NEWS

2003 to focus on disabled

Greece marked 2003 as «European Year of People with Disabilities» at a ceremony yesterday at the Athens Concert Hall attended by President Costis Stephanopoulos, artists, politicians from Greece and Europe and disabled people. «Increasing and protecting the rights [of the disabled] is not an optional act of charity but a social requirement and the obligation of all ruling bodies,» Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis said at the event organized by the government and the European Commission. The event featured short personal testimonies and musical and theatrical performances by disabled people. «Let’s go ahead together… every one of us,» said European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou. This year should mark a «change in the stance of society and citizens» toward 37 million disabled Europeans, she said. Draft EU legislation banning all discrimination against the disabled must be adopted by all member states by the end of 2003.