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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

November 24, 2006


  • [01] New tax bill approved by Inner Cabinet, foresees gradual reduction of tax rates
  • [02] Tax reform policy aims to reduce tax burdens, simplify procedures, FinMin says
  • [03] Czech President has meetings with PM Karamanlis, parliament president
  • [04] Czech president meets interior minister, Athens mayor
  • [05] Czech President visits Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • [06] FM Bakoyannis discusses cooperation prospects with St. Petersburg governor
  • [07] Health Minister Avramopoulos speaks about National Health System
  • [08] PASOK party spokesman comments on phone tapping issue
  • [09] Greek embassy in D.C. hosts reception for armed forces
  • [10] Holy Synod decries anti-Pope protests at Hagia Sophia
  • [11] FM Bakoyannis to address ELIAMEP conference on Friday
  • [12] EU Energy Ministers Council approves European Commission's action plan on energy performance
  • [13] Souflias: Contract for Thessaloniki underwater traffic tunnel in Parliament next week
  • [14] Funds to be provided for municipalities and communities
  • [15] Greek, South Korean enterprises to meet Monday in Athens
  • [16] General Accounting Office reiterates gov't debt goal for 2006
  • [17] Greek gov't debt 227.164 billion euros
  • [18] Greek, Serbian employers' groups sign coop agreement
  • [19] Alpha Bank and Anadolu Group in partnership to expand in Turkish financial sector
  • [20] Dionic Group reports higher 9-month results
  • [21] 10th Greek-Turkish Business Conference begins in Athens on Friday
  • [22] Truck drivers' protest at port of Piraeus
  • [23] Sessions of first inter-state 'Media Terra' seminar begin in Athens
  • [24] Suburban Railway to extend routes, services
  • [25] Deputy Overseas Hellenism Minister visits Greek-language schools in Montreal and Laval
  • [26] Con'f opens on issue of migration
  • [27] 'Athens-Sparta' exhibition in New York
  • [28] Seminar on poet Elytis held in Rome
  • [29] More than 50 people killed by landmines in Evros in past 7 years
  • [30] European conference on asbestos
  • [31] Pakistani group leader released on bail
  • [32] Armenian President assures of his country's support to Cyprus
  • [33] Famagusta still included in the Finnish proposals, says Cypriot FM
  • [34] Annan seeks funds for possible appointment of Cyprus Special Adviser
  • [35] Cyprus protests to UN Turkish efforts to turn historic monastery into hotel

  • [01] New tax bill approved by Inner Cabinet, foresees gradual reduction of tax rates

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The country's new tax bill, which includes gradual reduction of the tax rates up to the year 2009, was approved by the Inner Cabinet on Thursday during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    National economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting that the tax bill was unanimously approved, adding that chiefly the medium incomes would benefit, and explaining that the reductions of the tax rates gradually from 2007 to 2009 affected all income brackets.

    Alogoskoufis said that three million taxpayers did not pay taxes, added that this figure would increase, given that the tax-exemption ceiling would be raised from the present 11,000 euros to 12,000 euros under the bill.

    The minister said that the main tax rate concerned incomes of up to 30,000 euros.

    Earlier, the prime minister met with education minister Marietta Yannakou, who said afterwards it was one of their frequent, regular meetings covering all issues.

    Education, she said afterwards to reporters, "is a basic priority of the governmental platform and the everyday practice of the government, nothing more, nothing less".

    [02] Tax reform policy aims to reduce tax burdens, simplify procedures, FinMin says

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Tax reform, approved by an Inner Cabinet meeting on Thurs-day, aims to reducing tax burdens and to simplify tax procedures, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told reporters.

    Presenting the policy during a news conference, the minister said it envisages, among others, the raising of a tax-exempt income by 1,000 euros for all taxpayers (from 11,000 to 12,000 euros), reducing the basic tax co-efficient by one percentage point as well as significantly raising the ceiling on annual income, from 23,000 to 30,000 euros.

    Alogoskoufis said tax factors would continue to fall in the future, from 40 pct currently, to 39 pct in 2007, 37 pct in 2008 and 35 pct in 2009. He also noted that the new policy would offer tax cuts to all taxpayers.

