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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-06-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

June 21, 2006


  • [01] FM Dora Bakoyannis highlights Greece's active role in consolidating stability and security
  • [02] FM Bakoyannis holds talks with French counterpart Douste-Blazy
  • [03] President Papoulias addresses warning to Turkey
  • [04] FM Dora Bakoyannis issues message on World Refugee Day
  • [05] Gov't on press report citing Bush visit here
  • [06] PASOK leader criticises gov't for unrest in Education; Antonaros reacts
  • [07] Opposition request for com't of inquiry into alleged terror-related abductions rejected
  • [08] PASOK party leader holds talks with former PM Costas Simitis
  • [09] ND ahead in GPO poll for local elections in Athens, Thessaloniki
  • [10] Case against Patriarch will be dropped, legal experts claim
  • [11] G. Soros received by Ecumenical Patriarch
  • [12] Minister of Macedonia-Thrace meets Kosovo Parliament president
  • [13] Employment Minister addresses Austrian Embassy luncheon
  • [14] Justice ministry bill ratified in principle
  • [15] Govt sees progress in Third Community Support Framework programs
  • [16] FinMin says open to any possible competitive bids for Emporiki Bank
  • [17] Government will continue mild economic adjustment, spokesman says
  • [18] Greece, Turkey natgas link ready in 2007
  • [19] Inflation cause of concern, analyst says
  • [20] Opposition says National Bank misled parliament
  • [21] Gov't, easyGroup in Greek cruise talks
  • [22] Navy Week 2006 beginning on June 25
  • [23] Air traffic controllers' strike to ground flights
  • [24] Conference on disabled people and the mass media ends
  • [25] City of Athens' building façade program on display
  • [26] Annual Samothrace journalism conference this week
  • [27] Athens prof. predicts dramatic climate change for Greece
  • [28] 65 pc of Greeks between 16-74 have no knowledge of informatics, European Commission says
  • [29] New cable car system at Mt. Parnitha
  • [30] Play about discovery of Macedonian graves debuts
  • [31] Patras Cultural Capital program features Power's 'Harbour Symphony'
  • [32] Five illegal immigrants arrested in seas near Samos
  • [33] Cabinet discusses draft bill for professional sports
  • [34] General Information Secretary visits Beijing
  • [35] Papadopoulos and Talat to meet
  • [36] Cyprus confirms meeting between President Papadopoulos and UN diplomat
  • [37] Cypriot FM meets EU officials in Brussels
  • [38] Rehn reiterates EU's demand that Turkey meets its obligations

  • [01] FM Dora Bakoyannis highlights Greece's active role in consolidating stability and security

    PARIS 21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union here on Tuesday, highlighted the "active and considerable role" of Greece in consolidating stability, strengthening security and promoting economic growth.

    "The security strategy of Greece is aimed, on the one hand, on its participation in global peace and security -through NATO, relevant EU apparatuses and the UN- and, on the other hand, at achieving regional security and stability, diminishing every threat that may come from bilateral problems and promoting security and peace in southeastern Europe in every way," she said.

    Bakoyannis said that the Balkans "have taught us that Europe must have the possibility of assuming large scale operations in support of peace, police administration, speedy and effective response in urgent crises of a humanitarian nature and the stabilization of vulnerable societies. They have taught us that we must become better in planning and distributing aid for the consolidation of peace."

    Noting the "catalytical role" exercised by the European prospects of the Balkans, Bakoyannis said that "a stable southeastern Europe remains a priority for the European Union, NATO and of course Greece."

    She referred in particular to Kosovo where "constructive pressure must be exercised on both sides so that they will respond to the specifications that have been set, even if more time is required that must be given if necessary."

    On the question of Turkey, the Greek minister referred to frequent bilateral contacts to stress Greece's adherence to the European future of Turkey.

    "It is a conscientious strategy," she said "which, however, is not unconditional. It is linked to Turkey's response to its commitments and its promises," she said.

    As regards Cyprus, which "must become a unified European country soon and in practice", Bakoyannis reminded that the question of Cyprus is an "international" issue and pointed out that "the principles that must guide us in seeking a just, workable and viable solution must also take into consideration the work that has been accomplished by the UN, international law, the resolutions of the Security Council and the acquis communautaire."

    Lastly, Bakoyannis referred to the need of developing an "authentic partnership strategy between the EU and Russia", reminding that Greece is a strategic partner with the United States and has old ties of friendship with Islam and the Arab world.

    Replying to questions, she observed that Greece has good relations with Turkey and this "cohabitation could become better if Turkey decided to become a fully democratic country" in the sense attributed to the term by the EU.

    Focusing on the implementation of the Customs Union Protocol, Bakoyannis said on the one hand that it is an obligation that Turkey "cannot avoid. It constitutes part of the European acquis communautaire which applies to all because there is no Europe a la carte" and, on the other hand, that it is "a fundamental element in the conception of the EU since it refers to free trade."

    Referring to Cyprus, the minister said that the "Annan plan is history". Replying to a question, she said that she had said in the past that "the Annan plan had some positive elements. The Greek Cypriots, however, rejected the plan. Whatever solution is proposed must take into consideration the will of the people. Therefore, a new plan must be found that will be acceptable by the two communities."

    On the question of "differences" between Athens and Nicosia, Bakoyannis said in reply to a question that "we have common strategic targets. Some differences in tactics may exist. However, we are two independent countries who have brotherly relations."

    Referring to developments in Iran, the foreign minister said of the issue that "the EU was able to assume a leading initiative. It was a good moment in the history of European policy", adding that the relevant proposal will be announced when it is considered expedient to publicize all its elements, as they will be finalized.

