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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-05-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

May 17, 2006


  • [01] PM addresses cabinet meeting on country's energy strategy
  • [02] PM reports upturn in economic climate in Meeting of the Federation of Greek Industries
  • [03] Pakistani delegation meets government ministers and Papandreou
  • [04] Dep. FM meets visiting Pakistani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Bakhtiar
  • [05] Pakistani PM visits Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • [06] FM Bakoyannis has telephone conversation with Iranian counterpart
  • [07] Defense minister to Berlin for Global Security workshop
  • [08] Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis receives Russian ombudsman Vladimir Lukin
  • [09] Opposition parties call for briefing on Pakistani immigrant abduction issue
  • [10] Report on TOR M1 armament systems forwarded to Parliament
  • [11] Karamanlis to chair ND's political council meeting
  • [12] Energy investment of 4.5bln euros seen by 2010
  • [13] D. Daskalopoulos elected new SEB president
  • [14] Greek economy to grow around 4% in 2006, statistics service
  • [15] Parliament briefed on broad band proliferation in country
  • [16] Forum on business ties between Greece, China
  • [17] EasyHotels announce expansion into Mideast, North Africa, India, Pakistan
  • [18] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise in volatile trade
  • [19] Abducted headmaster of German School freed
  • [20] Talks in progress for return of antiquities to Greece by Getty Museum
  • [21] Treasures from Mount Athos to be exhibited in Helsinki
  • [22] Kevin Spacey honored by Greek embassy in Washington
  • [23] Public prosecutors to hold conference on 'Combating of human trafficking'
  • [24] Crete to host congress on artificial intelligence
  • [25] Deputy Culture Minister Orfanos attends meeting in Sofia of Balkan sports ministers
  • [26] Cypriot President says Turkey seeking to avoid EU evaluation
  • [27] Cyprus will not consent to postponement of Turkey's EU course evaluation
  • [28] Looting of cultural treasures in occupied Cyprus detailed in Washington

  • [01] PM addresses cabinet meeting on country's energy strategy

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, was reassuring as regards repercussions for the economy stemming from soaring international oil prices.

    Karamanlis said that the government is vigilant but it is not concerned, stressing that "I wish, once again, to repeat that due to the upsurge in international oil prices we are vigilant but we are not concerned as to the targets we have set. And this is so because we have made realistic assessments. We are following developments, we are speeding up the implementation of our policy and we are intensifying checks in the market."

    The prime minister referred to the issue of Iran, reiterating Greek positions on a peaceful solution to the crisis, while making a review of the course of international prices and stressing that the country depends greatly on oil.

    "As it is known to all, for over two years now, an unprecedented upsurge in international oil prices is under way. It is obvious, and we had stressed this in time, that it is not a circumstantial phenomenon. Since January 2004 until today the international price of Brent oil has increased by 130 percent and the international price of oil by 145 percent. This development is pressuring European, western and developing economies. It has a negative effect on the global economy. On growth rates, the carrying out of state budgets, competitiveness and inflation. All these concern our country in particular since it has much greater dependence on oil compared to other European countries. The problem has taken on new dimensions following the case of Iran. A case for which we have crystal-clear positions. No to the use of nuclear weapons, yes to the seeking of a peaceful diplomatic solution," he said.

    Karamanlis further said that the government followed an aggressive energy policy from the beginning and underlined the two basic directions followed.

    "The first direction concerns the strengthening of the role of our country in international energy organizations and the promotion of major energy projects which render it an international energy corridor in the sectors of oil, natural gas and electricity," he said.

    Karamanlis added that "the second direction of the new energy policy concerns the creation of a new modern institutional framework in the sector of electricity, natural gas, oil and, of course, clean forms of energy."

    Lastly, the prime minister pointed out that "the time we were assuming the responsibility for the governance of the country, on the one hand the electric energy supply system had exhausted its limits and, on the other hand, major pending issues still remained regarding the preparation of the country in light of the Olympic Games. We faced, indeed, particularly at the beginning, considerable difficulties. However, we succeeded in doing well. And today we are at an advanced stage in the implementation of the New Energy Policy. Considerable changes and reforms have been promoted and new bills and new actions for the implementation of our plan are being forwarded. Our policy commitments are turning into practice."

