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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-05-18
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Greek PM Addresses EU-Latin America SummitTuesday, 18 May 2010 16:28
Addressing the EU-Latin America Summit taking place in Madrid, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou touched on the need for preventing and tackling financial crises with new tools capable of providing macroeconomic and fiscal figures with stability. On the sidelines of the summit, George Papandreou held talks with EU and Latin American leaders, including FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. The European Union and Central American nations reached their first free trade deal.
Greek PM Advocates Reforms
In his intervention, George Papandreou advocated reforms that will lead to a new international financial structure.
Papandreou underlined he has faith in the reforms suggested by the IMF and the World Bank. He also requested close cooperation among all the global financial bodies to tackle crises, stressing that the said reforms should aim at growth and at dealing with the country's fiscal problems.
The Greek Premier then went on to add that green development is part of the answer to the EU crisis, since it can create new jobs. He also touched on the importance of renewable resources.
The Greek Prime Minister met with his FYROM counterpart on the sidelines of the summit, said FYROM's state-run new agency.
The two men touched on the name dispute and the situation in the two countries. They also referred to Greece's fiscal crisis and to the problems plaguing FYROM.
Papandreou and Gruevski voiced their hope and will to solve the name dispute as soon as possible and expressed their commitment to the negotiations taking place under the auspices of the UN.
George Papandreou also met with the Presidents of Paraguay, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Brazil.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA
News item: 36662
 Gitonas-Simeoforides Testify before Inquiry Committee Probing the Siemens CaseTuesday, 18 May 2010 16:01
Kostas Gitonas and Konstantinos Simeoforides, who were responsible for their parties' finances, testified Tuesday to the inquiry committee investigating the Siemens case. Gitonas denied his involvement in the case, branding Christoforakos' statements as scheming meaning to implicate the political parties. Simeoforides, on his part, said he had nothing to do with ND's finances, since, when he was appointed general director in his party, he did not want to be involved in the finances.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 36660
 Greece Gets First Installment of EU/IMF LoanTuesday, 18 May 2010 15:09
Greece received a 14.5-billion euro ($17.9 billion) emergency loan from the European Union on Tuesday and will use some of the money to fully repay an 8.5-billion euro bond maturing the next day, officials said.
It was Greece's presumed inability to redeem this euro bond, which matures on Wednesday, that prompted the EU and IMF to intervene and eventually agree to a 110-billion euro aid package this month. The IMF has already lent Greece 5.5 billion euros.
"The 14.5 billion euros was transferred to Greece a short while ago, through the ECB," said a Greek bank official close the deal, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Greece will now use some of the funds to fully repay the 10-year bond, a government official said. "Repayment to bondholders will proceed normally on May 19," the official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
The 6 percent fixed-coupon bond was a major refunding hurdle for Greece this year along with a 5-year, 8.2 billion euro bond that was repaid on April 20.
According to a standard convention for Greek bonds, Greece would not technically default on its payments as long as it paid the principle within seven days and the interest within 30 days, but the markets might well have viewed any delay differently.
Greece has embarked on the huge task of cutting its deficit from nearly 14 percent of GDP to 3 percent by 2014 to meet the conditions of the EU/IMF aid, but faces a series of large protests against the government's wage cuts and tax hikes.
Source: Reuters News item: 36656
 Samaras-Tsipras MeetingTuesday, 18 May 2010 14:35
The need for consensus when it comes to national affairs topped the meeting held between main opposition New Democracy President Antonis Samaras and SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) Alexis Tsipras. Samaras stressed that the differences between the two political parties should not result in isolation. Tsipras, on his part, slammed the government, arguing that associating the bilateral talks between parties with the political leaders' council is wrong.
"Even if there are huge differences, it does not mean that we should isolate from one another." Antonis Samaras
The two men touched on the serious financial and socially problems plaguing the country, focusing their attention to the implementation of the austerity measures imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Exiting the meeting, Antonis Samaras said that politics is the art of understanding and that understanding in a political virtue when things turn tough.
The SYRIZA President, on his part, described their meeting as one of political culture, further adding that even though there are different opinions, such bilateral talks are important. He also underlined that such meetings do not replace institutional procedures, including the political leaders' council chaired by the President of the Republic.
"Institutional meetings should not be used to serve communicative purposes." Alexis Tsipras
"We voiced our concern over the austerity measures and the IMF know-how," commented Alexis Tsipras, further noting, "We have different opinions but same conclusions."
Asked to comment on the Deputy Culture Minister's resignation, Antonis Samara said that his party requested the Prime Minister shoulder his responsibilities.
