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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

November 30, 2006


  • [01] Karamanlis: Commission position vis-a-vis Turkey a 'basis for further talks'
  • [02] KKE criticizes NATO in light of Latvia summit
  • [03] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos receives Pope Benedict XVI
  • [04] UNSC emergency session postpones Gul visit to Athens
  • [05] President Papoulias satisfied with outcome of Oman, UAE visits
  • [06] PASOK leader on social security draft bill
  • [07] Reform policy to continue, FinMin says
  • [08] Bank of Greece governor believes country will get out of excessive deficit process
  • [09] Employers' federation outlines constitutional revision proposals
  • [10] Hellenic Telecoms reports 445.5-mln-euro net profit in Jan-Sept
  • [11] Piraeus Port Organization reports improved nine-month results
  • [12] Greek stocks rebounded strongly on Wednesday
  • [13] Fire damages section of Koutloumousiou Monastery on Mt. Athos
  • [14] "Eleftherotypia" founder, publisher Christos Tegopoulos dies
  • [15] Turkish national found in possession of 67 kilos of heroin
  • [16] Thessaloniki pupils launch fundraiser for injured schoolmate
  • [17] Eurlings says Commission's recommendation a 'weak signal'
  • [18] Brok criticizes Commission's recommendation on Turkey's EU course
  • [19] Greek FM to visit Cyprus on December 1
  • [20] Iacovou informs IMO on Turkish ban on Cypriot ships

  • [01] Karamanlis: Commission position vis-a-vis Turkey a 'basis for further talks'

    RIGA, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday stressed that the latest European Commission proposal amid Turkey's standing refusal to extend the all-important customs union with all EU member-states is a 'basis for more talks'.

    The Greek prime minister spoke at the conclusion of a NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, where he repeated Athens' leitmotif of supporting Turkey's European orientation under the condition that the EU candidate-state fully meet all its obligations.

    'Turkey must realize that its progress is linked with the fulfillment of criteria as set out by the EU. Any other stance has repercussions,' he said, adding that Ankara must prove, in practice, that it will meet its commitments, 'which after all, it has accepted'. Moreover, he said Athens is in a constant dialogue with the Commission, its European partners, 'and, of course, Cyprus, so that a proper framework is found'.

    Meeting with Chirac: Earlier, the Greek premier met with French President Jacques Chirac following the conclusion of the NATO summit, with the 40-minute meeting touching on bilateral issues as well as Turkey's European prospects.

    According to reports, both sides agreed that a corresponding message to EU hopeful Turkey should be linked to that country's accession progress.

    In the later press conference, Karamanlis told reporters that talks by NATO member-states' leaders focused on the situation in Afghanistan and the need to ensure the peacekeeping mission's success via the further stabilization and reconstruction of the strife-plagued country, a prelude he said to an eventual handover of control for the entire country's security to Afghan forces. Karamanlis, however, underlined that Athens will not increase its military presence in the country. "Having fulfilled our commitments on the military level, Greece is able to actively contribute to efforts for social and economic reconstruction," he said.

    In reference to the NATO presence in Kosovo, Karamanlis said Greece wants to ensure stability in the region, "where developments affect us directly." "We believe that the KFOR presence will be necessary as a guarantee of security for the foreseeable future, if of course, the force's future and its mission are linked with the outcome of negotiations for a final status ... Negotiations (over Kosovo) must conclude with a viable and mutually acceptable solution," he added.

    In terms of NATO membership for Albania, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Karamanlis underlined that the "process remains dependent on (candidate-states') track record and, therefore, a separation of the three candidacies cannot be ruled out ..."

    In a related development, he expressed Athens' satisfaction with the prospect of including Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia into NATO's Partnership for Peace initiative. "This decision falls parallels and vindicates standing Greek positions, while contributing to regional stability."

    Finally, asked the proposal for a NATO rapid reaction force, Karamanlis said it was a fundamental tool for the Alliance's military transformation, adding that Athens' contribution will be significant, something he said has already been recognized by the Alliance.

    Other topics up for discussion included the war on terror, a NATO ground surveillance program, as well as progress in dealing with nuclear, biological and chemical warfare threats.

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

    [02] KKE criticizes NATO in light of Latvia summit

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Wednesday criticized NATO over decisions taken at the alliance's summit in Latvia, stressing that "the decisions taken at the NATO summit seal the ever-increasing aggressive development of the imperialist military alliance."

