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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-03-10
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Biden Denounces Israel's Settlement DecisionWednesday, 10 March 2010 16:37
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden denounced the plan for new Israeli construction in eastern Jerusalem, underlining that such a move undermines the Palestinians' faith in the new peace talks. The two sides should forge an atmosphere capable to support the peace talks and not torpedo them, Biden told reporters after his meeting with Palestinian President. Mahmoud Abbas, on his part, argued that the construction of Israeli houses in eastern Jerusalem threatens the peace talks and requested the settlement decision be reversed.
"The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel"
France also denounced Israel's construction plans as illegal.
"This decision is totally inopportune at a time when peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are resuming," a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said during a press conference.
Norway blasted Israel's plans, as well, arguing that it will torpedo the peace talks.
Source: Reuters, ANA/MPA News item: 34202
 Greece Joins Visa Waiver ProgrammeWednesday, 10 March 2010 16:35
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced that Greece will join the VWP. This decision is a major milestone reflective of the strong and enduring relationship between the U.S. and Greece. The effective date is in approximately 30 days. This program will make it very convenient for most Greek citizens to travel to the United States, strengthening the long-standing family, educational, social and business ties between the two countries.
"This is an exciting day for both the United States and Greece. A lot of hard work and cooperation by a lot of people in the U.S. and Greek governments have made visa waiver a reality for Greek citizens." said U.S. Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard.
The Visa Waiver Program enables Greeks travelling to the U.S. for tourism or some business purposes to stay in the United States for up to 90 days without a visa, though travelers will have to complete some information online prior to traveling. To visit the U.S. without a visa, a traveler will need the following three items:
The ESTA is an electronic form which must be filled out on line at the following and only the following web site: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. It is similar to the forms travelers have filled out prior to landing in the United States. Currently there is no fee for ESTA applications, however, there is likely to be a modest application fee in the future. Travelers are strongly advised to avoid the numerous websites which charge fees for submitting applications on their behalf.
After filling out the form, in the vast majority of cases, ESTA immediately indicates travel has been authorized. The authorization should be printed and brought to the airport. The ESTA authorization normally will be valid for two years, but if the passport expires, the traveler must apply again.
Travelers without an ESTA approval or a visa will be denied admission at the U.S. port of entry. Travelers who have previously been denied a visa, previously refused entry to the United States, or previously removed from the U.S. are not likely to obtain ESTA approval. Such applicants should apply for a visa at the Embassy.
Visas will still be required for those Greek visitors planning to stay in the U.S. for longer than 90 days or who are traveling for example to study, participate in exchange programs, to work temporarily, or as a media representative.
Source: athens.usembassy.gov News item: 34204
 Nationwide Strike on ThursdayWednesday, 10 March 2010 16:33
Yet another 24-hour nationwide strike was scheduled for Thursday, as employees are protesting the new measures taken by the government to tackle the fiscal crisis. GSEE and ADEDY, Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisations representing the private and public sector workforce, urged employees to join the demonstration to be held Thursday morning. Journalists working in all media, both private and public ones, will also go out on strike on Thursday.
Employees in Dekos, Ministries, schools, tax offices, pension funds, municipalities, banks and public transport will go out on strike.
Air traffic controllers will also join the industrial actions scheduled for Thursday. Therefore, no flights will take place from Wednesday midnight until Thursday midnight. Aegean and Olympic Air, Greece's largest air carriers, cancelled all their flights scheduled for Thursday and rescheduled others lest they should coincide with the strike.
Therefore, travellers had better contact air carriers to get updated on the latest news.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 34203
 Athens Satisfied over Papandreou's Visit to the USAWednesday, 10 March 2010 15:00
US President Barack Obama accepted Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's invitation to visit Athens. Papandreou expressed its absolute satisfaction over the results of his talks with Obama at the White House on Tuesday, while the opposition parties in Athens welcomed the results with mixed feelings, with the main opposition New Democracy party requesting the Prime Minister brief, upon his arrival to Greece, the political leaders and the House on the results of his meetings on the other side of the Atlantic.
