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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-05-16

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Commissioner Sefcovic in Thessaloniki on Tuesday for launch of TAP construction
  • [02] Asylum service to start pre-registering asylum seekers on mainland Greece
  • [03] New York Times to host 4th 'Athens Democracy Forum' in Greek capital on Sept. 14-18
  • [04] Finance ministry to move from Athens centre to former warehouse, gov't announces
  • [05] UN official worried about Greece's detention policy for refugees, lack of access to information
  • [06] Lufthansa launches new flights to three Greek islands from Munich

  • [01] Commissioner Sefcovic in Thessaloniki on Tuesday for launch of TAP construction

    European Commission Vice President and Commissioner for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic is scheduled to arrive in the Greek city of Thessaloniki on Tuesday to attend a ceremony inaugurating the construction of the TransAdriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will be held in the presence of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The ceremony will also be attended by delegations from other countries involved in the project, such as Albania and Italy, Bulgaria and other countries along the Southern Gas Corridor.

    The head of the European Commission Representation in Greece Panos Carvounis noted that this Sefcovic's second visit in a short space of time, indicating the importance of the energy sector in the country and its potentially important contribution to the recovery of the economy.

    During his visit, Sefcovic will take part in an event organised by the Hellenic Energy Forum and meet Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis and other ministers involved in TAP's construction.

    [02] Asylum service to start pre-registering asylum seekers on mainland Greece

    The asylum service will start pre-registering asylum seekers who are currently on mainland Greece from the end of May until the end of July, with the help of the UNHCR and European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the service said on Monday.

    The program concerns refugees and migrants who arrived to Greece before March 20, 2016 - the day the EU-Turkey deal on migration was signed - are staying in accommodation centers and want to seek international protection in Greece. The European Union provides the economic support for the program.

    According to the service, the pre-registration is the first step for the submission of an application for asylum in Greece and can lead to the application being examined by the Greek authorities, or a transfer of the applicant to another member-state as part of "Dublin II", or a transfer to another member-state as part of the relocation program.

    The applicants will be briefed before and during the asylum process on their options through leaflets and personal contact with staff at the open accommodation centers.

    [03] New York Times to host 4th 'Athens Democracy Forum' in Greek capital on Sept. 14-18

    The fourth annual Athens Democracy Forum, hosted and moderated by New York Times editors, will be held in the City of Athens on September 14-18 this year on the theme "Religion, Migration, Power + Money".

    According to the organisers NYT, it will examine the growing threats to liberal democracies, such as the "refugee crisis, terrorist attacks, rising authoritarianism and erosion of trust in politicians and institutions" and look at ways that nations and citizens can "navigate the ever-changing geopolitical landscape".

    The forum is endorsed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and presented under the auspices of President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos, bringing together politicians, policy makers, journalists, scholars and experts from the fields of business, finance and technology.

    According to the organisers, the key themes to be tackled include: Is democracy good for business? Is liberal democracy compatible with religion? Should the major institutions of global governance be reformed, or scrapped? Do terrorist attacks justify giving greater powers to security forces?

    Among the list of speakers unveiled on Monday by NYT, in addition of President Pavlopoulos, were columnist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics Prof. Paul Krugman, whistleblower Edward Snowden, former Italian prime minister Mario Monti, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, Google EMEA Business and Operations President Matt Brittin, former Australian PM and current Asia Society Policy Institute President Kevin Rudd, and Athens Academy Vice-President and former Greek PM Lucas Papademos, among others.

    In addition to the main conference, a program of affiliated events - including an international student debate at the Old Parliament; a Google Hangout featuring political activists under house arrest; and a world premiere concert by Rufus Wainwright at the Herodes Atticus theater - will also take place throughout the city.

    The Athens Democracy Forum is held every year on September 15th - the UN International Day of Democracy - and is presented by The New York Times in cooperation with the United Nations Democracy Fund, the City of Athens, and Kathimerini.

