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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-06-27

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

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

June 27, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU-Turkey relations dominate Karamanlis-Vanhanen talks
  • [02] PM attends reception given by Greek ambassador in Sweden
  • [03] PASOK leader Papandreou holds talks in Iran
  • [04] Government denies reports of a rift in Athens-Nicosia relations
  • [05] Gov't dismisses latest provocation related to 'Chams' relations
  • [06] OECD education ministers' sessions in Athens this week relations
  • [07] Gov't on minister's proposal for health sector hiring relations
  • [08] Dep. foreign minister meets UNESCO chairman Zhang Xinsheng relations
  • [09] Georgia Ombudsman due Tuesday on 3-day visit relations
  • [10] Polydoras receives family of 'N17' victim Tsantes relations
  • [11] Synaspismos sharply criticizes rough treatment of MP at Orly airport relations
  • [12] OECD's Gurria praises Govt's economic policy, urges for pension reform relations
  • [13] Industry chief seeks frank dialogue on education relations
  • [14] FinMin meets with ADEDY presidium relations
  • [15] Polyzogopoulos resigns from GSEE union's helm relations
  • [16] Binding bids sought in key road-building project relations
  • [17] Farm ministry promises compensation for crop damages relations
  • [18] Trade balance deficit rises 2.4 pct in first trimester 2006 relations
  • [19] Bank of Cyprus on interest from Piraeus Bank relations
  • [20] Ministers discuss creation of research and technology centre relations
  • [21] Cosmote launches HSDPA in Greece relations
  • [22] Veropoulos opens its 8th supermarket in FYROM
  • [23] Swedish Trade Council to open in Athens relations
  • [24] Competition Commission approves Nestle Hellas' milk activities by Delta Holdings relations
  • [25] Health minister presents national strategic plan on combating drugs relations
  • [26] Public order minister chairs meeting on drug problem relations
  • [27] Figures on juvenile drug use released relations
  • [28] Interior minister addresses ministry's Development Conference relations
  • [29] President Karolos Papoulias to visit Doxato on June 30 relations
  • [30] Tetsis exhibition opens at Museum of Contemporary Art in Andros relations
  • [31] President to inaugurate permanent exhibitions at National Glyptotheque relations
  • [32] Rhodes Ecofilms Festival ends; World Water Forum '09 in Istanbul relations
  • [33] Fire on intercity bus, no injuries relations
  • [34] IAAF comments on compromise reached with athletes Kenteris and Thanou relations
  • [35] Spokesman: Turkey has to convince EU about its arbitrary views
  • [36] Gambari's schedule not finalized yet, says spokesman
  • [37] Spokesman: US Council on International Relations views not impartial

  • [01] EU-Turkey relations dominate Karamanlis-Vanhanen talks

    HELSINKI 6/27/2006 (ANA-MPA - S. Goutzanis)

    Turkey's obligations toward the European Union - including its refusal to open its ports and airports to Cyprus-flagged traffic - dominated talks held here on Monday between visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen.

    Afterwards, Vanhanen urged Turkey to respect the principles and priorities of the EU if it wanted to make progress toward accession, including the implementation of an extended Customs Union Protocol with the Cyprus Republic.

    He clarified, however, that if Turkey fulfilled these commitments then it must be able to become a full member of the EU.

    Karamanlis, on his part, underlined Greece's support for Turkey's European prospects but stressed that the final outcome of its accession talks depended on its ability to fully comply with the criteria and requirements made by the EU, on its respect of European principles and values and on its commitment to good-neighborly relations.

    While urging Turkey to accelerate domestic reforms, the Greek prime minister expressed support for Turkey's full EU accession, explaining that Turkey must have an incentive in order to meet the commitments it has undertaken.

    "A European Turkey that respects European principles and values will benefit all," the Greek premier stressed.

    Karamanlis said that he had briefed his Finnish counterpart on the latest developments concerning the Cyprus issue and announced that the United Nations was now examining if conditions existed for a resumption of efforts for a solution.

    Talks between the two men additionally covered the European prospects of Balkan countries, with Karamanlis supporting their EU entry as the best way to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in this volatile region, as part of a lengthy and difficult process.

    The two sides also discussed EU priorities during the period when Finland takes over the six-month rotating EU presidency on July 1. Karamanlis said that Greece attaches great importance to the goals set by the Finnish presidency, such as competitiveness, boosting innovation and research and the social dimensions of these policies.

    The Greek prime minister stressed that the Finnish presidency had the task of keeping the European Constitutional Treaty in the forefront and implementing the measures already decided.

    After the meeting, Karamanlis departed for Stockholm where he is due to meet Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson on Tuesday.

    Finnish president calls on Turkey to recognize all EU member-states VIENNA

    6/27/2006 (ANA-MPA/D.Dimitrakoudis)

    Finland's President Tarja Halonen called on Turkey to recognize all 25 European Union member-states, in statements she made after talks here on Monday with her Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer.

