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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-01-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Prime minister to receive ruling ND secretary on Monday
  • [02] Authorities brace for mass return of city residents
  • [03] Gov't on reforming military conscription system
  • [04] Illegal migrant smuggling arrests in N. Greece

  • [01] Prime minister to receive ruling ND secretary on Monday

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will have a working session with the ruling New Democracy's (ND) secretary Lefteris Zagoritis, before receiving Piraeus Mayor Panayiotis Fasoulas. On Saturday, the prime minister attended Epiphany services near his home in the east Attica coastal town of Rafina, where he expressed his best seasons for the New Year, while emphasising the need for close ties between parents and children.

    Greece celebrated the religious holiday of Epiphany with the traditional "blessing of the waters" ceremony at the country's countless ports, harbours, lakes and reservoirs, with the nation's political leadership also on hand at Church masses and at the water's side.

    The most prominent service was again celebrated at the port of Piraeus' metropolitan cathedral and seafront, with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos officiating at the service, attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, who represented the government, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, former premier Costas Simitis and dozens of other government officials, MPs and local government office-holders. Most political leaders on hand expressed their best wishes for 2007.

    [02] Authorities brace for mass return of city residents

    City dwellers were returning to the major cities in the east Mediterranean nation in droves on Sunday, as the celebratory weekend -- Epiphany was celebrated on Saturday and the major feast day of Aghios Ioannis (St. John) on Sunday -- more-or-less ends the holiday season.

    Unseasonably good weather also generated a mass exodus of residents from Athens and Thessaloniki, whereas traffic police were on standby on all major highways and provincial roads.

    Trucks and heavy vehicles were also prohibited from taking the national roadways on Sundays to alleviate traffic conditions.

    Sadly, 11 fatalities were reported in the country since Friday afternoon.

    [03] Gov't on reforming military conscription system

    The relevant deputy defence minister on Sunday reiterated that the government will absolutely proceed with measures to reform the system for conscription (mandatory military services for males), following the arrest last week of a high-ranking officer caught on hidden camera lifting service record documents at an Athens base.

    Deputy Minister Yiannis Lambropoulos noted that since the government took office in March 2004 several thousand cases of deferments and exemptions were investigated, with numerous "well-known" individuals -- entertainers, attorneys, journalists, businessmen -- picked to serve their military service, while other cases were conveyed to the court system.

    He also said the ministry wanted to release the names of individuals that had illegally avoided military duty but was prevented by both the Hellenic Personal Data Protection Authority and a subsequent Council of State ruling.

    Finally, he said a rapid computerisation of the conscription bureau's files will aid efforts to stamp out military service dodging.

    [04] Illegal migrant smuggling arrests in N. Greece

    Authorities in northern Greece over the weekend arrested four migrant smugglers and a total of 57 illegal immigrants in two separate incidents, termed "major" busts of international migrant-smuggling rings.

    Three suspects, all foreign nationals and aged 20, 24 and 33, were arrested in the border prefecture of Evros (Soufli district) after the illegal migrants were discovered in a truck, and shortly after the latter had illegally crossed into Greek and EU territory from Turkey.

    Further to the west and in Kavala prefecture, police stopped a mini van carrying 13 illegal immigrants -- from Burma and Sri Lanka. The illegals and the 32-year-old local man were arrested, while another two suspects are wanted.

    ANA-MPA file photo.


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