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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-02

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

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

November 2, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] Education the focus of Inner Cabinet meeting; gov't insists reforms will proceed
  • [02] Foreign ministry on EU talks for direct trade with Turkish Cypriots
  • [03] Gov't on EU-Turkey relations
  • [04] Russian Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization presidency ends
  • [05] Turkey blocks Cyprus's BSECO observer status, Greek reaction
  • [06] Turkish National Defense General Staff chief arrives in Athens
  • [07] Premier has working session with defense minister
  • [08] Parliament lifts immunity of two MPs
  • [09] PASOK deputies table question in Parliament for 15 government ministers
  • [10] Foreign ministry on Kosovo, Serbia
  • [11] Euro-Parliament president Borrell meets with Archbishop Christodoulos
  • [12] Health minister briefs Parliamentary Social Affairs Committee
  • [13] Pope Benedict XVI received Catholic Bishops from Greece
  • [14] Greece unveils National Strategic Reference Framework program for 2007-2013
  • [15] Greece on right track in new technologies
  • [16] FinMin addresses Euromoney conference
  • [17] Greek gov’t to reduce tax on securities trading
  • [18] Greek enterprises' debt growth rate slowed in 2005, report
  • [19] Greek PMI grew to 53.3 points in October
  • [20] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise
  • [21] Environmental problems in Greece outlined ahead of conference
  • [22] New security measures for carrying of liquids in airline passengers' hand luggage
  • [23] Seasonal forest firefighters clash with police
  • [24] Exhibition in memory of painter Loui Pasalari
  • [25] Convicted November 17 group member released from jail
  • [26] Government comments on reinstated Korydallos prison governor
  • [27] Gov. Gazette free via Internet
  • [28] Illegal migrants were voluntarily confined by human traffickers
  • [29] Medical instruments museum at Thessaloniki's AHEPA Hospital
  • [30] AEK Athens beats 1-0 Lille in Champions League match
  • [31] Helsinki talks not yet confirmed, says Cypriot Spokesman
  • [32] Hoon calls on Turkey to accept its EU obligations
  • [33] Cyprus President decorates EC Court of Justice President

  • [01] Education the focus of Inner Cabinet meeting; gov't insists reforms will proceed

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Education and cultural matters dominated an Inner Cabinet session on Wednesday amid a particularly crucial period in the former sector, given the government's target of pushing through several reforms and a recently concluded strike by the primary teachers' union.

    Following the meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou said the government's goal is to insert cultural studies in all levels, while at the same time to better promote the Greek language.

    She put the total budget for the initiative at 168 million euros until 2013.

    Yiannakou said actions range from issuing a special card to pupils for access to all cultural and archaeological sites, to convening an international summit for the Greek language.

    On his part, Culture Minister George Voulgarakis said Athens wants to better promote the Greek language, especially in neighboring countries.

    Turning to ongoing unrest in the education sector, which is now mostly plaguing secondary schools, Yiannakou responded to a press question by noting that the government is concerned over the situation resulting from pupils' takeovers of schools - ranging from scores to just more than a 1,000, depending on the source - although she distinctly ruled out the possibility of an intervention via "violent means".

    Gov't spokesman: In a related development, the government spokesman on Wednesday commented directly on a number of same-day press reports claiming that noted academic Thanos Veremis, the head of the national education council, has threatened to resign if a reforms package is postponed until the coming summer.

    "The government fully respects Prof. Veremis, whose contribution to formulating the reforms is significant. Education reforms, however, are proceeding as planned, there is no postponement and no hesitation in the government's volition," spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said.

    In comments to a local news radio station earlier on Wednesday, Veremis more-or-less dismissed the reports as well, saying his resignation would only "please the opponents of reform."

    Veremis has vociferously championed the cause of reforms in Greece state-only higher education sector, calling for increased institutional autonomy, changes in the absolute asylum status, an evaluation process for colleges and faculties as well as a ceiling on the number of years an undergraduate is given to acquire a degree, among others.

    Referring to Veremis following the Inner Cabinet meeting, moreover, Yiannakou said she enjoys "excellent cooperation" with the former, "and this cooperation will continue".

    Finally, education ministry general secretary Andreas Karamanos, another prominent proponent of educational reform, said the draft bill for tertiary education is a "pre-eminent political decision" by the government.

    "Dialogue is continuing ... but there are many people that don't want the bill to proceed, however, the government intent is to table (the draft bill) and to get it ratified."

    Gov't credit to education: The finance ministry on Wednesday gave the education ministry additional credit of about 50 million euros to cover operational spending.

    About 23 million euros of the total will be allocated to primary and secondary education; and for higher education around 25 million euros.

    The remaining two million euros are destined for scholarships, the education ministry said in a statement.

