|Monday, 19 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-06-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 17 June 2008 Issue No: 2920
 PM briefed on progress in transports, communicationPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met Saturday with transport and communications minister Costis Hatzidakis for a review of urban transport and 'green' transport, as well as the telecoms sector and Olympic Airways.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Hatzidakis said that the target of the urban bus lines redeployment plan was to establish terminal points at metro and ISAP electric trains stations for the bus routes that set out from Western Athens so as to enable commuters to access the city center with the same bus ticket and eliminate 30 percent of the time required.
He said they also discussed the procurement of new buses, including 200 natural gas-powered.
Hatzidakis said that they discussion also included the procurement of electricity-powered buses in the future, as well as the establishment of bicycle lanes, and announced that two large bicycle lanes will be designated in Athens, while 15 million euros have been earmarked for such lanes in the municipalities of Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as the periphery.
"In essence, this is the 'Egnatia Motorway' of telecommunications," Hatzidakis said, noting that the government was investng not only money, but also hopes, in this program, aiming to bring Greece at the front of Europe in telecoms matters.
Regarding the ailing national carrier Olympic Airways, Hatzidakis said that negotiations were continuing with the European Commission, which he said were technical and extremely difficult, and thus were taking a long time.
He noted that the government's timetable was well-known, adding that "we want to reach a solution by the end of the year, and insist on all that we have said".
"We want to keep the company name and symbol, but we also want to get rid of the debts," Hatzigakis explained.
 'EU facing a problem,' FM Bakoyannis says in wake of Irish 'no'LUXEMBOURG (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, referring to the discussion that took place at the General Affairs Council here on Monday on Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, said that there was a problem and a situation that should be respected.
"The general assessment is that we are undoubtedly being faced with a problem and a situation that we must respect, since the people of Ireland have expressed their view," she said.
Bakoyannis stressed that Europe must forge ahead in the direction of a strong political Europe that can be able to provide answers for people's problems.
According to the foreign minister, this option is "the only reply to collateral problems arising from globalization" and further underlined that "sometimes we are building this Europe with slow steps, but we are certainly building it and it shall move forward."
Bakoyannis mentioned that during the discussion at the Council Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin made a presentation of the situation as it has been shaped in the wake of the Irish "no", noting that during the upcoming European Union summit proposals must be expected from Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen on finding a solution.
The foreign minister expressed satisfaction over the paragraph which was included in the Council's conclusions concerning the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
"Despite the fact that we had a difficult Slovenian presidency, the goal was achieved and the paragraph is satisfactory for all," she said.
The paragraph in question condemns the incidents that occurred during the recent elections in FYROM and calls for substantive progress to reforms.
The Council also called on all FYROM political parties to promote and to participate in a creative and substantive dialogue and to proceed with the implementation of the priorities that are contained in the EU-FYROM partnership relation.
 Slovenian FM on FYROM name issueLUXEMBOURG (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
European Union General Affairs Council acting chairman Slovenian Foreign Minister Dmitri Ruppel, stressed the need during a press conference here on Monday for a settlement of the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) final name through a compromise agreement being reached with Greece.
He was speaking at the end of an EU General Affairs Council meeting.
Asked to comment on FYROM's European course, the Slovenian minister also noted that the incidents that took place during the election process create some negative messages, while on the name issue he stated that what is desirable is an agreement being concluded as soon as possible.
 FM in Cyprus: Solution of Cyprus issues remains top priority of Greek foreign policyNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Resolution of the Cyprus issue remains a top priority in Greece's foreign policy, and thus Athens will continue to work intensively, in close cooperation with the Cypriot government, to take advantage of the opportunity arising to attain the goal for a fair, viable and functional solution based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis reaffirmed on Saturday, speaking at an event in Paphos municipality on "The European future of a reunified Cyprus" that she attended together with her Cypriot counterpart Markos Kyprianou.
"We find ourselves before a window of opportunity," Bakoyannis said, and welcomed Cyprus President Demetris Christofias' meetings with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat as "steps in the right direction".
Bakoyannis, who is on a working visit to Cyprus, voiced opposition to "the exercise of pressure and stifling timetables" because "it is a practice that does not give positive results", and stressed that the issue was to enhance the dynamic of the talks so as to lead to the preparation of a solution founded on the UN Security Council resolutions and the European ideals, a solution that could be accepted.
Addressing herself to Ankara, Bakoyannis expressed hope that "Turkey will realize the benefits the Turkish Cypriots will have from a reunited Cyprus" and "help them carry out substantive and constructive talks", particularly at the present stage of the efforts to find common ground and commence comprehensive negotiations.
The Greek foreign minister spoke with admiration of the creativity and progress of the Cypriot people "who succeeded in leaving behind the traumatic experiences of the (Turkish) invasion and occupation" and the drama of becoming refugees in their own homeland and "achieving an unprecedented economic growth".
