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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

November 14, 2006


  • [01] FM underlines Greece's desire for speedup in EU Finnish presidency's efforts
  • [02] FM Dora Bakoyannis holds talks with foreign dignitaries on sidelines of EU General Affairs Council
  • [03] Bakoyannis' urges tough line on Turkey in FT interview
  • [04] EU dinner focuses on future of Europe
  • [05] Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania sign defense agreement
  • [06] Greece and Italy to sign joint cooperation memorandum on antiquities smuggling
  • [07] Czech Republic President to visit Athens next week
  • [08] PM congratulates Ortega on Nicaraguan presidential election victory
  • [09] PM confers with justice minister
  • [10] Health minister, HOC chief receive 2006 Int'l Guiseppe Sciacca Awards
  • [11] Deputy FM Evripidis Stylianidis inaugurates Internet website for missing children
  • [12] Minority religious groups, EU awaiting details of bill on charitable foundations in Turkey
  • [13] 2007 draft budget to be tabled in parliament on Tuesday
  • [14] US conference on Greek economy
  • [15] Conference on Balkan natgas delivery
  • [16] Greece, Lebanon seek closer business ties
  • [17] European infotech conference
  • [18] Athens hotels' occupancy rate up in September, yr/yr
  • [19] ECB to raise rates up to 4.0 pct by mid-2007, report
  • [20] Public-sector temps protest over court ruling; measures fair, gov't insists
  • [21] PASOK party criticizes government over contract employees issue
  • [22] Union leaders briefly stage takeover of OTE offices
  • [23] EU Audiovisual sector Council focuses on legislative arrangements
  • [24] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop
  • [25] Cypriot univ. students on hunger strike protesting T/C pseudo-state
  • [26] Greek ambassador at UNESCO candidate for General Conference presidency
  • [27] Travel and employment agencies involved in human trafficking
  • [28] More people donate blood for Thalassemia patients
  • [29] Exhibition to renowned archaeological illustrator Piet de Jong opens in Athens
  • [30] Art forum at HEU this month
  • [31] Lillikas: EU has two weeks to exhaust efforts for Turkey to meet EU obligations
  • [32] Cypriot President: No country wants interruption of Turkey EU talks
  • [33] Annan says UN is working for preparation of Cyprus talks

  • [01] FM underlines Greece's desire for speedup in EU Finnish presidency's efforts

    BRUSSELS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who represented Greece at the European Union's Council of Foreign Ministers on Monday, stressed Greece's desire for the Finnish presidency to speed up its efforts on the issue of Cyprus so that in the event that they fail the EU will have the time to draw necessary conclusions.

    "Our position is that the time that will be given to the Finnish presidency must not be so much that we will be coming very close to the next General Affairs Council on December 11. That at some time it must be clarified whether the Finnish proposal has possibilities of success or not, to enable us to pass afterwards on to the more substantive discussion on how we see Turkey's European prospects developing," Bakoyannis said, terming Monday's discussion on Turkey as an "acquaintance" one on their general views on the issue of relations between the EU and Turkey.

    Bakoyannis said that the general picture existing among the "25" is that the EU has opened its door to Turkey, but Turkey must accept and honour its commitments to avoid any rift.

    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. The EU Finnish Presidency is conducting negotiations to reach an agreement in order to prevent a crisis between the EU and Turkey.

    Referring to other issues examined by the General Affairs Council on Monday, foreign minister Bakoyannis said that an initial discussion was held on the EU's enlargement towards the Balkans.

    "Greece is firmly positive on enlargement towards the western Balkans and that we had the opportunity once again of stressing the significance of the appropriate and positive message to the countries and peoples in the region," she said.

    Bakoyannis further said that Greece and a number of EU member-states believe that the course of Croatia's accession must be speeded up, while with regard to Serbia she supported a "slackening" of terms and preconditions by which Serb citizens can obtain visas to visit European countries.

    On the question of Kosovo, the foreign minister pointed out that Greece was satisfied in seeing the EU share its view that decisions on its final status quo must be adopted after the elections taking place in Serbia at the beginning of next year.

    Lastly, referring to the resolution adopted by the "25" on the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians following the dramatic developments in Gaza, Bakoyannis stressed that the resolution's text "was able to cover all, not as they would have liked" and that "it provides a new opportunity for the Palestinian leadership to ultimately facilitate a national unity government" so that the dialogue between Israel and Palestine can resume.

