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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-07-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Alt. culture minister meets US president, state department officials in Washington
  • [02] Greek PM briefed on health ministry, justice system issues
  • [03] Deputy culture minister Tatoulis: Restoration work on Acropolis to be completed by end-2006
  • [04] Debate on shopping hours bill continues amid protests

  • [01] Alt. culture minister meets US president, state department officials in Washington

    NEW YORK (ANA - N. Melisova) In a brief meeting with Greece's Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, United States President George Bush greeted her warmly and once again confirmed the very good ties between Greece and the U.S., describing Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis as "a good friend and a very good politician".

    The meeting took place during a gathering of International Democratic Union (IDU) party leaders at the White House on Tuesday. Petralia, who attended the meeting in her capacity as president of the IDU women's section, stressed that equality of the sexes was a necessary condition for achieving the "free and just and compassionate societies" referred to by Bush as the "vision" of the parties in the IDU.

    The U.S. president agreed, noting that efforts to increase the freedoms of women were currently being made in certain Moslem countries.

    The Greek minister also informed Bush about a IDU Women's Conference that will be held in Athens in October 7-9, with the participation of women MPs, ministers and heads of state and government, which Bush promised to support.

    The IDU is an international association of 80 conservative, Christian Democrat and centre-right parties from 56 countries in the world that mainly espouse neoliberal ideas and principles. The U.S. president's speech to IDU leaders' had stressed the threat to these from international terrorism and underlined the U.S. government's commitment to wage war on terror.

    The Greek minister also had a very friendly meeting with the U.S. State Department's Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns - formerly a U.S. ambassador to Greece.

    Afterwards, they both noted their "close friendship over many years" and expressed their desire to exploit the two countries' very good bilateral relations in the area of culture.

    Petralia briefed Burns at length on the efforts of the Greek government to make use of the facilities built for the Athens Olympics and stressed that these would not be sold but chiefly used for sports in ways as to attract investments. Burns showed particular interest in the use of facilities for sports that are popular in the United States.

    He also congratulated the Greek minister on the extremely good organisation of the Olympic Games in Athens, particularly with regard to security aspects, as the U.S. president had done earlier.

    [02] Greek PM briefed on health ministry, justice system issues

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed by Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis on Wednesday regarding progress in ministry policies.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Kaklamanis said the prime minister gave him a clear order to work and not to prepare for early elections. The Greek Health minister briefed Mr Karamanlis over the ministry's legislative programme and in particular a package of four new draft bills, expected to be examined by a Legislative Commission and the State Accounts Office.

    Kaklamanis said the ministry would have completed its legislative work with the submission of a total of nine draft bills by December.

    Karamanlis also had successive meetings with the new president of the Supreme Court (Areios Pagos) Romylos Kedikoglou, the new president of the Council of State (Greece's supreme administrative court) Georgios Panagiotopoulos and Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras.

    Afterwards, Papaligouras said the meeting had focused on the major priorities for the justice system, with the top priority being the restoration of justice's prestige in the eyes of the public. The second most important priority was to accelerate the speed at which justice was administered and the third was to improve conditions in the country's prisons.

    "I wish to stress that there is a covenant of honour between the State and the leadership of justice, to wipe out all phenomena of corruption from the body of justice," he said.

    [03] Deputy culture minister Tatoulis: Restoration work on Acropolis to be completed by end-2006

    Deputy culture minister Petros Tatoulis said Wednesday that restoration and other work on the Acropolis would be completed by the end of 2006, keeping with the relevant timetables.

    During a visit to the Acropolis archaeological site, Tatoulis was briefed on the course of works on the monument under the 2004-2005 programme.

    He said that everything was proceeding in according with the relevant timetables, and therefore the works would be completed and most of the scaffolding removed by the end of next year.

    The deputy minister said that the continous funding from national resources and the EU's Third Community Support Framework (CSF) ensured continuation of the works at an undiminished pace, as well as the commencement of new, more detailed work involving several of the monuments.

    He also anticipated that work on the new Acropolis Museum would also be completed by end-2006, clarifying that problems that existed with the contract with the contractor selected for the project (under the preceding PASOK government) were being constantly consistently dealt with by the ministry leadership, aiming at completion of the museum.

    [04] Debate on shopping hours bill continues amid protests

    The Greek Parliament on Wednesday continued to debate a draft law on extending shopping hours in the country, amid protests by shop owners and small- and medium-sized craft manufacturers.

    These began on Tuesday afternoon with a series of symbolic blockages of major road networks around the country, including Nestos bridge, Korinth Canal, Rio-Antirrio bridge and the Promahona bridge, and a rally by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) trade union grouping PAME.

    On Wednesday, the government was due to table an equally controversial draft law on labour relations with parliament's Social Affairs Committee. Trade unions and opposition political parties have expressed their disagreement with the new bill, while GSEE - the country's largest trade union umbrella organisation - has annoucned a 24-hour panhellenic strike for July 27.

    Meanwhile, the Association of Greek Commerce Unions (ESEE) on Wednesday sent an open letter to all political parties and deputies participating in the summer session of Parliament, in a final bid to persuade them over the fairness of the sectorās demands and in particular its objections to plans over new shopping hours around the country.

    An ESEE delegation, headed by the associationās president Dimitris Armenakis, visited the Greek Parliament on Wednesday and handed over its proposals to a government-sponsored plan on market operation to Parliament President and party deputies.

    In its letter, ESEE reiterated its objections to plans to strip off power from regional unions to agree - in cooperation with local authorities - shopping hours in their regions. The association also expressed its objection to the free operation of fairs held on religious holidays and other forms of open air markets around the country.


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