    [02] PM reports upturn in economic climate in Meeting of the Federation of Greek Industries

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday reported that the economic climate was improving.

    "There is tangible evidence that the climate is improving. Greece is winning its daily battles, and has achieved major victories," Karamanlis told a general meeting of the Federation of Greek Industries.

    "Over the past two years, basic innovations have been advanced, bold reforms, and substantive changes that guarantee safe but brisk growth in a sound fiscal environment. Among changes have been a drop in tax brackets, a new development law, the restoration of confidence in the capital market, and an objective and transparent framework for public works," he reported.

    In addition, a reduction in the public deficit had been achieved employing mild methods, the growth rate was high, the economic climate index had improved, investment interest was intense through the growth law, and investment had risen among new firms.

    Furthermore, competitiveness had improved according to a recent report by the Institute for Management Development, the absorption rate of European Community funds had risen, exports had surged, unemployment had declined, and tourism had increased, the prime minister said.

    Among priorities for economic policy were a national land use plan, privatization focusing on banks, joint private and sector projects, deregulation of the energy market and revitalization of the wider public sector.

    "We are seeking dialogue, understanding among the social partners and joint action by all," the premier noted.

    Main opposition leader presents plan: Addressing the same meeting, the leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement presented the seven main points of his strategy if elected to government in the next general election.

    The strategy focuses on reform in the state, macroeconomic policy, a social state, the taxation system, employment and education policy, business, economic extroversion, and ties between politicians and the business world.

    "We will help to free you from the chains of bureaucracy and unfair competition. But we will also ask you to contribute to the formation of a powerful and effective social state, to employment and training policies," Papandreou said.

    Finmin sees progress: Finance Minister George Alogskoufis told the meeting that progress was now visible and measurable.

    He called on the federation's members to make use of the new business environment for the economy, investing in the country's future.

    The minister added that many state owned companies had agreed to implement wage rises foreseen by the law.

    New industry president: The federation's new president, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, told the assembly that the country's problems were long-standing, warning that Greece may be sidelined economically in the fairly near future.

    The country may also find itself in a weak political position and burdened by social inequality,

    "In order to achieve progress, what is needed is a climate of understanding and social cohesion. But the quest for consensus can no longer be a convenient alibi for procrastination and inaction," Daskalopoulos warned.

    [03] Pakistani delegation meets government ministers and Papandreou

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and the Pakistani officials that accompanied him on a trip to Athens on Tuesday held meetings with several members of the Greek government, as well as main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    Talks between the two sides focused on the rapid development of bilateral relations in recent years, especially economic ties, and the situation in the broader region of the Middle East.

    Among those that held talks with the Pakistani mission were Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, and deputy foreign ministers Theodoros Kassimis and Evripidis Stylianidis.

    The talks with Voulgarakis focused on the implementation of a bilateral agreement for cooperation in education, science, archives and libraries, while the two sides also examined the prospect of cooperation in archaeology with great interest.

    At the foreign ministry, Pakistani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Khurso Bakhtiar praised Greece's role in helping the establishment of peace in the southeast Mediterranean and Middle East and discussed an EU proposal for dealing with the Iran crisis during talks with Kassimis.

    Pakistan's Minister of State for Economic Affairs Hina Rabani Khar, meanwhile, held talks with Stylianidis that covered economic and trade relations generally, during which they expressed a desire to arrange a mixed ministerial in Pakistan within the year to determine the framework and areas of cooperation between the two countries.

    According to Stylianidis, possible areas for cooperation included shipping, construction, the transfer of know-how for modernizing agriculture and renewable energy, while he also noted the recent 21 per cent increase in Greek exports to the country.

    The two ministers stressed that the climate in bilateral relations between the two countries was extremely good following the aid sent by a Greek foreign ministry aid organization to assist victims of the recent disastrous earthquakes in Pakistan.

    Aziz and Papandreou: The Pakistani prime minister and Papandreou held talks for roughly one hour on Tuesday. Afterward, Papandreou said they had discussed international affairs, focusing mainly on Iran and developments in the Balkans.

