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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-01-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM receives new Athens mayor Kaklamanis
  • [02] Events around Greece mark Holocaust Memorial Day
  • [03] Papandreou meets with Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi

  • [01] PM receives new Athens mayor Kaklamanis

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday received newly sworn-in Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, the former health minister in the current government, with the paramount issue of integrated waste management for the greater Athens area dominating the meeting.

    After the meeting, Kaklamanis said they had discussed issues that concerned Athens and local authorities in general, such as local authority funding and finances, payment of a tax on beer and an increase in annual subsidies to local government from the state budget from 5% to 7%.

    According to the new Athens mayor, Karamanlis backed proposals on waste management and on local government finances, promising to discuss them with the new leadership that will emerge after elections for a new Central Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE) board of directors in April.

    Asked if he would run for KEDKE's presidency, meanwhile, Kaklamanis said that the issue was premature.

    Regarding the Greek capital, in particular, Kaklamanis said he had asked that funds be immediately set aside in the budget for continuing the "Help at Home" programme that ends in May, as well as the transfer of funds currently managed by the environment ministry for the maintenance of drainage networks in Attica prefecture (the greater Athens area) to municipal authorities, who take over responsibility for keeping them unobstructed at the start of 2008.

    Kaklamanis, a radiologist by training and former state hospital department head, also briefed the prime minister on the progress of a twin redevelopment project in the district (Votanikos) surrounding the new football stadium and indoor arena for the Athens sports club Panathinaikos.

    Answering questions on the city's waste management woes, Kaklamanis said that a decision from Greece's supreme administrative court, the Council of State, was imminent regarding the creation of a new landfill site in the Grammatiko township (extreme northern Attica prefecture), while decisions were still pending regarding planned landfills in Fyli, north of Athens proper and below Mt. Parnitha, as well as Keratea, in eastern Attica prefecture.

    Until that time, he added, work would go ahead on a temporary landfill site. The mayor stressed that this was a huge expense but that there was no other choice, while noting that he had asked the premier to hasten construction of waste processing plants in the government's next four-year term.

    The City of Athens is the largest municipality and the most populous in the greater Athens area or Attica prefecture, which includes more than three dozen municipalities and hosts roughly half of the country's population and nearly two-thirds of Greece's economic output.

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, left, is greeted by then health minister Nikitas Kaklamanis outside the ministry in this file photo dated Thursday, May 19, 2005. ANA-MPA / P. Saitas.

    [02] Events around Greece mark Holocaust Memorial Day

    Greece and the country's leadership on Sunday commemorated the annual Holocaust Memorial Day with several events around the east Mediterranean nation that was among the first to enter World War II in 1940 on the Allied side and which endured a brutal three-year Nazi occupation (1941-1944) that also witnessed the extermination of roughly 90 percent of the Jewish community in the country.

    In Athens, Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki referred to the need to preserve historical memory and defend human rights and democratic institutions.

    The parliament president, Greece's first female speaker, made the keynote address at an event organised by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) at Athens' main synagogue.

    "We must never forget, and this does not mean perpetuating enmity and divisions, but to prevent the menace of vile theories and phenomena from re-emerging, and to hand down our experience to the younger generations, as the greatest threat they may face today is forgetfulness and complacency," she said.

    "The sacrifice of the Jews became a symbol and lever to restore values such as human dignity and life, as well as principles, such as freedom, equality, freedom of religion and tolerance," Psarouda-Benaki stressed.

    Another ceremony also took place in front of a statue of occupation-era Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Damaskinos, who was honoured for his efforts to rescue Greek Jews.

    Speaking during the brief ceremony, Church of Greece head Christodoulos spoke of his wartime predecessor's deeds, stressing the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece's respect and tolerance of other faiths and believers as well as its opposition to the death penalty, torture and its support for freedom of expression and human rights.

    Additionally, a special plaque was unveiled on the statue of Damaskinos -- which is located in the square in front of the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral -- commemorating the Orthodox Christian religious leader's role in rescuing members of the Jewish communities in the Athens area.

    Finally, the president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, Moses Constantines, praised the fact that new Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, who also attended the events, pledged to build a Holocaust memorial in the Greek capital, similar to other such memorials in Greek cities and European capitals.

    The parliament president's address preceded a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament building in downtown Athens, where Public Administration and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos laid a wreath in honour of the victims of the Holocaust, as Jan. 27 has been officially designated as a National Day of Remembrance for the Greek Jewish Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust.

    "Let us just say this for the umpteenth time, ānever again'; let us all defend freedom, peace and protect humanity's values," Pavlopoulos said.

    On his part, former minister Telemachos Hytiris represented main opposition PASOK at the wreath-laying event, noting afterwards that "as long as there are people the Holocaust will remain in our memory, and I hope that it teaches the way history must teach all the younger generations," he said.


    In Thessaloniki, which before the Second World War hosted one of the largest Sephardic communities in the world, events were held at the port city's main synagogue in the presence of Greek Jewish community leaders and local officials.

    "Of the 65,000 Greek Jews that fell victim to Nazism, 50,000 were citizens of Thessaloniki, working-class people who contributed to the advancement and defence of their country," the president of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, David Saltiel, said.

    He reminded that 12,898 Greek Jews served in the Greek armed forces in 1940-1941, of which 3,743 were injured and 513 died on the battlefields against Axis invaders in northern Greece's mountains.

    "After the war, the few survivors and their children were able to rebuild a new life, one rising from the ashes. It is because of them that (the Jewish community) has summer camps, institutions, youth centres, a synagogue, cemetery, conservatory and museum," he added.

    Local officials attending the ceremony included Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis and Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.

    Caption: The president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, Moses Constantines, right, lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007. ANA-MPA photo / S. Pantzartzi.

    [03] Papandreou meets with Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met with India National Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi and Indian External Affairs Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee here on Sunday in his capacity as president of the Socialist International.

    Papandreou arrived in the Indian capital to attend sessions of the ruling party's conference, which begins on Monday.

    Afterwards, Papandreou said that "following the discussion we had with my friend Sonia Gandhi and the minister of external affairs of India, I had the pleasure of announcing the substantive participation of this great party, the Congress Party, in the Socialist International, in an organised and systematic way, which, of course, will contribute to giving India a wider voice and strengthening the voice of socialists, of progressive forces, worldwide. With this message, we are highlighting the role played by the Socialist International in the global discussion over major issues of the era."

    Papandreou added that "we had the opportunity of discussing Asian regional issues. Asia is a region of interest to Greece, because it is a developing and dynamic region, but I also had the opportunity of referring to our bilateral relations, such as the relations between PASOK and the Congress Party, and to the regional issues that concern us, such as Cyprus. It was a very constructive discussion and yet another voice of our country, Greece, in this region."

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