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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-06-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

June 15, 2006


  • [01] Gov't: Greek-Turkish military flights Moratorium in Aegean on July 1; FM receives top Turkish diplomat
  • [02] Deputy FM Stylianidis holds talks with former Turkish FM Yasar Yakis
  • [03] Foreign ministry spokesman comments on Turkish statement on Aegean air accident
  • [04] Turkish military chief cites 'will' to ease tension in Aegean
  • [05] Gov't on new UNFICYP mandate
  • [06] PASOK party leader holds telephone conversation with Cyprus President
  • [07] European Council draft conclusions say Turkey must meet obligations
  • [08] Turkey's top EU negotiator cites efforts within Union to resolve impasse over Ankara's ban on Cypriot vessels
  • [09] PM in Brussels for EU summit
  • [10] Parliament president receives Jordanian counterpart, comments on Turkey
  • [11] European Parliament plenum ratifies report on convict transfers in EU
  • [12] MPs urge ADAE to deny 'Ta NEA' report on phone-tap case
  • [13] PASOK party spokesman comments on education issues
  • [14] Opposition submits proposal on Pakistani issue
  • [15] Athens cites de jure recognition of Montenegro
  • [16] Thessalonica mayoral candidate Chrysa Arapoglou addresses press conference
  • [17] Conference on combating terrorism
  • [18] Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis receives ambassador of Vietnam
  • [19] Finmin wants committee on social insurance reform
  • [20] FinMin: Gov't open to other bids for Emporiki Bank
  • [21] Government's digital strategy aspires to five targets, FinMin says
  • [22] Greek economic competitiveness improving, report says
  • [23] Greek economic growth to remain strong in 2006, report
  • [24] Development minister places emphasis on Greek economic diplomacy
  • [25] Communist Party to table draft bill for unemployment in Parliament
  • [26] New biodiesel unit in Larissa
  • [27] Greece, Tunisia debate business ties
  • [28] Interior minister addresses Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce conference
  • [29] Chiquita launches regional subsidiary
  • [30] Competition Commission fines Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling with 8.6 million euros
  • [31] Pope's dropped title a hindrance to dialogue, Fanar says
  • [32] Thessalonica event focuses on Stalinist purges of ethnic Greeks between 1937-49
  • [33] Greece and France sign agreement on youth exchanges in sport and tourism sectors
  • [34] Illegal possession of antiquities charges in 2 separate cases
  • [35] Pamphlet, conference to aid women's election to office
  • [36] Telethon raised €2.8 million or child cancer charity
  • [37] Turkey is responsible for T/C ''isolation'', says Cyprus spokesman
  • [38] New Minister of Foreign Affairs assumes duties

  • [01] Gov't: Greek-Turkish military flights Moratorium in Aegean on July 1; FM receives top Turkish diplomat

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Greece on Wednesday announced that a summer moratorium on military flights in the Aegean takes effect on July 1 within the framework of the long-standing "Papoulias-Yilmaz" memorandum.

    A foreign ministry spokesman, speaking during a regular press briefing, said the date comes after a delay this year in signing a relevant agreement between Athens and Ankara.

    Meanwhile, asked about a visit by former Turkish foreign minister and the current head of the Turkish assembly's EU harmonization commission, Yasar Yakis, to the northeastern Thrace province, spokesman George Koumoutsakos said the "visit can take place without any difficulty."

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis received Yakis on Wednesday, the first day of his visit to Greece, with discussions focusing on Turkey's EU prospects.

    On his part, and in answer to press questions, Koumoutsakos noted:

    "Greece's positions on matters dealing with the Muslim minority of Thrace are well-known and established; our policy is also well known, and it will not change or be altered. That said, within the framework of a democratic state, a visitor may meet with whomever he wishes," Koumoutsakos said.

    Asked about the possibility that the visiting delegation of Turkish parliamentarians will meet with a handful of "pseudo-muftis" not recognized by the Greek state, or, a possible reference to a "Turkish minority", and whether such developments contribute to efforts at improving bilateral relations and are compatible with international treaties, the spokesman replied:

    "As far as the Greek government is concerned there is no issue of setting out conditions. What was previously mentioned was an encouragement, a clear message regarding the margins within which such visits should take place. The manner in which the Turkish delegation will move about, or what statements and meetings take place, are issues that the Greek government will evaluate after such have occurred. As every visitor to a democratic country, Mr. Yakis will travel in Thrace based on his own wishes. The Greek government will, afterwards, have the ability to judge and assess how this specific visit was conducted," Koumoutsakos added.

    The Turkish delegation departs for the Thrace region on Thursday and will return to Istanbul overland on Saturday.

    [02] Deputy FM Stylianidis holds talks with former Turkish FM Yasar Yakis

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis held two-hour "constructive", as they were termed, talks on Wednesday with former Turkish foreign minister and current President of the Turkish National Assembly's Harmonization Committee with the European Union Yasar Yakis, with the participation of members of this committee and of Greek foreign ministry officials.

    Both sides "stressed the need to looking forward to the future and not analyzing modern-day reality with implements of the past," Stylianidis said after the meeting.

    In the framework of this "constructive" meeting, as the deputy foreign minister termed it, the Greek side presented the Turkish side with three common projects:

    1. Cooperation in the energy sector with the Baku-Karacabei-Komotini-Italy natural gas pipeline.

    2. Cooperation in trade, investments and banks.

    3. The idea on the creation of the "Path of the Argonauts", meaning the road network that will pass parametrically through the Black Sea countries.

