|Sunday, 20 September 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-05-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 23, 2006
 PM Costas Karamanlis addresses OECD Forum in Paris
PARIS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Forum here on Monday, said that as regards the issue of globalization "the common target is achieving benefits, their fair distribution to all countries and maintaining them in the long run."
Karamanlis added that "to enable citizens in all countries to enjoy an increased income and a higher standard of living, to bridge and not widen the gap between the rich and the poor, to safeguard the right to work and social protection."
The prime minister stressed that "the unprecedented increase in global transactions in goods, services, ideas and communications being observed in our times constitutes a historical continuation and not a circumstantial conjuncture", while referring to the most important economic and political events of the last 20 years which contributed to this direction. "An unprecedented development momentum in many parts of the world has emerged after all this. At the same time, however, concern has been created over the uncertainty in employment, social exclusion, the widening of imbalances, the threat of terrorism, safe energy supply and the environment. However, regardless of convictions prevailing, globalization constitutes a composition of opportunities and challenges," he said.
Karamanlis further underlined that globalization "can be reined in and directed carefully for the benefit of the world community. However, targeted and active national policies are necessary. International cooperation is necessary. Efforts for common targets are necessary. The speed and the extent of changes do not allow negligence and delays."
He also referred to a phrase by Darwin to describe opportunities: "the one who survives is not the strongest or the cleverest, but he who responds to changes in a better way."
Karamanlis went on to say that "the impressive development of southeastern Europe is an indicative example. A region with a turbulent past which, however, has chosen a very promising future with its adjustment and its incorporation in the international economy."
Referring to Greece, the prime minister said that "Greece, being the only member of the European Union in the region is actively encouraging cooperation in many sectors, such as transport, entrepreneurship, trade, tourism and energy. The region is developing into an international energy centre through coordinated actions, improving the development momentum and strengthening its international presence."
Karamanlis also reiterated his determination to forge ahead with reforms, saying that "on the contrary, countries that do not dare to adopt successful reforms, countries that do not improve their competitiveness face great difficulties in safeguarding the benefits of global integration."
PM to chair OECD ministerial council on Tuesday: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will chair the annual ministerial Council of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) taking place in Paris on Tuesday and Wednesday on the theme "Delivering Prosperity", alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced on Monday.
According to Antonaros, Greece last chaired the OECD ministerial council in 1976 and, in its role as the presidency, has made a decisive contribution to the selection of topics under discussion.
In addition to the ministerial council, there will also be an OECD Forum held in Paris until Tuesday, where speakers will have an opportunity to exchange views on balancing globalization.
 Alogoskoufis urges action against unemployment at OECD forum
PARIS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday called for action to boost growth in the world's economies that will tackle unemployment and social exclusion, stressing that there was no room for complacency.
The Greek minister is currently in Paris to attend the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Council on May 23-24, which this year is chaired by Greece for the first time since 1976, and to attend the OECD Forum on May 22-23.
Alogoskoufis was the first speaker at the opening plenary panel of the OECD Forum on the topic "Balancing Globalization".
He stressed the need for immediate OECD actions and cooperation to help tackle the problems of the global economy, with policies targeting growth that will lower unemployment and social exclusion, while noting that the necessary reforms taking place on an international level should be carried out in a consensual way and after better coordination of efforts between states, organizations and the agencies involved.
The Greek minister also stated that global economic integration should be seen as a challenge and dealt with in a balanced way, so that there were more opportunities for the diffusion of wealth.
Asked to comment on current pressures on emerging stock markets, he said it was premature to talk of a crisis, describing the trends as a 'correction'.
Later on Monday, Alogoskoufis was scheduled to meet French Economy, Finance and Industry Minister Thierry Breton and to chair talks between international employer and employment organizations.
 Positive OECD report on Greece, finmin says
PARIS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday that a report on the economy by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is favorable.
The annual report is due for release on Tuesday, Alogoskoufis told reporters in the French capital.
"The report is compatible with that of the European Union, which was recently released, as it raises no question of exceeding the 3% ceiling for the (fiscal) deficit (as proportion of GDP) in 2006. For 2007, the OECD report is much more moderate that the EU's estimates," Alogoskoufis said.
