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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-09-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

September 9, 2004


  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets with visiting Russian President Putin in Halkidiki
  • [02] PM confers with justice minister Papaligouras
  • [03] 'Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy' conference opens in Athens
  • [04] Interior minister says new law represents Greece's first modern immigration strategy
  • [05] Latest poll gauges respondents' opinion on possible mayoral candidates
  • [06] Gov't on Wed. expulsion of ND deputy
  • [07] Tatoulis briefs UNESCO chief over Athens' continued interest in return of Parthenon Marbles
  • [08] Papandreou again criticizes draft bill over private/public sector partnerships
  • [09] Papandreou continues contacts with social partners, business groups
  • [10] Main opposition PASOK leader meets with KEDKE president
  • [11] PASOK's Diamantopoulou meets with Ecumenical Patriarch, attends conference on Turkey's and Balkans' EU prospects
  • [12] EU steps up environmental protection initiatives
  • [13] Parliament president addresses 2nd World Conference of Parliament Speakers
  • [14] Greek gov't raises 835 mln euros from OTE placement
  • [15] Finance ministry replies to criticism by PASOK party spokesman on sale of 10 pc of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization
  • [16] Employment rates at 59.4 per cent in Greece in 2004, Eurostat reports
  • [17] Investing in human resources the 'greatest challenge' for Europe, employment minister says
  • [18] Labor unions present report on economy
  • [19] Citibank plans expansion in Greece
  • [20] Greece, Israel to sign bourse pact in September
  • [21] Greek stocks end lower on Thursday
  • [22] English National Ballet's 'Romeo and Juliet' this weekend at Herod Atticus
  • [23] UNHCR to hold Athens roundtable on migrant movements in the Mediterranean
  • [24] Police intercept vehicle carrying 83 kilos of heroin in Igoumenitsa
  • [25] Three men arrested in Komotini on human trafficking charges
  • [26] Cypriot Spokesman: Britain acting as if Turkey is an EU state
  • [27] Straw: Turkey's accession process should be allowed to go ahead
  • [28] Cypriot House President thanks Russia for support
  • [29] Cyprus House President addresses Second World Conference of Speakers

  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets with visiting Russian President Putin in Halkidiki

    Halkidiki, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived at 10:15 p.m. at Porto Carras in Halkidiki, northern Greece, on Thursday and was received by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis with a warm handshake.

    Karamanlis and Putin, in statements they made before a dinner hosted by the Greek prime minister in honor of the Russian president, referred to the good Greek-Russian relations and the need for an improvement in economic cooperation between the two countries, the Cyprus issue and the Balkans.

    Putin said "I came to check our watches on the Cyprus issue, where we have similar positions" and recalled that he had a recent meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the Cyprus issue.

    The Russian president reiterated his support for a solution to the Cyprus issue within the framework of the United Nations, noting that it is good for the people of Cyprus for a solution to be found.

    On his part, The Greek prime minister had previously underlined that Greece greatly appreciates Russia's steadfast and undivided support in efforts to reach a comprehensive and just settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Karamanlis underlined the close traditional bonds of friendship with the Russian people, noting also the common Orthodox faith, and stressed that with President Putin "today, as a few months ago in Moscow, we will have the opportunity to exchange views which I am sure will confirm our excellent relations."

    Referring to the economic cooperation between the two countries, Karamanlis noted that efforts are being made for it to be further strengthened, while he underlined that "within the framework of both the economic and broader political cooperation, we support the need for relations between the European Union and Russia to be strengthened, something which would be to the benefit of both sides."

    Furthermore, the Greek prime minister underlined that on the agenda on Thursday evening included the issues of the western Balkans and of the broader region, where on many matters there is an identity of views.

    Putin is on a private visit to Greece and on Friday will go to Mount Athos to visit the Russian monastery of Aghios Panteleimon. Karamanlis described Mount Athos as a beacon of Orthodoxy.

    The Russian president underlined that his interest in Greece was increased from his student years, due to the friendly relations between the two countries. He gave priority to economic matters and particularly to the sectors of energy and high technology, not only on a bilateral level but also on a multi-sided level.

    Putin noted that the positions of Greece and Russia on many international issues coincide, such as on Balkan issues. He described Greece as a serious partner of Russia and thanked it for its steadfast support in the development of its relations with the European Union.

    Putin underlined that "if our projects and plans are implemented, then the natural gas pipeline can be transferred also to third countries," while he spoke also on cooperation in the energy sector, noting that an electricity network can be created which will also be promoted to third countries.

    Putin also referred to the advancement of the plan for the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline.

    [02] PM confers with justice minister Papaligouras

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Thursday with justice minister Anastasis Papaligouras.

    Papaligouras made no comments to waiting reporters after the 90-minute talks, noting that it had been part of his "regular contacts" with the prime minister.

