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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 09-01-25

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] Brussels: FMs Hold Meetings on Middle East
  • [02] The Government Rules out Early Elections
  • [03] Energy Performance Certificate as of 2009
  • [04] Hints at the Judges and Prosecutors' General Assembly
  • [05] Karamanlis Addresses the E.P.P Youth
  • [06] Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister in Athens
  • [07] C. Karamanlis: Proposal for Dialogue on Education
  • [08] Karamanlis-Pavlopoulos Meeting
  • [09] Papandreou's Lightning Visit to GADA
  • [10] Bakoyiannis-Lavrov Meeting
  • [11] Report on Accession to Tertiary Education on Monday
  • [12] Acceleration of Judicial Procedures
  • [13] Message to Turkey
  • [14] Debate on Inquiry Committee Kicks Off
  • [15] Spiliotopoulos: I'll Lend an Ear to All Sides
  • [16] Policy Capable of Defending the Nation
  • [17] SYN Leader Addresses ELP
  • [18] Greek PM Sends Stern Message to FYROM
  • [19] Greek FM: Gruevski Undermines His People
  • [20] Few Words and Lots of Work
  • [21] New Year's Carols to Politicians
  • [22] Foreign Office Report on A. Papandreou and K. Karamanlis
  • [23] Obama Determined to Shut Down Guantanamo
  • [24] Karamanlis Sends Letter to Obama
  • [25] Flock of Birds Brought down US Airways Jet
  • [26] Obama's Official First on Tuesday
  • [27] US: Miracle in Hudson river
  • [28] Israel Thinks of Exchanging Prisoners with Shalit
  • [29] Israel Accused of Using Depleted Uranium Bombs
  • [30] Gaza: Israeli Army Withdraws
  • [31] Israeli Withdrawal Continues
  • [32] Israeli Troops Withdraw from Gaza
  • [33] Unilateral Ceasefire Fragile
  • [34] No End to Gaza Tragedy
  • [35] Diplomatic Efforts, Obstacles by Bombs

  • [01] Brussels: FMs Hold Meetings on Middle East

    World -


    Greek foreign affairs minister Mrs. Dora Bakoyiannis will hold meeting today in Brussels and will attend working lunch for EU foreign affairs ministers discussing the situation in Gaza and the progress for peace in Middle East.

    Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and of the Palestinian authority will attend the lunch. Meantime, Mrs. Bakoyiannis, as president welcomes the restoration of natural gas provision in S. Ossetia that had been cut off since August 2008 and adds that this progress indicates the vital role OSCE plays in the security and stability in Europe.

    News item: 18142

    [02] The Government Rules out Early Elections


    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos has invited the opposition to adopt a clear stance on Mr Papoulias' second term of office as President of the Hellenic Republic. The Interior minister stated the government intends to support again Mr Papoulias at a time when talks on early elections are taking place. An opinion poll conducted by RASS for Paron tis Kyriakis newspaper, shows that PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) is leading with 2.3% on voting intention, while Mr Costas Karamanlis is preferred by most as prime minister.

    In an interview with Apogevmatini tis Kyriakis newspaper, Mr Pavlopoulos invites PASOK to clarify its stance as to whether it will support Mr Karalos Papoulias as President for the second time. "I have repeatedly said that Mr Papoulias discharges his duties perfectly and is an excellent president. Of course, we are ready to support him for the second time. What remains is for the PASOK main opposition party to clarify its position," stresses the Interior minister.

    Meanwhile, in an interview with Eleftheros Typos tis Kyriakis, the new Tourism Minister Costas Markopoulos states that nobody in Greece wishes now early elections to be declared, adding that only PASOK does and this only to impress.Although the government may be ruling out the eventuality of early elections, PASOK wishes elections to take place now."Election talk harms seriously the Economy," states in his interview with the Real News newspaper Development Minister C. Hatzidakis. "Economy is not a game", he stresses, ruling out early elections in spring.

    "I have repeatedly said that the work we do is irrelevant to the elections. As a government we have done a lot to armour employment and create new working positions, "points out Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia.In parallel, Deputy Sports Minister Giannis Ioanidis stressed that he is against early elections, adding that what matters is for us to work.

    Mr Costas Karamanlis will be forced to resort to early elections to avoid the worst, states in an interview with Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia newspaper PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos, while another PASOK cadre, Costas Skandalidis stresses to the Real News newspaper that the prime minister "will be dragged" to elections in 2009.

    PASOK Secretary Giannis Ragousis reported that the prime minister will have to declare early elections due to his weakness to manage the crisis and avoid the worst.

    LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) cadre Kyriakos Velopoulos stated that the government is in despair and while having its mind on early elections it is resorting to promises. On a relative development, as per an opinion poll conducted by RASS on behalf of PARON newspaper PASOK is ahead the ND party with 2.3%, while the difference between the two parties is decreasing, as the difference was 2.8% in December's poll.

    Mr Costas Karamanlis is leading as the most suitable prime minister with 45.9%, followed by Mr George Papandreou, who enjoys 33.2%.

    Moreover, 61.2% are supporting the declaration of early elections.

    ND Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis points in Eleftheros Typos newspaper that the difference between ND and PASOK is decreasing, adding that the ND party will win the elections if the government's performance proves positive.

    Sources: - 105.8-NA/PA

    News item: 18143

    [03] Energy Performance Certificate as of 2009


    Addressing the annual conference of property owners, Development Minister Costas Hatzidakis stated that the cost of issuing an Energy Performance Certificate will not be exceeding 100 euros for each house or apartment. The certificate will be necessary when a home owner wishes to rent his property to pass it to others and will be providing home owners, tenants and buyers information on the energy efficiency of their property. The certificate will be begin to be issued in 2009.

    The minister said that a bill on the Energy Performance Certificate was passed in 2008 and concerns Greece's harmonization with the EU policy on saving energy.

    Justifying the allegation as per which the certificate is not a reason to burden millions of Greek property owners, he explained that originally the plan was for each square metre to be charged with 2.5 euros, but finally the cost will be one euro per one square metre.

    In parallel, he announced that the procedures for the installation of photovoltaic systems on self-contained homes or building roofs will be simplified and the only document the interested party will have to acquire will be the civil engineer's signature.

    "Our objective is to help civilians have homes that are energy autonomous," said Mr Hatzidakis.

