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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-10

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't welcomes EU decision
  • [02] UN on Halki Orthodox seminary

  • [01] Gov't welcomes EU decision

    The Greek government welcomes a European Commission‚s decision to endorse a revised plan to sell the national flag carrier, Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said an effort to privatize Olympic Airlines has become the most difficult, post-war, task and stressed that ?today‚s decision by the European Commission showed that this effort was based on very strong foundations?.

    Hatzidakis said that an inter-ministerial privatization commission will meet on Wednesday or Thursday and that the agreement would be tabled to Parliament for ratification. He underlined that under the government plan, workers in Olympic Airlines and Olympic Airways Services were fully covered, either through early retirement plans or transfer to other public sector agencies and stressed that the new owners would seek to employ several of the national airline‚s existing workers because of their expertise.

    Hatzidakis said that negotiations over the sale of ground handling would continue, as agreed, until Friday. He said that the sale procedure of Olympic Airlines would not affect the airline‚s operations and expressed his confidence that everything would move on smoothly.

    In Brussels, EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani told reporters that a privatization procedure developed with transparency and stressed that cooperation with Greek authorities was impeccable. The Commissioner said that a new airline company would be fully private and smaller than the existing Olympic Airlines and stressed that the sale was agreed on market price. He expressed his confidence that ?more opportunities would be given to other companies for greater participation in the Greek market?.

    The European Commission in a statement said ?the revised privatization plan does not give rise to state aid concerns?, while it added that the swift completion of the privatization would ensure smooth air traffic operations to remote islands in Greece.

    [02] UN on Halki Orthodox seminary

    The United Nations‚ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has called on Turkey to reopen the Greek Orthodox theological seminary on the island of Halki, to return confiscated properties and to promptly execute all judgements by the European Court of Human Rights relating to it.

    "The Committee invited Turkey to promote adequate representation of the various ethnic groups in the Parliament and other elected bodies, as well as their participation in public bodies. It recommended that research be conducted with a view to effectively assessing and evaluating the incidence of racial discrimination in Turkey, with particular focus on discrimination based on national or ethnic origin, and that Turkey take targeted measures to eliminate such discrimination," a press release by the Committee in Geneva said on Tuesday.

    The Committee noted its concern ?at the particularly serious situation of the Greek minority? and called upon Turkey ?to redress such discrimination and to urgently take the necessary measures to reopen the Greek Orthodox theological seminary in the island of Heybeliada (Halki), to return confiscated properties and to promptly execute all relevant judgements by the European Court of Human Rights in that respect.?

    Pointing out that no country was entirely free from racial discrimination, the Committee also urged Turkey ?to investigate why there had been no complaints of discrimination and recommended that it verify that the lack of such complaints was not the result of lack of effective remedies, victims' lack of awareness of their rights, fear of reprisals, or lack of confidence in the police and judicial authorities, among others," a CERD press release added.

    The Committee also "regretted the absence of a definition of racial discrimination in domestic law, which might impede the adequate application of relevant legislation. It was noted that some groups, such as the Roma and the Kurds, faced a more difficult socio-economic situation than the rest of the population. The Committee was concerned that the application of restrictive criteria to determine the existence of ethnic groups (by following criteria established in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne), official recognition of some and refusal to recognize others, might give rise to differing treatment for various ethnic and other groups which might, in turn, lead to de facto discrimination. It was further concerned by allegations of persisting hostile attitudes on the part of the general public, including attacks and threats, towards Roma, Kurds and persons belonging to non-Muslim minorities. Another concern was that Turkey maintained the geographical limitation to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, which reduced the protection, offered to refugees from non-European States and might subject them to discrimination. In that connection, the Committee was also concerned at reports on deportation and refoulement (repatriation to danger zone) of refugees recognized under UNHCR's mandate, as well as of persons registered with UNHCR as asylum-seekers. A remaining concern was that there were inadequate possibilities for children belonging to ethnic groups to learn their mother tongue," it also said.


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