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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-05-30
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Friction in European Structures European Reactions30 May 2005 12:20:00
By Athina Saloustrou
The French "No" has caused concern to the rest of the European countries, as far as the course of the European unification is concerned. The French rejected the Euroconstitution with an overwhelming majority, since in the referendum that took place on Sunday, "No" received 54.87% of the votes as opposed to "Yes" that received 45.13%. Furthermore, there is the question of whether the French decision will create a rift of rejection or not of the EU Constitution, and how the crisis created will be overcome. In an institutional context, if the Nice Treaty is enforced there will not be a major crisis. On the other hand, the problem is affecting the political developments, since France is one of the founding members and the backbone of the EU, while it is the first country that rejects the Euroconstitution. Up until now it was in the heart of Europe and it is now in danger of being secluded. This is an unprecedented disapproval of the government and the leadership of the Socialist opposition party. The participation in the voting reached historically high levels. The result in France is expected to sweep along the feelings of other countries voters ,such as the Netherlands, where the elective body is called to vote on Wednesday in a recommendatory type referendum, where, as was the case in France, "No" seems to prevail.
Schroeder, Fischer and Merkel Over French "No"
The French "No" to the European Constitution was "a step backwards for the Constitutional procedure, but it is not the end," stated German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. On his part, German Foreign Minister, Yoschka Fischer evaluated that the French "No" to the EU Constitution was "sad" and Europe will face "bigger challenges."
"The German government hoped in another result, in a Yes to the European Constitution, as it is a very good Treaty," added Mr Fischer in an announcement last night in Berlin.
President of the Christiandemocratic Union of Germany Angela Merkel expressed her sadness over the French "No" and evaluated that "the process of the European unification is faced with a very difficult challenge," stating the need for the concerns of the people to be taken into consideration.
Merkel, who is expected to run for Chancellor after Gerhard Schroeder in the upcoming elections, stated that she is sorry over "the rejection of the European Constitutional Treaty" from France, but evaluated that this is "a good lesson for the future," since the concerns of the people should be taken into consideration if the leaders desire for the European ideal to be successful.
The Christiandemocrats hope that "the ratification proceeding will continue with success in all EU member states," read the announcement by Angela Merkel.
On his part, Opposition MP, Wolfgang Schäuble stated that the EU is in a crisis after the French "No" to the EU Constitution.
"We are in a crisis right now, and we have to learn the right lesson from this as it is a chance for Europe to continue its progress," noted Vice President of the Christiandemocratic Union, Mr Schäuble.
However, Mr Schäuble insisted that regardless of the French "No" the partnership between Berlin remains important for the EU. "The German French partnership is necessary for Europe," he said.
The French "No" to the European Constitution "is not a disaster for the EU," evaluated Vice President of the European Commission, Gunter Verheugen from Berlin.
However, the result "is not encouraging for the referendum that will take place in a few days in the Netherlands" added Mr Verheugen, speaking to German television network ARD and concluded "it will be bitter if the two founding countries of the EU say "No" to the EU Constitution."
Today, from London, British PM, Tony Blair, who will be taking up the European Presidency in July 1, 2005, stated that the EU needs time to recollect after the rejection of the Euroconstitution by France, and added that a decision has not been made over the event of Britain carrying out a referendum.
Mr Blair stated to the journalists in Tuscany, where he is concluding his visit in Italy, that he hopes that the Netherlands will support the Euroconstitution in the referendum that twill take place at the end of the week, but underlined that whatever the result may be, a broader discussion on the economy in Europe is needed.
"What is now important is for a recollection time before the Dutch referendum which is taking place in two days and the European Conference in mid-June, where all the leaders can discuss the consequences of the two votes," stated Mr Blair.
"I believe that theres a more important issue hidden behind all this, which concerns the future of the European economy; how it faces the pressures of globalization and technological change and how we will ensure a powerful and prosperous economy against these challenges," noted Mr Blair.