    [03] 'Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy' conference opens in Athens

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    "It does not suffice that you are feared, you must also be loved," Greece's foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Thursday, speaking on the image a country must have in the modern-day international environment, while delivering the opening address of a two-day conference on "Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy" that is being held under the aegis of foreign minister Petros Molyviatis.

    Also addressing the opening session of the conference, Molyviatis described "public diplomacy" as "the entirety of coordinated actions aimed at projecting the personality of the country and the building of firm relations of cooperation and communication among the states and peoples".

    The foreign minister presented the European Union as an example of the successful exercise of public diplomacy among the member countries, based on solidarity, acceptance and respect.

    "The EU works, and produces results on the basis of consensus, and this is one of the reasons that many countries wish to become a member," Molyviatis said, noting that this meant that they must be "prepared for this", namely, to function on the basis of consensus.

    Taking the podium in turn, minister of state and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos underscored that "public diplomacy is clearly distinguished from propaganda", adding that the target was for the political word to be "convincing, reliable and honest", noting that everything comes out into the open in our age, and that "the damage will be much greater if something remains hidden and is learnt later".

    Regarding Greece's international image, he said that the goal of the present government was to send a uniform, powerful message with each and every action, and outlined the successful actions that have sent out a strong message on Greece's international image during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Greece's participation as a member of the UN Security Council, and the country's presidency of the Security Council in the month of July.

    The words 'public' and 'diplomacy' used to be diametrically-opposed concepts, British Ambassador to Greece Simon Gass said during his speech.

    There was a lack of transparency, but now public diplomacy is at the core of foreign policy, he added.

    After the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001 it became obvious that there was a gap between the West's and Muslim countries' values, Gass said.

    In order to bridge that gap, the British ambassador explained that the British foreign ministry has established a new department of Arab-speaking diplomats who are sent to Muslim countries to explain Britain's foreign policy initiatives.

    The conference will also broach the theme "Public Diplomacy: Determining its content, role and possibilities as a foreign policy tool".

    Other speakers during Thursday's session included diplomatic representatives from the Netherlands and Norway.

    The round table discussions will be coordinated by journalists Alexis Papachelas, Kyra Adam, and George Kapopoulos.

    [04] Interior minister says new law represents Greece's first modern immigration strategy

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Greece will for the first time acquire a modern strategy for immigration policy that seeks to allow immigrants to live in the country with dignity, through the law passed by Parliament on August 23, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos told reporters on Thursday.

    He said the bill looked to the future and sought ways to incorporate immigrants into the job market while fully respecting their rights, as well as trying to correct past problems with immigrants whose residence permits had expired or who had never obtained a residence permit.

    Pavlopoulos announced that these last two groups, provided that they were resident in Greece up until December 31, 2004, will be given one more chance to become legally resident, provided they apply before the end of the year.

    Those who had never received a residence permit could submit an application and supporting documents from October 1 until December 31, while those whose residence permits had not been renewed could apply from October 31 until December 31.

    Applicants must supply photocopies of all pages of their passport bearing a visa stamp, proof that they had applied for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds or that this application has been rejected, proof that they have paid social insurance contributions; photocopies of any decision rejecting their application for asylum and proof that they had asked for a tax registry number.

    Pavlopoulos said that the form that applicants would be asked to fill out would be the same for everyone and that it contained information necessary to Eurostat, while he stressed that there would be great emphasis on full information for everyone, with instructions and leaflets in several languages.

    The minister also noted that residence permits would no longer be easy to forge, since they will be printed on paper with a watermark, while there will be different colored permits for those who have supplied fully information and those who have submitted incomplete information.

    He said he expected the problem to be fully resolved by June 2006.

    [05] Latest poll gauges respondents' opinion on possible mayoral candidates

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    The latest opinion poll released this week focuses on next year's mayoral races in Greece's three largest municipalities -- Athens, Thessaloniki and Piraeus -- gauging the popularity of the current office-holders and a number of well-known politicians often cited by local media as possible candidates.

    Specifically, 70.5 percent of respondents in the poll said current Athens mayor Dora Bakoyannis is or "probably is" well-suited to serve at the Greek capital's helm. Bakoyannis, a former ND minister and the daughter of ex-prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, was followed by current Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis, who garnered 59.6 percent of respondents' approval for the specific question. Others included current PASOK deputy and former DIKKI party cadre Yiannis Dimaras (46.7 percent); well-known ATHOC President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki (46.6); Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis (45.3 percent); one-time PASOK minister and secretary Costas Skandalidis (45.3) as well as former EU commissioner, PASOK minister and previous candidate for town hall Christos Papoutsis (41.2 percent).

    As far as the major port city of Piraeus is concerned, current mayor Christos Agrapidis was judged as capable or "probably capable" by 52.4 percent of respondents. Piraeus-area PASOK deputy and one-time basketball star Panayiotis Fassoulas picked up 50.6 percent, followed by ND deputy and noted defense attorney Petros Mantouvalos (47.3); veteran PASOK cadre Manolis Benteniotis (45.8) and leftist politician Theodoros Dritsas (21.4 percent).

