|Monday, 12 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-06-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 11 June 2007 Issue No: 2615
 'Nothing will stop changes and reforms', Karamanlis reaffirms"Nothing will stop the ongoing changes and reforms, the government's reforms policy is continuing unwaveringly," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis reaffirmed on Sunday, speaking in the central city of Larissa at his ruling New Democracy (ND) party's pre-congress for central Greece and Thessaly.
He said that substantive reforms in the agricultural sector was ensuring a new developmental prospect, creating new opportunities in the productive process and adding new jobs, while he outlined the relevant actions his government was taking in all of the country's provinces.
Karamanlis explained that the government was encouraging and actively supporting the organisation of the agricultural sector on the basis of principles of entrepreneurship; creation of competitive farming exploitation; production of organic farm and stockbreeding products; implementation of integrated management systems, and the promotion of domestic and brand-name agriculture products along with the parallel development of related economic activities, such as agro-tourism, among others.
The prime minister, meanwhile, referred to the intensive pace of projects on the national highway network, stressing that a particularly dangerous stretch of roadway on the Athens-Lamia highway --the Malliakos Gulf 'spur' -- was being transformed into a modern highway of west European standards, while a tender for a major project at Tempi and Platamonas bottleneck in north-central Greece was in the final stages.
Turning to the projects aimed at boosting farm production in the Thessaly region, Greece's "bread basket", Karamanlis said that 10 dams, 10 lake reservoirs and 32 irrigation networks, budgeted at 370 million euros, were under construction. He added that prefectural governments in the Thessaly province were being reinforced with 28 million euros, quadruple the amount in relation to 2004. The goal, the premier said, was to render Thessaly as a central and extroverted pylon of growth in the country.
"The farmers know very well that in the past there was a serious lack of agricultural policy, resulting in the shrinking of the agricultural sector and its income. But in the three years that have passed (since ND took over as government), New Democracy has put an end to this situation with projects, actions and policies that give the provinces the ability to face adversities," Karamanlis said.
Before arriving in Larissa, the biggest city in Thessaly, Karamanlis visited farms in Rachi and Karitsa, Pieria prefecture, after which he stressed that the agricultural sector economy was a matter of national priority, and congratulated producer groups for taking advantage of farming cooperatives and for producing high-quality products through exploitation of the opportunities provided by national and EU funds.
Also addressing the pre-congress, Agriculture Minister Evangelos Basiakos outlined the government's work in the sector, stressing that in the past three years the government, through constant interventions within the EU, had secured the interests of the Greek farmers and reversed the negative picture of preceding years.
He said the government had taken advantage, to the greatest degree, of prospects offered by the EU's 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), had prepared early for the actions included in the fourth programming period (4th CSF covering the years 2007-2013), increased public investments chanelled to infrastructure works, created auspicious production conditions for the Greek farmer and developed quality farming in Greece.
ND Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis spoke of the government's reform work and criticised main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou for what he called "spasmodic efforts" to raise the decibels of political dialogue by "resorting to manufactured acrimony and polarisation, thus proving its (PASOK's) lack of arguments and confirming that it lacked proposals, policies, positions, programme and credibility."
 PM on education reformsSpeaking at the inauguration of a "second-chance" school in the town of Orchomenos, Viotia prefecture, on Saturday, Karamanlis cited his determination to proceed with high-profile reforms of the education sector.
Educational reform is a lasting process, Karamanlis said, noting the basic axes of his government's efforts, which are the upgrading of provided education, the linking of education with the job market, support of research and innovation and the reinforcement of life-long learning.
"Greece had lost valuable time and presented a deficit in the sector of education, and was one of the member states at the tail of the European Union in this area," Karamanlis noted, adding that his government was advancing an integrated plan for life-long learning. "We decided to bridge the gap that separated us from our (EU) partners and move to the forefront," Karamanlis said.
Addressing the same event, Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou said educational reform -- a contentious issue that generated several mass demonstrations in Athens by leftist groups, college students, unions and the professors' union -- was advancing meritocracy and quality in education, offering new opportunities and giving equal opportunities to everyone.
In a later reaction to the prime minister's comments, main opposition PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou charged that Karamanlis was merely launching pre-election promises from the "campaign balcony, similar to traditional rightist politicians of the 1950s and 1960s."
"Mr. Karamanlis spoke as if he was in another country ... he referred to policies that are supposedly under way, but which farmers still haven't seen...after the loss of income by farmers, he (Karamanlis) is trying to take their memory away too."