    The reform policy also aims to reduce real estate amortization factors from 10 pct to 5.0 pct for homes, schools, etc and from 5.0 pct to 3.0 pct for shops and offices, while it will introduce a one-off 10 percent tax on interest from savings deposits abroad or bond loans issued abroad.

    Gov't spokesman: On his part, the government spokesman on Thursday stressed that the tax-exempt measure will affect 180,000 Greek taxpayers.

    Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos added that the announced tax breaks essentially inaugurate the second phase of the government's tax reform package.

    PASOK, Coalition parties criticize tax reform: The main opposition PASOK party and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology criticized the government's tax bill that was publicized on Thursday.

    PASOK's economy sector chief Vasso Papandreou spoke of a widening of social inequalities and stressed that "the 'mutilated' tax bill publicized today is consistent with the class policy followed by the ND government. Generous relief for those who have and crumbs or burdens for the many."

    She said that for "incomes of up to 13,000 euros the benefit is nothing, for incomes up to 23,000 euros there is a burden, for incomes up to 30,000 euros slight relief, while for bigger incomes there is a real benefit."

    Coalition party economic and social policy sector chief Panayiotis Lafazanis said on his part that "the government's claims regarding the tax bill on tax relief for low and middle classes are extremely misleading and are not based on real factors."

    [03] Czech President has meetings with PM Karamanlis, parliament president

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Visiting President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus on Thursday met separately with prime minister Costas Karamanlis and with parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki.

    During the meeting with Karamanlis, the two men discussed Greek-Czech bilateral relations as well as European issues.

    During the meeting with Benaki, the very good and harmonious relations between the two countries were reaffirmed.

    Benaki, addressing Klaus, said his visit to the parliament was a great honor for the House and indicated the very good and harmonious relations between Greece and the Czech Republic, as well as the effort for further strengthening the cooperation between the two countries.

    Benaki presented the Czech president with the Gold Medal of the Hellenic Parliament.

    During their meeting, they exchanged views on the European Constitution and the course of the EU.

    [04] Czech president meets interior minister, Athens mayor

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday hosted a dinner in honor of visiting President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus.

    In comments he made to the press, Pavlopoulos praised the Czech president saying "he is a great personality, not only in his country but in general, and he marked the transition of his country to Democracy."

    President Klaus also met with Athens Mayor Theodoros Behrakis who bestowed to him the Gold Medal of Merit of the City of Athens.

    [05] Czech President visits Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Czech President Vaclav Klaus visited the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday noting that trade relations between Greece and the Czech Republic, despite their rapid increase over the past two years, remain limited, a fact that favors their further strengthening in many sectors in the future.

    The Czech President underlined the importance attached by his country to the promotion of business ties between the two countries at an event organized by the Chamber and the Czech embassy in Athens, concerning possibilities of business cooperation between Greece and the Czech Republic.

    President Klaus also said that the Czech economy was one of the most stable among the countries of former eastern Europe, while the deregulation of the economy and the wide privatizations program have created a favorable investments climate.

    During the period between January and August this year, Greek exports to the Czech Republic increased by 49.2 percent, meaning 53.4 million euros compared to 35.8 million euros in the corresponding period last year. During the same period, imports increased by 28.5 percent, meaning 151 million euros as against 117.5 million euros in 2005.

    [06] FM Bakoyannis discusses cooperation prospects with St. Petersburg governor

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, currently on a visit to Russia, met Thursday with St. Petersburg governor Valentina Matvienko and discussed developmental prospects and economic cooperation between the St. Petersburg periphery and Greece.

    After the meeting, Bakoyannis told reporters that she discussed with Matvienko, "an exceptionally dynamic personality who is playing an important role in the Russian Federation", the developmental prospects and economic cooperation that could develop between the St. Petersburg periphery and Greece.

    She said there was significant interest in a region that was developing at a very fast past, dynamically, and in which Greece has great investment and cooperation prospects.

    "They see us with very friendly sentiments, just as we do them, and that is an area in which we can work together with very good results for the economies of both our countries," Bakoyannis said.

    To a question on press reports purporting that the Finnish EU presidency was considering withdrawing the Varosha sector in Cyprus from the negotiating package with candidate Turkey, Bakoyannis replied: "If there is any truth to those press reports, then we must remember that the Finnish Presidency is moving ahead and carrying on proposals that had originated during the Luxembourg EU presidency. From then to now, the issue of Varosha has never ceased to be an inalienable part of this package of ideas".

