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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-09-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

September 12, 2006


  • [01] Karamanlis stresses interfaith dialogue at Asia-Europe Meeting
  • [02] PM meets with Finnish counterpart in Helsinki
  • [03] FM Bakoyannis issues message on Sept. 11 anniversary
  • [04] Greek-Americans remember grim anniversary of Sept. 11
  • [05] FM to meet Britain's Hoon on Tuesday
  • [06] Albanian PM to visit Greece on Tuesday
  • [07] Meimarakis says 'Greece is a factor of peace and stability in the Mediterranean'
  • [08] President, education minister attend opening day of school in Patissia
  • [09] PASOK accuses gov't of vacancies, deficiencies in schools
  • [10] Ombudsman: 'Let's rid our schools of violence'
  • [11] KKE to host meeting of Balkan communist parties on Sep. 15
  • [12] First OA flight returning evacuees lands in Beirut
  • [13] Deputy FM meets Swiss ambassador
  • [14] FinMin announces creation of c'tte to fight tax evasion
  • [15] Gov't on eco policy towards low-income groups
  • [16] PASOK's spokesman accuses premier of 'misleading and deceiving the Greek people'
  • [17] Unions say the public opposes gov't economic policy
  • [18] Gov't seeks better management of pension funds
  • [19] Greece shows 60.1% employment rate
  • [20] Greece, China formally sign memorandum of cooperation in transports sector
  • [21] Deputy FinMin Doukas meets Chinese finance ministry officials
  • [22] Gov't on OTE, OA
  • [23] ATEbank buys into Serbian bank
  • [24] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop
  • [25] Playwright Kabanellis honored
  • [26] First Thessaloniki Ceramics and Pottery Festival on Sep. 15-17
  • [27] Two killed, one injured in Evros minefield
  • [28] Papadopoulos meets with EU and OIC leaders at ASEM Meeting
  • [29] Inspection of ''Gregorio I'' concluded, Foreign and Commerce Ministries take over

  • [01] Karamanlis stresses interfaith dialogue at Asia-Europe Meeting

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    In his address to the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) held in Helsinki on Mon-day, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis called on EU and Asian leaders to support interfaith dialogue as a way of dealing with global threats arising from the clash of cultures.

    "In this way we can strengthen the voice of moderates and help the international community combat ignorance, bigotry and hatred and deal with threats, such as terrorism and religious fanaticism," he said.

    He also urged the ASEM summit to "consider the global threat of terrorism" on the fifth anniversary since the 9/11 attacks and announced that Greece was bidding to host an ASEM Interfaith Dialogue conference.

    Outlining the results of the meeting between 25 EU member-states and 13 Asian countries, Karamanlis said these had covered issues linked to multilateralism and current developments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

    The meeting also discussed economic and trade cooperation, emphasizing globalization, competitiveness and a stronger role for small and medium-sized enterprises through broader cooperation.

    During Monday's meeting ASEM leaders agreed to accept five new member-states, among them Bulgaria and Romania.

    Regarding his earlier meeting with Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen, currently chair of the European Council, Karamanlis said this covered EU enlargement in view of the European Commission progress reports for Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.

    The two men also discussed labor issues and the situation in Lebanon and the Middle East.

    The Greek premier categorically opposed a proposal by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to extend working time, conveyed by Vanhanen, joining a number of EU states that also reject the British proposal.

    Karamanlis called on the EU presidency to exert pressure on Ankara to fulfill the obligations it has assumed towards the European Union.

    On the sidelines of ASEM, the premier met Latvia President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who is a candidate for United Nations Secretary-General.

    Earlier, the Greek prime minister toured an exhibition of artifacts from Mt. Athos, currently on display at the Helsinki Art Museum.

    He said the exhibition highlighted the ecumenical reference of Orthodoxy, adding that the more than 1,000-year tradition of Athos was a "priceless cultural treasure, and directed at the entire world".

