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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-01-21

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Monday, 21 January 2008 Issue No: 2799

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis urges Youth Parliament delegates to struggle for ideals
  • [02] Papandreou, Venizelos address PASOK pre-congress meeting
  • [03] Former leftist party leader on current political developments
  • [04] Poll indicates ND lead in voters' preference
  • [05] Infamous outlaw arrested
  • [06] Police arrest cross-border drug trafficking suspects
  • [07] Athenians stage bicycle protest
  • [08] Car belonging to honorary consul torched
  • [09] Patras Carnival 2008
  • [10] 'Big 3' stay in championship hunt
  • [11] Cloudy on Monday
  • [12] The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Karamanlis urges Youth Parliament delegates to struggle for ideals

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Sunday welcomed the teenage "Youth Parliamentary Deputies" participating in the annual Youth Parliament events at his office in Parliament on Sunday, urging them to continue to struggle for their dreams and ideals.

    After welcoming them to "the heart of Democracy" and thanking them for their participation in the annual sessions, the Greek prime minister said he listened carefully to their main observations at the plenum and stressed that the institution of the Youth Parliament is of heightened importance.

    The two-day annual Youth Parliament concluded in Athens on Sunday, with Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas assuring the 300 young parliamentarians from schools throughout Greece, Cyprus and ethnic Greek communities around the world that their positions and statements "will not be lost in the minutes of Parliament", but instead the state will listen to and consider the concerns and observations they raised.

    Sioufas extended the greetings of all wings of parliament to the young parliamentarians, who he said had been given the opportunity to perceive the principles of Democracy "which functions with freedom but also rules, which are set out in the Rules of Parliament".

    "You realised the value of dialogue through rules. There is no Democracy without freedom of speech, but also without restrictions for the sake of the other person's freedom", Sioufas said.

    During a two-day session attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis, ministers, deputy ministers and representatives of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), the young MPs expressed their concerns and worries over the major issues of the country, and issues concerning the young people, and also put forward proposals and demanded solutions.

    Items on the agenda included education, the problem of narcotics, road accidents, unemployment, environmental protection, public administration, woman's position, migration, the health system, the Cyprus issue, and neighbouring EU candidate Turkey's adherence to European standards and principles.

    [02] Papandreou, Venizelos address PASOK pre-congress meeting

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou appeared optimistic that the course to the party's next congress had started off on the right footing, stressing that the event will be the "springboard for a new course for Greece and a new course for PASOK to win the next general elections", speaking at the closing session of the PASOK congress' central organising committee meeting on Saturday evening.

    Papandreou also launched a scathing attack against the ruling New Democracy (ND) government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, while he further warned party members that the PASOK congress should not be seen as a "battle of officials".

    The PASOK leader said the country was going through a crisis (a reference to the Zachopoulos affair) undermining the institutions, while he referred to an abuse of authority, deification of wealth, prevalence of the law of the powerful, and the buy-off of consciences.

    He accused the government of leading the country on a decline, with its conservative policy, which would not stop unless the conservative policy was overturned, and accused the prime minister personally of "serving the powerful

    He further accused the premier of not fighting corruption.

    Papandreou also charged that "no one today knows who's governing the country", questioning whether the country was being run by the elected prime minister, "the opaque interests that back him, or those with whom he was engaged in 'mutual coercion'."

    One thing was certain, he added, "it is not the Greek people who are governing".

    Turning to the stance of the other left-wing parties, Papandreou accused them of "levelling rationales" for vote-grabbing reasons.

    Papandreou further criticised the prime minister for deciding to visit Ankara at a time when "the ND government has lost its negotiating strength vis--vis Turkey.

    The PASOK leader said that the Karamanlis visit could have one of two possible results, both of which were dangerous: "Either Greece will be pressured for even more concessions on its sovereign rights, or the government will aspire only to communication benefits".

    "The government's desire for the prime minister to go to Turkey is due to its inability to tackle domestic problems, and not to solve the external ones," he said.

    In his own address, high-ranking MP Costas Skandalidis referred to a crisis of governance and a crisis in the representation of the political system, and stressed the need for deep-rooted changes to the political system and transition to a qualitative system of governance.

    Venizelos

    Former minister Evangelos Venizelos, in turn, said he was in agreement with the basic policy positions set out by Papandreou for a change of the political system, but he criticised other aspects of PASOK's policy as well as internal party issues, pointing to the issue of internal party democracy, as he said.

    Venizelos said he agreed with Papandreou that the Nov. 11 party leadership election -- where he and Skandalidis were also candidates for the PASOK helm -- was "history", as was the Sept. 16 general election. "But those dates determine, to a great degree, the present and future of the party and the country", he said, adding that commitments undertaken ahead of the Nov. 11 party election "are still valid".

