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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

February 4, 2005

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek President ends official visit to Belgium with a tour of Limburg
  • [02] Gov't on list of state sector journalists
  • [03] Government and main opposition lock swords over interviews for public sector jobs
  • [04] Main opposition MPs accuse government of hiring along party lines at culture ministry
  • [05] Minister of State Roussopoulos to visit Berlin,
  • [06] FM Molyviatis holds meeting of Greek envoys in Balkan countries
  • [07] Athens mayor meets with Austria's foreign minister and Vienna's mayor
  • [08] Communist party says emerging scandals in justice, media and Church reflect 'deep crisis'
  • [09] SYN meets with Parliament president, expresses concern over ratification of European Constitution
  • [10] PM Karamanlis' father, Alekos, dies at 91; President expresses condolences
  • [11] Main opposition leader sends condolences to PM on death of his father
  • [12] Gov't on budget, possible social security dialogue
  • [13] Greece needs widespread dialogue on pension, labor systems
  • [14] Development Minister meets with French Foreign Commerce Minister
  • [15] Greek gov't pledges to improve the country's environmental record
  • [16] Farmers' protests suspended in northern Greece
  • [17] Greek, Egyptian ministers discuss bilateral issues
  • [18] Son of media group founder Bobolas to sell 12.9% stake in major construction firm
  • [19] 2004 proved to be a good year for Greek ocean-going shipping
  • [20] Athens hoteliers report disappointing occupancy rates in post-Olympic period
  • [21] Car registrations up 3.1 pct in January, yr/yr
  • [22] Capital repatriation program extended until May 4
  • [23] Alogoskoufis inaugurates new offices of Microsoft Hellas
  • [24] Bank employees suspend Monday's strike
  • [25] Greek stocks rebound on Thursday
  • [26] Permanent Holy Synod convenes to discuss scandals concerning clerics
  • [27] European conference on gender equality in politics opens in Athens
  • [28] Greek-owned, Honduras-flag motorship sinks in gale-force winds off Malta, three bodies recovered, four crew members missing
  • [29] Draft law tabled for establishment of 'Organization for Cultural Capital of Europe - Patra 2006'
  • [30] Cyprus government: Talat punishes Turkish Cypriots for political gains
  • [31] Commission protocol ready for Turkey to sign
  • [32] Cyprus government launches EU Constitution information campaign
  • [33] EU official discusses here EU Green Line Regulation
  • [34] Cyprus president to pay official visit to Hungary

  • [01] Greek President ends official visit to Belgium with a tour of Limburg

    BRUSSELS, 4/2/2005 (ANA - C. Poulidou)

    President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos spent his final day in Belgium, where he is currently carrying out his last official visit outside of Greece as its president, by touring the Flemish-speaking region of Limburg.

    A great many Greek immigrants had settled in this area about half a century ago, when they came to work in the mines and heavy industry in the Limburg region.

    Addressing the community of Greek immigrants in the city of Genk, Stephanopoulos noted that they originated from all regions of Greece and had arrived in a hospitable country, driven out at a time when Greece had acted more like a "step-mother".

    "Today things have changed. We have problems but we are optimistic. Greece is making progress and is already home to 800,000 foreign immigrants. I always say that we must behave towards foreigners with the same warmth with which you were received in the countries where you have settled," he added.

    Stephanopoulos also referred to developments within Europe, noting that Belgium was a model of how different communities can live and work together.

    "In United Europe we do not lose our nationality, we gain a new country that is based on the same values. We all believe in Christ (though of course this may change in later expansion, when it is possible we may accept Moslems) and in democracy," Stephanopoulos stressed.

    He also underlined that all Balkan countries must be join the European Union.

    [02] Gov't on list of state sector journalists

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Thursday stressed that an upcoming list of journalists employed in the wider public sector for 2004 "will be turned over with complete respect to the provisions of a relevant decree", while clarifying that the publication of a similar list of names this week "was not compatible with existing norms in the country".

    Moreover, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that all the information possessed by the information secretariat (under the ministry of state's jurisdiction) was given to the Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA), the largest and most influential press guild in the country.

    He noted that particulars included position and years at the job, which were subsequently removed when ESHEA released the list of 1,044 names (including the author's).

    ESHEA posted the names of journalists working at the ANA, the Macedonian Press Agency, the state-run television (ERT) and radio (ERA) broadcasters, the ministries, the general secretariat for information and the Bank of Greece.

