|Saturday, 10 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 21, 2006
 Church of Greece humanitarian aid for Lebanese refugees delivered
DAMASCUS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece arrived in Damascus on Saturday at the head of a Church of Greece delegation that accompanied 80 tons of humanitarian aid for the victims of the recent warfare in Lebanon, aid collected by the Church's non-governmental organisation "Solidarity" (Allilegii).
Christodoulos presented local Shiite leader Abdullah Nizaam 30 out of the 80 tons of pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs and clothing aid collected by Allilegii via donations in Greece, and in cooperation with the Greek foreign ministry.
"Greece was one of the first countries to act for the end of the vicious circle of violence," Nizaan said, while referring to the role of religious leaders, while praising the good relationship between Muslims in Damascus with Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and all the East.
"The purpose of our trip here is humanitarian but also religious, since with our presence here we represent the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece," Christodoulos said. "As representatives of the Orthodox Church, we do not close our eyes or shut our ears to the great evil of war, which God does not bless. I am happy both to meet with the leader of the Shiites of Syria and because I believe that the delivery of this assistance also contains a deeper symbolism. The representatives of religions must declare in all directions the unity of humanity; that we are all children of God, and that the oil of our religion must never ignite wars. On the contrary, it must be used as the primary material in the candle of prayer to God," Christodoulos said.
The Archbishop later went to the Red Crescent centre for the collection of humanitarian assistance, where he delivered another 10 tons in humanitarian aid, while the remaining 40 tons will be distributed directly in Lebanon by Allilegii.
The Greek delegation, which also included a handful of ecclesiastical leaders and foreign ministry officials, was received afterwards by Patriarch Ignatius.
 Gov't will complete term, and be re-elected in next elections, DM forecasts
ATHENS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)The current New Democracy government will complete its four-year term in office and will also be re-elected in the next general elections because, unlike the main opposition PASOK party (its predecessor in government), ND displays consistency towards the citizenry and implementing its campaign pledges, National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis was quoted in a newspaper interview on Sunday.
His interview appeared in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily "Eleftheros Typos".
Meimarakis, the former ND secretary, also reiterated that the government would be judged on the basis of its governance of the country, and not over the upcoming local government elections in October.
He further said that Greece was mulling the prospect of its participation in the peacekeeping mission to Lebanon, adding that "if and how we participate will be a collective decision of the government".
He also announced that an improvement in the remuneration of armed forces officers was among the government's intentions over a four-year period.
Meimarakis continued that the present conditions did not allow a further reduction of the conscription terms.
Referring to PASOK's stance over the recent sale of Emporiki Bank to France's Credit Agricole, as well as PASOK leader George Papandreou's decision to expel former economy minister Yannos Papantoniou from the party (for publicly backing the sale), Meimarakis said the move betrayed the confusion and lack of positions within PASOK, as well as Papandreou's consistent effort to cut himself off from PASOK's past.
"But the past cannot be written off," he added.
He also said that Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras' recent proposal for reigning in the scores of demonstrations annually held downtown Athens was in the right direction.
 Interior minister to confer with PM on Monday
ATHENS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation minister Prokopois Pavlopoulos announced that a dialogue would commence with the responsible agencies and the political parties over the country's new administrative map, in an interview with Eleftherotypia appearing in the newspaper's Sunday edition.
Pavlopoulos, who is due to confer Monday morning with prime minister Costas Karamanlis, also assured that any unifications decided would be voluntary, and not forced.
He said that the government's final proposals would be included in the new government platform for the next four-year term and would be unveiled to the Greek people before the national elections.
"The proposals will not be founded on conditions of forced unifications, unlike what (preceding government) PASOK did with the municipalities," Pavlopoulos said.
The minister also announced that all immigrants who have acquired 'long-term residency' in Greece will have the right to vote in the next prefectural and municipal elections.
Pavlopoulos further denied accusations by PASOK of selective financing of 'blue' municipalities (municipalities with ND-backed mayors), calling them an unacceptable propaganda effort aimed at disinformation in order to cover up PASOK's own blame in the past.
"All the information is available on the ministry's website. The municipalities and communities receive the share (of the funding) due to them, and that is why there are no complaints from KEDKE (Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece)," he said, and questioned: "PASOK is making criticism, when nowhere are there any figures on the financing under its own governments?"
Regarding the policy to be introduced by the government to relieve low salary and pension earners, he noted that this would be outlined in the prime minister's address next month at the Thessaloniki Interational Fair (TIF) on economic and incomes policy.
