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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-01-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Thursday, 7 January 2010 Issue No: 3390


  • [01] Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece with traditional Blessing of the Waters ritual
  • [02] PM Papandreou: 2010 will be a year of reversals, changes
  • [03] ND leader Samaras: Economy needs breath of hope
  • [04] Alternate FM Droutsas:Aegean could be 'sea of peace'
  • [05] Deputy Education minister on visit to Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • [06] Econ minister: 'We will do everything necessary'
  • [07] City of Athens recycling program for Christmas trees, ornaments
  • [08] Fire in Hania Synagogue attributed to arson
  • [09] Suspected member of terror group to testify on Thursday
  • [10] Man dies in clash between Pakistani nationals
  • [11] Contraband cigarettes seized aboard Togo-flag ship off Evia
  • [12] Drug arrests
  • [13] Greek Superleague results
  • [14] Cloudy, chance of rain Politics

  • [01] Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece with traditional Blessing of the Waters ritual

    The religious feast of Epiphany was celebrated throughout Greece on Wednesday with the traditional Blessing of the Waters ecclesiastical ritual in ports, harbours, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs and even swimming pools around the predominately Eastern Orthodox nation.

    On Epiphany daring Greek teens and young men brave the cold waters to dive for the Cross after it has been blessed by a priest and thrown into the waters, with the one who recovers the Cross believed 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, attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, while members of the Hellenic Navy Seals dove for the Cross.

    Representing the government at the ceremony was Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, while main opposition New Democracy (ND) was represented by Piraeus-area MP Yiannis Tragakis. Other officials in attendance included other Piraeus-area MPs and local government officials.

    Prime Minister George Papandreou attended the Epiphany ceremony on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, while main opposition ND leader Antonis Samaras attended a ceremony in his home town of Pylos, extreme southwestern Greece.

    In Athens, the city's mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos attended the Blessing of the Waters at the Reservoir (Dexameni) in upscale Kolonaki district.

    In Thessaloniki, the ceremony was officiated by Thessaloniki Metropolitan Anthimos, and attended by Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis, Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis and Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.

    [02] PM Papandreou: 2010 will be a year of reversals, changes

    "2010 will be a year of reversals," prime minister George Papandreou said on Wednesday, after attending the Epiphany blessing of the waters ceremony on the island of Lesvos.

    "The Greek people know that we had taken a wrong course. They know the difficulties, and live them every day due to the troubles in the economy...But they know, and it is my deep conviction, that we have immense possibilities," Papandreou added.

    He said that the prospects of the Greek people have many times been downgraded and stifled by parasitism and established perceptions, and stressed: "2010 will be a year of reversals and immense changes in order to lay the foundations for a different State that respects the citizens, their initiative and dreams, and the country."

    Papandreou said that the foundations will be put in place for a State of social justice and rule of law that will protect the citizens' rights, stressing that "we will make the big reversals together, with sincerity, a sense of social justice and certainty".

    "Major changes will be effected. We will all have to lend a helping hand, but I am optimistic. Hope, determination and certainty exist," he added.

    [03] ND leader Samaras: Economy needs breath of hope

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras reiterated on Wednesday that the ailing Greek economy needs a jumpstart, expressing hope that this will be forthcoming by the government.

    Samaras, speaking in his hometown of Pylos, in the extreme southwest of the Peloponese, where he celebrated the Epiphany Blessing of the Waters, said: "Epiphany, in our tradition, is a breath of hope. Our economy needs such a breath of hope, and we hope the government will provide it".

    [04] Alternate FM Droutsas:Aegean could be 'sea of peace'

    "The Aegean is precious for Greece, a source of inspiration, and could be a sea of peace and bridge for Greece's relations with Turkey, provided that the neighbouring country fully respects international law and Greece's national sovereignty," Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas stressed on Wednesday, speaking after the Epiphany blessing of the waters ritual on the remote eastern Aegean island of Agathonissi.

    Droutsas noted that the island's residents were those who first and foremost desired good relations, peace and tranquil relations between Greece and Turkey, adding that "this is the message we want to send, that the Greek people wish to cooperate with the neighbouring people, but in adherence of the self-evident, with respect for good neighbour relations".

    The alternate foreign minister underlined that Greece is prepared for such cooperation, but at the same time is "absolute and strict" with respect to the country's sovereign rights, warning that Greece has both the determination and the means to respond to any provocations and to effectively defend its sovereign rights.

