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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-03-09

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] Pointed to Ericsson
  • [02] Koronias Provides Explanations
  • [03] Strict Border Inspections
  • [04] Eventful Visit
  • [05] Tsitouridis Giannakou Meeting
  • [06] Criticism on Expensiveness
  • [07] For the Citizens' Protection
  • [08] Ex-Teacher Surrendered to Police
  • [09] New Stricter Borrowing Conditions
  • [10] 51 Detected in Marten
  • [11] Rehn Meets with Bakoyannis Papandreou
  • [12] Papageorgopoulos at Maximos Mansion
  • [13] Focus on Greek Economy

  • [01] Mr Koronias on Wiretaps Pointed to Ericsson

    09 Mar 2006 16:48:00 (Last updated: 09 Mar 2006 23:30:08)

    Sources: NET, NET 105.8, ANA

    The lengthy testimony of Vodafone CEO Giorgos Koronias, on the wiretaps issue, was completed and will continue on Friday, at 11am, in the Institutions and Transparency Committee, at Parliament. So far, Mr Koronias has not given further evidence, however, he attributed responsibility to Ericsson of having sole access to the software. "Ericsson had integrated it to its software following a demand of the customers due to the 11/9 attacks," however, "Vodafone never asked for, did not order and did not receive the legal listening-in software," stated Mr Koronias.

    "We Did the Right Thing"

    During the hearing session, Mr Koronias posed a basic question.

    "Who is able to build the spy software," he queried and noted that whoever it is he or she would have a deep knowledge of Ericssons software environment and can write assembly language, which "no operator can." The complexity of the programme points to someone with a high know-how, said Mr Koronias, explaining that Vodafone employees do not have it. Mr Koronias was repeatedly questioned if Vodafone employees were involved in the case and his answer was clear: "Based on the evidence so far, the involvement of Vodafone employees has not emerged. However the human factor has not ruled out." As he explained further on, there are two basic ways of access, which is either by a physical presence in Vodafone or by distance through the Ericsson network.

    Moreover, the Vodafone CEO spoke extensively of the steps followed from the moment that the company was made aware of the spy software up to the point it briefed the government.

    The list of the tapped mobile phones was compiled by Ericsson, said Mr Koronias. "We never produced a list of numbers. The list was given to us by Ericsson. The differences between the numbers have to be sought after in Ericsson. We gave what we were given. The software was removed on 8 February at 12pm by an Ericsson engineer with the presence of one of our engineers," he said. On 9 March, Ericsson delivered a sealed envelope to Vodafone with the numbers of the tapped mobile phones." From the time that the Prime Ministers name was detected on the list of the tapped mobile phones, we judged that this is a national security issue, he said. We did our duty, he stated, and noted that he asked for the removal of the software for the protection of customers rights and that no trace was deleted. We followed a national stance and did not ask of Ericsson to simply solve the problem, he added.

    Referring to the meetings with the Ministers of Public Order and Justice he said that he posed the central issues of how it is possible for someone to penetrate Vodafone, as it is the second in Europe and the fourth in the world with international security certificates, as well as the security issue in Greece in sectors such as Defence, TAXIS of the Economy Ministry and Banks.

    Answering to a question of why he did not brief the Hellenic Authority for the Information and Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE), Mr Koronias said that following the meeting with the Ministers of Public Order and Justice and after he was asked to not speak to anyone, he judged that the Authority should not be briefed. Actually, he had consulted his companys legal service beforehand, which said that there is no legal duty to inform the Authority. However, later on, judicial sources explained, "there was no special reference to the ADAE. The only advice given to Mr Koronias was for a leak to not be made to the Mass Media, in view of his testimony to the Prosecution. Actually, mobile telephony companies are obliged by law to brief the ADAE."

    Moreover, he voiced his annoyance over the ADAEs report delivered a day before his attendance in Parliament, commenting that whoever penetrated into the listening-in software wanted to penetrate into Ericssons system.

    Mr Koronias claimed that both Vodafone and the ADAE were briefed over the existence of a third watch centre by Ericsson on 23 February 2006. PASOK MP Mr Apostolos Kaklamanis focused on the fact that Mr Koronias went on a trip to Ericsson in Sweden, two weeks ago, and whilst expecting answers for questions posed to companies: "There was an irresolution in questions and I wanted to determine if it is the companys policy to not release certain data," answered the CEO of Vodafone.