Pavlopoulos said that the government's concern was to solve the major economic problems faced by low salary and pension earners that arose from the fact that the ND government inherited "an economy in a bade state, with a deficit of 6.5 percentage points, which we reduced to below 3.0 percentage points".
"This allows us to exercise a social policy of substance, not because (national) electons are coming up (in 2008), but because this is what the government must do," he said.
 Mideast communist, labour parties focus on joint initiatives during Athens meeting
ATHENS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Communist and labour parties from the Middle East on Sunday decided here to purse joint initiatives and actions, at the conclusion of a two-day conference in Athens hosted and organised by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) to discuss the crisis in the region following the war in Lebanon.
A KKE announcement said participating parties had agreed on a specific programme of common initiatives and actions, as well as coordination of efforts against what it termed as the "imperialist plans at the expense of the peoples of the Middle East and the wider region."
The conference opened Saturday morning with an address by KKE secretary general Aleka Papariga, who expressed disagreement with the content of a recent UN Security Council resolution on the Mideast crisis, but also with Greece's participation in a multinational peacekeeping force that will be deployed in Lebanon.
The meeting was also addressed by Israeli communist party general secretary Issam Makhoul, Lebanese communist party general secretary Haland Handata, Palestinian People's Party general secretary Bassan al-Salhi, and Jordanian communist party general secretary Monir Hamarna.
According to a KKE press release, the parties participating at the Athens conference welcomed and expressed their solidarity with the "heroic resistance of the Lebanese people, the consistent militant stance of the Lebanese communist party, and the resistance of the Palestinian people and parties and organisations fighting for its impendence, the creation of its own sovereign and viable state in the Gaza Strip and the West Ban, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital".
They also welcomed "the consistent internationalist stance of the Israeli communist party", the announcement read.
KKE leader: Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga addressed a special conference of communist and labour parties from the Middle East in the Athens district of Perisos on Saturday, stressing that the UN Security Council's resolution does not constitute a basis for a solution to the Middle East crisis. The conference will end on Sunday.
Papariga, who disagreed with the sending of a military force to Lebanon, made proposals on joint action between communist and labour parties in the region. Referring to the situation created in the region after the war, she said that the resolution cannot be considered a basis for a just solution that will create conditions for Lebanon's security, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The KKE leader further said that the resolution gives Israel the right to invoke "self defence" again and at the same time it continues to interfere directly in Lebabon's domestic affairs, despite the objections of the country's government, political parties and organisations, on the issue of disarmament.
"The establishment of a strengthened military force under the mandate of the UN, and with increased duties in southern Lebanon, reflects the request of Israel and of the United States to prevent any vacuum that could be created and that could be filled, as they say, by 'Hezbollah'. These are pretexts to deal a blow at the Lebanese resistance in its entirety. Therefore, the resolution contains the sperm of a new and even more savage conflict," she added.
Lastly, Papariga stressed that her party's position is that communist and labour parties in the region must intensify their efforts and focus on defending respect for the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of every country against any imperialist intervention that can take place under any pretext.
 Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas visits Gavdos
HANIA, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas visited the border island of Gavdos on Saturday, stressing the importance of regional development and that Greece is not only Athens and the major urban centres.
Accompanied by Parliamentary Deputies Christos Markoy-iannakis and Stelios Nikiforakis and other officials, Sioufas said "we are here to take strength from you who are living on this island. My arrival here, at the order of Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis, is not just a formality. It has a substantive character."
The minister stressed that the new governance is implementing a sustained policy of regional development with the aim of improving the quality of life for regional inhabitants and termed the inhabitants of Gavdos an example for all of Greece.
Sioufas also announced that the Public Power Corporation's (DEH) network will be extended by a further five kilometres, while seven substations will be created to meet the energy needs of the island.
 PASOK party official comments on UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon
ATHENS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)The main opposition PASOK party on Saturday called for a full clarification of the role and the limits of operational responsibility of the UN's peacekeeping force in Lebanon and the briefing of the Greek people by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on the precise content and interpretation of the Security Council's resolution, for the Greek government to reach any decision on the possible participation of a military force.
PASOK's Foreign Policy, Security and Defence official Christos Papoutsis pointed to vagueness in the Security Council's recent resolution and said "these guarantees and the clarification of the role of the peacekeeping force constitute an essential precondition for the Greek government to reach any decision on the participation or not of a military force. Otherwise, the Karamanlis government will assume full responsibility."