    [02] FM Dora Bakoyannis holds talks with foreign dignitaries on sidelines of EU General Affairs Council

    BRUSSELS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held talks on Monday morning, on the sidelines of the European Union's General Affairs Council, with the presiding Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, as well as with Sweden's new Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. The foreign minister also met with Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

    On arrival at the EU's Council headquarters in Brussels, a number of EU foreign ministers expressed their reservations and skepticism in statements concerning the repercussions Turkey's insistence will have not to observe all that it has signed in the framework of the protocol on its customs union with member-states, including Cyprus.

    Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said that if there are no specific moves on the part of Turkey by December, then the EU could proceed with a "time out" in accession negotiations, without clarifying what her country means with a "time out."

    Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said that if Turkey does not move on the issue of Cyprus then the EU will not be able to continue negotiations "as if nothing has happened."

    [03] Bakoyannis' urges tough line on Turkey in FT interview

    BRUSSELS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday said that Athens wanted the EU to take a tough line on Turkey, in an interview with Financial Times Deutschland on the course of the Euro-Turkish relations.

    In the interview with the subheading “the foreign minister warns of EU loss of credibility - little hope for a solution to the Cyprus issue”, Bakoyannis states that Greece calls on the EU member states to send a clear political message and take all necessary measures against Turkey in case Ankara does not open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and airplanes by December.

    "We cannot continue like this, as if nothing has happened," Bakoyannis is quoted as saying in the interview, while she also points out that there is an agreement that Turkey’s EU accession process will be affected if it does not meet its obligations.

    After stressing that the European partners should adopt a consistent stance, Bakoyannis stated that she supports the Finnish EU Presidency efforts to lift the impasse, while pointing out Turkey’s refusal to participate in the talks. She also reiterated that Greece has no place in these talks.

    The foreign minister also noted that Greece supports Turkey’s EU accession under certain preconditions. “Turkey does not have only supporters in the EU. At this moment, its policy offers arguments to its opponents”, she stated characteristically.

    According to the foreign minister, Europe should send a clear political message to Turkey for internal EU credibility reasons. The ball is in Turkey’s court, underlined Bakoyannis.

    Bakoyannis did not rule out the likelihood --if it is deemed necessary-- to reconsider Turkey’s EU accession timetable, stating characteristically that “if Turkey refuses (to meet its obligations) we should reconsider”.

    [04] EU dinner focuses on future of Europe

    BRUSSELS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The future of Europe was examined by the "25" during a dinner given in the framework of the European Union's Foreign Ministers Council here on Monday. Greece was represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.

    Speaking after the meeting with his counterparts, the Greek deputy minister said that Greece has firmly expressed its support for the so-called "Plan D", meaning the plan for Dialogue, Democracy and Deliberation.

    "The goal is a new political consensus for the progress of Europe, through the most active participation of citizens possible. The citizens must not be the observers, but those who shape the common course, the common European future," Valinakis said.

    The foreign ministers also exchanged views on celebrations regarding the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.

    "This so important day for Europe must constitute yet another incentive for us to remember all that we have achieved and to highlight our adherence to this vision," the deputy foreign minister said.

    [05] Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania sign defense agreement

    BRUSSELS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    A technical agreement on the creation of a regular combat formation with the basic contribution of Greece and the participation of Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania was signed here on Monday.

    Greece was represented by Defense Minister Vangelis Meimarakis, who expressed satisfaction over the signing of the agreement.

    He said that with the agreement "we are sending a message of optimism since the countries participating are strategic partners in the effort for peace and stability in the wider region and this formation proves that all of us together can contribute effectively to the joint effort for the creation of a reliable European force that will strengthen the European idea and vision."

    The formation, due to be operationally available in July 2007 to assume peace missions in the wider region, will have a strength of 1,200 cadres, with Greece contributing the biggest number.

    Issues such as the multinational staffing of the formation's headquarters, the transportation of forces and training have already been arranged at operational level.

    [06] Greece and Italy to sign joint cooperation memorandum on antiquities smuggling

    BRUSSELS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, speaking on Monday on the sidelines of the European Union's Council of Culture Ministers that convened here, said that Greece and Italy will sign a joint cooperation memorandum on combating antiquities smuggling.

