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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-06-30

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] New Social Security Law
  • [02] Curtain Call for Social Security
  • [03] "Excellent Relations"
  • [04] Ronaldinho: "I Live to Play Football"
  • [05] Mercury Rising
  • [06] Banks Finally Open
  • [07] Spanish 'Yes' to Gay Marriages
  • [08] Oil and Nails Against Withdrawal
  • [09] Titan's Lake
  • [10] Serial Kisser Wanted
  • [11] Scent of Food

  • [01] Under the Shadow of Evert's "No" New Social Security Law

    30 Jun 2005 21:20:00

    By Annita Paschalinou

    The amendment for the banks social security was passed in Parliament with 164 votes in favour and 122 votes against. ND parliamentarian Miltiadis Evert did not vote for the new regulation and his stance triggered the Governments intense reaction. The former ND president had stated in the morning that he wouldnt vote the much discussed amendment, indirectly criticising Giorgos Alogoskoufis handlings. During the discussion, the Economy Minister and various ND members clashed with PASOK parliamentarians, however the most discussed moment was when Miltiadis Evert announced his decision not to vote for the amendment, as well as his dispute with former minister and ND historic member Giannis Kefalogiannis.

    Clash Over Commercial Bank

    A clash between Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and PASOK Parliamentarian Charis Kastanidis over the statements of former Commercial Bank Governor G. Stournaras preceded the voting process. The Minister of Economy submitted to Parliament a part of these statements, according to which the money from the sale of Ioniki Bank was invested to the Athens Stock Exchange and lost.

    Answering, Mr Kastanidis submitted a different part of Mr Stournaras statements which read that Ioniki Bank's 272 billion drachmas were invested to the total of assets, ie "in cash, loans, stocks, participations in non connected businesses etc." Answering back, Mr Alogoskoufis stressed that by using the words "assets" Mr Stournaras tried to cover up the fact that they were stocks.

    He even submitted a new part of Mr Stournaras' statements, as per which the former Commercial Bank Governor claimed that "the money from the sale were invested and exist, the stocks havent been sold and when markets improve, then the 272 billions will become even more."

    "But all Greek citizens are waiting for markets to improve after the Stock Exchange scandal. All Greek citizens and the Commercial Bank along with them," stressed Mr Alogoskoufis applauded by ND Parliamentarians.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Related News:

    Curtain Call for Social Security

    [02] Crucial Day Curtain Call for Social Security

    30 Jun 2005 14:31:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    Sources: NET 105,8

    The discussion in Parliament concerning the controversial government amendments for the bank employees social security is in progress. The amendments are expected to be voted this afternoon. As per information, Miltiadis Evert will not attend the discussion to support his amendment, meaning that it will not be voted. Instead, he will vote against Alogoskoufis amendment regarding the incorporation of bank employees supplementary funds into IKA (Social Insurance Foundation). Mr Evert stated that never before in his political career has he voted against an amendment proposed by his party. In the meantime, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, while delivering his speech in Parliament, presented two documents, which reject Everts criticism on the bankers favourable information. Mr Evert implied that Alpha Bank already knew the reforms promoted by the government long before they were submitted to Parliament. The first document presented by the Economy Minister is Agricultural Banks balance sheet proving that all banks were aware of the reform. The second document makes clear that OTOE (Hellenic Federation of Bank Employee Unions) had informed Mr Alogoskoufis since last January about its taking collective actions. Consequently, both OTOE and bank employees knew that the government would proceed with the reform in question. Furthermore, amendments submitted by Evert, Manos and Dragasakis are expected to be discussed, while PASOK said that it will ask for a nominal voting session on all three amendments, and sustained that Everts stance triggers a political issue for the government. In the meantime, OTOEs General Council is holding a meeting in order to determine the kind of collective actions to be taken in the future. As per information, the strike is to be called off. Bank unions, however, are expected to go on their collective actions.

    Heated Dispute

    Mr Everts intervention sparked a negative climate in his relation with ND government. In his speech, Mr Evert criticised Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis for the latter made no reference to the burden that the new reform will have on IKA and the Public Sector, while he failed to refer to the same reform that the banks are obliged to pay their interest-bearing contributions to IKA within ten years.