    The interest turned to other telecommunications companies. PASOK MP Mr Venizelos asked if the other companies were not equipped with the legal listening-in system and Mr Koronias answered: "As the government wanted the procedure to remain confidential I was asked to contact TIM CEO Mr Plevris, who I briefed and asked him to investigate if the same was occurring in his company. When I briefed Mr Voulgarakis I told him that illegal software was not found in TIM."

    On a question posed by KKE MP Liana Kanelli if in a reception in Athens he said "if I open my mouth the government will fall," Mr Koronias answered: "My stance supports all institutions, parties, the Parliament. Such things were never uttered."

    ND Parliamentary spokesman Mr Magginas asked if he will employ judicial means against Ericsson. "I do not rule out such an event on Ericsson or anyone else involved, just as long as responsibilities emerge," he answered.

    However, Mr Koronias did not hesitate to exempt Vodafone of any responsibility on the wiretaps case.

    On the issue of Tsalikidis suicide he described it as an "unfortunate event," stating that he mentioned it to the Ministers and the Supreme Court Prosecutor and that he set himself and the company to the disposal of the probe, since there was a timely coincidence with the case with the governments briefing on the wiretaps. Answering to a question posed by PASOK MP Mr Petsalnikos in relation to Tsalikidis duties and if the latter could have located the breach in security, he did not rule out the event, since his profession concerned the networks capacity. Mr Petsalnikos also asked him if Tsalikidis has submitted his resignation: No, he had told his superior that "I am tired and I want to leave" and the superior answered "take some days off to think and we will talk again," said Mr Koronias. Following Mr Koronias statements, both former President of ND Miltiadis Evert and SYN MP Fotis Kouvelis asked for the summon of an Ericsson spokesperson for a testimony.

    Following Mr Koronias statements, both former President of ND Miltiadis Evert and SYN MP Fotis Kouvelis asked for the summon of an Ericsson spokesperson for a testimony. Mr Magginas proposed that inspections should take place in other mobile telephony companies (TIM, Cosmote) by the ADAE. President of the Institutions and Transparency Committee Mr Karamarios agreed to Mr Magginas proposal, saying that a relevant demand to the ADAE will be put forward.

    Ericssons Reply on Wiretaps Case

    Ericsson issued an announcement on the wiretaps case. The Swedish company stated that it is not involved in the creation, insertion and usage of the illegal software in Vodafones network in any way and is willing to facilitate the authorities for the truth to be revealed, in relation to the wiretaps case. Moreover, it added that it immediately briefed Vodafone, when it first discovered the wiretaps circuit.

    The announcement also stated, "Ericsson has absolutely nothing to hide and since the beginning it called on the ADAE and Vodafone to inspect Ericssons facilities, in order to find the truth," and for that aim it will use its experts and all technical means, in order to conduct consecutive simulations of the events, substantially and thus decisively contributing safe conclusions and finding the truth.

    Mr Koronias hearing session was delayed due to the great interest on the case, as a multitude of journalists gathered for its coverage, which resulted in the members of the Parliamentary Committee to convene in a larger room that the one initially scheduled.

    E. Andonaros on Wiretaps and ADAE

    Alternate government spokesman Enangelos Andonaros referred to the wiretaps case, on the occasion of the verdict by the ADAE.

    Mr Andonaros noted that the main point of evidence was missing, which was the third watch centre, from the data of the case publicised to the government by the companys CEO.

    "The revelation of more and more evidence proves the correctness of the governments approach to send the case, immediately after learning about it to justice, in order for its every aspect to be fully investigated," commented Mr Andonaros.

    Moreover, he added that justice is in depth involved in the case and that the investigation is continuing until it is cleared up.

    On a question of why the government did not ask for Mr Koronias indictment, Mr Andonaros stated that the government and the Prime Minister have faith in justice.

    Testimonies on the Death of Tsalikidis

    Thursday marks one year since the death of Kostas Tsalikidis, while the head of the Athens Coroner Service, Philippos Koutsaftis, and coroner Giorgos Dilernias, who had performed the autopsy and had reported that it was death by hanging, were called to testify before Prosecutor Ioannis Diotis.

    According to information, the two coroners spoke of suicide under peculiar circumstances. Mr Dilernias claimed that the Kolonos Police Station mentioned it was a usual suicide, so he did not personally inspect Tsalikidis home. In addition, he was not told that Tsalikidis brother was the one who had cut the rope the deceased had used to hang himself.

    As per the same sources, with regard to the request filed by Tsalikidis family for exhuming the body, the two coroners told Mr Diotis that it will not provide new clues to the case.

