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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-31
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 31, 2006
 Gov't focusing on country's future, FinMin says
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government is focusing on the country's future and implements specific policies to deal with past problems, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the presidency of the Federation of Northern Greece Industries, Alogoskoufis said the country's producer and social partners were acknowledging progress made in economic reforms and the economy and added "many still have to be done".
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, speaking to reporters, said a meeting with the Central Union of Chambers of Greece and Northern Greece Industries were fruitful since both meeting confirmed that the government and its social partners "have common goals".
The government wants northern Greece to become a center for Southeastern Europe , adding that all policies aimed at boosting regional growth.
George Mylonas, president of the federation, stressed that the business community has expectations and demands from the government to support growth in the region and to establish Thessaloniki as a trade fair center.
The premier will continue his round of meetings with representatives of the producer classes and trade unions on Thursday. He will meet with the leadership of the General Conference of Manufacturers and Traders and the presidency of ADEDY, civil servants' union.
 PASOK's Efthymiou criticizes government's economic policy
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Economy Coordinator Petros Efthymiou on Wednesday severely criticized the government's economic policy.
He said that "the government is acting as a summer burglar, because while the Economy and Finance Minister (George Alogoskoufis) is assuring that the Greeks can be certain that they will be able to carry out their programming, immediately afterwards he bombards them with price increases in electricity bills, mobile phone dues and cigarettes."
Meanwhile, 35 PASOK deputies on Wednesday submitted a question on the use of public funds "in favor of the (ruling) New Democracy party's candidate mayors."
According to the main opposition deputies, "the government is using public funds to influence and to adulterate the results of the local government elections in favor of the individuals it has selected."
 Gov't adamant over 'name issue': Talks involve int'l name for FYROM
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The "name issue" separating Athens and Skopje re-emerged on the "political radar" this week following a series of mostly inflexible statements by FYROM's new leadership, and expected reactions by Greece's foreign ministry.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Wednesday was the latest top Greek official to comment on the long-standing difference, again clarifying that a solution to the 16-year-old dispute absolutely does not revolve around the name that Greece will use in bilateral relations - a leitmotif of previous FYROM governments repeatedly cited by the Skopje over the past few days.
"If the stated goal was to decide how Greece will refer to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) then UN Security Council resolutions would not be necessary, nor would negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations secretary general be necessary," Valinakis said when asked about comments by FYROM PM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who heads a new coalition government in Skopje that was installed on Monday.
"These negotiations, which as we all know have been conducted between Greece and FYROM for a very long time, deal with the international name of the neighboring country. This is the objective of the negotiations and not the manner in which Greece will refer to FYROM on a bilateral level," Valinakis said, adding that he hopes the "new FYROM government will display the necessary spirit of cooperation to find a mutually acceptable solution".
"Any other approach impugns and in the end undermines the essence and meaning of the procedure that has commenced under the aegis of the United Nations, and one that is not compatible with Skopje's European prospects and the relevant obligations that the latter has assumed," he concluded.
On Tuesday, Gruevski reiterated, during a radio interview, that he will not change the country's "constitutional name", i.e. "Republic of Macedonia" - "The climate that exists in the country does not favor changes to the constitutional name, and no government has the right to resist citizens' will," he was quoted as saying.
 PASOK leader meets with PASEGES presidium
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday discussed the agricultural sector's problems with the presidium of the PASEGES Panhellenic Confederation of Farming Cooperative Unions, as part of a series of contacts Papandreou is holding with representatives of the producer classes ahead of his address at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next month.
The main problem was the reduction in farming incomes in both 2004 and 2005, PASEGES president Tzanetos Karamichas told reporters after the meeting, adding that PASEGES requested of Papandreou -- saying it would do so also of prime minister Costas Karamanlis at their next meeting -- a strong social package, particularly for the low-income farmers, and chiefly for the pensioners so that the OGA farmers' social insurance fund minimum pension would rise to 500 euros per individual.
He said this should not be introduced over a period of 4-6 years, but was a policy that needed to be implemented in the next 2-3 years.
To a press comment that since Papandreou had spoken of a pension of 800 euros per farming couple, he had committed himself to that, Karamichas said that Papandreou's proposal was much better than the current proposal being implemented by the government, but added that the Papandreou proposal too fell short of ensuring a minimum dignified life for the farming pensioners.
 Gov't adamant over minimum college entrance score; minister meets with mayors
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Wednesday met with the leadership of the municipalities' and communities' association (KEDKE), a closely watched two-hour meeting focusing entirely on the conspicuous decrease of freshmen at Technological Education Institutes (TEIs), especially at campuses located in provincial cities, due to a minimum college entrance score instituted this year.
