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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-02-03
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Robbery at the Ethini Amyna Metro StationWednesday, 03 February 2010 14:40
Four gunmen attacked Wednesday the ticket issuing offices at the Ethniki Amyna metro station after ambushing the special guard. They then ran away with as much money as they managed to steal.
Both passengers and the employees at the ticket issuing offices did not realize what it was going on, meaning that the gunmen had been well tipped.
Police rushed to the site, however, they failed to truck down the gunmen.
The gunmen are believed to have run away with about 250,000 euros. News item: 32831
 K. Papoulias Re-elected President of the RepublicWednesday, 03 February 2010 10:13
A special Parliament session in roll call vote on Wednesday morning re-elected Karolos Papoulias in the post of President of the Republic. Mr. Papoulias was re- elected with a large majority of 266 votes. PASOK, ND and LAOS parties voted in favour of his new term in presidency post. The GCP and SYRIZA parties stated "present". Karolos Papoulias was elected president for the first time in February, 2005 with record high number of votes. Mr. Papoulias will be sworn in on Friday, March, 12, 2010.
Source: ÍÅÔ 105.8 - ÍÅÔ News item: 32814
 Farmers Remain in RoadblocksWednesday, 03 February 2010 10:02
Farmers remain in their blocks for a third consecutive week following the fruitless meeting of representatives of Pan-Hellenic Coordination Body with Agriculture Minister Katerina Batzelis. Farmers in Promahonas blockade have warned escalation of mobilizations despite allowing access to border station for private cars at 02:00. On Tuesday evening, the European Committee announced that it was prepared to take legal action to end road blockades by Greek farmers.
Athens -Thessaloniki highway is inaccessible as Thessaly farmers are still blocking Nikaia and Mikrothibes junctions while traffic through Tyrnavos and Elassona has returned to normal.
Farmers have parked their tractors on Thessaloniki ring road, however, without hampering traffic. Motorists neither faced any problems in "Prasina Fanaria" and Halkidona junctions nor in Malgara toll station during the night.
Access to Ormenios and Kipoi customs stations, in prefecture of Ebros, is normal as tractors are parked on the sides of road. Yesterday's heavy snow storm and -5 temperatures have influenced farmers moves in this region. Serres farmers closed Egnatia road Kerdilia intersection during the night and temporary blockades of Serres- Thessaloniki highway during the day while Amfipolis junction is open. Exohi border station, in Drama prefecture- was open during the night for all vehicles.
Open is Triglia intersection in Halkididki while Doirani border station was open during the night. There is regular flow of traffic through Evzonoi, Niki and Krystalopigi border stations.
Farmers blocking Promahona lifted blockade at 02:00 allowing only private vehicles to cross the border station. Vehicles had formed a 20km queue since noon on the Greek side and Bulgarian side as well. Arguments between farmers and motorists created a tense atmosphere. Strong security forces are in the region to prevent serious incidents.
Source: ÍÅÔ 105.8 - ÁNA-ÌPA
Relevant Article: Ágriculture Minister-Farmers Meeting Ends in Deadlock News item: 32812
 US Nationals Accused of Smuggling Haitian OrphansMonday, 01 February 2010 10:51
Haitian authorities have arrested 10 Americans and two Haitians after the group was caught trying to take 33 Haitian children, who survived the country's devastating earthquake on January, 12, out of the country bound for the Dominican republic.
The person in charge of a Haitian social welfare institute said that she was informed by mass media that numerous children have left Haiti without obtaining legal authorization. She said that ones were making use of the chaos in the aftermath of earthquake to smuggle children out of the country. She added, however, that hundreds of children whose adoption papers were finalized received permissions to leave the country. Unicef and Save the Children organizations have also warned of child recruitment in south Haiti.
The ten Americans held in Port-au-Prince jail were caught trying to take tens of children out of the country. Speaking from a jail cell in Port au Prince, Sillsby said the group was trying to do the right thing to help the children. The group apparently did not have any paperwork to accompany the 33 children , aged from 2 months to 14 years. They were transporting the children on a bus bound for the Dominican Republic. The US will soon resume airlift of seriously injured Haitians.
Source: ÁNA-ÌPA, Reuters
News item: 32714
 Suicide Bomber Kills 20 in KerbalaWednesday, 03 February 2010 11:45
A bomb attached to a vehicle exploded in Kerbala, south of Baghdad killing at least 20 Shiite pilgrims, among them children and women, and injuring 117. The suicide attack occurred on the road linking Hila to holy city of Kerbala said a local official.
The blast was the latest in a string of attacks this week that have targeted pilgrims making their way to an important Shiite religious observance in Karbala.
Hours earlier, two separate roadside bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims exploded in Baghdad, killing one and wounding seven others. A second explosion in southwest Baghdad wounded four pilgrims.
Source: ÁNA-ÌPA News item: 32819
 Commission Okays Greek Stability PlanWednesday, 03 February 2010 15:39
The European Commission gave Wednesday thumbs up for the Greek stability plan, adding, however, that its implementation won't be easy and that Greece should be ready to take further tax adjustments. EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner JoaquÃn Almunia appeared certain that the plan's goals will be met, also stressing that the plan is ambitious, yet it is to the benefit of the people of Greece, of the eurozone and the EU. In the meantime, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's announcements had a positive influence on the markets, but caused several domestic reactions
The Greek stability plan may have taken the green light, however, the European Commission has urged Greece to be rather cautious.
