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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-03-18
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Greece and United Arab Emirates Promote CooperationThursday, 18 March 2010 17:26
Greek Economy Minister Louka Katseli and the Deputy Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates expressed their mutual will to have economic ties between the two nations strengthened. On the sidelines of the business forum taking place in Athens, Greek officials held bilateral meeting with representatives of the United Arab Emirates.
"We had a really important meeting with the representatives of the Abu Dhabi administration. We looked through the prospects of cooperation in three major sectors," commented the Greek Economy Minister.
Touching on the renewable energy sector, the Greek Minister stressed that Abu Dhabi has shifted its attention to renewable energy, which is Greece' s priority, as well. She also said the Emirates, as well as Greece, are interested in the sectors of ports, infrastructure, culture and tourism. "Government officials and businessmen have focused their attention on these factors in order to see how we can build a long-standing cooperation between Athens and Abu Dhabi," continued she.
Asked whether the two sides are close to signing certain agreements, Katseli argued that the economic cooperation is constant, results are yielded when there is a systematic effort, consistency and effectiveness.
Source: NET, ANA News item: 34482
 Unemployment Surge - Wrangling in ParliamentThursday, 18 March 2010 17:17
The Greek Employment Ministry's forecast on employment is rather gloomy, since the National Statistical Agency has suggested that unemployment will shoot up to 12% by the end of March. Statistical data have shown that unemployment rose to 10.3% in the fourth quarter of 2009 as opposed to 7.9% in 2008.
Projections on unemployment amidst the depression of the Greek economy are rather discouraging. Unveiling the data taken from the Statistical Service in the House, Employment Minister Andreas Loverdos predicted that unemployment would rise to 12% by the end of March.
According to the statistical data, unemployment in the last quarter of 2009 amounted to 10%. The unemployed rose to 514,401 people, increased by 121,733 people compared to the same period in 2008.
Along with unemployment, partial employment (flexible working conditions, partial employment) also increased to 6.5% from 5.8% in October. Loverdos said that a draft-bill providing guarantees and governing rules with regard to flexible employment would be submitted to Parliament before Easter.
Wrangling in Parliament
The Parliament rejected KKE's (Greek Communist Party) proposal on labour relations in the private and public sectors.
KKE parliamentarian Sofia Kalantidou blasted the tough measures taken with the pretext of the capitalistic crisis.
Andreas Loverdos expressed his disagreement with KKE's approach towards flexible working conditions and dismissed its proposal as exaggerating.
ND deputy and former Employment Minister G. Kontogiannis underlined that KKE's proposals are not realistic, arguing that no one questions its sensitivity. "We have to adopt to the real facts in order to safeguard the rights to labour," said he.
LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) K. Velopoulos said that KKE's proposals are mere fantasy and wondered how it is possible for investments to be attracted and new jobs to be opened when there is a political party which is always talking about the capital and the multi-national companies.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 34480
 Child Abuse Scandal Rocks ChurchThursday, 18 March 2010 17:05
The child abuse cases that keep surfacing have rocked the Catholic Church of Ireland. Cardinal Sean Brady, the head of Ireland's Roman Catholic Church, apologized for his role in the cover-up of a child abuse case.
The Catholic Church in Ireland faced fresh allegations of mishandling child sex abuse cases. Following into the footsteps of Pope Benedict, the head of Ireland's Catholic Church was forced to apologized after the public outcry triggered by the child abuse scandal. News item: 34479
 EU Intentions to Help Greece Remain HazyThursday, 18 March 2010 15:48
Europe's intention to help Greece fix its fiscal problems remains hazy. Greece won't be left alone in this crisis, stressed European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek after his meeting with the Greek Prime Minister. France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner pointed out that France, Germany and the rest eurozone nations will help Greece to tackle its financial turmoil. Messages coming from Germany, though, are rather controversial, with Angela Merkel's advisors underlining that Greece should resort to the International Monetary Fund if it needed help. However, the Deutsche Bank CEO argued that Greece's problems could act as a dress rehearsal for Germany, as well.
Normal, Logical and Wise
The likelihood of Greece's requesting financial aid from the International Monetary Fund is normal, logical and wise, commented the European Commission.
For a statesman responsible for his country's future, it strikes as normal, logical and wise, added the European Commission spokesman.
