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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Karamanlis to discuss Interior Ministry affairs
  • [02] Council of State revokes refusal of asylum to minor
  • [03] Young man's mutilated body found
  • [04] Farmers complete pull-out from Promachonas
  • [05] FM chairs panel at Munich
  • [06] Peace Marathon for Gaza
  • [07] Greek Superleague results

  • [01] Karamanlis to discuss Interior Ministry affairs

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will convene on Monday with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Deputy Minister for Mass Media Costas Gioulekas at the Maximos mansion (government's headquarters). The measures against poverty adopted by the government were the focal point of a confrontation between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) President George Karatzaferis on Friday in Parliament.<font size="3" face="Verdana"> The key points of the government's economic policy are to protect jobs and strengthen vulnerable social groups, Karamanlis said, stressing that the following months will be crucial for all countries. He also issued an appeal for a fruitful dialogue aimed at coping with the crisis and stressed that there are no magic and cost-free solutions, adding that irresponsible danger-mongering practices are not useful. On his part, Karatzaferis accused the prime minister of not making any specific proposals. Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Maximos mansion

    [02] Council of State revokes refusal of asylum to minor

    Greece's supreme administrative court, the Council of State, has revoked a ministerial decision denying asylum to an unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan, who had entered Greece as an illegal immigrant in November 2001.

    The young man, then aged just 15, and had been arrested by the Kos coast guard when he attempted to enter Greece from neighbouring Turkey, unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. His application to be given asylum as a political refugee, claiming fear of persecution in his native Afghanistan due to his racial background and religion, had been denied by the then public order ministry three times.

    Specifically, the boy claimed to be a Shi'ite Muslim of the Hazara tribe and that he had been forced to leave Afghanistan due to the civil war and the religious and political turmoil in his native country, believing that he would be personally targeted if he returned. He had also requested to be given a temporary residence permit on humanitarian grounds.

    Since arriving in Greece, the youth had been living in a hostel for underage minors on Crete, where he had been attending classes.

    The CoS revoked the ministry's decision as insufficiently justified, finding that the ministry had failed to observe laws that obliged it to investigate the validity of the claims put forward by the boy, who as a minor was entitled to a special protective status and guarantees under international, European and Greek laws.

    The CoS decision noted, also, that the ministry had failed to assign a special temporary commissioner to the minor, as it was obliged to do.

    [03] Young man's mutilated body found

    The horribly mutilated body of a 20-year-old man from the town of Koropi in Attica was discovered at around midday on Sunday, near the town's former dump. According to police, the young man had been missing since Thursday night and they are treating the case as a brutal murder.

    The victim's hands and feet were tied with his own shoelaces when he was discovered, while police say that he was most likely murdered at some other location and transported to where he was found by the perpetrators.

    According to an announcement, the young man was last seen by his family at 10:30 on Thursday night, when he told his mother that he was going out to meet a friend and give him a mobile phone. An hour later, he phoned his mother again and said that he would be coming home soon.

    When he failed to return some time later, his mother tried to call him on his mobile again and an unknown man answered the call and said that her son was being held, demanding 35,000 euros as ransom in order to set him free. The demand was repeated to the young man's father, while they threatened to kill the 20-year-old if the family contacted the police.

    After that, the parents had no further contact with the kidnappers and his body was discovered on Sunday by two local residents that were out on a stroll.

    According to the coroner that examined the body, his death occurred about 35 hours before the body was discovered. The precise cause of death will be determined during an autopsy that will take place on Monday.

    Police are not convinced that this is a clear-cut case of kidnapping for ransom and are investigating other possible motives for the crime.

    [04] Farmers complete pull-out from Promachonas

    The last of the farmers blockading the Promachonas border post with Bulgaria finally departed on Sunday, 20 days after they first began their mobilisation, after extracting a promise from Agriculture Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis in talks held on Friday that he would satisfy a series of their demands.

    Their departure was met with great relief across the border and was among the top news stories in neighbouring Bulgaria, since the tractor road blocks had greatly disrupted its transport sector but had also hurt areas dependent on tourism from Greece.

    The six "Non-aligned Farmers' Unions" of Serres warned as they departed, however, that the government had until 20th March in which to carry out its promises, after which the farmers would be back at the Promachonas border post, with all that this entailed.

    [05] FM chairs panel at Munich

    Munich (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti) -- Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis chaired a panel on "Nato, Russia, Oil, Gas and the Middle East: The future of European security", in her capacity as chairperson of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) for 2009, in the context of the 45th Munich Security Conference.

    Also taking part in the panel on Saturday were Estonia president Toomas Ilves, Ukraine prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, British foreign secretary David Miliband, and US Congresswoman (House of Representatives) Jane Harman, who replaced the originally scheduled Senator and former US presidential candidate John McCain.

    Below is the foreign minister's address to the panel:

    "Let me begin with a snap-shot of where we stand in the discussions on (Russian) President Medvedev's and (French) President Sarkozy's proposals at least in terms of process from the perspective of the OSCE chair.

    Although most countries are seemingly happy with the existing security arrangements, there appears to be widespread consensus that, to say the least, we need to engage in a dialogue on security issues.

    Most, also, agree that the OSCE is the appropriate forum for such a dialogue to take place. I am glad to note that those countries who had initially expressed reservations about the OSCE have now accepted that it is the best structure available.