"...In case the goals are not met, the Greek government should be ready to take additional measures..."
The Commission, in a report, said it shared the ambitious budget-deficit reduction targets that the Greek government has set itself as well as the fiscal measures and structural reforms announced in the stability programme.
"Greece has adopted an ambitious programme to correct its fiscal imbalances and to reform its economy. Yesterday's announcement strengthens the government's commitment to deliver the programme's objectives of more sustainable public finances and a more competitive economy. This is in the interest of the Greek people, who will benefit of better and more durable growth and job opportunities in the future, and it is in the interest of the euro area and of the EU as a whole. The Commission fully supports Greece in this difficult task," said Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner JoaquÃn Almunia, adding: "The Commission will monitor the execution of the budget and of the reforms very closely and regularly and welcomes the Greek government's readiness to adopt further measures as and when necessary ".
New Measures Expected to Yield Revenues
In his televised address on Tuesday evening, the Greek Prime Minister described the situation of the Greek economy in gloomy terms and announced new fiscal measures, urging, at the same time, the contribution of the rest political parties and of the society to the fight against the crisis.
The freezing of wages in the public sector, the cuts in benefits and the rise in fuel taxes are expected to earn the government significant revenues.
The freezing of public sector wages is expected to yield about 300 million euros, while another 600 million euros will be earned by the cuts in bonuses.
A zero income policy equals to wages cuts ranging from 1% to 15% for the about 700,000 public sector employees, since wages will remain as they are, while benefits will by trimmed by 13%.
The wage cuts should be coupled with a rise in inflation, which is forecast to stand at 3% in the coming months, duet the rising prices of a series of products.
The fuel tax is forecast to generate more than 600 million euros.
Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis termed the measures announced by the Prime Minister as necessary and temporary, while he did not rule out taking new additional measures if needed. The government is taking several parameters into consideration, remaining committed to the stability plan, continued he.
Giorgos Petalotis then went on to put down the current situation to the wrong political decisions and indecisiveness of the last years. He also add that Greece's lack of credibility whetted the appetite of international markets to exert pressure and made the country a sitting duck.
"The stability plan was okayed by the European Commission, yet the Commission remains reserved, as a reform package should be delivered, a new report should be submitted in mid March and government should be ready for new measures. The Prime Minister's announcements seem to be covering partly the need for additional measures. More are likely to be asked," stressed ND (New Democracy) spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos.
"The biggest crisis that has hit modern Greece has to be addressed with the widest possible consensus," commented Conservative deputy Dora Bakoyannis, urging, at the same time, more structural changes and measures.
"The Greek Communist Party, which had warned the people for the ensuing anti-labour storm before the elections, confidently has faith in the people that it has the power to repel the attack provided that it breaks free from the threats expressed by PASOK, ND and the EU and goes after its rights," commented KKE.
"The Prime Minister has a certain course in mind. Having second thoughts is natural. However, I believe that we cannot afford 'a la carte' solutions. I wish to believe that Mr Samaras will not back down. Things are even tougher. We have to prove that seriousness prevails in Greece," stressed LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) head Giorgos Karatzaferis.
"The measures announced will increase unemployment, smash the pension system and win the trust of the most obsolete political and economic cycles," said SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) President Alexis Tsipras.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 32834
 EU Commission Approved Greek Stability ProgramWednesday, 03 February 2010 12:42
The EU Commission has officially given green light to Greek Stability and Growth program which signals that there is no problem and the program will pass the Ecofin test on February, 16, 2010. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso expressed his conviction that Greece would achieve a correction of its budget deficit within the timetable set.
In a written statement issued on Tuesday evening, declared that on Wednesday the European Commission will propose to the European Union's Council of Finance Ministers (Ecofin) the approval of Greece's stability program. In his message on Tuesday evening, Prime-minister, G. Papandreou announced wage freeze and recruitment in public sector as well as rise in retirement age.
Mr. Papandreou also announced 10% cut in benefits , rise in fuel and off-shore companies taxation.
International Mass Media
Foreign media make extensive reference to Prime-minister, G. Papandreou austerity measures to cut deficit.
"Greek Prime-minister G. Papandreou announced tough measures aimed at cutting the country's soaring public debt. Mr. Papandreou stressed that wage freeze in public sector and fuel tax increases are necessary to stop the country's course towards the cliff" says BBC television network. Furthermore, BBC correspondents and analysts say that reforms needed will be " blood and tears".
"Brussels endorse Greece's plan to cut state deficit, the Greek Prime-minister promotes "tough" reforms says Financial Times in its website.
Rise in taxation and retirement age are the points underlined by daily "El Paiz".
"Greece's prime-minister announced wage freeze in civil sector" says US magazine Business Week.
Italian daily "Republica" centers on Mr. Papandreou statements about speculative attack against Greece.
"New China" news agency places emphasis on the Prime-minister's statement "we must fight for our country as we fight for our own home, our own family".
In the same line are articles in British "Guardian" newspaper, presenting the Prime-minister's appeal for national unity.
Source: ÍÅÔ 105.8
Relevant Article: G. Papandreou: "We have the courage for tough yet fair decisions" News item: 32822