    "It is evident that Turkey should recognize all European Union member-states," Halonen said while commenting on Ankara's refusal to recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

    Finland assumes, as of July 1, the EU six-month rotating presidency.

    Halonen noted that EU accession criteria set by the Copenhagen EU summit were also valid for Ankara adding that in the case of Turkey it was not improbable that the road leading to accession might proved to be "somewhat more rocky" than that of other candidate states and this because of the "many problems and many issues".

    [02] PM attends reception given by Greek ambassador in Sweden

    STOCKHOLM 6/27/2006 (ANA-MPA/S. Goutzanis)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis attended a reception given in his honor on Monday by the Greek Ambassador to Sweden Angelos Karokis, which was open to the members of the Greek community here who presented their demands to the prime minister.

    "The Swedes, who are distinguished for their democratic sentiments and their lofty human sensitivities, embraced you with warmth and love and helped you to become an equal part of their society," he said.

    "From the Acropolis and the Greek islands, to Seferis and Elytis, to the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, Greek culture and the Greek way of life constitute a real bridge of communication between the two countries and the two peoples," he added.

    Karamanlis also pointed out that today the two countries, maintaining excellent relations for over 100 years, in all sectors, are cooperating closely and constructively in the framework of the European Union and international organizations.

    Lastly, the prime minister referred to efforts being made by Greek expatriates for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and noted the considerable activity displayed by many Swedes.

    [03] PASOK leader Papandreou holds talks in Iran

    TEHRAN 6/27/2006 (ANA-MPA/V. Mourtis)

    A diplomatic initiative undertaken by main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, in his capacity as president of the Socialist International, began here on Monday for the finding of a peaceful solution to the problem created with Iran's nuclear program.

    Papandreou already met on Monday with the country's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and the Supreme Security Council Secretary, and head of Iran's negotiating team, Ali Larijani, while on Monday night (at 10:30 local time) he was due to meet with the President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    In a statement he made after the two meetings, Papandreou said that the aim of the Socialist International is a for a peaceful solution to be found for the benefit of the entire region, a solution which, as he said, "will not have losers but will provide prospects and essence for cooperation and which might change the course of history in the region."

    Papandreou referred to the particular concern of the international community over the nuclear program of Iran, as well as to "the great diplomatic mobility part of which is his Tehran visit".

    He also referred to the special relations developed by Greece with the Moslem and Arab world, as well as with Iran, and stressed that he believes that these relations will contribute a great deal to achieving the target of finding a peaceful solution.

    The issue of relations between Greece and Iran was mentioned during his talks in Tehran, while reference was also made to the initiative of the "six", which former Prime Minister Andrea Papandreou had undertaken in the 80s, for a decrease in nuclear armaments.

    The position of the Socialist International is that there must be control of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but it recognizes Iran's right to produce and use nuclear energy exclusively for peaceful purposes.

    As it appeared from statements by Iranian officials, Tehran would accept steps being taken towards finding a peaceful solution but it does not believe that these steps can only be taken unilaterally.

    [04] Government denies reports of a rift in Athens-Nicosia relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The government on Monday dismissed articles in the Sunday papers implying that Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos was being "undermined" by politicians in Athens, with alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressing his refusal to comment on "vague assertions, rumors and reports".

    "The cooperation, understanding and constant communication between the governments of Greece and Cyprus is known and not in question, while it is part of the framework of a joint strategy that refers to both the European arena and the Cyprus issue," he underlined.

    The spokesman also pointed to last week's visit to Athens by Cyprus' new foreign minister George Lillikas and the recent meeting between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and President Papadopoulos in Brussels, noting that this "constant understanding, communication and exchange of views" had been ascertained at all these meetings.

    In response to questions positing action related to the Cyprus problem by "political circles in Athens," meanwhile, Antonaros replied that Greece's official position was "expressed by the prime minister, the foreign minister, the government spokesman and his deputy".

    He also stressed that Greece has a specific national strategy regarding EU-Turkish relations that remained unchanged when asked to comment on reports of U.S. pressure to ensure that Turkey's progress to EU entry was unobstructed.

    [05] Gov't dismisses latest provocation related to 'Chams' relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The government on Monday tersely dismissed a protest by several dozen so-called ethnic Chams on the Albanian side of a Greek-Albanian border post a day earlier as well as a same-day rally in a stadium in the southwestern town of Sarande.

    "The Greek state's position is quite clear: the issue of property that some people are referring to has been solved with a series of laws and decisions by the Greek state and justice system. For the Greek state there is no issue of 'Chameria', it's a non-issue," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said in response to a press question at his regular briefing.