    Voulgarakis also met with his German, Italian and French counterparts for talks on a series of issues concerning international cooperation, cultural heritage and modern culture.

    The minister further said that according to a decision taken by the European Council, the Acropolis will be the first monument to be included in the list of European cultural heritage monuments.

    [07] Czech Republic President to visit Athens next week

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, will pay a state visit to Greece next week at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias.

    Klaus, who arrives in Athens on November 22 for a two-day visit, will be accompanied by his wife.

    [08] PM congratulates Ortega on Nicaraguan presidential election victory

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday sent a letter of congratulations to newly elected President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega.

    In his letter, Karamanlis reiterated his conviction, as expressed during a meeting between the two men in June, that Greece and Nicaragua will continue to collaborate at international level as well as for the development of their bilateral relations.

    [09] PM confers with justice minister

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The issue of the special judiciary salary court will be dealt with in the process of the Constitutional revision, justice minister Anastasis Papaligouras said on Monday, speaking to reporters after a meeting with prime minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Papaligouras expressed certainty that all sides involved will realize that excessive financial demands should not be made in a particularly difficult period for the country.

    He also added that the problems faced by the country’s economy will be dealt with adequately and for the long-term, pointing out that all Greek citizens should display a sense of unity and justice as far as the country’s economic potential is concerned.

    Papaligouras further confirmed that he had a telephone communication with the Supreme Court presiding judge, but he declined to reveal the contents of their discussion.

    Supreme Court president not to seek higher pay

    Supreme Court President Romylos Kedikoglou on Monday stressed that he is not to receive a pay hike, in spite of a court ruling awarding substantial pay increases to Greece's top judges.

    "I have neither sought nor will I seek an adjustment of my pay, I have waived my rights since I have neither filed a suit and do not intend to do so," he told reporters.

    Earlier, Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras told the press that he had contacted Kedikoglou on the phone.

    The pay of the Supreme Court president is pegged to the pay of Greek members of Parliament, who would also automatically qualify for higher salaries.

    Kedikoglou noted that the pay increases for members of the judiciary, according to a preliminary ruling by a special salary court, would range between 15% and 25% and that each higher court president would get €1,150 net, while the two years back pay awarded would come to €20,000-€22,000 and will be paid over a lengthy period of time.

    Karamanlis-Bassiakos meeting: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Agriculture Minister Evangelos Bassiakos on Monday.

    Bassiakos stated after the meeting that he briefed the prime minister on the payment of farm subsidies which will be higher compared to previous years. He added that figures on 300,000 farmers eligible for the subsidies were crosschecked in record time and compensation payments are being made. Bassiakos also stated that he discussed agriculture ministry issues concerning the 3rd Community Support Framework.

    Referring to dairy farmers, the minister stated that the ministry in cooperation with stockbreeders adopted measures to support their income, topped by the decision to prevent imports of milk that is probably adulterated to become feta cheese, a decision that was met with the stockbreeders’ support.

    [10] Health minister, HOC chief receive 2006 Int'l Guiseppe Sciacca Awards

    Rome, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Greece's health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos was awarded on Sunday in Rome with the international award Guiseppe Sciacca for 2006.

    During an official ceremony at the Palazzo Marini in Rome, Avramopoulos was honored as "one of the basic protagonists of the (2004) Olympic Games in Athens (of which he was mayor at the time)" and because "due to his actions and the impressive mobilization of volunteers, contributed to spreading the Olympic spirit and Greek culture".

    Hellenic Olympic Committee president Minos Kyriakou was also awarded at the ceremony.

    [11] Deputy FM Evripidis Stylianidis inaugurates Internet website for missing children

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Monday inaugurated a Greek website,, for missing children during the opening of a three-day educational seminar, organized at a hotel in Athens at noon by the "International Centre for Missing and Abused Children" and the society "The Child's Smile", in cooperation with Interpol and with the support of Microsoft.

    The nightmare of missing children that has been experienced by the United States and some European countries is now also "knocking" at Greece's door.

    "Our country is now mourning for little Alex," the deputy foreign minister said.

    [12] Minority religious groups, EU awaiting details of bill on charitable foundations in Turkey

    ISTANBUL, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Representatives of Turkey's numerous charitable foundations, all falling under the domain of the state-run General Directorate for Religious Property (Vakuf), are still awaiting to see details of a draft bill passed by the Turkish assembly, expected to be unveiled later on Monday.

