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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-23

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

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

November 23, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis chairs broad meeting at national defense ministry
  • [02] Greece, Russia to draft new 2-year Action Plan on bilateral relations
  • [03] Upgrading of Greek-Russian relations continuous, FM says
  • [04] Russian official clarifies Russian government's position on Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline
  • [05] Czech President Klaus begins visit
  • [06] President Papoulias hosts official dinner in honor of Czech counterpart Klaus
  • [07] PM to meet with visiting Czech president on Thursday
  • [08] Greek-Czech tourism agreement
  • [09] Czech President Vaclav Klaus proclaimed Athens University honorary professor
  • [10] Turkey must fulfill its EU commitments for accession process to proceed, gov't reiterates
  • [11] U.S. Senate Urges President Bush to Prevent Extinction of Christian Church Spiritual Headquarters
  • [12] Turkish nationalists protest Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to Turkey
  • [13] Parliamentary committee's phonetapping report publicised
  • [14] Gov't again condemns instance of apparent police brutality in Thessaloniki
  • [15] PASOK leader condemns assassination of Lebanon's industry minister
  • [16] PASOK party leader visits all-day elementary school
  • [17] Dep. FM Kassimis arrives in Montreal
  • [18] Discussion of 2007 state budget begins at Parliamentary Committee
  • [19] Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas meets EU energy and environment officials
  • [20] Transport and communications minister signs draft Presidential Decree on creation of heliports
  • [21] Media Terra, ANA-MPA cooperate in briefing population on natural disasters
  • [22] Felony charges filed in Schinoussa antiquities case
  • [23] Wild duck from Fthiotida prefecture not contaminated with H5N1 virus
  • [24] Review of National Public Administration Centre's work
  • [25] Benaki to host exhibition to Hatzikyriakos Ghikas
  • [26] Thessaloniki's White Tower to serve as museum
  • [27] Olympiakos Piraeus loses 2-0 to Valencia in Champions League match
  • [28] Cypriot Spokesman: Our side will be consistent with July 8 Agreement
  • [29] UNSC Permanent Members welcome positive response to Gambari's suggestions
  • [30] Ambassador Pipponen: Failure of Finnish initiative would mean lose - lose situation

  • [01] PM Karamanlis chairs broad meeting at national defense ministry

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday chaired a broad meeting at the National Defense ministry on matters related to the operation of the Armed Forces and the course of implementation of the government's work in this critical sector, attended by the ministry's civilian and military leadership.

    During the 2 1/2 hour meeting, Karamanlis stressed that the government "is advancing the modernization of the Armed Forces, based on meritocracy, the rational use of the available resources, and transparency in the management of the public monies".

    "We are proud of our Armed Forces which, devoted to democracy and peace, defend our national sovereignty with self-denial, are a factor of stability in the wider region through their participation in international missions, guarantee world peace in implementation of the decisions of the international community while, with their social contribution, they have earned the confidence of the citizens," Karamanlis said, pledging that "the state will stand by their side, assisting in their effort to maintain morale and preparedness at a high level".

    Accompanied by Cabinet secretary Argyris Karras and director of the prime minister's press office Yannis Andrianos, Karamanlis arrived at the ministry at 10:30 a.m. where he was greeted by the entire civilian and military leadership headed by national defense minister Evangelos Meimarakis, and inspected the units aligned in the courtyard.

    The premier was briefed in detail by the civilian and military leadership on matters concerning the Armed Forces' operational capability and the country's defense shielding.

    Karamanlis also chaired the Defense Council, that convened with an enlarged composition, since apart from their ministry's civil leadership and the four general staff chiefs, the general directors of the ministry's civil departments also participated.

    Defense Minister Vangelis Meimarakis praised the excellent training and preparation of the armed forces' cadres, as well as their strong spirit, and made a general reference to the considerable work they are accomplishing.

    Karamanlis focused on the country's fiscal state, letting it be understood that the will exists for the gradual solving of the financial demands of the armed forces' cadres.

    As of December 2, Greece will undertake for the first time, in the framework of the European Union, the responsibility of the command of the "ALTHEA" operation for the northern part of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    PASOK reaction: Main opposition PASOK party foreign policy sector chief Christos Papoutsis said that the prime minister's visit "to the defense ministry for the first time after three years of governance obviously poses the question: Is it only now that the prime minister remembered the armed forces?".