In response to Efthymiou, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos charged that "...if someone is trying to erase farmers' memory it is (main opposition PASOK leader George) Mr. Papandreou. He served in the government whose relevant minister summarised agriculture sector policy with the phrase 'let the farmers get along by themselves'."
 FM discusses Middle East, Kosovo, FYROM with US undersecretary of state BurnsForeign minister Dora Bakoyannis met Sunday with visiting US undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns, with whom she discussed developments in the Middle East, ahead of her departure for the region later in the day, the situation in Kosovo, and the course of Croatia, Albania and FYROM towards NATO membership.
They further discussed the issue of Greece's inclusion in the US visa waiver programme that would enable holders of Greek passports to travel to the US without requiring a visa.
Burns, a former US ambassador to Greece, arrived in Athens on Saturday for a three-day visit, after which he will visit Paris on June 12-13 and Iceland on June 13-14 "to join commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and review our full transatlantic agenda with all three close Allies", according to a US State Department press release.
According to the announcement, Burns will also meet in Athens with prime minister Costas Karamanlis, national defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis and other senior Greek officials.
On Monday, Burns will deliver a speech at the Karamanlis Institution on "Greek-American Relations" and later in the day he will speak at the US embassy on the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan.
The chief topics of discussion in Athens will be the Cyprus issue, the developments in Kosovo, FYROM, the Middle East, the NATO operation in Afghanistan, developments in the energy sector, confronting terrorism, and bilateral relations, according to the announcement.
Briefing Greek media correspondents in Washington before his departure for Greece, Burns, the number three person in the State Department hierarchy, described as "excellent' the level of bilateral relations between the two countries, and lauded the role of outgoing US ambassador in Athens Charles Ries, who leaves next week to take up his new post in Baghdad.
"I am going to Greece to hear the views of the government. I wish to hear the prime minister's and foreign minister's position. I will listen to them very carefully. NATO has not yet taken any decision on the accession of 'Macedonia'. The decision will be taken in April or May. We still have much time until then. Any decision on the name (with which FYROM will join NATO) will be taken by NATO and the country submitting the application. But there is no decision," he said.
Burns also said that the US backed Croatia's accession to NATO "because we believe that it meets the required conditions". He added, however that "we have not yet announced our support for the accession of Albania and 'Macedonia', we believe that both those countries need further reforms".
He noted that in the recent period he has had discussions with high-ranking officials "and we decided that we have many more issues to discuss, such as Kosovo, which is at a critical turning point at this time".
"I want to discuss Afghanistan, where our soldiers are serving together under the leadership of NATO. We will also discuss our bilateral relations and the Cyprus issue, which remains among our priorities," Burns continued.
Regarding Greek-US relations, Burns noted that: "I have been observing Greek-American relations since 1980. I don't remember our relations having ever been better. Our governments maintain friendly relations. Prime minister Karamanlis is friends with (US) President Bush. We have support in Congress, by both parties, for a strong relationship with Greece. Our relations are excellent. Our ambassador has done an excellent job".
Burns noted that he also had great respect for former prime minister Costas Simitis, who he believes "made the big, positive difference for Greece when he was prime minister".
He further said that he also had great respect for main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, "with whom I maintain a personal friendship".
Burns added that "I have nothing against the previous government". "When I was ambassador (in Athens), NATO had attacked Kosovo. There was a difference of views between Greece and the US. Now, our governments see with the same eye nearly all the major issues, and we are working very well together".
On the Cyprus issue, Burns said it was necessary to restart the process for a resolution of the problem. "From my recent discussions with Greek government officials, it is proven that we and they desire to see the UN making another effort and become active on the problem of Cyprus. I personally exercised pressure on the UN, as well as on officials of other countries. I believe that the effort must be made to resolve the Cyprus issue. I intend to visit Cyprus this year, and I believe I will be there after the summer," he concluded.
 FM: FYROM must abandon irredentist propaganda, actionsGreek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis echoed Athens' standing position that the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) must abandon irredentist actions, practices and propaganda and actively prove that it was following a policy of good neighbourliness, in comments carried in a press interview published on Sunday.
Bakoyannis noted that Skopje must abide by the "letter and spirit" of all agreements between the two countries, because only in that way will "our bilateral relations be fully normalised, regional cooperation reinforced, and the neighbouring country's Euro-Atlantic course proceed smoothly".
Replying to a question, Bakoyannis said she saw no link between the fact that the Skopje government's application for NATO membership will be examined in March 2008 and the scheduled holding of general elections in Greece the same month, in accordance with the provisions of the Greek constitution.
She stressed, in fact, that "the Greek government exercises its foreign policy with the aim of strengthening the country's national interests, and not at creating impressions for domestic consumption".
