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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-01-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] President recieves New Year's wishes
  • [02] SI leader's contact with Abbas
  • [03] Humanitarian aid departs for Gaza

  • [01] President recieves New Year's wishes

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received the country's political, military, judicial, religious and intellectual leaders on Thursday for the traditional New Year's Day exchange of good wishes.

    Papoulias wished prime minister Costas Karamanlis "all good things", while, with main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou he had a brief discussion on the SI's diplomatic initiatives to ameliorate the situation in the Middle East.

    The President also discussed the Palestinian issue with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, who leaves on Monday at the head of a KKE delegation for Ramallah, and asked her to brief him upon her return on the situation in Palestine.

    With the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance's parliamentary leader Alekos Alavanos he discussed matters concerning the young generation, while Alavanos congratulated the President on his stance regarding the youths' struggles.

    Papoulias further exchanged warm wishes with Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, and with former prime ministers Tzannis Tzannetakis and Constantine Mitsotakis.

    Other officials who called on the President were several ministers, including economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis, transport and communications minister Michalis Liapis and employment and social protection minister Fani Palli-Petralia, parliament president Dimitris Sioufas, Areios Paghos (Supreme Court) president George Sanidas, and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, as well as academics and representatives of trade union organizations.

    On Wednesday night, Papoulias attended a New Year's eve event at the Armed Forces Officers' Club.

    Addressing the event, which was also attended by the country's political and military leadership, Papoulias urged everyone to pay special attention to the young generation in the new year.

    "We are leaving behind us a year that saddened and hurt us, and that gave rise to many questions. One thing remains unaswered: Who is to blame? This is what we must all answer, becase we, too, are a part of the social whole that was hurt in 2008," the President said.

    "We must create a relationship of credibility with our children, we must inspire them with a personal example of modesty," he added.

    "In 2009 we must look to your youth. We must stand by their side, because they are the strength of our country. Perhaps we, too, are to blame for many things. We must approach the situation with self-criticism," the President urged.

    Papoulias praised the role of the Armed Forces, and noted that "there are provocations in our region", stressing that "we have a cantankerous neighbor and we must be prepared to face any threat".

    National Defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis noted Greece's stabilizing role in the region and its efforts for peaceful coexistence among the peoples, which he said would continue "even though we have cantankerous neighbors".

    Caption: President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias receives New Year's wishes from Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece. (ANA-MPA/M. Marogianni)

    [02] SI leader's contact with Abbas

    Main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou had a telephone conversation on Wednesday night with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, and also with Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos for the second time in the past three days.

    Papandreou's ongoing contacts with officials who can play a role in resolving the renewed crisis in the Middle East are part of an initiative undertaken by Socialist International, which goes one step further than the proposals for an immediate ceasefire and truce in proposing the convening of a regional conference.

    The SI proposal for a regional conference has been met positively by all the officials with whom Papandreou has spoken thus far. In addition to Abbas and Moratinos, Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Motaki was also positively oriented to the proposal.

    The regional conference, under the SI proposal, would focus on peace in the wider area of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, including an immediate ceasefire and truce between Israelis and Palestinians. The conference would deal with such matters as the West's relations with Iran and Syria, aimed at achieving lasting peace throughout the entire Middle East, so that it will cease comprising a cause of clashes among the countries of the region.

    [03] Humanitarian aid departs for Gaza

    Two Greek C-130 military airplanes took off on Thursday with a cargo of 280 tons of humanitarian aid destined for the relief of the injured people in the Gaza Strip, in one of the first foreign aid missions to Palestine in the wake of Israeli bombings.

    The C-130s, manned by a five-member crew each, departed on Thursday afternoon from the military airport at Elefsina airbase for Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, carring one of the largest Greek despatches of blood and blood by-products ever organized, as well as IV drips, antibiotics and other medicinal supplies. In Tel Aviv, the aid will be turned over to the World Health Organization (WHO) by a doctor of the Greek National Health Operations Center (EKEPY), for the wounded Palestinians in Gaza.

    Foreign ministry secretary general Theodoros Skylakakis, who holds the developmental assistance portfolio, EKEPY director Panos Efstathiou and Air Force General Staff (GEA) chief Yiannis Yiangos were at Elefsina military airport ahead of the airplanes' departure.

    "The Greek aid is one of the first missions that will arrive in Gaza," Skylakakis noted and thanked, on behalf of the foreign ministry, the Hellenic Red Cross, the City of Athens, the Doctors of the Heart organization and the health ministry.

    "We are sending blood. We are sending assistance, which is crucial in this very difficult situation being faced by the people of Palestine, the people of Gaza," Skylakakis said, adding that a larger despatch of humanitarian assistance was being planned for the next stage, to be sent by ship.

    The EKEPY, the health and social solidarity ministry, in collaboration with the foreign ministry and the Air Force, have collected, in the first stage, a large quantity of blood and blood by-products -- more than 150 units -- one of the biggest dispatches ever made by Greece abroad, Efstathiou said, in turn.

    Efstathiou underlined that an EKEPY doctor would accompany the mission, and would turn over the medicinal supplies and other aid to the WHO in Israel where, he stressed, was important so as to ensure that the aid would reach Gaza.

    The EKEPY chief further said that the blood being sent was sufficient to almost fully meet the immediate needs in fresh blood for more than 70 people, who were the most heavily injured and had immediate need of transfusions.

    Caption: A Greek conscript loads humanitarian aid from Greece for Gaza onto a C-130 military aircraft at Elefsina Airport, east of Athens. (ANA-MPA/K. Mavrona)

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