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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 2, 2006


  • [01] Gov't accepts Credit Agricole's offer for Emporiki Bank stock
  • [02] Alavanos reiterates objections to selling Emporiki
  • [03] FM Bakoyannis satisfied by EU decision on Lebanon crisis
  • [04] Bakoyannis stresses need for immediate ceasefire in Lebanon
  • [05] SYN leader demands off-the-agenda debate on Middle East
  • [06] Meimarakis on sending peacekeeping force to Lebanon
  • [07] Hellenic Aid initiative to raise money for humanitarian aid to Lebanon
  • [08] Aegean Airlines offers humanitarian aid to Lebanon
  • [09] Demonstration organized in solidarity with Lebanese, Palestinian peoples
  • [10] IFJ condemns Israeli army attacks against Arab TV crews
  • [11] Valinakis addresses the Greek ambassadors' conference
  • [12] Economic diplomacy a key tool, Stylianidis tells ambassadors
  • [13] Parliament Vice-President Tragakis on appeal regarding TOR-M1 missiles issue
  • [14] KKE's Papariga wishes quick recovery to Fidel Castro
  • [15] Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Samos on August 16-20
  • [16] Finmin: Privatization to help brake public debt
  • [17] Inner cabinet discusses agricultural issues
  • [18] PASOK slams government policy on agriculture
  • [19] Interior minister signs decision for collection of data on unleaded gasoline prices
  • [20] Tsitouridis orders checks on TV channel 9 and other mass media
  • [21] PASOK delegation visits LARKO mining company
  • [22] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks up
  • [23] Authorities on standby for possible oil slick from Lebanon
  • [24] Greek-Italian cooperation for dealing with natural dangers in the Mediterranean
  • [25] Greek language and culture lessons for foreign scientists and students
  • [26] The parents of savagely beaten 7-year-old jailed
  • [27] Two men arrested for attempting to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country
  • [28] Second anniversary of Athens Olympics celebrated
  • [29] Cyprus points out to General Affairs Council EU role in Middle East
  • [30] G/C and T/C representatives continue meetings to move process forward
  • [31] Britain urges Cyprus sides to take advantage of recent agreement
  • [32] Cypriot government: Lebanon oil spill unlikely to reach Cyprus
  • [33] No cloud with enriched uranium hovering over Cyprus, says Labor Ministry

  • [01] Gov't accepts Credit Agricole's offer for Emporiki Bank stock

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    The government said on Tuesday that it had accepted an offer from Credit Agricole of France for the acquisition of 11% of stock the state holds in Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank as part of a public offer.

    "The inner cabinet evaluated Credit Agricole's revised offer, which was a great improvement in terms of price versus the original proposal. This is an offer that truly reflects the value of Emporiki Bank," Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting.

    Acceptance of the offer was in line with a recommendation by the government's consultants in the sale, and by Emporiki's board, which on Monday backed the deal in a statement to bourse authorities. The French bank is already a strategic investor in Emporiki.

    According to management, the new price of 25.00 euros per share at 1.5 euros higher than initially offered was favorable as it lay in the middle of the fair price range and included a premium of 8.7% against the range's lower end, and a premium of 2.25% against the stock's average market price for the month before announcement of the tender offer.

    "The inner cabinet's decision was taken on the basis of the public interest, spurring competitiveness in the banking sector, and boosting compositeness and an outward-looking approach in the national economy," Alogoskoufis noted.

    "Credit Agricole's offer is a sign of confidence in reform being undertaken and in the outlook for the Greek economy, the Greek banking system, and Emporiki Bank itself," he said.

    The tender process had followed Greek and European Union law on public offers, ensuring transparency, the minister added.

    Parliamentary opposition parties have vigorously opposed the sale.

    The Panhellenic Socialist Movement has stated that Credit Agricole's improved offer was below a fair value range stated by Emporiki's privatization consultant of 28.4-31.5 euros per share, and that any sale would damage the state and other shareholders.

    According to the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology, the first to suffer from the likely sale of Emporiki to Credit Agricole was a subsidiary, Hellenic Fertilizers Industry, which would be downsized and then sold.

    [02] Alavanos reiterates objections to selling Emporiki

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party president Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday called on the government to make a last-minute U-turn and stop the privatization of Emporiki Bank through its sale to Credit Agricole, especially for what he termed a "paltry" amount.

    He also urged the government "to stop handing over public property to major economic interests, especially foreign ones, in the name of the free market."

