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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-11-13

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis confers with education minister on upgrading school infrastructure
  • [02] UNESCO Chair at University of Crete
  • [03] Groundbreaking measures in Justice sector
  • [04] Reduction of structural fiscal deficit
  • [05] Alavanos reiterates opposition to non-state colleges

  • [01] Karamanlis confers with education minister on upgrading school infrastructure

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Tuesday with Education Minister Evripides Stylianidis, focusing mainly on improvement of school buildings around the country.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Stylianidis said a "creative effort" that had commenced some time ago was continuing, given that modern building infrastructure was necessary for education at all three levels, adding, in reply to a question, that the ministry has been recently decentralised and thus all the meetings with the regional directors were taking place outside Athens.

    Stylianidis stressed that the end of 2012 was the target date for completion of upgrades of the building infrastructures that incorporate alternative forms of energy and allow both teachers and pupils to fulfill their missions.

    He said a large number of buildings were currently under construction, with a projected 1,033 kindergartens by 2012, of which 200 have already been completed, while 1,450 renovated halls have been added in the primary and secondary school sector.

    Commenting on sit-ins in high schools throughout the country, Stylianidis said the number was gradually declining, noting that the main reason for the decline was that "in a short time, we dealt with and solved the deficiencies in text books and teachers, and secured more funds for substitute teachers".

    He said an ad hoc committee has already been set up at the ministry to develop a new system so that such deficiencies would not arise again in the next academic year.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of PM Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] UNESCO Chair at University of Crete

    A UNESCO Chair on Information Technologies and Communications in Viable Development Education has been established at the University of Crete, Primary Education Department.

    Professor Vasilis Makrakis was appointed in charge of the UNESCO Chair in recognition of his work in the area of New Technologies, Education and Viable Development Education. The main goal of the newly-established Chair is research and experimentation on approaches aimed at the reorientation of educator training.

    The goal set is expected to materialize through the development of an international network of educator training institutes in Europe, Middle East, the Arab Peninsula and Africa coordinated by the University of Crete, Primary Education Department.

    Caption: EPA file photo of UNESCO headquarters in Paris

    [03] Groundbreaking measures in Justice sector

    The adoption of groundbreaking measures, such as the introduction of e-justice, aimed at expediting justice administration, was announced by Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA.

    Hatzigakis stressed that independent Justice is based on independent judges, and reiterated that the procedure employed for the appointment of the Areios Pagos (Supreme Court) presidents and vice-presidents will change.

    He said that the draft law accelerating the administrative court trial is almost completed and will soon be tabled in parliament. The draft law provides for the institution of e-justice and the adoption of groundbreaking measures and important innovations such as the adoption of German administrative legal procedures allowing the courts to immediately reject a groundless or obviously unacceptable legal means without requiring a court ruling.

    The independence of Justice in Greece has a historical tradition, said Hatzigakis, stressing that it is constitutionally guaranteed through safety valves that are broader and stronger than in most European countries. In any case, independent Justice is based on independent judges, he commented.

    Referring to the procedure through which the judicial leadership is selected, Hatzigakis stated that in most European countries the leadership of the judicial power is selected by the other two powers (legislative and executive). To avoid partiality in the appointment of the judicial leadership, the ruling party of New Democracy has proposed, within the framework of the Constitutional Revision, that the Supreme Court Presidents and Vice-Presidents be selected among the five judges with the greatest seniority, and suggests that the Vice-Presidents serve a six-year term.

    Hatzigakis also said that a voluntary retirement draft law has been prepared, allowing for the retirement of roughly 80 judges, a move that will help in dealing with the problem of inadequate or ailing justices unable to meet their duties, thus leading to delays in the administration of justice.

    The justice minister also announced that the two new prison wings at the Correctional Facility of Domokos as well as the Correctional Facilities in Eleonas and Grevena will be completed in early 2008, while the detention facilities under construction in Chania, Drama and Serres will be ready by the end of next year.

    [04] Reduction of structural fiscal deficit

    Brussels (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis) -- EU Monetary and Economic Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia expressed his satisfaction over the Greek government's commitment to reduce the country's structural fiscal deficit (the deficit not affected by external factors) by 0.5 percentage points of GDP in 2008, speaking at a press conference in Brussels late Monday following a meeting of the Eurogroup.

    Almunia said that Greece, Italy, Portugal, Malta and Greece were the EU countries that needed to make more substantial efforts to meet the commitment of zero fiscal deficits in the eurozone by 2010. He stressed that Greece has set out a clear target -- through the draft 2008 state budget -- to reduce its structural deficit by 0.5 percentage points of GDP, and intimated that the other four countries must also undertake corresponding commitments.

    Questioned on the content of his meeting earlier in the afternoon with Greek national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis, Alumunia noted that it had been their first meeting since the September 16 general elections in Greece, adding that they discussed the general state of the Greek economy, the government's intermediate targets, and the progress in the structural changes in the Greek economy, including such matters as reform of the country's social insurance and pension system.

    Asked whether there was a difference in estimations by Brussels and Athens regarding the prospects of the Greek economy, Almunia said that the predictions of the two sides did not coincide exactly, but added that the differences were insignificant.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of EU Monetary and Economic Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia during a past visit to Greece.

    [05] Alavanos reiterates opposition to non-state colleges

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos addressed a party event at the municipal theatre in Stavroupolis, in northern Greece, on Monday evening, wishing "good luck" to the PASOK party, while adding that the election of a president closes out a cycle of major crisis and of intra-party conflict for PASOK.

    Alavanos pointed out that there is no extended ground for a wider cooperation with PASOK, while citing proposals for joint action with PASOK and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on specific issues, such as opposition to non-state universities, closing down private higher education institutions and unhindered admission to universities for senior high school graduates.

    He also expressed satisfaction over the Sept. 16 election results and noted that "the scene has changed and the aim of ending the two-party era can be turned into practice."


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