    [02] Greece, Russia to draft new 2-year Action Plan on bilateral relations

    MOSCOW 23/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)

    Greece and Russia on Thursday announced their political decision for the creation of a new Action Plan that will serve as the axis of their bilateral relations for the next two years, during an hour-long meeting in Moscow between visiting Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

    The two ministers also expressed their conviction that the agreement for the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline will be signed by the end of the year, as targeted, and reaffirmed the "excellent relations" between the two countries, which are expressed not only at bilateral level but also in international organizations with their good cooperation.

    The agenda of the talks also included a number of major issues such as the Cyprus problem, the Middle East, and the situation in the Balkans with the emphasis on Kosovo.

    The Action Plan, which will set out the framework for Greek-Russian bilateral relations in the two-year period 2007-2008 and replace the preceding 2005-2006 action plan, will be expanded and deepened in relation to the current one, aiming at further promotion of cooperation between the two countries.

    "We have taken the decision for a new cooperation framework for 2007-2008. Our goal is to strengthen economic cooperation, and the organization of trade missions from Greece is being planned for the promotion of Greek products on the Russian market," Bakoyannis said during a joint press conference with Lavrov after their meeting.

    "We discussed the Action Plan in detail, and agreed to the commencement of its preparation," Lavrov said, adding that the relevant contacts would begin in the framework of the joint Greek-Russian inter-governmental committee in the immediate future.

    On the prospects for the agreement for the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, the Russian foreign minister said that, in the framework of the political agreement between Russian president Vladimir Putin, Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis and Bulgarian president Georgi Purvanov signed in Athens in September 2006, "the experts from our countries are working intensively so that the draft of the agreement will be ready for signing by the end of the year".

    Bakoyannis, in turn, also expressed optimism that the timetable for signature of the agreement by the end of the year will be met.

    The two sides further reaffirmed the excellent relations between Greece and Russian in international organizations and fora.

    "Our countries are collaborating intensively on international matters as well," Lavrov said, citing the UN Security Council in particular, on which Greece holds a non-permanent seat until the end of the year, as well as in the framework of Russia-EU and Russia-NATO relations.

    "Greece believes that the strengthening of Russia-EU relations is an imperative policy for the EU", Bakoyannis said, adding that "Greece backs this position at all the EU Councils".

    She further noted the close cooperation between the two countries in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC) and in the UN, where she said many resolutions have been taken in agreement with the Russian delegation.

    Replying to a question on the level of Greek-Russian defense cooperation, Lavrov said that "we are satisfied with who our relevant services are cooperating both with respect to the expansion of military contacts and with respect to seeking out mutually beneficial prospects on the field of defense-technical cooperation".

    "We are prepared to develop this cooperation to the degree where mutual interest exists," he added.

    [03] Upgrading of Greek-Russian relations continuous, FM says

    SAINT PETERSBURG 23/11/2006 (ANA-MPA - N. Melissova)

    Foreign Minister Bakoyannis expressed satisfaction over the results of her meetings and speaking of a continuous upgrading of Greek-Russian relations.

    "We have placed the bar higher," Bakoyannis said during a briefing of Greek reporters in referring to the new Action Plan that will regulate bilateral relations over the next two years.

    The foreign minister said Greece's goal is to correct the trade balance and achieve a greater share in the Russian market, while the sectors of shipping, farm products, technology, culture and defense cooperation are of particular interest and also referred to the upcoming visit to Athens by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in early December.

    On the question of tourist cooperation, Bakoyannis said "it went very well and we are expecting it to be even better in the next year," adding that "we have acquired the infrastructures for issuing a bigger number of entry visas, an effort for which the Russian side expressed satisfaction."

    As regards the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline project, she said it was "going well, time limits have been honored so far and the target is to have the agreement signed within the year."

    Focusing on the Cyprus issue, which, together with Kosovo and the Middle East question, was one of the "aggravated international problems" discussed, Bakoyannis referred to the UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari proposals and to statements by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, saying that a process is about to begin again and that all this is a positive development in the right direction, while disclosing that "we also briefed the Russian government officials on Euro-Turkish issues."

    An analytical discussion was held on Kosovo and both sides expressed joint concern and agreed that "asphyxiating or artificial timetables do not help".