    Finally, Thessaloniki respondents gave current mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos a 56.4-percent nod as "capable". He was followed by influential PASOK deputy, former minister and constitutional law expert Evangelos Venizelos (47.0); PASOK deputy Haris Kastanidis (43.7); ND deputy and well-known basketball coach Yiannis Ioannidis (42.3); independent deputy and former PASOK minister Stelios Papathemelis (39.0); PASOK deputy Chryssa Arapoglou (38.2); ND deputy Elena Rapti (34.6) and PASOK deputy and former minister Yiannis Magriotis (33.7 percent), among others.

    The opinion poll, undertaken by the Kapa Research firm, was published by the weekly newspaper "Pontiki". The poll was conducted between Aug. 30 and Sept. 5 on a sample of 2,146 households in Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

    [06] Gov't on Wed. expulsion of ND deputy

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Wednesday evening's expulsion of a ruling New Democracy (ND) deputy from the party's Parliament group, following his controversial statements a day earlier, resulted in a bevy of questions for the government spokesman on Thursday during a press briefing.

    Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos first emphasized that he has no authority to judge whether the decision was justified or not vis-a-vis the deputy's comments. He also added that he has no party position within ruling ND, and therefore, was not involved in the decision-making process.

    Pieria prefecture deputy Evangelos Polyzos was expelled from ND's Parliamentary group on Wednesday evening for his statements the previous day, namely, that "honest people" and those "who do (bribery) what you say" exist in all parties -- in answer to a reporter's question referring to allegations of bribery.

    Roussopoulos also stressed what he said was the difference in the ruling party's stance towards the Pieria deputy and ND-affiliated farm unionist Thanassis Kokkinoulis, the individual that a handful of Athens dailies on Wednesday claimed made the statement about certain aides of ministers accepting bribes -- allegations that Kokkinoulis strenuously and repeatedly denied over a two-day period.

    "There is a major difference, Mr. Kokkinoulis flatly denied in all of his statements that he actually made the comments attributed to him," Roussopoulos said.

    Moreover, the spokesman said he "could not rule out anything" when asked if Polyzos would be re-admitted to the party's Parliamentary group in the future.

    In response to related questions, Roussopoulos confirmed that Parliamentary group secretary Apostolos Stavrou spoke with Polyzos on Wednesday to inform him that such claims were baseless, and that he (Polyzos) should take whatever evidence he had to the prosecutor's office or to the party's organs.

    [07] Tatoulis briefs UNESCO chief over Athens' continued interest in return of Parthenon Marbles

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis represented the government this week at the fourth annual presentation of the Melina Mercouri Awards in the French capital, with the Greek official holding talks prior to the event with UNESCO Director-General Koďchiro Matsuura.

    According to reports, Tatoulis again briefed the UNESCO chief of Athens' heightened interest for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

    [08] Papandreou again criticizes draft bill over private/public sector partnerships

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday sharply criticized the government's economic policy from Parliament's podium as well as a draft bill envisioning a more effective framework for public sector/private sector partnerships.

    "No matter what Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis says these days, he will find it increasingly difficult to improve the view seen by the average citizen," Papandreou said.

    He also again charged that the draft bill was a "tailor-made suit for corruption", with the goal being to limit public sector investments' developmental role.

    Gov't response: Earlier, the government had sharply reacted to PASOK's criticism in the Parliament debate over a bill, following a press question towards the government spokesman regarding the main opposition party's displeasure over PASOK deputy Panayiotis Sgouridis' vote in favor of certain provisions of the draft bill.

    [09] Papandreou continues contacts with social partners, business groups

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday met separately with representatives of small-to-medium sized (SMEs) businesses as well as merchants' representatives, part of the former's ongoing contacts with social partners, business groups and trade unions ahead of his address at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next weekend.

    Merchants' representatives renewed their call for a reduction in government red tape and a smaller, more effective state sector, whereas the head of the SMEs' association called for support of the institution of collective bargaining agreements in the sector.

    Meanwhile, Papandreou hosted a dinner at his residence on Wednesday evening for PASOK deputies attending Parliament's second summer session.

    [10] Main opposition PASOK leader meets with KEDKE president

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou met with President of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) Paris Koukoulopoulos on Thursday.

    "The Greek state in 2005 is the most centralized in the European Union [of 25 member states]. This centralization is the biggest obstacle to development and prosperity in the country," Koukoulopoulos said after the meeting.

    "That's why centralization must come to an end, but a new election law and other such questionable reforms are not the answer," he added, referring to the government's plans to change local government election laws enabling mayors to win elections with a 42% majority.