    NDs ex-president speaking in Parliament sustained that he will not vote for the article 59 of the bill concerning Markets issues, which settles the incorporation of bank employees funds into IKA. MP of the State Council said that, "Should we really want to save Emporiki and ATE banks, we could allow the increase of their share capitals, depending on their needs dictated by their funds. Even a common economist could have thought of that. I am surprised that the Economy Ministry did not think of it."

    Referring to the French bank Credit Agricoles holdings of Emporiki bank by 100%, Mr Evert wondered whether "the Greek people will have to pay the French or not. The state should undertake paying the percentage with which it participates in these banks capital."

    He further noted that the amount to be paid by the banks will be settled after the course of ten years. "The word interest-bearing should have been included. The lack of the word is not accidental."

    Mr Evert concluded that "Following these remarks, never before in my political career have I voted against an amendment proposed by my party. I will not vote for article 59."

    In the meantime, Mr Evert came in for criticism in Parliaments corridors expressed by another ND high-ranking official and ex-Minister, Giannis Kefalogiannis, who held him accountable for Mr Evert had also been the partys President, and accused him of favouring PASOK with his stance. Mr Evert sounded annoyed, and said that he is very well aware of what he is doing.

    Alogoskoufis' Speech

    "We only serve the interests of the Greek people, the Greek society and the Greek economy," said the Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis referring to the articles of the bill on the Market. The articles are related to the banks social security and to OTEs voluntary redundancy plan. Mr Alogoskoufis gave an answer to both PASOKs allegations on "lack of dialogue" and Mr Everts statements. "OTOE sent a letter to the government on January 18 stating its stance," said Mr Alogoskoufis presenting the relative document in Parliament. "OTOE suggested a unified social security fund be created to solve the social security issue. This is what we do, but we are differentiated in the sense that we put forward a fund of private law and not of public law as requested by OTOE," said Mr Alogoskoufis, adding that OTOE had warned them of the strikes since then (18/1).

    As for the General Accounting Offices report regarding the cost of the funds incorporation into IKA, Mr Alogoskoufis stated that he has done his job well. Referring to the aforementioned cost, he claimed that the special economic study will take into account the amount of money to be spent, the interest rate and the time required for its repayment.

    Mr Alogoskoufis further added that the Agricultural banks balance sheet does not include its future responsibilities towards the social security funds in the view of the legislative reform. "No bank had included such responsibilities its balance sheet, for they were waiting the results of the dialogue. I repeat that responsibilities will be included." Economy Minister also submitted an extract from the statement made by Emporikis ex-chairman Giannis Stournaras according to which the money the bank took after it sold Ioniki "Was invested in the Athens Stock Exhange and was lost." Mr Alogoskoufis described it as a token of PASOK governments blatant intervention with Emporiki. He finally repeated the governments commitment according ot which IKAs deficits will be covered both by 1% of GDP, as provided by L3029, and any additional amounts that will come up.

    "IKA is not at risk," said Mr Alogoskoufis and called upon PASOKs MPs to stop shedding crocodilian tears over IKA. He also accused them of undermining IKA during the 1980s and 19901s. He also promised that the government is willing to fund the necessary studies in the context of the dialogue over the social security.

    "The dialogue does not threaten anyone. Knowledge is not a threat. Ignorance is a threat. This is what the members of the Opposition wish to impose." In the meantime, a strong dispute was created when PASOK MP Anna Diamantopoulou used Everts statement to describe the Economy Minister as a bank employee. Mr Alogoskoufis reminded her that all issues have been provided with answers.

    Full Backing

    The government spokesperson offered their full backing to the Economy Minister citing the Ministers statements regarding the controversy over the social security.

    Mr Rousopoulos, answering to questions and to Mr Everts allegations, noted that Agricultural Banks administration had included the relevant remarks in its balance sheet like Alpha Bank. He also made it clear that the Agricultural Bank administration itself accepted that.

    Regarding Everts allegations, Mr Rousopoulos made reference to the document conducted by OTOE, and was submitted in Parliament by the Economy Minister. The document proves that all parties involved, including the banks, had been briefed.

    "Major Issue of Ethics"

    PASOKs spokesperson Nikos Athanasiadis spoke of major issue of ethics triggered by Mr Everts statements, and he added that the government failed to provide convincing answers.

    Mr Athanasakis sustained that the reform in question favours certain interests, and he underlined that billions than banks owe are wiped out, the social security system is at risk and new burdens are added to IKA and to the Greek taxpayers.

