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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-05-27
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Exit Ban Imposed on Anastasios MantelisThursday, 27 May 2010 16:11
An exit ban was imposed on former transport minister Anastasios Mantelis after becoming the second cadre of ruling PASOK to admit to accepting payments from the Greek branch of German electronics and engineering giant Siemens. He was also charged with money laundering. ôÝôïéá ôá÷ýôçôá.
Petalotis on former Prime Minister Kostas Simitis
In the meantime, commenting on PASOK cadre Leonidas Grigorako's proposal whereby former Prime Minister Kostas Simitis should testify before the parliamentary committee investigating the Siemens bribery scandal, government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said: "The parliamentary committee is responsible to call those who can shed some light to the case. However, targeting specific individuals just to create impressions - I am not implying that this was deputy's purpose, I am just making a general comment - could prevent the search for the truth."
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 37001
 GSEE Won't Negotiate with the GovernmentThursday, 27 May 2010 16:00
GSEE, Greece umbrella union for the private sector, is getting ready to hold new industrial actions in view of the submission of the pension reforms, as well as the change in labour relations, for which the Employment Minister has called a meeting on coming Monday. GSEE refused to attend the meeting, claiming that negotiation bridges have been cut.
GSEE and ADEDY, the umbrella union for the public sector, have already scheduled a street protest for 5 June. PAME, the workers' union affiliated with the Greek Communist Party, will stage a demonstration on 1 June.
GSEE unanimously agreed to struggle for a satisfactory national collective work contract that will cement the workers' rights and dismissed Troika's demands which the government has adopted as unacceptable.
It also blasted the government for its brutal intervention in the collective negotiations breaking the laws.
The unionists of GSEE rejected the Employment Minister's call for talks on labour affairs, underlining that the suggested measures are extreme and anti-labour. They then reiterated their intention to abstain from any talks on the pension reforms.
The GSEE chief unleashed an attack against the government and its handlings on labour affairs.
"What are they doing? Whom are they trying to intimidate? They are intimidating the insured workers in an unacceptable manner. We have no other option but to fight back. Lost battles are the ones that were never fought. It takes vigilance. It is not a sprint race. It is a marathon." G. Panagopoulos
Touching on the unionists' decision to abstain from any talks, the GSEE head said: "We cannot enter a dialogue on labour and pension affairs. Our remaining institutional ability is to submit our proposals on all the above matters, proposals that the Employment Minister dismissed, to Parliament. When the Greek House summons us, we will express our opinions and objections. There is no room for talks and bargains. All bridges have been cut."
Source: NET, ANA/MPA
News item: 37002
 China Denies Press ReportThursday, 27 May 2010 13:21
China's central bank dismissed information whereby it was considering reviewing its eurozone bond holdings as groundless. After China's move, the euro currency rose by 0.92%. China would stay committed to its principle of portfolio diversification and Europe would remain one of its key investment markets, commented China's central bank.
Source: NET, ANA/MPA News item: 36990
 " Kallikratis Plan" Debate ContinuesThursday, 27 May 2010 12:30
Debate on "Kallikratis" draft-bill providing for reforms in local administration continues in the Parliament Plenum on Thursday.
ND party leader A. Samaras, in his speech, said his party would vote against the draft-bill.
"Merging is not based on objective criteria but rather on partisan expediencies. When ND comes to office will deal with the strong objections to merging making a new proposal which will take into account the voices of local societies and not ignoring them. The present tortuous reform will bring up the need for a future reform", Mr. Samaras said.
Mr. Samaras also referred to the criterion for maintenance of historical municipalities such as the cases of Mystras and Vergina.
Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis described as ostensible ND party's objection.
"The new NO was expected and followed the main opposition objections to draft-bills on personnel hiring through ASEP and promotion of directors in the civil sector. We gather that apart from ND misruling in the past there is also a negative opposition practice at present.Kallikratis is a huge attempt bringing radical changes in ruling practices.
Residents of Anatoliki Aigialeia blocked the Korinthos-Patra new and old national roads at Zahloritika town in protest against reforms in local administration.
Rethymno prefect George Papadakis, attending events in Australia commemorating the battle of Crete spoke in favour of "Kallikratis" plan in an interview with Greek language Australian newspaper "Neos Kosmos".
