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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

November 29, 2006


  • [01] PM Karamanlis to meet with French President in Riga, on sidelines of NATO Summit
  • [02] PM Karamanlis says of Afghanistan that 'Greece will contribute on a social and economic level'
  • [03] PM Karamanlis shakes hands with Turkish counterpart Erdogan
  • [04] President Karolos Papoulias ends visit to Oman and UAE
  • [05] Deputy FM Yiannis Valynakis participates in Euro-Mediterranean conference
  • [06] Inner Cabinet meeting on migration policy
  • [07] Archbishop Demetrios lists off major problems facing Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • [08] Croatia's chief EU negotiator details Zagreb's positions in Athens
  • [09] Athens praises Gaza ceasefire
  • [10] Greek, Cypriot education ministers meet
  • [11] PASOK party leader addresses coordinators' meeting
  • [12] PASOK party leader discusses mass media with former Coalition party head
  • [13] EU finance ministers examine course of European economy
  • [14] OECD sees Greek economy growing strongly in next two years
  • [15] Almunia: Possible recommendation in spring for Greece's exit from Excessive Deficit Procedure
  • [16] Greece offering know-how for creation of Tourist Development Centre in Egypt
  • [17] FHI participates in UBCCE founding assembly
  • [18] Elinoil reports mixed nine-month results
  • [19] Millennium Bank aims to double network by 2008
  • [20] City of Athens raises sewerage, electricity bill municipal tax rates by 3.5%
  • [21] NEL reports sharply improves 9-month results
  • [22] Police detain local man in hunters' slayings
  • [23] Shelter for battered women in Thessaloniki
  • [24] Police arrest 18 Albanian illegal immigrants
  • [25] Gov't Spokesman says Turkey's provocative stance prevailed at Tampere
  • [26] Commissioner Almunia to visit Cyprus
  • [27] Representatives of the two sides meet
  • [28] House President concludes visit to Syria

  • [01] PM Karamanlis to meet with French President in Riga, on sidelines of NATO Summit

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis will meet Wednesday afternoon with French President Jacques Chirac in Riga, Latvia, it was announced on Tuesday.

    Karamanlis, who is due to arrive in the Latvian capital on Tuesday evening to attend the NATO summit meeting, will meet with Chirac at 4:00 p.m. (Greek time).

    Heads of state and government from the 26 NATO member countries are meeting in Riga on November 28-29 to discuss the Alliance's operations, transformations and partnerships.

    NATO's engagement in Afghanistan, as well as its missions and operations in Darfur, Iraq, Kosovo and the Mediterranean are on the agenda for discussion.

    The leaders will also focus on the upgrading of NATO's military capabilities aimed at meeting the challenges of today's versatile security environment, with discussions covering key elements of the transformation process such as strategic transport, the NATO Response Force, missile defence and other initiatives considered vital to adapting NATO's military capabilities to new security threats, according to Alliance officials.

    Broadening and strengthening partnerships will also be at the top of the summit agenda, with the leaders expected to recon-firm NATO's open door policy and underscore their intention to deepen the Alliance's relations with non-NATO countries building on the existing partnerships and through new programs.

    [02] PM Karamanlis says of Afghanistan that 'Greece will contribute on a social and economic level'

    RIGA, Latvia 29/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, during the working dinner on Tuesday of the leaders at the NATO Summit in Riga, Latvia, where the issue of Afghanistan prevailed, spoke of the need of intensifying efforts aimed at solving the problems.

    "The basic message which we must send is for us to work, and we shall work, with the basic aim being the securing of the country's full administration by the Afghani authorities," the Greek prime minister said.

    Karamanlis added that "Greece contributes and will contribute both on the social level and the economic field."

    NATO is asking for more military forces to be sent by member-countries but also for the intervention of the forces which are there to be further expanded geographically as certain member-states have restricted the action of their forces in specific regions.

    On the sidelines of the working dinner, Karamanlis had brief talks, among others, with U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov.

    [03] PM Karamanlis shakes hands with Turkish counterpart Erdogan

    RIGA, Latvia 29/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis shook hands with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the anti-chamber of Latvia's Opera House, where the leaders of the member states of NATO observed a concert prior to the working dinner which started at 8:30 p.m.