    The Chams, usually identified as a Muslim, Albanian-speaking group, collaborated with fascist and Nazi occupation forces in extreme northwest Greece -- almost entirely in the Thesprotia border prefecture -- during the Second World War before the entire community fled the country for neighboring Albania after the area's liberation. Members of the community, following the collapse of a Stalinist regime that ruled Albania for nearly five decades, have at various times raised claims against the Greek state for property abandoned or confiscated because of wartime collaboration and war crimes, among others.

    Whereas Greece currently hosts several hundreds of thousands of Albanian guest workers in the country, successive governments in Athens have made it clear to Tirana that any reference to a 'Chams issue' is unacceptable.

    [06] OECD education ministers' sessions in Athens this week relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Sessions of an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) education ministers' meeting begin at a seaside resort south of Athens on Tuesday, chaired by Greek Minister Marietta Yiannakou.

    Some 35 member-states' education ministers along with OECD General Secretary Angel Gurria are expected to attend, along with 200 observers from around the world.

    The meeting, entitled "Higher education: Quality-Equality-Effectiveness", is the first held away from Paris by OECD education ministers.

    University teachers, students stress opposition to proposed reforms: Teachers and students at universities and other tertiary education institutes on Monday stressed that they will be on alert throughout the summer to prevent the government from passing its draft bill for tertiary education reform during the summer session of Parliament.

    They also announced plans to hold another protest rally in Athens on Wednesday, during a meeting of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ministers in the Attica coastal resort of Lagonissi and on Thursday at 10:30 outside Parliament, during a discussion on a prospective revision of the Constitution.

    Regarding the disrupted exam period, students and teachers said that department administrations will be responsible for making special provisions for final-year students and for those carrying out degree papers, while the rest will be taken in September.

    Both student and teacher organizations stated that they will not respond to the education ministry's invitation to dialogue, while university teachers are beginning a campaign to explain their positions, both within universities and in society at large.

    Police implement stiff security measures ahead of OECD education ministers' conference: Police have implemented draconian security measures as of noon on Monday, ahead of the conference of OECD education ministers taking place in Lagonisi, in the south of the prefecture of Attica, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    According to a senior police officer, throughout the entire period that about 250 delegates will be staying at a hotel, about 2,000 police will be provided who will remain on standby until Wednesday afternoon and who will be strengthened if necessary.

    Orders from the police headquarters are that demonstrators who might attempt to approach the hotel must be stopped and at the same time the unimpeded and safe holding of the conference must be ensured.

    The members of delegations participating in the conference will leave on Wednesday afternoon and will be escorted by police forces to the airport until their flights are carried out.

    [07] Gov't on minister's proposal for health sector hiring relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The government on Monday commented on a high-profile interview by Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, published a day earlier in an Athens daily, and especially over the latter's proposal for a series of mass hiring of much-needed health care staff (mostly nurses) outside the prescribed state hiring regime, which mandates increased transparency for state job appointments but is time-consuming.

    On his part, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros emphasized that the hiring process provided by existing legislation and conducted via the Supreme Staff Selection Council (ASEP) is still in effect, whereas the health minister expressed certain interesting thoughts concerning hiring delays.

    Antonaros added that these thoughts will be discussed before they are being finalized.

    "The government has a strong interest in dealing effectively with the chronic hospital staff shortage problem and within this framework he (Avramopoulos) expressed certain thoughts aimed precisely at overcoming the time-consuming process," the spokesman said.

    Avramopoulos, whose interview bannered the front-page Sunday edition of the newspaper "Eleftherotypia", said at least 200 MPs would have to sign a waiver for the hiring to be conducted outside the ASEP framework.

    Responding to the question if the government backs Avramopoulos' proposals, Antonaros stated that "effective proposals that will offer solutions to the hospital staff issue in a transparent and effective manner certainly have the government's support."

    [08] Dep. foreign minister meets UNESCO chairman Zhang Xinsheng relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis on Monday met UNESCO executive board chairman Zhang Xinsheng, also Vice-minister of education in China, who is currently visiting Greece.

    Their talks focused on the need to restructure UNESCO, redefine the organization's mission to better reflect current realities and its goals for the coming decade.

    The meeting was also attended by China's Ambassador to Athens Tian Xuejun and Greece's UNESCO ambassador George Anastasopoulos. It formed part of preparation for UNESCO's medium-term strategic program plan for 2008-2013 and the draft program and budget for 2008-2009 that began in Athens on Sunday.

    On Monday night, delegates will attend a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Herod Atticus Odeon that is being held to celebrate the 60th anniversary since UNESCO was founded.

    [09] Georgia Ombudsman due Tuesday on 3-day visit relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    A three-member delegation of the institution of the Ombudsman of Georgia arrives in Athens on Tuesday, headed by the Public Defender (Ombudsman) Sozar Subari, for a three-day visit.

    The visit is organized by the Greek Ombudsman, under its Eunomia project for the promotion of ombudsman institutions, which operates under the auspices of the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights.