    He also called the State Audit Council not to give its approval to the aforementioned expenditure, because it is not a co-funded project by EU, but the governments domestic policy. According to Mr Athanasakis, there is no deception code in any of the Ministrys budget, and called upon ND to undertake the burden of the expenditure, relieving thus the Greek taxpayers.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [03] Karamanlis-Blair Meeting "Excellent Relations"

    30 Jun 2005 18:52:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    The meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and his British counterpart Tony Blair was held on Thursday afternoon in London in a very good climate. The two Prime Ministers talked for more than an hour and mainly focused on the recent EU developments, the Cypriot issue, Turkey's accession course, as well as the situation in Western Balkans, putting emphasis on Cossovo and Skopje. "I had the opportunity to present to Mr Blair our views and suggestions," said the Greek PM after the end of the meeting in Downing Street. As for Mr Blair, he presented the priorities of the British presidency, which starts on July 1, asking for Mr Karamanlis' support regarding the European Constitution ratification process and the Community budget of the 2007-2013 period. "The two countries' bilateral relations are at an excellent level," stressed Kostas Karamanlis, wishing the British PM good luck and all the best for the British presidency.

    Speech at the City University

    At 20:30 Greek time, Mr Karamanlis will give a lecture at the Business and Finance Department of London's City University entitled "Greece: Looking Ahead After the 2004 Olympic Games."

    After the end of his speech, the Greek Prime Minister will depart for Athens.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [04] Ronaldinho: "I Live to Play Football"

    30 Jun 2005 19:19:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    "I live 24 hours a day to play football. All Brazilians are born for it. It's running in their veins. I am happy to be in this stage of my life because I am fulfilling my greatest dream, that is to play football." So spake Ronaldinho. Barcelona's Brazilian super star, who shortly after the Brazilian football team's victory against Argentina in the Confederations Cup final, came in Greece to attend the A and B national football championships draw at 20:30. Easy-going and calm, the world's top player for 2004, shortly after his arrival at the El. Venizelos international airport, spoke about his great love, football, and the Greek football team.

    "I Would Shoot Me"

    "I am happy to be here. I want to learn a lot of things about Greece and its culture," were his first words and with his famous smile, Ronaldinho added, "I am watching the Greek championship and I know that Rivaldo is playing in Greece. He is a great player and a very good friend."

    Naturally, he was also asked about the Greek football team, since he played against in the first Confederations Cup match. "WE know the Greek players and he had seen your team's play in video. We knew they were good playing with the ball high and we were properly prepared."

    The "magician" also referred to Rivaldo. "He is a great player and a very good friend of mine. We had played together for quite some time and we talk on the phone. It will be a great pleasure for me to have him back in the national football team."

    Answering a question how he feels when everyone is talking about the world's top player, he said," I am happy to make my dream true." His role models were Maradona, Pele, Rivaldo and Ronaldo. And when asked whether Brazil can win the World Cup next year, he answered there are many good teams competing for it, however with proper preparation his team can make it.

    He was even asked how he would deal with Ronaldinho if he has a defender and after reflecting for a while, he smiled and said, "I would shoot him!"

    Finally, he stressed he likes Greece and he will come back for vacations, while when asked whether he would come to Greece to play football, he stressed that "everything is possible in football. Rivaldo is here and he has said the best about his team and your country. So, in the future everything can happen." As long as there is enough money, right?

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Related News:

    Ronaldinho in Athens

    [05] Competent Authorities on Alert Mercury Rising

    30 Jun 2005 18:29:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    July's entry is expected to be hot, as according to meteorologists temperature will reach 39oC in many areas of Greece. The heatwave will be especially felt on Friday and Saturday as winds blowing in the Aegean will die down. Competent Authorities are in a state of alert, while the Civil Protection Authority has sounded the alert for sensitive groups of people (minors, senior citizens and people with health problems). Experts urge citizens to avoid sun exposure, strenuous work and unnecessary transportations, but stress they should drink as much water and fresh fruit juices as they can. Further more, municipalities and provinces around Greece are ready to open halls and air-conditioned rooms for the public. The Municipality of Athens has applied measures for the protection of citizens by opening 25 air-conditioned halls from 08:00 to 20:00.