    [02] Foreign ministry on EU talks for direct trade with Turkish Cypriots

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The foreign ministry on Wednesday said that Greece had not been invited to take part in a meeting currently being set up by the Finnish EU presidency in order to discuss a regulation for direct trade between the European Union and the Turkish-Cypriot community occupied north Cyprus, with hopes to settle the issue before November 8.

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said that Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis had spoken with her Finnish counterpart Erkki Tuomioja on Tuesday by phone but the issue of Greece attending was not raised, since the talks concerned the regulation.

    "There are interested parties. If the discussion had to be expanded to the member-states, then it would have to take place with all the states. It is carried out only with the interests parties," he said.

    Regarding Cyprus, meanwhile, Koumoutsakos said that Cyprus had clearly stated its willingness to participate in these talks as a state.

    He said the talks arranged by the Finnish presidency were one in a succession of initiatives by EU presidencies to settle the issue and arrive at some formula.

    The spokesman also disagreed with attempts to draw parallels between the Finnish initiative and the talks for an overall solution of the Cyprus problem at Lucerne in 2004, pointing out that the object of the discussion was much more specific and extremely limited compared with the issues being considered at Lucerne.

    According to Koumoutsakos, the Cyprus Republic had already raised certain issues concerning the direct trade regulation, one of which concerned the port of Famagusta, and signaled its readiness to participate in the discussion as a state.

    Regarding the efforts underway to settle the direct-trade issue, Koumoutsakos said this was a "sensitive issue" and that it would have to be resolved in ways that were in accordance with UN resolutions and international legality with respect to Cyprus.

    "Assisting the Turkish-Cypriot community was always a goal and a prospect acceptable to the Cyprus government, to the Greek government and to the EU member-states. Provided that it is carried out with the terms I have mentioned, in such a way so as not to encourage a division or to discourage efforts to reunite the island, and provided that it is in accordance with UN resolutions, I think that no one can object to its going ahead," he said.

    He also stressed that there was no issue of "isolating" Turkish-Cypriots, while any isolation they suffered was the result of the occupation.

    The spokesman explained that the Cyprus government had officially stated that the effort to settle the direct-trade regulation should take place until November 8, the date when the European Commission's progress report on Turkey was due to be made public.

    [03] Gov't on EU-Turkey relations

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Athens on Wednesday merely noted that negotiations within the EU's framework regarding Turkey's accession prospects are continuing and ongoing.

    According to the alternate government spokesman, all 25 EU member-states expect Turkey to fully implement its obligations.

    [04] Russian Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization presidency ends

    MOSCOW, 2/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The Russian presidency of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, termed very productive, came to an end on Wednesday with the political decision taken by the Organization’s foreign ministers here to implement "The Path of the Argonauts", the Greek-inspired road network round the Black Sea and the linking of its ports with ports in the Aegean, as well as the highlighting of Greece's role in an enacted approach between the Organization’s countries and the European Union.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, who headed the Greek delegation, said the results of the meeting were "extremely positive and practical", adding that "the political agreement on the implementation of the road network is the outcome of a two-year effort and is part of the opening of Greek economic diplomacy to the Black Sea that constitutes the second option, in time, after the Balkans, from which we are already enjoying the first positive results."

    The deputy minister also referred to the increase in Greek exports to Russia by 28 percent during the first eight months of the current year, the increase in Russian tourism to Greece, an increase of over 50 percent in September compared to the same period last year, and the entry of Greek fresh products into the big Russian market.

    The 12 foreign ministers promised to officially sign the two memorandums of understanding for the road network and the linking of Black Sea ports with those in the Aegean, the processing of which was promoted and completed during the Russian presidency, with active Greek participation.

    The Path of the Argonauts was also presented by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September, during the dinner organized by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

    The signing of the memorandums is placed within the Serb presidency that begins as of Wednesday and that is expected to convene a special meeting for this purpose.

    The deputy foreign minister gave initial information on the Path of the Argonauts, saying that it covers about 7,000 kilometres, some parts of which already exist, some must be upgraded and some must be built from the beginning. Initial evaluations have already been made on the sources of funding for each part that corresponds to each country.

    "The message is that the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, in which we invested a great deal during the Greek presidency, is turning from a dialogue rostrum into an organization with practical results which are the continuation of Greek efforts," Stylianidis said.

    [05] Turkey blocks Cyprus's BSECO observer status, Greek reaction

    MOSCOW, 2/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Turkey blocked the granting of observer status to Cyprus at the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization during the Organization’s Foreign Ministers Council in Moscow on Wednesday.

    Greece retaliated by blocking all candidacies for the same status, including that of Britain.