    In other words, Bakoyannis warned, a move which would be "a concession which, of course, will lead the Presidency's effort to very great difficulties, if not to an impasse".

    [07] Health Minister Avramopoulos speaks about National Health System

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, speaking about the national strategy for health at an event organized on Thursday by the "Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy", said that "the National Health System is at its limits," noting that "the needs of the citizens and the respect towards them must be re-examined."

    Avramopoulos said that the National Health System in the next decade must give emphasis to primary health care, preventive medicine, informatics, human potential which works in the sectors of health, mental health, volunteerism, training and research.

    [08] PASOK party spokesman comments on phone tapping issue

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said on Thursday that the phone tapping issue "is the biggest scandal in the country after the restoration of democracy" in 1974.

    He added that the government "is mistaken if it believes that the issue is closing with the tabling of the report by the New Democracy deputies at the Institutions and Transparency Committee," adding that the probing of the issue must reach the end.

    Athanasakis also referred to the beating up of the Cypriot student in Thessaloniki, saying that the government changed position in the past days after the reaction of the opposition parties and agencies, as well as the reaction of all of society. He further said that the strength of the television picture contributed decisively to the change in the government's position.

    [09] Greek embassy in D.C. hosts reception for armed forces

    WASHINGTON 24/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The Greek embassy in Washington hosted a gala reception Wednesday in honor of the Hellenic armed forces, with several military attaches of NATO member-states, foreign diplomats and representatives of the Greek community attending the event. The host country was represented by the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson as well as State Department and Pentagon officials.

    In addressing guests at the reception, Greek ambassador to the United States Alexandros Mallias praised the very high level of Greek-American relations in all sectors, citing, in particular, "the excellent defense cooperation" between the United States and Greece on both a bilateral level and within the framework of NATO and UN peacekeeping missions.

    On his part, Nicholson referred to Greek military history from the Battle of Marathon in antiquity to the velour of Greeks during WWII.

    "It is an honor for the United States to have friends and allies such as Greece..." the US official stated.

    [10] Holy Synod decries anti-Pope protests at Hagia Sophia

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The Church of Greece's influential Holy Synod on Thursday expressed its "sincerest regrets" over an unprecedented incident a day earlier at the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul, after dozens of young ultra-nationalist men briefly occupied the site to protest Pope Benedict XVI's scheduled visit to the one-time seat of Byzantine Orthodoxy next week.

    "The Church of Greece restates its unreserved support for the institution and the struggles of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in defense of its vested interests -- as emanating from international treaties -- as well as for the right to religious freedom for Turkey's minorities..." the Church announcement read.

    Hagia Sophia, a contraction of the name "Church of the Holy Wisdom of God" in Greek, is identified in Turkey today as the Ayasofya Museum, having been converted from a mosque into a pre-eminent museum by Kemalist Turkey in 1935. The current cathedral was erected in the 6th century A.D. during the reign of Justinian and forcibly turned into a mosque after the Ottoman sacking of Constantinople in May 1453.

    In the same announcement, the Holy Synod notes that Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos and all the Holy Synod bishops "pray for the safe travel and stay in Istanbul of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, and look forward to the successful and fruitful cooperation between the two religious leaders (i.e. the visiting Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos)".

    Conversely, the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece's supreme body said it hopes that "the vast majority of the Muslims in the neighboring country, which emphatically do not embrace or approve of violence," will help safeguard the Patriarch's and the Pope's historical efforts at inter-faith dialogue and world peace from "malevolent designs".

    Turkish police later arrested 39 demonstrators shouting anti-pontiff slogans.

    [11] FM Bakoyannis to address ELIAMEP conference on Friday

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be the main speaker at the opening of an international conference on "Solving the Security Puzzle in the Mediterranean and the broader Middle East" on Friday.

    The two-day conference is organized by the Hellenic Foundation of European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) under the auspices of the Greek foreign ministry and with the support of the Greek Army General Staff.

