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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-05-31
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Israeli Raid Triggers Worldwide OutcryMonday, 31 May 2010 16:50
The Israeli raid against a flotilla carrying aid and activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip has triggered has caused a wave of reactions worldwide. The UN Security Council is to hold an unscheduled sitting to discuss the latest developments.
Israel's regional allies froze military ties as angry protests erupted over the storming Monday of aid ships bound for Gaza, while Muslim leaders demanded swift UN action to punish the "criminal" assault.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "shocked" by the navy assault on a convoy carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, lawmakers and journalists through international waters towards besieged Gaza.
Ban called on Israel to "urgently" explain itself over the raid, reported to have killed up to 19 people, many of them Turks, and a UN diplomat said the Security Council had scrambled to convene emergency talks on the crisis.
Israel's closest ally Washington said it "deeply regrets the loss of life" and was "working to understand" what caused the "tragedy."
The Jewish state's chief regional partner Turkey responded with fury, scrapping plans for joint war games with Israel and recalling its ambassador, as it warned the "flagrant breach of international law" would have "irreparable consequences" for bilateral ties.
Tens of thousands of furious Turks poured into the streets with protestors in Istanbul burning Israeli flags, shouting "Damn Israel!" and demanding "A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, revenge, revenge!"
The Vatican voiced "deep sadness and concern" and Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair expressed his "deep regret and shock," as capitals across Europe summoned Israel's ambassadors to explain the assault.
Greece, which had dozens of nationals in the convoy, also pulled out of joint military exercises with Israel as an aid group claimed that commandos in helicopters had fired on a Greek vessel.
Israel said its troops were attacked after they stormed six ships loaded with thousands of tonnes of aid and with hundreds of activists aboard, and that both sides used live fire.
Israel, which has blockaded Gaza since its bitter foe Hamas was elected to power three years ago, had called the expedition illegal and warned it would act to stop it.
Muslim leaders united in condemning what Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called a "massacre" and Arab League chief Amr Mussa said was a "crime."
The Islamist movement Hamas which rules Gaza urged world Muslims to "rise up" in protest, as Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced the raid as "inhuman Zionist regime action."
Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri described the raid as "dangerous and crazy" and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, chaired by Beirut until midnight in New York.
Across the country Palestinian refugees and activists demonstrated to denounce the raid, chanting slogans like "Give us weapons, give us weapons and send us on to Gaza."
Source: AFP News item: 37125
 Watch the ESC Final Again!Monday, 31 May 2010 16:32
ERT, Greece's national broadcaster, in collaboration with EBU provides you with the opportunity to watch again the big ESC final where Lena's triumph sent Germany atop Europe's contest. Greece's ESC entrant George Alkeos finished eighth impressing both the audience that had packed the Telenor Arena and the millions of viewers.
Click here to watch the ESC final again and read about the two semifinals, the big final and the results. News item: 37122
 Athens Blasts Use of Violence by IsraelMonday, 31 May 2010 15:58
Athens' reaction to the pre-dawn Israeli raid against a flotilla carrying aid and activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip was prompt and strong. The Defence Ministry's crisis management unit was activated, the Greek-Israeli military drill that had been underway since 26 May was stopped and the Israeli Air Force commander's visit to Athens was cancelled. Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Droutsas conveyed the Greek government's annoyance to the Israeli ambassador to Athens. He then moved to Maximos Mansion to brief the Prime Minister on the matter. Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis expressed the government's outcry. Greece's opposition parties slammed the Israeli raid.
Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministries on Standby
Greece's Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministries are on standby closely monitoring the developments in the Middle East. Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas announced the stop of the Greek-Israeli midair drill to the Israeli ambassador. Greece also cancelled the official visit of the Israeli Air Force commander to Athens. The visit had been scheduled for Tuesday.
Droutsas underlined that the safe return of the Greeks is a keynote priority and Greece is working along with its EU partners to the above end. Israel, he added, is obliged to keep us informed on the safety of the Greek nationals.
In the meantime, Droutsas blasted the used of violence by the Israeli army, stressing, "Nothing could justify the use of such violence."
