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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-06-24

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

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

June 24, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] German FM holds talks with Greek counterpart, warns Turkey to honor protocol commitments
  • [02] Government reiterates calls for dialogue on education reforms
  • [03] Prime minister to visit Helsinki, Stockholm
  • [04] PM Karamanlis meets with Ortega
  • [05] PM meets with ND honorary leader
  • [06] Report sees U.S.-Turkey relations strained after Iraq, urges action on Cyprus issue
  • [07] KKE leader visits Xanthi
  • [08] Kazakhstan's ombudsman visits Greece
  • [09] Annual memorial service for Andreas Papandreou
  • [10] Statue of Andreas Papandreou unveiled
  • [11] Candidates in Samos, Fourni to be backed by ND in local go't elections
  • [12] Greek-Chinese tourism cooperation agreement signed
  • [13] Greece to gradually raise fuel consumption tax from July 1
  • [14] PASOK party official comments on increase in fuel tax
  • [15] Gov't, opposition clash over public works
  • [16] Employment minister gives account of government policy
  • [17] Crisis wine distillation to open in Greece
  • [18] Proton Bank, Omega Bank sign merger plan
  • [19] SYN party reiterates opposition to Emporiki Bank privatization
  • [20] Greece remains top tourism destination for Austrians
  • [21] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks up
  • [22] Journalistic conference in Samothrace begins
  • [23] Navy Week 2006 begins in Faliro
  • [24] Health minister visits Peloponnese
  • [25] Conference on 'Cultural paths in Balkans'
  • [26] Balkan University Network charter signed
  • [27] The missing child case in Veria takes new turn
  • [28] World premiere for Mimis Plessas' 'Apostle Pavlos' oratorio
  • [29] Weak earthquake in Mandra, Attica
  • [30] Three charged for rioting during Thursday's student rally
  • [31] US embassy Consular Section closed on Monday
  • [32] Minor arrested on drugs charges
  • [33] Commission takes decisions regarding financial aid to T/Cs
  • [34] President Papadopoulos: We will defend our rights in the
  • [35] Cyprus President lays foundation stone of new Larnaca Airport
  • [36] ''Properties committee'' not consistent with Human Rights Convention, says lawyer
  • [37] Cyprus FM holds meetings in Portugal

  • [01] German FM holds talks with Greek counterpart, warns Turkey to honor protocol commitments

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    German Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier held talks with his Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis on Friday night and warned Turkey that it must honor commitments it has undertaken concerning the protocol on the customs union that Turkey should extend to the ten new European Union member-states, including Cyprus.

    "We must make it clear to Turkey that it has the obligation of honoring all the commitments it has assumed and which concern the protocol that it must implement," Steinmeier said after his meeting with Bakoyannis, adding that "it is up to all of us to lead Turkey in this direction."

    Asked how pressure will be exerted in this direction, the head of German diplomacy said that "if we had resolved how, the previous summit would have been a great success. We have not reached this conclusion. There is no doubt that all of Europe believes the accession of Turkey will be an important step forward for all and for Turkey. We shall all work in this direction."

    Referring to the issue of Turkey's accession course to Europe, that dominated the discussion between the two foreign ministers together with the question of the European constitution, Bakoyannis said "we are clear in our position. The Europeans are all cooperating very closely in the handling of this problem. We shall continue our efforts, expecting Turkey to realize that the implementation of the protocol is a precondition for the next step" noting that "we shall make an effort which we will continue throughout this period of time."

    On the question of skepticism prevailed on the chapter of science and research shortly before the last week's EU summit, Steinmeier said that the Austrian EU presidency did all that it could to defuse the crisis, but stressed that "I do not have the feeling that this can constitute a solution for the continuation of the course of negotiations. The efforts must be continued in the future as well."

    Bakoyannis, referring to the German EU presidency at the beginning of 2007, said that "it will be an important presidency" since the period of reflection on the European constitution will come to an end during this presidency.

    Steinmeier spoke on his part of the "challenge" of the German presidency and noted that "he has received a mandate to prepare a proposal so that an impetus will be given to this issue" in accordance with the directive given in Brussels "for the promotion of the European constitution to continue."

    Asked whether he will discuss the issue of the future purchase of fighter aircraft by Greece with the foreign minister during the dinner he was due to have with her later in the night, the German foreign minister said "I will not leave this issue at the corner. We will definitely discuss it."

    Both sides placed particular emphasis on close cooperation which, according to Bakoyannis, will continue, while her German counterpart spoke of the two countries "sailing in the same direction" since the day Bakoyannis assumed the foreign ministry.

    [02] Government reiterates calls for dialogue on education reforms

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    The government on Friday reiterated a call to all sides to come forward with ideas and proposals for reforming Greece's tertiary education system, while stressing that it would welcome feedback on the proposals unveiled by the education ministry.