Questioned on the developments in Turkey, Bakoyannis said "our desire is that the outcome of recent developments will be a stable, democratic government in the neighbouring country", stressing that the basic target of policy exercised by Athens is a full normalisation of relations between the two countries.
Asked to comment on recent criticism of her personally by main opposition PASOK leader and former foreign minister George Papandreou, Bakoyannis stressed that "foreign policy does not proffer itself either for manufactured disagreements or for virtual clashes".
Referring to the upcoming Congress of ruling New Democracy (ND) party next month, the foreign minister sent a message of unity while, asked whether early general elections would be called, replied that this was an issue that was exclusively under the domain of the prime minister.
Her interview appeared in the Sunday edition of the Thessaloniki-based newspaper "Macedonia".
 Opinion poll on FYROM name issueGreece's veto of FYROM's accession to NATO with the name "FYROM", the convening of the Council of Political Party Leaders under President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, a name for FYROM that does not include the term "Macedonia", and a referendum of the name issue, were the elements that determined the stance of the respondents on the FYROM issue to a GPO poll, the results of which appeared in the Sunday newspaper "Proto Thema".
More specifically, an overwhelming majority of 82.3 percent of the respondents replied "yes" and "probably yes" to a question on whether the government should veto FYROM's accession, while 16.8 percent replied "no" and "probably no", and 2.3 percent declined to reply.
An even larger majority of 89.6 percent of the respondents want a convening of the political party leaders' council, while only 9.3 percent do not consider it necessary.
Also, seven in 10 respondents reject any name that includes the term "Macedonia" in FYROM's name, with 67.9 percent calling on the government to insist to the end on a name that coes not contain "Macedonia", while 61.3 percent were in favour of a referendum on the name issue.
Further, 61.5 percent of the respondents believe that the Greek government must not agree to FYROM's accession to NATO as "FYROM", while 66.8 percent believe that the recent decision by the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee in favour of recognition of FYROM passports as a diplomatic defeat for Greece.
Despite their stance on the issue, however, 66.7 percent of the respondents do not consider that the developments in the FYROM issue were a major reason for calling early general elections.
Finally, 86.1 percent of the respondents consider the FYROM name issue as being of great importance, while 49.6 percent believe that any development in the issue that would be counter to the Greek interests should not influence the vote in the national elections.
 FM Bakoyannis holds talks with Israeli counterpart LivniJERUSALEM (ANA-MPA/N. Melisova)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held talks here on Sunday with her Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni, the first stop of her Middle East tour.
"We believe that it's our responsibility as Europeans to operate constructively and contribute in the peace process to the greatest degree possible," Bakoyannis said after her meeting with Livni.
On her part, Livni recognised the significant role of the Quartet, of which the European Union is a member. Referring to the Quartet and to the Arab League, she noted that "to the degree in which we share the same targets, there are margins and initiatives."
On Sunday night, the Greek foreign minister met with the leader of the Meretz-Yaclad party, Yossi Beilin.
On Monday morning she will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Later in the day she will meet the Patriarch of Jerusalem and then depart for Ramallah. There, she is expected to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the head of the PLO's chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.
 Greek Parliament President pays three-day visit to EgyptCAIRO (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)
Greek Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda is currently paying a three-day official visit to Egypt.
On Saturday, the president of the Greek Community of Cairo, Christos Kavalis, welcomed Benaki-Psarouda and expressed the great satisfaction of Cairo's Greek community for the support offered to them by the Greek Parliament.
The Greek Parliament President referred in particular to the restoration of Cairo's Saint Nicholas Church.
"For us, Hellenism and Orthodoxy go together, they complement and support each other and have a common name. Consequently, all these efforts of yours particularly moves us and a small example of this touching feeling is also the contribution by Parliament which started from my predecessor Apostolos Kaklamanis, the previous Parliament President, but of course it was continued and completed in my hands because I immediately felt the importance of the venture," she said.
On Saturday, she also met Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II and Egypt's National Assembly Speaker Fathy Sorour. She also visited the historic monastery of Saint George in Cairo. In the evening, Greek Ambassador to Egypt Panagiotis Vlassopoulos will host a dinner in her honour.
On Sunday morning, Benaki-Psarouda will attend a service at Cairo's Saint Nicholas Church, which will be officiated by Patriarch Theodoros II.
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos was due to arrive in Egypt on Saturday but did not go because he felt ill, it was announced in Athens .
The Greek Parliament President, who arrived in Cairo on Friday, is due to return to Athens on Monday morning.
