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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-07-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM and tourism minister discuss tourism policy, China trip
  • [02] Gov't: No intent to change retirement age
  • [03] Gambari in Athens for talks on Cyprus initiative

  • [01] PM and tourism minister discuss tourism policy, China trip

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia held a meeting to discuss tourism policy on Wednesday, during which Petralia also briefed the premier on the results of her recent trip to China.

    After the meeting, the minister said they had discussed a cooperation agreement for the tourism sector signed with China's government and she stressed the prime minister's lively interest in tourism-related issues.

    Petralia also stressed the need to make favourable impressions on the wave of visitors to Greece, saying that this created an obligation to provide good services while avoiding excessively high prices and price-gouging.

    "Tourism is the strong point of the economy, tourism means modern Greece," Petralia noted in statements to reporters, adding that "we are all working together in this direction".

    PM meets Skandalidis, Haji-Ioannou

    Karamanlis had earlier met main opposition PASOK-backed candidate for mayor of Athens Costas Skandalidis at the Maximos Mansion government headquarters and discussed local government issues, as well as easyGroup founder, entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou

    Skandalidis, a former PASOK minister, told reporters after the meeting that he presented to the prime minister his views on metropolitan local government, metropolitan operation and the role of the municipality of Athens within this framework. He added that the prime minister was skeptical and had his own views. Among the issues discussed was also the future of major projects in the wider Athens area.

    Skandalidis referred to the proposal by ruling New Democracy-backed candidate Nikitas Kaklamanis for measures to make the citizens‚ life easier when demonstrations take place in the center of Athens. Skandalidis stated that an institutional framework already existed, and stressed that there should be consultation with the interested parties but, in any case, the democratic rights of the people should be protected.

    Karamanlis will meet with visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Mahmud Zebari on Thursday morning in Athens while later in the afternoon he will attend the opening ceremony for the 6th World Congress of Pontian Hellenism, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told a press briefing on Wednesday.

    [02] Gov't: No intent to change retirement age

    Labour and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on Wednesday said that no one eligible for early retirement would lose this right, while stressing that the government's goal is the consolidation of a climate of labour sector security in the country.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Tsitouridis said everyone who wished -- and is eligible -- could enjoy early retirement, while he noted that the government would seek to create the necessary environment to encourage employees to remain at work. Moreover, he said the government does not seek to change the retirement age.

    Alogoskoufis announced two inter-ministerial meetings -over the next two weeks- one to discuss a restructuring programme in public sector enterprises and a second to discuss the sale of Emporiki Bank.

    [03] Gambari in Athens for talks on Cyprus initiative

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met here on Wednesday with visiting United Nations UN Under-Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari, as the latter is in the midst of a three-nation tour -- Greece, Turkey and Cyprus -- in order to gauge prospects for another UN initiative vis-a-vis the long-standing Cyprus problem.

    Gambari told reporters after his 45-minute meeting with Bakoyannis that his mission aims to consider options and ideas for resuming negotiations towards a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus issue.

    He added that conditions at present are not yet at the point of restarting negotiations, as he is now exploring whether there is "political volition and flexibility" to restart talks.

    After Athens, Gambari will travel to the island republic, where he will meet separately with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. A briefing of UN chief Kofi Annan will follow the completion of his tour.

    On her part, Bakoyannis said she outlined Athens' positions to the UN official, noting that the organisation's latest initiative - following a recent meeting in Paris between Annan and Papadopoulos - is particularly significant.

    "Efforts aimed at allowing the operation of (bilateral) technical committees must proceed," Bakoyannis said, adding that a specific timetable and agenda of substantive issues (i.e. property, a population census) is necessary.

    Conversely, Bakoyannis said Gambari did not convey to Athens any specific letter by the UN chief, reminding that his mission is "exploratory".

    More importantly, she said the so-called Annan peace plan is not on the table following its rejection by a large majority of Greek Cypriots during a referendum in 2004.

    In echoing standing policy by Athens, she said any new initiative towards a Cyprus solution must be based on three parameters: UN resolutions; efforts to date by successive UN general secretaries and the present "European reality", given that Cyprus is a full member of the European Union.

    Gambari later attended a working lunch hosted by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.

    In later comments, a government spokesman merely reiterated that any new initiative for Cyprus must be well-prepared in order to lead to a positive result.

    In an unrelated development, Bakoyannis expressed her condolences over the same-day military accident in Cyprus, where two helicopter pilots were killed when their aircraft crashed while on a training mission.

    Caption: Bakoyannis, left, with the UN's Gambari in Athens on Wednesday, July 5, 2006. ANA-MPA / G. Antoniou.

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