    "Significant changes and an overhaul are needed if Greece is to become a modern, European country; that was the main message we conveyed to Mr. Papandreou as well as to other political leaders and the Prime Minister," Koukoulopoulos said.

    [11] PASOK's Diamantopoulou meets with Ecumenical Patriarch, attends conference on Turkey's and Balkans' EU prospects

    ISTANBUL 9/9/2005 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)

    Anna Diamantopoulou, former European Union commissioner and main opposition PASOK State Deputy, met with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Thursday on her way to attend a conference dedicated to Turkey's and the Balkans' EU potential accession.

    "He is someone who always surprises me with his sharp political understanding, his awareness of global developments and his

    clear views on what needs to be done not just in Turkey and Europe, but in the greater region," Diamantopoulou said of Vartholomeos.

    Later on Thursday, Diamantopoulou will be attending a conference organized by the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) in cooperation with the Institute for European Foreign Policy.

    Thirty political figures from Europe and the Balkans will be attending since the discussion will focus on both Turkey's and the Balkans' EU prospects.

    Diamantopoulou explained that she was invited to participate as former EU Commissioner and because she had closely followed issues related to Turkey's EU accession, particularly from a social perspective.

    "We had cooperated extensively during that time with various European think tanks that dealt with EU enlargement," she said.

    The conference will conclude on Sunday.

    [12] EU steps up environmental protection initiatives

    STRASBOURG, 9/9/2005 (ANA/O.Tsipira)

    Members of European Parliament adopted a proposal on Thursday aimed at effectively dealing with natural disasters.

    The discussion, prior to the adoption of the proposal, focused on the fires that destroyed vast amount of land in Portugal, Spain and France, as well as the floods that devastated Austria, Ger-many, Bulgaria, Romania and Switzerland.

    The Eurodeputies also demanded stricter penalties for criminal acts that damage the environment, particularly fires that destroy forests and wooded areas.

    The European Parliament's plenary session proposed the creation of a European watchdog organization that would monitor cases of drought, desertification, floods and other phenomena related to global warming, to ensure a more effective response.

    Eurodeputies also expressed regret over the European Council's decision to suspend subsidies given to farmers for the creation of anti-fire zones and called for reinstatement of these subsidies.

    According to the MEPs, the consequences of such natural disasters demand commitment and planning on an EU level.

    Recognizing the Kyoto Protocol as the basic means of putting an end to global warming, MEPs called on the European Commission to take initiatives that will ensure implementation of Kyoto guidelines.

    On his part, European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas praised member-state's responsible agencies and authorities for their cooperation in dealing with this summer's forest fires. He did acknowledge, however, that cooperation could have been more effective.

    [13] Parliament president addresses 2nd World Conference of Parliament Speakers

    NEW YORK 9/9/2005 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)

    Parliament President Anna Psarouda Benaki, addressing the 2nd World Conference of Parliament Speakers on Thursday, said "curbing the problems facing citizens in their daily lives constitutes a main target of Parliamentary action."

    The conference, which got under way on Wednesday and will end on Friday, is taking place at the UN's headquarters.

    Benaki, who had a brief meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan together with many of her counterparts, said that "social inequalities, immigration and demographic pressure, viable growth, the management of water resources, the defense of the rights of youth and of women, dialogue between cultures and religions, terrorism, the avoidance of threats and conflicts, the peaceful solution of differences, respect for territorial integrity and borders, the strengthening of democracy and of political institutions and the consolidation of human rights are issues whose handling also preoccupies us as representatives of Parliaments and not the United Nations Organization alone."

    [14] Greek gov't raises 835 mln euros from OTE placement

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek state will put 835 million euros in its coffers from the sale of a 10 percent stake in Hellenic Telecommunications Organization to domestic and foreign investors, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, Alogoskoufis said the placement was successfully completed with the sale of OTE's shares to high quality investors and institutional funds in Greece and abroad. The Greek minister stressed that this development showed international markets' confidence to the government's economic policy and noted that a successful flotation of OTE would give new impetus to structural reforms and contribute to the reduction of the country's public debt.

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organization's placement was 1.8 times oversubscribed at a final price of 17.02 euros per share (a discount of 0.94 pct from Wednesday's closing price in the market). Alogoskoufis said the sale would raise the state's revenues from privatizations to 2.1 billion euros this year, surpassing a budget target for revenues of 1.6 billion euros in 2005.

    The Greek minister said the sale price was 70 percent higher compared with OTE's share price in March 2004, when the New Democracy party won the elections.

    Sale of 10 pc of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization sale of public property constituting major issue, PASOK party spokesman says

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, commenting on Thursday on the sale of 10 percent of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization's (OTE) shares, said it concerned the sale of public property constituting a major issue and creating serious questions.

    Athanassakis added that "the ND government and the Finance and Economy Minister Mr. Alogoskoufis are jubilating today because they succeeded in selling 10 percent of OTE for 835 million euros, meaning a loss of over 150 million euros compared to the amount paid by the Hellenic state, in early August, to acquire these shares."