Yiannakou was nevertheless adamant over the government's intention to stick by the measure, seen as a necessary step to ensuring a minimum academic competence (at least 10 out of a perfect 20) of new college and university entrants.
Conversely, KEDKE president and Kozani Mayor Paris Koukoulopoulos, whose western Macedonia town hosts several of the hardest-hit TEIs, officially submitted a proposal by the group to gradually implement the measure, thereby lessening the financial impact on local communities that would otherwise lose revenue from decreased student populations.
"There are some TEIs with scores of 19,500 (19.5 out of 20); everything depends on the selections of candidates. There TEIs that are not attractive, and there are others that are attractive, and the latter do not have a problem," Yiannakou said, adding that the ministry is ready to merge TEIs with similar departments and to shift a number of new students from the centre to the provinces.
 PM confers with merchant marine minister
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday met with merchant marine minister Manolis Kefaloyannis, who announced that Greece was due to sign a loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Thessaloniki for the long-delayed construction of pier 6 in the city's harbor.
After the two-hour meeting, Kefaloyannis said the agreement with the EIB would be signed on Thursday in Thessaloniki for the construction of the pier, which has been stagnating since the 1990s.
The project, budgeted at 100 million euros, is expected to render Thessaloniki a hub in the Balkans, Kefaloyannis said.
 FM to meet with Iran SNSC aide
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis will meet Thursday with Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) chief aide Mohammad Nahavandian, at the initiative of the Iranian side, it was announced on Wednesday.
The main topic of discussion will be the latest developments concerning Iran's nuclear program, a foreign ministry announcement said.
 33-year-old warrant leads to brief arrest, ministry probe
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The public order ministry on Wednesday ordered an urgent investigation into the arrest and brief detainment of a college professor on a junta-era warrant - reportedly related to military service -- dating back to 1973.
The man was briefly held at the Helliniko precinct, southern Athens, after he submitted various documents for the issuance of a new passport.
According to reports, Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras himself contacted the chief of police (EL.AS), who subsequently ordered the immediate release of Vassilis Droukopoulos.
Moreover, the probe is expected to focus on whether police officers at the precinct used "poor judgment" in determining the legal veracity of a 33-year-old warrant as well as to institute steps to avoid a similar occurrence in the future.
The entire issue made front-page news in several Athens dailies on Wednesday.
 Fining meets with Empiric Bank's new management
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday met with Emporiki Bank's new management, chairman Jean Frederic De Leusse and chief executive Christian Jacques.
The two bankers briefed the Greek minister over their plans to strengthen Emporiki Bank's activities and praised Alogoskoufis for the good cooperation between the two sides.
Alogoskoufis expressed a hope that the new management, appointed by Emporiki's new owners, Credit Agricole, would contribute in strengthening competition in the domestic banking sector to the benefit of enterprises, households and the Greek economy in general.
 Analyst: Budget well implemented Jan-July
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The 2006 budget has been well implemented in January to July, except for a sharp rise in primary spending, Alpha Bank said in a weekly market report.
At the same time, primary spending was burdened with back payments of a special pension, the report said.
It added that hopes had been fuelled of a decline in the general government deficit to below 2.6% of gross domestic product following a rise in nominal GDP that was likely to be greater than anticipated, it added.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Athens share index closed at 3,816.91 points, showing a decline of 0.30%. Turnover was 328.4 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.16% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.50% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.14% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 148 to 108 with 51 remaining unchanged.
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.292
 Irineos elected new Archbishop of Crete
31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Metropolitan of Kydonia and Apokoronos Irineos was unanimously elected as the new Archbishop of Crete by the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Synod at the Phanar.
The election of the new Archbishop was concluded at the Saint George Cathedral, where the Synod voted for the election of the new Archbishop from among three candidates.
 Civil Protection General Secretariat warns of increased fire and storm risk
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Civil Protection General Secretariat warned in a special announcement on Wednesday that there will be an increased risk of forest fires and the possibility of strong local storms on Thursday.
The General Secretariat stressed that there will be a very high forest fire risk (category 4) in the regions of the prefectures of Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Evia, Messinia, Laconia and Hania, as well as the Ionian Islands, the island of Kythira and the northern Sporades group of islands.
It added that local storms will occur at night, mainly in eastern Macedonia and Thrace, while strong northwesterly winds will gradually prevail in western and northern Greece.
