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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-09-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 30, 2006
 PM briefed on development issues
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Development ministry issues were at the focus of a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday.
The development minister told reporters after the meeting that the new developmental law will enter into in effect in early 2007 and will give a boost to development and the Greek periphery.
Responding to a question on the Competition Commission, Sioufas said that the issue had been discussed at the meeting, and noted that detailed responses on all issues can be found in Wednesday’s parliament session minutes.
He said that there was nothing wrong at the Public Power Corporation (PPC), and added that he briefed the prime minister on his recent visit to Russia where the twelve ministers of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) process discussed energy cooperation and security issues.
Sioufas also said that he briefed Karamanlis on the meetings he had with the Russian industry and energy minister and with his Bulgarian counterpart on the next steps concerning the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.
He also briefed Karamanlis on the Euro-Mediterranean Conference on industry held in Rhodes, the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and the efforts for the creation of a free trade zone in the Mediterranean by 2010.
Sioufas stressed that it is an issue of major importance for the region and Greece, which contributed decisively to the efforts for progress on that matter during the Rhodes meeting.
 FM addresses Greek Americans in NY
NEW YORK, 30/9/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)"When we are united, we work miracles," Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis early Friday (Greek time), at a reception hosted in her honor by Greece's Consul General in New York, Ekaterini Boura, citing the "successful and excellent" 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, because it was proved that "we were all united in that effort".
Bakoyannis conveyed prime minister Costas Karamanlis' best wishes and greetings to the Greek Americans, stressing that they are "an indivisible part of Greece and Hellenism and make us all proud".
Speaking on Greece's image today, Bakoyannis said that the country was "moving ahead with development and abilities for its citizens". "We have taken important steps, but we must make still more," she added.
On Greece's foreign policy, the minister said that "we are following a policy of self-confidence...Greece is a country that is a pole of stability. We are a country that has excellent relations with all its neighbors".
Turning to Greece's presidency of the UN Security Council during the month of September, she said that "we are seen as a credible and serious interlocutor, and we are a country that has a say in and knowledge of the problems in the region".
Bakoyannis further referred to the specific problems faced by Hellenism, with the Cyprus issue at the top of the list, stressing that "Greek foreign policy will never tire of fighting for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem".
Greece, she continued, "supports Turkey's European prospect, but we want a neighboring country that is a modern European democracy".
"Turkey itself, however, must also want to become a European country, it must accept the European criteria, and it must respect the European principles and values," she stressed.
Finally, turning to the FYROM name issue, "which is open also within the framework of the UN", Bakoyannis said that "we will work to find a mutually acceptable solution".
 Meimarakis attends NATO defence ministers' meeting in Slovenia
LJUBLJANA, 30/9/2006 (ANA - MPA)Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis was among the defense ministers that attended the informal NATO defense ministers' meeting and NATO-Russia talks held in Slovenia's Portoroz on Thursday and Friday.
The issues dominating the meeting were the Alliance's transformation with the deployment of NATO Response Forces (NRF), as well as a decision that NATO lead Afghan peacekeeping missions from next month.
Meimarakis said that Greece attached great importance to initiatives for improving coordination and cooperation between NATO, other international organizations and non-governmental organizations in the wake of military operations, when an area or a country must be stabilized and reconstructed.
He said that Greece agreed with common funding for the rapid air transport of NRF troops to deal with emergency situations for a short period of time but believed that the rule that each member-state cover the cost of its participation in NRF missions should continue to apply.
During his speech at the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), meanwhile, the defense minister emphasized the importance of NATO-Russian cooperation and said that this should be developed even further in order to become a tool for establishing regional security and stability.
Afterward, Meimarakis had a 30-minute meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in which they confirmed the good bilateral relations between Greece and Russia and examined issues of mutual interest.
 Teachers vote to continue strike for third week; government response
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Primary school and kindergarten teachers are to continue their strike into a third week, following a vote held on Friday by the presidents representing local teachers' unions throughout the country. The decision for another five-day strike from October 2-6 was taken with seven votes in favor and four abstentions.
There will be more general meetings of local teacher unions next Friday, while the general meeting of union presidents will convene on Saturday, October 7, to decide if the strike will be held for a fourth week as well.
Primary school teachers also decided to hold a joint rally with their colleagues in Greek high schools on Monday at noon outside the education ministry, coinciding with rallies held by teachers in larger towns and cities throughout the country, and a concert outside the gates of Athens University on Tuesday evening.
Further rallies with all teachers and students are planned in central Athens and Thessaloniki at noon on Thursday, October 5 that is also World Teachers' Day. The strike teachers have called on the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' union ADEDY, which between them represent the majority of the Greek workforce, to name October 5 as a day for joint action on education and labor issues and to call 24-hour nationwide strike on that day.
The primary school teacher’s union federation announced plans to set up a strike fund to help its members on strike and urged local unions to do the same, while it intends to begin a campaign to inform parents about teachers' demands and enlist their support in their actions.
Asked to comment on the teachers' demands, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that reform of education was a primary priority of the present government, which was fulfilling its pre-election and program pledges "within the framework of the difficult economic climate that it inherited".
The spokesman ruled out a civil mobilization of teachers to end the strike, meanwhile.
