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Antenna: News in English (PM), 98-01-07
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From: Antenna Radio <http://www.antenna.gr> - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: Wednesday, 07-Jan-98 14:00:22
 EpiphanyAround the country, people celebrated Epiphany. The day associated with the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan is accordingly marked today by the blessing of water. A cross is thrown into the sea or some other body of water.
At the port of Piraeus, the waters were blessed after a doxology said by Piraeus bishop Kalinikos at the church of Agios Triados.
The nation's leaders were present to watch the cross being thrown into the sea, and taken out. President Kostis Stephanopoulos, prime minister Kostas Simitis, parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, the leaders of the political parties, and MPs were all on hand for the ritual ceremony, as was US ambassador Nicholas Burns.
After the blessing of the waters, the president and prime minister headed a procession to the city hall, where they were the guests of honour at a reception held by the mayor.
There's no sea in the middle of Athens, but there is a reservoir, and there the blessing of the waters is held every year.
On Tuesday, mayor Dimitris Avrampoulos was present as the cross was lowered into the cistern.
Earlier, a doxology was held at Agios Dionyssios Areopagitis. Afterwards, Soldiers and a military band accompanied the faithful to the reservoir.
Mayor Avramopoulos said that for him this day means light: the light of inspiration and creativity, but also the light of moral guidance.
Public order minister Giorgos Romaios, representing the government at the ceremony in Athens, said "We always need guidance".
New Democracy MP Dora Bakoyianni said her wish for 1998 is that this will be a good year, a year of peace, and a time when the Greek people confront their problems calmly.
After the blessing of the waters in Athens, some Athenians filled their glasses with the blessed water, perhaps in the hope of drinking up some enlightenment.
In Thessaloniki, thousands of people gathered at the waterfront to watch the blessing of the waters.
Here, as in many other places, people dive into the water and race for the cross.
23-year-old Sotiris Michelis pulled the cross out of the water Tuesday. His wish was health and happiness for all.
Defence minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos attended the doxology that marked the holiday in Thessaloniki.
In Drama, also in northern Greece, the waters were blessed at Agia Varvara. Seven men braved the cold, diving in to get the cross. The man who came up with the crucifix said his holiday wish is for god to enlighten all people.
After the blessing of the waters, a number of the faithful filled their cups with water from the
In Patra, the blessing took place at the central port
Christos Karaflos pulled the cross out of the water there.
In Patra, there is another tradition on this day: the local divers' association cuts its New Year's cake in the sea.
In Volos, the cross was thrown into the sea from a boat. Other than that, though, it was tradition as usual, as the divers were on hand to fish the crucifix out.
In Larisa, the cross was thrown into the Pinios River. But here, the retrieval was anything but routine. The crucifix became detached from its cord, and was lost for nearly an hour, when one determined diver finally found it and triumphantly carried it to shore.
In Chania, Crete, former prime minister Constantinos Mitsotakis was among those who crowded the waterfront for the ritual blessing of the waters.
In Agrinio, people went to the banks of the River Acheloo for the blessing and retrieval of the cross.
In Old Faliron, on the Athens coast, a young boy pulled the cross out of the sea. In this Athenian suburb, the day was special for another reason than just the holiday: in a central square, the biggest Greek flag in the world was unfurled - it weighs 120 kilos.
And finally, in another coastal suburb of the capital, Skaramangas, the members of the local polar bear society showed they're not afraid of geting wet in a little chilly water. And they don't need any special incentive to dive in. One man said, "I'm 72 years old and feel great".
The polar bears cut their New Year's cake during the ceremony, as they do every year.
In Albania, Greek orthodox Christians also celebrated Epiphany.
Orthodox archbishop of Albania Anastasios presided over the blessing of the waters at the River Osoum, in the village of Perati.
Early in the morning, the faithful began congregating at this bridge and along the banks of the river. by the time of the ceremony, thousands of people had gathered.
A 20-year-old Greek-Albanian pulled out the cross that Anastasios had thrown into the river.
Afterwards, he received the blessing of the archbishop.
Anastasios said that what the people of Albania need is "more light in our souls, in our eyes, our work, our lives. May God help us become his rays of light," he added, "so we can have more hope and peace here".
Perati is a small piece of Hellenism in Albania, Europe's poorest country, a country which now, perhaps more than at any other time in its history, needs God's blessing.
 Turkey-ViolationsDespite assurances that it would respect the Christian holiday, Turkey sent its military forces out into the Aegean Tuesday. There were numerous violations of Greek air space by Turkish aircraft, which were chased away by Greek fighters.
And the Greek air force and navy remain on the alert.
Over a dozen Turkish F-16s illegally entered Greek airspace north and south of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, and flew over the islands of Psara and Inousses.
On two occasions, Greek fighters tailing the invaders became engaged with the Turkish jets.
