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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-26

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

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

August 26, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] FM Bakoyannis comments on special EU conference in Brussels on Lebanon
  • [02] Mideast truce hanging by a thread, FM says after Middle East tour
  • [03] UN resolution a 'necessary step' for Middle East peace, FM says
  • [04] PM Karamanlis meets with Russian ambassador ahead of Putin visit
  • [05] Premier to meet worker/employer groups next week, Bakoyannis on Saturday
  • [06] PASOK president tours fire-damaged Kassandra
  • [07] PASOK political council focuses on local gov't elections; reactions to Pangalos self-criticism
  • [08] Education minister's message to school leavers, university candidates
  • [09] Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos to visit Xanthi prefecture
  • [10] Amendment on paedophilia tabled in Parliament
  • [11] New Greek ambassador to Australia presents credentials
  • [12] Gov't on Burgas-Alexandropoulis pipeline project
  • [13] Greek trade deficit up 11.4 pct in Jan-June, yr/yr
  • [14] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop
  • [15] Fires in Chalkidiki, Mani, Mt. Mainalos abating
  • [16] Central Macedonia regional authority warns against squatters, flooding in fire-ravaged Kassandra
  • [17] Draw held in Monaco for UEFA Soccer Cup first round
  • [18] Gov't Spokesman Pashiardis: Turkish side remains set on Annan plan
  • [19] Pashiardis says no official status for EU office in occupied areas
  • [20] Cyprus ready to give its infrastructure to facilitate UN in Lebanon

  • [01] FM Bakoyannis comments on special EU conference in Brussels on Lebanon

    BRUSSELS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, speaking after the special conference of European Union foreign ministers on sending an international force to Lebanon held here on Friday, said that Europe responded successfully to the UN Secretary General's call for a peacekeeping force for Lebanon.

    "The Special Council of the European Union's Foreign Ministers has been concluded. Europe responded with success, I would say, to the call by the Secretary General of the UN for a strengthened peacekeeping force that will go to Lebanon. A request that was made by the government of Lebanon, as well as by the countries in the region that are involved. In all, the forces that are currently registered at European level are about 6,500 men and an additional 2,000 that are in place. Meaning, over 8,000 men and, of course, the naval and air forces that will go to the region as soon as possible," she said.

    "Greece had stressed from the beginning that the full implementation of resolution 1701 of the UN's Security Council is imperative. This implementation requires the presence of this strengthened force, it also requires, of course, the immediate lifting of the blockade of Lebanon by sea and air. I would like to hope that today's decision, that is a very important step in this peace effort, will have the results desired," Bakoyannis added.

    All EU member-states will participate in the peacekeeping force, with the exception of Lithuania and Latvia. Apart from Greece, Germany and Denmark will also be sending a naval force to Lebanon. According to diplomatic sources, the naval force will contribute to the lifting of Lebanon's blockade.

    Lastly, according to Bakoyannis, all the EU countries stressed the need for an initiative for a solution to the Palestinian issue, which will be discussed more extensively at the EU's informal Council of Foreign Ministers in Finland on September 1.

    [02] Mideast truce hanging by a thread, FM says after Middle East tour

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Friday morning that the recently-agreed Middle East truce was hanging by a thread, and consequently the international community must do everything in its power for the speedy implementation of UN Security Council resolution 3701 and the deployment of the UN peacekeeping force to Lebanon.

    "Two weeks have already elapsed since the Security Council resolution was decided. The (peacekeeping) force must go to Lebanon as soon as possible, so as to ensure that the government of Lebanon will have the ability to impose order with the Lebanese army and have sovereignty throughout the entire country," Bakoyannis said in a statement at Tel Aviv airport on Friday morning. She made the statement before departing for Brussels on Friday afternoon for an EU Foreign Ministers' emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in Lebanon, following the completion of her four-day Middle East tour. The emergency EU Foreign Ministers' meeting was also to be attended by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

    "UNSCR 701 may possibly not be perfect, it is, however, an advancing step in the process of seeking a viable peace, and its success presupposes its immediate implementation," Bakoyannis, who arrived in Israel on Thursday afternoon from Jordan, told reporters at the airport, following talks in Tel Aviv with her Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni, as well as Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

    Bakoyannis' Middle East tour, ahead of Greece's assumption of the rotating UN Security Council monthly presidency on September 1, commenced in Cyprus on Tuesday afternoon and also took her to Beirut, Amman and Tel Aviv, for talks with Lebanese, Jordanian and Israeli government officials, respectively, as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, who was also visiting Jordan at the time.