    Venizelos said he respected the outcome of the internal party election, but stressed that he was giving Papandreou "space" to unfold his choices and implement his policy, without setting out is own participation in the implementation of the policy selected by the party. He added that the commitment he had undertaken concerned his participation in pre-congress dialogue and contacts with the grass roots.

    Finally, he called for the postponement of Karamanlis' visit to Ankara for a later date, charging that the premier "does not have the moral or spiritual strength to deal with such issues".

    [03] Former leftist party leader on current political developments

    Former Coalition of the Left Party (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, speaking in an interview with the Sunday edition of the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia," was quoted as stressing the need for the country's "real and leading social, cultural and political group", as he said, to restrain a continuous decline in the country's political life.

    "It is time for initiatives to be taken that will directly question collapsing two-party rule, and to dynamically claim a restructuring of the entire political system," he said.

    Referring to the so-called "Venizelos trend" within the main opposition PASOK party, Constantopoulos said "the question is whether procedures can be scheduled for the creation of a new party that will seek to express, with modern terms, a large section of Greek society that has been determined historically as the anti-right section and, of course, one that concerns many more than those found in the existing political groupings, whatever they are named."

    [04] Poll indicates ND lead in voters' preference

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) party leads main opposition PASOK by 2.2 percentage points, according to a nationwide opinion poll published by the Sunday edition of an Athens daily.

    According to results, ND garnered 30.2 percent of voters' preference, as opposed to 28 percent for PASOK, followed by 8.2 percent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE); 8.1 percent for the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group led by the Coalition of the Left party (Synaspismos), and 3.8 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party. Four percent of the respondents opted for other parties, whereas "no reply" responses reached 14.6 percent.

    Roughly 72 percent of respondents said they believe main opposition PASOK was not heading in the right direction, with 39.6 percent of all respondents, and 38.1 percent of PASOK voters, believing that the so-called 'trend' within the party, headed by recent leadership contender and former minister Evangelos Venizelos was gaining in strength, while 46.1 percent of respondents believe the opposite.

    In reference to the ongoing and heated Zachopoulos affair, 87.4 percent of respondents said they believe that corruption is a long-standing problem in the country, while 66.2 percent believe that nothing can be done to contain the problem -- with 32.7 percent holding the opposite view.

    Also, 52.8 percent of respondents believe corruption is a political issue; 26.2 percent that it is a social issue, and 19.2 percent that it is a financial issue.

    Furthermore, an overwhelming 78.8 percent of respondents criticised the stance maintained on the Zachopoulos affair by both ND and PASOK, while positions of other parties were also deemed as negative: KKE (62.8 percent), SYRIZA (55.9 percent), LA.OS (60.2 percent), reporters (69.7 percent), media owners (74.2 percent), and judicial officials (51.6 percent).

    Additionally, 42 percent of respondents said a government under Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis can better tackle problems faced by citizens, whereas 32.9 percent believe this holds true of a PASOK government led by Papandreou.

    The telephone poll was conducted by MRB polling firm between Jan. 16-17 on a sample of 1,002 respondents, and published by the "Eleftheros Typos" daily.

    General News

    [05] Infamous outlaw arrested

    Outlaw 47-year-old Vassilis Stefanakos was arrested on Saturday morning in Athens by a special police squad that had set an ambush after information saying that Stefanakos was in the area.

    Police spotted the fugitive by the time he was leaving his house and arrested him without any resistance.

    Stefanakos topped the West Attica's periphery most wanted list with 44 outstanding arrest warrants. He was accused of moral instigation in the murder of Themis Kalapotharakos on July 2000 in the coastal, near Athens, town of Nea Makri, oil and tobacco smuggling, blackmail, attacks resulting in bodily harms and other crimes.

    In December 2006 he was convicted in absentia to 14 years imprisonment but he managed to issue police ID card with the help of two police officers of the West Attica police station.

    The most important is that Stefanakos, according to police was one of the organisers of the spectacular helicopter escape of infamous Greek outlaw Vassilis Paleokostas and Albanian Alket Rijai in June 2006 from Korydallos prison.

    Stefanakos is also being investigated on charges of moral instigation in a series of underworld killings in the past year in an ongoing gang war in Western Attica.

    Stefanakos remanded in custody and will be taken before a public prosecutor.

    [06] Police arrest cross-border drug trafficking suspects

    Police made three arrests over the weekend, picking up a local man and two Albanian nationals, involved in an alleged drug trafficking ring.

    Two of the suspects were arrested on Saturday near the northwest city of Ioannina after more than 55 kilos of hashish, believed to have been smuggled into the country from Albania, was found in the Albanian national's vehicle.

    Another man was arrested in Athens.

    [07] Athenians stage bicycle protest

    Athenians staged a demonstration with bicycles on Sunday, in protest to the planned exploitation of part of the expanse of land that was formerly Athens' eastern airport.

    Bicyclists gathered Sunday morning at central Syntagma Square, from where they rode their bicycles to the former airport, via Vouliagmenis Avenue.

