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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-05-23
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Greece, Australia sign bilateral social security agreementCanberra (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos) -- Greece and Australia signed a bilateral social security agreement, providing for recognition of Greek Australians' pension and healthcare rights, on Wednesday in Canberra, during Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis' official visit to Australia and following talks with Australian prime minister John Howard.
The accord, which was signed by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on behalf of Greece, was a very important agreement, completed after lengthy negotiations, and will benefit the Greeks of Australia, Karamanlis said.
"We are resolving a matter that has been outstanding for decades, and which will enable our Greek Australian fellow citizens to enjoy their pension rights and their healthcare rights," he said.
Howard, in turn, stressed that the accord concerned thousands of Greeks of Australia, who would benefit, and expressed satisfaction that signing of the agreement was made possible after many years of negotiations.
Replying to press questions, Karamanlis said that the agreement would be fully in force in four months' time, and anticipated that at least 60,000 Greek Australians would benefit immediately.
Prime minister Karamanlis noted, in reply to another question, that the accord was founded on the principle of equal treatment of the citizens of both countries in matters of social insurance and security. Consequently, he clarified, as foreseen under Australian legislation, the Greek Australian beneficiaries in Australia were required to declare their properties and assets, stressing that in no instance was the Greek state responsible for doing this on their behalf. "Nothing is changing (in that respect) for the Greek Australians," he said.
The agreement is founded on the principle of equal treatement with respect to social security, on the principle of co-calculation of the periods of social insurance and residence in the two contracting countries for establishing pension rights, the principle of proportional apportionment of pension benefits, and the principle of unhindered transfer of benefits to the beneficiary's country of residence.
The accord covers only age pensions. Greek Australians returning to Greece after the agreement enters into force will recieve an age pension calculated on a mathematical formula in which the numerator is the number of years of residence in Australia and the denominator is 25 years.
For former residents of Australia who have already returned to Greece or will return to Greece prior to the enforecement of the agreement, the pension will be calculated on a different formula in which the numerator will again be the number of years of residence while the denominator will be 44 years.
Also, Greece will grant pension benefits even with only one year of insurance. For example, if a beneficiary has 300 days of social insurance in Greece and has 14 years of residence and social security in Australia, then he has a pension right in both Greece and Australia. In accordance with the above regulation, the pension beneficiary and the members of his family are entitled to full healthcare coverage by the Greek system.
In addition, the agreement further guarantees the acquired rights of the beneficiaries who already receive any category of pension benefits (not only age pensions) from Australia. The payment of the pension from Australia will in no instance be dependent on the right of a pension benefit from Greece.
Further, on the Australian side, Greek benefits such as the EKAS low pension benefit, the OGA farmers' pension and certain benefits for large families (four children or more) will not be taken into consideration during the calculation of income for determining pension.
Talks with Howard
During the talks between Karamanlis and Howard, special mention was made of the dynamic presence of the Greek community in Australia and the central role it played in preserving and strengthening the bonds between the two countries, while emphasis was also placed on progress in bilateral relations in the economy, trade and the educational sector.
The two prime ministers further discussed European Union enlargement, Turkey's EU accession course, Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue.
Karamanlis stressed that Greece appreciated Australia's stance on Greek foreign policy issues of priority, and particularly on the FYROM name issue.
Howard called Karamanlis a "personal friend", and expressed satisfaction over their discussion.
To a question on Greece's campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from Britain and Australia's stance, Howard noted that for many years he has repeatedly taken up this matter with the British prime minister, but added that, "in the final analysis, it is an issue that concerns Greece and Britain".
Karamanlis added that the issue "is not only a Greek demand". He explained that it was an "issue of reunification of a very important monument of global import", adding that "we must continue our efforts with all our friends and with all the governments".
"We must all unite our voices for the return of the cultural inheritance of the Parthenon," Karamanlis said.
Champions League final in Athens
To a question on the Champions League final to be held on Wednesday night at Athens main Olympic complex OAKA and whether he was concerned with the country's international image, Karamanlis noted first of all that the final was a "celebration of soccer, a sport event with world-wide radiance, as the eyes of millions of people were turned to it.
It was Greece's duty, therefore, as it had done during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, "to pass the test and prove that we have the experience, the knowhow, the determination to host such major events with absolute success and safety".
He said that the preparation carried out for the Final was very good and expressed certainty that the game would take place smoothly, adding that "I hope that all the soccer fans will enjoy an excellent, quality spectacle worthy of the history of these two great teams".
Meeting with opposition leader, luncheon in PMs honour
After the statements to the press, Karamanlis met with opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd, who spoke warmly of the Greek community in Australia and also on Greece's course in the EU and the country's economic growth.