    The purpose of the visit is familiarization of the Georgian ombudsman institution's with the experiences of the Greek Ombudsman in matters of common interest, and understanding of the different state roles played by the institution.

    To be discussed in the framework of the visit is the handling of charges of human rights and children's rights violations, and matters of social welfare, as well as protection of the natural or cultural environment.

    On Wednesday, Subari will deliver a lecture titled "The role of the Ombudsman in Georgia", at 2:30 p.m. in the 3rd-floor conference hall at the office of the Greek Ombudsman at 5 Hatziyanni Mexi Street in Athens.

    Greek Ombudsman George Caminos will deliver an introductory address, while a discussion will follow the lecture.

    [10] Polydoras receives family of 'N17' victim Tsantes relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras on Monday received the children and brother of late US Navy Capt. George Tsantes, who was assassinated by the ultra-leftist terror band "November 17" in November 1983.

    Tsantes, an Annapolis graduate of Greek descent who was the head of the US embassy's JUSMAGG section at the time of his murder, was gunned down along with his driver Nikos Veloutsos.

    His children appeared at a specially modified prison courtroom in Athens on Friday where the appeals trial of several convicted terrorists is taking place.

    On his part, Polydoras expressed his condolences to the Tsantes family and his support towards the terror victim's children, while noting that the struggle against international and domestic terrorism, in all its forms, continues unabated.

    [11] Synaspismos sharply criticizes rough treatment of MP at Orly airport relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) on Monday sharply criticized what it called the "violent and repulsive" behavior by French airport police against one of its deputies, veteran lawmaker Yiannis Dragasakis, at the Orly Airport outside Paris.

    In a press release, the party charges that Dragasakis was visiting France as part of a Greek Parliament delegation to the Council of Europe (CoE) when he was mistakenly taken for someone else due to a bureaucratic error.

    Among others, Synaspismos said its MP was handcuffed and dragged from a plane seat to the airport's security centre, where authorities later apologized for the mix-up.

    Greek Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Monday sent a letter to the President of the French National Assembly Jean-Louis Debre informing him of the incident and requesting him to make every effort so that similar incidents are avoided in the future.

    "I want to believe that the responsible for this regrettable incident will apologize to Mr. Dragasakis and I am certain that you will make every effort so that similar incidents will not be repeated," Psarouda-Benaki noted in her letter.

    The Greek parliament speaker also notified the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Rene van der Linden, on the incident.

    [12] OECD's Gurria praises Govt's economic policy, urges for pension reform relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Greece is a distinguished member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurria, the new secretary-general of the organization, said on Monday, adding that he would cooperate closely with Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and that the organization was willing to support economic reforms in the country.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said he briefed Mr. Gurria over the beginning of a dialogue to resolve the pension problem in the country. "A report by OECD will help us and I believe that results would not questioned by anyone," he said, adding that the Greek government would use this report to adopt initiatives aimed at reforming the pension system after the next general elections in the country.

    Both the Greek minister and Gurria referred to the successful ministerial meeting held in Paris and also discussed the future of OECD and its expansion. The talks also included reference to the condition of the Greek economy.

    Challenges ahead are more difficult, Gurria said and emphasized that the Greek government had to take very difficult decisions since the country's financial situation was not properly evaluated.

    Despite a risk of defamation the country's public image, the government successfully and in a transparent manner properly evaluated its fiscal condition, OECD's official said, adding that there was a very positive improvement in the country's fiscal deficit.

    Gurria, however, underlined the very high unemployment rate among young people, three times more than the EU average, and high unemployment rate among women, and urged for government measures on retirement status, healthcare and offering of incentives to sectors with high unemployment rates.

    "I would make the same recommendations to all OECD member-states, "Gurria told reporters, adding that there was the need to correct the trends of these phenomena." Reforms are necessary and the social insurance system will not be able to pass the test of time," he said.

    [13] Industry chief seeks frank dialogue on education relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The president of the Association of Greek Industry (SEB) said on Monday that educational reform being discussed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development should be the subject of dialogue that was sincere and decisive, not token.

    "In the field of education, there is no more room for empty words and makeshift action. Upgrading the state education system is the key national challenge that we are now facing," SEB chief Dimitris Daskalopoulos noted.

    He was speaking after a meeting with OECD secretary general Angel Gurria, who was a guest at a council meeting of the association.

    "We need modern, quality public education that will give equal opportunities to all, with no financial obstacles and social exclusion, with merit and fair competition as the only criteria, education that advance economic and cultural growth and social cohesion," Daskalopoulos noted.

    "The parallel operation of non-state universities would be meaningful if they contribute to modernization of the education system and offer more options to our young people," he added.

    OECD education ministers began a meeting in Athens on Tuesday, chaired by the Greek minister, Marietta Yiannakou. About 35 member-states were due to attend, along with 200 observers from around the world.

