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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-11-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou addresses prefectural committees
  • [02] Foreign ministry on collapse of Gjirokastr apartment building
  • [03] Mytilene liberation events
  • [04] Papariga address in Peristeri
  • [05] Bakoyannis on illegal migrants

  • [01] Papandreou addresses prefectural committees

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met on Sunday in Athens with the heads of the party's prefectural and regional committees, as a nationwide conference was held by the party.

    In his address, the PASOK leader said his party will again bring hope to the people, and will be re-transformed into a political movement that guarantees a more humane society.

    Moreover, he referred to a "deep crisis" in terms of institutions, politics and society, which he blamed on ruling New Democracy. He also acknowledged that an "international dimension" to the crisis, while returning to ND's liability, saying the latter is unable to deal with the crisis.

    Referring to the timely bank support plan, Papandreou said the government was only "feigning" a battle with banks, saying a draft bill tabled in Parliament actually benefits domestic banks.

    He again reiterated PASOK considers it unfair for low- and middle-income earners to pay for the crisis when banks, major shareholders, the powerful and others bear the major responsibility for the crisis.

    Beyond Greek borders, Papandreou, a former foreign minister in successive Simitis governments and the current Socialist International (SI) president, said the time was "ripe for socialist on an international level."

    Along those lines, he cited the creation of a "powerful progressive voice on an international level", at which point he mentioned the election of Barack Obama.

    Finally, he called on PASOK cadres to discuss with citizens their problems, and not PASOK's.

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

    [02] Foreign ministry on collapse of Gjirokastr apartment building

    The Greek foreign ministry on Sunday announced that Greece will be sending a special disaster response team (EMAK) from the northern Greek city of Ioannina to assist Albanian authorities in extricating people from an apartment building that collapsed in the city of Gjirokastr. Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos also stressed that Greek consular authorities in southern Albania had responded immediately to the disaster.

    "As soon as it became known that an apartment building collapsed in the city of Gjirokastr, the head of the Greek General Consulate Mr. Rizopoulos went to the scene in order to find out whether ethnic Greeks were among the victims," Koumoutsakos said.

    The consul also made arrangements with authorities in the city to send the EMAK team, which will be comprised of eight members, a dog and three vehicles and take part in rescue efforts under the provisions of a 2006 Greek-Albanian Agreement for cooperation in civil protection.

    In addition, the Greek military hospital in Gjirokastr has been placed on stand-by.

    Three people whose identity is not known are still considered missing in the collapsed building.

    According to Koumoutsakos, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was informed of the incident as soon as it happened and issued instructions.

    [03] Mytilene liberation events

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias attended events marking the 96th anniversary since Mytilene on the island Aegean of Lesvos was liberated from Ottoman rule, held on Saturday. The president attended a celebratory mass and then laid a wreath at the town's liberation memorial, after which he watched a parade by schools and the military.

    He was later declared an honorary citizen of Mytilene and attended a dinner held in his honour by Mytilene Mayor Nasos Giakalis, before returning to Athens.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of President of Republic Karolos Papoulias

    [04] Papariga address in Peristeri

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Sunday urged working class voters to "break free" from the two major parties at this crucial juncture for the economy, during a speech at an event in the west Athens district of Peristeri.

    She predicted that both parties would embark on a major effort to persuade people that they were better able handle the crisis than their rivals and that this would raise the dilemma of whether the worker movement would be incorporated or go on the offensive and counterattack.

    In an analysis of the current economic crisis, Papariga said that KKE had predicted it long ago and that it would not destroy capitalism but change the balance of power in the capitalist system, initiating a new cycle whose victims would be working-class people.

    She noted that even social-democrat economists agreed that the crisis in Greece would be deep and last longer than in other countries. She also claimed that the 28-billion-euro package for banks would not address needs but simply lead to more profits for banks.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Communist party of Greece secretary general Aleka Papariga.

    [05] Bakoyannis on illegal migrants

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis took part in a meeting by all state services involved in dealing with illegal immigrants held in Mytilene, on the Aegean island of Lesvos. The meeting took place on Saturday, at the same time as the Greek coast guard in the region had launched an operation to rescue a group of some 40 illegal migrants stranded at sea on board a craft that had set off from the coast of Turkey, among them 14 children and six women.

    In a press conference after the meeting, Bakoyannis stressed the problems faced by local communities in Greece but also the country as a whole from the increasing wave of illegal migrants, noting that this was a problem of "managing desperate people" that would not be short-lived but last several years as a result of the economic crisis the world was now going through.

    The minister also underlined that the problem had to be dealt by Europe as a whole, because it concerned all its members:

    "Greece receives refugees from the north and especially from the east. A similar problem is faced by Portugal, Spain and Malta, that get refugees from North Africa. They cannot bear the full brunt of this affair alone. They need financial support and technical resources and it is positive that the French presidency and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in person have made this issue a top priority," she stressed.

    Bakoyannis also had words of praise for the coast guard and police for their handling of the issue, as well as the "mature attitude" displayed by local communities.

    Commenting on the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, meanwhile, Bakoyannis said this was hopeful for Greece and pointed out that Obama had supported all resolutions and proposals that were in line with Greek interests as a senator, while he had referred to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) by that name.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis

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