|Saturday, 16 December 2017|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-01-25
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Chaos in Kabul StreetsMonday, 18 January 2010 09:41
Scene is chaotic in the streets of Kabul, capital of Afghanistan after brazen assault by Taliban gunmen. A strong bomb went off near the government building while more explosions followed with suicide bombers blowing themselves up in several locations. Afghan television showed a multi storey shopping center near the government building in flames. A bomb exploded outside a cinema without reports of victims or injuries so far. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner described the situation as extremely serious.
Taliban Biggest Attack in the Last Period
CNN reports that attacks began as 14 members of President Hamid Karzai's cabinet were being sworn in. Speaking to Associated Press, Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attacks and said that 20 fighters stormed into the Presidential Palace, Finance Ministry, Justice Ministry and Hotel Serena.
"The Taliban are launching attacks in Kabul, the situation is serious, unfortunately as it has been for a long time", said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
It is the biggest attack launched by Taliban gunmen in the last period.
Policemen and 5 suicide bombers are among the victims while 13 people injured, most of them civilians, have been transferred to hospital.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner described the situation very serious. "Taliban gunmen are launching attacks in all parts of Kabul, the situation is very serious, unfortunately as it has been for a long time", said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, adding that conference on Afghanisatn future, to be held on January, 28, must reach practical solutions. US envoy to Afghanistan Richard Holbrook described Taliban attacks as brutal and ruthless actions.
News item: 32075
 Despair and Anarchy Rules HaitiMonday, 18 January 2010 08:24
The USA is beefing up its aid to the quake-hit people of Haiti. Another 2200 US marines with medical equipment are on their way to Port-au-Prince to assist the work already done by the 5000 marines already on the island. In the meantime, almost a week after the devastating earthquake, the situation is still dramatic. Aid has just started arriving to those in need, while chaos rules in the Haitian capital. Desperate, angry and hungry, the residents resort to looting to survive.
At the God's Mercy
Thousands of people who lost everything are still in the streets of the capital city, with the risk of contaminated diseases being at the gate.
Living in Haiti has been nightmarish lately, with anarchy hampering the distribution of humanitarian aid
The country's President pledged to assist the UN work, while the head of the US forces in Haiti underlined that safeguarding rule of order is as crucial as the humanitarian aid delivery.
Thousands of people who lost everything are still in the streets of the capital city, with the risk of contaminated diseases being at the gate.
The about 3,500 inmates who ran free following the quake have increased insecurity concerns.
Some 280 homeless reception centres capable of housing about 500 people opened Monday.
So far as many as 70,000 bodies have been buried in massive graves, while the US forces fear casualties could reach 200,000.
In the meantime, the EU pledged about 200 million euros for the construction of Haiti.
News item: 32073
 Desperation & Anger Grips HaitiFriday, 15 January 2010 08:27
Rescue groups are battling against time in Haiti to dig survivors from under the rubble. Red Cross was estimating 45.000 to 50.000 people killed in the devastating quake and some 3.000.000 Haitians affected. The situation is chaotic and wrath mounts in Haiti as relief aid delays. US president Barrack Obama pledged $100 million for the earthquake-stricken Caribbean country and called on former US presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton to coordinate relief aid to Haiti.
Barrack Obama Support Message
"To the people of Haiti, we say clearly and with conviction: you will not be forsaken, you will not be forgotten," President Barrack Obama said.
In an emotional speech to the people of Haiti on Thursday, US President Barrack Obama called two former US presidents to help in coordination of relief efforts to Haiti.
"To the people of Haiti, we say clearly and with conviction: you will not be forsaken, you will not be forgotten," Mr. Obama said. "In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you, the world stands with you."
Barack Obama reminds the Haitian people that help is arriving, and more is on the way. U.S. soldiers from a military base in North Carolina are preparing for the arrival of a larger force. More than 3.500 soldiers and 2,000 Marines are traveling to the area to help with security needs, search and rescue, and the delivery of humanitarian supplies. More than a half-dozen U.S. military ships also are expected in the area, American hospital ship Comfort with beds for 250 patients and 12 surgeries and Carl Vinson and US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to serve as a floating airport.. Earlier, US President Barrack Obama and French President Nikola Sarkozy in cooperation with Brazil, Canada and other countries agreed to hold an international meeting for the reconstruction of Haiti, most likely to be held in March according to French Foreign Minister.