    The main issue of the NATO conference is expected to be Afghanistan, as NATO is exerting pressure on many countries to strengthen their military forces, but to also conduct missions outside their geographical limits.

    Greece, along with eight other countries, have asked for a decision to be taken at the conference so that Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to be incorporated in the "Partnership for Europe". The other countries are Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Germany, Norway, Romania, Spain, Turkey and Czechia.

    In the afternoon, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met with her French counterpart Douste-Blazy and mainly discussed Turkey's European course.

    [04] President Karolos Papoulias ends visit to Oman and UAE

    DUBAI 29/11/2006 (ANA-MPA - N. Megadoukas)

    President Karolos Papoulias ended his visit to Oman and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday with his arrival in Dubai, where he held official talks on bilateral and international issues with the Emirate's leader and hailed a business forum of Greek and Arab businessmen, in the framework of which a memorandum of cooperation between the Athens and Dubai Chambers of Commerce was signed.

    Apart from the political aspect of the presidential visit to countries in the Arab peninsula (a region having a special geopolitical significance), meaning warming up political relations between Greece and these countries once again, President Papoulias placed particular importance on the further widening of the fiscal and commercial aspect of Greek-Arab relations.

    President Papoulias said in a statement that Greece "always maintains" close and cordial relations with the Arab world, relations that are historic, cultural and, of course, economic and commercial.

    He further said that his presence in the region wishes to underline the cordiality of these relations and pointed out that "extensive ground exists for their further development."

    The President also said that "through business activity we wish to send a strong message of stability, peace, solidarity, cooperation and qualitative development to the international community so that the wider region can emerge as a region of prosperity and progress."

    President Papoulias stressed to the Arab side that for Greece the strengthening of Greek-Arab relations is a "strategic option" and called for investments in Greece.

    The President of the Republic will be returning to Athens on Wednesday afternoon.

    [05] Deputy FM Yiannis Valynakis participates in Euro-Mediterranean conference

    TAMPERE 29/11/2006 (ANA-MPA - N. Melissova)

    Following persistent efforts by the Finnish Presidency, the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Ministers has endorsed a text of conclusions containing political references to the Middle East issue that had constituted a point of friction between delegates.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis, who represented Greece at the conference, expressed his satisfaction over its outcome and stressed that Euro-Mediterranean cooperation "constitutes a priority of our foreign policy."

    Valynakis also said that "Greece warmly supported the Barcelona Process because it supports peace, stability and the combating of terrorism with the same warmth and, of course, economic cooperation to utilize prosperity opportunities as well."

    Valynakis further expressed satisfaction over the fact that Greece will be hosting the next Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Culture Ministers.

    [06] Inner Cabinet meeting on migration policy

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    An inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday convened to discuss migration policy for the east Mediterranean country, as Greece over the past 16 years has emerged as a distinct host country for emigrating foreign nationals, primary individuals from the Balkans and Third World countries.

    The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Speaking afterwards, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos reiterated that yet "another chance" was being provided to illegal immigrants in the country, with a deadline for filing required documentation moved back to April 30, 2007.

    He also said 180,000 third country nationals have filed applications for legalization so far.

    [07] Archbishop Demetrios lists off major problems facing Ecumenical Patriarchate

    ISTANBUL 29/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America on Tuesday listed off a handful of major problems facing the Ecumenical Patriarchate that may be discussed during a historic meeting here between visiting Pope Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Wednesday, especially Ankara's refusal to recognize the Patriarch's status.

    The pontiff may also raise the issue with the Turkish government, Demetrios said at a press conference in Istanbul on Tuesday, hours after Benedict landed in Ankara for a brief meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Demetrios also told reporters that the crippling prohibition, by the Turkish state, against the reopening of the Halki Orthodox seminary as well as the numerous confiscations of Church and ethnic Greeks' property in Turkey will be discussed.

    The Vatican was represented at the news conference by Bishop Brian Farrell.

    Gov't spokesman: Meanwhile, in Athens, the alternate government spokesman noted that the "Pope's visit to Turkey is very significant and is being watched with heightened interest by governments and the public around the world."