"The Prime Minister's decision was delayed," added he. Alexis Tsipras, on the other hand, argued that corruption cases have to be dealt with decisively. "We need changes to correct the system and not to alleviate the symptoms," claimed he.
Source: NET, ANA/MPA
News item: 36655
 European Front against SpeculatorsTuesday, 18 May 2010 14:31
The EU Finance Ministers reached an agreement on tighter restrictions for hedge funds and private equity firms, despite Britain's objections.
Tighter Restrictions for Hedge Funds
Spain's Finance Minister stressed that the EU Finance Ministers agreed to impose tighter restrictions for hedge funds and private equity firms.
"I think there is a general agreement around this," Spain's finance minister Elena Salgado said. "We can basically say that we have the agreement we need to take a general approach [to tighter restrictions]," added she.
The text on new legislation the EU Finance Ministers expected to draw will be negotiated with the European Parliament before a final vote in July.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 36654
 Body Found in Waste ContainerTuesday, 18 May 2010 13:37
The discovery of a body has spooked the residents of Petralona district. Tied and in a bin liner, the woman's body had been thrown behind a waste container.
The gruesome murder was revealed Tuesday morning, when the residents, angered by an awful odor coming from the waste container, contacted the municipality to protest.
Shortly afterwards, the cleaning department's employees, suspecting something unusual was happening, opened a big bin liner thrown behind the waste container and saw the body of a woman. They immediately called the police. Upon their arrival, police officers cordoned off the area.
Police said she was there for several days.
Asked how it had gone unnoticed for so many days, police said the perpetrators must have tried to put her inside the waste container. However, the container was full. Therefore, they decided to hide it behind the container.
As for the body's identification, the only evidence police has so far is that it is a white blonde woman, aged between 40 to 50.
Police fears it will take them quite some time before managing to identify the victim, as they can only run a dactyloscopic examination. However, there are no fingerprints due to the decay.
Coroner Mr Lefkidis was unable to determine the time of death. As for the causes, he said it was due to a stab injury in the neck. More information will surface after the post mortem.
News item: 36653
 Greek PM Holds Bilateral Talks in MadridTuesday, 18 May 2010 12:37
The Greek Prime Minister has been holding talks with EU and Latin American leaders in Madrid since Tuesday morning. George Papandreou is in the Spanish capital to attend the EU-Latin America Summit. On the sidelines of the summit, he is expected to hold talks with his Spanish counterpart José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
On Wednesday, in a drive to attract investments, George Papandreou is due in Lebanon. He will address a conference of Arab investors in Beirut.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 36650
 Ecofin Holds Meeting TodayTuesday, 18 May 2010 10:56
The EU nations are striving to set up a safety net against speculators. After the marathon talks held on Monday, the Ecofin meeting will seek for ways to shield the south of Europe from a wider financial crisis.
European Commission: Probe into Speculators' Games at the Expense of Greece
Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker said in a first discussion of improvements to Europe's economic management, the ministers concluded that proposals for better coordination of national budgets, speedier penalties for violators and stricter monitoring of high-debt countries "go in the right direction."
In the meantime, Michel Barnier, member of the European Commission responsible for the Internal Market and Services Building, claimed that the European Commission is investigating whether speculators' played games at the expense of Greece.
He then heralded a new law with regard to the premium markets, with a view to cementing transparency.
Source: NET, NET 105.8 News item: 36644
 Suicide Hit Kills Dozens in KabulTuesday, 18 May 2010 08:36
At least twenty people were killed and dozens were injured when a suicide car bomb attacked a NATO convoy in the Afghan capital, Kabul. Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the attack. Five NATO troops were among the victims.
Taliban Militants Claim Responsibility
According to local media, among the victims were eight foreigners, including five Americans and two Canadians.
The hit came a few hours before a press conference the Afghan President was to give about his visit to the USA and his talks with President Barack Obama.
Taliban fighters had warned they would wage attacks against government targets, diplomatic delegations and troops.
Source: Reuters News item: 36637
 Deputy Culture Ministers Steps DownMonday, 17 May 2010 21:13
Government spokesman George Petalotis announced on Monday evening that "Prime Minister George Papandreou accepted the resignation of Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou," adding that "Angela Gerekou submitted her resignation for reasons of sensitivity and decency and so that there shall not be the slightest cause for the Government to be harmed, despite the fact that, as she informed the prime minister, she has no involvement in her husband's pending tax issues."
Gerekou is the wife of noted singer Tolis Voskopoulos. She resigned following press reports whereby her husband owes 5.5 million euros to the tax bureau.
Source: ANA/MPA News item: 36631