"There are favorable assessments for growth and reform. This is a very satisfactory report and I believe that the positive elements of the Greek economy are referred to in a balanced manner, along with the possible risks on the medium-term horizon," he added.
 FM Dora Bakoyannis departs for Helsinki for talks with Finnish counterpart
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis departed from Athens for Helsinki, Finland, on Monday for talks with her Finnish counterpart Erkki Tuomioja on Tuesday in light of Finland's assumption of the European Union presidency in the second half of the current year, according to a foreign ministry press release.
On Wednesday May 24, the minister will be in Paris to be given an award by the Sports Academy (Academie des Sports) for the work she had done as Athens mayor during the Olympic Games in 2004, as well as for her contribution to the spreading of Francophony.
 ND Political Council convenes on municipal and prefectural elections
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The nominee selection criteria and party strategy for the upcoming municipal and prefectural elections were defined by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing the political council of his ruling New Democracy party (ND) on Monday.
We have backed and continue to back people based on their abilities rather than on their party affiliation. The political parties have their preferences but Local Government has its own momentum and is not trapped inside rigid party limits, stated the prime minister.
Referring to the overall government policy, he said that Local Government is backed both institutionally and financially adding that all outstanding issues have been settled and ND has confidence in the Local Government people.
Karamanlis stated that most of the Fourth Community Support Framework funds, 80%, will be channeled to the Greek periphery, stressing that this is "both a choice and a commitment”.
He pointed out that the government was proceeding to changing the administrative structure through dialogue while the economic support to the periphery is a given fact. Referring to the government policy in general, the prime minister stated that the government is in the middle of a reform effort and the messages coming in are positive, adding that the messages received on the economy are encouraging.
Referring to education, he said that the reform program was proceeding, and stressed that the government seeks dialogue and a good atmosphere because it has no reason to want tension and polarization.
 New Democracy announces candidates for local elections
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The ruling New Democracy party on Monday announced a list of candidates it will back in the upcoming local authority elections, after a meeting of ND's Political Council chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
It released a list of candidates for 41 prefectures and 35 municipalities that are also prefecture capitals, as well as six larger Greek cities. Still pending is the selection of ND's candidates for 11 prefectures and the Athens-Piraeus supra-prefecture that are to be announced in June.
In the three largest cities, ND will back Nikitas Kaklamanis for mayor of Athens, and present incumbents Vassilis Papageorgopoulos and Christos Agrapidis in Thessaloniki and Piraeus.
In the Drama-Kavala-Xanthi supra-prefecture, the party will back the present supra-prefect Costas Tsatsis for re-election and the head of the Orestiada Sugar Factory Stephanos Spasis for the Evros-Rodopi Supra-prefecture.
Current prefects Panagiotis Psomiadis (Thessaloniki), Leonidas Kouris (East Attica) will be backed once again for re-election and current Aspropyrgos Mayor Georgios Liakos will be the party's candidate for West Attica Prefect.
Not running for re-election are the ND-backed prefects of Imathia, Arta, Lefkada and Fokida.
 European People's Party representatives meet in Rhodes
23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)A meeting of chiefs of the European People's Party's (EPP) Political Campaigns, jointly organized by the ruling New Democracy party's International Relations Secretariat, ND's Political Planning Secretariat and the EPP, began on the island of Rhodes on Monday.
The meeting, due to continue on Tuesday, is being attended by 20 representatives from 16 parties.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis inaugurated the meeting, stressing in a statement that it was an interesting opportunity to explain the positions of New Democracy and the positions of the government on the efforts being made to enable Europe to forge ahead in all sectors.
"New Democracy has been playing a very active role in the EPP for many years and we are glad to be able to proceed together in the direction of a stronger Europe," the deputy minister said.
 Bucharest prepares for Black Sea dialogue forum
BUCHAREST, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Romanian Foreign Minister Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu this week detailed the goals of the Black Sea Forum for Dialogue and Partnership that will be held here on June 5.
The event is a political initiative by Romanian President Traian Basescu to offer a forum to the region's leaders for discussion of problems faced by their countries and to consider future regional initiatives.
The presidents of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova have confirmed their participation, while confirmation from Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey and Ukraine is pending.