    News item: 18118

    [04] Hints at the Judges and Prosecutors' General Assembly


    Wrangling has broken out between the government and the main opposition party on Justice on the occasion of George Papandreou's accusations at the judges and prosecutors' annual meeting. The PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) president reported that the Greek citizens feel that justice is not ruling the country, speaking of list of endless scandals and of party looting and self-interests. In reply, Justice Minister Nikos Dendias said that with his statements Mr Papandreou is not promoting the solution of problems related to Justice, accusing him of not admitting the responsibilities and even the written-off wrongdoings of his cadres on the Vatopedi case.

    The PASOK president spoke of crisis in Democracy during his address at the judges and prosecutors' annual meeting.

    "Civilians feel that justice is not ruling the country and that everybody serves one's own interests," adding that the present government's mentality has brought a deep crisis to Democracy. "The state is not the feud of the elections winner," and "for the last five years Greeks feel they are living in an insecure environment."Mr Papandreou criticized harshly the ND government, speaking of an endless list of scandals and for a mentality of looting by parties and self-interests instead of the people's interests.

    Referring to the Vatopedi scandal, he stated the government had attempted to write off the scandal, demanding in parallel meritocracy and transparency.Mr Papandreou criticized harshly some judges, who as he said are influenced by parties and act as secret advisors to ministers.

    He proposed a change in these mentalities, so that Justice can serve as a factor of social cohesion and protection of citizens in an attempt to combat corruption.

    From his side, referring to Mr Papandreou's statements the new Justice Minister Nikolaos Dendias said they are not promoting the solution of the problems of Justice and do not contribute to dialogue.

    Furthermore, he accused Mr Papandreou of not admitting the responsibilities and even the written-off wrongdoings of his cadres on the Vatopedi case.

    He also added that he aims at promoting new institutional changes that will secure the acceleration of administering justice, so that the phenomenon of denegation of justice is dealt with.

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos also commented on Mr Papandreou's statements by saying that nepotism and judges who became ministers also took place when PASOK ruled, stressing that that was necessary for their judicial advancement.The issue of fast administration of justice also prevailed in the meeting, with Union President Charalambos Athanasiou stressing that Justice in Greece had been deficient in this respect for 15 years and adding that trials are now announced for 2012.

    Mr Athanasiou asked for strictness on those who are responsible for incidents during marches, adding that rallies are held so as citizens can achieve their goals and not to destroy property.In parallel, Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas stressed that all should see that that social request is met, adding that efforts for a faster administering of justice should commences as of the following day.

    In his message, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis reported that the government's respect to the institution of Justice is given, adding that the government is denouncing efforts to the depreciation of the institution, irrelevant from where they come from.

    News item: 18109

    [05] Karamanlis Addresses the E.P.P Youth

    Addressing the European Popular Party youth at an event staged by ONNED in Athens Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis asked from the political parties and social partners to be serious, self-restrained and responsible, so that the global financial crisis is tackled. He also stressed it is unknown how long and how strong the global crisis would be, adding that resolution of the crisis depends not only from governments but also on the serious stance social partners will adopt in each country.

    He also said that the repercussions from the global financial crisis would be heavier to Europeans if they did not belong to the EU. In parallel, he accused the main opposition party of playing petty party games with the crisis.

    "Some have found the time for scaremongering and promote pessimism, as well as play petty party games in view of the Euro elections", said the PM, stressing "Some invest irresponsibly to problems. Our goal is to combat the problems."

    The PM reported that the repercussions of the financial crisis would be dealt with strong reflexives and social sensitivity. Moreover, policies are necessary to implemented in support of the classes affected mostly, without however endangering the fiscal balance. He added that the EU should give its answers on the financial crisis in the following months, calling on the EU member-states to take advantage of their common experience and take decisions.

    The PM described today's crisis a challenge for all, adding that the EU could moderate the repercussions with coordinating policies and transform the international challenge to a European opportunity.

    Mr Karamanlis also referred to the Educational reform, describing it the basic axis of the government's policy, adding that he supports an educational system that would cover the future needs of the economy and labour.

    "We are building the future school and are upgrading qualitatively Tertiary Education. We are commencing a dialogue for the examining system and the reform of the Lyceum," said the PM.

    Finally, he called on the European youth to participate more actively in the society's affairs.

    News item: 18107

    [06] Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister in Athens

    Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Maliki visited Athens for a sequence of meetings. After the completion of the meeting with her Palestinian counterpart, Greek FM Dora Bakoyiannis, appealed all sides to preserve and apply Gaza truce. Mrs. Bakoyiannis said that Greece is ready to welcome and hospitalize in private and state hospitals, children and injured Palestinians from Gaza. The Palestinian minister signed with Dora Bakoyiannis a memorandum on political deliberations. Mr. Maliki stressed that Palestinians mostly depend on the European Union's initiatives per the preservation of the truce. Finally, he thanked our country for the help it offered to Palestinians.

    Mr. Maliki also met with the President of Republic Mr. Karolos Papoulias who expressed Greece's solidarity to the Palestinian people. Mr. Maliki met with PASOK president George Papandreou on Friday afternoon and briefed hin on the situation in Gaza after the Israeli invasion.After their meeting, Mr. Papandreou said that PASOK party solidarity to the Palestinian people is historical and expressed hope that the ceasefire would be substantial and permanent and similar scenes never repeated in the future.

    News item: 18075

    [07] C. Karamanlis: Proposal for Dialogue on Education

    A debate on Education will open today in Parliament during an off the agenda session, on the prime minister's initiative. From their side, educators are responding with protest rallies in Athens and Thessaloniki. At the same time, high school and University students will stage a rally before the Propylae at 12:00 and then march to the Parliament, where teachers and professors will hold a protest rally. At the same time, ADEDY (Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants Trade Unions is staging a work stoppage in Attica at 13:00 until the end of the shift, calling employees and pensioners to participate in the rally. At the same time, educators will hold rallies in Thessaloniki.

    Prime Minister Mr. Karamanlis, speaking in parliament on Friday during an off-the-agenda discussion on the education sector, asked for concession and commitment by all political parties on Education for the next 20 years aimed at reforming lyceum schooling and change of the system of entry into higher education.

    The prime minister said that changes in the lyceum and in they system of university entrance exams was a reform of major importance which "we want to arise from within common agreement" among the political parties, agencies and societies.

    Karamanlis proposed that "we should all undertake, today if possible, a specific commitment towards the children and towards every Greek family".

    "I propose that we, all the political leaders, take upon ourselves the responsibility of dialogue. That we, each of us, designate a colleague MP and set up a high-level Policy Committee for this purpose, the members of which will be in a constant, two-way communication with the minister of education, convey the ideas and suggestions of their parties, and also to brief their parties on the progress of the dialogue," Karamanlis said.

