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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-01-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou meets head of Germany's SPD
  • [02] EU Commissioner unveils proposals for tackling climate change
  • [03] Road blocks lifted in Corinth, Tempi
  • [04] No metro to airport from Feb. 14

  • [01] Papandreou meets head of Germany's SPD

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA - V. Mourtis) Meeting the leader of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) Frank Muntefering in Berlin for a working dinner on Wednesday, main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International President George Papandreou stressed that social democratic ideas and values were as relevant today as ever before.

    Both party leaders stressed that the current conditions of financial crisis proved the worth of these values, which Papandreou summarised as a triple policy of protecting and boosting low and middle incomes, extending and creating new infrastructure and green growth.

    Their talks also covered political developments in Greece and Germany, while Munterfering stated that they had both made it their goal to bring social democratic governments to Greece and Germany by the end of 2009.

    PASOKās leader, on his part, did not rule out the possibility of early elections in Greece.

    The SPD party leader heaped praise on Papandreou as SI president, saying that he was giving a new boost to social democrats and continuing in the tradition of Willy Brandt. He also promised that the SPD will support Papandreou in his work.

    Papandreou had earlier met German Finance Minister Peer Steinbruck, also a member of the SPD, and discussed issues related to the financial crisis and the efforts being made to address this.

    They both noted the need to support the real economy and to find ways to persuade banks to support small and medium-sized enterprises.

    Developments in the Middle East and the SI initiatives to shore up the truce in Gaza and allow humanitarian aid to come through were discussed during both meetings held here by Papandreou.

    The SPD also agreed to assume the chair of a special SI committee on issues of disarmament, both for conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction.

    [02] EU Commissioner unveils proposals for tackling climate change

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris) European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas on Wednesday presented the European Commission's proposals regarding the need for a comprehensive agreement to deal with climate change.

    The new agreement for protecting the environment is expected to be drawn up at the United Nations Climate Change Conference that will take place in Copenhagen next December. The Commission pointed out that, in order for temperature increases not to exceed 2 degrees celsius, funding from developed countries and organisations to developing countries will have to increase to cover their participation in dealing with climate change.

    The Commission's proposals include the creation of a carbon emissions market that will extend to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, until 2015, and innovative sources of international funding based on countries' emissions and their capacity to spend.

    "Dealing with the causes and repercussions of climate change will demand significant private and public investments over the next decades but the cost of the above investments will be far less than to allow climate change to continue its destructive course. The European plan for the recovery of the economy and the measures taken worldwide for dealing with the financial crisis offer an opportunity to promote the necessary investments for reducing carbon emissions and, at the same time, to boost economic growth, innovation and the creation of jobs. In order, however, to achieve agreement in Copenhagen, it is of vital importance to find other funding solutions. Today's announcement will contribute decisively to this purpose by outlining a comprehensive series of proposals for increase financial means and investments," Dimas said.

    The Commission said that the Copenhagen agreement must set global targets for reducing emissions, on the one hand, and act as a basis for boosting countries' ability to adapt to climate change, on the other hand.

    In order to contain the increase in temperatures to 2 degrees celsius, worldwide emissions must have peaked before 2020 and then be reduced by at least 50 percent relative to levels in 1990 by 2050. Achieving this will require action by both developed and by developing countries.

    Developed countries must take the lead in this, reducing their collective emissions by 2020. In this framework, the EU has pledged to reduce its own emissions by 30 percent if other developing countries also promise comparable reductions, while it has already taken measures to reduce emissions by 20 percent.

    Developing countries, with the exception of the poorest, must restrict the increase of their emissions and maintain these, by 2020, to levels that are 15-30 percent lower than those provided for under a plan for preserving the existing situation. This effort must include the rapid reduction in emissions resulting from the decimation of tropical forests.

    These countries must promise to adopt, by the year 2011, developmental strategies for low-level carbon emissions. These strategies will be assessed via a new international mechanism that will combine the proposed actions with the right external support.

    The Commission noted that in order to reduce emissions, global net additional investments must increase in 2020 to about 175 billion euros a year, according to independent estimates. Over half that amount will need to be made available to developing countries. Until 2020, actions in these countries will have a mostly low cost - and may even bring profits - and must be funded by domestic funds. International financial support of actions that exceed the capability of a country must come from sources such as public funds and international mechanisms for carbon dioxide credits.

    [03] Road blocks lifted in Corinth, Tempi

    The farmers' front showed the first signs of weakness on Wednesday, as dissension broke out among their ranks and road blocks at the Corinth Canal and Tempi were lifted, though elsewhere in Greece they remained in place.

    The government, meanwhile, insisted that its proposed measures for agriculture were legitimate, following reports that the European Commission was investigating the Greek announcement of an aid package of 500 million euros for Greek farmers whose incomes had been slashed by falling produce prices.