    In the next stage of the probe, the Prosecutor will investigate the list of all the incoming and outgoing calls to and from Tsalikidis four mobile phones. The investigation will concentrate on a Cosmote phone number, which allegedly was disconnected in 2004. However, the phone number appears on the lists in 2005. In the coming days, the Prosecutor is expected to call many of the owners of the phone numbers.

    In closing, as per sources, the probe will not end in the coming days, regardless of the initial estimation that it would have been completed in approximately 15 days.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    Related News:

    Koronias Provides Explanations

    [02] To the Institutions and Transparency Committee Koronias Provides Explanations

    09 Mar 2006 12:01:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    At the moment, Vodafone CEO Giorgos Koronias is providing explanations to the Greek Parliaments Special Permanent Committee on Institutions and Transparency, in light of the new evidence on the wiretapping case revealed by the Hellenic Authority for the Information and Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE). The hearing started late and tension was stirred, as the many reporters crowded the hall where the Committee was convening, due to the great interest in the case. At the request of the Committee, the hearing was transferred to the Senate Hall. According to ADAEs findings, Ericsson and Vodafone did not release the same wiretapped phone numbers, while the bug could trace the exact location of the person being tapped. In the meantime, two coroners testified to Prosecutor Ioannis Diotis, who is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Kostas Tsailikidis.

    Long Hearing

    The hearing of Vodafones CEO is expected to last for many hours, as he will be asked a multitude of questions by the 33 MPs who are members of the Committee.

    According to information, Mr Koronias will maintain that he acted within the law and that the list containing the bugged phone numbers was drawn up by Ericsson, while Vodafone was not aware of its contents prior to it being submitted to the Government.

    With regard to the removal of the illegal software, Vodafones CEO is expected to support that it was done after deliberations with the parent company. In addition, he is expected to admit that Kostas Tsalikidis was among the top Vodafone executives who had access to the secrets of the companys software.

    Testimonies for the Death of Tsalikidis

    Thursday marks one year since the death of Kostas Tsalikidis, while the head of the Athens Coroner Service, Philippos Koutsaftis, and coroner Giorgos Dilernias, who had performed the autopsy and had reported that it was death by hanging, were called to testify before Prosecutor Ioannis Diotis.

    According to information, the two coroners spoke of suicide under peculiar circumstances. Mr Dilernias claimed that the Kolonos Police Station mentioned it was a usual suicide, so he did not personally inspect Tsalikidis home. In addition, he was not told that Tsalikidis brother was the one who had cut the rope the deceased had used to hang himself.

    As per the same sources, with regard to the request filed by Tsalikidis family for exhuming the body, the two coroners told Mr Diotis that it will not provide new clues to the case.

    In the next stage of the probe, the Prosecutor will investigate the list of all the incoming and outgoing calls to and from Tsalikidis four mobile phones. The investigation will concentrate on a Cosmote phone number, which allegedly was disconnected in 2004. However, the phone number appears on the lists in 2005. In the coming days, the Prosecutor is expected to call many of the owners of the phone numbers to testify.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related News:

    Three Wiretap Centres

    [03] Following the H5N1 Case in Albania Strict Border Inspections

    09 Mar 2006 14:17:00 (Last updated: 09 Mar 2006 16:23:21)

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: NET, NET Radio 105.8, ANA

    Health authorities in Ioannina and Corfu are on alert, after Albania confirmed its first case of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in a chicken found in the village of Cuke, southern Saranda region, near the border with Greece. Protection measures have been taken since last night to avoid the spreading of the virus, while customs authorities are running strict inspections on imports of animal products from Albania. At the same time, Rural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos gave an order to disinfect all vehicles entering Greece from neighbouring Albania, as well as the shoes of those on board. Furthermore, veterinary agencies have been ordered to supervise the confinement of domestic poultry in the wider area. Albanian Health Authorities placed Cuke village under quarantine for a month.

    Customs on Alert

    The General Customs Directorate of the Economy Ministry issued a new emergency order today, requesting the following:

    The Customs of Corfu, Igoumenitsa, Mavromati, Kakavia, Mertzani and Krystallopigi should follow provisions to the letter, both national and community, regarding the imports of products of animal origin from Albania (including passenger luggage).

    Increase inspections to the maximum, as Albania is a neighbouring country and the situation is considered as dangerous to public health.

    Customs offices should be in constant contact with Veterinary Agencies at border stations to ensure the most effective implementation of measures.

    The Economy Ministry underlined that posters have been posted at all entry points to Greece informing travelers on the ban of importing all kinds of birds or poultry-related products.

