|Saturday, 15 August 2020|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-02-01
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Israel: General Reprimanded over Gaza WarMonday, 01 February 2010 16:48
The senior Israeli field officer in the Gaza war has been reprimanded over artillery shelling in a heavily populated area that hit a United Nations compound during the fighting, the military said on Monday.
The officer, Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg, still heads Israel's Gaza division. Colonel Ilan Malka, an infantry brigade commander also disciplined over the incident, now runs military operations in the West Bank under the same rank.
"It (the reprimand) goes on their record and will come up in their careers any time a promotion comes up," a military spokesman, Captain Barak Raz, said.
The United Nations has said some of the shells that damaged a U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) compound on January 15, 2009 contained incendiary white phosphorus, whose use, condemned by human rights groups, has been called legal by Israel.
Israel referred to disciplinary action against two senior officers, but did not name them, in a response it submitted on Friday to a U.N. report accusing Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip of war crimes. The military later identified the officers as Eisenberg and Malka.
Referring to the UNRWA incident, the Israeli document said shells were fired "in violation of the rules of engagement prohibiting use of such artillery near populated areas."
"Based on these findings, the Commander of the Southern Command disciplined a brigadier-general and a colonel for exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardized the lives of others," it said.
Sources: Reuters News item: 32741
 Parliament Agenda on TransparencyMonday, 01 February 2010 13:54
Parliament debate at political party leaders on Monday afternoon will center on transparency and combat of corruption following request by ND party leader A. Samaras. The debate coincides with the opening of works of the Inquiry Committee on Batopedi case on Monday and the Inquiry Committee on the Siemens case on Tuesday. The duty of 38 deputies comprising the two committees is within 6 weeks to look into the two cases that have afflicted the country in the recent years.
The 38 deputies comprising the two first Parliament Inquiry Committees on the Batopedi and Siemens cases will have to carry out an in- depth investigation within 6 weeks.
The Inquiry Committee on the Batopedi case assumes its task on Monday noon and will have completed its work till March, 15 while the Committee on the Siemens case assumes duties on Tuesday and must have completed its investigation till March, 17. Heading the Siemens Committee is PASOK deputy Yiannis Balirakis and Manolis Benteniotis heads the Batopedi Committee.
Lists of witnesses will be drawn after the appointment of the two committees presidiums this week. It is believed that the Committee on Batopedi case may not convene every day as procedures for the opening of bank accounts take time while the Committee on Siemens is likely to be extended due to the large number of witnesses. Parliament debate at political party leaders on combat of corruption will be held on Monday afternoon following ND party leader A. Samaras request.
It is a fact that both the Prime-minister and the main opposition leader in their speeches have repeatedly stressed the need of transparency measures in public life in order to improve Greece's picture abroad. News item: 32724
 Alternate Foreign Minister in USMonday, 01 February 2010 11:00
Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas is paying a work visit to the US starting Monday. He will meet with his American counterpart Hillary Clinton and deputy secretary of State James Steinberg on Tuesday. Talks will focus on Greek-Turkish relations, Skopje and Cyprus issues, situation in west Balkans and the issue of visa.
"Greece has left no pending issues regarding Visa Waiver program, the US must make the last move", said Mr. Droutsas in an interview with daily "Ta Nea" on Monday. In reference to the reopening of Greek-Turkish dialogue, Mr. Droutsas underlined that Greece's sovereign rights are not negotiable, adding that increased Turkey's aggressiveness demands acceleration of Athens moves.
During his stay in the US, Mr. Droutsa will meet with members of the US Congress while he will also meet with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki- Moon, in NY, on Thursday.
Source ΝΕΤ 105.8 News item: 32716
 Three Missing Fishermen Found DeadMonday, 01 February 2010 10:56
Argolikos Gulf cost guard recovered the body of the third amateur fisherman, missing since Sunday evening. Three amateur fishermen, who borrowed a friend's boat set off from Korinthos early on Sunday. As it was getting late and they had not returned the boat's owner informed the port authorities. A super puma helicopter, a fishing boat and cost guard boat took part in the rescue mission that started at 23:30 on Sunday evening.
