|Tuesday, 21 September 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-12-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 21, 2006
 PM and transport minister discuss ministry issues
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis was received by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday and briefed him on issues concerning his ministry.
Liapis said the discussion had covered matters related to Olympic Airlines following the decision by arbitrators and the changes underway at the Greek Railways Organization (OSE), as well as the road safety bill.
OTE sale to boost competition in telecoms market, Liapis stresses: Outlining the government's plans for the further privatization of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis stressed on Wednesday that this was expected to boost competition in the telecoms market and benefit consumers.
He was speaking on the fourth day of the ongoing Parliamentary debate for the 2007 budget.
"We are seeking a strategic alliance with a private investor but also to adapt OTE's management to conditions in the deregulated telecommunications market, in order to further boost competition between companies," he said.
He underlined that any strategic partner found would have to be able to guarantee this increase in competition and revealed that the government had hired three consultants to explore the possibilities in international markets.
The minister also noted plans to separate the various functions of the Greek Railways Organization (OSE), stressing that 2007 would be a landmark year in Greece for railways and road safety, as a result of a new traffic code designed to limit accidents and save lives.
 Finmin defends economic policy
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday defended the government's economic policy during its term in office since winning general elections in March 2004.
The minister was addressing parliament on the fourth day of debate on the government's 2007 budget, which is set for a vote by midnight on Thursday.
The minister also rapped the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) for criticizing government moves to privatize Athens-quoted OTE telecom, pointing out that PASOK had sought private management for the firm during a term in government.
He repeated that government moves for OTE were contained in the ruling New Democracy party's election platform, therefore enjoying a mandate from the public.
 Culture Minister Voulgarakis speaks of 'honest relationship between gov't and citizens'
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Wednesday spoke of "an honest relationship between the government and the citizens which has been consolidated by the New Democracy."
Speaking during the debate in Parliament on the 2007 state budget, Voulgarakis said:"We dared to name the problems which until now politics did not dare to confront and we gave solutions. The New Democracy proposed an honest explanation: We are together on the same train. The faster we decide to run, all the more faster we will reach our destination. The government is saying the truth, it gives time to society, paves policy."
Speaking about his ministry's achievements, he expressed his satisfaction that "the chaotic system of funding, grants and contract programs, which had no beginning or end, has already been placed in order."
Voulgarakis predicted that the new Acropolis Museum will start operating by the end of July 2007.
 PASOK's Venizelos addresses Parliament during debate on state budget
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) deputy and head of the party's Internal Affairs and Public Administration Department, Evangelos Venizelos, speaking in Parliament on Wednesday during the debate on the 2007 state budget, resorted to an overall negative assessment of the New Democracy (ND) government's actions.
Venizelos questioned "which is the work, the achievement, plan and institution with which the (Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis government has linked its tenure and asks for it to be written in the country's history?"
He noted that "in comparison to 2004, our country is unfortunately less strong, socially coherent, safe and just."
 Opposition parties slam public order minister's statements in Parliament
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras came under fire from the opposition parties in Parliament over his statements in a radio broadcast criticizing the stance of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party for its attitude to anti-authority groups committing acts of violence.
Speaking during the third day of a debate on the draft 2007 budget on Tuesday, Polydoras underlined his respect for "all parties in and outside Parliament that respect the Constitution, the laws and the system", saying that an unlucky turn of phrase had given the opposite impression regarding SYN.
He added that he had not asked the parties for statements but to "isolate" the law-breaking elements and condemn the acts of violence, while criticizing main opposition PASOK for its failure to place these elements under control during its 20 years in power.
The sincerity of the minister's apology was questioned by SYN spokesman Fotis Kouvelis, however, who said the minister's other statements placed it in doubt.
 DM Meimarakis visits Crete to meet crew of frigate 'Kountouriotis'
21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Wednesday visited Crete where he met with the crew of the frigate "Kountouriotis" who will spend the Christmas and New Year period away from their loved ones.
Meimarakis, accompanied by Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) Chief Admiral Panagiotis Hinofotis, arrived in Chania with a military plane. He later boarded a helicopter to reach the frigate which is in the sea region of Iraklion. It is sailing towards Lebanon to replace on Thursday the frigate "Kanaris", within the framework of Greece's participation in the international UNIFIL operation, which is con-ducted under the auspices of the United Nations and foresees patrols in the region.