    "We believe that it is not possible for Cyprus to be excluded without cause from an international organization, an act that is contrary to article 7 of the Turkey-EU Negotiating Framework, according to which the neighboring country is obliged not to create obstacles for member-states regarding their participation in international organizations," said Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, who is heading the Greek delegation at the Organization.

    Speaking with the same spirit during his official address at noon, Stylianidis said that Turkey's stance is also contrary to the Organization’s "open spirit", stressing that "it is inconceivable, in today's world, for whatever democratic government to be excluded, that desires to work with us. There must be no exclusions or discriminations that will harm the image of our Organization at the EU and internationally."

    Greece in turn refused to accept the granting of observer status at the Organization to the other candidate countries that were Britain, Lithuania, Kazakhstan and Montenegro.

    "This position of ours is not negative towards the other candidate countries," Stylianidis said, but was observed for reasons of principle.

    He added that "we made it clear that a selective logic cannot pass. We cannot accept discriminatory treatment against an EU member-state when for two others, Britain and Lithuania, there were no objections."

    [06] Turkish National Defense General Staff chief arrives in Athens

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Turkish National Defense General Staff chief Yasar Buyukanit arrived in Athens on Wednesday afternoon on a three-day official visit to Greece, at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Panayiotis Hinofotis and in response to the latter's visit to Turkey last July.

    Buyukanit was welcomed at the airport by Hinofotis, who was to host an official dinner in his honor in the evening on the occasion of his official visit to Greece.

    On Thursday, Buyukanit will be laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then he will be visiting the national defense ministry where his official welcoming ceremony will be taking place.

    He will also be received for a courtesy call by Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and then official talks between the two General Staff chiefs will follow.

    According to an announcement by the Greek National Defense General Staff, "Admiral Hinofotis and General Buyukanit will exchange views on issues of mutual interest and will examine ways of strengthening mutual trust and understanding."

    The Greek National Defense General Staff also announced on Wednesday the holding of a Greek-Turkish exercise on handling natural disasters. The exercise will be held in Turkey between November 6-10 this year.

    [07] Premier has working session with defense minister

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had a working meeting on Wednesday with National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis.

    The meeting was held in light of Thursday's parliamentary debate on Greek foreign policy and the visit to Greece, as of Wednesday, by Turkish National Defense General Staff Chief Yasar Buyukanit.

    [08] Parliament lifts immunity of two MPs

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly decided to lift the immunity of two MPs facing charges in unrelated cases, with independent Piraeus-area deputy and noted trial lawyer Petros Mantouvalos' case drawing the lion's share of attention.

    "I am not asking or pleading, I am begging you to lift my Parliamentary immunity. Even if a statute of limitations was applicable I would not want it ... I want, immediately, to sit in the dock and be tried as any citizen would be," Mantouvalos said.

    The well-known Piraeus attorney, whose law firm is amongst the largest in the Greek port city, faces charges related to money laundering and complicity in an unprecedented trial-fixing ring allegedly operating in the Greek legal system over the past decade.

    He voluntarily resigned from ruling New Democracy's (ND) Parliament group several months ago pending the outcome of the judicial process against him.

    In the vote, 198 MPs voted in favor of lifting Mantouvalos' immunity; 15 against, 26 voted present and two blank votes were cast.

    Meanwhile, PASOK deputy Eleni Kourkoula was also stripped of her Parliamentary immunity and will face charges related to building code violations vis-à-vis a seaside residence she built in a southeast Athens district.

    In the second vote, 197 MPs voted in favor of lifting Kourkoulas' immunity; 15 against, 26 voted present and three blank votes were cast.

    [09] PASOK deputies table question in Parliament for 15 government ministers

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A total of 110 deputies of the main opposition PASOK party have tabled a question in Parliament for 15 government ministers regarding "government initiatives that harm and downgrade institutions, constitute hotbeds of lack of transparency and the lack of merit and create conditions of policy favoritism."

    According to the question submitted, "these dozens of unacceptable and politically immoral initiatives, referred to indicatively, show that the government is harming institutions systematically with the aim of party benefit. The government ministers in their entirety take initiatives with a selfish character. Initiatives which are part of the deliberate option and strategy of the government to favor the few at the expense of the many."

    [10] Foreign ministry on Kosovo, Serbia

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Wednesday commented on a referendum held in Serbia that will lead to an express reference in Serbia's Constitution to Kosovo as an integral part of the country.

    The spokesman said that this was a development that added a new element to the whole situation and that Greece believed should be taken into account in the process for settling the problem.

    He also reiterated Greek positions that the solution should ensure regional stability and be viable, meaning that it had to be accepted by the parties directly involved.

    "If achieving such a solution requires time, over and above that set and publicly determined, Greece believes that the process should be given the necessary time," he added.

