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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] New Greece-FYROM talks in Vienna Monday
  • [02] Papandreou closes 8th PASOK Congress
  • [03] SYRIZA winds up 1st Conference
  • [04] Sunday of Orthodoxy celebrated

  • [01] New Greece-FYROM talks in Vienna Monday

    A new round of UN-sponsored talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on the latter's "name issue" begins in Vienna on Monday. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlishas has reiterated Greece's position regarding the issue saying that a composite name for the land-locked republic containing a geographic qualifier could put an end to a nagging problem that has had a negative impact on regional stability and cooperation.

    Karamanlis was speaking during a press conference in Brussels following earlier meetings to discuss the FYROM name issue with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on the sidelines of the European Union Summit taking place in the Belgian capital.

    The Greek prime minister reiterated that Athens was participating constructively in the UN-sponsored process for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue, pointing out that this was an issue concerning good neighbour relations.

    In calling for a composite name containing a geographic qualifier, Karamanlis said such a solution would be "clear and practical", while noting UN Security Council resolutions referring to the negative impact of perpetuating the problem.

    He also stressed that the issue affected FYROM's otherwise excellent bilateral relations with Greece, as well its ambitions to join EuroAtlantic structures.

    "No solution means no invitation, in other words no accession to NATO," he emphasised, while underlining that the Greek position was clear and unambiguous.

    Relations amongst allies and relations of mutual support could not be built on a basis of unresolved issues, the Greek premier added.

    "This is the position that it applies today; it will apply tomorrow and will continue to apply until a solution is achieved that is mutually accepted," he stressed.

    Questioned about the political crisis now unfolding in Greece's neighbour to the north, Karamanlis expressed hope that this would not be used as an excuse to perpetuate the problem.

    "We want to believe and we hope that political developments in the neighbouring country will not be used either as an excuse or as an alibi for perpetuating a 17-year deadlock through a false, compromise settlement. It is evident that such an approach cannot be accepted," the Greek premier said. He also noted that Greece had already "covered a great distance" in order to approach FYROM's positions and that it was now time for the other side to do the same.

    Replying to questions about a meeting held on Thursday between Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and FYROM's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, the prime minister stressed that there was no need to fear discussion when one has clear positions and that no problem was caused.

    "I judged it advisable for the foreign minister to attend the meeting. If such meetings serve the interests of the country, no further answer is needed," he said.

    For the same reason, he said he met with the leaders of Greece's partners and allies and had shaken hands with Gruevski the previous day, adding that he would have been more than willing to detail the Greek positions if his FYROM counterpart had chosen to raise the issue.

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

    [02] Papandreou closes 8th PASOK Congress

    The 8th Congress of the main oppositon PASOK party ended on Sunday with the election of 150 voted members to the party's National Council, which in addition includes the party's MPs, former prime ministers and other officials and 60 polling booths have been set up at the indoor Tae Kwon Do facility in Faliro, the venue of the Congress, to facilitate the approximately 7,000 delegates in the voting process.

    PASOK leader George Papandreou announced that major changes would take place in the party, during his closing address to the Congress on Saturday night.

    At the same time, Papandreou clarified his proposal for cooperation towards the other parties of the Left, while expressing his backing for nearly all the demands of the social groups currently holding, or planning, mobilisations, pledging that PASOK would be at their side and would support their struggles.

    Papandreou took everyone, even his closest associates, by surprise when he announced his decisions for renewal of the faces "at the top". he announced that the new Political Council (which is elected by the National Council) will be comprised of new cadres who have not previously served as ministers or deputy ministers, which would leave out high-profile cadres such as Evangelos Venizels, Costas Skandalidis, Anna Diamantopoulou, Theodoros Pangalos and many others from the new composition of the party's highest steering body.

    The announcement was met with resounding applause by the more than 7,000 delegates to the Congress, which became even more enthusiastic when Papandreou invited his opponents for the party leadership to greet the gathering together.