Obama Accepted Invitation to Visit Greece
Athens is absolute satisfied with the results the meeting held between Papandreou and Obama at the White House yielded. Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said that the Greek Prime Minister invited the US President to visit Greece, with the latter accepting the invitation.
"I will be honest about Obama's reaction. He himself told us he regrets not to have visited Greece so far, as he did not have the chance to do so. He intends to visit our country in the first chance he got during his term. If possible, he will include a visit to one of our beautiful, as he called them, islands," noted Droutsas.
"The first stage I can tell you about is a joint letter signed by Ms Merkel, Mr Sarkozy, Mr Juncker and the Greek Prime Minister towards the President of the European Committee"
The Greek side is particularly satisfied with the solidarity message voiced by Obama amidst the fiscal crisis. In the meantime, an initiative aiming to stamp out international profiteering is to unfold in the days to come.
"The European Commission, as you already know, is the European Commission's executive arm responsible for processing the proper mechanisms and proposals that will lead to specific measures against international profiteering," added the Deputy Defence Minister.
Reactions by Opposition Parties
ND requested political leaders be analytically briefed on the results of the talks held between George Papandreou and Barack Obama, while it hailed the abolition of the visa requirement for Greeks wishing to travel to the US as a positive development.
ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos noted that, it comes from the government's announcements, that there is strong mobility in Greek-Turkish relations, with an exchange of letters between the Greek and Turkish Prime Ministers while, "according to Mr. Papandreou, a visit by Erdogan to Athens is pending in the early summer." He then went on to add that any developments on the FYROM name issue should be expected at around the NATO
ND deputy Dora Bakoyannis voiced her satisfaction over Barack Obama's decision to have the visa requirement abolished, as it was the desired result of a major national effort launched in March 2006 with her visit to the USA and culminated with the signing of relevant agreements by the Conservative government in Corfu in June 2009.
Barack Obama's political support means support to war waged by the Greek government against the people, in collaboration with the EU and the rest urban political parties, commented KKE (Greek Communist Party).
With regard to the visa waiver programmer, KKE stressed: "Greece's inclusion in the visa waiver programme, which is hailed by the government as a great achievement, legalizes the surveillance of the Greek people (fingerprints, DNA, personal data etc)."
SYN (Coalition of the Radical Left) spokesman Panos Skourletis spoke of generalized approached that mean to cast a cloud over the real problems. I am referring to the so-called war against the profiteers to be waged by Ms Merkel, Mr Sarkozy and Mr Obama. The uncontrollable activities of the profiteering markets resulted from a neo-liberal economical model served by the two major political families of Social Democracy and the Right."
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 34196
 Parliament Dispute on Immigration IssueWednesday, 10 March 2010 13:53
Parliament debate on immigration draft-bill developed in a strong confrontation between the government and ND party as well as ND-LAOS after the main opposition party leader maintained "the draft-bill did not promote smooth incorporation of immigrants", sparking Interior Ministry reaction.
Specifically, ND leader A. Samaras described the draft-bill as dangerous leading Greek society to dangerous deadlock and stressed that ND would recall the bill when it comes to office.
In this crucial period, it appears that you are trying to change the electoral body even only for municipal elections.
In response, Interior Ministry accused the ND party for distortion and misinterpretation of the bill's regulations and launched attack against Mr. Samaras describing his arguments as groundless.
Mr. Ragousis stressed that the bill is an integrated package with specific procedures to grant citizenship and underlined that there is no article that concerns illegal immigrants and ones not having documents.
ND parliamentary spokesman Kostas Tzavaras told LAOS president G. Karatzaferis that he had the right to name himself as Mr. Papandreou aide. In response, Mr. Karatzaferis said Greek people can see and judge.