    [02] FM Bakoyannis holds talks with French counterpart Douste-Blazy

    PARIS 21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met on Tuesday with her French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy, saying afterwards that Greece wanted the best possible relations with its partners especially with France.

    "Greek foreign policy wants Greece to have the best possible relations with its partners, especially with France, with which is linked with traditional friendship and an excellent cooperation," Bakoyannis told reporters after her hour-long meeting with Douste-Blazy.

    She noted that she had the occasion for a broad review of issues such as the ones discussed during last week's EU Summit, as well as of bilateral matters, which "stand at an excellent level". The Cyprus problem and the European stance towards Turkey were also discussed.

    Responding to a question on EU-Turkey relations, Bakoyannis said that the Union "was built on concrete principles and values, so each country that wishes to become an EU member should abide by these principles, which are to correspond to the criteria set by the EU."

    Bakoyannis had earlier in the day addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union. On Wednesday morning she is expected to meet French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

    [03] President Papoulias addresses warning to Turkey

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    President Karolos Papoulias, speaking during a ceremony on his proclamation as an honorary citizen of the south-eastern Aegean island of Symi on Tuesday, called on Turkey to abandon disputing the legal status in the Aegean.

    "In European logic there is no place for expansionist designs or the disputing of the sovereign rights of a neighboring country with the threat of war," the president said and added that speaking these days with the inhabitants of the islands he once again reached the "bitter" ascertainment that "the Greek people want a peaceful future with Turkey and at the same time they are concerned about an attitude that does not inspire confidence."

    President Papoulias noted that "the nucleus of the problem of Greek-Turkish relations lies in the decisive role played by the Turkish military in the orientation of the neighboring country and which dictates the effort to overturn the balance in the Aegean" and that "the problem between Greece and Turkey is not the differences invoked by Turkey but the reason for which it invokes them."

    The president further said that "even if a compromise was to be found for some of these differences, through the procedures anticipated in the UN Charter, nobody can guarantee that new differences would not appear precisely because the strategic pursuit that fabricates them is not revised."

    He also said that "the Turkish theory of grey zones only appeared in 1996, many years after the beginning of the disputing of the width of national air space and territorial waters. Nobody could expect that the strategic pursuits of decades would be abandoned in one night. This is precisely the meaning of our support for the European course of Turkey: Our expectation that the democratization of Turkey will help the common future of the two peoples."

    President Papoulias reassured that "Greece will watch this course without excessive optimism or pessimism, with a spirit of realism", clarifying that "we do not want sacrifices, human and economic, we do not want more tension."

    Lastly, President Papoulias said that "we are extending the hand of friendship and cooperation with insistence and sincerity, awaiting the change of mind of the Turkish leadership on the vital interests of the neighboring country and the adoption of European principles in its foreign policy."

    [04] FM Dora Bakoyannis issues message on World Refugee Day

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis issued a message on Tuesday on the occasion of World Refugee Day, saying that this year's World Refugee Day is dedicated to the hope of millions of refugees and displaced populations for a better tomorrow, in their country or in a new homeland.

    "It is our duty not to allow this hope to be extinguished," she said.

    The foreign minister added that "in the hail of images and information characterizing communication in the modern-day globalize environment the feeling we get moves very often between two extremes."

    "Sometimes we believe that the 'problem' lies exclusively at the door and our neighborhood and sometimes the extreme opposite. That, in other words, it is a reality which is far away and must primarily preoccupy others. The truth lies somewhere in the middle," she said.

    [05] Gov't on press report citing Bush visit here

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government on Tuesday said it had no information about a possibility visit to Greece in July by US President George W. Bush, following a same-day press report in an Athens daily claiming that such a visit was possible.

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros made the statement in response to a press question during his regular briefing.

    The report was carried by the daily "Vima".

    [06] PASOK leader criticises gov't for unrest in Education; Antonaros reacts

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday said the government's authoritarian attitude was largely to blame for unrest in the education sector, while addressing a meeting of the party's new parliamentary group coordinators. He added that PASOK supported the struggles of the university community, and at the same time was formulating an alternative plan for young people.

    He said the government's moves showed inability to reform society, with the education sector at the forefront.

    Education, he added, requires reform, but not the reform being advanced by the government, whereas PASOK wanted a competitive public education, which would give prospects to the young generation.

    He said education was not the only sector in which the government was displaying authoritarianism, adding that it also treated with authoritarianism the opposition motion for the establishment of a parliamentary fact-finding commission into the case of abductions of Pakistani immigrants, in which he said human rights but also the Greek constitution had been violated.

    Papandreou further accused the government of preserving a climate of insecurity in order to render the society conservative so that it would not protest, or struggle, and not want to change anything, and not look with hope to the future.

    PASOK, conversely, with its proposals, gave new momentum to society to open up new roads and introduce the necessary reforms, he said.

    Papandreou accused the government of continuously making wrong choices, including on foreign policy issues, where, he said, a mentality existed of non-policy, non-initiative, immobility and lack of daring, and fear of the developments, which weaken the country's prestige and create conditions of tension.

    Referring to his proposal for a new national strategy, Papandreou said that he had had positive results from most of the meetings he has had to date.

    Referring to the changes in the make-up of the PASOK parliamentary group's coordinators, Papandreou said that he had made a "battle deployment" for the upcoming local government elections, while at the same time laying the groundwork for national elections, and expressed certainty that PASOK would be successful in the municipal/prefecture elections.