Great Britain had said that it would carry out a referendum only if there is a Constitution to vote for. "If there is a Constitution to vote for, a referendum will take place before its ratification," stated Mr Blair. "But now I believe that we have to see what will happen in the Dutch referendum. We will have to hold discussions at the European Council," added the British PM.
On his part, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw noted that "we need a recollection period" after the French "No" and added that we have to expect the Dutch results and the European Summit Meeting on June 16-17 in order to decide on the procedure that will follow.
"The government of the Cypriot Republic respects the democratic verdict of the French people. We express the hope that this development will not delay the steps towards the European unification," states among others President Tassos Papadopoulos in a written statement.
In his statement, the Cypriot President adds, "the government of the Cypriot Republic with its partners will investigate the consequences of the voting result and the measures that have to be taken."
High-ranked Turkish officials calmly accepted the French rejection of the Euroconstitution, evaluating that it will not have any consequences on Ankaras effort to access the EU.
"This result concerns the French public opinion and not Turkey," stated Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul according to the Anatolia news agency. "The start of the negotiations is within our reach. What stopped Turkey from beginning the negotiations with the EU are that certain circumstances oppose EU standards, and not the fulfillment of commitments we have taken up," added Mr Gul.
"The EU has made its choices. In the EU, governments always change. Parties come and parties go. Nothing influences us. We have to look at our country. We have to work in order to enforce the EU standards in a decisive way," stated the Turkish Foreign Minister. "A long procedure is ahead of us," stated Vice President of the Turkish government, Abdullatif Sener, making reference to the accession discussions, which are expected to start on October 3.
"We will see if the French referendum will be remembered in the future," stated Sener.
Chief of the Turkish General Staff, Hilmi Ozkok appeared optimistic.
"The EU is a big organization and the rejection is a great problem. However, the EU has the power to overcome it. It is obliged to do so," added the Turkish General.
Translated by Eirene Nisiriou
European Press Comments on "Non"
A Loud "Non"
Oui or Non?
 ERT Stands by Greek Music30 May 2005 19:15:00
On Monday, ERTs CEO and President Christos Panagopoulos, board member Giorgos Chouliaras, General Director for Radio Antonis Andrikakis and General Director of Information Broadcasts Giannis Papoutsanis met with important Greek artists, composers, songwriters and performers to exchange views and promote the Greek songs in view of the upcoming co-hosting of the Greek Song Festival by ERT and the Thessaloniki International Fair. After thanking all those present for responding to the invitation, ERTs President stressed that the main aim is to give Greek songs an real boost, so they can come to the forefront once again, reminding us all of the good old times. He also added that it is an opportunity to provide Greek songs with a place for promotion and expression, and a place where new waves and trends can emerge. Finally, he urged those present to contribute towards the efforts being made by ERT and the Thessaloniki International Fair by making their suggestions.
On their part, the artists voiced their satisfaction over this venture undertaken by ERT and exchanged views and opinions concerning collaboration and creative support. The messages were positive, while a new meeting between the musicians was scheduled, in order to formulate and draw up their final proposals. The general consensus was to provide the necessary perspective and aesthetics to the new efforts being made to support Greek songs.
The musicians and creators who responded to ERTs call included: Antonis Vardis, Dimitra Galani, Philippos Grapsas, Manos Eleftheriou, Nikos Zoudiaris, Kostas Kapnisis, Paraskevas Karasoulos, Panagiotis Kalatzopoulos, Giorgos Katsaros, Stamatis Kraounakis, Marianina Kriezi, Christos Leontis, Lavrentis Macheritsas, Manolis Mitsias, Michalis Bourboulis, Lina Nikolakopoulou, Giorgos Dalaras, Robert Williams, Mimis Plessas, Philippos Pliatsikas, Thanasis Polykandriotis, Nikos Portokaloglou, Evanthia Reboutsika, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Stamos Semsis, Giannis Spathas, Giannis Spanos, Kostas Tournas, Kostas Tripolitis, Dionysis Tsaknis and Giorgos Chatzinasios. Eleni Vitali sent a letter of support.
