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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-06-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Public awareness drive for World Environment Day
  • [02] New call for court to mend Greek-Turkish ties
  • [03] Communists fear trouble in Aegean Sea, Thrace

  • [01] Public awareness drive for World Environment Day

    A three-day public awareness campaign began at the weekend, culiminating in World Environment Day on Monday.

    Syntagma Square in the centre of Athens was filled with stands carrying information leaflets for the public offered by the borough of Athens, parliament's environmental protection committee and other pro-environment organisations.

    "Only through environmental education for each of us can the quality of life be improved for all," Athens Mayor Theodoros Behrakis told visitors.

    Hundreds of Athenians took part in a day run, followed by a celebration in central Athens, arranged by borough authorities and backed by the transport ministry with the Greek Olympic Committee. Among the runners was the ruling New Democracy party's mayoral candidate for the capital, Nikitas Kaklamanis, a doctor and former health minister.

    In addition, the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry held its own campaign whose main slogan was: "You depend on the environment more than you think." On Monday, the minister, George Souflias, will visit the country's first sea park on the Ionian island of Zakynthos where the Caretta Caretta turtle is protected.

    "The truth is that in Greece we were slower to realise (the importance of the environment). Condemnation and Greece's pending issues with the European Union and the European Court on the environment, which were bequeathed to us by the previous government, are due to that, along with the lack of environmental training for the Greek public," Souflias said in a statement to mark the occasion.

    "Over the past 27 months, we have been making a systematic efforts at the ministry for the environment. We have evidently not had enough time to handle all the pending issues of the past 20 years. However, a huge task has been carried out which is recognised by European Union services," he added.

    "Development with no tomorrow" blamed

    In a message for the occasion, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias blamed unbridled and unplanned development for environmental destruction as "development with no tomorrow."

    "Nowadays, we need a different kind of revolution: a cultural revolution, a radical change in attitude and behaviour. We must adopt a correct stand towards Nature, a new ethos, the environmental ethos," Papoulias urged.

    "We must come to realise that what we should be seeking is prosperity not wealth," he added.

    In another message for World Environment Day, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis urged seamen to act as an example in protection of the marine environment.

    "The sea is an element of vital importance for the country's economy, and for our daily lives. This should a be a day of reflection, especially for seamen, as the sea is their place of work, and of toil and of social contribution," the minister noted.

    At the same time, the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement complained in a statement that the government had failed to meet its election pledges on the environment.

    According to the Communist Party of Greece, a radically new policy was needed for the environment that had no links to profit-generating capitalism and the free-market economy.

    Free Dutch roses

    In a surprise event, Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation (PPC) will give away roses grown in its greenhouse located in the Western Macedonia Lignite Centre.

    Three rare species of Dutch roses are grown in the greenhouse, replacing vegetable and herbs grown in previous years.

    PPC will also open its Ptolemaida lignite mine to the public, offering guided tours of the interior and areas that have been environmentally restored.

    [02] New call for court to mend Greek-Turkish ties

    The former president of the republic, Kostis Stephanopoulos, has restated that employing the International Court at the Hague is an option for the resolution of differences with Turkey, and that demilitarisation of the Aegean islands would be an error until agreement is reached.

    "Militarisation of the (eastern Aegean) islands is necessary as long as there is a threat....After a total decision on all matters at the court, if such a decision is obtained and our relations with Turkey are definitively settled, then there would no longer be a danger of war, nor danger for the islands," Stephanopoulos said in an article published in the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper.

    Stephanopoulos, a popular and respected president who served two consecutive terms, initially stated his case for use of the international court in an article last week that sparked a storm of debate among politicians and the public.

    "The article's basic concept was to find a solution for all Greek-Turkish differences, in order to restore calm in the two countries' ties. Only when we propose referral of all our differences to the international court will Turkey be compelled to accept the court's jurisdiction, which it has so far sought to avoid," the ex-president stated.

    "My proposal seeks avoidance not only of war, but also of heated incidents. My patriotism and my rationale remain intact, and have not been hurt by comments against my article," Stephanopoulos noted.

    He also welcomed both the support and opposition that the article had generated as a stimulus to debate and action.

    Stephanopoulos also responded to statements by the defence minister on demilitarisation of the eastern Aegean islands, which face Turkey.

    "I have proposed referral of the matter to the international court, not demilitarisation....Militarisation of the islands is necessary as long as the threat is extant....When the threat is removed, the minister may then think about what he will do. I do not wish to intervene further in his duties," Stephanopoulos said.

    He also clarified that he had not meant "grey areas" fabricated by Turkey should be taken to court by Greece. "I have in mind Turkey's ability to do this, unilaterally."

    [03] Communists fear trouble in Aegean Sea, Thrace

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) fears that danger could emerge in the Aegean Sea and northeastern region of Thrace, which borders on Turkey, according to a central committee policy statement released on Sunday.

    Economic, political and military interests of the USA are forcing its government to readjust goals and make them more concrete, the document said.

    The KKE stated that "Greece should keep out of any imperialist war against Iran or any other of the world's peoples;" and refrain from voting in favour of measures at the UN that aim to exert pressure.

    In addition, the country should scrap commitments that would directly or indirectly involve Greece in hostilities; NATO'S Souda base on Crete should close down; all Greek troops abroad should return home; and no soldiers should remain in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkan countries or elsewhere, the statement said.

    Turning to Turkey, the party stated that the neighbouring country was aggressively promoting its claims in the Aegean and claiming joint management due to what it calls "unspecified status" of certain areas.

    "It is clear that a de facto operation is in full swing to divide the Aegean that began many years ago directed by the US and NATO," the KKE said.

    "The current New Democracry government's responsibility is enormous, as is that of (its predecessor) PASOK, because of which the Greek people has experience of active participation in all European Union and NATO procedures, climaxing in aiding their allies in imperialist wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq," the party noted.

    Main opposition PASOK has repeatedly stated that it backs the country's foreign policy; and, along with New Democracy, has exploited the polices of the parliamentary Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology as an "alibi" for their choices, the document said.

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