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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-03-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 24 March 2008 Issue No: 2850


  • [01] PM Karamanlis briefed by foreign minister on FYROM name issue developments
  • [02] PM sends congratulations to new Belgian counterpart Leterme
  • [03] ND maintains lead over PASOK, opinion poll indicates
  • [04] Opinion poll: 41 pct see centre-right government
  • [05] Alavanos: pension reforms will cost government its hold on power
  • [06] SYRIZA leader Alavanos to meet President Papoulias on Wed.
  • [07] Synaspismos leader Tsipras visits Preveza
  • [08] ND secretary congratulates PASOK new Political Council secretary
  • [09] Finmin: joint management model for OTE
  • [10] Lawyers' strike ends Monday
  • [11] 12th International Aegean Conference in Melbourne
  • [12] Athens Mayor launches Recycling Fest
  • [13] Anti-war demonstration in downtown Athens
  • [14] Mobilisation in Preveza for protection of Amvrakikos Gulf
  • [15] Illegal immigrant traffickers arrested
  • [16] Olympic Torch-lighting ceremony on Monday
  • [17] Tourism minister inaugurates exhibition at Ancient Olympia
  • [18] Sports
  • [19] Rain on Monday
  • [20] President Christofias to support cause of relatives of Cyprus' missing

  • [01] PM Karamanlis briefed by foreign minister on FYROM name issue developments

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Saturday with foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on the latest developments in the FYROM name issue, following the latter's recent contacts and her meeting in Brussels with FYROM foreign minister Antonio Milososki on Friday.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Bakoyannis said she briefed the premier on the content of the contacts she had, adding that the negotiations for a name solution were continuing, and that there was nothing new on the issue.

    "As you know, there will be a meeting of the negotiators in New York, where a discussion will take place in the framework of the United Nations and on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions," Bakoyannis said.

    Asked if she was optimistic that a solution could prospectively be reached before the critical NATO Summit in Bucharest (on April 1), Bakoyannis replied: "I can't know that. I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic. But if no agreed solution arises that has the stamp of the UN Security Council, then Greece's position is well known".

    Bakoyannis met with her FYROM counterpart Antonio Milososki in Brussels on Friday, in the framework of the ongoing UN-brokered effort for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the FYROM name issue as per the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, according to a foreign ministry announcement.

    The meeting which was hosted by the US, with assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried in attendance, was held with the aim of advancing the ongoing efforts under the mediation of the UN secretary general's personal envoy on the name issue, Matthew Nimetz, with the ultimate goal of the UN process leading to a mutually acceptable outcome, according to foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos

    [02] PM sends congratulations to new Belgian counterpart Leterme

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Saturday sent a letter of congratulations to Belgium's new prime minister Yves Leterme.

    In his letter, Karamanlis said he looked forward to further strengthening of the already excellent Greek-Belgian relations, both at bilateral and international level.

    Karamanlis further expressed his conviction that the two governments will intensify their cooperation in the direction of strengthening the common European future.

    [03] ND maintains lead over PASOK, opinion poll indicates

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) party maintained a four percentage point lead over main opposition PASOK, although the two mainstream parties both posted a decline in popularity, while the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance posted a rise in popularity, according to the results of an opinion poll conducted by Metron Analysis, the results of which appeared in the financial newspaper Imerissia on Saturday. Prime minister Costas Karamanlis was also firmly the preferred party leader for the post of premier.

    More specifically, in a nationwide poll conducted between February 27 and March 14, 29.9 percent of the 2,207 respondents said they would vote for ND (if elections were held tomorrow), 25.2 percent for PASOK, 6.8 percent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 17.8 percent for SYRIZA, 4.8 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, and 2 percent for the Ecologists-Greens party, while 1.1 percent said the would vote for a different party, 2.2 percent said they would cast blank votes, 3.5 percent said they would cast invalid votes, 3.2 percent said they were undecided, and 4.2 percent declined response.