    Specialists from Europe, the U.S. the Mediterranean and Middle East regions will be participating in the sessions of the conference which aims at "presenting and exchanging views on achieving a better coordination of actions and division of work among states and international organizations in the Mediterranean and the broader Middle East region," according to a press release.

    [12] EU Energy Ministers Council approves European Commission's action plan on energy performance

    BRUSSELS 24/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    The European Union's Council of Energy Ministers approved the European Commission's action plan on energy performance here on Thursday. Greece's positions were supported at the Council by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas.

    The aim of the action plan, that constitutes the continuation of the "Green Paper on energy performance" submitted by the European Commission in June 2005, is to save energy by 20 percent by the year 2020 for all EU member-states.

    It has been estimated that achieving this goal will save about 100 billion euros and 390 million tons of oil on an annual basis for households and businesses.

    Sioufas stressed the need for the reversal of the trends of past decades and for a decrease in Europe's energy dependence on imported energy resources. He also said that there should be a restriction of the energy cost as a percentage of the total production cost, that will lead to the strengthening of the competitiveness of the European economy's processing sectors.

    Referring to relations between the EU and Russia, the development minister recognized in principle that at times there are different approaches between the EU and Russia and stressed that these differentiations must not constitute an obstacle for strengthening dialogue.

    According to Sioufas, the work of groups created for trade, energy performance investments and infrastructures must be continued.

    [13] Souflias: Contract for Thessaloniki underwater traffic tunnel in Parliament next week

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The government on Thursday announced that a contract for the construction of a long-envisioned underwater traffic tunnel off Thessaloniki’s seawall will be sent to Parliament next week for ratification.

    Public Works Minister George Souflias made the announcement during a lengthy briefing in the northern city on Thursday, where, among others, he defended the project’s engineering and financial feasibility, while adding that the tunnel is part of a combined action plan for traffic management in Greece’s second largest city, and not "left in the lurk".

    The briefing was also addressed by several Thessaloniki-area office-holders, with arguments expressed in favor and against the project.

    Souflias said construction is set to begin in April on the 6.5-km underwater tunnel.

    The project’s price tag was put at 472 million euros by the government last September, with construction expected to take four years. Initially the signing of the contract was set for late September but was postponed until after the October municipal elections in the country.

    [14] Funds to be provided for municipalities and communities

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Funds amounting to 11,600,000 and 19,500,00 euros from the real estate duty and category D advertising duties respectively will be distributed to all municipalities and communities in the country with two decisions signed on Thursday by Deputy Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Athanasios Nakos.

    The two decisions were issued following unanimous recommendations made by the board of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE).

    In another development, special economic aid amounting to 7,207,900 euros will be given to local administration bodies for their municipal children's stations and nurseries.

    The decision taken by Nakos on Thursday for special economic aid for the country's local administration bodies comes in addition to the amount given in May 2006 and concerns the coverage of the operational needs of children's stations and nurseries that were established by the same bodies.

    [15] Greek, South Korean enterprises to meet Monday in Athens

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Export Promotion Organization (HEPO) is organizing a series of business meetings between Greek and South Korean enterprises for Monday 27, November, as part of a plan to promote Greek exports to South Korea and boost trade and investment relations between the two countries.

    Greek enterprises will have the opportunity to discuss business relations with a group of 20 South Korean enterprises, members of Korea Importers Association -KOIMA. South Korean enterprises are interested in the sectors of building material, foods, chemicals, paints, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, cosmetics, clothing and accessories, machinery, security systems, electronics and yacht parts.

    KOIMA, an organization founded in 1970, is the only private organization responsible for the import of goods and services in South Korea. It has 6,084 members.

    [16] General Accounting Office reiterates gov't debt goal for 2006

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek government's debt will total around 226 billion euros by the end of 2006, as forecast in next year's budget, the General Accounting Office stated on Thursday.

    Commenting on recent press reports alleging that the central government's debt would exceed targets set by the economy and finance ministry for the year, the Accounting Office said the 2006 debt would total around 226 billion euros despite the fact that the government debt rose to around 227 billion euros at the end of September.

    In an announcement to the press, the Accounting Office noted that the September figure reflected the fact that cashflow totaled 2.343 billion euros on Sept. 30, 2006, four times more compared with the cashflow of 613.4 million euros recorded on June 30, 2006. It also noted that the government has almost completed its annual borrowing program for the year and that interest payments in the four quarter of 2006 would total 1.3 billion euros.

