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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-09-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] National Council for Foreign Policy ends with agreement on goals but not tactics
  • [02] ND secretary comments on Polyzos, stresses party's 'good overall image'
  • [03] Partial solar eclipse will be visible from Crete on Monday

  • [01] National Council for Foreign Policy ends with agreement on goals but not tactics

    A meeting of the National Council for Foreign Policy - a forum where the government and the parties in the opposition exchange views of major foreign affairs issues - ended on Thursday with agreement on overall strategic goals and long-term aims but not on the tactics for achieving them.

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis said the meeting had focused primarily on Turkey's European prospects, in view of the start of accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU on October 3, as well as the recent United Nations General Assembly and the situation in the Balkans.

    According to the minister, passions had run higher than usual during Thursday's meeting of the National Council and voices had been raised for the first time, while adding that this was "not in the spirit that meeting of the Council usually take place".

    He stressed, however, that there had been a useful exchange of views that confirmed that the National Council was a useful institution and a place for detailed, confidential and useful mutual exchange of information and a free exchange of views.

    According to Christos Papoutsis, who is in charge of foreign policy, security and defence issues on main opposition PASOK's Political Council, the main opposition was not prepared to back policies of "surrendering arms, lowered expectations for the country and Hellenism and lost opportunities".

    He said PASOK continued to support Turkey's European accession but stressed that the negotiating framework for Turkey's accession currently contained no deadlines and no fail-safes for issues in which Greece had an interest.

    Nikos Constantopoulos, who represented the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party, noted that Europe was currently undergoing a period of "fluidity" and a "poor climate" in Greek domestic affairs, while stressing that neither of these factors should be allowed to affect foreign policy issues.

    He also noted his party's backing for Turkey's EU accession in principle, on condition of Turkey's democratisation and that it respected European law and Community practices.

    [02] ND secretary comments on Polyzos, stresses party's 'good overall image'

    Ruling New Democracy's Central Committee Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis on Thursday underlined that the government was gradually fulfilling the pledges contained in the programme voted for by the electorate and that its overall image could not be tarnished by recent "isolated incidents" like those that led to the expulsion of ND MP Evangelos Polyzos.

    Emerging from a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, he also announced that progress was being made on changes to the system for local government elections.

    Pressed further concerning a spate of generalised and non-specific allegations hinting at corruption within government circles, which culminated in the removal of Polyzos for what was essentially an unfortunately-worded reaction, Meimarakis stressed the premier had made it clear he would show zero tolerance for phenomena of corruption.

    At the same time, the party secretary descibed the expulsion of Polyzos as a "stern" response that had "raised the bar" and created high expectations, while noting that it was impossible to remove an official every time they made a badly-phrased statement.

    "Neither [main opposition] PASOK nor the media will dictate when and if someone should be removed," he added.

    Polyzos was expelled from ND's parliamentary group after saying that there were "bad and good people in every party" when asked to comment on a purported statement by ND farmer trade unionist Thanassis Kokkinoulis that certain aides of ministers were guilty of accepting bribes. Kokkinoulis later denied making the statements attributed to him, while Polyzos publicly said that his own statement was general and did not refer to any specific instance.

    Asked to clarify Meimarakis' statements later in the day, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said they had been general and that "high expectations were created in people by the need for a change in attitude and behaviour".

    On Meimarakis' statement concerning the media, Roussopoulos stressed that the government respected the media, journalists and their function.

    "Every government in a democracy knows that it will be subjected to criticism. This is not the place to analyse what is acceptable criticism this should be, criticism is welcome as long as it is made in good faith," he said.

    [03] Partial solar eclipse will be visible from Crete on Monday

    Weather permitting, a partial solar eclipse will be visible in Greece next Monday, October 3.

    The eclipse will be total for sections of Spain, Portugal and Africa and partial in Greece, with a maximum 57 per cent coverage of the sun's surface over Iraklio, Crete.

    The phenomenon will begin on Crete at around 11:42 and reach its peak coverage at 12:40, ending after three hours at 14:11.

    The eclipse will be observed by astronomy students at Crete University using a telescope with a special solar filter and through a telescope owned by the Crete University Physics Department, again equipped with a special solar filter. Both telescopes will be placed on the roof of the physics department, eight kilometres outside the city of Iraklio.

    Scientists also warned that special glasses or other specialised equipment are needed in order to observe a solar eclipse and cautioned the public against using ordinary sunglasses, which do not provide adequate protection. They also noted that smoked glass, which is often used in order to observe an eclipse, does not block ultraviolet rays.

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