    The names included individuals that worked, even briefly, and regardless of position (i.e. reporter, editor, photographer etc.) during 2003.

    [03] Government and main opposition lock swords over interviews for public sector jobs

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government and main opposition PASOK on Thursday locked swords in Parliament during the debate of an interior ministry bill that introduces personal interviews as part of the system for choosing between applicants for public-sector jobs.

    PASOK leader George Papandreou said the bill "once again proves that (ruling) New Democracy has no respect for democratic values and institutions" and that the country is "reversing at full speed" under ND's governance.

    According to PASOK's leader, who also pointed to the objections raised by the civil servants union ADEDY and other bodies and by Parliament's Scientific Council, the measure will bring back the "bad old days" of client politics, with voters pressing MPs to bend the rules on their behalf in return for their support.

    Replying to Papandreou's criticism, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos underlined the problems of the existing system, saying that 49 amendments to the original bill had been passed from 1994 until 2004 that had opened the door to recruitments along party lines.

    He also noted that PASOK had itself introduced an interview system for certain categories of public-sector jobs, such as air-traffic controllers, specialist technical staff or the department heads at the education ministry.

    He said that the objections to the measure voiced by Parliament's Scientific Council concerned an article that was an exact copy of articles introduced by PASOK, which would not finally be included in the bill now under discussion.

    The minister underlined that the interviews foreseen in the draft bill would be held only for candidates that were not hired on the basis of a competition or exam and only if this was requested by the body involved and approved by ASEP. The three-member committees that will carry out the interviews, meanwhile, will be manned by at least two members of ASEP, he added.

    The introduction of interviews was also opposed by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos).

    [04] Main opposition MPs accuse government of hiring along party lines at culture ministry

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    In a question tabled for Prime Minister and Culture Minister Costas Karamanlis in Parliament on Thursday, 21 main opposition PASOK MPs headed by Maria Damanaki accused the government of hiring along party lines, taking on New Democracy supporters as temporary staff at the culture ministry.

    At the same time, thousands of ministry employees hired with temporary contracts were being fired, they added.

    "The promises to change the contracts of a host of employees at the culture ministry prove false, while a party membership card is emerging as the chief and necessary qualification," the MPs claimed.

    They also alleged "mass replacements" of police sergeants and the chairmen of expert committees using untransparent criteria.

    In another question signed by 10 main opposition MPs, meanwhile, the culture ministry was accused of 'rigging' the vote for the Greek Olympic Committee by setting up bogus sports federations to ensure a majority, citing as an example the division of the former Ice Skating Federation into four separate federations.

    [05] Minister of State Roussopoulos to visit Berlin,

    BERLIN 4/2/2005 (ANA/P. Stangos)

    Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos, in the context of his regular briefing visits to European capitals, is due to visit Berlin from February 16-18 for talks with German government ministers on matters concerning the institutional framework of the functioning of the mass media, according to reports on Thursday.

    According to the same reports, the Greek side, in light of the legislative initiatives announced recently in Athens, is particularly interested on the existing institutional framework in Germany concerning the mass media.

    [06] FM Molyviatis holds meeting of Greek envoys in Balkan countries

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Thursday called a meeting of all ambassadors representing Greece in Balkan countries and Turkey. The meeting, attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis and senior ministerial staff, was held at the foreign ministry.

    According to a foreign ministry press release, the basic objective of the meeting was to conduct an in-depth review and evaluation of developments in the Balkans taking into account the EU Council meeting that was held on December 17, 2004; Greece's status as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council; and its assumption of the presidency of the South East Europe Co-operation Process (SEECP) in May.

    Special emphasis during the meeting was placed on the European prospects of countries in the region and the impact of this on current developments and on the future of Southeast Europe.

    Molyviatis stressed that with these countries coming closer to Europe, pending issues may be easier to solve thus resulting in increased stability, prosperity and closer cooperation among the region's countries in an increasing number of fields.

    Valinakis focused on developments within the EU and the opportunities these present Greece for strengthening its role in the region.

    [07] Athens mayor meets with Austria's foreign minister and Vienna's mayor

    VIENNA, 4/2/2005 (ANA/D.Dimitrakoudis)

    Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis confirmed the substantial role Greece can play in developing a European crisis management policy, following the city's experience in staging the Athens Olympics, during discussions she had with Austria's Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik here on Thursday.

