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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 Patriarchate's cathedral
  • [02] Greek GDP up 4.4% in Q3, yr/yr
  • [03] Athens again tables proposal for Gul visit

  • [01] Ecumenical Patriarch, Pope worship together at Patriarchate's cathedral

    An embrace by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and Pope Benedict XVI sealed a historic meeting here on Thursday between two of Christendom's most venerable spiritual leaders, a symbolism-laden embrace amid ongoing deliberations around the world to abate so-called "clashes of civilisations" and during a period when EU hopeful and predominately Muslim Turkey has come under increased 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 denomination.

    The Pope began the third of his four-day official visit to Turkey by attending the mass celebrating the Orthodox Church's patron saint and founder, 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.

    Earlier, Benedict and Vartholomeos jointly blessed a crowd of worshippers gathered in the Patriarchate's courtyard amid draconian security measures in the old quarter district of Istanbul.

    In statements broadcast live by Greece's state television network, which carried the entire service as well, both church leaders emphasised the need to restore the "community of the two Churches" -- a canonical "buzzword" for healing centuries-old rifts and misunderstandings -- while adding their satisfaction over progress in inter-Church and inter-faith dialogue so far.

    Vartholomeos and Benedict later retired to the Patriarchical throne's main chamber for discussions, along with their respective delegations.

    In the afternoon, the leader of the world's Roman Catholics will tour the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, Istanbul's supreme religious and historical landmarks.

    Caption: Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, right, and Pope Benedict XVI bless the faithfull crowd from the balcony of the Patriarchate after celebrating mass in the Patriarchical Cathedral of Aghios Georgios (Saint George) in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006. ANA-MPA photo / O. PANAGIOTOU.

    [02] Greek GDP up 4.4% in Q3, yr/yr

    Greek Gross Domestic Product grew by 4.4 percent in the third quarter 2006 from the same period last year, after growth rates of 4.1 pct in the two previous quarters this year, the National Statistical Service said on Thursday.

    The statistical service, in a report, said investments rose 7.6 pct in the July-September period from the corresponding period in 2005, adding 1.6 percentage points to an increase in final demand.

    Greek exports grew 7.4 pct in the third quarter, adding 1.1 percentage points to the increase of final demand. The value of exports totalled 7.898 billion euros.

    Imports rose by 5.8 pct to 11.273 billion euros. The statistical service said final consumption grew by 3.3 percent in the third quarter.

    A file photo shows the container port of Thessaloniki, northern Greece. ANA-MPA photo / N. Arvanitidis.

    [03] Athens again tables proposal for Gul visit

    The foreign ministry on Thursday expressed Athens' keen interest in rescheduling a planned visit here next week by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, a visit that was initially postponed due to an urgently called UN Security Council session focusing on the Middle East, a session that was ultimately pushed back to Dec. 12.

    Gul was previously set to visit Athens on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis herself briefing her Turkish counterpart on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Riga earlier in the week over the possibility for a postponement due to the UN session. The latter was called by the Qatari UNSC presidency.

    According to a foreign ministry announcement on Thursday, Greece, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, was informed by the Qatari presidency that the urgent council session, at the ministers' level, was moved from Dec. 7 to Dec. 12 following a request by the UN Secretary General.

    "Following this development, the foreign ministry communicated with the Turkish foreign ministry to reiterate its proposal for a visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Mr. Gul on the dates originally scheduled, Dec. 7 and Dec. 8," the ministry stressed.

    Greek FM Bakoyannis is expected to attend the UNSC session on Dec. 12.

    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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