    [11] Euro-Parliament president Borrell meets with Archbishop Christodoulos

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Visiting European Parliament President Josep Borrell was received here on Wednesday by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, with the latter praising the high-ranking European official's "exalted political ethos", efforts for a united Europe and his defense of religious freedom.

    Christodoulos also referred directly to the Church of Greece's position in solidly backing references, in European accords, to the continent's Christian heritage. Additionally, the head of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece reiterated that neighboring Turkey, an EU hopeful, must respect religious freedom and adapt to the EU's acquis communautaire.

    On his part, Borrell praised Christodoulos' contributions and the Church of Greece's institutional role, referring to the latter's "supreme importance for Greek society" in defending religious freedom and its campaigns backing respect for human rights.

    [12] Health minister briefs Parliamentary Social Affairs Committee

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos briefed the Parliamentary Social Affairs Committee on Wednesday, stressing that "the National Health System (ESY) needs radical restructuring which, in order to take place, requires the consent of all political forces, since health is a national affair."

    The health minister added that "the ESY is a giant with clay feet which, however, despite its weaknesses constitutes one of the best systems in the world" and referred positively to former health ministers George Gennimatas and Alekos Papadopoulos.

    Avramopoulos further said that "the ESY needs an overall tidying up", pointing out that despite efforts made for improvement by his predecessors "there are negative characteristics that have existed since its founding" and that "most interventions made through time had a narrow horizon without a future."

    The minister also revealed that despite the latest arrangement concerning hospital debts, they are continuing to increase due to the ineffectiveness of the system's operation and indicated that the first step in handling the problem is restructuring the procurements system.

    [13] Pope Benedict XVI received Catholic Bishops from Greece

    2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Pope Benedict XVI met at the Vatican on Wednesday with the Roman Catholic Bishops in Greece and suggested to them that their priorities should be ecumenical dialogue and pastoral care for Catholics coming from other countries, according to Avenire daily.

    Of the 200,000 Catholics living in Greece today just 50,000 were born in the country. The rest of them come from Iraq, the Philippines and mostly from Albania.

    The Pope sent warm greetings to Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens stressing that an internal dialogue is necessary leading to a comparison with the Orthodox Church, while at the same time he expressed the hope that the blessed day when “we will share the bread and drink from the same chalice will come soon”.

    Pope Benedict XVI stated that through patience and respect to legal procedures a desirable agreement will be reached recognizing a proper legal status for the Catholic Church in Greece.

    [14] Greece unveils National Strategic Reference Framework program for 2007-2013

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's National Strategic Reference Framework seeks to achieve a balance development of the country that's why 82 percent of a Fourth Community Support Framework program will be earmarked for regional projects, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, presenting the National Strategic Reference Framework, the Greek minister said the Fourth Community Support Framework program would total 36.4 billion euros, including national participation, of which 42 percent would be earmarked for infrastructure projects, 21 pct for innovation and digital convergence, 14 percent for education, 12 pct for employment and 4.0 percent for health-care infrastructure projects.

    The National Strategic Reference Framework is compatible with a National Reform Program and focuses on innovation, enterpreunership, viable infrastructures and upgrading human capital.

    Alogoskoufis said the program cut Greece into five geographical regions: Macedonia-Thrace, Pelopennese-Western Greece-Ionian Islands, Thessaly-Central Greece-Epirus, Crete-Aegean Islands, and Attica. The main development pylons of the program is improving business environment, upgrading living standards, promoting digital convergence and achieving a balance economic growth.

    "Our aim is to stop being laggards in the EU and to be among the pioneers, as a successful implementation of the program would raise the country's average living standard and Greece will be disconnected from community funds," Alogoskoufis said.

    Speaking to reporters, Economy Deputy Minister Christos Folias said a Third Community Support Framework program envisaged more funds than the country could absorb and stressed that the absorption rate currently was at 47.6 percent.

    Folias said the program was drafted using GDP figures before its upward revision by 25.7 pct and said the issue was currently discussed between the National Statistics Service and Eurostat.

    Opposition parties: Opposition parties criticized Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday in connection with a press conference he gave on the National Strategic Reference Framework Program for the period 2007-2013.

    An announcement by the main opposition PASOK party said "a few days after the presentation of the National Strategic Reference Framework Program by Mr. Karamanlis himself, the finance and economy minister proceeded today with a repetition of the same general directions, attempting an escape to the future."

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) economy and social policy chief Panayiotis Lafazanis said on his part that "the statements by Mr. Alogoskoufis on a new decrease in tax for Stock Exchange transactions, maybe by the end of the year, constitute another respectable 'gift', mainly for foreign profiteering capital, and another provocation for the forces of salaried labor and education, whose strengthening the Greek economy cannot otherwise stand."