    The PASOK party spokesman further said that "on August 2 the Hellenic state converted the bonds loan into 53,679,000 shares (10.9 percent of the total number of OTE's shares) and acquired these shares by paying about 20 euros per share, according to all the relevant reports and statements. Today it is selling 10 percent (49,058,200 shares) at the price of 17.02 euros, meaning a price that is 3 euros less per share."

    Athanassakis pondered which reasons necessitated the hasty sale now, resulting in the loss of at least 150 million euros.

    [15] Finance ministry replies to criticism by PASOK party spokesman on sale of 10 pc of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    An announcement by the finance and economy ministry, replying to criticism by main opposition PASOK party spokes-man Nikos Athanassakis earlier on Thursday on the sale of 10 percent of shares of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), said "it would be better for the press representative of PASOK not to speak of issues in which the responsibilities of PASOK are obvious and whose essence he is totally unaware of."

    The announcement went on to say "because he would not have made the blunder of comparing two unsimilar things. Namely, the bonds loan issued by the government of PASOK that could be converted into shares with the sale of about 10 percent of the shares of OTE, which was completed yesterday by the ND government with great success."

    It further stressed that "the Hellenic state did not lose from yesterday's sale of the package of 10 percent of the shares of OTE but achieved a great success in international capital markets, carrying out an absolutely successful privatization."

    Coalition against gov't sale of OTE telecom shares

    The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology on Thursday expressed its opposition to sale by the state of a 10% stake in Athens-quoted Hellenic Telecommunications Organization.

    "The (ruling) New Democracy government with the consent of the (main opposition) PASOK party has sold off yet another piece of OTE, losing 250 million euros. The state will gain 846 million euros but a month ago it paid 1.1 billion euros to the owners of those shares to return them," party spokesman Dimitris Stratoulis said in a statement.

    [16] Employment rates at 59.4 per cent in Greece in 2004, Eurostat reports

    BRUSSELS 9/9/2005 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    Employment rates among 15-64 year olds in Greece were 59.4 per cent in the year 2004, according to a report released by Eurostat in Brussels on Thursday. More analytically, the figures were 73.7 per cent for men and 45.2 per cent for women.

    Average employment rates for the 25 EU countries was 63.3 per cent in the same year (70.9 for men and 55.7 per cent for women), while in the 15 EU member-states before enlargement it was 64.7 per cent (72.7 per cent for men and 56.8 per cent for women) and in the Eurozone it was 63 per cent (71.6 per cent for men and 54.5 per cent for women).

    Rates of employment were highest in Denmark with 75.7 per cent (79.7 per cent for men and 71.6 per cent for women), the Netherlands with 73.1 per cent (80.2 per cent for men and 65.8 per cent for women) and Sweden with 72.1 per cent (73.6 per cent for men and 70.5 per cent for women).

    Employment rates were lowest in Poland with 51.7 per cent (57.2 per cent for men and 46.2 per cent for women), Malta with 54.1 per cent (75.2 per cent for men and 32.8 per cent for women).

    Among those aged 55-64, employment rates in 2004 in Greece were 39.4 per cent (56.4 per cent for men and 24 per cent for women), while among all EU countries the same rate was 41 per cent (50.7 per cent for men and 31.7 per cent for women). About 11.9 per cent of the Greek workforce above 15 was employed with temporary contracts, compared to 13.7 per cent in the EU.

    [17] Investing in human resources the 'greatest challenge' for Europe, employment minister says

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Investing in human resources was the greatest challenge facing Greece and the other member-states of the European Union, Employment Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos stressed during a seminar at the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) held on Thursday in Thessaloniki.

    This would result in societies with more employment, minimal joblessness and very great social cohesion, the minister added.

    The seminar was held to celebrate the 30th anniversary since CEDEFOP was created and the 10th anniversary since its arrival in Thessaloniki.

    Panagiotopoulos stressed that vocational training was the "key" that would open the way to social and economic development in Europe.

    This view was also echoed by European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism Ján Figel - who joined in the seminar via teleconferencing - who said the foundation stone of the new European structure and a more competitive European economy was life-long learning, vocational education and training.

    At the end of the seminar there was a ceremony for the handover of CEDEFOP to its new head Aviana Maria Bulgarelli, who will take over from outgoing CEDEFOP director Johan van Rens in October this year.

    On the sidelines of the event, Panagiotopoulos also answered questions concerning the Greek economy, predicting that the turning point would be reached in 2007.

    "We are certain in our hope that, even though there may be measures with a small temporary cost, in 2007 we will begin to emerge from the straits, the tunnel, and to see more light. This will mean truly better days for the working man and woman, the low-income family, for all Greeks," he said.