    Government reaction: "No government has discussed education issues to such depth, extent or for so long as that of New Democracy,", alternative government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros countered, in response to the main opposition leader's accusations of authoritarianism in its handling education issues.

    He pointed out that the draft bill on education reforms will be unveiled within the week and that it would be followed by public debate and consultation that would last as long as was necessary.

    "We invite all those that have ideas and proposals to come forward and take part in this consultation," he added.

    [07] Opposition request for com't of inquiry into alleged terror-related abductions rejected

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    An opposition request for the establishment of a Parliament committee of inquiry to investigate allegations that nearly a dozen Pakistani nationals living in Athens were illegally detained and interrogated shortly after the London underground bombings in July 2005 was rejected by a majority of MPs late Monday evening.

    Voting against the proposal were 153 ruling New Democracy (ND) deputies, whereas 122 opposition deputies voted in favour.

    Earlier, Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras and Justice Minister Anastasis Papaligouras again outlined the government's standing positions on the issue in recommending that the request be rejected.

    Both men reminded that the case is being investigated by the prosecutor's office and that Parliament has exhausted its oversight into the issue.

    Conversely, opposition rapporteurs said the issue of alleged abductions and terrorism-related interrogations, ostensibly by Greek intelligence cadres, is a serious matter that involves the violation of human rights and liberties.

    The Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), additionally, asked whether an ongoing judicial probe automatically and institutionally rules out Parliament's scrutiny.

    [08] PASOK party leader holds talks with former PM Costas Simitis

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou held talks on Tuesday with former prime minister Costas Simitis in the framework of his contacts with party leaders and political personalities with whom he discusses his initiative for determining a new national strategy, primarily with regard to Greek-Turkish relations.

    Welcoming Papandreou at his office in Parliament, Simitis expressed satisfaction over the initiative of the PASOK party leader and mentioned that the climate in foreign policy is beginning to change. He added that more steps are necessary since, as he said, "the inertia of (ruling) ND party has cost us a great deal."

    Agreeing with Simitis, Papandreou said that due to the "government's inertia Greece lost two considerable opportunities." He stressed that he assumed the initiative for determining a new national strategy "with a sense of responsibility and concern."

    Papandreou informed Simitis of "positive results in principle" as an outcome of his contacts, noting that the "most crucial point is the adoption by the government of a conception on the need for a new national strategy", adding that "pressure must be exerted on this issue for the benefit of Greece."

    [09] ND ahead in GPO poll for local elections in Athens, Thessaloniki

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Ruling New Democracy candidates appeared to take the lead over those backed by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in the country's two largest municipalities - Athens and Thessaloniki - while PASOK candidates did better in the 'acid test' Athens-Piraeus super prefecture and Piraeus, according to an opinion poll conducted by GPO on voter preferences in the upcoming local government elections.

    The poll was conducted on June 14-15 and presented on the television program 'Anatropi' broadcast by the private television channel Mega.

    According to the poll, ND candidate for Athens mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis was favored by 49.6% of voters, while PASOK candidate Costas Skandalidis gathered 31.8%, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) candidate Spyros Halvatzis 7% and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party's Alexis Tsipras 3.3%.

    Should the election go to a second round, voter preferences for Kaklamanis increased to 56.4% compared with 37% for Skandalidis.

    In Thessaloniki, current ND-backed mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos was backed by 45% of voters in a first round election, compared with 22% for PASOK's Chrysa Arapoglou, 9.5% for independent Yannis Boutaris, 8.6% for Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis, 5.5% for KKE's Agapios Sahinis and 3.1% for SYN's Tassos Kourakis. In a second round, Papageorgopoulos was chosen by 58.4% of voters compared with 34.2% for Arapoglou, while 84.3% of those responding said they expected Papageorgopoulos to win against just 7.9% for Arapoglou.

    In the Athens-Piraeus super-prefecture, the ticket led by current prefect Fofi Gennimata is ahead by 42%, while the ND-backed ticket led by current Vrilissia mayor Argyris Dinopoulos was chosen by 32.8%. Next in line were KKE-backed candidate George Mavrikos with 7.2%, SYN's Yannis Panousis with 5.3% and Evangelos Papadopoulos for LAOS with 5%. In a second round election, the vote in favour of Gennimata increases to 56.3%, compared with 34.1% for Dinopoulos.

    In Piraeus, ND's Christos Agrapidis is preferred by 33.2% of voters while former basketball star Panagiotis Fasoulas, who is backed by PASOK, is preferred by 42% of voters. In a second round, the percentage that opts for Fasoulas rises to 55.8%, compared with 40% for Agrapidis.

    [10] Case against Patriarch will be dropped, legal experts claim

    ISTANBUL 21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Cappadocia public prosecutor that initiated an inquiry based on a complaint filed against Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I by an extremist group intends to drop the case and put it on file, Bartholomew's legal advisors told Fanar on Tuesday after contacting the Turkish judicial official.

    In statements to reporters the same day, Bartholomew himself said that the "matter was closed" and cited a cabinet decision that exempted the Patriarch from laws forbidding the wearing of religious apparel outside places of worship.

    "There cannot be a more official document," Bartholomew stressed, while legal experts believe that the case will be dropped.

    According to reports on Monday, the prosecutor demanded that the Patriarchate supply details of the clerics that participated in a religious service at the church of St. Theodore in Malakopi, Cappadocia on April 29, as well as a 'certified copy' of articles in a 1935 Regulation that allow the Patriarch to appear publicly in ecclesiastical attire outside churches when not performing religious services.

    The inquiry was initiated following a complaint by the representative of the "National Strength Platform" Kemal Kerinciz.