    Asked to comment on violent incidents during a student protests on Thursday, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that the important thing was for all sides to participate and present their views:

    "We would like to believe that all the bodies involved, the majority of which I imagine agree that something very important must change for the better, will come forward to present their views on the specific proposals included in the draft bill unveiled by the education minister," the spokesman said.

    He also stressed that the government's proposals were on the table and specific, so that there was no justification for protests organized to press other demands that had nothing to do with the changes proposed by the government.

    Regarding proposed changes to article 16 of the Constitution in order to allow the establishment of private universities, Antonaros pointed out that the government's proposals for this were again specific and also had the support of the main opposition party. He also stressed this was not something that would be voted by Parliament in the form of a bill but a lengthy process that would be discussed in this Parliament and ratified, if approved by the necessary majority, by the next Parliament.

    "There must not therefore be this connection [with the current draft bill on education]," he added.

    Asked if dialogue would be limited to the proposals in the government's draft bill, the spokesman said that any proposal "within reason" for improving education could be submitted and discussed.

    [03] Prime minister to visit Helsinki, Stockholm

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will depart on Sunday for Helsinki where he will meet with Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen on Monday, June 26.

    After Finland, the prime minister will visit Stockholm to meet with Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson on June 27, announced alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros.

    [04] PM Karamanlis meets with Ortega

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Friday with former Nicaraguan President and candidate in the upcoming presidential elections in November, Daniel Ortega.

    No statements were made after the meeting.

    [05] PM meets with ND honorary leader

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Friday with former prime minister and ruling New Democracy party honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis, with whom he discussed current affairs.

    Mitsotakis told reporters after the meeting that they discussed "all the major current affairs", adding that he would be leaving for Chania, Crete, next week for his summer holiday.

    Questioned on recent opinion polls, Mitsotakis said that opinion polls "record the reality of the moment", adding that "things flow, change".

    [06] Report sees U.S.-Turkey relations strained after Iraq, urges action on Cyprus issue

    WASHINGTON, 24/6/2006 (ANA-MPA - A. Ellis)

    Relations between the United States and Turkey have taken a battering since the war in Iraq according to a report earlier this week by the prestigious and highly influential Council on Foreign Relations - a nonpartisan U.S. organization and think-tank - which urged for action on both sides to improve bilateral ties.

    The report also referred extensively to the Cyprus issue, calling on Washington to take a lead role in settling the dispute and exert its influence to persuade the Cyprus Republic to show "a more constructive stance".

    In the 20-page report "Generating Momentum for a New Era in U.S.-Turkey Relations" that was released on Wednesday, the authors note a chill between Ankara and Washington following Turkey's refusal to allow U.S. forces to pass through Turkey into north Iraq in 2003, particularly among the military establishment in Washington, and the fact that several U.S. officials now believe Turkey is not a reliable ally.

    They also point to a rising tide of anti-Americanism among the Turkish populace while claiming that reforms to the country's Constitution and institutions generally - though falling short of full democratization - mean that public opinion has a much greater influence on foreign policy.

    As a result, the authors argue that Washington can no longer rely on its ties with Turkey's elite, including the Turkish military, in order to promote its interests.

    Regarding Cyprus, the report calls for the immediate appointment of a special coordinator for the Cyprus issue, a position that has remained empty since the departure of Tom Weston and asserts that the provisions of the Annan plan favored the Greek-Cypriot side.

    It urges the U.S. government to "encourage" the European Union to exert their influence on the Cyprus government to show a "more constructive stance" and calls on U.S. President George Bush to take steps to end the international isolation of Turkish-Cypriots.

    The authors also assert that finding a solution to the Cyprus issue has been made much more difficult after Cyprus joined the EU.

    Other steps recommended by the report are to establish a regular trilateral dialogue between the United States, Turkey and Iraqi Kurds, more active support of Turkey's EU candidacy and creating a "high-level committee of U.S.-Turkey cooperation".

    The report also refers to the much closer ties between Washington and Ankara in the past, mentioning among others that U.S. intelligence services collaborated with the secret services of other countries in order to track down and arrest rebel Kurd leader Abdullah Ocalan.

    [07] KKE leader visits Xanthi

    XANTHI, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga said all Greek citizens should enjoy equal treatment without discrimination during a press conference held during her visit to Xanthi on Friday.

    The Moslem minority and all other minorities in Greece were "an inseparable part of the social and class structure of society," she said.

    "For us they are workers, employees or farmers. The struggle to improve their lot is inseparably linked with the farming issue, the labor problem, the struggle against imperialism and all other forms of discrimination," she stressed, adding that the problems were not related to religion but class.

    Commenting on the protests by students and university teachers, Papariga underlined that "free education in Greece is a myth" and said her party wanted true free education for the working classes, while she strenuously opposed all government efforts to promote joint ventures between the private and public sectors, especially in health and education.

    She called on voters to weaken the two main parties in the upcoming local government elections and cast their votes for KKE candidates.