    Alavanos asked the government to submit "political proposals, like those submitted by SYN" for restructuring Emporiki and establishing a partnership with the Post Offices Savings Fund, so that the bank might have a developmental and social role in the country.

    [03] FM Bakoyannis satisfied by EU decision on Lebanon crisis

    BRUSSELS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday expressed satisfaction over a political agreement reached by European Union foreign ministers on the situation in Lebanon and the perspectives of a solution to the current Middle East crisis.

    "The European Union has today in front of it a double challenge to which it responded with success. On the one hand it maintained its political cohesion while on the other, it has sent a clear message in favor of the cessation of hostilities paving in parallel the next steps," Bakoyannis told reporters at the end of an emergency meeting of the 25-nation EU.

    The Greek foreign minister underlined that Tuesday's decision "satisfies Greek diplomacy to the extent that it is on the same wavelength with the five-point proposal that Athens has recently submitted."

    "The 25 have taken a position in favor of the cessation of hostilities in the Middle East so as the UN Security Council be able afterwards to take the necessary decisions, starting with the deployment of an international military force in the region," Bakoyannis explained.

    On this perspective, the foreign minister clarified that the international peacekeeping force would not be a NATO force, it would not be deployed in a war zone and that the cessation of hostilities from both sides was an indispensable precondition in order for it to have the UN Security Council's approval.

    Greece, Bakoyannis said, wants the UN Security Council to convene as soon as possible and that in "general terms agreed with the proposal submitted recently by France."

    "The fact that after today's (Tuesday's) meeting, the EU will present itself with a single voice in the Security Council constitutes an extremely positive development," the Greek foreign minister added.

    Referring to the Middle East in general, Bakoyannis underlined that a necessary precondition for a comprehensive handling of existing problems was the solution of the Palestinian issue, indicating that the situation in the Gaza Strip was continuously deteriorating.

    She also underlined that all involved parties, including Syria and Iran, should participate in efforts to resolve the Middle East crisis, and expressed satisfaction on the fact that EU High Commissioner on Foreign Policy Javier Solana was ordered on Tuesday by the Council to begin contacts with all interested parties in the region including Damascus and Tehran.

    Referring to a possible dispatch of an international military force to Lebanon, the foreign minister said that it should be the broadest possible and not only be "Christian" but also include as many Muslim and Arab countries as possible.

    [04] Bakoyannis stresses need for immediate ceasefire in Lebanon

    BRUSSELS 2/8/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon that would allow a resumption of diplomatic efforts to solve the Middle East crisis in statements to the international press, as she was heading toward an EU foreign ministers' council in Brussels on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters shortly before the council meeting began, Bakoyannis said that Greece was among the countries desiring an immediate ceasefire.

    Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos explained that Greece wants the United Nations Security Council to take over responsibility for Lebanon's future as soon as a decision for a ceasefire was made, with an immediate meeting to decide the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in the area.

    He also stressed that Athens wanted this international force to be made up of the broadest possible range of countries and, given the complex situation in the area, was opposed to the a priori exclusion of any country that wanted to contribute to efforts for peace in the region, including Syria and Iran.

    Regarding Greece's possible role for peace in the Middle East, the ministry spokesman said that Greece had positive intentions, especially with regard to the humanitarian aid sector and action to deal with Lebanon's urgent healthcare needs.

    On the medium-term prospects for peace, Koumoutsakos said that Greece favored a gradual resumption of efforts to solve the Palestinian problem, initially by reactivating the "road map" for peace, and stressed that all countries involved in the Palestinian problem should actively participate in this process, without a priori exclusions.

    [05] SYN leader demands off-the-agenda debate on Middle East

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party president Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday repeated demands for an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on the crisis in the Middle East, following a meeting with the Greek Ombudsman George Kaminis to discuss the ombudsman's annual report.

    Humanitarian aid to Lebanon was important but the most important humanitarian aid would be an immediate stop to Israel's military incursion, he stressed.

    "At the end of the day, it ends up being ridiculous to have the Americans destroy, the British consent, the Israelis destroy and for the international community to confine itself only to issues of humanitarian support - though these are hugely important when we see the events in Qana," Alavanos said.

    SYN's leader also criticized the European Union's decision to freeze all funding to the Palestinian government because the Palestinians had elected Hamas - noting that this was "politically completely incorrect and unjustified" - while pointing out that the EU was at the same time doing nothing regarding EU agreements with Israel.