    On April 29 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos was greeted outside the church of Saint Theodore in Malakopi by about 40 members of the nationalist and militant "Grey Wolves" group who chanted "God is Great" and raised their hands, forming the shape of the wolf with their fingers. The Patriarch entered the church and officiated at the church service.

    In comments on the affair on Tuesday, a government spokesman in Athens said it appeared to stem from an extreme political organisation with strongly anti-Patriarchate views and expressed hope that the action did not enjoy more general support.

    "Such events generate the interest and invite the attention of all member-states of the European Union, and of course of Greece," the spokesman added.

    Athens on legal action against Ecumenical Patriarch

    The decision of a Turkish public prosecutor to initiate legal action against Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I appears to stem from a suit filed by an extreme political organisation with strongly anti-Patriarchate views, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters on Tuesday.

    "We would like to believe that such an action does not enjoy more general support. Such events generate the interest and invite the attention of all member-states of the European Union, and of course of Greece," the spokesman added.

    According to reports on Monday, a Turkish public prosecutor is conducting a preliminary investigation into the holding of an Orthodox religious service in Cappadocia last April and called on the Patriarchate "to submit as soon as possible and definitely within 10 days from the reception of the present document...the full identity, particulars and the addresses of the clerics who participated in the holding of the religious service."

    The public prosecutor also requested a "certified copy" of article 4 of a 1935 Regulation that allows the Patriarch "to appear publicly outside churches and outside the time for performing holy services in ecclesiastical attire."

    The investigation is taking place following a report by the representative of the "National Strength Platform" Kemal Kerinciz.

    On April 29 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos was greeted outside the church of Saint Theodore in Malakopi by about 40 members of the nationalist and militant "Grey Wolves" group who chanted "God is great" and raised their hands, forming the shape of the wolf with their fingers. The Patriarch entered the church and officiated at the church service.

    Development Minister visits Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul : Greece's Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Tuesday paid a visit to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Fanar, Istanbul.

    The Patriarch expressed his joy and satisfaction at the cooperation between Greece and Turkey in the development and energy sectors, wishing the minister success in his contacts with Turkish and European officials at a conference on energy issues that is taking place in the city.

    The conference will be inaugurated in Istanbul on Tuesday afternoon by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Papandreou has telephone talks with Ecumenical Patriarch: Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou on Tuesday had a telephone conversation with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    According to a party press release, Papandreou "expressed his full and steadfast support to the Patriarch, especially after recent negative developments and actions against the Patriarchate."

    Papandreou also briefed Vartholomeos on his contacts with European leaders ahead of an EU Summit in Brussels last week and with Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn. During his meetings, "Papandreou underlined the need for Turkey to respect the Patriarchate's role as well as the commitments it had undertaken including the respect of religious freedoms," the press release said.

    [11] G. Soros received by Ecumenical Patriarch

    ISTANBUL 21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Global financier George Soros was received on Tuesday by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    Soros expressed his satisfaction over the meeting and praised the patriarchate's initiatives on ecological issues and matters relating to religious freedoms.

    Soros had already met with Patriarch Vartholomeos in Prague on 1999.

    [12] Minister of Macedonia-Thrace meets Kosovo Parliament president

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Kalantzis on Tuesday held an acquaintance meeting with the President of the Parliament of Kosovo Kol Berisha, that focused on issues of mutual interest.

    Kalantzis reiterated the steadfast position of the Greek government concerning the European prospects of all countries of southeastern Europe, stressing at the same time the need to further strengthen relations of cooperation with the purpose of achieving the progress and prosperity of peoples and the consolidation of a permanent climate of security and stability in the region.

    [13] Employment Minister addresses Austrian Embassy luncheon

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Savvas Tsitouridis was the main speaker at a luncheon given on Tuesday by the Austrian embassy at a downtown Athens hotel on the occasion of the end of Austria's European Union presidency.

    The minister underlined the importance of consent among social partners for reforms in the sector of employment and social solidarity.

    The luncheon was attended by the ambassadors of the EU's 25 member-states.

    [14] Justice ministry bill ratified in principle

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A Parliament plenum on Tuesday ratified in principle a bill prepared by the justice ministry, while opposition parties rejected it, opposing article 4 on the promotions of judicial functionaries which they considered as being "party favouritism".

    [15] Govt sees progress in Third Community Support Framework programs

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday urged for more efforts to successfully complete a Third Community Support Framework program.

    Addressing a meeting of a Monitoring Commission, the Greek minister said the government's main priority was that citizens would understand the significance of a Third Community Support Framework program.

    "We have started from a very low point," Alogoskoufis said, adding "many efforts are made in the fiscal sector and to improving economic competitiveness". The Greek minister said monthly absorption rate in March 2004 was 0.43 pct to reach 0.88 pct currently. He added that great progress was made, any dramatic cutbacks have been avoided and measures were taken to ensure a more efficient implementation of community funded programs. "Our efforts must be constant while it is important to simplify procedures," Alogoskoufis said.

    Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Christos Folias, addressing the meeting, underlined the necessity of fully exploiting all funds in a Third Community Support Framework. "We do not want to see even one euro spent but invested," Folias said stressing that the government was taking initiatives to creating a healthy economic environment in the country.

    Constantinos Mousouroulis, secretary general for Development and Investments said the government was making a final review of a Third Community Support Framework and noted that absorption rate of EU funds currently totaled 44.6 percent (ministerial programs) and 42.2 percent (regional programs). Mousouroulis said Greece has absorbed around 15 billion euros so far and that another 18 billion euros must be absorbed by the end of 2008.