 PM sends letter to Papadopoulos to mark Cyprus Independence anniversary
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis assured Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos of Greece's continued and unstinting support for Cypriot Greeks in a letter sent to mark the 46th anniversary of Cyprus' independence on Friday.
"Cooperation and full coordination with the Cyprus government is the cornerstone of Greek policy in our paramount foreign policy issue. Our common and unwavering goal is a successful outcome of our long years of effort to achieve a just, viable and functional solution to the Cyprus issue," Karamanlis wrote in the letter.
"I would like to assure you, one more time, that Greece will spare no effort until Cyprus' struggle is finally and fully vindicated, something that is in any case a common issue and the highest goal of Greeks everywhere," Karamanlis added.
 PM meets Archbishop Christodoulos
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece stated after the meeting he had with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Education Minister Marietta Yannakou on Friday that all Church matters had met with the premier’s favorable response.
The Archbishop said that Karamanlis had dealt positively with all religious issues in the country - such as the construction of a mosque and others concerning the Church of Greece - and that an initial timetable was set for the construction of the Synodical Administrative Center and the new Athens Cathedral.
The Archbishop was also satisfied with the "positive atmosphere" of talks over the religious education class taught in schools.
Among the issues discussed was the Church’s participation in the 3rd and 4th Community Support Framework with an emphasis on social projects that interest both the Church and the people.
The Archbishop also outlined the social work offered by the Church of Greece both through the non governmental organization “Solidarity” and its clerics.
 Public order minister, deputy FM attend Mediterranean countries' conference on illegal immigration
MADRID, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis are representing Greece at a conference in Madrid of European Union Mediterranean countries on combating illegal immigration.
Speaking to the ANA-MPA, Valynakis said that Greece supports an integrated European policy on immigration and is at the front of efforts for the creation of a European Coastguard.
At this point, he reminded of a relevant proposal by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, made in 2004, that proves to be perceptive today, as he said, because the great pressure from migratory flows from Africa and Asia that all EU Mediterranean countries are called on to face is known.
Valynakis also reminded that a few days ago the leaders of Greece, France, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia took an initiative by sending a joint letter to the EU President, Finnish Prime Minister Mahti Vanhanen and European Commission President Barroso on the need for a joint handling of the problem of illegal immigration in the Mediterranean and southern Europe.
 PASOK party leader addresses rally in Peristeri
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressed a rally in the region of Peristeri, in western Athens, on Friday night, sharply criticizing the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for his policies.
Referring to the revision of GDP, the PASOK leader said that "they have led the country to serious adversities, they cooked up the unbelievable trick of proclaiming the Greek citizens rich European citizens."
He also spoke of a "second so-called inventory", since the "first was done to discredit PASOK and for them to evade their pre-election promises" and the "second took place because we got them in the corner and for them to serve all those whom they want."
Papandreou further said that "this trick is the admission of their policy, the admission that for them there are no principles, institutions and values", adding that "in both cases New Democracy put Greece into needless adversities."
The PASOK leader accused the government of systematically organizing a "regime of arbitrariness" in the country and pointed out that "the events we have been watching in the past days (and) the continuous revelations of scandals are not circumstantial but are linked absolutely to specific political decisions, practices and conceptions of the ND government."
Referring to educational issues, he called on the prime minister "to address the problems of teachers, not to hide and to find the necessary amounts with a mutual agreement on the evaluation and improvement of the quality of schools."
Papandreou stressed that "the course of PASOK, as well as the work of the governments of Andreas Papandreou and Costas Simitis show that all are not the same," adding that "today, in the Third phase of PASOK we are prepared for the next step: to build a just society that rewards value, that supports and rewards toil, that encourages initiative and creation."
Lastly, he said that "I do not accept and the Greek working man does not accept that Greece be considered, as foreign newspapers have written, a paraeconomy of money-laundering, gambling and prostitution."
 Papariga urges votes against main parties in local elections
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Friday urged voters to withdraw support from the candidates of both the main parties and cast their votes in favor of the "fighting mayors and prefects" backed by KKE.
According to Papariga, votes cast for ruling New Democracy or main opposition PASOK candidates would simply lead these parties to conclude that they could continue to fool the electorate through demagoguery.
KKE's leader also criticized the new primary school books introduced this year, asking that they be withdrawn, and said that teachers' were not to blame for the crisis in education.
 Press conference on human rights
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)The crucial stage the protection of human rights is in after the adoption of counter-terrorism measures, some of them even in violation of the habeas corpus, was stressed by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg and Greek National Commission for Human Rights president, Professor Aliki Giotopoulou-Maragopoulou, at a joint press conference in Athens on Thursday evening. They particularly criticized the additional measures US President George W. Bush has requested to be approved by the US Congress.
The press conference was held after the completion of the 4th Round-Table of the European National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, organized in Athens jointly by the Council of Europe's Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Greek National Commission for Human Rights.
The round-table participants adopted a draft declaration on the action axes of the European national institutions for the protection of human rights, including a number of measures concerning the illegal flights of Olympic Airlines’ planes in the European airspace and the illegal arrests-abductions of suspects and their transportation to other countries.