    According to reports here, European diplomats and representatives of the EU Commission in Ankara referred to a "wait and see" attitude on whether numerous demands by Europe and private foundations in the country will be fulfilled with the new law.

    Similar statements were made by representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the latter is keenly following developments in coordination with the representatives of Jewish and Armenian groups in Turkey.

    The bill deals with all faith-linked charitable foundations, including the very large Muslim "vakufs" in the country.

    The bill was ratified by a vote of 241 in favor to 31 against, with the opposition in the Turkish assembly strenuously opposing the bill and calling for the postponement of beneficial provisions for foundations and charities until Turkey becomes a full EU member-state.

    Later reports also speculated over whether the Turkish president will veto the legislation.

    One of the primary demands by the EU and local communities focused on establishing a framework for foundations that passed into the hands of the state due to a lack of recognized and functioning boards of directors.

    Members of recognized Vakufs also want the return of properties that after 1974 passed into the hands of third parties.

    On the plus side, the draft bill reportedly foresees the right of permanent residents of Turkey, who are not Turkish citizens, however, to serve on the boards of foundations.

    [13] 2007 draft budget to be tabled in parliament on Tuesday

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The draft 2007 state budget is due to be tabled in parliament on Tuesday. According to the preliminary draft initially tabled with the parliamentary Standing Committee on Economic Affairs by national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis, the prospects for the Greek economy are particularly auspicious for 2007.

    The growth rate of the Greek economy is anticipated at approximately 3. percent, spurred chiefly by investments. A 6.5 percent increase is also forecast in goods and services while, on the negative side, a 7.0 percent increase is forecast in imports.

    The main targets of the 2007 budget are boosting development and gradual reduction of the state deficit, while measures are provided for boosting the growth potential, consolidating the climate of fiscal discipline and stability in the economy, increasing the economy's outwardness, and strengthening social cohesion.

    The budget further advances reform in the taxation of natural entities, while the dialogue between the social partners will also be continued on reforming the country's social insurance system.

    The draft budget provides tax relieves for natural entities, and also foresees an improvement of the existing taxation environment for legal entities with the gradual reduction (by 2008) of the tax rate on corporate profits, as well as steps to stem tax evasion, corruption, the black economy and smuggling.

    The forecasts on budget revenues based on the anticipated nominal increase in GDP and flexibility in revenues from taxes. The revenues (before......) are anticipated at 51.37 billion euros, an increase of 5.9 percent over 2006.

    The budget's provisions are based on an estimated nominal GDP growth and flexibility of tax revenues. Revenues are projected to total 51.37 billion euros, up 5.9 pct from 2006.

    It also provides stepped up tax and customs checks by the Special Audits Service, as well as full mobilization and efficiency of the Tax Bureau's over-due debts collection services.

    Revenues from direct taxes are anticipated at 19.435 billion euros, up by 5.4 percent in relation to 2006, while revenues from indirect taxes are anticipated at 28.515 billion euros, up by 8.8 percent over the corresponding revenues in 2006.

    A substantial increase of 9.8 percent is further anticipated in revenues from Value Added Tax (VAT), estimated to reach 15.445 billion euros.

    Regular budget spending (excluding interest payments) are projected to ease to 25.6 pct of GDP next year from 25.8 pct in 2006, with spending on supporting weaker economically classes totaling 1.2 billion euros.

    Expenditure for salaries and pensions will account for 47 percent of the primary expenditure, up by 6.1 percent over 2001, whereas expenditure for insurance and healthcare will account for 20 percent of the overall primary expenditure, while expenditure for operational and other expenses is up by 3.1 percent against 2006.

    The Public Investment Program is forecast to reach 8.75 billion euros next year, of which 6.35 billion euros for projects co-funded with the EU and the remaining 2.4 billion for projects exclusively funded by national money.

    Finally, it is anticipated that strong economic activity will boost employment, thus containing the unemployment rate at 8.2 percent.

    [14] US conference on Greek economy

    NEW YORK, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    A conference on Greece's reform drive and investment opportunities in the country will be held on Friday with Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis as the main speaker.

    Arranged by Capital Link, other speakers at the New York meeting include Deputy Finance Minister Peter Doukas and ambassadors from Greece and the US.

