|Thursday, 14 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-01-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 7 January 2009 Issue No: 3089
 Greek leadership attends Epiphany events around the country; President on border islePresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday sternly condemned what he called Turkey's "inconceivable and irrational provocations", such as the systematic and illegal overflights of Turkish warplanes over Greek islands, following his declaration an honorary resident of the remote eastern Aegean isle of Agathonissi, where he attended the traditional Blessing of the Waters ceremony to mark the Epiphany religious holiday.
"The core of the problem in Greek-Turkish relations lies in the Turkish military's decisive role in the neighbouring country's political life," the president said, adding: "This reality enables a continuous projection of demands, such as the concoction of the outlandish theory of 'grey zones' (in the Aegean) since 1996".
Papoulias stressed that "all the Greeks desire a peaceful future with our neighbours, but this future must be founded on respect of International Law".
The president attended the blessing of the waters on Agathonissi, accompanied by Deputy Defence Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis and Deputy Merchant Marine & Island Policy Minister Panos Kammenos, while the ceremony was also attended by MPs for the Dodecanese.
After the ceremony, Papoulias was declared an honorary resident of Agathonissi.
 PM: Humanity facing a common challengePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday said all of humanity was facing a common challenge to consolidate principles that guarantee a better and safer future and to safeguard democracy, in statements after the Epiphany ceremony in the coastal port town of Rafina, east of Athens.
"Today the difficult, for the entire world, conjuncture that is putting us all to the test. The international financial crisis is testing our endurance. At a time when, very close to us, lives are being lost and fellow human beings are suffering, the challenge is a common one for all of us," Karamanlis said.
The common challenge, he stressed, consisted of "consolidating principles that guarantee a safer future, a better future, re-baptizing ourselves in the humanitarian values and solidarity, and safeguarding democracy and the just state from acts of violence from wherever they originate".
"With maturity, mutual understanding, responsibility, belief in our abilities, and a sense of social and national responsibility, we can and will succeed in this," the prime minister said.
Earlier, Karamanlis and his wife attended a liturgy at a cathedral in Rafina, where the prime minister resides, followed by the traditional Blessing of the Waters ceremony in the town's port.
The prime minister was originally scheduled to attend the same ceremony on the southern Aegean island of Kythira, but the visit was cancelled after rough seas and weather conditions prevailed.
 Papandreou: Difficult year aheadMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday emphasised that Greece and the wider region were facing a difficult year ahead, after the Epiphany ritual of the Blessing of the Waters in the western port city of Patras.
Papandreou also condemned the attack against a three-member team of police detail guarding a culture ministry building in the Exarchia district of Athens in the early hours of Monday, in which a 20-year-old police officer was critically wounded, calling the attack a "cowardly and condemnable act".
"We are entering a very difficult hear, and we in Greece are already witnessing it with the cowardly and condemnable act, a murder attack against a young policeman," Papandreou said, adding also, in reference to the Israeli attacks on Gaza, that "we are witnessing this difficult year in the wider region as well, with the new tragedy being suffered by the Palestinian people, and we express our support to their own destiny and hardship, and to their struggle for an independent Palestinian state".
"It is time to mobilise all our forces, the forces of Hellenism ... To guarantee social cohesion, citizens' dignity, protection of every Greek family that has an average or low income, real growth of the provinces, real development of the small and medium size enterprise, a guarantee of a well-governed state that protects the Greek citizen and guarantees his rights, dignity and safety."
After the ceremony, Papandreou paid a visit to city hall where he met with Patras Mayor and former PASOK minister Andreas Fouras, as well as meeting with other local leaders.
In a statement issued hours later, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros charged that the PASOK leader was again choosing to engage in petty partisan politics and disinformation, "even during a holiday, like today."
"We will not follow him, especially during this time, when the vast majority of Greek citizens believe we must stand, united and with a spirit of consensus, in the face of the tragic attack by extremist elements aimed at young police officers."
 LA.OS leader: US-EU must get seriousPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis attended a church service and the Blessing of the Waters ceremony on Tuesday in the northern city of Thessaloniki.
In a statement released by LAOS, Karatzaferis said the US and EU must "get serious" and halt the Israeli attacks in Gaza immediately.
"The killings, executions, acts of violence are not being carried out" only by the Israelis, but also by "the leaders of the West who allow them", Karatzaferis said.
"Washington and Brussels must get serious and stop, here and now, the barbarous attacks of the Israelis," he said.