 Alexandria Patriarch inaugurates renovated Cairo cathedralCAIRO (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)
Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II, in the presence of Greek Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, on Sunday inaugurated the renovated Aghios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas) Cathedral here.
The church was renovated with the financial support of Parliament.
Present at the event were Egyptian People's Assembly Speaker Ahmed Fathi Sorour, World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President and Alexandria native Stefanos Tamvakis, Greek ambassador to Egypt Panagiotis Vlassopoulos, the president of Cairo's Greek community and the president of Alexandria's Greek community.
The Greek Parliament president is due to return to Athens on Monday morning.
Greek Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda is currently paying a three-day official visit to Egypt.
A day earlier, the head of Cairo's ethnic Greek community, Christos Kavalis, welcomed Psarouda-Benaki and expressed his community's great satisfaction for the support offered to them by Greece's Parliament.
On her part, she stressed that "for us, Hellenism and Orthodoxy are linked, they complement and support each other and have a common name. Consequently, all these efforts of yours move us, and a small token of this feeling is also the contribution by Parliament, which began with my predecessor Apostolos Kaklamanis, the previous Parliament president, which was continued and completed in my hands," she said.
On Saturday, she also met with Theodoros and Fathi Sorour.
In a related development, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos was due to arrive in Egypt on Saturday but remained in Athens due to illness, his office announced.
 Papandreou speaks at rally in Corinth, again demands early electionsMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Sunday again reiterated his call for early elections, this time from the city of Corinth, west of Athens, where he addressed party supporters at an outdoor rally.
Papandreou, echoing similar statements over recent months, again criticised the government as "unreliable", while he cited increased poverty, cost-of-living, unemployment and insecurity as plaguing Greek society.
He also charged that the government is preparing to sell-off the bloated state-run and bourse-listed telecoms and power utilities, OTE and PPC, at a "bargain price", while pointing to the high-profile fiscal audit in late 2004 as merely an "excuse" to renege on pre-election promises.
Moreover, he again stepped up his criticism of the government over the ongoing bonds furor, saying the Karamanlis government was attempting to cover-up political responsibilities in the affair while at the same time paying the back interest from a JP Morgan repurchase, finalised on Friday, of a questionable structure bond with taxpayers' money.
Turning to foreign policy issues, the former foreign minister charged that the government was "ridiculing Greece" and "afraid to take initiatives, thereby missing opportunities for the Cyprus issue, Greek-Turkish relations, FYROM, the Balkans, and absent from the European Union".
 Latest poll shows ND lead of 4 percentage pointsThe latest opinion poll published over the weekend by a local media outlet shows ruling New Democracy (ND) party leading main opposition PASOK by 4 percentage points, compared to 3 points a month ago.
Specifically, ND garnered 43 percent of respondents' preference to 39 percent for PASOK. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) followed with 7 percent (up from 6.5 percent); the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) recorded 4.5 percent (down from 5 percent), and the out-of-Parliament Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party was preferred by 4 percent of respondents (up from 3.5 percent in May).
Regarding a question on which party would win general elections if they were held next Sunday, 61 percent said ND and 18 percent answered PASOK. The majority of those questioned (52 percent) believe ND will win by a narrow margin, while 9 percent believe ND will win easily.
Asked who is more suitable for the prime minister's post, 49 percent chose Premier Costas Karamanlis against 26 percent for PASOK leader George Papandreou.
A total of 46 percent of those questioned said that they do not want early general elections, 26 percent said they want elections to be held in October 2007, and 14 percent said they want elections "now."
The poll was conducted by the Athens-based VPRC firm and published in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily "Kathimerini".
 Minister of State addresses conference of ruling ND's youth organization ONNEDMinister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Saturday addressed the 7th conference of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's youth organization ONNED, which is being held at Kamena Vourla, in central Greece, focusing his speech on the draft law for education, meritocracy and political ethics.
"We voted the draft law for higher education, a law which was on paper since 1987. The reforms constitute a demand by the Greek state and they will continue," Roussopoulos said.
He also spoke of a drop in unemployment, better paid jobs and the qualitative upgrading of public universities.
"The reform is proceeding and our opponents do not convince anyone when they are absent from the constitutional revision so as not to face Article 16. As time passes, they will be exposed," the government spokesman added.
Roussopoulos also stressed that "the government has promoted meritocracy and the political ethics in all the sectors of public life."
The three-day conference was also addressed on Saturday by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, National Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou, ND Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis and Deputy Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Apostolos Andreoulakos.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis opened the sessions of the conference on Friday night.