    Bakoyannis and Plassnik discussed at length the possibility of member-states, local authorities or municipalities working together to address the problems that have arisen in Southeast Asia after the killer tsunamis hit the region on December 26, 2004. Furthermore, the two officials also discussed the Europe's potential in better addressing any kind of disasters.

    After the meeting, Bakoyannis said that dealing with disasters is a hot issue and one which Greece can help address after acquiring significant experience with the staging of the Olympic Games. This also applies to issues of security which requires tight cooperation among national and city authorities.

    The Athens mayor also met with Christoph Leitl, President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. The main focus of their meeting was the promotion of Athens as a conference tourism destination, given the new infrastructure the Greek capital acquired after the Olympics. The possibility of attracting Austrian foreign investment into Greece was also discussed.

    Finally, Bakoyannis also met with Vienna Mayor Michael Haupl. The two discussed coordinating relief efforts to help tsunami victims in Southeast Asia, as well as how to address social problems both cities face due to large number of immigrants that have moved to both Athens and Vienna.

    Bakoyannis was invited to Vienna by Haupl and Leitl and was to attend the Ball at the Vienna State Opera on Thursday evening.

    [08] Communist party says emerging scandals in justice, media and Church reflect 'deep crisis'

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    The problems that have arisen in the justice system, the media and the Church were indications of a "deep crisis of the institutions", the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said on Thursday in a strongly worded announcement.

    "The stench that arises from the areas of Justice, the Church and the Press reflects something deeper and does not express certain passing events that concern only certain persons; it is a very deep crisis of fundamental institutions, a symptom of the decay of the system for the dominance of big capital itself," the announcement said.

    According to the party, the revelations being made were not surprising in conditions of market liberalization, "where everything is commercialized, everything is bought and sold, in conditions where the values of a fighting life stance are cheapened."

    The party also underlined the fact that those now protesting did not do so when the courts declared strikes illegal, or the fact that employers violating labor law in this way.

    "The measures and promises for a clean-up that are daily proclaimed do not touch on the heart of the matter and will not bring any result. At most there might be some sanctions and the essence will be covered up," the party said, calling on the working classes and the masses to "turn their backs" on the affair, join together and take action on those things that concerned their own lives, which were the result of the anti-worker policies and attacks.

    [09] SYN meets with Parliament president, expresses concern over ratification of European Constitution

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    A four-member delegation of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party expressed its concern whether there would be enough time for the Greek public to be informed and for all parties to voice their views before the European Constitution is ratified, during a meeting they had with Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Thursday.

    Psarouda-Benaki said that the process which will be followed - establishing a committee which will review the Constitution in detail - will provide ample time to both MPs and members of the public interested in participating in the procedure.

    "A broader, public dialogue needs to begin since the issue is a very important one which concerns the present and future of the country," MP Fotis Kouvelis said, speaking on behalf of SYN.

    Concluding, Kouvelis reiterated his party's position which supports that a referendum should be held to determine whether the Greek public approves of the European Constitution.

    [10] PM Karamanlis' father, Alekos, dies at 91; President expresses condolences

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Alekos Karamanlis, father of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, died Thursday morning at the age of 91.

    The premier's father had been hospitalized at Athens' Erythros Stavros (Red Cross) hospital for the past three weeks.

    Alekos Karamanlis was hospitalized on Jan. 11 in the cardiology wing, suffering from respiratory and cardiac problems due to an acute pulmonary infection.

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos sent a message of condolences to the prime minister, noting that he had known and respected Alekos Karamanlis for many years. "His death caused me grief, but also nostalgia for the bygone years," the message read.

    The funeral will be held at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Aghia Filothei church in Athens strictly among family members, while the burial will take place at noon Friday, again among family and close friends, in the deceased's birth town of Proti, in Serres prefecture.

    Premier Karamanlis has cancelled all scheduled appointments for the day.

    Alekos Karamanlis was born on Christmas Day in 1913, one of the six children of schoolteacher George Karamanlis and his wife Fotini, nee Dologlou. He was the brother of late Greek statesman and ruling New Democracy founder Constantine Karamanlis, and of long-serving former MP Achilleas Karamanlis.

    Alekos Karamanlis went to primary school in Proti, then on to secondary school in Athens, before studying law at the University of Thessaloniki.