The draft declaration suggests a more effective parliamentary and judicial monitoring of the national security agencies because, as it was pointed out by the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, recent experience points at a CIA role. It also calls for the enactment of fundamental principles to form a legislative and administrative framework on the organizing and operation of these agencies, while stressing the need for effective inspection of cargo flights’ freights.
The declaration also calls for the adoption of judicial measures against European citizens involved in torture, abductions and illegal arrests and proposes the incorporation of fundamental human rights principles in bilateral and multilateral agreements signed by European governments, mainly concerning the agreements signed with the United States as clarified by Commissioner Hammarberg.
A special reference was made to the issue of phone tapping mentioning that the European National Institutions for human rights should become more vigilant concerning the importance of the right to privacy and should consider adopting a Charter on their role in the protection of the right in question. They should also increase vigilance in overseeing legislative measures concerning security issues and the implementation of those measures to ensure respect to the right to privacy.
 Ecumenical Patriarch speaks to reporters ahead of Pope's visit
ROME, 30/9/2006 (ANA-MPA/L. Hadjikyriakos)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos met at the Phanar on Thursday night with a group of "Vaticanologist" journalists from all over the world and replied to questions on the upcoming visit to Turkey by Pope Benedict XVI and the end of the works of the Joint Catholic-Orthodox Theologian Committee held in Belgrade in the framework of theologian dialogue between the two churches, that was resumed after a six-year interruption. The Committee's work will be continued next year in Rome.
According to the correspondent of the "La Repubblica" newspaper, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the Pontiff's visit to Turkey, saying that "I believe that Benedict XVI will speak, as he does everywhere, in favor of religious freedom and human rights. We want nothing else than our rights. We have always been in favor of the accession of Turkey to the European Union and we hope that in such a framework the problems of our Orthodox community and of the other minorities will be resolved. I have sent many letters to the government in Ankara and, unfortunately, I have never received a reply."
Vartholomeos said that "there are restrictions of religious freedom for us and for all the minorities that represent only 0.01 percent in our country and we Orthodox faithful are just 5,000."
 Alternate government spokesman comments on offences regarding TOR-M1 missiles
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangmelos Antonaros commented on Friday on the end of the Parliamentary session and the write-off of penal offences regarding Russian TOR-M1 missiles, saying that the government was vindicated in not issuing a Presidential Decree at the end of June.
"The government was vindicated in its decision not to issue a Presidential Decree at the end of June because in early July the general prosecutor in Geneva addressed a letter to the justice ministry of our country, notifying of his final decision on the opening of the known accounts. Therefore, all constitutional margins for the session not to end were exhausted. If the contrary had taken place, then some could have formulated the charge of a cover-up," he said.
Antonaros also referred to extracts of the Fact-finding Committee's report where it is noted that "from the main contract, the leadership of the defense ministry at the time caused with a positive act economic loss to the Hellenic state...the attitude of the defense ministry's leadership at the time caused economic loss for the Hellenic state with the omission of acts that were due...the third amendment (3/7/2003) and the payment of an additional 20 percent to the Russian company evidently constituted a harmful administrative act for the interests of the Hellenic state."
The spokesman pondered whether after all this "the government shouldn't have done all that it did."
Also replying to a relevant question, Antonaros clarified that "prosecution cannot be launched against political persons due to a write-off" and pointed out that the state "will continue to make its efforts to enable the truth to shine."
 Lower unemployment figures genuine, government stresses
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Friday that the new unemployment figures issued by Greece's national statistics service ESYE had been calculated using a method that hadn't changed since 1998 and was monitored by Eurostat.
He was responding to opposition party accusations that the apparent drop in unemployment, which fell to 8.8 percent in the second trimester of 2006, had been fabricated by tweaking the figures.
Both Antonaros and Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis, meanwhile, asserted that the lower unemployment, which fell from 11.3 percent in March, was a result of the government's reforms.
Tsitouridis noted that this was the lowest unemployment figure released by ESYE since 1998, the year in which unemployment began to be estimated on a three-monthly basis.
He also pointed out that unemployment in the same trimester of 2005 had been 9.6 percent and contrasted the present situation with the years when main opposition PASOK had been in power, when unemployment continued to rise in spite of higher growth rates during years leading up to the Athens Olympics.
The minister underlined that the government would not allow the improvement to make it complacent and would continue its reforms.
In addition, he announced plans to raise unemployment benefit from €311.25 at present to €367.50 in 2007 and €404 in 2008, raising it to 55 per cent of the minimum wage. Afterward, unemployment benefit would increase in line with the pay increases given under the general collective agreement.
The sums would also increase by 10 percent for every under age child in the family, a measure that would be extended to all unemployed and not just to those with a salary higher than the minimum wage, he added.
 Greek govt sees positive messages in world competitiveness report
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)"Problems dating back to several decades cannot be resolved at once," Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Friday, commenting on figures released by the World Economic Forum over the country's competitiveness position around the world.
The Greek minister, speaking to reporters, stressed however that the report by WEF included positive messages for the government's policy and its efforts to boost the competitiveness of Greek enterprises and of the economy as a whole. "The government continues to work methodically to achieve its goals in development, employment and social cohesion adhering to its reform program," he said.
The World Economic Forum report placed Greece 47th in the world competitiveness report for 2006.
