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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-11-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Ecumenical Patriarch receives Pope
  • [02] PASOK leader on social security draft bill
  • [03] Papoulias satisfied with Oman, UAE visits
  • [04] UNSC emergency session postpones Gul visit

  • [01] Ecumenical Patriarch receives Pope

    In a historic moment for Christian churches, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos received Pope Benedict XVI at the Phanar on Wednesday, shortly before a church service held at Saint George Cathedral. "We welcome you with great joy, honour and love," the Patriarch said as he welcomed the Pope at the Patriarchate in Istanbul.

    The two religous leaders attended the church service at Saint George Cathedral together and made brief addresses.

    Shortly afterwards, they went to the Ecumenical Patriarchate's headquarters for a private meeting.

    [02] PASOK leader on social security draft bill

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papadreou late Tuesday night in Parliament verbally clashed with Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on the first day of the debate on the draft bill on the mini social security reform.

    Papandreou accused the government that "it demolishes the social state which was built by PASOK, creates a feeling of insecurity to the insured, to the low income pensioners and to the low income salary earners, and this is a conscious choice on the part of the New Democracy (ND) party to offer graft and to serve partner relations."

    On his part, Tsitouridis accused the PASOK leader of "distorting reality, irresponsible policy and without having a trace of self-criticism about a social security system which his party handed over and which is in a deep crisis."

    (ANA-MPA file photo of PASOK leader George Papandreou)

    [03] Papoulias satisfied with Oman, UAE visits

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias expressed satisfaction over the results of his official visits to Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the past week and upon his return to Athens on Wednesday.

    "It was an important trip, and we achieved what I had hoped for, namely, opening the doors for Arab countries in Greece. Their response was positive," Papoulias told reporters on the airplane during a return flight to Athens from Dubai, the last stop of the visit.

    Referring to the political aspect of his talks in Oman and the UAE, Papoulias said the officials he spoke with were concerned with what was taking place in the wider region, with the greatest problem being the war in Iraq. He also said leaders in the region were sceptical of the current US policy in Iraq.

    He also voiced his personal opinion that Syria and Iran should be involved in negotiations regarding the Iraq crisis, and expressed satisfaction that the Baker Committee and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have acknowledged the need for such an approach.

    Papoulias further said that Arab officials he met told him that they were closer to the Greeks and Greece, spiritually and emotionally, than with other countries of northern Europe.

    Finally, Papoulias announced that he also planned to visit other Arab countries in the near future, such as Jordan, whereas Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will visit Athens.

    [04] UNSC emergency session postpones Gul visit

    Athens on Wednesday noted that a planned visit here early next week by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is being postponed, and not cancelled, due to an emergency UN Security Council session focusing on the Middle East situation.

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said she briefed her Turkish counterpart on Tuesday evening in detail over the development, while diplomatic sources in the Greek capital noted that it would have been inconceivable for Greece to be absent from such a session - called by the Qatari UNSC rotating presidency - as it had convened a similar meeting.

    Bakoyannis will travel to Jordan on Thursday, following a stop in Nicosia on Friday, where she will meet with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, among others.

    On Monday, the Greek FM will travel to Brussels for an OSCE meeting, then off to New York for the Security Council session and then back to Brussels for a European Union General Affairs Council meeting expected to discuss Turkey's accession course.

    In a related matter, Bakoyannis said it would be premature to comment on a proposal by EU Commissioner Olli Rehn regarding whatever reprimands against Turkey before the Commissioners convene.

    Caption: Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni, right, is shown meeting with Turkish counterpart Abdulah Gul in Sofia last April on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting. ANA-MPA / A. DOUKAS

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