    Regarding EU-Turkey relations, spokesman Evangelos Antonaros merely repeated Athens' standing statements of "specific obligations" assumed by Ankara.

    [08] Croatia's chief EU negotiator details Zagreb's positions in Athens

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    Croatia's chief EU negotiator Vladimir Drobnjak arrived in Athens on Tuesday for a lightning visit on the tide of a more-or-less favorable European Commission report earlier in the month regarding the crescent-shaped country's EU accession course.

    The top Croatian diplomat and former UN-based journalist held talks in Parliament with the head of the legislature's European affairs committee and also attended a working lunch at the foreign ministry with Amb. Thrasyvoulos Stamatopoulos, the ministry's general director with the portfolio for EU accession issues.

    "We have a good friend in Greece, and it's more than that, we consider Greece as the 'godfather' (of Croatia's accession application) because we presented our candidacy during the Greek presidency. For Greek diplomacy and the Greek EU presidency, in general, it was more than just a token of friendship, it enabled us to successfully present our candidacy," Drobnjak's said in Athens before departing for Brussels.

    Moreover, he termed the so-called "Thessaloniki Agenda" for the Western Balkans as the greatest legacy of Greece's EU presidency in 2003.

    Asked about the thorny issue of EU-Turkey relations, an subject that has dominated discussions in EU corridors of late and at times overshadowed Croatia's course, Drobnjak was quick to point out that "in the long run" it will not influence Zagreb's application.

    "... because I think that everybody recognizes the fact that there are vast differences between the two countries, objective differences, such as size and geographic location, the size of the population, internal structures ... and, in a way, we're in the heart of Europe and Turkey is on the frontier, this is a vast difference," he said, stressing however, that the term "vast differences" in no way denotes any pejorative connotations for EU hopeful Turkey.

    The Croatian official nevertheless said that his country's accession course is feeling some "tremors" from the looming EU-Turkey standoff, "this, of course, is not the focal point of our effort, we are exerting as much force as we can muster and we are certainly not pre-occupied with the Turkish issue. We think this is a completely different portfolio," he said, while terming Croatian-Turkish relations 'excellent'.

    Regarding the previously strife-plagued western Balkans' EU prospects, Drobnjak said Croatia's ultimately successful negotiations will encourage other states in the region to follow the exact same route, namely, strict adherence to EU criteria and obligations. He also underlined that Zagreb's ambition to join the Union has garnered nary a whisper of opposition in any of the 25, and soon to be 27, EU capitals.

    Speaking nearly a month away from the accession of Bulgaria and Romania into the Union and Slovenia's entrance into the coveted "euro zone", Drobnjak also dismissed any notions of disgruntlement on the part of Croatian leadership or society for not joining the Union as yet.

    "Injustice in world of diplomacy and politics is irrelevant, it means nothing, and you should not be guided by this if you are a professional diplomat ... the bottom line is this: to be at the right place at the right time. Croatia was prevented from doing this, not due to its own fault, it faced aggression, it was attacked and burdened by war, and this is what slowed us down. The war left with us baggage, a legacy of war that we had to deal with in years to follow, such as refugees, war crimes, reconstruction, regional cooperation," he said, adding:

    "And that is why we were, unfortunately, not at the right place at the right time. In the long run we shall find our place in the European Union, but unfortunately, due to the circumstances now, we have to cross this big stormy ocean alone, and the winds on that ocean are not as favorable as they used to be, although I always use the same metaphor: 'when the wind is bad, you can still row'."

    Accompanied by Croatia's ambassador to Greece Neven Madey, Zagreb's chief EU negotiator also stressed that his country is making rapid progress on opening chapter 29 negotiations with the Union regarding customs union, at the same time repeating Zagreb's leitmotif of striving to fulfill EU criteria so that its membership is "judged on its own merits".

    Finally, touching on the closely watched subject of relations with neighboring Serbia, Drobnjak emphasized that the "EU provides a framework for complete reconciliation; I think you have the best example in Germany and France ... The EU is a huge framework for security, stability and reconciliation. That's why at the end of the road we want to see Serbia in the European Union; that's why we support Serbia's entry. Once we've entered the Union we will remain committed to keeping up regional cooperation in SE Europe. I am confident that as a new member-state we shall enhance our ability to serve regional stability and to help others enter sooner than later," he concluded.

