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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-04-23

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis briefed by agricultural minister
  • [02] Bryza - Venizelos meeting
  • [03] Tourism Minister in Santorini
  • [04] Public administration restructuring
  • [05] Singer injured in helicopter crash

  • [01] Karamanlis briefed by agricultural minister

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Wednesday with agricultural development minister Alexandros Kontos, who briefed the premier on the agricultural sector, exploitation of the country's water resources, climate changes and their repercussions on farming, animal-breeding and other agricultural activities.

    Kontos told reporters after the meeting that he also briefed Karamanlis on progress in implementation of the study on restoration of the fire-stricken prefectures, adding that the study was being smoothly materialised, given that a 350 million euros program of state reinforcements has been approved by the EU, and 230 appraisers were nearing completion of their inspections of the damages.

    Also, Kontos said he was due to meet with the prefects of the fire-stricken regions next week, for submission of their proposals, so that the projects regarding infrastructures in the agricultural sector could proceed.

    To questions on the measures to be taken for protectin of the country's forests in view of the coming summer, Kontos said that forest-protectin measures were being introduced constantly, while studies were also progressing on enhancement and protection of the forests in the stricken areas.

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

    [02] Bryza - Venizelos meeting

    The FYROM "name issue" and US policy in the western Balkans as well as energy issues were expectedly broached by former minister and top main opposition PASOK party MP Evangelos Venizelos, during a meeting here with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza. Venizelos, who is visiting Washington and New York on private visit, referred to a "common front" by almost all political parties in Greece as regards to the "name issue". He also reportedly conveyed his view on Washington's stance vis-à-vis FYROM with a view to a future mutually acceptable solution. Venizelos, who vied for PASOK's leadership last November, stressed that Greece has exercised a "positive pressure" on Skopje and is ready to offer "positive assistance" as soon as a solution is reached, which will open the way to FYROM's NATO membership and the acceleration of negotiations for its EU accession, considering that the land-locked country's size and type of economy will not translate into any burden for the Union. He also underlined that the United States will have to clarify its policy in the western Balkans, particularly regarding Serbia, and taking under serious consideration the Albanian minority in FYROM, stressing that it corresponds to 35 percent of the country's population and is in favour of a composite name because "citing the need for stability, it is more interested in the country's accession into the EU and NATO," he said. In terms of energy, Venizelos stated that they had a detailed discussion on the plans and construction course of the oil and natural gas pipeline projects, adding that Greece is in favour of alternative sources of energy but its approach does not fully coincide with current US administration views. Venizelos also met with US House Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

    Caption:ANA-MPA file photo of former Minister and main opposition PASOK party MP Evangelos Venizelos

    [03] Tourism Minister in Santorini

    Tourism development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Wednesday outlined the government's new tourism strategy to local government officials and tourism industry representatives in Santorini, on the second leg of his tour of top Greek destinations, adding that the country intended to mount a diplomatic campaign for the island's inclusion in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage monumments.

    Spiliotopoulos was briefed on the positions of the local society and officials on tourism-related matters, and explained to them the new conditions world-wide that also impact the Greek tourism product. The minister said the situation arising this year from the "expensive euro", which he said was making European tourists opt for countries outside the euro-zone for their holidays, coupled by the Olympic Games being staged in China, had obliged the ministry to develop a new tourism strategy, which was characterised by emphasis on the quality of services offered and targetting quality visitors, which will be achieved through specialisation of the tourism product in nine "vertical sectors".

    He explained that extroversion of the tourism product was the answer to the slump in the traditional markets, stressing that Greek tourism was a national cause that had no room for political party differences, warning that Greek destinations that had undergone slumps had never recovered.

    Spiliotopoulos recently announced planned actions to render Santorini a "pilot island" of tourism development, with immediate priorities including the construction of a marina, which the island currently lacks, and restoration of the island's four windmills, which are an exquisite example of Cycladic architecture.

    More than 1.6 million tourists visited Santorini in 2007, of which 777,000 arrived by cruiseship, while, according to local hoteliers, the 2008 tourism season was expected to end equally well or better.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo:View of the Caldera in Santorini

    [04] Public administration restructuring

    The radical restructuring of Public Administration, uprooting of the bureaucracy and intransparency that had developed over the preceding 20 years, and boosting its efficiency, were an immediate priority for the New Democracy government, which in its four years in power has proven to the citizen that "we came to change all this, placing goals and achieving measurable results," interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Wednesday, addressing a conference of the National Council on Administrative Reform.

    The key to the success of the government's efforts was forward-looking planning, coordination of all the individual administrative structures, and implementation of e-governance by specialised staff in Public Administration and Local Government, the minister explained.

    He said that the Operational Program 'Politeia 2005-2007' had been part of a broader planning for administrative reorganisation leading to Digital Public Administration, which includes the major projects of the e-Governance program being carried out by the Information Society S.A., many of which have already been rendered operational.

    More specifically, during the 2005-2007 period, 274 projects budgeted at 15.5 million euros were incorporated in the Politeia Program, reflecting the Program's decentralised character, which encourages projects in the Periphery, Pavlopoulos said, adding that the Politeia Program was a useful and fnctional tool for implementation and advancement of crucial and targeted interventions such as facilitation of citizens and businesses, new systems of organisation and administration of public services, e-governance, transparency, civil protection, and management of disasters.

    For the next three-year period (2008-2010), he continued, the government has drafted an integrated National Action Plan for Public Administration, which was being implemented through the new Operational Program 'Politeia 2008-2010', budgeted at approximately 30 million euros.

    Caption:ANA-MPA file photo of Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

    [05] Singer injured in helicopter crash

    A popular Greek laika singer injured in a private helicopter crash was due to undergo surgery for spinal injuries on Wednesday, but doctors said his overall condition was good and were optimistic about the outcome.

    Costas Makedonas and his flying instructor, a retired Air Force officer, had flown from Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA) to Tanagra and were on their way back to Athens when their private helicopter vanished from radar screens at 2:43 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon some 40 kilometers north of Athens, just 7 minutes before they were due back at the AIA.

    A search and rescue operation was immediately mounted by military aircraft, and the missing helicopter was spotted south of the town of Malakasa.

    The two passengers were reported to be in good shape, and were rushed by ambulance to a hospital in Athens.

    The instructor was reported in good health but hospitalised for precautionary reasons, while Makedonas was transferred at his own request to a private hospital, where he will undergo surgery.

    Caption: Popular singer Costas Makedonas taken to hospital after a helicopter crash.ANA-MPA/ALEXANDROS BELTES


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