    [08] Kazakhstan's ombudsman visits Greece

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Head of the Republic of Kazakhstan ombudsman's office Bolat Baikadamov is carrying out an official visit to Greece accompanied by close associates. The Kazakhstan delegation accepted an invitation by Greece's ombudsman George Kaminis issued within the framework of the European Commission program for providing information on human rights protection, cooperation of different authority sectors and preparation of the necessary legislation by Kazakhstan.

    They were also briefed on issues falling under the ombudsman's jurisdiction particularly, discrimination, government-citizen relations, children's rights, social protection, public health, and improvement of living standards.

    Issues concerning legislation and greater parliamentary cooperation were discussed in the meetings the Kazakh delegation had with Greek Parliament deputies.

    [09] Annual memorial service for Andreas Papandreou

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    The annual memorial service for main opposition PASOK party founder and former prime minister Andreas Papandreou, which this year marks the 10th anniversary since his death, was held in Athens on Friday, attended by family members, party officials and friends.

    Dimitra Liani-Papandreou, Papandreou's widow, said after the service that the best memorial for Andreas Papandreou would be to study again his positions on national issues.

    [10] Statue of Andreas Papandreou unveiled

    KALENTZI, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    A statue of late prime minister and founder of the main opposition PASOK Andreas Papandreou was unveiled on Friday evening in the Peloponnese village of Kalentzi, by party President George Papandreou.

    Kalentzi is the native village of the Papandreou family. The event was one of many commemorating the 10th anniversary since Andreas Papandreou's death.

    [11] Candidates in Samos, Fourni to be backed by ND in local go't elections

    SAMOS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    The ruling New Democracy (ND) local government secretariat on Friday announced the mayoral and prefectural candidates in the municipalities of Samos and Fourni that will be backed by ND.

    In the prefecture of Samos, ND will back candidate prefect Alexandros Giaoutzis, a lawyer and current prefectural adviser, while businessman Manolis Geroglis will be the party's nominee in the municipality of Vathi.

    Businessman and incumbent mayor Panagiotis Lymperis will run for re-election as mayor in Karlovasi supported by ND, while Polykratis Constantinidis, an agriculturist and incumbent mayor, will be the ND mayoral nominee in the municipality of Pythagorio.

    Businessman Vangelis Isidorou will run for mayor of Marathokampos and Konstantinos Glaros, a carpenter and former mayor will be a mayoral candidate in the municipality of Fourni Korsei.

    [12] Greek-Chinese tourism cooperation agreement signed

    BEIJING, 24/6/2006 (ANA-MPA - M. Tsivgeli)

    Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and her Chinese counterpart Shao Qiwei signed a tourism cooperation agreement on Friday that constitutes one more step toward closer bilateral relations in the sector of tourism.

    Bilateral cooperation in the organizing of the Olympic Games was a distinct chapter in the agreement and within this framework Greece will be the honored country in the annual China International Travel Mart (CITM) tourism exhibition held in Shanghai in November.

    Petralia stated that Greece can become a number one European destination for millions of Chinese tourists. As it was pointed out, a Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) office opened in Beijing a year ago providing information to the Chinese who wish to visit Greece, while detailed tourist guides written in Chinese are also available.

    Meanwhile, Petralia also held a meeting with Air China general director Ma Xu Lun and agreed on the need for a direct flight service between Greece and China. An invitation was issued to the airline management to visit Greece in August and discuss the prospect with the responsible government ministers, while until then the option of chartered flights is being considered.

    The Greek tourism minister in comments she made during her visit to the Olympic Stadium in Beijing stressed that the success of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is certain.

    [13] Greece to gradually raise fuel consumption tax from July 1

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Friday announced it would gradually raise special consumption tax on fuel by 2009, as part of efforts to harmonize domestic regulations with EU's legislation.

    A finance ministry announcement said the special consumption tax on fuel would begin rising from July 1, 2006. The fuel consumption tax on unleaded petrol will rise by 5.7 pct, or 0.02 euros per liter including VAT. Similar increases will be introduced from January 1, 2007 and January 1, 2008 (5.8 pct and 5.7 pct, respectively), while a 2.6 pct increase will be introduced by January 1, 2009, as the European Union does not allow greater increases for that year.

    A special consumption tax on super unleaded petrol will rise by 3.5 pct from July 1, 2006, or 0.013 euros per liter including VAT. The consumption tax will rise 3.4 pct from January 1, 2007, 3.3 pct from January 1, 2008 and 2.9 pct from January 1, 2009.

    The special consumption tax on diesel will rise by 6.1 pct from July 1, 2006, or 0.018 euros per liter including VAT. The tax will rise by 6.2 pct from January 1, 2007, 6.2 pct from January 1, 2008 and 3.1 pct from January 1, 2009.