    Talks in Israel: Israeli political leaders expressed their concerns, worries and reservations to Bakoyannis in their talks with the Greek foreign minister on Thursday evening, while Bakoyannis reiterated the firm stance Greece has taken from the outset for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

    Arriving in Tel Aviv from Amman on Thursday afternoon, Bakoyannis met separately with Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Patriarch Theofilos of Jerusalem, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who, speaking to reporters before her meeting with her Greek counterpart, spoke of a "need for the disarmament of Hezbollah" and, referring to the UN Security Council Resolution, said that Israel would not withdraw from Lebanon unless the multinational peacekeeping force was deployed in cooperation with the Lebanese army.

    According to diplomatic sources, the Israeli leadership sets the deployment of the multinational peacekeeping force as a condition for the lifting of the isolation of Lebanon, while it also brings back the condition of release of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in mid-July.

    The same sources said that the Israeli leadership considers that "it has no interlocutor in Lebanon", since it is skeptical over Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's ability to control the situation, and particularly Hezbollah's influence.

    Israel also has similar reservations over the cohesion of Palestinian political expression, given that a section of the Israeli leadership acknowledges the need for supporting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but at the same time recalls Hamas' refusal to recognize the existence of the State of Israel.

    The Israeli leadership further stressed to Bakoyannis the pressure it has been under from the Israeli society over the fact that the government agreed to give land (in Lebanon, and Gaza) in exchange for peace, noting: "The government is being criticized because we gave land, and despite that the attacks continued".

    According to the Israeli leadership, the immediate deployment of the peacekeeping force is necessary, while it is also particularly concerned over the issue of Iran's influence, and particularly the prospect of Iran's nuclear program.

    [03] UN resolution a 'necessary step' for Middle East peace, FM says

    TEL AVIV, 26/8/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis urged all sides in the Middle East crisis to implement United Nations resolution 1701 as a necessary step toward peace, as she departed from the Jordanian capital Amman for Tel Aviv on Thursday.

    "Of course the Security Council decision is not perfect. It is the result of a compromise. It is, however, a necessary step for a forward movement, in order to give peace a chance," she told reporters at Amman airport, in response to questions about the resolution's weaknesses.

    Bakoyannis also pointed out that a condition for the success of the truce agreed was that it be promptly observed.

    According to the Greek foreign minister, meanwhile, a solution to the Palestinian problem was the key to building up peace in the region and that the present fragile truce was a crucial turning point for the Middle East problem.

    "This was, is and will be - until it is solved - the catalytic problem for the wider region," she said.

    During her visit to Jordan, which was the third stop in her four-day tour of the Middle East after Cyprus and Lebanon, Bakoyannis met visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and attended a dinner hosted by her Jordanian counterpart Abdelelah Al-Khatib on Wednesday night, while in the morning she was received by Jordan's King Abdullah II and Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit.

    Athens' emphasis on the Palestinian problem as a key to a solution in the Middle East crisis was received with approval in Amman - especially by the Palestinian president - with Jordanian officials generally expecting Greece to play a positive role when it takes over the rotating UN Security Council monthly presidency on September 1.

    Asked about the role Greece intends to play when it takes over the presidency, Bakoyannis said that Greece offered its good services and tried to promote ideas that support peace and cooperation in the region.

    [04] PM Karamanlis meets with Russian ambassador ahead of Putin visit

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Friday morning with Russian ambassador to Greece Andrei Vdovin.

    Russian president Vladimir Putin is due to arrive in Athens on September 4 for a trilateral meeting with prime minister Costas Karamanlis and Bulgarian president Georgi Purvanov, at Putin's initiative, for talks mainly focusing on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

    The agenda of the meeting is energy issues, with the main thrust on the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline.

    Greece, Bulgaria and Russia signed a political agreement for the cross-border pipeline, budgeted at approximately 700 million euros, on April 13, 2005 in Thessaloniki. The 285-kilometre pipeline to carry Russian oil from Burgas in Bulgaria to Alexandroupolis in northern Greece has an estimated investment cost of 750-800 million US dollars with an annual capacity of 35 million tons of oil. It will supplement a sea route through the Bosporus for transportation of the product in the region. It is anticipated that the pipeline will forge a new outlet for Russian oil and for oil from the Caspian Sea to Europe and America.