    Papandreou explained, however, that his decision did not leave the party's most eponymous cadres wtihout a role and position, noting his intent to put them to use in the "parliamentary process" in a number of ways.

    He said the establishment of new bodies in the party and in parliament was anticipated in the coming week, given that "a week of battles is beginning, and we will all be in that battle, at the side of the people".

    Papandreou said was led to this decision based on the principles of unity, renewal and meritocracy, and called on the delegates to 'ratify' his decision, receiving a resounding response.

    Regarding cooperations and his overture to the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Progress (SYN), Papandreou clarified that the issue of self-sufficiency -- which PASOK was not abandoning -- was one thing, and its intention to achieve broader collaborations for solving the major problems faced by society and the country was another thing.

    He called on SYN to decide on whether it would move side by side with PASOK in the battle for Change, or whether it would opt "to hide behind pretexts".

    He further clarified that PASOK would seek the biggest possible electoral victory, and parliamentary self-sufficiency (majority), wider political consensus among the people, wider political cooperation, in order to provide "a government of Change, and the dynamnic reversal that the country needs".

    Stressing that its only opponent was the ruling New Democracy (ND) party and government, he expressed backing for all the mobilisations by the working people and their demands.

    [03] SYRIZA winds up 1st Conference

    The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), the SYN-led parliamentary alliance, wound up its First Nationwide Conference on Sunday with the adoption of a text calling for the assumption of new initiatives for further expansion of the SYRIZA venture, the drafting of a radical Left solution, and the drafting of a political plan, and also the nationwide formulation of an organisational structure.

    According to the Text, the 1st Nationwide Conference marked the beginning of a further, substantive effort through an open, democratic and free dialogue with all the forces of the Left, in order to further rally the forces of the Radical Left and the radical left ecology.

    According to SYN (Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party) leader Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA's increase in popularity and strength was not a "bubble" that would burst, and criticised those who had stated such a view, while also launching a scathing attack on main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou and on the government's policy.

    Tsipras said that SYRIZA's momentum was not a political paradox or phenomenon. "A political paradox is what we were living for so many years," he added.

    Responding to critics that SYRIZA did not have a 'platform', he said that SYRIZA did not have proposals for uninsured labor because it does not propose a reduction in pensions, it does not use terms such as 'flexibility' and 'competitiveness', and does not propose private universities.

    In extensive criticism on the main opposition party, Tsipras said that when he left the PASOK Congress, also taking place over the weekend, he was deeply troubled because "how is it possible that a party with such a large and significant history, which we respect, a party that in the past inspired thousands of strugglers, a party that listened to the deep desire of the people for deep-rooted changes and which even today has strugglers among its ranks, is not aware of anything of what is happening around it today?".

    Society was abroil inside and out, he said. "Outside, the correlations are being overturned, consensual bipartisanism is collapsing, and at the PASOK Congress, as if it's taking place in a greenhouse, as if the main opposition party is functioning in a sterilised glass bowl, PASOK is trying to regain its lost self-sufficiency", Tsipras said, and replying again on the issue of cooperation, he added: "Dear friends in PASOK, we warmly thank you for your kind offer, but no thanks".

    Caption: SYN leader Alexis Tsipras addresses the SYRIZA 1st Nationwide Conference. (ANA-MPA/P. Saitas)

    [04] Sunday of Orthodoxy celebrated

    The Feast of Orthodoxy (the first Sunday of Lent) was celebrated with pomp on Sunday at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, parliament president George Sioufas, education and religious affairs minister Evripides Stylianidis, other government members, and MPs.

    The Sunday of Orthodoxy service, officiated by Archbishop Ieronymos, was also attended by the Holy Synod, representatives of other Orthodox Churches, representatives of the military and judicial authorities, and ambassadors of foreign countries.

    A similar celebration was held at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, officiated by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    Caption: Archbishop Ieronymos. (ANA-MPA/M. Marogianni)

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