    On Saturday, temperature will slightly drop, originally in western and then northern Greece, but it will remain at high levels in the rest of the country and mercury is expected to rise to 39oC. Winds will be blowing in from the west light to medium, but increased heat will not last for more than two days. As of Saturday night weather conditions will change and temperature will drop on Sunday around the country, while mainly northern Greece will experience storms and rainfalls.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [06] OTOE on Alert for New Collective Actions Banks Finally Open

    30 Jun 2005 18:02:00 (Last updated: 30 Jun 2005 21:26:35)

    By Annita Paschalinou

    OTOE (Hellenic Federation of Banks Employees Unions) has decided to postpone bank employees strike and banks will operate as per normal for the public on Friday. However, after a marathon meeting, the Federation decided it would be on alert for new strikes in each bank separately if bank administrations should try to apply the new regulation.

    Mass Appeals to Justice

    At the same time, mass appeals to Justice are planned to declare the amendment unconstitutional, while next Wednesday bank employees will hold a two-hour stoppage as a sign of solidarity to commercial employees who will go on strike for the extension of shopping hours.

    Earlier on Thursday morning, bank employees on strike blocked the entrance to the Parliament and held a rally towards the Ministry of Economy and FGI's (Federation of Greek Industries)offices.

    GSEE Reacts to Flexible Working Hours

    At the same time, GSEE (Greek General Confederation of Labour) decided to proceed with a 24-hour strike in the private sector in case the government passes a Bill on flexible working hours.

    In a meeting held today, GSEE stressed it will not accept any negotiation whatsoever regarding labour relations and that it will stand by the side of small-scale businessmen and private employees for the extension of shopping hours.

    Regarding banks' social security, GSEE stressed it will support all bank employees' actions for the withdrawal of the amendment in question and announced collective actions if the solution financially burdens IKA.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [07] Heated Disputes Spanish 'Yes' to Gay Marriages

    30 Jun 2005 14:39:00

    By Betty Savourdou

    Sources: ANA

    A bill adopted by Spanish Parliament on Thursday allows gay couples to marry and adopt children, thus making Spain the fourth country to legalise gay marriages, following the Netherlands, Belgium and Canada. Despite last weeks rejection of the bill by the Senate, the Spanish MPs votes in favour of the law with 187 votes for, 147 against and 4 abstentions. The bill will become a law as soon as it is ratified by the head of State, King Juan Carlos, before the end of summer. As expected, the relevant bill of the Socialist Government prompted the fierce reaction of the Catholic Church and the right-wing Opposition.

    "Spanish Community Will Be Divided"

    "Honouring our pre-election commitments, we grant gay couples the right to marry. Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada have done it before us. We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told the chamber before the vote.

    "It is true that the gay community is a minority, however, their triumph is our triumph, their victory makes us better, makes society better," added the Spanish PM.

    On his part, Conservative Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy was critical because " It divides the country."

    Speaking to journalists, Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy said after the vote that "The issue has deeply divided Spain."

    "The Popular Party has voiced its opposition, and now we will consider the possibility that we lodge an appeal to the Constitutional Court. Throughout the history of mankind, marriage has been an institution between a man and a woman," he added, assuring that his party respects gay rights and that he had been in favour of same-sex unions, without however, the right to adopt children.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [08] Tension Escalates Oil and Nails Against Withdrawal

    30 Jun 2005 01:09:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Israel experiences an upheaval due to the planned withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip. Israeli authorities have been on the alert because of the scheduled for Wednesday demonstration launched by Jewish extremists, who oppose to the Israeli-Palestinian pact and threaten to sabotage the hydroelectricity infrastructures and the telecommunication network. The central avenue that connects Jerusalem with Tel Aviv was the meeting point of the demonstrators, who clashed with the police forces. The demonstrators threw oil and nails on the road and blocked the road disrupting circulation during rush hour. Police forces used water hoses to dissolve the crowds, and said that "it was a miracle that no accidents took place." Similarly, Gaza territory also experienced tension when groups of young Jewish settlers, with many children among them, clashed with the security forces. 150 arrests were made.

    "Iron Determination"

    The demonstrations were staged by 8,000 Israeli settlers in Gaza, who are steely opponents of the withdrawal plan scheduled for mid-August.

    Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, however, seems determined to proceed with what has been agreed stating that, "I will show iron determination against the hooligans," who will resort to violence to stop the withdrawal process.

    An Israeli soldier, who failed to comply with his superiors orders to participate in the demolition of isolated buildings in a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, has already been sentenced to a 36-day-imprisonment, setting thus an example for the rest.