    The road network will begin in Alexandroupoli in northern Greece and pass through Bulgaria and Romania, running along Axis Nine, and will continue to Moldova, Odessa and Marioupolis (Ukraine), Novorossisk (Russia), Poti and Batumi (Georgia), it will link Baku and Yerevan and will continue to Samsun, Trabzon, Ankara, Istanbul and end at Alexandroupoli.

    The Greek side has already proceeded with tendering for Axis Nine, Stylianidis said.

    [03] Foreign ministry spokesman comments on Turkish statement on Aegean air accident

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Foreign Ministry Spokesman George Koumoutsakos, commenting on Wednesday on a statement by Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Namik Tan on a possible compensation appeal by the neighboring country following the recent collision between a Greek and a Turkish air force jet over the Aegean, said that an air force committee is examining the issue and will issue a relevant report.

    "I am aware of the statements by Mr. Tan, without knowing whether they have been conveyed correctly. In any case, the Greek position on the tragic event on May 23, 2006, which resulted in our country mourning the loss of the life of a pilot, of a young man, is known to all. As for the rest, we remind that the relevant Air Force General Staff Committee responsible for probing such events has addressed the issue and will issue the relevant report," he said.

    Main opposition PASOK party Foreign Policy sector chief Christos Papoutsis said of the issue that "as the communication storm of the government on the successes of Mrs. Bakoyannis goes by, it is revealed that not only does Turkey maintain its claims over our sovereign rights, but at the same time it might request compensation as well for the results of the tension which it is creating itself in the air space of the Aegean with the tragic consequences we experienced. No, it’s going too far."

    [04] Turkish military chief cites 'will' to ease tension in Aegean

    MELBOURNE 6/15/2006 (ANA-MPA / S. Hatzimanolis)

    Turkey's visiting armed forces chief reiterated here this week that military and political authorities in both Greece and Turkey have the will to normalize relations and ease tension in the Aegean

    According to Turkey's chief of the general staff, Gen. Hilmi -zkök, a positive dialogue has been launched with Athens, and beginning on July 1, a direct phone line will connect the NATO sub-headquarters in Larissa, central Greece, and in Eskisehir, Turkey.

    -zkök, a guest of his Australian counterpart, concluded that political and military authorities in both countries want to end tension in the Aegean, whereas regular contacts with his Greek counterpart will continue.

    [05] Gov't on new UNFICYP mandate

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Consultations continue on a draft decision prepared by Britain's permanent mission to the United Nations regarding the renewal of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus' (UNFICYP) mandate, to be decided on June 15, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said in Athens on Wednesday.

    Commenting on a question concerning the wording of the text, which for the first time mentions "two sides" instead of "two communities" on Cyprus, Koumoutsakos clarified that the wording in question is included in a preamble and not in the purview, while stressing that negotiations continue with the active participation of Greece's diplomats at the UN.

    He added, in response to another question, that the text adopted by EU foreign ministers this week vis-à-vis Turkey's accession course is deemed positive for Greek and Cypriot interests.

    Responding to the question on the implications stemming from the non-implementation of Turkey's EU customs union protocol with the 10 new EU member states, Koumoutsakos referred to a European Union counter-statement and the text accompanying the opening of the first "chapter", where it is clarified that if the protocol is not implemented relevant chapters in Turkey's EU accession negotiations will not open as well. This affects the overall negotiations without necessarily meaning that accession negotiations will be suspended, he said.

    Koumoutsakos also announced that the new Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas will pay a working visit to Athens on June 22.

    [06] PASOK party leader holds telephone conversation with Cyprus President

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou held a telephone conversation with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos on Wednesday in light of his participation on Thursday in the meeting of the high-level group on Turkey's accession course, which will convene in Brussels.

    Papandreou and former Finland president Paavo Lipponen jointly preside over the group which functions in the framework of the European Socialist Party.

    The group will have a meeting and discussion with the EU's relevant Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn on Thursday morning.

    According to a statement by PASOK's spokesman, Nikos Athanassakis, Papandreou briefed the Cyprus President on his participation in the procedures of the European Socialist Party and President Papadopoulos briefed him on the work of the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg over the weekend.

    Asked whether PASOK agrees with the submission of a veto by Cyprus, Athanassakis said that "governments participate in the sessions," while pointing out that "if the Greek government had followed a different policy we would currently be in a different process."

    Athanassakis added that the PASOK leader had a new telephone conversation on Wednesday with the head of the International Atomic Energy Committee, Mohammed El Baradei, on the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons.

    Papandreou was briefed on latest developments on the issue and on efforts being made to achieve a peaceful solution to the problem to which, as he told Baradei, he is adhering to and stressed that "we must all struggle for a peaceful solution".

    [07] European Council draft conclusions say Turkey must meet obligations

    BRUSSELS 6/15/2006 (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris/CNA)

    The European Council draft conclusions, expected to be adopted on June 15 and 16 in Brussels, clearly refer to the EU statement of 21 September 2005 on Turkey's obligations towards the EU, including the implementation of the additional protocol extending its customs union to the ten new EU member states, including the Cyprus Republic.

    The draft conclusions also note the need for Turkey to maintain good neighborly relations with EU member-states. They also underline that Turkey should refrain from any action that could negatively influence the process of peaceful resolution of its differences with union member-states.

