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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-07-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece urges Iran to accept incentives offer made by major powers
  • [02] 9th Symi Symposium opens on Samos Sunday
  • [03] Greece backs call for halt in Israeli offensive
  • [04] Ferry boats at centre of heated political scrap

  • [01] Greece urges Iran to accept incentives offer made by major powers

    Greece urges Iran to accept the incentives deal offered by the six major powers on the U.N. Security Council in exchange for Tehran giving up plans for uranium enrichment, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis said after a succession of meetings held in Athens on Friday between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, himself and visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Motaki.

    He was referring to a package of energy and economic incentives offered to Iran by the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain, which went to the 15-nation Security Council on Thursday.

    "Greece, as a member-state of the European Union and of the U.N. Security Council is interested and expects that the package of proposals submitted by the 'six' at the start of June will be clearly accepted by Iran so that negotiations might begin. We consider that Iran must, for its own part, open the prospect for negotiations through its answer and that the issue should leave the Security Council," Valinakis said.

    His talks with Motaki had also covered the prospect of improving Greek-Iranian bilateral relations, especially in the economic and trade sectors, he added.

    Regarding the renewed fighting in the Middle East, the deputy minister repeated Greece's position for "an end to the vicious circle of violence".

    "Violence cannot solve any of the problems, it can only exacerbate and magnify them. Our position is that there must be self-restraint by all sides so that this vicious circle of violence does not continue," Valinakis stressed.

    Regarding attempts to evacuate Greeks in Lebanon, the minister said that an Olympic Airlines plane was standing by in nearby Syria to assist in bringing home Greeks that were either already there or were on their way.

    Motaki, on his part, called for the intervention by the international community and the United Nations to ?stop this crime?, referring to the situation in the Middle East.

    Motaki said that in the meetings he had, held in consideration of Greece‚s very good standing with the Middle East countries, discussions centred on the need for all sides to make the necessary moves to ease the tension.

    Responding to a question on whether Iran backs the Hezbollah organization, as charged by Israel, and whether the seized Israeli soldiers were being held in Iran, the Iranian foreign minister said that Israel always accuses others for its own actions. He added that Israel should give an answer regarding the abduction and disappearance of Iranian diplomats 25 years ago, pointing out that both the Palestinians and the Lebanese have stated that they are ready to proceed with a prisoner exchange. He concluded that the most reasonable solution will be to listen to the reasonable and just voices of the Palestinians and the Lebanese, as it had been pledged by the ?Zionist regime?.

    Referring to the latest developments in the Middle East, Motaki said that the situation is alarming and dangerous, adding that the latest Israeli attacks on Palestinians, the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, the attacks against Lebanon, have caused great concern in all Islamic countries.

    He said that Israel has proven once again that it does not meet its international commitments and particularly, the commitment it has undertaken since April 1996 that it will refrain from attacks on populated areas and cooperate for the exchange of prisoners. He added that over 10,500 Palestinians are currently imprisoned in Israeli jails and hundreds of Lebanese are in those jails too, some of them for decades.

    The Iranian foreign minister also stressed that in the meeting he had with the prime minister they discussed bilateral relations, and regional cooperation.

    [02] 9th Symi Symposium opens on Samos Sunday

    Main opposition party PASOK leader George Papandreou will open the proceedings of the 9th Symi Symposium on Sunday. The symposium is organized by the Andreas G. Papandreou Foundation and will take place on July 16-22 on the east Aegean island of Samos.

    The principle theme of this year's Symposium is 'Creative Cities in the 21st Century: How to Nurture Change, Growth and Sustainable Development.'

    Participants will explore issues such as encouraging citizens to participate in civic governance; creating pluralistic communities; the impact of technology and migration on urban environment; and how urban planning affects development, the environment, and quality of life on both a local and global level.

    The Symi Symposium, named after the island of Symi, brings together progressive politicians, academics, activists, and entrepreneurs to exchange views on some of the most important issues on the global agenda.