    The bicycle 'march' was based on an idea by the Southern Suburbs Residents' Initiative, which was quickly adopted by the bicyclist organisations and clubs of Attica Prefecture, whose members staged Sunday's demonstration.

    The protestors also rode their bicycles a lap inside the former airport's expanse, concluding their demonstration with a symbolic tree-planting.

    [08] Car belonging to honorary consul torched

    A parked vehicle belonging to Chile's honorary consul in the country was torched early Sunday morning in the northern Athens district of Halandri.

    An anonymous caller to an Athens daily later claimed responsibility for the incident, reportedly citing "solidarity" for indigenous peoples in the South American country.

    Police said a make-shift incendiary device comprised of camping gas canisters was used in the attack.

    [09] Patras Carnival 2008

    The annual Patras Carnival officially got underway Saturday night in the western port city, with the theme this year being the History of Communication.

    The opening night included an impressive laser show and fireworks, marking the beginning of nearly six weeks of flamboyant festivity and tireless merrymaking.

    The Carnival will culminate on March 9, with the traditional grand parade of hand-crafted floats and the burning of the Carnival King.

    The end of Carnival on Sunday, March 9, marks the start of the Orthodox Lent on Clean Monday.

    Soccer

    [10] 'Big 3' stay in championship hunt

    AEK Athens continued to hold a slim lead atop the Greek first division (Super League) football standings over the weekend with a 1-0 away win on Saturday evening against a tough Atromitos Athens side. Rivals Olympiakos Piraeus and Panathinaikos Athens -- one and two points behind AEK, respectively -- also kept their championship hopes alive, with the former beating OFI Crete 1-0 away on Sunday and Panathinaikos rebounding from a 4-0 mid-week thrashing at the hands of Olympiakos, during a Cup qualifier, to beat lowly Ergotelis 1-0 at home later in the evening.

    In other action over the weekend:

    Aris Thessaloniki - Apollon Kalamaria 2-2

    Asteras Tripoli - Xanthi 0-0

    Veria - Larissa 1-0

    Levadiakos Livadia - Panionios Athens 1-0

    Iraklis Thessaloniki - PAOK Thessaloniki 1-0

    Standings after 17 weeks of play:

    AEK 39 points

    Olympiakos 38

    Panathinaikos 37

    Asteras 30

    Aris 29

    PAOK 23

    Panionios 22

    Xanthi 22

    Atromitos 21

    Levadiakos 18

    Iraklis 18

    Veria 17

    Larissa 16

    OFI 15

    Apollon 15

    Ergotelis 12

    Weather Forecast

    [11] Cloudy on Monday

    Cloudy weather is forecast in most parts of the country, as well as mist mainly in the morning on mainland Greece, with wind velocity reaching 3-4 beaufort. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 8C and 18C, and in Thessaloniki from 4C to 15C.

    [12] The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The Zachopoulos affair, reforms in the social insurance sector, an MRB opinion poll, loand to military officers, labour strikes, prime minister Costas Karamanlis' upcoming visit to Turkey, and the situation on the international markets, were the main front-page items in Sunday's newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Who's turn is it for a salte mortale (Italian phrase for death leap)?".

    APOGEVMATINI: "The final arrangements for the unification of social insurance funds - Government unwavering on creation of small number of (larger) social insurance funds".

    AVGHI: "Disgust over the corruption - Government 'sinking' from the revelations - Hope from Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA) alternative proposal".

    AVRIANI: "Crash, with 50 percent losses for ND (ruling New Democracy) and PASOK (main opposition) parties - Opinion polls".

    CHORA: "Home loans to military personnel with beneficial terms - What is changing with the new national defence ministry bill".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "The Spy who came in from Hell".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The citizens feel anger and shape - The morbid Zachopoulos affair is seen by the electorate as a crisis in the authorities - MRB opinion poll".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Clearing up of accounts - Fear in government over the threatening domino effect of the new charges and depositions".

    ETHNOS: "Full attack on all the social insurance funds - Exclusive: The new plan".

    KATHIMERINI: "The entire spectrum of coercion revealed, with new evidence - The faces and judicial developments in the Zachopoulos affair".

    LOGOS: "Karamanlis visit to TUrkey of 'high interest', although government is cultivating climate of 'low expectations' ".

    PROTO THEMA (weekly): "EYP (national information service) knew about the sex DVD - Mystery secret document arrived in Zachopoulos' hands a few weeks before he jumped (off a fourth-floor balcony the day after his resignation from the post of culture ministry secretary general )".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Rally on January 22 for social insurace funds and collective labour agreements".

    TO VIMA: "The truth about the DVD-gate - The protagonists, the behind-the-scenes, and the collusion - What the examining magistrate is investigating - What the government fears".

    VRADYNI: "9 lies and 5 truths - Zachopoulos affair - The blackmailiers pointed to by Karamanlis - What terrorises the government".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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