    Greece, as the guardian of Mt. Athos, was doing its best so that this tradition would continue with new momentum and inspire values and ideals in a world that had so much need of those today more than ever, Karamanlis said.

    [02] PM meets with Finnish counterpart in Helsinki

    HELSINKI, 12/9/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)

    Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday discussed the course of the European Union and bilateral issues with current European Union chairman, Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen. The two prime ministers also discussed EU enlargement and Turkey's EU course.

    Karamanlis called on the EU presidency to exert pressure on Ankara to fulfill the obligations it has assumed towards the European Union.

    Earlier, the Greek prime minister toured an exhibition of artifacts from Mt. Athos, currently on display at the Helsinki Art Museum.

    Speaking to reporters after the tour, Karamanlis said that every Greek felt moved, not only in admiring the exhibits, but also with the respect with which the organizers manifested towards the exhibition.

    He said the exhibition highlighted the ecumenical reference of Orthodoxy, adding that the more than 1,000-year tradition of Athos was a priceless cultural treasure, and directed at the entire world".

    Greece, as the guardian of Mt. Athos, was doing its best so that this tradition would continue with new momentum and inspire values and ideals in a world that had so much need of those today more than ever, Karamanlis said.

    Karamanlis is in Helsinki for the Europe-Asia summit meeting, which he was due to address later in the day, on the topic of religion and the inter-cultural dialogue.

    [03] FM Bakoyannis issues message on Sept. 11 anniversary

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said Monday that the international community should intensify its efforts to handle the problem of terrorism which "has no ideology, religion or cultural references," in a message on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York.

    "Today's fifth anniversary since the tragic events of that day, brings back to our memory images of destruction, death and pain. It was a result of a cowardly and inhumane blind violence, against any logic and contrary to every principle and human value," Bakoyannis said in her message.

    "The International Community should continue and intensify its coordinated efforts for a radical handling of this modern scourge, which has no ideology, religion or cultural references. Our effort must be multifaceted. It concerns the prevention, that is, dealing with the reasons of this phenomenon, as well as the response, in arresting and punishing of terrorists, always within the framework of the principles of the rule of law and the respect of human rights," Bakoyannis concluded.

    [04] Greek-Americans remember grim anniversary of Sept. 11

    NEW YORK, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The grim fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack in New York on September 11, 2001 was also remembered on Monday by the Greek-American community.

    Archbishop of America Demetrios on Sunday held a memorial service at Saint Trinity Cathedral in Manhattan, in the presence of Greek-American relatives of the victims and the general consuls of Greece and Cyprus, Ekaterini Boura and Martha Mavrommati, respectively.

    In the afternoon of the same day, Archbishop Demetrios, following an invitation by President George W. Bush, took part, along with other religious leaders in the U.S., in a memorial service at "Ground Zero".

    On Monday morning, Archbishop Demetrios took part in events which took place on the same site, in the presence of President Bush, New York Governor George Pataki, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, senators, members of the House of Representatives, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other officials.

    Like every year, this year also, all the names of the victims were read out and a minute of silence was observed.

    [05] FM to meet Britain's Hoon on Tuesday

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyiannis will meet at noon on Tuesday with British Minister for Europe Geoffrey Hoon, the foreign ministry announced on Monday.

    Talks will cover EU enlargement, including Turkey's European course, the Cyprus problem and issues of international concern that will be the focus of this month's United Nations discussions, since Greece holds the monthly rotating presidency of the UN Security Council.

    The meeting will be followed by statements to the press.

    Hoon is also scheduled to meet Deputy Foreign Minister, responsible for European Affairs, Yiannis Valinakis. The talks will focus on EU matters, such as the Union's budget, the discussion on the Future of Europe, the Common Agriculture Policy and the free movement of workers.

    [06] Albanian PM to visit Greece on Tuesday

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha is to arrive in Athens on Tuesday for a two-day visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, according to an announcement by alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros.

