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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-05-31

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Academics, students stage protests against university evaluation bill
  • [02] Mixed reactions to French 'no' in EU constitution referendum

  • [01] Academics, students stage protests against university evaluation bill

    University professors announced they will be on strike for three days from Tuesday, while students plan to close major streets in downtown Athens to protest against a new draft law introducing an evaluation system for universities.

    Students announced that they will be staging a demonstration at 7 p.m. on Thursday nationwide, while the students' coordinating committee will convene on Saturday to plan further protests.

    The Education Ministry's draft law for the evaluation of higher education institutions (AEI) was tabled in Parliament on Monday night.

    [02] Mixed reactions to French 'no' in EU constitution referendum

    The rejection of the Euro-Constitution by French voters triggered mixed reactions in Greece. The government and main opposition PASOK said the result was a troubling development while stressing that it need not prove a stumbling block to Europe's integration, while the smaller parties of the Left greeted the French 'no' as a sign that Europeans have had enough of inflexible, Brussels-centric neoliberalism.

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis, in a written statement, stressed that "the verdict of the French people, and every people's, is respected", but at the same time added that the result of the French referendum was a "development that troubles us".

    "We must not forget, however -- and we do not forget -- that the course of European integration has never been smooth. From within differences and even crises, the European Union has managed to move ahead, presenting achievements that are unique in history, to the benefit of peace, democracy and prosperity of the peoples. Our aspiration remains to advance European unification. The effort does not stop here. The procedures provided for its (the Euro-constitution's) ratification in the other member states has not been completed yet. They must proceed regularly, without postponements, as foreseen," Karamanlis added.

    Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, currently in Japan on an official visit, said the result was "an unpleasant development for the progress of European integration" but stressed that the French verdict will not be an obstacle and that the other countries will "continue undeterred".

    According to PASOK leader George Papandreou, the outcome of France's referendum might have significant economic consequences and carried a risk of introspection and interfere with the process of economic convergence for economically-weaker countries.

    The enlargement process was another area that might be affected by the result and stressed the need to continue efforts to bring the Balkan countries, including Turkey, into the EU.

    Following the French 'no', Europe was "entering a period of intense pondering, but the course of European unification continues", main opposition PASOK Political Council for Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence director Christos Papoutsis said in a statement.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement, said it considered as "a very positive event" the French people's "condemnation of the so-called 'Euro-constitution'."

    "The percentage in favour of the 'no' shows that the working class and the popular strata, which are experiencing the unemployment, the elastic labour relations, the razing of social insurance and other rights, poverty and high prices -- in other words the anti-popular policy of the EU and its governments -- have reached certain conclusions. The French people did not bow to the pressures, the threats and the ideological terrorism of the imperialistic agencies and their allies. The 'No' constitutes an example of insubordination and disobedience to the EU barbarity. It is an important indication of uplifting and reinforcement of the popular struggles. All those warning of impending chaos, disaster and isolation are doing so because they fear that the message will spread against the policy of plutocracy, whose sovereignty is further consolidated and shielded by the 'Euro-constitution'. The 'No' is a first step in the struggle against the EU. The stronger the blows delivered by the peoples to the structure of the EU, until it is demolished, the closer that Europe will come to the popular rights, peace, and socialism," the KKE announcement said.

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alekos Alavanos, said that "we welcome the awakening of the social conscience of a Europe that seeks the right to work and peace, and opposes the present-day Europe of bureacracy of the 'accomodated'. We welcome the cooperation of the leftists and communists, the radicals, the objecting socialists and the Greens, that comprised the backbone of the social 'No', and which, for us in Greece, constitutes a great example".

    In a press conference on Monday, Alavanos said that the French rejection was a direct criticism of the policies adopted by the EU on major social and economic problems, such as unemployment, the social state, social insurance, labour relations but also on peace and autonomy from the United States.

    He said the result established the conditions for a "another kind of Europe".

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