    Papandreou, noting that the two countries were linked by both historical ties and by the large Pakistani community that now lived and worked in Greece, said the meeting had been an opportunity to broach the issue of the Pakistani abductions in Athens and to outline PASOK's position on the procedure that should be followed.

    Asked about Aziz's response, he said that Pakistan's premier had referred to the abductions case and expressed hope that Greek justice would find those responsible.

    PASOK's leader also stressed that there were good future prospects for the further development of Greek-Pakistani ties on an economic and political level.

    [04] Dep. FM meets visiting Pakistani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Bakhtiar

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis on Tuesday met here with visiting Pakistani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Khurso Bakhtiar, with talks revolving around the situation in the wider Middle East and rapidly growing bilateral relations in trade and investments.

    Among others, both sides agreed to open trade bureaus in their respective embassies in Athens and Islamabad, while agreeing over the need to establish a Greece-Pakistan business council.

    On his part, Bakhtiar expressed his government’s satisfaction with Athens’ significant role in strengthening peace in the SE Mediterranean. Additionally, the European Union’s proposal to deal with the Iranian nuclear crisis was discussed.

    Finally, the Pakistani official extended an invitation to Kassimis to visit the South Asia country.

    [05] Pakistani PM visits Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Cooperation memorandums between the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), as well as between the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry, were signed on Tuesday in the framework of the official visit by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shaukat Aziz to the EBEA.

    The Pakistani prime minister was accompanied by ministers, members of the Pakistani Parliament, members of Pakistani agencies and by many businessmen.

    Aziz referred at length, in his address, to the longstanding historic ties between the two countries, placing particular emphasis on the arrival of Alexander the Great in Pakistan and to the traces he has left among the people and the culture of his country.

    He also referred to the economic development of his country and to conditions prevailing for the development of trade and investments.

    Aziz said that four serious reasons exist for the inflow of investments and capital into Pakistan: the size of the country, its geographical position, intensifying economic development and structural changes which have created a favorable investments climate.

    The prime minister made an extensive analysis of the course of his country's economy in past years, placing emphasis on liberalization and privatizations, while stressing the need for widening relations between the two countries, particularly in the sectors of shipping, tourism, trade, energy, construction and farm products.

    Finmin sees room for closer business ties with Pakistan: Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday that there was great room for growth in economic ties between Greece and Pakistan.

    "We will maintain contact in order to sound out this economic cooperation," Alogoskoufis told reporters after a meeting with Pakistan's visiting prime minister, Shaukat Aziz.

    During their meeting, the two officials discussed economic policy in Greece, Pakistan and the European Union.

    "Pakistan is one of the dynamically emerging economies in Asia," Alogoskoufis added.

    [06] FM Bakoyannis has telephone conversation with Iranian counterpart

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday had a telephone conversation with her Iranian counterpart Manuchehr Motaki, on the latter's initiative, a foreign ministry press release said.

    According to the announcement, the conversation between the two ministers focused on Monday's EU General Affairs Council decision on a new proposal-package by the Union to Iran, in an effort for a diplomatic solution of the country's nuclear program issue to be found.

    Bakoyannis told her Iranian counterpart that the EU's proposal "is substantial and particularly advantageous and should be evaluated in a positive and constructive manner by Iran," the announcement concluded.

    [07] Defense minister to Berlin for Global Security workshop

    17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis is to depart for Berlin on Wednesday to attend the 23rd International Workshop on Global Security, which is taking place on May 18 in association with the ILA Berlin Air Show.

    Meimarakis will speak on "Security and Cooperation in South Eastern Europe: Greece's goals."

    While in Berlin, Meimarakis will meet his German counterpart Dr. Franz Josef Jung, who is patron of the workshop, to discuss defense technology and military cooperation issues, as well as NATO and EU affairs, including Germany's upcoming EU presidency and the 2006 NATO summit in Riga.

    [08] Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis receives Russian ombudsman Vladimir Lukin

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis received Russian Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin at the foreign ministry on Tuesday.