    [07] Meimarakis says 'Greece is a factor of peace and stability in the Mediterranean'

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, who attended part of the sessions of a seminar entitled "Mediterranean dialogue" which took place in Hania, Crete, on Monday, said that "Greece constitutes a basic factor of stability, peace and security in the broader region of the Mediterranean, Southeastern Europe and the Middle East."

    The seminar had as its objective the promotion of stability and security in the region, as well as the opening of new channels of communication between NATO and the countries of the Mediterranean Dialogue, in which Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia and Israel are participating. In particular, the second target acquires great importance for Greece, which is henceforth regarded as a stable place of meeting of the region's countries.

    "In the direction of the opening of new channels of communication between these countries, the National Defense Ministry, through the National Defense General Staff, took the initiative to organize the seminar in order to study the progress in the various aspects of the Mediterranean dialogue," said Meimarakis, adding that "we believe the conditions are ripe in order for us to achieve the further upgrading of the Mediterranean Dialogue."

    At the same time, the minister referred to the holding of a multinational exercise, "Dolphin 2006", which will be conducted in southern Crete on Tuesday.

    [08] President, education minister attend opening day of school in Patissia

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and education minister Marietta Yannakou on Monday attended a service marking the new school year, at the 19th public high school in Patissia.

    Papoulias wished the pupils good luck and urged them to throw themselves into the battle for the fruition of their dreams, just like Greece's men's national basketball team -- which took second place in the FIBA world championship earlier this month -- did with much work, self-confidence and optimism.

    Yannakou said that the President's presence at the school was symbolic and carried a message, as it expressed the unity of the Greek nation, adding that education was the primary field "in which we can invest and offer".

    She wished the pupils a good year, and urged them not to have anxiety, adding that the teachers have been successfully instructed in the new schoolbooks being introduced this year.

    Asked to comment on teachers' criticism of thousands of vacancies in teaching staff in the country's public schools, Yannakou said there would be no vacancies, since there were enough alternates (registered teachers who have not been assigned permanent appointments) to cover any need that arises.

    Questioned on a teachers' strike scheduled to begin on September 18, the minister replied that "we live in a democracy".

    [09] PASOK accuses gov't of vacancies, deficiencies in schools

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK political council member responsible for educational affairs Milena Apostolaki on Monday accused the government of serious problems, vacancies and deficiencies in the country's schools.

    Speaking at a press conference, Apostolaki said that education minister Marietta Yannakou's statements referred to a virtual reality, and focused her criticism on vacancies in school personnel, and accused the government of an old-partisan mentality and outdated and bureaucratic manner of management of the appointments and transfers of personnel.

    PASOK MP Nasos Alevras, who spoke at the same press conference, accused the government of a reduction in investments in infrastructure and lack of any new projects.

    [10] Ombudsman: 'Let's rid our schools of violence'

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    On the occasion of the start of the new school year on Monday, the Greek ombudsman called on pupils, teachers and parents in a joint effort aimed at the prevention and combating of violence in schools.

    His slogan was "Let's rid our schools of violence".

    The ombudsman, taking into account the extent of violence in schools, said it was necessary for teachers, pupils and parents to intensify their efforts for the safeguarding of the school communities from the phenomenon of violence.

    [11] KKE to host meeting of Balkan communist parties on Sep. 15

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is to host a meeting of Balkan communist parties on Friday, September 15 in Thessaloniki.

    A party announcement said the meeting will discuss "the action of communist parties against imperialism and the capitalist exploitation of the Balkans." According to the program, the parties will examine "the situation in southeastern Europe and the further fragmentation of states, increasing pressure and intervention by the EU and NATO, the creation of new U.S.-NATO bases and the extended presence and reinforcement of foreign military presence in Balkan countries".

    The talks will also focus on "the attack on the social and democratic rights of workers and the problems of immigrants" and preparations for an international meeting of communist and labor parties taking place in Lisbon in November.

    Taking part will be the Communist Party of Albania, the Communist Labor Party of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Communist Party of Bulgaria, the Party of Bulgarian Communists, the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia, the Socialist Labor Party of Croatia, the Communist Party of FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), the Socialist Alliance Party of Romania, the Turkish Labor Party EMEP and the Communist Party of Turkey.