    An estimated 35-50 million tons of crude oil would flow through Alexandroupolis in end-2008, while Greece will profit between 30 and 50 million dollars annually from the transportation of oil via the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipe-line, according to 2005 estimates.

    [05] Premier to meet worker/employer groups next week, Bakoyannis on Saturday

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to have a series of meetings with representatives of workers and employer groups over the coming week to prepare for the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), when the government traditionally announces the main economic policy axes for the coming year, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced on Friday.

    The prime minister is also scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis at noon on Saturday, when she returns from a tour of the Middle East and an emergency meeting on the crisis in Lebanon held by EU foreign ministers' in Brussels on Friday.

    Outlining the prime minister's program next week, Roussopoulos said the first of the premier's meetings to prepare for TIF would be with the country's largest umbrella trade union group, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), on Monday. Also taking part will be Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis.

    Later the same day, Karamanlis will hold talks with the Union of Greek Industry (SEB) in a meeting attended by Alogoskoufis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas.

    On Wednesday morning, Karamanlis will meet the Central Union of Chambers of Commerce of Greece, followed by the Association of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE). Both meetings will also be attended by the finance and development ministers.

    On Thursday, Karamanlis will have successive meetings with the General Confederation of Professionals and Craftsmen (GESEBE), the Athens Chambers of Industry and Commerce and the National Confederation of Greek Trade (ESEE) that will again be attended by Alogoskoufis and Sioufas.

    The prime minister will devote Friday to the civil servants union ADEDY, which he will meet with Alogoskoufis, Sioufas and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, followed by the Panhellenic Confederation of Farming Cooperative Unions (PASEGES), again with Alogoskoufis and Sioufas but also Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Bassiakos.

    [06] PASOK president tours fire-damaged Kassandra

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou arrived in Chalkidiki on Friday for a tour of fire-damaged Kassandra, as the first 'finger' of the peninsula is called, expressing anguish at the extent of the disaster and describing it as a "biblical catastrophe".

    "We must immediately support those stricken with anti-flooding measures, restitution and a whole series of things that I will have the opportunity to discuss with local officials," he said.

    Papandreou was accompanied by PASOK National Council secretary Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou and the MPs Evangelos Venizelos, Yiannis Magriotis, Haris Kastanidis and local MP Yiannis Drivelegas.

    "We are here to express our support, to look to the next day. But, unfortunately, we must condemn the complete irresponsibility of the present government, which has one of the most modern fire-fighting fleets in Europe and, due to irresponsibility and partisan interests, has essentially dismantled this service. We see the results in such a tragic way in this formerly gorgeous area of Kassandra," PASOK's leader noted.

    He also expressed understanding for the frustration of those who suffered losses due to the fire.

    PASOK's leader repeated his claims of "criminal negligence" and "irresponsibility" on the part of the government during a speech closing a meeting with local authority officials and residents in Palimni, demanding that those responsible be made answerable.

    He also demanding a record of the damage inflicted by the fire, immediate flood protection works and "communications" support for the area.

    All laws and programs for natural disasters should be activated, he said, while calling for the creation of an additional special program for Chalkidiki to be included in the 4th Community Support Framework.

    According to Papandreou, the PASOK party had already put together a working team to work with local officials and draw up a series of proposals for coping with the aftermath of the massive fire, noting that this made his visit to the area more than a formality.

    [07] PASOK political council focuses on local gov't elections; reactions to Pangalos self-criticism

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Reverberations within the main opposition PASOK party and reactions in many of Friday's Athens dailies followed critical statements by high-ranking deputy and former minister Theodoros Pangalos during a meeting of PASOK's political council a day earlier.

    In reaction to a statement by cadre George Panagiotakopoulos over the need to reinvigorate the party's grass roots supporters, Pangalos charged that "after 2000 we (the PASOK government) messed up in practically every sector, we devastated the country."

    The outspoken former foreign and culture minister's statement generated immediate reactions by the other PASOK cadres at the meeting -- chaired by PASOK leader George Papandreou -- which was convened to focus on the latest developments in the country.

    In reply, former minister Vasso Papandreou shot back that although PASOK's governments made mistakes they also achieved much.