News item: 34193
 Papandreou-Obama Meeting in Warm ClimateWednesday, 10 March 2010 11:43
Coming out of the meeting with US president Barrack Obama, Prime-minister G. Papandreou said he received a positive response on the issue of curbing harmful speculation. Mr. Papandreou placed particular emphasis on Washington's decision to include Greece in the Visa waiver program (lift of visa request for Greek travelers), describing it as a confidence vote to Greece and its economy. He also added that it was self-evident Greece cooperated with all international organizations to combat terrorism. "In good and bad times Greece will always have a friend and a partner, the US" said Barrack Obama.
The American President backed Greece, Germany and France's initiative to curb speculative practices ensuring to bring the plan to the G20.
"Determined to Overcome Crisis"
"Mr. Papandreou briefed the US President on the situation of Greece's economy, the painful government measures as well as the determination of Greek people and government to overcome the crisis.
"I briefed the US President on EU initiative to rein in speculation and asked for US cooperation in view of G20 nations meeting, in June. I received a positive response from Obama on the issue of curbing credit-default swaps. This will bringorder to international markets", said the Prime-minister.
G. Papandreou repeated that Greece has not asked for financial assistance but EU intervention to curb speculation practices to be able to borrow at lower interest rates.
Papandreou- Obama talks included Cyprus, Greek-Turkish relations, West Balkans-EU admission course. The Greek Prime-minister briefed the US President ON Greece's stance for a just and viable solution of the Cyprus issue within the UN and EU framework, its efforts for settlement of Greece-Turkey differences, invitation of Turlish Prime-minister Tayip Erdogan to visit Greece, plan for Western Balkan States-EU admission till 2014 aimed to ensure stability in the region. They also discusses issues concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Mr. Papandreou said that the Greek government's views met US administration support.
The working meeting lasted 40 minutes ten minutes longer than initially scheduled but it was not open to mass media. Attending the meeting were also Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou, alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and government spokesman G. Petalotis.
Meeting with Clinton and Geithner
Former US president Bill Clinton made positive statements after his meeting with the Greek Prime-minister. He underlined that long-term prospects for Greece appear particularly promising.
Mr. Papandreou had talks at the White House with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. White House spokesman said on Tuesday evening that Greek leaders have not come to ask for US financial assistance to resolve their country's budget default which is a European Union issue. The statement came in response to reporters' questions on whether the US administration will back Greece's bail out. "Greece has the means to solve its problem" said White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs.
Mr. Papandreou expressed satisfaction at the outcome of his meeting with Timothy Geithner forecasting that the US not only will support Greece but will probably forward proposals to improve financial oversight and increase supervision over derivatives markets.
Concerning Greek troops in Afghanistan, Mr. Papandreou made clear that the US side neither made any request nor exercised pressure for increase of Greek troops. Greece's position on the issue is clear, it has assumed management of Kabul airport and training of Afghan pilots for a specific period.
Papandreou- Pelosi Meeting
Earlier, Mr. Papandreou met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who in her speech underlined that Greece would not be left alone in the crisis mentioning the strong bonds between the two countries and the significant role of the Greek-American community who strengthen US with their values and work-ethic. Mr. Pelosi said the Greek people can be assured that the United States will stand with them at this critical time.
In an interview with radio ═┼ď 105.8, alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said that US President Barrack Obama wants to visit Greece during his term in office.
Finance Minister G. Papakonstantinou, in an interview with television network CNBC expressed certainty that Growth and Stability Program will achieve its targets.
Conservative ND party repeated its support to G. Papandreou initiatives provided it stays firm on red lines concerning national issues.
Mr. Papandreou returned to the White House in the evening to attend events organized to observe Greek Independence Day in the United States, a little earlier this year due to the Prime-minister's visit.