    [17] Greek gov't debt 227.164 billion euros

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek state's debt totaled 227.164 billion euros at the end of September 2006, up from 223.813 billion a year earlier, official figures revealed on Wednesday.

    The Greek state debt was 99.1 pct in the euro currency and 0.9 pct in other currencies.

    [18] Greek, Serbian employers' groups sign coop agreement

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) on Thursday signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Employers' Union of Serbia, a first step towards a bilateral cooperation in support of Greece-based firms' commercial and investment presence in the Serbian market.

    The memorandum was signed by Thanassis Lavidas, secretary-general and head of SEB's international relations, on the sidelines of a Greek-Serbian Business Council meeting in Belgrade.

    Addressing the Council, Lavidas told a group of Serbian entrepreneurs that the country was increasingly attracting Greek enterprises' interest because of its continuing growth rate, privatizations and infrastructure projects, as well as the markedly improving purchasing power of Serbian consumers, low-tax rates for enterprises, plentiful human resources and a strategic partnership between Serbia and Russia.

    Lavidas also referred to problems facing Greek enterprises in Serbia, such as double taxation, bureaucracy and a "vague" property status.

    Greece is a significant investment force in the Serbian market, with roughly 200 Greek enterprises having invested approximately 1.7 billion euros so far in the country, creating 20,000 job positions.

    [19] Alpha Bank and Anadolu Group in partnership to expand in Turkish financial sector

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Alpha Bank confirmed on Thursday that an agreement has been reached with Anadolu Group to create a strong franchise in the Turkish financial sector.

    According to a press release, through this partnership, "Alpha Bank enters a rapidly developing sector in a large and fast growing market. The Anadolu Group is one of the preeminent industrial concerns in Turkey and is also the majority owner of Abank (Alternatifbank)."

    "The transaction is valued at USD 492.5 million (Euro 384.3 million). Alpha Bank will ultimately contribute a cash consideration equal to half of said amount. The two parties will jointly establish a fifty-fifty holding company whose assets consist of the shares currently owned by the Anadolu Group in both Abank and Alease (Alternatiflease), that is 94% and 95% stakes respectively. The holding company will also own, indirectly, 100% of the brokerage firm Alternatif Yatirim, 45% of the listed closed-end investment fund Alternatif Yatirim Ortkaligi, as well as the head offices of the bank and the brokerage company, situated in premium locations of Istanbul," the press release said.

    [20] Dionic Group reports higher 9-month results

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Dionic Group on Thursday reported a 20.2-pct increase in its nine-month turnover to 54.1 million euros, up from 45 million euros in the same period last year.

    Gross profits totaled 10.1 million euros in the January-September period, up 17.9 pct, while gross profit margin eased to 18.6 pct from 19.0 pct in the corresponding period in 2005.

    Consolidated pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) rose 20.4 pct to 4.2 million euros, while pre-tax and interest earnings jumped 25.6 pct to 3.7 million euros and pre-tax profits rose 8.6 pct to 2.3 million euros.

    Earnings after tax and minorities totaled 1.2 million euros, up 27.5 pct from 2005.

    [21] 10th Greek-Turkish Business Conference begins in Athens on Friday

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The 10th Greek-Turkish Business Conference begins in Athens on Friday with the participation of 200 Greek and Turkish businessmen.

    The conference is organized by the Greek-Turkish Athens Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Istanbul Turkish-Greek Business Cooperation Council.

    Taking part in the conference are presidents, directors, counselors and members of Greek and Turkish businesses and organizations, as well as the presidents of the Chambers of Istanbul, Izmir and Bodrum.

    The conference will be addressed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Tourism Development Minister Fanni Pall-Petralia and Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Antonis Bezas.

    [22] Truck drivers' protest at port of Piraeus

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Lorry drivers on Thursday are expected to drive their rigs from the port of Piraeus' container docks (Ikonio) through the city's downtown and back to the dockside in protest to a continuing four-week-old strike by stevedores, who in turn are trying to prevent the privatization of the specific port zone.