    He worked as a lawyer for several years before setting up his own contracting firm.

    Alekos Karamanlis fought on the Albanian front as a reserve second lieutenant in 1940.

    During the 1967-74 colonels' dictatorship, his office on Athens' downtown Voulis street was a meeting place of many politicians, and was the link between many of those politicians with exiled Constantine Karamanlis.

    During the years of his brother's self-exile, Alekos Karamanlis and his family would travel by road to Paris every year to spend the holidays with him.

    In September 2004, he celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary with Aliki Karamanlis, with whom he had two sons, 59-year-old George and the current prime minister, Costas, 48.

    [11] Main opposition leader sends condolences to PM on death of his father

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday sent a telegram to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis expressing his condolences for the death of his father Alekos Karamanlis, who died earlier in the day at the age of 91.

    The premier's father had been hospitalized at Athens' Erythros Stavros (Red Cross) Hospital for the past three weeks suffering from cardiac and respiratory problems.

    [12] Gov't on budget, possible social security dialogue

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government reiterated on Thursday that 2005 will mark a year when the state budget is dutifully executed.

    Moreover, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros repeated that a Stability Program will be updated for 2006, following a request to the ECOFIN council by Athens.

    Meanwhile, the spokesman noted that social partners have expressed an interest in discussing certain aspects of the social security system, as speculation continues to swirl around the possibility of the government starting an across-the-board dialogue on how to reform the pension system and make it viable for future generations.

    However, he declined to answer hypothetical questions, as he noted, concerning the possible stance of social partners and trade unions.

    [13] Greece needs widespread dialogue on pension, labor systems

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    The country needs a widespread dialogue on its pension and labor systems in order to prepare long-term initiatives, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos that focused on the pension system in the banking sector, Alogoskoufis said the ministries were in agreement to include representatives from each ministry on a special commission formed to examine the issue.

    Alogoskoufis said the ministries' representation was decided in order to ensure the public sector's interest.

    Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos stressed that the government has no fixed positions on the matter and urged social partners to bring forth their proposals. He underlined that the government was not planning any surprise moves and reassured that it was not seeking to change the existing system of lay-offs.

    Alogoskoufis said the government would present its incomes policy for 2005 in the next few days.

    [14] Development Minister meets with French Foreign Commerce Minister

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and French Foreign Commerce Minister Francois Loos discussed the effects of the liberalization of international trade on the textiles and clothing sectors, as well as the issue of counterfeit products during a meeting held at the Development Ministry on Thursday.

    Other attendees at the meeting included Franc Secula, Economic and Trade Adviser at the French Embassy in Athens; Yiorgos Panayiotou, President of the Greek Chamber of Industry in Marseilles; Deputy Development Ministers Yiannis Papathanassiou and Yiorgos Salagkoudis; and Secretary General of Development Nikos Stefanou.

    [15] Greek gov't pledges to improve the country's environmental record

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Thursday expressed his anger over the fact that the country was constantly indicted with the European Court of Justice for violating community laws on environmental protection and pledged to change this situation.

    In his inaugurating speech at the HELECO 2005 international trade fair and conference, Souflias said that in most cases Greece was indicted for the bad condition of its waste disposal sites and underlined the 2008 deadline set for the closure of 1,300 uncontrolled sites around the country.

    The Greek minister said that the ministry was planning to create waste disposal sites to all 13 regions of the country and urged local authorities to help find solutions instead of reacting to the program.

    Souflias acknowledged that Greece was among the top countries in environmental pollution although he noted that that was a common phenomenon in the European south.

    [16] Farmers' protests suspended in northern Greece

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Farmers in the recently snow-capped regions of Macedonia province, Greece's largest, are reportedly suspending their mobilizations and withdrawing tractors from roadways, according to reports from a handful of northern Greece prefectures on Thursday. Pockets of protesting farmers, mostly cotton growers dissatisfied with crop prices, ranged from Imathia, in the west, to Serres prefecture, in the east.

    Farmers' representatives said they were suspending mobilizations until the end of the month in order to await a new round of inspections for cotton productions.

    Conversely, vine growers in Kavala prefecture, also in northern Greece, charged that payments for crop losses are delayed, while at the same time hinting at mobilizations.

    [17] Greek, Egyptian ministers discuss bilateral issues

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday met with visiting Egypt's Industry Deputy Minister Ziad Bahaa El Din, who also heads the country's Investment Organization, and discuss bilateral issues.

