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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-05-13

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

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

May 13, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets Turkish counterpart in Vienna
  • [02] Premier Karamanlis meets Cyprus President Papadopoulos
  • [03] PM Karamanlis chairs working group at EU-Latin America-Caribbean summit
  • [04] FM spokesman comments on research ship in Mediterranean
  • [05] Gov't on Turkish reactions to Pontian genocide monument
  • [06] President Papoulias to address a special European Parliament session
  • [07] Government on Pakistani abductions prosecution
  • [08] Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis receives Syrian expatriates minister
  • [09] PASOK leader calls for par't off-the-agenda debate on "quality of democracy" in Greece
  • [10] Voulgarakis should leave the government, PASOK says
  • [11] Yannakou: no group has officially requested mosque in Athens
  • [12] Antonaros-Alavanos on proposed Constitutional revision
  • [13] Health minister addresses symposium at NY's Cornell University Hospital
  • [14] Serapheim Tsokas re-elected president of CPMR's Islands Committee
  • [15] Gov't to expand special support measure for unemployed workers
  • [16] FinMin briefs parliament over WTO trade talks
  • [17] Finance minister publicises data on public corporations
  • [18] 2007 to be proclaimed innovation year, development minister says
  • [19] Economic indicators prove gov't is on track, Development Minister says
  • [20] Two-day events being held in Vienna to promote tourism in Kavala prefecture
  • [21] Arab businessmen interested for investments in Greece
  • [22] Greek annual inflation unchanged at 3.3 pct in April
  • [23] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop in glum sentiment
  • [24] Culture minister visits the Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • [25] Greek, Bulgarian state TV sign cooperation agreement
  • [26] Exhibition of paintings by Greece's Fassianos on display at Beijing's Jin Tai Art Museum
  • [27] Conference begins in Thessaloniki on 60th anniversary of UN
  • [28] Eurostat: Greeks do not get married easily but divorce rate is relatively low
  • [29] Formal inauguration of 29th Book Festival taking place on May 15
  • [30] Four AEK FC fans indicted for vandalism on the ferry "Ierapetra"
  • [31] Memorandum for Olympic Truce conference in Olympia signed
  • [32] Cyprus will insist on Turkey meeting EU obligations
  • [33] Cypriot-British ministers meet in Vienna

  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets Turkish counterpart in Vienna

    Vienna, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Friday morning with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Vienna, on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the EU, Latin American and Caribbean countries, and discussed mainly economic and business issues, particularly in view of the imminent commencement of the tourism season.

    Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and Turkish minister of State Ali Babacan were also present at the 45-minute meeting.

    No statements were made to the press after the talks.

    The discussion, which came on the heels of a Karamanlis-Erdogan meeting on May 4 on the sidelines of the South East Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP) summit in Thessaloniki, was held within the framework of the two PMs' new policy of frequent bilateral contacts, and was requested by the Turkish prime minister two days earlier.

    Commenting on the meeting to reporters later on Friday, Karamanlis said that the everyone would have to get used to the idea that such meetings and contacts would take place regularly and would not be major news.

    He said that the main focus of his talks with Erdogan on Friday had been economic, particularly on tourism and cooperation in the tourism sector.

    Regarding tourism, a moratorium on avoiding tension during the summer months that was agreed in 1988 between then Greek and Turkish foreign ministers Karolos Papoulias -- currently President of the Hellenic Republic -- and Mesut Yilmaz, is still in effect, although the issue was not broached during the Karamanlis-Erdogan meeting.

    Karamanlis called for the repeal of a 50-dollar duty imposed by the Turkish authorities on tourists traveling to Greece -- even on a brief visit -- from Turkey, and Erdogan replied that it was an "administrative matter" that concerned the state services, and promised to look into a solution.

    The two men also discussed the problem of long delays arising at the Evros River bridge on the frontier between the two countries, which are mainly due to bureaucracy, and mulled the possibility of establishing a second bridge.

    Discussions also encompassed Greek-Turkish cooperation in the energy sector.

    Turkish minister of state Ali Babacan, who also attended the meeting, presented a briefing on progress in Turkey's EU accession course, but the Customs Union protocol issue was not broached.

    Greek government sources, on condition of anonymity, told ANA-MPA that "Turkey is very much interested in showing that it is doing everything possible to fulfill the criteria set out by the EU. And let's not forget that all these are also linked with the domestic political front".

    The two sides further reiterated their volition for improvement of Greek-Turkish relations.

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis is scheduled to visit Istanbul on June 10 for a Greek-Turkish journalists' conference, and will meet with her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul on the sidelines of the conference.

    Alternate government spokesman comments on meeting between Greek and Turkish PMs: Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, commenting on the content of talks held in Vienna on Friday between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said that "Turkey's obligations towards the Euopean Union are a given fact and Ankara must assume the commitments it has undertaken and fulfill them during its accession course."