    Agathonissi community leader Evangelos Kotoros, in turn, said the "outlandish, historically ungrounded theory of 'grey zones' of the Turkish neighbours and their actions", such as the violations of Greece's national airspace, found the Agathonissi residents in the ramparts.

    [05] Deputy Education minister on visit to Ecumenical Patriarchate

    Deputy education, life-long learning and religious affairs minister Ioannis Panaretos is on a two-day visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Phanar, in Istanbul, where he met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Wednesday.

    Panaretos conveyed prime minister George Papandreou's and the government's wishes for the New Year to the Ecumenical Patriarch, as well as Greece's firm support to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the ethnic Greeks in Turkey.

    During the lengthy meeting, the two men also exchanged views on matters of mutual interest, while Panaretos attended a luncheon hosted by Bartholomew.

    Panaretos represented the Greek government at the Epiphany blessing of the waters ceremony in the Keratios (Golden Horn) Gulf outside the Patriarchate on Wednesday, which was also attended by World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Stefanos Tamvakis and other officials, including worshippers from all over the world.

    Financial News

    [06] Econ minister: 'We will do everything necessary'

    The acceleration of Greece's fiscal adjustment to three years was the decision of the prime minister and the government, which will do everything necessary, economy, competitiveness and shipping minister Louka Katseli said on Wednesday.

    The decision to accelerate the country's fiscal adjustment to three years "was our own decision, that of the prime minister and the entire government," Katseli said in reply to a question on whether the acceleration was imposed by the EU, adding that "we will do everything necessary for the country".

    Asked whether 2010 will be a difficult year, Katseli replied: "It will be a year of work and hope, a year of battles for a better future for our country".

    Katseli also voiced certainty that the government will succeed in this effort.

    Speaking after the Epiphany blessing of the waters in the port of Piraeus, where she represented the government, Katseli wished that "2010 will be a year of support for the Greek flag and Greek ships, for maritime training, for attraction of young people to the maritime profession, and for the safety of our ships and seamen, so that we will not mourn new victims".

    General News

    [07] City of Athens recycling program for Christmas trees, ornaments

    On Sunday, the 250 natural fir trees which formed the City of Athens Christmas tree will travel from Syntagma Square to the Pendeli range, to start a new life as a new forest.

    The fir tree saplings that made up Athens' environmentally friendly Christmas tree during the festive season are not "disposable" but living organisms which constitute a vital element of the environment, according to a City of Athens announcement.

    With this in mind, the City of Athens is participating in a tree-planting organized by the Pendeliko Protection and Regeneration Association (SPAP) with the support of SKAI private radio and television station and - as announced at the launch of Christmas events - will transfer the 250 fir trees to the fire-stricken Megaro Doukissis Plakendias area in Pendeli, so that they can be planted there.

    Athens Mayor Kaklamanis has invited all Athenians to participate in a Christmas tree and ornament recycling programme, the aim of which is to ensure that the materials are reused after the Christmas and New Year holidays.

    The recycling of natural and synthetic trees, Christmas ornaments and lights, which are used each year during the festive season, has now been incorporated in an integrated recycling programme implemented by the City of Athens.

    Citizen participation in the recycling programme entails a simple procedure and, most importantly, constitutes a practical expression of love for the environment and the city of Athens.

    More specifically, immediately after the holidays end:

    - City of Athens crews will collect natural Christmas trees and transfer them to the Agricultural University of Athens, so that they can be converted into fertiliser. Citizens need only leave their tree in a visible place next to their nearest municipal garbage bin.

    - Apart from natural trees, synthetic (plastic) Christmas trees are also recyclable (the majority are made from polyvinyl chloride, known as PVC). The trunk of synthetic trees is the only section that can be recycled and should be placed in a blue recycling bin.

    - Christmas ornaments can be recycled, depending on the materials used. More specifically, glass, plastic and paper ornaments should be placed in blue recycling bins.

    - Citizens can take their Christmas lights to City District offices, so that City of Athens crews can collect them and take them to an approved lighting fixture recycling organisation. Citizens can also call the Municipality's recycling line 1960.

    Deputy Mayor for Waste Management and Environment Yiorgos Dimopoulos noted: "Our effort to ensure Athens is clean and environmentally-friendly does not constitute a maxim or communication trick. It is an endless process, and on every possible occasion we strive to make a difference, reducing our ecological footprint on nature but by also raising awareness and encouraging citizens to participate in every action, which aims at recycling, environmental protection, cleanliness and the improvement of Athens' appearance."