    Representatives from the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), GSEE -Greece's largest trade union umbrella- and PASEGES -farm cooperatives union- urged for an acceleration efforts to raise absorption rates of EU funds. SEB's representative said the next six month would be crucial not only for the future of Third CSF programs but for completing procedures related with a National Strategic Benchmark Framework. He warned, however, of the risk of fiscal adjustments and stressed that municipal elections in October should not be used as an excuse for loosening the fiscal policy.

    Paris Koukoulopoulos, president of KEDKE -municipal authorities' central union- expressed his strong concern over progress in a Third Community Support Framework and urged for simpler procedures and inspections.

    Opposition says gov't losing EU funds: The parliamentary opposition Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology on Tuesday charged the government with losing European Union funds.

    "A new revision of the Third Community Support Framework that the government has announced is nothing but a panic-move to try and reduce the loss of funds at the expense of efficiency and the social and growth angle afforded by the monies available," the party's shadow economic and social policy spokesman, Panayiotis Lafazanis, said in a statement.

    [16] FinMin says open to any possible competitive bids for Emporiki Bank

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday stressed that the government would examine seriously any comparative competitive bids to be submitted for the purchase of Emporiki Bank, after Credit Agricole submitted a 3.0 billion euros offer for the Greek bank.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said: "Certainly, we will see everyone who wanted a briefing by the government". Alogoskoufis warned investors to be alerted for any signs of speculative moves in the stock market related with Emporiki Bank's privatization program.

    Commenting on remarks made by EU Monetary Affairs Commission Joaquin Almunia on Monday night, Alogoskoufis said his remarks fully justified a fiscal audit of the economy made by the government and the government's policy to bring the country's fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP this year.

    "We will continue our fiscal adjustment program with the 2007 budget, focusing on reducing spending and combating tax evasion. These are the structural measures needed to further reduce our deficits," the Greek minister said, adding that Greece could gradually achieve balanced budgets by 2010.

    [17] Government will continue mild economic adjustment, spokesman says

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government has a specific, steady economic policy for repairing the damage done by the policies of past governments, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Tuesday when asked if the government was contemplating additional measures for the economy.

    "The policy of mild adjustment will continue and by the end of the year we have well-founded hopes that the results will be those that we have announced," Antonaros told reporters.

    Regarding Greece's ailing social insurance system, the spokesman said the government was not contemplating any changes until after the next elections, in order to allow time for an in-depth public debate.

    He said the government had invited the political parties and social bodies to take part in an extensive discussion on the pension system, in the hopes of finding "the reference points that will act as a base for the resolving the problems after the next elections."

    [18] Greece, Turkey natgas link ready in 2007

    ISTANBUL 21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A natural gas pipeline between Greece and Turkey will be ready in early 2007, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Tuesday.

    "At the beginning of 2007, the national natural gas systems of Greece and Turkey will be linked," Sioufas told an international conference on energy that he inaugurated with Turkey's premier, Tayyip Erdogan.

    "The way will be open for the transportation of natural gas from output regions of the Caspian and Middle East via Turkey and Greece to major centers of consumption in Europe," Sioufas said.

    Greece's policy was to create conditions for peace and cooperation so that countries of southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean would enjoy fruits of economic growth to which they were entitled, the minister noted.

    Cooperation in the energy sector between Greece and Turkey would benefit both sides and the wider region, he added.

    [19] Inflation cause of concern, analyst says

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The gap between Greece's inflation rate and the European Union average widened in the first quarter to around 1.5 basis points, the Centre for Planning and Economic Research said in a market report released on Tuesday.

    "Movement so far in 2006 cannot be viewed as very encouraging," the centre warned.

    Wage rises in the public and private sectors that are relatively high in comparison with the eurozone may have an adverse impact on inflation, according to the report.

    At the same time, the centre was optimistic about the country's fiscal revitalization and attainment of the government's target of lowering the fiscal deficit to below 3.0% of gross domestic product this year.

    [20] Opposition says National Bank misled parliament

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) has accused the head of Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece of misleading parliament over the planned acquisition of Turkey's Finansbank, stating its case in a letter to the prime minister and to the house's speaker.

    "This was an unprecedented misleading of parliament," the party's shadow economy spokeswoman, Vasso Papandreou, and PASOK members of parliament's economics committee said in the letter released on Tuesday.

    The accusation came after Takis Arapoglou, chairman CEO of National, the country's largest bank, outlined details of the acquisition agreement with Finansbank to the standing committee on May 30, complying with a summons from PASOK members of the group's all-party composition.

    Also misled were investors in the Athens bourse, as Arapolou withheld information about risk in investing in Turkey and other adverse data involved in the purchase. In addition, the chairman gave false information about the deal, the letter claimed.

    Ten statements by Arapoglou recorded in the session's minutes conflicted with information in a prospectus released by National on June 13, it added.

    [21] Gov't, easyGroup in Greek cruise talks

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis on Tuesday met Stelios, founder and owner of easyGroup, and local government officials of the Cyclades islands for talks on possible operations by the company in the domestic market.

    The officials discussed the possibility of easyCruise, a member of the group, launching cruises in Greece, possibly next year.

    "We had a very constructive meeting with mayors of the Cyclades and Stelios, a prospective investor in cruises. The climate of the meeting was excellent and we believe that cruise ships will be in operation from 2007 on specific routes in the Cyclades," Kefaloyiannis reported. "Already two plus two vessels have been ordered from Greek shipyards."

    The minister said that the domestic cruise ship market would re-emerge to the forefront and become a centre of attraction for all large sector companies in the world, helping to boost growth in Greece's islands and benefiting the economy.