 Greece's non-permanent UN Security Council membership ends Dec. 31
NEW YORK, 21/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)Greece's two-year participation in the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member comes to an end on December 31, leaving "positive impressions," according to foreign diplomats for its "consensus and responsible stance" on a series of international issues.
Greece, which presided over the Council in two times, in July 2005 and September 2006, was elected non-permanent member for the two-year period 2005 and 2006 along with Argentina, Denmark, Japan and Tanzania. The last time Greece occupied a non-permanent seat at the UNSC was in 1952-53.
During its Presidency last September, Greece chose "Cooperation between the UN and regional organizations for maintaining world peace and security" as a thematic debate. The theme was presented by Foreign Minister Dora Buoyancies, who chaired a Security Council debate on the Arab-Israeli conflict, on Greece's initiative.
 COREPER agrees to open 'Industry-Businesses' chapter in EU's accession talks with Turkey
BRUSSELS, 21/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)The EU's Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), in its last session under EU Finnish presidency, reached agreement on Wednesday for the opening of the "Industry-Businesses" chapter in the European Union's accession talks with Turkey.
This chapter is included among the 26 chapters which, as decided at the General Affairs Council on December 11, unanimously open but do not close until Turkey abides by its obligations towards the EU.
On the basis of the foreseen procedure, decision was reached for sending a letter to Turkey which calls on Ankara to submit its positions so that the "25" decide on their joint position, in order for the procedure to proceed in the coming period for the opening and negotiation of the "Industry-Businesses" chapter.
Greece's and Cyprus' representatives appeared satisfied from the development of Wednesday's discussions.
At the session, Greece's Permanent Representative Vassilis Kaskarelis rejected claims by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul who during a press conference he gave on Tuesday said that "the EU is in a situation of deep depression and complete confusion."
Kaskarelis stressed that this message should be made clear to Ankara through the EU's decision for the opening of chapters.
 Koumoutsakos on death sentences passed in Libya
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece is opposed to the death penalty, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Wednesday. Like the EU, Greece condemns the death sentences imposed by a Libyan court on five nurses from Bulgaria and a Palestinian physician who have already spent seven years in prison, he added.
He added that there is skepticism on whether the charges against them, based on which they were tried and sentenced by the Libyan criminal court on December 19, were well-grounded.
Koumoutsakos concluded that the competent court authorities in Libya will hopefully come up with a fair solution to this humanitarian issue, a solution that will observe the equality before the law and fair trial principle.
 Greek and Polish education ministers discuss violence in schools
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou held talks with her Polish counterpart and vice-president of the Polish government, Roman Giertych in Athens on Wednesday.
According to a ministry press release, the talks focused on the issue of violence in schools.
"We have started some initial debates in the European Union Council of Ministers but my counterpart wished to be informed on our experiences on the issue, so our meeting had a very specific object of discussion on which we are planning to cooperate," Yiannakou said.
The Polish minister also visited the Polish school in Athens which, according to Yiannakou, the Greek education ministry supports.
On his part, Giertych noted that the problem of violence in schools "is not a problem only for Poland but for Greece and many other European countries as well. We wanted to discuss the issue and we might probably organize a common program regarding violence in schools."
 Parliament offers to house Andreas Papandreou archives
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Wednesday had a meeting with the widow of former statesman and thrice-elected prime minister Andreas Papandreou, Dimitra Liani-Papandreou, during which she offered to house the late premier's archives in Parliament.
Liani-Papandreou said she would give her reply on Thursday.
In statements to reporters after the meeting, Liani-Papandreou stressed that she had repeatedly sought a meeting with Papandreou's son and current PASOK President George Papandreou on this issue but this had not happened.
She is scheduled to meet PASOK party secretary Nikos Athanassakis to discuss the issue later on Wednesday.
PASOK spokesman: Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Petros Efthymiou said on Wednesday that it is meaningful for the Archive of late prime minister and founder of the movement Andreas Papandreou to be unified at the Andreas Papandreou Foundation.