    Regarding which party leader was the most suitable for prime minister, 36.1 percent preferred PM Karamanlis, followed by 20.8 percent for PASOK leader George Papandreou, 11.0 percent for Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party (SYN, which leads the SYRIZA alliance), 3.6 percent for KKE leader Aleka Papariga, and 3.5 percent for LAOS leader George Karatzaferis, while 2.4 percent responded "other", 20.5 percent responded "no one", and 2.0 percent were undecided or declined response.

    According to Metron Analysis, SYRIZA has almost tripled its percentage, standing now at 17.8 percent from 6.2 percent in a corresponding opinion poll in December.

    Also, 54.9 percent of the respondents said the would prefer cooperation governments, while 40.2 percent prefer single-party governments with a strong majority.

    Asked which were the most pressing problems in Greece, 25.1 percent of the respondents said the economy, 22.4 percent said unemployment, and 15.2 percent said the high prices.

    Regarding the prospect of Greece vetoing FYROM accession to NATO, 69.2 percent of the respondents were in favor of the veto, 9.9 percent neither agreed nor disagreed, and 11.6 percent disagreed with a prospective veto, while 9.3 percent were undecided or declined response.

    In a separate opinion poll conducted by the same company on March 17 regarding the PASOK Congress and Papandreou's 'overture' for a possible future governmental cooperation, the prospect was deemed as positive by 48.5 percent of the overall respondents, and by 71 percent of the respondents who declared themselves to be PASOK voters.

    Also, Papandreou's proposal that PASOK cadres who have previously served in governmental posts be excluded from participation in the party's Political Council was seen as positive by 57.9 percent of the overall respondents, and by 69.3 percent of the PASOK voters among the respondents.

    [04] Opinion poll: 41 pct see centre-right government

    Greece will have a centre-right government in the foreseeable future, according to 41 percent of people participating in an opinion poll carried out by the firm Public Issue, whose results were published in the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Kathimerini".

    Of the 610 people taking part in the survey conducted over the telephone on 17-19 March, about 35 percent predicted a centre-left government would take over power in the next years and another 9 percent said that the future government would be neither centre-right nor centre-left.

    An overwhelming majority of 77 percent approve of the recent nationwide strikes protesting against the government social insurance system reforms and pension fund mergers, while 20 percent do not approve. Regarding the measures themselves, 57 percent do not agree with the government's policy for reforming social insurance and 22 percent takes a positive view of the measures.

    Regarding a decision by main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou to rule out the presence of former ministers on the party's Political Council, about 47 percent of those asked consider the decision correct, 37 percent consider it wrong and 6 percent do not consider it either right or wrong.

    Questioned about the impact of PASOK's recent conference, 49 percent of those asked said that it would not change anything particularly, 27 percent believe that things will change for the better and 18 percent believe things will change for the worse.

    [05] Alavanos: pension reforms will cost government its hold on power

    The cost of the reforms to Greece's pension and social insurance system for the government would be losing its hold on power, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group president Alekos Alavanos predicted on Sunday.

    "The Right paid for article 16 with the lost of the Constitutional revision and will pay for the social insurance reforms with the loss of power, I hope soon," Alavanos said in an interview published in the Sunday edition of the Greek newspaper "Eleftherotypia".

    He urged Greek people to engage in "mass disobedience" and a "campaign for the non-implementation of the measures that are in any case, unenforceable".

    Alavanos stressed that any prospective cooperation with main opposition PASOK would require "broader convergence on major issues and that this is no possible".

    The former leader of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party, before he stepped down earlier this year to be replaced by the youthful Alexis Tsipras, Alavanos asserted that a united radical Left movement could achieve sufficient momentum among voters to be able to make plans on its own account.

    "We don't need to wait in the kitchen so that they can call us into the living room when they need us," he added.

    [06] SYRIZA leader Alavanos to meet President Papoulias on Wed.

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary spokesman Alekos Alavanos will meet with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday.

    During the meeting, Alavanos will expound on SYRIZA's view on the "unconstitutional" draft law on the social security system tabled by the government, according to a relevant announcement.

