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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-10-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Premier addresses EPP European Union of Elderly conference in Athens on Int'l Day for the Elderly
  • [02] PASOK leader critical of gov't during Xanthi-Kavala-Drama tour
  • [03] Education reforms will be completed
  • [04] DM received by Cyprus President
  • [05] Special Olympics: Greece bids for 2012 Games

  • [01] Premier addresses EPP European Union of Elderly conference in Athens on Int'l Day for the Elderly

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Sunday outlined his government's actions over the past two-and-a-half years aimed at upgrading the quality of life of the elderly, addressing a conference in Athens organised jointly by the European People's Party Group's (EPP) European Union of the Elderly, on the occasion of International Day for the Elderly and Greece's ruling New Democracy party (which belongs to the EPP grouping in the European Parliament).

    Addressing the same meeting, interior, public administration and decentralisation minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos presented a series of regulations that were introduced in the new code of the Municipalities and Communities.

    Outlining the actions for the elderly being advanced in the overall framework of his government's economic and social reforms, Karamanlis explained that they aimed at: a) reinforcing the real incomes of the elderly through an increase in pensions, and particularly the low-bracket and farmers' pensions substantially above the inflation rate; b) upgrading the public health and welfare services; and c) protection of the family and reinforcement of the elderly citizens' participation in society.

    Referring to the theme of the conference, titled "For a society of all the ages - Windows to the elderly's loneliness in the local societies", Karamanlis stressed that it was the self-evident duty of everyone to actively support this effort.

    He said explicit recognition of this fundamental duty of every democratic society was the adoption of the Charter of Rights for Dependent Elderly Persons (adopted by karamanlis on October 1, 2002 at the European Union of the Elderly conference in Athens), through which the taking of specific measures ins imposed for the equal participation of the elderly in the economic and social capital produced, as well as the elimination of prejudices and mentalities that pushed the elderly into the sidelines.

    Regarding the EPP, Karamanlis said that it belonged to a political tradition that puts forward and tackles problems with social sensitivity and efficiency, which renders its agencies credible to the European peoples, and also capable factors for ensuring the social acquis, which he warned appeared to be at risk due to the intense economic and demographic changes taking place.

    "The Europeans trust us, believing that at both European and national level, we will remain true to our political tradition and dare to go ahead with changes and reforms that will enable Europe to widen the effectiveness of its social intervention," he said.

    Included in that framework were the reforms being advanced by the government in the economy and society, the prime minister added.

    Karamanlis further stressed the deeper demand of the EU peoples for advancing the principles and ideals of European civilisation as a basic gnomon of political action because, in an era such as the present, giving a specific and modern content to the timeless humanitarian priciple, which was recognition of the human being as the highest value, was the most important service that the EU could redner to humanity.

    Pavlopoulos, noting that the UN had established the International Day for the Elderly in 1990, said that the Day did not have the character of an anniversary, but rather was a Day for review and action in order to improve the living conditions and utilisation of the human potential, knowledge and experience of the elderly in our societies.

    He made note of prominent writers and philosophers who continued their eminent work throughout their entire lives.

    The first session of the conference was opened by European Union of the Elderly president Dr. B. Works, and its vice-president M. Kanellopoulou (ND).

    [02] PASOK leader critical of gov't during Xanthi-Kavala-Drama tour

    Main opposition PASOK leader, on a weekend tour of Xanthi, Kavala and Drama ahead of next month's local government elections, reiterated his criticism of the New Democracy (ND) government and prime minister Costas Karamanlis, opining that this month would end with an upset of the current political scene.

    "The month will end with an upset of the political scene," Papandreou said in Drama on Sunday, speaking at the campaign centre of local PASOK-backed prefectural candidate Christoforos Koryfidis, adding that the message he has received from his visits throughout the country was that "New Democracy's cycle has come to a close".

    Papandreou said that when ND took over the government, it had in its hands substantial legacies inherited from the preceding PASOK governments, funds from the European Union, international prestige, institutions and works, "and everyone expected that the (ND) government would build on all that which it found, but on the contrary it demolished the best that the Greek people had built with hard work and sacrifices".

    The PASOK leader accused the government of defaming the country with its policies, to the point that "they consider us frauds". He said the Greek people had given ND a great opportunity, "but witnessed and realised in action what the Right is, as it has disappointed even its own voters".

    Papandreou also reiterated his oft-repeated criticism that the prime minister had "ease in grand statements, but is nowhere to be found in the face of the country's problems", adding tht Karamanlis was hiding the truth and hiding from reality, presenting as an example what he called the "third week crisis", meaning that from the middle of each month, the average Greek family had difficulty in meeting its expenses.

    He said that the government and prime minister, with every measure they took, facilitated the interests of ND's "select" friends, and keeping the Greek people in a state of captivity and insecurity in order to steal their vote.

    Turning to education issues, Papandreou spoke of an unacceptable class policy, and blamed ND for the ongoing public elementary school teachers' strike, which would enter into its third week on Monday, saying that the government was deceiving the teachers as it was not giving them what it had promised before the elections.

    On the economy, Papandreou spoke of a crime with two audits, which resulted in the country's defamation.

    Turning to the specific problems in Drama prefecture, Papandreou said that the development of infrastructures was the top priority for the region, adding that PASOK had submitted proposals for the economic restructuring of the peripheries finding themselves in a state of crisis.

    Papandreou further reiterated his party's platform for definitive decentralisation through the transfer of authorities, resources and services to the Local Government while, referring to his decision to nominate Gul Karahasan -- a woman member of the Moslem community and alternate secretary of PASOK's municipal organisation in Miki in the Xanthi prefecture -- as the PASOK-backed candidate for the Drama-Xanthi-Kavala supra-prefecture in the October 15 municipal/prefectural elections, he said that it had been a "bold decision, which symbolises the new relations between Christians and Muslims".