    [15] Conference on Balkan natgas delivery

    14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    A conference is to be held near Athens on November 15-16 that will look at the Balkan system for the transportation of natural gas, which stretches from Russia to Greece via Ukraine.

    Meeting at the Astir Palace Hotel in Vouliagmeni will be the companies involved in transportation of the natural gas.

    The session is arranged by Greece's Public Gas Company, backed by the development ministry.

    [16] Greece, Lebanon seek closer business ties

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Greece and Lebanon are seeking closer business ties, the finance ministry said on Monday.

    Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias recently visited Lebanon at the head of a 17-member delegation of Greek firms from the construction sector.

    During his stay, Folias met the ministers of the environment and economy, and business leaders.

    He welcomed the contribution of Lebanese companies to Greece's economy.

    [17] European infotech conference

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    A European conference on research and development in information technology and telecoms will be held in Istanbul on January 29-30, organized by the Association of Northern Greek Information Technology Enterprises with TUBITAC, Turkey's scientific and technological research council.

    The meeting is part of the Easier and See-Innovation projects, in which the two groups are partners.

    [18] Athens hotels' occupancy rate up in September, yr/yr

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Athens hotels on Monday reported a small increase in their room occupancy rates in September, with five-star hotels registering a 5.1 pct increase from the same month last year to 69.9 pct, four-star hotels rising 15.7 pct to 76 pct, three-star hotels up 4.1 pct to 74.4 pct and two-star hotels up 7.8 pct to 67.5 pct.

    [19] ECB to raise rates up to 4.0 pct by mid-2007, report

    14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The European Central Bank will continue raising interest rates in the Eurozone up to 4.0 percent by mid-2007, Eurobank's analysts said in a report on Monday.

    Eurobank's "Global Economic & Market Outlook", a quarterly publication, said that strong credit growth worried ECB and noted that the European central bank had an historic opportunity of bringing the inflation rate below 2.0 pct for the first time since its foundation.

    The report said that global economic growth remained strong, although growth rates slightly were slowing, with the US economy likely to fall significantly due to a slowing real estate market and the inflation rate rising again in the US rekindling prospects of higher interest rates by the Federal Reserve in 2007. Eurobank's analysts were conservative towards bonds and said international stock markets were more attractive although dangers still existed, such as prospects of profitability slowdown in 2007.

    The report said European stock markets offered more value prospects compared with the US or emerging markets, while it noted that Japanese stocks offered more long-term prospects.

    [20] Public-sector temps protest over court ruling; measures fair, gov't insists

    14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Public-sector staff left out in the cold by a recent law for converting temporary contracts to permanent jobs staged a protest in central Athens on Monday, while the government insisted that its measures were honest and fair.

    "The government ended the 'captivity' of contract workers in a way that was honest and clear-cut, offering a solution to a problem facing many Greek citizens that the previous government had kept hostage. The government's pledges became action, with measures that were fair and reflected the interests of the workers and the needs of the public sector," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said.

    His view was not shared by municipal and East Attica region contract workers that failed to qualify for permanent jobs, who picketed the Interior Ministry at Klathmonos Square to demand that the criteria of a relevant presidential decree be made broader. They warned of planned take-overs of East Attica public buildings and further protests with the participation of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) workers' union POE-OTA, representing staff in the former state telecoms company. Meanwhile, temporary fire-fighters were holding their own protest outside the economy ministry in Syntagma Square with similar demands.

    The contract workers said they were seeking permanent positions and payment of backpay, while they would appear before the Council of State on November 23 to apply for a broadening of the criteria of the interior ministry presidential decree.

    The protests came in the wake of last week's ruling by the Court of Audit, which said that temporary staff excluded by the decree could not then be awarded a permanent position by the courts without going through the ASEP process and that they should be taken off the payroll. The specific case concerned contract workers at Argostoli municipality that had been awarded permanent positions by a lower court but had not been paid because their payment orders had been blocked by an earlier decision of the Court of Audit. The Court of Audit was considering their application to have the ruling for their non-payment reversed.

    Commenting on the dispute, Antonaros described the issue as "legally complex" and said that it was being treated in an over-simplified manner.

    "There is the issue of backpay, regarding which efforts are being made so that this is paid to employees by employers," the spokesman noted.

