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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-27

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou receives Archbishop Ieronymos
  • [02] European Ombudsman 2007 report
  • [03] President meets BoG chief
  • [04] Mini heatwave forecast

  • [01] Papandreou receives Archbishop Ieronymos

    Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece payed a courtesy call Tuesday on main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou at the latter's office in parliament.

    After the one-hour meeting, the Archbishop told reporters that they discussed issues of cooperation in social solidarity.

    Papandreou, in turn, said that he focused on the distinct roles of State and Church, underlining that he was happy to hear the Archbishop saying that the principle on which his actions are founded on the Biblical reply by Jesus when asked whether taxes should be paid to Caesar: "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God" (Matthew 22:21).

    Papandreou also expressed his satisfaction for Ieronymos' backing for the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    Caption: Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos (R) and main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou in the latter's office in parliament in Athens on Tuesday 27 May 2008. ANA-MPA /MARIA MAROGIANNI

    [02] European Ombudsman 2007 report

    Proper administration, and not simply the lawful behavior of administration, is the new requirement in European public administration, visiting European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros said Monday night, presenting the European Ombudsman's annual report at the Europarliament Offices in Athens, adding that the institution of the Ombudsman was changing content in accordance with the demands of the times.

    The institution originated in 1809 in Sweden, as the Parliamentary Obutchman, and by the 1970s the word Obutchman had the meaning of one who represents the public interests in administration (given that up to then the citizen-state relationship was not antagonistic). From the 1970s onwards, when the juntas in southern Europe collapsed and the institution made its appearance in Latin America, the Ombudsman institution assumed the form of Defender of the People (as the institution's name in Spanish specifically states). Correspondingly in Greek it is called Citizens' Advocate, and it is clear that it is now considered that the citizen requires protection when facing public administration, Diamandouros explained.

    Following the collapse of the eastern bloc, in the 'new' countries it was named Commissioner for Human Rights violations, he added.

    The new requirement, therefore, is human rights, and this is affirmed by the fact that in the last 10-15 years, the European, has evolved from a 'subject' (who had no say in the developments in the single European space) to a 'citizen'. This occupation and sensitisation, vis-a-vis the sense of 'European citizen', led to the signing and reproclamation of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, in 2007 by the European Parliament, the Commission and the European Council, the Ombudsman explained.

    He said that this legally binding Charter embodies the growing realisation that the citizens must be put at the center of Europe's concerns, while its ratification is expected to increase the number of reports of human rights violations in the European bodies.

    "The European Ombudsman is inspired by the case-laws of the European courts and the European Court of Human Rights, given that himan rights comprise the main component of the way it functions," he added.

    In 2007, Diamandouros said, 28 percent of the reports/complaints submitted to the European Ombudsman's Office have to do with lack of transparancy and refusal to provide information, while 18 percent concerned unfair treatment and abuse of power, 13 percent concerned unsatisfactory procedures, 9 percent concerned other instances of maladministration, 9 percent concerned avoidable delay, 8 percent concerned discrimination, 8 percent negligence, 4 percent legal error, and 3 percent failure to ensure fulfillment of obligations (failure by the European Commission to carry out its role as 'guardian of the Treaty' vis-a-vis the member states).

    He further noted that 15.8 percent (507) of the complaints came from Germany, 10.9 percent (351) from Spain, 7.8 percent (251) from France, 6.7 percent (214) from Poland, and 5.7 percent (182) from Italia, while complaints from Greece were 3.3 percent (106) of the total, which was about the European average.

    Diamandouros also noted that the Ombudsman's electronic mail was used by citizens to send 7,273 requests for information, of which 3,127 were group messages submitted by citizens regarding complaints already received by the European Ombudsman, while the 4,146 other e-mails were individual requests for information.

    In 2007, the European Ombudsman carried out and completed 348 inquiries (an increase of 40 percent over 2006), of which 341 were inauiries following requests while the other seven were own-initiative inquiries.

    Diamandouros said that the most serious problem contained in the complaints was maladministration and lack of transparancy, including access to documents and information and non-protection of personal data.

    He said that the European Ombudsman's Office had been the recipient of 3,211 complaints in 2007, while the number of admissible complaints was 449 (an increase of 17 percent over 2006), adding that there was a serious lack of understanding of the institution, which was the reason why 70 percent of the complaints submitted were out of the European Ombudsman's jurisdiction.

    In addition, in many member states it was still not understood that EU law was a part of the national law, Diamandouros said, explaining that this was why he was himself touring the individual member states and candidate members to brief the representatives of public administration, justice, the Society of Citizens and the social partners in those countries on the nature and authorities of the institution.

    Diamandouros will be in Cyprus on Thursday, on the next stop in his tour.

    Caption: European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros in Athens on Mon. 26 May 2008.ANA-MPA/SYMELA PANTZARTZI

    [03] President meets BoG chief

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received outgoing Bank of Greece governor Dr. Nicholas Garganas, who leaves the post next month.

    The central bank chief thanked Papoulias for the honor of having been received so many times at the Presidential Mansion, as we as for honoring the Board of Directors of the European Central Bank (ECB), which the President received twice, in 2005 and a few days ago.

    "I am pleased that, with the expiry of my term, I am leaving behind me a bank which now has great prestige in Europe. The Bank of Greece is now considered equal with all the central banks of Europe. It has credibility, prestige, good organisation and operation. Indeed, I leave the post of governor being very satisfied, for this very reason," Garganas told the President.

    Papoulias thanked Garganas for his constant and substantive briefing throughout his term.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of President of Republic Karolos Papoulias (R) and Bank of Greece governor Dr. Nicholas Garganas(L).

    [04] Mini heatwave forecast

    Unseasonably high temperatures are forecast for throughout Greece over the next two days. According to the national meteorological service (EMY), temperatures will reach 36C in some parts of the country, reaching even 37C. On Thursday, temperatures should drop due to northerly winds, reaching normal temperatures for the season over the weekend.

    The forecast for Tuesday is fair weather with scattered clouds in the north.

    Caption: Beachgoers took advantage of the sunny weather on Sunday, May 25, 2008, at the Helliniko beach in southern coastal Athens. ANA-MPA / P. SAITAS.

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