He said that PASOK, "respecting the memory of its founder, Andreas Papandreou, contributed in the creation of the Foundation 'Andreas Papandreou', where already the bulk of the Archives are protected and which concern the political course of the great leader."
PASOK's National Council Secretary Nikos Athanassakis requested a meeting with the widow of the former prime minister, Dimitra Liani-Papandreou, which took place on Wednesday, so as to be briefed by her, given that "it is meaningful for the Archive of Andreas Papandreou to be unified at the Andreas Papandreou Foundation."
 Report on Greece by Committee for the Prevention of Torture
PARIS, 21/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)The report on Greece by the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture was released on Wednesday, following the agreed opinion of the Greek authorities.
As an inter-governmental agency of the Council's member-states, the Committee cannot make public its reports unless following the request of the specific governments.
Wednesday's report concerns the visit which the Committee had made to Greece in August and September 2005.
The over-population and maltreatment of inmates in combination with poor hygiene conditions and the inadequate training of the personnel are the basic conclusions drawn by the Committee, which recommends the creation of an independent agency in the Police for the supervision of the system.
The report says that the Committee examined the treatment of inmates in prisons, at police stations, border posts, coast guard posts and at the special installations for illegal immigrants.
The Committee also visited Athens' Korydallos prison and Corfu's psychiatric hospital.
 Greek local gov't officials outraged by behavior of Brussels airport police
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Piraeus Prefect Yiannis Mihas, Athens-Piraeus Supra-Prefect Fofi Gennimata and the delegation of the Greek local government officials on Wednesday expressed their outrage and indignation over the violent treatment of them by the Belgian authorities at Brussels airport.
The incident occurred when the Piraeus Prefect complained about the delay of the flight and the loss of luggage. Then, he was attacked by men of the Belgian Police, who arrested him and hand-cuffed him for one-and-a-half hours. At the same time, all the members of the Greek delegation and Greek Euro-deputies who traveled with them were immobilized.
The Greek delegation returned at noon at Athens' "Eleftherios Venizelos" international airport with a flight from Amsterdam.
Gennimata communicated with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis who asked to be fully briefed, so as to call the Greek attaché in Brussels to lodge a demarche.
Interest was also shown about the incident by Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos who has already communicated with the Greek attaché in Brussels.
 Deputy FM receives Jordanian envoy
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis received on Wednesday Jordanian Ambassador to Athens Zaid Abdullah Zuraikat at the latter's request, a ministry press release said.
Kassimis and Zuraikat discussed issues of bilateral interest.
 Reception for diplomatic correspondents at foreign ministry
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis hosted a Christmas and New Year reception for diplomatic correspondents at the foreign ministry at midday on Wednesday.
The reception was attended by Deputy Foreign Minister for European affairs Yiannis Valiances, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, Deputy Foreign Minister for Greeks abroad Theodoros Kassimis, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos and ministry officials.
 Parliament supports Symi Festival in memory of Diakogiannis
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Wednesday informed the mayor of the island of Symi that the Greek Parliament will support cultural events at the Symi Festival dedicated to recently departed journalist Giannis Diakogiannis.
 Greece, Russia, Bulgaria near pipeline deal
21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece, Russia and Bulgaria are nearer to agreement on a final pact for construction of a pipeline to carry Russian oil to Greece through Bulgaria, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Wednesday.
Rapprochement was seen on major issues at meetings on December 13 in Moscow and December 19 in Sofia, Sioufas told reporters.
Remaining are some points of disagreement between Russia and Bulgaria that the two governments are working on, he noted.
Greece hoped for signature of an agreement in the near future, the minister added.
 Minister predicts drop in prices due to rising competition
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Deputy Finance Minister Giannis Papathanassiou on Wednesday predicted that prices would fall in 2007 as a result of heightened competition in the market place.
Speaking on the fourth day of the Parliamentary debate on the 2007 budget, the minister underlined that the government had carried out 66,000 inspections of market goods in the first 10 months of 2006 and pointed to lower prices for milk, as well as the figures indicating that prices for most "basket of goods" products were rising below the rate of inflation.
Countering criticism from main opposition PASOK, Papathanassiou cited figures released by the EU's statistics service Eurostat, according to which per capita income rose three points in 2005 relative to 2004 in Greece, which was the second-best performance in the Eurozone.