    Asked by reporters about the issue Erdogan reportedly raised on the Pontian Hellenism Monument in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Antonaros replied that "Greece is a democratic and open society in which the formulation of expression is free."

    The spokesman further said that "history has been written and cannot be rewritten. This, in any case, is not what is required. What is required in Greek-Turkish relations is for us to utilize the opportunities also given by Turkey's European prospect and for the two countries to build the future together for the benefit of our peoples and of the region."

    [02] Premier Karamanlis meets Cyprus President Papadopoulos

    VIENNA, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos met here on Friday on the sidelines of the summit meeting of EU member states and Latin American and Caribbean countries. The talks focused on developments on the Cyprus issue.

    Karamanlis briefed Papadopoulos on his talks, earlier in the day, with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

    No statements were made after the Karamanlis-Papadopoulos meeting.

    [03] PM Karamanlis chairs working group at EU-Latin America-Caribbean summit

    VIENNA, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday chaired one of the three working groups at the summit meeting of EU member states and Latin American and Caribbean countries in Vienna, at the invitation of the Austrian chancellor a few days earlier.

    Addressing the group, Karamanlis stressed that the main objective was to consolidate the partnership relationship that has begun to develop between the EU and those two regions in recent years at both political and economic/commercial level.

    The working group examined issues such as democracy and human rights, a multilateral approach for strengthening peace, stability and respect of International Law, the environment and energy, and terrorism, drugs and organized crime.

    Karamanlis said that the EU placed particular emphasis on strengthening the effectiveness of the political dialogue with the two regions, the development of economic relations with them, the dialogue on social cohesion and the environment, strengthening democratic governance, combating corruption and drugs, etc.

    The Greek premier stressed that the challenges of globalization can be effectively met through international cooperation, adding that terrorism, combating poverty, social exclusion, human rights violations and drugs are areas of priority in the cooperation developing between the EU and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

    At economic and commercial level, he said, the EU was advancing a framework of free trade agreements with the regional unions of countries of Latin America, and also with individual countries, such as Mexico and Chile.

    The goal, Karamanlis continued, was to liberalize the markets and revive the European economies, on the one hand, and to give a developmental prospect to the Latin American countries on the other.

    In that framework, Greece was also defending and advancing the Greek interests in perishable farm products, stressing that Greece has already joined several initiatives aimed at reinforcing the Greek business interests in Latin America.

    [04] FM spokesman comments on research ship in Mediterranean

    VIENNA, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The seismographic research being carried out by the ship "Poseidon" in the Mediterranean Sea is in compliance with international law and practices, Foreign Ministry Spokesman George Koumoutsakos said in Vienna on Friday, in response to a question regarding related reports appearing in the Turkish press.

    "The strong seismicity of the entire Mediterranean is well known as is the need for continuous scientific monitoring," Koumoutsakos said.

    "As for the specific case, this purely scientific seismographic research is being conducted by a German university which submitted its related request to Greece," he added.

    "The Turkish side has been fully informed. We believe that this does not affect the good relations both countries desire. In any case, Greece always facilitates and hails such scientific research whose results benefit everyone," he concluded.

    The research is carried out by the university of Kiel, Germany, and the permit was granted in April.

    [05] Gov't on Turkish reactions to Pontian genocide monument

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Greek government on Friday commented that "history cannot be rewritten" in response to Turkish reactions regarding a monument raised in Thessaloniki to commemorate the genocide of the Greeks of Pontus, a region along the shores of the Black Sea.

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros also underlined that Greece was a democratic open society, with freedom of expression, when asked if the issue had been raised during a meeting the same day between Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    "That is not, in any case the issue. What is desired in Greek-Turkish relations is to make use of the opportunities given by Turkey's European prospects so that our two countries can jointly build the future for the benefit of our people and the region," he added.

    During the meeting, Erdogan noted that there was sensitivity over these issues in his country.

    Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, on his part, said he was troubled by the sudden vehemence of Turkish reactions to the decision, which he stressed had not been secret, and suggested that domestic politics might be behind them.

    Two days earlier, Izmir Mayor Aziz Cocaoglu said that he was indefinitely postponing the signature of a twinning protocol with Thessaloniki because of the monument, while Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Friday told the Turkish news agency Anadolu that Izmir's mayor had made the right decision.

    "Initiatives of this sort offer nothing to anyone. For this reason, the other side should have avoided such initiatives," he said, while noting that Greek-Turkish relations had positive progress.

    Gul also announced plans to erect a monument to the fallen of the Asia Minor war in Turkish Thrace.

    According to Papageorgopoulos, Izmir had never before raised problems over the monument while it was also the first time that Turkey had reacted so strongly since the Greek Parliament unanimously recognized the Pontian Greeks genocide in 1994.