Haitians set up roadblocks with corpses
Angry Haitians set up roadblocks with corpses in Port-au-Prince to protest at the delay in emergency aid reaching them after a devastating earthquake and ask for more doctors and less reporters. Haitians wrath prevents even the work of rescue teams.
The biggest problem is security with lootings by armed men reported everywhere. When rescue teams arrive to dig out survivors they are asked to assist in the rescue of others while there is no cooperation with authorities. Hmanitarian aid remains at the airport causing delays in distribution. Furthermore delay in burying the dead raises risk to public health. So far 7.000 people have been buried while officials underline the need for assistance to burry the dead.
"We are trying to distribute humanitarian aid" said UN spokesman, Emilia Kazela, adding "it is a drop in the ocean".
Hollywood Stars Deeply Moved
Hollywood stars are moved by the tragedy in Haiti and decided to mobilize to raise aid for Haitians. First to offer aid Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt offered 1 million dollars to Doctors with no borders while Alicia Milano, Unicef good will ambassador offered 50.000 dollars. George Klooney is to coordinate a telemarathon next week to raise money while Colombian pop singer Shakira called on her fans to help Unicef. Αυτή τη στιγμή προσπαθούμε να διοχετεύσουμε στον κόσμο τα τρόφιμα που έχουμε στα χέρια μας", δήλωσε η Καζέλα, προσθέτοντας ότι τα εφόδια αυτά είναι "σταγόνα στον ωκεανό".
Sources: Reuters - BBC
News item: 31965
 Strong Demand for Greek BondsMonday, 25 January 2010 18:33
Greece's economic staff expressed satisfaction at the success of crash test on state borrowing as an offer of five-year Greek sovereign bonds met strong demand, more than 4 times the initial offered size. According to reports demand for its bond reached 20 billion euros with final gains for the Greek state estimated at 5 billion euros. Also positive is the European Commission message keeping distances from story in Der Spiegel magazine about risk of destabilization in eurozone due to financial problems in several member states among them Greece, Spain and Portugal.
A hefty premium on the first Greek 5 year bond issue of the year led to strong demand, beyond higher expectations providing relief. The Greek state initially asked for at least 3 billion euros but offers mounted to 25 billion euros from which the state extracted 8 billion at 350 basis point.
Moody's rating agency, which has downgraded Greece's debt and has a negative outlook on the rating, said the bond sale showed Greece could finance its debts in 2010 but the key for its rating was the ability to implement spending cuts."The key for Greece is really implementation,"It is a political as well as economic challenge."
Government spokesman George Petalotis ruled out any question about Greece's bankruptcy maintaining that all signs on the course of the economy are positive and this is proven every day in response to whether Greece's bankruptcy is visible.He added that Greece is continuing a credible repair of its economy through serious job in the last three months with the consent of the Greek people who indicate particular maturity at the circumstances.
Furthermore Greece won respite from markets following the European Commission and OECD assurances that Greece will not go bankrupt and there is no danger for destabilization in Europe.
Sources: ΝΕΤ-ΝΕΤ 105.8-ΑNA/ΜPA
Relevant Article: Papakonstantinou: "Greece will not leave eurozone"
News item: 32417
 Papakonstantinou: "Greece will not Leave the Eurozone"Monday, 25 January 2010 10:09
The government expressed satisfaction at the crash test on its economy. Greece regained some market confidence as a hefty premium on the first Greek bond issue of the year led to strong demand, 3 times higher than expected. In an interview with German daily Die Welt, Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou denied any talk of Greece leaving the euro.
In the meantime, the European Commission denied on Monday a story in German magazine Der Spiegel which said a report by the EU executive voiced concern that some countries' rising budget deficits could undermine the bloc's monetary union. Moody's described the Stability program as positive with some reservations while Morgan Stanley described the new fiscal measures as a positive step estimating, however, high risk regarding their implementation.
"β¦We will conquer budget problems on our own. We have asked no one for financial aid and also expect no help from outside β¦"
G. Papakonstantinou in DIE WELT
Sentiment in Greek markets was buoyed after demand for its bond reached 16 billion euros above the initial offered issue size of up to five billion euros with interest rate at 6.25%.
In an interview with German daily Die Welt Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou denied any talks that Greece will leave the euro. He also appeared optimistic for Greece's ability to purge its state finances, expressing conviction that the austerity plan will have results.
