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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-09-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 28, 2006
 FM Bakoyannis holds talks with Condoleezza Rice on wide range of issues
WASHINGTON, 28/9/2006 (ANA-MPA/T.Ellis)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held talks here on Wednesday night (Greek time) with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice focusing mainly on the Balkans, Kosovo and the Middle East problem. The problem of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as well as the visa waiver issue for Greek citizens traveling to the U.S., were also discussed.
"It was a useful and friendly meeting during which we discussed EU-Turkey relations and Greece's position," Bakoyannis told reporters after the half-hour meeting.
Bakoyannis reiterated to her counterpart that Turkey has undertaken the obligation to open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and planes noting that Ankara was at "the time of decisions".
Bakoyannis said that there were extensive talks on Mideast developments and Iran's nuclear program on which European Union High Representative for defense and foreign policy Javier Solana was deploying efforts on behalf of the international community.
Kosovo was also the focus of extensive talks, the Greek foreign minister noted, adding that she put forward the Greek position that there should be the greatest possible acceptance by the two sides (Serbs and Albanians) and the necessity to support Serbia in its prospects to join the EU and NATO.
On the FYROM issue, Bakoyannis underlined to Rice the need for the finding of a mutually acceptable solution.
 U.S. Secretary of State praises Greek UNSC presidency in meeting with Bakoyannis
WASHINGTON, 28/9/2006 (ANA-MPA/T.Ellis)U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised the Greek UN Security Council presidency while at the same time lauded Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis' diplomatic abilities in statements at start of the two ministers' meeting at the State Department on Wednesday night (Greek time).
"I would like to welcome Foreign Minister Bakoyannis in Washington. We had the chance to see each other many times in New York. This time we are in Washington and we will have the opportunity to continue our discussions on Greek-American relations and on a wide range of issues," Rice told reporters, adding that Greece "is doing a good job as Security Council president." She also thanked Bakoyannis.
Responding to a question on a possible embargo against Iran, Bakoyannis said: "We are not there yet." On the same issue, Rice told reporters that she was in contact with European Union High Representative for defense and foreign policy Javier Solana, adding that if an agreement was reached to put an end on the enrichment of uranium by Iran, that would be a positive development.
Responding to a question whether Greece was in a position to play a role in the Middle East problem, given that it has good relations with both Israel and Arab countries, Rice said that Bakoyannis was "an excellent diplomat".
 FM addresses Congress members on thorns in Greece's and EU's relations with Turkey
WASHINGTON, 28/9/2006 (ANA-MPA/T.Ellis)Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, speaking in the US Congress, on Tuesday warned Turkey that it's attitude was not helping its European orientation, stressing that although Greece wanted relations of friendship and cooperation with Turkey based on respect of international law and the rules of good neighborhood and supported Turkey's EU prospects, Turkey nevertheless must prove intentions to comply with the EU's institutional, political and economic acquis and fulfill its criteria and obligations for membership like all the other candidate countries.
Addressing an audience of 44 Senate and House of Representatives members in the House of Representatives International Relations Committee Hall, Bakoyannis outlined the problems faced by the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Phanar and Turkey's refusal to apply the Ankara Protocol extending its Custons Union agreement with the EU to all the EU member countries to EU member Cyprus, which she said were thorns in Turkey's relations not only with Greece but also with the EU.
Bakoyannis warned that Turkey's attitude was not helping its European prospect, stressing that recognition of the ecumenical nature of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by Ankara and the reopening of the Halki Seminary School would work to Turkey's benefit, as they would render it a country that respects religious freedoms.
Greece, she explained, was interested in relations of friendship and cooperation with Turkey on the basis of respect of international law and the rules of good neighborhood, and also supported Turkey's European prospect. However, she added, Turkey in turn must show that it intended to comply with the EU's institutional, political and economic acquis and fulfill its criteria and obligations for EU accession just as all the other candidate countries.
She further noted the improvement in Greek-Turkish relations in recent years, but pointed out that Turkey's military activities in the Aegean hindered the policy of rapprochement.
Addressing a dinner in her honor hosted by the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, and referring to the Cyprus issue, Bakoyannis reiterated Greece's commitment to finding a lasting and functional solution for the reunification of the island republic, which would take into consideration the work already carried out by the UN, as well as international law, the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and the acquis communautaire.
She explained that every initiative aimed at consolidating the division of the island through upgrading the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus clashed with the efforts for reunification of the island on the basis of a solution mutually acceptable to the two sides.
Introducing the foreign minister, Greek ambassador in Washington Alexandros Mallias noted that Bakoyannis' father Constantine Mitsotakis (who later became prime minister of Greece) had in December 1969, during the military dictatorship in Greece, testified before the US Congress in the very same Hall, advocating freedom and democracy in Greece.
Among the Congresspersons who delivered greetings at the dinner were Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Maryland), and House of Representatives members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), House Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Shelley Berkley (D. Nevada), Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey), and Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), who is co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues (together with fellow House of Representatives member Michael Bilirakis, R-Florida).
The speakers praised Bakoyannis' work as foreign minister, but also in her previous post of Athens Mayor during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, as well as her contribution to the fight against terrorism and her activities during Greece's UN Security Council presidency for the month of September, particularly the special Security Council meeting at foreign ministers' level on the Middle East organized recently by the Greek presidency.
After referring to the symbolism of the House International Relations Committee Hall, where voices in support of freedom and democracy had been heard during the military junta in Greece, Bakoyannis spoke of the cooperation between Greece and the US, as well as the constructive role Greece was playing in SE Europe and more broadly.
