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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 28, 2006
 Karamanlis briefed on FM's Mideast visit, EU meeting focusing on Lebanon crisis
ATHENS, 28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed by Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Saturday over her four-day Mideast tour earlier in the week as well as Friday's emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers on the crisis in Lebanon, where the bloc decided to contribute a contingent of 6,500-7,000 peacekeepers to an expanded UN-led international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.
She further briefed Karamanlis on Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Greece next week.
Bakoyannis told reporters after the meeting that the message sent by the EU was clear, as it decided to send a European Union contingent in response to the call by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who also attended the EU foreign ministers' general council meeting, adding that such a force would give a sense of security to both the Israeli and Lebanese people.
However, as she stressed, the situation in the Middle East remained difficult.
Bakoyannis, who has called for meetings to brief main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou and representatives of other political parties, ruled out the prospect of increasing Greece’s military participation in the international force, however, she clarified that a Greek naval contribution, together with that of Germany and Denmark, would serve as the “lever” to lift the maritime blockade of Lebanon.
Bakoyannis said this had been requested by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and that she had conveyed this to her EU counterparts, while adding that Muslim countries were also expected to deploy forces in Lebanon in addition to EU forces.
Speaking in Brussels after the EU Council of Ministers-General Affairs Council emergency meeting on Friday, Bakoyannis said Europe had responded successfully to the UN Secretary General's call for a peacekeeping force for Lebanon.
"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 provided at European level are about 6,500 men and an additional 2,000 already in place; that means more than 8,000 troops and, of course, the naval and air force assets 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, which is a very important step in this peace effort, will have the desired results," 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 send naval vessels to the region.
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 regularly-scheduled informal Council of Foreign Ministers in Finland on Sept. 1.
Bakoyannis further said, after her meeting with Karamanlis on Saturday, that Greece’s role was important, albeit much smaller in number than that of France, Italy or Spain.
Earlier in the week Athens announced that it would contribute two navy vessels and a SEALs unit to the expanded international peacekeeping force in Lebanon, following a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) chaired by Karamanlis.
Announcing the decision, Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and Bakoyannis said KYSEA had decided to send one frigate and a helicopter, the commando unit to carry out onboard inspections of vessels and, if necessary, a landing vessel to transport humanitarian aid from Cyprus to Beirut.
The government also said it will consider sending other units in the future but under the strict condition that the situation in the region be normalized. For the time being, Athens completely ruled out sending Greek land forces to the area.
Additionally, Greece will also provide administrative personnel and logistics.
A conference of the countries that will contribute forces to the expanded UNIFIL is scheduled to take place at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday.
Putin visit: Bakoyannis also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Athens next week for a trilateral meeting with Karamanlis and Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov to primarily discuss the advancement of construction of the Burgas-Alexandropoulis oil pipeline was an "important event".
Putin is due to arrive in Athens on Sept. 4 for a meeting with Karamanlis and Purvanov at the Russian president's initiative, for talks mainly focusing on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil 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.
An estimated 35-50 million tons of crude oil would flow through Alexandroupolis in end-2008, while Greece will earn between 30 and 50 million dollars annually from the transportation of oil via the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, according to 2005 estimates.
Karamanlis met Friday morning with Russian ambassador to Greece Andrei Vdovin to discuss the visit
Bakoyannis is expected to brief main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Monday at the latter’s office in Parliament over her recent talks in the Middle East.
 FM to receive Indian Minister for External Affairs Sharma on Mon.
ATHENS, 28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will receive Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma on Monday at the foreign ministry in Athens, with statements expected afterwards, according to a ministry press release.
 PASOK leader attends Prespes Festival; comments on Mideast, criticizes gov’t
ATHENS, 28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou wound up a whirlwind tour of northern Greece over the weekend with his attendance Saturday evening at the annual Prespes Festival, hosted on the tiny island of Aghios Achillios in the eponymous Lesser (Small) Prespa Lake in extreme northwest Greece.
From the islet, Papandreou expressed a wish for a permanent truce and peace in the Middle East.
The PASOK leader and former foreign minister were also honored by the event's organizers for his efforts towards promoting peace around the world.
Meanwhile, on Sunday from the Athens Olympic Complex (OAKA), Papandreou criticized the New Democracy government for failing to exploit, as he said, the legacy and infrastructure left over from the 2004 Olympic Games of Athens.