    Higher consumption tax on fuel will not affect favorable taxation of heating oil, the finance ministry said in its announcement. The ministry stressed that consumption tax on fuel were currently 20 percent lower in Greece, compared with the lowest fuel tax factors in the European Union (based on 2010 projections). The gradual approach of harmonizing Greek regulation to EU legislation was opted to minimize the impact on inflation, the economy and citizens, the ministry said.The measure is included in the country's updated Stability and Growth Programme for the period 2005-2008.

    [14] PASOK party official comments on increase in fuel tax

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    The increase in the special consumption taxes for fuel took place only for revenue-receiving reasons and burdens inflation, while it leads the economy even deeper into the cycle of stagnation and citizens to despair, main opposition PASOK party economy sector official Vasso Papandreou said on Friday.

    Papandreou said that the "government is invoking the country's obligation to adjust to the mandates of the European Union, while it could leave the increase in the special consumption tax for fuel for a period that would be more suitable from a point of view of international conjuncture since international oil prices are currently at the highest levels in the past 20 years."

    [15] Gov't, opposition clash over public works

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Public Works Minister George Souflias on Friday defended the government's record on state projects, countering criticism by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).

    "In two years (the government has held office), we have achieved a wealth of public works, while the rate of tendering has quadrupled in comparison with the average in 1994-1993....The era of corruption has ended, once and for all," the minister told parliament in response to a question tabled by PASOK.

    "Just in 2005, we have tendered 130 projects under the new law totaling 5.1 billion euros, which represents 50% of works tendered from 1994 to 2003 when projects tendered totaled 10.7 billion euros, including construction for the Athens 2004 Olympics," Souflias said.

    PASOK had claimed that a change in the law on tendering methods encouraged contractors to offer fake discounts; and the ministry was deliberately underpricing projects to lower the nominal cost.

    [16] Employment minister gives account of government policy

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Savvas Tsitouridis gave an account of government policy so far during his meeting with authorities and agencies in Ioannina, north-western Greece, on Friday for a review of issues concerning the Epirus region.

    The minister pointed out that the country's growth rates for 2005 and 2006 were higher than the European Union average.

    "As regards the fiscal deficit, our effort is producing results and 2006 will be a year of fiscal adjustment and for the first time after many years it will be less than 3 percent of GDP. We must proceed with the issues of society and the development of the countryside with even greater strength and intensity, providing more funds," he said.

    On the question of unemployment in the country, Tsitouridis said that it was decreasing steadily and while it was 11.3 percent in March 2004 in the last quarter of 2005 it dropped to 9.7 percent, while next week the national economy minister will give the results of unemployment for the first quarter of 2006 from which it appears that its decrease will continue.

    [17] Crisis wine distillation to open in Greece

    BRUSSELS, 24/6/2006 (ANA-MPA/M Aroni)

    The European Union's Wine Management Committee on Friday voted in favor of a proposal by the bloc's executive Commission that crisis wine distillation should open in Greece.

    For Greece, crisis distillation has been opened for a maximum quantity of 370,000 hectoliters of table wine and 130,000 hectoliters of quality wine, the Commission said in a statement. The move also applies to Spain for different quantities.

    "Once again we are spending large amounts of money on getting rid of surplus wine, when we should be spending it on improving our competitiveness. What's worse, both countries are distilling 'quality' wine. This is exactly why we are calling for an urgent and profound reform of our wine market," Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said in a statement.

    Considerable surpluses have been recorded on the wine markets of several member states, resulting in a fall in prices and a worrying rise in stocks. The existing wine Common Market Organization (CMO) provides for the possibility of a crisis distillation in the event of exceptional market disturbances due to major surpluses, the statement said.

    At the beginning of June, the Commission opened distillation for France and Italy for a total quantity of 5.6 million hectoliters.

    The price paid for the wine to be distilled is 1.914 per %vol and per hl for table wine and 3.00 per % vol per hl for quality wine. The total cost for the EU budget is 22.2 million.

    The raw alcohol resulting from this distillation can only be used for industrial purposes or as biofuel in order to avoid disturbing the market for drinkable alcohol, which is supplied largely by another distillation system also foreseen in the CMO.

    The proposals still have to be formally adopted by the Commission and will apply from 18 July 2006, the statement added.

    [18] Proton Bank, Omega Bank sign merger plan

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Proton Bank on Friday announced the signing of merger plan with Omega Bank and Proton Securities. Under the plan, Proton Bank will absorb Omega Bank and Proton Securities. The deal envisages an exchange ratio of one Omega Bank share for 0.90 shares of Proton Bank.

    The plan needs approval from the two banks' general shareholders' meeting, scheduled in the next two months. Proton Bank said legal and operating merger procedures were expected to be completed in September.

    Following completion of the merger deal, Proton Bank's capital will rise to 280 million euros and its branch network will rise to 18 units in Attica and other big cities around Greece.

