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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-06-18

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

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

Monday, 18 June 2007 Issue No: 2621

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis: 'Reforms will continue until and after elections'
  • [02] Importance of Med-Black Sea cooperation stressed by deputy FM at regional conference held on Rhodes
  • [03] Papandreou criticism over bond issue, police brutality
  • [04] KKE leader tours Athens' commercial centre
  • [05] Synaspismos calls for dismissal of public order minister
  • [06] ND lead of 2.2 percentage points, latest poll
  • [07] Roussopoulos addresses 10th int'l festival 'Documentary and Disability'
  • [08] Alexandria Patriarch Theodoros II receives education minister
  • [09] Ecumenical Patriarch makes lightning trip to Athens to visit hospitalised Archbishop Christodoulos
  • [10] Papoulias attends event in honor of Nazi victims in Ypatis, Fthiotida
  • [11] Police officer suspended over brutal beating video, sharp opposition reactions
  • [12] Two arrested on counterfeiting, antiquities smuggling charges
  • [13] Fair on Monday

  • [01] Karamanlis: 'Reforms will continue until and after elections'

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Sunday reiterated that his government is unwavering in its policy regarding reforms, "until the elections and after the elections," speaking at a ruling New Democracy pre-congress event in the large Cretan city of Irakleio.

    "We are observing but not following the prisoners of conservatism as they attempt to create a climate of insecurity; we are observing but not following those who are comfortable with grey, those enclaves of yesterday that oppose changes demanded by the times; those that attempt to obstruct the country's course; we are observing but not following the expressionists of reaction that insist on fanaticism, in polarisation and extremism," Karamanlis told an audience packed with ministers, party cadres and supporters.

    In a direct reference to the main opposition party, Karamanlis charged that "those reacting against reforms are sacrificing the country's good in order to cover-up their own political weakness."

    In continuing his address, Karamanlis referred extensively to the government's policy for greater regional development, citing, among others, a 200-million-euro investment for expanding broadband networks in the east Mediterranean country, as he cited a 10-fold increase in the number of broadband connection in Greece - which previously was at the near or at the bottom of the list of EU member-states in the sector.

    As far as Crete, Karamanlis announced that a new international airport on the large and prosperous holiday destination will be located in the Kastelli district, saying it will be the island's largest after Irakleio's airport. Additionally, he cited port expansions in Souda and Irakleio and steps to reverse dwindling water reserves in eastern Crete.

    In reference to the all-important tourism sector, which dominates much of the economy in the Mediterranean's fifth largest island, Karamanlis first referred to the upgrading of the tourism ministry and a promotional campaign focusing on the upgrading of tourism quality and services.

    Later on Sunday, Karamanlis visited the Cretaquarium facility in the popular Hersonissos district, the first major marine research park in Greece

    ND Sec't Zagoritis

    On his part, New Democracy party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis also addressed the party's pre-conference on Sunday, stressing that all evidence certifies the supremacy of ND and of Prime Minister Karamanlis.

    Zagoritis also criticised the main opposition PASOK party and its leader George Papandreou, saying that there is a surplus of populism to cover the deficits of positions, proposals, arguments and reliability.

    He went on to say that ND will be again in government in the next elections and Costas Karamanlis will be prime minister, despite the crutches that PASOK is using to stand up, despite the practices of tension and polarisation to which George Papandreou is resorting to cover his weaknesses and political deadlocks.

    [02] Importance of Med-Black Sea cooperation stressed by deputy FM at regional conference held on Rhodes

    Deputy foreign minister Yannis Valinakis was the main speaker at a conference on "Security issues in the wider Mediterranean and Black Sea region" organised on the island of Rhodes by the Aegean University's Department of Mediterranean Studies and the International Centre for Black Sea Studies.

    Valinakis called the selection of Rhodes as the venue for such a conference as "ideal", noting the Aegean's role as a hub that unites the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

    Although the Mediterranean and the Black Sea were two distinct areas, geographically and also, to a degree, politically, they nevertheless faced many common challenges, the deputy minister said.

    He noted that new issues have been added today to the issues remaining from the past, thus rendering the need for cooperation among the countries of the wider region more necesssary than ever.