    [18] Labor unions present report on economy

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos, speaking on Thursday during the presentation of a report on the economy prepared by the Labor Institute (INE), GSEE and the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY), said the economic policy of mild adjustment announced by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) last year was the big door which paved the way for escalated austerity which is intensifying.

    Asked about his expectations from the prime minister's address at the 70th TIF this weekend, Polyzogopoulos said "I am not optimistic. I hope I am wrong" and raised the issue of a heating allowance being granted, while calling on Karamanlis to state whether he accepts the claim for the enactment of a minimum pension.

    ADEDY President Spyros Papaspyros spoke of phobic and antiquated syndromes of a section of businessmen who are only interested in their profits, who desire labor conditions reminiscent of the Middle Ages and who collapse when faced with difficulties.

    Deputy Development Minister George Salangoudis said the government is listening carefully to the claims of the trade union movement, it is paying attention to society and it is implementing its program which was approved by the Greek people in the general elections.

    [19] Citibank plans expansion in Greece

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Citibank, a member of the Citicorp Group, plans to raise its network in Greece to 100 branches from 58, its general director in Greece, Christos Vasiliadis, said on Thursday.

    A major investment in new technology that has been completed affirms the group's commitment to achieving a strong presence in Greece; and the recruitment of 200 staff marks the beginning of a generalized expansion, Vasiliadis told a news conference.

    [20] Greece, Israel to sign bourse pact in September

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Greece and Israel are to sign an agreement on September 27 for cooperation between the two countries' capital markets.

    Israel has a pavilion at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair that begins at the weekend where companies may learn about opportunities to do business with Israeli firms.

    Bilateral trade between Greece and Israel increased by 42% from 2002 to 2004 to total 414 million US dollars.

    [21] Greek stocks end lower on Thursday

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended lower on Thursday following a similar trend in other European markets. The composite index fell 0.63 percent to end at 3.276.55 points with turnover a moderate 157.9 million euros.

    Sector indices ended lower with the exception of the IT Solution index (up 0.64 percent). The Publications (1.41 pct), IT (1.35 pct), Industrials (0.98 pct), Mineral-Cement (0.85 pct), Metals (0.80 pct), Refineries (0.77 pct) and Banks (0.62 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks dropped 0.68 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.59 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.15 percent lower.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 153 to 102 with another 79 issues unchanged.

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outpace sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2015): 3.29% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bund: 3.08% yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2015 (1.1 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.1 bln euros

    [22] English National Ballet's 'Romeo and Juliet' this weekend at Herod Atticus

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    A performance of "Romeo and Juliet" by the acclaimed English National Ballet is scheduled for this weekend (Sept. 10, 11 and 12) at the Herod Atticus Odeon beneath the Acropolis.

    The staging of the performance, choreographed in 1977 by ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev, is a joint production of the Athens Festival, the American-Hellenic Arts Center of Halandri and the American Community Schools of Athens

    The music is by Sergei Prokofiev, performed by the ERT philharmonic orchestra under the direction of Martin West.

    Among the officials on hand Thursday to welcome the English National Ballet's performers was US ambassador Charles Ries, who serves as an honorary president of the Arts Center of Halandri.

    [23] UNHCR to hold Athens roundtable on migrant movements in the Mediterranean

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is organizing an international "Expert Roundtable on Rescue-at-Sea and Maritime Interception in the Mediterranean" that will take place in Athens on September 12-13.

    The focus of the roundtable are the steady stream of economic refugees, immigrants and asylum-seekers that attempt the perilous crossing through the Mediterranean Sea into Europe and the rising death toll at sea due to the movements of migrants and refugees.

    Its aim is to discuss ways in which to reconcile the need for effective border and migration controls with the states' international obligations to respect the rights and dignity of all persons found or rescued at sea, but also their obligations to meet the protection needs of genuine refugees.

    The Roundtable meeting will be attended by experts drawn from relevant international organizations, shipping agencies and academics. Also attending are the Greek public order and merchant marine ministers.

    Its conclusions will be presented at a press conference on September 13.

    [24] Police intercept vehicle carrying 83 kilos of heroin in Igoumenitsa

    Athens, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Police in Igoumenitsa have intercepted a car carrying 83.160 kilos of heroin as it was preparing to board a ferry bound for Italy, arresting three foreign nationals in the vehicle.

    The arrest was made on Wednesday night, while police said the drugs had been loaded in Turkey and were being driven to Spain via Italy and Germany.

    The car was intercepted after it became involved in a minor traffic accident on the Ioannina-Igoumenitsa national road, colliding with a truck. The three - a German man and woman and an American - panicked and fled the scene of the accident, raising the suspicions of the truck driver who informed the police.

    When the car arrived in Igoumenitsa, traffic police and drugs squad officers were waiting at a road block and the 162 packages of compressed heroin were quickly discovered by sniffer dogs, hidden in a special compartment in the floor of the car.

