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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-03-15

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

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Georgios Rallis Passed Away
  • [02] Milossevic's Remains in Belgrade
  • [03] Hints against Vodafone
  • [04] Shared European Vision
  • [05] No to More F16s
  • [06] Mass Strike
  • [07] Shared European Vision
  • [08] Partnership for Greek Tourism
  • [09] Satisfaction over the Economy
  • [10] Mass Turnout in Strike
  • [11] Water Level in Evros Subsides

  • [01] At the Age of 88 Georgios Rallis Passed Away

    15 Mar 2006 16:00:00 (Last updated: 15 Mar 2006 21:50:39)

    The death of former Greek Prime Minister Georgios Rallis, 88, a nobleman of politics and a man considered a top political figure for his ethos and contribution by the overwhelming majority of the political world, has awakened nationwide emotions. Greek PM Kostas Karamanlis described him as a true democrat, who firmly strove for dialogue and consent, while PASOK President George Papandreou stressed that he was a worthy political opponent. Georgios Rallis died of heart failure in his home on Kanari Street, Athens. A state funeral befitting an acting Prime Minister will take place on Thursday at 4pm at the First Cemetery of Athens. By decision of the Interior Ministry, the flags on all Greek public buildings will fly at half-mast until his funeral. The deceased had been distinguished for his actions during the military junta, while the Modern Greek (Dimotiki) language and compulsory nine-year education were instituted during his term as Education Minister.

    In the Political Arena since 1950

    Born in Athens on December 26, 1918, Georgios Rallis first entered the political arena in 1950, when he was elected MP for Athens with the Popular Party, while he continued being elected until 1958, when he did not run.

    Upon his graduation from the Athens Law School in 1939, he served the Greek army in the Greco-Italian war, during which he excelled and was decorated.

    After the truce, he registered to the Athens Bar Association and practiced law until October 1944, when he enlisted anew. He was first appointed a minister in 1954 with the Government of Alexander Papagos, taking over the office of Presidency, while he was elected President of New Democracy and sworn in as Prime Minister in 1980.

    He was Konstantinos Karamanlis close associate and a founding member of the New Democracy party. Georgios Rallis had been repeatedly decorated, while he wrote several books.

    Georgios Rallis descended from an old Greek political family, since his grandfather Dimitrios Rallis served as Prime Minister of Greece six times, while his father, Ioannis Rallis, was the Prime Minister from 1943 to 1944.

    The Athens Festival was established during his term at the Presidency Ministry, while in the years that followed (1956-58), he served as Minister of Public Works and Transport. Olympic Airways was established during that term, while he laid the foundations for the construction of the Athens Metro, since he assigned the study of the venture to French experts.

    He served as Interior Minister from 1961 to 1963. On 21 April 1967, the day of the military coup, when he was serving as Public Order Minister, he escaped arrest and tried to mobilise the Army against the instigators of the coup. During the military junta, he was arrested, imprisoned and exiled to the island of Kasos, while he resumed his anti-dictatorship activities upon his return. In this context, he actively participated in the fight against the July 1973 referendum.

    He was a member of the National Unity Government, serving as Presidency Minister, a post he kept in the Government that was formed after the November 1974 elections, while he took over the Education Ministry in 1976. The Modern Greek (Dimotiki) language and compulsory nine-year education were instituted during his term that office.

    After the November 1977 elections, he took over the Coordination Ministry, while was appointed Foreign Minister in 1978. In that capacity, he participated in the negotiations with the EEC, which culminated with Greeces accession to the European Community in May 1979.

    He was elected leader of the New Democracy party and was sworn in as Prime Minister on 8 May 1980, while he resigned one day after his party lost the elections in 1981. Georgios Rallis was succeeded by Evangelos Averof. He remained as party MP until 1987, when he became independent, while he did not run in the June 1989 elections.

    He ran again with New Democracy in the November 1989 and the April 1990 elections, when he was elected MP for Corfu. However, he resigned in March 1993, after disagreeing with the way the issue with FYROM was handled.

