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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-06-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis: Migration policy is anthropocentric
  • [02] Papandreou tours quake-stricken regions
  • [03] "Argo" sails again

  • [01] Karamanlis: Migration policy is anthropocentric

    Illegal immigration is one of the most serious problems being faced today by the EU, and for Greece, which due to its geographical position is a gateway for such migrants, the problem is even more pressing, prime minister Costas Karamanlis said on Friday, during a visit to the new model reception and accommodation center for illegal immigrants on the island of Samos.

    Up to now, he said, Greece has been shouldering an immense weight on its own, on its own strength and with its own means, adding that "our history and our culture mandate that we provide hospitable shelter to desperate people who until their return or the examination of their petition for asylum, require care, support and dignified living conditions".

    Karamanlis said that the new model centers established on Samos and in the border prefecture of Evros, the special centers for minors in Amygdaleza, the center in Lakonia prefecture which is to open soon, as well the new centers being planned, fully meet the requirements of the UN High Commission for Refugees, and highlight the new, modern, anthropocentric, or human-oriented, immigration policy being followed by Greece in the past four years.

    "I want to point out once again, however, that this big and complex problem can be faced only through common effort among the EU member countries and a single pollicy," the premier said.

    Greece, given its knowledge and experience, has submitted specific and realistic proposals, including that for the establishment of a European coast guard force for the joint guarding of the EUs external sea borders, Karamanlis said, adding that the country was undertaking initiatives that secured additional EU resources, following an organised and grounded effort which, unfortunately, had never been done in the past.

    Karamanlis expressed satisfaction with the fact that, with each passing day, more countries were adopting Greece's viewpoint and approach, adding that "today I am even more optimistic because one of those countries is France, which in a few days will assume the EU presidency".

    Caption:ANA-MPA file photo of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis

    [02] Papandreou tours quake-stricken regions

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, heading a group of party officials, began a tour of the earthquake-stricken areas of Achaia and Ileia prefectures, which sustained severe damage in the recent 6.5 Richter earthquake, which also caused the death of two people.

    "We are here, and we are here together with a team of officials from PASOK, to manifest our support to the region, which has been hard hit by last summers wildfires and by the earthquakes," Papandreou said in the town of Kato Achaia, while also congratulating the local government and the volunteers for the "superhuman" efforts they were making.

    Papandreou accused the government "unacceptable delay" in declaring the two prefectures as "earthquake-stricken regions", which he said would have facilitated immediate and effective assistance to the local inhabitants.

    He said PASOK also considered unacceptable that the government believed that "with a 'tip' such as the 3,000 euros (in immediate emergency assistance) last year in the fires and the 5,000 euros this year (for the earthquake-stricken families) that it will solve the problems".

    Papandreou said that a plan for immediate confrontation of the problems and a plan for the long-term development of the region were necessary, and noted the draft law proposal that was recently submitted to parliament by his party for the rejuvenation of the Peloponese, adding that with a few supplements, the draft law could also meet the needs from the devasation caused by the current earthquakes.

    The PASOK leader began his tour in Patras, capital of Achaia prefecture, where he visited the Aghios Andreas (St. Andreas) hospital which is currently being evacuated due to cracks in the building suffered during the earthquake, and was briefed on the hospital's problems. From there he went to the towns of Vrachneika and Kato Achaia, before continuing his tour.

    Papandreou's letter to Simitis

    In a shock development on Thursday, the head of main opposition PASOK George Papandreou informed his predecessor and twice elected prime minister of Greece Costas Simitis, that he should no longer consider himself a member of the party's Parliamentary bloc.

    The main opposition leader announced his decision to PASOK's former president - and the man that successfully ushered Greece into the euro-zone - in a letter sent in reply to the letter he received from Simitis the previous day.

    In this, the former premier had openly and publicly disagreed with the party line in favour of holding a national referendum to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, saying that such a policy would be "adventurous" and potentially damaging for Greece.

    Papandreou clarified that he did not intend to initiate formal procedures for expelling Simitis from the party's group of MPs, such informing the Parliament President, out of respect for the former premier's history, his contribution and their joint course in the governments of 1996-2004. He stressed, however, that he would no longer consider Simitis a part of the party's force in Parliament.

    The letter adds that Simitis' views are "always examined with great interest" and Papandreou stressed his great respect for Simitis' work at the helm of the country and the constructive cooperation between them.

    At the same time, he offered the opinion that the former premier has decided to act outside the framework of PASOK decisions and operate autonomously and independently. As Papandreou noted in the letter, this was something he could understand but not accept.

    Referring to the issue raised by Simitis about whether Greece should hold a national referendum on the Lisbon Treaty - which was ratified by 250 MPs in the 300-seat Greek Parliament on Wednesday night - Papandreou said that he had already answered before the former premier had even written his letter, given that decisions on this had been taken at PASOK's conference and the party's Political Council that were clear and enhanced democracy in the country.

    According to PASOK's leader, he interpreted Simitis' decision to make his letter public as an active refusal to fall in line with the rest of the Parliamentary Group, which he said was an "unjustifiable political act".

    Papandreou also noted that Simitis' move engendered doubts and questions about PASOK's political will and direction, creating confusion and disorientation at a time when Greeks under New Democracy's government were already being sorely tested by high prices, lawlessness, impunity, corruption and the collapse of any sense of the rule of law.

    He also underlined that these questions and doubts were being created at a time when people were turning toward PASOK, which was today a new hope and determined to win and carry out policies that would restore justice, equality, solidarity and humanity."

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou

    [03] "Argo" sails again

    A reconstruction of the legendary first long ship Argo, which according to ancient Greek myth carried Jason and his Argonauts to recover the Golden Fleece from Colchis, will set sail from the beaches of Volos on Saturday to the strains of the local symphony orchestra, assisted by some 50 people at the oars.

    The ship will be seen off in the calm waters of Pagasitic Gulf with due pomp and circumstance, following the traditional blessing by Dimitriada Metropolitan Ignatios, speeches by Volos Mayor Alekos Voulgaris and Deputy Interior Minister Athanassios Nakos and an address by the head of the 'Argo' research programme, Vice-admiral Apostolos Kourtis of the coast guard.

    The modern-day Argo is a reconstruction of an ancient Greek penteconter with a ram (a ship with one tier of 50 oars, 25 on either side) and a simple sail that was built of half-cured wood cut from forest timber.

    It is built along the line of prehistoric ships of the Greek mainland in the 14th century B.C. and belongs to the same family as Homer's long ships and the later ram-bearing warships of antiquity.

    The present-day penteconter Argo is expected to travel between 10 and 15 nautical miles a day until it reaches its final destination in Venice, stopping at 37 ports on the way. It will be accompanied by the ship Hellenic Seaways, where the rowers of the penteconter will eat, wash, dress and receive medical treatment.

    The ship's journey is expected to be completed in the port of Venice on August 12 and until July 7 it will be sailing in Greek waters, accompanied by coast guard vessels. During the trip it will raised six flags, equal to the number of countries whose waters it will traverse. These include Greece, Albania, Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy.

    It is also scheduled to stop at several ports and harbours along the way, where it will remain for one day and be part of various cultural events.

    Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas has officially opened an international conference on the journey of the Argonauts organised by the Greek Parliament and the municipality of Volos.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of "Argo"


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