She further said that, with Cyprus' accession to the EU, the Cyprus issue acquired a "different substance", and stressed that every future solution effort must have the characteristics of a European solution, a solution that ensures protection of human rights and the fundamental freedoms.
She also noted the contribution of the EU's "subtle strength" in building the security and integrity of a future "United Federal Republic of Cyprus", citing the name used by President Christofias, adding, however, that "the most powerful guarantee of security is the common volition of the two communities to formulate the terms so that the new federation will be functional and viable.
"A reunited Cyprus will upgrade its strategic role in the wider region, acting as a bridge between the Middle East and the EU, and playing a stabilizing and developmental role," she stressed.
Bakoyannis made special note of the beneficial impact a resolution of the Cyprus issue would have on Turkey's relations with Greece, and with Europe, stressing that "on the one hand it will give new momentum to Greece-Turkey cooperation, since it is self-evident that full normalization of the relations between the two countries is not possible without resolution of the Cyprus problem, and on the other hand a reunited Cyprus will actively support Turkey's course to the European institutions".
Asked by the press to comment on the Irish citizens' rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in Thursday's referendum, Bakoyannis said that "the result saddened us, but I assure you that Europe will move forward".
Reviewing her visit to Cyprus, her first since Christofias took over the presidency, Bakoyannis described it as "particularly important" because it provided the opportunity both to herself and to the Greek delegation to hold discussions with the entire political leadership of Cyprus on the major national issue, the prospects for its solution, and the steadfast cooperation between Greece and Cyprus for the best possible cooperation in handling the matter.
Replying to another question, she said there was "identity of views" with the political leadership of Cyprus on the handling being made.
Bakoyannis' visit was due to conclude Saturday night "with the great honor to be bestowed on me" by the Mayor of Paphos, in presenting her the Gold Key to the City during a special ceremony.
"I wish to assure you that the struggle we are waging is difficult, but I believe that, with patience, determination and, above all, with our common vision, we will attain our common goal," she concluded.
 FM Bakoyannis presented with Gold Key to the City of PaphosNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketas)
Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis was presented with the Gold Key to the City of Paphos on Saturday night, following a unanimous decision by the city's council.
"We confer the due obligation to the (former) mayor and politician who is devoting all her strength to the effort for the resolution of our national problem," Paphos mayor S. Vergas said during a special ceremony.
Bakoyannis, in turn, pledged to devote all her power "to the service of this great struggle", adding that Greece and Cyprus have united their forces for a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem.
The demolition of the "wall of shame" in Nicosia was everyone's cause. "We are waging the good battle, and the good battle will be one," Bakoyannis said.
Afterwards, a special ceremony was held at the port of Paphos during which the city was twinned with the port city of Chania, Crete. The ceremony was attended by the mayors of both cities.
Bakoyannis was due to leave Cyprus for Luxembourg on Sunday to attend a dinner of the European Peoples Party, and Monday's meeting of the EU Council of Foreign Ministers on General Affairs and External Relations.
The foreign ministers' agenda includes an evaluation of the Irish voters' rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum.
 SYN leader interviewed by Cyprus dailyNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras, in an interview with the Cypriot daily Simerini appearing in Monday's edition, gave his own interpretation of the political forces' stance on the Annan Plan for a Cyprus solution, which the Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected in the 2004 referendum.
Tsipras said that the Annan "horizontally cut across" all the political forces, and added: "There was a Left-internationalistic 'yes' and a Left 'no'. There was a conservative, American-kowtowing 'yes', and a nationalistic 'no'."
Regarding SYN's position, Tsipras said his party had, from a critical viewpoint, been positive to the plan, with respect to the prospect of a "dyadic solution", but "without disregarding the big problems that would have arisen from its various distorted and problematic aspects".
On the FYROM name issue, and to a question on whether SYN found the name of 'New Macedonia' acceptable, Tsipras stressed that SYN was interested in a solution that "will not create winners and losers, at least in the medium-run, and one that will lead to cooperation among the two countries and neutralize the nationalistic tendencies on both sides".
 PASOK voters divided over Simitis 'expulsion', three opinion polls indicateMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's 'expulsion' of former prime minister and party MP Costas Simitis from the PASOK parliamentary group will have "severe repercussions" on PASOK, in the opinion of half of the party voters who took part in three different opinion polls, the results appeared in an equal number of newspapers on Sunday.
Regardless of how they appraised Papandreou's move -- positive or negative -- the after-effects are expected to strike a serious blow to PASOK, in the respondents' estimates.