Sources: ÍÅÔ 105.8, ÁNA
News item: 36985
 Tough Pressures in Social Security SystemThursday, 27 May 2010 11:55
The European Union described the content of Troika's letter to Athens as proposals and not new measures. The actuarial study on the social security system is expected to be released on Friday. The Prime-minister described the present social security system as "unfair and non integral", particularly emphasizing corruption and wastes in its operation. The Finance Ministry is to announce equal retirement age for both men and women in the public sector. In the meantime the two large unions GSEE and ADEDY meet on Thursday to decide on new mobilizations in protest against reforms in the Social Security system and labour relations.
Meetings with Observers
Observers from Brussels are to meet with Employment Minister A. Loberdos to discuss their terms in order to approve reforms in the social security system.
Mr. Loverdos is expected to hand to the EU observers the actuarial studies drawn by the Employment Ministry competent services.
Reports say that actuarial studies reconfirm that the measures taken by the Employment ministry lead to surplus operation of IKA and OAEE funds.
The Employment Minister believes to overcome the EU delegates objections, who insist on full implementation of memorandum that requests retirement at 65yo or 60yo but after 40 years work.
First contacts, however, indicate that the government has made specific commitments in the memorandum and Troika does not seem likely to agree to any compromises. Furthermore 40 year of work is provided in other countries but years of studies are counted in.
Therefore, the Employment Ministry is examining to include military service , unemployment, pregnancy leave, tertiary education studies and successive insurance in the 40 year work.
Other issues such as widows' pensions, benefits to single daughters are subject of negotiations.
Addressing the Ministers' Council on Wednesday, the Prime-minister referred to the Social Security system: " It is a social security system with weaknesses and problems. But we had not an overdeveloped system of social state. The opposite, we have an unfair and non integral social security system, with high cost for families, insurance, education, health and certainly a system with big corruption and waste of tax payers money".
Commenting, ND leader A. Samaras spoke of communication bluffs while GCP general secretary A. Papariga said that the government repeated the content of the memorandum.
Source: NET, NET 105.8
News item: 36983
 Simitis Intervention after Mantelis StatementThursday, 27 May 2010 10:36
Fresh developments emerge in the Siemens case following former Transport Minister Tasos Mantelis admission before the Inquiry Committee of having received 200.000 marcs by the German company. He, however, maintained it was sponsorship for his campaign and not bribery. Earlier, his friend George Tzougranis had said Tasos Mantelis asked him in 1998 to open an account in a Swiss bank under the code "A. Rokos" to deposit the 200.000 sum. Another 250.000 had been deposited in the same account, but the former Minister maintained he did not know its origin. Opposition political parties launched strong attacks against the government after revelations concerning a high ranking PASOK official and underlined that many agreements regarding digital centers were signed with Siemens during the period Mantelis held the minister's post. "The Prime-minister first proposed the setting up of all Inquiry Committees to wipe of all shadows. And we mean it", said government spokesman. In the meantime, PASOK and ND deputies requested summoning of former Prime-minister K. Simitis, who intervened with a letter asking for attribution of Justice.
The Parliament responded to Greek society's request for the setting up of Inquiry Committees to shed light to several cases that poisoned the country's political life, harmed democracy and state assets. The progress of the committees' works brought to light illegal acts that run contrary to principles of a well governed state.
I am sad an furious because these acts occurred during 1996-2004 PASOK ruling. Acts that offend feeling of justice, blacken the work of the then government and the efforts of those who worked for a better Greece. Acts incompatible to our struggles and principles cover up the years that as significant job in the economic growth was achieved, indicated by our admission to the euro zone, the big state projects, Greece's credibility in Europe and worldwide.
All Greece is not a corrupted country. Justice must be attributed. With courage and persistence we must restore the quality of a society Greek people and any citizen who respects himself want.
I believe Inquiry Committees procedures will strengthen the democratic political system and the state of justice and not leave room for confrontations aimed to create impressions and compensation of expediencies.
Frictions in the Political Stage
Mantelis admission about Siemens sponsorship has sparked frictions in the political stage with the government repeating its determination for transparency at all levels and the main opposition ND party launching a counterattack.
Former Transport Minister Tasos Mantelis, in his statement before the Parliament Inquiry Committee, admitted that two money orders 200.000 and 250.000 were deposited in Swiss bank accounts opened in the name of his friend and best man and code "A. Rokos".
According to Mr. Mantelis the 200.000 marcs sum was deposited by Siemens in November, 1998 as sponsorship for his campaign while the second amount was deposited in February, 2000 but he did not know the name of the depositor.