    On his part, former labor leader Christos Polyzogopoulos - who recently stepped down from the GSEE umbrella trade union's helm to head PASOK's mobilizations' sector - charged that comments such as Pangalos' do not help the party's course, while adding that Pangalos himself served as a minister in the second Simitis government that came to power in April 2000, to which Pangalos replied, "only briefly".

    Finally, Pangalos also forwarded his opinion that behind every unofficial PASOK-affiliated candidate running against an officially backed PASOK candidate in local government elections "lays a PASOK deputy".

    In other matters, veteran PASOK cadre and former minister Alekos Papadopoulos, who heads the main opposition party's municipal and prefecture elections committee, called for a re-evaluation of the party's criticism regarding recently announced tax breaks, citing a need to define exactly the level of "high-income" taxpayers.

    Specifically in regards to local government elections, Papadopoulos expressed an opinion that the party will do well in the October poll as far as prefectures and prefecture capitals are concerned, while saying he cannot make a forecast for Athens and Thessaloniki "due to special circumstances in those municipalities".

    [08] Education minister's message to school leavers, university candidates

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Friday congratulated school leavers who had successfully gained a place in a university or technical educational institute in the nationwide university entrance exams.

    "I am sure that with their continuing and systematic effort during their studies they will contribute to improving the quality of higher education institutes," she added.

    The minister also had words of encouragement for those who failed to get a place in their chosen schools:

    "For those who did not succeed this time, I would like to remind them that there will be other opportunities to achieve their goal and I call on them to work in this direction," she said.

    The results of the nationwide examinations were released throughout the country on Thursday. These showed a rise in the bottom marks of students accepted by universities, except in medical schools, while some 13,967 available places remained vacant as a result of the imposition by the government of a minimum pass mark of 10 for entry into tertiary education studies.

    Most of these places were in Technical Education Institutes (TEI) and in the language departments of universities. Education ministry general secretary Andreas Karamanos on Thursday said that the 29 TEI departments with less than 10 successful candidates and the four TEI departments with none would be filled by students from specialized TEE technical schools.

    Of a total of 99,782 candidates that applied for a place in university or TEI departments, 60,204 were accepted in 2006. In 2005 the total number of candidates had been slightly higher (104,668), while 76,135 had been accepted.

    [09] Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos to visit Xanthi prefecture

    26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos will be visiting the northern prefecture of Xanthi from Saturday until Tuesday.

    The Archbishop will be arriving at Alexander the Great airport at Chrysoupoli at noon, where he will be receiving an official welcoming. Later, he will be welcomed at the central square in Stavroupoli by the authorities of the town and of the prefecture of Xanthi, while the mayor of Stavroupoli will proclaim him an honorary citizen. Shortly after 7 p.m. a church service will also be held at the Evangelistria Cathedral.

    On Sunday morning, Archbishop Christodoulos will be officiating at a church service at Evangelistria Cathedral in Stavroupoli.

    [10] Amendment on paedophilia tabled in Parliament

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The justice ministry on Friday tabled an amendment dealing with paedophilia to its draft law for domestic violence, introducing tougher penalties for those found guilty of pedophilia and the sexual exploitation of minors.

    Under the new laws, those convicted of sexually molesting underaged persons face prison sentences of varying lengths, depending on the age of the child involved. For children less than 10 years old, the law demands prison sentences of over 10 years, while those abusing minors in their care face a minimum prison sentence of six months or two years if the acts are carried out habitually. Prison sentences are also imposed on those using the Internet or other means of communication to sexually exploit under-16s.

    The statute of limitations for the acts involved, meanwhile, does not start to apply until the victim becomes an adult.

    [11] New Greek ambassador to Australia presents credentials

    MELBOURNE, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's new ambassador to Australia, George Zois, on Friday presented his credentials to the Australian Governor General major-general Michael Jeffery, in Canberra.

    The ambassador was accompanied by Greek embassy charge d'affaires Kyriakos Maniatis.

    Jeffery hosted a luncheon later in honor of Zois and of the new US and Mali ambassadors to Australia, who also presented their credentials on Friday.

    The luncheon was also attended by the leaders of Greek associations of Australia, and MPs of Greek descent.

    [12] Gov't on Burgas-Alexandropoulis pipeline project

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Government on Friday merely referred to repeated statements by the relevant development minister regarding progress for the projected Burgas-Alexandropoulis oil pipeline linking the Bulgarian Black Sea port with the northeastern Aegean port.