According to a Public Issue opinion poll, the results of which appeared in the Sunday edition of Kathimerini newspaper, the PASOK rank and file appears completely divided following Papandreou's personal decision to 'expel' the former PASOK prime minister from the party's parliamentary group, while the majority of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's voters responding in the poll felt that far from strengthening Papandreou's position in main opposition party, Papndreou's move weakened it, and 43 percent of them expressed concern that a break-up of PASOK was on the horizon.
Out of the total respondents, 32 percent saw the 'expulsion' as "probably a correct move", while 41 in 100 of the respondents identifying themselves as PASOK voters also called it 'a correct move' while another 41 in 100 criticised it as a "wrong move".
Regarding the consequences of the move as regards Papandreou's role in the party, 29 percent of the total respondents, and 33 percent of the PASOK voters among the respondents, felt that the party leader strengthened his position in the party, while 50 percent of the total respondents and of the PASOK voters felt that Papandreou's position has been weakened.
Division in PASOK was also indicated in the results of an ALCO opinion poll appearing in the Proto Thema weekly newspaper on Sunday.
Some 45.5 percent of PASOK voters responding in the poll felt that Papandreou's move was wrong, against 48 percent he felt it was the correct move. Also, 44.6 percent of the ND voters among the respondents criticised the move, while 41.8 percent condoned it. Further, 40,7 percent of the Left party voters responding in the poll considered Papandreou's move to be correct.
Regarding the impact on PASOK, 50.3 percent of the total respondents felt that the main opposition party was heading for partition, a view that was shared by 39.3 percent of the PASOK voters among the respondents.
A third opinion poll, conducted by MARC and appearing in the Sunday edition of Ethnos newspaper, also indicated division among the PASOK rank and file.
Papandreou's decision to seek Simitis' withdrawal from the PASOK parliamentary group was condoned by 48 percent of the PASOK voters among the respondents, against 44.8 percent who disagreed.
Public opinion in general, regardless of what party they vote for, was also split over Papandreou's move, with 48.3 percent in disagreement.
Finally, 43.2 percent of the PASOK voters among the respondents believe that PASOK will end up the loser from Papandreou's move, while 57.7 percent of the ND voters among the respondents felt that Papandreou should not have 'expelled' Simitis.
 Tsipras accuses PASOK of 'governmentalism of the worst kind'Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras accused the main opposition PASOK leadership of "governmentalism of the worst kind", in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Ethnos newspaper, and reiterated his position that PASOK "is not Left", adding that "society is disgruntled with the coercion".
He said that PASOK had invited SYN "to dinner", informing it that "the main course will be self-sufficiency".
"We're not that hungry that we'll settle for the hors d'oeuvres or for the desert," Tsipras said, explaining: "Dialogue is not a bad thing, but it must have a beginning, a middle and an end".
PASOK, he continued, must first decide to whom it was addressing iself, "and I mean to what party of the society, who they want to express, and then let them project this at political level".
"Anything else is governmentalist of the worst kind," Tsipras added.
Asked whether the "new crisis in PASOK" could boost the Left, Tsipras said he did not wish to involve himself in the internal affairs of another political party, adding, however, that "it is the crisis of the political system that is strengthening the Left".
He said that the SYN-led Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance was not only the most reliable opposition, but was also becoming the only, and credible, alternative solution.
 Tsipras on developments in PASOK partyCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras said on Monday, referring to developments taking place in the main opposition PASOK party, that the Coalition has "an autonomous course and will not redetermine itself".
Tsipras made his statement in the city of Arta, in western Greece, where he had attended an event marking the 63rd anniversary of the death of Communist fighter Aris Velouhiotis on Sunday.
"Two-party rule, one would say, is on the verge of collapse. We call on all, therefore, and on young people in particular to give a hand to enable it to collapse even sooner so that we can see a bright day in the country," Tsipras added.
 Army General Staff chief visiting TurkeyISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A.Kourkoulas)
Greek Army General Staff chief Lieutenant General Dimitrios Voulgaris is expected to arrive in Ankara on Monday evening, at the invitation of Turkey's Land Forces Commander General Ilker Basbu.
Voulgaris is visiting Turkey in the framework of the existing Confidence-Building Measures. The two generals will exchange views on issues of mutual interest for the two countries and on strengthening cooperation between the two armies.
 Former U.S. president Bush visits USS Ashland in Rhodes islandFormer president of the United States George H.W. Bush visited amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland to thank the crew for its service on June 15.
Bush and some of his family members were on vacation in Greece when they found out that Ashland would be visiting the island of Rhodes in Greece, while the ship was returning from the Arabian Gulf. The former U.S. president quickly adjusted his schedule and made a detour just to stop by and talk with the crew."I want you all to know it is a joy for us to see this ship, to be onboard and be able to show the respect that we have for the Navy and those who serve there in," Bush said.