Papoutsis reiterated that Greece must play a leading role in the organising and sending of humanitarian aid to Lebanon and assume a leading role in every international diplomatic initiative on the implementation of international law and the safeguarding of peace in the wider region of the Middle East.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos visits Pithagorio
SAMOS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos received an enthusiastic welcome at Pithagorio, on the Aegean island of Samos, on Friday afternoon.
The Patriarch attended a church service and received the golden key to the city by the local mayor during a dinner given in his honour by the municipality of Pithagorio later in the day.
Speaking during the dinner, Vartholomeos referred to the short distance existing between Pithagorio and the Turkish coast, stressing that the Aegean must function as a sea of union, friendship amd cooperation, as a sea of good neighbourliness and creative cooperation between the two neighbouring peoples.
Ecumenical Patriarch winds up visit to Samos: Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Sunday completed a visit to the island of Samos by officiating at a service at the Aghios Spyridonos church, after which he visited the Vatheos municipality old-age home.
Vartholomeos also visited an exhibition by art collector Michalis Stavrinos on artwork dedicated ti Imvros and Tenedos, where the artist presented the Ecumenical Patriarch with a painting, before leaving in the afternoon on a special flight to Istanbul, promising to return to the area soon to visit the islands of Fournoi and Ikaria.
The Ecumenical Patriarch on Saturday inaugurated the Ecclesiastical and Cultural Centre of Samos, which was recently completed with the financial assistance donated by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
Later, he planted a cypress tree in the yard of the Centre together with Metropolitan Eusevios of Samos and Ikaria.
On Saturday night he attended a dinner in his honour hosted by Samos prefect Manolis Karlas.
 ND sec't visits Karditsa
KARDITSA, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Ruling New Democracy party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis arrived in Karditsa, central Greece, on Sunday for talks with the party's prefectural campaign committee in Karditsa prefecture, ahead of October's local elections.
Zagoritis reiterated the party's support for the candidates it backs in the region.
 Former PM Simitis a 'national capital that may be needed again', PASOK former FinMin says
ATHENS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Former finance minister Nikos Christodoulakis called for former prime minister Costas Simitis (PASOK) to be left out of the inner party bickering because "he is a political capital for the country and may be needed again if Greece finds itself in a major crisis", in an interview with Eleftherotypia appearing in the newspaper's Sunday edition, and in response to press articles rumouring that the former premier was behind the recent moves by the party's reformists.
"Simitis is suitable for a 'national coach', and not a 'linesman'," Christodoulakis said.
Christodoulakis further criticised the New Democracy government's policy regarding denationalisations as reminiscent of the 1970s decade, rather than expressing the needs of the 21st century.
 LAOS party leader touring Achaia prefecture
PATRA, 21/8/2006 (ANA)George Karatzaferis, leader of the out-of-Parliament Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, started a tour of the Achaia prefecture in the Peloponnese on Saturday, ahead of October's local elections in the country.
Speaking at a press conference in Patra, western Greece, he said that "wherever LAOS does not field independent tickets, it cooperates with persons and not parties", adding that "an extremely political conclusion will result from the municipal elections in October."
 Foreign Exchange Rates
ATHENS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.290
 Heatwave sweeping across most of the country
ATHENS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)A heatwave has begun to sweep across most of the country on Saturday with temperatures reaching as much as 41 degrees Celsius, particularly in the west. However, the situation is expected to worsen even further since temperatures will be reaching 42C in parts of Greece on Sunday and Monday.
The state apparatus is in a state of full readiness to handle possible emergencies, while hospitals and medical services have been alerted.
The Fire Brigade is on standby due to the increased risk of forest fires as a result of the heat and strong winds. Prefectures and municipalities have also prepared large halls with air conditioning for the public.
The Public Power Corporation (DEH) will be experiencing an endurance test until Tuesday, since great loads will be necessary due to the widespread use of air conditioning apparatuses, while Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas assured that all necessary measures have been taken to avoid a possible blackout.
 Alexandria Patriarch prays for peace in Middle East
CAIRO, 21/8/2006 (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa on Sunday prayed for peace in Lebanon and the entire Middle East, during a special service he officiated at the Church of the Taxiarchs in Cairo, attended by Lebanese, Egyptians descended from Lebanon, and Greek worshippers.
The primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria and All Africa spoke of the innocent victims of the war, particularly the children, stressing that "we are all children of God and hope for his mercy, so that human blood will finally stop being shed and the sun of justice and peace will reign".
"The pain is immense when we see small children being buried, before they have lived," the Patriarch said, and prayed that the souls of the hundreds of people who have died will find rest in the heavens.