    KKE added that "the creation of an expeditionary force of 25,000 men that will take immediate military action in any part of the planet constitutes an extremely dangerous event at the expense of peoples and of peace."

    Lastly, the announcement pointed out that "the imperialists, with the pretext of 'terrorism', are continuing to arm their organizations and to shape new war machines to terrorize peoples and to impose their monstrous exploitation with the threat of force and war."

    [03] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos receives Pope Benedict XVI

    ISTANBUL, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    In a historic moment for Christian churches, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos received Pope Benedict XVI at the Phanar on Wednesday, shortly before a church service held at Saint George Cathedral.

    "We welcome you with great joy, honor and love," the Patriarch said as he welcomed the Pope at the Patriarchate in Istanbul.

    The two religious leaders attended the church service at Saint George Cathedral together and made brief addresses.

    Shortly afterwards, they went to the Ecumenical Patriarchate's headquarters for a private meeting.

    Earlier in the day, the Pope left Ephesus for Istanbul after officiating for the first time on Turkish territory at the "Home of Mary."

    The "Home of Mary" is one of the most frequented places for Catholics in Turkey.

    The Pope's service was attended by several hundred faithful. During the service, the Pope made a new appeal for peace in the Middle East.

    [04] UNSC emergency session postpones Gul visit to Athens

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Athens on Wednesday noted that a planned visit here early next week by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is being postponed, and not cancelled, due to an emergency UN Security Council session focusing on the Middle East situation.

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said she briefed her Turkish counterpart on Tuesday evening in detail over the development, while diplomatic sources in the Greek capital noted that it would have been inconceivable for Greece to be absent from such a session - called by the Qatari UNSC rotating presidency - as it had convened a similar meeting.

    Bakoyannis will travel to Jordan on Thursday, following a stop in Nicosia on Friday, where she will meet with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, among others.

    On Monday, the Greek FM will travel to Brussels for an OSCE meeting, then off to New York for the Security Council session and then back to Brussels for a European Union General Affairs Council meeting expected to discuss Turkey's accession course.

    In a related matter, Bakoyannis said it would be premature to comment on a proposal by EU Commissioner Olli Rehn regarding whatever reprimands against Turkey before the Commissioners convene.

    On another issue, she expressed Athens' satisfaction over an expected NATO decision allowing for the inclusion of Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia into the Alliance's Partnership for Peace grouping, an antechamber for eventual membership.

    Finally, she repeated that Greece will participate in the Afghanistan peacekeeping force on the social and economic level, although the country will not increase its military presence, nor will it be deployed out the Kabul area.

    [05] President Papoulias satisfied with outcome of Oman, UAE visits

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias expressed satisfaction over the results of his tour of Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) upon his return to Athens on Wednesday.

    "It was an important trip, and we achieved what I had hoped, namely opening the doors of the Arab countries to Greece. Their response was positive," Papoulias told accompanying reporters on the airplane during the return flight to Athens from Dubai, the last stop of the visit.

    Now, however, the ball was in the ministers' courts and over the next months "our efforts must be continuous, because it would be unfortunate if we don't take advantage of the good climate we created during the visit," the President said.

    Referring to the political aspect of his talks in Oman and the UAE, Papoulias said that the officials he spoke with were concerned with what was taking place in the wider region, with the biggest problem being the war on Iraq. He said they had a very skeptical approach to the answer arising from the question of 'what is the US doing in Iraq?'. "Everyone speaks of withdrawal, but one that will not hurt the prestige of the superpower (US)," Papoulias noted.

    The President voiced his personal opinion that Syria and Iran should also be involved in the negotiations on the Iraq crisis, and expressed satisfaction that the Baker Committee and British prime minister Tony Blair have acknowledged the need for such an approach.

    Papoulias further said that the Arab officials he met with had told him that they were closer to the Greeks and Greece, spiritually and emotionally, than with other countries of northern Europe.

    The Greek president also announced that he also planned to visit other Arab countries, such as Jordan, while Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak would visit Athens.

    [06] PASOK leader on social security draft bill

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou late Tuesday night in Parliament verbally clashed with Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on the first day of the debate on the draft bill on the mini social security reform.

    Papandreou accused the government that "it demolishes the social state which was built by PASOK, creates a feeling of insecurity to the insured, to the low income pensioners and to the low income salary earners, and this is a conscious choice on the part of the New Democracy (ND) party to offer graft and to serve partner relations."

    On his part, Tsitouridis accused the PASOK leader of "distorting reality, irresponsible policy and without having a trace of self-criticism about a social security system which his party handed over and which is in a deep crisis."

