|Tuesday, 20 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 13, 2006
 Greece backs UN resolution on Lebanon
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Greece, which called for an immediate ceasefire from the outbreak of war in Lebanon, supports a resolution adopted by the United Nations to end hostilities in the war-torn Middle Eastern state.
"The resolution ... offers the basis for a political solution to this long-lasting - and admittedly extremely difficult and complex - problem. It also offers the framework of a political process with concrete goals and specific benchmarks and timeframes," Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis told the UN on August 11.
"War is not and cannot be the answer to anything. Violence never solved any problem. It only serves to breed more violence and to create a new generation full of hatred, void of hope and keen on revenge. A nurturing field for extremism and terrorism", the minister said. Greece backs UN resolution on Lebanon
She noted that it was imperative for the Lebanese Government to take effective and immediate control of all Lebanese territory through the withdrawal of Israeli military forces and deployment of the Lebanese army; and to proceed as soon as possible with delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, including the Shebaa farms.
"In the last two years, the international community has done an exceptional work in ridding Lebanon of any foreign presence. It is therefore not conceivable that it could accept foreign occupation on any part of Lebanese national territory. Occupation by any foreign force anywhere in the world is not admissible in any way or under any pretext," Bakoyannis underlined.
"At the same time, Israeli legitimate security concerns are well understood and need to be properly addressed. We continue though to believe that, while preserving the right of self-defense, Israel must respect its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law," she said.
The UN resolution was a first but very important step towards a lasting and sustainable peace.
"We are fully aware that a lot remains to be done. We need to make sure that this resolution will be fully implemented. The bloodshed has to stop; and it has to stop now. The bombings have to stop; and they have to stop now. The suffering of the civilians has to stop; and it has to stop now," Bakoyannis stated.
"Greece responded immediately to the enormous humanitarian effort under way in Lebanon. But the ongoing hostilities have hampered our ability to reach those most in need and alleviate their pain," she said.
Also key was the plight of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza.
"The question of Palestine, central in the whole Middle East conflict, should be addressed with the utmost urgency. As long as the Palestinian issue remains unresolved, it is clear that there will be no peace in the region. We must strive to create, the soonest possible, the necessary conditions for a genuine and in-earnest re-launching of a peace process for the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all relevant Security Council resolutions," the minister added.
 Opposition criticizes UN deal for Lebanon
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Greek parliamentary opposition parties on Saturday sharply criticized a United Nations resolution for war-torn Lebanon that was forged in the early hours of the morning.
The main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) called the document unclear on implementation at a time when hardship had increased for the Middle Eastern country's unarmed citizens and refugees.
"(The international community) has shown inertia, hypocrisy and tolerance of the cycle of violence and blood," PASOK's shadow spokesman for foreign and defense affairs, Christos Papoutsis, said in a statement.
He also charged Israeli forces in Lebanon with repeatedly violating international law and stepping up their bombings before Tel Aviv and Beirut had announced their position on the UN resolution.
The Communist Party of Greece complained that the document failed to condemn Israel's offensive, carried no provision for an immediate end to the attacks, and did not seek an unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon.
"On no account must Greece take part in the force of 15,000 soldiers that the UN will send," central committee member Panayiotis Mentrekas said in a statement.
The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology called the resolution unjust and biased in Israel's favor as it failed to close the door to repeat offensives that could be classed as self-defense. Also, the text did not call on Israel to grant compensation for the destruction it wrought.
 US, UK accused of terrorism hysteria
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)The parliamentary Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology on Saturday accused the governments of the United Kingdom and USA of fostering "hysteria about terrorism" at international airports.
"The so-called war on terrorism has created a vicious circle of violence. War and terrorism feed each other. To the false dilemma of 'security versus democracy', the answer is more democracy and peace coupled with justice," the party said in a statement.
 Flights at European airports normalizing
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Flights at European airports including Greece were normalizing at the weekend in the wake of mass cancellations by airlines last week when British police foiled a terrorist plan to blow up transatlantic airliners.
Security remained tight at Greek airports with passengers traveling to the United Kingdom and the USA asked to contact their airline for baggage restrictions and additional safety measures during their journey.
Some flights to the two destinations were delayed due to extra security and passengers were asked to minimize disruption by checking in early.
The content of hand luggage was restricted to a small number of essential personal items including passport, money, tickets and keys. Liquids were banned.
The government repeated that Greece enjoys a high degree of security.
Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia forecast that the situation in Britain would not affect tourism arrivals to Greece.
Athens had successfully hosted the 2004 Olympic Games, confirming the view that Greece was a safe travel destination.
She added that a rising number of tourist arrivals were partly due to an eye-catching publicity campaign overseas.
 Minister backs new election rule
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Sunday that he supported a new voting rule that allows election of a mayor or prefect with a 42% majority in the first round of voting.
"The government was not thinking along party political lines (with this rule). The 42% measure was voted because local government must be very powerful in the future, and it helps to avoid opportunistic alliances," Pavlopoulos told the Sunday Typos newspaper in an interview.
"It helps to stop people waving flags of convenience and entering local government. If people like this win a municipality on such terms, it's better if they don't win at all," he added.
 Gov't seeks fairer social insurance
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)The government is seeking a fairer social insurance system, Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said on Sunday.
In an interview published in the Typos newspaper, the minister stated that the pensionable age would not be raised, pensions would not be lowered, and contributions would not be increased.
In addition, a new social insurance book would be created to record all contributions paid by workers, employers and the state.
 No new measures, finmin says
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis has repeated his pledge that no new economic measures will be introduced.
"The budget is being implemented normally and no new measures are envisaged," Alogoskoufis told the Press Time newspaper in an interview.
"Borrowing for social concessions is a thing of the past," he said in reply to a question.
