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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-07-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>


  • [01] PM underlines that gov't will go ahead with structural reforms
  • [02] Govt invites social partners to dialogue over labour relations, unions react
  • [03] Competition Commission imposes 15-mln-euro fine on Greek supermarkets
  • [04] Airforce A7 Corsair crashes, pilot ejects to safety

  • [01] PM underlines that gov't will go ahead with structural reforms

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday said he was determined to proceed with a closely watched policy of reforms and structural changes.

    Addressing a Cabinet meeting, the Greek PM said the government has inherited an overburdened and dysfunctional public sector, while he stressed that the changes under way, or ones necessary in the near future, were a one-way avenue for the government.

    "We are proceeding with self-confidence and continuing reforms," Karamanlis said.

    He also urged his ministers to continue their work and attain the maximum of productivity in their respective ministries, quicker and more effectively.

    Turning to the main opposition and the party that held power before his government, Karamanlis said PASOK was a "hostage of its own past", while adding, however, that in no way could the later act as an impediment to the course towards development that the government has chosen.

    In a marathon session of both the inner and full cabinets, the government also discussed the latest developments in the ministry's energy policy and the inauguration of a natural gas pipeline linking Greece with Turkey and a natural gas pipeline with Italy. Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said the two pipelines would supply natural gas from the Caspian region to Central Europe and that combined with a Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline project Greece would emerge as a significant energy hub.

    The meeting also led to a decision to push through draft legislation for the unification of a special consumption tax on heating and diesel oil and the ratification of proposed promotions of justices to the higher courts in the country.

    [02] Govt invites social partners to dialogue over labour relations, unions react

    Greek Labour Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos on Tuesday sent a letter to social partners seeking to begin a dialogue over labour relations. The government is seeking changes in annual working time and changes in overtime work.

    GSEE, the country's largest trade union umbrella, said it would not participate in a scheduled meeting with Labour Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos on Wednesday morning nor it would negotiate any changes in labour relations and in particular changing annual working time.

    The government is also seeking changes in an existing system of shopping hours around the country. Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas is expected to table a draft legislation to parliament this week. Workers in the retail sector are protesting against government-sponsored plans and are staging a 24-hour panhellenic strike, while the association of small- and medium-sized enterprises is organising a protest rally outside the parliament on Wednesday. Bank workers also are staging a two-hour work stoppage to support retail workers' protests.

    Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, speaking to reporters, said the plan to extend shopping hours would benefit consumers, enterprises and would create new job positions.

    [03] Competition Commission imposes 15-mln-euro fine on Greek supermarkets

    Greece's Competition Commission on Tuesday announced a decision to impose a 15-million-euro fine on the Association of Supermarket Enterprises of Greece, and fines ranging from 6,000 to 721,240 euros to the supermarket firms Atlantic, Veropoulos Bros, Masoutis Diamantis, Metro, Sklavenitis, Trofino and AB Vassilopoulos.

    The Commission said it was imposing a fine of 430,000 euros against Atlantic, 500,713 euros for Veropoulos, 347,784 euros for Masoutis, 338,201 euros for Metro, 611,844 euros for Sklavenitis, 6,000 euros for Trofino and 721,240 euros for AB Vassilopoulos on the grounds that they reached a "gentlemen's agreement" on their pricing policy that hurt consumers.

    The Commission threatened more heavy fines in the future if any of the supermarket chains breached market regulations again.

    [04] Airforce A7 Corsair crashes, pilot ejects to safety

    An Air Force jet crashed Tuesday morning north of Sperheiada, but its pilot ejected to safety, sources from the Air Force General Staff (GEA) said.

    They said the jetfighter, an A7-Corsair, crashed 10 miles north of Sperheiada shortly before 10:00 a.m., while on a training flight.

    The sources said the pilot successfully used his seat ejection, and Air Force helicopters were immediately rushed to the area to pick up the pilot and take him to the 251 Air Force hospital for precautionary reasons.

    The Corsair had taken off earlier from Andravida airbase.

    A later report from the Airforce said the crash was tentatively attributed to mechanical failure, pending a full investigation into its causes by an expert fact-finding committee.

    The pilot, identified as Nikolaos Danias, 27, was successfully retrieved from where he landed after guiding the plane away from inhabited regions before ejecting to safety. He was initially taken to Lamia hospital and then to the 251 Air Force hospital, according to orders.

    At the time of the crash, Greek Air Force chief Lt. Gen. George Avlonitis was carrying out a courtesy visit to the National Defence ministry with his German counterpart. The visit was cut short in order to deal with the crisis and collaborate with the Regular Airforce Command in order to bring the pilot to safety.

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