|Monday, 19 March 2018|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 09-09-02
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Election Talks Going StrongLast Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 19:24
Speculations about Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis' intention to either call snap elections or carry out a cabinet reshuffle are going strong, while the government spokesman declined to answer to questions relating to the Prime Minister's imminent revelations. In the meantime, more and more government officials take a stand against early elections. The meeting between Greek Finance Minister Giannis Papathanasiou and EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia is expected to play an instrumental role.
Speculations about snap elections are harmful for the economy, underlined Kostas Karamanlis.
Economy matters are to play a decisive role in shaping developments. Karamanlis and Governor of the Bank of Greece Giorgos Provopoulos held talks on world affairs and the progress of the Greek economy. In Brussels, Finance Minister Giannis Papathanasiou is meeting Wednesday afternoon with EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.
Asked whether they touched on speculations about early elections, Provopoulos said they didn't.
Early elections should be called whenever there are really serious reasons or a major national affair, Conservative cadre Anna Benaki-Psarouda told NET radio station.
News item: 26325
 Quake 4.4 in AtticaLast Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 15:58
A quake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale with its epicenter the town of Bilia, 40km west of Athens was recorded at 11:17. The tremor was felt in many regions in Attica.
Source: ÕŇ‘, ŃNA-ŐPA
Older news items: News item: 26312
 Mint Metro Station Opens to PublicLast Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 12:58
The metro station at the Athens Mint, the first of the three new metro stations on Mesogeion Avenue, opened Wednesday to the public.
‚In a particularly difficult work, we managed to win the battle against time and have the metro service to the Athens Airport resumed in a tight timeline, proving all Kassandras wrong,‚ commented Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias.
News item: 26310
 Athens to Request Extension to Bring State-deficit downNews
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 11:10
Interest is centered on FinMin Yiannis Papathanasiou meeting on Wednesday with competent EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia on the sidelines of the informal Ecofin Council. Greece as many other EU member states want a 2-year extension of deadline till 2012 to bring deficit down below 3% of GNP. In the meantime, Justice Minister is to submit a legislative regulation to The parliament today providing for suspension of mortgage auctions for debts up to 200.000 till 31/12/2009.
The European Commission appears to be seriously considering extension of deadline to bring state deficit down as several EU members states deficit is well above the 3% target set by the Maastricht treaty.
Sources: ÕŇ‘, ÕŇ‘ 105.8 Relevant Article: Banks Suspend Mortgage Auctions
News item: 26308
 Karamanlis-Probopoulos MeetingLast Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 13:31
Prime-minister Kostas Karamanlis meeting with the Bank of Greece chief George Probopoulos in the Maximos Mansion, at 11:30, on Wednesday concluded the circle of contacts in view of the ITF. Mr. Probopoulos briefed the Prime-minister on the Bank of Greece positions on fiscal policy, impacts of global financial crisis and salaries and pensions forecasts. The Prime-minister has already formulated an overall view on the workers and businessmen requests, after his meetings with representatives of production sectors, on whose grounds he is expected to prepare the content of his speech to be delivered at the ITF.
After the meeting, Mr. probopoulos said that talks with the Prime-minister centered on the course of economy and refused to respond on whether they discussed the issue of holding early elections.
In response to whether he suggested early elections he said: ‚No. In view of the ITF, I briefed the Prime-minister on economic developments worldwide and naturally in Greece‚.
News item: 26306
 Afghanistan Sharp Drop in Opium ProductionNews
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 10:03
Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has dropped by 22% in a year as heroin prices have sharply dropped, leading many farmers to seek for more profitable cultivations, says the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Afghanistan holds indisputable lead in world opium production, 90%. Opium production hit record high in 2007 but opium and heroin production has sharply dropped since then.
Drop due to economic factors
UN Office on Drugs and Crime report say that about 800.000 less Afghans are involved in opium production and drug trading compared against last year. This development is noted while Afghan war is escalating.
Western officials warned that Afghan drugs trade have catastrophic consequences: funding criminals, insurgents and terrorists, encouraging corruption and threatening the legitimacy of the Afghan state
The UNODC's executive director, Antonio Costa, said: "These results are a welcome piece of good news and demonstrate that progress is possible."
This year there were 123.000 hectares devoted to poppy growing, a sharp fall from 157.000 hectares in 2008, the UNODC report found. The biggest drop was recorded in Helmand , center of US and British troops operations were poppy growing dropped by 1/3 to 69.833 hectares from 103.590 in 2008 .