    [09] Athens praises Gaza ceasefire

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    Athens on Tuesday hailed a ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority regarding the Gaza Strip.

    "This is a hopeful step towards exiting a cycle of violence and for the creation of the necessary conditions to resume dialogue," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said, adding that the fact the agreement was decided in direct communication between Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is also encouraging.

    [10] Greek, Cypriot education ministers meet

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Tuesday met with her Cypriot counterpart Pefkio Georgiades here for talks mostly focusing on tertiary education issues and vocational training.

    On his part, Georgiades thanked the Greek minister for its assistance to the island republic, namely, in the form of admission of Cypriot students to Greek universities and the dispatch of text books to the island.

    [11] PASOK party leader addresses coordinators' meeting

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressed a meeting of the party's coordinators on Tuesday, calling on party cadres to display dynamism in confronting the government on the issue of positions and to promote those of the party.

    Papandreou further said that the country "has followed a downward course over the past 2.5 years" and that the ruling New Democracy party's entire effort concerns the creation of impressions and the creation of a psychology that suits it.

    The PASOK leader went on to say that the next general elections in the country will be decided by dilemmas and stressed that his party must highlight these dilemmas and leave no ground for the government.

    Papandreou mentioned the question of education as an example and noted that the dilemma that must be placed before citizens is who do they trust to solve problems.

    He also referred to the amendment of article 16 of the constitution, stressing that it is a position that has been decided by the Congress and reminded that a relevant proposal was submitted in Parliament by the entire Parliamentary Group.

    [12] PASOK party leader discusses mass media with former Coalition party head

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou and the deputy and former president of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos), Nikos Konstantopoulos discussed the problem of relations between political institutions and democracy with the apparatuses of the mass media, according to a statement made by the latter.

    Konstantopoulos said that no democracy and no society, in any era, identifies information with slander and does not wish control to be replaced by television trials.

    He further stressed the need for a modern workable and reliable institutional framework in the mass media sector, adding that seeking such a framework is in the interests of all.

    Earlier, Papandreou held a meeting with Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh.

    [13] EU finance ministers examine course of European economy

    BRUSSELS 29/11/2006 (ANA-MPA - M. Spinthourakis)

    European Union finance ministers examined the course of the European economy and the continuous strengthening of the euro's parity against the dollar here on Tuesday.

    The Council sided with the European Commission's recent assessments on the need for the speedier promotion of structural changes and the better coordination of fiscal policies in the EU's 25 member-states.

    As regards the Greek economy, Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis noted that the Council recognizes the fact that the country's fiscal deficit is decreasing at an impressive rate, without this taking place at the expense of growth rates, competitiveness and employment.

    Alogoskoufis also said that on the question of fiscal restructuring Greece is "halfway" and the course towards balanced or even surplus budgets will be continuing in the years to come, but with milder balancing measures than those required so far.

    "We are on a good course. Results exist regarding the backing of the financially weaker groups of the population, such as with the initiatives we are undertaking for low pensions, while tax reform is also important to boost average incomes and the economy in general," the minister said.

    Alogoskoufis further stressed that "the effort must be continued in the coming years to enable us to complete fiscal adjustment, primarily in the sector of expenditures, and, even more so, in the sector of tackling tax evasion."

    Referring to the assessment made by Commissioner Joaquin Almunia on Monday that in the spring of 2007 he will probably be proposing the discontinuation of the excessive deficit process to which Greece has been subjected, Alogoskoufis said that "this is also our view."

    Lastly, on the question of the euro's parity against the dollar, the finance minister said that "nobody likes sudden changes in parities", adding that for the time being the increase in the euro against the dollar is not a factor of particular concern for the Greek economy and mainly for the country's tourist industry.

    [14] OECD sees Greek economy growing strongly in next two years

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek economy will grow by an annual 4.0 percent this year and will continue to expand strongly in next two years, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Tuesday.

    In its twice-yearly report on the economies of its member-states, the OECD said the country’s economy grew briskly this year on the back of a strong rebound in investment and consumer spending and will continue to expand at around 3.75 percent in the next two years.