    Lukin began a three-day visit to Greece on the same day in the framework of the "Evnomia" program that is being funded by the Greek government with a special contribution to the Council of Europe's General Rights Department.

    The aim of the program is to contribute to the creation of mediatory institutions in countries of southeastern Europe and to support their functioning.

    During the meeting, attended by Greek ombudsman George Kaminis, Kassimis stressed the importance of the ombudsman institution.

    Lukin informed the deputy foreign minister that Russia, which will assume the presidency of the Council of Europe as of Wednesday, has decided, in cooperation with Greece, to hold the session of Council of Europe member-states ombudsmen in Greece in September on the issue of protection for children's rights.

    Kaminis said on his part that he and his Russian counterpart will examine the possibility of holding the session of European Union member-states ombudsmen on the same issue at the same time.

    [09] Opposition parties call for briefing on Pakistani immigrant abduction issue

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party on Tuesday called for a briefing on the issue of the abduction of Pakistani immigrants.

    KKE Deputies Antonis Skyllakos and Elpida Pantelaki called for the immediate convening of the Parliamentary Public Administration, Public Order and Justice Committee on the issue of the "abduction of the Pakistani immigrants."

    They said that "being a given fact that such dangerous practices are taking place on the ground of various agreements signed at times between our country and the United States and the European Union which place in question basic democratic rights, as well as national sovereignty, we request that the Committee be convened immediately in a special session at which the public order and justice ministers will be present to enable the Committee to be briefed and these issues to be discussed."

    Coalition party leader Alekos Alavanos also tabled a question at the intention of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on the Pakistani abduction issue.

    "What is the current position of the government on the case of the abduction, following the publication of an enquiry by a prosecutor, which fully overturns the government's version so far that no abduction of Pakistanis took place and that in no way have Greek state services been involved in the case," Alavanos asks.

    The Coalition party leader further wishes to be informed on "what measures will be taken for all who participated in the abduction of the Pakistanis and for similar phenomena not to be repeated."

    [10] Report on TOR M1 armament systems forwarded to Parliament

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda on Tuesday announced that a Court of First Instance public prosecutor forwarded to Parliament the penal preliminary file of proceedings which he had conducted regarding the TOR M1 armament systems.

    According to statements by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) deputy and member of the Examining Committee, Andreas Loverdos, who had dealt with the armaments issue, the public prosecutor's report "does not refer to article 86 of the Constitution regarding 'responsibility of ministers' and no prosecution is launched." Loverdos concluded by saying that "with this report, the issue is finally closed, at least as to the part which concerns political figures."

    [11] Karamanlis to chair ND's political council meeting

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) party's political council will convene on Monday under the chairmanship of party President and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Discussions will focus on October's local elections.

    [12] Energy investment of 4.5bln euros seen by 2010

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government is expecting its energy policy to bring sector investment of 4.5 billion euros by 2010, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Tuesday.

    "The central concern of our new energy policy is to strengthen the country's international role in the sector," Sioufas told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

    Policy was centered on deregulation of domestic electricity and natural gas markets, expansion of the natural gas network, use of lignite, and the promotion of large-scale investments in renewable energy and energy saving.

    The government also wanted to make Greece an international transit centre for natural gas, electricity and oil, the minister noted.

    In addition, work had been undertaken to lessen the country's dependence on oil.

    The legislative framework for the country's energy was near completion with a new system for issuing licenses in renewable energy, which, coupled with financial incentives, would help to bring investment of about 2.5 billion euros by 2010.

    Also due shortly was the incorporation of a European Union directive on energy efficiency for buildings that would save energy and create new professions in the labor market.

    Finally, a new framework was being devised for research and extraction of hydrocarbons that would attract fresh investment; and the codification of laws on quarrying and mining, the minister said.

    Due for tendering next week were a mining concession in Vei, Florina; and in June, another mining concession in Elassona. In 2006, other tenders would be called for the creation of three new Gas Supply Companies to handle natural gas for central mainland Greece, central Macedonia, and eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

    In addition, by the end of 2006 an electricity transmission line would be completed linking Greece to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and in 2007, a transmission line to Turkey. Links will also be built to Bulgaria and Italy, Sioufas reported.