The president of Thessaloniki International Fair, Dimitris Bakatselos, and AEPIs (Hellenic Copyright Society) representative Petros Xanthopoulos also attended the meeting.
Finally, Greek composers Mikis Theodorakis and Lefteris Papadopoulos expressed their intention to support the efforts being made to support Greek songs.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
 KEPs are Becoming Centres for Transactions Utility Bills to Be Paid at KEP30 May 2005 17:37:00
By Annita Paschalinou
KEPs (Citizen Service Centres) are taking on new responsibilities as per an amendment submitted in Parliament today by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. Very soon, Greek citizens will be able to pay their phone, electricity and water bills, as well as their vehicle registration and insurance fees by credit card at the various KEPs located throughout Greece. The Interior Ministry decided to proceed with this reform in an effort to solve the daily problems faced by citizens, taking into account the popularity of the Centres. Over the last year, visits to KEPs have increased by 212%!
End to Hassles
The decision, which will be put into effect very soon, is expected to assist thousands of citizens who wait in line daily to pay for their bills, wasting valuable time.
Furthermore, given that the larger KEPs operate in the afternoons and on Saturdays, this new measure will facilitate a greater number of citizens.
Following this regulation, the Interior Ministry is aiming at making KEPs Centres for Transactions, where citizens can perform hundreds of transactions with public administration agencies, just by visiting their local KEP.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
 End of Road for the Privileged "Voluntary Redundancy Opens New Roads"30 May 2005 17:17:00 (Last updated: 30 May 2005 21:25:09)
By Despina Hristopoulou
Sources: ÍÅÔ 105.8, ÁNA, Newspaper "ÔÁ ÍÅÁ"
Government spokesperson Thodoros Roussopoulos described the agreement with OTE as a brave decision, which opens new roads for development and competitiveness. At the same time, he noted that the roads created by the former governments favouring the few privileged are closing. "Those who assisted in creating these inequalities and privileges are known. You will find them in other governments." Furthermore, Mr Roussopoulos accused PASOK, saying that the citizens will not be burdened in the future, as they have been in the past. "Up until now, they were burdened in favour of the privileged, there was inequality among workers and inequality among pensioners. However, those problems have to be solved, so that the State can gain credibility." The State Minister also stressed that he had nothing to announce concerning the other DEKO (Public Services and Utilities Enterprises). With regard to the cost of the programme, Mr Roussopoulos said that OTE and the Economy Ministry would be making the relevant announcements, while, concerning potential objections by the Commission, he declared that contacts have been made for the acceptance of the plan in principle.
The matter pertaining to OTEs voluntary redundancy plan was also discussed in todays meeting between Mr Karamanlis and Mr Alogoskoufis in Maximos Mansion.
Upon departing Maximos Mansion, Mr Alogoskoufis described the developments with the OTE agreement as significant, since they would contribute towards cleaning up the Organization. He further added that many issues that are still pending, including the social security of banks and the necessary reforms in the economy.
Furthermore, the Minister stated that the cost of the agreement will be made known when the full arrangement is presented and the government has all the figures, while, answering to criticism by PASOK that the cost of voluntary redundancy would be paid by the citizens, the Minister stated that the cost of OTE employees voluntary redundancy had already been transferred to the Public Sector by the previous governments.
In the meantime, as Mr Alogoskoufis explained on Monday afternoon, the net cost of voluntary redundancy for 6,000 OTE employees amounts to 1.5 billion euros, while the public sector would only pay 20% of that. The rest of the amount would be covered by the money that OTE will gain from the decrease in operational expenses following the voluntary redundancy.
As a matter of fact, Mr Alofoskoufis noted that this demonstrated the fact that consent for the economy does exist, while the search for mutually-acceptable solutions can bear fruit.
Meanwhile, as per Economy Ministry sources, presently the Organization only had to alternatives: either dismissing thousands of OTE employees or declaring bankruptcy under the weight of the overabundant personnel.