    "We are trying to display the hidden value that exists in island Greece, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the Ionian islands and Crete," he noted.

    Kefaloyiannis also welcomed cooperation between the ministries of merchant marine and tourism with the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation in expanding the market.

    [22] Navy Week 2006 beginning on June 25

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greek Maritime Club President and former minister Alexandros Papadongonas referred to the unbreakable links between the Greeks and the sea during a press conference given in Piraeus on Tuesday on the occasion of the celebration of Navy Week 2006 that will begin on June 25 and end on July 2.

    On June 23 Navy General Staff chief Dimitrios Gousis will lay a wreath at the tomb of Admiral Kanaris at the First Cemetery in Athens, while in the evening on the same day fireworks from the battleship Averof will signal the beginning of events.

    President Karolos Papoulias will be inspecting the Fleet on June 28.

    [23] Air traffic controllers' strike to ground flights

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Air traffic controllers are to stage a work stoppage on Thursday from 12:00 to 16:00 that is expected to ground flights from airports around the country.

    The controllers said on Tuesday that they would join a 24-hour strike called by the ADEDY civil servants union.

    [24] Conference on disabled people and the mass media ends

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The international two-day conference on "Disabled people and the mass media", organized by the Communication and Information General Secretariats ended on Tuesday with seven initiatives and commitments being made by Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos.

    The minister promised that the conference will take on the character of an international conference that will be taking place once a year. The next conference will be held in June 2007 and publisher Nikos Voulgaropoulos will be its president.

    The Information and Communication General Secretariats will enact a contest of documentary films on disabled people. The first five documentaries will each receive 20,000 euros as an award, while the critics committee will be announced soon. According to the minister, the documentaries will be broadcast by the channels of the National Radio and Television Corporation (ERT).

    According to Roussopoulos, the Institute of Audiovisual Means will conduct public opinion research on issues concerning disabled people. The first such research report will take place this year and the second in June 2007.

    Lastly, ERT's telemarathon, due to take place in December 2006, will be dedicated to serving the aims of the conference. "We are starting an effort that will not stop at conferences and speeches but contains commitments and targets that can be assessed."

    [25] City of Athens' building façade program on display

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The city of Athens' development agency is staging a photographic exhibition at the Technopolis complex this month showcasing the results of the municipality's building façade restoration programme. The exhibition, entitled "Building Facades… Aspects of the City!" runs between June 17 and 25.

    More than 3,000 building facades have been renovated since the summer of 2003 in the "Prosopsi" façade restoration programme, which improved Athens' aesthetics ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games and continues to operate today.

    The exhibition includes images of buildings before and after renovation, simple apartment blocks and noted examples of Athens' neoclassical architecture.

    Technopolis is located at 100, Pireos St. in the near-downtown Gazi district.

    [26] Annual Samothrace journalism conference this week

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The 14th annual Panhellenic Journalism Conference again takes place on the northeastern Aegean island of Samothrace this week, June 22 to 25, with approximately 400 journalists, foreign correspondents and mass media professors from Greece and a handful of other countries - Bulgaria, Turkey and Russia, among others -- participating.

    The overall theme of this year's conference is "Greek Television Today".

    The conference, held under the auspices of the Union of Prefectures of Greece, is again organised by Greece's press unions in cooperation with the prefecture of Evros and the municipality of Samothrace.

    [27] Athens prof. predicts dramatic climate change for Greece

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The next years will witness dramatic changes to Greece's climate, with increasingly frequent patterns of extreme weather phenomena, according to predictions presented on Tuesday by Athens University professor Christos Zerefos at a seminar held in the city of Larissa.

    The new conditions, with alternating periods of drought and heavy rain and the virtual disappearance of the spring and summer seasons, would be especially intense in the agricultural plains of Thessaly, Zerefos said.

    The seminar was held to mark World Environment Day, with the participation of two scientists from the United States and Norway.

    Speakers focused particularly on worrying signs of climate change and on the need to protect the water table, as well as evidence of global warming as a result of the greenhouse effect. They stressed the need for the world to find alternatives to fossil fuels and turn to solar power and wind power, while noting that natural gas could only be a temporary solution.

    For Thessaly, speakers highlighted problems linked to climate change but also water, with the region in danger of desertification through lack of rain and a constantly falling water table.

    [28] 65 pc of Greeks between 16-74 have no knowledge of informatics, European Commission says

    BRUSSELS 21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greeks appear to have "digital illiteracy" since 65 percent of the population between the 16-74 age bracket have no knowledge of informatics and the overall use of electronic computers.

    This is deduced by data contained in an announcement issued here on Tuesday by the European Commission concerning European citizens' relations with informatics in 2005.

    According to this data, 37 percent of Europeans aged between 16 and 74 declare themselves totally ignorant of informatics and electronic computers.

    The highest percentage is in Greece with 65 percent, followed by Italy with 59, Hungary 57, Cyprus and Portugal 54 and Lithuania 53.

    On the other hand, the citizens who are most familiar with the use of electronic computers are the Danes with only 10 percent declaring themselves digitally illiterate, followed by the Swedes with 11 pc, the people of Luxembourg 20 and the Germans with 21.

    [29] New cable car system at Mt. Parnitha

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A new cable car station at the foot of Mt. Parnitha, northwest of Athens, leading to the recently renovated casino and resort (Mont Parnes) atop the eponymous summit was inaugurated on Tuesday, thus completing the first phase of a 64-million-euro investment by the facility's management. The second phase of renovations is budgeted at 80 million euros, according to the Regency Casino Mont Parnes' officials.

