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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-11-02

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't on Albania incident involving President
  • [02] Serb PM visits Mount Athos
  • [03] Pensioners march for 1050 min. pension

  • [01] Gov't on Albania incident involving President

    The Greek government spokesman on Wednesday joined the previous day's cascade of condemnations over a same-day incident in southern Albania that led to the cancellation of President Karolos Papoulias' informal meeting with his Albanian counterpart Alfred Moisiu.

    "The Greek government considers that the necessary measures allowing for the unhindered meeting of the two presidents in Sarande were not taken," alternate spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters on Wednesday, while adding:

    "Albanian authorities did not take the necessary measures to discourage well-known extremists, who in their effort to obstruct the normal development of bilateral relations continue to insist on promoting unacceptable and non-existent issues," the spokesman said in echoing a previous day's announcement by the foreign ministry, issued only hours after the incident took place.

    In answer to press questions, Antonaros clarified that he did not mention a "security issue", but to specific measures "taken during visits of high-ranking foreign dignitaries ... The usual contacts had preceded, but the Albanian side did not do what it was supposed to do. The president of the republic, therefore, did what he had to do, and he was in contact with the Greek foreign ministry".

    Papoulias' scheduled meeting with Moisiu on Tuesday in the southern Albanian town of Sarande was cancelled after the Greek head of state waited for more than two hours at Greece's consulate in nearby Gjirokaster due to the presence of protestors outside a hotel in the former.

    According to press reports, around 200 so-called "Chams" ringed a hotel in the coastal town of Sarande to press with their long-standing demands against Greece, claims that date from the end of World War II. The group had reportedly been bussed to the southwest Albanian town from the country's north.

    The Chams, usually identified as a Muslim, Albanian-speaking group, collaborated with fascist and Nazi occupation forces in extreme northwest Greece -- mostly in the Thesprotia border prefecture -- during the Second World War before fleeing the country for neighbouring Albania shortly after Greece's liberation. Members of the group have at various times raised claims against the Greek state for property abandoned or confiscated because of wartime collaboration and war crimes, among others.

    [02] Serb PM visits Mount Athos

    Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica was in Mount Athos on Wednesday for a private visit to the Hilandari monastery, where several monks of Serb origin reside.

    The Serb premier arrived on the peninsula on Tuesday, accompanied by Serbia's Culture Minister and other Serb state officials.

    On Wednesday morning he visited Karyes, the capital of the semi-autonomous monastic community, for an official welcoming ceremony and then the Hilandari Monastery, where he was briefed on the progress of repairs after a major fire last March.

    According to the director of the Centre for the Preservation of the Heritage of Aghion Oros (KEDAK) Christos Limenopoulos, work to make the damaged wing safe has been completed and the burnt sections have been removed.

    Studies on rebuilding and restoring the damaged buildings are due to begin within the year, he added, noting that KEDAK has spent 1.4 million on the work carried out so far.

    The Serb government has undertaken to fund the restoration of at least one of the incinerated monastery buildings.

    [03] Pensioners march for 1050 min. pension

    Pensioners' unions held a march and protest rally on Wednesday, demanding a 10 per cent increase in pensions in 2006 and a minimum pension of 1050 for all pension funds.

    Participating in the march were unions of pensioners in the IKA, TEBE, NAT, TSA, ELTA, TAE, local authority and civil service pension funds.

    A representative of the marchers met Finance Ministry general secretary George Mergos and presented their resolution, in which the pensioners also ask for a freeze on the price and the abolition of VAT on basic goods, a 500-euro heating subsidy, 15,000 euros tax free limit, free pharmaceuticals, payment of all debts to pension funds by the state and that the OTE and bank pension funds should not be incorporated into IKA, as well as demands relating to individual pension funds.


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