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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-06-04
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Crucial Developments for Insurance Issues Extension for a Resolution04 Jun 2005 12:31:00
By Tina Valaoura
Sources: ΝΕΤ - ANA
The developments concerning the discussions for the banking employees social security are at a crucial point. Following yesterdays unproductive discussion between the Economy Minister and OTOE (Federation of Greek Banking Employees), the matter was brought forward in this mornings meeting between the Greek PM Kostas Karamanlis, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Employment Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos. As per the Economy Ministers statements, the Government is determined to proceed with a relative legislative reform by the end of next week, if a an agreement is not reached between the two sides. "The matter has to be settled in order to secure the rights of banking employees, as well as the stability of the banking system, which is very important for the Economy," stressed Mr Alogoskoufis, clarifying that the set rules would apply for everyone. "The procedures underway will reinforce and enhance the social character of insurance," declared Mr Panagiotopoulos. On the other hand, yesterday, OTOEs representatives spoke of a raw blackmail and called a 48-hour strike, commencing as of this coming Tuesday.
Social Security at Maximos Mansion
Following his meeting with the PM at Maximos Mansion, Mr Alogoskoufis stressed that the banks and OTOE were asked to evaluate over the next few days whether there is room for a mutually acceptable solution. However, he underlined that the Government is determined to settle the matter.
Mr Alogoskoufis also talked about a unified subsidiary fund for banks, which any bank wishing so could join in, clarifying that two-thirds of the cost would be covered by the banks, while the rest would be covered by the public sector. Meanwhile, he noted that no decision has been made yet for the Agricultural and Commercial Banks, but underlined that the public sector is interested on the matter, as it owns shares in both banks.
Yesterday, PASOK voiced its opposition towards any one-sided decisions for the banking employees social security, while on Monday, KKEs general secretary Aleka Papariga will meet with OTOE representatives. Finally, SYN spoke of a culmination of anarchism.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
On the Brink of War
Seeking A Collective Solution
 Against the Government Papandreou Launched Harsh Attack04 Jun 2005 21:25:00
By Athina Saloustrou
In an interview he gave to Ethnos tis Kyriakis newspaper, George Papandreou accused the government of a medley of fragmentary changes. PASOK president admitted the need of reforms, supporting however that ND has no plan, no aim and no direction. The Opposition leader suggested reforms with social coherence and with the consensus of citizens, estimating that at the end of the day this is his difference from Kostas Karamanlis. In the meantime, Michalis Chrysochoidis' proposal has triggered talks in PASOK. In his interview in Vima tis Kyriakis newspaper, Mr Chrisochoidis suggested that the permanent working status revocation should apply to the wider public sector. "I hold the decision to lift the permanent working status for the newly-hired in OTE among the positive things and in my opinion it should apply to the wider public sector in order to purify and reinforce the competitiveness of Greek Economy." However, PASOK sources commented that Mr Chrysochoidis was expressing his own personal views.
"Take Future Employees Under Consideration"
At the same time, in his interview PASOK President George Papandreou explained that his proposal for reforms focuses on incisions to the benefit workers, as opposed to ND, which promotes fragmentary measures that go against the people.
As for the vexed issue of labour relations, Mr Papandreou clarified that "if labour relations should become more flexible for competition, this has to be widely discussed with trade unions. Regarding future employees, we need to take under consideration and deeply care for weaker citizens." In Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia newspaper, Anna Diamantopoulou also referred to the issue of OTE, calling all PASKE unionists to resign.
Translated by Sofia Soulioti
 "Move Ahead With Green!"04 Jun 2005 16:37:00
By Tina Valaoura
This years World Environment Day is dedicated to urban green and will be celebrated with events in Athens and Thessaloniki, while the Ministry for the Environment has launched a sensitization campaign called "Move Ahead With Green." So, if you happen to be in Greece on Saturday June 4 and Sunday June 5, make sure to pay a visit to Dimokratias Square in Peristeri, Korai Square in Piraeus or Aristotelous Square in Thessaloniki and get free seeds to plant your own geraniums, laurels and rosemary. Experts say that these three plants are ideal for urban environments and especially for balconies and porches. You will also get a leaflet with useful tips on how any of us can contribute to the protection of the environment with simple activities in our everyday lives. "No environmental policy can be successful if society and citizens dont actively contribute to it. Growth brings actual improvement in the quality of living only when it happens with respect towards our environment," underlined in a relevant message Minister for the Environment Giorgos Souflias, adding that "no policy can be effective unless we all help." Various events and initiatives will take place over the weekend, while all public means of transport will be free of charge from 07:00 to14:00.
Messages on the Occasion
The President of the Hellenic Republic, the Prime Minister and Opposition parties addressed messages on the occasion.
In his message for the World Environment Day, Mr Karolos Papoulias underlined that the greatest challenge of the 21st century is to ensure better living conditions for all and protect the environment from imminent destruction. A difficult task, to be honest, that requires brave financial sacrifices, political will, coordinated actions and the conscious contribution of each citizen.
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis addressed an appeal for a joint effort to win the battle for the environment and asked for coordinated actions on a European and international level, given that we will all admit the gravity of the problem and throw away short-sighted beliefs and national interests and opt for the best for our planet.
In his own message, PASOK president George Papandreou referred to the unfavourble studies on climatic changes and underlined the need for immediate actions. "The climate is changing. We need to change too, we need to change our behaviours, our mentalities, our practices, our policies. That is why we are calling on everyone to take a responsible life stance for the care and protection of the environment, not just for today, but for tomorrow and the day after and for the rest of our lives."