    The meeting reaffirmed the climate of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and discussed ways to further improve cooperation in research, technology, commerce and development.

    Mr El Din was accompanied by Egypt's Ambassador to Greece Mrs. Magda Shahin.

    [18] Son of media group founder Bobolas to sell 12.9% stake in major construction firm

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Leonidas Bobolas, the son of George Bobolas, the founder and president of the Pegasus media group, on Thursday informed the Athens Stock Exchange's board of directors of his intention to sell 12.9 percent of the bourse-listed construction firm Elliniki Tehnodomiki TEB.

    A letter to the ASE stated that L. Bobolas owns 17.876 percent of the company, which translates into 22,950,571 common shares, while adding that he intends to sell 16,562,072 shares between Feb. 2, 2005 and May 6, 2005 via the EFG Eurobank brokerage firm.

    Moreover, Bobolas' letter notes that his decision comes within the framework of adhering to provisions of the recently passed law on "measures for the guaranteeing of transparency and avoidance of infringements during procedures for assuming public contracts."

    [19] 2004 proved to be a good year for Greek ocean-going shipping

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE) President Nikos Efthimiou, during the regular annual general assembly of the Union which took place on Wednesday at the Evgenidion Foundation, referred to the developments marked in ocean-going shipping.

    Efthimiou stressed that "in 2004 we witnessed a rare dynamism and stability in the shipping market and admirable activity in the shipping business."

    He underlined that in 2004 the inflow in foreign exchange from Greek-flag ships is believed to amount to 17 billion dollars, that is, more than 13 billion euros.

    On the basis of Bank of Greece data, in the 11-month period from January-November 2004, the inflow amounted to 12.1 billion euros, marking a 40.6 per cent increase in comparison to the sum of the corresponding period in 2003.

    Justifiably, Efthimiou underlined, shipping during the year that past proved to be a major donor of the national economy given that the receipts exceeded the total receipts from the country's exports and tourism.

    [20] Athens hoteliers report disappointing occupancy rates in post-Olympic period

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Attica Hoteliers Union on Thursday said the sector's hopes for a good post-Olympic season were disappointed, with occupancy rates in Athens hotels comparing poorly with those of other major European cities in the last trimester of 2004.

    Presenting the results of its benchmarking study conducted in collaboration with the international firm of consultants JBR Howarth, it said occupancy rates in Athens were lowest among the cities in the study and had dropped 7 per cent in relation to 2003. The city was also 10 points below the next-lowest in the list, Istanbul, and 20 points below the leader, which was London.

    The average price of rooms in Athens has risen only 2 per cent relative to the same trimester of 2003, in spite of operating costs for most hotels due to extensive renovations and financial obligations. According to the hoteliers union, in real terms prices are reduced by at least 10 per cent.

    Average room prices in Athens are also the lowest of all cities in the study, being about 10 euros lower than Berlin, which is next highest, and 100 euros less than in Rome, which is the most expensive. This is also the first time that average hotel rates in Athens are lower than in Istanbul.

    The RevPar index showing the yield of each available room and the yield of invested capital is particularly low, dropping five percent in relation to last year.

    The hoteliers union, while noting that the tourism ministry was moving in the right direction, also called for more coordinated action by all public-sector bodies involved to make Greece's tourist product more functional and thus more attractive and accessible to prospective customers.

    It called on the government to promote Attica as an independent tourist destination, to create a metropolitan conference centre and to eradicate disincentives to visitors, such as an expensive airport, inconvenient museum opening hours and others.

    [21] Car registrations up 3.1 pct in January, yr/yr

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Car registrations, including both new and used cars, totalled 40,747 units in January 2005, up 3.1 percent from the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    NSS, in its monthly report, said that motorcycle registrations totalled 4,808 units in January from 3,431 units in January 2004, up 40.1 percent.

    [22] Capital repatriation program extended until May 4

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Thursday announced a three-month extension to May 4 in a deadline to repatriate capital under favorable conditions.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Finance Deputy Minister Adam Regouzas said that the extension decision was based on the fact that the program was delayed from the beginning, in autumn last year, and that repatriated capital totalled 115.8 million euros by the end of December.

    [23] Alogoskoufis inaugurates new offices of Microsoft Hellas

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday evening inaugurated the new offices of Microsoft Hellas.

