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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-09-20

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

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

September 20, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] Inner Cabinet discusses preparation for inclement weather, corruption
  • [02] PM has not asked employment minister to resign, government says
  • [03] PM should demand resignations over MEVGAL affair, PASOK leader says
  • [04] Thessaloniki prefectural council holds special session in tense climate
  • [05] President Karolos Papoulias holds talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • [06] Inauguration of 'Encomium to the Olive’ exhibition in New York
  • [07] Foreign Minister Bakoyannis' contacts in New York
  • [08] Teachers will receive bonus as of 2007, deputy minister says
  • [09] Indian parliamentary delegation to visit Greece
  • [10] Army General Staff (GES) chief on visit to Cyprus
  • [11] Preparations for Pope's visit to Turkey
  • [12] FinMin pledges to continue fiscal discipline policy
  • [13] Greece aims at globe's top 5 tourist spots
  • [14] Greek current accounts deficit up 75.2 pct in Jan-July, yr/yr
  • [15] Global Finance proclaims Bank of Piraeus' 'winbank' as best in Greece
  • [16] Exports may hit 17.5 bln euros this year
  • [17] HATTA to organize int'l forum on cruises on Sept. 27
  • [18] EU and China sign agreement to protect consumers
  • [19] Groundwork for deal on Olympics rowing centre
  • [20] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise
  • [21] Foreign Exchange Rates
  • [22] U.S. dollar 1.275
  • [23] Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria on religious fanaticism
  • [24] Police in Kavala arrest 81 illegal immigrants after traffic accident
  • [25] Life-saving GPS devices for Mt. Olympus climbers
  • [26] Six people convicted for disturbances during PAOK soccer fans' demonstration
  • [27] Army service dodgers to be allowed to vote in local elections
  • [28] Cyprus President and UN SG reviewed developments on Cyprus problem
  • [29] UN SG calls for flexibility from all concerned in Cyprus
  • [30] Papadopoulos:US interests in Turkey not incompatible with human rights
  • [31] State Department official says US policy on Cyprus has not changed

  • [01] Inner Cabinet discusses preparation for inclement weather, corruption

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Preparation of the state mechanism and better coordination in the event of extreme weather phenomena was discussed at the Inner Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday.

    Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras, who attended the meeting that also included Civil Protection general secretary Panagiotis Fourlas, told reporters afterwards that many government ministries share the responsibility of dealing with extreme weather conditions and the problems they create, adding that the discussion had focused on better coordination among them. Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos underlined the effort being made for timely preparation, pointing out that coordination between the state mechanism and government ministries is imperative.

    He also said that the state mechanism had been more effective last year in dealing with the problems created, compared to the past, and hopefully this year it will do even better.

    Polydoras, commenting on the corruption phenomena, pointed out that when the Public Order Ministry was notified by the Development Ministry regarding the recent MEVGAL incident, it had dealt with the issue successfully, adding that the rest (the appearance of the offenders in handcuffs, political responsibilities and so forth) are part of political rhetoric in which he does not take part.

    The Public Order Minister underlined that the important point is the government’s stance of zero tolerance to such phenomena regardless of who is involved, a decision taken long before any issue had arisen.

    [02] PM has not asked employment minister to resign, government says

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday denied that Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis had been asked to resign by the prime minister, following allegations that the minister might be linked to the three men accused in the MEVGAL blackmail case.

    "No, there is no such issue. Every minister enjoys the confidence of the prime minister," Roussopoulos said in reply to reporters' questions.

    He also denied that the minister had offered his resignation.

    Earlier on Tuesday, Tsitouridis himself had answered questions concerning his recent decision to appoint two of the three men accused in the case, customs broker Panagiotis Anagnostopoulos and former Competition Commission general director Panagiotis Adamopoulos, to a special committee responsible for evaluating a tender for an advertising campaign for the EQUAL program.

    Tsitouridis defended his decision, saying that the selection was based on the positions occupied by the two men, which appeared to provide the right guarantees of objectivity and authority, and that this was a standard practice followed by all ministries and all governments. He stressed that there had been no reason to doubt their integrity until their involvement in the scandal was revealed by the government itself and that they had been replaced as soon as the case came to light.

    "Persistence in this systematic effort by some parties to involve me in a case for which I could have no responsibility is both unfruitful and unjust in my opinion," Tsitouridis stressed.