 Prices up 17% relative to last year, PASOK MP claims
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Even the most objective surveys showed that prices for consumer goods had increased more than 17% in comparison with the previous year, main opposition PASOK MP Christos Papoutsis claimed on Wednesday, after a visit to the Varvakio central meat market in Athens.
"The household basket of goods in empty and the family Christmas feast will not be the same as in previous years. This is the grim reality, the result of New Democracy's governance," he added.
According to Papoutsis, real household incomes had simultaneously fallen, taking a cut that was greatly in excess of 10 percent.
 Jobless seen below 8% in 2007
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Deputy Development Minister Gerassimos Yiakoumatos forecast on Wednesday that unemployment could fall below 8.0 percent in 2007.
The jobless rate was 8.3% in the third quarter of 2006, down from 11.3% in 2004, the largest decline in nine years, Yiakoumatos told reporters.
 Cooperation protocol signed by the Greek Competition Commission and its Albanian counterpart
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)A cooperation protocol was signed recently by the Greek Competition Commission and the Albanian Competition Authority.
The protocol provides for mutual briefing on new decisions reached by the two authorities and information exchange on companies exercising cross-border practices limiting competition. The protocol signatories will also proceed with the exchange of know-how through seminars, mutual visits, employee exchange and other programs.
Both sides will hold joint training programs, organize joint conferences and other events and establish a permanent contact committee to undertake the materialization of the cooperation.
 Greece, Turkey to fund Black Sea program
ISTANBUL, 21/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)Greece and Turkey are to fund the bulk of the 1.2 million euro Black Sea Trade and Investment Program to be handled by the Organization for Black Sea Cooperation under the aegis of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Each of the two countries will contribute 500,000 euros, and UNDP 200,000 euros, with the Black Sea cooperation group providing premises and implementation for the program to fund small and medium sized enterprises and trade among members of the group, program coordinator Kostas Zaimis told the ANA-MPA.
 SE Europe Stability Pact welcomes signing of
CEFTA 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The signing of the Central Europe Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) by all Balkan countries was welcomed in an announcement "as the culmination of six years of effort" by the Thessaloniki-based offices of the Stability Pact for South-eastern Europe on Wednesday.
Stability Pact special coordinator Erhard Busek said the new CEFTA was an important economic and political achievement for the region, since it proved the ability of the Balkan states to cooperate for their growth and their common European future.
The new agreement was signed by Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and UNMIK on behalf of Kosovo.
 Biogas electricity generator inaugurated in Thessaloniki
21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)A power plant producing heat and electricity from biogas generated in the Tagarades landfill near Thessaloniki was inaugurated in the northern Greek city on Wednesday by Central Macedonia Region General Secretary Giannis Tsiotras and the Greater Thessaloniki Local Authority Organization Association President Giannis Zournas.
Zournas stressed the project's multiple benefits, such as limiting unpleasant odors while generating revenue from the production of electricity and the heating of public buildings.
The project cost 6.35 million euros, with 40% funding from the European Union and 60% from private funds. It generates 5 MW electricity and is considered an extension of a similar 25MW unit currently operating in Athens.
 Eurobank acquires 90% of Bulgarian bank
21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Athens-quoted Eurobank EFG said on Wednesday that following additional transactions with international institutional investors at the Sofia Stock Exchange it had now acquired control of 90% of DZI Bank in Bulgaria.
The Greek banking group submitted modifications to its tender offer to the Financial Supervision Commission of Bulgaria, management said in a statement.
On the basis of the modifications, Eurobank stated its intention to acquire 100% of the bank's shares and proceed with delisting DZI from the Sofia bourse, the statement said.
 SEVE trains Greek Offices of Economic and Trade Affairs representatives
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greek Offices of Economic and Trade Affairs (OEY) representatives in 14 countries (Azerbaijan, Egypt, Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, United States, India, Israel, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Libya, Poland and the Czech Republic) were trained by the Exporters' Association of Northern Greece, SEVE, on how to use the "Agora" business information e-management system.
The foreign ministry funded system allows the OEY representatives to register and publicize business information on the internet concerning the country in which they serve as economic diplomats.