 Papanicolaou re-elected ONNED presidentGeorge Papanicolaou was re-elected as president of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's youth organisation ONNED late Saturday night with an overwhelming majority of 96 percent during the organisation's 7th Congress in the seaside town of Kamena Vourla.
Addressing the closing session of the two-day Congress, the newly re-elected Papanicolaou called the 7th Congress a "landmark" for ONNED, not only because of the positive account of the organisation's action over the past three years, since ND took over as government, given that everyone had anticipated that the youth organisation would become inert, seeking to settle itself with state jobs, but also because it proved its leading participation in the reforms while, in Kamena Vourla, it appeared to also be taken the reins of the pre-electoral struggle as the guarantee for the party's future.
He said that prime minister Costas Karamanlis' unwavering confidence, which he expressed during his address to the organisation's Congress on Saturday, and that of the other ministers who addressed the Congress and declared that ONNED was one with the party "fills us with responsibilities for the future, the future that begins with the pre-electoral struggle for victory in the next elections and continues with the completion of the reforms over the next four-year term" in government.
The ONNED Congress will wind up on Sunday night with the election of the organisation's new central committee.
 KKE, PASOK cross swords on 'LA.OS sponsorship' accusationsCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga and main opposition PASOK deputy Michalis Chrysochoidis crossed swords on Sunday over accusations by the former that PASOK was 'sponsoring' the out-of-Parliament Popular Orthodox Rally party (LA.OS) via media 'friendly' to the main opposition party, in statements made during separate press interviews.
"The KKE does not speak in the air", Papariga said in her interview, replying to a question on whether the party had evidence to back up the accusation. "We have no need for lies," the KKE secretary added.
Asked to put LA.OS in a political and ideological category, Papariga said the party "hides its true face ... nationalism, racism, obscurant perceptions, populism and anti-communism co-exist in LAOS".
Replying to other questions, Papariga said KKE does not fear a loss of its voters to other parties, as indicated by recent opinion polls, because "the KKE's policy is formulated from a position of principles and is not determined by others".
Regarding charges by PASOK that the KKE has formed a 'front' with ruling New Democracy party against the main opposition party, Papariga stressed that "when the KKE forms a front with another party it comes out and openly says so."
Asked whether she anticipated that KKE would attract votes from PASOK, Papariga replied that it was in the interests of the working classes to vote for KKE, "without this presupposing a general agreement with us, however".
She further denied accusations that the KKE wanted a three-party parliament and not a five-party parliament, stressing that KKE preferred a decisive reinforcement of its own parliamentary strength, adding that "we are in favour of ND and PASOK declining as much as possible".
She also rejected the prospect of cooperation with any party in the event that no party emerged from the next general elections with a self-sufficient majority.
On his part, high-ranking PASOK deputy and former minister Michalis Chrysochoidis flatly rejected the KKE's accusations as a "joke in poor taste".
In a separate interview, he said that not only did PASOK not 'control' any mass media, but on the contrary, has been "attacked" by the media in the years it has been in the opposition.
He posed a question to the KKE leader on why she does not "exercise criticism on the state television, which is now fully controlled by ND", and called on the KKE leader to "name which media are controlled by PASOK".
Chrysochoidis said the KKE looked upon PASOK as a "reservoir from which it can generate the few, albeit, percentages that will enable it to remain in the country's political life", and conceded that "there is no front" between the KKE and ND "in the sense of cooperation".
Referring to the left, he described it as "very elderly", and accused Papariga of "appearing to care only about maintaining the status quo, an economic and social reality that is discerned by increasing inequalities and the new social injustice".
Asked whether PASOK could cooperate with the KKE if the main opposition party won the elections with a "marginal self-sufficient majority", he replied that he did not think there was "any prospect in that direction".
Regarding LA.OS, he said that party founder and leader George Karatzaferis, a current Euro-MP and former ND deputy, "expresses a singular type of populism mixed with a singular type of nationalism". However, he said he did not consider Karatzaferis to be a Greek version of Jean-Marie Le Pen or Jörg Haider, but that he "simply expresses people's aversion to some aspects of politics".
Both interviews were published in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily "Vima".
 KKE Secretary General Papariga addresses women in KomotiniCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Saturday addressed a women's meeting in Komotini, northern Greece, on the upcoming general elections.
"You who are here, whether you are members of the party or not, whether you have observations about the party, we must all together care to do what must be done so that a title of honor to be made in every region for the women's vote for the KKE to decisively increase. For the difference that exists between the women's and men's vote to stop. And if it exists in the women's, to be positive for the KKE.