Mayor Bakoyannis' Hints Over the Cost
In the meantime, the various political reactions over the voluntary redundancy plan are continuing.
Referring to the matter, Public Works Minister Giorgios Souflias stressed that a government decision towards the right direction does exist. "No enterprise can be content when it has too much staff since a solution has been found that actually protects employees, which is a good thing," concluded Mr Souflias
However, Mayor of Athens Dora Bakoyannis voiced her concern over the cost of the agreement, saying, "The citizens should not have to pay for the costs of the voluntary redundancy of thousands OTE workers." In an interview to the Greek newspaper Ta Nea , Mrs Bakoyannis declared, "No one can deal with the coincidental problems of all those who up until today had been favoured or were privileged, thus transferring the cost to the weaker ones, the low-income earners and the savings of the community."
On the other hand, independent MP Stefanos Manos declared on radio station NET 105.8, "The fact that OTEs personnel is shrinking is positive," however, it is not being done correctly and the cost is provocative, while he appeared in favour of lifting the permanent-employee status.
In the meantime, GSEE appeared adamant that it would not be accepting similar deals with other DEKOs. Actually, GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos stressed, "For us, the contents of this agreements cannot form the basis for wider changes or partial changes in other public enterprises," while he argued that the OTE agreement has created two types of employees.
PASKE Refers Members to National Council
PASOKs Political Council has called an emergency meeting for tomorrow morning in order to decide on its final stance concerning the developments with OTE. In the meantime, all those who signed the agreement have been referred the partys National Council by PASKE (Panhellenic Workers Movement), facing the possibility of being stricken.
Meanwhile, Kimonas Koulouris statement, whereby he claimed that PASOK reacted with great delay and suffers from political disability, has created havoc.
"Any solution that concerns a private enterprise and tries to transfer the cost to the people constitutes a huge social scandal," declared PASOK MP Giorgos Floridis on NET 105.8.
Moreover, referring to the matter with OTE during PASOKs Prefecture Convention in Ioannina, George Papandreou accused the Government of attempting to sell off significant parts of public property without transparency or perspective."
Finally, referring to the stance of PASOKs unionist members in OTE, he noted that he understood the need of the unionists for changes in order to secure their positions, but he underlined that they cannot operate based on co-op views.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
Complaints Against Redundancy
 Papandreou's Harsh Criticism30 May 2005 21:20:00
By Betty Savourdou
Sources: NET 105.8
Speaking at PASOKs Prefecture Convention in Ioannina, George Papandreou launched a severe attack against the government. The leader of the Opposition noted that ND deceived the voters and led the country backwards, while he stressed that PASOK can guarantee the necessary changes in favour of popular interests. He also referred to the unionists, saying that they should not operate as co-ops, while he declared that PASOK is determined to clash with petty interests. "When Mr Papandreou accuses the current government of money that have to be paid to the EU, he is deliberately forgetting that the money we are paying now were owed by PASOKs governing, for a series of violations of Community legislation. With regard to corruption, he was the one who announced yesterday that the great interests are the ones running his party. We wish for him to succeed if he really means it since up until now PASOK was the fellow-traveller of corruption," stressed the government spokesperson Thodoros Roussoppoulos in his announcement.
Absence from Developments
"If we say no to the EU Constitution, we will go back to the Treaty of Nice, which does not contain some provision that secure us." George Papandreou
"The days of Mr Karamanlis government are coming to an end, because he deceived the Greek people," stressed the leader of the Opposition.
"ND is not interested in combating corruption, but in supporting its interests," he said, while he added that ND has been hiring its own people in public administration through backdoors.
Rather than gaining an extra ten billion, as he was saying, Mr Karamanlis is even losing the funds we had secured through the 3rd CSF," underlined Mr Papandreou.
"The PM cashed in on our weaknesses," said the president of PASOK, noting, "The Governments programme is based on the weaknesses of PASOKs governing."
He also appeared in favour of consent and social cohesion, saying, "We want rights for everyone and not privileges for the few."