 ERSA Congress opens in Volos on Thursday
31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The 46th Congress of the European Regional Science Association (ERSA) opens Thursday in Volos, organized by the Greek section of ERSA in cooperation with the Thessaly University's Department of Planning and Regional Development.
More than 1,000 scientists from internationally-recognized universities of Europe, the US, China, Japan and New Zealand will attend the five-day Congress, which concludes on September 3.
The central theme of the Conference is “Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean ”. Therefore, it encompasses and reflects wider European concerns about the North-South relations within the new European context, the enlargement and regional integration, globalization and competitiveness, regional and urban growth and development in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean . Furthermore it refers to several issues on the European regional development agenda such as environmental policy and coastal areas, island policy, regional development, accessibility, transport networks, urban policy, rural development etc.
The program will be organized around a variety of topics and include plenary sessions by invited keynote speakers and parallel paper sessions. A number of topics will reflect the central theme ‘Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean ”; however, there will be provision for all core regional science topics, appearing in ERSA Congresses which often have their own convenors. As usual, there will also be a young scientist's session.
The aim of the Congress is the development of scientific dialogue and the formulation of policies on issues concerning the development of and economic cooperation in the European south and the wider Mediterranean region, following the latest European Union enlargement.
The Congress will also examine other issues such as transports, commerce, the development of cities and agricultural regions, tourism, employment and migration.
 Education minister inaugurates Adults Training Centre in Peania
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou inaugurated the Adults Training Centre and the Parents School in a modern building in Peania, east of Athens, on Wednesday night.
Speaking during the inauguration ceremony, in the presence of the Adults Training secretary general and local authorities, the minister praised the general secretariat's work and placed emphasis on the effort being made to upgrade citizens' skills.
 Youth parliament opens on Friday
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The 11th annual educational program "Youth Parliament" opens Friday in the Greek parliament's plenary hall, where parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki will address the youth parliament members.
The youth parliament will hold sessions throughout the weekend, divided up in committees corresponding to the Greek parliament's Standing Committees, and also attend several programmed cultural events.
On Monday, the youth parliament will meet in a plenary session, to be attended by prime minister Costas Karamanlis and his government, while a plenary delegation will be received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and also by Karamanlis during the recesses of the plenary session.
The aim of the Greek parliament, in conducting the annual youth parliament program, is to initiate the country's youth to the parliamentary institutions and cultivate democratic values in the modern-day society, such as interest in the common affairs but also contribution to their formulation, responsible and fact-based dialogue, cooperation, and mutual understanding.
A total of 24,444 highschool pupils from all over Greece, Cyprus and Greek schools abroad, sent in written thesis for selection to the youth parliament. It is noted that youths from the Balkan and eastern European countries took part in the process this year for the first time.
The program's Committee evaluated the papers, and selected 300 'young parliamentarians' -- equal to the number of MPs in the Greek parliament -- of which 260 are from Greece, 20 from Cyprus and another 20 from the Greek communities abroad.
The youth parliament will convene from September 1-4.
 Illegal immigrant arrests on Samos
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Twelve illegal immigrants, all Afghan nationals, were arrested by the coastguard on the eastern Aegean island of Samos on Wednesday morning.
Two out of the 12 were charged with drug smuggling after authorities reportedly found unspecified narcotics on their possession.
 Greece beats France 73-56, moves on to semi-final in World Basketball Championship
31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece, the 2005 European champion, continued its solid winning streak on Wednesday, beating France 73-56 in a quarterfinal game and qualifying for the semi-final in the 15th World Basketball Championship taking place in Japan.
Greece's men's national basketball team will face the United States in the semi-final stage of the FIBA World Championship 2006 on Friday.
Greece has an unbroken string of victories against France in formal basketball tournaments since 1983.
Greece and France have been pitted against each other a total of 43 times in the past in formal and friendly games, with the Greek national team having emerged victorious from these showdowns 28 times.
The other semi-final game will be played between Spain and Argentina.
PM congratulates George Vasilakopoulos for his election as first FIBA vice president: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday addressed a message of congratulations to George Vasilakopoulos on his election to the post of vice president of the Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA).
According to FIBA's internal regulation, Vasilakopoulos will be the successor of the international federation's president in the year 2010.
 Preparations for 10th World Athletics Cup entering final phase
ATHENS, 31/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Preparations for the 10th World Athletics Cup, due to take place at the Athens Olympic Stadium on September 16-17 and include some of the greatest athletics stars in the world, have now entered their final phase.