    HIghly Decorated and Acclaimed Author

    Georgios Rallis had been awarded with the Grand Cross of Honour, the highest state decoration conferred on acting Prime Ministers. He had also been awarded the Grand Crosses of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Yugoslavia, Thailand and Abyssinia.

    He has also written several books, with "Horis Prokatalipsi gia to Paron kai to Mello," "Georgios Theotokis" and "Is Ota mi Akouonton," being among the most celebrated ones.

    State-Political Leadership Voice Condolences

    The President of the Hellenic Republic, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament and the SYN President expressed their most heartfelt sympathy to the deceaseds family, praising his ethos and his contribution to Greece's political life.

    "We are all lamenting over the loss of a politician, who played an instrumental role at a time when Greece came up against major challenges. Georgios Rallis policy and personal course was sealed with his love for the country and his faith in a Greece destined for a better future," read the announcement issued by the Presidency of the Republic.

    "Restless and pioneer, Georgios Rallis always gave priority to the modernisation and progress of the Greek society, as well as overstepping dividing lines. A firm democrat, he pursued dialogue, cooperation and consent to keynote matters," stated Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis.

    "The mildness of his character, his inborn courtesy and his vast experience enabled him to voice his always useful interventions with poise. He was a worthy political rival," commented PASOK leader George Papandreou

    "Speaking on behalf of the Greek Parliament, I express our most profound grief over the loss of Georgios Rallis, a leading political figure of Greece," claimed Speaker of Greek Parliament Anna Benaki-Psarouda.

    "Despite the political disagreements, the left wing appreciated his honesty, his ability to surmount the conventions of his conservative backgrounds, including the institution of the Dhimotiki as formal language in schools, his faith in a pluralistic Democracy and his contribution to the alternation of different political parties in power," argued SYN President Alekos Alavanos.

    "The political Culture, which made up his philosophy and choice, will for ever constitute a political legacy for all Greeks," read the announcement of NDs secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.

    "Georgios Rallis stayed true to his views and always opposed the sirens of populism even if it cost him. He was a man of wisdom and modesty. A true nobleman of politics and devout democrat, he always respected opposite views and their representatives," argued honorary ND President Konstantinos Mitsotakis.

    "He was a raw model, combining decency with fighting spirit, modesty with dedication to his ends," maintained Foreign Affairs Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    "History will rank him among the great [] He taught political civilisation," pointed out the announcement issued by head of NDs EMPs Ioannis Varvitsiotis.

    [02] Burial in Pozarevac on Saturday Milossevic's Remains in Belgrade

    15 Mar 2006 18:26:00 (Last updated: 15 Mar 2006 22:16:27)

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: ANA-REUTERS-ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The remains of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic returned to Belgrade at 5pm. His body will be taken to a Belgrade cathedral, while he will be put on public display starting as of Thursday. He will then be transferred Saturday to his hometown Pozarevac, where he will be buried at the yard of his family house at noon.

    On Public Display

    A regular Yugoslav airlines flight carried the remains of the former Yugoslav strongman back to his homeland.

    Members of the Socialist Party were present paying tribute to his body.

    When the coffin was removed from the plane, a group of Socialist Party officials marched solemnly to the plane, put a red, blue and white Serbian flag and a wreath with red roses on the coffin, and kissed it. A red ribbon on the wreath read, "Slobo the Hero."

    Milosevics body was transferred to the centre of Belgrade.

    Members of the Socialist Party, who demanded a state funeral, are considering requesting the Serbian Government put Milosevics remains on public display in the building housing the former Federal Government, exactly where the Serbs held mass demonstrations in 2000 asking him to concede his political defeat and step down.

    His body will be on public display until Saturday, and then it will be transferred to his hometown, Pozarevac, to be laid in rest at the yard of his family house.

    It is likely that his widow Mirjana Markovic will not attend the funeral. As per the Vice-President of Russias State Duma Vice Speaker Sergei Baburin, who is in touch with the deceaseds family, Mirjana views the guarantees of the Serbian Government against her arrest as insufficient.

