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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Russian website devoted entirely to Greece
  • [02] Greece, Bulgaria sign rail transport pact
  • [03] MIG head unveils plans for
  • [04] Bakoyannis denies foreign policy 'differences'
  • [05] Greek unemployment at 8.9% in Dec.

  • [01] Russian website devoted entirely to Greece

    A Russian couple that visited Greece eight years ago <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">are the creators and operators of <font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek">the only Russian-speaking news website, <font color="#0000FF" size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> ><<font color="#FFFFFF" size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek">, focusing exclusively on Greece. Roughly 2,500-4,000 <font color="#FFFFFF" size="3" face="Times New Roman">Net<font color="#FFFFFF" size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> users visit the website on a daily basis and learn about the Greek language, culture, tourism and investments. The website <font color="#FFFFFF" size="3" face="Times New Roman">debuted<font color="#FFFFFF" size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> on March 15, 2001 and was met with a positive response considering that based on data provided by Google Analytics its visitors annually are roughly 700,000.

    [02] Greece, Bulgaria sign rail transport pact

    Greece and Bulgaria on Thursday signed a cross-border railway transport agreement. The agreement, signed by Transport Ministers Evripides Stylianides and Petar Moutafchiev in Komotini, envisages the upgrading of railway transport between the two countries, establishing Greece at the southern end of railway network in Europe and adopting European transport rules.

    The agreement aims to cut transport times for passengers and cargo.

    [03] MIG head unveils plans for

    MIG vice-chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos on Thursday said he planned to turn Olympic Airlines into a fully healthy, quality and competitive private airline to the benefit of its shareholders and to servicing the country's needs.

    Speaking to reporters during a news conference in Irakleio, Crete, on the occasion of launching a new coastal shipping route between Piraeus and the port city, the largest on Crete with Attica Group's new vessel, the "Superfast XII".

    Vgenopoulos dismissed press speculation that MIG intended to sell-off Olympic Airlines, saying the group has never sold any of the companies that it purchased.

    He added that based on the group's plans, a new and private Olympic Airlines would begin operating in early October this year, immediately after completion of a liquidation procedure for the current company.

    Vgenopoulos dismissed various press questions citing an interest in politics, while he noted that MIG was still interesting in expanding banking activities in the wider southeast European market, although he stressed that a current global economic crisis has led to a roll-over of plans to a later period.

    He also said MIG intended to contribute to the financing of the country's public debt with more favourable terms and underlined that the group would come out of the crisis stronger.

    Commenting on the ongoing international economic crisis, Vgenopoulos said "amid a global economic crisis we do not opt for words. Business leaders must take their responsibilities and contribute against the crisis".

    [04] Bakoyannis denies foreign policy 'differences'

    The two major parties in Greece have essentially the same strategy in important foreign policy issues, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis insisted during an off-the-agenda debate on foreign policy in Parliament on Thursday, contradicting claims to the contrary by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou. She also stressed that this sameness was for a matter of pride for her party and accused Papandreou of trying to artificially create differences through vague generalities.

    "The people expect from us to chart the same course," the foreign minister underlined. "The convergence of the two parties is not a myth but the truth - a title of honour for my faction, which believes that the two main parties have truly coincided in their fundamental goals and have made it clear that they are in the EU and NATO. Those older than I will remember other eras."

    She also replied to criticism directed toward herself in person by the head of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party George Karatzaferis, noting that LAOS's president "for three minutes tried to convince us that he is not a man of extremes and spent another 27 minutes proving that he is".

    Bakoyannis did not hide her displeasure over what she termed Papandreou's attempt to present Greece's tougher stance toward Skopje at the NATO summit in Bucharest as essentially his own idea, noting that Papandreou had more-or-less agreed that Greece's northern neighbour join the EU with the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    "It is not a bad thing for someone to give credit to someone else's initiative. It is good for the Parliament of the Greeks and for national issues," she underlined.

    The minister went on to deny criticism that Greece was not sufficiently involved in the Middle East.

    "Greece was present under Papoulias [as foreign minister of the then PASOK government in the late '80s and mid 90's] and then completely absent - and is now again present. There is not an Arab leader that does not state this plainly," Bakoyannis stressed.

    While Greece did not expect to solve the Middle East problem, it was the first country that arrived in Lebanon with humanitarian aid and now had a creative role in the region, and when it chose to adopt a position, it did so with full realisation of what was happening.

    "Greece is not a phobic state, hiding in its shell. It is a mature democracy that exercises policy within the EU and via the EU, but it is present everywhere. In the Balkans, in the Middle East - and today, through the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Greek foreign ministry is now extremely active in all the regions of the Caucasus and central Asia," she said.

    The minister also challenged Papandreou to make his criticism specific:

    "If there are specific actions that were not taken, you should tell us. But you didn't. We heard vague aphorisms and generalities. This does not help foreign policy. What is the view of the main opposition on the Medvedev and Sarkozy proposals? Our own proposals in the framework of the OSCE were applauded by the Security Council. I don't expect congratulations from the Greek Parliament - but I do expect in depth discussion," Bakoyannis emphasised.

    Stressing that Greece exercised its foreign policy with confidence, the minister called for an end to pessimism and pettiness at home.

    "It is not right that everything coming out of Parliament should be negative for our country. It should not be that we cooperate abroad and at home we cannot hold a civilised discussion and attempts are made to find points of disagreement with the government," she added.

    [05] Greek unemployment at 8.9% in Dec.

    The unemployment rate in Greece was recorded at 8.9 percent in December, unchanged from December 2007, the National Statistical Service announced on Thursday. The statistical service, in a report, said the number of unemployed was 434,149 in December 2008, up from 438,066 a year earlier.

    The western Macedonia region (13.4 pct), Epirus (12.2 pct), the South Aegean region (11.8 pct) and Crete (11.2 pct) recorded the highest percentage unemployment rates in December, while the Peloponnese (5.8 pct), the North Aegean region (6.8 pct) and Attica prefecture or greater Athens area (8.3 pct) the lowest rates.

    The unemployment rate for the Ionian islands was 10.2 pct; in Thessaly 9.1 pct and East Macedonia/Thrace 9.3 pct), while for western Greece it was 7.8 pct and in the central Macedonia region 8.8 pct.

    Unemployment hit mostly women (12.2 pct) and to a lesser extent men (6.5 pct).

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