 Greece on results of Montenegro referendum
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Commenting on the results of the Montenegro referendum over the weekend, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Monday stressed that Greece always did its utmost to maintain a climate of stability, peace and tranquility in the Balkan region but could not, of course, dictate how a people should express their will.
Asked whether a Montenegrin vote for independence from Serbia might undermine Balkan stability, Antonaros said there had been several Greek initiatives, including a strong economic presence by Greece in the region, to keep the situation stable.
 Gov't dismisses latest press claim over alleged abductions
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government on Monday was once again called on to answer press questions related to the alleged abduction and interrogation of nearly a score of Pakistani men in Athens following the deadly London bombings in July 2005, an issue that surfaced after the foreign nationals claimed they were picked up, incarcerated at an unknown location, interrogated over possible terrorism links and subsequently released.
Responding to a question over a press article over the weekend citing a purported link between the alleged abductions and members of Greece's intelligence services, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros flatly dismissed the article's main point, namely, that the Greek Intelligence Service (EYP) had leased a "safe-house" in the Syntagma square area of the Athens capital for such covert operations.
The claim comprised a front-page story in the Sunday edition of the "Eleftherotypia" newspaper.
Antonaros also stressed that EYP has no presence at a host centre for asylum-seekers in Lavrio, extreme southeast Attica prefecture, another contention in the same press article.
Finally, he underlined that Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras' statements in Parliament last week on the same issue, in the wake of a tabled question by Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos, fully covers the government.
 University rectors meet PM, exchange views on private universities, funding
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday had a meeting with the rectors of Greek universities, in the presence of Education Minister Marietta Yannakou and deputy education minister Spyros Taliadouros.
Athens University rector Georgios Babiniotis afterwards said that they had asked the prime minister to make universities fully self-governing on an academic, financial and administrative level and had also discussed a revision of the Constitution that will henceforth allow the establishment of non-profit universities that do not belong to the state sector.
According to Babiniotis, rectors are not against lifting the Constitutional ban on private universities as such but stressed that these must operate to the same high standards as state universities in order to have the same prestige and will not, by themselves, solve the problems that currently assail tertiary education.
Regarding the asylum status currently held by Greek universities, Babiniotis said that responsibility will go to the universities but that details were not discussed.
Finally, the talks with the prime minister focused on the issue of funding, with rectors outlining their current problems and what they need. Specifically, they asked for greater autonomy and mechanisms for universities to fund themselves, as well as the use of endowments and special fund-raising accounts.
"We want the right to handle these with greater freedom and less bureaucracy, and all this was understood," Babiniotis said.
According to alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, the two sides found they had "identical views regarding the basic axes and principles of policy for universities," during the meeting.
"We all want universities with broad horizons, ensured high quality of study and research, with international prestige. Universities that will be able to enter into cooperation within and outside of Greece, which are finally in a position to make use of the huge potential of Greek scientists that excel abroad," he added.
The spokesman also noted that university budgets will for the first time this year increase by 13.5 per cent, while stressing that much remained to be done.
 Alternate government spokesman speaks in Vienna of Greece's participation in EU
VIENNA, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greek alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, addressing an event held at the historic Diplomatic Academy of Vienna on Greece's 25-year membership of the European Union, referred to the strategic target of the country's accession to the EU.
Antonaros also underlined Greece's benefits that are resulting from its participation in the European family, the Greek role being played in the EU and the wider region and the great qualitative reform which the present government is aiming at.
The successful event, attended by dozens of representatives of Austria's public life, diplomats and about 500 guests, included speeches and a roundtable discussion on Greece's 25-year membership of the EU, the presentation of Greek literature and of a live Greek music program and the watching on a video wall of the final phase of the 51st Eurovision song contest from Athens on Saturday night.
Antonaros further said that today, 25 years later, the overwhelming majority of Greek men and women, as well as almost all of the country's political forces, adopt Greece's European orientation.
The alternate government spokesman also pointed out that they recognize at the same time that Greece was one of the countries that benefited most from European structures and that its participation in the European family contributed decisively to its enjoying unprecedented levels of democracy, prosperity, security and social development.
 Stylianidis addresses 3rd annual 'Diplomacy' conference
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Monday outlined the role that Greece seeks to undertake through its economic and developmental diplomacy in the Balkan region, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, while addressing the 3rd annual conference organized by the magazine "Diplomacy" on the theme "Security and Defense in the 21st century".