Mr Papandreou also accused the government of trying to sell off public property without transparency or perspective.
Referring to foreign policy, he claimed that FYROM would never have been recognised with its constitutional name had PASOK been in power.
"We are urging the government to move ahead following the French No, because the countrys interests are at stake," he added, stressing that the enlargement process should not stop with the Balkan countries and Turkey, because that would destabilise the area and create problems.
He further accused the government and the PM of being absent from all the developments and especially the 4th CSF.
Finally, Mr Papandreou pointed out that if there is no European Constitution, then the provisions of solidarity for the security of EU Member-States would not apply, while the countries would return to their ethnic corners, resulting in significant drop of expenditures for regional areas, ie Epirus.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
 Greek Reactions Over French "No"30 May 2005 15:26:00
By Tina Valaoura
Sources: NET- NET 105.8- ANA
The Greek parties reactions over the French rejection of the Euroconstitution, are divided between concern and satisfaction. In a statement, Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis, stated that the verdict of the French people deserves respect, but at the same time constitutes a development that should trouble us all. He adds " the advancement of European unification remains our aim. The effort does not stop here. The proceedings foreseen for its ratification in the remainder member states have not been completed. They have to go forth as is, without postponement, and as foreseen."
Head of the Foreign Policy of the PASOK Political Council, Christos Papoutsis evaluated that with the French "No," Europe enters a period of concern, without this meaning that the course of the European unification will stop. The French decision will "have an important effect on the proceeding that have been planned on the future broadening, direction and the funding of politicians of the Union. The political leaderships in member states and the institution bodies of the Union, should utilize the French "No" as a reason for the definition of European politicians, and the redefinition of aims and choices for the security, development, employment and solidarity in the society," noted Mr Papoutsis.
On its part, KKE expressed its satisfaction over the result of the referendum. "The condemnation of the so-called Euroconstitution from the French people is a very positive fact. "Whoever sounds the alarm of chaos, destruction and isolation are the ones that fear that the message against plutocracy policy, which is supported by the Euroconstitution will spread. The "No" is the first step in the fight against the EU. The strongest the blows the people give to the structure of the EU until its collapse, the sooner Europe will come closer to the peoples rights, peace and socialism," states the relative announcement.
President of SYN Mr Alekos Alavanos statements were along the same lines. "We welcome the awakening of our social conscience of a Europe that seeks the right to employment, peace and opposes todays Europe, which is composed by the bureaucracy of the well off," he underlined.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Stilianidis commented on the situation. In an interview given to ANT1 Radio he evaluated "The political atmosphere will be burdened, as we do not know if the current structure can stand the weight of the broadening. In any case, I believe that Europe will find its way as it has done in the past, though dialogue and the consent between the members and people, and found a solution and that is exactly what it will do now," he stated.
"This is not a pleasant development. We will enter a period of deliberation, a state that does not agree with our interests," stated independent MP Stefanos Manos to NET 105.8 and underlined that it obstructs the further broadening of the EU.
Minister of Development, Dimitris Sioufas commenting on the result of the referendum noted, "We have to analyze and understand the French referendum result and find ways to incorporate the will of the European people towards a common future."
The next moves of the European Union will be discussed in the upcoming European Summit Meeting.
Translated by Eirene Nisiriou
 Postponement of Ilia and Tsevi Cases30 May 2005 17:53:00
By Mary Lou Tzempelikou
The discussion over the question of dismissal of First Instance Judges Antonia Ilia and Panagiota Tsevi, was postponed by the Supreme Court Plenary Session and set the date for June 22. The postponement was given after a demand by Ilias lawyers, on the grounds that her subpoena was not legal. Furthermore, the Supreme Court will conduct an investigation over the non-valid delivery of Ilias subpoena. In the meantime, President and General Secretary of the Judges and Prosecutors Union, Mr Bagias and Mr Athanasopoulos, strongly condemned Mrs Ilias statements. It is reminded that Mrs Ilia had stated she was pressure from the aforementioned parties on the specific case, while Mr Bagias had submitted a complaint against her.