    In its latest outlook, the OECD said Greece’s headline inflation should decline as the impact of high oil prices waned but it would remain well above the euro zone’s average rate.

    The OECD said that for the first time in many years Greece may durably bring its budget deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP but fiscal goals must become more ambitious and aim for substantial primary surpluses given the high level of public debt.

    The Organization’s macroeconomic projections were not based on upwardly revised GDP data. The revision would reduce this year’s fiscal gap by half a percentage point and the projected debt-to-GDP ratio by around 20 percentage points, it said.

    [15] Almunia: Possible recommendation in spring for Greece's exit from Excessive Deficit Procedure

    BRUSSELS 29/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia late Monday assessed that the European Commission will recommend Germany's, and possibly Greece's, exit from the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) in the spring of 2007, speaking to reporters after a meeting of the Eurogroup in Brussels.

    Almunia said that during the meeting he briefed the eurozone economy ministers on the fiscal situation in the eurozone member countries.

    He explained that provided the most recent Commission forecasts were confirmed, the Commission would recommend the termination of the EDP for Germany and very likely Greece as well, on the opportunity of the presentation of its spring economic forecasts.

    Almunia further said that the case of France would be discussed, as scheduled, during the Commission's regular weekly session on Wednesday while, in the cases of Italy and Portugal, the commissioner said that the taking of supplementary measures would be required for full correction of the excessive deficits in those two countries.

    [16] Greece offering know-how for creation of Tourist Development Centre in Egypt

    CAIRO 29/11/2006 (ANA-MPA - N. Katsikas)

    Greece and Egypt went ahead on Tuesday with the implementation of a bilateral agreement reached in the tourist sector with Greece's contribution for the creation of a new Tourist Development Centre in Egypt.

    The Egyptian side expressed satisfaction over the development during talks held on Tuesday with a Greek delegation headed by Greek Ambassador Panayiotis Vlassopoulos and the President of the Tourist Training and Preparation Organization Constantine Kouskoukis.

    "Today's meeting constitutes the continuation of meetings between Tourist Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and her counterpart in Egypt Zoheir Garana last April," the Greek ambassador told reporters after the talks.

    [17] FHI participates in UBCCE founding assembly

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    The Federation of Hellenic Industries participated in the founding assembly of the Union of Black Sea Countries Confederation of Enterprises (UBCCE) in Istanbul on Monday.

    The assembly, bringing together business groups from 12 countries in the region, appointed Thanassis Lavidas, secretary-general and head of international affairs of the Federation of Hellenic Industries, as vice-president of UBCCE.

    UBCCE's role is to collectively represent the private sector of a region, including Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Iran, Kazakstan, FYROM, Romania, Serbia and Turkey. The union expects Armenia, Croatia, Moldova and Montenegro to join soon.

    [18] Elinoil reports mixed nine-month results

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    Elinoil on Tuesday reported a 24.5 pct increase in its nine-month turnover to 389.2 million euros, from 312.5 million euros in the same period last year and a 5.8 percent rise in its gross earnings to 29.3 million euros from 27.7 million euros over the same period, respectively.

    Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) fell to 5.7 million euros in the January-September period from 7.6 million euros last year, while net after-tax profits fell to 1.5 million euros from 3.6 million euros, respectively.

    Consolidated turnover jumped to 391.1 million euros from 314.6 million euros in 2005, while net after-tax profits fell to 1.0 million euros from 3.5 million euros over the same period.

    [19] Millennium Bank aims to double network by 2008

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    Novabank on Tuesday said it expected its renaming into Millennium Bank, part of its integration into the Millennium Group, to be completed in the first two weeks of December, George Taniskidis, the bank's chief executive said.

    Speaking to reporters, Taniskidis said Millennium Bank's goal was the double its branch network in Greece by 2008, to more than 200 units around the country. The bank will operate a network of 152 units by the end of the year, up from 134 currently.

    Paulo Teixeira Pinto, the chairman of Millennium Group, said Greece was one of the most important bases of international growth for his group. Millennium Group, based in Portugal, has activities in 15 countries in Europe, America, Asia and Africa. It is the largest banking group in Portugal.