    [15] Greece on right track in new technologies

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece was moving in the right direction with respect to new technologies, but it needed to make leaps, however, in order not to miss the train of digital development, according to speakers at the Economist Conferences' Fourth E-Government Forum taking place at a central Athens hotel titled "Digital Greece: Setting technology in its right dimension".

    Addressing the event, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, spoke of the situation in the digital technology sector both in Greece and throughout Europe.

    She said that only 50 percent of the EU's productivity profits emanated from new technologies, compared with 80 percent in the US.

    Reding stressed that Europe must move faster in order to bridge the difference with the US while, regarding the further spread of broadband networks, she said a new regulatory framework was necessary that would help in opening up the markets.

    On broadband networks in Greece, the Commissioner said the statistics were discouraging, given that only 12 percent of the population had access to broadband networks, whereas the average in the EU-15 (the EU member states before the recent enlargement) was 90 percent.

    In July 2006, she said, penetration of broadband networks by Greeks was 2.7 percent, compared to an EU average of 15 percent, with the member states with the highest penetration reaching up to 30 percent.

    She urged action on the part of the government for the growth of broadband networks in Greece, adding that the EU would help in that direction.

    Reding noted however that Greece, although with a delay, was moving in the right direction, as the government and prime minister Costas Karamanlis understood the need for speedy development of new technologies.

    Addressing the same conference, interior, public administration and decentralization minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed that the government was advancing a qualitative upgrading of the state by way of transforming the citizen-state relations so that the citizens may play an active role and have the ability to check the legality and transparency of the state apparatus.

    To achieve this, the national system of authentication was being developed in three areas: the link-up network (Syzefxis program), the Hermes central e-portal, and the management of the public sector digital certification.

    To materialize the above, the proper personnel was required, the minister said, and for this reason the training of existing public administration personnel in new technologies was progressing.

    Main opposition PASOK MP Anna Diamantopoulou said that the issue of Information Society was, for Greece, a matter of survival. She said the new technologies preparedness index in Greece had declined in the past two years, noting that this was so not because Greece was moving slowly, but because the other EU countries were moving more quickly.

    She stressed the need for Greece to adopt a new developmental target that would enable the country to make the digital leap that would bring it among the top positions in the list of technologically developing countries.

    The Forum is organized under the auspices of the Special Secretariat for the Information Society (Hellenic Ministry of Economy and Finance, the General Secretariat for Information Systems (Hellenic Ministry of Economy and Finance) and the Hellenic Ministry of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization.

    According to the organizers, the scope of the meeting is to see how we can set technology in its right dimension and move towards a more service-centered & citizen friendly state.

    Furthermore, the participants will brainstorm and evaluate the prospects and challenges for Europe with emphasis on 2010, whereby the European Commission will be called upon to give its action plan and how technology can move higher up in the political agenda.

    The aim is to show the necessity of information technology for the coherence of citizens and business and also the way that technology can bring tangible results to productivity from the government’s point of view, the providers’ and the users’, according to the organizers.

    Greece wants to narrow technology gap: Greece wants to narrow the gap in technology with other member states of the European Union, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.

    "We want to take the digital leap that will make the country the technological centre of southeastern Europe," the minister told a sector conference arranged in Athens by The Economist magazine.

    The government is restructuring the sector, promoting high-speed broadband internet services, and encouraging new digital services.

    "An integrated digital strategy is underway that contains specific action that are implemented to benefit the public and companies," Alogoskoufis reported.

    In addition, a digital fund will make available about 100 million euros for new companies and another 450 million euros to boost broadband use, he said.

    [16] FinMin addresses Euromoney conference

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Increasing inflow of foreign investments to Greece is proof that the Greek economy is transforming into an open, competitive and more business-friendly economy, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.

    Addressing a Euromoney conference in Athens, the Greek minister said the inflow of foreign investments was also proof of the significant role Greece was playing as an economic center in wider Southeastern Europe and proof of the success of economic policies introduced by the government.

    "Today, more than ever, Greece is the entry point for all those willing to invest in the rapidly developing region of South-eastern Europe ,” he noted.

    He also pointed to an upcoming privatization policy for 2007 - soon to be announced - and actions to make more efficient use of the state's property assets.

    [17] Greek gov’t to reduce tax on securities trading

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Greek government intends to reduce a tax on securities trading, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister did not exclude one more such step by the end of the year and reminded that the state has already cut a tax on securities trading.

    Alogoskoufis added that restoring the credibility of the capital market was a big challenge and noted that a lot has been made towards this direction in the last two years. "More legislative initiatives will be made in the next two to three months," he said adding that the stock market' function has change a lot since the privatization of operation of a Capital Markets Commission.

