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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-01-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Ruling ND's party congress in June or July
  • [02] Papandreou tours Athens Academy's research arm
  • [03] Initial debate on revising Article XVI concludes
  • [04] Severe drop in migratory birds recorded

  • [01] Ruling ND's party congress in June or July

    A congress by ruling New Democracy (ND) party will be held in June or July, the party's political council, chaired on Thursday by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis himself, announced.

    Karamanlis, in his address to members of the council, referred extensively to the education sector, which has leaped onto the national limelight this week with the opening of debate in Parliament on revising Article XVI. Among others, the premier noted the government's priority of significantly upgrading state universities remains intact.

    He also referred to efforts at boosting regional development, especially via the use of new technologies.

    Moreover, he said the ND government's reforms will proceed with society as a whole as its ally. Finally, he referred to the positive development emanating from Bulgaria and Romania's recent accession into the European Union, while reminding that Turkey's absolute fulfillment of criteria means that country's full membership.

    Karamanlis met earlier on Thursday with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, while on Friday he will receive Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras at his office.

    [02] Papandreou tours Athens Academy's research arm

    Main opposition party PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday toured the Athens Academy's biomedical research foundation, where he was briefed by foundation president Dr. Grigoris Skalkeas on its activities and recent breakthroughs in biomedical research.

    Papandreou was accompanied by party spokesman Petros Efthymiou and top PASOK cadre and former minister Michalis Chrysohoidis.

    In brief statements, Papandreou underlined that the foundation's work enjoys international recognition, while adding that PASOK governments, and he himself personally, exerted efforts to establish the research entity.

    Caption: PASOK president Papandreou is given a tour of the Athens Academy's biomedical laboratory by researchers on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007. ANA-MPA photo / K. Mavrona.

    [03] Initial debate on revising Article XVI concludes

    A parliamentary ad hoc commitee on the revision of the constitution concluded its debate Wednesday evening on revising Article XVI so as to allow non-state, non-profit universities to be established in Greece. At present, the article mandates that all higher education institutions in the country must belong to the state sector.

    Ruling New Democracy rapporteur Panos Panagiotopoulos urged main opposition PASOK MPs to vote in favour of revising Article XVI, pointing out that the revision had been steadfastly supported by main opposition PASOK president George Papandreou.

    He also spoke of a "de facto" privatisation of universities by "closed shops" tactics guided by partisan bureaucracies.

    A rapporteur for the main opposition underlined what he said were the differences between PASOK and ND, saying that the latter sought to create a situation where private and state-sector universities operated competitively, with state universities under stringent control from the education ministry, whereas PASOK saw the two operating to complement one another.

    Communisty Party of Greece (KKE) MP Antonis Skyllakos said both the main parties were thinking along market-oriented lines that would prove harmful to education and that the problems in education were caused not by the state-sector monopoly but by the policies being followed.

    According to the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) rapporteur Fotis Kouvelis, both the main parties aimed to abolish the state-sector status of education.

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday described education as a "national issue on which there must be a broad consensus", during meetings with education minister Marietta Yiannakou, and with the presidium of the university professors‚ federation.

    At the same time, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis reiterated his determination for reforms in the education sector to proceed through consensus and dialogue, and without hasty moves, during a meeting on Wednesday with the chairman of parliament's standing committee on educational affairs, MP (ruling ND party) Tassos Spiliopoulos.

    Meanwhile, various education sector unions held a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, with rallies in Athens and other major cities throughout the country also held.

    [04] Severe drop in migratory birds recorded

    Climate changes appear to have affected the seasonal migration of aquatic birds to Greece, scientific evidence released on Thursday apparently shows.

    According to figures provided by ornithologists in Greece, swans, ducks and geese stayed away from natural habitats in various Greek wetlands this January. Their presence is limited compared to previous years, a fact attributed to the unusually high temperatures for this time of year recorded in northern European countries, as well as in Greece.

    Some scientists stress that migratory birds are taking advantage of the unseasonably mild weather in northern European countries and staying in the Black Sea region, the Danube Delta and even in Finland, and as a result their numbers are notably small in the lakes of Volvi and Kastoria, northern Greece.

    A file photo shows Sandwich Terns (sterna sandvicensis) in the Rodia wetlands of northwest Greece's Preveza prefecture, Nov. 1, 2005. ANA-MPA photo / O. Panagiotou.

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