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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-03-23
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Israeli Prime Minister in the USATuesday, 23 March 2010 17:54
In his three-day visit to Washington, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attempt to fix the sour ties between his country and the USA. However, his claims do not match with his actions, as he insists on the building of settlements in eastern Jerusalem. The Israeli Premier is expected to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House.
US Congress in Support of Israel
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed Netanyahu and assured that the US Congress stands by Israel at a time when bilateral ties are being severed.
"We in Congress stand by Israel. No separation between us on this subject. In Congress, we speak with one voice on the subject of Israel," argued Pelosi.
"We remain committed to advancing the peace process, preserving Israel security, responsible sanctions against Iran," she said, adding that Congress is "working to finalize an Iran sanctions bill right now."
Earlier, the Israeli Prime Minister had congratulated the US Congress on its support, resting everybody assured that the people of Israel were grateful.
Source: NET, ANA/MPA News item: 34685
 Striving for a Solution Prior to EU SummitTuesday, 23 March 2010 16:30
Diplomatic deliberations at EU level are flaring up in view of the Thursday EU Summit. EU President Herman Van Rompuy is planning a mini-summit of eurozone leaders to try to devise a rescue for debt-laden Greece prior to the EU Summit. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero met in Paris and asked for the eurozone leaders meeting to be held prior to the EU Summit.
France and Germany Working to Adopt Common Stance
Talks within the single currency bloc are feverish with a view to finding a compromise on Greece's fiscal problems before the crucial EU summit.
European diplomats said that France and Germany are working to adopt a joint stance in case the International Monetary Fund steps in to assist Greece.
A Financial Times report, citing statements by a German government official, read that Berlin will say yes to the setting up a mechanism to provide aid to Greece provided that:
* Greece has exhausted all lending possibilities through world markets.
* There is an agreement for the IMF to have an important participation in the bailout.
* The EU nations will discuss new rules to avert similar crises in the future.
The British paper continued reading that Germany is now opening its cards, answering to the ongoing pressure the European Commission and the rest EU nations are exerting on Berlin so that the EU Summit can reach an agreement on the Greek problems.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said earlier that Berlin was "very reticent" to work on plans to help Greece and argued that such efforts might not be necessary.
Westerwelle said money "hasn't been asked for and I have the impression that the Greek side knows that it must push its reforms forward."
In the meantime, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero earlier issued a joint call for such urgent talks, to be held "just before" the two-day EU summit starting on Thursday.
The above call was welcomed by EU President Herman Van Rompuy, who, according to his spokesman, is planning to hold a meeting of the eurozone leaders.
Such a meeting could take place in Brussels on Thursday morning before the EU summit, a diplomatic source was quoted as saying.
However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel should have to give its consent for the meeting to take place.
Barroso Appears Optimistic
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso met again with the European Council chief.
Barroso appeared optimistic, estimating that the EU Summit will reach an agreement.
In his interview with Financial Times, Barroso underlined that an aid package to Greece is not a eurozoner-brokered bailout and reiterated solidarity and stability are interrelated.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 34674
 Cabinet Okays Tax BillTuesday, 23 March 2010 14:54
The cabinet approved the new tax bill, which is to be tabled to Parliament on Wednesday and voted in the Holy Week, after making a few corrections. Among the changes approved is the increase in the tax relief for redundancy reimbursements. Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed that the tax bill bears the hallmarks of his government's progressive perspective, as well as the social justice feeling the people of Greece requires.
Papandreou: "The Bill Bears PASOK's Hallmarks"
The Prime Minister termed the tax bill as a huge reform and a revolutionary change. George Papandreou underlined that the bill proves the government's pledge of hard work and noted that the philosophy of the tax system is about to change.
"It clearly bears the hallmarks of our progressive perspective, as well as the social justice feeling required by the people of Greece," said the Greek Prime Minister. He added, though, that his administration is not under the false belief that the reforms in question are going to solve all the problems of the tax system at once, further noting that corrections will be required along the way.
He then went on to argue that only major structural changes could cement the country and guarantee that no such urgent measures will have to take place in the future.
Addressing a Herald Tribune congress on Tuesday morning, Finance Minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou claimed that the government measures aim to stamp out tax evasion and described the tax bill as a radical change in economy as it envisages establishing social justice by redistributing income in favour of the low-income earners.
New Democracy spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos dismissed the bill as unfair and ineffective. Panagiotopoulos also said that if it is implemented, it will dry the market out, worsen the depression-related problems and lead to the refueling of a vicious circle.
Speaking on NET 105.8, LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) Giorgos Karatzaferis lashed out at the government's intention to tax the Church's assets and make taxi drivers to install cashiers.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA News item: 34669
 Demonstrations and Strikes ContinueTuesday, 23 March 2010 09:31
Public transport will be seriously disrupted on Tuesday, while central Athens will be practically inaccessible due to the demonstrations and marches scheduled to take place as part of the reactions to the new tax bill which is being discussed at the Inner cabinet meeting.
Tax Bill Brings Employees to the Streets
Reacting on the new taxes imposed on theme, several employees from all lines of work are to hold industrial actions. Lawyers and judicial workers will refrain from their court duties for three days. Hospital doctors continue withholding the labour demanding their previous night shift be paid. OSE (Hellenic Railways Organisation) and suburban railway staff staged a three-hour work stoppage on Tuesday.
Central Athens is yet again inaccessible to Athenians since several marches and demonstrations have been taking place all day. Judicial workers gathered outside the court and then march towards the Parliament building. On Tuesday morning, the firefighters' association held a street protest at Omonia square and then marched towards the Finance Ministry.
Two demonstrations have been scheduled to take place Tuesday afternoon in central Athens. An anti-racist rally is taking place in central time, as well.
Hospital Doctors Withhold Labour
Doctors in the hospitals of Tripoli and Kalamata, as well as the internees at the Kyparissia hospital, have been withholding their labour demanding their previous night shifts be paid.
Therefore, only emergencies are being treated.
Source: NET 105.8
News item: 34646