    [23] Sessions of first inter-state 'Media Terra' seminar begin in Athens

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The sessions of the first inter-state seminar on the "Media Terra" program, which is part of the Archimed Community Initiative and aims at the proper and effective preparation of the population in the confrontation of natural disasters, began in Athens on Thursday and will conclude on Friday.

    Taking part in the "Media Terra" program are the national news agencies of Greece, Athens News Agency-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA), of Turkey, Anadolu, of Syria, Sana and the Palestinian Wafa, the Civil Protection Service of Greece and Italy, the universities of Thessaly, Italy's Palermo and Cyprus' Latsi Municipality.

    In the opening speech, ANA-MPA Thessaloniki Division Director Spyros Kouzinopoulos welcomed the delegates and stressed that "through the program, the participants in this are not attempting to substitute the Civil Protection services but to help them so that their efforts become more effective."

    The delegates were also welcomed by ANA-MPA Technical Director Takis Mantis, while an address was made by Evgenia Papadopoulou, adviser of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who stressed that the ministry supports all the efforts which aim at the protection of citizens from natural disasters.

    [24] Suburban Railway to extend routes, services

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The Suburban Railway network will expand its routes to the port of Lavrio, in extreme southeastern Attica prefecture, over the next few years, Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, the minister also announced a restructuring plan beginning next year, including a reduction of fares for the Suburban Railway and the metro network in east Attica stations.

    The expansion of the line, covering a distance of 33 km, will begin from the Koropi station and will end at Lavrio.

    Liapis also announced a five-hour extension of the Suburban Railway's operating hours, from 5 a.m. to midnight, and that an extension of the railway line to the town of Kiato, in the northern Peloponnese, will be completed early next year.

    [25] Deputy Overseas Hellenism Minister visits Greek-language schools in Montreal and Laval

    OTTAWA 24/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/I. Frangouli/S. Aravopoulou)

    Deputy Overseas Hellenism Minister Theodoros Kassimis underlined during a press conference the important work being accomplished at the daily Greek-language schools "Socrates" in Montreal and "Demosthenes" in Laval.

    Speaking with the presidents of the communities of Montreal and Laval, Kassimis discussed solutions for handling the financial problems of schools looming on the horizon due to a 40 percent cutback in their support by the government of Quebec.

    The deputy minister said that the government is planning support for Greek education through the sending of trained tutorial staff, the development of libraries and the creation of a program for the learning of the Greek language through the Internet.

    Kassimis also said that the government intends to train foreign school graduates with scholarships at the academies of Greece so that they will become teachers who are prepared to provide Greek-language education in their countries.

    [26] Con'f opens on issue of migration

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    A two-day research conference on the issue of "Migration to Greece: Experiences - Policies - Prospects", organized by the Athens-based Hellenic Migration Policy Institute, was inaugurated here on Thursday by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

    In his address, Pavlopoulos referred to the current government's legalization process for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants in the country following the last legalization process, while not ruling out further initiatives to legalize foreign nationals illegally in Greece. He also cited efforts by the government to integrate foreign nationals into Greek society with full rights.

    "We want international cooperation, as it is necessary in the exercise of immigration policy within the framework of the EU as well as the United Nations," he said.

    On his part, Institute president Alexandros Zavos said the migration phenomenon is not "social" but a "phenomenon that arrived in Europe and will remain..."

    [27] 'Athens-Sparta' exhibition in New York

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The "Alexander S. Onassis Benefit Foundation", in cooperation with the National Archaeological Museum, will present at the Onassis Cultural Foundation in New York on December 5, an exhibition entitled "Athens-Sparta" from the 8th to the 5th Century B.C.

    According to Dr. Nikolaos Skaltsas, director of the National Archaeological Museum and supervisor of the "Athens-Sparta" exhibition, the artifacts will include ancient works of art, urns, and arrow and spear heads from the battle of Thermopylae in the 5th century B.C.

    The exhibition, which will be on display at the Onassis Cultural Foundation until May 12, 2007, will consist of 289 artifacts.

    [28] Seminar on poet Elytis held in Rome

    ROME 24/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/ L.Hatzikyriakos)

    A seminar on Greek poet Odysseus Elytis, Nobel Prize 1979, was organized by the Modern Greek Language Chair of the La Sapienza University of Rome in which Italian and Greek specialists and translators from many European countries took part.