    [14] FinMin meets with ADEDY presidium relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    No trend towards exodus (early retirement) from the public sector was justified in view of prospective changes to the social insurance system, national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis said Monday, following a meeting with the presidium of the ADEDY civil servants' unions' umbrella federation.

    Alogoskoufis said that the government's position was clear that no changes would be made to the sector before the next general elections, adding that dialogue would commence with ADEDY after August 15.

    Alogoskoufis and the ADEDY presidium discussed matters relating to the course towards a uniform salary scale, the formula for payment of the 176-euros benefit, the "heavy" and "unhealthy" professions, and matters regarding the participation of civil servants in the Ergatiki Estia (Workers' Guild).

    It was agreed that discussions would continue at technical level, while another meeting between Alogoskoufis and the ADEDY presidium would take place after August 15.

    ADEDY president Spyros Papaspyros said the main topic of the discussions was the incorporation of the benefits (into the salaries) and the reinforcement of the incomes of the social servants.

    Papaspyros said ADEDY would evaluate the "visible solutions" and put forward its positions after August 15.

    [15] Polyzogopoulos resigns from GSEE union's helm relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's largest trade union umbrella group (GSEE) on Monday announced that its president, Christos Polyzogopoulos, will resign in order to seek out other political activities, a development largely expected for several days now.

    Speaking to reporters, Polyzogopoulos, a member of the main opposition PASOK party that backed his previous campaigns for the top union spot, said an extraordinary GSEE general assembly meeting to elect his successor will be held on July 5. Additionally, he threw his backing for Yiannis Panagopoulos, the union's current organizing secretary, who is also a PASOK-backed trade unionist.

    In one of his last acts as the head of Greece's largest union, Polyzogopoulos urged the trade union to boycott a government-established "experts commission" for dialogue regarding social security reforms, referring instead to "a responsible public dialogue" on education and various industrial actions in September after the end of the summer holiday season.

    Earlier, PASKE's (the PASOK-affiliated grouping within GSEE) executive committee unanimously elected Panagopoulos as its new secretary and announced its support should he vie for the GSEE presidency.

    Asked to comment on the development, Labor and Social Securities Minister Savvas Tsitouridis noted that Polyzogopoulos' work was significant in defining the roles of "social partners" in the country and assisting in the modernization of labor relations.

    [16] Binding bids sought in key road-building project relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The government has called for binding bids by October 9, 2006 in a key road-building and improvement project totaling 1.8 billion euros for part of the national highway linking Patras, Athens, Thessalonica and the country's northern border, Public Works Minister George Souflias said on Monday.

    The stretch being tendered in a construction and concession arrangement connects Elefsina, Corinth, Patras, Pyrgos and Tsakona, the motorway's southwestern section. Slated for construction are 283.7 kilometers with another 81.7 kilometers to be improved.

    "This is a mammoth project. It is the largest in financial and construction terms that has ever been undertaken in Greece," the minister noted.

    The stretch of highway is part of an overall project containing seven phases budgeted at a total of about 7.0 billion euros.

    An interim winner for the current tender should be announced by the end of the year, he said.

    The entire north-south highway has a total length of 730 kilometers and belongs to the Trans-European Roadway Network. It has been redesigned as a restricted entry highway in accordance with European standards.

    On completion of the works, the country will have a modern 2- or 3-lane dual motorway with emergency lanes, a central reservation protected by metal or New Jersey safety barriers, numerous interchanges, tunnels, bridges, overpasses and underpasses, and an extended service-road network.

    [17] Farm ministry promises compensation for crop damages relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The agriculture ministry over the weekend assured farmers in Tyrnavos, central Greece, whose crops were damaged by last Friday's hailstorm, that they will receive fair and prompt compensation.

    Rural Development and Foodstuffs Minister Evangelos Basiakos made the statement on Sunday during his unscheduled visit to the region, accompanied by Greek Agricultural Insurance Organization (ELGA) president Nikos Katsaros. In a meeting with local farmers and the mayor of Tyrnavos, Basiakos agreed that the damage suffered primarily by pear and vineyards producers, as a result of the 10-minute hailstorm, was considerable and stressed that farmers will have his support.

    [18] Trade balance deficit rises 2.4 pct in first trimester 2006 relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's trade balance deficit rose by 2.4 percentage points in the first trimester (January-April) of 2006, against the corresponding period in 2005, according to figures released Monday by the National Statistics Bureau of Greece (ESYE).

    According to ESYE, the trade balance deficit for the first four months of 2006 rose to 10,102.6 million euros against 8,861.6 million euros in the same four months last year, marking a 2.4 percent rise.

    The deficit arises from the difference between value of imports and exports.

    More specifically, the value imports in the January-April 2006 period rose by 7 percent to 15,136.4 million euros against 14,147.8 million euros in the corresponding period in 2005.