She thanked the Congress and its members in the Hellenic Caucus on their stance in favor of Cyprus, stability in the Aegean, and the protection of human rights and of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey.
On the Middle East, Bakoyannis advocated the vision for the spread of democracy, freedom and human rights, the right of the Israelis and the Palestinians to live in two separate states with secure borders, and stressed the importance of the extraordinary Security Council meeting, at foreign ministers' level, held at the initiative of the Greek Security Council presidency.
She further outlined the strategic role Greece was developing in the Balkans, creating the preconditions for stability, the creation of functional democratic institutions, Inter-Balkan cooperation, the region's growth and its incorporation into the Euro-Atlantic institutions.
On Kosovo in particular, she stressed the desire for finding a lasting and viable solution that would have the support of both Belgrade and Pristina.
Concluding her address, Bakoyannis outlined Greece's efforts in confronting both domestic and international terrorism, rendering the country a credible ally.
She further called for Greece's inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program which allows citizens of currently 27 countries to visit the US without the requirement of an entrance visa, thus facilitating business contacts and tourism between the two countries.
Bakoyannis also replied to questions from the attending Congress members on such issues as the Middle East, EU-Turkey relations, protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the Cyprus issue.
 Inauguration of new Greek Embassy premises in Washington
WASHINGTON, 28/9/2006 (ANA-MPA/T.Ellis)The new premises of Greece's embassy in Washington were inaugurated Tuesday by Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, during a ceremony that was attended by US state department officials, foreign diplomats, Senator Paul Sarbanes, and a plethora of Greek Americans.
After a Te Deum, Greek Ambassador to the US Alexandros Mallias, on behalf of the entire embassy staff, expressed appreciation for all those who contributed to the completion of the project, and particularly his predecessors Alexandros Filonas and George Savvaidis.
A young American pupil described his positive experiences from his contact with the Greek civilization during a visit to Greece in the framework of an educational program actively supported by the Greek embassy.
State Department under secretary for Management Henrietta Fore stressed the American people's appreciation for Greece for its historic contribution to democracy. Fore spoke of the high level of cooperation between the two countries in such sectors as energy safety, praised Greece's humanitarian contribution in the transport of refugees from Lebanon, as well as Greece's naval contribution to the multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
Bakoyannis, in turn, warmly thanked all who contributed to completion of the new building for the Greek Embassy which, she said, reflected the importance placed by Greece on its embassy in the US.
 Euro-parliament approves Eurlings report on Turkey
STRASBOURG, 28/9/2006 (ANA-MPA - O. Tsipira)The report on Turkey’s progress toward EU accession prepared by Dutch Euro-deputy Camiel Eurlings was approved by the European Parliament plenary session with 429 votes in favor, 71 against and 125 abstentions out of a total of 625 votes cast.
A large number of amendments submitted by the Greens and the Liberals were rejected and the approved report was closer to its original form, commented Eurlings after the end of the vote.
The Eurlings report was presented in the European Parliament plenary session with 79 of 80 original proposed amendments.
The one withdrawn was an amendment initially submitted by Greek Euro-deputy Dimitrakopoulos concerning the recognition of the genocide of the Greeks from Pontos (a region on the shores of the Black Sea in Turkey), which became another point of contention in addition to article 50 of the report. This article (in its initial form) urged the governments of Turkey and Armenia to continue the reconciliation process and called on the Turkish authorities to guarantee access to historical archives for researchers and academics.
After Dimitrakopoulos' proposed amendment was withdrawn, the Greeks from Pontos are mentioned in the initial text in a parenthesis only as an example.
Specifically, article 50 concludes by mentioning that a similar stance should be adopted in the cases of other minorities (e.g. the Greeks from Pontos and the Assyrians).
However, the issue of the Greeks from Pontos is mentioned in amendment 79 tabled by main opposition PASOK party Euro-deputies, who underline the need for Turkish society and political forces to reconcile with Turkey’s historical past, recognizing the genocides of the Armenians and the Greeks from Pontos. The amendment in question was highly unlikely to receive approval.
Most of the remaining 79 amendments were tabled by the Socialists (21), Greens (20), Liberals (16), European United Left (12), Christian Democrats (5), Greek Socialists (1), Independent Democrats (2) as well as 2 compromise amendments reached between the Greens and the Liberals.
European Liberal Democrats leader Graham Watson had stated speaking to reporters that the amendments tabled by the Green Liberals and Socialists were clearly pro-Turkish aimed at making the report “more productive”.
The Greens had characterized the report as tough and not particularly fair and had threatened to abstain if certain amendments deemed crucial by them were rejected. Specifically, they had requested that article 49, according to which the recognition of the Armenian genocide is a precondition for EU accession, be removed.
Article 61 on Cyprus was also the target of many amendments. The specific article reminded Turkey that according to a European Council decision, the European Commission has to submit a report before the end of 2006 on the full implementation of the Ankara Protocol by Turkey. Based on the article, a lack of progress on that issue would seriously affect the course of negotiations and could even lead to their interruption.
 PASOK European Parliament group satisfied with Eurlings report on Turkey
STRASBOURG, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)The Parliamentary Group of the main opposition PASOK party at the European Parliament on Wednesday expressed satisfaction over the outcome of voting on the Eurlings report.
PASOK's Eurodeputies stressed that "the adoption of the Report constitutes a great victory for Greece, Europe and all the forces of Turkey that desire their country's democratic, peaceful and European course."
They added that "we are in favor of the accession prospect of Turkey and against all those who are trying to intercept it with various pretexts. This path, however, means full compliance with the preconditions and principles of the EU. Both the postponement of the ratification of the Customs Union Protocol with Cyprus and whatever effort to limit Turkey's obligations are unacceptable. The political leadership of Turkey has the responsibility to respect the principles of international law and international treaties in its relations with all countries, including Greece."