    The haul is the largest ever found on land in Greece and is valued at around ¬ 500-600 million.

    Igoumenitsa police have also informed Interpol, and an investigation has been launched to find the accomplices of the three in Germany, Spain and Turkey.

    [25] Three men arrested in Komotini on human trafficking charges

    Komotini, 9/9/2005 (ANA)

    Three men accused of human trafficking were arrested by Alexandroupolis and Rodopi police after being pursued from the border to Komotini in Northern Greece on Thursday.

    Police had received information that a 'fake' military truck would be used to smuggle illegal aliens into the country.

    Of the three arrested, one was a 33-year old driver who was transporting 118 illegal immigrants of various nationalities, who had arrived from Turkey by crossing the Evros River on Tuesday night.

    Border security guards signaled the driver to stop upon crossing the border, but he accelerated and sped off, forcing police to pursue him on Egnatia Odos.

    Finally, the man was arrested with the help of Rodopi's police.

    The other two suspects, 30 and 40 years old, respectively, preceded the truck in order to warn the truck driver of possible police blockades.

    The three suspects will appear before the Alexandroupolis Prosecutor.

    [26] Cypriot Spokesman: Britain acting as if Turkey is an EU state

    NICOSIA 9/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Thursday the British Presidency of the EU is pursuing a document, which will correspond to the expectations of the Presidency and perhaps of Turkey, without taking into account the objections of other member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.

    Referring to the failure of COREPER in Brussels on Wednesday to agree on a counterstatement to Turkey's declaration that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, the Spokesman replied that the Cypriot government will continue efforts for a clear and unconditional counterstatement noting that it is the

    EU's collective responsibility to defend the principles and foundations on which its functioning is based on.

    Chrysostomides talked about a "hardening of British positions" concerning the counterstatement, noting this was due to Turkey's insistence and representations, adding that it is not possible to resort to Turkey for its approval for the statement and that the mistake which Britain is committing is to act as though Turkey is already a member state.

    "It (Britain) forgets that unanimity is required to adopt the statement and subsequently unanimity for Turkey's negotiating framework," Chrysostomides said.

    The Spokesman revealed that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Wednesday talked with his Cypriot counterpart George Iacovou to inform him on his article in Thursday's "Herald Tribune" where he talked in favor of Turkey's accession to the EU, as well as starting accession talks without problems. "It is absurd," Chrysostomides added, that Straw did not discuss the issue of recognition of Cyprus and the formulas which the presidency is seeking to solve the issue.

    Chrysostomides said that Britain's attitude is troubling Cyprus as well as other countries, which have indicated to the presidency that it needs to show impartiality and bear in mind the collective interest of the EU and not the interest it has by securing the opening of accession talks between Turkey and the EU.

    For instance, Chrysostomides said that in his article, Straw underlines the economic relations between Britain and Turkey.

    Answering a question, Chrysostomides said the British presidency seems to be seeking a document where its wording will correspond to the presidency's expectations and perhaps those of Turkey, without taking into account the objections of other member states including that of the Republic of Cyprus."

    "This is exactly where the mistake is being committed. In order to have a consensus, what is required is a document that will be accepted by all member states," Chrysostomides concluded.

    In July this year, Turkey signed the protocol extending its customs union with the EU to the ten new EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus. Ankara accompanied the signature with a statement saying it did not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

    During a meeting of the COREPER on Wednesday, the European Union's 25 member states did not manage to agree on their response to Turkey's refusal to recognize the Republic of Cyprus, due to disagreements and the overall handling of the issue by the British Presidency.

    [27] Straw: Turkey's accession process should be allowed to go ahead

    LONDON, 9/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Thursday that Turkey's accession process should be allowed to go ahead and at the same time, the EU should help the parties in Cyprus to re-invigorate the UN-sponsored talks for a settlement.

    In a speech at the Institute of Public Policy Research on Thursday in the British capital, Straw also said that he would have preferred it if Turkey had not felt it necessary to issue its declaration stating that its signature of the Association Agreement Protocol did not amount to recognition of the Republic of Cyprus.

    He also described as too terrible to contemplate not allowing Turkey in the EU, noting that its accession in the Union will demonstrate that Western and Islamic cultures can thrive together as partners in the modern world.

    In his speech, Straw said Turkey's relations with the European Union - then the EEC - began in 1963 with the signing of an association agreement establishing a customs union.

    "There is more at stake here than Turkey's future. This is about Europe's future too. And it is a question of paramount importance for the whole international community. Turkey is a secular nation with a majority Muslim population. By welcoming Turkey we will demonstrate that Western and Islamic cultures can thrive together as partners in the modern world. The alternative is too terrible to contemplate. This is the strategic importance of the step Europe will take next month," he stressed.