    [08] Fire in Hania Synagogue attributed to arson

    Unknown individuals were the perpertrators of the fire that broke out inside a synagogue in Hania's historic old quarter, on the island of Crete on Tuesday, according to a police announcement on Wednesday.

    According to the announcement, unknown individuals broke into the synagogue's yard an hour after midnight and set fire to an outdoor wooden ladder which leads to the library. The fire was extinguished immediately before it threatened the temple and the adjoining library, which features roughly 1,600 rare books and manuscripts. The chief of Hania Fire Brigade said at the scene, firefighters found a bottle with a flammable liquid still burning.

    Authorities in the Cretan port city said the synagogue's main doors were locked and that the alarm system sounded when firefighters broke down the main gate to enter the building.

    The medieval synagogue in Hania's old quarter is amongst the most noted Jewish temples in Greece, functioning as both a cultural centre and a house of worship.

    [09] Suspected member of terror group to testify on Thursday

    A 26-year-old man who was arrested on Tuesday charged with participation in the terrorist group "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" has received an extension from the prosecutor to testify on Thursday.

    According to police, the man's fingerprints were found on objects in the group's safehouse in the Athens suburb of Halandri.

    [10] Man dies in clash between Pakistani nationals

    A man died during a clash between Pakistani nationals in the Aghios Dimitrios suburb of Athens on Tuesday night.

    During the clash, a Pakistani man was wounded in the abdomen, and died later in hospital.

    Three hours later, another foreign national was found dead in a car a few yards away from the earlier incident. Attica security police were investigating whether the second dead man was the perpetrator of the first fatal injury or involved in the earlier incident.

    [11] Contraband cigarettes seized aboard Togo-flag ship off Evia

    Port authorities seized a Togo-flag freighter loaded with contraband cigarettes on Wednesday as the vessel was sailing off northern Evia, between the islands of Skiathos and Skopelos, and arrested the ship's 11-member Russian crew.

    Acting on a tip-off, the Hellenic Coast Guard's narcotics squad had set up a surveillance for the cargo ship "Mitridat", which they immobilised and led to the port of Aidipsos for a search.

    The search revealed 7,900 crates hidden in eight containers, containing a total of 395,000 cartons equivalent to 3,950,000 packs of contraband cigarettes.

    According to initial estimates, the contraband cigarettes seized represent more than 3 million euros in evaded taxes for the Greek state.

    The ship and contraband cigarettes were seized, while the 11 Russian sailors were arrested and were due to be taken before a local public prosecutor in Halkida.

    [12] Drug arrests

    A father and son were among four people arrested by Thessaloniki security police late Tuesday charged with drug dealing, during a police operation in Menemeni municipality.

    Also among the detainees is a woman.

    A search of the apartment used by the detainees as a hide-out turned up 25 grams of heroin, small quantities of hashish, 70 plastic bags used for packaging drugs, 735 euros from drug sales, a gun and a pistol, all of which were seized.


    [13] Greek Superleague results

    Panathinaikos Athens extended its league-leading lead to five points on Sunday by easily defeating Ergotelis Crete 4-1 at home hours before AEK Athens thumped bitter cross-town rival Olympiacos Piraeus 2-1 away the same evening.








    STANDINGS (after 16 weeks)



    PAOK 31

    ARIS 25

    ΑΕΚ 24


    KAVALA 23




    XANTHI 18

    IRAKLIS 18

    LARISSA 18




    Weather Thursday

    [14] Cloudy, chance of rain

    Early morning fog followed by unseasonably high temperatures and southerly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Rainy in the north and west with temperatures ranging from 5C to 16C; cloudy in the Aegean, 14C-21C. Partly cloudy in Athens, 13C-19C; the same for Thessaloniki, 6C-15C.

    The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The economy and 3-year stability program, and efforts to contain the state deficit below 10 percent were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.

    AVGHI: "Strict austerity, not mild adjustment".

    KATHIMERINI: "Reduction of the deficit being hastened".

    LOGOS: "5 weeks of agony for the Greek economy".

    NIKI: "Three-year austerity, and stern warning by George (prime minister Papandreou) to ministers: Heads will roll".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Governmental announcements on 'life-long learning' - They're preparing cheap laborers for the high profitability of capital".

    TO VIMA: "Government aspiring to overall reduction of deficit by 10 percent - Harsh austerity for three years".

    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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