The Patriarch further wished strength to Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and all the East and his Metropolitans (Bishops) and clergy so that they could help their flock in the difficult hours being suffered by their homeland.
Theodoros noted that in Crete, which he visited last month, in Alexandria a few days ago and now in Cairo, he had collected as much humanitarian aid as he could to send to Lebanon in order to ease the suffering hearts of the people who underwent the tribulations of the bombings, uprooting from their homes, and the loss of their loved ones.
"Our Churches, we are all one family," the Patriarch said, adding that "the tears of the one are the tears of all".
"Our grief is great in seeing so many deaths and wars in this area. We ask for peace," he said.
 Parliament president designated honorary resident of Hydra
HYDRA, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki was on Sunday designated an honourary resident of the island of Hydra, in the framework of the annual Kountourioteia events.
The Hydra mayor and municipal council bestowed the honourary title on Psarouda-Benaki, who descends from the island from her father, Navy Admiral Evangelos Psaroudas.
This distinction has been bestowed upon a select few eminent personalities since the years of the Greek Revolution.
 Firefighting aircraft developes engine problems, lands safely at Tripolis airport
TRIPOLI, 21/8/2006 (ANA)A PZL firefighting aircraft taking part in the effort to extinguish a major forest fire that broke out Tuesday afternoon near Tripolis, presented engine problems on Sunday as it was in the process of landing at Tripolis airport, but its pilot succeeded in landing the aircraft safely.
According to a Hellenic Air Force announcement, the PZL developed a problem in its engine at 4:45 p.m. Sunday while in the process of landing, but landed safely despite the fact that it touched down on the landing runway too early.
The aircraft was taking part in firefighting operations in the area of Megalopolis.
The fire broke out at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday ina forest between the villages of Thana and Palladio, a few kilometres outside of Tripolis.
The fire quickly spread due to strong winds in the region.
Forty-five firefighters, two army land divisions, 20 fire engines, four firefighting aircraft and a helicopter were initially taking part in the effort to extinguish the blaze, and were later joined by firefighting units from nearby Vytina and Megalopolis.
No populated areas were immediately threatened by the fire.
 Memorial service held for air force pilot Costas Iliakis
HANIA, 21/8/2006 (ANA)A memorial service was held at Agios Loukas cemetery in Hania, on the island of Crete, on Sunday for air force pilot Costas Iliakis, who lost his life when his aircraft collided with a Turkish warplane over the sea near the island of Karpathos three months ago.
The municipality of Hania has erected a monument in the cemetery in honour of the pilot, that was designed by his family. Apart from the pilot's family, the memorial service was attended by colleagues of his from the 115 combat squadron and by many people.
 Entrance to Athens apartment building torched
ATHENS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Arsonists started a fire at the entrance of an apartment building in the Athens district of Petralona, housing a fan club of the Panathinaikos Athens soccer club. The incident occurred at about 4 a.m. on Saturday.
The assailants used burning torches to start the blaze that shattered window panes at the entrance of the building. A similar incident had occurred at the same building several months ago.
 Firebombs hurled at Athens police station
ATHENS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Unidentified youths hurled a number of firebombs at a police station in the Athens district of Zografou in the early hours on Saturday.
According to the police, the youths had emerged from the University Complex, thrown the bombs and hurried back. No damage was caused to the police station.
 Kiosk employee victim of armed robbery in Athens suburb
ATHENS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)A kiosk employee was robbed in Kifisias avenue in the northern Athens suburb of Maroussi at dawn on Saturday.
According to a statement by the employee, the robbers threatened him at gunpoint and took 300 euros and telephone cards worth about 400 euros from him.
 Greece beats Qatar 84-64 in World Basketball Cup match
ATHENS, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Greece beat Qatar 84-64 on Saturday in its first Group C match for the 2006 World Basketball Cup taking place in Japan.
The 10-minute intervals had the following results: 7-18, 38-31, 56-45 and 84-64.
Greece's next match, expected to be far more difficult, will be against Lithuania at 13.30 on Sunday.
 Greece beats Lithuania 81-76 in World Basketball Cup match
TOKYO, 21/8/2006 (ANA)Greece achieved its second victory in the 2006 World Basketball Cup, taking place in Japan, after beating Lithuania 81-76 after extra time in a Group C match on Sunday.
The 10-minute intervals had the following results: 18-22, 44-37, 58-57, 69-69 (full time) and 76-81.
Greece's third match will be with Australia at 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday, while its last two matches in the group will be against Brazil and Turkey.