    The new cable car (teleferik) station and twin lines/pylons - overseen by the Austrian firm Doppelmayr -- will be able to transport 2,500 people every hour, while operating in winds of up to 120 kilometers an hour. Additionally, the ride up and down Mt. Parnitha will be free for the resort's customers.

    Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas represented the government at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

    [30] Play about discovery of Macedonian graves debuts

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The discovery of the royal Macedonian graves at the Vergina archaeological site, west of modern-day Thessaloniki, has been transferred to the stage by the State Theatre of Northern Greece, as the first performance was already held this past month in Vergina.

    The next performance comes this week at Thessaloniki’s Roman Forum outdoor theatre.

    The play is based on the diary and texts of late archaeologist Manolis Andronikos, whose team uncovered the Vergina site, the burial place of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.

    [31] Patras Cultural Capital program features Power's 'Harbour Symphony'

    (ANA/MPA) 21/6/2006

    The Patras Cultural Capital organisation aims to strike an original note - both literally and metaphorically - with the inclusion of the "Harbour Symphony" by Canadian composer Rod Power, written to be performed by ships sounding their horns, into its programme for World Music Day on June 21.

    The 'instruments' will be the horns of ships anchored in the harbour and the 'musicians' will be the Patras Boy Scouts, who will sound the horns based on a system of signals. The performance kicks off at the Agios Nikolaos pier at 9:30 p.m. and it is estimated that the massive sound will carry for a radius of 12 miles in every direction.

    The idea dates back to the New Year celebration of 1983 in the harbour of St. John in Newfoundland, when local architect Joe Carter realised that the harbour formed a natural amphitheatre that amplified the noise made by the ships and decided to enlist a series musicians to write a composition for ships' horns.

    [32] Five illegal immigrants arrested in seas near Samos

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Five Afghan illegal immigrants were arrested at midday on Tuesday by the Greek coast guard when they were intercepted in waters north of Aghios Kirykos near the Aegean island of Samos.

    The five migrants were taken to a hospital on Samos for medical check-ups and from there to the island's increasingly cramped reception centre for immigrants, where they will be held alongside another 97 refugees already detained there for entering Greece illegally.

    [33] Cabinet discusses draft bill for professional sports

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A draft bill setting up a new organisational structure for the professional sports, such as football, basketball and volleyball, was unanimously approved by a meeting of the inner cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday.

    Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos afterwards said the government was sending a message to investors and those who agree to this new course for professional sports that fans must see a better spectacle, fewer incidents and very few financial problems.

    "Look to your sports and the state will be a stern presence in the part that belongs to it," Orfanos stressed.

    The deputy minister said the meeting did not discuss the problems of individual teams or isolated issues, such as PAOK's administrative woes or the new stadium for Panathinaikos.

    Regarding sports-related violence, the minister stressed that the justice ministry had already tabled a bill, in which one article barred the suspension of sentences for soccer violence, while ministerial decisions were being prepared to better organise the police for sports events and to issue tickets with holders' names.

    [34] General Information Secretary visits Beijing

    21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The General Information Secretariat, represented by Secretary General Panos Livadas, responding to an invitation by the Beijing Olympic Games Organising Committee in the framework of providing Olympic know-how on communication issues, visited Beijing for talks with the vice president and other officials of the Organising Committee.

    Livadas was also the main speaker at a conference organized by the Organising Committee for the representatives of Chinese ministries and organisations which will participate in the central communications group during the Beijing Olympic Games.

    [35] Papadopoulos and Talat to meet

    NICOSIA 21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos will meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on July 3 in the presence of the third member of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, Christopher Girod and UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller.

    The announcement was made by Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis here Tuesday.

    Asked if during the framework of the meeting there will be a private meeting between President Papadopoulos and Talat, Pashiardis replied "for the time being, there is no such possibility".

    He added that the meeting will solely discuss the missing persons' issue and "nothing more".

    [36] Cyprus confirms meeting between President Papadopoulos and UN diplomat

    NICOSIA 21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari arrives in Cyprus on 6 July and on the same day will be received by President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos.

    Invited to comment on reports that Gambari has asked for a joint meeting between President Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said "President Papadopoulos has absolutely no problem with meeting Mr.

    Talat, on the contrary he would like such meeting which will take place not to create impressions but to be a meeting of substance".

    "In order for such a meeting to be productive and creative, it should be sufficiently prepared so that it will not fail and reach a deadlock", said Pashiardis, adding that the UN have not made any effort to arrange such a meeting.

    "A possible failure of such meeting will not only damage the UN's prestige, it will also be an irreparable blow to the whole effort to open the road that will lead to a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem," he added.

    Pashiardis said the Cyprus problem "is at a stage where it does not accept any experimentation, or impressive gimmicks. The Turkish side has every reason to pursue making impressions. Our side has no reason to help the Turkish side in its pursuit; however it has every reason to aim for the substance and to pursue negotiations that will have the necessary preconditions to be useful and productive".

    And in order to be useful and productive, he added, "the necessary actions and work must take place beforehand so that a meeting between President Papadopoulos and Mr. Talat will not be a meeting merely for making impressions but will be a meeting of substance and prospect, excluding failure and deadlock and promising success and results".

    Asked if a sign of preparation would be the operation of the technical committees, agreed in Paris, Pashiardis said that a "significant example of sufficient preparation of the negotiations would surely be the implementation of what was agreed in Paris during President Papadopoulos' meeting with the UN Secretary-General".

