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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

November 18, 2006


  • [01] Public sector contract workers issue causes heated debate in Parliament
  • [02] PM's itinerary for UK visit announced
  • [03] PASOK accuses gov't of letting down Security Corps
  • [04] Deputy FM meets UN's WFP Director General
  • [05] Turkish general staff on possible visit by Greek air force chief
  • [06] Speech in New York on 'Greece in the era of extroversion'
  • [07] March to honor Polytechnic uprising comes to an end
  • [08] Skopje summit focuses on SE Europe 'energy community'
  • [09] FinMin Alogoskoufis addresses Capital Link forum on Greek economy
  • [10] FinMin Alogoskoufis visits Wall Street
  • [11] Eurostat puts Greece's trade deficit at 22 bln euros for Jan-Aug '06
  • [12] Greece undertakes initiative for tourism cooperation with SE European countries
  • [13] Healthy outlook for spa tourism
  • [14] Greek tourists to Belgrade rising
  • [15] Hellenic Exchanges launches roadshow in US
  • [16] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks decline
  • [17] 47th Thessaloniki Film Festival begins
  • [18] Cypriot Spokesman says return of Varosha and direct trade are connected
  • [19] Cypriot government confirms Gambari sent letter for July 8 Agreement
  • [20] Cyprus National Guard Chief to visit Russia

  • [01] Public sector contract workers issue causes heated debate in Parliament

    ATHENS, 18/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The long-standing political "thorn" involving tens of thousands of public sector contract employees -- mostly municipal workers -- landed in Parliament on Friday amid heated debate, with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis himself taking the podium to answer tabled questions on the matter by the opposition.

    "The state cannot become the employer of an unlimited number of people. It is impossible to have half of Greeks working in the public sector and being paid by the other half," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis underlined.

    "This demand is merely ill-timed opportunism and hypocritical populism, or even worse, it reveals a certain mentality, namely, that all or almost all Greeks should become civil servants."

    Moreover, the premier noted that his ruling New Democracy government rejects both populism and a perpetual expansion of the state via mass hirings, "to the detriment of taxpayers and society as a whole."

    Responding to relevant questions by main opposition PASOK deputy Dinos Rovlias, Communist Party (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos over the temporary contract workers' issue, Karamanlis stressed that his government fulfilled its commitments, in accordance with the Constitution and a relevant EU Directive, to change the status of individuals covering "fixed and permanent needs" into indefinite work contracts. He also reminded that the government implemented a bonus point scale for those that didn't qualify under this category.

    Regarding the issue of employees hired by municipalities and prefectures, Karamanlis said hirings officially requested by mayors will be approved immediately.

    Conversely, he caustically lashed out at opposition PASOK, saying it was a provocation for those (successive PASOK governments) directly responsible for causing this problem to now assume the role of accuser.

    Regarding an amendment tabled by PASOK deputies this past week, Karamanlis said it cannot be accepted because it violates the principle of separation of powers, abolishes the authority of the State Audit Council and is unconstitutional.

    "It is odd that PASOK pretends to find solutions while in the opposition and creates problems while in government," Karamanlis charged.

    Furthermore, in emphasizing his point, Karamanlis said past practices have bestowed on the country amongst the highest levels of civil servants in the European Union, while at the same time demands for more hirings continue.

    "The truth is that there is a manpower shortage, but in specialized positions," he said.

    Opposition: On his part, PASOK deputy Dinos Rovlias maintained that New Democracy's pre-election promise to give tenure status to contract workers "hijacked" tens of thousands of votes.

    He added that promises have turned into layoffs and the place of those fired has been taken by new temporary contract workers. Rovlias appealed to all sides to adopt a PASOK-sponsored June 2006 draft law stipulating that where hirings are needed such will come via the Supreme Staff Selection Council, thus putting an end to arbitrary hirings and clientelism, as he said.

    KKE: KKE leader Papariga underlined what she called the "fixed and permanent" need for a steady job and pay that workers have.

    She said KKE does not want to seek "retribution" for "costless pre-election promises" made by PASOK or New Democracy. She demanded that all temporary contract workers be hired in order to fill new personnel needs in sectors such as social services, as she said.

    Finally, the communist party head said laws and the Constitution can change to allow for a solution.

    Synaspismos president Alavanos said the current government is competing with the current main opposition in its harshness.

    Alavanos stated that he is impressed by the fact that the Supreme Court's leadership operates as a New Democracy subsidiary, as he claimed.