    Questioned about the minister's statements, Roussopoulos said that the minister had not consulted with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis beforehand but did inform the premier of his statements afterward.

    Regarding the criteria used for appointing people to state committees, the spokesman said that these were usually people with guarantees of status or authority, but stressed that the important thing was how a government reacted when such guarantees did not reflect reality, stressing that political responsibility arose in the case of cover-ups rather than exposure of wrong-doing.

    In this case, Roussopoulos added, political jurisdiction for handling the MEVGAL case belonged to the development and public order ministries, who from the first gave strict instructions that the case be fully investigated and all the evidence brought to light.

    "It is a very important that when a government becomes aware that two or three people are not honoring the oath they have given, that it should not feign indifference, as happened in the past, but impose the law," he added.

    The spokesman compared the government's stance to that of previous PASOK governments over the DEKA stock market scandal, claiming that they allowed over 80 cases to become statute barred through inaction.

    Regarding the Competition Commission itself, Roussopoulos admitted that the MEVGAL affair was a blow to the Commission's standing but also pointed out that the complaints about the blackmailers were originally addressed to Competition Commission president Spiros Zisimopoulos.

    Meanwhile, in a meeting with Zisimopoulos on Tuesday, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Deputy Development Minister Giannis Papathanasiou asked that the Competition Commission file a civil suit in the case now being investigated by justice.

    Sioufas asked Zisimopoulos to accelerate the re-assessment of Competition Commission recommendations over the period when the accused Adamopoulos was a general director and issue decisions more quickly in order to protect the Commission's standing and work.

    The minister has also written to the State's Legal Council asking that the state be represented as a civil suitor in the case, in order to make the charges stronger and to ask compensation for damage to the state's prestige.

    The probe into the Commission's past cases was launched after the northern Greek dairy industry MEVGAL said it had been blackmailed with the threat of a Competition Commission fine. A police operation last week led to Anagnostopoulos, Adamopoulos and Thessaloniki merchant Constantinos Konstantinidis, who have all been remanded in custody pending trial.

    [03] PM should demand resignations over MEVGAL affair, PASOK leader says

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The prime minister should demand the resignation of ministers over the MEVGAL affair, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou stressed on Tuesday, after chairing a meeting of PASOK Parliamentary group coordinators.

    According to PASOK's leader, the country was going through a deep political, economic and moral crisis, for which the government was crucially responsible.

    "It is self-evident that the prime minister should demand the resignation of ministers, who bear huge responsibilities for their choices, their appointments, their practices, the lack of transparency and degradation of democratic institutions. I am afraid, however, that even if resignations are made under the general outcry, the prime minister will stay in hiding because he cannot extricate himself from underground commitments, within and outside his party," Papandreou told reporters.

    Stressing that PASOK had made specific proposals, he called on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to restore institutions, principles and rules that Karamanlis had himself circumvented.

    The present arbitrary regime suited the government, which had imposed it on all aspects of public life, PASOK's leader added.

    He also claimed that new aspects of the scandal had been revealed on Tuesday, as well as the government's efforts to cover it up, and that New Democracy's continued presence in government would inevitably lead to some people abusing their positions and plundering public funds.

    This was the result of ND's conscious policies, which were more concerned with the privileges of those within its ranks than the problems of Greek society, Papandreou continued.

    Papandreou also criticized the prime minister for failing to discuss education policy at any cabinet meeting, in spite of his proclamations, and leading the education sector into a crisis, while stressing that PASOK had positions on education.

    [04] Thessaloniki prefectural council holds special session in tense climate

    20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Thessaloniki prefectural council held a special session in a tense climate on Tuesday, that focused on all that has been reported against a former associate of the prefect, Panayiotis Anagnostopoulos, who is allegedly involved in the Mevgal case.

    Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis said of Anagnostopoulos that if he was to blame and is convicted irrevocably then he must suffer the consequences of the law.

    He added that as soon as he was informed of the charges made against him he removed him from the posts he held.

    Referring to accusations made by opposition prefectural councilors concerning irregularities, he spoke of "mud and of the lack of evidence" and called on anyone in possession of evidence to submit it to a public prosecutor. He also wondered why the accusations are being made a few days before the local elections (due on October 15).

