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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] 20,000 take part in 25th Tour of Athens
  • [02] Patriarch, Athens Archbishop hold mass
  • [03] Fuel shortage looms due to strike

  • [01] 20,000 take part in 25th Tour of Athens

    More than 20,000 Athenians turned out on Sunday to take part in the 25th 'Tour of Athens', which was this year dedicated to Mother's Day and the role of Greek mothers in society. The race is organised each year by the Athens municipality and its Youth and Sports Organisation ONA, with the emphasis being more on taking part than on competing.

    It began in the morning with a speech from Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis at the starting point, the marble-covered Panathenian Stadium that hosted the first-ever Olympic Games of 1896, who said that the Tour of Athens had become a "cultural and athletic institution".

    "This year it coincides with Mother's Day and for this reason we decided to dedicate this Tour of Athens to the Greek mother and, if you will permit me, because it is nearly a year since last year's terrible fires, to dedicate specially to the memory of that mother that was lost with her four children," Kaklamanis said.

    Everyone is welcome to take part in the Tour of Athens, which includes a special section starting at Syntagma Square for disabled participants. This year's race began at 10:00 and ended at around noon, following the usual route around central streets in the capital that had been cleared of traffic for the race.

    It was flanked by various events and entertainments that ended at around 13:00. Among the highlights, the opportunity for participants to have their photograph taken with the Olympic Torch used in the Olympic Torch relay for the Beijing 2008 Games, a lottery, a concert by the Greek band "Dytikes Synoikies" and a show by the national basketball team Cheerleaders.

    The main sponsor of this year's race was the company Samsung, while other sponsors included the companies Peugeot, Avra Active-cap, the television and radio channels ANT1, the radio station Athens 98.4, Ster Cinemas, the newspaper Metro and the magazine Woman Symbol.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of the Tour of Athens taken in 2005.

    [02] Patriarch, Athens Archbishop hold mass

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece set the official seal on the Greek Church leader's first visit to Fanar on Sunday by jointly holding a mass at the historic monastery of Zoodochou Pigis at Valukli.

    In a sermon during the service, Bartholomew referred to the close ties between the Greek Church and Fanar and also stressed that the acts of 1850 and 1928 that granted the Church of Greece its autocephalous and administratively independent status "should not be seen as uprooting the branch from the original grapevine, nor falsely presenting the limits set during the ecumenical synods and agreed upon by the Fathers of the Church".

    He added that those things that "irregularly grew from the grapevine of the Church as a 'greedy offshoot' would be considered a damaging growth" and "cast into the fire for not bearing good fruit".

    Replying to the Patriarch, Archbishop Ieronymos also stressed the "absolute respect" of the Church of Greece for everything it had received from Fanar and said that the "Patriarchal and Synodical tome of 1850 are the fundamental text and the basis for us. We seek nothing more and do not intend to implement anything less."

    He also promised that any "difficulties or lapses" that may have occured in the past would not be allowed to once again return to the forefront by any means.

    A few years ago, when Ieronymos' predecessor Christodoulos was Archbishop of Athens, a rancorous dispute had broken out with Fanar over the ecclesiastical administration of the so-called 'new lands' dioceses in northern Greece, with Phanar demanded strict adherence to the Act of 1928 and a greater say in the appointments made there, which the Greek Church opposed for legal reasons. A settlement satisfactory to both sides was eventually reached just before the summer of 2004.

    Caption: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (left) and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece (right) held a mass together at a monastery in Valukli on Sunday morning. ANA-MPA - Christos Bonis.

    [03] Fuel shortage looms due to strike

    The prospect of widespread fuel shortages due to an ongoing strike by the owners of private fuel tanker trucks is looking increasingly likely, as petrol stations around the country began to "run dry" on Sunday. Shortages of unleaded petrol and diesel used in motor vehicles were particularly acute, and drivers both in Attica and elsewhere around Greece faced the prospect of ending up with empty fuel tanks.

    Tanker truck owners, along with owners of other heavy goods vehicles, have been on strike for a week now in order to demand rate increases of 13 percent in order to cover mounting costs that have soared as a result of rising oil prices. The government has offered 5 percent, by contrast.

    The head of the tanker truckers federation, however, has indicated that truckers are prepared to sit down to talks with the government to work out a compromise.

    On Friday evening, the striking truckers had a meeting with Transport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, who made some concessions that were directly in the control of his own ministry, such as allowing specific categories of vehicle to use national highways at weekends. He also promised to intervene with Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia to solve problems concerning social insurance issues for the sector.

    He was, however, unable to satisfying their main demand - an increase in rates and fares - saying that this was the responsibility of the finance ministry.

    The tanker truckers' union federation is due to hold its general assembly on Monday to decide what to do next. If it chooses to extend the strike, then it is almost certain that there will be serious problems with fuel shortages though not necessarily limited to these.

    The truckers strike is also expected to affect the smooth operation of markets in general, with tonnes of goods struck at ports and customs posts, while several perishable goods may be completely ruined. Incidents occured at Iraklion port on Saturday, for example, when truckers attempted to prevent 20 lorries of produce from boarding a ferry bound for Piraeus.

    Also to join the strike to demand higher fare increases are taxi drivers, who have called a 24-hour strike beginning at 5:00 a.m. on Monday to seek a higher increase in fares then the 5 percent offered by the government, again citing higher costs due to rising oil prices.

    Transport minister hopeful of a settlement soon

    In statements made on the island of Hios on Sunday, meanwhile, Transport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis raised hopes of a compromise that might put an end to the strike and avert more serious shortages.

    Noting that he had already satisifed demands that directly concerned the transport ministry, Hatzidakis revealed that he had been in contact with Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis in order to intercede on behalf of the strikers in order to settle the financial aspects of their demands, as well as with Petralia regarding pension-related demands.

    The minister said that Alogoskoufis had asked him to reassure truckers of his personal guarantee that demands on which the economy ministry general secretary had already made an initial verbal promise would be met.

    Petralia has also promised to meet representatives of truck owners on her return from a trip abroad on Monday.

    Hatzidakis expressed hope that striking truckers would respond to the good will shown by the government and end their strike by Monday.

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