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that the compensation to farmers will be paid via the agricultural compensation agency ELGA and that an announcement on the issue will be issued by the agriculture ministry within the day.

    He reiterated that the aid package offered by the government exhausted the margins given by the country's economy, while stressing that the free movements of goods and people was one of the fundamental principles of democracy.

    The spokesman criticised opposition parties, also, for "not finding the necessary political courage to clearly condemn, without equivocating, the closure of roads".

    Meanwhile, following the dispersion of farmers at the Corinth Canal roadblock earlier on Wednesday, the large road block on the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway at Tempi was opened after dissension broke out among the farmers there, with some in favour of disbanding the road block and others determined to stay.

    A large number eventually departed before the meeting ended, while some tractors remained on hand without blocking the road. Those remaining will hold another meeting on Thursday to elect a new coordinating committee, since members of the old committee left with the farmers that wanted the roadblock disbanded.

    The highway remained closed at the Nikaia intersection in Larisa, however, where farmers were adamant in their rejection of the government package and called on other sectors to show solidarity with their struggle by shutting shops and public buildings.

    Protesting farmers in northern Greece have already decided to open the Egnatia highway and the old Kavala-Xanthi national highway by Thursday afternoon, while several intersections along the Egnatia remained closed on Wednesday.

    Also closed were border crossings in Evros at Ormenio and the Doirani customs post, while the Evzones customs post will be opened temporarily after 16:00. The Kipoi customs post also opened temporarily on Wednesday, while that in Exohi will remain open between 15:00-17:00.

    In nearby Serres, farmers were continuing road blocks - including one at the Promahonas border crossing with Bulgaria that has caused considerable disruption in the neighbouring country, with farmers allowing only trucks carrying perishable goods to come through. They pledged to stay where they were until the government promised that the money given to farmers would be equally distributed in each prefecture.

    SYN leader on gov't aid package to farmers

    During a two-day tour of the Evros prefecture, meanwhile, the head of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party Alexis Tsipras said the 500-million-euros aid package offered to farmers by the government was "small" and criticised the present New Democracy government and past PASOK governments for the current state of Greek agriculture, promising to stand by farmers in their struggle.

    Caption: Tractors in Tempi withdrew from the tarmac and opened the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway after several farmers departed from the road block on Wednesday, though several remained on the scene, ranged on either side of the highway. ANA-MPA - Vassiliki Paschali

    [04] No metro to airport from Feb. 14

    Athens metro services from Ethniki Amina Station to Athens airport will be temporarily suspended for six months after February 14, while the construction of a new station at Aghia Paraskevi is underway. During that time, line 3 trains will terminate at Ethniki Amyna station. According to Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias, who visited the Metro worksite on Wednesday, commuters will be offered alternative means of transportation in cooperation with the transport and communications ministry during that period. "The 6-month interruption of the Metro's operation surely causes various problems to passengers, due to the tragic mistake of having constructed the tunnel without any provision regarding Aghia Paraskevi Station, which is expected to be ready in the summer of 2010," Souflias stated. Nomismatokopio Station and Holargos Station are also under construction and will be ready before the end of the year. An underground parking area at Nomismatokopio Station, which is being constructed, will be capable of accommodating 630 cars, while a Bus Transfer Station will be created at street level. A parking facility with 500 spaces will be constructed at Aghia Paraskevi station as well.

    The construction of Peristeri and Anthoupoli Stations has been completed, meanwhile, as well as the 5.5 km-long extension to Elliniko. The construction of Elliniko and Argyroupoli Stations is now in the final stages, while the construction of Ilioupoli and Alimos Stations is proceeding at an intensive pace. The Metro station in Haidari will be ready by the end of the year. Souflias stated that a tender for the supply of 17 new Metro trains, amounting to 155 million euros, is currently in progress and the contractor of the new Metro trains is expected to be appointed by April. The tender for the Metro extension to the western suburbs, terminating at Piraeus, is also in progress and on Friday, Feb. 13 the companies participating will submit their bids. The 7.6 km-long extension will feature 6 modern stations. Meanwhile, studies are rapidly advancing as regards the 20-station Line U (Line 4), in the shape of a horseshoe, which is set to begin from Galatsi, going via Panepistimio Station and the Pangrati area to end up at Maroussi. Regarding the Thessaloniki Metro, Souflias stated that problems caused by archaeological findings were being overcome and boring was underway, adding that a tender for the extension to Kalamaria, in the eastern part of the city, will be announced soon.

    Caption: Environment and Public Works Minister George Souflias visiting the construction site for the new Nomismatokopio station on the metro line 3 on Wednesday. ANA-MPA - Katerina Mavrona.

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