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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-02-19
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From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Ukraine Suspends Election ResultWednesday, 17 February 2010 14:22
Ukrainian Supreme Administrative Court has suspended the result of the recent presidential election for the period it is examining the evidence submitted by losing candidate Yulia Tymoshenko. In the meantime,Ukraine's Parliament agreed that Mr Yanukovych should be sworn in, February, 25.
Swearing in on Set Date
The decision of Ukraine's Supreme Administrative Court, posted in its official website, "suspends decision of central electoral commission ratifying the second round of presidential elections and election of Viktor Yanukovych" until judicial procedures are completed. The Court, that has to issue its ruling within two days, rejected Yulia Tymoshenko request to ban inauguration of winner Viktor Yanukovych, which has been scheduled for February, 25.
Sources: Reuters, ÁNA-ĚPA BBC: Ukrainian election result suspended after PM's appeal
News item: 33404
 Supreme Courts Rules Suspension of Auctions till Late JuneFriday, 19 February 2010 16:36
The Supreme Court ruled the suspension of auctions for debts up to 200,000 euros until 30 June.
Supreme Court Vice Prosecutor Nikos Pantelis called last September's order clear. The order in question, which was ratified by Act 3814/2010, says that banks should suspend auctions for debts up to 200,000 euros. News item: 33532
 Almunia: Greece Deserves Support and SolidarityFriday, 19 February 2010 14:25
Former EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia offered Friday his backing to Greece. He said that Greece deserves the EU's help, however it has to take all necessary measures to solve its fiscal problems. He also noted that Greece has serious problems that have to be solved by Greece itself. In the meantime, the European Commission stressed that the new EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, is due in Athens in mid March. Greek Finance Minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou in his interview with Reuters requested the EU be more specific on the way it is planning to support Greece.
Touching on the likelihood of additional measures, he said that all alternatives are under consideration, without excluding raising the VAT rates. He then ruled out resorting to the International Monetary Fund, as it does not fall under the eurozone regualations.
The government, however, is likely to announce new measures before 16 March, when the EcoFin is expected to assess the results expected to be yielded by the first package of measures.
Olli Rehn Due in Athens in Mid-March
In the meantime, new EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn is due in Athens in mid March. Although the reason of his visit has not been officially announced, yet his arrival coincides with the first crucial test that will determine whether the fiscal-cutting measures taken by Greece can yield results.
Both the European Commission and the EU Finance Ministers have said that the measures taken so far are not enough and have asked for more so that Greece's deficit goes down from 12.7% to 8.7%.
World Press Comments on Greek Economy
World press is particularly interested in Greece's economy and the deficit-cutting measures taken by the government. Greek Financial Minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou gave an interview to Reuters.
Financial Times read that Europe cannot leave Athens on its own.
The Wall Street Journal commented that, "Greece's next test is in a bond sale. The government of Greece is set to launch a new bond offering in coming days, a sale that could help determine whether Greece's own debt crisis spreads to the rest of Europe."
New York Times, on the other hand, stressed that if Greece's short-terms goals are not fully met in the coming month, Europe should not rush to dictate harsher additional measures, because Athens needs deep and viable economic reforms and not a sudden fiscal strangling.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 33515
 Economy: Denials, Prospects and WranglingFriday, 19 February 2010 11:48
The likelihood of additional fiscal-cutting measures, including the abolishment of the Easter bonus, has sent tensions high, with government arguing it has no intention of abolishing the Easter bonus. Tensions ran high Friday morning in Parliament between the Financial Minister and the SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) head. Giorgos Papakonstantinou called on Alexis Tsipras to demonstrate social responsibility, stressing that the government is doing nothing but implementing a balanced stability plan to address the chronic wrongdoings of the Greek economy.
A few days before experts from the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the Central European Bank arrive in Greece to monitor the implementation of the stability plan, the Greek Finance Ministry is on standby, considering all alternatives in case additional measures are required.
Papakonstantinou and Tsipras Clash in Parliament
Tensions ran high between the Finance Minister and Alexis Tsipras.
"...Do you honestly believe that this government has nothing else to do but coming up with new measures?..."
Giorgos Papakonstantinou blamed Tsipras for pretending he does not know a thing about the country's gloomy financial situation.
"We are fully aware of the reality and we have the responsibility. You are acting as if you have heard a thing about the gloomy situation. Do you honestly believe that this government has nothing else to do but coming up with new measures?" wondered Papakonstantinou.
SYRIZA head Alexis Tsipras, on his part, urged the Finance Minister to clearly answer whether the Easter bonus is to be abolished and accused the government of employing communicative ploys and predicted a social explosion.
"We are talking about human lives and not about statistics. Your actions as a government have nothing to do with you pre-election pledges. We were expecting you to be clear. Whose wages will be cut? 70% of the country's employees get 500 to 1000 euros. Are you going to cut their wages? Don't even think about doing so," said, among others, Tsipras.
"You said that the Greek economy was like the Titanic. Didn't you know that some of the passengers rescued were first class one, like the ship magnates and bankers in modern day Greece?"
"The Titanic hit an iceberg because no one was on the bridge. The orchestra was playing and no one cared whether there was someone on the bridge to avert what was coming," replied Papakonstantinou.
Papakonstantinou then blasted the SYRIZA head, stressing: "We are instilling fear in the Greek society. Instead of backing our effort, we are sticking to your short-minded policy that does not fit your ideology that has offered a lot to the society. We thought you would be more generous."