According to Stylianidis, Athens based its policies on political, developmental and economic diplomacy, seeking to make utmost use of its advantages to adopt a peacemaking role, since peace could not exist without prosperity and stability, development and democracy.
Greece offered 0.24 per cent of state revenue, or €464 million, for projects in developing countries, especially those in its immediate neighborhood, he said. This made Greece the biggest donor to the Balkan region at this time, in addition to a major developmental program of €500 million in subsidies for Greek and mixed business enterprises investing in Southeastern Europe.
He also emphasized the strong presence of Greek banking and construction-sector firms in the region and Greek economic activity in Turkey, especially in energy and services, that had led to a 40 per cent jump in exports to Turkey this year.
 Moslem Union of Greece representatives visit education ministry
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Representatives of the Moslem Union of Greece visited the education ministry on Monday and met with special secretary Athanasios Kyriazis, officially requesting the opening of a mosque in Athens.
Speaking to reporters, they said that signatures have already been collected from Moslems who are requesting the opening of their own place of worship and that it should be under state control.
The special secretary assured them that a decision has already been taken for a mosque to open in Athens as soon as possible.
 Greek agriculture minister calls for protection of European organic farming
BRUSSELS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Any measures for the co-existence of genetically modified products, conventional and organic farming should fully secure conventional and organic cultivations and offer safe, quality products to the European consumers, Greece's Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos said here on Monday at the EU Council of Farm Ministers.
Regarding the request of Sweden, Britain, the Czech Republic and Lithuania concerning the opening of imports of cheap olive oil to the European market, Basiakos called on the Council and the European Commission to avoid any move which could undermine the income and qualitative gains of Greek olive oil producers.
On organic farming, Basiakos proposed to the Council for adjustments to be made on rules in this sector, so as to avoid the presence of genetically modified organisms in organic products. He underlined that European organic farming must be protected from the import of "questionable quality" organic products from third countries.
 Igoumenitsa cargo centre project requires 150 million euro investment
23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The creation of the planned cargo centre at the port of Igoumenitsa will require an investment of 150 million euros, approximately half of which will be raised through borrowing via the European Investment Bank (EIB), secretary general for ports and port policy George Vlachos revealed on Monday, addressing a day-event of the 2nd "Transport and Logistics" international exhibition in Thessaloniki.
For the materialization of the project, which Vlachos says could prospectively be advanced "gradually, within a year's time", the establishment of a stockholders' company of private concerns, in cooperation with the Igoumenitsa Port Authority (OLIG), was being mulled.
The access road to the OLIG appeared to be linked with the course of completion of the Via Egnatia highway, due in early 2009, given that the OLG's plans are greatly founded on the new prospects to arise from the road link, and would be difficult to materialize if the Via Egnatia was not completed, according to OLIG managing director Apostolos Kamarinakis.
One the sidelines of the exhibition, Kamarinakis told ANA-MPA that the OLIG intended to set up two subsidiary companies, one for the cargo centre and the "unescorted cargo", and one for the tourism-related exploitation of the five smaller ports in the wider region, which will be converted into marinas and terminals for cruise ships, which will in turn boost the local tourism destinations.
Indeed, a viability study has already been assigned for the two subsidiaries, and the results of the first of the two studies, which concerns the network of marinas, were positive, according to Kamarinakis.
In any event, completion of the Via Egnatia was directly linked with the OLIG's plans, Kamarinakis said, adding that after consultations he had with the management of the Egnatia Odos consortium, he was optimistic that the Egnatia Odos would be fully completed by early 2009, Kamarinakis said.
The OLIG's proposal concerns the creation of a bipolar or tripolar cargo centre, with emphasis on the perishable goods, which is of particular importance given that it will be the only one of its kind in the wider region. At the same time, the OLIG was also mulling the future creation of a network of corresponding centers in the Balkans, while a relevant proposal has already been submitted by the chairman of the Varna port authority, he continued.
Kamarinakis further noted that 80 percent of world trade was seaborne, while 42 percent of trade within the EU was conducted with short-distance maritime.
Studies and surveys have shown that the size of seaborne transports was expected to triple globally over the coming decade.