"We condemned it and this was exactly the message I conveyed to the Israeli ambassador this morning. I called him to my office and announced the Greek government's decision to have the joint military drill stopped, as well as to have the scheduled visit of the Israeli Air Force commander to Athens postponed," added he.
Wrapping up, he argued Greece is closely monitoring the situation and they will brief the public on the developments.
Droutsas had Monday morning a telephone contact with Prime Minister George Papandreou on the matter.
Reactions by Opposition Parties
Opposition parties and organizations have vehemently condemned the Israeli raid against the flotilla carrying aid and activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The main opposition New Democracy party dismissed Israel's attack as a blatant violation of international law. ND deputy and section head for Foreign Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos said:
"We are urging the government and the Finance Ministry to make all the necessary actions at a bilateral level towards the Israeli government, at an EU level, towards the EU, to shape a joint stance, so that the Greek nationals taking parting in the humanitarian mission will immediately return to Greece. It goes without saying that there should not be obstacles in the way of non-governmental organizations. The one entitled to judge the legality of their movements is the international institutional bodies and not single states."
The Greek Communist Party spoke of a new crime by the Israeli government that signals the escalation of imperialism's aggression not only against the people of Palestine but also against the nations of the wider region.
"The provocative military actions of the Israeli state have the backing of the USA, the EU and the rest imperialistic bodies. The governments of PASOK and ND are also to be held accountable fro not only turning a blind eye to Israel's aggression, but also for signing military agreements and organizing joint military drills. The government has to immediately break off all the military agreements with Israel. The Greek battleship patrolling off Lebanon should leave the place without fail. The Greek Communist Party is urging the people of Greece to offer their anti-imperialist solidarity with the people of Palestine," concluded KKE's announcement.
Israel's government "acted yet again as a pirate and committed yet another international crime for which it has to answer to international justice," commented SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left). "We demand the Gaza blockage to come to an end. You support the Palestinians' right to an independent state. Therefore, friends and deputies of SYRIZA took part in the mission. The participation in the global solidarity movement will continue and grow stronger. We are urging the government to immediately step in for the protection of the members of the humanitarian aid," stressed SYRIZA.
LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) said in its announcement:
"Israel is getting more and more violent. It is pretty clear that tolerance depicted by some fuels not only its intransigence but also its aggression."
The Greens said they condemned Israel's murderous attack on unarmed peace activists and the slow response of the Greek government to protect the 40 Greek nationals of the mission.
Independent deputy Dora Bakoyannis blasted the Israeli raid against the mission carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.
"I vehemently condemned the attacked that claimed human lives and plunged the victims' families into unsaid grief. I also want to send a message to the Israeli government. Security for both nations is everyone's wish and the international community is working for a two-state solution that will put an end to the tragedy of the people of Palestine. However, actions like this test the ties between your country and those who have realized your problems and are working to solve them."
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA
News item: 37123
 Greek Defence Minister Meets ND LeaderMonday, 31 May 2010 14:36
The need for consensus and understanding on national affairs was highlighted at the meeting held between the Greek Defence Minister and the main opposition New Democracy Presidents, Antonis Samaras. Asked on the social security of the army officers, Evangelos Venizelos said he would wait for the general pension reforms to be determined and then his Ministry would see what to do given the fact that the army officers are under a different regime. Antonis Samaras, on his part, reiterated his party's stance whereby under no circumstances should the financial crisis influence the battle worthiness of the Hellenic Armed Forces and its morale.
Special Pension Provisions for Army Officers
Matters pertaining to the current situation of Greece's Armed Forces and its defence policy topped the meeting held between Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos and the opposition leader.
Both Samaras and Venizelos agreed that under no circumstances should the financial crisis influence the country's defence and foreign policy, which requires the greatest possible national consensus.
Venizelos argued, "It is my institutional duty to brief the main opposition leader, without any confidentiality obstacles, on defence policy issues. Such meetings will continue."
He then highlighted the need for national unity and consensus so as to preserve the battle worthiness of the Hellenic Armed Forces and its morale and boost Greece's diplomatic clout.
He also made it pretty clear that the country's foreign and defence policy won't be dealt a blow by fiscal and economic reasons.