    It is noted that an international arrest warrant against Milosevics widow and son is still pending.

    In addition, the Serbian judicial authorities have not forgotten the warrant, since Interior Minister Dragan Josic declared Wednesday that the former Yugoslav Presidents widow will have to hand in her passport to court upon arriving in Belgrade, although the arrest warrant has been lifted.

    However, a little earlier, he had announced that the police have not received orders to confiscate Markovics passport and stressed that this would be done following a court order.

    The Mystery Continues

    At the same time, the scenarios concerning Milosevics death continue.

    It was the turn of former Montenegro President Momir Bultovic, the last person to have seen him alive, to issue statements on Wednesday.

    Bulatovic, who had been preparing the deceaseds testimony before the International Criminal Court along with Milosevic, declared that his friend and ally was convinced that he was going to be poisoned, as he had not been taking any of the drugs that were found in his blood.

    "He fought to the end, to his last breath, and that is not the frame of mind of someone who would take his own life," declared Mulatovic, who added that a nurse had taken his blood pressure the day before he died and it was within the normal levels.

    "When I told him that his blood pressure was normal, he answered, Momo it is not my illness that concerns me, they are poisoning me," noted Bulatovic.

    On Monday, a Dutch toxicologists had declared that Slobodan Milosevic had been administered a non-prescribed drug. He could not prove, however, whether it was done intentionally.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Milosevic's Burial in Serbia

    [03] By Ericsson's Chief Executive in Greece Hints against Vodafone

    15 Mar 2006 14:41:00 (Last updated: 15 Mar 2006 20:09:28)

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: ΝΕΤ, ANA

    Ericssons Chief Executive in Greece Bill Zikou gave Wednesday a six-hour testimony on the phonetapping case before the Parliaments Standing Committee of Institutions and Transparency. During the hearing, Mr Zikou claimed that the illegal software had neither developed nor installed by Ericsson, while he dropped hints against Vodafone, arguing that its having been installed from a distance required Vodafones consent. In his written memo to the members of the Parliaments Standing Committee, Mr Zikou underlined that Ericsson was the first to discover the interceptions and that it briefed Vodafone without fail. As per Mr Zikou, Ericsson had started delivering Vodafone the new version of the software since early 2003, and briefed it on its capacities. He also pointed out that Vodafone ordered Ericssons software in October of the same year.

    "Ericsson Has Nothing to Hide"

    "What happened in the phonetapping cases is that a complex, sophisticated, non-Ericsson software was installed in Vodafone Hellas network," read the memo of the Ericssons Chief Executive in Greece, adding that illegal software could not be tracked down.

    Finally, he mentioned that Ericsson, "has absolutely nothing to hide," and that it invited the Hellenic Authority for the Information and Communication Security and Privacy, as well as Vodafone, to launch an inquiry into the companys facilities.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Responsibility to Ericsson

    [04] Karamanslis-Verhofstadt Held Talks Shared European Vision

    15 Mar 2006 14:59:00

    By Vivian Papastefanou

    The need for bringing forward the political union of the EU was agreed on the talks held Wednesday at Maximos Mansion between Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and his Belgian counterpart Guy Verhofstadt. Mr Karamanlis underscored that Greece and Belgium, which share a common European vision, should tune in with the concerns raised by the citizens. He once again reiterated that the countries participating in the Eurozone can play an instrumental role in this direction, while with regard to the European of by the European citizens. He finally stated that several other issues relating to the EU enlargement, the Lisbon strategy, the Balkans, the Cyprus issue and Turkeys European prospects, were also brought up. On his part, Mr Verhofstadt, who has recently submitted proposals on Europes future, underlined that the two countries view the concept of the EU enlargement in the same fashion. He further spoke of an economic and social management, stressing that the countries sharing a joint currency can contribute to Europes future and the EU enlargement. The Belgian PM went on to say that the topics to top the Summit Meeting scheduled for the coming week were also at the focus in his meeting with Mr Karamanlis, while he pointed out that the issue of Cyprus was also touched on. Belgium, stated Mr Verhofstadt, is much interested in Cyprus, maintaining that it is about time a solution was sought after within the UN. The need for communication and cooperation between the two communities of the island was also highlighted.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [05] By Decision of KYSEA No to More F16s