 Growth double eurozone average
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greek growth is more than double the eurozone average, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Monday.
Gross domestic product grew by 4.0% in the first quarter of 2006 despite the petrol crisis, Sioufas told a meeting of the Greek Corporate Management Association.
According to a report by IMD on competitiveness released recently, Greece has reversed a downward trend over the past five years to rise five places in global rankings versus a year earlier, reaching 42nd position among 61 countries and regions, the minister reported.
In addition, Greece showed the third best rate of improvement after China and India, he added.
 BSTDB general assembly next month in Baku
23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Thessaloniki-based Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) will hold its 8th annual board of governors meeting and the Black Sea business day conference in Baku, Azerbaijan on June 11-12.
The events are organized under the auspices of the Azerbaijan government.
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev will inaugurate the business day conference, expected to focus on the role of the financial sector in economic development and investment opportunities in agri-business and food processing, as well as infrastructure development in the wider region.
Speakers will include Azeri government officials, high-level representatives of international financial institutions, as well as regional investors and entrepreneurs.
BSTDB is an international financial institution established by Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Since its establishment, the development bank BSTDB has an estimated credit of US$715 million in its active portfolio.
 Amendment to land registry draft bill
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The environment and town planning ministry on Monday added an amendment to a draft bill envisioning modifications to the long-delayed national land registry project, specifically centering on researchers' remuneration, project tender procedures as well as depictions of underground metro networks, stations, surface depots along with the Egnatia motorway across the breadth of northern Greece and its related road axes -- constructed or planned.
 Greek trade deficit at €5 billion in Jan-Feb, Eurostat finds
BRUSSELS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece's trade deficit in the first two months of 2006 reached €5.0 billion, up €500 million in relation to the same period in 2005, according to figures released by the European statistics agency Eurostat on Monday.
Eurostat said that Greek exports in January-February 2006 came to €2.4 billion and imports during the same period were €7.3 billion. This increased the Greek trade deficit from €4.5 billion to €5.0 billion.
In relation to January-February 2005, Greek exports increased 24 per cent (from €1.9 billion to €2.4 billion) and imports increased by 15 per cent (from €6.4 billion to €7.3 billion).
The EU countries with the largest trade surplus in Jan-Feb 2006 were Germany (€24.9 billion), the Netherlands (€5.5 billion) and Ireland (€4.5 billion), while those with the largest trade deficit were the U.K. (€18 billion), Spain (€13 billion) and Italy (€7.1 billion), while Greece ranked fifth.
The Eurozone had a €1.2 billion trade surplus with the rest of the world in that period, while the 25 EU member-states had a net trade deficit of €12.1 billion.
 Thrace 2006 trade fair opens in Komotini this week
23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The 15th annual Thrace 2006 Trade Fair opens in Komotini, northeastern Greece, on Thursday. The event is organized by the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) organization and will last until May 28, with more than 100 exhibitors expected to participate.
Pavilions with farm equipment, textile products, ready-to-wear clothing, footwear, interior design items, household items, folk art, transports, electronic and telecoms equipment will be featured.
One of the goals of this year's exhibition is to increase the participation of foreign exhibitors from neighboring Bulgaria and Turkey.
 PASOK party official comments on buyout of Turkish Finansbank
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK party finance sector chief Vasso Papandreou, speaking during a press conference on Monday, raised questions regarding the strategic expansion of the National Bank to Turkey through the buyout of the Turkish Finansbank.
Papandreou also spoke of unanswered questions concerning both the final cost of the buyout and the operational plan of the Greek bank.
She also criticized the fact that the National Bank's governor has refused to brief the Greek Parliament, while a briefing by the Bank of Greece's governor scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed.
Papandreou pointed out that PASOK is not opposed to the National Bank's initiative to extend its activities abroad, but requested that the decision-making centre must definitely remain in the country.
 Arab-Greek business forum in Athens
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The country's first Arab-Greek economic forum will be held in Athens on September 14-15.
The purpose of the meeting is to sound out and boost economic cooperation between Greece and the Arab countries, organizers told a news conference on Monday.
The event will be held under the aegis of the foreign ministry and the General Union of Commercial, Industrial and Agricultural Chambers among the Arab countries.