Samaras, on his part, claimed, "We discussed crucial matters relating to the Armed Forces and briefed the Ministry's leadership on our firm positions, whereby the country's fiscal problems must not influence the worthiness of the Armed Forces and its morale, which requires consensus and meritocracy. I believe that, in these difficult hours, on such matters we, together, can monitor the developments and co-formulate views."
The ND President made it clear that, "These serious matters should not be tampered by bipartisan wrangling."
Asked on the pre-dawn attack by Israeli defence forces on a humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza, the Greek Defence Minister said he would brief Israel's ambassador to Athens on his decision to have the Greek-Israeli military drill cancelled.
Samaras expressed his grave concern over the sad incidents.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 37118
 Smoking Ban in All Public Places from 1/9Monday, 31 May 2010 13:20
"World No Tobacco Day" today and Health Minister M. Xenoyiannakopoulou announced ban on smoking in all public places as of September, 1. One person dies every 10 seconds from smoking related illnesses. World Health Organization says that smoking is the worst health problem in the planet and expert scientists maintain that smokers live 13-14 years less than non- smokers.
Nowadays young girls begin smoking at the same age as boys warned WHO on the occasion of "World NoTobacco Day" on May, 31.
A survey conducted in 2006 indicates that 40% of men are smokers and 9% of women. However, recent surveys have shown that in half of the countries there is no big differences of percentage among new generation male and female smokers.
Greeks still come first in tobacco consumption
The Health Minister, during today's meeting of the anti-smoking coordination committee, announced smoking ban in all enclosed public places(cafeteria, clubs, state services) and advertisement of tobacco products as of September,1.
Source: ÍÅÔ105.8 ÁNA News item: 37109
 Mass Media Nationwide Strike on ThursdayMonday, 31 May 2010 13:02
Coordination Committee of Mass Media trade unions have announced a 24-hour nationwide strike. The strike embraces administration employees, newspaper vendors, photographers, employees in newspaper agencies, lithpgraphers, journalists, radio and television technicians who are staging a strike in protest against developments in social security and labour relations.
The joint announcement of all trade unions says: " ... protest against attempted efforts for return to mediaeval labour relations and social security system, provocativeness and impudent stand of employers that in some cases has proposed abolition of collective labour contracts, negotiations for fresh lay offs with parallel proposals for salary cuts and replacement of ones made redundant by part-timers and non-insured. Thursday's strike is the beginning of a number of escalating mobilizations in the Mass Media sector demanding:
Signing of collective labour contract Recall of draft-bill on social security Freezing of lay offs and maintenance of all job positions (temporary labour contracts turn into indefinite contracts) Substantial assistance to our unemployed colleagues Put halt to talks about cuts in compensations in case of lay offs and reduce percentage points in lay offs Stop deconstruction of Intervention and Arbitration Institution (OMED)
The same announcement says: "Nowadays, employees and pensioners are under unprecedented attack in the name of financial crisis and threat of bankruptcy caused by mismanagement, waste, profiteering with the tolerance and complicity of the political system.
Source: ÁNA News item: 37108
 Privatizations to Be Approved This WeekMonday, 31 May 2010 10:59
This week is considered crucial with regards privatizations in view of the Ministers' Council expected to approve private investment in public utility companies of strategic importance. The government expects to collect one billion a year for three years with this move.
The Ministers' Council will approve private investments in public utility companies within its effort to strengthen competitiveness and collect about one billion euros a year for three years.
The list of privatizations includes Hellenic Railways (OSE), ports, airports, Gas Company (DEPA), Athens and Thessaloniki water supply companies, banks under state inspection and Public real estate properties. News item: 37101
 Gruevsky Speech on FYROM Name IssueMonday, 31 May 2010 10:50
FYROM Prime-minister, Nikola Gruevsky, addressing his VMRO-DPMNE party youth congress, held in Skopje, said: "There is no threat that could force us to harm our state and national interests related to the name and identity issue".
Mr. Gruevsky said his VMRO-DPMNE party and his government interest centered on the resolution of the name dispute for the country's admission to NATO and the EU adding: "Greece's blocking Macedonia's admission to Euro-Atlantic institutions is one of the major historical injustices in the European continent".