Translated by Eirene Nisiriou
 Appointed by CDU and CSU Merkel for Chancellor30 May 2005 13:26:00
By Athina Saloustrou
The leader of the Christian Democrat Union (CDU) Angela Merkel was today appointed as candidate for the post of chancellor in the early general elections, expected to be held in September. Merkels candidacy was proposed by the leader of the Bavarian sister-party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), Edmund Stoiber during a meeting in Berlin between the leaders of the CDU and CSU. If the CDU and CSU win these elections, as it currently appears in the polls, 50-year-old Angela Merkel, who originates from former East Germany, will become Germanys first female chancellor. In the 2002 elections, the leader of the CDU agreed to let CSUs leader Edmund Stoiber stand as candidate for the post of chancellor, against Social Democrat Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Stoiber lost the campaign.
Translated by Millie Williams
 Consumers Abandon the High Markets Online Shopping Gains Ground30 May 2005 15:04:00
By Vicky Keleri
Up until now, when we were talking about shopping, commercial streets, store windows and shopping rush came to mind, but it looks like our perspective is expected to change in the future, as more and more and people are abandoning the traditional way of shopping, opting for e-retailing. The Internet is rapidly replacing consumers preference for busy high street markets, while, according to a British survey conducted between February and April, e-retail has tripled from 13.4% to 30%. At the same time, shopping in the high markets has dropped. During the month of April, 22 million Britons chose the Internet for their purchases. As per the figures at hand, it was estimated that by the year 2010, online shopping would grow by a further 320%.
In Search of Low Cost
Currently 7% of all retail takes place online, while it was predicted that this will rise to 20% by 2010, representing 36 million Britons spending up to £60bn a year online.
According to James Roper, CEO of IMRG that conducted the survey, this new trend is due to the fact that the Internet provides users the opportunity to quickly and easily compare offers.
Furthermore, consumers are confident that they cannot be fooled anymore.
Bargain hunting is probably the main reason consumers turn to online shopping added Bonny Brown, director of research at Keynote, which conducted a survey on eight British retail sites.
What Deters E-Shoppers
The survey in question mainly focused on what annoys consumers when shopping online.
As per the results, 27% of users were put off by the fact that they were forced to register before making a purchase.
At the same time, 20% of those asked wanted more transparency when it came to comparing items for sale.
Despite these minor problems, e-retail seems to becoming a favourite way of shopping among consumers.
Actually, according to analysts, large retail stores would have to turn to the Internet if they want to keep their customers and profits, since they have a long way to go before catching up to Amazon or ebay, which dominate e-commerce.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
 First City Health Center in Operation30 May 2005 13:58:00
By Tina Valaoura
The first City Health Center of Greece was inaugurated by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, who described this day as a milestone for the Greek National Health System (ESY). The City Health Center is the first of a series of similar centers that will be created in Attica, Thessalonica and other big cities of Greece, targeted at the decongestion of hospitals. As the Prime Minister explained, the centers will work on a 24-hour basis towards countering emergencies and providing services to sensitive groups such as the chronically ill, impoverished and the uninsured.
An Important Step
Mr Karamanlis stated, "The Primary and Secondary Health Care will be upgraded with the City Health Centers," and repeated that the government has made a commitment for the completion and the correct operation of the Greek National Health System, in order to provide modern quality services to every corner of Greece. However, he noted that it will be difficult since there is a lack of personnel, and there are financial and organization difficulties in the system. "Regardless of the difficulties we are decided to go forth with the plan," he stated.
Mr Karamanlis made reference to the institution of family doctors, the backbone of the Health System, which was left incomplete, since the bills that foresaw reforms on the Primary health care were never implemented.
As it was announced, the City Health Centre of Kalivia will be ready in the summer, while the creation of the Centres in Keratsini, Peristeri, Evosmos and Fraggon in Thessalonica and Mavrothalassa in Serres has been put forth.
Translated by Eirene Nisiriou