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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-07-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM briefed on Greece-Italy underwater natural gas pipeline
  • [02] President presents diplomas to new diplomats
  • [03] Health minister outlines heatwave measures

  • [01] PM briefed on Greece-Italy underwater natural gas pipeline

    The signing of an interstate agreement for the construction and operation of a Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline during development minister Dimitris Sioufas' upcoming visit to Italy was discussed on Wednesday in a meeting between prime minister Costas Karamanlis and Sioufas.

    Sioufas told reporters after the meeting that he briefed the premier, ahead of the minister's trip to Italy where, together with his Italian counterpart, he will sign the interstate agreement for the construction and operation of the undersea pipeline.

    "This will be the completion of the bilateral agreements between Greece and Italy and Greece and Turkey for the transmission of natural gas from the Caspian and the Middle East, via Greece and Italy, to the markets of Europe," Sioufas said, noting the strategic importance of the project, which would render Greece a strategic energy transmission hub from the East to Europe.

    The pipeline, officially called the "Interconnector Greece-Italy (IGI) comprises a supplement to the Interconnector Greece-Turkey (IGT) natural gas pipeline -- which is currently under construction. The land-based section of the IGI will have a length of 590 kilometres stretching from Komotini to Thesprotia, while the underwater section, running from Thesprotia to the Italian port city of Otranto, will stretch over 217 kilometres in length. The overland section is budgeted at more than 600 million euro while the undersea section is budgeted at more than 300 million euro, with the total investment to exceed one billion euro, part of which will be funded under the EU's 4th Commnity Support Framework (CSF). The relevant Protocol of Intents was signed in Athens by Sioufas and Italian minister of productive activities Pierluigi Bersani in early 2007. Construction of the IGI is due to begin in June 2008, with completion slated for 2011, and an annual natural gas transmission capacity of 8-8.8 billion cubic metres.

    Sioufas further briefed the prime minister on a memorandum of cooperation with Italy on small and medium size enterprises (SMEs).

    "The two agreements, and chiefly the first agreement, are proof of the aggressive multi-lateral and extrovert energy policy our country is following," Sioufas said.

    Asked to comment on the recent power blackouts, Sioufas attributed them to the collapse of the electricity system in Montenegro, Kosovo and FYROM, which he said had also affected Greece. He added, however, that the automatic mechanisms Greece has "protected our system". He explained that three Public Power Corporation (PPC) electricity units that had been out of operation had been restored as of Tuesday night, and appealed to citizens to refrain from using power-consuming electrical appliances during the peak hours (11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), noting that "we asked for understanding on the part of the citizens...Only with their cooperation can we face the unprecedented, for decades, extreme weather conditions in our country".

    [02] President presents diplomas to new diplomats

    A swearing-in for the graduates of the Diplomatic Academy was held Wednesday at the foreign ministry, attended by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, while President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias presented the diplomas to the new diplomats.

    Addressing the 21 graduates of the 16th Class of Embassy Attache candidates, Bakoyannis stressed that a diplomatic career "is not simply a profession, but a service", adding that they were now called on "to perform a very important work".

    "You are in the service of Greece. You represent the country internationally. You have a responsibility, and we rely on you," she said.

    Turning to the modern-day role of diplomacy, Bakoyannis said:

    "The world is changing at a rapid pace. The traditional factors of power of the states are declining in importance and others, such as their economy dynamic or cultural influence, are becoming increasingly more important. The modern role of diplomacy as become more complex, extending now into many and more difficult fields, in the economic, commercial, energy, cultural, and tourism sectors, into the sector of developmental cooperation."

    Regarding Greece's role in the international scene, Bakoyannis noted that "Greece today is a dynamic and active country, with national self-confidence. A reliable rapporteur in all the major international issues. An extrovert country that is gradually evolving into an economic, commerical and energy hub. A country that has evolved from a Balkan country in Europe into a European country in the Balkans".

    She stressed that the foreign minisry "cannot and will not remain static" but, "on the contrary, it mus meet and respond" to the challenges of the times. "The ministry's strength is its people. The ministry's success is a direct resultant of the quality of its human potential," she said.

    Turning to the ministry's and country's expectations from its dipomats, Bakoyannis said: "We expect alot from you. Integrity of character, vision, a broad and critical spirit, poise, consistency and creativity.

    "A steadfast parametre in your career must be the flexible service of firm and specific goals. We are a country that is medium in size, but large in values, principles and history. We are exercising a foreign policy that is founded on the principles and respect of international law. We aspire to peace, security and growth. We invest in friendship and cooperation with all the countries of the world. I ask of you to respect these values, to enhance and enrich them and, above all, to cultivate them. You are our picture abroad. See to it that you do us honour. In 10, 20 or 30 years, keep your eagerness for work intact and your enthusiasm for contribution to the people and the country undiminished." she said.

    Bakoyannis also noted the absence of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece from this year's graduation ceremony, who officiated over the blessing the previous year, and wished him a speedy recovery.

    Metropolitan Hieronymos of Thebes and Livadia performed the blessing at Wednesday's ceremony, standing in for Christodoulos who was recently released from hospital and was preparing to leave for the US next month for a kidney transplant.

    Caption: President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias (L) and foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis (R) at the swearing-in ceremony of the graduates of the Diplomatic Academy. (ANA-MPA/S. Pantzartzi)

    [03] Health minister outlines heatwave measures

    Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Wednesday referred to the emergency measures that have been taken to deal with problems arising due to the extremely high temperatures recorded over the past few days across Greece. The crisis management plan "Perseus", designed to enable the state mechanism to handle immediately and effectively any heat wave-related emergency, has been put into effect, said Avramopoulos. He stressed that all incidents are being dealt with successfully and thanked the healthcare personnel for their extraordinary efforts on a 24-hour basis. Avramopoulos also announced the establishment of an Urban Healthcare Clinic serving the residents of the municipalities of Hymettus, Dafni and Ilioupolis in Athens.

    Greek authorities set the Perseus plan in motion last Monday as Greece entered another blistering heatwave that will only begin to abate after Thursday, with temperatures in some areas expected to reach up to 45C during the day.

    The Civil Protection General Secretariat alerted all state services and local authorities to be prepared to deal with incidents linked to the high temperatures and set in motion the health ministry's Perseus plan, in which hospitals and the ambulance service are on standby.

    The Public Power Corporation (PPC) is also on red alert as power consumption reached record levels, forcing to impose alternating power cuts and advising the public to be sparing in their use of power, especially in the middle of the day.

    Caption: Tourists near the Acropolis drink water and try to cool down during a heatwave that peaked well above 40C in Athens on Tuesday, 24 July 2007. ANA-MPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI

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