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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-01-06
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papoulias cites Turkish provocations during visitPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday sternly condemned what he called Turkey's "inconceivable and irrational provocations", such as the systematic and illegal overflights of Turkish warplanes over Greek islands, following his declaration an honorary resident of the remote eastern Aegean isle of Agathonissi, where he attended the traditional Blessing of the Waters ceremony to mark the Epiphany religious holiday.
"The core of the problem in Greek-Turkish relations lies in the Turkish military's decisive role in the neighbouring country's political life," the president said, adding: "This reality enables a continuous projection of demands, such as the concoction of the outlandish theory of 'grey zones' (in the Aegean) since 1996".
Papoulias stressed that "all the Greeks desire a peaceful future with our neighbours, but this future must be founded on respect of International Law".
The president attended the blessing of the waters on Agathonissi, accompanied by Deputy Defence Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis and Deputy Merchant Marine & Island Policy Minister Panos Kammenos, while the ceremony was also attended by MPs for the Dodecanese.
After the ceremony, Papoulias was declared an honorary resident of Agathonissi.
In addressing the president, Agathonissi community leader Evangelos Kottoros asked for the state's assistance in solving the problems faced by the inhabitants of the small islands in the Aegean, noting a lack of infrastructure projects.
Afterwards, Papoulias visited the island's military guard post, where he exchanged wishes with conscripts, NCOs and officers
 Weather Wednesday -- Partly cloudy, fairFrost is forecast for parts of Greece in the early morning hours of Wednesday. Clear to partly cloudy in the north and central mainland, -6C to 8C and up to 14C in western and southern Greece; 7C to 14C on the islands. North by northwestern winds 6 to 7 on the Beaufort scale. Cloudy to partly cloudy in Athens, 5C to 13C; cloudy in Thessaloniki, -1C to 7C. Meanwhile, up to 20 villages in the mountainous part of central Karditsa prefecture remained cut-off due to snow on Tuesday.
 Illegals spotted, detained on rock islet in E. AegeanTwenty-four Third World nationals were spotted and arrested early Tuesday morning on a deserted rock islet in the eastern Aegean, the coast guard reported.
The group, would-be illegal immigrants, had reportedly been disembarked on the islet, identified as "Katsayani", by migrant smugglers operating from the opposite Turkish coast.
Soldiers at a military outpost spotted the group and informed the coast guard. All of the illegal migrants were taken to nearby Patmos.
 PASOK leader visits hospital treating wounded officerMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Tuesday visited the Athens-area hospital where a 21-year-old officer, critically wounded in the early morning hours on Monday in a probable urban terrorist attack, remains in serious but stable condition.
Papandreou expressed his solidarity to the family of officer Diamantis Mantzounis, while afterwards he issued a sharp condemnation, referring to "acts of violence against a young police officer wounded in the line of duty."
He also expressed outrage in his capacity of PASOK leader, "as a democrat and as an ordinary citizen over this murderous attack."
Finally, Papandreou attributed responsibility to the ruling ND government for cultivating, as he charged, a perception of illegality and impunity for those in power, along with criticising the government for favoritism and petty partisan politics, as he said.
Earlier, scores of police officers gathered outside the Erythros Stavros hospital for a mobilisation in support of their young colleague.
 Epiphany celebrated in GreeceThe religious feast of Epiphany was celebrated throughout Greece on Tuesday with the traditional Blessing of the Waters ritual, whereby Orthodox priests toss a cross attached to a rope in the waters, usually followed by teens and young men diving into the frigid sea to retrieve the symbol of the Christian faith.
The ritual commemorates Christ's baptism in the Jordan River, which according to St. John Chrysostom the day is called Epiphany -- from the Greek word for 'manifestation', 'epifaniea'.
The brave swimmer who recovers the cross is thought to be 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 navy's elite commando unit 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.
In Athens, the city's mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis attended the Blessing of the Waters at the Dexameni (reservoir) site in the upscale 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" -- a reference to a policeman's shooting -- possibly by urban terrorists -- less than 48 hours ago.
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".
Caption: A teenaged girl beat out all the other male divers and retrieved the cross during a Blessing of the Waters ceremony in Corinth on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. ANA-MPA / V. PSOMAS.
 KKE delegation ends Ramallah visitRAMALLAH (ANA-MPA) -- Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Tuesday met here with Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad, as she concluded a series of meetings here at the head of a KKE delegation.
"No time should be wasted in achieving a ceasefire, and at the same time, an international volition amongst peoples should materialise in order to allow the Palestinian people to acquire their own unified state," Papariga said afterwards.
 Greece to use natgas reservesThere is no risk of a shortage in household heating due to the discontinuation, recorded at dawn, of natural gas supply to the Balkans via Bulgaria, the Public Natural Gas Corp. (DEPA) assured on Tuesday, adding that natgas reserves at the DEPA facilities on Revythoussa isle are sufficient for meeting the needs of the domestic market through Sunday.
Specifically, Greece's reserves are capable of supplying the country with seven million cubic meters per day, while Turkey has already expressed an intention to increase supply to Greece from the present 700-800,000 cubic meters per day to 2.5 million cubic meters per day in the event that Greece faces a natural gas shortage, DEPA said in an announcement.
DEPA said the domestic market's demands in natural gas are approximately 8.5 million cubic meters daily.
In any case, the prospect of reducing quantities of natgas supplied to major consumers, i.e. industries, will be examined.
Meanwhile, the arrival of the next cargo of liquefied gas from Algeria is scheduled for Jan. 20, DEPA added.
On her part, Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday stressed that "all of the possible avenues of dialogue should be examined in order to find a mutually acceptable and viable solution (in the Russia-Ukraine dispute), and as soon as possible.
Bakoyannis, in her capacity as head of the rotating OSCE presidency, added that Russia, as a producer, and the Ukraine, as a transit country, have their own crucial roles to play in the supply of natural gas to European markets.
"Both countries are participating members of the OSCE, along with another 54 countries, many of whom are affected directly by this dispute," she added.
Caption: A view of the installations of the main natural gas pipeline in the village of Boyarka near Kiev, Ukraine, 03 January 2009. ANA-MPA/ EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO
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