    Meanwhile, SYRIZA's Secretariat in a decision it took stresses that on the basis of developments these past few days - mass rallies, postponement of the voting of the draft law for Wednesday and mainly with the proposal for a referendum to block the process politically-, decided on the mobilisation of all its forces.

    SYRIZA called for a rally to be held on Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m.

    [07] Synaspismos leader Tsipras visits Preveza

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras visited Preveza, western Greece, on Sunday.

    "The opinion polls show the tendency which prevails at this moment of time in public opinion. We all know that society is a pot which is boiling. We know very well that we have surpassed our limits, but we know that this desire by the Greek people for change, for another prospect for the country, has no limits," Tsipras told reporters.

    The Synaspismos leader participated in the mobilization of the region's agencies for the protection of Amvrakikos Gulf.

    To another question regarding the proposal of a referendum on the government's proposed social security system reform bill, Tsipras said "we believe that it is an outlet from the crisis. No government can govern against popular will. It is a good opportunity for the government as well to backtrack with dignity and put this abomination (bill) to the verdict of the Greek people."

    Tsipras added that "it is also an outlet, apart from the government and the country, also for the President of the Republic. It is a big mistake for the government to blackmail the President of the Republic to sign a law which has the overwhelming opposition of Greek society. It is a solution which could be a solution for all of us."

    [08] ND secretary congratulates PASOK new Political Council secretary

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) secretary Lefteris Zagoritis on Saturday sent a message of congratulations to newly-elected main opposition PASOK party Political Council secretary Yannis Ragoussis.

    Zagoritis wished Ragoussis strength in view of the difficult task ahead of him.

    Financial News

    [09] Finmin: joint management model for OTE

    The government is seeking a joint management model for Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) in which both Deutsche Telecom and the Greek state will have a role, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said in an interview published by the Sunday edition of the Greek newspaper Eleftherotypia.

    He said that issues like the final model of the firm's management and how OTE stocks would be distributed had not yet been finalized, when asked if Deutsche Telecome would be given an additional share in OTE.

    Regarding the reforms to Greece's pension and social insurance system to be put to a final vote on Wednesday, Alogoskoufis said there would be no further measures and that the difficulties were now centered on implementing the measures already passed, since the social insurance fund mergers would have to now be carried out.

    "If it is seen by future governments that further additions must be made, then no one can rule this out," he added.

    [10] Lawyers' strike ends Monday

    Athens lawyers will go back to their normal duties as of Monday, ending strike action to protest against the social insurance reforms planned by the government, the Athens Bar Association announced on Sunday.

    Bar associations throughout the country had decided on an abstention from court appearances from 17-21 March in protest to plans to merge their pension fund with those of other sectors.

    General News

    [11] 12th International Aegean Conference in Melbourne

    MELBOURNE (ANA-MPA - S. Hatzimanolis)

    The 12th International Aegean Conference will be held at the University of Melbourne on March 25-29. The conference is entitled "Dais: The Aegean Feast" and explores the context, representation and symbolic significance of feasting in the life of the ancient Mediterranean.

    It is organized by the University of Melbourne in collaboration with the University of the University of Liège and the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens. The proceedings of the conference will be published in Aegaeum. Annales d'archéologie égéenne de l'Université de Liège.

    [12] Athens Mayor launches Recycling Fest

    Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis officially launched the City of Athens Recycling Fest on Sundayat Syntagma Square.

    The City of Athens Recycling Fest will be held at Syntagma Square from March 22 through April 5, under the aegis of the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works and the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.

    Popular musician Michalis Hatziyiannis, who was proclaimed a "Recycling Advocate" as part of the City of Athens Integrated Reciprocal Recycling System last year, participated in the official opening.

    School students will also take part in the Recycling Fest by:

    - depositing empty recyclable packaging at Integrated Reciprocal Recycling Centres and entering the Great Recycling Competition for schools, which features major prizes

    - learning the benefits of recycling from their participation in the Environmental Education Workshop

    - playing the Recycling Game, which involves quizzes on recycling

    For a period of 15 days, Syntagma Square will host Integrated Reciprocal Recycling Centers at which citizens can deposit metal, plastic, paper and glass packaging as well as batteries and small electrical and electronic devices for recycling.