The boat was found overturned last night but the bodies of the three friends, two Greek nationals 45 and 60 year old and a 35 year old Albanian were found on Monday morning. Tolo port authorities are carrying an investigation while their relatives will be called to recognize the bodies. News item: 32715
 Farmers Meet Anew - Roadblocks RemainMonday, 01 February 2010 09:31
With their demonstrations having entered week three, farmers are to meet Tuesday with the Agricultural Minister. Road blocks remain in 18 parts throughout Greece, including the Promahonas border crossing. No immediate subsidy can be given to the farmers, reiterated the Agricultural Minister following her meeting with Economy Minister Louka Katseli.
The Agricultural Minister, Katerina Batzeli, said no immediate subsidy could be given to the farmers. She added, though, that the two Ministries are working together to enhance the agricultural production through political interventions with a view to thawing the Greek economy and boosting the quality and competitiveness of the Greek agricultural products.
ND deputy and section head for agricultural development Giorgos Kasapides blasted the government for deceiving the farmers. Commenting on Batzeli's package of 5.5 billion euros in 2010, he said that of the total amount, about 3.35 billion euros is the immediate financial boosting the farmers are already entitled to.
Source: NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 32708
 Taliban Deny Meeting with UN RepresentativeSaturday, 30 January 2010 11:25
The Afghan Taliban denied on Saturday that its representatives had met the outgoing U.N. representative for Afghanistan, after reports this week that U.N. envoy Kai Eide had met militants in Dubai.
"The Leadership Council considers this mere futile and baseless rumors, being a machination against jihad and Mujahideen who are waging jihad against the invaders," the Afghan Taliban said in a statement posted by their leaders on their website, alemarah.info.
The United Nations has declined to comment since a U.N. official said this week that Eide had met Taliban representatives in Dubai on January 8. Eide has denied a meeting took place on that date, but has not commented on whether a meeting might have taken place on another date.
Washington is encouraging the Afghan government to reach out to fighters to find an end to the 8-year-old war. At a conference in London this week, President Hamid Karzai repeated an invitation to Taliban leaders to attend a peace council.
However, the United Nations has not been publicly involved in mediation efforts in the past.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played down any role of Eide, whose term expires in March and who has not always seen eye to eye with Washington.
"I will let him speak for himself. He's not going to be part of our efforts going forward," she told reporters in Paris Friday.
Source: Reuters News item: 32657
 Taiwan Arms Sale Strains Chinese-US TiesSaturday, 30 January 2010 10:52
Beijing expressed its overriding objections to a $6.4 billion arms deal between the USA and Taiwan, warning that such a deal could deliver a serious blow to the ties between the two countries. China decided to suspend the jointed military exchanges with the USA. China's Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei sent a demarche to the US ambassador to the Chinese capital. On Friday, the US Pentagon said that the USA is about to sell 60 Black Hawk helicopters (totaling $3.1 billion), 114 advanced Patriot air defense missiles; a pair of Osprey mine-hunting ships; and dozens of advanced communications systems. The ties between the two nations are already strained by rows over trade with China having suspended its military relations with the USA for more than a year, following the sale of US arms in Taiwan in October 2008.
The US plan will definitely strain the ties between the two countries and will have an serious impact on the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in significant sectors, said Wang Baodong, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington
The new US initiative for the arms deal with Taiwan, which is part of China, is "a rude interference in China's internal affairs, severely endangering China's national security," commented Wang Baodong, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington
China urged the US side to acknowledge to seriousness of the problem and suspend its wrong decisions and stop selling arms to Taiwan, added he.
The USA recognized the communist rule in China in 1979, breaking off its ties with Taiwan. However, a law which was given thumps up by the Congress allowed the USA to sell arms to the island.
China's communist rule considers self-ruled Taiwan as its sovereign territory, and has threatened to use military force if Taiwan attempts to claim formal independence.
CNN: U.S. announces $6.4 billion arms deal with Taiwan BBC: China warns US over proposed arms sales to Taiwan
News item: 32654
 Peru: Campaign to Rescue Stranded TouristsFriday, 29 January 2010 08:36
Authorities in Peru masterminded a huge operation to rescue thousands of tourist trapped in Machu Picchu, the country's most popular tourist destination. Martin Perez, Peru's minister of foreign trade and tourism, said that about 93 helicopter flights evacuated more than 1400 tourists of the 2,500 tourists who had been stranded for much of the week in Aguas Calientes after a landslide blocked a rail line to Cusco.
Rescue workers took advantage of a weather recession, following the recent heavy showers.
Priority was given to the elderly.
The helicopters transferred the stranded tourists in sage areas, where countries, including Chile and Argentina saw to their return, given the fact they had already missed their flights back home.
