|Saturday, 17 March 2018|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-03-22
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Petalotis: "Solution within the EU"Monday, 22 March 2010 17:43
A few days prior to the EU Summit, the Greek government underlined through its spokesman that it wishes for a solution within the European Union, further underlining that the currency bloc is an achievement and that Athens believes that no help and political support from the EU is beyond belief. All eyes have now been fixed on the off-the-agenda parliamentary debate, where the Greek Prime Minister and the opposition leaders are expected to elaborate on their positions.
"No Help from the EU Is Beyond Belief"
The Greek government spokesman sent Monday a message to Greece's EU partners.
Giorgos Petalotis argued that Athens is not in a predicament between the EU or the IMF, pointing out that Greece is asking for the EU's political support.
"No help from the EU is beyond belief. There are several possibilities at several levels, we have gone through them. We would be irresponsible if we did not and if were not ready for all possibilities," noted Petalotis, placing emphasis on Greece's wish to have its fiscal problems fixed within the EU.
Petalotis underscored that the Greek government's choice is to solve its problems on its own with Europe's political support.
Asked whether an IMF support means there will be no additional measures, Petalotis underlined there have been no discussions on which measures should be taken in case Greece turns to the International Monetary Fund.
The government spokesman reiterated that the government has convinced all its interlocutors that it is not asking for money. He further added that what matters the most is the need for the establishment of a single European policy aiming to manage crisis, as well as to protect member-states and the single currency against speculators.
Petalotis claimed that Greece expects to get the EU's political support and pinpointed that the government has an extremely tough task to convince its European partners that Greece has changed and is carrying out all necessary corrections and structural changes in the state.
"Yield bonds are rising, because there is no credibility at both EU and international level," commented Petalotis.
Source: ANA/MPA, NET 105.8 News item: 34628
 Bill Favourable to Juvenile DelinquentsMonday, 22 March 2010 15:08
The Greek Justice Ministry unveiled Monday a bill on juvenile delinquency containing favourable provisions for underage offenders. The bill envisages reduction in jail time, among others.
In the meantime, a non-profit organization will be set up under the auspices of the Justice Ministry with a view to coordinating the activities of the organizations for the protection of juveniles and promoting cooperation both at national and international level.
Source: ANA/MPA News item: 34620
 Bank of Greece Forecasts 2% Depression in 2010Monday, 22 March 2010 15:02
The forecasts of the Bank of Greece on the Greek economy as suggested by its monetary report are rather gloomy. The report expects recession to stand at 2% and inflation at 3%. In the meantime, the deficit went down by 77.35% in the first two months of 2010. The figures have suggested that the deficit was reduced from 3.98 billion euros to 904 million. Net revenues increased by 13.2%, while spending dropped by 9.6%.
According to the report released by the Bank of Greece, the fiscal deficit stood at 2.9% of the GDP in 2009.
The report underlined that the government should commit itself to the measures it announced without fail and predicted they would contribute to restoring trust and to lowering the borrowing costs.
The Bank of Greece also noted that under the current circumstances, only after consolidating its economy will Greece manage to return to a growth path. However, the Bank of Greece stressed that the economic policy should not be reduced to fiscal consolidation measures but to rely on structural policies capable of enhancing economy's competitiveness.
The report also noted that the lack of competitiveness is associated with structural weaknesses.
Touching on the fiscal system, the Bank of Greece acknowledged it will have to live up to major challenges within 2010. Banks are estimated to be in need of liquidity.
Lenders have already started adopting harsher lending criteria.
Source: ANA/MPA, NET, NET 105.8 News item: 34616
 Four Pillars Aiming to Boost Shipbuilding ZoneMonday, 22 March 2010 14:19
The four pillars of the business plan regarding the shipbuilding zone was unveiled by Economy Minister Louka Katseli after her meeting with the interested parties.
Louka Katseli spoke of:
1) Organisation and modernization of the shipbuilding zone.
2) Infrastructures with a view to supporting the zone.
3) Development incentives for enterprises implicating in the shipbuilding zone.
4) Labour matters will be addressed by the Ministries of Employment and Economy. News item: 34615
 Church Taxation Issue Sparks WranglingMonday, 22 March 2010 11:11
Citing the Greek and European courts, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece branded the taxation on Church's assets as unconstitutional and unethical and proposed only the net revenues be taxed. The issue is expected to be brought up anew at the Holy Synod, which is to hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday. Following his meeting with Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) president Giorgos Karatzaferis, the Archbishop called for talks between the state and the Church.
"Dialogue Should Precede"
Ieronymos and the LAOS head discussed the gloomy situation Greece has plunged into and agreed that there should be talks between the Church and the state before any measures are taken.
"We are not saying no to taxation, but it has to be fair and not arbitrary," commented Ieronymos.
The LAOS President told reporters that he comprehends the state's needs but "under no circumstances must we allow the arbitrary conditions of 1987 to be created".
Source: NET News item: 34598
 Double Suicide in AgrinioMonday, 22 March 2010 10:27
The mother and the sister of one of the five hunters that were shot dead in Agrinio, eastern Greece, in 2006 committed suicide. The two women, the mother aged 52 and her daughter aged 16, were found dead inside their house by her older son. An amount of pesticide and two notes written by the two women were found next to their bodies.
The mother of 17-year-old Alexis, who was murdered four years ago, could not bear the loss of her son. Five days after her son's nameday, she committed suicide drinking pesticide and leaving a note two her two children reading: "I can't go on living without my little Alexis. I apologise."
