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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece among the safest countries, PM says after visiting public order ministry
  • [02] Patriarch Irineos renounced in letter by high-ranking clergy of Holy Sepulchre Brotherhood
  • [03] Britons aboard grounded 'Ifigenia Express' delivered safe to Lefkada
  • [04] German Chancellor meets Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

  • [01] Greece among the safest countries, PM says after visiting public order ministry

    Greece is among the safest countries and Greek citizens do and should feel absolutely safe, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Thursday after an early-morning tour of the public order ministry.

    Karamanlis had a two-hour meeting with Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, after which he stressed that the ministry and the police force were doing very good work, with results that were clear and measurable in terms of both quality and quantity.

    He stressed that in the field of law and order, the government was working according to a plan, whose results were already apparent in the daily life of the public.

    "The goal of the state is to be transparent, reliable and always at the service of the public," he said, underlining the positive contribution made by the police to the safe organisation of the Olympic Games.

    The premier also pointed out that the know-how acquired during the Olympics was already paying off, as in the successful handling of a recent bus hijacking.

    Karamanlis congratulated the police and the political leadership of the ministry for their unassuming efforts to combat organised crime, while announcing that the ministry will be reorganised to place priority on organised crime, electronic crime and rural security, which is to be covered by the rural police force.

    Finally, he congratulated officers for their well-coordinated efforts to regulate the massive departure of Athenians for Easter, noting that the measures on national highways and elsewhere had reduced traffic accidents.

    (Photo supplied by ANA/M. Marogianni)

    [02] Patriarch Irineos renounced in letter by high-ranking clergy of Holy Sepulchre Brotherhood

    JERUSALEM (ANA - P. Haritos) A letter renouncing Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos I and asking him to give up his seat, signed by 11 bishops and 23 archmandrites belonging to the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, was handed to Irineos on Thursday morning in person.

    The letter, which has also been sent to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, holds Irineos personally responsible for the current dire straits of the Jerusalem Orthodox Patriarchate and the Holy Sepulchre Brotherhood and its plummeting image with Arabs.

    It also accuses the Patriarch of being behind the sales and long-term leases of land in East Jerusalem that have incensed the Palestinian and wider Arab community.

    The letter demands that Irineos either resign or be removed from the Patriarchal seat, noting that he "daily lessens the prestige of the Patriarchal office, being unable to become the symbol of all the things the Greek-Orthodox Jerusalem Patriarch must stand for".

    For this reason, the letter adds, Irineos does not have the right to remain in the position of Patriarch and to represent the Orthodox faith and the Greek nation in the Holy Lands, they conclude and ask that the Greater Synod be convened to resolve the problem.

    Arabs have been angered by reports that the Greek Patriarch was responsible for the long-term lease of prime pieces of property owned by the Patriarchate in Arab East Jerusalem to foreign Jewish interests, including the landmark Imperial hotel near the entrance to Jerusalem's Old City run by a Palestinian family. They are clamouring for Irineos' removal and have called for the 'Arabization' of the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

    In past weeks, the Patriarchate has become the focus of controversy and protests that have often spilled over into violent incidents, including during Orthodox Easter week, when the ceremonies and services had to be carried out under bristling security.

    The Patriarch has denied the allegations, blaming the Patriarchate's former financial manager - now facing charges of embezzlement - for the controversial land deals, which he says are in any case invalid since they have not been approved the Patriarchate's Holy Synod.

    [03] Britons aboard grounded 'Ifigenia Express' delivered safe to Lefkada

    Thirty-five Britons aboard the yacht 'Ifigenia Express', which ran aground on a reef near the island of Scorpio, were delivered safe and well to the town of Nydri in Lefkada on Thursday by a coast guard patrol boat and other craft nearby.

    The yacht, which was carrying out a tour of the Ionian islands, remained grounded on the charted reef until 9:00 on Thursday, when work to refloat it got underway.

    [04] German Chancellor meets Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

    ISTANBUL (ANA/A.Kourkoulas) - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Phanar on Wednesday, during his official visit to Turkey.

    According to sources, during the meeting which was conducted in a friendly atmosphere, Schroeder and Bartholomew discussed the problems the patriarchate continues to face in Turkey.

    Although Schroeder did not make any statements after the meeting, he did mention during a press conference in Ankara earlier, that he places great emphasis on the protection of religious freedom and minority rights, underscoring the need for patience in dealing with such delicate issues.

    "We sincerely appreciate this visit and we believe that it will contribute to the solution of our problems," Bartholomew said in reference to Schroeder's visit.

    Bartholomew spoke of the European Union's contribution in resolving the problems the patriarchate is facing.

    "Within the context of Turkey's European course, better days will come for the Greek community here, our Patriarchate and for all minorities in Turkey," Vartholomeos said.

    "We hope and we pray that today's difficulties will be overcome and that our Patriarchate will enjoy a larger range of movement as it conducts its ecumenical mission. Also, we hope that the injustices committed at our expense in the past will be reversed, that the property unjustly taken from the Greek community and from our institutions will be returned. This is what justice demands, what democracy and the European Union demand. This is why we are optimistic about the future," Bartholomew concluded.

    (Photo supplied by ANA/ N. Magginas)

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