"We say to the working women, to young women, to young couples, that what must be specifically expressed in the general elections is the condemnation of the anti-popular policy of the (ruling) New Democracy (ND) party and (the main opposition) Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), which continuously intensifies their problems. This must be expressed at the ballot box, not generally. For women to judge all the political parties on the basis of their contemporary needs. People should vote with such criteria. For the two (major) political parties, the ND and PASOK, to lose votes and percentages. This is a great pressure," Papariga said.
 Papathemelis addresses 'Dimokratiki Anagennisi' party congress"Dimokratiki Anagennisi" leader and deputy Stelios Papathemelis addressed the party's congress at the Ivanofio stadium in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, on Saturday.
"The Dimokratiki Anagennisi expresses the social and political forces which seek a way out from their acute social and economic problems and reflects the steadfast ethics and national values of our people," Papathemelis said.
He said that "Dimokratiki Anagennisi" will be autonomous in the general elections and termed the new political formation as "democratic, progressive, social and patriotic."
In his speech, he stressed that "the political system continues to be ailing heavily and is tossed here and there for some time now into a situation of an escalating crisis. Major sectors of public operation, such as education, health and employment, are unable to respond to the demands of the times. Poverty and inequality is multiplying. Unemployment is on the increase. Young people are unable to find a worthy job. The demographic problem has developed into an opened hand-grenade. The countryside is becoming deserted. The farmer has become abandoned and unprotected. The environment is being destroyed in a criminal manner. Public corruption is a general phenomenon."
New party's congress concludes in Thessaloniki
Two-day sessions of the newly established "Dimokratiki Anagennisi" (democratic rebirth) party congress ended in the northern Greece port city of Thessaloniki on Sunday.
In an address at the party's inaugural congress, its founder and current independent deputy Stelios Papathemelis referred to a visit in neighbouring Albania by US President George W. Bush, noting that the US leader failed to invite Greek leadership to a meeting in Tirana of three other countries in the region, NATO hopefuls Albania, the land-locked Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Croatia.
Papathemelis, a popular Thessaloniki-area deputy well known in the country for his hardline stance on national issues, served as a PASOK government minister in the 1990s, while he was re-elected to Parliament in March 2004 on New Democracy's ticket.
 FinMin on actions planned for second term in governmentThe government is planning specific actions for combatting tax evasion and simplifying the taxation system during its second term in office, while at the same time emphasis will be placed on matters concerning the function of the state and improvement of quality of life, national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis said in an interview with Kathimerini newspaper, appearing in the Sunday edition.
The minister explained that there were "no margins for benefit-promising", and clarified that this would not take place pre-electorally because "that would be totally irresponsible". Besides, he added, as it became evident in the 2004 general elections, "the people do not appreciate such moves made for the sake of impressions".
In the next four-year term, "we must set specific and measurable targets, such as balancing the budgets, which must be achieved by the year 2010. The reforms programme will also be continued, as will the implementation of New Democracy's platform," he said, adding that the incorporation of the EKAS low-pension benefit into the base pension was being examined in that framework.
He also noted the sum of 2 billion euro that would be available at the end of the next four-year term in order to finance actions concerning the poor households.
Asked whether a second ND government, if elected with a reduced majority, would have the strength and courage to carry on with the reforms, Alogoskoufis replied that what was of importance was "the mentality of the government and the prime minister", adding that prime minister Costas Karamanlis has proven that "he does not take the political cost into consideration".
He described the opposition as "negativist" and "phobic", and particularly the main opposition PASOK party which, he added, "has opted for a politically malicious strategy", attributing this to the short time remaining before the next elections. The minister predicted that the climate would be different after the elections, as it would not be conducive to political clashes.
Alogoskoufis further said he considered "crucial" the role of the opposition, whose consensus he said was important in order that the reforms that have been scheduled by the government to proceed.
He also considered important the opposition's consensus in order for the social insurance system reforms to continue, as well as the revision of the Constitution.
 Interior minister speaks on 'immigration and social accession'Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos gave a press conference in Athens on Saturday on "Immigration and social accession".
"Immigration, as a social phenomenon, has these days taken extensive dimensions, particularly due to the fact of globalization and the modern conditions which facilitate, from every viewpoint, the movement of populations. Within this context, the immigration phenomenon must be beneficially handled, always with respect to the value of the individual and particularly to the equal and free development of his personality and this constitutes a priority by all of us. In any case, this handling also contributes to the values and principles of European tradition and European culture, according to which the protection of every type of human rights is not negotiable. However, it also derives from the principles of international law in general and constitutes a crucial index of the level of Democracy and Justice which a society has achieved," the interior minister said.
