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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-12-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Karamanlis addresses EU-Africa summit on migration, climate change
  • [02] Action Against Climate Change rally in Athens
  • [03] First caryatid to new Acropolis Museum

  • [01] Karamanlis addresses EU-Africa summit on migration, climate change

    Migration and climate change were the two issues that Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis emphasised at the 2nd EU-Africa summit held in Lisbon on Saturday, which was also the Day for Global Action against Climate Change, while he repeated Greece's support for a common European policy to protect the environment.

    "The destruction of the environment and resulting climate change are the greatest of the challenges facing the entire planet today," Karamanlis stressed, calling for urgent action and coordinated policies on a global level to tackle this issue.

    The Kyoto Protocol had been a common starting point in this direction but none of the things done up until today was enough, he added.

    The Greek prime minister also referred to Greece's own bad experiences of climate change repercussions with the mega-fires that had raged across the country during the summer:

    "In Greece last summer we experienced the consequences of climate change with the unspeakable tragedy left in the wake of an unprecedented outbreak of fires," he said, noting that the destruction of the environment was a multi-faceted challenge that affected all types of economic activity, whether this was in industry, agriculture, fishing, tourism or transport and one that directly affected the quality of everyone's life, human security and the future of the earth.

    "This is not a future and theoretical challenge but a tangible reality," Karamanlis emphasised, adding that climate change and environmental degradation were threats that did not recognise borders and exceeded the ability of individual nations and their state mechanisms to respond.

    He said Greece was in favour of formulating and carrying out a common European policy on these issues that would lead Europe to the forefront of the global struggle to protect the environment.

    Karamanlis also highlighted important EU decisions in this direction, such as pledges to increase the use of renewable energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    "Europe has, moreover, recognised the very negative repercussions of climate change on developing countries, especially African and small island nations, and has promised to find ways to help them better adapt to the changes and become less vulnerable," he said.

    The Greek prime minister then pointed to what he described as a "favourable force" on a European and global level, as ordinary people became sensitised to the issues and demanded that their governments take action.

    Emphasising energy issues, Karamanlis pointed out that these were inextricably linked with protecting the environment and said that Greece was an active participant and supporter of EU efforts to strengthen regional cooperation mechanisms, such as the SE European energy community initiated by Greece.

    Karamanlis said that this convention was signed in Athens in 2005 and provided for cooperation between the countries in the region on energy interconnection and creating and single market for electric power and natural gas. The aim of this was to ensure energy supply diversity and to create a stable legal framework, protect the environment and boost conditions of stability in the region.

    Karamanlis on migration issues

    Referring to migration issues, Karamanlis called for creating conditions that would allow an organised approach toward migrants, one that made it possible to ensure that these people truly had a chance at a better future when they left their homelands while at the same time tackling the problem of illegal immigration, management of legal migration and promote integration in the host countries.

    In this way, migration will contribute to the development of both the countries of origin of the migrants and the countries that they settled in, he said.

    In his statements, the Greek premier noted that migration "is undoubtedly the first priority in EU-Africa relations and our country is particularly affected by this phenomenon."

    He said that Europe and Africa should align themselves and form a united front against all forms of illegal activity linked to illegal immigration and human-trafficking, intensifying their efforts in this area in a spirit of common understanding and shared responsibility, and stressed that the signature and implementation of re-admission agreements was imperative.

    The Greek premier said the 2nd EU-Africa summit was needed in order to extend cooperation between the two continents and establish a strategic relation that met contemporary challenges.

    "Coping with humanitarian crises and conflicts between states, trade and immigration are just some of the shared challenges that will determine the future of our relations with Africa," he added.

    Taking part in the EU-Africa summit were the leaders of 50 African countries and most of the leaders of the EU member-states. Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the leaders of the Czech Republic and Slovakia boycotted the meeting as a protest against the presence of Zimbabwe's leader Robert Mugabe.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] Action Against Climate Change rally in Athens

    Activists in Athens marked the Global Day of Action Against Climate Change on Saturday by staging a protest rally with a difference, featuring street theatre, music, juggling and stilt-walking acts. Thousands of people of all ages and social backgrounds gathered together in the city centre to join the protest for saving the planet.

    Traffic was interrupted in the roads around Syntagma Square shortly after 13:00 when the protestors started arrived in separate groups, one for each of the 102 organisations and movements taking part, and the streets began to become congested with people.

    Encouraged by the bright sunshine and the relatively warm December afternoon, several Athenians from all walks of life swelled the ranks of those clamouring to save the planet and taking part in the worldwide protest against climate change.

    Colourful banners with various slogans also highlighted the local environmental dangers faced by Athens and Greece in general, with the demands of local movements for their neighbourhoods mixing in the more general demands on a national level for restricting greenhouse gas emissions, establishing alternative energy sources and create bike lanes.

    CAPTION: Athenians of all ages took part in the Global Day of Action Against Climate Change rally that took place in Athens on Saturday, which included 'street theatre' sketches, juggling and stilt-walking acts as well as activities for children. ANA-MPA/Katerina Mavrona.

    [03] First caryatid to new Acropolis Museum

    The transfer of the first of five caryatids from the old Acropolis museum to the New Acropolis Museum in Makrygianni began on Saturday at 11:00 in the morning, using the three-crane relay system set up to carry the priceless antiquities down the hill via the Theatre of Dionysus.

    The caryatid - a sculpted female form that serves as an architectural support for entablature in the place of a pillar - will be placed on the first level of the new museum in an internal "porch" that visitors will see when they first climb up the grand stair at the entrance. There were originally six caryatids on the Athens Acropolis that supported the porch of the Erechtheion Temple, where they have now been replaced by replicas. The best preserved of the six statues was taken by Lord Elgin in the 18th century and is now held at the British Museum, while the remaining five originals have been on display at the Acropolis Museum.

    Caption: A curator at the New Acropolis Museum in Makrygianni unwraps the first of five original caryatids transferred from the old Acropolis museum on Saturday, carried down the hill using a three-crane relay system. ANA-MPA/Katerina Mavrona.

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