    It goes without saying that -provided that there is agreement by all 56 OSCE participating states- Greece stands ready to organize meetings at any level that could launch, or more generally facilitate, such a dialogue.

    Now, putting on my national hat and without wanting to prejudice our discussion in any way, permit me to quickly touch on five quick points:

    First, discussions about European security usually begin with a reference to the fall of the Berlin Wall - and justifiably so. The world has never been the same since. It is a careless oversimplification, however headline grabbing and sensational, to speak of a return to the Cold War.

    Second, let's be frank. As the current crisis demonstrates we face common threats and common challenges. Needless to stress the significance to this panel of Russia, our partner in peace. Therefore, the least we can do is to take Moscow's proposal extremely seriously and engage in a meaningful and hopefully fruitful dialogue.

    Third, the way things stand today dividing soft and hard security amounts to drawing a line in the sand. Security is a two-way road. Aristotle in his Metaphysics argued that "the whole is more than the sum of its parts." Indeed, it is necessary to focus on the big picture and adopt a holistic approach. In light of current events, for example, would it be possible to ignore energy security?

    Fourth, we have to look for our common interests and -why not?- common values. Respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law, observing territorial integrity, refraining from the threat or use of force, are the cornerstones of our system and form the basis for our co-operative security. After all international law remains the most profound realpolitik.

    Fifth and final, is that there is a new kid on the block: the European Union. Particularly in view of the new US administration, we must assess the global role of the EU. We need a self-confident Europe that speaks with one voice. I have no illusions that there are different views within our Union but I would like to see a Europe and a USA working together as equal partners.

    In the meantime and as our discussions unfold we must not waste any time and move forward with the toolbox that we have in our hands. As Frank - Walter Steinmeier has said, diplomacy 'cannot afford fair-weather institutions'.

    On one hand, we should support the reactivation of NATO-Russia Council so that it reaches its full potential as soon as possible. We have plenty of potential areas of cooperation - one needs to look no further than the obvious: Afghanistan.

    On the other hand, we must boost the EU's neighborhood policy and our eastern partnership. We welcome the initiative of the Czech Presidency. After all, the European Union is the biggest and most successful post-war exercise in conflict prevention.

    And of course, we need to intensify our efforts to deal with the so-called frozen conflicts, which, as shown last August in Georgia, can turn hot very quickly.

    We have two tools here: the EU as proven by the intervention of the French Presidency last August and the OSCE which finds itself in the unique position of being the only European Security Organization that can rely on the political will and the resources of all major stakeholders.

    Here I would like to point that a major challenge for our Chairmanship is the continuation of the OSCE work in Georgia. Our focus remains humanitarian. We are convinced that the volatile situation on the ground requires more and not less OSCE presence."

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis

    [06] Peace Marathon for Gaza

    A peace Marathon in support of the beleaguered Palestinian people in Gaza was organised in Athens on Sunday by the regional union of Attica municipal authorities TEDKNA, in collaboration with the Greek athletics federation SEGAS and with the participation of the Greek Paralympics Committee, the Youth and Sports Organisation (ONA) of Athens municipality and other municipal sports associations in Attica.

    The 10-kilometre marathon began at Dafni Monastery and ended at Syntagma Square, while its central message was "Our heart beats in Gaza". More than 500 athletes took part, while the event kicked off with a torch relay from the Elefsina archaeological site, with 55 torch bearers from the 5th and 6th years of local primary schools in Elefsina and Haidari, who carried the torch to Dafni Monastery, where the cauldron was lit to mark the start of the race.

    Among those who reached the finish line in Syntagma Square were three people with disabilities - Kyriaki Ispahanidou, Panagiotis Papavassiliou and Mihalis Aslanoglou - all three of which received an honorary distinction for taking part.

    Caption: A pupil runs in the torch relay in the streets of Athens, Greece, part of the Peace Marathon for Gaza on Sunday 8 February 2009.ANA-MPA/PANTELIS SAITAS

    [07] Greek Superleague results

    Olympiakos Piraeus retained its commanding lead in the Greek Super League after beating Panthrakikos Komotini 2-0 in a match played away over the weekend. Panathinaikos Athens downed PAOK Thessaloniki 3-0 at home and climbed to second while PAOK fell to third place in the standings respectively.

    In other action:

    Asteras Tripoli-Panseraikos Serres 3-0

    Aris Thessaloniki-Panionios Athens 1-0

    Xanthi-Levadiakos Livadia 4-0

    Ergotelis Crete-Iraklis Thessaloniki 0-1

    Larissa-AEK Athens 1-1

    Thrasyvoulos Athens -OFI Crete 1-2

    Standings after 21 weeks of play:

    1. Olympiakos 54 points

    2. Panathinaikos 42

    3. PAOK 40

    4. AEK 35

    5. Aris 31

    6. Larissa 31

    7. Panionios 28

    8. Xanthi 28

    9. Panthrakikos 25

    10. Iraklis 25

    11. Asteras 24

    12. Ergotelis 23

    Caption: PAOK's defender Pablo Andres Contreras struggles to win the ball from Panathinaikos striker Vangelis Mantzios during the match Panathinaikos -PAOK at the Olympic Stadium of Athens on Sunday 8 February 2009. ANA-MPA/Giorgos Mattheos.

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