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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-02-03

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Snow disrupts transport in northeast Greece, Ioannina
  • [02] Greece needs widespread dialogue on pension, labour systems
  • [03] Government and main opposition lock swords over interviews for public sector jobs

  • [01] Snow disrupts transport in northeast Greece, Ioannina

    The snow and bad weather has disrupted transport and communications in areas of northern Greece, according to reports coming to the Athens News Agency on Thursday.

    Alexandroupoli airport remained closed because of the poor weather conditions from Thursday morning and flights by Olympic Airlines and Aegean Airlines were cancelled. Early-morning trains from Alexandroupoli to Orestiada and Ormenio also stopped running.

    In Ioannina, meanwhile, the sun came out after nine consecutive days of steady snowfall but icy conditions and low temperatures continued to wreak havoc to early morning traffic on roads through the prefecture.

    The situation was much improved by the middle of the day but snow chains were still needed on most roads in higher altitudes. Only one village in the region was still cut off but access to other mountain villages was difficult because the snow had frozen, making hard for snow ploughs to remove it.

    [02] Greece needs widespread dialogue on pension, labour systems

    The country needs a widespread dialogue on its pension and labour systems in order to prepare long-term initiatives, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Labour Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos that focused on the pension system in the banking sector, Alogoskoufis said the ministries were in agreement to include representatives from each ministry on a special commission formed to examine the issue.

    Alogoskoufis said the ministries' representation was decided in order to ensure the public sector's interest.

    Labour Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos stressed that the government has no fixed positions on the matter and urged social partners to bring forth their proposals. He underlined that the government was not planning any surprise moves and reassured that it was not seeking to change the existing system of lay-offs.

    Alogoskoufis said the government would present its incomes policy for 2005 in the next few days.

    [03] Government and main opposition lock swords over interviews for public sector jobs

    The government and main opposition PASOK on Thursday locked swords in Parliament during the debate of an interior ministry bill that introduces personal interviews as part of the system for choosing between applicants for public-sector jobs.

    PASOK leader George Papandreou said the bill "once again proves that (ruling) New Democracy has no respect for democratic values and institutions" and that the country is "reversing at full speed" under ND's governance.

    According to PASOK's leader, who also pointed to the objections raised by the civil servants union ADEDY and other bodies and by Parliament's Scientific Council, the measure will bring back the "bad old days" of client politics, with voters pressing MPs to bend the rules on their behalf in return for their support.

    Replying to Papandreou's criticism, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos underlined the problems of the existing system, saying that 49 amendments to the original bill had been passed from 1994 until 2004 that had opened the door to recruitments along party lines.

    He also noted that PASOK had itself introduced an interview system for certain categories of public-sector jobs, such as air-traffic controllers, specialist technical staff or the department heads at the education ministry.

    He said that the objections to the measure voiced by Parliament's Scientific Council concerned an article that was an exact copy of articles introduced by PASOK, which would not finally be included in the bill now under discussion.

    The minister underlined that the interviews foreseen in the draft bill would be held only for candidates that were not hired on the basis of a competition or exam and only if this was requested by the body involved and approved by ASEP. The three-member committees that will carry out the interviews, meanwhile, will be manned by at least two members of ASEP, he added.

    The introduction of interviews was also opposed by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos).

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