The violations came as a surprise, given Ankara's assurances that it would abide by the terms of the Papoulias-Yilmaz memorandum, which commits it to refrain from military activity in the area on religious holidays. It was the second such breach of the memorandum terms by Turkey in just ten days.
None of the incursions came in parts of the Aegean where Turkey has programmed three weeks of military manoeuvres this month, manoeuvres which were supposed to start last Friday, but have yet to materialise.
That seems to substantiate the view of some Greek military leaders that Turkey plans to launch a provocative action against Greece soon, but NOT in the areas where the controversial naval-air exercises are scheduled to be held.
The Turkish Aegean exercises are set to get underway on Thursday, after manoeuvres it is holding with the US and Israel between Israel, Cyprus, and Turkey come to an end.
Those exercises have concerned some in the Arab world, prompting the US reassure the Arabs that the manoeuvres are not directed at any specific target. Rather, they are of a humanitarian nature. As one Turkish official put it, they are search and rescue training.
Responding to the aggravations from Ankara, Greek defence miniser Akis Tsochatzopoulos said Turkey needs to understand that such behaviour merely isolates it from the international community, and damages its prospects of bettering its relations with Greece and the European Union.
 KaramanlisTurkish jets flew over Psara while the leader of New Democracy was visiting the island. Kostas Karamanlis told the islanders that Greece wants to live peacefully and in a spirit of cooperation with all its neighbours.
He added though, that that presupposes Turkey starts acting like a civilised nation, instead of like an international terrorist.
Karamanlis made an appeal for national unity when it comes to facing affronts to the nation and its sovereign rights.
"when it comes to national pride and sovereignty", he said, "there are no party colours. We're a nation determined to defend its rights".
Speaking to party members in Chios Monday night, Karamanlis said 1998 will be a difficult year for the nation.
Kostas Karamanlis noted that we're already seeing Turkish provocations just days into the new year.
And on the economic front, things are no better. The New Democracy leader said even the government admits that Greece will only be able to enter the European monetary unit late.
Karamanlis called the government inadequate, telling party members New Democracy will be tough on Pasok, but responsible in the way it exercises its opposition to the government.
The party leader said such opposition tactics will prepare New Democracy for government tomorrow. The party will, he added, avoid the errors and introspection of the past.
Instead of looking inward, he said, the party must rise to the challenge of providing the nation with a vision and inspiration.
 TsovolasDimitris Tsovolas, the leader of the Democratic Movement, is in excellent condition following open heart surgery Tuesday morning.
The operation was performed at Papanikolaou hospital in Thessaloniki.
Heart surgeon Panagiotis Spyrou said Tsovolas would stay in intensive care throughout Tuesday, and perhaps Wednesday, for cautionary reasons.
Tsovolas is expected to leave the hospital in 10 days.
The former Pasok economy minister felt discomfort for the first time on Christmas Eve, after which he went in for tests in Athens.
Following a second round of tests last Sunday that showed four of Tsovolas's coronary arteries were blocked, surgery was scheduled.
The politician has received get well messages from the other party leaders and Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos. And defence minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos visited the hospital.
 Natural gasWith the New Year, thousands of people in Athens have a new energy source: the natural gas pipeline that carries gas from faraway Russia to Greece is working.
After wending and winding its way through Bulgaria and into northeastern Greece, the pipeline ends in Skaramangas just outside Athens, the central
distribution point for consumers in the capital.
Starting January second, 7,500 homes and businesses, like this taverna in central Athens, have access to piped gas, which is used mainly for kitchen purposes at this point, and for heating water. In the future, it should be used more for heating too.
Among the users already tapped in are several Athenian hospitals.
In four years, it is hoped that Athens, Thessaloniki, Larisa, and Volos will all have fully developed networks.
Some users say the piped gas is no cheaper than electricity. But the government says it will announce a series of financial incentives designed to encourage people to switch to the Russian gas.
 Panellinios Gymnastics SocietyThe Panellinios Gymnastics Society applauded the achievements of the nation's top athletes Tuesday, at its traditional New Year's cake cutting ceremony. Panellinios president Minos Kyriakou talked about his plans to encourage young people to turn toward sports and learning, and away from more dangerous pastimes.
Kyriakou told the packed Panellinios basketball stadium, "Every school that opens closes a prison. Every gym that opens at a school closes a prison. Panellinios is the great school of athletics".
Panellinios honoured athletes who distinguished themselves and Greece at the world and European levels in 1997.
Among them, Olga Vazdeki, Maria Polyzou, and Anastasia Tsakiri.
Kyriakou also honoured some very special athletes, all of them children with special needs.
Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos praised the efforts of Kyriakou, also president of Antenna, for his efforts to help young people.
"Mr president", he said, "I congratulate you on what you aim to achieve. It's a difficult task, but one which shows a sense of national responsibility".
Among those present at the ceremony were public order minister Giorgos Romaios and former New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert.
(c) ANT1 Radio 1998
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