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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-15
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 GDP up 3.6 pct in Q1The Greek economy grew at a rate of 3.6 percent in the first quarter of 2008, compared with the corresponding period last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
The national statistics service, in a report, attributed the growth of the Gross Domestic Product to an 1.6 percent increase in final demand of the economy, despite an 1.0 percent decline in investments over the same period.
NSS said exports grew 0.9 pct in the January-March period, compared with the same period last year, contributing 0.2 percentage points to the growth of final demand, while imports fell 4.6 pct. Spending on final consumption rose 2.5 percent, contributing 1.6 percentage points to the growth of final demand of the economy.
Caption: People walking in a main shopping street in Athens
 Solidarity with Palestinian peopleA statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people, signed by 87 people of the arts and letters from Greece and Cyprus, was released on Thursday in several major Athens daily newspapers, marking the "60 years of Palestinian dispossession" corresponding with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel.
Bearing the title "No reason to celebrate - 'Israel at 60'-60 years of Palestinian dispossession", the statement, which has already appeared in the international press, signed by personalities of the arts and letters from all over the world, begins with a quotation by Edward Said, the renowned American professor of Palestian origin who passed away a few years ago, written for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Israel:
"Even after fifty years of living the Palestinian exile, I still find myself astonished at the lengths to which official Israel and its supporters will go to suppress the fact that a half century has gone by without Israeli restitution, recognition of acknowledgement of Palestinian human rights and without, as the facts undoubtedly show, connecting that suspension of rights to Israel's official policies...the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) characterised as a semi-fictional event...caused by no one in particular."
"The creation of the state of Israel almost 60 years ago dispossessed and uprooted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and lands. With their peaceful lives ruined, society framented, possessions pillaged and hope for freedom and nationhood dashed, Palestinian refugees held on to their dream of return, and Palestinians everywhere nourished their aspiration for freedom, dignified living, and becoming whole again," the statement said, adding:
"There is no reason to celebrate! Israel at 60 is a state that is still denying Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned rights, simply because they are 'non-Jews'. It is still illegally occupying Palestinian and other Arab lands, in violation of numerous UN resolutions. It is still persistently and grossly breaching international law and infringing funamental human rights with impunity afforded to it through munificent US and European economic, diplomatic and political support. It is still treating its own Palestinian citizens with institutionalised discrimination."
"In short, celebrating 'Israel at 60' is tantamount to dancing on Palestinian graves to the haunting tune of lingering dispossession and multi-facted injustice. There is absolutely no reason to celebrate. But there are myriad reasons to reflect, to engage, to work towards peace and justice," the statement concluded.
The statement of solidarity is signed by prominent intellectuals, people of the arts and letters and academics from Greece and Cyprus, including acclaimed directors Pantelis Voulgaris and Nikos Koundouros, renowned singers Giorgos Dalaras, Demis Roussos and Maria Farandouri, writer and resistance fighter Manolis Glezos, former world javelin champion Sophia Sakorafa, composers Elias Andriopoulos and Giorgos Katsaros, poet/lyricist Manos Eleftheriou, and many actors, writers, artists and professors.
Palestinian ambassador to Greece, Samir Abou Ghazaleh, expressed the deep gratitude of the Palestinian people to "all the people of culture in Greece and Cyprus" who co-signed the statement, "publicly expressing their solidarity with the just struggle of our people for freedom, independence, justice and peace, awakening the consciences of governments all over the world".
"With this action, they contribute substantively and significantly to the further consolidation of the historical relations of friendship and solidarity linking the Greek, Palestinian and Cypriot people," he said.
Caption:ANA-MPA file photo of Palestinian families living in Athens staging a protest march
 Bartholomeos visits LarissaEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos is in Larisa, central Greece, on the occasion of the city's Patron Saint Achillios feast day celebrated on Thursday. The Ecumenical Patriarch arrived for a two-day visit on Wednesday and was made honorary citizen of Larisa after receiving the city's Gold Key by its mayor who stressed that the city is welcoming the Head of the Orthodox Church for the first time in 18 centuries of religious history. A doxology was later held in the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, 33 Metropolitans, Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and local authorities.
Caption:Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos in Athens on Tuesday 13 May 2008.ANA-MPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU
 Interview:Christos PapoutsisThe road is being cleared for a parliamentary inquiry committee on the sale of the Greek state telephone utility OTE, main opposition PASOK party parliamentary spokesman and former European Commissioner Christos Papoutsis said in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA, charging that the sale of OTE and other public utility organizations of strategic importance constitutes "a crime against the country" and noting out that the Greek and European legislation provide numerous abilities for the Greek State to regain control, underlining that it is a matter of political will. He said that the censure motion against the government tabled by PASOK was in response to the government policies, and accused it of indifference to the reactions of society and the opposition. Referring to the high prices, he said that the government had proved unable to deal with the problem and accused it of "turning the market into a paradise for profiteers". The need for higher minimum wages, pensions and unemployment benefits is evident to preserve the people's purchasing power, while more effective monitoring mechanisms should be put into effect to avert well-orchestrated market practices and oligopoly, Papoutsis continued. On the opinion polls, he said that they are used to sustain the society's tolerance toward the Karamanlis government, while on the constitutional revision he commented that those participating in the debate were providing a life jacket to the government. On the government's apparent resilience despite the problems, Papoutsis said that all opinion polls conducted show the ruling New Democracy party's inability to handle power, stressing that the reality is that ND enjoys a slight majority in Parliament while being a clear minority within society. He said that PASOK's strength is rooted in its relation with society and the personal relation between its leadership and the people, adding that it projects the vision of a fair society and environmentally friendly development, boosting Greece's prestige and clout within the European Union. On the calls for cooperation directed to Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), he said that PASOK appeals to all creative powers that want the country strong with a dynamic showing on the European and international scenes and back a new social and financial structure based on justice and solidarity.
Caption:ANA-MPA file photo of main opposition PASOK party parliamentary spokesman and former European Commissioner Christos Papoutsis
 Avant-Garde Film FestivalArtistic happenings combined with audiovisual media and film screenings are featured in the 5th Avant-Garde Film Festival in Athens, scheduled to run through May 22. The festival opened Wednesday with an exhibition of works by innovative Austrian artist Valie Export at the Athens School of Fine Arts. The film festival is a joint project of the Municipality of Athens, the Embassy of Austria, the Athens School of Fine Arts, the Greek Film Archive and the Goethe Institute.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of a view of Athens
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