    [02] PM's itinerary for UK visit announced

    18/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis departs for London on Sunday, accompanied by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, the alternate government spokesman confirmed on Friday.

    According to an itinerary released on Friday, Karamanlis will attend an event at the famed Madame Tussaud museum of waxworks on Monday, followed by a working lunch of the Mayor of the City of London and capped off later in the evening with his address at the London School of Economics.

    On Tuesday, Karamanlis will attend a working lunch with the top editorial staff of the influential British weekly magazine "Economist" before meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and the director of the premier's press office, Yiannis Adrianos, will also accompany Karamanlis on the visit.

    [03] PASOK accuses gov't of letting down Security Corps

    ATHENS, 18/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), during a debate in Parliament on Friday, accused the government of going back on its words of promises it gave to the Security Corps, as well as of partisan selections in the sector.

    However, PASOK's Parliamentary spokesman Miltiades Papaioannou clarified that his party was opposed to a strike which the trade unionists of the Greek Police (EL.AS) have warned they will go ahead with.

    Pubic Order Minister Vyron Polydoras said that he supported the minimum demands of the police officers.

    [04] Deputy FM meets UN's WFP Director General

    18/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The United Nations' World Food Program (WFP) and the Greek foreign ministry's Hellenic Aid on Friday made their first steps for the implementation of a strategy of cooperation, with a seminar which was held at the ministry for entrepreneurs who wish to participate in the international food aid program.

    "Greece has the potential of playing a leading role, supporting the poor countries with its participation through the organization in food aid programs and at the same time the business and shipping community can participate in the promotion of their products or in the transportation of products which are sent to poor countries," said Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, who heads Hellenic Aid, in the presence of WFP Director General John Powell.

    Greece, which has been incorporated in the group of donor countries since 1999, and has humanitarian presence in 46 countries, signed last Spring in Rome a strategic agreement, which makes systematic its cooperation with WFP.

    Hellenic Aid over the past three years granted aid to WFP amounting to three million euros and the Greek ship owners received from the organization, for the transportation of humanitarian products, 17 million euros, Stylianidis pointed out.

    On his part, Powell referred to the effectiveness of the organization which he heads, saying that for every euro which is offered, 93 cents reach their destination. He said that in 2005, WFP sent aid to 97 million people in 80 countries, of which 58 million were children.

    [05] Turkish general staff on possible visit by Greek air force chief

    ISTANBUL, 18/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Turkey's general staff on Friday dismissed certain local press reports claiming that the country's political leadership blocked an upcoming visit to the country by Hellenic Air Force chief Gen. Georgios Avlonitis.

    "The Greek (air force general staff) chief, in his letter, noted that he was unable to visit Turkey due to a very heavy work schedule, and that he would be able to make the visit in the future at a suitable time," a same-day announcement by the Turkish general staff office stated.

    [06] Speech in New York on 'Greece in the era of extroversion'

    NEW YORK, 18/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The factors and prospects of Greece's modern role as a gateway for the whole of southeast Europe was presented by Information Secretary General Panos Livadas on Friday, speaking on the theme "Greece in the new era of extroversion", at the 8th annual forum of "Capital Link".

    Livadas referred to all the elements which determine and secure the viability of Greece's role in the broader region, noting the "unique co-existence of impressive macro-economic magnitudes, which are characterized by high rates of growth and the important reduction of the budget deficit, of inflation and unemployment."

    Livadas underlined Greece's progress in many economic sectors, such as shipping, energy infrastructures and tourism.

    [07] March to honor Polytechnic uprising comes to an end

    ATHENS, 18/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The rally to honor the 33rd anniversary of the students' uprising at the Athens Polytechnic against the military junta then ruling Greece, came to an end shortly after 19:00 on Friday in front of the U.S. embassy in central Athens.

    The traditional rally began at 17:00 after ceremonies at the Polytechnic. Few incidents occurred during the march between demonstrators and police forces, mainly at Vasilissis Sofias Avenue. A demonstrator was slightly injured during an isolated clash between demonstrators in front of the embassy.

    A total of 5,000 police were on hand to guard against violence, mostly by self-styled anarchist youths that frequently infiltrate protest marches and rallies in Athens.

    Earlier in the day, the Greek Parliament observed a minute of silence in honor of the uprising, with Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki saying that the Polytechnic's message always remained timely.

    Police hold in custody troublemakers who took part in Athens Polytechnic march: Forty-six people of those held in custody following incidents which occurred in the Athens Polytechnic march, remained until Friday night at the Attica Police headquarters where they are being interrogated.

