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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-05-23

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] AC Milan wins Champions League in Athens
  • [02] Greece, Australia sign social security agreement
  • [03] Plaque on Karpathos unveiled for fallen pilot
  • [04] EP adopts agreement on roaming charges

  • [01] AC Milan wins Champions League in Athens

    AC Milan (Italy) won the Champions League after beating Liverpool FC (England) 2-1 (halftime 1-0) in the soccer final played at the Olympic Stadium (OAKA) in Athens on Wednesday night.

    Milan's goals were scored by Filippo Inzaghi in the 45th minute and 82nd.

    Liverpool's goal was scored by Dirk Kuyt in the 89th.

    Among the spectators were President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias and UEFA President Michel Platini.

    A full compliment of nearly 14,000 uniformed police officers were in and around the stadium, as well as in the capital's centre, metro stations and the airport.

    The area around the stadium was off-limits to individuals without tickets, whereas mass transit routes were increased and operated throughout the night.

    Video walls were set up at the Zappeion Gardens in central Athens - only a stone's throw from the Greek Parliament.

    [02] Greece, Australia sign social security agreement

    Greece and Australia signed a long-awaited bilateral social security agreement here on Wednesday, providing for recognition of Greek-Australians' pension and healthcare rights, during Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' official visit to Australia and following talks with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

    The significant accord, which was signed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on behalf of Greece, was completed after lengthy negotiations and will benefit the Greeks of Australia, Karamanlis said.

    "We are resolving a matter that has been outstanding for decades, and which will enable our Greek-Australian fellow citizens to enjoy their pension rights and their healthcare rights," he said.

    Howard, in turn, stressed that the accord concerned thousands of Greeks of Australia, who would benefit, and expressed satisfaction that the signing of the agreement was made possible after many years of negotiations.

    Replying to press questions, Karamanlis said the agreement would be in force in four months' time, and anticipated that at least 60,000 Greek-Australians would benefit immediately.

    Karamanlis noted, in reply to another question, that the accord was founded on the principle of equal treatment of the citizens of both countries in matters of social insurance and security. Consequently, he clarified, as foreseen under Australian legislation, the Greek Australian beneficiaries in Australia were required to declare their properties and assets, stressing that in no instance was the Greek state responsible for doing this on their behalf. "Nothing is changing (in that respect) for the Greek Australians," he said.

    The agreement is founded on the principles of equal treatment with respect to social security; co-calculation of the periods of social insurance and residence in the two contracting countries for establishing pension rights; proportional apportionment of pension benefits and of the unhindered transfer of benefits to the beneficiary's country of residence. The accord covers only age-related retirement pensions.

    Greek-Australians returning to Greece after the agreement enters into force will receive a retirement pension calculated on a formula in which the numerator is the number of years of residence in Australia and the denominator is 25 years.

    For former residents of Australia who have already returned to Greece or will return to Greece prior to the enforcement of the agreement, the pension will be calculated on a different formula in which the numerator will again be the number of years of residence while the denominator will be 44 years.

    Also, Greece will grant pension benefits even with only one year of insurance. For example, if a beneficiary has 300 days of social insurance in Greece and has 14 years of residence and social security in Australia, then he has a pension right in both Greece and Australia. In accordance with the above regulation, the pension beneficiary and the members of his family are entitled to full healthcare coverage by the Greek system.

    In addition, the agreement further guarantees the acquired rights of the beneficiaries who already receive any category of pension benefits (not only age pensions) from Australia. The payment of the pension from Australia will in no instance be dependent on the right of a pension benefit from Greece.

    Furthermore, on the Australian side, Greek benefits, such as the low pension stipend (EKAS), the OGA farmers' pension and certain benefits for large families (four children or more) will not be taken into consideration during the calculation of income for determining pension.

    Talks with Howard

    During talks between Karamanlis and Howard, special mention was made of the dynamic presence of the ethnic Greek community in Australia and the central role it plays in preserving and strengthening the bonds between the two countries, while emphasis was also placed on progress in bilateral relations in the economy, trade and the educational sector.

    The two prime ministers further discussed European Union enlargement, Turkey's EU accession course, Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue.

    Karamanlis stressed that Greece appreciated Australia's stance on Greek foreign policy issues of priority, and particularly on the FYROM name issue.

    Howard called Karamanlis a "personal friend", and expressed satisfaction over their discussion.

    To a question on Greece's campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum and Australia's stance, Howard noted that for many years he has repeatedly taken up this matter with the British prime minister, but added that, "in the final analysis, it is an issue that concerns Greece and Britain".

    Karamanlis added that the issue "is not only a Greek demand". He explained that it was an "issue of reunification of a very important monument of global import", adding that "we must continue our efforts with all our friends and with all the governments".

    "We must all unite our voices for the return of the cultural inheritance of the Parthenon," Karamanlis said.

    Champions League final in Athens

    Regarding a question on the Champions League final to be held on Wednesday night at Athens' main Olympic stadium (OAKA) and whether he was concerned with the country's international image, Karamanlis that the final was a "celebration of football (soccer), a sport event with world-wide radiance, as the eyes of millions of people were turned to it.

    "It was Greece's duty, therefore, as it had done during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, to pass the test and prove that we have the experience, the know-how, the determination to host such major events with absolute success and safety".

    He said that preparation carried out for the final was very good and expressed certainty that the game would take place smoothly, adding that "I hope that all fans will enjoy an excellent, quality spectacle worthy of the history of these two great teams".

    Meeting with opposition leader

    After the statements to the press, Karamanlis met with opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd, who spoke warmly of the Greek community in Australia and also on Greece's course in the EU and the country's economic growth.