    Alavanos also called for a response from Socialist International and its president, Greek main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, given that Israel's defense minister Amir Peretz, who ordered the attack on Qana with its heavy civilian casualties was the head of the Israeli labor party and belonged to Socialist International.

    Regarding the Ombudsman's report, Alavanos referred to the "chaotic situation" regarding the new passports issued by police and demanded an ombudsman's office for Thessaloniki.

    [06] Meimarakis on sending peacekeeping force to Lebanon

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Greece has not discussed or been formally asked to contribute troops to a multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon, National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis told reporters on Tuesday in response to questions.

    He pointed out that all discussion so far were on a theoretical level and added, responding to another question, that if such a request is made based on a UN Security Council decision then it will be a serious matter. He underlined that the government has set specific parameters such as a relevant UN Security Council decision, the consent of both sides in the region and a ceasefire.

    Responding to a comment by a member of the press that the soldiers will be sent to the frontline, Meimarakis added that there is no frontline during a ceasefire.

    KKE on sending peacekeeping force to Lebanon: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) reacted to statements Tuesday by Defense Minister Evangelos Maimarakis on the terms of a Greek participation in a possible peacekeeping force in Lebanon, by calling on to the "people to reject the statements as unacceptable and aligning with the general imperialistic plans against the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine."

    "The UN Security Council is being manipulated by the leading forces of imperialism. Given that the aim of the governments of the EU and the U.S., as well as of Israel, is the attack against and the eradication of the popular resistance in the Middle East, it is obvious that the Security Council will take the relevant decisions after the imperialists' terms will have been imposed at all costs," the KKE said in a statement.

    [07] Hellenic Aid initiative to raise money for humanitarian aid to Lebanon

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    The Foreign Ministry's Hellenic Aid (International Development Cooperation Service) has organized an initiative to raise money with the objective of granting humanitarian aid to Lebanon.

    Agencies, private individuals and non-governmental organizations which wish to contribute in this humanitarian effort, can deposit money to the following accounts: - National Bank of Greece: 040/483100-41 - Emporiki Bank: 85601920 - Alpha Bank: 101002001000610

    [08] Aegean Airlines offers humanitarian aid to Lebanon

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    The board of Aegean Airlines on Tuesday offered the sum of 20,000 euros, responding to an appeal by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis for humanitarian aid to be sent to those suffering in Lebanon as a result of the hostilities taking place there.

    At the same time, as stated in the company's announcement, its 1,700 personnel have responded immediately and are collecting special categories of foodstuffs and medicine, which they will deliver to the Foreign Ministry, which has undertaken the mission of humanitarian aid.

    [09] Demonstration organized in solidarity with Lebanese, Palestinian peoples

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    The PAME trade union, which is affiliated to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), on Tuesday evening organised a demonstration in solidarity with the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine outside the U.S. and Israeli embassies.

    Various peace movements also participated in the demonstration.

    [10] IFJ condemns Israeli army attacks against Arab TV crews

    2/8/2006 (ANA)

    The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Tuesday condemned the attack by the Israeli army against a Palestinian television news crew in Gaza, which caused the serious injury of a cameraman, the Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) announced on Tuesday.

    ESHEA added that it was the sixth Israeli army attack against members of the region's mass media in the past three weeks.

    The IFJ, the ESHEA announcement added, has called on Israel to investigate into the attacks against the mass media and to put an end to the practice with which employees in the mass media become military targets.

    "It is unacceptable that the gunfire of the army is turned against unarmed journalists in order to terrorize Arab journalists which cover what is going on in Palestinian regions and in Lebanon," the ESHEA announcement said.

    ESHEA added:"Another Palestinian cameraman was seriously injured when the Israeli forces turned against the news crew of the television station 'Palestine TV', east of the Gaza Strip."

    [11] Valinakis addresses the Greek ambassadors' conference

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Turkey has an obligation to implement the additional protocol in the Ankara Agreement without bargaining and seeking 'offset' benefits, stated deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Tuesday, stressing that from now on EU enlargements will be different from the previous ones and will include “political prerequisites” as well.

    The peculiarities of the candidate states and the evolution of the EU itself during the past few years made the process even more political.

    There are not only the known Copenhagen criteria, as candidate-states are also being evaluated on their ability to meet specific requirements of a political nature, added Valinakis in his address to the two-day Greek ambassadors conference taking place at the foreign ministry in Athens.