    "Not only will Greece's electricity supplies be ensured, but the conditions will be created for the export of electricity produced by (Athens-quoted) Public Power Corporation and private output plants in the immediate future," he noted.

    Sioufas also welcomed work in economic diplomacy for the energy sector conducted by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni and her predecessor, Petros Molyviatis.

    Finally, the minister reported that the cabinet had approved his proposal of appointing the chairman of Public Gas Corporation, Raphael Moyssis, as head of the National Energy Strategy Council.

    [13] D. Daskalopoulos elected new SEB president

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Dimitris Daskalopoulos on Tuesday was elected president of the Federation of Greek Industries, SEB, succeeding Odysseas Kyriakopoulos who concluded his term.

    Addressing a Federation's general assembly before his election, Daskalopoulos (chairman of Delta Holdings) stressed the need for an expanded role of the Federation to become the most prominent institutional representative of the private sector and urged for the need to become more open. "The Federation of Hellenic Industries judges policies and actions and not parties and governments," Daskalopoulos said.

    He said a new challenge of the Federation was to contribute in the creation of a climate of consensus in the country and underlined that Greek employers must gain the right to be able to speak and to be listened to without prejudice.

    Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, the outgoing president, in his speech referred to the landmark of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games saying their success still allowed the country to re-establish itself in the international scene. Kyriakopoulos said Greece needed a strong and competitive economy and noted that globalization was a big challenge for European employers. "We expect our leaders to understand that difference between easily regulated problems and others needed to be dealt with effectively to change an existing status. "In this country, in this continent, where everyone philosophized and questioning, the future will be judged by decisions and actions taken by visionaries and brave people," he said.

    Theodore Fessas, FHI's secretary-general, presented a survey on Greece's 1,000 top enterprises, compiled by McKinsey. The survey showed that, despite a difficult competitive environment, there were examples of very successful enterprises which followed consistently different but effective strategies and in particular those which focused on international expansion, while innovative enterprises ensured 30 percent of their revenues from new products.

    The Federation also presented an updated survey, compiled by Boston Consulting Group, on the factors determining economic development in the country and evaluating reform progress. The updated survey highlights progress made in business infrastructure, deregulation of markets, privatizations and public sector enterprises, while it stresses a significant deficit in business competitiveness.

    The survey said Greece remained the most expensive and most bureaucratic country in the EU-15 for business start ups. The country's tax regime, although it was converging with the EU-15, remained non competitive, while progress has been made in the labor market by adopting more flexibility. Low competitiveness was related with the quality of education and insufficient training of human resources.

    The survey recommended 18 actions to maintain economic growth rates above 4.0 percent annually. These included: simpler procedures, privatizations and opening up of competitive markets, lesser state, a gradual coding of legislation, supporting of investments, reducing tax burden on enterprises, transparency, improving a framework on holding companies, more flexibility in labor markets.

    SEB's new presidency includes: Dimitris Daskalopoulos (president), Evlogimenos Euripides (vice-president), Karamouzis Nikos (vice-president), Kyriazis Charis (vice-president), Mitrogiannopoulou Dimitra (vice-president), Spiliopoulos Vassilis (vice-president), Fessas Theodore (vice-president), Lavidas Thanassis (secretary-general), and Tavoularis Yiannis (exchequer).

    [14] Greek economy to grow around 4% in 2006, statistics service

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's National Statistics Service (NSS) on Tuesday said it expected economic growth to remain strong at around 4.0 percent this year, after recording a 4.0-percent increase in the first quarter of 2006.

    Speaking to reporters, NSS's secretary-general Emmanuel Kontopyrakis said the Greek economy would grow at around 4.0 percent, supported by high export growth and higher tourist arrivals in the country.

    Kontopyrakis said he did not expect any decline in building activity this year.

    [15] Parliament briefed on broad band proliferation in country

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Greek citizen pays more expensively and receives speeds and services of a lower level than the average European citizen as regards the so-called fast Internet and broad band services, said National Telecommunications and Post Offices Committee President (EETT) Nikitas Alexandridis, briefing Tuesday the members of the Special Permanent Parliamentary Research and Technology Committee on the issue of broad band proliferation in Greece.

