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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 09-05-26
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From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Focusing on Cyprus and Turkey's EU BidThe Cyprus row, Turkey's EU bid, as well as the situation in the Middle East topped the talks held in Athens between Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her British counterpart David Miliband. Bakoyannis stressed that Ankara should proceed with the necessary reforms before opening its accession process, and asked Miliband, who is due in Turkey on Wednesday, to encourage its leaders to commit themselves to the necessary reforms.
"We want to see a European Turkey in our border. We believe that it is to the benefit of both countries, provided that Turkey will have met its obligations and EU standards," commented Bakoyannis.
"It is up to Turkey to opt for radical reforms that will bring it closer to the European vision. Greece openly and clearly backs this choice, yet it will not allow any compromises that would threaten the Union's cohesion or harm Greece's national interests," added she.
Touching on the Cyprus row, the Greek Foreign Minister said the negotiations have reached a turning point, further underlining, "It takes courage and good will. And the most important of all, it takes Turkey's constructive stance, if we want to see any progress." Also commenting on the efforts to resolve the Cyprus standoff, Miliband stressed the solution should be provided by the Cypriots, also claiming that Britain is determined to play a supportive role in the crucial negotiations.
With regard to a possible suspension to Turkey's EU bid in the coming December, Miliband said there is no such a proposal, adding his country wishes to see progress in both matters.
The two Foreign Ministers referred to the close cooperation between Greece and Britain within the EU and NATO, while they discussed the work of the Greek OECD Presidency.
Miliband praised Greece's role in the Georgia row and voiced his country's intention to support it.
Shifting his attention to the Middle East, he underlined the need for the establishment of a Palestinian state near a safe Israel, and called on the EU to play an instrumental role in it.
News item: 22812
 Public Sector MergersNews
The plan to merge and abolish some 225 state funds, as the government had pledged, was unveiled Tuesday at the Bi-ministerial Financial Committee chaired by the Prime Minister. Financial Minister Giannis Papathanasiou said the mergers will have been completed in four months' time. He further added that the government is implementing a programme, which is extremely demanding, yet necessary, for the state's more effective and flexible operation. Furthermore, the government spokesman made it clear that the decisions to be taken will not affect labour rights.
"Labour Rights Won't Be Affected"
Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros appeared certain that there will be no redundancies. He added that the said effort aims to saving funds and rationalizing the operation of the state.
Asked whether ministries will be merged, he said that the two matters are not related.
At the Economist Conference, Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis stressed that the government remains committed to the reforms defying the political cost. He also underlined the need to boost the inspection mechanism, without, however, leaving the door open for protectionism.
In the Aftermath of the IMF Recommendations
The government's decisions came a day after the International Monetary Fund's report on Greece went public. The IMF recommended permanent measures to address the deficits and the public debt.
"The government shapes the country's financially policy with responsibility, telling the people the truth, and proceeding with improvements when necessary," commented Antonaros, further stressing that the government has no intention of deviating from that policy.
He also repeated the Prime Minister's words, that the government has chosen the path of changes and reforms, especially now that they are necessary.
"The country's interests dictate our policy," added he, claiming that the government takes into consideration the reports of international bodies, without agreeing with some of their forecasts.
He then went on to argue that the international organizations tend to be more pessimistic, maybe because they are not that familiar with each nation's peculiarities.
Giannis Raggoussis, secretary of PASOK's National Council, blasted the government for its ongoing refusal to announce the fiscal measures it has already decided to implement after the European Parliament elections.
"The Commission's figure have proved that Greece lost EU funds amounting to 12 billion euros, exactly the same amount of money the International Monetary Funds wants back," commented LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) Kostis Aivaliotis.
From the podium of the Greek-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the head of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kostas Mihalos, argued, "The rise in revenues should not be combined with a rise in taxation, since it would weaken competitiveness and further raise in unemployment. Instead, it should be combined with a new, more effective and fairer tax system capable of boosting tax conscience and trimming tax evasion.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA
Related news: IMF Recommendations on Greek Economy
News item: 22806
 Michalis Papagiannakis Passed AwayCoalition of the Left (SYNASPISMOS) member of parliament Michalis Papagiannakis passed away today Tuesday beaten by cancer, aged 68. Mr. Papagiannakis was born in Kalamata. He studied law and political sciences in Athens, Montpellier and Paris. Until 1963 he was a member of the United Democratic Left (EDA). During the military coup d'Γ©tat he joined the Democratic Defence. He was a fundamental member of the Hellenic Direct Democracy Movement (EAR). Michalis Papagiannakis had been elected SYN European parliamentary member in 1989, 1994 and 1999 Euro elections. In national elections he was voted third among SYN candidates in Athens B district.
Fotis Kouvelis said in NET 105,8 radio station that Michalis Papagiannakis had contributed decisively to make the Left wing a contemporary, radical party that proceeds to beneficial actions for the welfare of society.
"This is a major loss of a good friend, a politician with ethos, of an active citizen who fought for the Greece and Europe's progress. My deepest condolences to his family, PASOK member Giorgos Papandreou after bering informed about Mr. Papagiannakis' death.
News item: 22796
 H1N1 Flu: Canada Confirms Second DeathNews
Canada has recorded its second death linked to the H1N1 swine flu strain, health officials said on Monday. A 44-year-old Toronto man with a chronic pre-existing medical problem died after contracting the flu, according to the province of Ontario's acting chief medical officer, David Williams.
Canada had confirmed 805 H1N1 flu cases as of Friday. Most involved mild symptoms, but 21 required hospitalization, according to federal health officials.
Australia: Swine Flu Cases on Cruise Ship
Two children aboard a cruise ship that arrived in Sydney yesterday are the latest Australian swine flu cases. The boys bring to 22 the number of people detected with the virus in Australia.
They were among four passengers from the Pacific Dawn tested for the virus, but the two others were diagnosed with general influenza.
The testing delayed the departure of the vessel on its next cruise by seven hours and 130 other passengers were quarantined with symptoms of respiratory illness.
News item: 22790
 Papandreou Visits ARGO Rehabilitation CentreWritten by Δημήτρης Αλεξόπουλος
PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) President George Papandreou visited Tuesday the ARGO rehabilitation centre in Holargos district. Papandreou noted that prevention is a keynote prerequisite for a humane society. The Socialist leader is currently meeting with Martin Feldstein, US President Obama's advisor on economy. Earlier, he held talks with visiting British foreign secretary David Miliband on the Socialists' course towards the European Parliament elections and the international developments.
During his visit at the ARGO rehabilitation centre, Papandreou dismissed the government's welfare policy as unacceptable, noting that it is sabotaging the structures the country needs.
"Thousands of families suffering from drug addiction need the rehabilitation centres," stressed Papandreou, further adding that those centres, which were founded during the Socialist rule in Greece, should have been increased. Yet they have shut down."
"This policy has to change. For us, prevention is a priority to make society more humane, and we will make it," concluded Papandreou, thanking those working in those centres.
Earlier, Papandreou had met with British foreign secretary David Miliband, who expressed interest in PASOK's and SI's initiatives on confronting the problems of climate change and environmental protection.
During a working breakfast, Papandreou briefed Miliband on those initiatives, including his recent visit to Beijing on the same subjects and his meeting with the Chinese President.
News item: 22799
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