Pavlopoulos noted that "according to the United Nations annual report for the world population in 2006, immigrants represent three per cent of the population of the Earth and are directed mainly to Australia (18.7%) North America (12.9%) but also towards Europe (7.7%), mainly to countries of southern Europe."
 President Papoulias visits Tegea in PeloponnesePresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Saturday morning visited the village of Kerasitsa in the district of Tegea, Arkadia prefecture, in the Peloponnese, for the unveiling of a bust of anti-fascist resistance fighter Grigoris Lambrakis.
"Poems were written about Grigoris Lambrakis, tears were shed by people who did not know him, promises were given of struggles and vows for the continuity of his course. This is the fate of people who declare present when history calls on them. I hope that many young people will wish to come here, to get acquainted with the birthplace of Grigoris Lambrakis and to honor his memory. I hope that they will draw the conclusion that Grigoris Lambrakis had a brief life but won and contributed to society and the country, something which will never be erased," President Papoulias said in his address.
 President declared honourary citizen of occupied city of Morphou"Only a united Cyprus can guarantee security and prosperity for all its citizens, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike," Greece's President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias stressed on Saturday evening in a brief address at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens during a ceremony in which he was proclaimed an honourary citizen of the Morphou in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus.
Following a decision of the City Council of Morphou, Papoulias was declared an honourary citizen of Morphou and presented with the Key of the City.
"Morphou is a city that symbolises the violence of occupation, but also the endurance of the Cypriot Hellenism. Although the Cypriots have seen 33 years pass away from their ancestral homes, they have never accepted the faits accomplis of the invasion. They worked hard, brought rebirth to the island, gave rapid development and today, Cyprus justifiably has an equal place in the European Union. This historic development could give the solution to its problem," Papoulias said.
The event was opened by Athens University rector Christos Kittas, while Cypriot ambassador to Greece George Georgiou delivered a greeting on behalf of Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos.
Morphou mayor Haralambos Pittas said that the city council's decision to declare Papoulias an honourary citizen also expressed the desire to also honour, in the person of the Greek President, the Greek people and the political and state leadership of Greece for all they have offered to the martyrous island.
"No matter how many years go by, we will not die slaves," Pittas said, adding that "we are not the accursed generation that will turn over to the younger ones a smaller Cyprus, one divided by the wire fence of disgrace and shame".
 Trio arrested for murder of two elderly nunsThree men have been arrested for the recent murder of two elderly nuns at a remote convent in the northeast Peloponnese, southern Greece, during a robbery.
According to statements on Sunday by authorities in the Nafplio district, the suspects include a local man from northern Greece and two illegal immigrants from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Another foreign national with family in the nearby town of Argos is being sought in FYROM, reports state.
The nuns were reportedly smothered with pillows and died from asphyxiation.
According to initial testimonies, the suspects stole 20,300 euros, 21 gold sovereigns, 3,000 US dollars and a valuable wooden cross. One of the men said he threw the cross into Nafplio harbour although divers were unable to find it.
No stolen goods were found in possession of two of them.
Found in the house in Argos of the third culprit, and specifically in a plant, were 10 rings, two crosses, two earrings and 3,500 euros believed to have been taken during the robbery.
An extradition order has been issued for the suspect in FYROM.
The double murder at the Artokosta Kynouria Nunnery of Nafplio had shocked the local community last month.
 Four-member family killed in traffic accident on national highwayA four-member family (father, mother and two children) were killed in a traffic accident which occurred at the 435th kilometer of the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway at dawn on Saturday.
The tragedy happened at 5:10 a.m., five kilometers before the northern city of Katerini, when the 38-year-old driver, who was heading for Thessaloniki, central Macedoni, crashed into a parked truck.
The car burst into flames, killing all four. The dead were the driver, his 37-year-old wife and their two children, aged 11 and two-and-a-half.
The driver of the truck had parked correctly and was not harmed by the accident. He was initially sent to Katerini hospital for precautionary reasons but it was not necessary for him to be treated and shortly later he left the hospital.
 Archbishop hospitalised for testsArchbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece was admitted to an Athens hospital on Saturday evening for medical tests, and received a telephone call from prime minister Costas Karamanlis later that night, who wished him a speedy recovery.
According to an announcement by the Archishop's office, Christodoulos had suffered gastrointestinal problems throughout the preceding week, which forced him to cancel a scheduled visit to Cairo and Alexandria.
 Leading member of Russian criminal organization arrested in ThessalonikiA Greek national, originating from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and is said to be a leading member of a Russian criminal organization, was arrested in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, on Saturday upon orders by a public prosecutor.