In the same indifferent manner that the West is facing the Israeli barbarity in Gaza, so too is the Greek government facing the violence and crimes of the hooded anti-establishment activists, Karatzaferis continued.
 Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece with Blessing of WatersThe religious feast of Epiphany was celebrated throughout Greece on Tuesday with the traditional Blessing of the Waters ritual, whereby Orthodox priests toss a cross attached to a rope in the waters, usually followed by teens and young men diving into the frigid sea to retrieve the symbol of the Christian faith.
The ritual commemorates Christ's baptism in the Jordan River, which according to St. John Chrysostom the day is called Epiphany -- from the Greek word for 'manifestation', 'epifaniea'.
The brave swimmer who recovers the cross is thought to be blessed with good luck throughout the year.
Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece officiated at the main ceremony in Piraeus, Greece's largest port, with three navy minesweepers on guard, while members of the navy's elite commando unit dove for the cross.
Representing the government at the ceremony was Employment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, who said afterwards that "the strength of our democracy is solidarity, respect for principles and values", adding that what was needed most was "unity and consensus in these very difficult hours the country is going through".
"Today is a very substantial and symbolic day for Orthodoxy and Hellenism. Let it also serve as a springboard for social justice and the progress of our society," Petralia added.
Former parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, representing the main opposition PASOK party, voiced the hope that the New Year will be peaceful for the country and the region.
In Athens, the city's mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis attended the Blessing of the Waters at the Dexameni (reservoir) site in the upscale Kolonaki district.
After the ceremony, Kaklamanis appealed for a straightforward condemnation, without any attempt at justification, "of violence and terrorism, from wherever they may originate" -- a reference to a policeman's shooting -- possibly by urban terrorists -- less than 48 hours ago.
He also appealed to police officers for self-restraint and discipline "although I acknowledge their emotional state due to the cowardly terrorist murder attempt against a young colleague of theirs".
 FM on Gaza, policeman's woundingThe political and social forces of the country, united, must safeguard Greece's democracy and voice a resounding 'no' to phenomena of blind violence, foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Tuesday, following a Blessing of the Waters ritual in Athens, in reply to a press question on Monday's early morning attack against a three-member police guard in the Exarchia district resulting in the critical injury of one of the officers.
"Greek society paid the price of terrorism dearly for very many years," said Bakoyannis, whose first husband, ruling New Democracy MP Pavlos Bakoyannis was assassinated by gunmen of the now-defunct 17N group in 1989.
Turning to the Israeli offense in Gaza, Bakoyannis expressed hope that the UN Security Council would realize the magnitude of its responsibility.
"What is taking place in Gaza is an immense humanitarian devastation. We have the duty to do all that we can for an immediate halt to the violence and killings in Gaza and to succeed in getting the necessary aid through," the foreign minister added, and reiterated her appeal for a truce.
 PASOK leader visits hospital treating wounded officerMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Tuesday visited the Athens-area hospital where a 21-year-old officer, critically wounded in the early morning hours on Monday in a probable urban terrorist attack, remains in serious but stable condition.
Papandreou expressed his solidarity to the family of officer Diamantis Mantzounis, while afterwards he issued a sharp condemnation, referring to "acts of violence against a young police officer wounded in the line of duty."
He also expressed outrage in his capacity of PASOK leader, "as a democrat and as an ordinary citizen over this murderous attack."
Finally, Papandreou attributed responsibility to the ruling ND government for cultivating, as he charged, a perception of illegality and impunity for those in power, along with criticising the government for favoritism and petty partisan politics, as he said.
Earlier, scores of police officers gathered outside the Erythros Stavros hospital for a mobilisation in support of their young colleague.
 KKE delegation ends Ramallah visitRAMALLAH (ANA-MPA)
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Tuesday met here with Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad, as she concluded a series of meetings here at the head of a KKE delegation.
"No time should be wasted in achieving a ceasefire, and at the same time, an international volition amongst peoples should materialise in order to allow the Palestinian people to acquire their own unified state," Papariga said afterwards.
 DEPA: No risk of natgas shortage; FM calls for solutionThere is no risk of a shortage in household heating due to the discontinuation, recorded at dawn, of natural gas supply to the Balkans via Bulgaria, the Public Natural Gas Corp. (DEPA) assured on Tuesday, adding that natgas reserves at the DEPA facilities on Revythoussa isle are sufficient for meeting the needs of the domestic market through Sunday.