    Karamanlis added that his ruling New Democracy (ND) party was entering into this dialogue with proposals of its own, and would designate a party MP as its representative to both the five-member Policy Committee and to the Council on Secondary Education.

    Karamanlis said that he came to the parliamentary discussion not to announce a governmental choice but "with the concern and determination for us to forge together the path that will be followed by ministers and governments, the path that the children will follow over the next 20 years".

    The Prime Minister also focused on the issue of protection of the University Asylum, which he said was being blatantly violated by "elements alien to the Institutions (of learning)" which "exploit the peaceful mobilizations, prohibit the dissemination of any other view, turn violently on the free students and teachers and engage in destruction".

    Karamanlis further called on the political parties to take a stance on the phenomena of violence. "It is necessary that we all take a clear-cut position. A position for open schools. A position for unhindered access of every student, every pupil, to his/her classes. A position, in the bottom line, of respect for democracy."

    Source: Athens News Agency

    Relative articles: Criticism and Positions in view of the Debate on Education

    News item: 18058

    [08] Karamanlis-Pavlopoulos Meeting

    During their meeting at Maximos Mansion today, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos focused on the boosting of decentralization and self-government.

    Mr Pavlopoulos stressed that the implementation of the funds from the Third Community Support Framework was concluded without wasting a single euro.

    The Interior Minister referred to his meeting with KEDKE's (Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece) presidium and said that funds for 2009 had been secured, while the situation would be re-assessed t the end of March due to the global financial crisis, so that the dialogue for the administrative reform can commence again.

    Mr Pavlopoulos stated that he briefed the prime minister on issues related to the boosting of decentralization and self-government, on the progress of the ESPA implementation that is the Fourth Community Support Framework.

    Regarding decentralization, Mr Pavlopoulos said that despite shortages until 2004, the 13 provinces had managed to implement the Fourth Community Support Frameworkand materialize the 13 regional operational programmes.

    "Absorbency in the beginning was 15.6% and at the end of 2008 all went well, without wasting a single euro. In the same way, he added, the provinces are preparing for the Fourth Community Support Framework and are being manned with staff so that the high demands of the new ESPA are met".

    Mr Pavlopoulos also briefed the PM on his meeting with KEDKE, in view of the reform that will be weighed up in the soon, as the priority is to support financially OTA (Local Self-Government Organisation), so that a stable basis on which the reform will be based will be available.

    The funds, he added, for 2009 have been secured and at the end of March we shall see how things are going, so that from one side we it is ready to meet the challenges of the future and if the conditions are better to commence again a dialogue on the administrative reform.

    News item: 18029

    [09] Papandreou's Lightning Visit to GADA

    PASOK socialist leader Giorgos Papandreou visited today GADA (police head quarters) as well as the police department of Kypseli. As he announced later, Mr. Papandreou said that he found the door of Athens Security Office closed. During his visit, Mr. Papandreou was briefed about the situation prevailing today in the sector of Public Order and the problems police officers face when exercising their duties. Mr. Papandreou stressed that decisions must be promoted and measures must be taken that will reinforce citizens' security and the tackling of crime.

    Delivering a speech in a meeting of officers on public security issues, PASOK president spoke of a general feeling of insecurity among citizens that has been created due to the government's false manipulations. In a democratic society, he stressed there are no dilemmas regarding the security and the rights of citizens.

    Mr. Papandreou underlined that immediate interventions are necessary that will restore citizens' negative feeling towards the police force. "We want a police force that will be affective", he said, "standing near the citizen, with respect to the personal freedoms and to the citizens' rights.

    Minister of Internal Affairs Prokopis Pavlopoulos asked PASOK to be more serious when exercising criticism to the Hellenic Police. He called PASOK to exercise criticism using real and not imaginary arguments and suggested that the opposition party should support the institutions. He also pointed out that PASOK often adopts stances that do not help the country.

    When asked to comment PASOK charges regarding the dissolution of the police force, Athens mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis stressed" The Hellenic Police Force needs further organization but mostly needs moral support in its work".

    News item: 17975

    [10] Bakoyiannis-Lavrov Meeting

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is expected in Moscow on Tuesday, on her first trip abroad since Greece took over the presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). She is scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the following day. In an interview with the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS concerning her visit, she said it would cover all issues pertaining to the OSCE but also bilateral affairs, especially in light of the recent natgas supply crisis.

    Ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos stressed that Greece will play the role of the "honest interlocutor" and will attempt to speed up the concession of all members.

    The Russian side aims at the presence of OSCE observers not only in Tbilisi but also in Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) wishing the "new realities" created after the war of August to be taken into consideration.

    News item: 17970

    [11] Report on Accession to Tertiary Education on Monday

    Accession to tertiary education runs high on the agenda of the new Education Minister. According to information, the National Education Council has proposed high school be disconnected from national-level exams. In the meantime, information on the National Education Council report on changes in the accession to tertiary education has leaked. Asked to comment on relevant information, Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos reiterated that the Ministry is open to dialogue and that he will carefully consider all proposals.

    Head of the Federation of Secondary School Teachers of Greece (OLME) Kostas Maniatis said that the government should lay out the key guidelines.

    Following his meeting with former Education Minister Marietta Giannakou, Aris Spiliotopoulos held talks with his predecessor Evrypides Stylianides to be informed.Aris Spiliotopoulos intends to meet with Socialist lawmakers who served as Education Ministers.

    Exiting the meeting, Spiliotopoulos stressed he had a constructive cooperation with Stylianides. "It is clear that Mr Stylianides made a great work. This is our legacy to move on in a wise and calm manner and above all with open dialogue and willingness to listen to all positions," Spiliotopoulos.

    "Positive efforts will go one and new reform chapters may also open depending on the needs of the Greek society and the new generation. Because this is our guide and our concern," commented Evrypides Stylianides.

    News item: 17935

    [12] Acceleration of Judicial Procedures

    Acceleration of judicial procedures is the top priority of the Justice Ministry said new Justice Minister, Nikos Dendias after his meeting with Prime-minister, Kostas Karamanlis at the Maximos Mansion, on Tuesday.

    Mr. Dendias said that he would follow on his predecessors' steps in a more intensive way "to accelerate attribution of justice".

    In response to question regarding within prisons coordination of criminal acts, such as abductions, Mr. Dendias said: "I can not respond on the grounds of rumours and vague information". I am certain that competent authorities would do their job to reveal criminals (in Panagopoulos kidnapping case) as they did in similar cases in the past".