He then went on to express his hope that the European Council would have fruitful talks to help Greece if deemed necessary at the Summit scheduled for 25 and 26 March in Brussels.
Amadeu Altafaj reiterated that Greece should first ask for help and a relevant political decision should be made by the 27-nation bloc before financial mechanism can intervene.
He, noted, however, that no date has been set for the discussion of the matter, since Greece has not submitted such a request.
Controversial Messages from Germany
German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed Wednesday that German would not agree with a rushed financial aid to Greece. However, Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann underlined there is no other way other than bailing out Greece.
Bankruptcy in Greece could trigger dramatic effects on the German fiscal market, argued Josef Ackermann, further adding that in case Greece had to be rescued, there would not be an alternative.
Inability to stabilise Greece means that banks are the next to encounter problems, however, Greece has to commit itself to its pledges and consolidate its fiscal problems, concluded Ackermann.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA, Reuters News item: 34473
 Night Shifts in Hospitals Won't Be TrimmedThursday, 18 March 2010 15:05
Hospital doctors decided to withhold their labour as of coming Monday until unpaid overtime is finally paid. In their meeting with Health Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, they demanded real hirings, as well as they be included in the arduous and hazardous occupations. The Health Minister, on the other hand, reiterated that the hiring process is getting sped up, while night shifts and overtime won't be trimmed.
The Health Minister made it clear Thursday morning in Parliament that doctors' night shifts won't be reduced by 10%. She also said that Mr Sahinides signed the disbursement of 36 million euros for the payment of December's night shifts.
Conservative deputy Marios Salmas stressed that the nation's public health system has been paralysed, since the hospitals' debts increased by 1 billion euros. News item: 34470
 Greece Open to DNTThursday, 18 March 2010 14:15
Prime-minister George Papandreou used his speech in the European Parliament to send the message that Greece would refer to International Monetary Fund unless a European solution is given for Greece to borrow at same interest rates as other countries. Mr. Papandreou stressed that his government has taken the most painful measures in the post military coup era but high cost loans undermine Greece's efforts to bring state deficit down. He again repeated Greece's need for strong political support to enable it borrow at lower interest rates in order to promote necessary reforms. Mr. Papandreou met with the President of the European Parliament who said that Greece would not be left alone to face its economic problems.
Source: ÍÅÔ-ÍÅÔ 105.8-ÁNA/ÌPA
News item: 34465
 Trade Mobilizations ContinueThursday, 18 March 2010 09:43
The Federation of Gas Station owners is staging a 24-hour strike on Thursday, however, the Pan-hellenic Fuel Merchants Federation is not participating in the strike. Gas stations in Thessaloniki, Crete, Mitilini, Grevena, Arkadia and Messinia are open while gas station owners in the Ebros prefecture have announced blockade of Ebros border crossing till 13:00, on Thursday. After their meetings, gas station owners trade unions, stressed they did not refuse to install cash registersas provided by new taxation draft-bill and would decided on further mobilizations after a meeting on Sunday. the Federation did not rule out continuation of mobilizations during Easter.
Doctors continue work stoppages while in response to SYRIZA deputy Basilis Moulopoulos question, Health Minister, Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou said that doctors and hospital staff overtime payments are exempted from 10% salary cut. She said that a relevant Finance Minister circular would be issued this week, adding that Finance undersecretary Sahinidis has already signed for the allocation of 36 million euros for the payment of doctors overtime in December, 2009.
Taxi- drivers are also staging a 24-hour strike till 01:00 on Friday in protest against a proposed overhaul of tax laws. The president of the Pan-Hellenic Federation of Taxi Drivers described as counterfactual rise of taxable income from â¬16.000 to â¬25.000 and infeasible regulation for the opening of accounting books as of 2011. He warned of indefinite strike when taxation draft-bill is tabled to the Parliament. Taxi-drivers will stage a street rally at 11:00 and march to Finance Ministry.
GENOP-DEH has suspended mobilizations but will proceed to 48-hour rolling strikes as of March, 24 if the meeting of their administration board with Employment and Finance Ministers bears no fruit.
GSEE Pan-Hellenic congress, that begins today and will last till Sunday, is expected to reach decisions on its actions and claims..