    [20] City of Athens raises sewerage, electricity bill municipal tax rates by 3.5%

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    Athens' city council on Tuesday passed, via a majority vote, a motion to raise sewerage and electricity bill taxes for residences and commercial premises by 3.5 percent, a decision

    Outgoing Athens Mayor Theodoros Bechrakis, who will serve as a city councilor in the next administration, said the rate hikes are in line with the inflation rate.

    Opposition on the council opposed the rate hikes.

    [21] NEL reports sharply improves 9-month results

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    NEL Lines, a Greece-listed coastal shipping company, on Tuesday reported improved nine-month results, with EBITDA totaling 48.5 million euros (from 1.8 million euros last year) and after-tax and minorities earnings jumping to 40.2 million euros, up from 8.1 million euros over the same period, respectively.

    A company announcement noted that nine-month results improved despite a 9.4-pct decline in operations compared with the corresponding period last year. NEL Lines said its net position improved by 156 pct to 65.8 million euros at the end of September, from 25.7 million euros in Dec. 31, 2005.

    Foreign Exchange Rates

    Reference buying rates per euro released

    by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.325

    [22] Police detain local man in hunters' slayings

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    Police on Tuesday announced the detention of a suspect in the shocking slayings of five hunters in western Greece on Saturday, with a local man expected, by all accounts, to be charged with the shotgun murders.

    The suspect, 37, reportedly admitted to the homicides, adding that the incident occurred during a confrontation with the hunters on his father's fields, near the village of Kalyvia, Aetoloakarnania prefecture. According to reports, the hunters and the suspect's family, especially his father, had previously clashed over the alleged trespassing on the site, and had been warned not to hunt there again.

    His father, identified as a 70ish local shepherd, is expected to also be charged as an accomplice.

    A beefed-up police presence was evident throughout the region on Tuesday, as the funerals of the five victims were held in the nearby city of Agrinio in the morning, while authorities reportedly moved into the village to prevent any acts of vengeance.

    Another unconfirmed press report given by the state television broadcaster claimed that the suspect sustained a minor chest wound after being hit by a lone shotgun pellet during an exchange of gunfire with the victims.

    The bodies of five men, aged from 17 to 33, and all related to each other, were found in different locations along a rural road and in a field outside Kalyvia. All five victims sustained fatal shotgun injuries, while one of the victims was shot in the face at almost point blank range.

    Nineteen shotgun shells were retrieved from the crime scenes, 12 of which belong to an "unknown shotgun", authorities said in the nearby port city of Patras on Monday.

    The victims included the brothers Vassilis and Christos Nikolopoulos, 23 and 21, their cousins Lambros Andressas and Ilias Pipas, each 33, and Alexios Nikolopoulos, 17.

    [23] Shelter for battered women in Thessaloniki

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    A shelter for battered women has been operating in Thessalonica since the beginning of November, under the guidance and with the support of the National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA), and is currently hosting two women with their three underage children.

    According to EKKA director Elli Tsakalidou, the shelter has a capacity of hosting 20 women.

    "Battered women but also women with children who have been sent away by the husband and have nowhere to stay can seek a roof over their heads at the shelter for up to three months, as our goal is not their institutionalization but their social and vocational rehabilitation," Tsakalidou told ANA-MPA on Tuesday, on the sidelines of an event on family violence organized in Thessaloniki.

    The main speaker at the event was Thessaloniki Aristotelion University Law School professor of civil law Athina Kotzambasi.

    [24] Police arrest 18 Albanian illegal immigrants

    Athens 29/11/2006 (ANA)

    Police arrested 18 Albanian illegal immigrants traveling in a stolen truck on the Preveza-Igoumenitsa motorway in western Greece at dawn on Tuesday. Two other Albanians riding in an escort car ahead of the truck to warn its driver of possible police road blocks were also arrested, but the truckdriver succeeded in fleeing the scene.

    The illegal immigrants, who had paid considerable sums of money to be taken to Athens, had been picked up in Igoumenitsa. The truckdriver had ignored a signal by police to stop and had sped away, but eventually stopped the vehicle on the motorway and fled, while the illegal immigrants and his two accomplices were rounded up by police and led before a public prosecutor.