    Sources: 105.8, NA-PA

    News item: 17934

    [13] Message to Turkey

    Prime Minister of Turkey Tayip Erdogan spoke on Greek-Turkish relations from Brussels and stressed among other things that if challenges stop, the relations between the two countries will improve. Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros called on Ankara to respect the rules of the international law and the decisions taken by international organizations if Turkey wishes to have any European prospects. Meantime, Athens on Friday reiterated that an incident involving the harassment of a civilian airliner by Turkish warplanes in the eastern Aegean.

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, nevertheless, continued to reiterate Greece's standing position on relations with the neighbouring country, namely, that EU candidate-state Turkey cannot continuously find excuses to justify its failure to meet commitments towards the European Union.

    "Turkey must end behavior that has no relation to its European orientation or to relations between allies, which it wants to maintain with us," Antonaros said during a regular press briefing in the Greek capital.

    The spokesman said the excellent manner in which Athens conducts its relations with Ankara should be reciprocated by the latter.Finally, the spokesman said he had no information on a possible upcoming visit by the Greek prime minister to Washington for contacts with the new US administration.

    Harassment of Civilian Turkish Warplane

    Athens on Friday reiterated that an incident involving the harassment of a civilian airliner by Turkish warplanes in the eastern Aegean is under investigation by the national defence ministry.

    Source: Athens News Agency, NET, NET 105.8

    News item: 17902

    [14] Debate on Inquiry Committee Kicks Off

    The Greek House is to debate Monday PASOK's (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) call for the setting up of an inquiry community to investigate the Vatopedi case. As per information the ruling party of ND (New Democracy) will abstain from the debate.

    News item: 17881

    [15] Spiliotopoulos: I'll Lend an Ear to All Sides

    "My personal goal is to work alongside with all members of the educational community, to seek for solutions to the problems that have been raising obstacles in our ways for years, to focus our attention to a strategy capable of addressing the needs and demands of the educational system," stressed Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos in his article that appeared in Eleftheros Typos tis Kyriakis Sunday paper entitled "I'll lend an ear to all sides." In his article, Aris Spiliotopoulos elaborated on his intentions.

    "I do not intend just to cope with the existing problems, nor do I believe that I can solve the past pending issues all alone in a magic way. I intend to lend an ear to all sides, to activate all the creative forces of the society, of the educational community, the new generation, so that this effort can yield result," read the article.

    'The problems of the new generation cannot be addressed with authoritarian practices. It takes ideas and all parties' positions [...] I believe that both subjective and objective preconditions have matured so that we can work together for a more qualitative Education," concluded Spiliotopoulos.

    News item: 17871

    [16] Policy Capable of Defending the Nation

    PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) President George Papandreou addressed Sunday a political event held in the city of Trikala, central Athens. The nation requires changes and a new course and PASOK is ready to shoulder its responsibilities and rule the place with a well-thought-out plan, stressed the Socialist leader. Touching on the recent cabinet reshuffle, he blasted the Conservative government for vying to change masks for fear of elections.

    He then went on to accuse the government for masterminding snap elections scenarios with a view to buying votes and consciences through public spending and OAED funds.

    Awaiting the European Commission report on economy, Papandreou noted that news would be gloomy, since Almunia practically confirmed what PASOK had been claiming. "We are a step before recession," he commented.

    In view of Monday's parliamentary debate on the Vatopedi scandal, he wondered whether the ruling Conservatives would yet again flee and underlined that the people demanded transparency when it comes to major scandal, otherwise a cover-up would be a major political and economical crime.

    News item: 17844

    [17] SYN Leader Addresses ELP

    The recent unrest reported in Athens run high on the agenda of an unscheduled conference of the European Left Party taking place in the Parliament building. The youth's struggles have sent the message of resistance against neo-liberal policies," stressed Alexis Tsipras, head of Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).

    Resting everybody assure that his party would not take a step back, SYRIZA President Alexis Tsipras outlined Saturday his party's strategy concerning young people's problems.

    Addressing the ELP conference, he said: "We were the only political force that spoke of an uprising from the very beginning. We became the target of the entire political system. Here in Greece, we heard many interpretations about the uprising of the young," and vowed that the party would not back down from young people's right to mass and militant peaceful protest, to seek a future that would not be uninsured, to free state-controlled and dignified education and to defend democracy and social rights from arbitrariness and suppression.

    Touching on the financial crisis, Tsipras put it down to the elements composing the nucleus of the neo-liberal sample.

    News item: 17825

    [18] Greek PM Sends Stern Message to FYROM

    Addressing the House, Greece's Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis sent a stern message to Skopje. In reply to an interpellation filed by LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) head Giorgos Karatzaferis on Skopje growing intransigence, Karamanlis stressed that as long as FYROM kept being intransigent, it could not join the EU and NATO. In the meantime, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Giannis Valinakis said that Ankara's provocations could inflict no harm on Greece's national rights.

    Karamanlis: "Greece Has the Means and Uses It with Prudence and Credibility"

    The Greek Premier outlined Greece's stance on Skopje's ongoing intransigence.

    He argued that Greece would not participate in the financing of road axis 10, which the neighbouring country renamed in a provocative manner, as long as the Skopje administration kept creating an atmosphere of provocations, nationalism and intransigence.

    He then went on to make it plain that, "Skopje's EU and NATO aspirations will not be met, as long as they deliberately insist on a grey past, with its leadership being interested in petty political expediencies in view of the general elections."

    The LAOS head accused the governments ruled Greece so far of failing to block, as they should have, EU aids to the neighbouring country, aid that amounted to 1.110bn. "This means that we finance Skopje's arrogance, insolence and bullying," added Karatzaferis.

    "Our positions and decisions are built upon the country's interest and everything takes place with absolute transparency," answered back Kostas Karamanlis, also stressing: "We are after a single name with geographical qualifier. We urge Skopje to play their part in the campaign to achieve a mutually respectable solution. We do not want Skopje to be left out of the EU and NATO. What it best for the region is the leaders of the neighbouring country to abandon the grey past and focus on its future within Europe."

    "Greece has the tools, It has not given up on them. It uses them with prudence and credibility," concluded the Prime Minister.

    Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA-MPA

    News item: 17794

    [19] Greek FM: Gruevski Undermines His People

    Gruevski's rhetoric of provocation undermines his own people, commented Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis during his one-hour meeting with her new Austrian counterpart Michael Spindelegger in Vienna on Friday morning.

    Apart from the Skopje row, Bakoyannis and Spindelegger also touched on matters relating to OSCE and bilateral relations.