    [05] President Karolos Papoulias holds talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

    BERLIN, 20/9/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    President Karolos Papoulias held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a working luncheon on Tuesday, focusing on the European Union's enlargement issues, concerning both Turkey and the countries of the western Balkans, the EU's development in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy, energy security and developments in Kosovo and the Middle East.

    The Greek president, who began an official five-day visit to Germany on Monday, outlined to Merkel the Greek positions on Turkey's EU accession, with the fulfillment of preconditions and without the EU deviating from its principles.

    President Papoulias made special reference to the need for the EU to play a more active stabilizing role in international crises, such as that of Lebanon, and underlined that it is important that the Europeans succeed in acting with a single voice in important international developments.

    Earlier, President Papoulias met with re-elected Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit and attended a reception given in his honor at the "Red Town Hall" (Rotes Rathaus).

    The mayor addressed President Papoulias as a "sincere democrat who is mobilized in favor of safeguarding human rights" and, referring to Berlin's Greeks, spoke of an excellent example of smooth integration.

    Speaking with German President Horst Koehler during the official dinner given by him for President Papoulias at the Presidential Mansion here on Monday night, the latter said that what remains pending for Greece is the issue of German reparations.

    President Papoulias explained to his German counterpart Greece's steadfast position that no final settlement has been achieved to date and that Greece has not waived its demands.

    The president was due to attend a concert by the State Orchestra of Greek Music on Tuesday night with the performance "The songs of my country", with composer Stavros Xarhakos as conductor and with opera singer Agni Baltsa.

    [06] Inauguration of 'Encomium to the Olive’ exhibition in New York

    NEW YORK, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The inauguration of the "Olive Tree" exhibition was held on Tuesday on the premises of the UN building in the presence of politicians and diplomats from many countries. The inauguration was carried out by alternate UN secretary general Mark Malloch Brown and Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Culture Minister George Voulgarakis.

    They referred in their addresses to the olive tree's longstanding symbolism for peace. Brown also spoke of Greece's "important role" at the UN, pointing out that "in today's world of tragedies and conflicts, this tree gives us the hope for peace."

    The Greek foreign affairs and culture ministers referred to the symbol of peace and the values that it represents, stressing that the Greek government proclaimed 2006 "Olive Tree Year."

    Speaking to the ANA-MPA on the significance of the exhibition at the headquarters of the international organization, Bakoyannis said that "first of all, I want to express my pleasure that we were honored by our European colleagues and many others from all over the world, who took an interest in the olive tree exhibition, an eternal symbol of peace, coming in particular from our Mediterranean, a Mediterranean that has been inconvenienced many times and that is still being inconvenienced by wars. And maybe, more than ever, now, the world of the Mediterranean must send a message that peace must return to the entire world and to our region in particular."

    Also speaking to the ANA-MPA, Voulgarakis said that "it is an extremely important exhibition, that provides the possibility for all of us to speak about one aspect of Greek culture, that is very remarkable. I think that the UN's interest in hosting this exhibition, as well as of the government's to promote the exhibition by itself has its messages. The olive tree is the symbol of peace, prosperity, hope and brotherhood."

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, who attended the inauguration, said that "the olive tree, a traditional tree, particularly for Greece, has become a symbol of peace. It is a very nice exhibition, an original one and I believe that it promotes the traditional linking of Greek society with the olive tree."

    [07] Foreign Minister Bakoyannis' contacts in New York

    NEW YORK, 19/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis continued her contacts in New York on Tuesday, where she attended the opening of the 61st UN General Assembly and the addresses by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and US President George W. Bush.

    Bakoyannis’ itinerary on Tuesday would include participation in the EU Foreign Ministers’ coordinating meeting as well as meetings with her counterparts.

    Bakoyannis was also scheduled to attend the formal receptions given by Kofi Annan and George W. Bush in honor of the foreign delegations.

    On Monday evening, she had dinner with Cyprus Republic President Tassos Papadopoulos at a Manhattan restaurant.

    The dinner given by Cyprus Federation of America president P. Papanicolaou also attended Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, Cypriot Foreign Minister Giorgos Lillikas, Archbishop of America Demetrios, Maryland Senator (D) Paul Sarbanes, New Jersey Senator (D) Robert Menendez, diplomats and members of the Greek American community.