    [19] SYN party reiterates opposition to Emporiki Bank privatization

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    A senior member of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party, Panagiotis Lafazanis, on Friday repeated the party's opposition to plans for the privatization of Emporiki Bank, during comments on a bid made by the Bank of Cyprus.

    According to the head of SYN's economic and social policy, the clash between banking groups over Emporiki was not in the general public interest or the interests of Greek citizens.

    "For us, the important thing is not just the price-tag for the sale of state banks but their privatization in itself, which hands the country's banking system overall to big private interests and foreign profit-gouging capital," he said.

    [20] Greece remains top tourism destination for Austrians

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Greece remains the leading tourism destination for Austrians with the number of holiday reservations to Greece, from January to May, up 15 percent compared with the same period last year, an announcement by Osterreisches Ferkersburo, Austria's largest travel organization.

    Spain and Italy followed Greece in second and third place, while Turkey ranked fourth despite a 30 percent drop in reservations due to a bird flu scare and reactions over satirical sketches of the Prophet Mohammad published in western newspapers.

    Croatia ranked fifth, although down 3.0 pct from last year, Egypt (down 15 pct) and Tunisia (up 9.0 pct).

    Austrian press reports said recently that Greece was the biggest gainer in tourism, while Turkey the biggest loser. An upgraded tourism product following the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, a crisis in neighboring Turkey and a negative stance of Austrians towards Turkey's accession in the European Union played a vital role in setting this trend.

    Greece is considered a safe and politically stable destination covering the needs of family holidays. Greece has an 18 percent share in the Austrian tourism market for organized tours.

    More than 600,000 Austrians visited Greece last year, while Austrians are the most frequent visitors of the country.

    [21] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks up

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,583.73 points, showing a rise of 0.14%. Turnover was 312.8 million euros.

    [22] Journalistic conference in Samothrace begins

    SAMOTHRAKI, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    About 600 journalists from newspapers in Athens and rural areas, television and radio reporters and political, art and social program staff are on the island of Samothrace, in the northern Aegean, at the invitation of the Evros Prefecture to attend the 14th Journalistic Conference, which began on Friday.

    The main issue at the conference is television, as well as the longstanding problems of the press and its representatives, such as ethics, relations between the press and the electronic media, television and relations with the neighboring country Turkey, relations between television and politics and the 8 o'clock news bulletins.

    Welcoming the journalists, Evros Prefect Nikos Zambounidis pointed out that the 14th conference will contribute to the improvement of the quality of life and added that what is more creative and constructive is for control and criticism of television to be carried out by its people.

    General Communication Secretary Margarita Papada conveyed greetings by Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and expressed the determination of the political leadership of the two secretariats to stand by the big journalistic family.

    Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) President Panos Sombolos focused on the issue of ethics. However, he added that ethics are not a "moral mandate" and pointed out that ethics rules are implements of work.

    He also referred to existing labor problems, to poverty-level salaries, labor contracts which are not honored and to unemployed in the sector.

    [23] Navy Week 2006 begins in Faliro

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Celebrations for the Navy Week 2006 began at Faliro on Friday night with a spectacular display of fireworks focusing on the battleship Averof.

    "The sea constitutes the umbilical cord linking Hellenism with its history, its culture and its very existence and course through the centuries," said Navy General Staff chief Dimitrios Gousis in an address on board the Averof.

    "Domination of the seas encircling continental territory and our islands was always an element linked to our national independence, as well as the economic progress of our people," he added.

    Festivities will be transferred to Ioannina, in northern Greece, on Sunday and will be attended by President Karolos Papoulias.

    [24] Health minister visits Peloponnese

    TRIPOLI, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos visited the city of Tripoli in the Peloponnese on Friday in order to sign a contract for a program to fully renovate the Panarcadian Hospital. The minister was accompanied by Deputy Health Minister Athanassios Yiannopoulos.

    In statements afterward, Avramopoulos announced that the government's goal was to "tidy-up" the National Health System and improve working conditions for its staff, starting with the country's hospitals and then moving on to health centers and rural surgeries.

    He also announced that 750 nursing staff will be hired in the next few days to deal with staff shortages in the state health system, with plans to hire an additional 4,000 over the next two years.

    On Friday afternoon, Avramopoulos is due to inaugurate a new kidney dialysis unit in Molai while at 21:15 he will declare the start of a two-day medical conference in Sparti.

    [25] Conference on 'Cultural paths in Balkans'

    SOFIA, 24/6/2006 (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)

    A conference titled "Cultural paths in the Balkans" gathered culture ministers and leading personalities from the cultural world of the Balkans in Varna on Friday.

    Inaugurating the conference, Bulgarian Culture Minister Stefan Danailov underlined the common roots and cultural traditions of the peoples of the wider region, as well as the great importance of culture today.

    Nikos Kotrokoia, counselor at the Greek embassy in Sofia, conveyed greetings from Greek Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, who was unable to attend the conference personally, due to other engagements.