    "It was a strong reaction that cannot be easily explained," Thessaloniki's mayor noted, while expressing confidence that the twinning protocol would go ahead once things calmed down and underlined that Thessaloniki "again extends a hand in friendship and cooperation to the Turkish people".

    [06] President Papoulias to address a special European Parliament session

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias will address the European Parliament plenary session on May 17, held to discuss the progress made in Bulgaria's and Romania's EU accession course.

    President Papoulias will be the second Hellenic Republic President to take the floor and address the European Parliament plenary session after the late Konstantinos Karamanlis in 1983 when Greece held the presidency of the then EEC for the first time after its accession on Jan.1, 1981.

    Another issue to be discussed in the special European Parliament session with major financial and social implications concerns the way certain foods are promoted through advertisement and the vitamins and other additives used in foods.

    Based on the compromise expected to be reached in the plenary session, only solid products with less than 3% fat or liquid products with less than 1.5 grams of fat per 100ml will be allowed to be advertised as low fat.

    [07] Government on Pakistani abductions prosecution

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    "The government will await the conclusion of the judicial investigation," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters on Friday, when asked to comment on a decision by the public prosecutors office to press charges against unknown persons for the abduction of Pakistani nationals in Athens.

    "The government stands by what it has said," Antonaros stressed, pointing out that the charges were against unknown culprits and that the government had itself asked the supreme court prosecutor to deal with the case as a priority, in order to expunge all shadows of doubt. Antonaros also denied that any issue had arisen concerning former public order and current culture minister George Voulgarakis.

    On Thursday, Supreme Court Prosecutor Dimitris Linos announced that the public prosecutors' office intended to press criminal charges against unknown persons for the Pakistani abductions, based on the report of investigating public prosecutor Nikos Degaitis. This found indications that two officers of the Greek intelligence service EYP might be involved in the affair and that the abductions were carried out by members of the Greek state services.

    The case will now go to an examining magistrate, who will investigate the extent of their involvement, if any.

    Antonaros criticized the flurry of speculation triggered by the announcement in the media, noting that some quarters appeared to have converted a report containing several possible outcomes to a final judgment.

    Degaitis had been assigned the case last December and instructed to look into the allegations of 20 Pakistani nationals that they had been abducted held for interrogation by Greek and British intelligence agents last summer, after the terror attacks in London.

    The abduction and interrogation claims had earlier been denied by Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis and by the Pakistani Embassy in Greece, which said that it had received no complaints from the relatives or friends of the alleged victims, as well as Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao when he was in Greece for a quadrilateral meeting on preventing organized crime two weeks ago. British foreign secretary Jack Straw also denied the allegations as "utter nonsense".

    [08] Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis receives Syrian expatriates minister

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis held talks on Friday with Syrian Expatriates Minister Buthaina Shaabane, focusing on issues concerning the situation prevailing in the wider Middle East region and bilateral relations between the two countries.

    Shaabane expressed Syria's satisfaction since Greece is traditionally a factor of balance in international fora regarding problems in the region of the southeastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, while underlining the mutual understanding and stability governing relations between the two countries.

    The Syrian minister requested an examination of the possibility of a school being created in Greece for the children of Syrian immigrants to learn the language.

    Kassimis stressed that the Syrian community in Greece is comprised of law-abiding citizens who are fully integrated in Greek society, which in turn has embraced them, and promised that the Greek government will examine this possibility.

    Shaabane, who was accompanied by the Syrian Ambassador to Greece Souad Al-Ayoubi, conveyed her greetings to the foreign minister whom she had met when Dora Bakoyannis had visited Damascus in her capacity as Athens mayor.

    [09] PASOK leader calls for par't off-the-agenda debate on "quality of democracy" in Greece

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday called for an off-the-agenda debate in parliament on "the quality of democracy in Greece".

    In a letter to parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki, Papandreou said that the government has promised equality before the law and equality before the state, the upgrading of Greece's democratic institutions, meritocracy, and dignity for every citizen, but today there was an "absolute inconsistency between words and actions" resulting from the "formation of a clientele state aimed at greater control and the concentration of authority".

    The most important problem, Papandreou added in his letter, was a "downgrading of our democratic institutions and weakening of the individual and social rights of the citizens".

    He said it was apparent that "due to the policy and practices of the government, there is an issue of the quality of democracy in our country, an issue of operation of the state and the institutions, as it also appears in the downgrading of the operation of parliament, with the government's initiatives and stance".

    [10] Voulgarakis should leave the government, PASOK says

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Culture minister George Voulgarakis should be asked to leave the government for lying to the public over the Pakistani abductions issue when public order minister, main opposition PASOK said on Friday.

    PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said the main opposition expected Voulgarakis to offer his resignation on his return from Istanbul and for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to accept this when he returned from Vienna and the EU-Latin America/Caribbean summit.

    Athanassakis stressed that the issue also reflected on the government and the prime minister, who he accused of covering for Voulgarakis and giving both a promotion and protection in the culture ministry.

    PASOK's spokesman also denied reports appearing in the newspaper "Eleftherotypia" and one television channel, which claimed that both Karamanlis and PASOK leader George Papandreou had been contacted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair over the Pakistani issue.

    According to Athanassakis, there had been no telephone conversation between Papandreou and Blair, though there had been a discussion with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that had been announced on January 3.

    [11] Yannakou: no group has officially requested mosque in Athens

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Greek education and religious affairs ministry had at no time received an official request to build a mosque in Athens, Education Minister Marietta Yannakou asserted on Friday. The Greek State considered that it had an obligation to provide Moslems with a place of worship, she stressed.

    The minister was responding to complaints voiced by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a recent visit to Greece, regarding the absence of a mosque in Athens.

    She also stressed that this was not in any way a bilateral issue and did not concern third countries, only Greece and the Moslems that lived in Greece.

    "To put a stop to illusions untrue information, no Moslem group or individual has applied to the ministry for a mosque in Athens," she said.

    She also stressed that all requests for places of worship submitted to the ministry over the past two years had been approved, most recently that of an open-air mosque in Komotini.

    [12] Antonaros-Alavanos on proposed Constitutional revision

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The governing majority through Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis made specific proposals for revising the Constitution, underlining the government's social sensitivity and the State's effort for social cohesion, said alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Friday, adding that these proposals go much farther than a proposal made by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    Antonaros made the comment responding to a question on the proposal made by Papandreou to constitutionally guarantee a dignified standard of living.

    The prime minister's proposals on the Constitution are nothing more than an effort to "constitutionalize" the aggressive New Democracy policy on issues concerning the abolition of the social state and public sector, commented Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) president Alekos Alavanos on the constitutional revision proposals outlined by the prime minister on Thursday.

    Alavanos stated that the opposition should not use disorientating fireworks like the issue of the Hellenic Republic presidential election. It should fight to support and broaden the social state, he added.

    [13] Health minister addresses symposium at NY's Cornell University Hospital

    NEW YORK, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, speaking on Friday at a symposium held at New York's Cornell University Hospital, stressed that "the aim of the government is for Greece to become one of the best research centers in medicine."

    The symposium, organized by the Greek Medical Association of New York, was held in memory of world renowned Greek researcher George Papanicolaou.

    Avramopoulos spoke about the life and work of research doctor Papanicolaou, who was born in Kymi, Evia, in 1883 and died in Miami, Florida in 1962.

    The health minister referred to the scientific contribution of pioneering doctor Papanicolaou, who became world famous for being the developer of the test for screening cervical cancer, known as the Pap Test, which has saved the lives of millions of women.

    Among other things, Health Minister Avramopoulos underlined the Greek government's decision "to greatly improve our country's health system," noting that "to date, quite a lot of work has been done in this sector, but much more needs to be done for us to have quality health." He added that "one of the objectives is cooperation and utilization of Greek doctors and scientists who distinguish themselves in America and all over the world."

    [14] Serapheim Tsokas re-elected president of CPMR's Islands Committee

    13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Crete Region Secretary-General Serapheim Tsokas was unanimously re-elected on Friday as the president of the Islands Committee of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR).

    His re-election came following the sessions of the 26th annual general assembly of CPMR's Islands Committee which took place at Iraklio, Crete on Thursday and Friday and had as its theme "The role of Islands in Europe of the Seas".

    On his re-election, Tsokas said:"I feel the need to thank all for the honor they bestowed on me and unanimously elected me again as president of the Islands Committee."

    Tsokas was elected for the first time as president of CPMR's Islands Committee in Norway's Stavanger (Rogaland) in September 2004.

    The sessions, which dealt with Europe's islands policy, was opened on Thursday by Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis.

    [15] Gov't to expand special support measure for unemployed workers

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Following the special income backing measure announced for unemployment people in the Naousa Textiles Industry, the Greek government will institute a solidarity measure for unemployed workers in general after holding a dialogue with interested parties.

    Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said on Friday that the measure will concern prefectures with high unemployment rate, waning sectors and long-time unemployed over the age of 50.

    A solidarity fund will support the measure with resources resulting from the rearrangement of social spending and not from new levies.

    Regarding the social insurance issue, Tsitouridis stated that the "Reppas act" and an existing legislation will be implemented while a dialogue will be held concerning certain implementation aspects.

    The government is committed to present in parliament a report every two months on the social insurance legislation implementation course, said Tsitouridis and reiterated that by the end of 2006 the funds will receive 1% of the GDP, as defined by the "Reppas act", or more if it is deemed necessary.