    OSCE Chairman person-in-office Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis outlined the Greek Chairmanship's proposals regarding the deployment of OSCE observers to Georgia and Ossetia. The two Foreign Ministers also referred to the cooperation prospect between Greece and Austria so that they could, as Bakoyannis claimed, undertake joint initiatives for a humanitarian aid to Gaza.

    With regard to the Greek OSCE Chairmanship, the Greek Foreign Minister underlined that expectations had been really high, hoping that Greece would live up to them.

    "It is a difficult Chairmanship at a really touch time and we are well aware that the challenge is great, since it is not easy to get the 56 OSCE member-states with conflicting interests agree," commented she.

    "In the new world we have come to live, with the rapid changes we are experiencing, enhancing the Organization's role and placing emphasis in our shared values, is an imperative. We have to come closer to one another, and the Greek Chairmanship will work for that," said she.

    Commenting on estimations, whereby the Greek OSCE Chairmanship would witness the settling of several pending issues, the Greek Foreign Minister wished for results to be yielded, stressing that Greek diplomacy is well-prepared.

    News item: 17796

    [20] Few Words and Lots of Work

    Greece's Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis called for systematic work and effectiveness at the first sitting of the new cabinet, shortly after the new government members were sworn in. Karamanlis urged the ministers and the deputy ministers to give priority to the citizens' everyday problems. Effectiveness, stability, certainty and security. These four notions outline the goals of the new government, said the Prime Minister. Earlier, the 17 new cabinet members were sworn in before President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Archbishop of Athens and all Greece Hieronymos.

    Addressing the ministers and deputy ministers making up the new cabinet, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis demanded few words and lots of work.

    "We are making a new beginning today. We are not interested in impressions, but in results in all sectors. We are making the best of the elders' experience and the newcomers' dynamism. We are after new rhythms, effectiveness, stability, certainty and security," stressed Karamanlis.

    "We are aware that there are no easy solutions. We are fully aware of the hardships. We have an uphill path to cross. We are determined to succeed. And we will succeed in all sectors, in all crucial matters."

    Touching on the global credit crisis, he noted that 2009 is to be touch for all.

    "All nations are facing the repercussions of a crisis, the world has never seen since the post-war era. Europe has come up against insecurity and concern. Financial activities have decreased and unemployment has increased everywhere," argued he, further adding that the government's goal is to help Greece survive the crisis and emerge even stronger.

    Addressing the cabinet, the Prime Minister made it plain the new standards demand absolute commitment to specific values. He called for the redefinition of problems per sector, immediate hierarchy of priorities, specific timelines that will be observed to the full and tangible work by everyone.

    He urged everyone to put an end to all sorts of unnecessary spending, stressing that only the necessary one will be acceptable.

    "Apart from being a token of responsibility, it sets a good example. It is a key criterion for work assessment in every ministry," commented the Prime Minister.

    He then went on to underline that bold initiatives will be undertaken to tackle the red tape and cement transparency in all sectors. He even warned that weaknesses, omissions and slow responses will be definitely practices of the past.Misunderstandings and personal strategies are out of the question and will not be tolerated, Karamanlis said.He highlighted complete commitment to the greater good, and this means, as he said, responsibility and constant communications with the citizens.

    Finally, he commented on the stance of the opposition parties and the trade unions."The nation's future depends upon the conflict between responsibility and irresponsibility. We know that certain political powers, and some unionists as well, have been demagogic. Our position is firm and nonnegotiable. We are not playing games with the country's future.

    Between responsibility and irresponsibility, we never had - and we will never have - any dilemma. We have opted for the touch path of responsibility. And we will not leave this path. We are determined to succeed and we will succeed. None should doubt that," concluded the Prime Minister.

    Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA

    News item: 17476

    [21] New Year's Carols to Politicians

    Members of folklore associations from all over Greece have been singing the New Year carols to the political leaders since Wednesday morning. Later on President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias will attend the New Year Ball to be held by the Greek Armed Forces at the Officer's Club of Athens (L.A.E.D.).

    On Thursday morning, a Te Deum will take place at the Athens Cathedral before the nation's state and political leadership. The President of the Republic will then receive wishes for the New Year from representatives of the political, military and religious leadership at the Presidential Mansion.

    Children choir Lambros sang New Year's carrols to Prime-minister Karamanlis and his wife at the Maximos mansion. They exchanged wishes while the children gave Mr. Karamanlis a card saying what they would do if the were prime-ministers.

    Kimolos and Preveza societies sang the carrols to PASOK leader George Papandreou at the party's headquarters and exchanged wishes and gifts.

    News item: 17257

    [22] Foreign Office Report on A. Papandreou and K. Karamanlis

    A report in UK Foreign Office Archives, written in 1978 by the then British ambassador to Athens Brooks Richards after his meeting with then PASOK leader A. Papandreou describes him as Themistoklis who saved Greece from the Persians or Karaiskakis who used to say "I can be an angel or a devil whenever I want".

    The report released after completion of 30 years also refers to A. Papandreou belief that EDHK party had no future and the GCP of the interior and the GCP would never gather over 12% of votes. The British ambassador in his report labeled A. Papandreou positions as against the European community and hostile to the US and NATO.From the report released from the Foreign Office Archive, we also gather that then Prime-minister, Kostantinos Karamanlis had requested and achieved the British government's assistance in accelerating Greece's admission to the EU and its disengagement from Portugal and Spain's entries. On the Cyprus issue, Konstantinos Karamanlis had set as highest ceiling 25% of Cyprus territory for Turkish Cypriots while he had stated that Greece will not return to NATO military wing unless the Cyprus issue was settled.

    Sources: NA

    News item: 17243

    [23] Obama Determined to Shut Down Guantanamo

    New U.S. president Barack Oabama has circulated a draft executive order that calls for closing the controversial US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay within a year. On Wednesday Obama had phone conversations with Arab, Israeli and Palestinian leaders and committed to work for peace in Middle East. He also asked from the military leadership to proceed to additional planning so as to smooth the withdrawal of the US troops from Iraq.

    Economy, Afghanistan-Iraq at Focus Guantanamo draft decree refers among other things on the closing down of the prison within a year. Prisoners will hold the right to appeal on court regarding their imprisonment.

    In addition, Obama administration will look into the issue of prisoners being transported to other prisons or being released. Minister of defense will be obliged to re examine the conditions of detention in Guantanamo and to take immediate measures for its improvement.

