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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 12-12-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] FM Avramopoulos at EU External Affairs Council
  • [02] PASOK leader sees a ‘new starting point' for Greece
  • [03] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies
  • [04] Two arrests for drug smuggling at Kipi border crossing
  • [05] Education minister, university rectors discuss closures and mergers of university departments

  • [01] FM Avramopoulos at EU External Affairs Council

    AMNA--Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos participated on Monday in a European Union External Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, that focused on developments in the Middle East, especially on the peace process regarding the Palestinian issue, and the situation in Syria as well as EU-Russia relations in view of the EU-Russia Council, to be held on December 21.

    Speaking on the Middle East peace process, Avramopoulos underlined, according to a ministry announcement issued in Athens, that the two sides, Israelis and Palestinians, should return to the negotiating table, safeguarding at the same time the prospect of a two-state solution, which constitutes the only viable prospect. The recent Greek vote at the United Nations General Assembly in favour of the upgrading of the status of Palestine in the UN, served, according to the minister, exactly this purpose. Avramopoulos also underlined that it was of crucial importance for the two sides to avoid actions that would undermine the dialogue.

    On the situation in Syria, the Greek foreign minister reiterated his country's steadfast positions in favour of a political solution and the start of a dialogue that would allow the Syrian people to decide on its future. Avramopoulos underlined the need of an immediate ceasefire and the importance of protecting the rights and security of all communities in Syria, pointing particularly to the country's Christian population and the Greek Orthodox community of the Middle East country.amna

    On the upcoming EU-Russia Summit Council, Avramopoulos underlined the strategic character of the cooperation between the EU and the Russian Federation, highlighting the mutual benefit for the two sides from the deepening of the ongoing dialogue between them, both on a political level, in order to tackle common world challenges, and an economic level by giving emphasis on energy, trade and tourism.The Greek minister also backed the lifting of visa restrictions for Russian citizens, a move that would, according to Avramopoulos, open the gates of Europe to the Russian society of citizens. amna

    On Tuesday, Avramopoulos will take part in the General Affairs Council which will examine a number of issues, including the preparation of the conclusions on the EU Council of Dec. 13 and 14. Later, the president of the Council, Herman van Rompuy will host a working lunch, while the EU enlargement policy conclusions will be on the afternoon meeting agenda.

    [02] PASOK leader sees a ‘new starting point' for Greece

    AMNA--"A new starting point for Greece is now taking shape," and when the state bond buy-back programme is completed, the country's public debt will be reduced by 10 percentage points, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos told a party meeting on Monday evening.

    He added that "it is a common secret internationally" that a new ‘haircut' of Greece's debt will eventually take place, provided that the country sticks by its obligations. amna

    Referring to the latest tax bill, Venizelos said the bill may not allow to persuade Greek citizens that it is a just, comprehensive, socially sensitive and developmental taxation system, but simply a package of austerity measures, including public spending cuts.

    However, he described the tax bill as "necessary" and said that his party struggled to make arrangements as fair as possible, avoiding "irrational solutions."amna

    Venizelos appeared satisfied for his party having managed to achieve a better tax deal for families with children, new self-employed professionals, the unemployed and rural population. amna

    In an indirect criticism to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the New Democracy party, Venizelos said it was because of their "obsession" with calling early elections that led to serious delays in negotiations with the country's international creditors.

    [03] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies

    The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The changes to shop working hours, the completion of the bonds buy-back procedure and the new tax bill to be tabled on Tuesday in parliament as well as the imminent increase in PPC electricity rates, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    AVGHI: "Sunday holiday a prey to the market".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Government looting the large families (with more than three children), too".


    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "PPC demands 30 percent rate increase".

    ESTIA: "The strangling of the economy".

    ETHNOS: "New map on working hours, fuel and market".

    IMERISSIA: "The market opens - Landmark decision on small shops' operation on all Sundays".

    KATHIMERINI: "Open on Sundays, too".

    LOGOS: "Abolition of Sunday holiday the final blow".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Small shops open on Sundays".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Hands off of the Sunday holiday".

    TA NEA: "End to tax returns!".

    6 DAYS: "Reduction of university schools and number of students".

    [04] Two arrests for drug smuggling at Kipi border crossing

    AMNA--Customs officers at the Kipi border crossing in Evros on Monday announced a major drug bust, in which large quantities of heroin coming to Greece from Turkey were intercepted at the border crossing.

    With the help a sniffer dog, customs officers located 38 parcels of heroin concealed within a car door, containing about 20 kilos of the drug in total.

    The 31-year-old Turkish national driving the vehicle claimed to have no knowledge of the drugs and said that he was travelling from Ankara to Germany, where he lives and works. The drugs and the vehicle were impounded and the suspect led before an Alexandroupolis public prosecutor. amna

    The bust was followed by a second shortly afterward, when customs officers arrested a 30-year-old passenger on a Turkish coach after finding 280 grammes of cannabis in his possession. A repeat offender, the same man had a previous arrest for possession of half a kilo of heroin and had done time abroad.amna

    The drugs were confiscated and the 30-year-old brought before an Alexandroupolis prosecutor.

    [05] Education minister, university rectors discuss closures and mergers of university departments

    AMNA--Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos and Greek university rectors on Monday held talks on proposed mergers, closures and renaming of several university schools and departments in the country. The talks, lasting until well into the afternoon, were held to discuss implementation of the "Athena" plan due to be completed in February.

    The rectors afterward said that the minister had agreed to include the criteria suggested by the universities for the mergers and closures of schools and departments. They also ask that for an individualised approach to the higher education institutes, taking into account the particularities of each one.amna

    Concerning the number of admissions to universities, rectors said that the number must be reduced given that the number of schools and departments would be reduced but their view was not shared by the minister. In the past, Arvanitopoulos has said that the ministry intends to preserve the number of students admitted each year, despite the smaller number of schools and departments.

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