Sources: ═┼ď - ═┼ď 105.8 - ┴NA-╠PA
News item: 34184
 Industrial Mobilizations ContinueWednesday, 10 March 2010 09:16
Industrial mobilizations continue with GSEE- ADEDY 24-hour strike on Thursday in protest against additional measures to face the financial crisis. Judicial clerks are staging 2-hour stoppages on Wednesday while employees of former Olympic Airways have occupied the General Accounting Office and temporary Stage contract workers have occupied the Employment Ministry.
Employees in local administration will keep landfills closed till Thursday while they are staging a 4-hour work stoppage from 11:00, on Wednesday. OLME has announced two 3-hour work stoppages, from 11:00 -14:00 and 14:00- 17:00. ADEDY has planned demonstration at 12:30, in the center of Athens to be joined by POE-OTA.
Thursday General Strike
Participating in Thursday's general strike are all means of mass transport, blue and trolley buses, metro, tram and suburban railway. Electric train will run between 10:00- 16:00. Scheduled flights and Hellenic railways services will be cancelled while participating in the strike are also dock workers and sailmen.
The two large airway companies ┴EGEAN and OLYMPIC AIR are cancelling all their scheduled flights on Thursday and changing departure time in some flights before the start of the general strike. Passengers scheduled to travel from Wednesday afternoon to midnight are advised to call the companies to be informed on cancelations or reschedule of their flights .
Hospitals, health centers and ambulance service will operate with skeleton staff. Also joining the strike are journalists, Piraeus Union lawyers, grammar and high school teachers and DEH employees.
The major demonstration will be staged at 11:00, in the Pedion tou Areos park. Policemen have also planned mobilizations as they will stage protest demonstration in front of GADA (Athens General Police Headquarters)
Source: ═┼ď 105.8 News item: 34182
 One Man Killed in Exchange of Fire with PoliceWednesday, 10 March 2010 08:22
One man was killed in an exchange of fire with policemen at 05:40, in the Athens suburb of Dafni. Reports so far say, the crew of police patrol car asked to check two persons in a private car, whose moves raised suspicions. The two unknown men got out of the car and shot at the policemen who returned fire killing one of them. The second suspect managed to escape. Police found a hand grenade- eastern make- in the bag of the one man.
Source: ═┼ď -┴NA - ╠PA
News item: 34180
 Gov't and SEV Say No to Trimming 14th Salary in Private SectorWednesday, 10 March 2010 12:48
Employment Minister Andreas Loverdos ruled out Wednesday the possibility of trimming the 14th salary in the private sector. Addressing the House, Loverdos dismissed such a measure as detrimental to economy. Sounding on the same wavelength, the SEV (Hellenic Federation of Enterprises) head also blasted such a possibility. Dimitris Daskalopoulos lashed out at the employees going out on strikes and suggested permanent working status in the public sector be abolished. His last comments sparked fierce reaction by the parties of the left.
"We have repeatedly said that neither the government nor the EU commissioner intend to have the measure in question implemented in the private sector. Such a move would be detrimental, while the ongoing talks on that cause nothing but concern," stressed Andreas Loverdos.
Touching on the same matter, ND deputy and section head for employment Ioannis Vroutsis blamed the scenarios on the government's lack of credibility, as the ruling party went back on both its pre- and post-election pledges.
Statements by Daskalopoulos
SEV President Dimitris Daskalopoulos said there is a long-established framework of labour relations in Greece and argued that the 14th salary in the private sector won't be trimmed. He then went on to lash out at the employees going out on strike protesting the new measures taken by the government.
"Demonstrations and unrest are instigated by those who wish, for their own benefit, to keep fuelling irregularities that turned Greece into a beggar. Thankfully, there are Greeks who create and produce and are not confined to state aid. These are the Greeks that inspire all of us," added Daskalopoulos.
Shifting his attention to the government's measures, he called tough and unfair yet necessary and estimated that the recession will last for five years. He also underlined that permanent working status in the public sector should be abolished. News item: 34187