Also he denounced that some attempt to accuse him of having received 10.000.000 marcs for himself and PASOK.
"Surface All Cases"
Referring to Mantelis case ,Spiros Bougias, Citizen Protection undersecretary, in an interview with state television channel NET, said anyone involved in such cases should be exemplary punished.
Government circles underlined that light should be shed in all cases without any exemptions while opposition parties strongly criticized the government.
When PASOK stands for Prosecutor of public life, a second PASOK high ranking official, after Theodoros Tsoukatos admits having received Siemens money, comments ND party.
The GCP attributes criminal responsibilities to the two large political parties for leading OTE (Hellenic telecommunications Company) in the hands of Deutsche Telekom.
Only an in depth investigation in the case could save the dignity of the political world said LAOS.
The question is who took the rest 99.000.000 euros, underlined SYRIZA.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA-ÌPA
News item: 36979
 Guns Found in Stolen CarThursday, 27 May 2010 09:11
Two guns and two grenades found in a stolen car late on Wednesday in central Athens have been sent to the labs of the anti-terrorist squad. The car was found after a tip-off call.
When police arrived in the spot, four people on the car ran away. Two fled on foot, and the other two forced a driver out and ran away with her car. Police are investigating all scenarios.
Source: NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 36973
 Israel to Stop Humanitarian Aid to GazaThursday, 27 May 2010 08:45
An Israeli military source said on Wednesday that Israel's navy was ready to prevent a Turkish-led convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid from entering the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Israel and Egypt closed Gaza's borders after Islamist Hamas took control of the territory in 2007 and refused to forswear violence against the Jewish state. Gaza's 1.5 million people say they face shortages of water and medicine.
"In accordance with the directions of the Israeli government, the Israel Defence Forces and the Israeli Navy are preparing to prevent the flotilla from reaching the Gaza shore," the military source said.
The source said naval forces had held a number of exercises to prepare to enforce the sea blockade.
In recent weeks Israel has allowed some goods it used to ban, such as clothes, shoes, wood and aluminum, to enter the strip through land border crossings. It continues to allow a steady flow of humanitarian aid into the coastal territory.
The military source said if the ships did not turn back after being given fair warning, they would be boarded by Israeli naval forces and taken to an Israeli port where the passengers and crew would be sent home and the goods transferred to Gaza.
If forces did board the ships, they would ensure that no "terror operatives or explosives" were on board, the source said.
Israel is under international pressure to relax its blockade, which the United Nations says punishes people in Gaza for the policies of Hamas, whose founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel.
The international flotilla carrying some 10,000 tonnes of medical equipment, housing materials and other supplies is expected to reach Israeli waters in the coming few days.
Source: Reuters News item: 36971
 Tensions Grow between South and North KoreaThursday, 27 May 2010 08:27
The South Korean navy is conducting a major anti-submarine drill in a disputed sea region that is likely to spark new tension between North and South Korea. The military exercise started on Thursday and aims to test anti-submarine depth charges and naval guns.
Relations between the two countries are tense since the sinking of a South Korean warship in March and drowning of its 46 member crew. Seoul has blamed its communist neighbour for the sinking of the warship but Pyongyang denies any involvement. An investigation found that the South Korean ship was sunk by a torpedo from the North which claimed that Seoul fabricated the results. The armed forces of both countries are in an increased state of alert while international diplomacy is in high mobility to avert escalation of tension. Chinese Prime-minister Wen Jiabao is to visit Seoul on Friday while a regional summit meeting with the participation of Japanese Prime-minister Yukio Hatoyama will be held on Saturday. North Korea national assembly is expected to meet on June, 7.
Russia will not support efforts to punish North Korea for sinking a South Korean warship until it is fully convinced Pyongyang was behind the incident, said foreign ministry spokesman Igor Lyakin-Frolov, on Thursday.He specifically said: "We need to receive 100 % proof of North Korea's role in the sinking of the corvette to refer the case to the Security Council. Our specialists are currently studying the materials of the investigation. We need to draw our own conclusions about what happened. Everything will depend on the situation and the body of evidence."
North Korea Thursday scrapped a pact aimed at preventing accidental armed clashes with South Korea at their flashpoint border, as tempers flared over the sinking of a warship, KCNA news agency reported. North Korea'ss general staff also warned of an immediate attack if the South's navy violates the disputed Yellow Sea borderline.
Sources: ÁNA-ÌPA, Reuters, French News item: 36969