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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-05-06
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 ECB Holds Meeting amid Greek CrisisThursday, 06 May 2010 11:51
The violent demonstrations held in Athens have spooked world markets. The board of the European Central Bank, which kept interest rates intact, met in Lisbon. All eyes have been fixed on the Press conference the ECB head is to give. Fears that the crisis could spread to Spain and Portugal are mounting.
Jean-Claude Trichet Says Uncertainty Remains
Economic recovery in the eurozone will be slow in 2010, while uncertainty still remains, said European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet.
The current interest rates are appropriate, added he, highlighting the absence of a long-term inflation danger.
Default is not an issue for Greece, estimated the ECB chief.
Olli Rehn Suggests Fire Broke out in Greece Be Put Out
EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn underlined the need to put out the fire broken out in Greece before "spreading to the woods." He also unveiled the EU spring economic predictions.
The improvement of this year's growth rates is a good news for the EU, said Olli Rehn, urging, however, the EU nations to remain on standby.
According to the European Commission, recession in Greece will stand at 4% of GDP in 2010 and at 2.6% in 2011.
However, the EU Commissioner argued that the Greek economy will start recovering the last quarter of 2011.
Touching on the support mechanism, Olli Rehn stressed that Greece will manage to return to the world markets in 18 months' time.
Asked whether the financial crisis in Greece could spread to other eurozone nations, including Spain and Portugal, Olli Rehn said that Greece is a unique case and that no other country has ever submitted false figures. News item: 36254
 Austerity Package Debated in ParliamentThursday, 06 May 2010 11:25
The package of austerity measures the Greek government took to get money from the euro110 billion three-year package which will provide loans from other eurozone countries and the IMF were voted in principle. Of the 296 deputies present at the sitting, 172 voted for the measures and 121 voted against. Three Socialist deputies voted "present." The Greek Prime Minister stressed that the country is being judged, arguing "We either vote for the financial measures, get 100 billion euros and save the country, or vote against them and go bankrupt." "Voting against the bill would pave the way for bankruptcy," commented the Finance Minister. "It is your inadequacy that brought the country to this situation," claimed Antonis Samaras, further stressing that ND will vote against the bill.
Papandreou: "The Country Is Being Judged"
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou called on all the political parties to shoulder their responsibilities, and lashed out at the main opposition New Democracy party, blasting it for doubling the debt and harbouring corruption. He then appealed for an end to violence and terrorism.
"The people need to believe that the political worlds wishes to serve what is right, the nation, the civilians and not petty party expediencies," said the Premier.
"No" by Antonis Samaras
"You are pushing deep inside the vicious cycle of recession and therefore we [ND] won't vote for the bill," said ND leader Antonis Samaras. He then slammed the ruling party of PASOK for the country's inability to borrow.
"We ought to offer the people a more convincing alternative," said Samaras.
Proposal Made by KKE and SYRIZA
In the meantime, Greece's two left parties, KKE and SYRIZA, requested the bill be put to a roll call vote
Giorgos Papakonstantinou said that after the revision of the bill, the reduced Christmas and Easter bonuses will be also paid to certain categories of pensioners, even pensioners younger that 60 years old.
Main opposition New Democracy party said it would vote against the bill, except for provisions that support sensitive groups and the banks' liquidity.
KKE accused of the government of taking advantage of the crisis to put forward anti-labour measures. SYRIZA, on his part, spoke of proceedings that resemble to political coup.
Finance Minister' Speech
"The government will claim the responsibility and the political cost to implement the toughest economic reforms ever made and pledges to succeed even if we do not have allies from the rest political parties. We opted to proceed with the major structural changes required and we will be judged by our efforts."
"The Houses of our partners are deciding on the three-year bailout package we have committed ourselves to it. Will the Greek House prove its pledge?"
The programme is tough and painful, admitted the Finance Minister, yet the only alternative, he continued, "would be to go on by ourselves and go bankrupt, plunging the country into a decade of recession."
He then went on to lash out at ND: "We could have avoided this situation, if the previous government had given a breather to productivity, growth and employment. This political party is giving economy lessons. It avoids claiming its responsibilities. It does not even apologise."