    [25] Gov't Spokesman says Turkey's provocative stance prevailed at Tampere

    NICOSIA 29/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes has said that hopes for some progress in the Cyprus question have faded in Tampere where, he noted, Turkey's unyielding, provocative and negative stance has prevailed.

    "The failure of the Finnish effort, even if it was not a surprise, is still a sad development and a disappointing outcome," Pashiardes said on Tuesday, commenting on the absence of any agreement on a Finnish initiative to avert a crisis in EU-Turkish relations.

    The Greek Cypriot side, he said, has done its utmost to see the Finnish Presidency effort succeed.

    "The Turkish side has tried and finally succeeded in seeing this initiative collapse. This is the reality of the situation," the spokesman said.

    Responding to questions about the "constructive" attitude of the two sides, as Finland has said, the spokesman noted that at this stage the EU presidency does not wish to apportion any blame.

    "However the Finnish Presidency knows very well which side has cooperated constructively with it and which side worked for the failure of its initiative," he added.

    On the possibility of slowing down Turkey's accession negotiations, he said the 25 EU members will decide on the matter, taking into account Turkey's refusal to meet its EU obligations, including

    opening its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircraft.

    "The fact that the Cyprus problem has not been solved does not constitute a legal and acceptable justification for Turkey not to comply with its EU commitments towards the Republic of Cyprus," he added, responding to questions during his press briefing. He stressed that the Cyprus problem and Turkey's EU obligations are two separate things and are not linked in any way.

    Replying to other questions, the spokesman said that there is no reason to suspend Turkey's accession negotiations but there is every reason to take measures against Ankara, in that it refuses to meet its European obligations.

    [26] Commissioner Almunia to visit Cyprus

    NICOSIA 29/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia arrives in Cyprus on Wednesday to address a conference titled ''EMU Governance and Euro Changeover: Cyprus on the Path to the Adoption of the Euro'', organized by the European Commission and the Republic of Cyprus.

    According to a press release by the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus, the conference will be opened on Thursday, November, 30 at Hilton Park hotel in Nicosia by President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos.

    The Commissioner will also give a joint press conference with member of the Board of Directors of the European Central Bank Jose Manuel Gonzalez Paramo, Finance Minister Michalis Sarris and Governor of the Central Bank Christodoulos Christodoulou.

    During his stay on the island, Almunia will be received by President Papadopoulos and will hold meetings with social partners and consumer associations.

    [27] Representatives of the two sides meet

    NICOSIA 29/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis confirmed the meeting on Tuesday afternoon between representatives of the leaders of the two sides on the island Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev.

    Pashiardis said the meeting takes place following the letters sent by UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari to the leaders of the two communities with a view to make the Cyprus process move forward.

    ''What comes first is to set up the technical committees and the working groups and then, at a certain stage, we will see if any optimism can be justified,'' he concluded.

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

    President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on July 8, 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 the office of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller in the UN-controlled buffer zone to work out the modalities for the implementation of the July agreement.

    [28] House President concludes visit to Syria

    DAMASCUS 29/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias has concluded a two-day official visit to Syria and was due to return home on Tuesday night.

    On Tuesday, the Cypriot House President met with officials of the two communist parties of Syria.

    During the meeting, he described his visit as very important for the promotion of the political, cultural, economic and parliamentary cooperation between Cyprus and Syria.

    He expressed solidarity with Syria and its people and referred to the good relations of left-wing AKEL with the communist parties of Syria.

    Christofias further referred to the rejection of the UN sponsored plan for Cyprus, the so called Annan plan, by the Greek Cypriots, noting that it was not a balanced plan and was not leading towards the true reunification of the island and its people.

    He also stressed the need for the further strengthening of the ties between the two countries with the exchange of delegations and opinions.

    The Syrian party officials referred to the good level of relations Cyprus and Syria enjoy as well as the close relations between their parties and AKEL.

    During the meeting, the two sides discussed the situation in the Middle East and noted their disagreement with the change of the map of the area.

    Following the meeting, Christofias visited the museum of Damascus and the Greek Orthodox monasteries.

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