    A mutual briefing was held on developments in Iran for which, as the Greek foreign minister said, an open line of consultations is being maintained at the Security Council in the framework of European policy.

    "It is an issue that might preoccupy us soon, much more than today," she said.

    Lastly, she spoke of Greece's "vanguard" role in strengthening relations between Russia and the European Union, as well as of close cooperation between the two countries in the framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization.

    Regarding cooperation at the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, the Russian foreign minister said that "Greece and Russia place very great importance on upgrading the performance of this organization", a remark that was also stressed by the state-run news agency Novosti in a report.

    Both news agencies, Novosti and Itar-Tass, made extensive reports on Bakoyannis' meetings with her Russian counterpart and placed particular emphasis on the new Action Plan, the development of economic relations and the promotion of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline.

    Itar-Tass reported the statement by Lavrov after his meeting with Bakoyannis according to which "the processing of documents on the Burgas-Alexandroupoli construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year."

    Novosti made special reference to the prospect of defense cooperation, carrying a statement by Sergei Lavrov that "Russia and Greece intend to develop military and technical cooperation."

    Later in the evening, the foreign minister arrived in Saint Petersburg where she was to meet the city's Governor Valentina Matvienko.

    [04] Russian official clarifies Russian government's position on Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline

    MOSCOW 23/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/N.Melissova)

    The Russian government clarified its position on the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline with a statement by Deputy Industry and Energy Minister Andrei Demediev to the media on Wednesday night, following reports in the Greek press, stressing that the Russian position on the issue remained unchanged.

    "Our position is unchanged and is formulated in the draft agreement between the governments of Russia, Bulgaria and Greece on cooperation for the implementation of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli project. 51 percent is granted to the 'Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline joint venture Ltd', that was founded by the Russian companies "Transneft SA", "Rosneft SA" and "Gazprom Neft SA". The 49 percent is distributed between the Bulgarian and Greek companies (on an equal basis), as well as oil extracting companies that are interested in the implementation of the plan, while the total share of the previously-mentioned oil companies cannot exceed 25 percent of the founding (share) capital of the International Company of the Plan," the statement said.

    [05] Czech President Klaus begins visit

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday formally received Czech President Vaclav Klaus here, who arrived in Greece earlier in the day for an official two-day visit along with his spouse, Livia Klausova.

    Several ministers were present for the formal welcoming ceremony at the presidential mansion in Athens, whereas both leaders later held close-door talks.

    "All of EU candidate-countries must fulfill criteria and their obligations without shortcuts. The EU's principles are non-negotiable conquests of European civilization," Papoulias later said in an indirect reference to Turkey, adding that the only wall dividing a European capital, Nicosia, must fall.

    Both men, moreover, called bilateral relations excellent.

    Following his meeting with Papoulias, Klaus later met with main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International president George Papandreou for talks on bilateral relations and issues of European and international interest.

    The Czech President later visited a major bookstore in the Greek capital, where he signed copies of his book "On the Road to Democracy", which was recently translated into Greek.

    [06] President Papoulias hosts official dinner in honor of Czech counterpart Klaus

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday evening hosted an official dinner in honor of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who arrived in Greece earlier in the day for an official two-day visit.

    "There should be a transition soon from the period of reflection to a period of action for the political integration of the European Union, which will allow it to meet the challenges of enlargement, and also the major problems which the European citizen faces," said President Papoulias in his address.

    "The European Union is obliged to confront with effectiveness basic challenges, such as the weakness in specifying an effective strategic of development with a social face and the adoption in foreign issues of policies which respect European principles," Papoulias said. He also referred to the "need of a more effective protection of the environment, which cannot be achieved, if there is no awareness in and out of Europe, that development without respect for nature cannot exist."

    The Greek president noted that Greece looks forward to the upcoming presidency of the European Union by Germany for "the development of a serious dialogue between the European governments in the nucleus of which will be the concerns of the European peoples for the strengthening of the European Union's voice on a world level, for growth and social justice."

    [07] PM to meet with visiting Czech president on Thursday

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will chair an Inner Cabinet meeting on Thursday morning scheduled to discuss issues under the competency of the national economy and finance minister, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced on Wednesday.

    At noon, the premier will receive the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, at his office. Klaus is on a state visit to Greece.

    [08] Greek-Czech tourism agreement

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    In a related development, Greece and the Czech Republic on Wednesday signed a tourism cooperation agreement here.