    The value of exports in the January-April 2006 period rose by 17.4 percent to 5,033.8 million euros from 4,286.2 million euros in the same period in 2005.

    [19] Bank of Cyprus on interest from Piraeus Bank relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The board of directors of Bank of Cyprus Public Company Ltd said on Monday that it had been informed of strategic investment interest from Piraeus Bank S.A.

    "As already announced, Bank of Cyprus in line with its strategy of growth in the Greek market and the privatization program of the Greek government, has submitted a public tender offer for 100% of the share capital of Emporiki Bank of Greece S.A. The extensive and traditional client base of Emporiki and the significant potential for improvement of its operations using the experience of Bank of Cyprus provide an opportunity to create a leading Hellenic banking group and create value for the shareholders of both banking groups," management said in a statement to Greek market authorities.

    "The Board of Directors of Bank of Cyprus believes that the actions of Piraeus Bank S.A. are not in the best interest of the shareholders of Bank of Cyprus as a whole, as they lack completeness as well as substantiated strategic intention," the statement added...

    [20] Ministers discuss creation of research and technology centre relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Ministers of Defense and Development Evangelos Meimarakis and Dimitris Sioufas respectively on Monday announced the creation of a single centre that will register, coordinate and control all activities regarding research and technology in Greece.

    The two ministers had a working meeting which focused on a bill jointly prepared by their two ministries and the education ministry.

    According to the bill, the centre will establish rules and criteria which will govern all research and technology programs and capitalize on Greek research potential. The bill also aims at drafting the general lines for the next twenty years, responding to the criteria of the 7th research and technology framework and the Lisbon objectives.

    [21] Cosmote launches HSDPA in Greece relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Athens-quoted Cosmote SA said on Monday that it had commercially launched a new broadband wireless connect card in the first application of the technology in Greece, and one of the first instances among mobile phone operators in Europe.

    The new broadband HSDPA technology is initially available in 3G areas in Athens and the northern port city of Thessalonica for owners of laptop computers, offering coverage to about 40% of the population, Cosmote said in a statement.

    [22] Veropoulos opens its 8th supermarket in FYROM

    SKOPJE 6/27/2006 (ANA-MPA/N. Fragopoulos)

    The Greek supermarket chain Veropoulos on Friday inaugurated the chain's 8th supermarket in FYROM, and its 5th in the capital city of Skopje.

    The new supermarket in the chain covers an area of 1,400 meters and employs 62 people.

    The investment for the new Vero supermarket, as the Veropoulos supermarkets in FYROM are called, reached 4 million euros.

    Veropoulos opened up its first Vero supermarket in FYROM in 1997, and now has five supermarkets in Skopje, two in Bitola, and one in Tetovo, representing investments of approximately 45 million euros, making it one of the biggest supermarket chains in FYROM.

    Among the immediately plans of the Veropoulos Bros. company is to operate a large mall on a self-owned plot of land acquired last year in central Skopje.

    Construction of the mall, which will also house a Vero hypermarket, will begin in September, while operation is slated to begin at end-2007.

    [23] Swedish Trade Council to open in Athens relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The Swedish Trade Council is to inaugurate an office in Athens on Tuesday due to rising interest in the Greek market linked to the country's strong investment growth and its business ties with other European Union countries.

    Stig Friberg has been named the new commercial counselor and head of the office.

    [24] Competition Commission approves Nestle Hellas' milk activities by Delta Holdings relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's Competition Commission on Monday approved the takeover of Nestle Hellas' condensed milk activities by Delta Holdings. Under the deal, Delta Holdings will purchase Nestle Hellas' production unit in Plati, Emathia, Nestle Hellas' milk zone in Northern Greece and Nestle Hellas' famous "Vlahas" brand name. The Competition authority said the purchase was not expected to significantly limit competition in the Greek market.

    Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop

    The Athens share index closed at 3,567.67 points, showing a decline of 0.45%. Turnover was 248.2 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.54% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.48% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.83% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 164 to 94 with 53 remaining unchanged.

    Foreign Exchange Rates:

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

    U.S. dollar 1.266

    [25] Health minister presents national strategic plan on combating drugs relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The local production of methadone and the gradual providing of substitutes for drug users by National Health System doctors are anticipated, among other things, by the national strategic plan on combating the scourge of drugs, presented on Monday by Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.

    Avramopoulos said that the local production of methadone is aimed at saving funds from the importation of the substitute, as well as its full adequacy in quantity.

    "This intervention secures saving in the region of 30 percent and, at last, it utilizes the industrial equipment of the Pharmaceutical Research and Technology Institute, valued at 10 million euros," he said.

    The minister further said that the money to be saved will be provided for the qualitative upgrading of infrastructures of the Organization Against Drugs (OKANA), as well as for support for these infrastructures.

