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Athens News Agency: News in English, 11-01-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Tough stance on enforcing smoking ban
  • [02] H1N1 cases in Greece 'exceptionally mild', health ministry officials say
  • [03] Greek embassy in Vienna vandalised, link to terror trial suspected
  • [04] Public-sector pension funds sinking under deficits, ADEDY warns
  • [05] T-bill auction raises 650 mln
  • [06] Models victims of red tape 

  • [01] Tough stance on enforcing smoking ban

    Health Minister Andreas Loverdos was adamant that a ban on smoking in public will be fully enforced fully without exceptions or modifications while speaking to reporters on Tuesday.

    "This is it. They have smoked all they are going to smoke in bars, restaurants and cafes in the past months," he stressed.

    Loverdos said that he had presented two proposals for the anti-smoking law to the ministerial committee and Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday. The first had called for interventions but also a few exceptions, especially for venues serving alcohol, while the second proposed more inspections and stricter enforcement of the law as it had been originally voted.

    After discussion of the various proposals, the meeting reached a clear decision in favour of stepping up inspections and enforcing the ban, the minister said.

    The minister announced that an additional 800 staff will be appointed to the Labour Inspectorate to increase inspection teams, as well as another 40 to the Health Inspectors Corps.

    "Apart from the coastguard, the municipal police and the Labour Inspectors' Corps, enforcement of the law will be carried out centrall by the health ministry and there will be reports on who inspects and does not inspect, who enforces and who does not enforce [the law]," Loverdos stressed.

    The stricter enforcement will also be accopmanied by a campaign for cutting smoking in schools, hospitals, maternity wards and the military, he added.

    Concerning the failure of authorities to successfully enforce the smoking ban until now and how this would change, the minister only noted that "enforcement of the law was not self-evident". Deputy Health Minister Michalis Dimosidis noted that the inspection mechanisms seemed "reluctant" to impose fines over this issue.

    He noted that there had been 343,000 complaints that the smoking ban had been violated in two months and fines had only been imposed in 3,000 cases.

    "The Greek State cannot continue to be made a laughing-stock," Loverdos stressed, insisting that the law would be enforced in its current form.

    Noting that the problem was greatest in private enterprises, where owners tolerated transgressions, Loverdos stressed that it was unfair if the owners of some enterprises did not enforce the law as this would create unfair competition.

    The law banning smoking in public provides for fines ranging from 50-500 euro for smokers that violate the ban and fines of up to 5,000 euro for owners of venues that tolerate smoking on their premises. Already in force for smaller venues, it give clubs larger than 400 square metres and casinos until May 31, 2011 to comply with the ban. It also calls for fines upward of 1,500 euro for those smoking in a car with children under 12.

    Officially in force since September 1, 2010, the anti-smoking law has proved unpopular and difficult to enforce in Greece, which had a strong smoking culture and perhaps the highest rates of smoking in Europe.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [02] H1N1 cases in Greece 'exceptionally mild', health ministry officials say

    The H1N1 flu cases that have recently begun to appear in Greece have so far been exceptionally mild, health ministry officials told reporters on Tuesday.

    The virus has so far claimed the life of one woman that had no underlying illness while another 12 people have been admitted to ICUs as a result of the flu.

    Experts believe that Greece is now at the beginning of a seasonal flu cycle that will reach its peak in the beginning of March.

    Health ministry officials were reassuring, however, noting that the public reaction was much more muted this year, both in terms of vaccination and in levels of concern, while ministry services were prepared for all developments.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [03] Greek embassy in Vienna vandalised, link to terror trial suspected

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA - D. Dimitrakoudis) Authorities in Austria suspect that an incident targeting the Greek Embassy in Vienna early on Tuesday morning, a few minutes after midnight, may be linked to the start of the trial in Greece of suspected "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" terrorists.

    Police called to the scene found the front of the embassy, a historic building in Vienna's fourth quarter, splashed with large quantities of red and black oil paint. The paint was thrown at the right side of the building, while shards of the bottle were on the pavement. The eye-witness that called the police said the vandalism occurred about half an hour after midnight on Tuesday.

    The Greek Embassy informed the Austrian foreign ministry of the incident on Tuesday morning and has asked for heightened protection of buildings housing Greek services in Vienna, such as the consulate, the Greek Tourism Office, and the permanent representation at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [04] Public-sector pension funds sinking under deficits, ADEDY warns

    The civil servants' union federation ADEDY on Tuesday rung an alarm bell about the future of public-sector pension funds that are currently flailing under rapidly rising deficits and called for immediate political measures for their support.

    In a letter addressed to Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, Alternate Labour Minister George Koutroumanis and Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sahinidis, a copy of which was also sent to the prime minister's office, ADEDY pointed out that the primary deficit of the civil servants' welfare fund was already 800 million euros for 2011 and roughly 150 million euro for the Civil Servants' Shareholder Fund, while 40,000 pensioners were not receiving any of the dividends due to them and another 200,000 were not being paid a part of the dividends due to them.

    The union demanded an immediate meeting with the ministers to discuss measures to support the cash-strapped funds.

    According to ADEDY, the funds' dire financial straits were a result of a mismanagement of their reserves by the state, which had been either squandered on the stock exchange or used to cover state revenue-raising and social policies without being returned.

    "The reduction in public-sector workers' pay via the abolition of the 13th and 14th salaries, the restrictions on hiring and a 20 percent cut in benefits, combined with the increase in applications for pensions, have led the funds to an impasse," ADEDY noted.

    The union predicted that the problem would become acute unless measures were taken immediately, since a large number of people were expected to qualify for retirement by 2017.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [05] T-bill auction raises 650 mln

    ANA-MPA - Greece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a three-month Treasury bills issue, raising 650 million euros from the market at an interest of 4.1 pct - unchanged from the previous auction of November 16, 2010.

    An announcement by the Public Debt Management Organisation said that the auction was 4.98 times oversubscribed, with bids totaling 2.489 billion euros. The Organisation accepted bids worth 500 million euros, covering the asked sum, along with non-competitive bids worth 150 million euros. Additional bids, worth 150 million euros, can be submitted by Thursday 20, January. ANA-MPA

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form


    [06] Models victims of red tape

    Artists models usually employed to pose for students at Greece's School of Fine Arts have found themselves suddenly unemployed as a result of red tape and Greece's inflexible bureaucracy, which is demanding that they be hired via the Supreme Council for Staff Selection (ASEP).

    The male and female models are usually paid by the hour and hired on an eight-month basis. Until now, their selection was made by the art professors based on their own criteria and the needs of students in the various painting, sculpture and engraving classes. They were then hired by ministerial decree.

    As a result of the economic crisis, their number was set to be reduced from 36 to 28 during the coming year but the recent complication of going via ASEP has delayed the process so much that the new academic year began without any models in the workshops at all.

    "We submitted our request for the hiring of models to the education ministry last June. Unbelievable bureaucracy and delays are worse than the economic crisis. As a result the School's educational work will lag behind," said Fine Arts School director Rolanda Tziamalou.

    "We cannot have everything that walks, swims or flies go through ASEP. There must be some exceptions to the law," she stressed, underlining that selection of the models should be the work of the artists and teachers.

    At the school's request to speed things up, the process had been approved by ASEP, left the education ministry and had now 'snagged' at the interior ministry, Tziamalou said.

    From January 1 of the new year and until the required stamps, signatures and remaining bureacratic procedures are completed, the art school will remain without any live models in any of its workshops, the models have suddenly been left without a job and the students will be left without their main 'material' for their studies.

    More details on the subscriber's page of ANA-MPA | Subscription request form

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