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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Gov't releases EU Commission's 'reasoned opinion' over primary shareholder law
  • [02] Jerusalem Patriarchate denies Israeli paper's report concerning land deals in East Jerusalem
  • [03] Greeks abandon city in droves to celebrate Easter in the countryside

  • [01] Gov't releases EU Commission's 'reasoned opinion' over primary shareholder law

    The government on Friday released the full text of a 'reasoned opinion' sent to Greece in the past week by the European Commission over its 'primary shareholder' law, which seeks to prevent the participation of companies 'interconnected' with the Greek mass media in tenders for public procurements.

    A 'reasoned opinion' is the second stage in the EU infringement procedure and the Commission may refer Greece to the European Court of Justice unless it receives a satisfactory reply within three weeks.

    Presenting the Commission's text, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that Greece had already declared its willingness to work with Community authorities to find a "common ground", make the necessary amendments to the existing legal framework and at the same time fully ensure the rules of transparency concerning the relations of companies that win state contracts and mass media enterprises.

    Commenting on the contents of the reasoned opinion and Roussopoulos' statement, main opposition PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said the developments "confirmed the government's irresponsible, frivolous and petty party-political motives in the handling of a very important issue, such as transparency and combatting corruption".

    He said that Greece now risked losing significant sums in Community funds because of the government's incompetence and its refusal to cooperate with EU authorities to create a law compatible with the Constitution and Community law, overcoming the problems of the previous law.

    Athanassakis stressed that the government had ignored the Commission's objections to the previous law passed by PASOK, proceeding to table, pass and publish new legislation containing even tougher rules without contacting the EU.

    "In this way they squandered valuable diplomatic 'capital' and undermined the country's standing over a cause that was lost from the start," he said.

    He called on the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to take action necessary to ensure that Greece did not lose Community funds that it was entitled to as a result of the government's mistaken policy.

    [02] Jerusalem Patriarchate denies Israeli paper's report concerning land deals in East Jerusalem

    JERUSALEM (ANA - P. Haritos) An announcement by the Jerusalem Patriarchate on Friday reiterated vehement denials concerning alleged land deals with Israeli interests involving Church property in Arab East Jerusalem.

    The denials were made in response to yet another full-page article appearing in the Israeli daily "Ma'ariv" that printed excerpts of two 198-year leases for such properties signed on August 16 by the Patriarchate's former financial officer Nikos Papadimas, who it said was acting on behalf of Patriarch Irineos.

    The leases concern two Palestinian-run hotels, the Petra and the landmark Imperial near the main entrance of Jerusalem's Old City and appeared under the headline: "The Patriarch denies but the deal can be proved". The paper had obscured the numbers of bank accounts and the names of the leasees, saying only that they were foreign Jewish investors.

    It said the current tenants, a well-known Palestinian family, were unaware of the deal.

    The Patriarchate slammed the newspaper's article as "despicable", urging Palestinian and Orthodox Christians to "turn their back on it", and said it planned to sue the authors and those responsible for the article.

    It said the paper had published copies of the leases "with the sole purpose of once more inciting the Arab people against the Patriarchate, creating concern and unrest, through its lies".

    "Even if such contracts exist, they have no worth or validity since they have not been approved by the Holy Synod, without whose order no one, not even the Patriarch, can either sell or lease."

    "Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos was the one who led the criminal Papadimas to justice, and who is able and worthy of guarding not only the values and traditions but also the interests of the Palestinian people, since he has never forgotten and every times proves that he is Patriarch of Jerusalem and all Palestine," the announcement concludes.

    The scandal involving the church land deals was first made public by "Ma'ariv" in mid-March and has led to a storm of controversy surrounding Patriarch Irineos, leading to Arab demands for his removal and the "Arabisation" of the Patriarchate. Irineos has denied all knowledge of the property deals and laid the blame on the Patriarchate's former financial manager Papadimas, who had been given sweeping powers of attorney by Irineos in May to manage all Church assets.

    Irineos has since sued Papadimas, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, for embezzlement in Greek courts.

    [03] Greeks abandon city in droves to celebrate Easter in the countryside

    The Easter exodus peaked on Good Friday as Greeks abandoned the cities to celebrate Easter in the countryside, in the time-honoured traditional manner.

    As preparations for the evening's Epitaph procession were underway in churches throughout the country, motorists had to negotiate choked national highways.

    Particularly jammed were the main routes out of Athens, the Athens-Lamia and Athens-Corinth national highways, where traffic police reported problems until late into Friday morning.

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