    "We do not separate the Greeks, and whoever comes from a minority, whoever has lived as a refugee, whoever has lived as an immigrant, knows what a just society means and knows how to fight for his rights," the PASOK leader added.

    Speaking at a similar event in Kavala on Saturday evening, Papandreou said that "the country has taken the decline under ND", accusing the government of "cultivating dividing lines".

    [03] Education reforms will be completed

    The reforms in higher education will be completed during the government's present four-year term, education minister Marietta Yannakou said in an interview with Kathimerini appearing in the newspaper's Sunday edition.

    Replying to questions, Yannakou said that the reforms would be completed within the present four-year term, and cited the self-administration of educational institutions and the abolition of the "eternal students" as two of the more important issues being addressed.

    Regarding the 103 euros benefit the government has proposed to the striking school teachers, to be paid over 6 6-month tranches, Yannakou said that the education ministry "asked for and insisted on the best possible solution" with respect to the teachers' financial demands, and that national economy and finance ministry "considers that this is the only possible arrangement that can be tolerated by our economy".

    Yannakou denied any prospect of resigning in order to facilitate the dialogue, nor in the event of new takeovers of universities upon tabling of the relevant bill in parliament, adding that the prime minister and the government had no intention of leaving the country stagnating and the universities in the present situation after the year 2010 "so that they will end up not being considered higher education'.

    "It's a matter of conscience," the minister said.

    Questioned on the possibility of recourse to early general elections, citing the reform in the educational system as the reason, Yannakou said she was aware that such rumours existed, but stressed that "I am working closely with the prime minister, and never have we discussed such a possibility, nor has such an issue been put forward".

    Asked whether, in the event of new student sit-ins at the universities, the education issue could be used as a reason for early elections, Yannakou said "no, I don't consider it so at this time", and reiterated that "the government always has education as the tip of the spear of its policy".

    [04] DM received by Cyprus President

    Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis was received Sunday in Nicosia by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, while he also met earlier with Cyprus acting defence minister Michalis Sarris and was briefed by National Guard chief Constantine Bisbikas on the force's operational capability, and on the deployment and armaments of the Turkish forces in the Turkish-occupied sector of the island republic.

    Afterwards, Meimarakis represented the Greek government at the National Guard's military parade marking the 46th anniversary of Cyprus' independence from British colonial rule, and described the parade as "impeccable".

    "We feel proud. It was proved today that we respond with quality to quantity, with dialogue with arguments to intransigence, and with the rationale of peace to the rationale of conflict," Meimarakis said.

    He said Greece's support to Cyprus was multi-level, and assured that "nothing whatsoever has changed since the agreement on the Single Defence Doctrine.

    "We are moving ahead in that direction," Meimarakis said, and expressed hope that through the constant and dynamic political presence abroad and the substantive arguments "we will achieve a just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus issue".

    Meimarakis further stressed that the cooperation between the governments of Athens and Nicosia was "excellent, frank and substantive", and conveyed to President Papadopoulos and the Cypriot people the whole-hearted greetings and support of Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis and the government.

    The Greek defence minister later went to the headquarters of the Greek Force on Cyprus (ELDYK), where he placed a wreath at the monument of the Greek officers and soldiers who died during the Turkish invasion of the island republic in 1974, and attended a luncheon in his honour hosted by ELDYK commander Col. Athanassios Kyriakopoulos.

    Meimarakis was received upon arrival at Larnaca airport on Saturday afternoon by Cyprus finance minister and acting defence minister Michalis Sarris, who said that the Greek defence minister's presence reflected "the constant help and solidarity characterising the bilateral relations" between the two countries. Meimarakis, in turn, stressed the close ties between Cyprus and Greece. ''We are striving to find a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem and we support the Cypriot people in their struggle for the solution they desire,'' the Greek minister said.

    Meimarakis praised Cyprus' role in the Middle East region, noting that ''Cyprus' geopolitical position is being consolidated even more especially after the recent events in Lebanon''.

    During the 34-day invasion of Lebanon by the Israeli military, Cyprus opened its ports and airports facilitating more than 50,000 evacuees who fled the fighting.

    During that time, Meimarakis added, ''Cyprus assisted in the best possible way not only because it is close to the embattled region but also because it has a state machinery that can respond to such difficult tasks, something which was acknowledged officially by the international community.''

    [05] Special Olympics: Greece bids for 2012 Games

    The 2006 Special Olympics World Games officially commenced on Saturday night at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, as the Olympic Flame reached the Italian capital from the Greek western port city of Patras.

    The Greek delegation to the Games, comprising 47 athletes, is accompanied by Greece's Special Olympics committee president Yanna Despotopoulou and board members Natasa Karamanli and Cissy Pavlopoulou.

    The official opening was proclaimed by Italian sports minister Giovanna Melandri.

    Greece submitted a bid to organise the 2011 Special Olympics World Games, which was accepted by the organising committee.

    Taking part in the Special Olympics, which will run through October 5, are 55 countries with 1,500 athletes competing in seven events.

    Special Olympics is the world's largest program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities: it currently serves more than 2.25 million persons with intellectual disabilities in more than 200 Programs in more than 150 countries.

    Special Olympics offers training and competition opportunities in 30 Olympic-type sports or athletes 8 years or older.

    Alternating between the Summer and Winter Games, the Special Olympics World Games is a world-class sporting event featuring intense competition and inspiring performances by the great athletes of Special Olympics. In non-World Games years athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators can enjoy action at the local, state/provincial, national, regional and international levels.

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