    Two more persons are being held and will be referred to justice, one of them accused of attempting to steal a wallet and the other for participation in the first disturbance which occurred in front of the offices of the European Union at Vassilissis Sofias Avenue.

    Five demonstrators were injured, one seriously, and were hospitalized in an Athens hospital. Three police officers were also injured.

    [08] Skopje summit focuses on SE Europe 'energy community'

    SKOPJE, 18/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday praised a ministerial summit here by members of the so-called "energy community" of Southeastern Europe, the first after the signing of a pact to create a regional energy bloc by July 1, 2006.

    The summit agreed to accept Cyprus as full member of the community, while another four countries --including Turkey -- received observer status.

    The minister, representing Athens, presented several proposals during the summit: to begin immediate discussions over the creation of a two new regional energy markets between Black Sea and Mediterranean countries and to organize in Athens - in June 2007 - an international conference on energy-saving policies and actions to promote renewable energy sources.

    Sioufas will also meet with FYROM government officials.

    In addressing the summit, development ministry secretary-general Nikos Stephanou said the country’s international energy interconnections were progressing rapidly and satisfactorily.

    Commenting on a Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline project, Stephanou said the Greek side will have completed its part of the pipeline by April 2007 and said he expects the Turkish side to do the same. Referring on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project, he said consultations to sign a tri-party agreement to build and operate the pipeline were at a "very advance stage".

    Sioufas’ visits: Greece desires a further growth of its economic relations with FYROM, in the energy sector as well as in other fields, Greece's development minister Dimitris Sioufas said late Thursday in Skopje, following a visit to the Greek-owned OKTA refinery and a meeting with representatives of Greek companies in FYROM.

    "Greece's desire is that economic relations with FYROM develop even further, both in the sector of energy and in other sectors," Sioufas told reporters, opining that there was large room for further advancement of the bilateral relations which, he added, would contribute to the their common economic growth and strengthen the good-neighborhood relations.

    Sioufas, in FYROM for the ministerial meeting of the SE Europe Energy Community (ECSEE), toured the OKTA crude oil refinery outside of Skopje, which was acquired in 1999 by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), and was briefed by ELPE president Efthymios Christodoulou on the activities and business plans of the production unit, which employs some 1,000 people and is the largest Greek investment in FYROM.

    In 2005, OKTA emerged as the largest business concern in FYROM based on turnover (approx. 390 million euros).

    On Thursday night, Sioufas visited Greece's Liaison Office in Skopje, where he met with the Greek business community in FYROM.

    The minister, accompanied by development ministry secretary general Nikos Stefanou and other ministry officials, is representing Greece at the Southeast Europe Emergy Community's Ministerial Council meeting taking place in the FYROM capital on Friday, the first by the Ministerial Council since the signing of the Energy Community's founding Treaty in Athens in October 2005 -- which entered into force on July 1, 2006 -- by the EU and nine SE Europe partners: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, FYROM, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria and UNMIK on behalf of Kosovo (under UN Security Council Resolution . The Treaty, the first ever multi-lateral accord in SE Europe, creates the legal framework for an integrated energy market. Negotiations are ongoing with Turkey for joining the Treaty at a later stage, while Moldova, Ukraine and Norway are also expected to join later.

    The purpose of the Treaty is to create a new, strong regional market, under the aegis of the EU, with the participation of five EU member states and nine Balkan countries, covering the fields of electricity and natural gas, which will result in major benefits for the countries, businesses and consumers.

    [09] FinMin Alogoskoufis addresses Capital Link forum on Greek economy

    NEW YORK, 18/11/206 (ANA-MPA)

    Greece constitutes the ideal business partner for the American businesses which wish to invest and participate in the economic growth of the broader region of southeast Europe and the Mediterranean, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis underlined on Friday, directing himself to entrepreneurs who observed the sessions of the "Capital Link" forum on the theme:"Greece 2004-2006: From Reforms to Results".

    Alogoskoufis made extensive reference to the important progressive steps of the Greek economy, which, as he stated, "were made after careful implementation of the government's reform program and not by chance."

    He stressed that "Greece henceforth constitutes the steam-engine of growth of the broader region of more than 160 million inhabitants."

    The Greek finance minister said that "the rise of exports, the reduction of unemployment to 8.8 per cent from 11.3 per cent in March 2004, the increase of tourism, the improvement of competitiveness of the Greek economy by eight positions in the international ranking and fiscal adjustment in the framework of the regulations of the European Union (EU), are some of the achievements of the Greek economy."