    The Greek side was represented by Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, whereas the Czech side was represented by the Czech Republic's ambassador to Athens Hana Mottlova.

    The agreement was signed at the presidential mansion in the presence of President Karolos Papoulias and his visiting counterpart Klaus.

    [09] Czech President Vaclav Klaus proclaimed Athens University honorary professor

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who arrived in Greece on Wednesday for an official two-day visit along with his spouse, Livia Klausova, during a special event at Athens University in the evening, was proclaimed Economic Sciences honorary professor of the Legal and Economic Sciences Faculty.

    Klaus was addressed by Athens University rector Christos Kittas, while professor Stavros Thomadakis referred to Klaus' scientific work, which is identified with his political course.

    Klaus in his speech said that 17 years after the Czechia-Slovakia "velvet divorce" in 1989, the course of Czechia's transition course "constitutes a past and now we are a country with normal European standards."

    Present at the event was Deputy National Education and Religious Affairs Minister Spyros Taliadouros.

    [10] Turkey must fulfill its EU commitments for accession process to proceed, gov't reiterates

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    The government on Wednesday reiterated that Turkey must fulfill the commitments it has undertaken towards the EU if its accession process was to progress.

    "Turkey must fulfill a series of obligations, which it has undertaken, in order for its accession process to proceed," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said during a regular press briefing in reply to questions concerning prime minister Costas Karamanlis' meeting in London on Tuesday with British premier Tony Blair, and reiterated Greece's and Britain's well-known positions on the issue of EU-Turkey relations.

    Asked to comment on a statement Tuesday by EU enlargement commissioner Ollie Rehn that the EU '25' should, in December, at the EU summit, stress the need for reactivation in the UN of the efforts for a Cyprus solution, Roussopoulos said that "all the Greek governments from 1974 to the present have stated their support to the UN efforts for a resolution of the Cyprus issue".

    Every reference of this kind at an international meeting was in favor of a Cyprus solution, he added.

    [11] U.S. Senate Urges President Bush to Prevent Extinction of Christian Church Spiritual Headquarters

    WASHINGTON 23/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    73 U.S. Senators signed a letter to President George W. Bush expressing 'deep concern that policies of the Turkish government pose a grave threat to the future of the Ecumenical Patriarchate', Dr. Anthony Limberakis, National Commander of the Orthodox Church’s Order of St. Andrew, announced on Wednesday in a statement.

    “On Thursday, November 30 Pope Benedict the XVI will meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in Istanbul , Turkey . The Ecumenical Patriarch is the head of the Christian Orthodox Church, which represents 250 million people worldwide. This is only the fourth time in 1,000 years the Pope will have visited the Ecumenical Patriarch,” Limberakis said.

    “In advance of this historic meeting, 73 U.S. Senators signed a letter to President George W. Bush expressing `deep concern that policies of the Turkish government pose a grave threat to the future of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the spiritual home of the world’s second largest Christian Church - Orthodox Christianity.’ The Senators call this `a religious tragedy of historic magnitude.’ The President receives approximately five letters a year with this level of Senate support,” said Limberakis.

    The Senators’ letter states, “Millions of Orthodox Christian Americans stand to lose their spiritual head and all Christians will give up a crucial link to their history and forefathers. Within the 2,000-year-old Sacred See the text of the New Testament was codified, the canonical structure of the Christian church was established, and the Nicene Creed was created.”

    The Senators’ letter adds, “Seventy-five percent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s properties has already been confiscated by the Turkish government. Beyond this, the Patriarchate’s dissolution in the coming decades is essentially inevitable if Turkey continues its policy of prohibiting all 250 million non-Turkish Orthodox Christians from becoming Ecumenical Patriarch. Turkey itself has only 2,500 remaining eligible Greek Orthodox Christians and they are mostly elderly.

    “The disappearance of the See would mean the end of a crucial link between Christians and the Muslim world. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos gathered international religious leaders and produced the first condemnation of the attacks as “anti-religious” that included Muslim leaders. At a time when individuals hostile to the United States are attempting to create conflict between Christians and Muslims, the continuing presence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey is a living testimony of religious co-existence since 1453.

    “Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos’ individual importance to America is reflected in the record number of Congressional cosponsors who bestowed on him our country’s highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal - an award also given to George Washington, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II, among others.”