    "There is also, however, the framework that governs the hiring of permanent staff by the public sector; here we are talking about employees that were hired with temporary contracts without going through Supreme Council of Staff Selection (ASEP) procedures and are now trying to convert this contract to an indefinite one. This conversion is not possible," Antonaros added.

    Regarding the cases where a final ruling had been made, meanwhile, the spokesman stressed that the government respected independent justice and that the decision had been made by the Court of Audit plenum.

    Asked if the government was considering a Constitutional revision to curb the right of courts to issue rulings on pay increases, benefits and back-pay for public sector staff, Antonaros said that this was "one of the government's proposals that was on the record".

    [21] PASOK party criticizes government over contract employees issue

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said on Monday that on the issue of contract employees the government "is continuing to make a display of unreliability."

    Athanasakis said that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis "had committed himself before the elections, speaking of 250,000 contract employees, as he was counting them at the time," adding that "the problem has been solved for very few compared to this figure."

    Also referring to the question of the remuneration court, Athanasakis said that "all that the government is transpiring on the occasion of the issue of the so-called remuneration court, that could lead to the lifting of the judicial protection of Greek citizens as regards the remuneration they are entitled to, are absolutely unacceptable and cannot be raised for discussion" and disclosed that following a relevant understanding between Evangelos Venizelos and PASOK party leader George Papandreou an amendment will be tabled in Parliament.

    [22] Union leaders briefly stage takeover of OTE offices

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Union leaders expressed their opposition to a further privatization of state-run telephony utility OTE on Monday by staging a brief takeover of the listed company's headquarters in northern Athens, a development that generated an unusually strong-worded reaction by OTE management.

    According to a press release, the industrial action was organized by "a small and political party-incited group".

    Trade unionists raised banners and blocked the entrance to staff members earlier in the morning, decrying what they said were imminent changes in the utility's personnel and employment regulations in order to make the company more attractive for potential buyers.

    [23] EU Audiovisual sector Council focuses on legislative arrangements

    BRUSSELS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The coordination of certain legislative, regulatory and administrative arrangements of member-states regarding the exercising of television activities was the main issue examined by the Council of Ministers of the European Union's Audiovisual sector on Monday. Greece was represented by Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos.

    Addressing the Council, Roussopoulos said that television constitutes a service of general interest, while at the same time it is a lever of economic development and an agency of culture.

    "Which of the two parameters will weigh the most preoccupies the thoughts of all of us. Our contribution must aim at finding a successful compromise between the market and culture," he said.

    Roussopoulos further said that Greece approaches the draft directive on the services of audiovisual means of communication, focusing on protection for minors, the protection of consumers and respect for human dignity.

    On the question of advertising, the Greek minister said he considers it expedient for the Council to pay more attention to securing the possibility of citizens to watch news bulletins and documentaries with ease and of children to take and enjoy children's programs.

    Lastly, Roussopoulos supported the clear extension of the field for implementing the directive "Television without borders" which, as he said, must develop into "a directive of services of audiovisual means", adjusted to technological convergence and the changing market.

    [24] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 4,257.54 points, showing a decline of 0.07%. Turnover was 321.0 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.06% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.21% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.46% up.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 139 to 118 with 54 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): National Bank of Greece (1242)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 118.8 million euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    U.S. dollar 1.293

    [25] Cypriot univ. students on hunger strike protesting T/C pseudo-state

    14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The members of the organization of Cypriot students in Greek universities, PEOF, launched a three-day hunger strike outside the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki on Monday in a protest marking the anniversary of the illegal proclamation of the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus on November 15, 1983.

    Student organization members gathered across the street from the Turkish consulate building holding banners and posters with slogans against the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus.

    The symbolic hunger strike will end on Wednesday at noon and later in the afternoon on the same day, a protest march will be held to the Turkish consulate and a petition condemning the pseudo-state will be posted on its walls.

    Until Wednesday, members of the student organization will hand out leaflets to the public with relevant information.

    [26] Greek ambassador at UNESCO candidate for General Conference presidency

    STRASBOURG, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The candidacy of Greek ambassador at UNESCO, George Anastasopoulos, for the presidency at UNESCO's General Conference, was ratified by the Organization’s relevant "Group I" committee during its meeting on Monday.

    The selection of Anastasopoulos by the Group I is considered important because out of the total of five Groups into which UNESCO is divided, Group I has its turn this year to propose a candidate for the General Conference's presidency. The remaining Groups usually support the candidate supported by the Group that has its turn.