"The Finance Minister's refusal to answer clearly whether the Easter bonus is going to be abolished clearly indicates guilt," commented Tsipras. News item: 33508
 State Body for the Exploitation of HydrocarbonsFriday, 19 February 2010 15:03
The government is planning to set up a state body to manage matters pertaining to the mining and exploitation of hydrocarbons. Replying to a question posed by LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) head Giorgos Karatzaferis on the exploitation of offshore oil fields in Greece, Vice-President of the Greek government Theodoros Pangalos said: "The government's goal is to set up a state body to manage mining rights, to modernize the already existing legislature, to support scientific research, to attract oil companies and to make the best of the information and data that exist. All attempts to mine hydrocarbons in Greece have fallen flat."
Touching on the matter of an economic exclusion zone, Mr Pangalos noted that it is related to the continental shelf and is part of a more general political dialogue with Turkey.
"The only campaign that yielded results came from the Prinou consortium between 1981 and 2007 which mined 116 million barrels." He added that similar attempts were made off Rhodes.
"It is the only country in the world that refuses to sign the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which acknowledges the continental shelf in islands.
Karatzaferis, on the other hand, stressed that there are strong indications that there is an oil field, citing a press report. He also claimed that Greece is afraid to adopt the economic exclusion zone.
"We are all aware that we have a 'boogieman' and we pretend it does not exist. We are covering everything. Are we determined to implement the economic exclusion zone? You know very well that it has nothing to do with the continental shelf. The continental shelf has gaps, the economic exclusion zone does not. All countries have accepted it, including Turkey, which has signed agreements with Russia, Romania and Bulgaria in the Black Sea. It refuses to sign a similar agreement in our region because it is not to its benefit. Does Greece have the power to back its interests or some may think that the oil field in question could be used to pay off the debt?"
"The Greek government fears no one. It goes without saying that the financial situation plays a part and it would be much better for out diplomatic aspirations," noted Pangalos.
News item: 33524
 Samaras Lashes out at PASOKFriday, 19 February 2010 14:02
Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras unleashed an attack on the government and the Prime Minister himself, prompted by the latter's claim whereby Greece lost part of its national sovereignty, addressing his party's parliamentary group on Friday.
"Unlike surveillance which is temporary, sovereignty loss is irreversible," stressed Antonis Samaras and reiterated that his party says "yes" to an inquiry commission on economy, because it has nothing to hide.
Samaras claimed blamed the huge problems of the Greek economy on the Socialist rule starting from 1981 and onward. He also blasted the way Greece joined the Economic and Monetary Union."
"PASOK is suffering from 'The Titanic Syndrome'" stressed Antonis Samaras, further adding, "The government is breaking up the domestic front with inquiry commissions and converting a conjuncture in which the greatest unity is mandatory into a period of intense partisan clashes."
"Yes to the inquiry committee on economy, because we are not afraid of anything, we have nothing to hide and because the current financial situation is not a matter of the last years. We agree. Everything must be brought to light, the entire economic management must be thoroughly examined, not only from 2004 onwards, but from 1981 onwards" A. Antonis
He warned, however, that the proposal for an inquiry committee "means that we will be poking our eyes out ourselves" because "don't delude yourselves, this slippery path will drag us to exo-European solutions. All these propel us to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and will be an acknowledgement of defeat of the eurozone, a blow against Europe."
Samaras then went on to attack the Prime Minister over his claim that Greece has lost part of its national sovereignty. "Several other countries have reached a worse point than Greece. None of them, though, that it lost its national sovereignty," said he.
Shifting his attention to his party's opposition tactics, Samaras underlined that "we are not conducting destructive opposition, knocking down everything in order to govern the ruins afterwards, nor are we engaging in passive opposition waiting for the government to fall like an over-ripe fruit. We are exercising progressive opposition, we are facing the situation as the future government".
He then clarified, "Responsible consensus is one thing, and going along with a mistake is something else. Responsible politics is one thing, and co-responsibility is something else. We are doing what is best for our country, but we are not co-governing." News item: 33516
 Appointment of New ERT Head ApprovedFriday, 19 February 2010 09:09
The House's relevant committed okayed Friday the appointment of the new ERT (Greek national broadcaster) head G. Gabritsios. The deputies of the ruling party of PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) and LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) gave a positive vote, while those of ND (New Democracy), KKE (Greek Communist Party) and SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) cast a blank ballot.
Answering questions on his vision and his goals, Mr Gabritsios stressed among others: "Both the board and the employees will agree on the above, wisely managing the money of the Greek people and earmarking funds for the programme. We will build and enhance all the good things that happened in the past without impression moves. I will strive to live up to the expectations. I have the intention. I will demonstrate professional ethos. I will do my best. The private television was built at the expense of the public one. I do not know how this happened, but I will certainly make for it I if I can."
Asked by KKE deputy Vera Nikolaidou what the future of extremely costly shows will be whether there will be downsizing, Gabritsios commented: "I do not have the intention of making the money I earned in the private sector, nor earming as much as my predecessor. I am not judging my predecessors. ERT's staff is a challenge. I do not have the right to fire people, they are public servants. I will see to it."
House Speaker F. Petsalnikos touched on financial matters and asked whether the press reports on exorbitant wages and costs are true. He then advised the new ERT head against doing the same.
"I understand that the country is living through a crisis. The national broadcaster cannot pay that much, however, it is part of a competitive market, meaning that if you do not give enough money to the good ones, you cannot keep them. I will see to both factors," stressed Gabritsios.
Source: ANA News item: 33502
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