    On November 20, 2006, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and His Eminence Cardinal William H. Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore and central Roman Catholic hierarch in the dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics, issued a joint statement of fraternal understanding and prayer for the upcoming three-day visit of Pope Benedict XVI with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in Istanbul, Turkey.

    [12] Turkish nationalists protest Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to Turkey

    ISTANBUL 23/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    A small group of 39 Turkish nationalists who entered the building of Aghia Sophia on Wednesday as visitors of the museum tried to hold a protest over the visit to Turkey next week by Pope Benedict XVI, the news agency "Anadolu" reported.

    The group wanted to conduct the Muslim prayer conducted at the mosques. Turkish police intervened in the afternoon and arrested all the 39 men.

    [13] Parliamentary committee's phonetapping report publicised

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    A report prepared by the Parliamentary Institutions and Transparency Committee on the phonetapping issue was publicised on Wednesday.

    According to the report, signed by the Committee's President An. Karamarios, the secretary of the New Democracy party's Parliamentary Group Apostolos Stavrou and ND's Parliamentary representative Vassilis Manginas, the phonetapping took place through the digital centers of the VODAFONE company, with the assistance of people, possibly, employees of VODAFONE. It is noted that the joint responsibility of the ERICSSON company cannot be ruled out since "it is not possible that the mother ERICSSON company cannot be aware who have the possibility to create" the software used for the phonetapping.

    The report stresses that the phonetapping focused mainly on the telephones of the prime minister and certain specific ministers, although the purpose of the surveillance "cannot be ascertained on the basis of existing evidence."

    The report will be forwarded to the relevant judicial authorities "to detect those responsible and the perpetrators of these criminal acts and the penal responsibilities of those involved in the whole phonetapping issue, through the digital centres of the VODAFONE company or with the cooperation of employees of ERICSSON as well or whatever other third persons."

    The report also notes that "the possible involvement of other third persons, either from our country or other countries as well, a fact that cannot be ruled out, was not possible to be ascertained, apart from the cases of legal listening that took place before and during the 2004 Olympic Games to guarantee their safe holding."

    [14] Gov't again condemns instance of apparent police brutality in Thessaloniki

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    The government on Wednesday again went out of its way to condemn the roughing up of a college student in Thessaloniki last Friday by undercover police officers ostensibly on patrol to prevent self-styled anarchist violence during the 33rd anniversary of a 1973 students' uprising.

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos reiterated that repeated condemnations of the incident and the order for an administrative inquiry "comprise the state's palpable apology".

    Roussopoulos echoed previous statements this week by the alternate government spokesman during consecutive press briefings.

    Moreover, the spokesman said both authorities and demonstrators alike must obey the law.

    The 24-year-old Cypriot student sustained lacerations and extensive bruising on his face and body during his arrest, although both the man and his family have strenuously maintained that he was a mere bystander "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

    The entire incident was captured by a television crew and broadcast nationwide over the past few days.

    [15] PASOK leader condemns assassination of Lebanon's industry minister

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou on Wednesday sent a letter to Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora in which he condemned the assassination of Lebanon's Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel on Tuesday.

    Papandreou also had phone talks with Siniora.

    "I am shocked by the news of the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, the Industry Minister of your government, who believed and worked for a new independent, democratic and united Lebanon," Papandreou said in his letter.

    "We condemn in the most intense way this assassination, as well as any attempt of destabilization of Lebanon, through political assassinations or other terrorist acts," Papandreou added.

    [16] PASOK party leader visits all-day elementary school

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou visited the all-day elementary school at Neo Ikonio in Perama, outside Athens, on Wednesday and expressed concern over the institution of the all-day elementary school.

    Accompanied by parity officials Milena Apostolaki and Nasos Alevras, Papandreou met with the school's teachers and the parents and guardians society and discussed problems faced by the school. He then visited the pupils in a classroom and held a discussion with them.

    Papandreou said the institution of the all-day school is important because it provides new possibilities and skills, while working parents can also benefit from it.

    [17] Dep. FM Kassimis arrives in Montreal

    MONTREAL 23/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis arrived here on Tuesday following a six-city tour of the United States aimed at visiting major ethnic communities in North America.

    The Greek minister, who holds the expatriate Greek portfolio, will meet with representatives of the ethnic Greek communities in Montreal and Laval and tour community institutions, such as churches and Greek-language schools.