    On his first day in office the new president met with military and national security advisers to discuss the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. "During the discussion, I asked the military leadership to engage in additional planning necessary to execute aresponsible military drawdown from Iraq," Obama said in a statement after the meeting.

    Meantime, Democratic lawmakers from incoming US President Barack Obama's Democratic party unveiled a 825 billion dollar package aimed at jolting the US economy from a deep recession.

    President Barack Obama's first public act in office Wednesday was to institute new limits on lobbyists in his White House and to freeze the salaries of top White House associates because the American families face difficult times as he underlined in members of his government.

    Hillary Clinton won U.S. Senate approval on Wednesday as the next secretary of state. The road is open for her to be appointed the country's top diplomat.

    Obama Takes Second Oath

    U.S. President Barack Obama was administered the oath of office a second time on Wednesday at the White House because a word was out of sequence when hewas sworn in on Tuesday.

    The White House counsel said in a statement read by a spokesman the oath was administered a second time out of an "abundance of caution."

    News item: 18010

    [24] Karamanlis Sends Letter to Obama

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has sent a letter to the new US President Barack Obama, congratulating on assuming his duties. In his letter, the PM stresses amongst others his satisfaction over Mr Obama's commitment to combat the simmering global financial crisis in cooperation with the international community.

    Besides, he points out that Mr Obama's significant speech yesterday had an appeal beyond the US and emanated the principles of understanding, cooperation, solidarity and the power of example, values that both leaders share. Mr Karamanlis expressed his expectation to cooperate with Mr Obama, looking to meet the new US president in the near future. During his first day as president, Mr Obama promised a new era of accountability and transparency, saying there would be a "clean break from business as usual". His first annoucement was a pay freeze on senior White House staff. He said American families were tightening their belts, and so should Washington, adding that details would not be kept secret and made known instead. As President he would hold himself too to a "new standard of openness", he said. "Information will not be held just because I say so. "Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this Presidency."

    Meanwhile Reuter has reported that there is a non-signed draft which proposes revision of the state under which Guantanamo detainees are kept and the special military committees that are trying them. Mr Obama may order the Guantanamo prison to close, when the draft plan of the relevant decree is signed.

    News item: 18005

    [25] Flock of Birds Brought down US Airways Jet

    Black box recordings retrieved on Sunday from the crashed US Airways jet appear to back the theory that a collision with birds brought down the plane.Investigators have yet to analyze the wrecked engines and fuselage of the Airbus, but cockpit recordings released on Sunday strongly supported indications that the plane lost all power after being hit by birds.

    The voice recording shows that "about 90 seconds after take-off the captain remarks about birds," Kitty Higgins, from the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB), told a news conference."One second later the cockpit voice recorder recorded the sound of thumps and rapid decrease of engine sounds. The captain acknowledges that both engines have lost power and he takes control of the aircraft," Higgins said.The Airbus ditched in New York's Hudson River with no loss of life thanks to a skillful splash-landing and well-oiled rescue operation. Everyone aboard was able to get off the sinking aircraft and into rescue boats. The pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, has been credited with saving the lives of all 155 people aboard with his skillful handling of the plane as it came down.

    News item: 17886

    [26] Obama's Official First on Tuesday

    About two months after his landslide victory, which inspired hope to hearts of people worldwide for the changes he was to usher in as the first Afro-American US President, Barack Obama celebrated his victory at a pre-inauguration rally held in Washington on Sunday. In his speech, the new US President did not miss urging the Americans to help his in his uphill task to overcome the hardships brought on by the financial crisis.

    He also stressed, "Despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead - I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure - that the dream of our founders will live on in our time."

    "In the course of our history, only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now," said Obama in his speech before a large crowd of people that packed the Lincoln Memorial to attend a concert given by famous performers.

    Among the biggest names in the music industry that stood by him were U2, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Sheryl Crow.

    Furthermore, hundreds of events are taking place to mark Obama's swearing-in ceremony scheduled for Tuesday, manifesting in the most glowing terms the high expectations his elections has created in the USA and beyond.

    Source: NET 105.8, ANA-MPA, AFP

    News item: 17882

    [27] US: Miracle in Hudson river

    All 150 passengers and 5 member crew aboard 10 year old A320 airbus survived a dramatic rescue after pilot Chesley Sullenberger, former Air Force pilot with 40 years experience made an emergency landing last night on Hudson River. Survivors and officials said all passengers and crew members on board left the plane through emergency exits, with some standing on the wing before being rescued by ferry boat and police launches. Some were later treated for unspecified injuries. Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot, refused to don a life vest and left the aircraft last.

    Flight 1549 had taken off from New York's LaGuardia airport at 15:30 local time with a half hour delay, bound for Charlotte, North Carolina, when it hit a flock of birds that disabled two engines, officials said. The pilot told the passengers to brace for impact before the aircraft glided on the Hudson River. The Federal Aviation Authority said the plane was aloft for only about three minutes.

    The pilot radioed the control tower, asking to return to LaGuardia. He was given clearance. The last transmission between the pilot and controller was the controller's order to divert to Teterboro, an airstrip in New Jersey, for an emergency landing. Both destinations were far to attempt landing with two disabled engines so the experienced pilot opted emergency landing on Hudson River

    After landing on the Hudson, the aircraft, surrounded immediately by commuter ferries and later by rescue boats, floated downstream as hundreds watched from office towers overlooking the Hudson. As the passengers clambered out on to the wings through the emergency exits, the aircraft began to sink and the cabin started filling with water. Some of the passengers slipped and tumbled into the freezing river with temperatures plunging below minus 6C . Rescuers in Coast Guard vessels and ferry boats arrived, opened the door and pulled passengers in yellow life vests from the aircraft. It eventually sank. Witnesses said the pilot showed great skill guiding the plane down, ditching into the water at an estimated speed of 140 knots.

    Sources: NA-PA

    News item: 17786

    [28] Israel Thinks of Exchanging Prisoners with Shalit

    Israeli officials are thinking of adopting a more moderate stance in relation to the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, reported the Israeli radio on Thursday. Several ministers, among them Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and head of the Domestic Security Service Yuval Diskin accept to release most of the detainees Hamas demands in exchange for Salit, adds the same source. Israeli officials believe that Hamas has been weakened to a great extent after Israel's military operations and that the release of the Palestinian prisoners will not boost its forces. The Israeli Radio points out that even Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has decided to do all he can to release Gilad Shalit, who was abducted in June 2006, before the 10 February parliamentary elections.