 President appeals for global effort for peace and human rights, at Round-Table of European NHRIs
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday appealed for a global effort for peace, justice and the promotion of human rights, opening the 4th Round-Table of the European National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, taking place in Athens, organized jointly by the Council of Europe's Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Greek National Commission for Human Rights.
The two-day conference brings together the heads of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) as well as experts working on setting up such institutions.
Papoulias spoke of "the tribulations which human rights were undergoing in a constant process of changes", and on the "uncertainty created by the intense competition in the globalize economy".
Addressing the meeting, justice minister Anastasis Papaligouras described terrorism as "the number one security problem in the world today, which comprises a pervasive danger and mass threat to the foundations of the modern societies".
This, he continued, could not be tackled only at local or national level, adding that international cooperation was required among police, judicial and customs authorities, and stressed "the risk of the fight against terrorism becoming ideologized and of the creation of institutions of policing of social life, with adverse consequences on the justice-society relations".
In a specific reference to International Law, Papoulias said it sometimes tended to take on the form of "the law of the world order and the forces that impose it", stressing that it was necessary to tackle the deeper causes of terrorism and find the "golden mean" between protection of individual rights and freedoms and the ensurance of collective security.
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg was critical of US president George Bush, whom he accused of undermining human rights "with his demand for use of interrogation methods that reach the point of torture, and the detention of individuals without trial for an indefinite period of time".
He was also critical of the EU foreign ministers, saying that in their last meeting they were unable to agree on a common stance condemning the American president's proposals.
The Commissioner described the Athens Round Table as "a critical meeting, at a critical stage for the protection of human rights", and stressed the necessity of implementation of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights' rulings, warning that "non-implementation undermines the credibility of the Court, while a delayed rendering of justice could be construed as refusal of dispensation of justice.
Greek National Commission for Human Rights president, Professor Aliki Giotopoulou-Maragopoulou, referring to the present situation, stressed that "the serious terrorist strikes of the recent years and the 'counter-terrorism' policy being applied have led to a gradually but steadily reinforced abolition of human rights", adding that "those ruling the world, through the legislation of regulations that abolish fundamental human rights and through the creation of infernos with new torture methods, and with preventive counterterrorism' wars, have abolished human rights and peace".
"At this time, we are faced with a terrible tug-of-war between supporters and abolishers of human rights, new wars are being prepared, and the right of the European National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to actively participate in all the decision-taking bodies concerning human rights, and particularly counterterrorism, as well as their implementation bodies, must be reinforced," she said.
During the two-day sessions, participants will discuss new opportunities at the European level for NHRIs and, in particular, what new functions these institutions are ready to assume in the context of Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights. There will also be an exchange on the reflections offered by the Group of Wise Persons on how NHRIs -- in conjunction with the Commissioner -- might further support the European Court of Human Rights. Working groups will discuss the role for NHRIs with respect to counter-terrorism legislation and practices, including the so-called rendition flights.
The President of the Greek National Commission and the Commissioner for Human Rights will meet with the media on 28 September at 8 p.m. at the venue of the Round Table (Athens Imperial Hotel).
 Deputy FM meets Council of Europe Human Rights commissioner
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Wednesday met the European commissioner of the Council of Europe's Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, on the sidelines of the conference of independent European National Human Rights Committees, taking place in Athens on September 27-28.
The deputy foreign minister congratulated Hammarberg on the assumption of his duties in the new institution of Council of Europe Human Rights commissioner, that Greece had strongly supported from the beginning.
Valinakis informed him of Greece's intention to have close and productive cooperation with him and reiterated its commitment for respect and the implementation of decisions taken by the European Human Rights Court.
 DM Evangelos Meimarakis concludes visit to Tirana
TIRANA, 28/9/2006 (ANA-MPA)Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis concluded his visit here on Wednesday at the end of the conference attended by defense ministers from countries in southeastern Europe (SEDM).
Speaking after the conference, the defense minister said that "the 10th anniversary of SEDM coincides with the end of a successful first mission by the Balkan Brigade in Afghanistan, where Greece had a leading presence. At the same time, this anniversary signals the beginning of a new period for the further deepening and widening of our cooperation."
Meimarakis also said that "our common target from the beginning when we developed this initiative was the creation of an effective regional security body that would contribute in practice to the consolidation of conditions of stability, security and peace in the region of southeastern Europe. I believe that considerable progress has been achieved in this sector."
Meimarakis also visited the Albanian defense ministry and held a courtesy meeting with his Albanian counterpart Fatmir Mediu with whom he discussed issues of security and strategic cooperation between the two countries.
Immediately afterwards, he met with the Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios and was given a briefing on the work of the Orthodox Church of Albania.
 SE Europe DMs conclude conference in Tirana
TIRANA, 28/9/2006 (ANA-MPA)The conference of defense ministers from countries of southeastern Europe, in which U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld participated came to an end here on Wednesday.
"The U.S. was always in favor of the enlargement of NATO and I wish that more countries will become members of the alliance," Rumsfeld said at the end of the conference.
Asked when enlargement is expected, he said that "he is not in a position to give some specific date because this depends on the member-states of the alliance and on the countries desiring accession and the efforts they are making."
A joint statement issued at the end of the conference said that "the countries are committed to making efforts for security and preserving peace in SE Europe and the world."