    [08] Teachers will receive bonus as of 2007, deputy minister says

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy National Education and Religious Affairs Minister George Kalos reiterated in Parliament on Tuesday that the education ministry has committed itself that a bonus of 103 euros will be given to teachers sectionally as of 2007. He stressed that "the government has not distanced itself from this pledge," which it had given before it came to power.

    In reply to a question by Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos concerning the strike action by primary school teachers, Kalos noted that "the education ministry will continue the dialogue which it had started with the Federation of Teachers, regarding their institutional and economic demands."

    [09] Indian parliamentary delegation to visit Greece

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    An Indian parliamentary delegation, headed by Speaker of the Lok Sabha (House of the People) Somnath Chatterjee, will visit Greece next week, the Indian Embassy in Athens said on Tuesday.

    The delegation arrives in Athens on September 24 for a five day visit, which aims to strengthen relations between the parliaments of India and Greece and mutual understanding on issues of common interest, an Indian Embassy press release said.

    "Democracy originated in Greece, while India is the largest democracy today. Both countries share common perspectives on important international issues," the press release said.

    The Indian delegation, led by Chatterjee, includes six members of Parliament - four from the Lok Sabha (House of People), and two from the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), representing different parties -- and senior officials of the Indian Parliament.

    The delegation is scheduled to meet with the President of the Hellenic Parliament, the President of the Republic, and the leaders of the political parties represented in parliament, and also hold talks with the 13 member Indo-Hellenic Friendship Group of the Hellenic Parliament.

    Indo-Greek exchanges have grown in trade, investment, information technology, tourism, and culture. Indian exports to Greece have risen considerably from $113.5 million in 2000-01 to $ 306.3 million in 2004-05 and are likely to reach $ 480 million in 2005-06. In Jan -May 2006, Indian exports increased to $ 350 million, registering a growth of 80% over the same period in 2005. Indian IT companies have secured IT service contracts with Greek banks. Investment flows are also picking up. There is good potential for increasing tourism flows in both directions. Some 12,000 Indian migrants mostly from Punjab, are in Greece, working in the agricultural sector, according to the press release.

    [10] Army General Staff (GES) chief on visit to Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 20/9/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)

    Greece's Army General Staff (GES) chief Lt.-Gen. Dimitrios Grapsas, who is on an official visit to Cyprus at the invitation of Cyprus National Guard chief Lt.-Gen. Constantine Bisbikas, met on Tuesday with Cyprus' defense minister Fivos Klokaris.

    Bisbikas said that Grapsas' visit was a great joy and honor, and once again reaffirmed the undivided interest and firm bonds between the metropolitan Hellenism and Greece's armed forces with the Cypriot Hellenism and the National Guard.

    "Our impeccable cooperation, both at GEETHA (Greek National Defense General Staff) level and at the level of the military branches, and with the GES in particular, constantly improves the conditions and infrastructures for the implementation of the Greece-Cyprus single defense space dogma," he said.

    Grapsas inaugurated the renovated National Guard General Staff's Operations Centre, where he was briefed by the General Staff chief Nikoalos Vasikos on the military situation in Cyprus.

    Bisbikas said that despite the climate of security following the Republic of Cyprus' accession to the European Union, the military environment on the island had not changed, given that the Turkish occupation troops were continuously upgrading qualitatively and arithmetically, and posed a constant threat.

    [11] Preparations for Pope's visit to Turkey

    ISTANBUL, 20/9/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Apostolic Nuncio Antonio Clusibello held talks on Tuesday with the relevant Ecumenical Patriarchate committee at the Phanar on preparations for the visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate by Pope Benedict XVI.

    No announcement was made after the meeting was disclosed, while voices are continuing to be heard in Turkey for the cancellation of the Pope's visit.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that "the visit will take place as normal, despite the pontiff's statements", in statements he made shortly before departing for New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

    Islamic and nationalistic circles are striving to achieve the cancellation of the Pope's visit to the Patriarchate, while moves made by the Vatican and Pope Benedict to end reactions were not considered absolutely satisfactory by the Turkish press.

    [12] FinMin pledges to continue fiscal discipline policy

    SINGAPORE, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government's next step towards promoting economic reforms in the country is to simplify a direct taxation system and to reduce tax burdens on middle incomes, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told an annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank in Singapore.

