|Wednesday, 19 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 President Papoulias reiterates support for Albania's EU prospects, refers to rights of ethnic Greek minorityPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias was the keynote speaker on Sunday at a New Year's event organised by the federation of organisations representing people from the mountainous northwest province of Epirus -- Papoulias' ancestral home as well -- where he touched on relations with neighboring Albania, Greece's neighbor on the Epirus frontier.
In citing the neighbouring country, Papoulias said Athens fully supports Tirana‚s European prospects, which he stressed, however, will necessitate "complete respect of the Greek minority's rights".
Papoulias, a former foreign minister in the 1990s and an architect of normalized ties with Albania following the collapse of a xenophobic Stalinist regime in that country, referred directly to the ethnic Greek community of southern Albania -- themselves identified as Epirots -- who languished in the neighbouring country during more than four decades under Europe's most isolated and authoritarian regimes.
The president said the ethnic Greek community of Albania continues to struggle for its rights, "struggles that are more effective when done with unity and harmony".
He also noted that Athens is doing everything possible to improve bilateral relations with the once impoverished country, which today boasts noteworthy growth rates.
Greece currently hosts a large number of Albanian guest workers and ranks as among Albania's biggest trade partners and investors.
Referring to the Epirus province itself, Papoulias said the goal is greater growth in rugged region known by that name since early antiquity.
 Papandreou meets with Sonia Gandhi, Indian FM MukherjeeNEW DELHI (ANA-MPA / V. Mourtis)
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met with India National Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi and Indian External Affairs Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee here on Sunday in his capacity as president of the Socialist International.
Papandreou arrived in the Indian capital to attend sessions of the ruling party's conference, which begins on Monday.
Afterwards, Papandreou said that "following the discussion we had with my friend Sonia Gandhi and the minister of external affairs of India, I had the pleasure of announcing the substantive participation of this great party, the Congress Party, in the Socialist International, in an organised and systematic way, which, of course, will contribute to giving India a wider voice and strengthening the voice of socialists, of progressive forces, worldwide. With this message, we are highlighting the role played by the Socialist International in the global discussion over major issues of the era."
Papandreou added that "we had the opportunity of discussing Asian regional issues. Asia is a region of interest to Greece, because it is a developing and dynamic region, but I also had the opportunity of referring to our bilateral relations, such as the relations between PASOK and the Congress Party, and to the regional issues that concern us, such as Cyprus. It was a very constructive discussion and yet another voice of our country, Greece, in this region."
 Nicholas Burns requests increase in Greek forces in Afghanistan NATO forceWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA - T. Ellis)
U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary of State Nicholas Burns on Friday expressed the satisfaction of the United States over Greece's participation in the NATO alliance's operations in Afghanistan so far, while at the same time requesting an increase in the number of the Greek and of the rest of the forces serving with the NATO force there.
"We are very grateful for the presence of the Greek forces and for the participation of Greece," he said, adding that "we hope that Greece, as well as the other allies, will examine the possibility of doing more. We would hope that Greece would be in a position to provide a greater number of forces and this is the message that we are also sending to our other allies in NATO."
 Cypriot party leader holds talks with ND party delegationCyprus Democratic Rally (DHSY) party leader Nikos Anastasiades and a delegation of the ruling New Democracy party, headed by Iakovos Fratzis, held talks in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, at noon on Saturday, focusing on the issue of Cyprus and relations between the two parties.
Earlier, Anastasiades exchanged views on the national issue, as well as on organizational issues, with DHSY officials in Thessaloniki in the framework of a meeting ahead of the party's congress due to be held on May 20. He also had a courtesy meeting with Thessaloniki Metropolitan Anthimos.
 Opinion polls gauge public sentiment on protests, tax evasionResults of a latest opinion poll focused on the public's view regarding sensitive social issues such as student takeovers at schools, universities as well as national motorways and demonstrations.
The poll, carried out by the VPRC firm, was published in the Sunday edition of "Kathimerini".
According to the poll, 99 percent of respondents rejected vandalism as a form of protest or as an expression of disagreement with the government‚s choices. A further 79 percent disapprove of the blocking of national motorways, usually carried out by protesting farmers, while a further 72 percent disagree with takeovers or sit-ins at schools and universities.
On the other hand, 76 percent of respondents said they were tolerant of demonstrations and strikes, despite the inconvenience they create.
As regards university asylum, although 51 percent consider the institution necessary, this percentage has decreased significantly from 65 percent last June.
Another poll conducted, by the GPO firm for the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Eleftheros Typos", showed that 82 percent of respondents are prepared to ask for receipts in their day-to-day transactions on condition that this practice will crack down on tax evasion, with extra state revenues used to support social spending.
The poll also revealed that tax evasion in the country has taken on heightened dimensions since, apart from super markets, where issuing receipts is the rule in transactions, the percentage of tax infringements amount to 50 percent in the services sector, especially in dealing with self-employed professionals.