Specifically, Greece's reserves are capable of supplying the country with seven million cubic meters per day, while Turkey has already expressed an intention to increase supply to Greece from the present 700-800,000 cubic meters per day to 2.5 million cubic meters per day in the event that Greece faces a natural gas shortage, DEPA said in an announcement.
DEPA said the domestic market's demands in natural gas are approximately 8.5 million cubic meters daily.
In any case, the prospect of reducing quantities of natgas supplied to major consumers, i.e. industries, will be examined.
Meanwhile, the arrival of the next cargo of liquefied gas from Algeria is scheduled for Jan. 20, DEPA added.
On her part, Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday stressed that "all of the possible avenues of dialogue should be examined in order to find a mutually acceptable and viable solution (in the Russia-Ukraine dispute), and as soon as possible.
Bakoyannis, in her capacity as head of the rotating OSCE presidency, added that Russia, as a producer, and the Ukraine, as a transit country, have their own crucial roles to play in the supply of natural gas to European markets.
"Both countries are participating members of the OSCE, along with another 54 countries, many of whom are affected directly by this dispute," she added.
 Serres businessman robbed and abducted, but manages to escapeA Serres businessman was attacked by robbers and abducted in the early hours of Tuesday as he was returning home, but later managed to escape.
The businessman, who owns a fast food establishment in downtown Serres, was followed by two assailants as he left his restaurant, and was immoblized at gunpoint as he reached his home. The assailants forced him to give them all the cash he had on hand (2,000 euros) and the keys to his house and car, according to police.
The robbers drove off in the car, taking the businessman with them, and when they reached a spot some 10 kilometers outside Serres, they gagged him and tied him up in a chapel and drove back to the house where they demanded 1,500 euros from the wife, and grabbed the family jewelry valued at 15,000 euros, in front of the businessman's small child and elderly mother.
The assailants then gagged and tied up the businessman's family before leaving again in his car.
The vehicle was founded torched later near the Serres acropolis, on Koulas hill.
After several hours, the businessman managed to loosen his bonds and walked back to town, where he informed the Serres police department of the incident.
Serres police have launched a manhunt for the perpetrators.
 5 weapons-related arrests in Exarchia districtFive individuals were charged with illegal weapons possession on Tuesday after being arrested in the Exarchia district of Athens by police conducting a sweep of the self-styled bohemian district in the Greek capital centre.
No information was given on the type of weapons allegedly found on the suspects by police.
Authorities reportedly detained dozens of people in the same district over the past 48 hours as part of exhaustive efforts to locate the perpetrators of an attack against three police officers in the same area in the early morning hours of Monday, an ambush that left one policeman critically wounded.
 Illegals spotted, detained on rock islet in E. AegeanTwenty-four Third World nationals were spotted and arrested early Tuesday morning on a deserted rock islet in the eastern Aegean, the coast guard reported.
The group, would-be illegal immigrants, had reportedly been disembarked on the islet, identified as "Katsayani", by migrant smugglers operating from the opposite Turkish coast.
Soldiers at a military outpost spotted the group and informed the coast guard. All of the illegal migrants were taken to nearby Patmos.
 Partly cloudy, fair on WednesdayFrost is forecast for parts of Greece in the early morning hours of Wednesday. Clear to partly cloudy in the north and central mainland, -6C to 8C and up to 14C in western and southern Greece; 7C to 14C on the islands. North by northwestern winds 6 to 7 on the Beaufort scale. Cloudy to partly cloudy in Athens, 5C to 13C; cloudy in Thessaloniki, -1C to 7C. Meanwhile, up to 20 villages in the mountainous part of central Karditsa prefecture remained cut-off due to snow on Tuesday.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceMonday's early morning attack against three police officers guarding a culture ministry building in Athens' Exarchia district resulting in the critical injury of 21-year-old policeman Diamantis Mantzounis, the Palestinian issue and taxation matters were the main front-page items in Tuesday's newspapers.
AVGHI: "Terrorism scenery - ELAS (Greek Police) hastens to link the assailants with '17N'."
KATHIMERINI: "Nightmare of new terrorism - 'Revolutionary Struggle' believed to have 'upgraded' its action to be behind the attack on the police officer".
LOGOS: "'Scent of terrorism' from the murderous attack - Officer Mantzounis in hospital in serious condition".
NIKI: "The spotlight once again on terrorism - They struck police officer with 'Revolutionary Struggle' weapons".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Israel escalating the crime with ground offense - Everyone at the side of the Palestinians so that they will acquire a homeland".
TO VIMA: "New generation of terrorists - Fears of second cycle of bloodshed".
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