Later, at a luncheon in Karamanlis' honour at the Australian parliament, prime minister Howard spoke of the long-standing bonds of friendship between the two countries, which he said were also forged by their common struggles against Nazism.
In his return speech, Karamanlis stressed that Greece and Australia had a common perspective on most of the important issues of the times and the correspnding challenges faced by the globalised society.
On the Cyprus issue, he said that Greece placed great weight on a just solution of the Cyprus problem that must conform with all the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.
Greece, as a member of the EU, will continue to contribute to the global effort to meet the challenges, he said, adding that it also remained dedicated to its commitment to win the fight against terrorism, and was further determined to secure a peaceful resolution of all the issues being faced today.
Turning to bilateral trade between Greece and Australia, he said that it remained at a relatively low level, and expressed hope that his visit will led to broadening and development of their commercial relations.
Karamanlis later visited the Hellenic Australian Monument, where he laid a wreath and presented medals to Greek and Australian veterans of WW2, and later laid another wreath at the Austrlian National Cenotaph (tomb of the unknown soldier).
On Thursday morning, Karamanlis will go to Adelaide, where he will meet with South Australia state premier Mike Rann and Adelaide Lord Mayor Michael Harbison, followed by a reception for the local Greek community before leaving for Melbourne, where he will address the local Greek community at a dinner event.
Karamanlis will meet with Victoria state premier Steve Bracks and opposition members on Friday, while that same night he will address a large gathering of Greek Australians at the Rod Laver Arena.
On Saturday, Karamanlis will leave for Darwin, where he will meet with Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin, followed by a reception hosted by Martin.
At noon on Saturday, the Greek prime minister will depart Darwin for Hanoi, Vietnam, on the last leg of his tour, where he will have talks with Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Vietnamese president Nguyen Minh Triet.
Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (R) with Australian Prime minister John Howard during a press conference in Canberra. (EPA/ALAN PORRITT)
 Papandreou: PASOK ready to governMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday will attend a memorial service for a Greek aviator killed during a mid-air collision over the Aegean with a Turkish warplane last year. On Tuesday, he continued his visit to the outlying island of Karpathos, one of the Dodecanese isles, to promote his party's recently approved programme.
He visited the mountainous village of Olympos in the northern part of Karpathos, where he was received by its inhabitants at the village's square and church.
Addressing the residents of Olympos, Papandreou said "the basic philosophy of PASOK is that there are no first and second class citizens."
"The islander must feel secure and an equal citizen of the country," he said and promised the island's inhabitants that "he will support them in their struggles."
"PASOK has an overall plan for Greece, but also an overall proposal for the islands. Particular weight is given to the programme of the islands' infrastructure and particularly to the transport infrastructure," Papandreou further said and promised "a ship every day to every island."
He also referred to the sectors of education, health and air transport and pledged increased pensions for farmers.
Caption: A file photo of PASOK president George Papandreou. ANA-MPA.
 Milan's Kaka' highlights global hungerKaka', the AC Milan super star regarded as one of the best in world football, has dedicated his participation in the UEFA Champions League final in Athens on Wednesday to the cause of hungry children.
Kaka' combines his role as an attacking midfielder for AC Milan and Brazil, with work as an Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
When he steps out onto the field for AC Milan in their match against Liverpool FC at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on Wednesday evening, Kaka will have just two things on his mind: "Obviously, Wednesday night is all about winning the Champions League trophy for AC Milan," he said. "But personally, I also want to dedicate my appearance in the Athens final to the cause of hungry children."
As WFP's youngest Ambassador against Hunger, Kaka' has used his profile as a successful international sportsman to draw attention to the challenge of addressing global hunger.
"As professional footballers, we are very privileged," said Kaka', as he prepared for the final in Athens. "From time to time we have a chance to help others because of who we are and what we do. I want to use my position as a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger to make more people aware of the challenges of feeding hundreds of millions of hungry children in some of the poorest, least developed parts of the world."
"It's an incredible asset to have the world's best player in the world's favourite game on our team," said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. Kaka, has shown that he can combine the skills and dedication needed to be at the very top of the game with a commitment to a worthy humanitarian cause."
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency:on average, as each year it provides food to 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children in 80 of the world's poorest countries.
Caption: Brazilian forward Ricardo Kaka' of AC Milan poses next to the Champions League trophy as he arrives for the press conference on the eve of the UEFA Champions League final match against Liverpool at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on 22 May 2007. ANA-MPA / EPA/DANIEL DAL ZENNARO
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