    He added that "we are continuing the agenda of privatizations, with the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) seeking a strategic partner, but also further privatizations in the banking sector and the transport sector."

    [10] FinMin Alogoskoufis visits Wall Street

    NEW YORK, 18/11/206 (ANA-MPA)

    The President of New York's Bourse (CEO), John Thain, on Thursday recognized the growth of the Greek economy at an event held at Wall Street, just before Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis was to close the session of the greatest bourse in the world, at which is being negotiated the shares of more than 2,500 companies with a total capital of 23 trillion dollars.

    Earlier, Alogoskoufis, in a meeting he had with representatives of the Hellenic-American Business Council, referred to the progress which the Greek economy has made, giving emphasis to the fiscal adjustment, in parallel with the maintenance of high growth rates. He also underlined the efforts being made so that the Greek economy becomes more competitive and extrovert.

    Alogoskoufis also had meetings with high ranking members of large international investment banks and gave interviews to the BBC and Bloomberg television stations.

    On Friday, the minister met Archbishop of America Demetrios.

    [11] Eurostat puts Greece's trade deficit at 22 bln euros for Jan-Aug '06

    BRUSSELS, 18/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Greece's trade deficit reached the 22-billion-euro mark over the first eight months of 2006, increasing by three billion euros in relation to the corresponding period in the previous year, Eurostat reported here on Friday.

    Specifically, the EU executive's statistical service said exports from the country totalled 10.7 billion euros, whereas imports reached 32.9 billion euros.

    On a more optimistic note, exports increased by 22 percent over the same period in comparison with Jan-Aug 2005, while imports increased by 17 percent.

    [12] Greece undertakes initiative for tourism cooperation with SE European countries

    ATHENS, 18/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece is undertaking an initiative for tourism cooperation with countries of the Balkans and of southeast Europe, with objective the implementation of common entrepreneurial and cross-border actions for the upgrading of the tourism product.

    On Friday, Tourism Development Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia met in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, with her counterparts from neighboring countries and with representatives of tourism organizations, within the framework of the 22nd "Philoxenia" international tourism exhibition. She noted that an international conference will be held in Greece some time next year.

    "We wish to bring into contact the leaderships of the ministries, the investors and all those involved with the tourism industry. To institutionalize a forum of actions which will lead us to a coordinated tourism policy," Palli-Petralia said later during a press conference.

    [13] Healthy outlook for spa tourism

    ATHENS, 18/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The outlook is favorable for spa tourism in Greece although sector firms need to make the right business moves and more state backing is required, according to speakers at a sector conference on Friday.

    Greek spa tourism could become a major attraction for travelers interested in health tourism as the country has the infrastructure and other advantages to seize a chunk of the world market, the speakers noted.

    The conference is part of Philoxenia Spa, a new section of the annual Philoxenia international travel and tourism exhibition based in the northern port city of Thessaloniki and organized by Helexpo.

    Friday's event was directed at Greek and foreign participants from the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean in order to present the status quo and opportunities in the regional and world spa market.

    Presentations at the meeting included trends in the world spa market, the requirements of tour operators and users, spas as investments, and niche markets.

    [14] Greek tourists to Belgrade rising

    ATHENS, 18/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The number of Greek tourists to Belgrade totaled 7,958 in January to August 2006, up 13% from the same period a year earlier, the city's tourism board said on Friday.

    Overnight stays increased by 9.0% to total 16,619 versus the same eight month period of 2005, the board's officials told a news conference at the international Philoxenia tourism trade fair in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

    [15] Hellenic Exchanges launches roadshow in US

    18/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Hellenic Exchanges SA, the operator of the Athens Stock Exchange, the Athens Derivatives Exchange and NEXA, on Friday began a roadshow in the United States.

    The five-day event includes meetings with institutional investors in New York, New Jersey, Boston and Chicago. During the roadshow, Hellenic Exchanges' management will have one-on-one meetings with a total 45 institutional funds with activities in the Greek capital market.

    Hellenic Exchange also participated in the 8th Annual Capital Link Forum held in New York, entitled "Greece in the Era of Reforms".

    During the forum, the New York Stock Exchange honoured Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, the Athens Stock Exchange for the 130th anniversary since its founding and ASE chairman Spyros Kapralos. Afterwards, the Greek minister and the ASE chairman rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

    Kapralos will also address the Capital Link Forum, where he is expected to focus on the development of the Greek market based on transparency, reducing costs and restructuring operations, along with the successful launch of a common trading platform with the Cyprus Stock Exchange.

