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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-01-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] FM on Gaza, policeman's wounding
  • [02] Epiphany observed throughout Greece
  • [03] LAOS leader: US-EU must get serious

  • [01] FM on Gaza, policeman's wounding

    The political and social forces of the country, united, must safeguard Greece's democracy and voice a resounding 'no' to phenomena of blind violence, foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Tuesday, following a Blessing of the Waters ritual in Athens, in reply to a press question on Monday's early morning attack against a three-member police guard in the Exarchia district resulting in the critical injury of one of the officers.

    "Greek society paid the price of terrorism dearly for very many years," said Bakoyannis, whose first husband, ruling New Democracy MP Pavlos Bakoyannis was assassinated by gunmen of the now-defunct 17N group in 1989.

    Turning to the Israeli offense in Gaza, Bakoyannis expressed hope that the UN Security Council would realize the magnitude of its responsibility.

    "What is taking place in Gaza is an immense humanitarian devastation. We have the duty to do all that we can for an immediate halt to the violence and killings in Gaza and to succeed in getting the necessary aid through," the foreign minister added, and reiterated her appeal for a truce.

    [02] Epiphany observed throughout Greece

    The religious feast of Epiphany was observed throughout Greece on Tuesday with the traditional Blessing of the Waters.

    The ritual commemorates Jesus' baptism in the river Jordan, and according to St. John Chrysostom the day is called Epiphany, (from the Greek word for 'manifestation', 'epifaniea') because Jesus Christ manifested Himself to all people not when He was born but, rather, when He was baptized.

    On Epiphany daring Greeks brave the cold waters to dive for the cross after it has been blessed by a priest and thrown into the water, and the one who recovers the cross is blessed with good luck throughout the year.

    Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece officiated at the main ceremony in Piraeus, Greece's largest port, with three Navy minesweepers on guard, while members of the Greek Seals dove for the cross.

    Representing the government at the ceremony was employment and social protection minister Fani Palli-Petralia, who said afterwards that "the strength of our democracy is solidarity, respect for principles and values", adding that what was needed most was "unity and consensus in these very difficult hours the country is going through".

    "Today is a very substantial and symbolic day for Orthodoxy and Hellenism. Let it also serve as a springboard for social justice and the progress of our society," Petralia added.

    Former parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, representing the main opposition PASOK party, voiced the hope that the new year will be peaceful for the country and the region.

    He warned that "the massacre in Gaza gives rise to grave dangers for the wider region", and called for more responsibility by those who are governing the country, addng that "the political world should confront the problems responsibly".

    Also in attendance were Piraeus mayor Panayiotis Fasoulas, Athens-Piraeus supra-prefect Constantina Bei, Piraeus prefect Yiannis Michas, MPs from all the political parties, local representatives and a large gathering of people.

    In Athens, the city's mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis attended the Blessing of the Waters at the Dexameni in Kolonaki district.

    After the ceremony, Kaklamanis appealed for a straightforward condemnation, without any attempt at justification, "of violence and terrorism, from wherever they may originate".

    He also appealed to police officers for self-restraint and discipline "although I acknowledge their emotional state due to the cowardly terrorist murder attempt against a young colleague of theirs".

    [03] LAOS leader: US-EU must get serious

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis attended the doxology and Blessing of the Waters on Tuesday in Thessaloniki.

    In a statement released by LAOS, Karatzaferis said that the US and EU must "get serious" and halt the Israeli attacks in Gaza immediately.

    "The killings, executions, acts of violence are not being carried out" only by the Israelis, but also by "the leaders of the West who allow them", Karatzaferis said.

    "Washington and Brussels must get serious and stop, here and now, the barbarous attacks of the Israelis," he said, referring to Israel's ground offensive in Gaza.

    "If a global lawful order exists, the prime minister of Israel Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni and the rest of those responsible for the genocide against the residents of the Gaza Strip should be sent immediately to the (International) Criminal Court at the Hague," Karatzaferis said.

    "Needless to say that the full blame is also held by each and every one of the (EU) '27 leaders, including Mr. Karamanlis," Karatzaferis added.

    In the same indifferent manner that the West is facing the Israeli barbarity in Gaza, so is the Greek government facing the violence and crimes of the hooded anti-establishmentarians, Karatzaferis continued, adding that the attack early Monday against police officers in the Exarchia district of Athens, which resulted in the critical wounding of one of the officers, "is a terrorist act" and stressing that "we must all assume our responsibilities".

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