    Addressing the meeting, the Greek minister reiterated the government's pledge to pursue fiscal discipline with the aim of reducing the fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP, while he noted that the government's medium-term goal was to achieve balanced or surplus budgets by 2012.

    Alogoskoufis mentioned the government's reforms after the Olympic Games, and in particular the introduction of a new regulatory framework for joint ventures between public and private sector enterprises, extensive privatizations, a new investment law, a restructuring of public sector enterprises, etc.

    Commenting on the prospects of global economy, Alogoskoufis said that central banks' credibility combined with a global economic integration have contributed in containing inflation despite a rapid increase in oil prices and other raw material.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Alogoskoufis said the biggest challenge in the government's privatization program was Hellenic Telecommunications Organization.

    [13] Greece aims at globe's top 5 tourist spots

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece aims to become one of the world's top five tourist destinations within the next ten years, Tourism Minister Fani Palli Petralia said on Tuesday.

    "The best advertisement for Greece is Greece itself. No other country positioned on the global tourism map has the same privileged status as Greece," the minister said in a speech arranged by Deloitte's World Tourism Hospitality and Leisure Division.

    Citing a survey conducted in China last year in which Greece was named top preference for Chinese tourists, she reported that Greece was working on a program to attract more visitors from that country.

    Among moves is to open offices of the Greek National Tourism Organization in Beijing and Shanghai, efforts to secure a direct air route between Athens and Beijing, and closer ties between Greek and Chinese sector businesses.

    According to a survey by the World Travel and Tourism Council, Greece has only made use of 15% of its potential in the tourist sector, Petralia added.

    [14] Greek current accounts deficit up 75.2 pct in Jan-July, yr/yr

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece’s current accounts deficit soared by 75.2 percent in the first seven months of 2006, compared with the corresponding period last year, to 14.66 billion euros or 7.5 pct of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.

    The central bank, in a report, said the widening trade deficit mainly reflected an increase in the trade deficit and to a smaller degree a rise in the incomes deficit and lower surpluses in the services and current transfers categories.

    The trade deficit jumped 30.9 pct to 20.21 billion euros in the January-July period, reflecting higher cost of oil imports. Rising oil prices resulted to a 55.8 pct increase in fuel imports. Proceeds from exports of goods (excluding fuel and vessels) rose 13.4 percent, or 778 million euros, although the increase of import payments was larger (2.084 billion euros).

    The surplus in the services category fell by 342 million euros, with travel spending (by foreigners) up by 432 million euros or 8.2 pct.

    The deficit in the incomes category rose by 967 million euros, due to higher net payments on interest, dividends and profits, while the current transfers surplus fell by 211 million euros due to lower inflows from the EU.

    The capital transfer surplus doubled in the first seven months of the year, reflecting an 89 percent jump in capital transfers from the EU to the general government.

    The financial transactions balance showed a net inflow of direct investments totaling 970 million euros, compared with an inflow of 15 million euros last year. Foreign direct investments to Greece totaled 1.464 billion euros in the January-July period.

    In the portfolio investment category, a net inflow of 2.542 billion euros was recorded, while in the “Other” investments category, a net inflow of 9.476 billion euros was recorded.

    [15] Global Finance proclaims Bank of Piraeus' 'winbank' as best in Greece

    20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The internationally acclaimed magazine Global Finance has put in first place the "winbank internet business" service of the Bank of Piraeus, in the competition "The best banks of the world in the Internet", which it organized for the seventh consecutive year, it was announced on Tuesday.

    The winbank internet business took first place in the category "Best Corporate/Institutional Internet Banks" in Greece.

    The electronic banking winbank services of the Bank of Piraeus have been awarded by Greek and international agencies 25 times since the year 2000.

    Following the European Banking Technology Awards (first place in 2005), Global Finance is the second international agency which awards a major distinction to the Bank of Piraeus.

    [16] Exports may hit 17.5 bln euros this year

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Exports may total 17.5 billion euros in 2006 if a brisk first-half rate of increase is maintained, and barring surprises in the euro-dollar parity, the Panhellenic Association of Exporters said on Tuesday.

    According to a report by the trade group, exports in the first-half of 2006 totaled 8,073 million euros from 6,604 million euros in the same period a year earlier, up 22.2%; or 9,917 million US dollars from 8,481 million dollars, showing a 16.9% rise.