A briefing was made during the conference on the activities and successful presence of SEEBRIG (South East Europe BRIGADE, Balkan Brigade) during its mission in Afghanistan, in the framework of ISAF, while a briefing was also made on efforts being made to combat international terrorism and the course of NATO's operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan was also outlined.
The conference was inaugurated by Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, who said that the Albanian people believe that their secure future lies in the country's full accession to NATO and the European Union.
It was attended by Greece, which was represented by Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.
The representatives of the member-states of SE Europe Defense Ministry Cooperation unanimously agreed to the participation of representatives from four countries, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Georgia in the conference with observer status.
 Government again denies interfering with ESC appointments
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday clarified that the Greek Economic and Social Council (ESC) had recommended Aristea Sinanioti for the Competition Commission, once again denying the involvement of the development ministry in the appointment.
Commenting on a press report that Sinanioti had been appointed by the development minister, the spokesman stressed that ESC operated independently of any minister, while laws required that its representatives participate in various administrative councils.
Those representatives are selected by ESC and not by the minister, Roussopoulos added, and referred reporters to statements on the issue made by ESC and the development ministry on Tuesday.
Both ESC and the leadership of the development ministry issued announcements in response to a Tuesday report in the Greek daily "Eleftherotypia" that claimed they had tampered with appointments to the Competition Commission, putting pressure on the ESC to select a ministry-backed candidate.
They clarified that the ministry's objections to the original candidates proposed by the ESC were based solely on the fact that they had already served two terms on the Competition Commission and were barred by law from serving a third.
According the ministry, ESC originally sought to renew the term of its existing representatives on the Commission and, when informed this was not possible, sent another list containing the two original names and two additional names. The ministry wrote back, pointing out that the list should contain three names, but decided to go ahead with the appointment of the two eligible candidates proposed by ESC.
This was confirmed by ESC President Nikos Analytis, who said that the ESC had at all times based its decisions on the experience, knowledge and reliability of the persons involved, without any outside pressure or intervention.
 Telecoms and Post regulator denies having double jobbers in its ranks
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)In an announcement on Wednesday the National Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) denied press reports claiming double jobbers among its top echelons.
The press reports appeared following a question tabled in Parliament for Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis by main opposition PASOK MPs.
EETT noted that its president Professor Nikitas Alexandridis is employed full-time at the EETT and legally draws a reduced pension as a retired professor of the National Metsovian Polytechnic, while he has no other position or work, paid or unpaid, in either the public or private sectors.
The regulatory authority's vice-president Nikolaos Koulouris, meanwhile, had immediately resigned as president of the board of the seamen's pension fund NAT as soon as his appointment to the EETT was approved by Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee and ceased drawing a salary from NAT, the EETT said.
EETT vice-president for Post Thodoros Davillas had never had any relationship with NAT and had never had any paid or unpaid relationship with any banking group while working for the EETT, the announcement added.
 Gov't on article regarding phone tapping
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)The government on Wednesday flatly dismissed a same-day press report in a local newspaper claiming a link between a Greek-US agreement on telecoms security and the Vodafone phone tapping conspiracy that targeted the mobile phones of several top Greek government officials, including the prime minister himself.
Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos made the statement during his regular press briefing in response to a question regarding the article, published in the paper "Vima".
 PM briefed by culture minister
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed by Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Wednesday regarding legislative initiatives in Parliament supervised by the ministry.
Voulgarakis told reporters afterwards that the two discussed a timetable according to which draft bills prepared by the ministry are tabled in Parliament, stressing that one of the pieces of legislation aims to improve efforts at combating the illicit antiquities trade.
The minister said he also briefed Karamanlis on his recent trip to the United States.
Asked to comment on a press report alleging a "secret agreement" with Washington allowing phone tapping during the Olympic Games, Voulgarakis, who was public order minister at the time, said speculation surrounding issue has been exhausted and that the government spokesman has provided clear answers.
 Public works minister proposes changes in electoral law
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias made three proposals on Wednesday, regarding political developments and talk of scandals.
Speaking in Ipiros, in northern Greece, Souflias said that with the impending revision of the constitution the electoral law must change and the German system must be applied, by which Parliamentary deputies are elected partially with a list and with crosses of preference, stressing that it would contribute to the eradication of clientele relations and secure political stability.
The second proposal calls for the abolition of partisanship in public administration since it is harmful for public administration.
The third issue he raised was the need for the continuation of the state, meaning that the functioning of the state cannot be discontinued with a change in government.
Reacting to these proposals, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said that "the statements by Souflias on the abolition of groups and politics and trade union action in the public sector are showing the true face of both government policy and of the democracy in which we are living."
According to the KKE, the statements by the public works minister constitute a "direct blow at the elementary right and the freedom of parties to act unimpeded, a fact that is even in contrast with the constitution."
PASOK spokesman: Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanasakis commented on Wednesday on statements by Public Works Minister George Souflias on the election system, reminding of proposals made by PASOK leader George Papandreou on the revision of the constitution.
"Our steadfast pursuit is the seeking of a system of better representation, an election system that will utilize the experience of other European countries, combining election with crosses and election with a list, combining single-seat and wide regions," Athanasakis said.
Commenting on statements by Souflias on trade union organizations in the public sector, the PASOK spokesman said "we do not have the same views with what Mr. Souflias says. Neither in the previous one do we necessarily have the same views. I underline our proposals."
Lastly, referring to Souflias's tour of the Egnatia motorway in northern Greece, Athanasakis said "we can agree in general that projects have no color, the projects belong to the Greek people, but from then on there is the responsibility and the performances of every period."
 PASOK leader addresses party rally in Lesvos
28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressed a party rally in the town of Plomari, on the Aegean island of Lesvos, on Wednesday night, calling on citizens to compare the work of PASOK and New Democracy governments over the past 30 years.