    [07] Reform policy to continue, FinMin says

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A fiscal adjustment effort will not end with reducing the budget deficit below 3.0 pct of GDP, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday, adding that the country's very big public debt needed more efforts -although at a slower pace- to report balanced or surplused budgets by 2012.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister emphasized on the necessity of reforms and underlined the need to be continued. "The results of reforms so far are positive but that does not mean we have completed a reform program," he stressed.

    Efforts to achieving fiscal adjustment will continue, public spending will be contained and tax-evasion will be combated, Alogoskoufis said. He focused a policy of tax reform, restructuring the public sector and completing a dialogue on the social insurance issue. Alogoskoufis noted that a privatization plan of Piraeus Port Organization would not be discussed by an Inter-ministerial commission. He said that the privatization was an exclusive responsibility of the Merchant Marine Minister.

    Commenting on Eurogroup and ECOFIN meetings, held on Monday and Tuesday, the Greek minister said the 25 ministers agreed to raise funding to Third countries through European Investment Bank's funds.

    [08] Bank of Greece governor believes country will get out of excessive deficit process

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Bank of Greece Governor Nikolaos Garganas, speaking on the sidelines of the bank's General Council in Thessaloniki on Wednesday, said he believes that Greece will get out of the excessive deficit process if predictions for its decrease below 3 percent this year and in 2007 are confirmed, as he hopes.

    Garganas also said that what is really important is for the effort to achieve a fiscal cleanup to be continued for many years to come, explaining that "we have a very high public debt, serious fiscal burdens are waiting for us in the future and we are facing the problem of an aging population, which means a great burden from the pensioning funds. This is one reason why a revision of the pensioning system is necessary."

    The governor further said that "despite the fact that inflation is historically low, however, it remains high" and Greece must curb it gradually to levels around or below 2 percent.

    Referring to the problem concerning the public debt as well, Garganas said "it cannot be solved at all with the revision of the GDP", since the absolute size of the debt exists in any case.

    [09] Employers' federation outlines constitutional revision proposals

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The head of Greece's largest employers' federation on Wednesday criticized a lack of economic competitiveness in the country - reflected in a high current accounts deficit and significant public debt - arguing for actions to reverse this trend in order to avoid an economic decline.

    Speaking to reporters, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), said that in similar situations in the past Greece would have had to depreciate its currency.

    "Lack of bold actions and cheap political rhetoric do not meet the pressing needs of our times. All fundamental changes are postponed for the future, undermining our common future," Daskalopoulos said.

    Presenting the Federation's recommendations in a discussion focusing on constitutional revision, Daskalopoulos said Greek employers are highlighting sustainable growth, social protection and a fair state, along with a series of urgent measures to achieve a competitive Greek economy.

    The recommendations include a total revision of all constitutional articles on education. Daskalopoulos said upgrading all levels of the public educational system was a major national challenge. He noted that a fair state needed more quality in its executive, legislative and judiciary powers.

    A modern state must acknowledge that a dialogue between social partners could lead to agreements implemented by laws and to promote the institution of a society of citizens, he said.

    Daskalopoulos also noted that sustainable growth and protecting the environment were not opposite goals and urged for measures to support both goals.

    SEB also urged for consistent implementation of a national reforms program, a restructuring of the public sector and simplifying procedures to promote business activity in the country.

    [10] Hellenic Telecoms reports 445.5-mln-euro net profit in Jan-Sept

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Wednesday reported a 5.6 pct increase in its consolidated turnover in the January-September period this year to 4.302 billion euros, while net profits rose to 445.5 million euros from a loss of 296.7 million euros in the same period last year.

    Operating expenses fell by 19 percent to 3.433 billion euros, the organization said.

    Parent turnover rose 1.8 pct to 2.057 billion euros, operating expenses fell by 37.6 pct, while net profits rose to 331 million euros from a loss of 233.8 million euros in 2005.

    OTE said its nine-month results showed a general improvement of its financial situation with both fixed telephony and broadband services steadily expanding, while Romtelecom remained an "open wound" to the organization.

    Cosmote Group reported a 26.2 percent increase in its nine-month turnover to 1.630 billion euros and a 7.3 pct rise in net profits to 273.9 million euros.

    OTEnet reported an 18.6 pct increase in turnover to 68.3 million euros, while its broadband customer base totaled 466,000 at the end of September.

    Romtelecom reported a 4.2 pct decline in its turnover and 56.4 pct drop in net profits to 41.6 million euros.