He made the comment during a meeting with local government officials whose Attica prefecture (Athens-area) municipalities host Olympic facilities.
Among others, he charged that the government is abandoning Olympic facilities or aiming to commercialize them.
Gov't spokesman dismisses Papandreou comments: Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, responding on Sunday to statements made earlier by Papandreou, emphasized: "it appears that Mr. Papandreou forgets that he now heads PASOK which, being in government throughout the entire period of the Olympic Games preparation until March 2004, is exclusively responsible for the huge swelling of the (Olympics) budget, the very serious delays in the implementation of the projects and the absolute absence of planning for post-Olympic Games exploitation."
Roussopoulos added that "it appears that he also forgets that 'for Greece to be able', and 'for the Greeks to be able' the explicit mandate of March 7, 2004, was necessary to precede. In any case, for the things he says and for his opposition choices the president of PASOK receives replies on a daily basis, not only from the citizens ... but, from now on, from the members of his party, in particular."
Finally, and in reaction to Roussopoulos’ comments, a PASOK spokesman responded that “contempt for the Olympic legacy, and the tragic abandonment of the Olympic facilities as well as their projected commercialization is solely the responsibility of the ND government”.
Grevena address: Earlier in the weekend from the town of Grevena, Papandreou repeated his charges against the government’s policy in a third speech in four days, this time while addressing his party's prefecture election campaign committee in the region.
"We are defending the public interest, common sense and the right to exercise criticism on a failed government," Papandreou said in dismissing criticism by the government that his attacks are slanderous and baseless.
The PASOK leader also said his party was proud of its accomplishments, adding that despite the weaknesses it had achieved much, and promised to bring back optimism and hope - statement days after onetime PASOK minister and top cadre Theodoros Pangalos sharply criticized a PASOK government between 2000 and 2004.
On the economic front, Papandreou said that prices were excessively high, and also accused the government of preparing tax exemptions for the higher income brackets, while rebates to the low and middle-income brackets have already been paid by the taxpayer through increases surcharges on fuel, real estate and other services and goods.
Papandreou also reiterated his call for a heating subsidy for lower income earners.
Gov’t reaction: Commenting on Papandreou's address in Grevena, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos merely noted that "today's (Saturday) speech proves that the only recourse of those who razed the state and the country, is slander and populism … unfortunately, for Papandreou himself and for his party, with each passing day PASOK is indicating that it neither wanted to nor can it change.”
 Pavlopoulos: 80% of 4th CSF funds to provinces
ATHENS, 28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, speaking from the Prespes lake district and the town of Florina in northwest Greece on Saturday, told reporters that the government aims to allocate 80 percent of the upcoming 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) to the provinces.
Asked about the course of the Regional Operational Program for the western Macedonia region, Pavlopoulos said that the absorption rate during the second of two Simitis governments (2000-2004) was 19 percent, with 287 projects included, while over the last two and a half years the absorption rate has tripled and reached the 57-percent mark, with 614 projects included.
On Saturday, Pavlopoulos inaugurated the new town hall in the Prespes municipality at the Laimos site.
Prespes 2006: Pavlopoulos, along with several other top politicians, including PASOK leader George Papandreou, was on hand in the NW lake district for the "2006 Prespes" series of events, annually held on the tiny island of Aghios Achillios on the Lesser (Small) Prespa Lake.
This year's events revolved around Nobel laureate poet Odysseas Elytis' "Axion Esti", which was later set to music by Mikis Theodorakis.
 Employment minister visits Florina
28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government will exhaust all the fiscal and other abilities the country has, employment and social protection minister Savvas Tsitouridis said Saturday, replying to a press question on whether the unemployment benefit will be increased, following a visit to the Florina city hall, accompanied by ruling New Democracy (ND) party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.
After the meeting, Tsitouridis also outlined the government's intention to establish a Social Solidarity Fund aimed at reinforcing the areas of the country with high unemployment rates and declining branches.
"We are advancing a Fund, a special agency, which, with financing from the state budget, EU funds and social expenditures, will be able to reinforce the areas with high unemployment, declining branches and people over 50 years of age who cannot find work. These people, in these regions and these branches, will receive substantial assistance until they find work or until they reach retirement age," Tsitouridis explained.
Main opposition PASOK cadre Maria Damanaki later said that "whatever the government may give to the economically weaker, it has already collected multiply".
