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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 08-02-14
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Was Felt in Peloponnese and AttikaStrong Quake Hit S. Methoni
14 Feb 2008 12:33:00 (Last updated: 14 Feb 2008 15:36:35)
A strong quake of 6,5 magnitude was reported today after 12:000, 30 Km in the sea area of S. Methoni in Western Greece, was centered about 140 miles (230 km) southwest of the capital, Athens, and was located about 12 miles offshore. The Director of the Geodynamic Institute of Athens Mr. Giorgos Stavrakakis said that this was the main quake. However, a series of strong quakes may follow, he stated. The quake was felt in the whole region of Peloponnese and Attika. In most areas of Peloponnese people were panicked and started running down the streets. Seismologists suggest to residents to stay away from their houses and go to open places. There are no reports for damages so far. Scientists appear reassuring and suugest to local residents to stay calm and remain to open places until the phenomenon fades out.
Mr. Stavrakakis, director of the Geodynamic Institute of Athens, stated that this is the main earthquake, referred on the seismic history of the area and did not exclude the possibility of a series of quakes to follow. "It was a strong earthquake and intense seismic activity is expected to follow. This phenomenon is in progress and the first two days are considered crucial", he added. He also stated that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) measured the quake at 7,1 magnitude but later on announced a report correcting its former statement saying that the magnitude was not exact. Mr. Stavrakakis made an appeal to everyone reporting on the earthquake to be more careful. He also explained that the Greek arc in Western Peloponnese which extends from Western Greece to Rhodes triggered the earthquake. The quake was felt in the biggest part of Crete Island. Its depth, estimated to 30 Km down the sea was the reason no damages were caused. Scientists appear reassuring .
Translated by Sofia Gartziou
 Social Security Issue in Final Stretch14 Feb 2008 15:24:00
Sources: ÍÅÔ-ÍÅÔ 105.8-ÁNA/ÌPA
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis will present the main axes of the Social Security reform in Parliament on Friday. In the off-the-agenda debate he is expected to lay his cards on the table with regard to the range of the changes. Mr Karamanlis met Thursday morning with Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia with whom he discussed the last details. After the meeting, Ms Petralia stated that the Social Security issue is in its final stretch, while addressing the Economist conference she referred to the governments decision to move ahead decisively with the Social Security reform. Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros also referred to the importance of the reform, which as he said had been recognised by the majority of the civilians. Meanwhile, turnout at the 24-hour strike staged by GSEE (General Confederation of Greek Workers) and ADEDY (Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants Trade Unions) against the governments planned reforms proved massive.
"Whatever we Have Said Stands"
Fridays off-the-agenda Parliament debate on the Social Security System is much anticipated, as the Prime Minister is expected to present the governments positions.
Mr Karamanlis will stress how necessary the Social Security reform is. In his morning meeting with Ms Petralia he discussed the last changes and details of the bill.
Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that the government had finalized specific axes, while in reply to a question as to whether Mr Karamanlis would not change retirement ages, increase social security dues and decrease pensions, he said that the Greeks have renewed their mandate to the prime minister in the recent elections because they believe in his credibility. As a result, "whatever we have said stands," he said.
In reply to a question as to whether the prime ministers positions will be the final ones, Mr Antonaros did not exclude a dialogue with the involved parties, despite the fact that he had invited all bodies and parties to take part in a dialogue and as a result there was ample time.
The Social Security Reform is Necessary
Opening the sessions of the Economist conference at an Athens hotel Thursday morning on Social Security, Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia reported that the government is determined to proceed with the Social Security reform.
The minister referred to the basic axes of the governments proposal, the administrative and organizational restructuring of the system, the legislative arrangements and institutional changes, as well as the institutional measures on the improvement of the Social Security Funds financial status.
Regarding the governments legislative arrangements Ms Petralia stressed that "special and not general retirement limits are being examined, with emphasis on the rationalisation between working and pension time, the protection of motherhood for working women.
From his side, Bank of Greece Governor Nikos Garganas saw hope in the future, provided the Social Security System would be soon reformed.