Papakonstantinou then addressed those who slammed the government for slow response. "We have been in power for seven months and we are fighting several battles with the country's credibility, the tax reform, the pension systems, sectors that had gone stagnant."
The Finance Minister also added that aid is asked by nations which also have deficits and are under speculators' attacks. The negotiations, he claimed, were not easy, and a painstaking effort was made to save what could be saved.
"Our goal is, after three year, to leave a better country, and not a country prey to its borrowers. It is up to the Greek House whether we will fight for the country all together," underlined Papakonstantinou.
PASOK deputies Sofia Sakorafa, Giannis Dimaras and Vasilis Kritikos were kicked out of the party's parliamentary group after voting "present." They were kicked out by the decision of the Prime Minister, who sent a letter to the House Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos. The three were also asked to step down as deputies.
Conservative deputy Dora Bakoyannis gave a positive vote, forcing Antonis Samaras to kick her out of his party's parliamentary group. News item: 36249
 World Media: Eyes Fixed on GreeceThursday, 06 May 2010 11:21
The violent demonstrations held Wednesday in Athens have been top story in world media. The covers of the European Press have focused on the deadly clashes reported in Athens and the fears over the euro currency. After Greece, is it Spain's turn? And after Spain, which to follow?, wondered Le Monde, further noting that danger over the euro currency is growing. A hazardous domino game could spread to the eurozone proving right those who questioned the survival of the EU currency, read the French paper.
An article in Spiegel read that markets are wary and the euro currency is in a crisis, with Angela Merkel admitting that the euro currency is in danger.
BBC cited Karolos Papoulias' statement whereby "The country is on the brink of the abyss," when starting its coverage of the violent clashes. CNN, on the other hand, touched on the reasons that pushed the Greeks to take to the streets.
Spanish paper El Mundo referred to the developments in Greece, stressing that street protests will continue.
"Rioters in Greece have put a torch to the European Union's hopes of containing the worst crisis in its history," read Independent.
Greeks revolt against austerity measures, said Milliyet, expressing the Greeks' anger.
French paper Figaro touched on the violent clashes that broke out during the mass street protests held in Athens and Thessaloniki.
Chaos in Athens, three people were killed, reported the website of Corriere de La Sera.
The Greek crisis has turned into a tragedy, underlined the article of the Italian paper, while it referred to the attack on the bank and the killing of three people.
According to the paper, about 100,000 people took to the streets protesting the tough austerity measures taken by the Greek government News item: 36251
 Britons Go to the PollsThursday, 06 May 2010 10:01
Britons voted on Thursday in a knife-edge election, with opinion polls suggesting the opposition Conservatives will win the popular vote but fail to secure an outright parliamentary majority.
With the result too close to call, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's ruling Labor Party retains a chance of staying in power, perhaps in coalition with the centrist Liberal Democrats.
Whoever wins will have to deal with a record budget deficit running in excess of 11 percent of national output, and demands for political reform following a parliamentary expenses scandal last year which left Britons disgusted with lawmakers.
"This election has been more exciting, more than I expected," said lawyer Lorraine Mullins, voting at a busy polling station in central London.
The center-right Conservatives, led by former public relations executive David Cameron, have seen a commanding poll lead dwindle since the turn of the year, with voters seemingly reluctant to embrace the change they say they offer after 13 years of Labor rule.
Markets want a clear-cut result and fear that a stalemate could lead to political paralysis, hampering efforts to tackle the nation's spiraling debt and secure recovery from the worst recession since World War Two.
The equation has been made more complex by a surge in support for the Lib Dems, energized by strong performances in TV debates by leader Nick Clegg, who shares Cameron's relative youth -- they are both 43 -- and easy manner.