    Armentel, sold recently to a Russian telecoms group for 342 million euros, reported a 38.2 pct increase in its nine-month turnover to 112.9 million euros and a 21.8 pct rise in net profits to 31.3 million euros.

    [11] Piraeus Port Organization reports improved nine-month results

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Piraeus Port Organization on Wednesday announced a 9.45 percent increase in its nine-month turnover to 116.9 million euros, from 106.8 million in the same period last year.

    Pre-tax earnings rose 30.70 percent to 17.27 million euros in the January-September period, from 13.2 million in 2005, while net after-tax profits jumped 34.97 percent over the same period. The organization said its cash flow totaled 26.64 million euros at the end of September from 12.37 million euros in December 31, 2005.

    [12] Greek stocks rebounded strongly on Wednesday

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greek stocks squarely rebounded on Wednesday, recovering more than half of Tuesday's losses on the Athens Stock Exchange. Investor sentiment improved after the announcement of better-than-expected results by the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE). The composite index rose 1.27 pct to end at 4,231.27 points with turnover an improved 389.9 million euros.

    Most sectors ended higher with the Telecoms (3.37 pct), Media (2.17 pct) and Travel (1.50 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Industrial Products (0.60 pct), Utilities (0.18 pct) and Foods-Beverage (0.06 pct) suffered the heaviest losses.

    The Big Cap index jumped 1.56 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 0.24 pct and the Small Cap index ended 1.19 pct higher.

    Phoenix (19.27 pct), ANEK (19.23 pct) and Emporikos Desmos (17.39 pct) were top gainers while Tria Alpha (10.0 pct), Boutaris (10.0 pct) and Klonatex (8.33 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 169 to 83 with another 60 issues unchanged.

    Foreign Exchange Rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.326

    Pound sterling 0.679

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 9.152

    Japanese yen 154.23

    Swiss franc 1.601

    Norwegian kroner 8.318

    Cyprus pound 0.582

    Canadian dollar 1.507

    Australian dollar 1.693

    [13] Fire damages section of Koutloumousiou Monastery on Mt. Athos

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A fire that broke out late Tuesday night in a 60 sq.m. section of the Koutloumousiou Monastery in the Mt. Athos all-male monastic community was contained by Wednesday morning after all-night efforts by a strong team of firefighters from Chalkidiki and Thessaloniki, aided by 10 fire engines, but caused damages estimated at 50,000 euros.

    The fire, which broke out at 10:00 p.m. for reasons as yet unknown, caused about 50,000 euros in damages, according to estimates by the Thessaloniki Fire Department, and thanks to the efforts of the firefighters the fire was contained before spreading to other building facilities where invaluable sacred relics are housed.

    According to firefighters, the fire broke out in an area of the monastery's top floor, burning a section of the roof, furniture and other objects. The Fire Brigade division stationed at Athos rushed to the monastery with 3 fire engines, and were later joined by reinforcements from Polygyros -- the second leg of the Chalkidiki peninsula (Athos comprises the third leg), and from Thessaloniki, which managed to put out the blaze by Wednesday morning. They said the section of roof that burned in the fire was not more than 60 square meters.

    The Koutloumousiou monastery, which is sixth in hierarchical rank among the Athos community's 20 monasteries, is situated on the northeastern side of Athos, near Karyes. It is dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Saviour.

    While the existence of the coenobitic monastery is confirmed by a document from back to 1169, Koutloumousiou in its present form was founded in the 14th century. Koutloumousiou is considered to be one of the most magnificent of all the monasteries of Mt. Athos.

    Its central church was built in 1540, but there are many chapels associated with the monastery -- seven within its confines and another seven outside its walls. The most impressive of these is the chapel of the Mighty Protection of the Mother of God, built in 1733, which is at the left of the esonarthex of the central church and contains a miraculous icon of the Mother of God holding Christ as a child. Other chapels include St. Natalia, Saints Kosmas and Damianos, All Saints, St. John the Baptist, the Archangels, and St. Spyridon.

    Koutloumousiou's renowned library contains 662 manuscript codices, of which 100 are on parchment, old documents, and more than 3,500 printed books. The monastery also has approximately 150 moveable icons, while it also has in its safekeeping many relics of saints, icons, vestments, ecclesiastic artifacts, crosses and other objects.