    Meanwhile, the European Union hopes that more humanitarian aid will be sent to the Gaza Strip, as it has been assured by Israel that it will fully cooperate with the Europeans for the dispatch of aid.

    Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated after her talks with EU officials in Brussels that the passages to Gaza have opened to serve humanitarian reasons and that Israel is ready to cooperate "for as long as it takes" to see that the necessary aid passes to the area.

    "I am happy with what the minister has said," stated head of European diplomacy Xavier Solana after his talks with Ms Tzipi Livni. "I hope that it will become true and the necessary trucks will be able to enter Gaza," he added.

    Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country is currently presiding the EU, told the same Press Conference that the EU had secured permission for the dispatch of humanitarian aid to Gaza, adding however that it is not clear yet how much aid can be sent.

    Source: ANA,MPA

    News item: 18018

    [29] Israel Accused of Using Depleted Uranium Bombs

    After the Israeli troops' withdrawal, wrangling has broken out as to whether Israel has used depleted uranium bombs during its attack in the Gaza Strip. From its side, Israel has refused it had done so and invited the UN to carry out a relative investigation. At the same time, the Israeli Defence Ministry spokesman described the allegations anti-Israeli propaganda, referring in parallel to relevant accusations during the war with Hezbolah in 2006 that had not been verified.

    In reply to the letter of Arab envoys, the International Atomic Energy Service stated it would convene with its member-states to examine the diplomats' request to carry out an investigation as to whether dangerous ammunition had been used in the attacks in Gaza, leaving dangerous nuclear remains.

    The Israelis' attacks may have stopped; however death is skulking in Gaza, as the International Red Cross Committee announced that two children had lost their life in Gaza from bombs that had not originally exploded.

    "During the three-week period of hostilities most children remained in their homes. Now that the war has ended, children have begun exiting their homes and risking their life from the remnants of the war," reported the Red Cross in Gaza. The situation is difficult as Gaza is the densely populated area of the world.

    Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is meeting with her EU counterparts Wednesday evening.

    The Egyptian Foreign minister stated that neither Egypt nor Israel have information on Israeli soldier Gilad Salad, who has been detained by Hamas since June 2006.

    News item: 17998

    [30] Gaza: Israeli Army Withdraws

    The withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza strip was completed today as announced by sources of the Israeli troops. UN general secretary Ban Ki-Moon appealed Israel and Hamas to restrain and to show respect to the fragile truce. EU Czech presidency called the leader of the Israeli diplomacy Tzipi Livni to hold meetings in Brussels with her EU counterparts in order to strengthen Gaza truce and to route anew peaceful procedures in Middle East.

    Source: NET 105,8

    : 105,8

    News item: 17965

    [31] Israeli Withdrawal Continues

    Calm prevailed in the Gaza Strip for a second consecutive day. "No incident was reported during the night said Israeli army spokesman. In response to whether the Israeli army would have withdrawn from Gaza before Barrack Obama swearing in ceremony In Washington this afternoon he stressed: "there is no concrete schedule for full withdrawal of Israeli troops so far". In the meantime, Hamas has still 1.200 rockets according to Israel Defense Ministry. Israeli ground forces have destroyed only 80% of tunnels linking Egypt with south part of Gaza, used for Hamas armament. The Palestinian side said that an Israeli Navy ship fired against Gaza city, but Israeli army has not confirmed this information.

    A senior Israeli defense Ministry officer said that the Israeli army is gradually reducing number of soldiers in Gaza Strip. The same source who did not want to reveal his name said that Israel will continue to control Gaza's external borders, coastline and airspace after the pull-out.

    Sources: NA-PA

    News item: 17931

    [32] Israeli Troops Withdraw from Gaza

    As a result of the unilateral ceasefire announced, Israel has started pulling its troops out of Gaza, after killing 1300 people, including 410 children, injuring as many as 5300 people and causing extensive damage to houses and government buildings. Hamas agreed to a one-week ceasefire until the Israeli withdrawal wraps up, demanding, at the same time, the opening of all border crossings to let humanitarian aid in. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Monday that the people of Palestine achieved a victory over Israel. "God has granted us a great victory, not for one faction, or party, or area, but for our entire people," Haniyeh said in a televised address. "We have stopped the aggression and the enemy has failed to achieve any of its goals," added he.

    However, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert argued Sunday that Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip had achieved all its objectives, and that Hamas had been hit hard and its ability to fire rockets into Israel had been severely limited.

    UN, the EU, the USA and French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed the ceasefire heralded by Israel. British Premier Gordon Brown urged Israel to have border crossings opened, while Spain's head of government Zapatero called for a long-term ceasefire, urging US President-elect Barack Obama to land a leading role in the Mideast row.

    Israel's withdrawal from Gaza would be realistic once truce proved stable, stressed the Israeli Prime Minister. Ehud Olmert defended a long-term ceasefire before six EU leaders who attended a Summit held in Egypt, joining forces with Arab leaders in a campaign for long-standing peace in the region after the fragile ceasefire. Olmert assured he was willing to cooperate with the EU leaders to help Gazans prosper and expressed Israel's sorrow over civilian losses in the Gaza Strip.

    The Israeli Prime Minister also told the EU heads that visited him in Israel that Hamas being equipped with weapons through weapon smuggling from Syria and Iran should be deterred.

    Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak invited the Israelis and the Palestinians in Cairo on Thursday to hold separate talks with a view to stepping up all measures required to cement truce in the Gaza Strip.

    News item: 17880

    [33] Unilateral Ceasefire Fragile

    After 22 days of fighting in the Gaza Strip which killed over 1.200 Palestinians, Israel announced unilateral ceasefire at 02:00 on Sunday. In the meantime, diplomatic efforts to make ceasefire durable and respected by Israel and Hamas continue. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarack is hosting a summit at the Egyptian resort Sharm El-Sheikh with the participation of UN Secr. Gen Ban-Ki-moon and many European leaders. However, ceasefire is fragile as two violent incidents occurred on Sunday morning. Hamas and the other Palestinian organizations announced immediate cease fire and give Israel a week to withdraw its troops from Gaza.

    Hours after unilateral ceasefire began, Hamas fired at least 6 rockets against the Israeli town of Sderot and Israel launched an air strike on Gaza in response. Shortly before the rockets fell, Israeli troops traded fire with Hamas militants in the north of the Gaza Strip after coming under attack. At least 1.245 Palestinians, among them 410 children and 108 women, were killed and over 5.300 injured during three weeks of fighting. Palestinian medics say at least 40 bodies, most of them children, have been pulled from the rubble in Beit Lahia and Jambalilya towns since Israel halted its offensiveIsraeli Defense Minister Ehud Barrack said that Israeli troops will remain for as long as necessary to see that the ceasefire is holding. "If Hamas is going to deliberately torpedo the ceasefire, we will have to reinitiate offensive actions against Hamas, for that reason we have to be reticent about withdrawing our forces," he said.