    The City of Athens Recycling Fest comprises:

    - A Great Recycling Competition for students of all City of Athens schools, with major prizes for those who record the highest participation

    - Various events for people of all ages

    - A music performance on Saturday, April 5, at 20:00, featuring special guests Michalis Hatziyiannis, Glykeria, Despina Olympiou and Konstantinos Rigos, which will prove the highlight and mark the end of the fest.

    [13] Anti-war demonstration in downtown Athens

    An anti-war demonstration and march to the US Embassy was staged on Saturday afternoon in downtown Athens by workers and students, in the context of Global Day of Action Against War, under the central slogan "Five years of occupation in Iraq are too many".

    The rally was organized by Greece's two main umbrella union federations in the private and public sector: the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY), joined by social agencies, peace movements and immigrant communities, calling for global detente and friendship among peoples.

    Speakers at the rally stressed that the working people were coordinating their steps with the society of citizens for the protection and consolidation of world peace, and called for the creation of a climate of confidence among the Balkan countries, and the withdrawal of occupation troops from Cyprus, Iraq and Afghanistan and strengthening of the self-determination of peoples.

    The also appealed for medical and pharmaceutical aid for the Palestinians.

    Yannis Sifakakis from the "Stop the War Alliance" spoke of the "millions of victims of the American war on terrorism" over the five years since the invasion of Iraq and the nine years since the bombing of Yugoslavia, adding that the bombings in Afghanistan were triple those of Iraq and that in Gaza the horror of the embargo was threatening an entire peoples.

    [14] Mobilisation in Preveza for protection of Amvrakikos Gulf

    Mobilizations for the protection of Amvrakikos Gulf were held in Preveza, western Greece, on Sunday, by local government, fishermen, the region's agencies and environmental associations from many parts of the country.

    Pollution, the relentless excessive fishing, sea water cultivations which make the problem more acute and uncontrolled landfills have transformed the once unique natural habitat into a sea region which sends out an S.O.S. as the pollution has exceeded every acceptable limit for many years now.

    In Sunday's mobilization in Preveza, taking part were tens of fishermen, the last remaining from the thousands of the past, who with their boats symbolically blocked in protest, for a short period of time, the entrance of Amvrakikos Gulf.

    A meeting was held at the coast of Preveza, in which Greek political parties were represented. The ruling New Democracy (ND) with deputy George Tryfonidis, the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) with Michalis Chrysohoidis, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras and the rest with local party members.

    [15] Illegal immigrant traffickers arrested

    Three people have been arrested for smuggling illegal immigrants into Greece, along with six illegal immigrants they were bringing into the country using their private cars.

    The arrests were made by the Thessaloniki police on Saturday, who said that two foreign nationals aged 33 and 29 and one Greek aged 35 had been arrested as immigrant-traffickers.

    One group was intercepted on the Thessaloniki-Athens highway when a police road block intercepted the 29-year-old, who passed first in a different car as a lookout and informed the 33-year-old of any road blocks up ahead.

    The 33-year-old had three illegal immigrants in his car and was headed toward Katerini.

    Roughly an hour later at the same spot, police also intercepted the 35-year-old who had another three illegal immigrants in his car.

    Police said they were now investigating the possible participation of other people in the operation.

    2008 Beijing Olympic Games

    [16] Olympic Torch-lighting ceremony on Monday

    The lighting of the Olympic Flame for the 2008 Beijing Games and the start of the Olympic Torch Relay will take place on Monday with a ceremony in ancient Olympia at 11:00 a.m. Among those attending will be President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge and IOC honorary president Juan Antonio Samaranch.

    These will also be flanked by a host of IOC members, in addition to Greek and Chinese officials and athletes.

    The 'High Priestess' will be Maria Nafpliotou, who will lead a ceremony this year choreographed by Artemis Ignatiou, who takes over this task for the first year from Maria Hors, following the latter's departure after 50 years of choreographing the Torch-lighting ceremonies.

