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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-07-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Work on three major projects in Thessaloniki to begin this year
  • [02] Greek SMEs postpone protests to next week
  • [03] FM Molyviatis addresses UN Security Council

  • [01] Work on three major projects in Thessaloniki to begin this year

    Work on the three major public works projects in Thessaloniki, pertaining to the construction of the Thessaloniki Metro, the underwater road artery, and the expansion of the landng and take-off runway at Macedonia Airport will commence within 2005, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works minister George Souflias announced late Tuesday night, at an extraordinary meeting of the Thessaloniki Municipal Council in the northern Greek capital.

    Souflias said that the budget for the three major projects -- construction of which was expected to begin in autumn this year -- had an overall budget of 1.7 billion euros: one billion euros for the Metro, 400 million euros for the underwater road artery, and more than 200 million euros for the airport runway expansion.

    He said that the projects would be built through the method of concession, adding that construction would take five to six years.

    Referring to objections submitted to the Council of State, and new recourses that would prospectively be filed, Souflias opined that all the legal procedures would be overcome soon, enabling construction on the three projects to begin this year.

    "Objections may be filed, but the recourses cannot stop the projects," the minister said, noting that "I am obliged to implement the decisions of the Council of State, but I want to point out the delays incurred that affect the financing from the EU".

    Souflias said that the Metro would solve Thessaloniki's traffic problems. He said the project would extend from Stavroupolis to Kalamaria, budgeted at one billion euros, and the underwriter of the project would be selected by late July or early August, while the project would take 6 1/2 years to be completed. The first phase of the project, 9.6 kilometre section running from the Railway Station to Nea Elvetia -- comprising 13 stations and 18 automated trains running in two separate tunnels -- has already been tendered.

    The minister further rejected objections over the usefulness of the underwater road artery, stressing that it was an important project that would de-congest central Thessaloniki.

    "According to a study, some 90,000 cars will be commuting in Thessaloniki in 2011-2012. Imagine all these cars passing through the centre of the city," he said. "I want to believe that this issue will have been settled by autumn so that we can proceed with the signing of the contract and its ratification in parliament in 2-21/2 months. The project must begin in 2005," the minister added.

    The underwater road artery project is budgeted at 410-420 million euros, of which 25 percent will be covered by the State (100 million euros). The toll fees will not exceed one euro, Souflias said, but added that the feel will be re-determined when the project reverts to the State. He clarified that the toll fee will be shouldered by the commuters.

    Turning to the airport runway project, Souflias said that the underwriter for the project has already been selected through tendering, and construction, which would take 5 1/2 years for completion, was set to begin this year. The minister added that a proposal for the construction of a second terminal facility has been abandoned, due to lack of funds.

    [02] Greek SMEs postpone protests to next week

    GSEBEE, the association of craft, small- and medium-sized enterprises, on Tuesday announced its was postponing its protest mobilisations against a government plan for extended shopping hours around the country for next week, Tuesday, 19 July. The association had initially planned mobilisations for Wednesday, 13 July, including the closing of shops in the island of Crete, and symbolic blockade of national roads in Tempi, Central Greece, Rio-Antirrio and the Corinth Canal.

    GSEBEE said the decision to postpone its protest mobilisations for next week was taken to offer its members more time for preparation.

    Meanwhile, the European Association of Craft, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME), in a letter to GSEBEE on the issue, stressed that Greece already has one of the largest real shopping hours numbers in the EU, currently ranking fourth with 58 hours weekly, above an EU average of 56 hours.

    UEAPME stressed that economic reports showed that longer shopping hours would not need to more consumption and economic growth, while at the same time put more burdens to businessmen, either by hiring more staff and raising operating costs, or work longer themselves. UEAPME's report was presented by GSEBEE to the Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday.

    GSEBEE also submitted a report on its position on a dialogue over labour relations to Labour and Social Protection Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos. The association stressed that overtime cost should not be prohibitive, urged for less bureaucracy and improving framework on annual working hours.

    [03] FM Molyviatis addresses UN Security Council

    NEW YORK (ANA/P. Panayiotou) - Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, addressing the UN Security Council on Tuesday in the presence of Secretary General Kofi Annan, said "humanitarian crises, apart from constituting a threat for peace and security, cause desperation and grief for fellow men of ours all over the world. For this reason they constitute a provocation for our collective conscience, as well as for the principles and values on which the United Nations have been established."

    The foreign minister focused on the issue proposed by the Security Council's Greek Presidency for the month of July:"The role of the Security Council in humanitarian crises:challenges, experiences and prospects."

    Molyviatis presented the members of the Security Council with specific proposals on preventing the repetition of humanitarian crises and the threat of new conflicts, stressing that "the following three issues must be handled with success:a) Strengthening the state of law, b) Disarming, discharging and rehabilitating fighters, c) Reforms in the security sector."

    He continued by saying "allow me to begin the discussion with a statement in my national capacity. Out of all the crises which have affected peace and stability in our globalised world since the beginning of the '90s, it is the humanitarian crises which touch our hearts and minds most. Nobody can forget Somalia, Rwanda or the Balkans, for me to mention only three of them as an example."

    Molyviatis pointed out that it is a fact of great importance that the discussion is coinciding in time with the process of reforming the UN, meaning that it is coming at a time when efforts are being made to achieve more effective international action.

    "Issues raised before the Security Council as threats for peace and security have been widened substantively in past years. The Security Council reacted sometimes to avert humanitarian crises. On other occasions it did not," he said.

    "Of course, the responsibility and obligation of protecting non-combatants continues to belong to the countries concerned. However, in cases of mass human violations and atrocities the international community has an obligation towards the victims of such violent acts. The United Nations, and the Security Council in particular, must take effective action to alleviate the grief of non-combatants and to prevent humanitarian disasters," the foreign minister added.

    Molyviatis further said he was pleased by the fact that the Security Council has made considerable efforts in past years to tackle this challenge, guided by the spherical concept of human security.

    "This concept includes such issues as:Human rights, the protection of non-combatants in armed conflicts, and of women and children in particular, those displaced internally and of refugees and combatting the illegal trade of small and light arms," he pointed out.

    "Humanitarian crises are surely not identical. Each one has its own characteristics," the foreign minister said, adding that "the managing of crises must be collective. However, operational action must be adjusted to the particularities and needs of each stage."

    Molyviatis also said "I believe that the prevention of future humanitarian crises requires the timely handling of these issues and coordinated action by the Security Council, as well as by the other bodies and organisations of the system of the United Nations and of regional Organisations. Cooperation among member-states is very important."

    The foreign minister concluded by saying that "the effective and timely handling of humanitarian crises by the Security Council is of vital importance. The peoples we represent, international public opinion, will accept nothing less than success."

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