An international arrest warrant has been issued by the Russian authorities, as he is charged with setting up a criminal organization, murder committed by a criminal organization, possession of guns and the sale of firearms and explosives.
According to the arrest warrant, issued by a court in the city of Vakhitovsky Kazan, on November 23, 2005, the arrested man founded in Russia in 1997 the criminal organization "38th Kvartal", which was active in the criminal life of the city Kazan, along with another five similar organizations. All together, they controlled illegal companies and businesses in the city, offering "protection" to them.
 Reception centre for illegal migrants opens in border prefectureInterior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Sunday inaugurated a reception centre for illegal immigrants in the Kyprinos municipality, Evros prefecture, the northeastern border district on the land frontier with Turkey, a favorite route for illegals attempting to enter Greece and the rest of the European Union.
According to government officials, the new centre meets requirements set by the UN High Commission for Refugees.
The minister noted that it took three years for the facility to be built, saying that in August 2004, 300,000 euros were initially allotted for the building of the centre, while later the interior ministry paid an extra 1.22 million euros for its completion.
 Thirty six people arrested in Patras for drug traffickingThe Anti-Drugs Squad in Patras, in the Peloponnese, late Friday night arrested 36 people in the municipality of Movri, in Achaia prefecture, for being involved in drug trafficking
Of the 36 individuals arrested, four of them, according to police, are charged of being drug traffickers. The arrested are aged between 20 and 67, while another person is being sought.
During the investigation carried out, impounded were 18 grams of heroin, 0.7 grams of Indian cannabis, 73 narcotic tablets, three mobile phones which were used as a means of communication with potential buyers of drugs, as well as 1,200 euros which derived, according to police, from the sale of drugs.
The 36 arrested individuals will be led before the Patras Public Prosecutor.
 Five people arrested in Thessaloniki for drug traffickingA man aged 47 and two women, aged 41 and 28, were arrested on Friday night by police in the region of Kordelio, in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, charged with druf trafficking.
Found in their car were 4.8 grams of heroin and 3.3 grams of cocaine, as well as 2,200 euros, which police believe was derived from drug trafficking.
Later, police searched the house of the 47-year-old man and found 75 parcels of cocaine weighing 706.9 grams, a parcel of heroin weighing 46 grams and another parcel containing adulterated cocaine weighing 12 grams.
In another case, in the region of Sykeon, in Thessaloniki, two men aged 36 and 31 were arrested because found in their house were five parcels of heroin weighing 184.4 grams, 26 narcotic tablets and 800 euros believed to be takings from drug trafficking.
 Mostly fair on MondayMostly fair weather is forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with scattered showers in central Macedonia, Thrace and western Greece.Temperatures will range between 14C and 31C. Winds northerly, northwesterly, light to moderate. Mostly fair in Athens with temperatures ranging between 17C and 31C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 16C to 30C.
 Burns repeats intention to visit CyprusWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/CNA)
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns repeated his wish to visit Cyprus before the end of the year, to be supportive of a UN effort to push forward the peace process.
In a teleconference interview with Greek journalists, prior to his departure for Greece, Nicholas Burns stated the following on the Cyprus issue, responding to questions:
"I think also from my recent discussions with the Greek government, both of us want to see the United Nations make another attempt to be active on the question of Cyprus. I have been pushing this personally with the UN, as well as with other officials of other governments, and I personally believe that there should be an attempt to resolve the Cyprus question and I intend to go to Cyprus this year. I will probably go this year after the summertime."
Burns said "Cyprus is a friend of the United States" assuring that he wants to go to be supportive of the idea that "we will try to help the United Nations push forward the peace process."
He pointed out "that is something that is very important to the Greek government as well as for the Cypriot government, "and certainly important for the US government, because Greece is an ally and Cyprus a friend of ours."
 President Adami arrives in Cyprus for an official visitNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)
President of Malta Dr. Edward Fenech-Adami was due to arrive on Sunday night in Cyprus for an official visit.
After the official reception to be held on Monday morning at the presidential palace, Adami will have a private meeting with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos to be followed by official talks in the presence of the delegations from both countries.
After the talks the two leaders will make statements to the press.
Adamis schedule includes a speech at the Cyprus Commercial and Industrial Chamber and meetings with House President Demetris Christofias and Nicosia Mayor Eleni Mavrou as well.
Mavrou will present Adami with the medal of the capital of Cyprus.
Later on Adami will tour the seas fire line in Nicosia.
In the afternoon Adami will meet with Archbishop Chrisostomos II and at 2100 he will attend a state banquet hosted in his honour by President Papadopoulos.
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