    Alogoskoufis said that the technical know-how of Microsoft and of other established companies of informatics can contribute decisively in the restructuring of the Greek public sector into a modern and technically advanced public sector which will meet the needs of citizens for better and more effective services.

    The minister referred to the Society of Information program which aims at the technical modernization of the public sector. As he said, the government has given priority to the promotion of this specific program.

    Microsoft began its activities in Greece in 1992 and today employs more than 120 people.

    [24] Bank employees suspend Monday's strike

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Bank Employees Union (OTOE) has suspended a strike which was initially to have taken place on Monday, February 7.

    The decision was taken on Thursday by the Executive Secretariat of OTOE so as to facilitate efforts in confronting the social insurance problem of banks.

    According to the decision of OTOE's Executive Secretariat, the calling off of the strike constitutes "proof of good will, so as to enable the Commission which will be set up, to work creatively, examining all the parameters of a unified solution."

    The decision however clarifies that the program for strike action on February 14, 21 and 28 is still valid.

    [25] Greek stocks rebound on Thursday

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended higher on Thursday, as buyers took the upper hand again in the market after a three-day decline on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The composite index, however, failed to attain the 2,900 level. It ended 0.66 percent higher at 2,898, 73 points, after falling as low as 2,863.20 points.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chips and heavy traded stocks jumped 0.99 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 0.85 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.69 percent higher.

    Turnover was a healthy 216.9 million euros.

    [26] Permanent Holy Synod convenes to discuss scandals concerning clerics

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Permanent Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece met for six hours on Thursday to decide its actions regarding three high-ranking clerics whose names have been implicated in various scandals that hit the headlines over past days.

    In announcements after the meeting, the Holy Synod said that Attica Metropolitan Panteleimonas has been called to appear before the Holy Synod at 9:30 on Friday morning to provide explanations, whereupon the Synod will decide if he should be placed on suspension for six months until further light has been shed on the charges against him.

    After the six months, and depending on what is revealed during the inquiries, the Synod may decide whether he should be permanently removed as metropolitan.

    Regarding Archmandrite Iakovos Yosakis, the Synod demanded that the Attica Metropolitan immediately place him on suspension and press charges against him.

    Finally, Thessaliotida Metropolitan Theoklitos has been called to provide an explanation of the charges against him in writing by next Tuesday, after which the Synod will decide what action it will take. Theoklitos had earlier placed himself "at the disposal of the Church".

    The Synod has also decided to ask the government to set up a committee chaired by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, with representatives of both the Church and the state that will draft a new bill concerning ecclesiastical courts.

    [27] European conference on gender equality in politics opens in Athens

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    A European conference focusing on gender equality in politics and organized by the Research Center for Gender Equality (KETHI) opened in Athens on Thursday. The three-day conference concludes the program "Equal participation in decision making: Women in the heart of Europe", which was realized within the context of the Long-Term Program of the European Commission on Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.

    The program, co-financed by the General Secretariat for Equality by 20%, was to raise public awareness on the value of women's participation in politics, the economy and in society in general, according to KETHI President Meropi Kaldi.

    Gender equality is a top, national priority, Secretary General for Equality Eugenia Tsoumani emphasized, adding that the time has come for a broader approach to the issue. According to Tsoumani, the government's program on gender equality includes a multi-dimensional approach by placing emphasis on increasing women's participation in the workforce and in dealing with domestic violence.

    Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos, also speaking at the conference, said that "we need to go beyond the goals set out by the EU which are minimum requirements, and we must make the most of international experience." He also emphasized that a more substantial constitutional amendment on gender equality must be made, but that a change in mentality on the part of both the state and the public is also required.

    "Democracy must not and cannot include gender, because it is a daily way of life through which freedom and creativity are expressed, something women are deprived of," Helene Glykatzi-Ahrweiler, Dean of the University of Europe said. "And if it is no longer a curse to be a woman, it remains a privilege to be a man. This must change," she said.

    The conference will run through Saturday.

    [28] Greek-owned, Honduras-flag motorship sinks in gale-force winds off Malta, three bodies recovered, four crew members missing

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    A Greek-owned, Honduras-flag small motorship sank early Thursday off Malta with seven crew members aboard, and three bodies, presumed to belong to crew members, have been recovered, Greece's merchant marine ministry said.