    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the latest attacks "again proved that the ceasefire is fragile and it has to be reassessed on a minute-by-minute basis".Earlier, Prime Minister Olmert told the nation that Israel was halting its offensive whose goals "have been more than fully achieved". In a televised address, Mr Olmert warned militants in Gaza that if they "decide the blows they've been dealt are not sufficient and they are interested in continuing the fight, Israel will be prepared for such and feel free to continue to react with force".

    On its part, Hamas has rejected the move, saying any continued Israeli presence in Gaza would be regarded as an act of war. "The occupier must halt his fire immediately and withdraw from our land and lift his blockade and open all crossings and we will not accept any one Zionist soldier on our land, regardless of the price that it costs," Hamas senior member Ali Barakeh said, shortly before the ceasefire began.

    The EU hailed the declaration of the necessary unilateral ceasefire but stressed that priority laid on achievement of "durable peace".

    News item: 17843

    [34] No End to Gaza Tragedy

    Israel is examining possibility of a unilateral ceasefire as diplomacy for a halt of ground operations is intensifying. The Israeli Foreign Minister and her US counterpart signed a memorandum agreement aimed to put and end to weapon smuggling into Gaza Strip. In the meantime, number of Palestinian victims increase as Israel continues air strikes. Israeli jet fighters pounded at least 50 targets during the night. Two young boys were killed when artillery shell hit the UN school, where they had sough refuge while their mother is among the 14 people wounded. Death toll among Palestinians has reached 1.145 dead, among them 355 children and 100 women. The Palestinian side said 65% of the dead are civilians. The casualties on the Israeli side are 10 soldiers and three civilians.

    News item: 17822

    [35] Diplomatic Efforts, Obstacles by Bombs

    After the morning ceasefire that allowed humanitarian aid in, war bells in the Gaza Strip started echoing again, as the Israelis continued their offensive. During the morning ceasefire, humanitarian aid finally reached its destination. In the meantime, new street protests are expected to take place in Gaza and other Muslim nations on Friday, which Hamas called a day of wrath. Hamas also said that it would not come to terms with Israel's conditions on a ceasefire, reiterating it would keep fighting until an end was put to Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip. Fatah also invited its supporters to the day of wrath. For this reason, the Israeli authorities announced that they would close the West Bank border for two days.

    Hamas announced on Friday it would not accept the Israeli terms for a ceasefire and would continue fighting until Israel's attack in the Gaza Strip ends. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called on Arab leaders, who met in Doha, to sever any relations with the Jewish state.Meanwhile, Hamas announced it would sent a delegation to Cairo on Friday to discuss Egypt's efforts for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, stated a spokesman for the Islamic Palaistinian organization to the Al Jazeera. Hamas top member Mohamed Nasr stated, "The Egyptians have informed us today that that they received Israel's answer on our proposals and asked us to return to Cairo for new talks."

    The Israeli army announced during the night that it hit about 40 targets, including on missile base launcher. The dead from the latest clashes number at least 23, raising the number to 1,105. The Israeli Defence Ministry announced that from the beginning of the operations 10 soldiers and three civilians had been killed, while 233 soldiers had been wounded. Meanwhile, the funeral of top Hamas member and former minister Sa'ed Sayam, who was killed during an air raid, took place in Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinians accompanied his body, dismissing the danger.

    A 15-year-old Palestinian, Mutasem Daana has been killed on Friday when the Israeli shot him in the head in Hebron in the West Bank during incidents that took place on the sidelines of demonstration against the Israel attack in Gaza. The incidents broke out as per eyewitnesses when hundreds of Palestinians were gathering in the exit of the mosque to protest against the Israeli attack that has killed at least 1,133 Palestinians, among whom over 300 children and 100 women in the Gaza Strip since 27 December.

    Also, on Friday, one of the most important Israeli organizations defending human rights released on Israeli newspaper Haaretz an article with the Palestinian children killed by Israeli fire. The article titled "335 children killed in Gaza, Enough!" carriess about 30 death notifications to condemn in this way the death of the innocent.

    Diplomatic Deliberations

    "We are very close to a ceasefire agreement," assured the head of the UN after meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at the 'Muqtat', the headquarters of the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah.Fayyad, on his part, requested an immediate ceasefire and the implementation of the 1860 Security Council Resolution, which has been dormant since 8 January. He also called for the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Palestine.

    "We should put an end to the unprecedented destruction of the Gaza Strip. The number of the victims rises by the hour," stated the Palestinian prime minister. The UN Secretary General will meet with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    Qatar and Mauritania are suspending their political and economic bonds with Israel, as per Qatar TV network Al Jazeera. In parallel, politicians of the Arab and Muslim countries are meeting in Doha to discuss the way with which they will respond to Israel's attack in the Gaza Strip.

    French President Nicola Sarkozy told diplomats that the crisis in Gaza is a humanitarian tragedy, which is of no avail and bloody. "This tragedy should stop. France has condemned the penetration of Israeli soldiers into the Gaza Strip. This was a difficult decision. I remind France's dedication and mine personally to the un-negotiable safety of the Jewish state. At the same time, France has condemned Hamas' strategy of launching missiles against Israel. France is serious regarding its friendship with Israel; in parallel, it supports Palestine's request for founding a state," said Mr Sarkozy.

    Turkey Accuses Israel

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayeep Erdogan criticized harshly Israel despite the fact that Turkey and Israel singed a military cooperation agreement in 1996. Mr Erdogan stated that Israel is not attacking military bases or armed ogranisations, but residential areas, hospitals, mosques and schools. The Ten Commandments say you should not kill. Despite these clear rules, under which religion and under which legal system can you explain the massacre of innocent children. Israel hit the UN in Gaza, while the UN Secretary General was in Israel. This equals to a provocation to the whole world; it is as if you are mocking the whole world."

    Mr Erdogan is to meet with the UN Secretary General in Turkey late Friday. Mr Ban ki Moon is visiting Turkey within the framework of a tour to the Middle East. Prior to Turkey he had visited Egypt and Israel.

    Mr Moon will then visit Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Kuwait, where he will attend an Arab League Summit Meeting.

    Sources: , NA,AFP

    News item: 17793

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