    Later, at a luncheon in Karamanlis' honour at the Australian parliament, Premier Howard spoke of the long-standing bonds of friendship between the two countries, which he said were also forged by their common struggles against Nazism.

    In his remarks, Karamanlis stressed that Greece and Australia had a common perspective on most of the important issues of the times and the corresponding challenges faced by the globalise society.

    On the Cyprus issue, he said that Greece placed great weight on a just solution of the Cyprus problem that must conform with all the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

    Greece, as a member of the EU, will continue to contribute to the global effort to meet the challenges, he said, adding that it also remained dedicated to its commitment to win the fight against terrorism, and was further determined to secure a peaceful resolution of all the issues being faced today.

    Turning to bilateral trade between Greece and Australia, he said that it remained at a relatively low level, and expressed hope that his visit will led to broadening and development of their commercial relations.

    Karamanlis later visited the Hellenic Australian Monument, where he laid a wreath and presented medals to Greek and Australian veterans of WWII, and later laid another wreath at the Australian National Cenotaph (tomb of the Unknown Soldier).

    On Thursday morning, Karamanlis will travel to Adelaide, where he will meet with South Australia State Premier Mike Rann and Adelaide Lord Mayor Michael Harbison, followed by a reception with the local Greek community before leaving for Melbourne, where he will address members of the ethnic Greek community at a dinner.

    Karamanlis will meet with Victoria State Premier Steve Bracks and opposition members on Friday, while that same night he will address a large gathering of Greek Australians at the Rod Laver Arena.

    On Saturday, Karamanlis will leave for Darwin, where he will meet with Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin, followed by a reception hosted by Martin.

    At noon on Saturday, the Greek prime minister will depart Darwin for Hanoi, Vietnam, on the last leg of his tour of Oceania, where he will have talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.

    Caption: Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (R) with Australian Prime Minister John Howard during a press conference in Canberra on Wednesday, May 23, 2007. (ANA-MPA / EPA/ALAN PORRITT)

    [03] Plaque on Karpathos unveiled for fallen pilot

    A plaque bearing the name of fallen Hellenic Air Force pilot Costas Iliakis, who died a year ago in a mid-air collision with a Turkish warplane over the southeastern Aegean Sea, was unveiled on Wednesday on the Dodecanese island of Karpathos by Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis.

    The Greek pilot had been attempting to intercept a formation of Turkish fighter jets that had entered the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) about 15 miles southeast of Karpathos without submitting flight plans -- a regular violation in skies above the Aegean Sea by Turkish military planes.

    Also present during the ceremony were main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis and the family of the fallen aviator.

    In his address, Meimarakis underlined that Greece "works for peace, stability and the reduction of tension in the Aegean, something that Turkey should do as well".

    He also called on Turkey to put a stop to its practice of regularly violating air traffic regulations in the Aegean and to work for the region's security and the prospect of the country's accession to the EU.

    Papandreou's remarks at the ceremony underlined the need to provide material and moral support to the Greek armed forces and to forge a national strategy that brought peace and security but also guaranteed Greece's territorial rights and its just national causes.

    In comments on Iliakis, meanwhile, Papandreou quoted a phrase by the early 20th-century Greek politician Eleftherios Venizelos, who had said that "freedom is not offered but won".

    There followed the unveiling of a plaque at the head of a central road of the island's capital, while a pair of air force fighter jets flew over the island in formation during the ceremony.

    Caption: Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis (R), along with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou (L) and Deputy FM Yiannis Valinakis (C) at the ceremony on Karpathos on Wednesday, May 23, 2007. ANA-MPA / K. NIKOLAIDOU.

    [04] EP adopts agreement on roaming charges

    The European Parliament adopted on Wednesday, by an overwhelming majority, a compromise agreement on roaming charges of public mobile networks.

    The European Parliament has ensured that customers will benefit from cheaper roaming by the summer holidays.

    According to the compromise, the average wholesale charge excluding VAT that a ''visited'' operator can levy on a roaming customer's ''home'' operator for the provision of roaming calls will be capped at 0.30 euros per minute instead of the proposed placing 0.36 euros on the average wholesale price.

    The cap, in line with MEP proposals, will decrease automatically by 2 cents per year over a three-year period after the regulation's entry into force. The maximum retail charge excluding VAT for regulated roaming calls will be capped at 0.49 euros per minute for calls made and 0.24 euros per minute for calls received.

    Furthermore, the cap for outgoing calls will decrease automatically by 3 cents per year; the cap for incoming calls will decrease by 2 cents after the first year and 3 cents after the second year.

    As MEPs insisted, home providers will have to offer the Eurotariff to all their customers.

    Greece's New Democracy (ND) party Eurodeputy Manolis Mavromatis, who was the rapporteur of the Culture Committee's relevant opinion, termed the new prices as "a victory of the consumers" of mobile telephony and "a great step which will give a new breath to the domestic market."

    During a speech before the voting, Mavromatis stressed that "it is not a trench war between the European Union and the mobile telephony companies. It is part of the right of citizens to seek their protection when their interests become an object of exploitation by the monopolistic tendencies of the large companies."

    ND Eurodeputy Nikos Vakalis also spoke of a "victory of the consumers," of "a necessary measure," given that after many years, competition did not manage to reduce the prices in Europe.

    "Im completely satisfied by the compromise proposal which we voted today. Our main concern is to combine the needs of the consumers with the competitiveness of the European mobile telephony industry," Vakalis said.

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Eurodeputy Katerina Batzeli said that "in the present period where scepticism prevails, the specific initiative constitutes an opportunity for the institutional agencies of the European Union to show how directly they can intervene for the solution of the daily problems of the European citizen, but also how the rules of the domestic market can directly benefit the European consumer."


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