    The increase was almost across the board, except for North America and limited exports to countries in Africa and southeast Asia, the report noted.

    [17] HATTA to organize int'l forum on cruises on Sept. 27

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA), will organize an international forum centered on cruises, on September 27, World Tourism Day.

    Discussed at the conference will be selected current issues and conclusions, which will be reached, are to be used as a guide for the paving of a policy in Greece in this sector.

    "Greece at long last must acquire the role which it deserves in the eastern Mediterranean and benefit greatly from the development of Home Ports," the travel agents noted in an announcement on Tuesday.

    The sessions of the forum will take place with the support of the Tourism Development Ministry and of the Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT), in the conference hall of the Port of Piraeus Authority (OLP).

    [18] EU and China sign agreement to protect consumers

    BRUSSELS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    An agreement between the European Union and China to ensure that toys imported from China are safe was signed on Tuesday by European Commissioner for health and consumer protection Markos Kyprianou and the Chinese minister for quality control.

    It is estimated that one in four alerts for dangerous products issued in the EU, apart from foodstuffs, concerns toys (171 warnings out of a total of 701 through the RAPEX system in 2005).

    Of these, 85 percent of the toys for which there was an alert through the RAPEX system originated in China while 50 percent of all products listed on RAPEX were from China.

    In statements after the signature of the agreement, the Cypriot Commissioner stressed that this had to change and welcomed China's efforts to ensure the safety of both its foodstuffs and other products.

    [19] Groundwork for deal on Olympics rowing centre

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Hellenic Olympic Properties SA said on Tuesday that the basis had been laid for an agreement that would turn the Athens 2004 Olympics rowing centre into a training centre for the International Rowing Federation (FISA) from autumn 2007.

    If final agreement is reached, the centre at Schinia would become FISA's third international training centre after Munich and Seville.

    [20] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,886.89 points, showing a rise of 0.08%. Turnover was 202.4 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.04% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.03% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.09% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 130 to 111 with 62 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): National Bank (574)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 95.5 million euros

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.09 pct

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

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (1.2 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.7 bln euros

    [21] Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    [22] U.S. dollar 1.275

    [23] Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria on religious fanaticism

    20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Patriarchate of Alexandria rejects religious fanaticism and respects all religions, stressed Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria on Tuesday, in response to recent statements regarding Muslims made by Pope Benedict XVI.

    The statement mentions that the main concern of the Patriarchate of Alexandria is the peaceful coexistence of people regardless of their race, color and religion.

    According to the statement, the Patriarchate itself is an example of peaceful coexistence because it enjoys the acceptance of both the Egyptian government and the Muslim faithful.

    The Patriarchate rejects intolerance and any kind of religious fanaticism and is active in conditions of religious diversity showing respect to other religions and contributing to interfaith understanding and cooperation aimed at eliminating fanaticism.

    The statement concludes that the Patriarchate is aware of the fact that religious fanaticism is out of place today and the primary need for all religions is to help people find solutions to their problems.

    [24] Police in Kavala arrest 81 illegal immigrants after traffic accident

    20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Police in Kavala, northern Greece, on Monday night arrested 81 illegal immigrants. They were detected after the truck which was transporting them, was involved in a traffic accident, police announced on Tuesday.

    The crash, which caused damage to the truck, occurred on the Thessaloniki-Kavala national highway.

    The accident happened when the truck carrying the illegal immigrants crashed into the rear side of another truck which had stopped at the traffic lights and which was driven by a 52 year-old man, resident of Thessaloniki, Macedonia.

    After the crash, the driver carrying the immigrants abandoned the vehicle and fled.

    The illegal immigrants were from various countries of Asia and Africa, who entered Greece through Evros River.

    To reach their destination, which was the country's heartland, and possibly other European countries, the illegal immigrants each paid 3,000 U.S. dollars to an unidentified person in Istanbul, who helped them cross into Greece.

    The driver carrying the immigrants is being sought by police, while his truck was impounded.

    Procedures are under way for the deportation of the 81 people arrested.

    [25] Life-saving GPS devices for Mt. Olympus climbers

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Climbing on Mt. Olympus will become much safer after the decision by the Pieria Prefecture in central Greece to use the Global Positioning System, GPS, offered by the German Prefecture of Rems Murr in the Baden Wurttemberg state within the framework of their cooperation.