    It said that the freighter "Vigla" sank approximately 140 nautical miles east of the coast of Malta and 220 nautical miles from Pylos, after taking on water in gale-force winds of 10-beaufort velocity. There were seven crew members aboard the motorship: its Greek captain and seven foreign crew members.

    The ministry said its Search and Rescue Coordination Centre was in constant contact with the regional director of Malta's Search and Rescue Centre, and that the UK-flag tanker "British Enterprise", the nearby Greek-flag tanker "Salamina", two other nearby merchant ships, and helicopters, including one dispatched by a British warship, were taking part in the operation.

    The ministry said that its Search and Rescue Coordination Centre was informed by its Maltese counterpart, via "Olympia Radio", at 11:20 p.m. Wednesday that the 69-metre Vigla, owned by a shipping company belonging to Y. Kanatos, was in distress after taking on water and developing a list, while at 3:00 a.m. Thursday it was informed that the motorship had sunk.

    The ministry's Centre was further informed at 6:55 a.m. that two bodies had been recovered by the British warship, while at 10:25 a.m. a third body was recovered by one of the merchant vessels taking part in the operation, and that a life jacket had been spotted floating on the water.

    The Vigla was en route from Tunisia, loaded with salt, to Slovenia.

    [29] Draft law tabled for establishment of 'Organization for Cultural Capital of Europe - Patra 2006'

    Athens, 4/2/2005 (ANA)

    A Culture Ministry announcement on Thursday said a draft law tabled by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis providing for the establishment of an "Organization for Cultural Capital of Europe - Patra 2006 SA" was approved on Wednesday by the majority of the Permanent Committee for Cultural Affairs.

    Tatoulis has stated that "the first post-Olympics challenge which Greece is facing is Patra - 2006 cultural capital."

    [30] Cyprus government: Talat punishes Turkish Cypriots for political gains

    NICOSIA, 4/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Thursday the Turkish Cypriot self-styled prime minister in occupied Cyprus Mehmet Ali Talat is punishing the Turkish Cypriots by raising obstacles to the implementation of the EU Regulation for Financial Aid towards the Turkish Cypriot, aiming to secure political gains.

    Replying to questions, Chrysostomides reiterated the government's readiness for the immediate implementation of this Regulation as well as the Green Line Regulation.

    He said that during his current meetings in Cyprus Head of the European Commission group for Cyprus Leopold Maurer has been discussing the implementation of the EU Green Line Regulation,

    according to which, goods produced in the occupied areas can be sold in the southern government-controlled part of the island and exported through legal ports of entry to the EU.

    ''Mr. Talat punishes Turkish Cypriots by not accepting the immediate implementation of the Financial Aid Regulation (EU approved funds for the Turkish Cypriot community amounting to 259 million euro), insisting on securing political gains," the spokesman added.

    As regards the EU Green Line Regulation he said that the government is ready to submit more proposals in order to further facilitate the implementation of the Regulation.

    He expressed hope that the whole package of the government proposals will be adopted by the EU.

    [31] Commission protocol ready for Turkey to sign

    BRUSSELS, 4/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The European Commission has prepared a protocol for Turkey's customs union with the ten new EU members, including the Republic of Cyprus, and awaits the Turkish government to come forward and meet its obligations by signing it.

    Director of the European Commission's Enlargement Directorate B for Candidate Countries, Pierre Mirel, told a meeting of the Joint EU-Turkey Parliamentary Committee on Wednesday that the protocol was a legal document, for which there were various legal opinions as to whether its signing would mean the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus or not.

    Replying to questions raised at the meeting by Cypriot MEPs Yiannakis Matsis, Marios Matsakis and Kyriakos Triantafyllides, the Commission official said the signing of the protocol by Ankara would definitely lead to the lifting of the restrictions Turkey had imposed on Cyprus, especially regarding the approach of ships flying the Cypriot flag to Turkish ports, and the flights of Cypriot aircraft over Turkey.

    Mirel pointed out the last European Council's decision, on December 17, 2004, that Turkey was committed to signing the protocol before it begins accession negotiations on October 3, 2005.

    Responding to other questions the Commission official avoided to take a stance on the occupation of an EU member-state's territory by a candidate country (Turkey), as in the case of Cyprus, the northern third of which is under Turkish occupation since 1974.