    The final election of the General Conference president will take place in October 2007 by the permanent representatives of the Organization’s 191 member-states.

    [27] Travel and employment agencies involved in human trafficking

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Human trafficking now takes place via an apparently legal route, through travel and employment agencies located in foreign countries, mainly the former Soviet Union, journalist Pavlos Nerantzis told a discussion on "Trafficking in Human Beings" held in Thessaloniki on Monday.

    He said human trafficking rings had changed their mode of operation, enlisting travel agencies to handle the issue of necessary travel documents for women wishing to come to

    Greece or go to other countries. As soon as these reached their destination, the travel documents were taken away from them and they were led to prostitution.

    According to Nerantzis, another significant change concerned the individuals involved in human trafficking, who tended to be citizens beyond suspicion like bankers, civil servants, or even pensioners.

    The Thessaloniki Police investigated a total of 15 major human trafficking cases in the past three years and charges were filed against approximately 200 individuals, both Greek and foreigners, while a total of 25 women were characterized as victims of forced prostitution.

    Trafficking in human beings was first recorded in Greece in the 1990s resulting from the political changes in eastern European and Balkan countries. The victims’ number is hard to estimate but annual profits in Europe are huge, reaching 10-12 billion euros.

    [28] More people donate blood for Thalassemia patients

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The “Pigi Zois” (Fountain of Life) Foundation for the promotion of volunteer blood donation for Thalassemia patients on Monday held a special ceremony to honor longtime volunteer blood donors for their contribution and at the same time sensitize the general public.

    More and more people become sensitive to the problem in northern Greece and donate blood for Thalassemia patients (anemia occurring chiefly among people of Mediterranean descent).

    Based on figures provided by the “Pigi Zois” Foundation, the number of blood donors increased from 2,500 in 2002 to 3,445 today while by the end of 2006 volunteer blood donors are expected to be over 4,000.

    There are approximately 3,000 recorded Thalassemia patients nationwide. Three hundred of them are in Thessaloniki and they need an estimated 12,000 units of blood annually while blood donors cover 80 percent of the demand.

    Blood donors, in a way, “adopt” Thalassemia patients and are very much aware of the fact that in case they stop giving blood their fellow human beings will face serious problems. The blood units are placed in a “recipient account” and are used when it is deemed necessary.

    [29] Exhibition to renowned archaeological illustrator Piet de Jong opens in Athens

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    An exhibition featuring the works of noted 20th century artist Piet de Jong, best known for his celebrated watercolor illustrations of antiquities and artifacts uncovered at numerous archaeological excavations around Greece before and after WWII, opened at the Benaki Museum's Pireos Street Annex on Monday.

    The exhibition consists of roughly 150 watercolors and ink drawings by de Jong, a British national who was also an architect, with detailed illustrations of finds from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens' excavations at the Agora.

    According to the Benaki, other watercolors depict sites at the Palace of Minos at Knossos, the Palace of Nestor at Pylos, Corinth, Mycenae, Eleusis and elsewhere, as well as caricatures of the great archaeologists of his day.

    "Piet de Jong's decades of work in Greece were testament to the scholarly commitment of many peoples from many countries to the study of ancient Greece; and the development from that study of ideals that are fundamental to modern life and thought. Tonight, therefore, we appreciate one man's work, but through that work we continue to learn and appreciate the work and contributions of the ancient world," US ambassador to Greece Charles Ries said during a brief address inaugurating the exhibition.

    The exhibition, entitled "Piet de Jong: The Ancient Agora and the Art of Antiquity", is organized by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Benaki Museum, and sponsored by the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (major sponsor) and the US embassy in Athens (sponsor). It will run until Jan. 7, 2007.

    [30] Art forum at HEU this month

    ATHENS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The Forum European Cultural Exchanges is again hosted this year at the Athens-based Hellenic American Union's (HEU) downtown campus, with the emphasis on the contemporary artistic trends and artistic exchanges in Europe.

    The forum began last week, and will culminate on Nov. 25 with the one-day seminar entitled "Dividing Lines".

    Art historian and noted events organizer Luisa Avgita will coordinate the seminar, while speakers include author and critic Ziauddin Sardar; art critic Beral Madra, the director the BM center for contemporary art in Istanbul, as well as curator and academic Pier Luigi Tazzi.