Sioufas said the report ranked Greece in the 11th place, among 125 countries, in the healthcare and primary education indexes, 29th in infrastructure and 34th in higher education and training. The Greek minister stressed that Greece improved its position in five out of nine categories of the Total Competitiveness index and underlined that Greece lost 20 places in the period 2002-2004 (to the 51st place) before starting to rebound in 2005.
Sioufas said that Greece improved its rankings in the International Institute for Management Development's report on competitiveness and in the "Doing Business" report by World Bank.
 Main opposition raps gov't over economy
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Friday sharply criticized the government over its handling of the economy.
"Announcement of data on implementation of the budget by August 31, 2006 shows the government's inability to execute the budget that it voted for itself," PASOK's economy section said in a statement.
"Despite extra measures to raise revenue in the middle of the summer, income from January to August lagged the annual target while primary spending was up against the annual target," the statement said.
In addition, the government had artificially delayed payments that have to be made by the end of the year.
Finally, the government had remained silent about a drastic reduction of the public investment programs, with only 46% of a figure entered in the budget spent by the end of August," PASOK added.
 Finance ministry upgrades its "TAXIS" information system
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Greece's Economy and Finance ministry on Friday announced the replacement of its TAXIS main system by using equipment used in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
The new central system of TAXIS will be more powerful and will be accompanied with the replacement of 8,000 monitors around the country's tax agencies. The new system will offer more and better services to daily transactions with tax agencies. It will be put into operation on Monday 9, October.
 Eurobank to buy Bulgarian bank
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Athens-quoted Eurobank EFG said on Friday that it had reached an agreement with DZI Life Insurance A.D. and other shareholders of DZI Bank in Bulgaria to acquire stock representing 74.26% of the target bank's share capital.
The total cost of the transaction will amount to approximately euro 158 million, which includes 2 million Eurobank EFG shares, management said in a statement.
"Eurobank EFG s objective is to combine the two entities, in order to strengthen its leading position in the rapidly growing Bulgarian market. The future integration of the two banks will generate synergies both in operations and in distribution, capitalizing on the strengths of each organization," the statement said.
DZI Bank is a medium-sized Bulgarian bank listed on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange and operates a network of 131 branches and 43 micro-branches with about 1,300 employees.
In June 2006, DZI Bank had total assets of euro 563 million, loans of euro 250 million and deposits of euro 477 million. It is a member of the DZI Financial Group, which operates in general, life and health insurance, and brokerage and real estate.
Eurobank EFG is already present in Bulgaria through its subsidiary Bulgarian Post Bank with a distribution network of 143 branches.
The combined entity with a network of more than 250 branches will be one of the largest Bulgarian banks commanding a market share equal or exceeding 10% in total assets, loans and deposits, the statement said.
The acquisition of DZI Bank in Bulgaria follows that of Universal Bank in Ukraine, the roll-out of a branch network in Poland, and the acquisition of Tekfenbank in Turkey earlier this year.
The move is consistent with the Eurobank EFG group's strategy of expanding its activities in the most important markets of New Europe, according to management.
Closure of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval in Bulgaria, Greece and Switzerland, and is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of 2006.
 Coalition party, GSEE criticize gov't revision of GDP
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party and the umbrella trade union group General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) on Friday criticized the government's abrupt announcement of an upward revision of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) the previous day and accused it of manipulating the indicator to serve 'partisan and pre-electoral goals'.
SYN Economic and Social Policy coordinator Petros Lafazanis accused the government of having a hidden agenda that had prompted it to keep the planned change secret, while he stressed the risk that significant EU funds would be lost as a result of the move.
At the same time, he stressed that the draft budget for 2007 to be tabled on Monday, which would continue austerity measures, was now called into question.
GSEE President Giannis Panagopoulos, meanwhile, noted that Greeks had suddenly been made 25 percent richer overnight by administrative decision, dismissing the change as an "economic alchemy" enlisted by the government to artificially reduce the public deficit and public debt.
"If they wanted to control the black economy, they are well aware of where it arises and what its root causes are," he added, accusing the government of lacking the political will to tackle the real problems of Greek society and the Greek economy.
 Hellenic Aerospace Industry signs strategic deal with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Hellenic Aerospace Industry on Friday signed a strategic partnership agreement with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in the framework of offset benefits included in an F-16 Peach Xenia IV program.
Under the agreement, Hellenic Aerospace Industry and Lockheed Martin will work closer in the co-production of aircraft parts, such as structural parts, fuel tanks, engine access portals, and other parts. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics offers the necessary manufacturing know-how, training, material, equipment and technical support based on advanced methods and procedures used by aerospace industries.
The agreement is expected to reach 120 million US dollars.
 Deputy development minister attends Economic European North-South Forum
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Deputy Development Minister Tassos Nerantzis attended the 7th annual Economic European North-South Forum in Oslo, Norway, jointly organized by Norway's foreign ministry and the European Affairs Institute.
Nerantzis spoke in the sector of "Politics and Economy-National targets and economic vision" on the issue of "Energy: Production and Transportation-National Targets."
Among other things, he referred to the measures and actions taken over the past two and a half years in the energy sector to enable Greece to become an important energy player in the region, as well as to laws on deregulating energy markets and promoting Renewable Energy Sources.