Electricians and plumbers are considered the "champions" of tax evasion, while 42 percent of respondents said that they do not ask for a receipt when going to a dentist or a physician.
 FM to host working luncheon for visiting U.S. Congress membersForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be hosting a working luncheon on Sunday, January 28, for a group of U.S. Congress members who are currently visiting Greece.
The group is composed of Massachusetts Senator J. Kerry, Oregon Senator G. Smith, Vermont Senator P. Leahy, Mississippi Senator T. Lott, Washington Senator M. Cantwell, Florida Senator M. Martinez, Georgia Senator S. Chambliss, South Carolina Senator L. Graham and Connecticut Congressman Ch. Shays.
 No pension decreases, employment minister saysEmployment and Social Solidarity Minister Savvas Tsitouridis, speaking in the northern city of Kilkis on Sunday, touched on the government's social security policy, while at the same time criticizing previous PASOK governments.
"They even bet on their degrees that we would fail. However, their predictions of disaster fell through," the minister said in his election precinct of Kilkis, adding that "success is even greater if one considers the burdens we inherited."
Tsitouridis also reiterated that "no one's pension will be decreased."
Finally, the minister cited a new pension fund for self employed professionals, established after a merger between of funds TEBE, TAE and TSA, reminding that it should have been operating since 2001, but PASOK "didn't dare to implement the law they ratified."
 Farmers stage rally in TyrnavosFarmers turned out in force with their tractors in the streets of the city of Tyrnavos, central Greece, on Saturday in the framework of a rally organized by the United Federation of Farmers Unions.
The farmers' demands include satisfactory minimum prices for all farm products, guarantees for their sale, a substantive decrease in production costs and the payment of substantial compensation.
 Events around Greece mark Holocaust Memorial DayGreece and the country's leadership on Sunday commemorated the annual Holocaust Memorial Day with several events around the east Mediterranean nation that was among the first to enter World War II in 1940 on the Allied side and which endured a brutal three-year Nazi occupation (1941-1944) that also witnessed the extermination of roughly 90 percent of the Jewish community in the country.
In Athens, Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki referred to the need to preserve historical memory and defend human rights and democratic institutions.
The parliament president, Greece's first female speaker, made the keynote address at an event organised by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) at Athens' main synagogue.
"We must never forget, and this does not mean perpetuating enmity and divisions, but to prevent the menace of vile theories and phenomena from re-emerging, and to hand down our experience to the younger generations, as the greatest threat they may face today is forgetfulness and complacency," she said.
"The sacrifice of the Jews became a symbol and lever to restore values such as human dignity and life, as well as principles, such as freedom, equality, freedom of religion and tolerance," Psarouda-Benaki stressed.
Another ceremony also took place in front of a statue of occupation-era Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Damaskinos, who was honoured for his efforts to rescue Greek Jews.
Speaking during the brief ceremony, Church of Greece head Christodoulos spoke of his wartime predecessor's deeds, stressing the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece's respect and tolerance of other faiths and believers as well as its opposition to the death penalty, torture and its support for freedom of expression and human rights.
Additionally, a special plaque was unveiled on the statue of Damaskinos -- which is located in the square in front of the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral -- commemorating the Orthodox Christian religious leader's role in rescuing members of the Jewish communities in the Athens area.
Finally, the president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, Moses Constantines, praised the fact that new Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, who also attended the events, pledged to build a Holocaust memorial in the Greek capital, similar to other such memorials in Greek cities and European capitals.
The parliament president's address preceded a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament building in downtown Athens, where Public Administration and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos laid a wreath in honour of the victims of the Holocaust, as Jan. 27 has been officially designated as a National Day of Remembrance for the Greek Jewish Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust.
"Let us just say this for the umpteenth time, ‚never again'; let us all defend freedom, peace and protect humanity's values," Pavlopoulos said.
On his part, former minister Telemachos Hytiris represented main opposition PASOK at the wreath-laying event, noting afterwards that "as long as there are people the Holocaust will remain in our memory, and I hope that it teaches the way history must teach all the younger generations," he said.
In Thessaloniki, which before the Second World War hosted one of the largest Sephardic communities in the world, events were held at the port city's main synagogue in the presence of Greek Jewish community leaders and local officials.
"Of the 65,000 Greek Jews that fell victim to Nazism, 50,000 were citizens of Thessaloniki, working-class people who contributed to the advancement and defence of their country," the president of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, David Saltiel, said.
He reminded that 12,898 Greek Jews served in the Greek armed forces in 1940-1941, of which 3,743 were injured and 513 died on the battlefields against Axis invaders in northern Greece's mountains.
"After the war, the few survivors and their children were able to rebuild a new life, one rising from the ashes. It is because of them that (the Jewish community) has summer camps, institutions, youth centres, a synagogue, cemetery, conservatory and museum," he added.
Local officials attending the ceremony included Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis and Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.