Government spokesman George Petalotis ruled out any question about Greece's bankruptcy maintaining that all signs on the course of the economy are positive and this is proven every day in response to whether Greece's bankruptcy is visible.
On his part, ECB head Jean-Claude Trichet, in an interview with Focus magazine, repeated that Greece as well as other Eurozone members had a lot of work to do to repair state finances, underlining, however, that budget data not corresponding to reality will not be accepted again.
Source: ΝΕΤ 105.8 - ΝΕΤ - ΑNA-ΜPA
Relevant Article: Timetable on economic review News item: 32380
 Greek FinMin: Stability Plan Is RealisticThursday, 21 January 2010 12:40
Greek Financial Minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou opened Thursday the sitting of the Economic and Social Council of Greece presided over by top cabinet member Theodoros Pangalos. "Greece has not asked for financial aid and is certain to meet its borrowing needs in the coming months," stressed Thursday morning Giorgos Papakonstantinou, while addressing a banking conference. "Greece is not waiting for a savior. The country has never asked for one," added the Greek Finance Minister, further underlining that Greece will manage to live up to the world markets' expectations in the coming weeks or months.
G.Papakonstantinou Projects Recovery in the 2nd Semester
The Greek Minister claimed that the government would not deviate from its goal to have fiscal consolidation. He took a stand against the taking of harsh measures, stressing that any changes should be fair, otherwise they would not be backed by the people.
"I believe that the macroeconomic scenario is realistic [...] Greece will be in a marginal recession in 2010, with recovery becoming evident in the second half of the year and positive growth rates in 2011," added Papakonstantinou.
He then went on to argue that the government did not target public servants but the money spending in the public sector, making it clear that tax evasion would be delivered a crushing blow, by giving incents to citizens to demand receipts and imposing hefty fines on the offenders.
IOBE Letter to the Prime Minister
The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) sent Thursday a letter to the Prime Minister describing the economic situation as extremely crucial.
IOBE said that fiscal consolidation requires constant and systematic efforts free of any pre-election pledges.
It noted that the Prime Minister himself has to immediately impose financial measures, underscoring that delays, talks and combinations of several opinions under an emergency situation could have a great and irreversible cost.
Source: NET 105.8, Reuters News item: 32235
 "Early Retirement Comes to an End"Thursday, 21 January 2010 12:31
The Greek Employment Minister is to unveil Thursday evening measures against poverty, including granting the unemployed a coupon increasing the market value. Andreas Loverdos expressed the government's intention to put an end to early retirement. He clarified, though, that decisions would be made by the relevant ministries. He then went on to add that age retirement gap between women and men would be bridged as of 2013.
In the meantime, Andreas Loverdos lashed out at the former OAED (Greek Manpower Employment Organization) board accusing it of maladministration. "The situation have crossed the line," said he, further noting that for the first time in history, OAED ran out of reserves due to a reckless policy.
Source: NET News item: 32234
 Greek FinMin: "June Is Crucial"Wednesday, 20 January 2010 14:08
Both the EU and the markets have shifted their attention to the implementation of the stability plan, giving Greece a six-month deadline. However, first reactions within the Eurogroup and EcoFin were positive, although concerns were also expressed. Greek Finance Minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou stressed the government has no intention of increasing the VAT rate and imposing a special levy on enterprises and real estate, while he called June a crucial month. He then underlined that not until the state budget is fully implemented, will the European Commission compile a report on Greek economy's progress.
"Restoring Greece's Credibility"
All necessary measures will be taken to restore Greece's credibility, assured Giorgos Papakonstantinou, focusing his attention to the imminent changes in the tax and pension systems, the drafting of the state budget, the country's administrative structure, as well as in the reform of the Greek Statistical Service.
The Finance Minister claimed that the climate in Brussels has started changing in favour of Greece and estimated that markets will soon start trusting the Greek economy. He did not rule out, though, curtailing the borrowing programme of the first six-month period, should the interest rates remain high.
Papakonstantinou also stressed that both the recent Eurostat report on the Greek statistical figures of the previous years and the draft report on Greece have surfaced political responsibilities for the inaccurate statistical figures provided by the previous government.