The deputy minister said that the government's target is the restriction of oil dependence and the increased participation of new energy sources, such as natural gas and renewable energy sources so that they can participate in Greece's total energy consumption by 20.1 percent in 2010.
Nerantzis estimated that local investments in the sectors of electricity, natural gas, oil and renewable energy sources will exceed 4.5 billion euros and that there is ground for their further increase.
 World Bank Parliamentary Network conference begins
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)A conference organized by the Parliamentary Network of the World Bank (PNoWB), with support by the Greek Parliament and the cooperation of the World Bank and the Greek European and Foreign Policy Foundation on the theme of "Towards a common economic environment in southeastern Europe" began in Sounio, south of Athens, on Friday with the participation of Parliamentarians from 10 countries in southeastern Europe.
The PNoWB was created at the beginning of the year 2000 as a small unofficial network that has developed and today includes members from about 110 countries.
The Network has been enlarged through the creation of four national and regional councils in India, East Africa, Japan and the Middle East/North Africa. Deputies from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey are participating in the conference.
 Massive potential savings in public sector from new technologies, IT conference told
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Switching from traditional document processing methods to electronic means could mean massive potential savings in both hard cash and man hours for Greece's public sector, the 12th Information Technology Conference taking place as part of the INFOSYSTEM 2006 trade fair was told on Friday by a senior interior ministry official.
Speaking at the conference, Public Administration and Electronic Governance general secretary Vassilis Andronopoulos revealed that public sector services in Greece issue about 30 million certificates and confirmations each year, while cross-checking files and processing documents occupies 15 percent of those employed in public administration.
Estimating savings on postal charges and man hours for his own department alone, if it switched to electronic communication and document processing, was estimated at €500,000 a year, he added.
Establishing digital communication in public administration was a one-way street for the development of the country, which would radically reform the daily routine of civil servants and services, he stressed, outlining government plans to equip the entire public sector with digital technologies, so that all staff will eventually have their own computer, Internet link-up and electronic mail.
The Helexpo-organized Philoxenia 2006: 22nd Tourism Exhibition will take place in Thessaloniki on November 16-19.
According to Helexpo, travel agents and tour operators from European countries like Britain, Germany, Italy, Russia and Hungary as well as from Australia and Egypt have already confirmed their participation in the Hosted Buyers program while among the participants are also Libra Holidays and lastminute.com tour operators.
Meanwhile, a group of Spa Buyers has been invited to Philoxenia Spa Expo, the new wellness and health tourism exhibition, scheduled to take place in parallel with Philoxenia.
Last year, over 2,000 business appointments were made between the 74 invited buyers representing a total of 18 countries and the Philoxenia 2005 exhibitors.
 Corinth Pipeworks sets up Russian subsidiary
MOSCOW, 30/9/2006 (ANA-MPA)A subsidiary of Athens-quoted Corinth Pipeworks will begin operating in Russia in the second quarter of 2007 as a joint venture with a local firm, the Greek embassy in Moscow said on Friday.
The Greek firm owns 49% of TMK-CPW, and Seversky Tube Works 51%, the embassy's economic and trade bureau said in a report.
Seversky's parent company is the TMK Group of Russia which has plants in its home country and in Romania that produce the full range of steel piping for the oil and natural gas industries, according to the report. TMK's customers include Gazprom, Lukoil, TNK-BP, Saudi Aramco, Shell and AGIP.
Corinth Pipeworks is a steel pipe manufacturer, with experience in the oil, gas, water and construction industry. It has an annual capacity of about 700,000 tons and 500 employees.
 Lecture in memory of Xenophon Zolotas by Prof. Lamfalussy
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Eminent economist and prominent central banker, Prof. Alexandre Lamfalussy gave a lecture on Monetary Policy and Systemic Risk Prevention - Challenges ahead for Central Banks at the central branch of the Bank of Greece in Athens on Friday, in memory of Prof. Xenophon Zolotas, a renowned economist who served as an interim prime minister of Greece for the caretaker government of 1989.
The lecture, attended by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, bank governors and senior executives and academics, referred to the stability of the international banking system and the challenges faced by central banks, concluding that the management of surplus liquidity and the promotion of a stronger regulatory framework are the main challenges they have to contend with.
 Retail sector's turnover index up 14.4 pct in July, yr/yr
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)The turnover index in the retail sector jumped 14.4 percent in July compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the index (based on turnover in stable prices) rose 10.7 pct over the same period.
The 14.4 pct increase of the index in July reflected a 17.6 pct rise in the supermarket index, the department store index jumped 26.8 pct, the food-beverage and tobacco index rose 8.0 percent and the pharmaceutical-cosmetics index rose 7.1 pct. The furniture, electronics index jumped 27 percent.
 Six bids for mining rights in Vevi Florina
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Development ministry on Friday announced that six bids were submitted in a tender to leasing research and mining rights in Vevi mine, Florina prefecture.
The six bidders were Akmi ATE, Terna SA, Damco Energy SA, Public Power Corporation SA, Tsokani Vassiliki SA and Aktor-Metka-Mytilineos.