    Papariga meets WFTU representatives: Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga stressed the potential benefits for the workers of Europe and the world arising from a restructuring of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) after a meeting with the organization on Monday.

    She noted that this was taking place at a time when the people of the world, especially its working classes, were stricken by "economic barbarity".

    Papariga hailed an event in solidarity with the people of Lebanon, stressing her party's unstinting support for Arab peoples and especially Lebanon, Palestine and Syria at a time when the entire Middle East was being targeted by U.S. planning.

    "We are opposed to U.S. intervention on the pretext of Iran's nuclear capability when we know that the main nuclear power in the region is Israel," she said.

    [12] First OA flight returning evacuees lands in Beirut

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The first Olympic Airlines (OA) flight returning former evacuees to Lebanon after the end of the conflict landed in Beirut early on Monday. Among those on board was Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, sent by the Greek government in a symbolic gesture.

    "I am here to show that Greece believes in the peace process for Lebanon and in the country's swift recovery. We stand at the side of the Lebanese government, we continue to offer humanitarian aid and we participate actively in restoring the damage from the war and in rebuilding Lebanon," Kassimis said on his arrival.

    The Greek minister was met by Lebanese Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf, who conveyed his government's thanks to Greece for its assistance, underlining that the first ships to sail into Beirut after Israel's offensive began were the Greek Navy ships "Rodos" and "Chios" and that Greece had been one of the first countries to come to Lebanon's aid during the crisis.

    He also thanked the Greek government for Greece's participation in the UN force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and said that Greece was one of the "privileged partners that we intend to have for the new Lebanon".

    Sarraf said that the Lebanese government hopes to develop close ties of cooperation with Greece and aims to become a bridge between the European Union and the Arab world, using relations with Greece and Cyprus as a conduit.

    [13] Deputy FM meets Swiss ambassador

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis met on Monday with Ambassador of Switzerland to Greece, Paul Koller-Hauser.

    According to a foreign ministry press release, the two men discussed joint ventures between the two countries in the sector of international development cooperation and aid, as well as for the strengthening of bilateral economic relations.

    [14] FinMin announces creation of c'tte to fight tax evasion

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The finance ministry will set up a national committee to handle the problem of tax evasion, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis announced on Monday.

    Speaking at a press conference, the minister also said that in the coming weeks all social partners will be involved in the fight against tax evasion, adding that the problem needed continuous efforts to be solved.

    Referring to undergoing privatizations of state-owned companies, Alogoskoufis said that they were of a strategic character, were carried out within the framework of improving competitiveness and not in order to fill state coffers.

    The minister also charged that when the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) was in government it had proceeded to privatizations for the purpose to make money, using as an example the case of the National Bank of Greece when in October 2003 "a batch of shares was sold at 13.38 euros, while in November 2004 the price of each share stood at 22.74 euros".

    "We should not enter the logic of such comparisons, because the PASOK governments have a lot to apologize for," the minister said, adding that he respected "the difficulties faced by the main opposition party" while he was not able to "follow the acute accusations for so-called sell-outs and scandals."

    As for the Public Power Corporation (DEH), Alogoskoufis said that the company was not in the government's privatization program.

    PASOK response: Responding to the finance minister, Vasso Papandreou, PASOK's Economy sector chief, said that "it would be better for Mr. Alogoskoufis to study more carefully the work done by the (former prime minister Costas) Simitis' government before embarking on his lies."

    "The problems of the Greek economy are now known to every Greek citizen. Unfortunately, it seems that are unknown to the economy minister," Papandreou added.

    On his part, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) ecomomic and social policy chief Panayiotis Lafazanis said that "privatizations of profit-making and strategic public enterprises have no relation whatsoever with the reinforcement of competitiveness."