    At the order of competent Deputy Minister Antonis Bezas, General Customs Director will be visiting the above-mentioned customs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to supervise the implementation of measures and raise awareness among employees.

    Measures in Albania

    Albanian Health Authorities have placed Cuke village, where the bird flu case was detected, under quarantine for a month.

    Disinfection crews have been stationed at the village entrances with spraying devices, while the transportation of poultry products and birds has been banned.

    Albanian authorities have established a restriction zone at a 10km-range around the village, while experts are expected to take bird, animal and human samples for analysis.

    On Wednesday night, over 650 domestic poultry were culled, while in Cuke alone over 4,500 poultry will be slaughtered in the coming days. This operation is supervised by Special Forces, as the inhabitants harshly opposed the measure, stressing poultry breeding is of vital importance to the local Economy.

    Meanwhile, the Albanian Government has launched a campaign to appease citizens, while the Opposition stressed the situation is much more dramatic than what the Government is showing it to be.

    However, Albanian Agriculture Minister Jemin Gjana underlined that dead birds have been found in ten places around the country over the past month, but their death was not due to bird flu.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Related News:

    Avian Flu in Domestic Bird

    [04] PASOK Panel at EAV Eventful Visit

    09 Mar 2006 19:22:00

    A commotion was stirred at the facilities of the Greek Aerospace Industry (EAV) at Tanagra, when the companys administration refused entry to television crews, which were covering the visit of a PASOK panel led by Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou. Initially the EAV administration agreed on the visit to be made with television coverage, but in another briefing to the Defence Sector of PASOK cited security reasons and contracts with foreign aerospace industries, which do not allow the recording of television images. The panel of the Main Opposition refused to meet with the administration and Mrs Xenogiannakopoulou stated that PASOK will bring the issue to Parliament.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [05] Over Issues of Education and Employment Tsitouridis Giannakou Meeting

    09 Mar 2006 17:57:00

    By Vicky Keleri

    The Minister of Education Marietta Giannakou and Minister of Employment Savvas Tsitouridis discussed their joint actions in the context of Development, Education and the Employment of youth in an hourly meeting held at the Ministry of Education at noon. Following the meeting and answering to a question on unemployment, Mr Tsitouridis noted that it is in a constant descend, adding that it reached below 10% for the first time in the last two-years. Referring to the social security issue he stated "the governments intention is to tidy up cash registers based on the enforced legislature in these sensitive and difficult times and to make the best possible diagnosis on the social security issue, on which the governments of the next four-year terms will be concerned with." Questioned on the wiretaps case and particularly why the governments investigation was delayed by 11 months, he answered that justice is doing its work. "Justice is not related to the government," added the Minister of Education and added, "governments ought to examine such issues." On school trips and particularly educational trips to shopping complexes, as per complaints by OLME, Mrs Giannakou answered that these are not school trips, however, she added, "we cannot control private visits in large shopping complexes."

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [06] From PASOK to ND Criticism on Expensiveness

    09 Mar 2006 17:32:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: NET, ANA

    The relevant chiefs of PASOK made fierce criticism to the government on issues of expensiveness and consumers policy. Mrs Diamantopoulou accused the government of a non-existent policy on this sector and the worsening of the consumers economic situation and proposed for a series of actions aimed at the activation and support of the Greek consumer in view of the World Day for Consumers, on 15 March. Moreover, PASOK announced a series of proposals for combating expensiveness. In this context, on Sunday 12 March an event will be organised at Demokritos National Centre for Scientific Research with the subject "The Consumers Movement in Greece: Modern challenges and action priorities," with an address by President of PASOK George Papandreou.

    In the Press conference, Mrs Diamantopoulou publicised a 35-page document entitled "Expensiveness Consumers at the centre of profiteering attacks and government insufficiency," presenting PASOKs proposals on the issue, which will be posed for public discussion.

    Mrs Diamantopoulou stated that increases in at least 500 super market products were made, while increases have been recorded in 41 out of the 48 products counted by the National Statistical Service of Greece (ESYE).

    Moreover, she added that the further burden of monthly expenses of a family for heating and car fuel reached 55 euros.

    The above two facts combined, burdened Greek households by 100 euros on a monthly basis, reaching 1,200 euros on a yearly basis with the simultaneous decrease of income.