    15 Mar 2006 14:15:00 (Last updated: 15 Mar 2006 20:38:47)

    Sources: NET - ANA

    The State Council of Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), chaired by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, decided that Greece will not purchase ten extra F16 aircrafts, apart from the main purchase of 30 F16s, which has already been decided on. "With respect to the Greek peoples money and the Greek taxpayers, but with a sense of responsibility, so as not to disrupt the balance of forces and the well-trained Air Force, KYSEA unanimously decided not to proceed with the purchase of ten extra F16s," stated Minister of Defence Vangelis Meimarakis, underlining that the Air Force will be equipped with fourth-generation aircrafts in the immediate future.

    Balance not Disrupted

    "We have decided to continue with the materialisation of KYSEAs decision, which was made in 2005, in relation to the structure of Air Force powers and the purchase of the remainder 30 fourth-generation aircrafts," stated the Defence Minister, who added "We will form a Committee, which will evaluate both the business plan and the expenditure, and make a proposal in the next KYSEA meeting, at which time we will be ready."

    At the same time, as per a Defence Ministry announcement, Wednesdays decision does not in any way affect the approved future structure of the Air Force, which provides for the acquisition of 60 new state-of-the-art fighter planes.

    Government spokesperson Theodoros Roussopoulos explained that the decision would not disrupt the balance of the forces, as it remains perennially unaltered in the area, while he added, "The financial aspect of the matter was also considered, since, given that the balance of forces in the Aegean will remain unaltered, it was deemed necessary to respect the money of the Greek taxpayers." With regard to the possible purchase of Eurofighetrs, the Government spokesperson noted that the matter has not been discussed yet.

    Theodoros Roussopoulos also clarified that concerning the decision to purchase 60 aircrafts, the purchase of 30, which will be fourth generation, is already underway. "The type of those aircrafts will be decided in the next KYSEA. So presently, we cannot discuss the choice or rejection of any type," he added.

    PASOKs section head for Foreign Policy, Security and Defence, Christos Papoutsis, spoke of "unreliable policy, lack of planning and irresponsible choices that are affecting the prestige and interests of the country [Greece]." He further added that once again it is being proven that ND is governing the country without a plan or a programme.

    He also stressed, "After having made the decision to proceed with the purchase of the F16s with lack of transparency and direct assignment of the contact, and by undermining the countrys economy and the future funding of the social state, they are now speaking of respect for the Greek peoples money."

    SYNs head Foreign and Defence Policy, Panagiotis Trigazis, spoke of "deception of the Greek people" and a decision that does not change the Governments "Atlantic-friendly choices," adding that Greece needs a different defence and safety policy.

    [06] Staged by GSEE and ADEDY Mass Strike

    15 Mar 2006 16:49:00 (Last updated: 15 Mar 2006 20:10:01)

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: ΝΕΤ - ΝΕΤ 105.8 - ANA

    The bulk of private and public sector employees participated in the 24-hour nationwide strike staged by GSEE (Greek General Confederation of Labour) and ADEDY (Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants Trade Unions) on Wednesday. The strike culminated with a rally at noon in Pedion Areos, while the main demands included the shielding of collective and departmental work contracts, measures against unemployment and high prices, and greater pay rises. The public services were disrupted, while many private sector employees also participated in the collective actions. PAME (All Workers Militant Front) staged a separate rally in Syntagma Square and a march towards the US Embassy. Rallies were also staged in Thessaloniki, as well as other major Greek cities.

    Clear Message

    Speaking at the rally in Pedion Areos, GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos and ADEDY President Spyros Papasryros mentioned the clear message delivered by the employees to the Government and their employers.

