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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-03-14
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Karamanlis' Message Greek Efforts Acknowledged14 Mar 2006 17:23:00 (Last updated: 14 Mar 2006 23:41:59)
By Dimitris Alexopoulos
Sources: NET, NET Radio 105.8, ANA
"The Greeks efforts have been acknowledged," underlined Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, referring to ECOFINs decision to approve the Greek stability programme without any demand for further measures. In his message on Tuesday night, the PM stressed that the positive results of reforms have started showing, while the Governments decisions regarding the Economy proved to be right. Mr Karamanlis voiced the certainty that the Governments measures have rendered the decrease of public deficit below 3% in 2006 a feasible goal, without having to take further measures. On his part, Greek Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said, "The evaluation and opinion of the EUs Council of Economy Ministers over the Greek revised stability and growth programme for 2005-2008 are positive and fully justify the Governments choices on economic policy." On behalf of the Commission, Joaquin Almunia stressed Greeces economic progress over the last years is more than clear.
"Aim Accomplished Without Extra Measures"
"The EU's Council of Economy Ministers positively evaluated Greece's stability and growth programme for the period 2005-2008," stressed the PM in his message, adding the credibility of the Government's economic programme "has been ascertained once more on a European level  and the significant results of its implementation are showing already."
Following, Mr Karamanlis referred to the deficit's decrease from 6.6% of the GDP in 2004 to 4.3% in 2005, while the prediction for 2006 is to drop below 3% of the GDP.
"It is acknowledged that the consistent implementation of changes and reforms will help achieve our goal without having to take any further measures. The choice of mild fiscal adjustment is acknowledged," stressed the Prime Minister, noting that the policy followed by the Government is "right, credible and effective."
"We followed a strategy that pays off. It is the acknowledgement of your efforts," he added.
Ending his speech, the PM underlined, "For the first time in years, the Greek can be optimistic that serious efforts ensure a certain and better future for all."
Aim at Downsizing Deficit to 1.7% in 2008
In statements, the Economy Minister also stressed the Government applied the 2005 Budget to the letter, thus responding to the Council's decisions adopted in February of the same year. These decisions described what Greece should do to reduce its deficit below 3% of the GDP by the end of 2006.
Mr Alogoskoufis went on to underline that the total adjustment in the period 2005-2006, in comparison to 2004, rises to 4% of the GDP, stressing this is mainly due to the adoption of structural measures by the Government.
The same measures paid off regarding the growth rate too. Although 2005 was a post-Olympic year and there was danger of economic repression, the growth rate moved around 3.7%, a percentage viewed as among the highest in the eurozone.
Continuing, the Economy Minister said the Council's decision urges Greece to go forth with all its structural initiatives, which would lead to correcting the fiscal deficit by the end of 2006 without having to adopt more measures.
Mr Alogoskoufis also underlined the Government's intention to proceed with economic purgation, aiming to downsize deficit to 1.7% of the GDP in 2008.
Translated by Sofia Soulioti
G. Papandreou Blasts Government-OTE
"Green Light" by Eurogroup
 G. Papandreou Blasts Government-OTE14 Mar 2006 16:46:00 (Last updated: 14 Mar 2006 18:32:15)
By Anna Kourti
Addressing the opening session of the PASOK Parliamentary Groups meeting, George Papandreou blasted the Government and the OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation) board. Mr Papandreou underlined that the Government is awarding its officials with bonuses, when, at the same time, it forces the working class to accept wages built on the fiscal audit. Mr Papandreou also viewed OTEs decision as indicative of the Government choices, which aim to serve the elite at the expense of the majority. Commenting on G. Papandreous criticism, Government deputy spokesman Evangelos Antonaros pointed out, "The insults portray the inability to voice a positive and responsible political view."
"They are working at the expense of the citizens. The fraud of the fiscal audit, the phone tapping scandal, the drive to control Justice, sharpen social problems and abolish the collective working contracts, reveal NDs true self," PASOK leader claimed. The meeting were also attended by PASOK parliamentarians from the Prefecture of Evros, who briefed the Parliamentary Group on the problems floods have caused. Mr Papandreou announced that a PASOK panel will soon visit the area, while he called on the Government to step up all necessary measures in the area.
New Strife over Fiscal Audit
 On Alert for Two Days Now Crucial Hours in Evros14 Mar 2006 18:39:00 (Last updated: 14 Mar 2006 20:36:07)
By Dimitris Alexopoulos
Sources: NET, NET Radio 105.8, ANA
For the second day in a row, the Prefecture of Evros remains in a state of alert, as the water level of rivers Evros, Ardas and Erythropotamos is still above the levees danger (resistance) limit and has already reached 6.70m. Dams have broken along many parts, while hundreds of hectares have flooded and houses have been evacuated. In the village of Lavara, 10 houses were flooded and 72 families were forced to flee their homes. The steep rise of the water level in rivers Evros, Ardas and Erythropotamos is mainly due to large quantities of water flowing in from Bulgaria and to the heavy rainfalls of the past days. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, joined by Rural Development Deputy Minister Mr Alexandros Kontos, visited the affected areas. In statements, Mr Pavlopoulos stressed, "The State is on alert from the very beginning. The citizens safety is our number one priority and the stricken will be compensated immediately." A PASOK panel, headed by Parliamentarian Anna Diamantopoulou, also visited Evros. Mr Diamantopoulou stressed the area has suffered extensive damages and the State ought to provide immediate solutions.
Meetings and Talks for Coordination
The village of Lavara is facing the most problems and 72 houses, 20 of which flooded, have been evacuated since Monday night.