    The symposium proceedings will be completed on Friday, July 21 with the presentation of its conclusions by the president of PASOK.

    Among this year‚s participants are, Socialist International Secretary Luis Ayala, UNDP administrator Kemal Dervis, Sweden‚s Education Minister Leif Pagrotsky, 1998 Economics Nobel Prize winner professor Amartya K. Sen, Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev.

    [03] Greece backs call for halt in Israeli offensive

    New York (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou) -- Greece and nine other countries voted in favour Thursday night of a Qatar-introduced resolution at the UN Security Council demanding that Israel halt its military offensive against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and that it releases the Palestinian officials it has arrested, the adoption of which, however, was blocked by a veto by the US, while the four other member countries on the 15-member Security Council abstained.

    Ten countries voted in favour of the draft resolution, which was sponsored by Qatar on behalf of other Arab countries, namely Argentina, China, Congo, France, Ghana, Greece, Japan, Qatar, Russia and Tanzania, while Denmark, the UK, Peru and Slovakia abstained.

    The final draft, which was repeatedly reworked to iron out concerns that it was biased against Israel -- including the addition of a call for the immediate and unconditional release of a 19-year-old soldier Israeli soldier captured by armed Palestinian groups on June 15 and a call on the Palestinians to stop firing rockets at Israel -- accused Israel of a "disproportionate use of force" that endangered Palestinian civilians, and demanded that Israel withdraw its troops from Gaza.

    The resolution further called on Israel and the Palestinians to "take immediate steps to create the necesssary conditions for the resumption of negotiations and restarting the peace process", while it urged all parties to help alleviate the "dire humanitarian situation" faced by Palestinians.

    Despite the additions, US representative to the UN, Ambassador John Bolton, claimed that the draft was "still unacceptable" because it had been "overtaken" by events in the reginon, including the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah militants on Wednesday, and "unbalanced".

    This was the first veto at the UN Security Council in nearly four years. The last veto, also cast by the US, blocked a resolution in October 2004 condemning another Israeli operation in Gaza. Eight of the last nine vetoes in the Security Council have been cast by the US, seven of which concerned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    The Security Council will be holding another urgent session on Friday, to discuss the situation in the Middle East, at the request of the government of Lebanon.

    [04] Ferry boats at centre of heated political scrap

    The government on Friday flatly dismissed recent comments by a top main opposition PASOK deputy over the current situation with ferryboat connections and port services in the country, a heated issue that often arises during the height of the summer tourism season when tens of thousands of holidaymakers head for the east Mediterranean country's numerous islands.

    "Whoever impersonates the role of a tardy critic for petty partisan reasons simply demolishes the work of people in the coastal shipping sector, ridiculing the country abroad and hurting the tourism sector," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said in response to same-day criticism by top PASOK MP and former minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    "They (PASOK) left coastal shipping vulnerable to vested interests for many years. They should now, at least, display a bare minimum of responsibility," the spokesman said.

    Earlier, Pangalos, during a press conference, took the government to task for a series of problems recorded over recent weeks in ferryboat connection to and from the port of Piraeus (greater Athens area) to various islands.

    Among others, Pangalos said the recent deregulation of fares merely increased prices instead of boosting competitiveness, while calling on the government to clearly state whether it will lift a 30-year maximum age limit for Greek-flagged ferry boats.

    Asked about proposals, mainly from leftist and communist MPs and cadres, for a "state-run" or nationalized ferry boat fleet to service the islands, Pangalos stressed:

    "We're fanatical adversaries of state control ... the experiment with a ‚people's fleet' has failed. I am adamant in my position that when a vital and basic public need is not covered by the private sector, then the state must intervene," Pangalos said, while adding: "I do not know the way, there is an entire gamut of interventions (the state could take), one could be a better policy regarding bank borrowing; it could be a relationship between ferry boat operators and banks; it could mean foreign-flagged ship," he said.

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