In an interview with the Greek newspaper Ta Nea, the Archbishop Christodoulos expressed his anxiety regarding the relationship between the Church and the state. He used the approach made by Archbishop of Moscow Alexei and Russian President Vladimir Putin, of the "survival" of the Russian people, to justify his argument.
The Church's intention, he continued, is to help the government in its struggle against social problems, in spite of all the criticisms of Church and its actions. This is of high necessity, in order for Greece to secure its difference and not to lose its identity inside powerful states.
Yet, in the A' Hieratic Conference in Athens, Archbishop Christodoulos expressed the view that the interests of the Church should come first, even before the interests of the country or the family. He admitted the wrongdoings and wrong steps of the Church, but, as he stated "they are not hypocrites." However, although the Archbishop was happy that the Church was on the front line of all the social struggles, he urging the people on, as he could not hold a revolt on his own.
Papandreou on FYROM
According to Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou, "any change at the present borders will not solve any problems in the region. On the contrary, it will create new diversities. We encourage the political leaders to cooperate with each other for the creation of a multi-ethnic society in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We oppose any use of terror or violence, and we will gladly support all of those who seek peace, democracy and co-operation. The meeting of the foreign affairs ministers of southeast Europe should send a direct and clear message in favor of the sovereignty and authority and of the inviolability of the borders of FYROM."
With regard to Greek-Albanian relations, Papandreou stated that Greece was closely co-operating with the Albanian government for regional stability and for its European future. Finally, Papandreou met the Albanian prime minister, Ilir Meta, with whom he had talks on the situation in the Balkans, and bilateral relations between the two states.
Greek and Yugoslav defense ministers meet
Greek Minister of Defence Akis Tsochatzopoulos has reached total agreement on what is needed for the maintenance of peace and stability in southeast Europe with his Yugoslav counterpart Slobodan KrapoviŠ. Both of them agreed on the need for preserving the sovereignty of FYROM, and they denounced any use of force for the promotion of political goals.
According to KrapoviŠ, the Yugoslav Army will enter south Serbia on 24 May to fulfill all of its duties in a professional manner, in accordance with what has been agreed with KFOR. Akis Tsochatzopoulos expressed his full support for the full integration of Yugoslavia into Europe. This meeting signaled further co-operation of the two states in the preparation of their arm forces.
Pan-Hellenic strike on 17 May
Public participation in the general strike on 17 May, organized by GSEE (Geniki Synomospondia Ergaton Ellados) and ADEDY (Anotati Diikisis Enoseon Dimosion Ypallilon), exceeded expectation. In this way, people expressed their total dissatisfaction with the government's modifications to the insurance policy of Greece.
The strike started at 11:00 Thursday morning, starting off from the Pedion tou Areos and ended at noon at Parliament where the strikers submitted a resolution to the president of the Parliament.
The resolution called for:
- maintenance of the public nature of social insurance;
- economic support of the government, by paying off all its debts;
- maintenance of three-party financing, harsh punishment for tax evaders;
- organic and functional restructuring of the system;
- preservation of the 35-years limit for retirement;
- and, finally, security for the insurance of those in special categories.
GSEE had expressed its satisfaction of popular participation in the strike; workers, public sector employees, ministries, insurance agencies, all the mass media, banks and workers in state-owned industry all fully participated in the strike. At the same time, neither public transport nor taxis were present on the roads of Athens, hospitals functioned with emergency personnel only. Finally, many shops and gas stations were closed.
According to sources from the Ministry of Employment, the government is considering a dialogue with the people's representatives on insurance policy reforms. There is also a possibility of consultation with the rest of the political parties and social organizations.
Anti-corruption record for Greece
According to OLAF, Greece has neither committed nor prosecuted a single case of mismanagement or corruption connected with the European Union's funds. The "champion" in fraud was the UK, with 496 cases of corruption, followed by Germany with 482, Belgium with 306, Spain with 14, Sweden with 17 and Luxembourg with only 2.
Still, certain members of OLAF argue that there are cases of mismanagement of EU funds in Greece. However, the Greek authorities are either covering them up or are not able to find them.
New US ambassador to Greece
Tom Miller will succeed Nicolas Burns as US ambassador to Greece. US State Secretary Colin Powell took the decision based on the fact that Miller is considered a specialist in matters of terrorism, especially in Greece, and because of his experience in handling Balkans affairs. His appointment will be announced soon, as Greece first has to be notified in order to accept this decision. It is believed Mr Burns will move to Brussels where he is expected to become US ambassador to NATO.
Mr Miller, who is now currently at Sarajevo, has worked closely with many US diplomats, including Richard Holbrooke. He has also served as a special coordinator of the State Department on Cypriot affairs.
Konstantinos Louridas, 18 May 2001
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