    The Torch will then be given to Olympic silver medallist in Tae Kwon Do Alexandros Nikolaidis, who begins the Torch relay, and then to China's Luo Xuejuan, an Olympic gold medallist in the 100m breastroke event.

    There will follow a seven-day Torch relay within Greece that will be completed on March 30 when the Olympic Torch arrives at the Panathenian Stadium in central Athens, the first stadium to ever host the modern version of the Olympic Games in 1896. At 3.00 pm on that day it will be handed over to the organisers of the Chinese Olympic Games in Beijing by Greek silver medallist in the women's triple jump, Pigi Devetzi.

    [17] Tourism minister inaugurates exhibition at Ancient Olympia

    Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Sunday evening inaugurated at the town hall of Ancient Olympia, an exhibition by internationally renowned Greek sculptor Pavlos, on the theme "Flags of the World".

    "Pavlos's work which is presented here today, brings back with a particularly inspired way, the idea of the Olympic Truce, that is, the peaceful co-existence of peoples," Spiliotopoulos said, adding, "and what more suitable symbol of unity, consensus, co-existence and peace from the national symbol, the flag."

    Regarding the work "Flags of the World", it includes the flags of all the countries which will participate in the Olympic Games in Beijing in the summer.

    [18] Sports

    Olympiakos Piraeus is leading the Greek first division soccer championship (Super League) after defeating Levadiakos Livadia 3-1 away on Sunday. Second placed Panathinaikos Athens drew 1-1 at home with Iraklis Thessaloniki on Saturday. AEK Athens, in third place, beat Apollon Kalamaria 1-0 away on Sunday.

    In other results of matches played over the weekend:

    Panionios - Asteras Tripoli 4-1

    Veria - PAOK Thessaloniki 0-0

    OFI Crete - Xanthi 2-0

    Atromitos Athens - Ergotelis Crete 1-2

    Aris Thessaloniki - Larissa 1-1

    Standings after 26 weeks of play:

    Olympiakos 61 points

    Panathinaikos 57

    AEK 56

    Aris 43

    Panionios 38

    Asteras 38

    Larissa 36

    Xanthi 36

    PAOK 32

    OFI 29

    Atromitos 28

    Iraklis 28

    Levadiakos 24

    Ergotelis 24

    Veria 21

    Kalamaria 19

    NOTE: Kalamaria has been penalised in a match and has had one point deducted.

    Weather forecast

    [19] Rain on Monday

    Rainy weather with westerly, southwesterly winds is forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with wind velocity reaching 5-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 23C. Cloudy in Athens, with southerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 22C. Cloud and rain in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 17C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [20] President Christofias to support cause of relatives of Cyprus' missing


    President of the Cyprus Republic, Demetris Christofias, reassured here Monday that his government will increase the support to the families of the missing persons of Cyprus in their cause to determine the fate of each one of them.

    The president's speech was read by Vassos Georgiou, Director of the President's of the Republic Office, at the annual commemo-ration of Lazaros Skalistis a father of a missing and active member of the committee of relatives at the Saint George Church in Agios Dometios in Nicosia.

    President Christofias stressed the government will try to speed up the procedure through the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP), especially on the matters concerning the burial locations, the exhumations and identifications.

    ''To achieve that goal,'' President Christofias said, ''the Committee on Missing Persons must have efficient scientific personnel''.

    The president also said, a monument will be created for the missing persons and the Government will work so that Turkey will be forced to open its military records, to give all the necessary information and evidence that will help determine the fate of the missing persons.

    The CMP, set up in 1981, is looking into cases of persons reported as missing in the inter-communal fighting in the early 1960s as well as during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

    Hundreds of Greek Cypriots - combatants, women and children - went missing during the summer of 1974 when Turkish troops invaded. Many were last seen alive in the hands of the Turkish military.

    Turkish Cypriots are listed as missing since the inter-communal fighting in the early 1960s, soon after the Republic was established.

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

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