    "We are living in an age in which the changes are direct and deep-rooted. Globalisation comprises a synthesis of challenges and opportunities. Confrontation of international terrorism, the peaceful resolution of differences, the advancement of democracy and equal opportunities for development, protection of the environment, the management of illegal migration, safe energy supply, all constitute the main elements of the new globalised reality," Valinakis said, adding that their management required political extroversion and cooperation among the countries of the region at both bilateral and multilateral level, and particularly in the framework of regional cooperation.

    "In this new environment of challenges, but also opportunities, of the 21st century, the building of institutional channels of dialogue and cooperation is the only way to ensure a common future of prosperity for all the countries of the region," the deputy minister said, explaining that "we, the peoples of the wider region, are obliged to meet the opportunities but also face the insecurities of the new environment, not each one separately, but all together".

    At the same time, he continued, it was equally important that this cooperation be founded on mutual understanding and respect of differentness".

    The Black Sea region was a priority of Greece's foreign policy, Valinakis said, "given the interdependence between security and economic cooperation", adding that Greece's priority "is to advance and strengthen the relations in the economic sector, the energy sector, in transports and tourism".

    "We consider that the European Union could play a substantive role regarding the development of the wider region of the Black Sea and the consolidation of prosperity and security," Valinakis concluded.

    [03] Papandreou criticism over bond issue, police brutality

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou toured the rural Yiannitsa district of western Macedonia province on Sunday, where he again severely criticised the government over the structured bond affair as well as reports of police brutality publicised a day earlier, in an address in the same-name town's cultural centre.

    "We saw unbelievable scenes of police brutality, fascism and authoritarianism against immigrants," Papandreou said of grainy footage showing police detectives forcing two youthful purse-snatching suspects to alternately punch each other on command.

    Papandreou blamed the incident on what he called the situation in law enforcement today, due to "petty party partisanship, impunity and tolerance" show by the government to such behavior.

    He also again charged that the government has not revealed the contracts of all state-run pension funds signed by ministers in the 110 days since the civil servants' bond issue affair arose.

    In a reference to criticism that a handful of recent opinion polls are unreliable, Papandreou said that it is not the Greek people who are led by the polls, instead, the polls reflect the attitude of the people.

    Turning to PASOK's programme, he said his party promises a minimum pension for each farmer of 500 euros, 950 euros for a couple that are both farmers.

    Additionally, he again referred to a "redistribution of wealth in favor of the weaker classes; a new development model; a new public school system and the signing of a "contract" with the people.

    During a later visit, to the northern Pella prefecture on Sunday,he charged that the rural economy has no prospects with a New Democracy government.

    Papandreou promised to stand by farmers and accused the government of breaking its election promises and that with the system of "clientele relations" that it is implementing the agricultural economy cannot forge ahead.

    Immediately afterwards, the PASOK leader visited the town of Anydro.

    [04] KKE leader tours Athens' commercial centre

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga toured the commercial centre of Athens on Saturday, after which she criticised Greek and EU policy on small businesses.

    "The policy that says 'we're taking measures for the SMEs' in actuality functions in favour of the large establishments," Papariga said.

    She said that "there is no policy in Greece and in the EU in favour of the self-employed, or those who work in family shops or have one or two employees at the most...such establishments are being stifled".

    Papariga said that new shops established were going out of business at an increasingly faster pace. "Either you're with the multinational capital, or you're with the workers and the small-scale self-employed. There is no middle road," she added.

    The KKE leader blamed the situation on the policies followed by the New Democracy government and the preceding PASOK governments.

    [05] Synaspismos calls for dismissal of public order minister

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos on Saturday called for the dismissal of Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras by the prime minister on account of the minister's latest statements.

    "This was the last straw. After the 'lawless' and 'outside Parliamentarism', Mr. Polydoras is escalating the intentional delirium against our party, terming Synaspismos as a 'nest of violence'," Alavanos said.

    "Mr. Karamanlis has a major responsibility because he is supporting a strategy of tension that is cultivating vendettas and savagery in society...," he added.

    Lastly, Alavanos said his party will "continue, peacefully but militantly, to support the rights and freedoms of students, immigrants and young people."