    [15] Gov't on eco policy towards low-income groups

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government on Monday roundly dismissed criticism by the opposition and certain portions of the local press regarding its economic policy vis-à-vis working class strata and low-income pensions, following Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis three high-profile appearances during the inaugural weekend of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

    "The prime minister in Thessaloniki referred extensively to what has been accomplished in the two and a half years of a New Democracy government. The premier also said that today's government behaves as a responsible government towards mature citizens, and Greek citizens are mature. All of ND's promises and the government's promises are being met, one step at a time, as the time-frame is over a four-year period," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said in reply to a reporter's question on whether the government is bucking benefits towards low-income groups to the future.

    [16] PASOK's spokesman accuses premier of 'misleading and deceiving the Greek people'

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Monday evening referred to the presence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) over the weekend and to comments made earlier in the day by alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros.

    "Yet again, the presence of the prime minister at the TIF was an operation of misleading and deceiving the Greek people. Mr. Karamanlis is hiding his government's policy, a policy which harms the many and benefits the few, the strong and those affiliated to him," Athanassakis said.

    "The one-way street of the supposed reforms of Mr. Karamanlis and those of the New Democracy (ND) party will not become a one-way street for the country. The struggle is for a just society," the PASOK spokesman added.

    Athanassakis criticized the prime minister, saying that "populism is what he himself has done: to promise everything to everyone and later to continuously postpone for the future his categorical commitments."

    In conclusion, the PASOK spokesman said that "the prime minister in his speech dedicated 29 seconds on the high cost of living, 33 seconds on health, 55 seconds on unemployment and 59 seconds on education."

    [17] Unions say the public opposes gov't economic policy

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) said on Monday that workers nationwide were opposed to the government's economic policy.

    "It was not GSEE that showed a Red Card to (Finance Minister) George Alogoskoufis for his economic policy, but working people and millions of citizens. In a recent opinion poll, 90% of respondents were seen to have adopted demands put forward by GSEE," the trade union umbrella group's leader, Yiannis Panagopoulos said in a statement.

    He was responding to statements earlier in the day by Alogoskoufis.

    [18] Gov't seeks better management of pension funds

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government is planning to modernize the management of property and assets belonging to state social insurance funds totaling an estimated 25 billion euros.

    A committee that met on Monday to study the funds' property and assets will submit an evaluation by December 31 employing methodology from abroad, Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said on Monday.

    The government will then study the committee’s findings in order to make legal changes to improve the system, due early in 2007, the minister reported.

    The committee's head is the deputy governor of the central bank.

    [19] Greece shows 60.1% employment rate

    BRUSSELS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece showed an employment rate of 60.1% in 2005, according to data released by Eurostat, the European Union's statistics service, on Monday.

    The EU-wide Labor Force Survey 2005 cited an average employment rate in the EU25 of 63.8% in the same year, Eurostat said in a summary of the report.

    The employment rate of people aged 15-64 was 46.1% in Greece, the lowest rate in the bloc, along with Poland.

    Malta recorded the greatest differential between male and female employment rates with a gap of 40 percentage points, followed by Greece at 28 percentage points.

    In Greece, employment among men was 74.2% against an EU average of 71.3%; and employment among women the total was 46.1% versus 56.3% in the bloc.

    Among the unemployed in the EU25, 18.3% had never had a job, with the total for Greece at 37.3%.

    On average in the bloc, agriculture was the main activity of 4.9% of workers, and accounted for over 10% of employment in Greece (12.4%).

    Of working people in Greece, 65.2% were employed in services, and 22.4% in industry.

    [20] Greece, China formally sign memorandum of cooperation in transports sector

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    BRUSSELS Greece on Monday formally signed a memorandum of cooperation with China in the transports sector, with Transport Minister Mamalis Liapis and Chinese Minister Shenglin Li signing the agreement in Athens.

    The agreement followed Liapis' official visit to China last week, and involves road transports, combined transports and less red tape in cross-border transports between the two countries.