 OA gets compensation for move to new airport
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Management of Olympic Airlines said on Wednesday that the national carrier had been awarded compensation of 563,896,458 euros for lost earnings by an arbitration court due to its premature enforced eviction from the previous Athens international airport to the capital's new facility.
OA had sought 819 million euros, management said in a statement.
"This decision is of major importance for the company's future," Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis told reporters.
"Beyond easing the company's finances, it gives the state an extra 'weapon' in negotiations with the European Union on the airline's future," the minister said.
 Aegean Marine performs well on Wall Street
21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. reached 17 US dollars on Wall Street following listing on the market earlier this month, the Piraeus-based firm said in a statement
The 17-dollar trading price is 22.5% since the firm's trading debut on December 8, taking its value to more than 700 million dollars, the statement said.
Aegean Marine Petroleum is a marine fuel logistics company that physically supplies and markets refined marine fuel and lubricants to ships in port and at sea. As a physical supplier, the firm purchases marine fuel from refineries, major oil producers and other sources.
Through its service centers in Greece, Gibraltar, Singapore, Jamaica and the United Arab Emirates, the company resells and delivers these fuels to a diverse group of ocean-going and coastal ship operators and marine fuel traders, brokers and other users.
 Industrial turnover up 9.3% in October, yr/yr
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The industrial turnover index rose 9.3 pct in October 2006 from the same month in 2005, the National Statistics Service said on Wednesday. It said the rise reflected a 4.2 pct rise in the mining turnover index and a 9.4 pct increase in the turnover index for the manufacturing sector.
Industrial new orders rose 7.8 pct in October from the same month last year, with new orders of intermediate goods jumping 25.4 pct in the same month, while new orders of durable consumer goods rose 9.3 pct and non-durable goods fell by 15.0 percent. The new orders index of capital goods fell 12.9 pct in October.
 Greek current accounts deficit up 82% in Jan-Oct, yr/yr
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece's current accounts deficit jumped 82.0 pct in January-October 2006 to 18.08 billion euros, compared with the same period last year, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.
The central bank, in its monthly report, said that the increase was driven chiefly by increased spending on fuel imports and net payments for new vessels, with total spending on imports (3.1 billion euros) more than covering an impressive 12.7 pct increase in proceeds from the export of goods (1.07 billion euros) and an increase in foreign direct investments over the same period to 3.7 billion euros, representing a net inflow of 768 million euros after a net outflow of 670 million euros in the January-October last year.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Athens share index closed at 4,382.06 points, showing a rise of 0.77%. Turnover was 329.7 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.47% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 1.13% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.56% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 163 to 81 with 62 remaining unchanged.
Total derivatives market turnover: 60.2 million euros
Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.13 pct
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.330
Pound sterling 0.675
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.075
Japanese yen 157.2
Swiss franc 1.616
Norwegian kroner 8.226
Cyprus pound 0.582
Canadian dollar 1.525
Australian dollar 1.695
 President Papoulias inaugurates 'Paris-Athens 1863-1940' exhibition at National Gallery
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday evening inaugurated the exhibition "Paris-Athens 1863-1940" at the National Gallery.
The exhibition explores the largely overlooked influence of the avant-garde French artists of the 19th and early 20th century on Greek painters of that period. It will run until the end of March 2007.
According to the exhibition organizers, the general public knows very little about the influences on Greek art of painters like Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and several others, unlike the much better-documented relationship between Greeks and the Munich school.
The exhibition features about 60 works by French artists on loan from French museums and collections in Switzerland, Canada, the United States and elsewhere. These are displayed alongside 160 works of art by Greek painters that illustrate the influences between them.
It is taking place under the auspices of the Greek and French culture ministries and sponsored by the EFG Eurobank.
 CNA and ANA-MPA sign cooperation agreement
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Cyprus News Agency (CNA) and the Athens News Agency-Macedonian Press Agency (ANA-MPA) signed a cooperation agreement for 2007-2009.
The agreement was singed on Tuesday at the ANA-MPA offices in Athens by CNA Board of Directors Chairman Costakis Constantinou and ANA-MPA's Director General George Tampakopoulos, in the presence of CNA Board member Cornelios Hadjicostas and CNA Acting Director George Penintaex on behalf of CNA and Managing Director Nicolas Voulelis and Consultant to the Director General Andreas Christodoulides on behalf of ANA-MPA.