    Referring to Turkey’s European prospects, he stressed that Ankara did not enjoy blind or unconditional support and that Greece was a demanding, strict and fair judge.

    Valinakis underlined the importance of the European Commission's progress report on Turkey expected in the autumn, noting that the progress reports and the October 2005 Negotiating Framework and Partnership Relation are the cornerstones of Turkey's EU accession hopes.

    For Greece, Turkey’s tangible commitment to observing good neighborly relations’ and refraining from threats of violence constitute the most crucial measure for Ankara’s evaluation, he said.

    Referring to the Additional Protocol in the Ankara Agreement, Valinakis emphasized that Turkey must open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and aircraft and that this was definitely not negotiable.

    The EU made it clear with its statement in September 21, 2005, that Turkey’s non-implementation of the Protocol will have repercussions on the negotiating process, the deputy minister added.

    He also referred to EU aspirations for a single maritime policy, for which the European Commission had recently presented a Green Paper. He underlined that Greece hopes to play a leading role in drawing up this policy, adding that the sea is an ingredient of Greece’s identity and a source of wealth and culture as well as problems.

    Valinakis also referred to the establishment of acquis in the sector of Justice and Interior, adding that on Greece’s part, a priority is given to close cooperation aimed at the more effective control of the EU external borders with an emphasis on sea borders.

    Regarding the European Constitutional Treaty, he said that the ratification process should continue and the temptation to abandon it or selectively implement certain points of it should be avoided, stressing that Greece will contribute with all its powers to the effort for the greatest possible progress in settling this pending issue. Greece must remain part of Europe’s hard core, he stressed.

    Valinakis called on the diplomats to not be limited to simply managing challenges in an era when “the only certainty is uncertainty itself” and to foresee and plan actions ahead to protect national interests in the best possible way thus enhancing the country’s international prestige.

    [12] Economic diplomacy a key tool, Stylianidis tells ambassadors

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Economic diplomacy and developmental cooperation were key tools in advancing foreign relations and should be given equal weight to traditional diplomacy, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said in his address to the first conference of Greek ambassadors that continued in Athens for a second day on Tuesday.

    "From the 20 countries in which we operated in the last 28 months, the Greek economy gained €3.5 billion from exports alone, while the benefits from repatriated capital from the Balkans come to €2.0 billion. This is the contribution made by the foreign ministry," Stylianidis stressed, pointing out that the aim was to earn more income for the national economy.

    He encouraged ambassadors to view economic diplomacy and developmental cooperation as a inseparable part of their work, to carefully monitor projects involving Greek funds and to ensure that Greece's role in projects it assisted abroad was properly publicized and promoted.

    "It is the obligation of the non-governmental organizations who undertake to carry out projects to keep you informed, to consult with you and to bear the logo of Hellenic Aid [the Greek foreign ministry development aid service] on all the projects they undertake. You must be present when a project starts and when it ends. It is, above all, a work of Greece," he said.

    Regarding future trends in Greece's immediate neighborhood, Stylianidis referred to an apparent shift of Greek businesses in the Balkans, where Greece was among the top investors, toward the service sector, while noting that an emphasis on energy diplomacy in Black Sea countries had increased Greece's potential role as an energy junction and Athens was now seeking to promote the idea of a single economic area in the region.

    He also pointed to the good results of Greece's overtures to Russia, China, Japan and Turkey, that had led to an increase in exports.

    For Turkey, in particular, exports increased by a spectacular 50.8% according to Greek figures and 58% according to Turkish figures, greatly improving the balance of trade deficit for Greece.

    The government's next goal was an opening toward Latin America in 2007, to be followed by India, Australia, South Africa and - ultimately - the United States.

    "The aim is to promote Greece's image, the Greek economy and foreign policy," the minister concluded.

    [13] Parliament Vice-President Tragakis on appeal regarding TOR-M1 missiles issue

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    A new extension in the issue of the bank accounts which concern the offset benefits from the purchase of the Russian missiles TOR-M1, has been given by the appeal, which was submitted to Swiss justice, against the decision for the opening of the accounts.

    Parliament Vice-President Yiannis Tragakis who chairs the committee which follows the judicial investigation, said on Tuesday that ten minutes before the expiry of the relevant deadline, last Friday, a Swiss barrister's office submitted an appeal against the decision of Bern's public prosecutor for the opening of the accounts.

    The in question capital, amounting to 25 million dollars, which was initially deposited to Russian banks by the manufacturers of the Russian TOR-M1 missiles, was released so as to be used in the implementation of the offset benefits agreements which accompanied the purchase, without, however, it ever reaching its destination.