 Finance minister attends event on 130th anniversary of Athens Stock Exchange
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)The considerable increase in the participation of foreign investors in the Greek Stock Exchange over the past two years proves that "we can now speak of a mature Stock Exchange with a well-determined regulating framework," Finance and Economy Minister George Alogokoufis said at an event held in the old hall of the Athens Stock Exchange on the 130th anniversary of the Athens Stock Exchange's functioning.
The minister said that what is important is the course of the economy, since it constitutes the ground on which the Stock Exchange is supported and the Greek economy is now on a very good path, having left behind it the "model of state economy which led to deficits, debts and the lack of effectiveness."
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)The Athens share index closed at 3,931.05 points, showing a decline of 0.55%. Turnover was 226.0 million euros.
 Regional Press awards given at General Communication Secretariat
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)The Regional Press awards were given at the General Communication Secretariat-General Information Secretariat on Friday. They were given for the first time and are part of an effort to support the regional press and highlight the role it plays in local societies.
Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said in his address that the development of the countryside passes through the local press that constitutes a lever in the effort for regional development.
The awards were given in two categories: the award for the Regional Press of the year 2005 and the award for the best article or reportage in the regional press in the same year. Each award also carried a cash prize for 10,000 euros.
The Regional Press 2005 award was shared between the Lesvos-based newspaper "Eolika Nea", whose publisher is George Kondyloudis, and the Chios-based newspaper "Alithia", whose publisher is Yiannis Tzoumas.
The Best Article or Reportage award was also shared between the journalists Ioanna Kostarella, of the newspaper "Chronos", and Fotios Berikos, of the newspaper "I Sinidisi tis Etolias-Akarnanias" (The conscience of Etolia-Akarnania).
 Greek population among the most aged in the EU, Eurostat finds
BRUSSELS, 30/9/2006 (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)Greece is among European Union member-states with the highest proportion of over-65s in its population, according to a survey released on Friday by the European statistics agency Eurostat to mark International Day of Older Persons on October 1.
People aged over 65 accounted for 18 percent of the Greek population in 2005 (up from 15 percent in 1995), while in the EU they represent 17 percent, up from 15 percent in 1995.
The EU countries with the highest percentage of old people are Germany and Italy with 19 percent, followed by Greece, while the lowest percentages occur in Ireland (11 percent) and in Cyprus and Slovakia (12 percent).
Eurostat expect the trend to continue and the number of old people to rise to 30 percent of the EU's overall population in 2050, with the highest percentages in Spain (36 percent) and Italy (35 percent), followed by Greece, Germany and Portugal with 32 percent.
The lowest percentages at this time are expected in Luxembourg (22 percent), the Netherlands (23 percent) and in Denmark and Sweden (24 percent).
 Survey: Most European schools have high-speed internet
BRUSSELS, 30/9/2006 (ANA-MPA/M Aroni)Surfing the web and virtual communication and training methods are becoming more and more common in Europe’s schools, according to a European Commission survey released on Friday.
Most European schools now have the high-speed broadband internet connections they need to access speedily high-quality content. However, there are still major variations from one member state to another.
"Europe is starting to reap the benefits of broadband at schools, where the foundations are laid for a knowledge-based society," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.
“I congratulate those EU countries which, on the basis of an efficient implementation of EU rules, have promoted competition in broadband services and infrastructures and thereby are now also generating encouraging results for their education systems. Broadband internet access can become one of the most efficient drivers for both economic and social competitiveness,” Reding noted.
Ján Figel, Commissioner for Education, Culture and Multilingualism, added: “Digital competence is one of the eight key competences proposed by the Commission in a recommendation last year, underlining the utmost importance of this issue for the modernization of Europe’s educational and training systems. Following the results of this survey, the Commission urges those countries which are lagging behind to intensify their efforts in the interest of their young generations.”
The survey, published by the Commission today, shows that 96% of all schools in Europe have internet access today, and 67% already have a broadband connection. However, broadband take-up still varies widely in Europe, from about 90% of schools in Scandinavian countries, in the Netherlands, Estonia and Malta to under 35% in Greece, Poland, Cyprus, and Lithuania. In the US, 95% of public schools had a broadband connection in 2003.
The survey found no major differences in internet connectivity between schools in less densely populated areas and those in urban areas. However, schools in densely populated areas are more likely to have broadband than those in less-densely populated ones. This is due to lack of broadband infrastructure rather than to lower tendency to use ICT.
The number of pupils sharing computers connected to the internet ranges from 3.8-5.5 in Denmark, the UK and Luxembourg to about 19 in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Greece, giving an EU average of 10, to be compared with only 4 in the US in 2003.
Over 90% of classroom teachers use computers or the internet to prepare lessons. 74% also use them as a teaching aid, although this again varies widely, from the UK (96%) and Denmark (95%) to Greece (36%) and Latvia (35%).
In Greece only 13% of schools have broadband internet, giving the country bottom place among the EU25. Also in Greece, there are 5.9 computers with internet access per 100 pupils against a European average of 9.9 computers per group of schoolchildren.
The study was carried out in spring 2006 in the EU25, Norway and Iceland and involves two surveys: a school survey of 10,000+ head teachers and a usage survey of over 20,000 classroom teachers.