    According to an announcement on Tuesday, climbers can now lease a GPS device and be briefed in detail on the Mt. Olympus trails, while if they are lost they will be spotted through the central system in operation.

    GPS devices are used in sea and air transportation and in telecommunications while they have become necessary tools for motorists, bus drivers, fishermen and mountain climbers.

    [26] Six people convicted for disturbances during PAOK soccer fans' demonstration

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Six people were sentenced to prison sentences after a court in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, found them guilty on Tuesday of participating in disturbances that occurred in the city during the inauguration ceremony of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on September 8.

    The disturbances had taken place during a demonstration organized by fans of the PAOK Thessaloniki soccer club.

    Four of the defendants were sentenced to jail terms of two years and three months. Two others were sentenced to 12 months and one month respectively. The court suspended the prison terms of all defendants for a period of three years since they had no criminal record. The defendants, who pleaded not guilty, appealed their sentences and were set free.

    A minor was also arrested during the disturbances, who will be tried by a court for minors.

    [27] Army service dodgers to be allowed to vote in local elections

    ATHENS, 20/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    In a joint decision issued on Tuesday by Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, checking procedures for Greek men that have dodged mandatory army service and live abroad will be suspended between September 22 until October 30 so that they can vote in the upcoming municipal and prefecture elections on October 15. The measure does not apply for deserters.

    [28] Cyprus President and UN SG reviewed developments on Cyprus problem

    NEW YORK, 20/9/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos met Tuesday with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan with whom they reviewed the developments on the Cyprus problem.

    In statements after the meeting Papadopoulos said he informed the UN SG that, according to latest information, the Turkish Cypriot side is likely to examine positively the proposals to set up the working groups.

    ''And we hope that this statement will not lead to new discussions on terms and details but will ultimately lead to the start of the committees' operation soon,'' Papadopoulos added.

    The Cypriot president said that he totally agrees with what Annan told him that ''there is no way for full talks to begin unless a good and in depth preparation of the issues of substance takes place, which will be the focus of the discussions,'' pointing out that ''Annan was categorical on this issue".

    Papadopoulos thanked Annan ''for the efforts he made during his term to promote a Cyprus solution.''

    The Cypriot president said "we confirmed that we have different views on the plan'' which was submitted by the UN and was rejected by the Greek Cypriot community in simultaneous referenda in April 2004 and approved by the Turkish Cypriots.

    Annan said, according to Papadopoulos that ''since the plan was rejected by one community, for me that was the end of it''.

    The meeting is possibly the last between the two men, since Annan's term as UN SG ends on December 31.

    However, as the Cypriot president said, when he expressed hope to Annan that the two would meet again, the SG replied ''if an opportunity arises, why not.''

    Asked whether he would accept Annan as a high level envoy on Cyprus, Papadopoulos expressed appreciation for the outgoing SG's efforts on Cyprus.

    ''Annan, as I said, with ample persistence and efforts tried to promote a Cyprus solution and his sincere efforts, despite the failure to reach the anticipated outcome, should be appreciated,'' Papadopoulos said.

    UN Undersecretary-General for political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari was also present at the meeting, while Papadopoulos also had a separate meeting with Gambari.

    Replying to a question that the meeting with Gambari was related to the efforts by the UN to facilitate the process started after the July 8 agreement and the positive reply by the Turkish Cypriot side, Papadopoulos said that Gambari was present at the meeting with Annan and ''he heard the same thing that the working groups on issues of substance should be set up to prepare the ground, before a negotiating process on political level is attempted.''

    President Papadopoulos and Talat agreed on July 8th 2006, during a meeting in the presence of 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 to the Cyprus problem.

    Following the agreement, senior aides of the two leaders in Cyprus, Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev, began to work out the modalities for the implementation of the July agreement.

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

    President Papadopoulos was to address the General Assembly later Tuesday.

    [29] UN SG calls for flexibility from all concerned in Cyprus

    NEW YORK, 20/9/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)

    United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan underlined the need for flexibility from all concerned in the Cyprus problem, his spokesman said here Tuesday.

    He said that Annan and Papadopoulos ''discussed Lebanon, and the Secretary-General thanked the President for his country's role during the Lebanon crisis.''