    According to EU sources, the reference is made in paragraph 38 of the draft conclusions, which concerns Turkey.

    According to the draft conclusions, the European Council ''reviewed progress made in the acquis screening and welcomes the start of substantive accession negotiations with Turkey'' and that ''Turkey is expected to share the values, objectives and the legal order set out in the treaties.''

    ''The Union is committed to support Turkey in its efforts to comply with the Union's standards and membership obligations, including the

    Copenhagen criteria,'' it adds.

    The European Council ''recalls, in line with previous conclusions, that the current negotiations are based on each country's own merits and that their pace will depend on each country's progress in preparing for accession measured against the requirements set out in the Negotiating Framework.''

    This includes the ''fulfillment of Turkey's obligations under the Association Agreement and under its Additional Protocol, full implementation of which will be evaluated in 2006 as agreed in the Declaration of the European Union and Member States of 21 September 2005, as well as implementation of the revised Accession Partnership.''

    The European Council ''calls on Turkey to intensify the reform process and to implement it fully and effectively, so as to ensure its irreversibility and sustainability as well as to progress towards the complete fulfillment of the Copenhagen political criteria.''

    The draft conclusions' chapter on enlargement says that the 25 leaders of the bloc call on the European Commission to draft a special report on all aspects of further enlargements, including the capability of the EU to absorb new members.

    [08] Turkey's top EU negotiator cites efforts within Union to resolve impasse over Ankara's ban on Cypriot vessels

    ISTANBUL 6/15/2006 (ANA-MPA / A. Kourkoulas)

    The European Union is searching for ways to overcome the problem created by Ankara's refusal to open its ports to Cypriot-flagged vessels, top Turkish negotiator and Minister of State Ali Babacan reportedly told local media here after his return from an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg.

    "Turkey will make every effort to facilitate the finding of a solution," he was quoted as saying, while again repeating Turkish leadership's leitmotif of separating a solution for the longstanding Cyprus issue with the country's accession negotiations.

    Conversely, and in a more ominous tone, Babacan claimed that the Republic of Cyprus will "not be able to endure the weight" of a prospective collapse in Turkey's already thorny accession negotiations.

    "The consequences of such a development will be felt by the entire world ... that is why intensive efforts are being made within the EU to overcome the ‘Cypriot obstacle'," he said.

    [09] PM in Brussels for EU summit

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis departed for Brussels on Wednesday to attend a scheduled EU summit, while he will meet with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso on Thursday morning.

    Additionally, the Greek premier will participate in a session of the European Peoples' Party, which will convene on the sidelines of the summit.

    Earlier on Wednesday, Karamanlis received the speaker of Jordan's Lower House, Abdel Hadi Al Majali, who is on an official visit to Greece.

    The latter was subsequently received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    [10] Parliament president receives Jordanian counterpart, comments on Turkey

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    The president of the Greek Parliament Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Wednesday received her Jordanian counterpart Abdelhadi Al-Majali, who is on an official visit to Greece.

    In statements afterward, Psarouda-Benaki stressed that Greece "greatly appreciated" Jordan's moderate role in the wider Middle East and the "wisdom of its policies in approaching opposing sides and views."

    She also noted that Greece, as a member of the European Union, could help promote decisions and demarches that would help in resolving the acute problems of the Middle East.

    Psarouda-Benaki particularly emphasized the need to respect international treaties and the road map for Middle East peace:

    "We feel and believe this even more because we also have problems with the implementation of international treaties on the Mediterranean side, especially in the sensitive region of the Aegean," she said.

    Referring to Turkey's European prospects, meanwhile, Psarouda-Benaki said that Greece supported Turkey's course provided that Ankara at all times respected the rules for accession.

    One of these was accepting the Customs Union Protocol, which meant respect for all member-states and opening of borders, in other words ports and airports, to all countries in the Union, including Cyprus, she added.

    Regarding relations between the Greek and Jordanian Parliaments, Psarouda-Benaki announced an exchange of visits by friendship groups that would lead to closer cooperation in the implementation of Parliamentary reforms and modernization in Jordan.

    [11] European Parliament plenum ratifies report on convict transfers in EU

    STRASBOURG 6/15/2006 (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)

    The European Parliament plenum on Wednesday ratified a report by the Civil Liberties, Justice and Internal Affairs Committee concerning the transfer of convicts between European Union member-states.

    The report was proposed by the head of the New Democracy party's Euro deputies Ioannis Varvitsiotis.

    Speaking on the occasion of a press conference, he explained that the main aims of the report are curbing bureaucracy and improving the living standards of inmates and the process of their rehabilitation in society, as well as the future unification of penal law in EU countries.

    [12] MPs urge ADAE to deny 'Ta NEA' report on phone-tap case

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's communications privacy authority ADAE was on Wednesday urged to make a formal denial of a report concerning its investigation into the Vodafone phone-tap scandal in the newspaper "Ta NEA" by MPs on Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee.

    According to the newspaper, the independent Authority of Assurance of Information and Communication Privacy and Security (ADAE) had uncovered the identities of two of the culprits, who it said were Greeks responsible for coordinating the operation. It said that ADAE did not intend to announce their names but would make them available to magistrates investigating the case.

    The report was discussed by the parliamentary committee on Wednesday, which decided to call three senior Vodafone and Ericsson technicians to testify next Tuesday and to recall ADAE head Andreas Lambrinopoulos after the independent authority completed its report this month.