Bush presented eight awards and re-enlisted two Ashland sailors during his visit.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.545
Pound sterling 0.794
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.439
Japanese yen 167.38
Swiss franc 1.624
Norwegian kroner 8.114
Canadian dollar 1.587
Australian dollar 1.652
 Woman killed in 8-care pile-upA 23-year-old woman was killed and a 53-year-old man injured in an eight-care pile up on the 53rd kilometer of the Thessaloniki-Nea Moudania (Halkidiki) stretch of the national highway on Saturday evening.
Four of the cars involved in the crash burst into flames and were completely destroyed.
According to Traffic Police, the young woman was the driver of one of the eight cars, and it took firefighters several hours to recover her charred corpse from the automobile.
 27th annual Motogathering ends in ThasosOne person was killed and five injured, three of whom quite seriously, in accidents taking place during the 27th annual Motogathering which was organised on the northern Aegean island of Thasos by the Greek Motorcycle Federation on June 11-16 in the forest at Prinos.
The victims of the accidents were participating in events held in the framework of the event.
According to the organisers, a total of 4,500 motorcyclists from all over Greece gathered on the island to attend the programme of concerts and parallel happenings that had been prepared by the organisers, since well-known music groups and rock artists appeared, as well as to participate in games and displays.
 Fires break out in MantineiaTwo fires broke out Sunday on high ground in Mantineia, and a strong force from the Tripolis Fire Department was battling the blazes.
One of the fires was in the region of Neochori, in Korythio municipality, and the second was in the region of Milia, in Mantineia municipality.
 Event dedicated to Cavafy, Kazantzakis to be held in BucharestAn event dedicated to Greek literature, and more specifically world-renowned poet Constantinos Cavafy and writer Nikos Kazantzakis will take place in Bucharest on Thursday, in the Auditorium of the Bucharest Museum of Art, with the participation of eminent Romanian academics.
The event, under the aegis of the Greek embassy to Romania, will mark the 145th anniversary of the birth (and 75th anniversary of the death) of the Alexandria-born poet and the 125th anniversary of the Cretan writer's birth.
Greek ambassador in Bucharest George Poukamisas will inaugurate the event, while World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Stefanos Tamvakis and Ekaterini Sofianou, president of the event's sponsor, SofMedica, will address brief greetings. Addresses will further be delivered by Romanian literary historian and critic and dean of the Romanian Academy's literary department Eugen Simion, who will speak on Cavafy, and literature professor and comparative critic Elisabeta Lasconi will speak on Kazantzakis.
Also, presentations will be made of two new bilingual publications that were circulated this year: Poeme (Poems) of Cavafy, by the Omonia publishing house, and Kazantzakis' Hristos rastingnit din nou (Christ Recrucified), by the Humanistas publishing firm.
Excerpts of works by the two Greek literary greats will also be read out by Bucharest National Theater actors.
 Foreign truck driver arrested for smuggling illegal immigrantsA Turkish truck driver, believed to be a member of an organised immigrant-smuggling ring, was arrested at dawn Saturday by Corinth police outside Kiato, along the Athens-Patras national highway, for transporting 44 illegal immigrants.
The illegal immigrants -- 17 Iraqi and Afghani nationals -- were concealed inside the truck behind crates and iron bars destined for Italy, via the port of Patras.
Two more ring members -- an Albanian and an Afghani national -- were following the truck in a car, but managed to flee and were wanted.
The ring charged the Iraqis 1,500 euros each and the Afghanistan nationals 2,000 euros each for transporting them.
The Turkish driver was due to be led before the Corinth prosecutor, while the truck, cash and other objects found in his possession were confiscated.
 Illegal immigrants detained on FarmakonissiA Coastguard patrol boat picked up 19 illegal immigrants early Monday from the sea area east of Farmakonissi island, near Leros.
The 19 men, who lacked travel documents, were taken to the port authority on nearby Leros island, where they stated that the had set sail on an inflatable boat from the Turkish coast, with the aim of illegally entering into Greece.
They destroyed the inflatable boat and jumped into the sea, however, when they were spotted by the parol boat.
The 19 men were taken for precautionary medical examinations, while a preliminary investigation is being conducted by the local port authority.
 Immigrant support groups stage protest outside Commission offices in AthensMembers of the Network for Social Support of Refugees and Immigrants and the Panhellenic Network of Anti-racist and Migration Organisations staged a rally outside the European Commission offices in downtown Athens on Saturday.
The demonstrators were protesting against an EU directive due to be voted on in the European Parliament on June 18 on harmonisation of the procedures for the return of thrid-country residents, charging that the directive provides for 18-month detention of migrants illegally entering the European Union, immediate expulsion to their country of origin, and a 5-year prohibition on their re-entering the EU.
 Warm on TuesdayFair weather, with a small rise in temperature, was forecast throughout Greece on Tuesday. Fine in Athens, with temperatures ranging from 21C to 35C. The same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 32C.
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