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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-01-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] 'No panic, no complacency' health minister says after meeting on bird flu
  • [02] Alogoskoufis: Greece committed to reaching deficit target in 2006
  • [03] KKE leader holds talks with PM

  • [01] 'No panic, no complacency' health minister says after meeting on bird flu

    Greece has been prepared to face a possible avian flu epidemic for months, taking all measures humanly possible, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said on Wednesday.

    "There is no panic, no complacency but a full alert," the minister told reporters after an emergency government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to discuss the rash of bird flu cases in neighbouring Turkey. The meeting was also attended by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Agriculture Minister Evangelos Basiakos, whose ministries play a vital role in measures against bird flu.

    "The epidemiological developments in Turkey are not good. This is not worrying at present since in epidemiological developments the facts can change on a daily basis," he added.

    Kaklamanis said the Greek government had prepared a national action plan to deal with an avian flu outbreak, as well as the Perseus programme, both of which had been presented to the European Union and received approval. These plans would now be updated, he added.

    He announced that a health ministry committee will visit Athens' international airport Eleftherios Venizelos on Wednesday afternoon to give airport services additional instructions and inspect the measures already being taken to avoid the spread of the potentially deadly virus.

    Athens airport is currently the only gateway to Turkey for airplanes, while containment measures will also be taken at land borders in Evros and on small islands near the Turkish coast where there is cross-border traffic.

    Kaklamanis said the government had already prepared an information campaign that included posters issued by the agriculture ministry notifying of a ban on the transport of any type of poultry or poultry products.

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, meanwhile, presented a leaflet prepared by the interior ministry containing information on bird flu and precautions against it, which will start being distributed as of Wednesday.

    The health minister also announced that a special meeting of health ministers worldwide will be held in China on January 17-18 to discuss a worldwide mobilisation against the spread of avian flu, which will also be attended by foreign ministry officials.

    He additionally stressed, in response to questions, that the health ministry faced no shortages from the past.

    The agriculture minister, meanwhile, said that prefectures and veterinary laboratories throughout Greece had been reinforced with an additional 500 vets and other scientists.

    Asked to explain why he had qualified the measures taken as "those humanly possible", Kaklamanis stressed that the measures were complete, as they were in all EU countries, and that the qualification referred to the fact that it was impossible to establish "borders in the skies" that would prevent the movements of birds.

    The additional precautions have already been taken at the Kipoi border crossing in Evros, where an extra disinfection system was installed on Wednesday. Due to the low temperatures in the region, there are fears that there may be problems with the flow of the special disinfectant fluids through the system's pipes. All vehicles crossing the border from Turkey are obliged to undergo disinfection.

    The Cross-border Prefecture Cooperation Network between Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria is to meet on Thursday morning in Xanthi to exchange views and coordinate the actions of the six prefectures on the Greek side of the border.

    Bird flu has been found in a third of Turkish provinces and has killed at least two children and infected more than a dozen people. Some of the areas where birds have been infected are

    only a few nautical miles off Greek islands in the Aegean sea.

    Greece has so far had no confirmed cases of the deadly H5N1 virus on its territory.

    Scientists fear the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, which is known to have killed 78 people worldwide, could mutate into a form that can spread easily between humans, leading to a pandemic.

    Government spokesman

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that Greece did not intend to take additional measures to those required by EU directives and taken by other European countries.

    "There is no need for panic. Our country, in cooperation with the health services of other European countries, is closely monitoring the phenomenon and all necessary measures have been taken. There is a need for greater strictness at customs posts and we have already contacted customs authorities and resent a circular on the measures that must be observed at entry points," the spokesman said.

    [02] Alogoskoufis: Greece committed to reaching deficit target in 2006

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday reiterated the government's commitment to reduce the country's fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP this year.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Luxembourg's Prime Minister and Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker in Luxembourg, the Greek minister said: "We had a very good cooperation with Eurogroup's head. We discussed all issues scheduled for Eurogroup's agenda in the next six months and mainly evaluation of reform programmes and stability and growth programmes by Eurozone member states".

    "I analyzed all initiatives taken by the Greek government to cut its deficit and reforms in the framework of a Lisbon Strategy and I reiterated our commitment that with our 2006 budget the deficit will fall below 3.0 percent of GDP this year, allowing Greece to move out of an excessive deficit procedure".

    [03] KKE leader holds talks with PM

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Wednesday called on prime minister Costas Karamanlis, with whom she discussed the planned revision of the Consitution and the anti-communist memorandum currently before the Council of Europe.

    After the one-hour meeting, Papariga said she asked the prime minister that the ruling New Democracy party's (ND) delegation at the Council of Europe vote gainst the "fascist memorandum", noting that the ND delegation had already voted against the memorandum at the Council of Europe's Political Committee.

    She further said that all political parties should reject the memorandum regardless of their ideological convictions and their own positions with respect to communist parties.

    The KKE secretary general said that at stake was whether the peoples will have the right to struggle and pursue, and whether the communist parties will have the right to act and struggle for the rights of the peoples.

    Papariga said that there were "powers that wish to put the peoples in a cast" with the draft resolution that was before the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.

    She also expressed the KKE's opposition to the revision of the Constitution proposed by the government, explaining that her party opposed the revision "not because a revision is not necessary, but because the reactionary measures will be increased with the revision".

    She added, however, that when the proper time came, the KKE would state its position formally.

    Regarding the Constitutional revision per se, the question was what direction it would take, Papariga said.

    She said there existed reactionary laws which needed to be abolished, and referring to the issue of the alleged abduction and interrogation of Pakistanis, said "they were carried out under agreements that had been signed by the preceding (PASOK) government, which gave the right to the Americans and the British to act in our country".

    Papariga said the KKE did not agree with observance of legality given that reactionary laws were being passed every day, stressing her party's position on the need to for abolition of the reactionary laws.

    There was no legality when the collective, but also the individual, rights of the citizens are violated, she said.

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