    Greece, China eye port development: Greece and China are discussing plans to involve Chinese firms in developing domestic ports, a move that would aid in the transportation of the companies' goods and bring a lasting improvement in infrastructure, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said on Monday.

    "Greek ports are located at the crossroads of Europe, and we wish to make them hubs that will serve global trade in Europe and in the wider region of the southeastern Mediterranean and Africa," Kefaloyiannis told reporters after a meeting in Athens with China's communications minister, Li Shenglin, whose portfolio includes shipping.

    "The minister's visit affirms the excellent relations that were inaugurated when Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis visited China. The Chinese minister and I collaborated to draft proposals for the development of Greek ports, cooperating with major Chinese enterprises," the Greek minister noted.

    Shenglin visited a container terminal at Neo Ikonio that belongs to the port of Piraeus.

    [21] Deputy FinMin Doukas meets Chinese finance ministry officials

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas on Monday evening met with senior representatives of the Chinese Finance Ministry as well as with representatives of a big Chinese banking group.

    The finance ministry in an announcement said that the Chinese showed great interest in the procedure for the formulation of the budget, the new methods for the inspection apparatuses, issues about which Greece is able to offer technical know-how, and discussed with the representatives of the finance ministry of the People's Republic of China, headed by Deputy Director General Zhou Cheng Yue, were ways of cooperation in this sector.

    [22] Gov't on OTE, OA

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The relevant minister on Monday reiterated that efforts to fully privatize the state-run telecoms utility (OTE) are continuing unabated, with the appointment of an international adviser expected next month.

    Transport and Communications Minister Mamalis Lapis added that the government expects a proposal by the adviser in the next few months that will be deliberated by an inter-ministerial council.

    Moreover, he echoed government policy in saying the goal is to find an investor that will ensure cheaper and improved telecom services for local consumers.

    Finally, in terms of debt-ridden national carrier Olympic Airways (OA), Lapis first referred to a "complex legal problems", while noting that the company will continue to operate in tandem with negotiations with the EU Commission.

    [23] ATEbank buys into Serbian bank

    12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Athens-quoted ATEbank said on Monday that it had signed an agreement with shareholders of AIK Banka of Serbia for the acquisition of 24.99% of ordinary shares and 24.99% of preference shares.

    The purchase agreement for the stock in AIK, which is listed on the Belgrade Stock Exchange, was signed on September 8. The transaction is due for completion by the end of September, ATEbank said in a statement. "The acquisition is the second step of the expansion of ATEbank in the Balkans following the acquisition of a majority shareholding in the Romanian bank MINDBANK, the statement said.

    ATEbank has announced a strategic plan for expansion in the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.

    Conclusion of the transaction is subject to the completion of financial, tax and legal due diligence, and to regulatory approval from the Bank of Greece and Central Bank of Serbia. ATEbank's consultant in the acquisition is Deloitte Hellas.

    AIK Banka has a market share of approximately 3%, is the most profitable among 39 banks in Serbia, and has a strong solvency ratio and the highest return on assets, the statement noted.

    [24] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,902.89 points, showing a decline of 0.03%. Turnover was 238.0 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.21% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.98% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.02% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 138 to 108 with 60 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (3836)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 166.5 million euros

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.09%

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.09 pct yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (645 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.0 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates

    Reference buying rates per euro released

    by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.281

    [25] Playwright Kabanellis honored

    ATHENS, 12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Academic and playwright Iakovos Kabanellis was honored on Monday night by the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) and by the Municipality of Aghia Varvara, under the auspices of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, at the Athens Concert Hall.

    [26] First Thessaloniki Ceramics and Pottery Festival on Sep. 15-17

    12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The first Thessaloniki Ceramics and Pottery Festival will take place at on September 15-17, in special pavilions set up in the Thessaloniki Prefecture Gardens.

    Work by 30 ceramics and pottery makers will be on display, while there will also be demonstrations of pottery-making, a ceramics workshop for children and live music.

    According to Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis, the prefecture hopes that the festival will become established as an annual event.