    Straw noted that Turkey's nearest neighbors in the EU - Greece and Cyprus - have been among the strongest supporters of this strategic imperative for Turkey to move towards EU membership. "And Turkey's progress towards membership is clearly in the interests of that region - a region still bedeviled by unresolved disputes - including those over Cyprus and over the Aegean," he said.

    The British Foreign Secretary said he "would have preferred it if the Government of Turkey had not felt it necessary to issue its declaration stating that its signature of the Association Agreement Protocol did not amount to recognition of the Republic of Cyprus."

    He acknowledged, "by doing so the process has frankly been made more difficult."

    Straw said the EU "is discussing how to respond and will do so appropriately. Our common goal is to ensure that the Customs Union between Turkey and all 25 EU member states - including Cyprus - is implemented fully and without discrimination."

    The British diplomat added that by "acknowledging that Turkey's declaration raises genuine concerns - which we, as Presidency, are working hard to address - does not mean that we should delay the start of Turkey's historic accession negotiations. We should have faith in the power of the Union to help resolve problems," he said, and referred to the accession of the UK and the Republic of Ireland in the EEC in 1973, where there was still a very significant argument about the sovereignty of part of the territory of the UK. Ireland, by its own constitution, lay claim to Northern Ireland - part of the UK.

    "I cannot prove that EU membership resolved our differences with Ireland over their claim to Northern Ireland. But I do believe that the shared prosperity from the EU - made the peace process 25 years later much easier and in many ways imperative," he added.

    Straw said he wants - Cyprus-Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots alike - to reap the same benefit. This is not a new approach that the UK is taking. Faith in the EU's healing power was one reason why in 1997 we took the lead in arguing that the absence of settlement in Cyprus should not be a barrier to the Republic of Cyprus joining the EU."

    "We should keep this faith, by allowing Turkey's accession process to go ahead and - the other key ingredient - by helping the parties in Cyprus to re-invigorate their UN-sponsored search for a settlement under the good offices of the UN Secretary General and under the authority of a number of UN Security Council Resolutions.

    "The European Union faces a moment, the importance of which we must not underestimate. It will shape the future of the world in which we live. It is one upon which stands the security and prosperity of Europe itself. We cannot afford to get this wrong," Straw added.

    Answering a question about the possibility of guarantees for the implementation of the protocol, Straw said that there are, with existing arrangements, a series of mechanisms, by which the implementation of any agreement by the member states and by the accession states, can be monitored and action be taken if it is not.

    "I have not yet seen any argument to suggest that those existing mechanisms will be inadequate for this purpose," he added.

    [28] Cypriot House President thanks Russia for support

    NICOSIA, 9/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias met on Wednesday afternoon in New York with his Russian counterpart Boris Gryzlov, whom he briefed on the current situation regarding the Cyprus problem and thanked on behalf of the people of Cyprus for Russia's support in efforts to reach a settlement.

    According to an official press release, during the meeting, which was held at UN headquarters, the two officials referred to the good relations between their parliaments and decided to enhance and strengthen these ties, making them more specific.

    They also agreed to exchange visits, with Gryzlov accepting an invitation to visit Cyprus and Christofias an invitation to visit Moscow.

    Christofias noted that the people of Cyprus were also grateful to Russia for the fact that it maintained a steadfast stance, along with China and France, during the period after the referenda on a UN settlement plan, which was rejected by the Greek Cypriot community, and averted the approval of a negative for Cyprus UN report by the Security Council.

    [29] Cyprus House President addresses Second World Conference of Speakers

    NICOSIA, 9/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The international law and the United Nations resolutions should guide the international community's efforts towards the solution of long-standing international problems such as the situation persisting in the Middle East and Cyprus, Cyprus House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias said on Thursday.

    Addressing the Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Christofias pointed out that sixty years after the victory against fascism, ''the world is still caught in the throes of wars, conflicts, social injustice and poverty which take a high toll of human lives and cause widespread suffering and anguish.''

    Sadly, we are witnessing an increase of these phenomena in the present state of world affairs which is euphemistically called the 'new world order','' he added.

    Noting that the system that was built on the ruins of the Second World War placed the United Nations and its Charter at its centre and is supposed to be driven by a host of legal instruments that make up international law, Christofias added that ''the stark reality, however is that decisions taken in this framework are often not being implemented and international law is being constantly undermined, through the pursuit of narrowly perceived national interests and the use of military and economic might by powerful.''

    ''It follows that if States are sincere in their efforts of reinforcing international peace and security and ensuring the prevalence of human rights, they should not deviate from the course of abiding strictly by international law and United Nations resolutions'', the Cypriot House President said, pointing out that ''this commitment should also direct their efforts towards the solution of long-standing international problems, such as the situation persisting in the Middle East and Cyprus.''

    ''Our duty as Parliamentarians, the most direct representatives of the people, is to spare no effort in order to ensure that governments act collectively to re-assert the authority of the United Nations and the supremacy of international law,'' Christofias noted.

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