    Fighting Hizbollah

    Hizbollah guerrillas fired rockets and mortar bombs at Israeli posts in the disputed Shebaa Farms area on the Lebanon-Israel border. Hizbollahs attacks resulted in killing one soldier and wounding five more. Israeli aircraft struck the town of Beit Hanoun, north of the Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported. As per the Israeli army, the strikes targeted a gun warehouse.

    Finally, a Palestinian was killed by soldiers, who, according to the Israeli army announcement, was trying to plant an explosive devise near the bench that separates the area from the Jewish settlement. One more suspect escaped during the crossfire.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [09] Titan's Lake

    30 Jun 2005 16:58:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: BBC

    A picture taken from Titan, Saturn's largest moon, has drawn scientists' attention, as it depicts a lake-like feature on its surface. For some time now, scientists speculated that Titan might have bodies of liquid methane and this clue might in fact be the proof they were looking for. However, they are still reserved about interpreting the 235km by 75km lake-like feature, which even seems to have a smooth shoreline. Experts stressed that the object could simply be dark, solid deposits caught in a volcanic caldera. European spacecraft Cassini's Huygens probe took the pictures upon landing on Titan.

    Further Research Necessary

    According to Dr Elizabeth Turtle, Cassini imaging team member at the University of Arizona, "this feature is unique in our exploration of Titan so far." She further added that "its perimeter is intriguingly reminiscent of the shorelines of lakes on Earth that are smoothed by water erosion and deposition."

    The feature is located in Titan's cloudiest region, towards its south pole, which is the most probable location for a methane rainfall.

    This element in combination to the smooth shore-like lines of the feature's perimeter has made scientists speculate it is in fact a liquid methane lake.

    "An alternate explanation is that this feature was once a lake, but has since dried up, leaving behind dark deposits," Dr Turtle said.

    However, despite earlier predictions for the existence of open bodies of liquid on Titan, there has been no definitive evidence to prove speculations.

    What is more, scientists stressed that Cassini has not yet been in a proper position to photograph if there are any glints from possible surface liquids.

    In the future and with Cassini's help, scientists will be able to observe the lake and look for reflections that will prove the presence of liquids on Titan.

    Earthly-like Lakes

    Cassini's Titan probe, Huygens, sent back images on its descent to the surface of the moon of channels and gullies that looked very similar to the liquid-cut features seen on Earth.

    The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative venture of NASA, the European Space Agency (Esa) and the Italian Space Agency that costs 3 billion dollars and was first launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 1997 aiming to explore Saturn's rings and moons.

    Titan, with an average temperature of 179oC, is the only moon of our Solar System to have a dense, non-transparent atmosphere, which is composed of nitrogen, methane and other simple carbohydrates and perhaps looks like Earth, as it was before the existence of life, ie before 3.8 billion years.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [10] Serial Kisser Wanted

    30 Jun 2005 15:11:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    The Dutch Police have launched a manhunt in the streets of Amsterdam to track down a man who goes up to women and gives them a French kiss. At least seven women have so far lodged complaints about the mystery man, but Police believe he may well have kissed other women who didn't report it. Usually, the serial kisser attacks at underground stations, said a Police spokesperson, approaching his victims from behind and tapping them on the shoulder. When the women turn around, he grips them and French kisses them on the mouth. His victims, aged between 17 and 30, haven't still managed to give an exact description of the man because it is all happening too fast and they don't get to see him. However, Police officers believe he is aged 19 to 20, dark skinned and usually wears a long dark coat with a cap. In fact, the Police have one more lead, as they managed to recover some saliva from the mouth of one woman who went to them immediately after she was kissed by the man.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [11] Scent of Food

    30 Jun 2005 13:16:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: Las Ultimas Noticias

    How would you like to have oysters with the scent of "Anais Anais" by Cacharel , ice cream with Chanel "No5" and chocolate mouse with "Le Male" by Jean Paul Gautier? It is more of a novel eating trend launched by a restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina, rather than a gastronomic distortion. "Sifones y Dragones" chef Flavio Pop is the brains behind this new trend. The chef described his cooking as Pop Food, and he pointed out that his cooking has many staunch supporters, while the restaurant is the centre of gastronomic experimentations. One of the most popular dishes is the "Verde and Green" salad, which is garnished with pieces of glasses made of green lenses for the customers to see everything green!

    Translated by Areti Christou


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