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos made the comment in reply to a handful of press questions focusing on an upcoming tripartite meeting in Athens between Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov and Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [13] Greek trade deficit up 11.4 pct in Jan-June, yr/yr

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's trade deficit rose by 32.4 percent in June to 2.759 billion euros from 2.084 billion euros in the same month last year, official figures said on Friday.

    Excluding oil products, the trade deficit rose 27.4 pct over the same period. The value of export-deliveries totaled 1.495 billion euros in June, from 1.2 billion euros in June 2005, for an increase of 24.6 pct, while excluding oil products, exports rose 23.2 percent.

    The value of import-arrivals totaled 4.254 billion euros in June from 3.284 billion in June last year, for an increase of 29.5 pct, while excluding oil products, imports rose 25.8 pct.

    The country's trade deficit rose 11.4 pct in the six-month period from January to June to 15.727 billion euros, from 14.119 billion euros last year.

    Exports rose 22.2 pct to 8.072 million euros from 6.603 billion in the first half of 2005, while excluding oil products exports rose 16.1 pct.

    Imports rose 14.8 pct to 23.799 billion euros in the first half of 2006 from 20.722 billion last year, while excluding oil products imports rose 8.6 pct.

    [14] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,855.21 points, showing a decline of 1.93%. Turnover was 268.1 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 2.00% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 1.41% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.48% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 209 to 61 with 46 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): OTE (1283)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 137.9 million euros

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.11%

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.11% yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (1.4 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 1.8 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    U.S. dollar 1.286

    [15] Fires in Chalkidiki, Mani, Mt. Mainalos abating

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Fires that have been raging for the past several days in Chalkidiki peninsula, eastern Mani and Mt. Mainalos in Arcadia were reported to be abating Friday morning, while firefighting efforts continued.

    Central Macedonia Periphery secretary general George Tsiotras told ANA-MPA that the situation in Kassandra, the first leg of the Chalkidiki peninsula, where a huge forest fire broke out on Monday afternoon, was improved with respect to the preceding days, with the blaze now contained to the southwestern section of Kassandra.

    He said the situation on the fire fronts was improved, adding, however, that there was a risk of the fire being rekindled if wind velocity increased again.

    The fire, blazing into its fifth day, has burned more than 50,000 stremma (13,000 acres) of virgin fir and pine forest and olive groves, as well as tens of homes, tourism infrastructure, livestock and agricultural installations and machinery. The fire was now contained mainly in ravines, making the land forces' work more difficult. At the peak of the blaze on Tuesday, the fire had extended over a 30 kilometer front, fanned by high winds that had reached a near-storm velocity of 6-7 beaufort.

    "The situation is better, and we hope that the weather will help us throughout the day," Tsiotras said, adding that the situation was under control, since there were no longer raging fire fronts to be tackled, but only isolated pockets.

    The land forces' efforts were again focusing on Friday on a hard-to-access forest expanse between the villages of Nea Skioni and Kassandrino, where many minor pockets were burning, mainly in ravines. Also, firefighting aircraft and helicopters were on standby to make water drops throughout the day for preventive reasons if required, Tsiotras added.

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou was due to visit fire-devastated Kassandra later in the day.

    Mani, Mt. Mainalos fires: Meanwhile, fires that had broken out several days ago in eastern Mani in the Laconia prefecture, and on Mt. Mainalos in Arcadia prefecture, were also abating Friday morning.

    In Mani, strong firefighting forces were battling to fully contain the blaze, while, on Mt. Mainalos, an additional team of firefighters from Athens, Patras and the Peloponnese Periphery, as well as a water-dropping helicopter, were dispatched to join the land forces on Friday morning.

    Another fire in the forest area of Koufo, Molaous, has also been contained, as has been a fire that broke out on Mt. Belles near the village of Lithoto in Kilkis, after burning 16 stremma (four acres) of brush, without threatening populated areas.

    [16] Central Macedonia regional authority warns against squatters, flooding in fire-ravaged Kassandra

    ATHENS, 26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The first offer of assistance for fire-ravaged Kassadra peninsula in northern Greece, a popular holiday destination in verdant Halkidiki prefecture, involves the dispatch of 150,000 plants and pine trees from the central Macedonia regional authority, which is based in nearby Thessaloniki prefecture.

