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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-24

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Olympic Flame begins journey for Beijing Games
  • [02] Protest for Amvrakikos Gulf
  • [03] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] Olympic Flame begins journey for Beijing Games

    The Olympic Flame set out on Monday from Ancient Olympia on a Torch Relay to Beijing, host of the XXIX Olympic Games in 2008, following the traditional Torch-Lighting ceremony that was attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge and IOC honorary president Juan Antonio Samaranch, flanked by a host of IOC members, in addition to Greek and Chinese officials and athletes.

    The 'High Priestess' was actress Maria Nafpliotou, who led a ceremony choreographed by Artemis Ignatiou, who took over this task for the first year from Maria Hors, following the latter's departure after 50 years of choreographing the Torch-lighting ceremonies.

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressed a brief message, stressing the principles of noble competition, ekecheiria (the Olympic Truce) and peaceful coexistence and understanding that the Games have stood for since their birth in antiquity.

    As ancient as the Games themselves, the concept of Olympic Truce, "Ekecheiria" in Greek, dates to the 11th century B.C., when all hostilities ceased to allow those attending or participating the Games to travel to Olympia in safety.

    The first Torch-bearer was Greece's Olympic silver medalist in Tae Kwon Do (2004 Athens Games) Alexandros Nikolaidis, who relayed the Torch to China's Luo Xuejuan, an Olympic gold medalist in the 100m breastroke event.

    There will follow a seven-day Torch relay within Greece that will be completed on March 30 when the Olympic Torch arrives at the Panathenian Stadium (Kallimarmaro) in central Athens, the venue of the first modern version of the Olympic Games in 1896. At 3.00 pm on that day it will be handed over to the organisers of the Chinese Olympic Games in Beijing by Greek silver medalist in the women's triple jump, Pigi Devetzi.

    The Torch will travel a 1,528 kilometers in Greece, relayed by 605 Torch-bearers. It will travel through 43 municipalities and 4 communities in 16 Prefectures throughout the country on the first leg of its journey, to Athens, while 29 Flame-lighting ceremonies will be held along the way in as many cities.

    Meanwhile, a couple unsuccessfully attempted to interrupt the ceremony at the Olympia archaeological site in southwest Greece, during a brief address by the president of the Beijing Olympic organising committee (BOCOG), Liu Qi possibly pro-Tibetan activist. An unidentified man, who unfurled a banner, was quickly whisked away by police officers, while the BOCOG chief remained unfazed and continued his address during the internationally broadcast event.

    Prime minister's address

    "With sentiments of joy and pride, we deliver the Olympic Torch today to the organisers of the Beijing Olympic Games, and of course to the friendly Chinese people, and wish them every success," Prime Minister Karamanlis said in a brief address at the ceremony.

    "Today, from Olympia, together with the Olympic Flame, we are also handing down the principles of noble competition and fair play, the Greek and human-wide messages of 'ekecheiria', peaceful coexistence, understanding and cooperation, which today are more timely than ever," the prime minister said.

    "All the Greeks hope that the Olympic Flame's journey throughout the world will strengthen the movement of the people who embrace these principles and are fighting for these ideals," Karamanlis concluded.

    Other speakers

    IOC President Jacques Rogge wished the Torch relay great success and thanked BOCOG for its efforts in preparing for the Beijing Olympics.

    Hellenic Olympic Committee President Minos Kyriakou expressed hope that the Flame of the 2008 Olympic Games will spread the Olympic spirit and shine its light on the Beijing Games. He also wished the 29th Olympiad success.

    BOCOG President Liu Qi said that the Torch will convey peace, friendship and hopes and dreams to the people of China and all over the world. Its flame will light up the sky during the Beijing Olympic Games, he said, and expressed hope that the Olympic Flame will light the way to peace, friendship and progress.

    Caption: Actress Maria Nafpliotou in the role of the High Priestess lights the torch of the Olympic Flame during the rehearsal of Lightning Ceremony of the Olympic Flame for Beijing summer Olympics, in front of Hera Temple in Ancient Olympia, 23 March 2008. ANA-MPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

    [02] Protest for Amvrakikos Gulf

    Mobilisations for the protection of Amvrakikos Gulf were held in Preveza, western Greece, on Sunday, by local government, fishermen, the region's agencies and environmental associations from many parts of the country.

    Pollution, the relentless excessive fishing, sea water cultivations which make the problem more acute and uncontrolled landfills have transformed the once unique natural habitat into a sea region which sends out an S.O.S. as the pollution has exceeded every acceptable limit for many years now.

    In Sunday's mobilisation in Preveza, taking part were tens of fishermen, the last remaining from the thousands of the past, who with their boats symbolically blocked in protest, for a short period of time, the entrance of Amvrakikos Gulf.

    A meeting was held at the coast of Preveza, in which Greek political parties were represented. The ruling New Democracy (ND) with deputy George Tryfonidis, the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) with Michalis Chrysohoidis, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras and the rest with local party members.

    [03] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The FYROM name issue and the new round of UN-mediated negotiations on Tuesday in New York, and the social security draft law dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "(Interior Minister Prokopis) Pavlopoulos takes measures against 'imported' crime - Migrants are responsible for 35% of homicides".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis in the first interview after the general elections says to the newspaper: " We are heading to a new self-sufficient government".

    AVRIANI: "(Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis clashes with guilds and labour 'fathers' and gets ready for new successive election, as (main opposition PASOK leader George) Papandreou 'runs' after Alavanos (SYRIZA's parliament party leader)".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "25th March will be a crucial day for the FYROM issue".

    ELEFTHEROS: "The great Center- Right scenarios - Government foresees ND cooperation with former PASOK Ministers and Deputy Ministers to act as a counterweight to a possible PASOK-SYRIZA coalition".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Large unions will place judicial 'mines' to the implementation of the social security bill - Unions prepare to table recourse against 20 articles of the bill - (SYRIZA's leader Alekos) Alavanos will put forward issue of 'unconstitutionality' to (President Karolos) Papoulias".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Government strikes back against downturn in opinion polls by selling off the 'family silverware' ".

    ESTIA: "Our national garbage"

    ETHNOS: "Permanent positions for government's voters - The blue (colour of ruling party New Democracy) employees will take the place of those retiring earlier in fear of the new social security bill".

    TA NEA: "Sacking 'mine' in public and private sector after the (passing of the) social security law".

    VRADYNI: "FYROM: Compromise on the horizon - Cracks in FYROM's intransigence due to US pressure".


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