 Events in Egypt mark 50th anniversary of Kazantzakis' deathInternational events marking the 50th anniversary of the death of celebrated writer Nikos Kazantzakis began on Saturday night in Alexandria, the ancient port city frequently lauded in the Cretan author's works.
The event, held at the Greek Cultural Foundation of Alexandria, centered on Kazantzakis' "searching spirit", as he traveled almost everywhere in world.
Council of Overseas Hellenism President Stefanos Tamvakis and Greek ambassador to Egypt Panayiotis Vlassopoulos, among others, were present at the event.
 Scholar details pro-FYROM propaganda campaign on the InternetVarious groups and organizations, many considered "fringe elements", inside and outside the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are taking advantage of the Internet to intensify irredentist views and propaganda, a Greek scholar told an audience in Thessaloniki on Sunday.
According to history professor Vlassis Vlasidis, a lecturer at the University of Western Macedonia, several state agencies in neighboring FYROM continue to promote and regurgitate the myth of a "unified Macedonian identity" -- as formulated in the early 1990s -- without special reference to irredentist designs that would generate reactions from neighboring states, i.e. Greece.
Vlasidis spoke during an event focusing on pro-FYROM propaganda on the Internet. The purpose of the event was to present collective research by the Thessaloniki-based Macedonian Studies Society (EMS) on the subject of "FYROM's Irredentist Imperialism 1943-2006: Official State Documents."
 Double murder in NikeaTwo men, aged 38 and 27, were shot dead at dawn on Saturday as they were dining in a restaurant in the district of Nikea, on the outskirts of the port city of Piraeus. Police believe that the murders are linked to rival gang warfare.
According to the police, the two men were eating in the restaurant when they were approached by two unidentified men who shot them in cold blood with pistols fitted with silencers and for this reason the shots were not heard. The assailants then made their getaway on a motorcycle.
 Police arrest two immigrant smugglers in ThessalonikiTwo Pakistani nationals have been arrested in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on charges of being members of a gang involved in sending illegal immigrants to European Union countries.
According to the police, the two immigrants smugglers, aged 37 and 45, intended to take to Italy 10 illegal immigrants from Afghanistan and 3 from Bangladesh in return for a fee.
The two immigrant smugglers had entered Greece illegally, while the amount of money they were to receive from the illegal immigrants they were to take to Italy remains unknown.
 Fire at fur processing workshop in ThessalonikiA fire broke out in a semi-basement fur processing workshop in the district of Toumba in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, at noon on Saturday, causing alarm among neighbors and sending the fire brigade rushing to the scene.
According to an announcement by the fire brigade later, the fire was extinguished before having time to spread to neighboring buildings, but caused damage to machinery, electrical installations, furniture and raw materials to the tune of 15,000 euros.
 Firebombs hurled at hotel in ExarchiaA hotel in the Athens district of Exarchia, where German neo-Nazis are staying and who will be attending events scheduled to take place in the afternoon, was attacked by about 20 hooded youths with firebombs at about 3:20 a.m. on Saturday.
According to the police, the hotel's occupants had placed a flag with a swastika on a balcony that apparently provoked the youths' attack.
The arsonists threw the firebombs at the entrance to the hotel and on the pavement, without causing any serious damage, and then fled the scene.
 Police in Thessaloniki alerted by hoax callerPolice in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, were alerted by a young hoax caller, who was arrested on charges of calling the police to report that a bomb was going to explode at the U.S. Consulate.
According to the police, a 28-year-old man was arrested in downtown Thessaloniki on Thursday night after making four calls to the police from telephone booths.
Bomb disposal experts made a thorough search of the building housing the Consulate, as well as premises nearby, while shortly afterwards police spotted the man as he moved suspiciously near a telephone booth.
The man was brought to a police station and admitted during interrogation that he had made the calls for fun.
 Solidarity march for Palestinian peopleA protest march for the Palestinian people, organized by the Initiative Committee with the participation of trade unions, municipal movements and leftist organizations, ended without incident at noon on Saturday.
The demonstrators, who set out from Eleftheria Square, marched to the U.S. embassy, shouting slogans of solidarity for the Palestinian people, and then reached the Israeli embassy, where they dispersed peacefully.
 Results of the Greek Super League soccer matches played over the weekend:Panathinaikos Athens - Panionios Athens 2-0
Egaleo Athens ‚ Larissa 1-2
Atromitos Athens ‚ Kerkyra 4-2
Xanthi - Apollon Kalamaria 0-0
Ergotelis Crete - PAOK Thessaloniki 0-0
Ionikos Piraeus - Aris Thessaloniki 0-1
Iraklis Thessaloniki - AEK Athens 1-1
Olympiakos Piraeus - OFI Crete 4-1
Standings after 19 weeks of play:
Olympiakos 49 points
Apollon Kalamaria 22
¬ß Note: Ionikos has been deducted five points for disciplinary reasons.