Deputy Foreign Minister Euripides Stylianidis said that Greece maintains excellent political ties with the Arab countries but economic links were not at a satisfactory level.
"The government wants to strengthen bilateral relations, increase the volume of trade and Greek exports, and sign bilateral agreements that would spur investments and lift any obstacles," Stylianidis noted.
According to the Lebanese ambassador in Athens, William Habib, this will be the first organized and serious event to pave the way for an anticipated expansion of trade and economic ties between Greece and the Arab countries.
"Greece can be a gateway for the Arab countries into Europe," he added.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks plunge in selloff
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Athens share index closed at 3,649.02 points, showing a decline of 5.92%. Turnover was 500.7 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 5.64% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 7.81% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 8.98% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 290 to 10 with 10 remaining unchanged.
Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers
Foreign Exchange Rates: Tuesday
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.285
 Gov't pleased with Eurovision hosting, cites massive int'l promotion
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government on Monday expressed its absolute satisfaction with Saturday's hosting of the 51st Eurovision Song Contest in Athens, dismissing mostly opposition and local press criticism over the event's budget and artistic merits, among others.
The annual pan-European event this year was organized by the Greek state-run broadcasting network (ERT) at the Athens Olympic Complex's (OAKA) indoor stadium, given that a Greek performer had won first place at the 2005 Eurovision finals in Kiev last year.
"The Eurovision contest's hosting was immaculate, and the result today is judged as positive from every angle, especially in terms of the country's promotion abroad," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said, adding:
"The event's financial results will be presented very soon at a press conference by ERT president Mr. (Christos) Panagopoulos, however, the balance sheet of such an event cannot be measured only in strict numbers. Thirty television spots promoting Greece were shown on Saturday evening during the course of the three-hour show. In television time this corresponds to advertising worth 250 million euros, and this must surely be calculated," Antonaros said during his regular press briefing.
 Permanent prehistoric exhibition opens at Thasos Archaeological Museum
23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)A new permanent exhibition of prehistoric antiquities was inaugurated at Thasos Archaeological Museum on Sunday, May 21.
The exhibition is on display in the new wing of the archaeological museum complex in Limenas, the capital of the north Aegean island of Thasos. The entrance of the new wing is just behind an imposing 3.5 meters-tall statue of a kouros holding a ram, most likely depicting the ancient Greek god Apollo.
Everyday life objects dating back to the prehistoric era are on display in a 70-square-meter area. The museum visitors will have the opportunity to admire from up close vessels and tools used in everyday chores around the house and in the fields as well as a completely restored prehistoric residence.
 Conference on natural disasters prevention and management
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)A one-day conference on "Prevention and Management of Natural Disasters - The role of the state" will be held in Athens on Wednesday, May 24.
The main speakers at the conference will be Civil Protection General Secretary Panagiotis Fourlas, Earthquake Planning and Protection Organization (OASP) president and National and Capodistrian University of Athens professor Constantine Makropoulos and National and Capodistrian University of Athens professor Efthymios Lekkas.
 Greek youths hosted in Turkish summer camps for first time
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greek teens will be hosted in Turkish summer camps for the first time ever this year after a decision reached by Beyoglou (Peran) Mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan and Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis.
The 25 youths from Thessaloniki, aged between 15 and 17, will be accompanied by four escorts, and will arrive in Turkey at the end of July for a 15-day stay at a seaside camp some two hours from Istanbul
During the same period, 25 school youths from Turkey will arrive in Greece -- the third year in a row that teens from the neighboring country will be hosted -- under a program organized by the Thessaloniki prefecture. The Turkish teens will be hosted in private summer camps in verdant Halkidiki prefecture of northern Greece.
A total of 600 youths from various Black Sea countries have been hosted in Halkidiki summer camps within the framework of the program, which is managed by the interior ministry and the Greeks Abroad General Secretariat.
 Nearly 100 illegal migrants intercepted in 2 separate instances
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Border guards in Xanthi, northeast Greece, arrested three alleged migrant smugglers and 73 illegal immigrants of different nationalities on Sunday evening, according to reports.
Authorities arrested a 29-year-old Albanian, his 38-year-old wife and a second Albanian, 37, after spotting the trio in a town in the Kavala prefecture. Another man is wanted by the police in connection with the case.