    According to Alexandridis, the most effective way of achieving a considerable decrease in prices is the development of healthy competition, while attributing slow broad band development to such factors as the absence of alternative networks, the lack of business initiatives, the legal framework, digital illiteracy and technophobia.

    He also said that the EETT is making considerable efforts for the development of competition in the specific market, adding that moves and decisions are required at a high political level on a long-term and consensual policy for broad band proliferation to enable Greece to become an Internet power in Europe by the year 2020 and a country providing high technology services.

    [16] Forum on business ties between Greece, China

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A forum on Greece and China as economic and trade partners for the future will be held in Athens on May 23.

    The meeting is arranged by the Greek-Chinese Chamber of Trade and Industry and the Greece-China Business Council. It will be held under the aegis of the foreign ministries of the two countries.

    The meeting falls within a visit to Athens by the president of China's parliament, Wu Bangguo and the country's deputy minister of trade, Yu Guangzhou.

    [17] EasyHotels announce expansion into Mideast, North Africa, India, Pakistan

    17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    EasyHotel, a member of easyGroup, on Tuesday announced its expansion into the Middle East, North Africa, India and Pakistan with the signing of a franchising agreement with Istithmar Hotels, a subsidiary of Dubai-based Istithmar PJSC, for the creation of 38 easyHotels over the next five years.

    Under the agreement, Istithmar will offer access to easyHotel into the Arab-speaking world and the Indian sub-continent.

    EasyHotel projects to open hotels in Dubai (six), India (eight), Saudi Arabia (three), Lebanon (two), Egypt (two) and one in Shrarjah, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Qatar, Morocco, Turkey, Syria, Libya, Jordan, Tunisia and Algeria.

    Each hotel will have a capacity of 80 to 120 rooms.

    "Istithmar Hotels will manage our expansion in the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian sub-continent, as part of our strategy to expand worldwide through cooperations with international players," easyGroup chief Stelios Hadjioannou told reporters.

    [18] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise in volatile trade

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 4,114.65 points, showing a rise of 0.31%. Turnover was 791.2 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.21% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.03% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 2.48% down.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 175 to 107 with 36 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): OTE (1458)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 288.0 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.32% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bond: 3.99%

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (820 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.0 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.292

    [19] Abducted headmaster of German School freed

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The headmaster of the German School in Thessaliniki, Macedonia, who was held hostage during several hours on Tuesday, was freed late on Tuesday afternoon.

    Police told ANA-MPA that the armed man who forced his way into the city's German School and held its headmaster hostage was identified as Constantinos Arambatzis, 52. Arambatzis let free the school's headmaster but is still at large.

    The man entered the school, which lies east of the city, at 13:30 holding a suitcase that he claimed was filled with explosives. He marched straight into the headmaster's office, forcing him and another man who was present to follow him. He then boarded a car and departed from the school, heading in an unknown direction.

    A short distance from the school he released one of the two men and was holding the headmaster.

    Teachers, who became aware of the kidnapping, safely evacuated the roughly 550 pupils that were in classes at the time of the abduction.

    Abductor of German school director gives himself up: The abductor of 52-year-old Thessaloniki German School director Joachim Voegeding gave himself up at the Kassavetia prison in Volos, central Greece, on Tuesday evening.

    The wanted man, Constantine Arambatzis, was serving a prison sentence and in the past few days he had been given leave. Arambatzis had been sentenced by a court in Thessaloniki to 24 years in jail in 1999 for abducting and blackmailing three Germans to write off debts he had with German banks.

    The abductor released Voegeding in the region of Oreokastro at about 7 p.m. and headed for Volos where he gave himself up. Before releasing the school's director, Arambatzis had also released the school's foreman Xenofontas Altidis in the region of Thermi in Thessaloniki, whom he had abducted together with Voegeding.

    [20] Talks in progress for return of antiquities to Greece by Getty Museum

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Discussions are in progress between representatives of Los Angeles' Getty Museum and Culture Ministry officials in order for the two sides to appoint representatives who will discuss the solution of pending matters for the return of antiquities to Greece in the near future.

