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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-01-21

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] City eyes ban on plastic bags
  • [02] Athens on first 'name issue' session
  • [03] Local Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] City eyes ban on plastic bags

    The city of Athens on Monday announced that it will sign a memorandum of cooperation with supermarket chains next month aiming to eliminate plastic bags within municipal boundaries, an environment-friendly initiative similar to efforts in other major metropolises around the world.

    The decision was taken on Monday at a working meeting chaired by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.

    The development ministry's general secretary for commerce, Dimitrios Skiadas, as well as representatives of the supermarket chains A-B Vassilopoulos, Carrefour, Veropoulos, Sklavenitis, Dia, Metro, Atlantic, Galaxias and Bazaar attended the meeting.

    A pilot scheme, which entails the gradual replacement of plastic bags with bags fabricated from environmentally friendly materials, will begin within the first two weeks of April. The aim is to totally eliminate the use of plastic supermarket bags within the upcoming summer.

    The City of Athens is the largest and most populous municipality in the greater Athens-Piraeus area, which hosts roughly half of the country's population of 11 million residents and generates nearly two-thirds of the country's economic output.

    Caption: Customers use plastic bags to carry goods at a supermarket in downtown Qingdao city, in eastern China's Shandong province on Jan. 13, 2008. The Chinese government has ordered a ban on the production, sale and use of ultra-thin bags as of June 1, part of a campaign against "white pollution". Supermarkets and shops will be banned from giving free plastic bags to customers as of that date, but they can sell plastic bags. As many as three billion plastic bags are used in China each day. ANA-MPA/EPA/WU HONG

    [02] Athens on first 'name issue' session

    UN-sponsored talks that began in Ochrid on Monday between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) ended after three hours with little progress to report.

    Greek envoy Adamantios Vassilakis and his FYROM counterpart Nikola Dimitrov had met under the auspices of UN mediator Matthew Nimetz but, as expected, did not achieve any new breakthroughs in the long-mired dispute that has marred the two countries' otherwise friendly and robust relations.

    Nimetz described the meeting as "useful and open" and told reporters that the two sides had been more direct in stating their positions and arguments than in previous meetings. At the same time, he admitted that serious differences remained regarding the name issue and pointed out that a solution would upgrade relations between Greece and FYROM in all areas.

    The mediator said that some ideas and thoughts had been presented and examined during Monday's meeting but that there was no new proposal for the name issue. He added that a new meeting will be held in Greece in a few weeks.

    Vassilakis said Greece had made a "giant leap" in accepting a composite name for its small land-locked northern neighbour. He also stressed that the dispute over the name was not just a bilateral issue but one linked to the security and stability of the region, as well as one that is being discussed within the framework of the United Nations.

    The Greek envoy said that finding a solution to the name issue would contribute to further developing cooperation and friendship between the two countries.

    Dimitrov said FYROM had submitted a proposal for a joint committee to look at history textbooks, as well as proposing meetings at a higher level with Greece, the opening of a new border crossing and the signature of an agreement for avoiding double taxation.

    He noted that FYROM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki, who kicked off Monday's meeting in the picturesque lake-side town in FYROM's southwest, had submitted a "declaration of friendship and cooperation" to the Greek side. If Greece accepted this, Milososki proposed that it be signed by the foreign ministers of both countries before the end of February, he added.

    Regarding Greece's proposal for a composite name, Dimitrov said Skopje did not see this as a major step. "We consider that the temporary name for our country is a composite name," he added.

    "Our position is that the country's entry into international organisations must not be obstructed since this is something mentioned in the Interim Agreement of 1995," Dimitrov said.

    He also insisted on Skopje's position that the name dispute was a bilateral issue, claiming that only Greece had a problem with his country's adopted name, i.e. "Republic of Macedonia".

    Replying to press questions in Athens regarding the Ochrid talks, particularly Skopje's attempt to present the problem as 'bilateral', Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis warned that "constantly and insistently challenging decisions of the UN Security Council is a very slippery road for regional stability and security".

    She stressed that Greece had always taken the negotiating process taking place under UN auspices very seriously, without tactical moves or artificial delays and without questioning the content, object and purpose of the negotiations.

    "This negotiation is taking place in order to find a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of the name that so greatly affects good neighbour relations between FYROM and Greece, a member-state of NATO and the EU. In other words, two organisations that FYROM hopes to join," she underlined.

    The Greek foreign minister also cited Security Council resolution 817, which calls for the issue to be resolved for the benefit of peaceful relations and good neighbour relations in the region.

    "This phrase alone of the Security Council makes absolutely clear the regional and international dimension and importance of the issue, which is clearly not exclusively bilateral as the governments in Skopje are attempting to portray it," she added.

    Bakoyannis also emphasised that the Security Council would not have for the past 15 years arranged for negotiations under the auspices of a special envoy of the UN Secretary-General just to decide how Greece would call a country in their bilateral transactions.

    "That could have been done unilaterally and without negotiations. So let us finish with these so-called arguments about an exclusively bilateral issue. These are arguments challenging the decisions of the United Nations and the other agreed texts and are essentially unfounded and without basis. We are continuing to work in the direction of a real resolution of the issue, which is a mutually acceptable name in the issue with Skopje," she concluded.

    Greece objects to FYROM using the name 'Macedonia' on historical grounds and because it is also the name of a large northern Greek province -- by itself larger than FYROM -- that shares a border with FYROM, claiming that it could give rise to future expansionist claims on its territory. In neighbouring FYROM, the country's Slav majority ostensibly see the current name as an "issue of identity".

    Nimetz is expected to have a similar meeting with the two negotiators, Amb. Vassilakis and Amb. Dimitrov, in Athens next month.

    The UN envoy said the Ochrid meeting is the first outside the United Nations' headquarters.

    Nimetz is expected to meet with FYROM's leadership later on Monday in Skopje.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of UN mediator Matthew Nimetz.

    [03] Local Newspaper Headlines

    The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    More testimony in the heated Zachopoulos affair and an opinion poll on behalf of a local newspaper ostensibly showing respondents' dismay vis-a-vis the two major parties dominated headlines on Monday in Athens' dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Main opposition leader George Papandreou and high ranking PASOK member Evangelos Venizelos' paths split - Venizelos' leaving the party was confirmed during the meeting of party's Congress Organising Committee".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Theatre of the absurd - Critical week for clearing up the Zachopoulos scandal".

    CHORA: "The Prime Minister's fast decline and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's collapse - The behind-the-scenes in the Zachopoulos serial".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Themos Anastassiadis (PROTO THEMA newspaper co-publisher, rumoured to be the "courier" of the Zachopoulos DVD) second testimony - The most critical day of the DVD case is Monday".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Government's new plan on social security reforms - Government accelerates reforms in small doses".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Youth Parliament: Please protect our dreams".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Examining magistrate is called on to untangle the government from the DVD courier knot".

    ESTIA: "Institutions are malfunctioning - Politicians are the only ones to blame".

    ETHNOS: "Turkish landmine via imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan- Ocalan is being 'facilitated' in filing lawsuit against Greece" demanding compensation.

    TA NEA: "Examining magistrate focuses on five contradictions - The most critical week in Zachopoulos affair".

    VRADYNI: "Mayor of Athens Nikitas Kaklamanis' proposal for co-governance - Kaklamanis states his views to the newspaper".


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