    The entire series of events is supported by the EU program “Culture 2000”.

    For more information call HEU at (

    [31] Lillikas: EU has two weeks to exhaust efforts for Turkey to meet EU obligations

    BRUSSELS, 14/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The Finnish EU presidency pledged Monday that until the end of the month it would exhaust all efforts regarding its initiative to avert an EU-Turkey crisis, so that Turkey meets its EU obligations, by opening its ports and airports for Cypriot vessels and aircraft.

    Lillikas, who attended the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council said that the EU presidency, responding to the position of many EU countries, committed itself that within two weeks it would conclude its efforts regarding its initiative.

    "We hope that the initiative will bring positive results within the framework that has been determined. If not, then the Commission must begin a discussion to be followed by other discussions on political level by the EU 25 regarding a plan B", he noted.

    According to Lillikas, Cyprus shares the general impression among the EU 25 that a discussion should start the soonest possible on the political level, regarding Turkey's obligations.

    The main aim, he said, should be the good preparation of the December European Council conclusions so that efforts to reach a common position by the EU 25 are ahead of time.

    This is the only way, he said, to avoid Turkey's issue to monopolize the December European Council, as has been the case in the past.

    Asked whether the Finnish EU presidency would call for proximity talks, Lillikas said that according to his knowledge, the Finnish do not plan such a procedure for obvious reasons.

    "Since Turkey does not wish to participate, then during the coming two weeks, there would be some meetings and contacts like the ones before the 5th and 6th of November", he said.

    Lillikas added that the Cypriot government has worked with the EU presidency in detail on all aspects concerning the Finnish proposals.

    "We can not agree to suspend relevant chapters as this is not a sanction and it has no relevant effect", he said.

    Lillikas added that on the other hand, the government of Cyprus does not seek a total suspension of the EU accession talks if Ankara does not make concessions in the coming weeks.

    "In this framework, we are ready to negotiate", he said.

    Lillikas held Monday separate meetings with his Finnish counterpart Erkki Tuomioja, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn and his Belgian counterpart Karel De Gucht and represented Cyprus in the EU General Affairs and External Relations meeting.

    In 1974 Turkish troops invaded Cyprus and since then occupy one third of the island's territory. Cyprus is a member of the EU since May 2004.

    Turkey, aspiring to become an EU member state refuses to implement the Customs Union protocol by opening its ports and airports to Cyprus.

    [32] Cypriot President: No country wants interruption of Turkey EU talks

    NICOSIA, 14/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Many countries may have reservations on Turkey's EU course, all of them undoubtedly consider it a duty to fulfill its obligations towards the EU but no country wants the interruption of Turkey's EU course, said here Monday Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    The president was speaking after a lunch hosted by Archbishop Chrysostomos II on the occasion of his name day.

    Invited to comment on statements on Turkey by Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik in Brussels Monday that "if there is no important move from here until December, it might be wise to agree on a time-out to reduce tension" without clarifying what she meant by "time out", the president said "this will become evident in the course".

    "I have repeatedly said that many countries might have reservations over Turkey, surely all of them without an exception consider it a duty for Turkey to fulfill its obligations towards the EU, however I believe that no country would like its (accession) talks to be interrupted", the president said.

    "Now, which sanctions might be taken, this is still uncertain. Remember, that any sanctions require unanimity. Therefore even a country which does not want sanctions to be imposed, has the power of veto", the president concluded.

    [33] Annan says UN is working for preparation of Cyprus talks

    ISTANBUL, 14/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said here Monday that the UN is working for the completion of the preparatory work to achieve the resumption of Cyprus talks.

    In statements Annan noted that he would meet with the parties next week in Geneva.

    He said that his representative was currently working with the relevant parties to prepare a list of confidence-building measures and to complete preparatory efforts for resumption of the talks.

    Annan said that everybody knew that he had been trying to resolve the Cyprus issue through his good-will mission.

    The UN chief is in Turkey participating in the deliberations of the High Level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations.

    His statements were made during a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Spanish Premier Jose Louis Zapatero.

    In 1974 Turkish troops invaded Cyprus and since then occupy one third of the island's territory.

    A UN plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriot community but approved by the Turkish Cypriot community during two separate referenda in April 2004.

    Cyprus is a member of the EU since May 2004.

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