    Ruling New Democracy's representative Vassilis Magginas slammed the report in 'Ta NEA' as "irresponsible" and "improper" and called on ADAE to make an official denial, while committee president Anastasios Karamarios said that ADAE had denied all connection with the newspaper's article.

    According to MP Evangelos Venizelos, who represented the main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), ADAE had to make an official announcement regarding the newspaper's report.

    Former ND president Miltiades Evert also stressed that Lambrinopoulos was obliged to either confirm or deny the newspaper's story.

    The phone-tapping plot involving Greece's top mobile phone provider Vodafone was revealed by the government in February, after a nearly year-long covert investigation by the authorities had failed to find those responsible. It said the roughly 100 phones that were tapped included those of the prime minister, members of the government, high-ranking police and armed forces personnel, activists, journalists, business people and even one U.S. Embassy employee.

    It was first brought to the government's attention in March 2005 by Vodafone chief executive George Koronias, who said it operated through a piece of sophisticated intruder software that had activated a legal "low-phone interception" system developed by Ericsson to allow legal phone surveillance but was able to mask its presence when inactive.

    [13] PASOK party spokesman comments on education issues

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, in the wake of student mobilizations on Thursday, said on Wednesday that the government "has brought universities to the verge of dissolution".

    The spokesman referred to what he termed "unbelievable" government handling and of "crude authoritarianism" on the part of the education ministry that "have led universities to an explosive situation".

    [14] Opposition submits proposal on Pakistani issue

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    A proposal on the creation of a Fact Finding Committee on the alleged abduction and interrogation of Pakistani immigrants has been submitted by 71 deputies of the PASOK and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos), with the first signatories being Athens second constituency deputies Miltiades Papaioannou (PASOK) and Fotis Kouvelis (Synaspismos).

    According to a letter they addressed to Parliament's president, the 66 deputies of PASOK and the five of the Synaspismos party stress that "the case of the abduction, illegal detention and interrogation of the Pakistanis, who were staying legally in our country and which occurred in July 2005, concerns the infringement of fundamental human rights which are protected by the constitution and international treaties, which our country has accepted and must implement, as well as posing national security issues."

    [15] Athens cites de jure recognition of Montenegro

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Greece has proceeded with the de jure recognition of Montenegro's independence via a letter Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis addressed to her Montenegrin counterpart Miodrag Vlahovic, the foreign ministry announced on Wednesday.

    Spokesman George Koumoutsakos unveiled a relevant draft statement by the foreign minister, in which it was noted that after the formal declaration of Montenegro's independence by the country's Parliament on June 3, Montenegro is an independent state.

    Greece, the statement continues, "recognizes the independence of the Republic of Montenegro and welcomes it to the family of sovereign states," while adding that from now on, bilateral relations will develop as inter-state relations.

    Bakoyannis also congratulated the people of Montenegro for achieving their national aspiration, while she reaffirmed that Athens is willing to further strengthen traditionally friendly bilateral ties and to assist the country in its efforts to integrate with European institutions and to strengthen regional cooperation and stability.

    [16] Thessalonica mayoral candidate Chrysa Arapoglou addresses press conference

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Thessalonica mayoral candidate, support by the main opposition PASOK party, Chrysa Arapoglou, gave her first press conference on Wednesday after her nomination was announced by PASOK leader George Papandreou, saying that the city "is in a state of dangerous inertia showing an image that does not suit the city of open horizons".

    Arapoglou placed responsibility for this situation on Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos because "he has not realized the role and has not understood the major problems of Thessalonica and has not utilized programs and opportunities for the city".

    "Mr. Papageorgopoulos has placed the bar low and does not want to defend his city," she said.

    [17] Conference on combating terrorism

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyannis on Wednesday opened a conference in Athens on the theme “How Greece deals with the threat of terrorism," organized by the Greek Communications Institute.

    The minister pointed out that the threat of terrorism still exists in Greece in spite of the dismantling of the 17N terrorist group. He also stressed that vigilance, effective planning, improved international cooperation, better action coordination and use of new technologies are necessary in the battle against terrorism.

    Former public order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis, who had been minister when the notorious N17 terrorist group was dismantled, agreed that terrorism should be combated primarily through political means while policies against terrorism should be characterized by consistency. He concluded that international cooperation is necessary to deal with Islamic extremist terrorism, adding that the Moslem world should be approached politically in a way that will help in the cooperation of civilizations as a counterpoise to the civilization conflict theories.

    Greek think-tank Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) Research director Thanos Dokos maintained that defense against terrorism will inevitably be ineffective if it is limited to within each country's borders, adding that the problem has to be dealt with at its places of origin, beyond the Balkans, where, of course, the economic cost and the risk of losses will be greater.

    The second part of the conference titled "The foreign policy of Greece and the handling of terrorism", organized by the Greek Communications Institute, was held on Wednesday with Foreign Ministry Secretary General Theodoros Skylakakis and the ministry's spokesman George Koumoutsakos being the main speakers.

    Skylakakis distinguished between local and international terrorism. Referring to local terrorism that Greece had experienced, he said that for as long as the November 17 group was active the Greek economy was harmed in the '80s and '90s because this phenomenon had serious repercussions on the attraction of investments.

    As regards international terrorism, Skylakakis said that its declared target is disrupting international economic markets and the oil market in particular. He added that Greece pays dearly for international terrorism since tourism and oil imports have an increased share in the economy.