The minister added that the government would hold its pledge of keeping the social insurance system intact during its term in office, which ends early in 2008.
"The outcome of dialogue will be used by the next government," he added.
 New tourism reform ahead, minister says
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia announced at the weekend that she would launch a series of reforms in coming days aimed at further spurring growth in the sector.
Among the changes are government bills to boost spa tourism that will be debated on August 22 by a parliamentary committee.
"The bill offers solutions to chronic problems in tourism and comes in the wake of the agrotourism law. Also ready are presidential decrees on other areas of the sector including health, sports, religious, conference and city tourism," Petralia told reporters on Crete during a working tour of the south Aegean island.
"Greece has so far only made use of 15% of its tourism potential, which means it can attain the remaining 85%," she stated.
The government's priorities were to improve saturated travel destinations, create new destinations and products, and improve sector services," the minister added.
Foreign Exchange Rates:
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.287
 Athenians flee city on holiday exodus
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Tens of thousands of Athenians have fled the capital to cool beaches and mountains, some beginning their annual leave and others set to enjoy a long weekend ahead of a religious holiday on Tuesday, the feast of the assumption.
Holidaymakers in tens of thousands of automobiles left Athens, stepping up a traditional migration that began early in August and leaves the capital deserted each year.
Movement was brisk at the Attica ports of Piraeus and Rafina with thousands of vacationers estimated to be sailing this weekend in hundreds of island ferry departures.
In the north, residents of Thessalonica and Kavala also headed out of the city, many opting for the north Aegean island of Thassos.
Traffic police were on alert at access points to the country's two main motorways that link Athens to the Peloponnese and to Thessalonica in the north.
 Patriarch begins visit to Lesvos
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew arrived in the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Saturday to a warm welcome from clerics and politicians.
Addressing local authorities, Bartholomew said he was making a "paternal" call for the avoidance of divisiveness and extremes in nationwide local elections scheduled for October.
Greeting the patriarch for the government was Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis and Eurodeputy Nikos Sifounakis for the main opposition PASOK party.
 Greece hosts children from Ukraine, Moldova
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Greece is hosting about 207 children of Greek origin from Ukraine and from an orphanage in Moldova, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
The August 3-22 holiday for the children aged 6 to 18 years is organized by the non-governmental Athens Environmental Organization with funding from the foreign ministry's Hellenic Aid program, the statement said.
 TNT found in Athens garbage can
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)A quantity of TNT explosive was found by a refuse collector in a plastic bag placed atop a closed dust can in central Athens on Saturday, police said.
Explosives experts removed the bag containing 200 grams of the substance for laboratory analysis.
The TNT was not connected to a detonator or other device and could not have exploded easily, according to police.
 Drug stash found in Athens suburb
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Two non-Greek nationals are to be charged with trafficking drugs, police said on Sunday.
Found in the possession of a 26-year-old Albanian and his Romanian girlfriend, 29, were 2.5 kilos of heroin, 2.5 kilos of cannabis, 89 grams of cocaine, and 569 grams of a substance to adulterate heroin.
The Albanian suspect, already wanted by authorities since last year for another trafficking crime, is believed to belong to a ring that imports large quantities of drugs into Greece from the neighboring Balkan country, police officials said.
Also confiscated was equipment for the preparation and sale of drugs, and a Magnum revolver with ammunition.
The couple, who live in Galatsi, was arrested in a flat in Sepolia which they used as a workshop for adulterating heroin and stashing the drugs, the officials reported.
 Three arrested for migrant trafficking
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Three non-Greek nationals are to be charged in northern Greece for allegedly transporting 108 illegal immigrants, police said on Sunday.
Two other people are wanted for masterminding the operation in the border Evros prefecture.
The three told police that they planned to take the immigrants to Athens in a truck belonging to a Turkish firm for 1,000 US dollars per person.
 Cypriot President assures Helios air crash will be fully investigated
LARNACA, 14/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said that investigations into the cause of the air tragedy that hit Cyprus a year ago, should be carried out with legality and order, otherwise their findings will not be valid.
On August 14, 2005, a Helios Airways Boeing 737, on its way to Prague via Athens, came down in Grammatiko area, near the Greek capital, killing all 121 people on board, mostly Cypriots.
Speaking after Sunday's memorial service in Paralimni, home of 12 of the victims, President Papadopoulos said "as it has already been pledged from the first day of the air crash, the case will be investigated in depth, responsibilities will be detected where there are and attributed to those to whom they belong".
"Everything should be carried out legally and properly so that the procedure does not become invalid", he added.
Asked whether he is satisfied with the course of the investigations, President Papadopoulos said they cannot be accelerated, since they follow a certain time frame, according to law.
"All should be done with legality and order, otherwise, the findings of the investigations will be invalid", he pointed out.
The Cypriot president also expressed his deep sorrow for the loss of so many people on board the tragic flight, adding "words are not enough to express sympathy in such a tragedy. I hope God gives them comfort".
Former Minister of Health, Andreas Gavrielides, in his eulogy, expressed the hope that Cyprus will never again experience such a tragedy.
Following the memorial service, Kykkos Bishop Nikiforos laid the foundation stone for a church to be built in the memory of the victims.
 Memorial services held
ATHENS, 14/8/2006 (ANA)Memorial services were held in the free areas of Cyprus Sunday morning for the 121 victims of last year's air tragedy.
Around 190 relatives of the victims were due to depart Sunday for Athens, to hold on Monday the first annual memorial service at the site of the crash in Grammatiko, Greece.
Saturday night, hundreds of people gathered at the main squares in Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca, where they lit candles in the memory of the victims.
In Larnaca, relatives and friends of the victims lit 121 candles and held banners which said "Your memory is inextinguishable - the 121 victims demand justice".