Greece will be hosting the tournament in question for the first time and it will be the leading sporting event for Athens after the Olympic Games in 2004. Olympic Games medalists and world champions will be participating in the event, while Pericles Iakovakis, Fani Halkia and Chrysopigi Devetzi, who won the three Greek medals in the recent European championship held in Gothenburg, will be among them.
Tickets for the World Athletics Cup will be available for the public as of Thursday. The intention of the Organising Committee is to have the Olympic Stadium receive thousands of spectators during the games and a festive atmosphere to be created. Ticket prices will be 5, 10 and 40 euros.
The basic precondition for the success of the tournament will be the presence of volunteers who, just as in the case of the Athens Olympic Games, will constitute the motive power of the games.
 Spokesman says Greek Cypriot position expressed in UN remarks
NICOSIA, 31/9/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said on Wednesday that the Greek Cypriot side's position from the commencement of the process which began with the July 8 agreement is that which is expressed in yesterday's statement by the President of the UN Security Council, calling for the full implementation of the agreement without further delay.
Pashiardis noted that ''our side with consistency, responsibility, goodwill and above all political will is working towards achieving progress as a necessary prerequisite for the commencement of substantive negotiations on the Cyprus problem,'' adding that the preparation of the ground before substantive negotiations is also a demand of the UN Secretary General, who ''first wants to be convinced that the ground has been sufficiently prepared before he becomes involved personally in a new effort.''
Referring to the statement by the President of the Security Council, after being briefed by UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, that the Security Council calls for the full implementation of the July 8 agreement without further delay, Pashiardis said ''this is exactly our side's position from the beginning of the process and we stand by it.''
Asked if the government was concerned that the Security Council was maintaining strict neutrality despite the Turkish side's stance which is preventing the implementation of the agreement, Pashiardis said ''it was of course not expected that the Security Council would apportion responsibility for the delay in the promotion of the full implementation of the July 8 agreement, even if there are some responsibilities for this delay.''
Pashiardis said the Greek Cypriot side has no reason to obstruct progress but has every reason to pursue substantive negotiations for a Cyprus settlement.
Asked if the Security Council could force the Turkish side to stop delaying work at the technical committees, Pashiardis said there was no way of doing this, adding that it was up to the Turkish side to respond to the Security Council call for the full implementation of the agreement.
On July 8 Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos met Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in the presence of Gambari. The two leaders agreed the commencement of meetings between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots on a technical level on issues that affect the day to day life of people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Spokesman: Papadopoulos to remain in active politics
NICOSIA, 31/9/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said on Wednesday that the departure of President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos from the presidency of the Democratic Party (DIKO) does not mean that he would be withdrawing from active political life.
Asked why President Papadopoulos has left the presidency of DIKO, Pashiardis said ''it is a decision of the President of the Republic and I do not think that he has taken anyone by surprise.''
''It has been a while that his decision to depart from the presidency of DIKO had been made public. Let us acknowledge him the right to decide by himself the date of communicating this decision,''
Asked if one could assume that by departing from the presidency of DIKO President Papadopoulos intended to withdraw from politics, Pashiardis said ''his resignation from the presidency of DIKO does not mean in any way departure from active politics.''
Papadopoulos resigned his post as leader of the ruling DIKO party at Tuesday night's meeting of the party Executive Bureau.
 Cyprus denounces Turkish provocative statements
NICOSIA, 31/9/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cyprus Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes on Wednesday described as "blunt and cynical" an admission by a Turkish official that organizers of the Turkish Grand Prix have deceived the International Automobile Federation (FIA) on purpose.
President of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce Murat Yalcintas has admitted, in public remarks, that organizers of the Grand Prix have deceived the FIA on purpose and with ulterior motives, with a view to give publicity to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and present him to world audiences as the ''president'' of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus.
Pashiardes said this statement is already before FIA, which will surely take it seriously into consideration in its final decision on this case.
FIA has launched a full investigation into the circumstances in which Talat was invited to present the winner's trophy at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, on Sunday.
Asked what the government expects after the FIA decision, Pashiardes said "we have informed FIA and what we are asking is its reaction for this recent unacceptable development." He noted it was up to FIA to decide what measures will be taken.
Pashiardes said that "yesterday's blunt and cynical statement of the President of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, by which he confesses that they have duped the FIA on purpose and with ulterior motives, in order to give publicity to Talat as the so-called president of a self-styled state is an escalation of Turkey's provocation."
"This flagrant admission of deception, a deliberate move to serve political expediencies, really surprises. This provocative confession is already before FIA, which will surely take it seriously into
consideration as it takes its final decision," Pashiardes concluded.