    The GSEE President underlined that the endurance of the employees and the trade unions against the policies being followed has come to an end, while he accused the Government of employing neo-liberal policies that keep disregarding labour.

    At the same time, he warned the bankers to recommence negotiations with OTOE (Hellenic Federation of Bank Employee Unions) as soon as possible, while he urged the Government to change the civil mobilisation regime and find a solution to the maritime employees problems by the end of March.

    On the other hand, the President of ADEDY stressed that the accumulated discontent is turning into accumulated action, while he made a mention of the discussions for social security, comparing them to social security terrorism.

    In statements to reporters, DAKE (Democratic Independent Workers Movement) President Kostas Poupakis noted that Wednesdays strike sent a triple message: to industrialists to stop their arrogant and futile conduct, to bankers to recommence negotiations and to the Government to implement measures that would secure social cohesion.

    A PASOK delegation, headed by party secretary Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, SYN President Alekos Alavanos and many other political and trade union members participated in the rally.

    "PASOK firmly stands by the employees, their struggles and their collective actions, during a time when the Government and NDs policies are affecting the labour relations and social conquests. We are giving a battle along with the employees to show a different path and a different policy for growth, social solidarity, social cohesion and the upgrading of employees," declared Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou.

    "Private and public sector employees, young and old, the unemployed and the workers, and the labour world is giving a battle today with this general strike to support the social state, to safeguard their social security rights and to deal with high prices and unemployment, especially among youths," declared Alekos Alavanos.

    Mass Demonstrations

    The strikers then marched towards the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and despite the rain, it was one of the most massive rallies of the last few years, as per the unionists.

    The last leg of the march in Syntagma Square was marred by minor incidents between strikers and the police, resulting in Christos Tzourkos, 55, members of the Union of Fighters and Exiled during the military junta, being lightly injured. The incidents did not proceed any further following the intervention of the unionists, headed by Christos Polyzogopoulos and Sryros Papaspyros.

    The President of GSEE condemned the incidents, speaking of open attack by special units of the police. "The employees struggles cannot be provoked, terrorised or stopped," pointed out Christos Polyzogopoulos, who voiced his support for the people who were assaulted.

    Earlier a group of hooded people attacked the Ministry of Development with rocks, breaking some windows and causing damages to cars belonging to the Ministry.

    PASOKs spokesperson, Nikos Athanasakis condemned the violence, saying, "Whilst the Ministry of Development was left unprotected, special police units openly attacked the strikers. The police forces are supposed to maintain the order and not act as quasi provocateurs."

    PAME staged a separate rally in Syntagma Square, while the strikers then marched towards the US Embassy.

    Giorgos Mavrikios, member of PAME and nominee for the position of Athens-Piraeus Prefect, spoke at the rally, accusing the Government of having forged a "holy alliance" with the SEV (Federation of Greek Industries), the ships owners and the monopolies. In addition, he accused the trade union confederations of participating in "staged anti-labour bargaining agreements."

    Government not Ignoring the Problems

    Asked to comment on the message received by the Government from todays strike, Government spokesperson Theodoros Roussopoulos declared that the Government is part of society, does not ignore the problems and does not sweep them under the rug, as was the case with PASOKs governments.

    He also added that the effort to reduce the deficits is nearing its end and the citizens sacrifices are not in vain.

    During his meeting today with GSEE and ADEDY representatives, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis confirmed that the Government respects and supports the collective negotiations. In addition, referring to the revenue policy for 2006, he stressed that all margins have been exhausted.

    Disruptions in Transportations

    Employees in public transport, banks, social security funds, public services, and the Health and Education sectors participated in the strike.

    The bus drivers proceeded with work stoppages from the beginning of their shifts to 7:30am and from 10:30pm to the end of their shifts.

    Trolley buses did not run from 11am to 3pm.

    OSE (Greek railway company) only performed one route per destination.

    Olympic Airlines canceled 94 flights, while only one flight per domestic and one flight per international destination are being performed.

    Furthermore, the banks, social security funds, municipalities and tax offices operated with emergency staff.