    [06] ND lead of 2.2 percentage points, latest poll

    Ruling New Democracy party posts a 2.2-percentage point lead over main opposition PASOK party, according to a latest poll published over the weekend, the most recent in a cascade of opinion polls released in the country.

    According to the poll, respondents preferred by ND 36.2 percent; PASOK garnered 34 percent; the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 7.5 percent; the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) 4 percent and the out-of-Parliament Popular Orthodox Rally party (LA.OS) 3.9 percent, while the undecided vote stands at 6.3 percent.

    On the question of which party will win the next general election -- normally scheduled for March 2008 -- 70.1 percent picked ND and 23 percent PASOK.

    Lastly, 73.9 percent of respondents said they believe ND and PASOK cannot co-exist in a coalition government.

    The poll was carried out by the RASS firm via a telephone interview between June 12-14 for the weekly "Paron."

    [07] Roussopoulos addresses 10th int'l festival 'Documentary and Disability'

    Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Saturday addressed the 10th International Festival E-motion Pictures "Documentary and Disability."

    "Welcome to the first International Festival E-motion Pictures 'Documentary and Disability.' I welcome our guests from abroad in particular. I wish you a good stay in Greece," he said.

    "Disability is an issue that tests the quality of our democracy. It tests the will of our societies and secures in practice, as they should do, equal rights for all citizens. It tests our maturity not only to accept the different but also to realise that it as a treaty that enriches our collective conception of society and the world," he added.

    [08] Alexandria Patriarch Theodoros II receives education minister

    CAIRO (ANA-MPA - N. Katsikas)

    Education and Religion Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Sunday conveyed the undivided support of the Greek government to the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa during a meeting here with Patriarch Theodoros II.

    "You are the first woman to sit at the Great Patriarchal Table," the Patriarch told Yiannakou during an official luncheon given immediately after the inauguration of the Patriarchal School, in the presence of Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, the President of the Council of Hellenes Abroad Stefanos Tamvakis, the President of the Alexandros S. Onassis Foundation Antonis Papadimitriou, the Greek ambassador to Egypt Panayiotis Vlassopoulos, the president of the Greek Community of Alexandria and other dignitaries.

    [09] Ecumenical Patriarch makes lightning trip to Athens to visit hospitalised Archbishop Christodoulos

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos made a lightning trip to Athens on Saturday, to visit hospitalised Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, who is recuperating at an Athens hospital following intestinal surgery this past week.

    Vartholomeos' visit with Christodoulos lasted half an hour at the Aretaion Hospital, and the Ecumenical Patriarch told reporters afterwards that the Archbishop's morale was high, and that he had been in good spirits. He added that they had even discussed ecclesiastical affairs.

    The Ecumenical Patriarch further said that he had spoken with Christodoulos' attending physicians, who he said were optimistic, and stressed that he entrusted the Archbishop to God's hands, expressing hope that they would meet again soon, under better circumstances.

    Vartholomeos, who was accompanied to the hospital by Ecumenical Patriarchate and Church of Greece officials and education and religious affairs minister Marietta Yiannakou, also planned to visit his sister before departing later Saturday for his return to Istanbul.

    [10] Papoulias attends event in honor of Nazi victims in Ypatis, Fthiotida

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday visited the Ypatis district in the central prefecture of Fthiotida to attend somber events commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the town's destruction and the execution of 63 residents by Nazi forces in June 1994.

    In a reference to the ongoing violence in the Middle East, Papoulias noted that "if violence ceases to scare us because it is not occurring on our front doorstep, in front of our house, it means that we have reconciled ourselves with it, and this means complicity ... let us look next to use in the Mideast," he said from the town's municipal centre.

    Papoulias, Greece's former foreign minister in the 1990s, reminded that "Greece is the only country that has not been compensated for Nazi crimes, even though it has paid dearly in blood during the course of WWII". Additionally, he lamented the fact that the families of victims killed during wartime atrocities cannot executive legal decisions in this country at the same time that similar legal rulings are executed in neighbouring Italy.