Source: ÍÅÔ 105.8 News item: 34452
 Iceland Voters Reject Compensation PlanSunday, 07 March 2010 13:11
Iceland's voters overwhelmingly rejected a plan to pay Britain and the Netherlands to reimburse customers of a failed Icelandic bank, Icesave. With about 98% of the votes counted Sunday 93 % of voters said no to the plan. Iceland's prime-minister said the center-left government will remain in power and will continue to negotiate to reach an agreement while the Finance Minister said Britain and the Netherlands intend to do the same. Recent developments were subject of comment by EU Commission spokesman who sped to disengage referendum results from the country's admission to the EU.
In an interview with RUV Iceland's President Ãlafur Ragnar GrÃmsson, who proposed the referendum on the unfair Icesave Bank agreement, was happy about the participation in the referendum and hailed the clear refusal of his compatriots. He called on British Prime-minister Gordon Brown should step in to find an acceptable solution to the Icesave dispute. The President said that Brown had shown strong leadership when he fought for an international solution after the worldwide financial collapse. He should do the same guidance in the Icesave dispute. The biggest question after the referendum was what Brown would do. The President has said Iceland is prepared to pay debts to the UK and the Netherlands following the Icesave collapse, but will "not accept unfair terms". "Ordinary people are being asked to shoulder through their taxes a burden that was created by irresponsible greedy bankers," said President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson.
Talks between the three nations are ongoing to see if a more favourable deal for Iceland might be negotiated. On Sunday, a spokesman for British Finance Ministry said that his country was adhered to find a final solution, adding that the result of the referendum was clearly Iceland's domestic issue.
The Netherlands and the British are pushing to get 3.8 million euros back from Iceland, portion of the money they spent to reimburse their 340.000 citizens for their losses when Icebank went bankrupt in October, 2008
The draft-bill sent to parliament in December sparked people's outrage. They gathered signatures for the holding of referendum obliging Iceland's President to exercise his veto power.
News item: 34073
 Merkel: "No Swift Act of Solidarity with Greece"Wednesday, 17 March 2010 15:14
German chancellor Angela Merkel used a budget speech in German Parliament on Wednesday to caution against "overly hasty" pledges of financial support to Greece. Furthermore, the European Commission challenges Britain to cut down on state spending in order to comply with EU regulations. In the meantime, the European Commission expressed intention for reforms in regulations of the hedge fund and private equity industry used in speculators moves on state debts, mainly Greece.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel used a budget speech in German Parliament on Wednesday to caution against "overly hasty" pledges of financial support to Greece. "A quick act of solidarity is definitely not the right answer. Rather, the right answer is to seize the problem at the roots ... therefore there is no alternative to the Greek savings program," she added in a speech.
Merkel attributed responsibility to Greece for its problems, though admitting that speculators had made matters worse but the problem was the result of many years of Greek violation of the rules of the eurozone stability and growth pact. European rules need to change so that countries that repeatedly break the bloc's economic guidelines can be expelled from the euro zone, the German Chancellor said on Wednesday.The comments, given in her speech to the Bundestag, represent the first explicit call from a European leader for such a change, although Merkel's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble broke a taboo earlier this month and urged similar steps.
European Stability Pact instruments providing for economic sanctions for countries breaking fiscal regulations can not be implemented if the country has no money to pay, said Merkel.
On one hand, Merkel cautioned against"overly hasty" pledges of financial support to Greece and on the other hand Deutsche Bank chief Executive Officer Josef Ackermann said Greece must be rescued to keep the "fire" from spreading to other countries and inflicting losses on German banks.
"We need to support the country to avoid the problem of contagion," Ackermann, 62, said today at a Frankfurt conference organized by the Center for Financial Studies. "We need to extinguish small fires before they spread." Ackermann, who runs Germany's biggest bank, said the country's lenders risk "burning billions" if Greece were to default, making a rescue necessary. "If we can't stabilize the country, then the next problem after Greece would be the banks," Ackermann said. But Athens should first meet its obligations and do its fiscal purging.
EU Commission Report Pessimist about Reduction in State Debt in Many Countries
The European Commission expressed concern over the "rather encouraging" forecasts in many EU member states plans to bring state debt down
Brussels issued a report assessing credibility of 14 EU states plans for cuts in state debts reaching record high due to global financial crisis. Brussels refer to the cases of Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Esthonia, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Holland, Austria, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland and Britain. News item: 34424