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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-26

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] White House event for Greek Independence Day
  • [02] Papandreou: welfare must be supported
  • [03] Cabinet discusses tourism, economic crisis
  • [04] National Observatory of Athens to join Earth Hour

  • [01] White House event for Greek Independence Day

    US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden addressed a ceremony at the White House in Washington D.C. on Wednesday in commemoration of the 188th anniversary of Greece's Independence Day, which was celebrated in the east Mediterranean nation and by expatriate Greek communities around the world on the same day.

    President Obama hosted several distinguished Greek-American and Greek officials at the White House's East Room, including Archbishop of America Demetrios and Hellenic American Union (HAU) president Chris Spyrou.

    Following celebratory remarks by Demetrios, Obama expressed his congratulations and best wishes to expatriate Greeks and Greece on the occasion of its March 25, 1821 Independence Day, which marked the first successful uprising against dour Ottoman rule in the Balkans.

    Caption: A smiling US President Barack Obama (at the podium) speaks during a ceremony honoring Greek Independence Day, held at the White House's East Room on Wednesday, March 25, 2009. US Vice President Joe Biden (R) was also on hand, as was Hellenic American Union (HAU) president and veteran New Hampshire political leader Chris Spyrou (L-foreground). ANA-MPA / DIMITRIS PANAGOS.

    [02] Papandreou: welfare must be supported

    Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou on Thursday spoke out strongly against allowing welfare structures targeting special population groups, such as drug addicts or mental patients, to decline during periods of economic crisis.

    "The problems cannot be solved by commercialising pain, nor by themselves," Papandreou underlined during a special event organised by his party at Zappion in central Athens, noting that welfare was not a matter to be left to charity but required planning, funding, the application of scientific conclusions and the hiring of staff.

    "May people employed in welfare structures have been working unpaid for months and offering their spiritual reserves, but a serious welfare system cannot depend only on volunteerism," Papandreou stated at another point.

    Papandreou referred to the "medieval" state of the Greek mental health sector about 20 years earlier, with large asylums acting like 'bins' for mental health patients, and the major efforts made to de-institutionalise these patients and help them return to society.

    According to PASOK's leader, the policies followed by the New Democracy government in recent years had undone much of this work and returned things to where they started, culminating in the European Union's decision to stop funding these programmes, because the funds were not reaching the people they were destined for.

    He also referred to long waiting lists for those seeking to get onto drug rehabilitation programmes and underlined that state aid to drug addicts could also help certain neighbourhoods that had become branded as high crime areas. Pointing out that 40 percent of drug offenders were in jail for minor offences, he said that prison sentences, which act as 'training for crime', could have been avoided if the right social programmes existed.

    "We want culture and humanity. In our policy, I note that many of the things that need to be done are not related so much with funding as with another approach to these issues," he added.

    [03] Cabinet discusses tourism, economic crisis

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday chaired an inner cabinet meeting dealing with tourism issues and measures for coping with the global economic crisis. After the meeting, Tourism Development Minister Costas Markopoulos stressed that Greece remains in the top selection of worldwide tourism destinations.

    "Our answer, to managing the crisis and to the gloomy and destructive forecasts, is constant and daily action," the minister underlined.

    Markopoulos stated that Greece's promotional campaign abroad had been increased by 50 percent and that advertising with tour operators, using an upgraded system, had already yielded results, with the same number of charter flights arriving in Greece as last year.

    "It is the success of a long-term effort, which I took over from the previous tourism minister and am continuing. I will hand it over, when the time comes," Markopoulos added.

    Asked whether the meeting had discussed the press furore surrounding an alleged leaked statement by the prime minister expressing "tiredness," Markopoulos stressed that the meeting had focused exclusively on tourism issues.

    [04] National Observatory of Athens to join Earth Hour

    Lights will be turned off at the Geoastrophysics Museum in Thisio during the Earth Hour global event on March 28, the National Observatory of Athens announced on Thursday.

    The National Observatory also called on consumers to combine turning off the lights in their homes with lowering the house heating thermostat by one degree, thus reducing considerably the gas emissions responsible for the "greenhouse effect".

    The Municipality of Athens will also participate in the event with the slogan "Turn off the lights, see the difference" and Athenians are invited to participate in the initiative on Saturday, March 28 at 8:30 pm (local time) by switching off lights for an hour.

    The event was pioneered by WWF Australia and the Sydney Morning Herald in 2007 and achieved worldwide participation in 2008


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