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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-02-15
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 France Sets out to Reform Pension SystemMonday, 15 February 2010 15:41
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday a planned reform of the pension system would be presented to parliament by early September following talks with employers and unions..
"These negotiations will be carried out in April, May, June, July even, and August if necessary," Sarkozy told reporters after meeting union leaders and the employer federations to establish a timetable for the discussions.
"At the beginning of September, the government will assume its responsibilities and present a bill so that the question of the durability of the pensions system is fixed next autumn," he added.
He ruled out a cut in pay-outs to pensioners, which would have been one of the options to cut pension spending. Other options include raising the retirement age from the current 60 year.
Source: Reuters News item: 33317
 Evros Prefecture Still in Sate of EmergencyMonday, 15 February 2010 13:00
Evros Prefecture, on the northernmost tip of Greece, remains in a state of emergency, due to flooding in the region from the same-name river that separates Greece and Turkey in the Thrace province. The residents of the villages of Pragi and Lagina are on standby in case they have to evacuate them, while prefecture crews are vying to beef up the levees along the river.
The situation in the village of Lavara has been tragic, as several houses have been flooded.
Five houses have been evacuated, while another fifteen people have fled their houses. They are leaving in a local hotel.
Local authorities said that at least 120,000 square metres have been flooded, while all rivers have exceeded the alert limit. News item: 33316
 Promachonas Border Crossing Opened-Meeting with KarhimakisMonday, 15 February 2010 12:12
The Promachonas crossing in the border with Bulgaria is opened Monday. Farmers remain there, without obstructing traffic. A representative of the Serres farmers said they will keep it open during Monday to facilitate the holidaymakers. However, he did not rule out closing it again late on Monday. Local farmers will meet Tuesday with Deputy Agricultural Minister Mr Karhimakis to discuss their grievances.
Source: ANA/MPA News item: 33314
 Tragedy in BelgiumMonday, 15 February 2010 11:42
The province of Flemish Brabant, which includes the town of Halle, said that the death toll officially stood at 10 with 11 seriously injured, including one child. "There are certainly 10 (dead), but of course that figure could rise," a provincial official said, adding it appeared that one of the trains had ignored a red light. Earlier, Belgian public broadcaster VRT had quoted the mayor of Halle as saying that at least 20 people had been killed.
Train operator SNCB said it was too early to speculate about the cause of the accident and denied reports it had given a death toll estimate of 25. It said 250 to 300 people were traveling in the two trains at the time.
"There are certainly deaths, but it's very difficult to give a precise number at this point. There are people trapped inside," an SNCB spokesman told Reuters.
The two trains were crushed against each other, their fronts suspended in the air. Overhead power lines were severely damaged. "The first two carriages were completely squashed," said 37-year-old Hambaoui Mounir. "I was in the carriage right behind. The train fell to one side, people fell over each other, there was no air and women and children were screaming."
A wide range of train services, including high-speed services from Brussels to Paris and the Eurostar from Brussels to Britain via the Channel Tunnel, were suspended for the day.
Source: Reuters News item: 33313
 Crucial Decision in Eurogroup & EcoFinMonday, 15 February 2010 11:28
The following 48 hours are crucial for Greece, since the conclusions expected to be reached at on Monday by the Eurogroup and on Tuesday by the EcoFin are aspired to signal the a new era for the markets. Greece will seek a crystal clear support plan by the strong euro-zone economies so as to address market pressures. At the same time, it will strive to convince its EU partners, who are pushing for additional measures, that the goals of the Greek stability plan are achievable. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet approved of the EU's commitment towards Greece. However, he scolded the latter for its past practices.
Greece should return on the right track, said Trichet, further adding that it has to be particularly careful with the figures it released, because wrong figures won't be accepted. He hailed, though, the pledges of the 27-nation bloc towards Greece as serious.
Touching on the robustness of the other euro-zone economies, Trichet said he had no reason to question the credibility and transparency of the EU budgets.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 33312
 Week of Strikes AheadMonday, 15 February 2010 10:42
A week of strikes is awaiting Greeks. The customs officers are to embark on a three-day strike as of Tuesday, protesting against the cuts in their benefits. Employees in the Finance Ministry will go on strike on Tuesday till Friday. Taxi drivers will strike on 19 February, while GSEE and ADEDY have called for a strike on 24 February.
Protesting against the cuts in their benefits, customs officers decided to go out on a three-day strike starting Tuesday.
In the meantime, petrol station owners have warned the government against imposing tax measures on them, otherwise they will keep their stations closed indefinitely.
Taxi drivers will stage a 24-hour strike on 19 February, while GSEE (Greek General Confederation of Labour) and ADEDY (Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants Trade Unions) have scheduled a strike for 24 February.
Source: NET News item: 33310
 Greece Celebrates Clean MondayMonday, 15 February 2010 10:21
With the traditional Lenten feast and the flying of the kite, Greeks are celebrating the religious holiday of Clean Monday, ahead of Orthodox Christian Easter on April 4 this year. In the meantime, Traffic Police are on standby to facilitate holidaymakers who chose to celebrate Clean Monday in the countryside.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 33309