    "The appeal means that certain individuals are hiding behind the accounts," said Tragakis, assessing, however, that "the only thing that they can gain is a short period of time. If this time exceeds the deadline of September 28, the penal responsibilities of any political figures involved in the case, will be written off. The only thing that will remain will be their political death and the political condemnation of the party which nourished and covered them," he noted.

    [14] KKE's Papariga wishes quick recovery to Fidel Castro

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary-General Aleka Papariga on Tuesday sent a message to President Fidel Castro wishing him a quick recovery after the Cuban leader underwent surgery.

    The Greek communists "have learned with great emotion the news of the sudden surgery you underwent. I want to express our joy for the successful outcome of the operation and to wish a quick recovery," Papariga said, reiterating her party's "steadfast solidarity with the revolution and the people of Socialist Cuba."

    [15] Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Samos on August 16-20

    2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will be visiting the eastern Aegean island of Samos on August 16-20.

    The Patriarch will be welcomed on the island by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.

    [16] Finmin: Privatization to help brake public debt

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    The government’s privatization drive will help to slow the public debt but will not be used to fill state coffers with one-off funds to cover deficits, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday.

    "As out public debt is very high, the revenue will help to slow its rise and reduce the figure as a proportion of gross domestic product," Alogoskoufis told a conference of Greek ambassadors arranged by the foreign ministry.

    "This revenue will not be used to lower deficits. In any case, this is forbidden by the European Union," he noted.

    The privatization plan, which aims mainly to restructure the economy and spur competition, brought 2.1 billion euros in 2005, up 30% from a target of 1.6 billion euros.

    "The program is being implemented successfully this year also, with emphasis mainly on banks," the minister reported.

    Turning to Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank, he said the hoped-for privatization would have national significance. Credit Agricole of France is seen likely to acquire the state-run Greek bank.

    "We would be talking about a strategic privatization for the country, with participation by one of the largest banks internationally, which also shows confidence in the outlook for Greece's economy and banking system, as well as in the bank itself, which is a key credit institution for the country," he added.

    [17] Inner cabinet discusses agricultural issues

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Agricultural policy issues were discussed in the inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos underlined that they examined all aspects of the government’s agricultural policy program and that apart from subsidies and compensations to be received soon by those eligible they also discussed issues concerning the promotion of farm products.

    Basiakos referred to the support given to organic farming using "reasonable amounts" of fertilizers to protect both the consumer and the environment. He added that the government program is being observed, stressing that the overall picture in rural regions is positive.

    Basiakos referred to the studies made on the comprehensive management of water resources, pointing out that cotton has a specific cultivation framework.

    Responding to a question concerning profiteering practices affecting farm products, he said that farmers want good prices for their products adding that what takes place in the market and the prices of goods when they reach the supermarket shelves are a totally different thing.

    Basiakos added that new cultivations are being promoted based on quality and competitiveness.

    [18] PASOK slams government policy on agriculture

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Declining farm incomes were stressed by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Tuesday, with PASOK agriculture sector coordinator Mihalis Chrysohoidis accusing the government of leading farmers into a dead end.

    Responding to statements made earlier by Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos after a meeting of the inner cabinet, Chrysohoidis said Basiakos was trying to provide an answer to their problems by bringing up issue of organic farming before the inner cabinet.

    But the real issue for the Greek farmers was the 5 percent drop in their income in the past two years when, based on a European Commission Agriculture Directorate study, farming revenues were expected to rise by 3.2 percent a year on average through implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy, CAP.

    In Greece, on the contrary, implementation of the new CAP has turned from a reform venture to a bureaucratic and tax-collecting nightmare for the farmers, stressed Chrisochoidis.

    Organic farming and mainly stockbreeding is indeed a strategic development goal for the Greek farm production and it should be supported by the state with clear and target-based policies and total utilization of relevant community programs, he said.

    However, an unfair, incompetent and ineffective government, like the ND government, can only use organic farming as a pretext to avoid any substantive discussion on the major and grave problems it has caused to the Greek farmers, added Chrisochoidis.

    [19] Interior minister signs decision for collection of data on unleaded gasoline prices

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday signed a decision which concerns the collection of data on unleaded gasoline prices and which is being sent to all of the country's prefects.