    [37] Cypriot FM meets EU officials in Brussels

    BRUSSELS 21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas described as "useful and productive" his meeting here Tuesday with Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

    Lillikas, who is in Brussels, had his first meetings since assuming office last week, with Cypriot Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Marcos Kyprianou and EU High Commissioner for External Policy, Xavier Solana.

    During his discussions, the Cyprus problem, the package of measures to support Turkish Cypriots and Turkey's obligations towards the EU were examined.

    Speaking after meeting Rehn, Lillikas said they examined the financial protocol to support the Turkish Cypriots. The two sides concentrated on cooperation between the relevant services of the Commission and the Cyprus government in implementing the protocol.

    Lillikas said that "we believe that with good cooperation, prompt exchange of views and information the regulation will be able to be implemented more effectively to serve its aims which are the development of Turkish Cypriots and development of relations between the two communities to strengthen the aim of reunification".

    "We should be anticipating positive developments following today's meeting", the minister added.

    Regarding the regulation for direct trade with the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus, on the basis of negotiations under the Luxembourg presidency and the COREPER decisions, Lillikas underlined that "despite the efforts of the Luxembourg and Austrian presidencies, there has been no progress because there has been no positive stance on the Turkish Cypriots' part".

    The Cypriot minister said "we would like the overall package to be adopted and for this reason we asked Mr. Rehn's support and contribution".

    The EU Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) reached a decision on the financial regulation for the Turkish Cypriots in February, as well as the terms under which the regulation for direct trade with the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus could be achieved.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

    Rehn informed Lillikas that already the Finnish presidency, which will take over the EU presidency on 1st July, began dealing with the problem and will make efforts to solve it.

    The Cypriot minister avoided predicting whether the Finnish presidency will succeed where the Austrian presidency failed. Within the framework of deliberations with the new presidency, Lillikas will meet his Finnish counterpart in Helsinki when the right date is found or during the next General Affairs Council on 19 July in Brussels.

    Lillikas also informed Rehn on the latest developments following President Tassos Papadopoulos' meeting in Paris with the UN Secretary-General, as well as efforts underway for discussions on a technical level with the representatives of the two leaders in Cyprus.

    He said they also discussed UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari's forthcoming visit to Cyprus. Lillikas said Rehn agrees that the effort should be to prepare a new round of talks and not just a discussion on everyday issues. The minister said Rehn's view is that all these initiatives and regulations should lead to a solution and reunification and not the creation of two separate states.

    Regarding Turkey's EU course, the FM said that the Cypriot side expressed its concern over Ankara's refusal to respond to its obligations towards the EU and Cyprus. "We stressed that Ankara should be persuaded and pressure should be exerted so that it will proceed with the implementation of its commitments during the time until October and the Commission's progress report."

    Lillikas said Rehn expressed his concern on this issue, adding that he does not hesitate to take an open stand on the subject.

    During his meeting with Solana the two discussed international issues, (Iran) and the Cypriot minister concentrated on Turkey's tactics to prevent Cyprus' participation in programmes within the framework of cooperation between the EU and NATO.

    The minister said there is the phenomenon that although Cyprus financially supports these programmes, it cannot have any direct participation.

    Solana said this was a complicated issue, noting he agrees that all 25 EU states should participate in these programmes.

    Lillikas also met with Cypriot Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Marcos Kyprianou.

    [38] Rehn reiterates EU's demand that Turkey meets its obligations

    BRUSSELS 21/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn reiterated the Union's demand that Turkey opens its ports and airports under the flag of all EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, which became a full EU member on May 1, 2004.

    "Turkey should open its ports to vessels under flag of all Member States, including the Republic of Cyprus. As set out in the Negotiating Framework, the opening of accession negotiations on the relevant chapters depends on Turkey's implementation of its obligations to all Member States under the Association Agreement", he said.

    In statements before the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs which discussed Tuesday the draft report on Turkey, Rehn said that "because Turkey is a negotiating country, our expectations of Turkey have naturally increased".

    "Let me now refer to Turkey's obligation to honor its existing commitments. This applies in particular to the need to fully implement the Additional Protocol adapting the EC-Turkey Association Agreement to the accession of ten new Member States", Rehn said.

    He added that the difficult discussions on the closure of the negotiation chapter Science & Research demonstrate that this issue is omnipresent in the process.

    "If we want to avoid a major problem in the autumn, Turkey needs to stick to its word", he noted.

    The Commissioner pointed out that "there is an alternative to a major accident, provided the parties in Cyprus stop complaining against past injustice and rather work on future solutions with a pragmatic approach".

    Referring to the decision to establish technical committees to prepare the ground for negotiations on the Cyprus issue, he said that the EU welcomes the idea to launch technical committees under the auspices of the UN, adding that "this is important for both communities on the island".

    Rehn expressed hope that they will be established very soon, noting that this should in no way delay the re-engagement of all parties concerned in UN sponsored talks on the comprehensive settlement.

    "The Commission is obviously ready to support such talks", the Commissioner added.

    He furthermore expressed hope that the EU does more to demonstrate clearly its determination to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community, and thus to allow for direct trade between this community and the rest of the Union.

    "EU-Turkey relations are governed by a clear set of guiding principles. Full respect for the political criteria is crucial. At the same time, Turkey should comply with its obligations, which are the Association Agreement, including its Additional Protocol and the Customs Union, as well as the Accession Partnership. This is essential to re-establish mutual confidence which is so badly needed in the negotiation process. Failure to do so will affect the overall progress in the negotiations", he said.

    Concluding his remarks, Rehn noted that the progress in the EU-Turkey negotiations will depend not only on progress in the different chapters, but first and foremost on the pace of reforms.

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