    Koumoutsakos, referring to local terrorism experienced in the country, said that Greece's international image improved a great deal after the November 17 group was broken up and even more so after the Olympic Games.

    Explaining the conception of Greek policy on the phenomenon of terrorism, the foreign ministry spokesman said that "we do not believe that repressive action is enough and it must be harmonized with a policy of development, of equal opportunities and of a better future."

    [18] Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis receives ambassador of Vietnam

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis received the Ambassador of Vietnam Nguen Van Nam at the foreign ministry on Wednesday.

    The Vietnamese ambassador briefed Kassimis on huge possibilities existing for the Greek business community to activate itself in Vietnam, a foreign ministry announcement said.

    He placed particular emphasis on the developing shipbuilding industry and in his country's interest in developing tourist businesses in the sector of hotel construction, the procurement of building materials and the use of Vietnam as a transit centre for Greek products in ASEAN countries, the announcement added.

    Van Nam invited the deputy foreign minister to visit Vietnam with a business mission this coming autumn.

    [19] Finmin wants committee on social insurance reform

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday that he backed creation of an experts committee to report on the country's social insurance system ahead of an intended overhaul.

    If created, he would welcome onto the committee Platon Tinios, a consultant to former premier Costas Simitis under the previous Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), now the main opposition, Alogoskoufis told parliamentary committees on social insurance.

    Countering criticism by PASOK on the government's approach to the overhaul, the minister noted that the ruling New Democracy party had allocated one percent more in funding to social insurance as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), which he called a major sum in terms of fiscal adaptation.

    "Total spending on pensions was 22.6 billion euros in 2005, representing 12.5% of GDP, one the highest percentages in the European Union and almost 1.5% higher in terms of GDP against the average in the last decade. Therefore spending on pensions is rising," he noted.

    "All Greeks are potentially covered by social insurance, all Greeks must be taxed," Alogoskoufis said.

    He stated that according to a European Union report, the public debt as a proportion of GDP would fall between 346%, double today's figure, and 451.3% in 2050, on the basis of current movement.

    "Greece appears to be in a high-risk area due to the fiscal burden of an ageing population," the minister added.

    Main opposition rejects proposal: PASOK rejected Alogoskoufis' proposal of a committee to aid in the social insurance overhaul.

    "This would be an experts committee for executive power. The government is trying to hide behind a committee," charged the party's shadow social affairs spokesman, Evangelos Venizelos.

    According to PASOK's shadow economy spokeswoman, Vasso Papandreou, the government had short-shifted social insurance in terms of funding; and failed to clamp down on non-payment of contributions estimated at 4.5 billion euros at the Social Insurance Foundation, up 20% over the last two years.

    "We are debating the social insurance question, but (ruling) New Democracy's is against social insurance funds," the spokeswoman added.

    [20] FinMin: Gov't open to other bids for Emporiki Bank

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    The government on Wednesday reiterated that it was open to other bids for Emporiki Bank, a day after Paris-based Crédit Agricole submitted an offer for the purchase of the Greek bank at 23.5 euros per share, or approximately 3.1 billion euros.

    "The government will, of course, examine any other bids in the same serious manner that we are scrutinizing the French proposal," Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told reporters, adding that the bank's sale is open to all interested parties and that there are a few weeks remaining.

    The French bank, a strategic partner of Emporiki Bank, said a Crédit Agricole's board meeting -- chaired by Crédit Agricole group chairman Rene Carron on Friday -- unanimously voted in favor of the public bid to buy 100 percent of Emporiki Bank.

    Asked about a request by the union representing Emporiki's workforce for a meeting with Crédit Agricole representatives or even the prospects of industrial actions, Alogoskoufis emphasized that employees should realize that Emporiki's complete denationalization benefits everyone: the bank, employees and the economy in general.

    Main opposition on bank buyouts: The main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Wednesday queried the planned acquisition of Turkey's Finansbank by Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece and a buyout bid by Credit Agricole of France for Emporiki Bank, also listed on the bourse.

    "Emporiki, with 20 billion in assets and 16 billion in deposits is priced at 3.1 billion euros, and the finance minister says the price is good. Finansbank has 6.7 billion in assets and 4.25 billion in deposits and is priced at 4.5 billion euros," the party's shadow economy spokeswoman, Vasso Papandreou, told parliamentary committees during discussion on social insurance.

    "Credit Agricole is investing 5% of its shareholders equity in the Greek market without risk, but National is investing 70% of its equity in the Turkish market, which harbors massive economic and political risk, beyond a military risk," the spokeswoman noted. "Either we're selling Emporiki cheaply or buying Finansbank at high cost. This is a matter for the public prosecutor."

    [21] Government's digital strategy aspires to five targets, FinMin says

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    The government is aspiring to attaining five targets with its digital strategy, national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis said Wednesday, addressing a day seminar on "New Developmental and Financing Tools for the sector of technologies, informatics and communications" in Athens.

    The first target was to promote the use of information technologies in business enterprises, while the second target was to promote use of technology in the public sector, the minister said.

    The third and fourth targets were the reinforcement of entrepreneurship in every branch, particularly in the areas where technology is utilized, and coordination of the branches of new technologies, while the fifth target was a more dynamic exploitation of the new technologies by citizens, on a daily level, Alogoskoufis continued.