    PASOK, for combating expensiveness, proposed not paying price increases in DEKO and not paying taxes in 2006, the protection of the real income of employees and pensioners, paying of heating benefit, materialisation of NDs commitments for the decrease of rural production cost, the adjustment of delayed dues and the funding of rate of interests, as well as the immediate payment of compensation and better prices to producers.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [07] Meeting Between Polidoras Journalists For the Citizens' Protection

    09 Mar 2006 17:20:00

    By Vicky Keleri

    Sources: NET, NET 105.8

    The priorities of the Public Order Ministry were at the focus of the first meeting between Minister Byron Polidoras with journalists. In particular, the issue of violence in stadiums, the resolution of citizens problems in everyday life, as well as the rural police were at the focus. As it was announced, 500 police officers and guards of businessmen, politicians and journalists will be reappointed in other positions, while Greeces police departments will be equipped with 750 motorcycles for combating crime. Moreover, recruitments in the Special Guards body and of border guards will stop, since the police will be homogenized. On the issue of the Rural Police, Mr Polidoras stated that the procedures for its establishment and personnel will be stepped up until the end of the year. As he announced, an extra 1,000 persons will be recruited, apart from the number foreseen by the Presidential Decree, which were going to be recruited in 1993 and were not as the body was abolished. Referring to the break up of 17N, he stated that the issue is not on the agenda. Moreover, Byron Polidoras spoke about the new police spokesman, Panagiotis Stathis, with cordial words.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [08] Perpetrator is a Former School Teacher Ex-Teacher Surrendered to Police

    09 Mar 2006 18:21:00 (Last updated: 09 Mar 2006 22:56:22)

    By Vicky Keleri

    Sources: Reuters, AFP

    The hostage situation with a man, who with the threat of a gun seized 20 students, a teacher and another employee at Colbert de Torcy public secondary school in the town of Sable-sur-Sarthe, in southwestern France, ended well. The 33-year-old unemployed teacher, who taught at the school two years ago, finally surrendered to the police. The man demanded to speak to the Mass Media and former French Education Minister Francois Fillon. As a local official stated, the man allowed children to walk around the classroom and send text massages to their families, while the negotiations were in development. Speaking to AFP, the schools receptionist, Bernadette Mercier, said that the 33-year-old was depressed as he could not find a job, but, as she stated, did not believe that he would have reached this point.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [09] Were Announced by Nikos Garganas New Stricter Borrowing Conditions

    09 Mar 2006 19:02:00

    Sources: NET, ANA

    The Governor of the National Bank of Greece is putting a halt to uncontrollable borrowing by presenting a new framework, which foresees stricter conditions in distributing loans by banks and designates how internal audit and control will operate. As Mr Nikos Garganas announced, the implementation of these regulations will contribute to the correct appraisal of dangers for banks, opening the way for banks to offer lower rates of interest to solvent customers. Explaining the reasons that drove him to these measures, Mr Garganas stated that as per a report by the National Statistical Service of Greece (ESYE), 77.3% of households cannot pay back their loans, while 88% of households that have borrowed money spend less than 40% of their monthly income for paying loans received. However, 50% to 60% of households belong to low and medium classes, which stated that they face difficulties in paying their debts.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [10] On Ruegen Island, Germany 51 Detected in Marten

    09 Mar 2006 15:40:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Health authorities are alarmed as for the first time in the world the deadly strain of the avian influenza has been detected in a marten. The mammal was caught alive on the northern island of Ruegen, Germany, where three cats carrying the H5N1 strain were found dead. However, Thomas Mettenleiter, director of the institute which coordinates research and information on the bird flu infection, said "Although another type of mammal has been affected, the basic assessment of the infection situation remains unchanged." Meanwhile, Serbia announced the H5N1 strain was found in a dead swan near Sobor, western Serbia. The Serbian Veterinary Directorate issued an announcement, stressing it has taken all measures foreseen by EU and WHO regulations and would take no further measures at dangerous zones.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [11] Rehn Meets with Bakoyannis Papandreou

    09 Mar 2006 16:20:00 (Last updated: 09 Mar 2006 18:54:59)

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: NET, ANA

    The hourly meeting of Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyannis with EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn focused on the European Unions enlargement and specifically the European prospect of Turkey and the western Balkans. Earlier Mr Rehn met with President of PASOK Mr Papandreou. Mrs Bakoyannis stated that the enlargement has to continue with careful steps and Greece supports the accession of the western Balkans, in this context, while on Turkey she noted that its progress depends on its stance and how it will implement the criteria and its duties to the EU and that the implementation of the Ankara protocol on a customs union with Member-States is surely included in its duties. On his part, Mr Rehn referred to the important role held by Greece in the Balkans and noted that the best way for Turkey to avoid unfavourable developments in its European course is to adhere to its duties, noting that Turkey will be judged by the EU in 2006 with strict criteria. Moreover, he noted that Turkey is obligated to contribute to the efforts for finding a solution for Cyprus reunification. Referring to the western Balkans, he said that the European prospect should be given and EU should bring stability to the region.

