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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-09-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece's new 300-member parliament sworn in
  • [02] Tension at PASOK parliamentary group session
  • [03] 'Cultural Year of Greece in China' debuts

  • [01] Greece's new 300-member parliament sworn in

    Greece's new 300-member Parliament that emerged from the September 16 general elections was sworn in on Wednesday in a special ceremony in the unicameral legislature following the traditional blessing.

    "I swear in the name of the Holy Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity to keep faith in my Country and in the democratic form of government, obedience to the Constitution and the laws and to discharge conscientiously my duties," the MPs pledged, while the two Muslim deputies elected on the main opposition PASOK party's tickets in Xanthi and Rhodopi prefectures took a similar oath with their hand on a Koran.

    The MPs of the two smaller leftist parties (the Communist Party of Greece {KKE} and Coalition of the Radical Left {SYRIZA}), with the exception of KKE deputy Liana Kanelli, did not take a religious oath.

    KKE leader Aleka Papariga tabled a written statement with the Parliament presidium reminding her party's position for abolition of the religious oath, while the SYRIZA MPs entered Parliament immediately after the oath.

    This was the first plenary of the First Parliamentary Session of the 8th revisional Parliament (the 12th period of the presidential democracy in force since 1974).

    The first session of the new parliamentary period was inaugurated by acting parliament president and second vice-president of the preceding Parliament George Sourlas.

    In letters to the presidium, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis announced that he would take up his MP post in the Thessaloniki first electoral district -- he was also elected in the Piraeus second district -- PASOK leader chose a seat in Achaia -- he was also elected in Thessaloniki first district. KKE leader Aleka Papariga chose the seat in the Athens second district -- she was also elected in the Thessaloniki second district -- and newcomer Popular Orthodox Rally leader George Karatzaferis chose the Thessaloniki first district seat, while SYRIZA's Alekos Alavanos was elected from Irakleio, Crete. Political party leaders have the option of being candidates in two electoral districts, with the right to choose their parliamentary seat in either of those two districts if elected in both.

    Ruling New Democracy (ND), main opposition PASOK, KKE and SYRIZA deputies took up their parties' traditional seats, while newcomer LA.OS' deputies took seats to the left of ND behind the PASOK seats.

    Just before the oaths were taken, a blessing was held, officiated by Metropolitan Prokopios of Nea Krini and Kalamaria, who has been standing in at official functions for Archbishop Christodoulos. The 300 MPs were also given a portfolio containing copies of the constitution and the rules of Parliament.

    On Thursday morning, the new Parliament plenary will convene again to elect the Parliament president, for which post majority leader Karamanlis has nominated MP from Karditsa Dimitris Sioufas. In the afternoon, the plenary will vote for the House's five vice-presidents, which are distributed among the three top parties, with the first three parliamentary vice-presidential positions going to the ruling ND party, the fourth position going to main opposition PASOK and the fifth going to KKE.

    On Friday, a three-day debate on the new government's policy statements begins, to be read out by Prime Minister Karamanlis, with the discussions ending at midnight Sunday, followed by a vote of confidence for the new government.

    Caption: A view of Greece's Parliament on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007, at a session where the legislature's 300 MPs were sworn-in. ANA-MPA / P. SAITAS.

    [02] Tension at PASOK parliamentary group session

    Tension broke out on Wednesday during the first meeting of the main opposition PASOK party's new Parliamentary group, just before the swearing-in of the new 300-member legislature, where party leader George Papandreou sought a surprise vote of conference via secret ballot from his party's MPs, a call that generated heated reactions from a portion of the deputies.

    In a subsequent compromise, a simple 'show of hands' ended the furor, as no deputies stepped forward to dispute Papandreou's leadership.

    Papandreou, in ending his address to PASOK's 101 deputies, said he wanted to strengthen his position vis-?-vis a pending "parliamentary battle" with ruling New Democracy party until a Nov. 11 election within PASOK to determine a new party leader, as current president George Papandreou has been challenged, so far, by top Thessaloniki-area MP and former minister Evangelos Venizelos.

    Venizelos, in fact, was the first to react sharply against Papandreou's request, followed by one-time prime minister and former PASOK leader Costas Simitis, who charged that such a procedure would compromise PASOK's unity.

    Former parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis was the one who proposed a mere 'show of hands', while asking if any deputy in the hall disputed Papandreou's leadership. Kaklamanis also rejected the secret ballot referendum.

    Following commotion in Parliament's senate chamber and the reactions, Papandreou withdrew from the hall, with the show of hands procedure following amid vociferous deliberations.

    Caption: George Papandreou on Wednesday, 26 September 2007. ANA-MPA / K. MAVRONA.

    [03] 'Cultural Year of Greece in China' debuts

    Beijing will be host to an ambitious year-old series of events, entitled "Cultural Year of Greece in China" through the autumn of 2008, featuring various aspects of the east Mediterranean nation's modern culture and kicking off on at the end of this month with a concert in memory of opera diva Maria Callas.

    The series of events officially begin on Oct. 19 with performance of Greek composer Stamatis Spanoudakis' new work "Alexander: Paths you haven't traveled". The Sept. 27, 2007 concert will feature noted mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa.

    According to the culture ministry's leadership on Tuesday, events will include theatrical performances, cinema tributes, dance, archaeological and modern art exhibitions, opera, folk concerts, modern and popular music, conferences as well as book exhibitions.

    Additionally, the Hellenic Cultural Centre will open in the centre of the Chinese capital for the next two years -- coinciding with Beijing's hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games -- where it is expected to host exhibitions, seminars as well as commercial events.

    Caption: A boy runs on the grounds of the Forbidden City, home of China's former emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, located in the middle of Beijing, on a clear summer day, 10 August 2007. As China's capital now has less than a year to prepare before hosting the 2008 Olympics, city authorities are keen to showcase China's culture to an anticipated half a million foreign tourists and two million domestic tourists during the Olympic games. ANA-MPA /EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

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