    In tandem, the government was aiming at the development of digital services, which, he said, saved time and provided new abilities for tackling bureaucracy. The new digital strategy responded to the European developments, was compatible both with the new European policy on the Information Society, and the new action plan 'Jobs and Growth', the minister added, as well as being totally compatible with the targets of the Lisbon Strategy.

    Alogoskoufis further said that the 'digital Greece' strategy was part of the wider framework of reforms aimed at a new developmental model, which envisioned a dynamic, competitive, productive and outward-oriented Greece.

    The Greek economy, Alogoskoufis said, was moving ahead with self-confidence, and the indications were positive. Unemployment was de-escalating, growth was accelerating, the deficits were being contained, while exports and tourism were recovering impressively and the investments were giving a dynamic boost to the economy, he concluded.

    [22] Greek economic competitiveness improving, report says

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday said he saw signs of improving competitiveness in the Greek economy. Presenting the annual report by the National Council for Competitiveness and Development, the Greek minister said the report showed an improving competitiveness picture in certain sectors of the economy (growth, employment, private investments, exports, shipping and tourism revenues) and stressed that the report was based on 2004 figures. Sioufas said more recent figures “gives us more reasons to be optimistic over the future”.

    The Greek minister said economic growth reached 4.1 pct in the first quarter of 2006, investments rose 6.9 pct, foreign direct investments rose 10-fold to 422.9 million euros from 44.9 million in the same period last year, tourist arrivals rose 8.0 percent in the January-March period, inflation slowed to 3.1 pct in March and exports jumped 22.8 pct in the first quarter of 2006.

    Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the Federation of Greek Industries urged for a joint step forward and called for the need for collective action and responsibility. He recommended that an expert’s commission would reconvene in five weeks to discuss three goals with a set timetable and secured funds: electronic governance, pension system and research-technology.

    Christos Polyzogopoulos, president of GSEE -Greece’s largest trade union umbrella- recommended 11 actions to boost the country’s competitiveness: knowledge society, investing in human recourses, mobilizing regional economy, shipbuilding, manufacturing of farm products, strengthening local societies, supporting the educational system, electronic governance, improving healthcare services and resolving a pension problem through combating contribution evasion and through a social dialogue.

    [23] Greek economic growth to remain strong in 2006, report

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Greek economic growth rate will remain at around last year's levels in 2006, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Wednesday.

    In its quarterly report on the Greek economy, IOBE said all international organizations monitoring the Greek economy (EU, OECD) reviewed upwards their previous estimates and forecast that strong private consumption, combined with an expected slight recovery of investments will maintain high growth rates this year.

    Greek enterprises' forecasts and expectations, as recorded in the economic conjuncture report of IOBE, showed a steady improvement in the first five months of 2006, a development supporting estimates of strong economic growth in 2006.

    In contrast with a marked improvement in business climate, Greek consumers remained pessimistic in the first months of 2006, with the consumer confidence index below 2005 levels, IOBE said. Greek consumers were most pessimistic over their financial situation and economic developments in the country over the next 12 months.

    IOBE said introducing economic reforms, without any fundamentals changes and within agreed timetables, was crucial for the future of the Greek economy.

    [24] Development minister places emphasis on Greek economic diplomacy

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, speaking in Thessalonica on Wednesday, placed emphasis on the Balkan orientation of economic diplomacy.

    Speaking at an event concerning five bilateral Chambers of Commerce (Greece with the countries of the United States, Germany, Britain, France and Italy), Sioufas said that "as regards terms by which it competes internationally, Greece has a relative disadvantage. It is more distant geographically from the other member-states from the economic centre of the EU. Our policy aims at turning this disadvantage into an advantage. We are capitalizing on our multiple ties with the countries of SE Europe. In this way, Greece is becoming the spearhead of the EU in the East and vice versa."

    If the shaping of a unified energy, commercial and economic space in the Balkans is the first pylon of government policy, the second one is developing considerable economic relations with the developing economies of China, the Middle East and Russia, Sioufas added.

    [25] Communist Party to table draft bill for unemployment in Parliament

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Wednesday presented a set of proposals for dealing with unemployment, announcing plans to table a draft bill on the issue in Parliament.

    Her proposals included making all jobless eligible for unemployment benefit without current restrictions, while the benefit should increase to 80 percent of the basic wage, which is currently 1300 euros a month gross.

    She also suggested that periods on unemployment benefit should count towards one's pension and that recipients of unemployment benefit and their families receive free medical care and drugs.

    [26] New biodiesel unit in Larissa

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    A biodiesel production unit will operate for the first time outside the central city of Larissa in August.

    The four-million-euro project will have a daily production capacity of 45,000 liters of biodiesel with the potential to increase production further based on demand.

    The endeavor belongs to two local textile sector entrepreneurs, whereas the produced biodiesel will be used exclusively for diesel-powered vehicles in the area (buses, taxi cabs etc).

    Similar units already operate in Attica, Kilkis and Magnesia prefectures, while another production unit is expected to operate soon in the western port city of Patra.

    [27] Greece, Tunisia debate business ties

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Greece and Tunisia on Wednesday discussed economic ties between the two countries at a joint committee meeting in Athens on Wednesday.

    At the centre of interest were energy, fisheries, telecoms and sports.

    In addition, Greece wishes to lease part of its satellite capacity to Tunisia.