    He will meet with local higher academic leaders on Thursday.

    [18] Discussion of 2007 state budget begins at Parliamentary Committee

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis outlined the government's economic policy on the first day of the discussion of the 2007 state budget at the relevant Parliamentary Committee on Wednesday.

    "We are continuing the implementation of our plan for an effective, socially just and reliable economic policy with consent and without surprises. We believe that at the end of the four-year term the government will appeal with credibility to the Greek people and call on them to renew their popular mandate to complete its reformist work," the minister said.

    Opposition party rapporteurs, however, spoke of a "fictitious and unreliable budget", accusing the government of having an economic policy "in favor of the few and at the expense of the weaker classes."

    [19] Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas meets EU energy and environment officials

    BRUSSELS 23/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas met here on Wednesday with European Union Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

    Sioufas and Pielbags discussed issues concerning Thursday's EU Council of Energy Ministers, placing emphasis on Europe's energy policy, relations with Russia, the Treaty of the Energy Community of Southeastern Europe and matters regarding the Energy Chart.

    Talks with Dimas focused on issues related to the EU's environmental policies, combined with the strengthening of the competitiveness of Greek industries and small and medium-size processing businesses.

    Sioufas also said that Greece expresses its satisfaction over France's success in having the thermonuclear experimental reactor established in European territory, at Kantaras in southeastern France, while supporting the efforts of the European Commission for an agreement to be achieved on the participation of as many partners as possible, safeguarding the interests of the EU at the same time.

    [20] Transport and communications minister signs draft Presidential Decree on creation of heliports

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis has signed a draft Presidential Decree on the founding, construction, equipping, operation and exploitation of heliports.

    The new Presidential Decree, that is being forwarded for processing at the Council of State and then signing by the President of the Republic, will arrange terms for the granting of licenses for the founding and operation of heliports, as well as specifications for their construction, equipping, organization and exploitation.

    Liapis said that "the new Presidential Decree being forwarded for processing at the Council of State and then signing by the President of the Republic harmonizes Greek legislation with international models regarding the entire spectrum of the founding, construction and operation of heliports."

    Fokion Fotiadis to assume post of European Commission's director-general for fisheries BRUSSELS 23/11/2006 (V. Demiris)

    Fokion Fotiadis will assume the post of director-general for fisheries issues of the European Commission as of January 1, 2007, the Community's executive announced in Brussels on Wednesday.

    Fotiadis, who is an economist and has worked in the European Union since 1981, is currently the European Commission's alternate director-general for foreign relations and his new posting is part of the framework of the decisions which the European Commission took on Wednesday for transfers in its general departments.

    Mytilineos Group on Wednesday reported a 19.8 percent increase in its nine-month turnover to 649 million euros from 541.8 million in the same period last year, although net earnings after tax and minorities fell to 103.1 million euros from 167.4 million over the same period, respectively.

    A company announcement said net profits, excluding goodwill value from the purchase of a majority stake in Aluminium of Greece, rose 176.6 percent in the January-September period.

    Operating pre tax and interest earnings rose 56.6 pct to 133.9 million euros, while operating pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) rose 48.8 percent to 149.7 million euros.

    Aluminium of Greece reported a 29 pct increase in turnover to 349.7 million euros, a 71.5 pct rise in EBIT to 75.3 million and a 59.6 pct rise in EBITDA to 85.1 million euros. Net profits after tax and minorities totaled 61.8 million euros, up 101.4 percent from 2005, while its cash flow totaled 11 million euros at the end of September 2006.

    A cost-saving program resulted to savings up to 13.3 million euros so far, the announcement said.

    Metka Group reported a 25.1 pct increase in nine-month turnover to 217.4 million euros, EBIT were up to 41.8 million euros and EBITDA rose 14.2 pct to 45.4 million euros. Net profits after tax and minorities rose to 28.3 million euros.

    [21] Media Terra, ANA-MPA cooperate in briefing population on natural disasters

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    A new approach in the confrontation of natural disasters and dangers is being attempted through the involvement of the mass media in the pre-emptive and effective briefing of the population aimed at the restriction of the repercussions from natural disasters.