Despite the drop, production for 2009 will hit 6,900 metric tonnes, while annual demand for illicit opium has never exceeded 5,000 tones. The opium surplus also pushed down prices, leading some farmers away from growing the now less profitable poppies, the UN survey said.
Opium prices dropped by 40% this year to 438 million dollars, which covers only 4% of Afghan GNP compared to 7% in 2007 and 27% in 2002, a year after the overthrow of Taliban ruling.
The UNODC's executive director, Antonio Costa said ‚Progress is possible, even under the toughest conditions. It would be a historical error to allow this undeniable progress to be undermined.‚
Sources: Reuters, ŃNA-ŐPA BBC: 'Sharp drop' in Afghan opium crop
News item: 26305
 Amnesty International Calls US to Lift Sanctions against CubaLast Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 09:13
Rights groups Amnesty International on Wednesday called on U.S. President Barack Obama to lift sanctions in effect for about half a century against Cuba this month in a step towards dismantling the U.S. embargo against the island. The provisions of the Trading with the Enemy Act, among a raft of U.S. sanctions against Communist-run Cuba, expire on Sept. 14 and the president has the power to extend it for another year or lift it. Cuba government has made clear that it was willing to hold overall discussions with the US, it, however, ruled out unilateral concessions or reinstatement of capitalism.
"Lift Immoral Embargo"
"This is the perfect opportunity for President Obama to distance himself from the failed policies of the past and to send a strong message to the U.S. Congress on the need to end the embargo," Irene Khan, Amnesty International's secretary-general, said in a statement.
"The U.S. embargo against Cuba is immoral and should be lifted," Khan said. "It's preventing millions of Cubans from benefiting from vital medicines and medical equipment essential for their health."
Obama has taken steps towards a more open relationship with Havana than the Bush administration, including lifting restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba for Cuban-Americans with relatives on the island. But Obama has said the near half-century trade embargo, which the Cuban government blames for many of its problems, will stay in place until Cuba releases political prisoners and improves human rights. Cuba has said it is willing to discuss everything with Washington but has ruled out unilateral political concessions or any shift to capitalism.
The Trading with the Enemy Act prohibits any type of trade or financial transaction, including those related to travel, transportation or business in times of war or when a national emergency has been declared in relation to specific country.
In its report "The U.S. embargo against Cuba: Its impact on economic and social rights", Amnesty said the restrictions severely limited Cuba's ability to import medicine, medical equipment and technology essential for treating life-threatening disease and maintaining public health programs.
Citing data from the U.N. children's agency UNICEF because Amnesty does not have access to the island, the group said 37.5 percent of Cuba's under-3s had iron deficiency anaemia in 2007. The commercial barriers have also hindered the renovation of hospitals, clinics and care centers for the elderly.
News item: 26304
 Bomb Blast against Stock Market & Macedonia Thrace MinistryLast Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 15:46
Terrorists launched two almost simultaneous attacks with self-made bombs against the Athens Stock Market and the Macedonia Thrace Ministry.Anti-terrorist police are carrying out extensive investigations to collect data in order to locate terrorists. Athens Stock Market chief Spiros Kapralos said it will operate normally despite the bomb attack.
A homemade bomb exploded outside the Athens Stock market causing extensive material damage to the fa√ßade of the building housing the bourse and other nearby buildings. The bomb was detonated in a stolen van at 05:50. Fortunately only one person was slightly injured as a warning call to ‚Eleftherotypia‚ newspaper enabled police to cordon off the area.Despite the massive material damage the stock market will open for trading
Police collected all evidence around the site of the attack while the stolen van, where the bomb was detonated, was transferred for detailed investigation to the anti-terrorist police installations. In parallel, investigations extend to other regions in Athens, and particularly Zografos from where the van was stolen and Kaisariani as a relevant State Department report refers to two people involved in terrorist attacks. It is not the first time, however, that American intelligence service reports make references to persons.
Bomb in Thessaloniki
Shortly after the Athens blast a less powerful bomb exploded in a waste bin near Macedonia-Thrace ministry building causing minor material damage. Another anonymous call warned police and private television station ‚ALTER‚ before the bomb went off in a bin behind a ministry building causing limited damage.
News item: 26303