    On Thursday, two cooperation protocols will be signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Euripides Stylianidis and Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos with the deputy foreign minister of Tunisia, Mohamet Hatem Ben Salim

    Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias on Tuesday met Tunisia's visiting deputy foreign minister for European affairs, Hatem Ben Salem, ahead of the committee session.

    The two officials agreed ratify a pact on avoidance of double taxation; and to advance bilateral cooperation in investments and business alliances.

    Folias pledged that Greece would assist Tunisia in forming closer ties with the European Union.

    [28] Interior minister addresses Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce conference

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, addressing a conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, said that regional development is "a basic priority for the government and for this purpose the gradual channeling to regions of the lion's share of the 20.1 billion euros from the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) is anticipated".

    The conference focused on the issue of "Regional development and joint ventures between the public and private sector."

    Pavlopoulos said that the amount from the CSF was secured from the European Union through personal intervention by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [29] Chiquita launches regional subsidiary

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Multinational fruit producer Chiquita Brands International said on Wednesday that it had launched an Athens-based subsidiary to handle its business in Greece and the Balkans.

    Chiquita Hellas will distribute the company's bananas and other fruit in the domestic market and countries of the Mediterranean, Balkans and Black Sea, its managing director, Athanasios Glinos, told a news conference.

    Chiquita is the market leader in the Greek market, holding a 45% stake with turnover of 33 million euros in 2005, up 5% from the previous year, Glinos said.

    [30] Competition Commission fines Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling with 8.6 million euros

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's Competition Commission on Wednesday announced it would fine Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Co with 8,662,644 euros for breaching competition rules in the country and for failing to respond to an earlier decision taken in 2002.

    The Commission said Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling was following unfair policies to its wholesale and retains sales customers.

    Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop

    The Athens share index closed at 3,379.28 points, showing a decline of 0.46%. Turnover was 337.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.64 down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.85% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.09% down.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 139 to 123 with 51 remaining unchanged.

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

    U.S. dollar 1.266

    [31] Pope's dropped title a hindrance to dialogue, Fanar says

    ISTANBUL 6/15/2006 (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)

    A decision by Pope Benedict XVI to drop the title "Patriarch of the West" will hinder rather than ease relations between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar found on Wednesday.

    Senior clerics of the Istanbul-based Church said the decision was a blow to the view of Rome and Istanbul as "fraternal Churches" that Patriarch Athinagoras and Pope Paul VI had managed to establish in recent history.

    The title, which dates back to before the Schism of the Churches in 1054, was simply left out of the 2006 edition of the Annuario Pontifico, where it had appeared since 1863 among a list of eight titles taken by the Pope, without any announcement.

    The Pope's other titles include that of Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Chief Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop Metropolitan of the Province of Rome, and Sovereign of Vatican City State.

    Reactions within the Catholic Church prompted Cardinal Walter Kasper to explain that the decision was taken because the title was unclear - especially its reference to 'the West' that had now taken on a different meaning - and, over the course of time, had become obsolete and virtually unusable.

    Senior clerics in Fanar pointed out that the title 'Patriarch of the West' was the only one that dated back to the first millennium of the unified Church and was accepted by the Orthodox Churches, while its abolition would greatly hamper talks on the issue of the Pope's primacy.

    According to Pergamum Metropolitan Ioannis Zizoulias, who intends to holds talks with Cardinal Kasper when he visits the Vatican at the end of June, there are fears that the decision indicates a shift in the Pope's views on ecclesiastical affairs that is less favorable for dialogue between the Churches.

    He also notes that the retention of titles like "Vicar of Christ" or "Chief Pontiff of the Universal Church" cause serious difficulties since they denote acceptance of universal jurisdiction of the Pope over all the Church, which the Orthodox Churches have never accepted.

    [32] Thessalonica event focuses on Stalinist purges of ethnic Greeks between 1937-49

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    The Black Sea Centre and Thessalonica prefecture on Tuesday evening hosted an event focusing on the successive Stalinist purges and forced removal of ethnic Greeks in what was then the Soviet Union's Black Sea region, beginning in 1937, with the last and most vicious pogrom recorded on June 13, 1949.

    According to speakers and historians at the event, held at the Macedonian Studies Society's amphitheater in Thessalonica, some 40,000 ethnic Greeks were summarily executed or perished in various Siberian prisoner camps, whereas 100,000 ethnic Greeks -- mostly Pontians, or ethnic Greeks of the Black Sea region -- were displaced to Siberia.

    The purges resulted in the closure of ethnic Greek schools, theatres and newspapers in the Soviet Union.

    According to noted historian Vlassis Agtzidis, the widespread Stalinist persecutions of ethnic Greek communities in the Soviet Union remains a "blank page" in history, as "official history" referring to the period is quite different from reality.

    He also said the reasons behind this particular pogrom were the Soviet dictator's decision to change a multi-cultural model foreseen by his predecessor, Lenin, in favor of absolute power in internal communist party structure, as well as what he called a distinctive "Soviet racism" against less populous ethnicities in the vast country that hailed from countries in the "capitalist bloc".

    The first of a three-part documentary by filmmaker Constantinos Haralambidis -- who was raised in Kazakhstan -- on the ethnic Greeks' exile in Siberia, was also screened.

    [33] Greece and France sign agreement on youth exchanges in sport and tourism sectors

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    Deputy Culture Minister for Sport George Orfanos and French Ambassador to Athens Bruno Delaye on Wednesday signed an agreement on youth exchanges between the two countries in the sport and tourism sectors.