    Avramopoulos also said that National Health System doctors will gradually be given the right to prescribe substitutes for users.

    Lastly, the minister announced that a new institutional framework will be created with the issuing of a presidential decree on the evaluation and certification of treatment units with the aim of protecting users and their families "from the uncontrolled activities of therapeutic units."

    [26] Public order minister chairs meeting on drug problem relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras chaired a meeting at his ministry on the scourge of drugs on Monday, on the occasion of World Drugs Day, in the presence of the Greek Police chief and ministry officials.

    Statistical data on the problem of drugs in the country until the end of May this year was presented during the meeting.

    According to the report, 103 drug-related deaths have been reported until May this year. The overwhelming majority of drug users are young people aged between 21 and 30 years of age, while another large percentage concerns people under the age of 21.

    [27] Figures on juvenile drug use released relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Officials at two drug treatment centers in the northern port city of Thessalonica on Monday released figures showing that the average age for first-time drug users in the country is 15, an announcement coinciding with the publication of the 2006 World Drug Report by the United Nations in Vienna.

    Officials also noted that 6 percent of the student population in Greece has tried hashish at least once.

    Conversely, representatives for the Treatment Center for Addicted Persons (KE.TH.EA) and the Organization Against Drugs (O.KA.NA) said the average age of the first-time drug users has increased, whereas 18 is the average age of drug users seeking help in drug addiction treatment centers.

    [28] Interior minister addresses ministry's Development Conference relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The interior ministry's Development Conference began on Monday with an address by Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on the issue of "Improving the administrative capacity of public administration."

    The conference was organized by the Public Administration and Electronic Governance General Secretariat, while it cooperated with ministries, regional services and social agencies in shaping the program.

    Pavlopoulos said that the ministry will manage a distinct operational program on improving the administrative capacity of public administration, during the next programming period that will be funded by the European Social Fund.

    The program, as the minister said, is very important because, on the one hand, it is a program that will be implemented for the first time and, on the other hand, it is related to its better utilization by ministries, regional services and local administration with the purpose of citizens enjoying the corresponding benefits themselves.

    Addressing the conference, the President of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), Paris Koukoulopoulos, spoke of "short-sightedness" which has been dealing a blow at the country for some time as regards improving the administrative capacity of public administration and pointed out that there are no special references for local administration.

    [29] President Karolos Papoulias to visit Doxato on June 30 relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    President Karolos Papoulias will visit the municipality of Doxato, in northern Greece, on June 30 to attend events commemorating the 93rd anniversary of the Doxato massacre by Bulgarian occupation forces on June 30, 1913.

    President Papoulias will arrive at Alexander the Great airport at Chrysoupoli, in the prefecture of Kavala, and from there he will go to Doxato by car.

    He will be attending the memorial service and laying a wreath at the monument erected for the inhabitants slain, while he will also be proclaimed an honorary citizen of Doxato.

    [30] Tetsis exhibition opens at Museum of Contemporary Art in Andros relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The renovated spaces of the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation on the Aegean island of Andros, is currently hosting a painting exhibition with works by renowned artist Panayiotis Tetsis.

    The exhibition "Thalassa", having the sea as its main theme, was inaugurated on Saturday will be run through September 24.

    It includes mainly large-scale works, oil-pastels and watercolors of almost monumental proportions, which belong to private or public collections, but also new works created by Tetsis on the occasion of this tribute.

    Screenings on the life and work of the painter will be held daily at the museum's projection hall.

    [31] President to inaugurate permanent exhibitions at National Glyptotheque relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The permanent exhibitions at Greece's National Glyptotheque, featuring a range of Greek and foreign works of sculpture from the last two centuries, will be inaugurated on Tuesday night by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    The exhibits form part of the permanent collection of Greek sculpture owned by the Alexandros Soutsos Museum, which is also made up of the Greek National Gallery. The Glyptotheque is housed in the restored historic buildings that were once the royal stables at the Stratos Wood in Goudi and the surrounding grounds.

    The permanent collection has 150 works of Greek sculpture from the 19th and 20th centuries, which range from the traditional skylights of Tinos to present-day mobile sculptures. Also included in the exhibition are some important foreign works of sculpture acquired by the museum, such as Santiago Calatrava's "Flight" or Rene Magritte's "The Healer" and Antoine Bourdelle's "Apollo".

    At the same time, the president will also inaugurate a temporary exhibition of sculpture by Marino Marini, one of the most important representatives of contemporary Italian sculpture, which continues the Glyptotheque's program of major exhibitions that began during the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

    [32] Rhodes Ecofilms Festival ends; World Water Forum '09 in Istanbul relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The Mediterranean region will host the next World Water Forum as the 5TH international meeting will be held in Istanbul in 2009, a decision taken at the closing of the 6TH Rhodes Ecofilms Festival on Sunday.