    [27] Two killed, one injured in Evros minefield

    12/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Two Kurdish illegal immigrants were killed and one was injured when they entered a minefield near the border in Evros late on Sunday night.

    The injured man is being treated at the Didymotichos General Hospital after an operation to safely extricate him and the two dead bodies was completed on Monday afternoon, the Army General Staff announced.

    According to the Army, the minefield had been adequately indicated with phosphorescent signs in Greece and English and was enclosed by double fences.

    [28] Papadopoulos meets with EU and OIC leaders at ASEM Meeting

    NICOSIA, 12/9/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos held Monday in Helsinki a series of meetings with European leaders, as well as with leaders of countries participating in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, with whom he discussed the Cyprus problem and Turkey's non compliance with its EU obligations.

    President Papadopoulos, who attended the 6th Europe - Asia Meeting (ASEM), in the Finnish capital, also held a long meeting with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    In statements, the president said that Cyprus' efforts now concentrate on convincing its European partners that the European Commission's progress report on Turkey, to be published this October, should include Turkey's refusal to meet its EU obligations, in particular the ones concerning Cyprus.

    Earlier Monday, President Papadopoulos addressed the ASEM Meeting, underlining the importance of intercultural dialogue and cooperation.

    He also expressed regret over the fact that some extremists exploit intercultural differences to create prejudices and promote fabricated crises.

    ''This reminds us leaders to do more to promote the benefits of dialogue and cooperation,'' he said in his speech.

    President Papadopoulos said that Cyprus has through the years been conveying the message of the importance of maintaining good intercultural and interfaith dialogues.

    He also referred to the ASEM Interfaith Dialogue that took place in the coastal town of Larnaca in Cyprus, two months ago.

    The Larnaca Meeting adopted an action plan on certain steps that need to be taken, in order to promote in practice the dialogue between the different religions.

    The Cypriot president asked from the other participant countries to contribute to the implementation of the Larnaca action plan.

    The ASEM Meeting was presided over by Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose country holds the EU rotating presidency.

    Thirty-eight heads of state and government are represented at the ASEM Meeting in Helsinki.

    From Helsinki, President Papadopoulos will head for New York to address the UN General Assembly.

    Cyprus joined the EU on May 2004. Turkey, a country aspiring to become an EU member state, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and thus refuses to implement the EU-Turkey Customs Union Protocol, by opening its ports and airports to Cyprus.

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

    [29] Inspection of ''Gregorio I'' concluded, Foreign and Commerce Ministries take over

    NICOSIA, 12/9/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Cypriot Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Commerce, Industry and Tourism will from now on be handling the case that arose with the commercial ship ''Gregorio I'', which has been detained in the port of Limassol since September 5, after an Interpol alert for suspected arms smuggling.

    The Panamanian-flagged ship began its journey from North Korea, with Syria being its final destination.

    ''Gregorio I'' entered Cypriot territorial waters to refuel on September 5 and is till today in detention, under police and military control.

    Minister of Justice and Public Order Sophocles Sophocleous described the issue as ''very serious.''

    A Cypriot Police statement said that the Police had found 21 trucks, three vehicles, initially believed to serve administration and inspection control, 18 trucks with mobile radar units, and 2,356 metal pipes of different sizes.

    The Syrian government had asked Cyprus to release the seized consignment claiming that it concerns meteorological equipment.

    ''We discussed the issue with the competent authorities in Cyprus, with the participation of our Attorney General. Rest assured that the Republic of Cyprus will enforce the law, but our political position will be expressed by Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas,'' Sophocleous told reporters.

    Invited to comment on information that the ship is carrying air defense systems, Sophocleous referred the journalists to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, saying that his Ministry and the Police have acted according to the law, by inspecting the ship.

    Meanwhile, Deputy Chief of Police Iacovos Papacostas, asked whether the police will ''confiscate the military weapons found,'' said that this matter does not concern the Police.

    ''That is not an issue for the Police. We have concluded our task and it is now an issue for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce,'' Papacostas said.

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