"We are proud of our work. Who led the country forward and who turned it back? The river shall not turn back, we shall stop the downward trend," he said.
Papandreou spoke of farmers being "abandoned at the mercy of middlemen on the part of the government, while at the same time the high cost of living and taxes are dealing a blow at the Greek family" stressing that "we want citizens with dignity."
The PASOK leader also referred to projects carried out in the prefecture of Lesvos during the PASOK governments and charged that the government was not promoting any new project and that "they are eating what is ready".
Commenting on issues of corruption, Papandreou said that "ministers and cadres are staying in their positions while they have great responsibilities" and underlined that "very soon the Greek people will be showing zero tolerance and endurance for the ND government and will express it in the elections, both local and national."
"We are here to proclaim a new beginning for a just society," he said and added that "we do not accept to have citizens held hostage. Employment, education and health are a right" and reiterated the "great importance of one of the basic policy positions of PASOK for radical decentralization towards local administration of duties, funds and staff."
 Papandreou meets with party's candidate for prefect
28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou visited the Aegean island of Lesvos on Wednesday where he met with the party's candidate for prefect, Fraglinos Papadelis.
In a statement, Papandreou said "the message that is coming from all the corners of Greece is that the people ask for a just society with worthy individuals, against a government which in only two-and-a-half years has shown that it is a government of arbitrariness and indifference."
The PASOK leader said that the government "is organizing everything in all sectors for its own people and its own interests." He criticized Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis that "he is hiding the truth and is hiding behind reality."
Papandreou also met the party's mayoral candidate Thanassis Yiakalis.
The local government elections will be held on October 15.
 Erdogan dismisses fears that Fanar will become new Vatican, report says
ISTANBUL, 28/9/2006 (ANA-MPA)Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed concerns among Turkish nationalists that recognizing the ecumenical status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar will turn it into a latter-day Vatican.
According to a report in the Turkish daily 'Hurriyet', while talking to members of his own party, Erdogan said the fears of the nationalist opposition regarding the consequences of such recognition were "nonsense".
During a debate in the Turkish Parliament on a bill to modernize laws regarding public benefit institutions, an opposition MP had asked whether the acquisition of property within the Old City in Istanbul might cause problems in the future. Nationalists argue that the Patriarchate will scoop up property within the Old City and turn itself into a "state within a state".
"Just because some people are buying property within the walls, do you think that means that they will found a state? That's just nonsense," Erdogan is reported as saying.
 Iraqi official outlines problems, prospects of power supply in country
28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)Consumers in Iraq, on average, enjoyed only six to seven hours of electricity on a daily basis over this past summer, the head of industrial and power generation planning in the Kurdish regional government of northern Iraq said during a conference in northern Greece on Wednesday.
Hama Amin Hasan, previously a veteran official in Iraq's state-run power company during the Saddam reign, cited a figure of more than US$10 billion over the next few years for power-related infrastructure to meet skyrocketing demand in the strife-plagued country. Moreover, he said the bulk of investments in the sector should be directed at hydroelectric plants.
Hasan participated in the 13th international conference "Hydro 2006" , hosted in a Halkidiki-area resort by a British publication on hydropower and dams and under the auspices of Greece's development ministry.
He attributed the dilapidated state of Iraq's thermal production units and grid to significant war-related damages over the past decades, while noting, however, that the Mideast country's 37 hydroelectric dams -- many in the northern Kurdish region and practically all along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers -- either avoided major attacks or were repaired quickly after the conflicts.
Hasan said total hydroelectric capacity in the country is 2,484 MW.
Asked about a controversial dam project promoted by Turkey upstream from the Euphrates, the KRG official stressed:
"I do not get involved in politics, but in my personal opinion, the building of dams anywhere means progress. Every country has the right to build dams. However, whatever action should be taken following cooperation, for instance, as to when a dam is filled, so that water is not cut-off from the countries downstream," he added.
 ESHEA denounces new arrests of journalists and trade unionists in Turkey
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)The board of the Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) in an announcement on Wednesday denounced "the new cycle of raids against the mass media and trade unionists in Turkey, resulting in the arrest of seven more journalists and another sixteen citizens."
ESHEA added that "the tragic account of the latest raid in the neighboring country, apart from the intrusion into the bi-monthly newspaper 'Dayanisma', is the arrest of journalists Halil Dinc, Onder Oner, Ozge Kelekci, Songul Akbay, Yilmaz Koruk, Ilden Dirini and Kadir Aktas."
 FinMin announces further reductions in unemployment, deficit
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)National economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday announced further reductions in unemployment and the state deficit, in a briefing of parliament's standing committee on the Peripheries, which it informed that, in accordance to indications by the National Statistics Service (ESYE) for the second quarter of the year, unemployment would drop below to 9.0 percent from 9.6 percent in the corresponding quarter in 2005.
ESYE was due to announce the unemployment figures in the next few days.
Alogoskoufis also referred to the draft 2007 budget, which would be unveiled on Monday in parliament and which, he said, was not founded on the revised figures for the Gross National Product (GNP) but on the original figures.
"Our estimates for the 2006 deficit are that we will attain the target of 2.6 percent, based on the old GNP and not on the revised one," Alogoskoufis said.
For next year, "we are close to achieving the target of the Stability and Growth Program, which is a further reduction of the deficit to 2.3 percent," Alogoskoufis said, adding that "my estimate is that the deficit will be at 2.4 percentage points of GNP".