Authorities fear the levee in Vyssa will not hold and there is danger of flooding houses and vast fields of crops, while over 6,500 hectares have flooded from the area of Trigono to Feres.
For the safety of inhabitants and their assets, competent authorities of the Macedonia-Thrace Prefecture proceeded with artificial controlled floods in order to ease off the pressure at levees and limit the danger.
It is worth noting that the levees of river Evros, especially the 14 parts which were reconstructed last year, held the pressure created by the surging water, thus preventing more extensive floods.
The Prefecture's Steering Committee convened at noon in Orestiada with the participation of Macedonia-Thrace Minister Giorgos Kalantzis.
"The State reacted immediately once more and all Authorities are on full alert to restrain the floods. We are in a state of emergency as the water lever of river Evros has long exceeded the danger limit," stressed Mr Kalantzis after the meeting.
At the same time, he underlined the problem is going on forever because there is lack of infrastructure in neighbouring Bulgaria and large quantities of water are channeled in Greece as a result, many times without any prior notice. Mr Kalantzis further said that neighbouring countries should be funded by the EU to strengthen and modernize their flood control works.
Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis talked with her Bulgarian counterpart on the phone in order to coordinate actions and deal with the situation.
The deputy Government spokesperson also referred to the issue, stressing, "Greece is in constant contact with Bulgaria and Turkey to permanently deal with the problem."
Rural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos reassured that farmers, whose crops were destroyed by the floods, would receive compensation within a three-month period.
Translated by Sofia Soulioti
Evros Still on Alert
Evros Prefecture on Alert
 GSEE-ADEDY on Strike14 Mar 2006 13:32:00
By Athina Saloustrou
The Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) and the Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servant Trade Unions (ADEDY) have scheduled a 24-hour nationwide strike for Wednesday. Employees in the sectors of Mass Media, banks, funds, public sector services, health agencies, education and public transport, are to participate in. Blue buses will hold a work stoppage from the beginning of the shift to 7:30am and from 22:30pm to the end of the shift. Trolleys have announced a work stoppage from 11am to 15:00pm. As for the rest of the public transport system, personnel at the metro, electrical railways and tram will pull handbreak, as they are to participate in the 24-hour general strike. The Hellenic Railways Association (OSE) personnel has also decided to go on strike, therefore only routes serving social needs will be running.
 Two Palestinians Killed Gaza Turns into a Time Bomb14 Mar 2006 12:45:00 (Last updated: 14 Mar 2006 18:24:35)
Tension and clashes have once again rocked Gaza, where the Israeli forces stormed a jail in the West Bank town of Jericho, demanding the handover of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine head Ahmed Saadat. It was the rumours speaking of Saadats imminent release from prison that triggered off the Israeli raid. Later on Tuesday, Palestinian militants set a British cultural centre in Gaza ablaze, while another group of armed members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) stormed a EU compound causing damage. Earlier, a Palestinian guard and a Palestinian inmate had been killed during the clashes outside the prison. On his part, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Israeli sweep against the Jericho prison and held the US and UK warders responsible. Earlier on Tuesday, an al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades spokesman gave a two-hour deadline to US and UK nationals to flee the Palestinian territories lest they are abducted or fell prey to retaliation attacks.
Abductions and Threats
At the same time, gunmen abducted four people, with three foreign citizens listed among them, from a Gaza hotel, frequented by foreign reporters. Eyewitnesses reported two of the foreign were Korean reporters and the third male was their translator.
Another two foreign nationals staying at the hotel were removed from the hotel lest they would be abducted, as well, eyewitnesses said.
In the meantime, the French Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed Tuesday morning the abduction of two French women, working for Doctors of the World.
Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal warned Israel not to harm jailed Ahmed Saadat and pointed out that the Jewish state will be held accountable for the consequences of raid it mounted against the Jericho prison.
Speaking on Arab television network Al Jazeera, Meshaal called on the Palestinians to gather outside the Jericho prison, which is being bombarded by Israeli troops in their effort to seize Saadat.
Furthermore, an Israeli helicopter fired a rocket, which blasted inside the prison yard, eyewitnesses told Reuters.
As per British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, the Palestinian Authority kept felling through in meeting its obligations, which stemmed from the agreement to station international observers at the prison.
In addition, US and UK officials had sent a letter to Mahmud Abbas, assuring him that their observers would withdraw, since no improvements had been reported in the security sector.
A US official stated that the observers had withdrawn shortly before the Israeli raid. However, he denied any collaboration with the Israeli raid.
The Israeli radio reported that Israeli forces had blockaded the prison in the Palestinian town of Jericho, demanding the handover of the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and his co-inmates.
It was also reported that the raid came after rumours, according to which the Palestinian President planned to set free Ahmed Saadat and his accomplices blamed for the assassination of an Israeli minister.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh called the Israeli sweep a "dangerous escalation."
Read the story on other sources:
BBC: Israelis storm Palestinian prison
Reuters: Israel raids West Bank prison
 Driving in Reverse on a Motorway Cruising Backwards!14 Mar 2006 13:30:00
By Annita Paschalinou
Everyday tales of madness seem to occur everywhere. Thus, after the young lady that put on eyeliner whilst driving in Wales, an Australian man was caught red-handed as he was driving in reverse on one of the busiest motorways of the country. The incredible incident occurred on Hume Highway, a road connecting Sydney with Melbourne. As per the police, the man drove a distance of 40 kilometres in reverse, as he couldnt change gears. However, the man seemed to be a bit forgetful, as he was driving without a license or a vehicle registration!
Translated by Eirene Nisiriou