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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 <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou meets with Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi
  • [02] Events around Greece for Holocaust Memorial Day
  • [03] No pension decreases, minister says
  • [04] Event marks 50th anniversary of Kazantzakis death

  • [01] 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 in New Delhi 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 and commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the party's founding by Mahatma Gandhi.

    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."

    Additionally, PASOKhas also voiced backing for India's request to gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Papandreou.

    [02] Events around Greece for 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.

    Thessaloniki

    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] No pension decreases, minister says

    Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Savvas Tsitouridis, speaking in the northern city of Kilkis on Sunday, touched on the government's social security policy, while at the same time criticising previous PASOK governments.

    "They even bet on their degrees that we would fail. However, their predictions of disaster fell through," the minister said in his election precinct of Kilkis, adding that "success is even greater if one considers the burdens we inherited."

    Tsitouridis also reiterated that "no one's pension will be decreased."

    Finally, the minister cited a new pension fund for self employed professionals, established after a merger between of funds TEBE, TAE and TSA, reminding that it should have been operating since 2001, but PASOK "didn't dare to implement the law they ratified."

    Caption: A file photo of Tsitouridis.

    [04] Event marks 50th anniversary of Kazantzakis death

    International events marking the 50th anniversary of the death of celebrated writer Nikos Kazantzakis began on Saturday night in Alexandria, the ancient port city frequently lauded in the Cretan author's works.

    The event, held at the Greek Cultural Foundation of Alexandria, centred on Kazantzakis' "searching spirit", as he travelled almost everywhere in world.

    Council of Overseas Hellenism President Stefanos Tamvakis and Greek ambassador to Egypt Panayiotis Vlassopoulos, among others, were present at the event.


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