    The meeting was held at the ministry on Tuesday in the presence of Culture Minister George Voulgarakis and Getty Museum director Michael Brand.

    According to a ministry announcement, "the satisfaction of the Greek side's requests will render possible a fruitful cooperation which will include long-term loans of works of art."

    The Museum's representatives agreed to recommend to the Foundation's board the return of a part of the contested antiquities.

    Voulgarakis also met at the ministry on Tuesday with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz with whom he discussed issues of mutual interest, with emphasis on the sector of culture.

    [21] Treasures from Mount Athos to be exhibited in Helsinki

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Treasures from the monastic community of Mount Athos are to be exhibited for the first time outside of Greece. The exhibition will be held at the Helsinki City Art Museum.

    The artifacts and treasures of Byzantine art which have been gathered for this exhibition come, apart from the monasteries of Mount Athos, also from 15 other European museums, spanning a period of about 1,000 years.

    The noteworthy and at a world level exhibition "Athos-Monastic life at Mount Athos", coincides with the start of Finland's presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2006.

    The exhibition will be inaugurated on August 17 and is expected to last until January 21, 2007.

    Parallel with the exhibition will be international seminars about Mount Athos with the participation of many experts.

    [22] Kevin Spacey honored by Greek embassy in Washington

    17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Oscar-award-winning actor Kevin Spacey was the honored guest at a reception held last week at the residence of the Greek ambassador in the United States, Alexandros Mallias.

    The Hollywood star was in Washington D.C. to receive the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, the Will Award.

    Mallias praised Spacey for his achievements on the big screen and his devotion to classical theatre, especially his contributions as the artistic director of London's Old Vic theatre.

    Among the most recent productions of the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington is Aeschylus' "Persians", which was funded by the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation.

    [23] Public prosecutors to hold conference on 'Combating of human trafficking'

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Union of Public Prosecutors of Greece, in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and under the auspices of the foreign ministry, will hold a conference on the island of Rhodes on May 20-21 on the theme "The combating of human trafficking".

    The sessions of the conference, which will be held at a central hotel, will be opened by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, while a message of greeting will be sent by Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras.

    Taking part will be 170 public prosecutors from all over Greece.

    [24] Crete to host congress on artificial intelligence

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The 4th Panhellenic Congress on Artificial Intelligence will be held at Iraklio, Crete, from May 18-20.

    The congress, which will be held at a central hotel, is organized by the Greek Society of Artificial Intelligence (EETN) in cooperation with the Informatics Institute of the Technology and Research Foundation and the Computer Science Department of Crete University.

    [25] Deputy Culture Minister Orfanos attends meeting in Sofia of Balkan sports ministers

    SOFIA, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Bulgaria's Sports Minister Vesela Letseva spoke to ANA-MPA on Tuesday on the results of a meeting in Sofia by senior government officials responsible for sports from five Balkan countries.

    Greece in 2005 had proposed the staging in the future of sporting events in southeast Europe. They would be organized in a city of the region's country which will host them so as to upgrade infrastructure and also give the opportunity to people to watch at close-hand a major sporting event. The athletes would be between the ages of 16 and 19.

    "Greece's proposal is worthy of every interest but also of serious study. Because through its utilization, the experience of the Balkan countries in the organization of the Balkan Games in the recent past will help in the success of the new games with the participation of other countries as well of the broader region. As well as for the friendship of the athletes and of our peoples," Letseva told ANA-MPA.

    "The Greek experience in hosting the Olympic Games can prove invaluable for Bulgaria which is contesting to host the Winter Olympiad of 2014," said Letseva to a question regarding cooperation between Athens and Sofia in the sector of sports and specifically, in the utilization on the part of the Bulgarian side of Greece's experience in the 2004 Olympic Games.

    On his part, Greek Deputy Culture Minister responsible for sports, George Orfanos, who represented Greece at the meeting in Sofia, said:” Today we are continuing a discussion which started in December 2005 in Thessaloniki and was placed anew on the table on a level of experts in Athens last March."

