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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-09-09
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Russian president Putin begins pilgrimage to Mt. Athos monastic communityRussian president Vladimir Putin on Friday commenced a visit to the Mt. Athos monastic community, under draconian security measures, where he received a warm greeting.
Putin, the first Russian leader to visit Mt. Athos, a worship site that is extremely respected and loved in Russia, reached Karyes, capital of the monastic community, shortly after noon on Friday, arriving from Sithonia in the Halkidiki prefecture, where he met with prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday evening.
President Putin had twice scheduled such a pilgrimage to Athos in the past -- in December 2001 and in September 2004 -- but the visit was cancelled both times. The first visit was cancelled to to inclement weather conditions on Mt. Athos at the time, and the second visit was cancelled due to the hostage crisis at a school in the North Ossetia capital of Beslan when Chechen rebels took over the elementary school, in which more than 300 children and adults were killed.
The Athos monastic leadership greeted Putin in a stately ceremony in accordance with the Byzantine ritual. The Russian president was greeted by the head of the Holy Assembly, Pavlos, who escorted Putin to the entrance of the Protatos church, where the Superiors of the community's monasteries, the representatives of the monasteries to the Holy Community, and the members of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's exarchy were awaiting him.
Putin greeted all the monks one by one before entering the Church, where he lit a candle, worshipped the revered Axion Esti icon of the Virgin holding the Child Jesus, and attended a Te Deum.
Responding to the greeting by Pavlos, Putin expressed gratitude for being given the opportunity to visit Mt. Athos, which he described as a "special site for the Orthodox Christians and the entire Christian world".
"In Russia, we have always respected and have great respect the people who take up the monastic life here. Russia has always had strong bonds with Mt. Athos. All its spiritual roots are linked with Mt. Athos. In my country, all the social strata have great respect for Mt. Athos," Putin said.
The next stop on Putin's itinerary is the building of the Holy Community, after which he will visit the Iviron monastery, followed by a visit in the afternoon to the Panteleimon monastery, which is inhabited by Russian monks.
 Thessaloniki to become science centre in SE Europe"The government aims to establish the Thessaloniki region as a pole of attracting scientists from Southeastern Europe and becoming the base of new enterprises in the new technologies sector," Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters, after a visit to the Sciences Centre and Technology Museum and the National Centre of Research and Technological Development in Thessaloniki, the Greek Premier expressed his satisfaction over the development of sciences centres in the city and noted that both institutions were consistently servicing a double target: to the citizens closer the science and technoly and to become structural elements of an innovative nature of the city of Thessaloniki and Northern Greece in general.
"These institutions, the wider Innovation Zone, and the foundation of a International University, are very significant steps towards establishing the Thessaloniki region as a pole of attracting scientists from Southeastern Europe and at the same time establishing the region as the base of new enterprises in the new technology sectors," Karamanlis said. "In this framework, and according to targets set in Lisbon, we support both institutionally and financially -and within limitations set by the country's fiscal condition- research activities. We work hard with the belief that our country has all the preconditions needed to play a leading role in a new era," the Prime Minister said.
 Patrol cars donated to Bulgarian border policeSofia (ANA/B. Borisov) -- The Hellenic Police (ELAS) on Thursday donated eight patrol cars to the Bulgarian border police, in a third tranche of donations of patrol cars, police motorcycles and other equipment, with which ELAS is supporting its Bulgarian colleagues in their difficult fight against crime.
ELAS general police inspector for Northern Greece Efstratios Kyriakakis, and Bulgarian deputy interior minister Tsonko Kirov stressed the importance of the excellent cooperation between the police services of their tw countries both for the fight against organised crime and for the guarding of the European Union's internal borders, in their addresses during the delivery ceremony, which was also attended by Greek ambassador in Sofia Prokopios Mantzouranis, representatives of the local governments, and other officials.
The two sides are determined to expand their cooperation in the fight against people trafficing and drug trafficing, as well as other forms of organised crime, Kyriakakis said.
In execution of the fundamental guidelines for the development of cooperation of the security services, which were set out during Greek public order minister George Voulgarakis' recent visit to Sofia in May, officers of the Bulgarian police will be trained in Greece, while the border guard services of the two countries will be regularly cooerdinating their actions in joint meetings, etc.
Kirov expressed the Bulgarian police's gratitude for the support, who also said that the exceelent relations between the services responsible for maintaining public order in the two countries was included in the framework for the dymanic development of bilateral relations in recent years, which he said was an important factor for stability and security in the wider region.
 Greece reiterates support for UN reformsGreece's permament representative to the United Nations, ambassador Adamantios Vasilakis, on Thursday called for protection of the UN's prestige, while expressing Greece's full support, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, for UN secretary general Koffi Annan's proposals regarding the restructure and more efficient operation of the international organisation.
Addressing an open meeting of the Security Council, during which the definitive report of the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) on the overall management and oversight of the UN's Oil-for-Food programme for Iraq was presented, Vassilakis noted that the past two years had been very difficult for the UN chief, "but we have all followed your courage, determination and frankness, with the presentation of proposals and adoption of changes, beginning with the set-up of the IIC".
Vasilakis also thanked IIC head Paul Volcker and the other members of the independent committee for their briefing and the presentation of their report to the Security Council.
He said that the report, judging by its bulk alone, represented the work of tens of lawyers, investigators and experts over the period of more than a year.
Besides the report's volume, however, of utmost importance was its content, Vasilakis said, adding that the Security Council had so far been able to only take a quick look, via the introduction that has been uploaded on the IIC webpage and the IIC's briefing to the body.
"In order to devote the due attention to the extensive work of the IIC and to be able to garner useful conclusions for the future, we must study the report and its findings very carefully," the Greek envoy said, adding that this would take some time.
But regardless of how much time was necessary, the one thing that was certain is that "we must do something".
"We must react in a cohesive and lucid manner. We must not rush to conclusions in the heat of the moment regarding the magnitude of the corruption suffered by the UN's credibility over the Oil-For-Food programme," Vasilakis warned, noting that "the programme, as stated by the IIC, did meet the food and health needs of the Iraqi people, which Saddam Hussein had systematically ignored".
He said that the inquiry into the Oil-for-Food programme contained valuable information "on how we can improve the work of the Organisation (UN), to which we all belong".
 ANA, MPE live web coverage of TIF highlight eventsGreece's two news agencies, the Athens News Agency (ANA) and the Macedonian Press Agency (MPA) will directly broadcast from Thessaloniki they highlight events of the 70th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) live via Internet to the entire country and throughout the world.
The programme of live webcasts by the two news agencies, which are currently in the process of merging, includes:
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