News item: 32607
 Cyprus: Bicommunal Meeting before Ban Ki-moonMonday, 01 February 2010 14:16
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Cyprus to offer its backing to the talks between the Cypriot President and the Turkish-Cypriot leader. The UN head first met with Mehmet Ali Talat and then with Demetris Christofias. Later on Monday, he will meet both leaders in Nicosia.
The UN Secretary-General also visited the green zone dividing the island. Several buildings in the zone were renovated through EU funding. Ban Ki-moon inaugurated the phase two of the renovation works.
In his comments, he stressed that a solution to the Cyprus row is achievable. During his visit at the green zone, several Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots had gathered saying that Cyprus is too small to be divided, calling for the re-unification of the island.
The Cypriot political parties strongly objected the talks, arguing that the venue that hosted the talks, the so-called presidential mansion of the Turkish-Cypriot side means to show Talat as a representative of a state that has not been internationally acknowledged. They also urged Ban Ki-moon to reconfirm his commitment to the UN resolution on the Cyprus issue. The political parties that make up the government coalition said they will not attend the reception that will be hosted in honour of the two leaders.
A spokesman for the UN Secretary-General said that the international community has recognized the legitimacy of the Cypriot Republic. News item: 32727
 Female Suicide Bomber Kills Tens in BagdadMonday, 01 February 2010 13:01
At least 41 people have been killed and 106 injured by a female suicide bomber in north-east Baghdad, Bagdad police spokesman has said. The attack occurred near the north neighbourhood of Shaab, as thousands of people made the pilgrimage to the holy city Karbala, 80km west of Baghdad for the religious rite of Arbain. The Shiite pilgrims were marking Arbain, the end of 40 days of mourning for the death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson.
Women and children among the victims.
A police official said "death toll mounts to 41 people killed and 106 wounded , including a number of women and children".
In recent years the pilgrimage has been the target of similar attacks, blamed on Sunni extremists. Twelve months ago, 32 pilgrims were killed by a female suicide bomber near Baghdad.
Source: ΑNA-ΜPA BBC: Female suicide bomber kills dozens in Iraq
News item: 32721
 Almunia Okays Greek Stability Plan, Yet He Remains CautiousMonday, 01 February 2010 14:29
Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia offered Monday its backing to Greece's deficit-cutting plan. He told Reuters, that the Greek government's plan is ambitious yet feasible and therefore it has the backing of the European Commission. He also requested a plan B in case some of the plan's goals are not met. Almunia's claims came two days before the European Commission publishes recommendations on how Greece will have to trim its fiscal deficit below 3% of GDP. In the meantime, the Greek Finance Minister is to unveil changes in the tax system in the coming week.
"What we are saying to the Greek authorities is: your stability programme has established ambitious targets and objectives and we fully endorse these ambitious objectives. We consider that the achievement of these objectives in the coming three years, before the end of 2012, is absolutely necessary. These objectives are achievable but they are surrounded by risks, " Almunia said in comments exclusive to Reuters.
"...Δεν θα επιτρέψουμε αποκλίσεις στην πορεία προς αυτούς τους στόχους..."
Almunia said that the European Commission will ask Athens to commit itself to the measures included in the stability plan, including spending cuts and structural changes.
Greece's stability plan is ambitious yet realistic, commented Amelia Torres spokeswoman for Economic and Monetary Affairs. She also argued that taking into consideration the risks of the current situation, the measures to be adopted have to be specialized.
Plaskovitis: "Additional Measures in Case of Deviation"
"The government is promoting its policy on fiscal consolidation and growth," stressed Economy Minister Louka Katseli, while addressing a conference on "Banks and Economy: The Next Step." She also voiced her optimism for the promotion of major investments in Greece from investors from abroad.
Ilias Plaskovitis, Secretary General of the Finance Ministry, stressed that Greece's goal to have deficit brought down to 8.7% of GDP this year is nonnegotiable. Therefore, there will be corrective measures if necessary.
He then went on to dismiss bankruptcy scenarios as ridiculous, further adding that the high spreads do not reflect Greece's fiscal reality.
Former banking official and member of the Monetary Policy Council Panagiotis Thomopoulos claimed that the high deficit and the huge fiscal debt cost 25 billion euros per years. He then argued that Greece will have to put high wages behind for good and predicted that those who expect Greece to bankrupt will be proved wrong.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 32729