    Tsitouridis underlined that decisions on the social insurance system was a state matter and therefore, the European Commission cannot dictate specific directions.

    Regarding the next steps of the dialogue on the social insurance issue, the employment minister pointed out that the parliamentary committee on social and economic affairs will convene twice a month and the government will call for a discussion on the social security issue to get immediately underway on Economic and Social Committee (OKE) level.

    Tsitouridis underlined that the Social Insurance Institute (IKA) alone has 2,033 types of pensions and 705 insurance rates.

    [16] FinMin briefs parliament over WTO trade talks

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The abolition of export subsidies to farm products by 2013 and negotiations on cotton within the framework of agriculture were the most significant conclusions -for Greece- of a 6th ministerial summit of the World Trade Organization held in Hong Kong last December, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Friday.

    Speaking in parliament, the Greek minister said the agriculture issue was one the 'hottest' and most difficult points of the negotiations in Hong Kong with the EU coming under strong pressure to reduce its farm subsidies. The EU's Council of Ministers, however, resisted pressure and showed unity and fraternity by supporting the European Commission in its negotiations in the WTO current round. The decisions taken in Hong Kong fully covered a reviewed Common Agricultural Policy by 2013 and eliminated any dangers for farm products.

    Greece and Spain headed a group of EU member-states working to defend cotton production the European Union, Alogoskoufis said and added it was essential that cotton remained in the agricultural package of negotiations in WTO.

    The Greek government's strategy in the Doha round of trade talks (2001-2006) sought to defend a reviewed CAP, access in industrial product markets, an agreement on services and the trade of services, the construction sector, insurance, financial services and technical support for less developed countries.

    The Greek minister also released a report saying that a large number of public sector enterprises have agreed in introducing an incomes policy envisaged in a new legislation on public sector enterprises. A total of 29 enterprises have pledged to adhere to a new incomes policy with 15 enterprises currently in negotiations, Alogoskoufis said.

    'It its important that both the boards and workers in public sector companies have acknowledged the need for consensus on a new incomes policy,' he told reporters.

    Under a new legislation on public sector enterprises, pay increases should not exceed 3.0 percent this year and 4.0 pct in 2007, while total spending on personnel should not exceed 6.0 percent.

    [17] Finance minister publicises data on public corporations

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A large number of public corporations have agreed with the implementation of the incomes policy anticipated by the law on public utilities. A total of 29 public utilities have committed themselves to date to observing the incomes policy determined by the relevant law.

    Arrangements are still pending for 15 firms in which negotiations are continuing between administrations and employees.

    This appears from the data publicized on Friday by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, who said that "the reform on public utilities is being implemented fully and within the timetables set by the Interministerial Committee."

    The minister pointed out that "it is very important that consensus and understanding constitute a considerable parameter for the progress of the economy and of society, as well as for social cohesion, was understood by the administrations and the great majority of the representatives of Public Corporations and Organizations employees."

    Alogoskoufis added that, apart from the reforms in public utilities, the implementation of the privatization program is proceeding with success. He said that in the month of May the process will move ahead for the sale of Post Office Savings Bank shares and its listing at the Athens Stock Exchange. The administration of the Stock Exchange approved the listing of the shares of the Post Office Savings Bank on Thursday.

    In another development on Thursday, institutional investors were provided with about 7.2 percent of the Agricultural Bank's share capital at a sale price of 5.05 euros per share.

    [18] 2007 to be proclaimed innovation year, development minister says

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, speaking after the meeting of the Federation of Northern Greece Industries (SBBE) board which he attended on Friday, said that 2007 will be proclaimed innovation year and this year's 71st Thessaloniki International Fair will be dedicated to innovation.

    "I want to be useful for the productive groups of the country and not pleasant. I also said many no to issues which cannot be done. I called on the business world of northern Greece to make a greater effort to enable us to have quicker results and fruit for all of northern Greece as well which is developing, with Thessaloniki as its centre, into a real central region for all of southeastern Europe and not only," he said.

    Commenting on the country's 42nd position on the "map" of international competitiveness, from the previous 50th, the minister said that we succeeded in being the third country worldwide to improve its competitiveness ranking, with China coming first which improved its ranking by 12 places, followed by India with 10 and Greece with 8.

    "We can build all together competitive Greece with quality which is and can be the locomotive for our wider development," Sioufas said.

    [19] Economic indicators prove gov't is on track, Development Minister says

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The New Democracy (ND) government is currently at the mid-point of its term, the most difficult phase of the course it has mapped out, but despite this and despite difficulties, it is doing well, an observation confirmed by prestigious international organizations and vital economic indicators, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said during a speech he delivered at an ND event in Thessaloniki on Friday.