    The Interior Ministry, as stated in the decision, actively promoting the Electronic Governance, will grant to the country's prefecture local authorities the appropriate informatics infrastructure for the daily collection and registration of the sale prices of unleaded gasoline, with the ultimate purpose the diffusion of information so that they can be briefed and for consumers to be protected from profiteering.

    According to the decision, the prefects are called on to appoint a relevant employee who will operate as a link with the Interior Ministry and the Development Ministry with the objective of immediately solving any problems that may arise in the course of implementation.

    [20] Tsitouridis orders checks on TV channel 9 and other mass media

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on Tuesday gave orders to the Labor Inspection Corps to proceed in the necessary checks regarding television channel 9 as well as to other sectors of the mass media.

    In a meeting he had with the Coordinating Committee of Trade Unions, having first noted "the improvement of the State's performance regarding the checking and the implementation of the existing legislation in the field of the mass media as well," warned of "the invalidation of the post of presidents or of managers of social insurance funds who do not draft their balance sheets and actuarial studies in time."

    [21] PASOK delegation visits LARKO mining company

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    A main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) delegation of the party's Development of Competitiveness and Consumer Policy Sector held talks on Tuesday with the management of the mining company LARKO and discussed the company's course and development, as well as the "scenarios" of its sale.

    On the part of PASOK, taking part were Christos Protopapas, coordinator of the Development Sector of the Parliamentary Group, Dimitris Pipergias, Development rapportuer of the Parliamentary Group and Tonia Antoniou, Secretary of the Consumer Sector.

    The delegation said that LARKO's officials assured them that the company is viable and makes a profit and has all the potential to develop, given that in 2005, as well as in 2006, the company achieved particularly high profits (this year it is expected to exceed 80 million euros), which must be used for the necessary new investments.

    The PASOK delegation noted that the main shareholders, the State, the Public Power Corporation and the National Bank of Greece "did not allow these profits to be used for the investments program to proceed so that the company be henceforth fully healthy and for the necessary investments to be made."

    [22] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks up

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,764.65 points, showing a rise of 0.44%. Turnover was 218.1 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.27% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.58% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.15% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 135 to 124 with 52 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): National Bank of Greece (817)

    Total derivatives market turnover: 87.7 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.25% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bond: unavailable

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (745 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 1.6 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Wednesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released

    by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.286

    [23] Authorities on standby for possible oil slick from Lebanon

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    Greek authorities on Tuesday said that clean-up crews and the coast guard airplanes were on standby in case a massive oil slick from Lebanon - where an Israeli air strike damaged fuel depots and released 150,000 tones of crude oil into the sea - should approach Greek shores.

    According to the oil slick monitoring program Med Slick 4 Point One on Cyprus, the huge oil slick formed was floating three to four nautical miles from the Lebanese shore, was very close to the coast of Syria and was expected to reach the Turkish coast, while it was moving very fast due to rough Lebanese seas.

    The merchant marine ministry has mobilized services in the southeast Aegean and Crete to deal with any possible pollution reaching Greek waters and to patrol waters for any sign of such pollution. Greece will also use the oil-slick monitoring satellite ROSES, which will pass over the Aegean on August 2, 5, 7 and 8 and is in contact with foreign services to track the course of the slick.

    [24] Greek-Italian cooperation for dealing with natural dangers in the Mediterranean

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    The planning and development of a flexible information system network for dealing with natural dangers and their immediate repercussions in the Mediterranean is the main objective of the research project 'Synarma', which is being implemented through Greek-Italian cooperation, in the framework of the Interreg III B Archimed program.

    The opening session of the 'Synarma' project "Development of a geoinformatics system for dealing with natural dangers in the Mediterranean", began on Monday and the participants' sessions continued in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Tuesday.

    Participating in the project on the part of the Greek side are Workshops of the Aristotelio University of Thessaloniki, the National Metsovio Polytechnic, the technical schools of Larissa, the Institute of Technical Seismology and Anti-seismic Constructions, the prefecture local authorities of Thessaloniki and Grevena Municipality.

    [25] Greek language and culture lessons for foreign scientists and students

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    A total of 113 Greek language scholars, students and scientists from 38 countries will attend a special Institute for Balkan Studies (IMXA) program offering a deeper knowledge of the Greek language, set up with the support of the ministry of education.

    The 34th International Summer School for Greek Language, History and Culture targets young adults aged 20-35 years, while classes are offered at many levels, both for advanced students and beginners.

    The program courses began on July 30 and will last until August 27 taking place daily at the Xenia Helios Hotel at the seaside town of Peraia, Thessaloniki.