    The Greek market's increased credibility is proven by the fact that foreign investors hold the majority positions in the market, Alogoskoufis noted.

    [18] Greek enterprises' debt growth rate slowed in 2005, report

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greek enterprises' short-term bank debt growth slowed in the last four years, although the growth rate was still far higher compared with revenue growth rates, a report by Hellastat said on Wednesday.

    The report, based on the results of more than 21,000 enterprises in the period 2002-2005, showed that short-term bank loans grew an annual average 5.9 pct in 2005 (from 6.6 pct in 2004 and 9.7 pct in 2003) compared with a growth rate of 1.4 pct of annual sales in 2005 (4.8 pct in 2004) and a 6.9 pct drop in net profit growth in 2005 (+2.2 pct in 2004).

    More analytically, total short-term debt was 25.4 billion euros at the end of 2005, up 4.8 pct from the previous year, while long-term debt (including corporate bonds) totaled 33.6 billion euros, up 12.7 pct over the same period.

    Christos Giannakopoulos, head of research in Hellastat, said the higher long-term debt reflected the strong activity of larger enterprises in an effort to restructure their debt by issuing bond loans.

    The report showed that 46 percent of total long-term borrowing was covered by 10 enterprises, including Hellenic Railways Organization (4.4 bln euros), Public Power Corp. (3.2 bln euros), Hellenic Telecoms (1.95 bln euros) and Athens International Airport (1.02 bln euros).

    The short-term/sales ratio rose to 25.6 pct in 2005 from 23.1 pct in 2004, 22.2 pct in 2003 and 20.9 pct in 2002. The average Greek enterprise's debt to banks was around 0.26 euros for each euro of sales, the report said.

    Clothing and footwear, textiles, wood processing and wine production are the most burdened - with short-term debt -- sectors, while the transport, supermarkets, restaurant, telecoms and tourism sectors are the less debt burdened sectors.

    [19] Greek PMI grew to 53.3 points in October

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), measuring business activity in the manufacturing sector, rose to 53.3 points in October remaining on a growth course for the ninth consecutive month.

    The October reading was slightly higher from September and reflected high production and increased orders, while employment also rose in the month.

    Manufacturing production grew strongly in October reflecting higher new orders both from domestic and foreign markets. Employment grew as manufacturers hired additional staff to meet increased demands in production and orders, while inflow and outflow prices eased slightly in October.

    Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector while below 50 a shrinking sector.

    [20] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 4,154.44 points, showing a rise of 0.63%. Turnover was 325.8 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.67% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.70% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.70% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 164 to 79 with 59 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): National Bank (793)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 100.4 million euros

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 3.99 pct

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 3.99 pct yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (900 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.1 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    U.S. dollar 1.285

    [21] Environmental problems in Greece outlined ahead of conference

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Water reserves in Greece are waning as a result of human intervention, with lakes like Koronia dying, rivers becoming dumpsites for urban and industrial waste, and underground water reserves are being downgraded and polluted, according to Greek Ecological Organization Network.

    A characteristic example is the case of Thessaly, central Greece, where the sea has penetrated deep into the Thessaly plain as a result of water over-pumping. The Greek Ecological Organization Network, PANDOIKO, warns that water reserves in the region have become subsaline, stressing that this is an irreversible situation, while underground water reserves are polluted by pesticides. The water reservoir in Lake Karla, an old lake that was dried out, is being created in order to enrich the region’s aquifer, according to PANDOIKO, which outlined the main environmental problems in Greece in view of its conference to take place in the northern city of Veria on November 3-5 in cooperation with KEDKE (Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece), GSEE (General Confederation of Workers of Greece) and the municipality of Veria.

    In addition, the Argolida region and the Molaon plain are two equally serious cases of downgrading and salination of underground water reserves.

    Another problem is soil erosion due to increased human intervention, such deforestation, the construction of mountain road networks and uncontrolled building activity, which increase the likelihood of torrents in the event of heavy rainfall.

    Meanwhile, three of Greece's largest cities, Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras, are among the ten European cities with the most polluted atmosphere. The air pollution problem could be solved with the creation of green spaces in areas previously used by military camps, according to PANDOIKO.

    Waste management is among the most serious environmental problems faced by Greece. Characteristic cases are the Vouraikos gorge in Achaia prefecture, south Greece and the Acheloos riverbed in western Greece.

    Illegal hunting, over-fishing, the lack of land planning and renewable sources of energy, chemical pollution through food products and mobile phone radiation are also serious environmental problems, PANDOIKO added.