    [04] Finance ministry to move from Athens centre to former warehouse, gov't announces

    Alternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis on Monday announced the transfer of Greece's finance ministry in three months time from its current premises in the centre of Athens to a fully refurbished building once used as a warehouse by Kerani, a Greek tobacco manufacturer. The former warehouses, situated on Thivon Avenue 196-198 in the Agios Ioannis Rendi district near Piraeus, have been fully repurposed and refitted to create a 42,300 square metre building that complies with the latest standards of sustainability, energy conservation and bioclimatic architecture, he said.

    During a tour of the new building on Monday, Alexiadis said that the building will house all ministry services and even some services belonging to other ministries. The minister said the building met all existing building code regulations and that all its various systems were entirely safe. He offered assurances that no dangerous materials were used in its construction, denying rumours concerning the coolants, which he said were environmentally friendly. He noted that the building's energy efficiency would result in significant savings for the public sector. The building has an energy performance certificate placing it in energy category B.

    The newly refurbished six-storey building will have natural light in all areas, including corridors, and space for 2,300 work positions. It provides 506 parking spaces in the basement and the grounds. It is divided into four sections, each with autonomous and independent systems for lighting, ventilation and air conditioning. It is equipped with double-glazing, photovoltaic systems on the roof to help power the lighting system and 24 solar collectors.

    It is equipped with a day-care centre, gym, library, conference rooms, a canteen on every storey and gardens in the grounds. The new finance ministry will be easily accessible by public transport (metro, Proastiakos railway station and OASA buses, with several bus lines serving Thivon Avenue).

    The building was acquired by the state in 1998 and originally refitted to house environment ministry services. The move never actually took place, however, and repeated attempts to make use of the building in other ways stumbled, according to Nikaia Mayor Giorgos Ioakimidis, on the objections of the ministry employees involved. The most recent attempt three years ago to transfer the Piraeus courts to the building was blocked by the refusal of lawyers, he added. The building remained unused and empty from 2005 until the present day, with a 24-hour police guard.

    In 2014, the building was transferred by sale and leaseback (with an option to recover the property after 20 years) to NBG PANGAEA Real Estate Investment Company - a firm arising through the 2015 merger of MIG Real Estate REIC and the National Bank of Greece subsidiary NBG Pangaea REIC, which was absorbed by MIG Real Estate.

    According to Ioakimidis, the move marked a "historic day" that ended Rendi's "exclusion" and he criticised the refusal of civil servants to come to the neighbourhood.

    "We are trying to revive a dead building. We hope that this will breathe new life and prospects into the area," he said.

    "It is a shame for us to pay rent for the next 20 years when we could have written off the cost 2.5 times over if it had operated from the start," he added.

    [05] UN official worried about Greece's detention policy for refugees, lack of access to information

    Greece's detention policy for refugees and the lack of sufficient information for those detained are a point of concern, a United Nations official said in his preliminary conclusions on the state of human rights for refugees in Greece, during a press conference on Monday.

    U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants François Crépeau, who arrived in Greece on Thursday, has visited national and local authorities in Athens, Macedonia, Lesvos and Samos, as well as hotspots, accommodation centers and makeshift camps.

    Speaking to the press, he described the recent EU-Turkey deal as "a political agreement without a binding character" and noted the great pressure put on Greece to implement the deal before it had even taken effect.

    He said he saw the solidarity and generosity shown by citizens and local authorities and the country's "real determination" to tackle the largest migration wave since 1945 "with the same resources in the midst of an economic crisis and austerity".

    However, he also said he was concerned about the detention policy followed by Greece, particularly for children, noting that according to the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of the Child, minors must never be detained for any reason.

    "I met unaccompanied children locked in police stations for 24 hours, without access to outdoor areas for more than two weeks. I also met entire families being held in closed centers for weeks," Crépeau said.

    His full report will be presented at the UN Council on Human Rights on June 2017.

    [06] Lufthansa launches new flights to three Greek islands from Munich

    The German airline Lufthansa this week launched its new direct flights from Munich to the Greek islands of Corfu, Santorini and Crete, which will operate throughout the summer season. The first of the new flights was on Saturday, to the island of Santorini, flying once a week.

    The flights to Crete, leaving on Saturday and Sunday, also began for the second consecutive year, while the weekly Munich-Corfu flight was launched on Sunday.


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