    Specifically, the Athens News Agency-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA), being conscious of the importance of the timely and proper briefing of the population of crises, is attempting through the implementation of the Media Terra program, which is conducted within the framework Archimed Community Initiative, to form in Greece, in cooperation with the Civil Protection General Secretariat and Thessaly University, a framework of cooperation for the observation of dangerous natural phenomena in the Basin of the southeastern Mediterranean aimed at the proper and effective preparation of the population in the confrontation of natural disasters.

    Within this framework, the above mentioned Greek agencies, cooperating with Italy's Inter-Ministerial Agency for Civil Protection, Palermo University, Cyprus' Latsi Municipality and the news agencies of Turkey, Syria and Palestine, are attempting to introduce a unified approach for the preemptive ness and confrontation of natural disasters on the basis of a joint Observatory for the observation of natural disasters, with Thessaloniki, Macedonia, as its headquarters.

    [22] Felony charges filed in Schinoussa antiquities case

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    An Athens prosecutor on Wednesday slapped felony charges against four family members -- a London-based heiress of a maritime shipping concern and her three adult children -- linked to a large cache of unregistered antiquities discovered in a luxury villa on the tiny Cyclades isle of Schinoussa last April.

    Prosecutor Eleni Raikou filed charges related to antiquities smuggling and the illegal possession and sale of valuable artifacts against Despina Papadimitriou and her children, Alexandros, Aggeliki and Dimitris.

    The voluminous case file, which cites the discovery of a total of 152 artifacts in both Schinoussa and a residence in an upscale Athens district, was conveyed to prosecutors by authorities earlier in the month.

    According to reports, all four suspects maintained that they came into possession of the ancient artifacts, many of which are judged as rare and invaluable, via inheritances.

    All of the artifacts have been boxed and transferred to the National Archaeological Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum, both in Athens.

    One of the items is a headless marble torso of a statue of Aphrodite that archaeologists hope is a Roman-era copy of a famous work by ancient sculptor Praxiteles.

    [23] Wild duck from Fthiotida prefecture not contaminated with H5N1 virus

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    A wild duck from the region of Anthili in the Fthiotida prefecture has not been contaminated by the lethal for man H5N1 bird flu virus and, consequently, restrictive measures taken in the area have been lifted, it was announced on Wednesday by the President of the relevant Scientific Committee Spyros Kyriakis.

    Relevant national and European Union authorities have also been informed of the negative results of laboratory tests.

    [24] Review of National Public Administration Centre's work

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    A total of 54,000 civil servants have been given additional training in the past year on programs of the National Public Administration Centre, without taking into consideration 25,000 other civil servants who are being given additional training in the framework of the "Information Society" program. In addition, funds for additional training for public administration officials over the 2005-2006 period are three times those of the previous two-year period.

    This was disclosed during a press conference given at the interior ministry on Wednesday by Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and National Public Administration Centre Secretary General George Voutsinos.

    Pavlopoulos made an account of the Centre's work over the past 30 months and noted that since it was created 10 years ago it had been functioning in an inadequate way, while departments where public administration officials are shaped and given additional training have been completed now.

    [25] Benaki to host exhibition to Hatzikyriakos Ghikas

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    Athens' Benaki Museum will host an exhibition of the works of 20th century Greek artist and academic Nikos Hatzikyriakos Ghikas, beginning next week and lasting until Jan. 15, 2007.

    The exhibition is jointly organized by the museum and the Ghikas Art Gallery.

    [26] Thessaloniki's White Tower to serve as museum

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    Thessaloniki's trademark White Tower will officially serve as a museum, beginning next year with a permanent exhibition from the nearby Byzantine Museum.

    A multimedia platform in the Tower, located on the northern port city's sea wall, will allow visitors the opportunity to view the city's 2,300-year history on video walls.

    The White Tower will reopen to the public with the inauguration of the exhibition in mid 2007, officials said here on Wednesday.

    [27] Olympiakos Piraeus loses 2-0 to Valencia in Champions League match

    Athens 23/11/2006 (ANA)

    Olympiakos Piraeus lost 2-0 to Valencia of Spain (halftime 1-0) in a Champions League Group D soccer match played in Valencia on Wednesday night.

    Valencia's goals were scored by Miguel Angel Angulo in the 45th minute and by Fernando Morientes in the 46th.

    [28] Cypriot Spokesman: Our side will be consistent with July 8 Agreement

    NICOSIA 23/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis did not rule out here Wednesday the possibility that statements made on Monday by the UN Secretary-General are associated with developments in view of the forthcoming European Council.