    The Media and reporters proceeded with work stoppages from 8am to 12 noon.

    The Media technicians and newsagents went on strike from 12 noon to 4pm, while the lithographers and employees at Athenian newspaper agencies participated in the 24-hour strike.

    In ERT, POSPERT (Panhellenic Federation of Employee Associations in the Radio and Television Sector) proceeded with a 6-hour work stoppage from 11am to 5pm.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related News:

    Mass Turnout in Strike

    [07] Karamanslis-Verhofstadt Held Talks Shared European Vision

    15 Mar 2006 14:59:00

    By Vivian Papastefanou

    The need for bringing forward the political union of the EU was agreed on the talks held Wednesday at Maximos Mansion between Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and his Belgian counterpart Guy Verhofstadt. Mr Karamanlis underscored that Greece and Belgium, which share a common European vision, should tune in with the concerns raised by the citizens. He once again reiterated that the countries participating in the Eurozone can play an instrumental role in this direction, while with regard to the European of by the European citizens. He finally stated that several other issues relating to the EU enlargement, the Lisbon strategy, the Balkans, the Cyprus issue and Turkeys European prospects, were also brought up. On his part, Mr Verhofstadt, who has recently submitted proposals on Europes future, underlined that the two countries view the concept of the EU enlargement in the same fashion. He further spoke of an economic and social management, stressing that the countries sharing a joint currency can contribute to Europes future and the EU enlargement. The Belgian PM went on to say that the topics to top the Summit Meeting scheduled for the coming week were also at the focus in his meeting with Mr Karamanlis, while he pointed out that the issue of Cyprus was also touched on. Belgium, stated Mr Verhofstadt, is much interested in Cyprus, maintaining that it is about time a solution was sought after within the UN. The need for communication and cooperation between the two communities of the island was also highlighted.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [08] Between the Relevant Ministries Partnership for Greek Tourism

    15 Mar 2006 18:30:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: NET - ANA

    The discussion between Greek Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and the leadership of the Development Ministry focused on development matters for tourism. As mentioned by Ms Petralia, the coordination of the efforts for tourism aims at using up even the last euro from the Operational Programme "Competitiveness" for 2006. In addition, she described tourism as the foundation of the countys regional growth and economy. As noted by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, all the aspects of the development law concerning tourism, as well as the common actions that will be undertaken by the two ministries, were discussed. Furthermore, he pointed out that the Operational Programme "Competitiveness" and its activities relating to tourism were reviewed. The two ministers also focused on the issue relating to the operation of the tourism facilities in view of the tourist season, aiming at projecting a positive image with great services, products and prices. Finally, they announced that another meeting would take place, which will also be attended by Rural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [09] Alogoskoufis' Press Conference Satisfaction over the Economy

    15 Mar 2006 16:26:00

    By Vivian Papastefanou

    Sources: NET - ANA

    Greek Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis described Wednesdays decision by Ecofin to approve the 2005-2008 Stability and Growth programme, as announced by the PM on Tuesday night, as "a justification of the mild fiscal adjustment and the choices of the Government for the Economy." During a Press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the Economy Minister ruled out the implementation of new measures this year to reduce the fiscal deficit to 2.6% of the GDP, while he underlined that the Ecofin asked for the fiscal deficits to be effaced in the course of the programme, which is also the Governments aim. He also added that the aim is to reduce the deficit to 1.7% of the GDP by the end of the adjustment period. In 2007, the deficit will be reduced to 2.3%, as opposed to 2.6% in 2006 and 4.3% in 2005. Actually, Mr Alogoskoufis hinted that the temporary revenues, amounting to 1.1 million euros, might not even be used at all, although it is provided for in this years budget. As he noted, if the revenues are as high as the first two months, no temporary measures will be needed, noting that the effort to stamp out tax evasion, with the main target being the VAT, is proving effective. On the other hand, Government spokesperson Theodoros Roussopoilois said that the government policy aims for a better future.

