around polling stations while on the eve of nationwide provincial election Iraq began sealing its borders, halting air-traffic and ordering overnight curfews in large cities. Voters pass through security inspection for fear of carrying explosives before entering into polling stations.

    Sources: ÍĹÔ 105.8, ÁNA-ĚPA

    News item: 18367

    [31] Israel: Netaniahu Ahead

    World -

    Middle East - Iraq

    Two new Israeli poll show hardline Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu ahead 11 days before the national elections. Netanyahu gets 28 seats in Israel's 120-seat parliament. That's five seats more than his closest rival, moderate Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of the centrist Kadima party. Kadima now has 29 seats. The far-right Israel Beiteinou party led by MP Avigdor Lieberman would get 16 mandates. Due to the religious parties' support and due to the rise of the far right, the coalition of the right has the majority in Kneset with 65 MPs. Ehoud Barack's party is loosing four seats and as per polls it is garnering 15.

    One of the opinion polls was conducted by the Teleseker institute among 600 potential voters. It has a margin of error of four percent. The second one with the same number of people interviewed and the same margin of error was conducted by Dahaf Institute on behalf of Kadima party.

    News item: 18335


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