The minister further announced that the new investment law, which will enter into effect as of 2007, will be unveiled in October. He said the new law will contain small improvements to the existing investment law, while it will also be based on the new map of EU regional reinforcements.
At the present time, Alogoskoufis said, the government was in "delicate negotiations" with the EU concerning the revision of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF, 2000-2006), aimed at minimizing the risk of losses of funds. "Our philosophy is that the monies that would have gone to projects that have no hope of being materialized will be channeled to other programs," he said.
Finally, he assured that more than 80 percent of the funds earmarked for Greece under the 4th CSF (2007-2013) would be channeled to the periphery.
 EU in routine study of Greek finances
BRUSSELS, 28/9/2006 (ANA-MPA)Eurostat, the European Union's statistics service, will be studying data in Greece's national accounts in coming weeks, a spokeswoman for the bloc's monetary affairs commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, said on Wednesday.
The government had submitted economic data that all EU member states are obliged to send as part of a regular review of national accounts, Amelia Torres stated in connection with Greek media reports that the review would reveal a major rise in the growth figure.
The statistical service would study the Greek data in coming weeks, she said.
A similar review had been carried out for national accounts in 1988-1991, Torres added.
 Gov't in drive to boost broadband use
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)The government is implementing its drive to develop the use of high-speed broadband internet, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.
The target of the 450-million euro project is to bring broadband to at least 7.0% of the population by 2008 against 0.1% at present.
The minister reported that the government would announce this week the names of companies that have shown interest in taking part in the growth of broadband.
He was addressing Information Society SA's observatory.
 Minister tours crucial section of Egnatia motorway
28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)The entire mountainous province of Epirus, northwest Greece, appears on the verge of lessening its geographical isolation with the completion of the Egnatia Motorway by 2008, Public Works Minister George Souflias said on Wednesday during an inspection of a 123 km-long section of the highway that spans the breadth of northern Greece from the port of Igoumenitsa to Greek-Turkish border.
The particular section is regarded as the most difficult of the entire motorway due to rugged terrain and serious geological challenges. A total of 65 km of the motorway are under construction in the region, with an estimated budget of 975 million euros.
Souflias told reporters that he is very satisfied with the project's progress, stressing that the highway construction is a major source of development for northern Greece.
 Goal of 30% rise in tourism next year
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)The government has set a target of a 30% rise in visitors to Greece in 2007, Tourism Minister Fani Palli Petralia said on Wednesday.
Inaugurating Tourism Planetarium in Athens, an exhibition to mark world tourism day, the minister noted that the target was ambitious but feasible.
So far in 2006, about 15 million tourists have come to Greece, which the government hopes will rise to 19 million in 2007.
"For the first time in recent years, Greece has implemented a strategy for tourism whose aim is to bring a new move into sustainable development with discernible benefits for all sectors of the economy, and for society in general," Petralia added.
Tourism Planetarium will be open at the Panathenian Stadium until September 30, offering information about Greek tourism and entertainment.
 Greek tourism organization holds 10-day event in Tokyo
28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)The office of the Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT) in Japan, in cooperation with the Greek Export Promotion Organization (OPE), organized in Tokyo a "Greek ten-day event" at Decks, one of the best known department stores in the Japanese capital, enabling visitors to learn more about Greece.
During the ten-day event, from September 16-25, in an expanse of 1,000 square meters, the visitors were briefed on Greece and Greek products, bought Greek food and souvenirs, tasted Greek cuisine and admired a photographic exhibition on Greece.
 Greek travel market rebounded in 2005, report
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)The Greek travel and tourism office services' market shrank in the last three years, a report by ICAP said on Wednesday. The report, based on National Statistics Service's figures for 2004 and 2005, said that a total of 14.3 foreign tourists visited Greece in 2004 and that overnight stays in Greek hotels totaled 51.6 million, of which around 74 pct were foreigners. Tourism foreign exchange proceeds totaled 11.036 billion euros in 2005, up 6.7 pct compared with the previous year.
Around 4,000 travel and tourism offices are operating in Greece, with the largest number based in the Attica region. The report stressed that a number of travel offices worked exclusively during summer months representing larger travel agencies. The travel and tourism services market grew an average annual rate of 0.8 percent in the period 1994-2005, with the incoming package holidays market grew an average annual rate of 3.1 percent in the period 1997-2001, to fell by an average annual rate of 2.7 pct in the period 2002-2004. The market finally rebounded in 2005 recording a 3.0 percent growth rate.
The domestic package holidays market grew an average annual rate of 2.5 pct in the period 1994-2005, the report said.
Tourist arrivals to rise 10-11% in 2006, report: Foreign tourist arrivals to Greece are expected to rise by 10-11 percent this year, Alpha Bank said in a report on Wednesday.
In a weekly economic bulletin, the bank's analysts said they expected foreign exchange proceeds from tourism to exceed 12 billion euros in 2006, from 11.04 bln in 2005, compared with 11.7 billion euros in proceeds from the exports of goods (excluding fuel and vessels) and 14 billion euros in proceeds from shipping.
The report based its forecast on figures showing an 8.4-pct increase in foreign tourist arrivals at the country's 13 largest regional airports in the first eight months of 2006, compared with the same period last year. The Dodecanese islands and northern Aegean islands showed the biggest percentage increases (12.11 pct and 10.72 pct, respectively), while northern Greece and the Ionian Islands rebounded after last year's negative growth rates.
Alpha Bank's analysts said Attica (the greater Athens area) hotels' occupancy rates grew in the first seven months of the year, raising prospects for tourism in the region after the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)The Athens share index closed at 3,968.66 points, showing a rise of 0.83%. Turnover was 395.5 million euros, including 145.5 million euros in block trades.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.97% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.60% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.07% down.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 123 to 120 with 67 remaining unchanged.
Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 3.95 pct
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.278
 Exhibition devoted to Aristotle Onassis to be inaugurated by PM next month
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)An exhibition devoted to the life and times of Aristotle Onassis, by far the best known and most influential of Greece's 20th Century shipping magnates, will be hosted at the Benaki Museum's Pireos Street annex, beginning on Oct. 5.
The exhibition comes more than 31 years since Onassis' death, on March 15, 1975, with the establishment of a major charitable organization bearing his son's name, the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, coming three months later.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is expected to inaugurate the exhibition, entitled "Aristotle Onassis: Beyond his Myth".
Exhibits and artwork belonging to Onassis, from his period in pre-war Argentina up until his death, will be on display.
 Restoration works on historic Mt. Athos monastery
28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)Restoration works will soon begin on the western wing of the Pantokrator Monastery of Mt. Athos, the all-male monastic community of Halkidiki, northern Greece.
The one-million-euro project was approved by the Central Macedonia Region authority and will be implemented by the monastery's administration.
The Pantokrator Monastery is one of seven monasteries on Mt. Athos founded or revived between the second half of the 14th century and early 15th century.
 George Dalaras appointed UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
ATHENS, 28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)A ceremony for the appointment of Greek singer George Dalaras as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador will be held at the Old Parliament Building in Athens on the evening of October 5, in the presence of President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Following approval by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, Dalaras will be one of seven Goodwill Ambassadors for the UN Refugee Agency in the world.
 Olympiakos draws 2-2 away with Shakhtar Donetsk in Champions League match
28/9/206 (ANA-MPA)Olympiakos Piraeus drew 2-2 with Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine (haltime 1-1) in a Champions League Group D soccer match played in Donetsk on Wednesday night.
Olympiakos went into the lead with Michalis Konstantinou in the 24th minute and Matuzalem equalized for Shakhtar in the 33rd.
The Greek club again went into the lead with Nery Alberto Castillo scoring in the 68th minute and the Ukrainian club two minutes later made it 2-2 with Ciprian Marica.
 Spokesman: Erdogan's remarks casts shadows over July 8 agreement
NICOSIA, 28/9/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Turkish Prime Minister Regep Tayyip Erdogan's statements that his country had done whatever it could before April 2004 raises questions whether Turkey will implement the July 8 agreement on Cyprus, Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said here Wednesday, adding that this question should concern the UN Secretariat and the EU.
Speaking at in his party's parliamentary group meeting, Erdogan said Tuesday that Turkey did what it had to do before April 24, 2004.
Commenting, Pashiardis said that it ''just categorically and provocatively confirms that the Turkish side remains immovably attached to the Annan plan and that after the referendum (Turkey) has nothing more to say regarding the Cyprus problem.''
Pashiardis wondered ''what happens with the July 8 agreement and whether this agreement was a deceiving move on Ankara's part and a maneuver to create impressions.''
''If the Turkish side has nothing further to say on Cyprus then why did the Turkish Cypriot leader sign the agreement and if the 'yes' vote to the Annan plan was Turkey's last word regarding the Cyprus problem, then what prospects of implementation does the July 8 agreement have,'' Pashiardis wondered, adding that these questions should concern the UN Secretariat and the EU.
Referring to Erdogan's statements that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots have met their promises towards Brussels, Pashiardis said that Erdogan failed to say whether Turkey has met its obligations towards the EU.
''And if Turkey, as Erdogan declares, is going to make no further step on Cyprus because the Cyprus problem is not included in the Copenhagen criteria, what steps will Erdogan make to fulfill the obligations and commitments his country assumed towards the Republic of Cyprus which are clearly included in the negotiation framework and the (EU's) counter declaration?'' Pashiardis added.
Invited to comment on Mehmet Ali Talat's recent attacks against Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, Pashiardis said that the launching of unfounded accusations and offensive remarks are a usual phenomenon, adding that ''Talat's criticism against Papadopoulos has increased and intensified after the July 8 agreement.''
"Our side will not answer not even comment on Talat's new accusations against the President of the Republic,'' Pashiardis noted, adding that ''our side is only interested in the full implementation of the July 8 agreement, which inter alia commits the leaders of the two communities to ensure the proper atmosphere and a good climate so that the procedure underway will succeed.''
Replying to a question whether the government has information on the Turkish Cypriot side's reply to the UN SG's Special Representative in Cyprus ideas on the way forward to the technical committees, Pashiardis said that the reply given by the T/C side ''moves outside the framework of the July 8 agreement and essentially refutes the agreement.''
On April 24 2004, 76% of the Greek Cypriot side rejected the Annan plan for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem, while the 65% of the Turkish Cypriot community endorsed it. Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on July 8th 2006, during a meeting in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day to day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
Following the agreement, senior aides of the two leaders in Cyprus, Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev, began meetings in Moller's office in the UN-controlled buffer zone to work out the modalities for the implementation of the July agreement.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.
Although Turkey singed in July 2005 the protocol extending its customs union with all ten EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, it still refuses to ratify it and open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessel and aircraft, claiming that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
In September 21, 2005 the EU issued a counter - declaration on Turkey's unilateral declaration that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, urging Turkey to implement the customs union protocol and normalize its relations with Cyprus.
 Foreign Minister says Turkey cannot join EU without implementing obligations
NICOSIA, 28/9/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas said on Wednesday that Turkey cannot proceed in its EU accession course without implementing in practice the commitments which it voluntarily undertook towards the EU, adding that the very credibility of the EU is at stake regarding this issue.