International conference on Ombudswork for Children opens in Athens
Ways in which Ombudsmen can protect and promote children’s rights at a national and international level are being examined in the two-day international conference on Ombudswork for Children that opened in Athens on Friday.
The conference is organized by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg and by the Russian and the Greek Ombudsmen for Human Rights within the framework of the Chairmanship of the Russian Federation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
Ombudsmen for Human Rights and Children from more than 30 countries, representatives of international organizations (UN and others), representatives of international and Greek institutions and non governmental organizations participate in the conference. Students from two Greek schools were also invited to the conference to address issues of participation and expression.
The 150 conference participants will have the opportunity to exchange views on children’s rights in the daily ombudswork and the greater participation of children in organizations established to protect their rights.
 The Capodistria Philharmonic Association's new premises will be inaugurated in Corfu on Saturday
CORFOU, 30/9/2006 (ANA)The purchase and renovation of the building, where the Corfu Choir will also be housed, were a donation by the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation which has also undertaken to cover operational expenses and the purchase of musical instruments.
The Capodistria Philharmonic is one of the most famous in Greece and abroad and trains about 200 musicians in a variety of musical instruments. Classes are free of charge with the only precondition being that the students undertake the responsibility of teaching young musicians for 3 years after they receive their diplomas.
Since 1999, the Niarchos Foundation is helping the Philharmonic to meet its needs in a number of ways and has made a total of nine donations to the island.
 Road death statistics for July
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)The number of road deaths rose by 11.2 percent in the month of July this year over the corresponding month in 2005, while the number of serious injuries in traffic accidents fell by 14.5 percent over the same period, according to figures released Friday by the National Statistics Service of Greece (ESYE).
More specifically, 179 people died, 224 were seriously injured, and 1,843 suffered lighter injuries in traffic-related accidents in July 2006, marking an 11.2 percent rise in deaths, 14.5 percent decrease in serious injuries, and a marginal 0.4 percent increase in light injuries, according to ESYE.
ESYE said that a total of 9,149 road accidents were recorded in the period January-July 2006, in which 900 people died, 1,144 were seriously injured, and 10,562 suffered light injuries.
 Anti-smoking pill and vaccine soon in Greece
ATHENS, 30/9/2006 (ANA)A new doctor-prescribed drug against smoking will be on the Greek market in the second half of 2007 or in the first half of 2008.
It will be in the form of a tablet and will act directly on the smoker’s nervous system with less side-effects and greater effectiveness compared to the drugs already in use. The new drug was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2006 and is expected to reach the European markets in early 2007.
The anti-smoking treatment period lasts 12 weeks and can be applied to smokers over the age of 18.
Meanwhile, an anti-smoking vaccine, still at an experimental stage, will be on the market in 2010 and will reduce the craving for a cigarette by blocking nicotine before reaching the nervous system.
An announcement on the new anti-smoking treatments will be made on Friday in the 3rd World Congress on Quality in Clinical Practice taking place in Thessaloniki.
According to statistical figures, about 70 percent of the smokers wish to stop smoking but only 20-30 percent actually makes an effort each year. Only 3-5 percent succeeds using the willpower, while many of them will return to their smoking habit in the future.
 Two brothers arrested for illicit antiquities trade
THESSALONIKI, 30/9/2006 (ANA)Thessaloniki police have arrested two brothers, aged 53 and 51, on illicit antiquities trade charges, it was announced on Friday.
A police search of their apartments in the centre of the city uncovered a number of ancient objects dated from the 7th century BC to the 4th century AD hidden in storage areas.
 Cyprus FM says crisis with Turkey can be prevented through EU proposal
LARNACA, 30/9/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas said Friday it is possible to avoid a crisis on the relations between Turkey and the EU, through the proposal of the EU Finnish Presidency to which the Cyprus government has expressed its views on the context of the proposal.
He also said that Turkey's accession course is not connected to the settlement of the Cyprus issue and that there is no intention on the part of the EU to be involved in an ''oriental bazaar'' with Turkey on how the acquis communautaire must be implemented or respected.
In statements upon his return from Germany and Romania, Lillikas said there is great interest from many EU countries about the initiative of the Finnish Presidency and pointed out that ''contacts and deliberations are been held with the Turkish government'' from Finland and other partners, as well as from other countries which are not EU members.
''If there is good will from Turkey the prevention of crisis is evitable'', said Lillikas adding that ''there is one way not to have a crisis, that is Turkey to implement its obligations. There is no other way to prevent the crisis''.
Asked to comment statements made by Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen that the EU Finnish Presidency is actively working ''to reach a solution which would enable direct trade between the EU and Northern Cyprus'' and that ''our aim is a solution that would also ensure that Turkey proceeds with the opening of ports to Cypriot vessels'', Lillikas said ''these two are not connected''.
He pointed out ''we will not accept any connection of the obligations of Turkey with any developments on the Cyprus issue or any issues concerning the EU''.
Lillikas expressed also the view that on this issue Cyprus will have the support of the other 24 partners of EU and of the European Commission. He said that accepting the philosophy of ''giving and taking which leads Turkey each time which has to fulfill any obligation to ask for exchanges, will lead the EU and other state members separately to negotiate with Turkey''.