In another message, KKE stressed that the environment has become the target of multinational companies as a tank of blind waste of raw materials, as a dump for all kinds of rubbish that result in the deterioration of the already big problems of our planet. The announcement also read that the problem of protecting the environment is not a technical issue, but a deeply political one and cannot be dealt separately from the other major issues of workers.
SYN accused the already applied environmental policies and urged citizens to honour this day with "new small beginnings for all and boycott as much as we can the way of life imposed by interests that do not care at all about the viability of our environment."
At the same time, the Panhellenic Network of Ecological Organisations harshly criticised the government of inaction and postponement when it comes to issues of environmental policy, while Green Ecologists spoke of crocodile tears by those who are mainly responsible for the ecological crisis.
Events on Sunday June 5
The heart of the Greek capital will be filled with people participating in the Round of Athens, who will have "small oases" at their disposal, especially designed for the occasion, while all public means of transport will be free from 07:00 to 14:00 in an effort to keep cars parked at home.
SYN will organize a concert featuring "Tropos," an exhibition of biological products, a painting workshop for kids, an exhibition for books, magazines and sketches regarding the environment, as well as many other happenings in Koutala (near Katechaki, the fist exit to Vyronas) at 11:00. At the same time, it calls on all citizens to proceed with mobilisations in order to remove the Saketas military camp and stop the Archbishopric's Conference Mansion from being built in the area, in order to avoid the destruction of the environment.
TEDKNA will host a Marios Tokas concert at 08:30 at the open-air theatre inside the Greek Army Park, whose entrance is on Katechaki avenue. Artists Kostas Chatzichristodoulou, Maria Alexiou and Giorgos Fanaras will participate in the concert and the admission is free.
The International Airport of Athens honours the World Environment Day for the third year giving three scholarships to postgraduate students of the Aegean University (Environment Department).
Translated by Sofia Soulioti
 As Per a Nationwide Poll on Economy Citizens Divided04 Jun 2005 16:15:00
By Athina Saloustrou
New labour contracts, the main shareholder bill and the applied financial policy are the main issues of conflict between the public opinion and the Government, as per an opinion poll conducted by Metron Analysis for Ethnos newspaper. As per the same poll, the electoral body seems to be divided regarding the OTE agreement, as 41.4% oppose to the voluntary redundancy plan instead of 38.3% agreeing to it, while 46.6% agree with the lifting of the permanent working status only for the newly-hired and 43.1% oppose to it. What is more, 45.7% view the OTE agreement in a negative way, while only 35% think it is a good thing. Finally, 55.3% of people consider that the agreement signals a general change in the governments financial policy.
On the Same Levels
63.7% feel that the Government is operating in a wire-pulling way in the issue of working contracts and only 24.6% believe it is based on meritocracy. 47.5% feel that Government handlings with regard to the main shareholder bill harmed the country, while only 18.2% think they were beneficial, while 34.5% did not answer. 40.9% believe that the inventory harmed Greece, while 30.9% feel the exact opposite. 28.1% failed to make any comments, while in a previous opinion poll held two months ago 37.8% had answered that the inventory was bad for Greece, 35.2% that it was good and 27% had given no answer. 55.9% said their current financial status is worse in comparison to last year, only 15.8% said it is better and 27.8% said it hasn't changed. However, two months ago, only 12.2% had said their financial status has improved, 58.6% had answered it is worse and 29.2% were on the same levels. Only 19.3% positively evaluated the government's financial policy, while 50.6% view it in a negative way. 28.4% has a neutral opinion.. In general, 55.1% consider that things in Greece are on the wrong path, 23.6% feel they are on the right track and 20.4% have neither a negative nor a positive opinion. In the previous opinion poll, 60.4% had said that things were heading for the wrong direction and 25.3% for the right.
Over OTE, Redundancy and Permanent Status
However, the satisfaction rate for the Government remains on last March's levels at 27.7%, while the satisfaction rate for the Opposition dropped from 19.5% to 15.2%. 49.9% are not pleased with the Government, while 60.8% are not pleased with the Opposition.
At the same time, the ND government has increased its difference from PASOK regarding "who do you trust the most for the country's economic policy, ND Government with Mr Karamanlis or a government with Mr Papandreou?" ND is in the lead with 8.4 points (39.4% instead of 31%), while in March the difference was smaller (38.7% instead of 33.5% respectively 5.2 points).
In the popularity of political leaders, Kostas Karamanlis ranks first with 60.7% (64.2% in March), followed by George Papandreou with 55.4% (60.1% in March), Aleka Papariga with 38.9% (43% in March), Alekos Alavanos with 33.6% (37.8% in March) and Giorgos Karatzaferis with 30.2% (33.8% in March).
Regarding the OTE agreement, 55.3% consider it signals a general change in the government's financial policy, while 22.8% feel otherwise. 45.7% feel the agreement will have a negative impact, 35% think it will be positive, while 19.2% didnt take a stand.
However, 46.6% agree to the revocation of the permanent status for the newly-hired, while 43.1% disagree. At the same time, 38.4% are in favour of the voluntary redundancy plan and 41.4% are against.
Lastly, 45.3% think that the OTE agreement should set an example for other DEKOs (public enterprises which are classed as public services and utilities), 39.1% answered negatively, while 15.6% held a neutral stance.
The opinion poll was conducted from May 31 to June 2 throughout Greece via telephone interviews and use of a structured questionnaire. 801 people participated over 18 years of age.
Translated by Sofia Soulioti