    "We have already established a new developmental model and we are continuing policies, interventions, changes and reforms towards its improvement. The objective is to liberalize productive forces of society; the objective is development everywhere," he said.

    Sioufas presented detailed information on the government's work so far, and particularly that of the ministry, such as energy, tourism, competitiveness and other policies.

    He also spoke of the positive results achieved during his recent trips with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias to the Arab states and his own visit to Egypt.

    Greece is becoming these countries' gateway to Europe, he said.

    He also referred to the National Strategic Reference Framework for the 2007-2013 period, whose priorities are regional development and investment in research, technology and human resources.

    "Thessaloniki is finally entering a stage where it realizes that words do not remain simply words [but are put into action]. That is Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' clear order," he said.

    [20] Two-day events being held in Vienna to promote tourism in Kavala prefecture

    VIENNA, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Two-day events are being held here on Friday and Saturday, organized by the prefecture administration of Kavala in cooperation with the "Federation of Greek Societies of Austria" and the ANA-MPA, as part of the dynamic "opening" of the northern prefecture of Kavala to the tourist and business markets of Scandinavia and central Europe.

    The purpose of the events is the presentation by the representatives of Kavala, headed by Prefect Theodoros Kalliontzis, to the Austrian public, travel organizations, businessmen, and representatives of the mass media and for Greek expatriates of this part of Greece which possesses a historic and cultural past, present and future, as well as unique tourist and development potential.

    The events will be held on the premises of the historic Vienna Town Hall and will include the audiovisual promotion of the Kavala prefecture and the island of Thassos, reference to the cultural and literary life of the prefecture, a painting and photo exhibition, the presentation of local products and a Greek night providing Greek music. The events will be shown directly through the Internet by the ANA-MPA.

    During their stay in the Austrian capital, the prefecture's representatives headed by the prefect will have a series of contacts with representatives of the local Viennese administration, the Greek Deputy of the local Parliament of the federal state of Vienna Maria Vasilakou, businessmen, journalists and representatives of expatriate organizations.

    [21] Arab businessmen interested for investments in Greece

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Arab investors are showing increased interest for investments in Greece and in particular in the fields of shipping lines, urban development projects, factory maintenance, building material, foods and tourism, Greek Finance Deputy Minister Petros Doukas said in a letter to Greek business unions.

    The letter, summarizing his contacts with political and business officials during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, stressed that Arab investors showed increased interest for passenger shipping connections with Iran, Pakistan and India and for investments to build new tourism facilities.

    The Greek minister stressed he briefed Arab businessmen over the prospects of Greek economy, a new development legislation, plans to support joint ventures between public and private sector companies, privatizations, measures to simplify bureaucratic procedures and the country's significant geopolitical position.

    [22] Greek annual inflation unchanged at 3.3 pct in April

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greek annual inflation, measured by the consumer price index, was unchanged at 3.3 percent in April, while the core inflation fell significantly, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.

    Presenting the figures, NSS's secretary-general Manolis Kontopyrakis, predicted that if fuel prices remained at current levels, the inflation rate would remain unchanged at 3.3 percent also in May.

    Core inflation eased to 2.5 pct in April from 2.9 pct in March. Kontopyrakis predicted a decline in vegetable prices in the next few weeks and said that only a part of high international oil prices has been transferred to consumer prices in the European Union.

    The consumer price index for April was based on a new group of products. Greece's harmonized inflation figure rose to 3.5 pct in April from 3.3 percent in March.

    [23] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop in glum sentiment

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 4,205.94 points, showing a decline of 0.89%. Turnover was 709.7 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.25% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.75% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.07% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 143 to 135 with 45 remaining unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Intracom top in stock futures trade

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: -1.25%

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: -0.75%

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (2785)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 209.3 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.37% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bond: 4.06%

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (980 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.2 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Until Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.301

    [24] Culture minister visits the Ecumenical Patriarchate

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Culture Minister George Voulgarakis visited Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos at the Phanar on Friday. The culture minister is in Istanbul for the inauguration of the city's Arts Festival that opened on Thursday.

    Voulgarakis referred to the Ecumenical Patriarch's presence in Bergama (Pergamum) and Cappadocia characterizing it as impressive and stressed that he feels a special joy when listening to what the Ecumenical Patriarch has to say.

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos thanked the culture minister for the Greek government's interest in the Patriarchate and referred to his pilgrimage to Cappadocia and Bergama.

    He said that unfortunately his visit was met with improper demonstrations by nationalist extremists that do not honor their country or help in its efforts to become part of the united Europe, adding that these circles are on the fringe of society and limited. The official state gave permission for the holy liturgies, he said.

    Voulgarakis is in Istanbul for the inauguration of the Arts Festival that opened on Thursday with a performance of Aeschylus' tragedy The Persians organized by Greek and Turkish artists.