    Solution in Accordance with Community Acquis

    During the meeting with the EU Commissioner, George Papandreou referred to Greeces steady focus to Turkeys European prospect, with the condition that it will implement its commitments. On the Cypriot conflict, Mr Papandreou noted that the solution should be in accordance with community acquis and international law. Referring to the western Balkans issue, the President of PASOK said to Mr Rehn that stability and prosperity will be achieved through their European prospect.

    In the meantime, Mr Rehn speaking to Parliaments European Affairs Committee voiced the need for Turkey to be restructured into a rule of law, where human rights will become respected in everyday life. Moreover, he said that Turkey should be consistent to its commitments for implementing the customs union protocol, a fact that was made clear by Mr Papandreou to Mr Gul. On the issue of FYROMs name, he said that this is a bilateral issue between Greece and FYROM and should be solved the soonest possible with the intervention of the UN.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [12] He Met with the Prime Minister Papageorgopoulos at Maximos Mansion

    09 Mar 2006 13:53:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis met with Thessaloniki Mayor Vasilis Papageorgopoulos at Maximos Mansion. "Thessaloniki is turning the page," said Mr Papageorgopoulos, noting he discussed the issue of major works with Mr Karamanlis, including the Metro, the underwater road artery, the airport, the port and the parking lots, as well as 30 other ventures in progress. With regard to the future, Mr Papageorgopoulos spoke of a new administration way, of a second generation of ventures and of the prospect of hosting major international events in Thessaloniki, which as he noted is the capital of Macedonia. Mr Papageorgopoulos did not wish to comment on Karatzaferis' decision to run for Mayor.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [13] Karamanlis-Alogoskoufis Meeting Focus on Greek Economy

    09 Mar 2006 12:25:00 (Last updated: 09 Mar 2006 23:49:47)

    Sources: NET

    Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis met with Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis at Maximos Mansion on Thursday morning to hold a wide-ranging discussion, mainly focusing on the course of implementing structural changes. After the meeting, which lasted for one hour and a half, Mr Alogoskoufis said the Economy is positively reacting to the Government initiatives, underlining employment is on a better track and unemployment is starting to decrease. Regarding inflation developments, he said they are encouraging despite great price increases and growth rates are higher than the European average. "The Government, said Mr Alogoskoufis, is implementing its programme," and further noted that ECOFIN is expected to approve the revised stability programme within the week.

    Economy on Positive Track

    Later on, the Economy Minister gave a Press Conference where he appeared very optimistic regarding the course of the Economy.

    Mr Alogoskoufis underlined that families with three children will gradually be entitled to the same privileges and benefits as families with 4+ children.

    Regarding the tax reform, the Economy Minister underlined it will include the decrease of tax rates for physical entities, the increase of tax allowance and the simplification of the taxation system. Alogoskoufis noted the changes would be apply from 2007 onwards.

    He also repeated the Government's commitments on EKAS (Pensioners' Social Solidarity Allowance) and OGA (Agricultural Insurance Organisation) pensions would be realized to the fullest.

    At the same time, he underlined the Government's aim over social security is to reach the widest possible political and social consensus through dialogue.

    He also said that decentralisations for 2006 would mainly focus on banks, while 2007 would mainly regard infrastructure, including ports and airports.

    Regarding the results of fiscal policy, he stressed the GDP's high growth rate (3.7% in 2005), the decrease of employment at 9.7% (11.4% in 2004), the decrease of Budget deficit at 2.6% of the GDP, as well as the increase of exports by 13.1% in 2005.

    Referring to the past, Alogoskoufis said, "We inherited quick sand on fiscal matter, zero foreign investments in Greece and low competitiveness," while defence expenses were not recorded in the budget.

    Deputy Minister Christos Folias announced that the Government achieved to control losses of the 3rd CFS, while stating that the Government is promoting the modernisation of the Public Investments Programme.

    Deputy Minister Petros Doukas said that a plan is being prepared for the utilisation of public property.

    Moreover, Deputy Minister Antonis Bezas, referring to the Economy Ministrys goals, said that they are the reduction of construction, the purgation in property purchase and the control of tax evasion.

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