    ''If there are more dimensions to Monday's statements of the Secretary General which are in any way connected with the developments which are currently taking place at the EU, then this is a possibility which obviously, I do not want to comment on", said Pashiardis after a Cabinet meeting.

    He also referred to the efforts of the Finnish Presidency to prevent a crisis in the Euro-Turkish relations in view of the 6th December deadline which the presidency has set for Turkey to fulfill its EU obligations, noting that these are being intensified. He noted that any possible pressure on the Greek-Cypriot side to retreat from its demand for the return of Varosha to its legal inhabitants is doomed to fail".

    Invited to comment on Annan's statements after his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Pashiardis described them as impulsive and unfortunate.

    Pashiardis said that despite Annan's statements our side will continue to fully comply with the UN decisions and stay consistent to the Agreement of July 8, working actively with the efforts of the international organization for a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Asked if any representations will be made, Pashiardis said probably through the country's Permanent Representative at the UN.

    Cyprus, a member of the EU, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.

    In April 2004 a UN-envisaged plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem was approved by the Turkish Cypriot community but

    rejected by the Greek Cypriots who deemed that it did not lead to the real reunification of the island.

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

    [29] UNSC Permanent Members welcome positive response to Gambari's suggestions

    NICOSIA 23/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    UN Security Council Permanent Members' Ambassadors in Nicosia (P5) have welcomed the positive response by the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus to the suggestions put forward by the United Nations Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari in his letter of 15 November.

    In a press release issued Wednesday, the P5 ''underline the importance of the principles agreed by both sides on 8 July and the need to address all the relevant issues including those that affect the day to day life of the people, issues of substance and confidence building measures.''

    The P5 note that they share the Secretary General's hope that the process will be fully utilized to prepare the ground for the resumption of fully-fledged negotiations aimed at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    ''They look forward to early progress in all these areas. They join the Secretary General in his call on the participants in the process to demonstrate the necessary political will and flexibility to bridge the gap between words and deeds,'' the press release added, noting that ''the P5 stand ready to offer all support as necessary.''

    [30] Ambassador Pipponen: Failure of Finnish initiative would mean lose - lose situation

    NICOSIA 23/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Finnish EU current presidency continues its work with a view to reach a positive outcome and an agreement between the parties regarding its proposals for the implementation of the Customs Union Protocol on behalf of Turkey.

    In statements Wednesday, Finnish Ambassador to Cyprus Risto Pipponen warned that a possible failure of the EU presidency's initiative, would mean that the parties will find themselves in a lose-lose situation.

    ''We have continuous contacts with the parties with the hope that all of them will understand that this proposal we prepared is benefiting everyone. It is clearly a win-win situation and not accepting it might mean that instead of being in a win-win situation the parties would find themselves in a lose-lose situation'', he stressed.

    The ambassador said that there are still ten days left for the initiative to bear fruit, adding that the EU Council in December would not want Turkey's issue to dominate the meeting.

    ''We hope to have good outcome. We continue the work on the issue. We still have about ten days to go'', he said.

    Asked whether the EU presidency has modified its proposals, Pipponen said that the proposals remain the same, but did not want to elaborate more into the issue.

    ''Our proposal remains the same as it is. Of course there are certain details we have to discuss with the parties. The main elements remain the same'', he said.

    Invited to comment on statements made by Turkish politicians that Ankara would not open its ports and airports to Cyprus, Pipponen said that ''this is not a positive statement'', adding ''we try to get the parties find a compromise and if not, then that would be reflected in the European Commission's recommendations and certainly in the decision taken by the member states in the European Council''.

    ''We don't know'', he added, ''what Turkey will do, but I think the message was very clear''.

    ''We have ten days to go with the proposal. The Commission needs some days to prepare its recommendation and after the recommendations are there the Council will discuss it and the decision will be taken at the General Affairs Council and External Relations Council on December 11th'', he concluded.

    EU member state Cyprus, is divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey, a country aspiring to enter the EU refuses to recognize the Republic of Cyprus and to open its ports and airports to Cyprus (Customs Union Protocol), a precondition for EU membership.

    The Finnish EU presidency has given Turkey time until 6 December 2006 to implement the Customs Union Protocol or face consequences.


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