    [25] Greek, Bulgarian state TV sign cooperation agreement

    SOFIA, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Hellenic Broadcasting's Channel 3 (ERT3) and Bulgaria's BNT channel signed a cooperation agreement on Friday whereby the two will primarily exchange cultural programs, but also environmental, educational and other types of programs.

    The two entities will also work on other joint projects.

    In comments they made to the ANA-MPA after the signing, ERT's General Manager Thalia Ioannidou and BNT's General Manager Uliana Pramova emphasized the great potential for further developing cooperation between the two countries' state TV channels.

    "First of all, I would like to emphasize that I am particularly happy because this agreement was signed and will be implemented during a period when the two countries' relations are becoming tighter," Ioannidou told the ANA-MPA.

    Ioannidou cited the recent visit of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to the Bulgarian capital as well as numerous meetings between the two countries' officials as examples of improving bilateral relations.

    "Culture is the primary and 'easy' area of cooperation since it brings peoples together," Pramova said.

    [26] Exhibition of paintings by Greece's Fassianos on display at Beijing's Jin Tai Art Museum

    BEIJING, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The inauguration on Thursday of an exhibition of works by well known Greek painter Alekos Fassianos at Beijing's Jin Tai Art Museum was held with complete success.

    Present were Fassianos, foreign diplomats, Chinese officials, intellectuals, businesspersons, Greeks living in the centre of the Chinese capital, friends of the painter from Athens as well as a great number of Chinese journalists.

    The exhibition was inaugurated by the Greek Ambassador to China, Michail Kabanis and the Museum's director, Yuan Xikun.

    The exhibition, organized by the Greek Embassy in Beijing and entitled "Living Myths", has on show 50 works by the Greek painter.

    The exhibition will be open until May 22. It is the first time than an individual exhibition by a Greek painter is presented in China.

    [27] Conference begins in Thessaloniki on 60th anniversary of UN

    13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A conference marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations Organization began in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday. The event is being organized by the UN's Youth Society (Y.S.U.N.-Greece) and the UN's Regional Information Centre, with the support of the Thessaloniki Prefecture.

    Costas Hatzikonstantinou, a professor of international law at the Aristotelio University's Legal Faculty and president of the Greek International Law Society referred to the implementation of the law of war at the UN's International Court.

    He observed that the Court has functioned in a useful way. However, it must exceed the limits set for it by the delay in the taking of decisions and the possibility that its decisions might not be acceptable universally, Hatzikonstantinou added.

    The conference, due to end on Saturday, was attended by ruling New Democracy party Deputy Stavros Kalafatis and the general consul of Cyprus in Thessaloniki, Antonios Theoharous.

    [28] Eurostat: Greeks do not get married easily but divorce rate is relatively low

    BRUSSELS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greeks do not get married easily but when they take the decision, they rarely separate, do not have children out of wedlock and spend more money on clothing rather than on entertainment. These are the conclusions drawn by Eurostat's new data which were released here on Friday about European Union families and households.

    According to these data, 4.2 marriages took took place per 1,000 inhabitants (47,000 marriages) in Greece in 2004, while there were 1.1 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants (13,000 divorces).

    These data render Greece in third position of the countries with the fewer marriages, after Slovenia (3.3 marriages per 1,000 inhabitants) and Belgium (4.1 marriages).

    Furthermore, Greece ranks third with the lowest divorces, after Ireland (0.8 divorces) and Italy (0.8 divorces). In Europe of the "25" in 2004, there were on average 4.8 marriages per 1,000 inhabitants and 2.1 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants.

    [29] Formal inauguration of 29th Book Festival taking place on May 15

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Society of Athens Book Publishers (SEBA) announced that the formal inauguration of the 29th Book Festival will be taking place at 8 p.m. on May 15 in the pedestrian street of Dionysiou Areopagitou, next to the Acropolis.

    This year's festival will also be given a special impetus by a dedication on "Greece-Egypt:Crossroads of Cultures."

    The festival will last through May 12-28.

    [30] Four AEK FC fans indicted for vandalism on the ferry "Ierapetra"

    ATHENS, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Four individuals arrested for vandalism on the ferry "Ierapetra" while the ship was returning to the port of Rafina after the Greek Soccer Cup Final on Wednesday at the Pancretion Stadium in Iraklio, Crete, were indicted of causing extensive damage to property by a public prosecutor, while one of them was also faces felony charges of causing bodily harm.

    The ferry was chartered by AEK Athens FC to transport its fans to Iraklio, on the south Aegean island of Crete, for the Greek Soccer Cup Final on Sunday, which AEK lost 3-0 to Olympiakos Piraeus.