    The Greek official confirmed the steadfast support of Greece for Bulgaria's accession course, which the peoples of unified Europe are awaiting as an equal part of the European Union as of January 1, 2007.

    [26] Balkan University Network charter signed

    THESSALONIKI, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    The charter of the Balkan University Network, comprised of 11 foundations of Greece and the Balkans, was signed in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday at the initiative of the Aristotelio University where its headquarters will be located.

    The agreement protocol for the founding of the Network had been signed last February during the first meeting held in Thessaloniki between the rectors of the Aristotelio University, the University of Macedonia and nine other universities from Albania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania, Serbia and Turkey.

    Educational, scientific and cultural cooperation between the universities had been discussed at the time, while discussions during Friday's meeting focused on culture and the environment.

    [27] The missing child case in Veria takes new turn

    VERIA, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    The case of missing 11-year-old Alex Meshivili in Veria, northern Greece, took new turn after the revelations made in public by the parents of one of the five minors allegedly involved in the case.

    The mother of the child in question met with Alex's mother and told her that her son was one of the children that injured the 11-year-old, possibly fatally, last February and then hid his body.

    The father of that child appeared on a private television channel and provided a similar account. According to him, his son and four friends were chasing Alex in downtown Veria and, at some point, one of them tripped him up and as a result Alex fell and hit his head on stone steps.

    The 11-year-old began bleeding, fell unconscious and the five children chasing him, fearing the consequences, instead of calling an ambulance or asking for their parents' help carried him to the basement of an abandoned house at the centre of Veria, which was demolished after some time.

    Local police have made no comments on the new developments.

    [28] World premiere for Mimis Plessas' 'Apostle Pavlos' oratorio

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    Next Tuesday, June 27 will be a world premiere for the oratorio "Apostolos Pavlos" (Apostle Paul) composed by eminent Greek composer Mimis Plessas. The oratorio will be performed in the northern city of Veria and seeks to send out a message of peace as well as a message of liberation from the modern man's "ego" by reaching out to fellow human beings.

    The performance will be given within the framework of the Pavlia Events in honor of Apostle Pavlos (Paul). The Holy Metropolis of Veria-organized events will be attended by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece and Archbishop Savva of Warsaw and All Poland.

    Mimis Plessas stated that his work was inspired by the fact that Apostle Pavlos managed to teach Christianity to almost the whole known world of his time.

    The orchestra that will perform the oratorio will include musical instruments from the regions visited by Apostle Pavlos and the entire presentation will be enriched with strong images, like the hungry in Africa and the Hiroshima disaster.

    [29] Weak earthquake in Mandra, Attica

    THESSALONIKI, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    A weak earthquake measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale jolted Mandra, in Attica prefecture, on Friday morning, and seismologists described it as a 'minor event'.

    The tremor was recorded at 8:58 a.m., at a distance of 20 kilometers northwest of the centre of Athens, in Mandra, according to Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's Geophysics Laboratory.

    "It was a minor event, which is being investigated. However, the area does not present seismic exacerbation, nor were aftershocks recorded," Aristotelion University seismologist Manolis Skordilis told ANA-MPA.

    [30] Three charged for rioting during Thursday's student rally

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    An Athens public prosecutor on Friday charged three people with criminal and misdemeanor-level offences connected with rioting that took place during a student protest rally the previous day.

    The three stand accused of causing repeated explosions, criminal charges of violation laws on explosives, causing and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm, unprovoked destruction of property, theft, arson and resisting arrest. They will now be led before an examining magistrate.

    [31] US embassy Consular Section closed on Monday

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    The Consular Section of the US Embassy in Athens will be closed to the public on Monday, June 26, for internal administrative reasons, an embassy press release said on Friday.

    This closure includes the non-immigrant visa unit, immigrant visa unit, federal benefits unit, American citizen services unit, and passport unit, the announcement said.

    In the event of an emergency on Monday, one may call 210-7202490/1 during the embassy working hours (8:30a.m-5:00p.m.)

    [32] Minor arrested on drugs charges

    ATHENS, 24/6/2006 (ANA)

    A 16-year-old boy was arrested in Aegaleo, west Attica, for dealing drugs, police said on Friday.

    The arrest was made on Thursday after the minor sold a gram of cocaine to a 29-year-old user, who was also arrested.

    A police sniffer dog detected 480 grams of cannabis and 33 grams of cocaine hidden in the front part of the youngster's motorbike, which was altered to hide the drugs.

    The father of the 16-year-old was also arrested on charges of failing to provide adequate supervision of his child.

    [33] Commission takes decisions regarding financial aid to T/Cs

    BRUSSELS, 24/6/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The European Commission took Friday a decision and on Monday will take a second one, regarding the allocation of the financial aid to the Turkish Cypriot community of Cyprus, amounting to 139 million Euros.

    The Commission's decisions meet full Nicosia's goals, since they give legal form to the conditions set by the EU Council of Ministers.