    Positive Course of Tax Revenues

    Answering to a question as to whether the deficit will be calculated differently because of some reservations voiced by Eurostat, Mr Alogoskoufis said that some issues with the EUs Statistical Service concerning the methods for calculating the figures for the social security funds and the local self-government organisations remain.

    Commenting on the course of the revenues, the Economy Minister said that the measures implemented by the Government for stamping out tax evasion have increased those revenues by 6.4% in 2005, as opposed to the set target of 5%, while the progress of tax revenues for the first two months of 2006 is positive.

    He also mentioned that he does not expect this positive progress (17% increase of tax revenues and 19% increase of VAT) to continue at the same rates, however, he noted that the efforts would continue.

    Mr Alogoskoufis attributed the increase in tax revenues, both in 2005 and in the first two months of 2006, to tax audits, while he reminded that audits were mainly conducted in major businesses, given that the smaller businesses had proceeded with settlements in the pervious years.

    At the same time, he repeated that the tax rates for individuals will gradually start being reduced as of 2007, the pledges for OGA and EKAS pension rises to 330 and 230 euros respectively will be fulfilled by the end of 2008, and the convergence of the Greek salaries to the European will continue.

    Referring to the unemployment - the official figures for which will be announced Thursday - Mr Alogoskpoufis said that it is marginally under 10% for 2005, since it dropped to 9.7% in the last trimester.

    In addition, during his meeting with GSEE (Greek General Confederation of Labour) and ADEDY (Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants Trade Unions) representatives, the Economy Minister confirmed that the Government respects and supports the collective negotiations. In addition, referring to the revenue policy for 2006, he stressed that all margins have been exhausted.

    Better Future for the Citizens

    Asked to comment on the PMs announcement on Tuesday night, the Government spokesperson stressed that the Government aims at reducing the deficits to under 3%, which will be achieved if the economic policy continues. Theodoros Roussopoulos also underlined that the policies being followed will secure a better future, which is being built with stability, strategy and a sense of responsibility.

    Answering to another question, Mr Roussopoulos underlined, "The progress of the public finances is not unrelated to the progress of the Greek citizens finances." As he noted, the Government was called upon to mend the Economy and this will lead to a more competitive and extrovert economy, while it will create better prospects for the future of all the citizens.

    In relation to the approval of certain allowances, the Government spokesperson noted that the mild adjustment has already bore results and will bear more by the end of 2006.

    Referring to Ecofins recommendation for implementation of the agreed social security reforms, he stressed, "Nothing was done secretly. The Government has declared that it will commence a dialogue, so as to prevent rather than mend the problems. If the previous governments had demonstrated the same courage and frankness, we would not have as many problems with the economy as the ones we discovered in 2004," noted Mr Roussopoulos.

    Asked to comment on the rises approved by OTE (Greek Telecommunications) for its executives bonuses, despite the deficit, the Government spokesperson reminded that OTE is a corporation listed on the Greek and foreign stock exchanges," stressing that OTEs administration is in the process of making the company more competitive.

    Furthermore he noted that bonuses are simple methods that apply globally, however they are considered suspect or expedient when they take place in Greece.

    "The Government continues to celebrate for a supposedly great success concerning Ecofins decision, however, the employees, the farmers, the small and medium-sized businesses, the pensioners, and the unemployed are not celebrating," responded PASOKs spokesperson Nikos Athanasakis, who accused the Government of being unreliable and deceiving the Greek people.

    Referring to the fiscal inventory, he described it as a "fraud", while he claimed that the Government used the inventory trick to transfer the future defence expenses relating to the period 2003-2010 to the previous years, i.e. to the PASOK governments budgets.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related News:

