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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-11-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Ecumenical Patriarch, Pope worship together at Patriarchical cathedral
  • [02] IEA report commends Greek energy policy

  • [01] Ecumenical Patriarch, Pope worship together at Patriarchical cathedral

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA) -- An embrace by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and Pope Benedict XVI sealed a historic meeting here on Thursday between two of Christendom's most venerable heads of faiths, all amid ongoing deliberations around the world to abate so-called "clashes of civilizations" and during a period where EU hopeful Turkey has come under burgeoning European scrutiny.

    Benedict and his entourage of cardinals attended a grandiose church service at the Patriarchate's Aghios Georgios (St. George) Cathedral in the morning, officiated by the Patriarch himself, the ?primus inter pares? amongst the world's Orthodox patriarchs and the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Christian faith.

    The Pope began the third of his four-day official visit to Turkey by attending the mass celebrating the Orthodox Church's patron saint, Andrew, a service that included all of the ecclesiastical splendour reminiscent of Byzantium - nearly a millennium after the "Great Schism" that separated the churches of east and west.

    The two church leaders embraced at the gate before entering the cathedral.

    [02] IEA report commends Greek energy policy

    Development minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday briefed prime minister Costas Karamanlis on matters falling under the competency of his ministry, during a meeting at the government headquarters at Maximos Mansion.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Sioufas said he briefed the premier on Tuesday's release by the International Energy Agency (IAE) of it's "Energy Policies of IEA Countries - Greece 2006 Review" covering the period 2002-2006. The report contains a reference by its authors that the Greek government has done much over the past two years and the energy situation in Greece is changing for the better, Sioufas said.

    According to an IEA press release issued on Wednesday, the Agency commended Greek energy policy for supporting regional energy links, and also outlined domestic challenges on market reform.

    IEA press release:

    "Greece is actively contributing to the creation of new and important energy links in south-east Europe and across the Mediterranean, and this is a commendable development," said Claude Mandil, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency in Athens on Wendesday at the launch of Energy Policies of IEA Countries - Greece 2006 Review. ?At the same time, the Greek government should take care to continue with the introduction of real competition in its domestic gas and electricity markets, to ensure that Greek consumers benefit from increased market liberalisation?, Mr. Mandil stressed and added: ?Creating fully independent system operators and strong measures to reduce the market power of the incumbents will be required to lead to a successful opening of Greek gas and electricity markets.?

    Energy infrastructure improvements such as new transmission lines are required in Greece, and these present a major challenge for the Greek government because of the need to overcome the strong local resistance to them. ?Without this new infrastructure, important projects such as the introduction of renewables, and the reinforcement of the connection between northern and central Greece are threatened, with possible consequences for Greek security of supply?, Mr. Mandil said. Increasing renewable energy production would help diversify the national energy system and reduce import dependence, while increased transmission capacity between northern and southern Greece would strengthen the reliability of the electricity system.

    Greece to reposition itself as a major energy hub between East and West

    The government is pursuing an active policy of increasing energy transfer through Greece and the international interconnections of the country. Projects such as the Burgas-Alexandropoulis oil pipeline and the proposed Turkey-Greece-Italy gas interconnector will increase security of supply in the region and beyond. The IEA welcomes the effort of the Greek government to support these projects and the regional integration through the South-East European Energy Community, of which it is a key founding member.

    Domestic market liberalisation is a major challenge for the Greek government

    Unless further measures for market liberalisation are taken, effective competition is not conceivable in Greece, and the benefits for the consumers from the legal opening of the gas and electricity markets will be significantly diminished. Measures such as the first tender for a private power plant, and the full privatisation of the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA) are welcome, but will not suffice to

    achieve the goal of effective competition. Full independence of the system operators and the new regional gas suppliers, and strong regulation of the incumbents are further measures that the government could consider.

    Strong resistance to energy projects is a major hurdle for the development of the energy system

    To increase the resilience of the electricity system following the 2004 blackout, the Greek government has made progress in implementing a range of measures that have been successful in preventing a repetition of this event. Further improvements are now required for the future development of the country‚s energy system, but these are difficult to achieve due to a high level of local resistance and administrative barriers. The Greek government should consider doing more to communicate its energy policy, policy goals and constraints to the general public to help them understand the true costs of energy, along with the benefits.

    Greece has made significant progress in energy policy over the last two years

    ?The Greek government has achieved much during the last two years of which it can be proud?, Mr. Mandil concluded. ?Therefore, despite the challenges outlined above, the IEA is pleased to see the significant progress made in the country‚s energy policy in the past two years, and is hopeful that Greece will continue on this reform path.?

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