    These conditions are that the allocation of the financial aid will not lead to the recognition of the so called state in Turkish occupied northern part of Cyprus, that the Commission will ask for the consults of the Republic of Cyprus as regards the allocation of the money and thirdly that there should be a special consultation with the Republic of Cyprus when problems arise during the execution of the projects that have to do with Greek Cypriot properties in the north.

    The implementation of the financial aid regulation will take place through two mechanisms.

    The first mechanism that was decided Friday provides for a team of 4-5 Commission's employees of Enlargement DG to be working in Nicosia, at the European Commission's Representation office. The team will be responsible for the implementation of the program.

    The government of Cyprus has secured that no independent office of the Commission in the occupied areas will function. The Commission's team will be using in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus an office that will not be functioning independently. The team's seat will be the Commission's Representation office in Nicosia.

    The second decision that will be approved on Monday concerns technical support through the TA mechanism that comprises of a team of external associates, who specialize in the acquis communautaire.

    After taking the above decisions, the Commission will be able by next month to implement the financial aid regulation.

    The projects funded by the Commission fall within the infrastructure aspect (they include road constructions and sewerage projects), actions to help Turkish Cypriots harmonize with the acquis comunautaire, as well as actions for the rapprochement between the two communities through the civil society.

    The amount of 139 million euros allocated for the Turkish Cypriot community, is considered to be the biggest per capita economic help ever given by the European Union.

    [34] President Papadopoulos: We will defend our rights in the EU

    LARNACA, 24/6/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos said Friday that Cyprus will defend its rights within the European Union and with continuous efforts will do its utmost to persuade Turkey to meet its EU obligations.

    In statements to the press, the president said that the Cypriot government's effort is also to demonstrate to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that the so called compensation committee, set up in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus to deal with Greek Cypriot properties there, is illegal, has been established by an illegal regime and thus can not have any legal effect.

    The president was asked whether the government plans to take any measures to prevent Greek Cypriots' applications to the "compensation committee" and whether the government will appeal to international fora to report the fact that Turkey is behind the ''committee''.

    "Would the government do all these and then be accused and condemned once and for all that it is a government that prevents the function of domestic legal remedies? No, our effort is to prove to the ECHR, that the committee is illegal", he said.

    "Why should we offer Turkey such a gift of preventing a so called just examination? We want to prove that the committee is illegal, not the opposite", he noted.

    Replying to another question, President Papadopoulos said that the governments of Greece and Cyprus have decided the tactic to be followed in view of the EU report on Turkey, mid October.

    "The Republic of Cyprus will defend its rights emerging from the EU regulations and its membership to the Union. With flexibility and continuous efforts we will try to persuade Turkey to meet its EU obligations", he added.

    As regards a meeting between him and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari, who arrives to Cyprus July 6, President Papadopoulos said that no such meeting has been scheduled yet.

    He added that the only arrangement that was finalized in January during a telephone conversation he had with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, is the forthcoming meeting with Talat at the first sitting of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) in the presence of the Committee's new third member Christophe Girod.

    The president responded negatively when asked whether the United Nations exerted pressures to him so that the meeting with Talat takes place.

    [35] Cyprus President lays foundation stone of new Larnaca Airport

    LARNACA, 24/6/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos laid Friday the foundation stone of the new Larnaca Airport building, the construction of which is expected to be concluded in three and a half years.

    "In 42 months from now we will have a new and modern passengers' building that will further contribute in many ways to Cyprus' development, offering the island a special place in the eastern Mediterranean region", he said.

    President Papadopoulos described this effort as the government's most vital and prestigious project so far.

    He furthermore noted that Cyprus, being an EU member state and a small island in a strategic region, a bridge between Europe, the Middle East and Africa, supports, to a great extent, its development as regards air traffic.

    The president said that the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island not only resulted to great a tragedy and distress among the people of the island, but also caused the loss of the only airport then, the Nicosia Airport, that is now in the UN buffer zone.

    "Seven months after the disaster, we built the Larnaca Airport as a temporary solution. The first year, 200.000 passengers used the airport and today, 31 years after, it serves around five million passengers a year", he noted.

    The president said that in the following three and a half years, more than 500 million euros will be spent for the construction of the first phase of the new airports of Larnaca and Paphos.

    ''By concluding the construction works, Cyprus' infrastructure regarding air transport will be in a very high level", he noted.

    Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Communication and Works Haris Thrasou described this day as a very important one for the island and said that after a negotiating process that lasted one and a half years, on May 11, 2006, an agreement was signed between the Republic of Cyprus and Hermes Airports Ltd company, that provides for the development and administration of the airports of Larnaca and Paphos for 25 years.

    The project's funding will reach 641 million euros and is assumed by Hermes Airports Ltd. The government will receive 33% of the gross income of the company and moreover an amount of 3.5 million euros every year, he added.

