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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-03-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greeks turn lights off for Earth Hour
  • [02] Presidential gardens opened to public
  • [03] KKE's Papariga on EU deal
  • [04] Tsipras meets Turkey's ODP
  • [05] Brussels deal a 'victory'

  • [01] Greeks turn lights off for Earth Hour

    The familiar sight of a floodlit Acropolis against Athens' night sky disappeared for an hour on Saturday night, between 20:30 and 21:30. The monument was among several Greek landmarks, institutions and businesses that participated in WWF's Earth Hour on March 27, switching off their lights in symbolic support for efforts to avert climate change.

    Also plunged in darkness for that one hour was the Greek Parliament, Thessaloniki's White Tower and several of the city's central hotels. They were joined by countless Greek households and businesses and millions of people across the globe that took part in the WWF effort.

    In the sequence of photographs above, the floodlights are sequentially turned off on Greece's most famous archaeological site and monument, first on the Parthenon and Propylaea and then those on the Acropolis rock.

    The Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar, Istanbul and the presidential mansion on Cyprus were other institutions that participated in Earth Hour.

    In a message, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew appealed to "everyone, regardless of religion and nationality, to take part in Earth Hour" and stressed that climate change was become the foremost environmental problem and an incontrovertible proof of mankind's responsibility for the ecological crisis, with collective environmental action the only hope for changing humanity's current course of self-destruction.

    [02] Presidential gardens opened to public

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday opened the gardens of the presidential mansion to the public for the first time, inaugurating the start of regular visiting hours between 10:00-14:00 every Sunday, except holidays.

    The gardens around the presidential mansion cover an area of 2.5 hectares and were once the vegetable gardens of the royal palace, which currently houses the Greek Parliament. The presidential mansion itself was built in 1897 to serve as the palace of the erstwhile Greek royal family's crown prince.

    Previously, the gardens had only been open to visitors during the garden reception held each year by the president on July 24, to mark the anniversary of the day when democracy returned to Greece after the fall of the military junta in 1974.

    Both the gardens and the presidential building were designed by the architect Ernst Ziller, who was responsible for many of the elegant neoclassical public buildings that now lie at the heart of historic Athens.

    The majority of the 140 different decorative plants in the gardens belong to native Greek species, while some of the cypress trees are over a century old, creating a unique environment in the heart of the city. Hundreds of people visited the gardens on Sunday, including tourists, several elderly people and young children.

    [03] KKE's Papariga on EU deal

    In a speech given in Piraeus on Sunday, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga appeared doubtful that the deal struck by European leaders in Brussels on a mechanism to help Greece cope with its debt crisis will prove more than a temporary solution.

    "The EU took a decision that might be said to have a temporary and short-sighted nature - but even if it works it will be only partially effective because the imperialist system, or rather capitalism in the imperialist stage, is not able to drastically deal with and use effective medicine on its own contradictions," Papariga said.

    She criticised the government for trying to cultivate a sense of triumph over the result, which according to Papariga translated only into a decision by EU countries to hold another meeting if an EU member-state appeared on the verge of bankruptcy. At this they would decide whether there was a real threat of bankruptcy, at which point they would decide the terms of any support or funding or loans that might be given and whether that country should leave the euro zone.

    Pointing out that any such decision would have to be unanimous, Papariga said that capitalist states had shown that they could not agree with each other and show solidarity.

    One thing that had emerged, however, was a clear direction on at least one issue, which was to make labour an ever cheaper resource and to 'rob' and oppress the popular classes more and more, she added.

    [04] Tsipras meets Turkey's ODP

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Sunday had a meeting with the head of Turkey's Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) Alper Tas, after which they issued a SYRIZA-ODP joint statement.

    Tsipras stressed that the leftist forces in Greece and Turkey were fighting for the peaceful coexistence of the two peoples and the resolution of Greek-Turkish differences in a framework of solidarity and cooperation that was based on international law.

    Both SYRIZA and ODP stressed the need for both countries to reduce spending on armaments, stressing that this did not benefit the Greek and Turkish peoples but only arms dealers and big defence industries. They appealed to their respective governments for a mutual and balanced reduction in military armaments.

    [05] Brussels deal a 'victory'

    In an interview printed by the Sunday newspaper "Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia", Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said that the agreement struck at the EU summit in Brussels on a mechanism to support Greece was "a major victory".

    He stressed, however, that the government's aim was that the mechanism would never need to be activated.

    Papaconstantinou also asserted that the IMF would have the smaller, supplementary role and that the deal was in no way tantamount to new austerity measures.

    "Creating this mechanism was made possible precisely because Greece showed great determination in the effort to solve our fiscal problems on our own, with a serious Stability and Growth Programme and additional tough measures to ensure that we achieved the goals. This was the catalyst and in the final decision there are no additional terms. For us and for everyone it is taken for granted that we will continue with the same determination in implementing our programme," he said.

    The finance minister said that efforts to create a European Monetary Fund and to issue a Eurobond were not being abandoned and that the summit's decision "was in the direction of creating a new model of economic governance in the eurozone".

    On the tough austerity measures taken by the government, Papaconstantinou stressed that these were decisions resulting from necessity, not ideology.

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