    In the early 14th century, Koutloumousiou was the target of raids and looting by the Catalans, while in 1497 it suffered extensive damage in the great fire of 1497. In 1767 another fire ravaged the monastery, destroying its east wing, but the damage was restored with the assistance of then Patriarch Matthaios III of Alexandria. Two more fires again seriously damaged the monastery's buildings in the 10th century (1859 and 1870), with repairs carried out under Abbot Meletios.

    The most recent fire -- before Tuesday's -- occurred in 1980, again damaging the east wing, the repair of which was completed in 1998.

    [14] "Eleftherotypia" founder, publisher Christos Tegopoulos dies

    ATHENS, 30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The founder and publisher of the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia", Christos Tegopoulos, died on Wednesday morning at the age of 86.

    Tegopoulos had served as president of the Union of Athens Daily Newspaper Owners, and was a shareholder in the private Athens-based TV station "Mega" as well as in numerous book, magazine and newspaper publishing enterprises.

    Tegopoulos was born in Trikala in 1920, and joined the leftist movement and the national resistance during WWII at an early age.

    After years of internal exile, he was released and worked as a journalist at the "Avghi" newspaper.

    He entered publishing in 1966, and became widely known for the successful publishing of the popular "Domi" encyclopedia in demotic (spoken) Greek.

    During the seven-year colonels' dictatorship in Greece he left for Paris and then the United States, from where he returned immediately upon the restoration of democracy to found the Eleftherotypia daily.

    Reactions: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, among others, expressed his condolences to the Tegopoulos family, noting, in a statement, that "Christos Tegopoulos was a conscientious activist for freedom of expression and plurality throughout his entire life, principles that served as the standing basis for the operation of his 'child', the newspaper Eleftherotypia."

    On his part, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou also expressed his condolences, calling the late publisher a "progressive, democratic and above all creative individual, with pioneering ideas and an unconventional spirit."

    Condolences were also issued by Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alekos Alavanos.

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Wednesday extended their condolences to the family of the publisher and founder of the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia" Christos Tegopoulos, who died earlier in the day.

    Bakoyannis said that "as a publisher, he struggled for the independence, pluralism and the free expression of journalism. He proceeded with innovations and pioneering steps, creating a new page in the Greek press through 'Eleftherotypia'."

    Kefaloyiannis said on his part that "Christos Tegopoulos was a champion of free expression and a fighter for democracy and pluralism all his life," while Antonaros said "Christos Tegopoulos enriched public speech with his personal democratic sensitivities."

    [15] Turkish national found in possession of 67 kilos of heroin

    30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A 25-year-old Turkish national attempting to enter Greece at the Kipi border checkpoint on Wednesday was arrested after 67 kilos of heroin were found in two backpacks he had with him in his car.

    A 38-year-old German woman was also traveling with him in the back seat, which made customs officials suspicious, together with the fact that the Turkish driver could not conceal his nervousness.

    The car was searched and 134 packages each containing 500 grams of heroin were found concealed in the two bags.

    The driver told police he was unaware what the bags contained, since he was going to deliver them to a person he knew in Germany. The German woman also denied any involvement in the case, saying that she had known the man for only three weeks.

    [16] Thessaloniki pupils launch fundraiser for injured schoolmate

    30/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Thousands of Thessaloniki pupils and teachers have launched a fund-raising campaign to amass the money required to send a teenager from Kalamaria, who suffered severe spinal injuries in a road accident, to a specialized neurosurgery centre in Sweden for surgery that will hopefully correct the injuries to the 16-year-old boy's spine and left arm.

    The injured pupil, Dimitris, has been bedridden in the intensive care unit at Thessaloniki's Papanikolaou Hospital since the night of October 14 when a speeding car swerved onto the sidewalk outside Kalamarias' 7th public lyceum and smashed into Dimitris and two other schoolmates, who were with a group of other classmates outside the school at the time.

    The three boys were rushed to the Papanikolaou hospital, where doctors were forced to amputate Dimitris' right arm, while he was also found to have suffered massive injury to his spine, effectively paralyzing him. The other two boys were released from hospital several days later without permanent injuries.

    Fellow schoolmates, friends, parents and a plethora of anonymous locals have flocked to the hospital since then, donating more than 120 vials of blood for the injured teenager.

    Also, in a drive coordinated by the lyceum's parents and guardians association and the secondary education directorate, thousands of pupils have donated their allowances in order to raise the money required to send Dimitris to Sweden. The cost is large, since it will be necessary to charter a plane, association president Dora Melissidou told ANA-MPA, "but I believe we'll succeed in giving Dimitris this opportunity, because he deserves it".