Creation of Independent Statistical Service
Papakonstantinou briefed his EU counterparts on the draft bill for the establishment of an independent Statistical Service. However, he added that the problem is not only reduced to the operation of the Greek Statistical Service, but it is part of a systemic problem hampering the entire production and data system.
He also briefed his counterparts on the draft-bill to be submitted to Parliament by summer for the setting up of a body to monitor the state budget. The body in question will be assigned to assess the figures released by the Finance Minister and the General Accounting Office.
"Our key priority is to restore Greece's credibility," commented Papakonstantinou, expressing his satisfaction as his counterparts showed they realized that the Greek government is fully aware of the situation and has the intention of turning its economy sustainable.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 32186
 Reserved OptimismTuesday, 19 January 2010 12:18
From Brussels, Finance Minister G. Papakonstantinos expressed satisfaction at the outcome of Ecofin meeting which had positive comments for the Greek government's actions to reform national statistics system and the three basic axes of the 3-year stability plan. The Greek government was given a 6-month deadline to show signs of materialization of Stability and Growth Plan since as of June implementation of measures to bring state deficit down will be under strict European Commission monitoring. The Greek government's plan was accepted with reservation, as expected, additional measures were discussed while certain circles expressed certainty that Greece will face the problems in economy.
Ecofin report welcomes the actions undertaken by the Greek government for reforms in the national statistics system including its independence and improvement of institutional framework for the production and notification of statistics data.Furthermore, Ecofin calls on Greece to act immediately to settle methodology and technical procedures.
European Commission Joaquin Almunia, in a press interview after the conclusion of works said that the Commission agrees with the decisions unanimously approved by the Ecofin Council. He added that Finance Ministers will reach decisions for an action plan on each specific point described as problematic regarding collection and management of Greek data in their next meeting.
Earlier, Greek Stability Plan won praise by Moody's Investor Services evaluating state bonds with A2. It, however, keeps reservations regarding combat of tax evasion, mainly due to the country's disappointing history in this sector.
G. Papakonstantinou: "Paying for incredibility of past years"
Finance Minister G. Papakonstantinos expressed satisfaction at the outcome of Ecofin meeting regarding reliability of Greek statistics data and the approval of the three axes of stability plan. On the one hand problems are recognized and on the other hand first measures to restore credibility are welcomed said Mr. Papakonstantinou.
Mr. Papakonstantinou expressed hope that credibility could be restored in October underlining that this pending issue creates climate of uncertainty in world markets. He also said that first EU reactions to Stability Plan were positive stressing that from this point on weigh lies on materialization of program and achievement of better coordination of ministries.
Several EU Finance Ministers referred to Greece.
Finland's Finance Minister Yurki Katainen, on his part, said that it has to be investigated whether the measures heralded are of essence. He argued, though, that trustworthy statistical figures are required, as well as solid measures aiming to budget consolidation. He made it clear that no one else but Greece can help itself and ruled out help from third parties.
In the meantime, Sweden's Finance Minister Andres Borg claimed that the statistical figures provided by Greece are inaccurate.
Asked whether she fears that Greece may fail to comply to its obligations, Spain's Finance Minister Elena Salgado appeared certain that Greece will do everything that is necessary.
Large opposition ND party, following decision by its leader Antonis Samaras, sets up a family budget observatory coordinated by Kavala deputy Nikos Panagiotopoulos aimed to monitor fluctuations in family income and the government's measures.
"The EU backs the government and the government backs the EU. They have a common target to make workers, self-employed and farmers to pay the consequences of the financial crisis and support interests of plutocracy" said GCP.
SYRIZA also criticized the government's economic and agriculture policy underlining that shortly after submitting the unacceptable stability and growth plan it is already holding negotiations with the EU to make it harder.
Source: Reuters News item: 32128
 Only 3.5% of Greeks Vaccinated against H1N1Thursday, 14 January 2010 11:04
Another 2 million people in Greece have to get antibodies to H1N1 so that 40% of the country's population can be cemented against a possible new pandemic wave, said Thursday morning the National Pandemic Flu Service. In the meantime, only 3.5% of the population of Greece has been vaccinated, while a campaign is under way to return the vaccines that were not used.
The about one thousand reports with regard to side-effects include mild symptoms, while the 17 most serious cases are not necessarily connected with the vaccine, stressed head of the National Pandemic Flu Service Eleni Giamarelou.
Source: NET, NET 105.8
News item: 31924