    [22] New security measures for carrying of liquids in airline passengers' hand luggage

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    New security measures concerning the carrying of liquids in airline passengers' hand luggage, to be implemented at all airports in Europe as of next Monday, were presented by the Athens International Airport on Wednesday, in accordance with the decision taken by the European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

    According to the new European Regulation, liquids are added to the list of forbidden items that passengers are not allowed to carry in their hand luggage in the aircraft's cabin, except on specific preconditions.

    Passengers will only be allowed to have small quantities of liquids in containers having a capacity of 100ml for each package. The total number of packages must fit in a transparent plastic bag having a total capacity of one liter. Each passenger will only be allowed to carry one such bag.

    These measures will also apply to passengers from third countries who will be re-embarking at European airports. The transparent plastic bags will be provided free of charge during the initial period of the new European Regulation's implementation. The new security measures are not expected to create flight delays.

    [23] Seasonal forest firefighters clash with police

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Twenty-five seasonal forest firefighters infiltrated the interior ministry building in Athens on Wednesday morning, entering separately in order to escape attention. A few hours later they made their way to the building’s windows and called on approximately 1,000 of their colleagues holding a protest rally outside the ministry to storm the building.

    About 800 of the protesters using stones and other objects tried to enter the building by force but were repelled by police.

    A prosecutor arrived on the scene to negotiate with the protesters both inside and outside the building.

    [24] Exhibition in memory of painter Loui Pasalari

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    An exhibition with the last 70 paintings by Loui Pasalari will be inaugurated at the Paleo Faliro City Hall on November 6.

    The exhibition is organized by the “Elpida” Association of Friends of Children with Cancer founded by Marianna Vardinoyannis, Paleo Faliro mayor Dionysis Hatzidakis and the late painter’s husband Christos Pasalaris. All proceeds will be donated to the Elpida foundation.

    [25] Convicted November 17 group member released from jail

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The youngest member of the November 17 terrorist group, Dionysis Georgiadis, who was sentenced to nine years in prison in December 2003 after being found guilty of participating in a criminal organization and for an explosion at a bank in Aharnon street in Athens, was released from jail on Wednesday after serving three-fifths of his jail term.

    The Council of Piraeus Magistrates decreed that the inmate at Korydallos prison had served three-fifths of his total jail term and that his conduct during his detention had been between good and excellent.

    [26] Government comments on reinstated Korydallos prison governor

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Wednesday clarified that a decision to reinstate the current Korydallos prison governor was made after he was cleared of responsibility for an incident that resulted in the death of an inmate.

    Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras had originally ordered that he be suspended from duty while the incident was investigated through an internal inquiry and by a public prosecutor.

    The spokesman also pointed out that the same man had not been in charge of the prison during a second incident at Korydallos, in which Vassilis Paleokostas and another convict had escaped in a helicopter. The later governor was also suspended from duty while an inquiry was carried out.

    When investigations cleared his predecessor of wrongdoing and returned him to his former position, however, the second governor returned to work at the prisons as an ordinary prison officer, the spokesman added.

    [27] Gov. Gazette free via Internet

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The interior ministry on Wednesday announced that all the editions of the long-standing Government Gazette will now be available on-line and free of charge.

    [28] Illegal migrants were voluntarily confined by human traffickers

    2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Illegal migrants had agreed to be confined by human traffickers until their relatives paid 4,500 euros as transportation fees for each one of them.

    The 19 illegal migrants and their 4 traffickers, all Iraqis, are in the hands of the Thessaloniki police.

    According to police, the four human traffickers transported the illegal migrants from Turkey to Greece via the Evros River, northeast Greece. Three more individuals are allegedly involved in the case and one of them had supplied one of the traffickers with a false residence permit.

    The illegal migrants, aged 25 to 40 and one 16-year-old, were arrested on a train and in a hotel room where they stayed until taken to Athens. Police clarified that the traffickers hid the migrants in hotel rooms or rented rooms in Thessaloniki until they were transported to Athens where they remained confined until their relatives paid the money.

    [29] Medical instruments museum at Thessaloniki's AHEPA Hospital

    2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A small “museum” will open soon in Thessaloniki’s AHEPA Hospital where medical instruments and materials used in the 53 years of its operation will be on display and visitors will be able to witness the evolution of medicine.

    Meanwhile, the hospital’s north entrance will soon be turned into a gallery decorated with original works of painters from northern Greece.

    The formal opening of the “museum” and permanent painting exhibition at AHEPA Hospital will be made by Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos at a date to be announced later.

    Soccer

    [30] AEK Athens beats 1-0 Lille in Champions League match

    ATHENS, 2/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    AEK Athens beat 1-0 Lille of France in a Champions League Group H match played at the Athens Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night.

    Scorers: Nikos Liberopoulos (74)

    [31] Helsinki talks not yet confirmed, says Cypriot Spokesman

    NICOSIA, 2/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said here Wednesday that for the time being, proximity talks in Helsinki cannot be confirmed.