    One of the detainees, who allegedly fired a flare to the pier from the ferry while sailing into the Rafina harbor injuring a port authority officer, received felony charges.

    The rest were charged with causing repeated extensive damage on the ferry while one of them was charged with illegal arms possession and use concerning the use of a crowbar.

    [31] Memorandum for Olympic Truce conference in Olympia signed

    LAUSANNE, 13/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Tourism Development Minister Fanny Palli-Petralia and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge met in Lausanne on Friday for the signature of a joint memorandum on holding the Olympic Truce 2007 conference at ancient Olympia.

    The agreement implements an earlier proposal made by Palli-Petralia. It was signed during a meeting in Lausanne of the International Olympic Truce Foundation (IOTF) board of directors, of which Rogge is chairman and Petralia vice-chairwoman.

    Petralia said that the conference would be a "global peace event" that would attract important figures from the world of politics, sports and education and that ancient Olympia would once again become the international centre of the Olympic Truce, providing an opportunity to propagate its values and ideals.

    The Greek side then presented proposals and themes for promoting the spirit of the Olympic Truce worldwide in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

    Afterward, Rogge and the Greek minister officially unveiled the sculpture 'Olympic Truce' donated by Irvin Belk to the Olympic Truce Museum.

    Rogge described the meeting as 'very useful' and congratulated Greece for its help in spreading the concept of the Truce throughout the world.

    On her part, Palli-Petralia referring to the 2007 Olympic Truce conference, said: "I believe that this is a very important event because it will bring peoples together. Most of all, politicians from all over the world will be participating, as well as sports figures, academics, and members of the international social and political scene in general."

    Palli-Petralia noted that many of the proposals put forward by the Greece-based Truce Center, were accepted by the international foundation's board of directors.

    Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou, also attending the meeting, said: "In my opinion, the Olympic Truce is always a timely and meaningful concept in terms of the need to address major conflicts. At present, there is an emerging conflict surrounding the Iran issue, and I think that here too, from the Olympic Center, we need to underscore the fact that the concept of the Truce would be very useful in order to allow for a period of reflection and calm among all involved parties so that a diplomatic solution can be found regarding Iran."

    [32] Cyprus will insist on Turkey meeting EU obligations

    VIENNA, 13/5/2006 (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    Turkey's refusal to fulfill her European obligations will have a negative impact on her EU bid, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos warned on Friday, adding that the government of the Republic of Cyprus will insist on Turkey's compliance with EU standards.

    ''Not only do we not see Turkey making any step forward, but we hear provocative statements that Turkey will not make any progress in fulfilling her obligations'', he said, adding that these statements in the end, will prove to be negative for Turkey itself, by making the country ''a hostage of her own statements''.

    Speaking at a press conference in Vienna, President Papadopoulos reiterated that Cyprus will insist on the fulfillment of all EU obligations by Turkey.

    ''We will insist that Turkey above all fulfills its obligations and then discuss other matters,'' the president stressed, adding that Turkey's obligations cannot be connected with her demand to lift the so-called embargoes on the Turkish Cypriots.

    ''We reject that there are any embargoes against the Turkish Cypriots and we insist that the two issues are not interconnected,'' he noted, adding that the fulfillment of the EU obligations on behalf of Turkey does not depend on developments in Cyprus ''and this is our firm position.''

    Referring to both short conversations he held on the sidelines of the EU-Latin America/Caribbean Summit with UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, President Papadopoulos pointed out that they were not planned.

    ''The meetings were not planned. Annan asked me about the progress made for the discussions on a technical level, I briefed him and we exchanged ideas as to what can be done. I do not consider these meetings as highly important events or developments,'' President Papadopoulos said.

    On the sidelines of the Summit, President Papadopoulos held short conversations among others with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, British Premier Tony Blair and President of the European Parliament Josep Borell.

    Asked about the meeting he held Friday with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, he said that they exchanged views on Turkey's stance regarding her denial to fulfill her European obligations, which are clearly stated in the EU-Turkey negotiating framework.

    He added that since the visit to Cyprus of Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyiannis, both governments have set up an action program, which is shaped according to new developments.

    ''Today, we have reviewed our policy and what is left to be done. This is a contact, on a weekly basis, between both countries,'' he said.

    [33] Cypriot-British ministers meet in Vienna

    NICOSIA, 13/5/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou and British Minister for European Geoff Hoon discussed in Vienna on Friday bilateral relations as they met on the sidelines of the European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean summit.

    Hoon said he knows Cyprus quite well following his term in office at the European Parliament and through contacts with the Cypriot community in the UK.

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair has asked his minister to list bilateral relations in his list of priorities of issues that he has to deal with, according to an official press release.

    The two ministers reaffirmed the sincere wish of their governments to improve relations, which have been somewhat strained in the recent past.


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