    Forty speakers addressed the three-day seminar organized by Paola Maria Minucci, professor of Modern Greek at the same university.

    [29] More than 50 people killed by landmines in Evros in past 7 years

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    Illegal immigrants are the main victims from explosions in landmines in Greece. More than 50 people lost their lives in the minefields in Evros prefecture during the past seven years, according to data released on Thursday by the Dimokritio University of Thrace, which will be presented on Friday at the 21st Armed Forces Medical Conference which began in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Thursday.

    Most were economic immigrants who attempted to illegally cross the borders at night and fell victim of the landmines. At the same time, there were accidents with victims workers for the defusing of landmines. However, many more were those who were injured in the landfields which are located across the borders with Turkey and many of them had part of their body amputated.

    Although the minefields are marked with special signs which is foreseen by international treaties, nevertheless, they continue to constitute the cause of death or injury of many economic immigrants, but also of people who work for the diffusion of the landmines.

    [30] European conference on asbestos

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    A European conference on the theme of "Asbestos-danger", organized by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) with the Confederation of European Trade Unions, began at a downtown hotel in Athens on Thursday, aiming at informing and activating all to take necessary measures for preventing and avoiding the great dangers emanating from asbestos.

    The conference is being attended, apart from special scientists, by representatives of the Confederation of European Trade Unions, the employment and social solidarity ministry, security technicians and workers' representatives from workplaces and regions having asbestos.

    Speaking during the opening of the conference, Deputy Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Gerasimos Giakoumatos said that the issue of security and health in work, particularly the problem of asbestos, a "devious enemy", must concern all: the state, employers and working people.

    [31] Pakistani group leader released on bail

    Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA)

    The controversial leader of a group representing Pakistani guest workers in Greece on Thursday was released from custody on bail, pending a ruling by an appellate council regarding an extradition request by his native country.

    Javed Aslam was released on 30,000-euro bail and ordered to remain in the country. He must also report to a police precinct every two days.

    Aslam, who gained some notoriety in the local press for fronting a campaign to highlight assertions by a handful of Pakistani men alleging that they were illegally detained and interrogated following the July underground bombings in London, is wanted by Pakistani authorities on charges of facilitating migrant smuggling.

    On his part, he claims political reasons in his native country for indictment.

    [32] Armenian President assures of his country's support to Cyprus

    NICOSIA Athens, 24/11/2006 (ANA) (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Armenia supports the Republic of Cyprus in all international fora where the Cyprus issue is discussed, expressing at the same time interest in Turkey's EU course, since Yerevan deems that this course will have an impact on the Armenian-Turkish relations.

    This was stated Thursday by the President of Armenia Robert Kocharian after an official meeting he held with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, in the framework of the first official visit of an Armenian President to Cyprus.

    "Armenia wants a speedy solution to the Cyprus problem, according to the wishes of the people of Cyprus and its leadership", Kocharian told journalists after the meeting.

    He added that before international fora, the UN and other organizations, Armenia always votes in favor of the Cypriot interests.

    In his statements after the meeting, President Papadopoulos was asked whether Cyprus would use its veto right during the EU Summit in December in case Turkey does not fulfill its EU obligations that have an impact on Cyprus as well.

    "As I have repeatedly stated, veto, if it exists, belongs to those who do not want Turkey to be faced with sanctions, and not the opposite", he stressed.

    President Papadopoulos reiterated that Ankara's EU obligations must not and cannot be linked to any developments regarding the Cyprus issue.

    He also said that all European countries agree that Turkey must meet its commitments, and that its EU course should not be suspended.

    "What is being discussed now, is the sort of sanctions that will be imposed on Turkey", he noted.

    Commenting on the same issue, President of Armenia said that Turkey's wish to enter the EU implies that Ankara will settle its relations with its neighboring countries, including Armenia.

    "We are interested in Turkey's EU accession course and we await that this course will develop exactly as it should. This course will surely influence the Armenian-Turkish relations as well", Kocharian added.

    On bilateral relations, both presidents acknowledged the fact that they have always been very friendly, and expressed the wish to further enhance them.

    Referring to the discussions that followed between the official delegations of both countries, President Papadopoulos said that discussions covered a wide range of issues, aiming at developing the bilateral cooperation, in the fields of education, tourism, bank sector, and culture.