    The Finnish Presidency of the EU is conducting negotiations to reach an agreement in order to prevent a crisis between the EU and Turkey in view of the European Commission's progress report on Turkey's accession negotiations expected to be issued on 8 November.

    It has been focusing on preparing the ground for a possible meeting over the weekend in Helsinki between Cyprus and Turkey.

    In his statements on Wednesday after the cabinet meeting, Pashiardis explained that the return of Famagusta is the prime issue and the Turkish Cypriot side has neither any say nor views on the matter, adding that the only one who has a say is the occupation army.

    Pashiardis repeated that ''without the return of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants, there is no room or possibility for the Finnish initiative to be successful.''

    The spokesman noted that negotiations are continuing and the government has explained its positions and views.

    Asked if Nicosia objects to the presence of Turkish Cypriots at possible talks in Helsinki, Pashiardis replied that if there is finally an invitation, the presence of any Turkish Cypriot will be merely to make an impression.

    ''Only the Turkish army has a say and it will be present in the Helsinki negotiations with a representative of the Turkish government,'' the spokesman added.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    Turkey, a country aspiring to become an EU member state, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to implement the EU-Turkey Customs Union Protocol, which provides for the opening of its ports and airports to Cyprus.

    [32] Hoon calls on Turkey to accept its EU obligations

    LONDON, 2/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    British Minister of State for Europe Geoff Hoon said Britain expects Turkey to accept its obligations under EU law.

    He was speaking after a meeting in London with Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas.

    In his remarks, Hoon said that the two ministers have built up ''a very good relationship'' and that ''we are able to discuss many issues about the bilateral relationship between the two countries as well as issues affecting the EU and Turkey.''

    Hoon said ''I look forward to these conversations to continue perhaps next time in Cyprus.''

    Answering a question about how Britain can help towards Turkey complying with its EU obligations and also on the initiative of the Finnish EU presidency to be promoted to a successful conclusion, he replied, ''We made clear to Turkey and I said many times in public that we expect Turkey to accept its obligations under EU law. However the conditions under which this will be done is subject to the Finnish presidency proposals that we have been trying to help with.''

    Hoon stressed it is ''important that we find a way through these present difficulties'' and that ''all countries coming into the EU have to accept the basic principles of the Union.''

    Asked if the two sides touched upon the issue of the presence of the British Bases in Cyprus, Hoon replied positively, noting that during the time he had served as Defense Secretary he regularly visited the Bases. ''There are matters of mutual concern. Our friendship is strong enough so that we are able to have that kind of conversation. And we are going on to have further discussions on the subject,'' he noted.

    Lillikas described the meeting as ''constructive,'' noting that Cyprus and the UK ''have close relations, political, trade and other relations.''

    ''It is in the interest of the two countries to develop further these relations. Today we had a good start, I believe, and very soon we will continue in Cyprus or elsewhere,'' he added.

    [33] Cyprus President decorates EC Court of Justice President

    NICOSIA, 2/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos-CNA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos decorated on Wednesday President of the Court of Justice of the European Communities Vassilios Skouris with the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III of the Republic of Cyprus for his ''sincere and strong feelings for Cyprus and its people.''

    In his address at the ceremony, which took place at the Presidential Palace, President Papadopoulos praised Skouris for his contribution to the protection of international and European law as well as for his support to Cyprus.

    Referring to the Cyprus issue, President Papadopoulos said that Cyprus, in its struggle for survival and vindication, uses law as its defense for the preservation of Cyprus' state entity, and as its offensive for safeguarding the human rights for its people.

    ''Cyprus' drama does not only concern its people. It is a matter of law order and as such it concerns Europe and the whole international

    community. Because in Cyprus today European principles and ecumenical values are being tested. And in this framework, the rule of law cannot be defeated and injustice cannot become legalized,'' he stressed.

    In his reply, Skouris thanked President Papadopoulos for the decoration saying that it is an honor for himself and for the Court of Justice of the European Communities.

    Noting that the Republic of Cyprus is adherent to the principles and ideals that constitute European foundations, he said that Cyprus knows how to recognize the importance and the role of international juristic institutions.

    Concluding, he referred to the international conference on European Law that begins Thursday in Cyprus with the participation of judges and attorney generals from Cyprus and the EU, academics and experts of EU law.

    The ceremony was attended among others by members of the diplomatic corps, political party leaders, government officials, members of the

    House of Representatives and judges from Cyprus and the EU.

    Vassilios Skouris, who has been President of the Court of Justice of the European Communities since 7 October 2003, was re-elected to perform his duties at the institution for the period from 9 October 2006 to 6 October 2009.

    Cyprus, which joined the European Union in May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.


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