    In addition to the money drive, the Kalamarias municipality and other city organizations are trying to arrange a friendly soccer match, the proceeds of which, from the tickets sold, will be donated to meet part of Dimitris' expenses.

    Dimitris is also a very gifted soccer player, according to his classmates, who call him by the nickname "Pele", and played with the Kalamaria amateur team. In late October, just two weeks after the accident, Dimitris had been scheduled to sign up with the Thessaloniki super league team PAOK's junior division.

    [17] Eurlings says Commission's recommendation a 'weak signal'

    NICOSIA, 30/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    European Parliament's Rapporteur on Turkey Camiel Eurlings (EPP MEP) said on Wednesday that the European Commission's recommendation for the freezing of eight chapters in Turkey's accession negotiations ''gives a weak signal'' adding that ''not fulfilling the criteria has virtually no consequence.''

    ''This signal also undermines the efforts of the Finnish Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen, in seeking a solution regarding the non-implementation of the Ankara protocol,'' said Eurlings, an EPP press release noted.

    According to the Dutch MEP ''if one considers the reactions from several Member States there is still an open question as to what the Council of Ministers will do with this recommendation.''

    ''We must not forget that the Ankara-Protocol is an agreement between the EU Member States and Turkey,'' Eurlings added, noting that ''normalization of the trade relations with Cyprus was a hard-won European condition at the summit in December 2004, and at the start of the negotiations in September 2005.''

    ''The continued closure of ports and airfields for ships and planes from Cyprus cannot remain without consequences,'' he added.

    Eurlings expressed hope that the efforts by the Finnish Prime Minister will be successful - so that no chapters have to be put on ice and the train can keep going.''

    [18] Brok criticizes Commission's recommendation on Turkey's EU course


    Chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Elmar Brok has criticized Wednesday's Commission recommendation for further accession negotiations with Turkey.

    ''Both the presidency in office as well as the Commission had admitted that the search for a solution on the question of the Ankara protocol failed because of Turkish intransigency. However, if a suspension of the trade- and customs-related negotiation chapters is the only consequence that the Commission draws, then this is not enough,'' Brok said in a first reaction in Brussels.

    Brok noted that ''instead, no new negotiation chapters should be opened as long as Turkey does not meet its legal obligations.''

    He renewed his criticism on the EU Commission in general and on EU Commissioner Olli Rehn in this context in particular.

    ''The Commission has a clear working mandate and this is not to become a mere executive body of the Council. But that is exactly what happens now,'' he pointed out, noting that thereby the Commission would not only harm EU credibility and reliability for the European public, but also weaken with its passive behavior the Union's negotiation position also very decisively vis-à-vis Turkey.

    To the contrary, the Turkish side understands only a clear language, Brok said, adding that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan''is a good tactician.''

    ''He will interpret the yielding behavior of the Commission and the Council at the current accession negotiations as weakness to be used in his country's sense. As long as both Council and Commission are unable to finally suspend accession negotiations, Ankara will not give way in the Cyprus question,'' Brok said.

    [19] Greek FM to visit Cyprus on December 1

    NICOSIA, 30/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis arrives in Cyprus on December 1 and will be received on the same day by President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos.

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said after a Council of Ministers meeting that President Papadopoulos and Bakoyannis would discuss developments in Euro-Turkish relations and would assess the situation and examine further moves.

    Pashiardis said ''the President of the Republic is in constant communication with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who arrives in Cyprus on Friday and will hold in the afternoon of the same day a meeting with the President of the Republic.''

    [20] Iacovou informs IMO on Turkish ban on Cypriot ships

    LONDON, 30/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus' High Commissioner to the United Kingdom George Iacovou presented his credentials as the Republic's new Permanent Representative at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and briefed IMO Secretary General Efthymios Mitropoulos on developments regarding the ban imposed by Turkey on Cypriot ships docking at Turkish ports.

    Iacovou said Turkey's obligation to lift the ban on ships flying the Cypriot flag was an obligation towards the EU.

    He also informed Mitropoulos about the Finnish EU presidency's initiative to avert a crisis in relations between the EU and Turkey, and elaborated on the status of ports in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic.

    Mitropoulos referred to the excellent relations between Cyprus and the IMO Secretariat, and praised Cyprus' efforts over the past years to qualitatively upgrade its shipping.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    Turkey, a country aspiring to become an EU member state, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to implement the EU-Turkey Customs Union Protocol, which provides for the opening of its ports and airports to Cyprus.

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