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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-07-29

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Souflias optimistic about public works progress, public investments programme
  • [02] Turkey must change to become part of EU, Patriarch Bartholomew warns Turkish authorities
  • [03] Suburban railway celebrates its first birthday

  • [01] Souflias optimistic about public works progress, public investments programme

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Friday said he was optimistic about the progress made with projects falling under his ministry's jurisdiction in response to news reports that alleged a delay in the implementation of the Public Investments Programme.

    "The Public Works Ministry and its political leadership will be judged at the end of 2005, but mostly in 2006-2007, when projects exceeding 12 billion will be under way and all of Greece will have been turned into an enormous work site absorbing funds at triple the rate of previous years," Souflias said.

    The minister also emphasised that the ministry's current leadership during the 10 months it has been in office, has completely reshaped the manner in which public works are carried out and has also set up an innovative public works auction programme for 2005 with a total budget of 5 billion.

    According to Souflias, projects totalling 4.4 billion have already been auctioned, while contracts have been signed and projects are under way which exceed 2 billion.

    Finally, he said that the absorption rate of a public investments programme is judged at the end of the year, since according to statistics approximately 50% of funds are absorbed in the fall.

    [02] Turkey must change to become part of EU, Patriarch Bartholomew warns Turkish authorities

    In a bitter recrimination against the injustices inflicted on Turkey's Christian minorities, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Friday warned Turkish authorities that the changes in the country must be more than skin-deep if it wanted to become part of Europe.

    "If we really want to become Europeans, we must change our attitudes, not just make some reforms and pass a few new laws that are sometimes implemented and sometimes not," he stressed.

    "We must radically change the way we think, and this is what the Europeans are telling us," he added.

    The Patriarch made the statements during the scheduled opening of a summer camp for children organised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, whose opening had been so delayed by the failure of Turkish authorities to push through the necessary paperwork that parents had taken their children back home.

    "We are declaring the start of the Paidopolis, even though only symbolically, because our children's camp is opening without our children. And this is due to the hard-heartedness of certain state services, who made sure that it delayed using various ways and means, and each time found some excuse to prevaricate," Bartholomew said, pointing out that July had already passed.

    The Patriarch also spoke bitterly of the way that Turkish authorities handled the Patriarchate's institutions and property, and the fact that the Turkish State had refused to re-open the School of Theology on Halki, which has now been closed for 34 years.

    "The Ecumenical Patriarchate has never intended to create problems for the State and our government. But, on the other hand, it demands its rights from the State and does not allow the State to press, repress and be unjust to its citizens, to its own citizens. We are not strangers in this land," he stressed.

    [03] Suburban railway celebrates its first birthday

    The new suburban railway will become a year old on Saturday and, on this occasion, the company running it made a brief account of work achieved so far and of prospects of expanding it in the future.

    According to the company, the suburban railway is following a stable upward trend since a relevant survey showed that 94.3 percent of passengers using it said they were absolutely satisfied with services provided for them.

    Prospects of extending the railway are extremely positive, since extensions to Corinth (the Corinth-Athens route is expected to begin in September), Piraeus, Halkida and Thiva, which are proceeding at a speedy rate, will change the transport map in Athens.

    The suburban railway began operating only 15 days before the beginning of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, without undergoing a test period, but succeeded in performing its mission, carrying about 35,000 passengers on a daily basis throughout the duration of the Games.

    Today, this means of transport is preferred by over 15,000 people daily and the credibility rate of its routes reaches 98.5 percent. The duration of the Athens-Athens airport route has been reduced from 41 to 38 minutes and the cost of the ticket is now down to six euros.


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