PASOK (Socialists) spokesman Maria Damanaki attributed partly the problem to the increase of health expenditure by 60% in the last three years, while SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) spokesman Dimitris Stratoulis referred to the importance of radical changes in political positions.
At a Press Conference, KKE (Communist Party of Greece) Secretary General Aleka Papariga launched a strong-worded attack against the government, GSEE and ADEDY, appearing certain that retirement ages would change and pensions would be reduced.
In parallel, he called the employees to resist to the antipopular measures.
Massive Turnout at the Strike
In the meantime, turnout at the 24-hour strike staged by GSEE and ADEDY against the governments planned reforms proved massive.
Two different demonstrations were held in Athens. The first one was held by GSEE in Pedion tou Areos and the second one in Omonia by PAME (All Workers Militant Front). Port workers and Olympic Airlines employees protested to the privatisation of enterprises.
Translated by John Crystallidis
Pension Reforms in Parliament
 Clarifications by Minister of EconomySingle Oil Price on Friday
14 Feb 2008 11:11:00
Sources: ÍÅÔ-ÍÅÔ 105.8
The new law put into effect tomorrow regarding the imposition of a single consumption tax in heat oil and petrol has triggered reactions. The federation of petrol station owners and sellers ask for time extension until all their members are briefed about these latest developments while the government insists on the enforcement of the law supporting the view that reactions come from smuggling networks. Economy Minister Mr. Alogoskoufis is giving clarifications on the issue now.
Translated by Sofia Gartziou
 Near Tikrit22 People Killed in Violent Incidents
14 Feb 2008 16:28:00
By Andreas Roditis
New violent incidents were reported in Iraq today. An attack was launched in the home city of former president Saddam Hussein. 22 people were killed while a woman was arrested as there was suspicion that she is a member of Al Qaeda. 9 members of the same family were shot in N. Iraq, police reported. Armed troopers invaded in the house of a contractor and killed him as well as his wife and children, German News Agency said. The village where this incident occurred is placed 180 Km South of the Iraqi capital near Tikrit home town of Saddam Hussein. American troopers killed two women and six members of a local tribal organization in Sheikh Abdalla village near Tikrit. In Bagdad, 5 people were killed and 25 were injured in a mini bus blast reported in Sadr City. According to VOI news agency a women who was considered suspect of being member of Al Qaeda was arrested.
Translated by Sofia Gartziou
 Ljubljana, SloveniaEU-Russia Meeting on Kosovo
14 Feb 2008 12:07:00
By Katerina Ioannidou
The EU and Russia did not manage to narrow their difference over Kosovos independence, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after his talks with his EU counterparts in Slovenia on Wednesday. Lavrov met with Slovenias Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Javier Solana. In a joint press conference, the head of the Russian diplomacy claimed that everyone is aware of Russias different stance on the Kosovo row, also adding that respecting international law is a must when it comes to Kosovo. Asked on how Russia would react if Kosovo declares its independence on coming Sunday or in the near future, Lavrov said he knew nothing of the independence issue, which, as he argued, should be handled by the UN. Stressing that averting a negative twist of events is what really matters, Lavrov added that Russia supports Serbias call for a UN Security Council session.
Drilled on how Russia would respond to Kosovos recognition by the EU member states and whether Russia is thinking of retaliating through the energy policy, Lavrov underlined, "Speculations that Russia could react in this way are stupid," further adding that Moscows foreign policy is not built upon "penalties" and "acts of retaliation."
He then went on to dismiss any unilateral recognition of Kosovos independence as a mistake.
Translated by Areti Christou
 Will be submitted to Computed Tomography TomorrowArleta in Medical Intense Unit
14 Feb 2008 10:32:00
Sources: ÍÅÔ 105.8
Famous singer Arleta is being treated in the Medical Intense Unit of Volos Hospital as she had suffered brain stroke on Monday before she performed on stage in a concert staged in Volos City Theatre. According to her treating doctors her condition is critical; she is now in suppression and will be submitted to a new computed tomography.
Translated by Sofia Gartziou