Source: Reuters News item: 36245
 Shock and Anger / Huge Street ProtestsThursday, 06 May 2010 09:01
The brutal killing of three bank workers marred Wednesday's huge demonstration over the planned austerity measures. Two women, including an expectant mother, and a man died of suffocation when the bank they were working for was set on fire. Dozens of passer-bys are leaving a flower in the memory of the three victims. Greece's entirely political world vehemently denounced the murderous attack. A police manhunt is underway to track down those responsible for the attack, while about 25 arrestees were referred Thursday morning to the prosecutor. Bank workers have gone on a nationwide strike in anger at the deaths. Unions are also planning fresh protests.
Died of Suffocation
The post mortem conducted on the three bodies showed they died of suffocation.
The man's body has burns, something that suggests that in his effort to escape he tried to go through the fire. The two women sustained no burns. They inhaled smoke and toxic gases.
The man was found on the stairs between the first and the second floor. One woman was found in a second-floor desk and the other near the balcony where she strived to get some air.
Police released the name of the victim on Wednesday night. The victims were Paraskevi Zoulia, 35, Aggeliki Papathanasopoulou, 32, and Epaminondas Tsakalis, 36.
Police Manhunt to Locate the Killers
Police are investigating the footage from the CCTV to identify the perpetrators. They are also combing the surrounding place, collecting all evidence found.
Earlier, 25 arrestees were referred to the Prosecutor.
Before the bank firebombing, police had pushed away demonstrators who tried to storm the House, while in incidents that broke out later, the building housing services of the Finance Minister was set on fire.
During the clashes, about 29 policemen and 10 civilians, with the person who jumped off the balcony of the flaming bank being in a critical condition.
Clashes and arrests were reported in other major Greek cities, including Thessaloniki, Volos, Larissa and Patras.
Καταδικάζει ο πολιτικός κόσμος
"The country is on the brink of the abyss and we are all responsible so that it does not take the step into the void" President of the Republic
Greece's politicians unanimously denounced the murderous attack.
"The country is on the brink of the abyss. We are all responsible so that it does not take the step into the void," commented President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
"Civilians have the right to demonstrate. However, no one has the right to exercise violence and kill," stressed the Greek Prime Minister, urging all political parties to shoulder their responsibilities.
George Papandreou contacted late on Wednesday the political leaders and invited them to a meeting of the political leaders' council. He also called on them to contribute to the protection of democracy.
"New Democracy will land a leading role in the fight for unity," said Antonis Samaras, who accepted the Prime Minister's invitation. He then spoke of innocent victim that fell prey to fanaticism and blind violence.
Greek Communist leader Aleka Papariga blasted provocative actions by rightists with a view to implicating the Communist unionist in the incidents occurred before the House.
LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) head Giorgos Karatzaferis blamed the clashes on the Greek Communist Party (KKE), forcing Papariga to brand him as a professional provocateur.
SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) head Alexis Tsipras spoke of a provocation.
The murderers of the three bank workers will be arrested and punished, commented Civil Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoides.
The murderers have nothing to do with the unions and the workers, said GSEE, Greece's umbrella union for the private sector. News item: 36242
 Demonstrations and Industrial ActionsThursday, 06 May 2010 08:12
Athens is bracing itself for more protests since Greek unionists are planning to hold new street protests on Thursday afternoon. On Wednesday, tens of thousands people took to the street protesting the austerity measures taken by the Greek government. Bank workers have gone on a nationwide strike in anger at the deaths. Drug stores will remain closed on Thursday and Friday, while hospital doctors are on a three-hour work stoppage.
Demonstration in Anger at the Deaths
Greece's major umbrella unions for the private and public sector, GSEE and ADEDY, are to hold fresh demonstration Thursday afternoon before the House. Their boards are to hold meetings to decide on their future moves.
GSEE and ADEDY said they will turn their demonstration into an outcry for the murderous attack that resulted in the death of three employees.
In an announcement they released, they said that the Greek workers are angered over the cold blood murder of three workers and over the harsh and unfair anti-labour measures.
The perpetrators of the murderous hit, which claimed three lives, have nothing to do with the unions and the workers, said GSEE.
ADEDY, on its part, blasted the murderous and provocative hit that left three young workers dead and tarnished the biggest street protests held in Athens for decades.
Source: NET 105.8 News item: 36240