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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-01-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM: 2010 a year of reversals, changes
  • [02] Samaras: Economy needs breath of hope
  • [03] Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece with Blessing of the Waters
  • [04] 'We will do everything necessary'
  • [05] Aegean could be sea of peace
  • [06] Contraband cigarettes seized
  • [07] Trees, ornaments recycling

  • [01] PM: 2010 a year of reversals, changes

    "2010 will be a year of reversals," prime minister George Papandreou said on Wednesday, after attending the Epiphany blessing of the waters ceremony on the island of Lesvos.

    "The Greek people know that we had taken a wrong course. They know the difficulties, and live them every day due to the troubles in the economy...But they know, and it is my deep conviction, that we have immense possibilities," Papandreou added.

    He said that the prospects of the Greek people have many times been downgraded and stifled by parasitism and established perceptions, and stressed: "2010 will be a year of reversals and immense changes in order to lay the foundations for a different State that respects the citizens, their initiative and dreams, and the country."

    Papandreou said that the foundations will be put in place for a State of social justice and rule of law that will protect the citizens' rights, stressing that "we will make the big reversals together, with sincerity, a sense of social justice and certainty".

    "Major changes will be effected. We will all have to lend a helping hand, but I am optimistic. Hope, determination and certainty exist," he added.

    [02] Samaras: Economy needs breath of hope

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said on Wednesday that the economy needs a breath of hope, expressing hope that this will be forthcoming from the government.

    Samaras, speaking in his hometown of Pylos where he celebrated the Epiphany blessing of the waters, said: "Epiphany, in our tradition, is a breath of hope. Our economy has need of a breath of hope, and we hope the government will give it".

    He added that "I get a breath of hope when I am in the Greek periphery...Today is a great day for all of us, but for me in particular as I am in Pylos with people I love and who love me".

    [03] Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece with Blessing of the Waters

    The religious feast of Epiphany was celebrated throughout Greece on Wednesday with the traditional Blessing of the Waters.

    The ritual commemorates Jesus' baptism in the river Jordan, and according to St. John Chrysostom the day is called Epiphany, (from the Greek word for 'manifestation', 'epifaniea') because Jesus Christ manifested Himself to all people not when He was born but, rather, when He was baptized.

    On Epiphany daring Greeks brave the cold waters to dive for the cross after it has been blessed by a priest and thrown into the water, and the one who recovers the cross is blessed with good luck throughout the year.

    Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece officiated at the main ceremony in Piraeus, Greece's largest port, attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, while members of the Greek Seals dove for the cross.

    Representing the government at the ceremony was economy, competitiveness and shipping minister Louka Katseli, while main opposition New Democracy (ND) was represented by MP Yiannis Tragakis. Other officials in attendance included Parliament's first vice president Grigoris Niotis, MPs from the Piraeus electoral districts, mayor Panagiotis Fassoulas, and prefect Yiannis Michas.

    Prime minister George Papandreou attended the Epiphany ceremony on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, while main opposition ND leader Antonis Samaras attended the ceremony in his home town of Pylos.

    In Athens, the city's mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and culture and tourism development minister Pavlos Geroulanos attended the Blessing of the Waters at the Reservoir (Dexameni) in Kolonaki district.

    In Thessaloniki, the ceremony was officiated by Metropolitan Anthimos, and attended by defence minister Evangelos Venizelos, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, Thessaloniki prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis and mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.

    Caption: The Epiphany blessing of the waters ritual in Thessaloniki. (ANA-MPA/PIXEL/S. Barbaroussis)

    [04] 'We will do everything necessary'

    The acceleration of Greece's fiscal adjustment to three years was the decision of the prime minister and the government, which will do everything necessary, economy, competitiveness and shipping minister Louka Katseli said on Wednesday.

    The decision to accelerate the country's fiscal adjustment to three years "was our own decision, that of the prime minister and the entire government," Katseli said in reply to a question on whether the acceleration was imposed by the EU, adding that "we will do everything necessary for the country".

    Asked whether 2010 will be a difficult year, Katseli replied: "It will be a year of work and hope, a year of battles for a better future for our country".

    Katseli also voiced certainty that the government will succeed in this effort.

    Speaking after the Epiphany blessing of the waters in the port of Piraeus, where she represented the government, Katseli wished that "2010 will be a year of support for the Greek flag and Greek ships, for maritime training, for attraction of young people to the maritime profession, and for the safety of our ships and seamen, so that we will not mourn new victims, as we did recently".