    Greek Efforts Acknowledged

    "Green Light" by Eurogroup

    [10] Regardless of the Heavy Rainfall Mass Turnout in Strike

    15 Mar 2006 14:09:00

    Sources: NET

    Regardless of the heavy rainfall, the participation was massive in the strike and demonstration declared by a joint decision of the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) and the Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants Trade Unions (ADEDY), demanding collective work contracts, as well as the forthcoming social security reforms. The demonstration by GSEE and ADEDY started at 12:00 at Pedion tou Areos, while the rally by the All Workers Militant Front (PAME) at 11:00 from Syndagma Square and destined to the US Embassy. Demonstrations by employees were also staged in Thessaloniki. "The Government is not alienated from the society and is aware of the everyday problems Greek citizens come up against. Unlike PASOK government, it does not ignore them, nor does it hide them under the rug. Being aware of the problems, we have looked the Greeks into the eye and have let them know of the way we are handling them. Over the last two years, results have already been yielded," commented Government spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos on the occasion of Wednesdays nationwide strike, and added that those who had predicted otherwise will be proved wrong and that the Government assures the Greeks that their sacrifices wont go in vain. Shortly after the demonstration held by GSEE, a group of anarchists made its way to the Ministry of Employment and caused damages to the buildings fa&#231;ade and vehicles.

    The general strike was attended by employees in the Public Means of Transport, banks, Funds and Public Services in the health and education departments.

    The work stoppage in the blue buses started from the beginning of the shift until 07:30 and from 22:30 until the end of the work shift.

    Trolley buses remained immobilized from 11:00 until 15:00.

    One route per destination was performed by the Hellenic Railway Association (OSE).

    Ninety-four flights of the Olympic Airways were cancelled. One flight per destination is performed in domestic flights and one per country in flights abroad.

    Banks, Funds, Municipalities and tax offices worked with disruptions.

    In the Mass Media, journalists staged a work stoppage from 08:00 until 12:00. Technicians of the Press and newsvendors are striking from 12:00 until 16:00, while lithographers and employees in the Athens News Agencies are participating in the 24-hour strike.

    In ERT, the National Federation of Radio and Television Company Staff Unions (POSPERT) is staging a 6-hour work stoppage from 11:00 until 17:00.

    Related News:

    24-Hour Nationwide Strike

    [11] Dams in Bulgaria Closed Down Water Level in Evros Subsides

    15 Mar 2006 13:44:00

    By Betty Savourdou

    Sources: ΝΕΤ - ANA

    Tuesday night was a night of anguish for the Prefecture of Evros, since the water level of river Evros neared danger limits. In the early hours of Wednesday, though, it started subsiding. More than 70 houses were evacuated, while the residents of Pithio erected levees to hold back the waters. Authorities in the Prefecture are still on alert, while the residents hope they will return to their houses soon. However, the coordinated course of action taken by the three neighbouring countries, namely Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, seem to be bearing fruit, while the Bulgarian authorities closed down the dams. It is noted that the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) suspended the collection actions in the Prefecture in support of the residents.

    The Situation Remains Crucial

    The water level of Evros river at the Pithio measuring station stood at 6.58m Wednesday at 10:00am, with alarm limit being at 5.70m. At the Ardas dam, the water level was reported at 5.60m, with alarm limit being at 5.20m, while at Petalo it reached 6.80m. Finally, the water level at the Kipos measuring station rose to 4.85m, with alarm limit being at 4m.

    "Today, the situation is still crucial, yet there are some encouraging elements, including recession of the body of waters coming in from Bulgaria. There is some sort of improvement, however it remains above the alarm limit," Deputy Evros Prefect Mihalis Kougioumtzis told ANA. However, as he said, "there are a great many of problems from Vyssa to southern Evros, and right now, measures are being taken in several spots to prevent crops from being flooded."

    In the meantime, efforts are underway to save some 1,000 sheep and goats, which are trapped in the area of Sofiko.

    Thousands of Hectares of Arable Land Went Flooded

    The Evros residents have started counting the damage, while it is estimated that more than 20,000 hectares of arable land have been flooded. Rural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos assured the flood-hit that they will be immediately compensated.

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos visited the flood-stricken areas and talked with the residents and the rescue teams, while he participated in a meeting held in Orestiada. A PASOK panel led by Anna Diamantopoulou also visited the much-affected areas of the Prefecture of Evros.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Crucial Hours in Evros


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