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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-08-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Defence Miinister Meimarakis on crisis in the Middle East
  • [02] Deputy FM on Greece's aid to Lebanon
  • [03] Minister criticises PASOK on Emporiki Bank
  • [04] Culture minister on the return of Marbles

  • [01] Defence Miinister Meimarakis on crisis in the Middle East

    National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis has said that "the government not only was not absent from the crisis in the Middle, but also made a substantial intervention."

    In an interview in Sunday's edition of "Eleftherotypia" newspaper, Meimarakis, responding to criticism which the government has received, mainly from the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), referred to "the participation of the Navy in operations for the evacuation of foreign nationals from Lebanon and to the humanitarian aid which our country is giving from the very first moment."

    He stressed that he dismisses this criticism and said that "interventions were made both by the Prime Minister (Costas Karamanlis) and by the Foreign Minister (Dora Bakoyannis), who pioneers in the efforts of the international community for peace in the Middle East."

    The defence minister said that "it is premature for us to discuss whether Greece will take part in a peacekeeping operation, given that there is not yet a request."

    To a question whether he believed that the developments in Lebanon will have an affect on Greek-Turkish relations, Meimarakis replied that "I do not see it possible," adding that "Greece is working for the creation of a climate of zero tension in the region."

    Reffering to the recent visit to Turkey by National Defence General Staff chief Admiral Panagiotis Hinofotis, Meimarakis termed its results as "encouraging." He said that "in this visit military issues were discussed which have to do with confidence-building measures and the technics for the greatest results of these measures were examined."

    Meimarakis also stressed that "Greece supports Turkey's European course." However, he underlined that "the government has made it clear that a blank cheque is not given to anyone," given that "that Turkey's complete adherence to relations of good neighbourliness is demanded."

    On the armaments programme and particularly on the purchase of aircraft, the minister said that "the needs of the Air Force have been covered in part with the purchase of 30 F-16" and that "for the other 30 required for the number of 60 new aircraft to be completed, we will make an assessment both on the operational aspect as well as on the cost."

    On armaments, he said that "the aim of government is for expenditures to be reduced and not exceed one per cent of the Gross National Product."

    [02] Deputy FM on Greece's aid to Lebanon

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis has said that "Greece has yet again received the praise of the international community and particularly the moving 'thank you' by those affected by the war in Lebanon for its immediate and effective reaction."

    In an interview in the Sunday edition of "Adesmeftos Typos" newspaper, Stylianidis said "the Foreign Ministry activated all its strength for the evacuation of thousands of people from the war-zone who were not only Greeks but also other European and American citizens, while with the coordinating responsibility of Hellenic Aid, we were the first who reached the battle field, transporting not without danger, considerable amounts of humanitarian aid."

    The deputy foreign minister recalled that "already transported to Lebanon, with six C-130 cargo planes of the Air Force and Navy carriers, have been loads of cargo with medicine and other useful material which was gathered by non-government organisations under the coordination of Hellenic Aid."

    He said that "at the same time, Hellenic Aid also undertook to transport a part of the international aid, while a fund raising has begun in Greece and the money which will be collected by private individuals, agencies and non-governmental organisations will be deposited in a special account and will be used, both in the phase of the granting of urgent humanitarian aid, as well as in the phase of the reconstruction after the ceasfire and the imposition of a permanent ceasfire, which we hope and struggle for it to be imposed as soon as possible."

    [03] Minister criticises PASOK on Emporiki Bank

    Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis has launched a stinging attack against Vasso Papandreou, head of the Economy Department of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), regarding the issue of the sale of Emporiki Bank.

    In an interview in the Sunday edition of "Ethnos" newspaper, Tsitouridis accused Vasso Papandreou that "she is threatening administrative bodies of social insurance funds," and termed such actions as "unacceptable, third-world and interventions of shame."

    The employment minister also said that "the reactions of the bank's employees come from a minority which gives a rearguard battle." He underlined that "he does not understand their reactions," given that "not only jobs are not endangered, but also new prospects are opening for the expansion and increase of jobs in and out of Greece."

    He also said that there will be a legislative initiative in autumn for the creation of a Social Solidarity Fund.

    To another question, Tsitouridis said that "the status of early retirement will not be harmed and supported will be all those who after the age of 50 find difficulty in finding a job so as to complete the required time for them to get their pension."

    [04] Culture minister on the return of Marbles

    Culture Minister George Voulgarakis has said that "the strategy for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles must be shaped on a realistic basis and independent of nationalistic-centred obsessions."

    In an interview in the Sunday edition of "Chora" newspaper, the minister said "such a strategy is necessary so that its objective purposes be feasible."

    Voulgarakis also said that the request for the return of the Parthenon Marbles "must be detached from the supra-patriotic and nationalistic perceptions which swayed to date the policies which were sought to be paved or which were implemented."

    This detachment, he said, "will give the possibility so that the request of repatriation to exactly have the meaning of the restoration of culture throughout the whole of mankind."

    The culture minister also said that the return of the Parthenon Marbles "could not but be harmonised with the spirit of the era and the present conjunction."

    He explained that "the terms of this diplomatic game," as he described the whole procedure for the return, "are determined by rules of reciprocation." In this context, "our country, due to its numerous antiquities, can lend or grant monuments of its classical heritage or superb works of art, so that they can be put on show in exhibition tours abroad," he said.

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