    The minister said that the area of the building to be constructed during the first phase will be 95,000 square meters and will serve 7.5 million passengers a year, while the next phase will increase the area to 112.000 sq meters with a capacity of 9 million passengers a year.

    Chairman of Hermes Airports Ltd Nicos Shiakolas said that 6.000 employees will be working permanently at the new airports of Larnaca and Paphos, while for the next three and a half years around 2,000 people will be working for the construction of the terminal stations.

    [36] ''Properties committee'' not consistent with Human Rights Convention, says lawyer

    NICOSIA, 24/6/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The so-called properties committee established in the Turkish-occupied areas for processing appeals by Greek Cypriots over their occupied properties cannot be considered by the European Court of Human Rights as an effective remedy to Turkey's violation of right to property, as the Court ruled on the December 22 2005 on the Myra Xenides-Aresti vs Turkey case, Arestis' lawyer Achilleas Demetriades said here Friday.

    Demetriades gave a press conference, one day after the deadline for Turkey to introduce to ECHR ''a remedy which secures the effective protection of the rights laid down by Articles 8 of the Convention and 1 of Protocol No 1''. The case is considered by the Court as a pilot case since it will apply to other Greek Cypriot appeals pending before the court.

    The Court is expected to make its final ruling in four to six months, after allowing time for the parties involved to express their positions, while the party that will lose is entitled to refer the ruling before the ECHR plenary in the form of an appeal. Demetriades presented Arestis' position on June 20, while Turkey presented its position Thursday. Demetriades said he believes that Turkey will present the so-called properties committee as an effective remedy.

    ''I hope that things will go well. We did our job, we took legal advice from foreign experts and we did a thorough presentation and I hope that the Court will ascertain that this remedy is not consistent with the Human Rights Convention,'' Demetriades said, adding that ''this so-called committee cannot be approved by the Court.''

    Demetriades said that last Friday he received by the ''committee'' a letter proposing compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage for Aresti's property and compensation for expropriation amounting 246.000 pounds, while the return of Aresti's property would be postponed after the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    ''Our position is that this is unacceptable and for this reason we sent a letter to Turkey's Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe stating that if Aresti's property was not restored we would go ahead with the procedure,'' he added.

    He also read out a written statement by Aresti, who notes that her ''main interest is the return of her property in occupied Famagusta and that compensation is a secondary issue.''

    He also said that he is going to claim through the CoE procedures the Value Added Tax, that Turkey omitted to include in the 65.000 Euros the Court held that Turkey, as the respondent should pay Aresti for costs and expenses.

    Replying to questions, Demetriades criticized Greek Cypriots who appeal to the so-called properties committee, noting their action was damaging. He explained that if there was a mass appeal by Greek Cypriots to this ''committee'', he would not be able to assert before the court that this "committee" is not an effective remedy given the fact that a lot of people believe that they can get compensation or their properties back.''

    Furthermore, in his letter to Turkey's Representative to the CoE, Demetriades raised the issue of economic costs for Turkey's continued violation of Greek Cypriot properties. He noted that if someone multiplies the 246.000 Cyprus pounds proposed to Aresti as compensation for her property, by 5.000, which is one third of the inhabitants of Famagusta before the 1974 Turkish invasion who owned properties like Aresti, then the compensation amount would rise to 1.25 billion pounds (2.5 bln dollars) and this would be for the fenced-off city of Famagusta alone.

    ''If I was Turkey's Finance Minister and all of a sudden Turkey's budget would have to reserve a fund of 2.5 bln dollars for Famagusta alone I would not be able to sleep'', Demetriades said.

    [37] Cyprus FM holds meetings in Portugal

    NICOSIA, 24/6/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Portugal's supports to efforts for a Cyprus settlement and the need for Turkey to comply with the commitments it has undertaken, within the EU framework, to implement the Adjustment Protocol to the Ankara agreement and to normalize its relations with

    Cyprus, were confirmed during a meeting between Foreign Ministers of Portugal and Cyprus in Lisbon on Friday.

    Cyprus Foreign Minister George Lillikas, who pays a working visit to Portugal, had talks with his Portuguese counterpart Diogo Freitas do Amaral, during which they discussed international issues as well as other issues related to the two countries participation to the EU.

    An official press release issued here said Lillikas briefed thoroughly his counterpart on the Cyprus question and the positions of the Cyprus government as regards Turkey's EU accession talks and for the need of the implementation by the latter of the obligations it has undertaken towards the EU 25 member states.

    After their meeting the two ministers made statements which confirmed the Portuguese support to the efforts for a Cyprus settlement and the need for Turkey to comply with the commitments it has undertaken, within the EU framework, to implement the Adjustment Protocol to the Ankara agreement and to normalize its relations with Cyprus.

    Lillikas also met with the Speaker of the Portuguese House Jaime Gama, while it briefed a group of journalists from Portuguese media on the Cyprus question.


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