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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-02-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Yaiannakou: rectors' meeting "exceptionally important"
  • [02] Body of 5th illegal immigrant recovered from sea near Samos

  • [01] Yaiannakou: rectors' meeting "exceptionally important"

    Education minister Marietta Yiannakou described the meeting of the university rectors' council that took place in Kastri on Saturday as being of "exceptional importance", adding that the rectors would be given a frugal framework law, aimed at full self-administration, as well as four-year agreements between the universities and the education ministry.

    Speaking to the council, she pledged that financial ability, more freedoms, and the ability for the drafting of internal regulations by the universities themselves would be provided under the framework law, adding that the common decision was for open universities which, she continued, was a responsibility of the government.

    Yiannakou further appealed for all the rectors to set at the negotiations table, noting that disagreement was at the crux of demoracy, "but history has always charged those absent".

    Referring to Article 16 of the Constitution, which presently gives the state the exclusive right to set up universities and which the government has proposed to be amended, Yiannakou said that "our role is to support the public university, a good university that will also mean re-distribution of our income".

    Thessaly University rector Nikos Bayiatis, who chaired the council of rectors, expressed satisfaction with Yiannkous' responses, which he said were "exceptionally positive and exceeded our expectations".

    An overwhelming majority of a university rectors' council that began in Kastri, northern Athens, on Saturday voted in favour of sticking with the decisions of the previous rectors' council in Mytilene and the existing proposals for changing the regulatory framework for universities.

    The resolution was signed by all present except the rectors of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), the Panteion University of Athens and the University of Patras, who said that it should have been issued at the end of the council's session and after those attending had heard the positions of Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou, who addressed the meeting later on Saturday night.

    The resolution adopted on Saturday asks the education ministry to adopt the rectors' proposals in the draft bill for education and to notify the council and universities in good time, so that the bill might be discussed by the academic community, while stressing that continued uncertainty can only damage higher education.

    It also roundly condemns acts of violence within university grounds, especially when these target university authorities but also students, stressing that these in practice negate the meaning of asylum and greatly harm universities' prestige.

    The Council additionally condemned efforts to discredit state universities and to lessen their social standing and contribution. Finally, it states its strong belief that universities must remain open and that rectors must work in this direction.

    During the rectors' meeting, a protest march staged by students got underway in Kifissia at 14:00, though turnout was smaller than expected due to the cold and bad weather. Some 600 protestors from the trade union group PAME set off from Kifissia square and another 400 from student groups from Kifissia train station.

    The marchers set off toward Kastri, carrying banners and shouting slogans against revising article 16 of the Constitution, which would allow the foundation of private universities in Greece.

    A protest march with the same demands was also held by students and teachers in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki shortly after noon.

    Minor scuffles broke out when the two groups reached the Kastri conference centre where the council meeting was in session when protestors attacked a police cordon, throwing stones and planks, in a bid to break through. They were finally dispersed by riot police using tear gas and set off in the direction of Kifissia Square.

    [02] Body of 5th illegal immigrant recovered from sea near Samos

    The body of a fifth illegal immigrant was recovered by rescue workers on Sunday from the sea near the Aegean island of Samos, in a resuce operation mounted late Friday after authorities picked up a survivor of a wooden boat that sank shortly before it reached the shore.

    The survivor said that he had managed to swim ashore and that another 19 illegal immigrants and a Turkish immigrant-smuggler had been aboard the boat when it sank.

    A Super-Puma all-weather helicopter was immediately sent out to look for other survivors but the coast guard patrol boat was unable to join the search because of the gale-force winds blowing in the region.

    Search teams have been combing the shoreline to find any illegal immigrants that may have come ashore, while the helicopter is continuing to search the sea around the area. Boats will be sent out to assist the search as soon as winds die down a little.

    The bodies of four other illegal immigrants were recovered by rescue workers on Saturday.

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