    The Cypriot President expressed hope that in 2007 the general framework of their bilateral cooperation will be implemented.

    He expressed the belief that Armenians who live in Cyprus will pave the way for new areas of cooperation.

    The Armenian president extended an official invitation to President Papadopoulos to visit Armenia next year, which the Cypriot President accepted.

    Before the statements, an agreement between the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and the Government of the Republic of Armenia on co-operation in combating organized and other forms of crime was signed by Cyprus Minister of Justice and Public Order Sophocles Sophocleous and Minister of Justice of Armenia Davit Harutyunyan.

    The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of its territory.

    Turkey, a country aspiring to enter the European Union and become a full member state, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to open its ports and airports to Cyprus by implementing the EU-Turkey Customs Union Agreement, a precondition for EU membership.

    [33] Famagusta still included in the Finnish proposals, says Cypriot FM

    NICOSIA 24/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas said he has received assurances that the issue of the return of the fenced-off city of Famagusta to its legal inhabitants is still included in the ideas of the EU Finnish Presidency, aiming to avert an EU-Turkey crisis.

    The Cypriot FM reiterated that for Cyprus ''the key to any agreement was and remains the return of the inhabitants of Famagusta.''

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

    [34] Annan seeks funds for possible appointment of Cyprus Special Adviser


    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in a report in the Program budget for the biennium 2006-2007 has asked for 639,500 US dollars to cover the cost of the appointment of a Special Adviser in 2007 for Cyprus, depending on developments in the island, to carry out the SG's good offices mission with a view to achieving a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    In his report, the Secretary General notes that the estimated requirements amounting to $571,300 net ($639,500 gross) would provide for salaries and common staff costs for the Special Adviser and his/her support staff ($334,200), consultancy services on core issues that need to be addressed as part of the comprehensive settlement ($101,800), official travel ($124,700), communications ($6,600) and other supplies ($4,000).

    Of that amount, $375,000 would be met from the estimated unencumbered balance against the appropriation for 2006, Annan notes. Thus the overall requirements for the Special Adviser for 2007, after taking into account the unencumbered balance, amount to $196,300 net ($264,500 gross).

    In the report, Annan stresses that "depending on the developments on the island, in 2007, the Secretary-General may decide to appoint a Special Adviser to carry out his good offices mission with a view to achieving a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem".

    Further to the technical committees, when the negotiations begin on substantive issues the aim will be to agree on eight issues, the Secretary General notes.

    These are, consultations with interested parties, convening and servicing of technical committees and expert working groups, advisory services on procedural, legal and technical aspects of substantive issues, working papers and proposals serving as the basis for a comprehensive settlement and reports to and briefings of the Security Council.

    Annan stresses in the report hat "it is expected that the objective will be achieved, provided that there is political will and commitment on the part of both sides to reach a comprehensive solution, as well as continuing support from the international community".

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's 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.

    [35] Cyprus protests to UN Turkish efforts to turn historic monastery into hotel


    Cyprus has strongly protested to the UN, the intention of the Turkish government to finance a project that aims to transform the annexes of the historic Apostolos Andreas Monastery into a 120-room hotel.

    In a letter dated 14 November 2006 addressed to the Secretary-General, Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations Andreas Mavroyiannis says such developments aimed at destroying the character of a highly important religious and cultural landmark of Cyprus.

    In his letter, Mavroyiannis refers to the report in the Turkish Cypriot newspaper "Kibris" of 30 October 2006, which said the so-called "Chairman of the Aid Mission" of the purported "Embassy" in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, has announced that Turkey is ready to provide 1.5 million new Turkish lira in financial aid for the restoration and reorganization of the surroundings and annexes of the Apostolos Andreas Monastery, in order to promote religious tourism in the area.

    "The Government of the Republic of Cyprus strongly protests such developments aimed at destroying the character of a highly important religious and cultural landmark of Cyprus", the Cypriot Representative said.

    It should be pointed out, he added, "that any unauthorized alterations to this historic religious site that disregard the restoration plans already undertaken by the Church of Cyprus, which is the lawful owner of the Monastery, will not only destroy its cultural and religious character but will also endanger the rest of the building".

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