    "The irrationality by which the Nazis killed civilians to take revenge on for acts of resistance still exists we are here today to unite our voice with others, in every corner of the planet, who persist in shouting 'never again'," the German-educated Papoulias said.

    A memorial service was held in the town cathedral, with Deputy Health Minister Thanassis Yiannopoulos representing the government, as all the prefecture's MPs were attendance along with LA.OS party leader and Euro-MP George Karatzaferis.

    General News

    [11] Police officer suspended over brutal beating video, sharp opposition reactions

    Authorities on Saturday ordered urgent criminal and administrative proceedings after a grainy cell phone video surfaced that reportedly shows a police officer mistreating two young suspects inside a police precinct, with relevant Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras announcing the suspension of the officer involved and demotion of the station's chief.

    The incident, showing a plain cloths detective striking the two suspects and forcing them to alternately punch and slap each other, sparked sharp reactions by the opposition parties. The website in which the video surfaced claimed the two teenaged suspects were immigrants initially arrested for purse snatching.

    Polydoras said that the incident he saw on the video -- which reportedly took place on June 24, 2006 at the Omonia police precinct in downtown Athens -- "is unacceptable and deplorable", adding that it "directly insults our culture and blatantly harms the prestige of police".

    "The treatment of detainees must absolutely respect their rights, as emanating from the Constitution and law," Polydoras said, adding that "every form of abuse of authority will be treated with the maximum severity so that not the slightest shadow will be created over the manner of operation of police".

    Regarding the criminal aspect of the incident, the minister said that a case file was being put together and would be submitted immediately to the prosecutor.

    Opposition

    The incident sparked sharp reactions by the main opposition PASOK party, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos).

    PASOK press spokesman Petros Efthymiou said the government bore a heavy responsibility, adding that the Greek citizens felt unprotected both in the city and in the countryside, while "favouritism" had unleashed attitudes in the police "that take us back decades".

    He further said that responsibilities of the public order minister and the government were self-evident.

    KKE, in an announcement, said that the incident was not isolated, adding that the issue was "much deeper" and "deeply political" and indicated the regime prevailing in Greece's law enforcement sector and the training of its members highlighted the responsibilities of the present and preceding governments.

    A day later, KKE leader Aleka Papariga referred to a "hydra-like" network of violence within the police force, while calling on Polydoras to recognise the "obvious", what she said were laws by ND and PASOK allowing for police brutality to take place with impunity.

    She also said the incident was not isolated.

    Synaspismos political secretariat member Panos Trigazis said that every democratic conscience is revolted by the scenes that appeared on the internet, which he said were reminiscent of the Abu Ghraib prison, calling the incident barbaric.

    "Things have gone too far. There are responsibilities, and they must be shouldered. What is the public order minister waiting for in order to resign?" he said.

    On Sunday, Synaspismos leader Alekos Alavanos called for Polydoras' resignation, taking exception, among others, to the minister's criticism that the small, leftist party has become a "den of violence".

    [12] Two arrested on counterfeiting, antiquities smuggling charges

    Two men have been arrested at a central hotel in Thessaloniki on charges of money counterfeiting and antiquities smuggling, police announced on Saturday.

    They said a 46-year-old Greek man and a 41-year-old foreign national were arrested Friday night as they were negotiating the sale of 15 artifacts for the sum of 150,000 euros and also the sale of 30 counterfeit euro bills -- 29 of which were 200-euro bills and one was a 50-euro bill -- for 5,850 euro, which represents 30 percent of the value of the corresponding legal tender.

    The artifacts and counterfeit money were confiscated by police. Archaeologists from the 9th bureau of Byzantine Antiquities who were called in to examine the artifacts said that at least four of the items fell under the provisions of the law on protection of antiquities and cultural heritage, five of the items required further study, while the remaining articles needed to be examined by the Thessaloniki Folk Art Museum to determine their value.

    A search of the foreign national's car later turned up a photocopy replica of a revered icon of the Virgin Mary holding the Infant Jesus, a stiletto and a club, as well as 6 color photographs depicting antiquities.

    Weather forecast

    [13] Fair on Monday

    Fair weather is expected in most of the country. Winds northerly light. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 22C and 35C and in Thessaloniki from 20C to 34C.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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