    [16] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks decline

    ATHENS, 18/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 4,314.90 points, showing a decline of 0.37%. Turnover was 335.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.43% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.67% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.35% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 193 to 79 with 43 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): PPC (1280)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 226.4 million euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    U.S. dollar 1.287

    [17] 47th Thessaloniki Film Festival begins

    18/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The 47th Thessaloniki Film Festival opened Friday night with addresses by Culture Ministry Secretary General Christos Zachopoulos, the festival's director Despina Mouzaki and Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Kalantzis.

    This year's festival is adopting a phrase by French historian and film critic Andre Bazin (founder and publisher of the "Cahiers du Cinema") who considers cinema as "an open window to the world" as its "slogan."

    The latest film by Stephen Frears "The Queen" was projected after the opening ceremony. The film, having a duration of 97 minutes, refers to the death of Princess Diana and the reactions of Queen Elizabeth II. Frear's film amazed the public in Venice, where it received the FIPRESCI award for Frear's directorship, the Golden Osella award for the best scenario by Peter Morgan, as well as the award for the best woman's performance.

    [18] Cypriot Spokesman says return of Varosha and direct trade are connected

    NICOSIA, 18/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis underlined here Friday that there cannot be statements that the European Union has no relation or say on the issue of the return of the fenced off area of Famagusta (Varosha).

    Pashiardis was commenting on a statement made by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn Thursday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg that the "Varosha problem is a separate issue from the introduction of direct trade between the Turkish Cypriot community and the rest of the EU".

    The Cypriot spokesman also said that the Finish Presidency's initiative has no prospect of success, if the effort does not include a clear timeframe providing for the return of Varosha to its legal inhabitants.

    He pointed that the 25 EU member states' agreement on February 24, 2006 connects the issue of direct trade with the return of Varosha.

    ''This connection is made in the known proposal of the Luxembourg Presidency. The same connection has been accepted by the Austrian Presidency and is also included in the known initiative of the Finnish Presidency which is in evolution'', he said.

    He added that Rehn himself last December in a statement he made, connected the two issues.

    "Therefore it cannot be said that the EU has no relation or say on the issue of the return of Varosha, which, in any case, is a fundamental precondition for the successful outcome of the Finnish presidency", Pashiardis added.

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

    The Cypriot government has stressed that the precondition for the success of the Finnish EU presidency's initiative is the return of Varosha to its legitimate inhabitants.

    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.

    [19] Cypriot government confirms Gambari sent letter for July 8 Agreement

    NICOSIA, 18/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis confirmed here Friday that UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari has sent a letter to President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    Pashiardis said the letter concerns practical arrangements with the aim to accelerate efforts to promote the implementation of the July 8, 2006 Agreement, adding that ''our side will respond positively to Gambari's suggestions''.

    ''Out steady pursuit was and remains the full implementation the soonest possible of the July 8, Agreement, so as to open the way for substantive negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem'', he added.

    He expressed hope that ''the Turkish side will not be limited to merely giving its consent to Gambari's suggestions but to prove in practice its political willingness to implement the July 8, Agreement unreservedly and without preconditions and especially without time wasting and without protracting tactics''.

    He added that ''the carrying out of talks cannot be extended nor to create impressions but to produce substantive and clear results and this is what our side is asking for''.

    Asked about the possibility of a meeting between President Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat, Pashiardis reminded that the July 8, Agreement foresees meetings of the two leaders in order to review the work of the Technical Committees and give directions to the expert bi-communal working groups.

    President Papadopoulos and Talat agreed on July 8th 2006, during a meeting in the presence of Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    Following the agreement, senior aides of the two leaders in Cyprus, Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev, began meetings in Moller's office in the UN-controlled buffer zone to work out the modalities for the implementation of the July agreement.

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

    [20] Cyprus National Guard Chief to visit Russia

    NICOSIA, 18/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    National Guard Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Constantinos Bisbikas will pay an official visit to the Russian Federation, from November 21-25, at the invitation of the first deputy minister of defense and the Chief of the Russian General Staff Yury Baluyevsky.

    A press release, issued by the ministry of defense, said Bisbikas, to be accompanied by a group of officials from the ministry and the General Command of the National Guard, will hold talks with his Russian counterpart on issues of bilateral and military cooperation.

    He will also lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow.

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