    "Culture, sport and youth are an excellent combination and Greece and France, which have proved their love for it, are joining their forces for new steps," Orfanos said after the signing of the agreement, adding that "Greece is now among the francophone countries."

    [34] Illegal possession of antiquities charges in 2 separate cases

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    A total of 15 gold and bronze ancient coins were found in the possession of a 55-year-old man who was arrested after police discovered the artifacts in his hotel room in Thessalonica.

    Meanwhile, several valuable ancient objects were confiscated by police after a search of two houses owned by a businessman in Heraklion, Crete.

    Police arrested the man after finding and seizing an ancient marble tombstone, 27 ancient coins, 10 Byzantine era coins, six 19th century icons and two ancient jars.

    [35] Pamphlet, conference to aid women's election to office

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    The General Secretariat for Equality on Wednesday presented a pamphlet that it hopes will help women candidates prepare their pre-election campaigns and thus improve the percentage of women elected to office in Greece.

    In addition, Equality General Secretary Evgenia Tsoumani announced plans for a conference to prepare women candidates for the upcoming local government elections.

    She noted that the percentage of women voted to Parliament in Greece was one of the lowest on a worldwide basis, being just 10 percent as compared to a world average of 20 percent, while their representation in local government was even lower, with women accounting for just 4.28 percent of mayoral candidates and a similar percentage of candidate prefects.

    The above was announced during a press conference on Wednesday for the "Conference of Elected Women and Women's Unions" that will take place in Thessalonica on June 23-24.

    [36] Telethon raised €2.8 million or child cancer charity

    ATHENS 6/15/2006 (ANA)

    The telethon "Act of Hope" organized by the private television station 'Alpha' on May 16 managed to collect €2.8 million for the Association of Friends of Children with Cancer 'Elpida', the head of the station Nikos Hatzinikolaou announced on Wednesday during a joint press conference with the president of 'Elpida' Marianna Vardinogiannis.

    According to Vardinogiannis, the sum brought the charity many steps closer to its goal of building the first oncological hospital for children in Greece, while she thanked all those who contributed to make this possible.

    [37] Turkey is responsible for T/C ''isolation'', says Cyprus spokesman

    NICOSIA 6/15/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    If Ankara is sincerely interested in the Turkish Cypriots and to lift their so called isolation, it should lift the reason which imposed and maintains this ''isolation'' which is the continued occupation of Cyprus' northern third, said Wednesday Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis.

    He also said that Cyprus returned from the EU General Affairs Council in Luxembourg satisfied and in a dignified manner.

    Asked if Cyprus will exercise its right of veto in the event Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, the spokesman said "it is advisable not to use with so much ease the word 'veto'''.

    He explained that it is Cyprus' inalienable right, it is a choice but surely I cannot say if we will exercise veto at a specific time or not. Vetoes are not announced beforehand. Nor they are excluded".

    Referring to the results of the General Affairs Council, where EU member states called on all who wish a smooth European course for Turkey ''to direct towards Ankara their advice and actions, so that it meets its obligations the soonest possible", Pashiardis said the Luxembourg decision was not a triumph.

    ''It was however a positive development, a satisfactory conclusion, a compromise, if you want, which surely did not prevent securing some fundamental demands from our side, and which undoubtedly sends some serious warnings towards Turkey'', he added.

    "We did not return from Luxembourg triumphant; we returned in a dignified manner and satisfied", Pashiardis stressed.

    Invited to comment on Turkish news reports that EU partners were dissatisfied with Cyprus' stance in Luxembourg, Pashiardis clarified "we do not care if some were displeased. We will not stay away from demanding what we are entitled to and are right just because some might be displeased".

    To a remark that if Turkish Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan insists that if the so called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots is not lifted, then Turkey will not recognize Cyprus, Pashiardis wondered if this was a form of exchange and whether Erdogan would recognize Cyprus if the so called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots was lifted.

    He said Erdogan on Tuesday made an "unfortunate effort to associate the European obligations of his country with lifting the so called isolation of Turkish Cypriots. In reality, these two issues concern Turkey. It is Turkey which committed itself to fulfilling its obligations towards the EU and consequently Cyprus and it is Turkey which with its continued invasion and occupation maintains and extends the isolation of Turkish Cypriots".

    "Therefore if Turkey is sincerely interested in the Turkish Cypriots and to lift their 'isolation' it should lift the reason which imposed and maintain this 'isolation' and the reason is its continued invasion against the Republic of Cyprus", Pashiardis remarked.

    "Turkey is responsible for the 'isolation' of the Turkish Cypriots and it is solely Turkey's responsibility to lift this 'isolation' only and provided that it sincerely cares for the good of the Turkish Cypriots, something which is very much in doubt", the spokesman underlined.

    [38] New Minister of Foreign Affairs assumes duties

    NICOSIA 6/15/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    New Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas said he felt a huge responsibility taking over from George Iacovou, who has the richest diplomatic experience in the country, the longest total term in office at the specific ministry and has offered much to the political and diplomatic struggles for a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Taking over the ministry on Wednesday, after a government reshuffle last week, Lillikas said he intended to utilize the experience of Iacovou and asked for the staff's assistance in the new struggles that await Cyprus both within and outside the EU towards reaching a solution of the Cyprus question.

    Handing over the portfolio, Iacovou said the ministry was a temple of assertion and struggle for the rights of the Cypriot people, and called on the new Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue the tradition and always put Cyprus first.

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