In a speech on ''The European Union and Cyprus: Recent Developments and Perspectives'', delivered to the Delegation of the European Union in Berlin, Lillikas also referred to the Cyprus problem, noting that a settlement should establish a bi-communal and bi-zonal federal state, with a single sovereignty, international personality, and citizenship.
He referred to Cyprus' ties with the countries of the region, noting that ''we are thus in a unique position to better complement the interests of the EU with those of our neighbors.''
''The accession of Cyprus to the EU presents a very positive development in the building of bridges of cooperation and understanding between Europe and the Mediterranean region and contributes positively to the attainment of the specific and broader objectives of the Union,'' he pointed out.
Lillikas said that ''an end to the division of Cyprus, the reunification of the society and the economy in a democratic polity will not only benefit Europe, but foremost the Cypriots themselves.''
He noted that Cyprus has supported Turkey's EU aspirations, adding that ''we maintain the expectation that Turkey will at last proceed with the unconditional fulfillment of its legally binding obligations towards the EU and all its member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.''
Lillikas said these obligations, as outlined in the Declaration of the EU and its member states, as well as in a number of important and binding decisions, include the immediate and non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement and the lifting of all restrictions on Cypriot shipping and aviation, the normalization of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus and its recognition by Turkey, and the immediate termination of the policy of vetoing the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to a number of regional and international organizations and mechanisms.
''It must be underlined that failure on the part of Turkey to implement its obligations towards the EU and its member states, will affect the overall progress of its accession negotiations,'' he pointed out.
He said Cyprus' position is and remains steadfast in that ''Turkey cannot proceed without implementing in practice the commitments which it voluntarily undertook towards the EU because the EU cannot behave as if nothing has happened.''
''We have made it clear to everyone that we will not concede to the opening or closing of chapters for Turkey, unless and until Turkey implements all her commitments towards the EU and its member states. If Turkey continues to maintain the same stance, then there will be
relative reactions and serious repercussions to Turkey's accession process when the time comes for the review,'' he noted, adding that ''the very credibility of the EU is at stake regarding this issue.''
On the Cyprus problem, Lillikas referred to the political developments that have taken place over the past few months and to efforts to create the right conditions for the resumption of meaningful negotiations in the framework of the good offices mission of the UN Secretary General, for a viable settlement.
He said a settlement should establish a bi-communal and bi-zonal federal state, with a single sovereignty, international personality, and citizenship, must guarantee the independence of Cyprus and its territorial integrity, without any foreign troops and with safeguards that would prevent the possibility of foreign interventions in the future, and must aim, through a rational approach and a common vision of the future, at preserving and upholding the character of the state as a working democracy and ensure the reunification of the society and the convergence of allegiances to common institutions.
''Until a settlement is reached and in line with the EU General Affairs Council's Conclusions of April 26th 2004, we firmly believe that the economic development of the Turkish Cypriots will facilitate the reunification of Cyprus, through measures that will promote the economic integration of the island,'' he said.
Lillikas pointed out that ''Cyprus is an active and constructive participant in the EU and shares the long-standing vision of our partners for a Europe that will be in a position to project its collective weight and influence on a worldwide scale, in both political and economic terms.''
''Today's political environment, the main characteristic of which is globalization and the effects it has on countries and civilizations, demands that Europe asserts itself and assumes the responsibilities it must bear, with only one major objective in mind, to spearhead peace and stability, to help overcome economic divisions, and to be a force of unity, for the benefit of all,'' he concluded.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on July 8th 2006, during a meeting in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
Following the agreement, senior aides of the two leaders in Cyprus, Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev, began meetings in the office of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller in the UN-controlled buffer zone to work out the modalities for the implementation of the July agreement.
 Commission urges Turkey to fully implement Ankara Agreement
NICOSIA, 28/9/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The European Commission, through its Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, said on Tuesday it expects Turkey to fully implement the Additional Protocol of the Ankara Agreement and adapt it to the accession of the ten new member states.
Speaking in Strasbourg before the European Parliament's debate of a report prepared by Dutch rapporteur Camiel Eurlings on Turkey's progress in its accession negotiations, Rehn pointed out that Turkey's obligations under the Ankara Protocol are not linked to the ending of the so-called economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community.
Referring to Turkey's obligation to respect its commitments, Rehn said "we expect Turkey to fully implement the Additional Protocol of the Ankara Agreement and adapt it to the accession of ten new member states".
He underlined that "Turkey should remove obstacles to the free movement of goods, including those on means of transport, which are in breach of the Association Agreement. Hence, Turkey should open its ports to vessels under flag of all Member States, including the Republic of Cyprus".
As set out in the Negotiating Framework, the Commissioner said, "the progress in the negotiations also depends on Turkey meeting its obligations" and repeated that "Turkey's obligations under the Ankara Protocol are not linked to the ending of economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community".
Rehn said "the draft report rightly calls on the Council to make renewed efforts to reach an agreement on the trade facilitation regulation concerning the Northern part of Cyprus".
He stressed that "the Commission fully supports the efforts of the Finnish Presidency to overcome the stalemate on the trade regulation, thus helping the Council and the EU member states to live up to their commitments".
Furthermore, he said "it is also appropriate to underline the continuation of the constructive commitment by Turkey in finding a comprehensive settlement on the Cyprus question, acceptable to both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, based upon the principles the EU was founded".
Turkey, an EU candidate country, refuses to implement a Protocol extending the Ankara Agreement (Customs Union) to the ten new EU member states, which among others provides for the opening of Turkish ports and airports to Cypriot ships and airplanes.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.