    Participants will also study Greek history, culture, literature, archaeology and local folklore taught by Thessaloniki Aristotle University professors.

    The guests will also visit archaeological sites in north Greece and the region’s rural centers, while they will attend ancient drama, folk dances and icon painting workshops.

    [26] The parents of savagely beaten 7-year-old jailed

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    The parents accused of savagely beating their 7-year-old son, currently in a comatose state at Thessaloniki’s Ippokration Hospital intensive care unit, were remanded in custody.

    The couple, charged with attempted homicide, exposing a minor to harm and intentionally inflicting physical harm, appeared before an examining magistrate on Tuesday and partially accepted the charges. Their attorney told ANA-MPA that her clients deny that they hit their child so hard as to endanger his life.

    Meanwhile, the little boy has been declared brain dead by attending doctors and he is on life-support.

    [27] Two men arrested for attempting to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country

    2/8/2006 (ANA)

    A Greek and an Albanian were arrested by border guards at Rodopi, northern Greece, on Tuesday for attempting to smuggle 38 Indian illegal immigrants into the country's heartland.

    The illegal immigrants were loaded onto a truck which was driven by an Albanian national who escaped arrest, with co-driver also a 23 year-old Albanian.

    A car driven by their Greek 34 year-old accomplice was ahead of the truck so as to inform in time the possibility of police checks.

    Police managed to arrest the 34-year Greek driver of the car as well as the 23-year Albanian.

    As arose from the preliminary inquiry, the illegal immigrants were intended to be taken to Athens. They had paid the total sum of 114,000 dollars to an unknown person in Turkey.

    [28] Second anniversary of Athens Olympics celebrated

    ATHENS, 2/8/2006 (ANA)

    The second anniversary of the holding of the Olympic Games in Athens was celebrated during an event in Athens on Tuesday evening.

    Addressing the event, Culture Minister George Voulgarakis referred to the successful holding of the Games and the post-Olympic benefits for Greece.

    "Our country succeeded in organizing safe Olympic Gemes, safe as regards a terrorist threat and safe as regards a threat for them to lose their real meaning," he noted.

    Deputy Culture Minister for Sports George Orfanos, on his part, said that the government was determined to capitalize on the Games benefits "placing sports in the centre of citizens' everyday life".

    [29] Cyprus points out to General Affairs Council EU role in Middle East

    NICOSIA, 2/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas pointed out the substantive role the EU can play in the appeasement of the situation in the Middle East, noting that the EU should not be a passive observer but should take on an active political role.

    Speaking at the extraordinary EU General Affairs Council in Brussels, which convened Tuesday to discuss the situation in Lebanon and the EU role in defusing the crisis, Lillikas deplored both the Hezbollah attacks and the disproportional Israeli counter-attacks, and pointed out the consequences these have on the people of Lebanon and Israel, as well as the populations of neighboring countries.

    Lillikas noted the mediatory role the countries of the region, such as Egypt, could play in international efforts to achieve a ceasefire.

    He also pointed out the importance of EU involvement in a dialogue with the directly or indirectly involved countries of the region to achieve this goal.

    Regarding the possibility of sending an international force to the region, Lillikas said the mandate of such a force, which will be discussed by the UN Security Council, should include the implementation of relevant provisions of resolution 1559.

    The General Affairs Council called on Tuesday for an immediate end to hostilities in Lebanon.

    [30] G/C and T/C representatives continue meetings to move process forward

    NICOSIA, 2/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Representatives of the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities met again on Tuesday with a view to promote the implementation of the agreement reached by the leaders of the two sides on July 8 for the establishment of bicommunal working teams of experts to discuss the substance of the Cyprus problem and practical day-to-day issues.

    UNFICYP Spokesman Brian Kelly confirmed to CNA that the meeting between the representatives of the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev respectively, took place Tuesday afternoon at the office of Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Nicosia Michael Moller, in the Nicosia UN buffer zone.

    Kelly said the two ''will continue to meet to move the process forward.''

    The Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides exchanged on Monday lists of issues to be discussed concerning the substance of the Cyprus problem, in accordance with the agreement reached on 8 July 2006 between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari.

    An official statement had said ''Moller, Tzionis and Pertev will continue their meetings in the next days, with a view to promote the implementation of the agreement that provides for the establishment of bicommunal working teams of experts for the discussion of issues of substance of the Cyprus problem, as well as for the establishment of bicommunal technical committees for the discussion of practical day-to-day issues.''

