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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-28

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou rules out 'cooperation' scenario
  • [02] Ecumenical Patriarch receives visiting Athens mayor
  • [03] Shoppers flock to open stores
  • [04] Greek reaction to Gaza flare up

  • [01] Papandreou rules out 'cooperation' scenario

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou again reiterated his call for early general elections -- the last were held in September 2007 -- due to the "prolonged crisis" and lack of leadership, as he called it, in published statements on Sunday appearing in an Athens weekly.

    Papandreou qualified his statement by saying he wants early elections after a quick resolution to the Vatopedi land swap furor, while also reiterating that his aim is a "clear electoral victory" and Parliament majority.

    In commenting on a series of press articles and speculation last week over possible cooperation -- i.e. consent in appointing key ministers -- with ruling New Democracy, Papandreou categorically ruled out any such prospect.

    "The economy's salvation is not an issue for technocrats. It is a matter of trust and political direction, one that is radically different from that of the current government," he said.

    Asked about "cooperation" with the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), the junior leftist faction in Parliament, Papandreou repeated that a majority government is his aim, although such a goal does not come in opposition to cooperation.

    "We will pursue post-election cooperation, because we want to unite our forces, even if on specific targets."

    Conversely, SYRIZA grouping head Alekos Alavanos flatly rejected cooperation with PASOK, further adding that ND-PASOK cooperation is no solution.

    Interestingly enough, Alavanos referred to a "singular co-governance" between ruling ND, the Communist Party (KKE) and the rightist Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS), while indirectly criticising KKE for its continued sniping at SYRIZA.

    Pavlopoulos interview

    In a separate interview in the same weekly, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos warned against speculation and "leaks" of a coming Cabinet reshuffle.

    "No one can recommend to the prime minister if they should or should not remain in a minister's post," he said, while ruling out the possibility of early elections.

    "Unless, of course, PASOK does not want to cooperate on electing (via Parliament MP vote) a new president of the republic," Pavlopoulos added.

    All three political leaders were quoted by the new weekly "Real news".

    [02] Ecumenical Patriarch receives visiting Athens mayor

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA) -- Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (Vartholomeos) on Sunday received Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis at his Fanar-district seat in the Bosporus metropolis. Kaklamanis later met with the mayor of BeyoÄlu (Peran), a historic district in Istanbul, who also visited the Patriarch on the occasion of the Christmas holiday.

    Bartholomew later received two Armenian Church Archbishops of the city, representatives of Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople Mesrob II, who conveyed the latter's Christmas wishes to the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Orthodox faithful.

    [03] Shoppers flock to open stores

    A couple of groups held protests on Sunday in the heart of Athens' shopping district to protest a decision allowing shops and stores to remain open on Sunday --the last of the year -- in order to boost sales following riot damages earlier in the month and concerns over an economic slump.

    One group of protesters included members of the Communist Party (KKE) affiliated PAME labour grouping, while the other was an anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation social grouping, with a few dozen members of either party pressuring store owners -- primarily bigger outlets and multinationals -- to close.

    The Ermou street pedestrian way -- Greece's best-known fashion and shopping district -- was the "target" of protesters, although the presence of consumers and passers-by during the extra shopping day was reported as heavy.

    The Athens prefecture on Friday reversed its earlier controversial ban -- under pressure by the government and merchants' association -- and finally acquiesced to the opening of stores and shops in the municipality of Athens.

    Caption: Athenians and visitors flocked to the upscale Ermou St. pedestrian way in downtown Athens on Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008, after a decision allowing shops and stores in the municipality to open on the last Sunday of the year. ANA-MPA / PANTELIS SAITAS.

    [04] Greek reaction to Gaza flare up

    Greece on Sunday expressed its "deep concern" and condemnation of the dramatic escalation in Gaza violence over the past 48 hours, which has so far cost the lives of several hundred Palestinian civilians.

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said Athens is aligned with the European Union presidency's statement over the worrisome developments.

    "Hamas' rockets, which sparked a new cycle of violence, and the disproportionate answer by Israel with air raids and bombings, are killing and injuring people along with the hope and prospects for peace in this tragic part of the world. They are threatening the region's already extremely fragile security," Bakoyannis stated, adding:

    "A conflagration in the Middle East amid an international economic recession is a nightmare prospect that must be avoided at all costs ... The international community has a huge responsibility, it cannot remain idle; it must immediately assume initiatives for a de-escalation of tension."

    Among others, the Greek FM called for the immediate dispatch of humanitarian aide to victims in Gaza, more intense diplomatic efforts to protect the peace process and a leading role for the European Union.

    "Greece, which condemns every form of violence and terrorism, is ready to contribute towards this effort. It is also ready to offer humanitarian aid as soon as this is possible," she added.

    Finally, the Greek FM praised the convening of an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council.


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