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Greece may allow same-sex marriages March 31, 2008

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Greek authorities are considering adopting a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry in a civil ceremony, the country’s NET TV said on Monday.

The Greek Justice Ministry pledged to establish a working group on the rights of gay couples living together, which would “analyze all aspects of the issue, international practice and the existing domestic legal and social framework.”

The move follows a request by the country’s National Commission for Human Rights that proposed a civil union registry that would allow both same-sex couples to marry. Parliament could approve the law in a few months, national media said.

The current 1982 marriage law does not specify the gender of the groom and the bride. However, civil authorities refuse to marry same-sex couples. They say the move could result in a number of further legal difficulties, including the issue of adoption by gay couples.

The Greek Orthodox Church, which strongly opposes same-sex marriages, called the possibility a “catastrophic bomb” and “a prostitution” which threatened Greek society.

Modern Greece is a largely conservative society, strongly influenced by the dominant church. Civil marriages became legal just 15 years ago, while most Greeks still prefer a traditional Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony. The first Gay Pride parade in Greece was held in 2005.

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Athens holds its ground in name dispute March 31, 2008

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Greece and FYROM still at odds as US ups pressure before NATO summit

The Greek government yesterday insisted that it would not be pushed into accepting a compromise on the Macedonia name dispute before Wednesday’s NATO summit, as Western pressure for an immediate solution intensified.

«No solution means no invitation for Skopje to join NATO» Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told Parliament on Saturday, stressing «only a mutually acceptable solution… can form the basis for constructive relations within the alliance.»

Meanwhile US officials cranked up the pressure on Athens to agree to a settlement so that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) can join NATO. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Greece’s Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday night to stress Washington’s resolve. And, sources said, US President George W. Bush is considering inviting Karamanlis and FYROM’s Premier Nikola Gruevski for talks on the matter before the NATO summit gets under way.

Bakoyannis has stuck to her guns, dismissing Rice’s description of the name spat as «something that has to do with antiquity» and stressing, in an interview published in yesterday’s Ethnos, that «we are not a country that takes orders from anyone.» Bakoyannis added that «the pressure of time will not lead us to accept proposals in the form of an ultimatum.»

The Greek FM said she believed United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz might make a fresh proposal before Wednesday but said, «It will be difficult to reach a solution before the summit.»

But her FYROM counterpart Antonio Milososki said he thought a deal could be struck by then. «We are running out of time but I think the possibility (of an agreement) still exists,» he told reporters on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Slovenia on Saturday. He said FYROM’s parliament will today discuss Nimetz’s latest proposal for a solution to the name dispute – Republic of Macedonia (Skopje) – which is said to have appealed to FYROM.

Milososki and Bakoyannis had been due to hold talks in Slovenia at the weekend but the Greek side canceled the meeting after US pressure intensified.

Most European Foreign Ministers at the Slovenia summit avoided taking a stance on the FYROM accession issue. But Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned of the regional repercussions of blocking Skopje’s bid to join NATO. «This summit does not have the right to fail and must not replace more stability for less stability,» he said.

31-03-08_poster1.jpg  In the meantime Greece has strongly condemned the appearance of offensive billboards featuring the Greek Flag in Skopje. Greece handed over a protest note to FYROM, requesting an immediate removal of a billboard in Skopje showing a Nazi swastika attached to Greek flag.

Greece’s Ambassador to Skopje, Alexandra Papadopoulou, has been instructed, within the day, to make a strong demarche to the Foreign Ministry of FYROM, requesting the immediate removal of the offensive billboard.

31-03-08_poster2.jpg  “This unacceptable poster, which was circulated via a private initiative and raised on Skopje’s streets, directly insults our country’s National Symbol and our struggle against fascism and Nazism,” Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Koumoutsakos said.

“This incident demonstrates the huge mistake made by those who invest in nationalism and bigotry. It also confirms, once again, the correctness of Greece’s position that a necessary condition for the establishment of relations of solidarity and allied relations is, in practice, respect of good-neighborly relations between countries and peoples,” he added.

A Holy row at Mount Athos March 31, 2008

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Fishermen, residents protest plans to bar port activity at Mount Athos

Dozens of fishermen and residents on Saturday blocked the port of Ouranoupolis, the gateway to Mount Athos on the peninsula of Halkidiki, to protest government plans to restrict activity in the European Union-protected zone.

Protesters lined up 30 boats along the dock to obstruct vessels taking monks to and from Mount Athos, complaining that the planned measures would put local fishermen out of business. Locals also allege that the monastic community has encroached upon public land.

Gay rights for Greeks March 29, 2008

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Justice Ministry looking at law for homosexual couples in Greece

The Justice Ministry has pledged to establish a working group on the rights of gay couples living together, following a request by the National Commission for Human Rights.

The Ministry said it would set up a working group, with the help of the Commission, “to analyze all aspects of the issue, international practice and the existing domestic legal and social framework.”

Clocks forward March 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy, Greece News.
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Clocks will go forward one hour tomorrow morning as summertime begins.

The time will change at 3 a.m. on Sunday, when clocks will go forward to 4 a.m.

Skopje ups the tension over name dispute March 26, 2008

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FYROM Premier accuses Greece of ‘blackmail’ before UN talks

Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) were last night involved in yet another effort to solve their name dispute but only after the neighboring country’s Prime Minister had accused Athens of trying to “blackmail” Skopje over the issue.

The comment by Nikola Gruevski came only hours before representatives from both sides were due to meet with the United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz in New York for further discussions aimed at finding some compromise. Nimetz was not due to make any public comments about the meetings until about midnight, Greek time, last night.

However, the statement by Gruevski earlier in the day appeared to heighten tension between the two sides ahead of yesterday’s talks.

The FYROM Prime Minister accused Greece of trying to get the result it wants from the negotiations by threatening to block Skopje’s bid to join NATO at a summit that begins in Bucharest on April 2. “The situation now is that Greece intends to use its veto if we do not accept its blackmail,” said Gruevski. “We cannot accept blackmail.”

He added that FYROM could break off talks with Greece if Athens decides to use its veto. “From what I can see now, I cannot be much of an optimist. In case of a veto from Greece, the negotiations will enter such deep crisis that perhaps they will be stopped.”

The response from Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was immediate. “Mr Gruevski’s comments, just a few hours before today’s crucial meeting within the UN framework, do not help the whole effort as they predict a negative outcome. We believe in this process and will not follow this line of thinking.”

Bakoyannis indicated that time was running out for finding a solution to the dispute before the NATO summit but that a “consensual, practical and enforceable” compromise could be reached.

Greek National Day honored at the White House March 26, 2008

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26-03-08_white_house.jpg  The 187th anniversary of the Greek Independence Day was honored yesterday at the White House. During a special ceremony in Washington, to honor the Greek Community on the occasion of Greece’s National anniversary, U.S. President George W. Bush handed to Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America His Eminence Dimitrios the “Declaration on the Greek Independence Day”.

26-03-08_evzones.jpg  Evzones marched in Athens > Elite soldiers of the Presidential Guard, or Evzones, marched through Athens yesterday to mark the anniversary of Greece’s War of Independence.

Celebrations included the customary show of strength by Greece’s armed forces, including an air show. President Karolos Papoulias hailed the “dedication to freedom and self-determination” of Greece’s resistance fighters, whose spirit, he said, was as relevant as ever in today’s “unstable geopolitical environment”.