    On July 8th, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met in the presence of Gambari and agreed to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and those that concern substantive issues.

    [31] Britain urges Cyprus sides to take advantage of recent agreement

    NICOSIA, 2/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The British government fully supports UN efforts for the resumption of the Cyprus dialogue, British Minister for Europe Geoffrey Hoon has said.

    Responding to a question by MP Simon Hughes at the House of Commons, Hoon urged both sides in Cyprus to take advantage of the recent agreement reached in the presence of UN Under Secretary General for political affairs Imbrahim Gambari.

    ''We fully support UN's efforts and welcome the recent agreement between the two leaders on a mechanism for dialogue. We are urging both sides to take advantage of this opportunity, and working within the Security Council to ensure its full support for these efforts'', he added.

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat agreed in early July to begin a process involving bicommunal discussion of issues that affect the day to day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues.

    [32] Cypriot government: Lebanon oil spill unlikely to reach Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 2/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environ-ment Fotis Fotiou and scientists from the Oceanographic Centre, describe as ''unlikely'' for the time being the oil spill caused by the Israeli bombing of Lebanon to reach Cyprus' shores, noting that the Cypriot state services are on alert.

    Fotiou told reporters, after being informed on Tuesday by the Oceanography Centre of the University of Cyprus, and verified by satellite images and other photographic material, Cyprus is not in any danger, noting that he does not underestimate the ecological disaster of the Mediterranean, and for this reason he asked Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas to undertake an initiative for an action plan to handle the situation.

    He said that the amount of oil estimated to have spilled into the sea is around 20 to 30 thousand tons, of which 79.9% has reached the Lebanese shore, 20% has evaporated and around 1% remains in the sea area very close to the Lebanese coastline and does not threaten Cyprus due to south-west winds which are pushing the currents in a north direction. These meteorological facts have been dominating the area for the past three weeks.

    ''The government has an action plan,'' Fotiou said, noting that today he chaired a meeting of all parties involved in the event of such a danger.

    He said ''we can handle not such great cases but small to medium sized situations'' and that the EU must take specific action.

    Fotiou said that the issue was expected to be raised during the urgent meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers Tuesday in Brussels and Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas was informed on the Cypriot initiative and decisions were expected to be taken.

    ''We are ready to help both the EU and the government of Lebanon in handling the situation,'' Fotiou added.

    The minister noted that even if the direction of winds changed, the oil spill would not affect Cyprus because the quantity is small and can be handled therefore it would pose no danger for the Cypriot shores.

    Head of the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment George Georgiou assured that there is expert staff and the right equipment and material for use at any moment.

    His department assured in a statement that ''the Cyprus coast has not been affected by the oil spill in Lebanon and the sea around Cyprus is clean and has absolutely no pollution problems'' and that ''all the scientific data indicate, with a very high degree of confidence, that it is almost impossible that the sea area of Cyprus will be affected at all.''

    It added that ''nevertheless, the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research and other relevant authorities of the Republic of Cyprus are monitoring the situation and are ready to respond and to prevent any unlikely eventuality.''

    The Department said the government of Cyprus is in contact with the EU and is ready to contribute towards the minimisation of the impact on the environment of Lebanon.

    [33] No cloud with enriched uranium hovering over Cyprus, says Labor Ministry

    8/2/2006 (ANA)

    The Department of Labor Inspection of the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance has assured here Tuesday there is no reason for concern or panic over reports that a radioactive cloud containing enriched uranium is hovering above Cyprus due to the war in Lebanon.

    A statement by the Department, which is the relevant authority for Radiation Protection, informed the public that it is monitoring the situation and assured there is absolutely no reason for concern, moreover no panic is justified.

    It stressed that no notice has been received by international centers, which Cyprus is cooperating with and which monitor similar situations, noting that these centers inform their members as soon as such situations appear.

    The levels of radiation and concentration of dust in the atmosphere are being monitored by the Department of Labor Inspection and, according to data taken on a 24-hour basis; no increase of these numbers has been ascertained.

    This position is being reinforced by the fact that from the day hostilities began in Lebanon, the direction of the wind in the wider region of Cyprus is northerly to north-easterly. This direction is expected to remain the same in the next three days, according to the forecast of the Meteorological Service, the statement added.

    The Labor Inspection Department will continue to monitor the situation and will inform the public responsibly and promptly, taking, at the same time, all necessary measures.

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