 Dep. FM Kassimis on Australia visit this week
28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, who holds the expatriate Greeks portfolio, begins a 10-day tour of Australia on Monday expected to concentrate on further advancing Greek-language education amongst the large ethnic Greek communities in the island continent. While in Australia, Kassimis is expected to meet with state ministers, ethnic Greek lawmakers, ecclesiastical leaders and academic leaders.
 PM on death of former MP Zafiropoulos
ATHENS, 28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Sunday issued his condolences to the family of veteran New Democracy party deputy and past Athens Bar Association president Nontas Zafiropoulos, who passed away late Saturday evening in Athens.
Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki also issued her condolences.
 Patmos designated UNESCO World Heritage Monument
28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The island of Patmos, in the Aegean, will be officially designated a UNESCO World Heritage Monument during a special ceremony on Sunday.
The events marking this historic moment for Patmos, where St. John wrote the Apocalypse (Book of Revelations), will begin at 11:00 a.m. at Xanthou square in the island's capital city of Chora, where the official declaration will take place.
A series of events will take place throughout the day.
The first Centre of Orthodox Culture and Information in Greece will be officially inaugurated on Sunday, to mark the island's designation as a World Heritage Monument by UNESCO.
The centre will be equipped with special audiovisual displays in five languages, a touch screen info kiosk providing information on Patmos and links to Internet sites with content related to Orthodox culture worldwide.
 Second lot of cannabis plants uprooted by police in less than a week
28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Police in Hania, on the island of Crete, on Saturday spotted and uprooted an expanse of 200 cannabis plants.
The plants were spotted by a police helicopter in the framework of regular inspections by air.
The plants, which had reached a height of up to five meters, were spotted in an agricultural area between the villages of Stylos and Niochori near Armenon municipality, near the area's soccer field, in what once used to be an orange grove.
Police were investigating to find who had planted the cannabis, which was in full bloom and had been watered on Friday night.
The expanse is the second to be found by Hania police in less than a week. On Tuesday, police had spotted and uprooted another expanse of 1,007 cannabis plants.
 Driver convicted for carrying illegals
28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)A 24-year-old foreign truck driver has been convicted to a jail sentence of nine years and four months and fined 70,000 euros after being arrested in the port of Igoumenitsa, northwestern Greece, on August 22 while carrying 11 illegal immigrants in his vehicle. His co-driver, a foreign woman, was also sentenced to a 40-day jail sentence. The truck used to carry the illegals was confiscated.
 Forest fire breaks out in N. Greece
28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)A forest fire broke out near Dorkada, in the northern prefecture of Thessaloniki, on Sunday afternoon. Firefighters rushed to the scene to extinguish the blaze and were being backed in their efforts by a firefighting helicopter. Residential areas are in no danger.
 FIBA: Greece crushes China to reach quarters
JAPAN, 28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece beat China 95-64 in a World Basketball Championship match in Japan on Sunday and reached quarter-finals, where it will face France, who beat Angola 68-62.
The 10-minute intervals had the following results: 11-18, 41-36, 67-42 and 95-64.
The quarter-final matches will be played between Argentina-Turkey and Spain-Lithuania on Tuesday, while the Greece-France and United States-Germany matches will be played on Wednesday.
 Greek superleague results
ATHENS, 28/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Olympiakos Piraeus, last season’s champions, remained alone atop the Greek Superleague standings on Sunday after only two weeks of play by easily downing a lowly Panionios Athens club away 3-0.
AEK Athens, meanwhile, posted a second straight tie, leaving precious points on the pitch at Irakleio, Crete’s Pankritio stadium following a 1-1 tie with OFI Crete.
Olympiakos and AEK are the Greek league’s representatives in the 2006-2007 Champions League competition.
Finally, Panathinaikos Athens suffered a painful 0-2 loss on Saturday at the Athens Olympic Stadium to Ionikos Piraeus in the biggest surprise of the new season so far.
In other action:
PAOK Thessaloniki - Iraklis Thessaloniki 3-1
Apollon Kalamaria - Egaleo Athens 0-1
Larissa - Atromitos Athens 2-1
Xanthi - Ergotelis Crete 0-0
Aris Thessaloniki - Kerkyra (Corfu) 0-0
Standings after two weeks of play:
Olympiakos 6 points