    The offer coincided with a same-day meeting by the regional authority focusing on efforts to combat squatting, land grabbing and the building of illegal buildings (usually holiday homes) on burned forest land in Kassandra -- an all too familiar pattern in Greece over the past decades following forest fires and wildfires.

    Central Macedonia’s regional authority also called for the immediate designation of the affected land as "areas to be reforested". Flood control measures ahead of the winter season were also discussed.

    [17] Draw held in Monaco for UEFA Soccer Cup first round

    26/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The draw for the UEFA Soccer Cup's first round was held in Monaco at noon on Friday.

    Panathinaikos Athens was drawn to play against Metalurg Zaporozye of Ukraine, Iraklis Thessaloniki against Wisla Krakow of Poland, Xanthi against Dinamo Bucharest of Romania and Atromitos Athens against 2006 UEFA Cup holder Seville of Spain.

    Panathinaikos, Atromitos and Xanthi will be playing their first match at home on September 14, while Iraklis will be playing away on the same date. The second leg matches will be played on September 28.

    Lastly, Ethnikos Achna of Cyprus was drawn to play against Lens of France.

    [18] Gov't Spokesman Pashiardis: Turkish side remains set on Annan plan

    NICOSIA, 26/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis criticised Turkey on Friday, saying it remains set on and not moving away from the Annan plan for a Cyprus settlement, which was rejected by the Greek Cypriot community in a referendum on 24 April 2004.

    Turkey's presence at the meetings to promote the agreement of July 8, 2006 that provides for bicommunal discussions aiming to reach a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, does not mean it is also a presence of Turkey's political will for the appropriate solution to the Cyprus problem, Pashiardis told journalists during his daily briefing.

    Pashiardis was commenting on Thursday's statements by Turkish Finance Minister and chief negotiator with EU Ali Babacan, who repeated that the Turkish side will always be one step ahead and will never leave the negotiating table.

    ''However,'' Pashiardis said, ''Babacan avoided clarifying that the 'one step ahead' is indeed a step backwards, because the developments have left behind the Annan plan unchanged.''

    The Spokesman added that the Turkish side still remains set on the Annan plan and that Babacan ''also avoided clarifying that his side's presence at the negotiating table does not necessarily mean and the presence of his country's political will for the appropriate solution to the Cyprus problem.''

    Pashiardis furthermore announced that Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev, the representatives of the leaders of the two communities, were due to have here on Friday their ninth meeting, aiming at the implementation of the July 8 agreement.

    On Tuesday, August 29, UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari is expected to brief the Security Council on the progress made during the talks between the two sides.

    Pashiardis stressed that the Greek Cypriot side will make every possible effort so that Gambari will be able to announce to the Security Council members ''something positive and substantive.''

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    Efforts to reach a settlement culminated with a April 24, 2004 referendum on the Annan plan, which the Greek Cypriot community rejected and the Turkish Cypriot community accepted. Cyprus is a member of the European Union since May 1, 2004.

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on July 8, during a meeting here in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    [19] Pashiardis says no official status for EU office in occupied areas

    NICOSIA, 26/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The recently established office of the European Union (EU) in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus will be a branch of the EU Office which is in the areas controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis told journalists here on Friday.

    The EU office in the occupied areas, Pashiardis said, will distribute the money provided by the Regulation for the Financial Aid to the Turkish Cypriots and it has absolutely no official status.

    Asked about the opening of that EU office in the occupied areas, Pashiardis reminded journalists that the EU Commissioners' College approved last June the budget of the EU Office for the distribution of the 259 million euros, which will be provided for projects in the Turkish occupied areas.

    ''In the occupied areas,'' Pashiardis said, '' a unit of the Office will be installed, which will just supervise the implementation of the approved works and will be a branch of the Office without any official status at all.''

    Pashiardis noted that the works in the occupied areas will be approved by the appropriate EU Committee, of which the Republic of Cyprus is an equivalent member.

    [20] Cyprus ready to give its infrastructure to facilitate UN in Lebanon

    NICOSIA, 26/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Belgium is the second country after France asking from the Republic of Cyprus to facilitate the establishment of a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis told journalists here on Friday during his daily briefing.

    Pashiardis said it was not important which countries have asked for those facilitations but that Cyprus is ready to provide its infrastructure to facilitate the UN peacekeeping force.

    What counts most, he said, is that this Cyprus' offer is going to be recognized, appreciated and utilized.

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