    Invited to comment on the Cyprus problem, Mirel said initiatives to reach a settlement belonged to the United Nations.

    [32] Cyprus government launches EU Constitution information campaign

    NICOSIA, 4/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cypriot Government announced on Thursday the launching of a campaign to inform the Cypriot people on the European Union's Constitution adopted by the Union's leaders during the Thessaloniki Summit in June 2003.

    The campaign, including public lectures by Greek and Cypriot academics and politicians, school lectures, distribution of special booklets, as well as translations of the Constitution's chapters in Turkish, was announced by Foreign Minister George Iacovou and Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides.

    Both Iacovou and Chrysostomides pointed out the need the Cypriot people to be aware of the new EU Constitution.

    The foreign minister, who will undertake the coordination of the campaign, said the discussion on the EU Constitution will begin on Friday at the European Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. The House will ratify the Constitution.

    ''Despite our belief that the Parliament will ratify the Constitution, the government must do its utmost so that the Cypriot people are aware of the provisions of the Constitution," Iacovou said.

    ''It is very important to inform the people on the Constitution, since it will be superior to the national Constitution,'' Iacovou added.

    The information campaign includes public lectures by academics, politicians and European Parliament Members from Cyprus, Greece and other European member states, as well as lectures by academics from the European Institute of Florence and the Jean Monnet Institute.

    Furthermore, the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC), with the cooperation of Public Information Office (PIO) will hold a series of special broadcasts on the EU Constitution.

    The campaign also includes lectures and distribution of booklets and the projection of a special video spot in public lyceums, as well as an essay contest on the EU Constitution.

    The Foreign Ministry will also translate certain chapters of the Constitution in Turkish, and will invite Turkish Cypriots to attend lectures.

    Furthermore, the EU Constitution is posted on the Foreign Ministry's and PIO's websites.

    Chrysostomides said the approval of the EU Constitution was a historic landmark for Europe since the Constitution sets the framework of the EU that is adjusted according to the needs of the European citizens.

    He added that the PIO has published a special booklet, which will be distributed in schools and in the special gatherings.

    The EU Constitution concerns every European citizen, he noted.

    [33] EU official discusses here EU Green Line Regulation

    NICOSIA, 4/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias on Thursday received Head of the European Commission group for Cyprus Leopold Maurer with whom he discussed the implementation of the EU Green Line Regulation according to which, goods produced in the occupied areas can be sold in the southern government-controlled part of the island and exported through legal ports of entry to the EU.

    After the meeting no statements were made. The EU official, on the island for meetings with the Cyprus Government, other officials, Turkish Cypriot (T/C) politicians and UNFICYP representatives, was due meet later on Thursday with leader of T/C Peace and Democracy Movement Mustafa Akinci.

    Later on Maurer will discuss the Green Line Regulation with representatives of the Cyprus Government and with Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry representatives.

    Meanwhile, the EU official held yesterday separate meetings with Turkish Cypriot politicians Mehmet Ali Talat, Serdar Denktash and Huseyin Angolemli, with whom he discussed the Green Line Regulation.

    He will leave Cyprus on Friday morning.

    [34] Cyprus president to pay official visit to Hungary

    NICOSIA, 4/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos will pay an official visit to Hungary between February 6-8, at the invitation of his Hungarian counterpart Ferenc Madl.

    According to his program, the Cypriot President arrives in Hungary via Austria on Sunday.

    On Monday, President Papadopoulos will have a private meeting with Madl at the Sandor Palace and then delegations from both sides will hold talks.

    After statements to the press, Papadopoulos will meet the Speaker of the House of the Nation Dr. Slizi Katalin.

    President Papadopoulos and his entourage will meet Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and in the afternoon will have separate meetings with President of the Committee on European Intergration Affairs Matyas Eorsi, Hungary's President at the Interparliamentary Union Gabor Hars and members of the Hungarian-Greek IPU Friendship Group.

    On Tuesday, the Cypriot president will lay a wreath at the Heroes Square and meet Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky who will hand him the key to the city.

    Before leaving for Cyprus via Athens, President Papadopoulos will meet the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Szolt Nemeth.

    He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister George Iacovou who will meet on Monday his Hungarian counterpart Ferenc Somogyi, and Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism George Lillikas who will meet Minister of Economic Affairs and Transport Janos Koka.

    Cypriot businesspeople will also accompany the President to his Budapest trip.


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