He also said that what he sees among other EU partners is that there ''there is no intention of the EU or the member states separately to get involved in an oriental bazaar with Turkey, which will create a bad precedent for the other candidate countries on how the acquis communautaire, which the EU considers not negotiable, must be implemented or respected.''
Referring to the issue of Turkish Cypriots direct trade with the EU, the foreign minister said ''there is a relevant regulation which regulates the taxes for products produced in the occupied areas and there is no reference to ports or other similar issues.''
Lillikas recalled that the proposal for the opening of the Famagusta Port and the return of the fenced-off Turkish occupied town of Famagusta was made by the President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos in 2005 and that negotiations were made by the EU Luxembourg Presidency with Turkish Cypriots.
''We insist that those agreed are those that can lead to the tackling of this specific issue'', he concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
 Cypriot government satisfied with Eurlings report
NICOSIA, 30/9/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The government of Cyprus is satisfied with the adoption by the majority of the European Parliament of the report on Turkey's progress towards EU accession, submitted by rapporteur Camiel Eurlings, noting that it underlines the ''self-evident responsibility of Ankara not only to implement its commitments towards Cyprus but also to promote the necessary internal reforms in Turkey.''
Speaking on Friday during his daily briefing, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis stressed that Ankara cannot escape from this responsibility, noting that ''Turkey can accede to the EU only through a smooth process and not violently invade it, just like it did in Cyprus.''
Pashiardis said the approval of the report is a ''positive development'' which is added to the general demand for Turkey's full compliance with its obligations and commitments undertaken towards the EU and consequently towards the Republic of Cyprus.''
''It is up to Turkey to decide whether it wants to remain a disobedient and annoying candidate country with all the consequences or whether it desires an unimpeded course towards Europe with the full implementation of its European obligations,'' Pashiardis added.
The spokesman pointed out that the Republic of Cyprus supported and continues to support Turkey's EU course but ''will not support its arbitrary demand to be treated differently from other candidate states.''
''There are no special privileges and exclusive immunities for Turkey and it is committing a big mistake if it thinks it can proceed towards Europe, disregarding and bypassing rules and preconditions,'' the spokesman said.
Asked if the Cypriot government will consent to the partial opening of Turkish ports or airports to Cypriot planes and vessels, the spokesman said ''the only possibility is to consent to a full, unconditional implementation by Turkey of the commitments and obligations it has undertaken.''
To a question on thoughts by the Finnish Presidency of the EU on the implementation of the Additional Protocol of the Ankara Agreement as well as the issue of direct trade with the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, Pashiardis said that ''Turkey's obligations and commitments towards the EU and subsequently the Republic of Cyprus are not associated with other issues and any political demands by Ankara, and surely fulfilling these obligations and commitments does not imply granting exchanges on our part towards Turkey.''
He said that as far as the direct trade issue is concerned, there is the agreement dated 24 February 2006 by the EU which associates the issue
with the return of Famagusta and the issue of Greek Cypriot properties as well as expanding the Green Line Regulation, something which is included in the Luxembourg presidency's proposal.
Pashiardis also expressed the government's readiness to participate in negotiations for an overall settlement, stressing that the government's proposal on Famagusta is still valid.
The Eurlings report was adopted on Wednesday by the European Parliament with 420 votes in favor, 71 against and 125 abstentions, calling on Turkey to take concrete steps for the normalization of bilateral relations between Turkey and all EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, and to maintain a constructive attitude in finding a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question.
The report notes the European Parliament ''seeks to work with the Turkish authorities to enable them to comply in full with their obligations in this respect without seeking to exacerbate domestic political tensions contrary to the interest of long-term reconciliation for Cyprus'' and furthermore ''regrets that Turkey maintains its veto against the participation of the Republic of Cyprus in international organizations and in multilateral agreements.''
It ''urges Turkey to take concrete steps for the normalization of bilateral relations between Turkey and all EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, as soon as possible.''
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, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Report on fatal Helios Airlines crash points to series of human errors
NICOSIA, 30/9/2006 (ANA-MPA - A. Viketos)An expert report has blamed a series of human errors for the fatal crash in August 2005 of a Boeing 737 operated by Cyprus' Helios Airlines, in which all 121 passengers and crew were killed, according to Friday's issue of the Cypriot newspaper 'Haravgi'.
The newspaper said that it had viewed a report prepared by the Greek Committee for the Investigation of Aircraft Accidents and its president Akrivos Tsolakis, which is due to be presented to Cyprus authorities over the next few days.
According to Haravgi, maintenance staff in Cyprus had failed to check the aircraft before take-off, leaving the cabin pressure mechanisms on manual instead of automatic function. The pilot and co-pilot were also remiss, failing to check the aircraft's systems before take-off, while the captain also ignored signals warning of cabin decompression and the sign that passenger oxygen masks had dropped.
Among the direct causes of the crash, the report names the crew's inability to react correctly under conditions of gradual oxygen shortage in the cabin.
Indirect causes listed are long-term weaknesses in the Cyprus' civil aviation department dating back to 1996, for which the report also blames international organizations that were unable to ensure that their recommendations were followed.
The airline itself is blamed for organizational and management problems, as well its failure to train and hire adequately qualified staff, while it notes recurring problems with cockpit signals and indicators in the specific type of aircraft.