    "During the (Rhodes) festival we agreed that the way towards the 2009 Istanbul event will be significantly reinforced by the contribution of the networks towards the success of the 6th Rhodes International Ecofilms Festival," MedWet coordinator Spyros Kouvelis said.

    The Rhodes International Film and Visual Arts Festival, organized on the cosmopolitan Dodecanese island throughout most of last week, is member of the Environment and Sustainable Development Network of INFO/RAC-MAP. The Rhodes Festival is also one of the key events leading up to the Mediterranean Environmental Award (MEA), to be held in Turkey next September, with the active participation of other several MEA partners for the promotion of sustainable development in the Mediterranean.

    "The Rhodes Festival, together with the MEAs and the coming World Water Forum in Turkey, is part of an effort we share with MedWet, as stated in the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, and the French Water Academy that joined us during the meeting," Sergio Illuminato, the director general of INFO/RAC, said, while adding:

    "Our intention is to connect and enhance our work towards prominent educational and cultural initiatives throughout the region that strongly focus on the protection and conservation of Mediterranean natural resources."

    The previous 4th World Water Forum was held in Mexico City last March.

    [33] Fire on intercity bus, no injuries relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    Fire broke out early Monday on a KTEL intercity bus with 10 passengers on board, en route from Kilkis to Thessaloniki, but no one was injured.

    The fire, which is believed to have been caused by a malfunction in the brake system, spread to two more vehicles after the bush crashed into a car and another bus, which were parked at the time.

    The accident occurred just before the bus's arrival at the central intercity bus station in Menemeni district, and firefighters managed to put out the fire before it spread to more parked cars.

    [34] IAAF comments on compromise reached with athletes Kenteris and Thanou relations

    ATHENS 6/27/2006 (ANA)

    The International Athletics Federation (IAAF) commented in its official website on the compromise reached with the two athletes Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou in a report titled "Kenteris and Thanou accept infringements of anti-doping regulation."

    The report said that on Monday, before the issue reaches the Sports Arbitration Court, the Greek athletes Constantine Kenteris and Katerina Thanou accepted infringements of the anti-doping regulation with three missed checks between July 27 and August 12, 2004, and failure to provide urine and blood samples on August 12, 2004. As a result of this, procedures are being completed now.

    The athletes had been punished by IAAF temporarily as of December 22, 2004. Given that they will comply with IAAF's rehabilitation preconditions, they will have the right to race again on December 22, 2006.

    [35] Spokesman: Turkey has to convince EU about its arbitrary views

    NICOSIA 6/27/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The European Union does not agree with Turkey's arbitrary views that a protocol extending the Ankara Agreement to all ten new EU members is not legally binding, said here Monday Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis.

    He was commenting on remarks by the General Secretary for European Affairs at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Oguz Demiralp that Turkey does not believe that the protocol, extending the Agreement to include Cyprus as well, is legally binding and obliges Ankara to open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircraft.

    ''Mr Demiralp has every reason to claim that his country is not legally bound by the protocol. It is up to Ankara to convince the 25 member states of the EU that they are wrong in their assessment and that only the Turkish position is right,'' Pashiardis said.

    "As far as the ambassador's allegation is concerned that his country does not care if its accession course stops, I believe that this is not convincing, unless such an indifference on the part of Turkey is an indirect warning on the possible repercussions of such a development", said Pashiardis.

    He said "it would be good if this indifference were not repeated because there is the danger that the Europeans will eventually believe it".

    [36] Gambari's schedule not finalized yet, says spokesman

    NICOSIA 6/27/2006 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari's schedule during his visit to Cyprus has not been finalized yet, said here Monday Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis, replying to a question on a possible second meeting between President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    "If and when a meeting is requested and takes place, then it will be part of Mr. Gambari‘s visit", Pashiardis said.

    Regarding President Papadopoulos' visit to Athens for talks with the Greek Premier, Pashiardis said that it was agreed in principle to take place on 10 July, although the date has not been confirmed yet.

    [37] Spokesman: US Council on International Relations views not impartial

    NICOSIA 6/27/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said here Monday that the views of the US Council on

    International Relations on Cyprus and the Cyprus problem do not show an impartial and credible stance on the part of the Council.

    He was commenting on a report of the US Council on International Relations which suggested to the US government the promotion of the so called state in the Turkish occupied northern part of Cyprus and to exert pressure on the Cyprus' government, with a view to facilitate Turkey's European course.

    He added that the report shows that the Council is not objective and is challengingly promoting Turkish interests.

    Pashiardis noted that the Council said that the Annan Plan was in favor of the Greek Cypriot side, that the solution of the Cyprus problem has become more difficult after Cyprus' accession to the EU and that Turkey's action plan for a Cyprus settlement is positive, adding that ''I do not think that the ascertainments of the Council on Cyprus and the Cyprus question certify its impartiality and credibility.''


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