    Orfanos discussed with Letseva and with other Bulgarian officials the directions for further expanding exchange programs and of other forms of cooperation between the higher educational institutions of Greece specialized in sports.

    During his three-day visit to Bulgaria, Orfanos visited the National Sports Academy in Sofia.

    [26] Cypriot President says Turkey seeking to avoid EU evaluation

    NICOSIA, 17/5/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos on Tuesday said that the aim of Turkey is to avoid its evaluation by the EU regarding its obligations, adding that Turkey will find itself in a difficult position if it undergoes the scrutiny provided for by the 21 September 2005 decision, known as the EU counterstatement to Turkey's unilateral declaration that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

    ''Turkey's aim is to avoid this examination. Since September 21, when the relevant decision of the EU Council was made, we had stressed to the people how important this decision was and how useful a tool it would be in our effort to promote the fulfillment by Turkey of the obligations it undertook through its negotiating framework both towards the EU and Cyprus,'' he said.

    Commenting on information that Turkey was seeking to postpone its evaluation, President Papadopoulos said Ankara, in one way or another, wants to avoid this examination, ''and it is natural for us to try, and we are already trying with various contacts and explanation of our positions, to tackle this tendency.''

    ''I believe Turkey will find itself in a very difficult position if it is called upon to undergo the scrutiny the 21 September 2005 decision imposes,'' he added.

    Replying to questions, President Papadopoulos said the EU member states consider it Turkey's obligation to be evaluated.

    Asked if Cyprus was considering the option of blocking the opening of new negotiating chapters for Turkey if its progress is not assessed in October, President Papadopoulos said he was not going to announce Cyprus' stance.

    Commenting on the situation, Government Spokesman George Lillikas said ''some countries, very few, would want a postponement of Turkey's evaluation by the Council in October,'' adding that ''there is a very large group of countries that want Turkey to be assessed and judged, just like all the other candidate countries.''

    Replying to questions, Lillikas said that ''it is during this period that the countries will form their final positions, from now until the summer in my opinion.''

    ''However, there is a previous binding decision by the Council, in any case, for the evaluation to take place within the year 2006. This decision has not been retracted or cancelled by any other Council decision,'' he pointed out.

    [27] Cyprus will not consent to postponement of Turkey's EU course evaluation

    ATHENS, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou said on Tuesday that Cyprus will not consent to a possible request by Turkey to postpone the evaluation of its EU accession course, adding that a European Council decision was necessary for such a move.

    Speaking at Larnaca Airport on his return from Brussels, where he participated in the EU General Affairs Council, Iacovou said ''no discussion was held regarding Turkey and its obligations'' towards the EU, adding that the European Commission must prepare a report and submit it to the General Affairs Council so that it can be discussed in October.

    ''We encourage the Commission to prepare the report the soonest possible, so the Council will not have any excuse but to discuss it as soon as it receives it from the European Commission,'' he noted.

    Replying to questions, Iacovou said Turkey has not officially requested the postponement of the discussion on its accession course.

    Asked what the Republic of Cyprus would do if Turkey did put forward such a request, Iacovou said a European Council decision was needed and that ''Cyprus, as part of this Council, will not consent.''

    Replying to questions, Iacovou said no pressure had been exerted on Cyprus in this direction and that ''only one or two countries want such a postponement.''

    [28] Looting of cultural treasures in occupied Cyprus detailed in Washington

    WASHINGTON, 17/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The noted book "War and Culture Heritage: Cyprus after the 1974 Turkish Invasion", which painfully describes the cultural pillaging and destruction in occupied Cyprus, was presented in the US capital's renowned National Press Club this week by its author, journalist Michael Jansen.

    In her remarks, Jansen referred to the situation in the occupied territories as a crime against civilization and humanity, while she also referred to the looting of cultural treasures in Iraq and an illegal international antiquities trade.

    The author was presented by Cyprus' ambassador to Washington Evripides Evriviades.

    Jansen is also scheduled to speak on the same issue to US House of Representatives during a luncheon hosted by the Greek-American organization AHEPA.

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