The first to encounter the mother's body was her 16-year-old daughter, who she killed herself in the same way. She even left a note to her older brother saying: "I found mom dead. I can't bear this life any longer. I will die too."
The two women were found in the early hours of Monday by the older son of the family, who had travelled to Athens.
Source: NET, NET 105.8 News item: 34592
 Aid Package to Greece Triggers TensionsMonday, 22 March 2010 10:08
The week that has just dawned is really critical for the Greek economy. EU talks on a aid package to Greece have been intense in view of the Thursday EU Summit, with the German side being harsh and the European Commission President exerting pressure in favour of a bailout. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed Sunday the problems puzzling the eurozone, as well as Greece's fiscal problems, over the phone. In the meantime, tensions are expected to run high at an off-the-agenda Parliament debate on the stability plan at political leaders' level.
Papandreou-Merkel Phone Contact
Greece has not asked for financial aid, Greek PM George Papandreou told the German Chancellor over the phone.
He elaborated on the Greek positions with regard to the way the EU has to cement stability within the single currency union and asked for political support against speculators.
Angela Merkel reconfirmed her backing to the Greek government's reforms and the EU's determination to do whatever is needed to safeguard stability in the eurozone.
Earlier, however, she had underlined that Greece does not need financial aid at the moment and that the Greek fiscal problems will not be included on the summit agenda.
Barroso Exerts Pressure on Berlin
In the meantime, the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, is exerting pressure on the German Chancellor, urging Berlin to give thumbs up for a financial safety net.
"It is in Germany's fundamental interest to prevent the imbalances [in the EU] from increasing, otherwise Germany's export markets could break away. I am certain that Germany will make a constructive contribution to the solution of the current crisis," stressed Barroso in his interview with German paper Handelsblatt.
The European Commission head further assured, "The mechanism we have proposed for assistance does not clash with the 'no bail-out' clause or with national constitutions. We have checked."
Berlusconi and Spanish Presidency Offer Their Backing
In the meantime, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi underlined that the EU has to assist debt-stricken Greece.
The Spanish presidency of the European Union said on Monday it would push the bloc to agree on financial aid for Greece at a summit this week, despite reservations from EU powerhouse Germany.
"It is an important moment for the future of the EU and the euro," he said ahead of the two-day summit which starts Thursday. "We will make every effort to give this trust, this solidarity that I think Greece deserves thanks to the measures that the government of George Papandreou has already taken," Moratinos said.
Greece is expecting the 27 EU leaders to okay the setting up of a financial safety net to be used only in an emergency.
The Greek government hopes that such a message could ease markets, lowing Greece's borrowing costs.
Angela Merkel is not that willing to consent to an aid package to Greece because of the hostile stance towards that direction by the majority of the Germans.
A survey that appeared on Financial Times suggested that the majority of the Germans (60%) is against an aid package to Greece, with a great number of them wanting to see Greece kicked out of the currency bloc.
Source: ANA/MPA, NET 105.8 News item: 34591
 US Congress Passes Obama's Health BillMonday, 22 March 2010 08:31
The US Congress passed Sunday a historic legislation to revamp the US health care system giving President Barack Obama a landmark victory. The health care bill got three more votes than the 216-vote threshold it needed. The lawmakers started applauding when the 216th ballot was cast. "At a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics," he said in hailing the vote.
Barack also thanked the lawmakers who showed their trust in his administration's health legislation, arguing that it was not an easy vote but the most appropriate one.
"This isn't radical reform, but it is major reform. This is what change looks like," Obama added.
The health bill, which was Obama's key domestic priority, envisages the most dramatic changes occurred in the past decades.
The health reforms aspires to offer health care to the poor, impose new taxes on the rich and stop insurance companies from denying health care to people with confirmed health problems.
Source: Reuters - AFP News item: 34586
 Protesters outside Thailand's PM HomeWednesday, 17 March 2010 09:23
On Wednesday, thousands of protesters marched to the heavily guarded home of Thailand's Prime-minister, continuing street rallies for a fourth day to force him proclaim early elections. Some protesters emptied bottles of their blood outside the home of the PM as they had done outside the government headquarters on Tuesday. Despite political tension in Bangkok, Thai stocks hit a year high and the baht currency raced to its strongest level in 21 months. Investors have been emboldened by the lack of violence and the view that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva would survive the crisis.
"Symbolic Sacrifice for Democracy"
"The political event does not have as much teeth as expected," said an analyst with Globlex Securities, adding that foreign money should continue to flow into Thai assets if the protest did not end in violence.
Thousands of the "red shirt" protesters honking horns, singing folk songs and waving red flags, mainly supporters of former prime-minister Thaksin Shinawatra's, early in the morning started slowly heading towards the house of the Prime-minister where they emptied bottles of their blood. Protesters say the splashing of blood was a "symbolic sacrifice for democracy". It is also a bid to re-energize a peaceful movement that appears to be waning.
Abhisit is in a military base since Friday. The majority of people do not expect violent incidents to break out. Some "red shirts" were showing signs of fatigue after days on Bangkok's streets. Of up to 150,000 demonstrators who massed on Sunday night, many had left. Police say about 40,000 remained on Wednesday, still large compared to past protests.
Sources: Reuters, ÁNA-ĚPA
BBC: Thai protesters carry blood to Thai PM Abhisit's house
News item: 34399