He also said that Greece's present government was rather more open to meetings compared to its previous government , nevertheless substance remained the same.
"Our hopes for resolution of the name dispute are not big till the international community finds the courage to indicate that Greece is following an irrational policy", said Mr. Gruevsky and concluded "we should not interrupt negoatiations with Greece. We should make great efforts to reach a conciliatory solution that will not harm our national interests and lead to our admission to NATO and the EU".
Source: ÍÅÔ105.8 - ÁNA News item: 37100
 National Level Exams EndMonday, 31 May 2010 10:00
Candidates for admission to tertiary education sat for the last exam, Principles of Economic Theory, today, Monday, May, 31. Candidates for all university departments had to take today's subject. Answers and questions in the test will be broadcast in a special bulletin aired by ET1, at 14.00 and posted on ERTonline website for Panhellenic exams.
News item: 37098
 Ships Remain DockedMonday, 31 May 2010 09:28
Passengers aboard the cruisers that docked at the Piraeus port were welcomed by reps of the Athens and Piraeus trade associations who gave them flowers. The striking port workers, on the other hand, were deploring them.
In particular, a group of about 100 people representing the trade associations of Athens and Piraeus welcomed the tourists aboard the cruisers.
Three cruisers docked at the Piraeus port, while another three did not dock as planned.
In the meantime, ships remain docked due to the 24-hour strike of the port workers who are protesting the pension reforms and the cabotage lift. The strikers did not prevent the cruisers from docking at the port.
News item: 37096
 Boy 7YO Fell from 7th FloorMonday, 31 May 2010 09:11
The tragic accident occurred at 08:18 while the boy was getting ready to leave for school. Somehow he escaped from his parents attention and was killed felling from the seventh floor.
His mother in state of shock told police she had not seen her son. Police are carrying out an investigation. News item: 37095
 Israel Attacks "Freedom Flotilla"Monday, 31 May 2010 08:43
Early this morning the Israeli navy launched attack against the "freedom flotilla" carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. Latest reports say that at least 10 people were killed and at least 60 injured among them one Greek national. Israeli private television channel speaks of 19 people killed. Greek flagged "Free Mediterranean" ship with a 34 member crew has been seized. The Greek Foreign Ministry has activated a crisis unit and opened a telephone contact line 210- 3681730 for the relatives of those participating in the humanitarian mission.
Reports say the Israeli navy have siezed the six ship convoy with some 700 activists aboard while sailing in international waters, 70 nautical mile off Gaza. The ships were carrying 10.000 tones of humanitarian aid.
The same sources said that Israel had warned the about 700 activists to head to Ashdot por, unload there the 10.000 tones of humanitarian aid and the Israeli would transport it to Gaza.
On Sunday, Israel stated determined to stop the ships and labeled their crews as supporters of terrorist "Hamaz".
Crisis Management Unit
In Athens, the Foreign Ministry immediately activated the crisis management unit.
Alternate Foreign Minister , Dimitris Droutsas summoned the Israeli ambassador to give explanations and expresed the government's strong displeasure.
The Israeli ambassador is to meet with National Defense Minister E. Venizelos today.
Due to developments in Gaza, Athens has suspended the Greek-Israeli military exercise "Ìinoas 2010", which started May, 26 was to finish June, 3 .
Earlier, instructions were given to the Greek embassy in Tel Aviv to contact with Israeli authorities while the Foreign Ministry general secretary has contacted with Israeli ambassador in Athens and asked to be briefed on the Greek nationals aboard the ships.
Turkey has called an extraordinary ministers' council. Israel should bear the consequences of its actions" said Turkey's Foreign Ministry statement while the Israeli ambassador has been summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry to give explanations about this inhumane practices.
In the meantime, dozens of protesters tried to storm the Israeli consulate in the Konstantinopolis. Protesters threw stones at the building and classed with police while trying to storm the Israeli consulate.
Israeli Foreign Ministry advises Israeli citizens to leave Turkey.
Source: ÁNA - ÌPA - ÍÅÔ 105.8 News item: 37091