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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-08-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Small architectural treasures in Kastraki, Kalambaka
  • [02] Administration reform plan
  • [03] Job market resilient
  • [04] Georgian envoy on conflict
  • [05] Athens Stock Exchange:Decline

  • [01] Small architectural treasures in Kastraki, Kalambaka

    Nestled at the foot of the majestic Meteora rock pinnacles, in the 'heart' of this geological phenomenon, is the small village of Kastraki with its 1,000 inhabitants that attracts tens of thousands of tourists from all over the world each year.

    The rustic homes in Kastraki, near Kalambaka (northwestern Thessaly) are true to the unique local architecture, each of them comprising a small architectural treasure preserving the history of the settlement, and are built with local natural materials, mainly rock wood from the nearby forest, with traditional tile roofs and cobble-stone streets.

    [02] Administration reform plan

    Interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos met on Friday with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to review the special operational plan for administrative reform.

    Pavlopoulos explained to reporters after the meeting that the 630 million euros operational plan had four main aspects comprising the upgrading of administrative services, the human potential, the policy on equality, and technical support.

    The minister also said that the 85 million euros program for eliminating bureaucracy and corruption was being materialised, of which 27 million euros in related projects have already been contracted.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos

    [03] Job market resilient

    Despite the pressure it is under due to the crisis, the Greek job market has resilience and dynamic, with strong and healthy resistance to arbitrary and unilateral changes in labor relations, employment and social protection minister Fani Palli-Petralia said on Friday, following the release of statistics by the Labor Inspection Corps (SEPE) concerning new hirings and types of work contracts per prefecture in the last five months covering February to June 2009.

    She said that the activation of the measures taken by the government to confront activation was currently "in full development" so that the effects on the labor market will be as mild as possible. "We want the ministry to be a shield for the workers, a shield for protection of employment and for reinforcing social cohesion," Petralia added.

    According to the figures released by SEPE, the job market in Greece was gradually normalising. In the last five years, the instances of conversion of work contracts from full-time to part-time employment dropped sharply by 54.7 percent, to 10 in June from 1,990 in February, while the conversion of job contracts from full-time to rotation employment declined drastically by 84.74 percent, from 1,055 instances in February to 161 in June.

    The statistics also pointed to a substantial increase in new contracts for full-time employment, from 46,000 in February to more than 70,000 in June.

    According to SEPE, the fact that Greece was resisting the conditions of intense pressure from the global financial crisis was of great significance, while the "correct political practices" of the ministry, intensification of SEPE inspections and the government's package of measures to boost employment "create a protective shield for the workers in today's difficult conjuncture".

    In a statement later, main opposition PASOK officer for employment and labor affairs Evi Christofilopoulou said it was "surprising" that employment minister Petralia, who has also served as tourism minister in the past, "has chosen to celebrate the comparison of the hiring figures of February and June when the average citizen, without any specialised knowledge of economics, knows full well that the hirings and dismissals in the tourism sector are seasonal".

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Employment Minister Fani Palli Petralia

    [04] Georgian envoy on conflict

    Georgian ambassador to Greece Irakli Tavartkiladze expressed concern over the conditions in Russia-Georgia relations, during a press conference in Athens on Friday marking one year since the conflict in Georgia, and called on the international community to be "vigilant".

    Tavartkiladze charged that the "Russian attack in August 2008 (August 7) was the culmination of Russia's long-standing illegal activities and provocations against George since the early 1990s that were aimed at obstructing Georgia's democratic and economic development, toppling the democratically elected government of Georgia and installing a puppet regime, Georgia's return to the sphere of Russian influence, acquisition of control over the sources and transport routes of the Caspian and central Asian energy reserves, obstruction of Georgia's accession to the Euro-Atlantic structures, and the intimidation of other former Soviet republics".

    Achievement of those targets would have been a clear-cut message to the western democracies that the former Russian states comprise a zone of Russian influence and intervention and would have given the Kremlin the opportunity to acquire full control in a region of vital importance for Europe's energy security, Tavartkiladze continued.

    He said that the Russian military operation in Georgia had resulted in the occupation of 20 percent of Georgian territory, the ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the creation of a wave of refugees numbering more than half a million people.

    Referring to the cease-fire agreement reached in August 2008 (August 12) with the mediation of the then French presidency of the European Union, Tavartkiladze said that his country has fully adhered to that agreement while, on the contrary, Russia was in violation of nearly all its paragraphs.

    The Russian forces have not withdrawn from the positions they seized on August 7, 2008 and, quite the contrary, were establishing new control points and military bases, while the total number of Russian troops on Georgian soil has reached 10,000, Tavartkiladze charged.

    The Georgian envoy further accused Russia of obstructing the extension of the mandate of the OSCE's (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) mission to Georgia (which expired at the end of 2009), and of prohibiting EU observers access to the occupied areas.

    Tavartkiladze said that the situation caused concern to Tbilisi, and urged the international community to send a clear message to Moscow that Russia must abide by the 2008 ceasefire agreement and the violation of the internationally-recognised borders, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia was unacceptable.

    He also called on the international community to be vigilant in order to immediately avert provocations by Russia.

    Caption: Georgian ambassador to Greece Irakli Tavartkiladze gives press conference in Athens on Saturday 7 August 2009. ANA-MPA/MARIA MAROYANNI

    [05] Athens Stock Exchange:Decline

    Equity prices were declining on Friday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the basic share price index down 1.79 percent, standing at 2,358.11 points at 12:25 p.m., and turnover at 40.5 million euros.

    Individual sector indices were moving mostly downward, with the biggest losses in Food & Beverage, down 2.96 percent; Banks, down 2.72 percent; Chemicals, down 2.08 percent; and Industrial Products, down 1.69 percent.

    The biggest gains were in Media, up 1.67 percent; and Health, up .66 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was down 2.12 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was down 1.21 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was down 1.12 percent.

    Of the stocks moved, 34 were up, 139 were down, and 37 were unchanged.

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