    ''They also discussed recent developments surrounding the Cyprus issue'', he said, adding that ''in that context, the Secretary-General underlined the need for flexibility from all concerned.''

    [30] Papadopoulos:US interests in Turkey not incompatible with human rights

    NEW YORK, 20/9/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has said that the friendly relations between the United States and Turkey and their strategic interests in that country are not incompatible with simultaneous US support of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Greek Cypriots.

    In a speech on Monday evening at the New York University on ''Cyprus, EU Accession and the New Regional Strategic Relation with the US,'' President Papadopoulos said ''the question arises how can a great democracy like the US cooperate in perpetuating a massive violation of the human rights of the Greek Cypriot refugees in their own country, the expropriation of property, the violation of their right to property which is an individual right, and how can a big democracy like the US promote policies which perpetuate the division of my country and the continuing suffering of its people.''

    ''In my judgment the answer is simple: the relations of the US with Turkey, Turkey being considered as the most valuable ally of the US, more so in the present energy crisis and situation, the US will never do anything which may upset Turkey or would be contrary to the wishes of Turkey. That we wouldn't mind. We don't ever want to put the US or anybody in the dilemma of choosing between Turkey and Cyprus because we know that the choice would be against us. Anybody would choose Turkey against Cyprus, more so the US,'' he said.

    He added however that the US, ''by developing relations with Cyprus, and at the same time supporting the human rights, the fundamental principles of Greek Cypriot citizens, is not incompatible with their friendship with Turkey.''

    ''We believe that there is no room for choice, that both can go in parallel,'' he said and wondered ''how can you bring about better certification of the relations with the US, how can you strengthen and make a more strong and robust strategic relation with the US?''

    President Papadopoulos noted that ''the answer is simple, we do not ask the US to abandon its most valuable ally, all we ask is for a more balanced consideration of our positions, of our rights, the rights of the ordinary Greek Cypriot citizens, respect for their human rights and the fundamental liberties that any citizen enjoys anywhere in the world in a democracy and the recognition of the strategic value of Cyprus, which I think is obvious to many.''

    ''At the same time we are fully aware of our small size and limited capabilities. We cannot play a significant role in world affairs, we cannot influence the policies of the superpower, the only superpower remaining in the world, when its own interests seem to be served better by our own enemy,'' he said.

    President Papadopoulos pointed out that ''we know our smallness and our military insignificance,'' adding that ''throughout history, our sufferings through the ages have come about as a result of being a small country overpowered by the military might of our neighbors, especially a neighbor like Turkey.''

    He explained that ''this is why in turn we rely on international law, on justice, on human rights as the shield and rely on the good will of people who still believe in principles, people who live in the US and think their country should be the champion of liberties of the individual, of human rights and of democracy.''

    ''We still believe that there are many people around the world who believe in respect for the territorial integrity of a country, for human rights and international law. This much we ask from you,'' he concluded.

    The speech was attended by over 200 persons, among which members of the university, students, members of the diplomatic corps, UN officials, US and Greek reporters, and members of the Cypriot and Greek communities in the US.

    Later on, President Papadopoulos and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and Greece, George Lillikas and Dora Bakoyannis, attended a dinner hosted in their honor by President of the Cyprus Federation of America Panicos Papanicolaou in the presence of Archbishop Demetrios, Senator Paul Sarbanes and other dignitaries of the Cypriot community.

    [31] State Department official says US policy on Cyprus has not changed

    NEW YORK, 20/9/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)

    US State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey has said that the US policy on Cyprus has not changed and that the US would like to see the Cyprus problem resolved sooner rather than later.

    Invited to clarify, in view of Tuesday's meeting in New York between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the US position on a UN solution plan, known as the Annan plan, having in mind statements by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Matt Bryza that the Annan plan is still on the table, Casey said whatever Bryza said ''I'm sure is correct and fully reflects US policy towards the region.''

    Casey noted that ''US policy hasn't changed, we continue to seek and wish to see a solution to the situation on Cyprus, we wish to see that be done in accordance with a result that would be acceptable to both communities''.

    ''We certainly welcome discussions by the Secretary General with all communities in Cyprus. Again, we'd like to see this issue resolved sooner rather than later,'' Casey added.

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


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