The three suspects reportedly used a refrigerator truck with forged license plates in an attempt to illegally transport 73 Third World migrants into the country.
Meanwhile, another 37 illegal, were arrested on Monday in a sea region off the eastern Aegean island of Samos after crossing a narrow strait separating the isle from the Turkish coast with a fishing vessel.
Eleven women and 26 men, the majority of them Somalis, were abandoned by a Turkish migrant smuggler near Greek territorial waters close to the spot where they were found by the coast guard.
 Cypriot government satisfied with parliamentary elections
NICOSIA, 23/5/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)The Cypriot government has expressed satisfaction regarding the impeccable parliamentary elections, which took place on Sunday, and especially for the proper behavior of the citizens both during the pre-election period and the elections themselves.
''The controversies and tension we saw in the past among the candidates, especially on the day of the elections, did not appear, they have totally disappeared in these elections and we welcome this,'' Government Spokesman George Lillikas said on Monday.
He added that the Cypriot citizens showed a very high level of political behavior and accountability, adding that the elections do not cause a rift among the candidates any more but become a topic of democratic dialogue.
Asked if the government felt strengthened with the result of the elections, Lillikas said the President of the Republic himself stated on Sunday that the government appeared strengthened, adding that both the government and the political powers of the island must make their evaluations and receive the messages of the voters.
He added that the government continues its work to implement the administration program of President Tassos Papadopoulos, which has been formed in cooperation with all parties participating in the government.
''Let us build on that which unites us and not on that which separates us, to create a strong internal front,'' he concluded.
 Round up of Sunday's parliamentary elections
NICOSIA, 23/5/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)After a long and at times heated election campaign, six political parties have been elected to the new Parliament, during the ninth parliamentary contest in the history of the Republic of Cyprus.
The number of women deputies has increased from six to eight.
Leftwing AKEL, the government coalition partner, maintained its lead which it got in the 2001 elections and received 131,237 votes or 31.16%, which translated into 18 seats, as opposed to 20 it had in the previous House.
Main opposition Rightwing Democratic Rally (DISY), with 127,734 votes, follows in second place, with a percentage of 30.33%, gaining 18 seats, one seat less than the number the party secured in May 2001.
Both AKEL and DISY recorded a drop in their share of the vote, since the 2001 parliamentary elections.
The centre right ruling Democratic Party (DIKO), led by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, got 75,429 votes or 17.91% and increased its seats to 11 from nine, which it got in 2001.
The Social Democrats Movement EDEK recorded a sharp rise in its share of the vote, with 37,531 or 8,91%, which translates into 5 seats, as opposed to the 4 it had in the past.
The European Party (EVROKO), which ran in parliamentary elections for the first time since it was set up, received 24,152 votes or 5.73% and now has 3 seats.
The Ecologists and Environmentalists Movement maintained its one seat in parliament with 8,192 votes or 1,95%.
The parliament that dissolved in April 2006 had nine parties. Now only six parties are represented in the House.
Of a total of 501,024 registered voters islandwide, 445,989 voted.
There were 421,148 valid ballots, 55,035 abstentions, 14,737 invalid ballots, and 10,104 blank.
The House will have eight women deputies, representing AKEL (2), DISI (3), DIKO (2) and EDEK (1).
There are 56 elected deputies, 21 of them in the Nicosia District, 12 in Limassol District, 11 in Famagusta District, 5 in Larnaca District, 4 in Paphos District and 3 in the Kyrenia District.
 Greek opposition parties congratulate Cyprus' victorious AKEL
ATHENS, 23/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) on Monday sent telegrams congratulating Cyprus' AKEL party on retaining its lead in the Cypriot House of Representatives during parliamentary elections held in Cyprus over the weekend.
KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga hailed AKEL's victory as a "guarantee for the struggle of the Cypriot people generally, in the face of the region's 'new order', to promote the rapprochement of the two communities on the basis of a just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus issue and the defense and extension of the rights and gains of the working classes and other popular classes on Cyprus."
Synaspismos leader Alekos Alavanos, on his part, said that AKEL's election victory demonstrated the great influence of the ideas of the Left and the "indissoluble bonds of solidarity between your party and the workers and progressive citizens of the island".