    [05] Aegean could be sea of peace

    The Aegean is precious for Greece, a source of inspiration, and could be a sea of peace and bridge of Greece's relations with Turkey provided that the neighboring country fully respects international law and Greece's national sovereignty, alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas said on Wednesday, speaking after the Epiphany blessing of the waters on the remote island of Agathonissi.

    Droutsas noted that the island inhabitants were those who first and foremost desired good relations, peace and tranquil relations between Greece and Turkey, adding that "this is the message we want to send, that the Greek people wish to cooperate with the neighboring people, but in adherence of the self-evident, with respect for good neighbor relations".

    The alternate minister stressed that Greece is prepared for such cooperation, but at the same time is "absolute and strict" with respect to the country's sovereign rights, and warned that Greece has both the determination and the means to respond to any provocations and to effectively defend its sovereign rights.

    The island's community leader Evangelos Kotoros, in turn, said that the "outlandish, historically ungrounded theory of grey zones of the Turkish neighbors and their actions", such as the violations of Greece's national airspace, found the Agathonissi residents in the ramparts.

    [06] Contraband cigarettes seized

    Port authorities seized a Togo-flag freighter loaded with contraband cigarettes on Wednesday as the vessel was sailing off northern Evia, between the islands of Skiathos and Skopelos, and arrested the ship's 11-member Russian crew.

    Acting on a tip-off, the Hellenic Coast Guard's narcotics squad had set up a surveillance for the cargo ship "Mitridat", which they immobilised and led to the port of Aidipsos for a search.

    The search revealed 7,900 crates hidden in eight containers, containing a total of 395,000 cartons equivalent to 3,950,000 packs of contraband cigarettes.

    According to initial estimates, the contraband cigarettes seized represent more than 3 million euros in evaded taxes for the Greek state.

    The ship and contraband cigarettes were seized, while the 11 Russian sailors were arrested and were due to be taken before a local public prosecutor in Halkida.

    [07] Trees, ornaments recycling

    On Sunday, the 250 natural fir trees which formed the City of Athens Christmas tree will travel from Syntagma Square to the Pendeli range, to start a new life as a new forest.

    The fir tree saplings that made up Athens‚ environmentally friendly Christmas tree during the festive season are not "disposable" but living organisms which constitute a vital element of the environment, according to a City of Athens announcement.

    With this in mind, the City of Athens is participating in a tree-planting organized by the Pendeliko Protection and Regeneration Association (SPAP) with the support of SKAI private radio and television station and - as announced at the launch of Christmas events - will transfer the 250 fir trees to the fire-stricken Megaro Doukissis Plakendias area in Pendeli, so that they can be planted there.

    Athens Mayor Kaklamanis has invited all Athenians to participate in a Christmas tree and ornament recycling programme, the aim of which is to ensure that the materials are reused after the Christmas and New Year holidays.

    The recycling of natural and synthetic trees, Christmas ornaments and lights, which are used each year during the festive season, has now been incorporated in an integrated recycling programme implemented by the City of Athens.

    Citizen participation in the recycling programme entails a simple procedure and, most importantly, constitutes a practical expression of love for the environment and the city of Athens.

    More specifically, immediately after the holidays end:

    - City of Athens crews will collect natural Christmas trees and transfer them to the Agricultural University of Athens, so that they can be converted into fertiliser. Citizens need only leave their tree in a visible place next to their nearest municipal garbage bin.

    - Apart from natural trees, synthetic (plastic) Christmas trees are also recyclable (the majority are made from polyvinyl chloride, known as PVC). The trunk of synthetic trees is the only section that can be recycled and should be placed in a blue recycling bin.

    - Christmas ornaments can be recycled, depending on the materials used. More specifically, glass, plastic and paper ornaments should be placed in blue recycling bins.

    - Citizens can take their Christmas lights to City District offices, so that City of Athens crews can collect them and take them to an approved lighting fixture recycling organisation. Citizens can also call the Municipality‚s recycling line 1960.

    Deputy Mayor for Waste Management and Environment Yiorgos Dimopoulos noted: "Our effort to ensure Athens is clean and environmentally-friendly does not constitute a maxim or communication trick. It is an endless process, and on every possible occasion we strive to make a difference, reducing our ecological footprint on nature but by also raising awareness and encouraging citizens to participate in every action, which aims at recycling, environmental protection, cleanliness and the improvement of Athens‚ appearance."

    Caption: The City of Athens' giant Christmas tree in central Syntagma Square. (ANA-MPA)

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