The agreement provides for cooperation in all ranges of journalism covering the exchange of news and photographs, technology, joint program and service development, as well as personnel training.
The CNA delegation traveled to Athens at the invitation of ANA-MPA. The two agencies exchanged views regarding the developments in the field of news agencies and mainly in the field of technology and new service development.
The two sides once more ascertained the excellent cooperation between the two organizations, which benefits Cyprus and Greece and especially their subscribers. They also examined ways of further cooperation between the two agencies within the ever changing work and technological environment.
 Monks injured in scuffles on Mount Athos
21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Three monks were injured on Wednesday morning in scuffling at Karyes, the capital of the monastic community of Mount Athos in Halkidiki, northern Greece. One of the monks was rushed to the Polygyros Hospital in critical condition after being hit on the head with an iron bar.
A police contingent from the Mount Athos police station and Polygyros, the capital city of Halkidiki prefecture, has been called to the scene.
The incidents took place at the Esfigmenos Monastery's reception site in Karyes, which has been occupied over the past few months by a small group of rebel monks not recognized by the Holy Community. The clashes erupted when the legally appointed monks attempted to construct a new building for them causing the fierce reaction of the Esfigmenos Monastery monks.
 New Guide issued of the Park of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos
21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The new Guide of the Park of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos was issued on Wednesday by the Natural History Museum of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos.
The Guide is enriched with all the new scientific facts which follow the continuing excavations.
It is a four-colored edition with 132 pages, with texts by Nikolaos Zouros, Assistant Professor at the Geography Department of the Aegean University and Director of the Natural History Museum of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos, and contains a great number of photographs and maps.
 Children from Serbia will spend Christmas with Greek families
BELGRADE, 21/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)Greek families will be the hosts of children from Serbia during the Christmas holidays, according to the Red Cross of Serbia.
A total of 216 children of refugees, who lost a parent in the war, as well as children of poor families will spend Christmas in Greece again this year within the framework of the hospitality program for Serb children held by the Serb and the Greek Red Cross.
Cooperation between the Greek and Serb Red Cross for the hosting of children from Serbia was launched in 1993 and since then an estimated 16,000 children, most of them refugees, have stayed with Greek families.
Many children were helped this way to overcome psychological problems caused by the traumatic experiences they lived through while close friendship ties have been forged and in most cases the contact of the children and the host families continues.
 Children's painting exhibition at development ministry
ATHENS, 21/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The children's painting exhibition under the theme "The researcher through the eyes of the children", held at the initiative of the Research and Technology General Secretariat in cooperation of the National Hellenic Research Foundation was inaugurated by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday.
The National Hellenic Research Foundation taking part in the EU efforts to make the researcher known to the public organized a number of events, among them a children's painting competition, under the general title "the new generation meets the researchers" held between September 26 and October 5.
A total of 172 elementary school students from Athens and other regions participated in the competition and put on paper the impression they had of a researcher. The prizes, distinctions and commendations won by the children were awarded in a special event.
The children's paintings will be exhibited in the development ministry arts center until January 9, 2007.
 Cyprus Spokesman: Implementation of direct trade requires constructive stance by Turkey
NICOSIA, 21/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The implementation of the EU direct trade regulation for the Turkish Cypriots demands a constructive stance by Turkey, so that any political considerations would be removed from the effort for the financial assistance of the Turkish Cypriots, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis has said.
In statements after a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, Pashiardis noted that the government consults with its European partners for the solution of this issue ''aiming at the financial assistance of the Turkish Cypriots as legal citizens of the Republic of Cyprus.''
Invited to comment on Tuesday's statements by German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Pashiardis said that the government does not attribute any political dimension to Steinmeier's reference to a ''Northern Cyprus.''
''We do not have any doubt that the German minister's specific reference is a mere geographical definition with no political implications whatsoever,'' Pashiardis noted.
According to Pashiardis, the German minister expressed his belief that he does not consider a deal between the EU 25 on the direct trade regulation as insuperable.
''The government has no reason to disagree with the German minister of foreign affairs' belief,'' Pashiardis noted, pointing out that ''undoubtedly, however, the overcoming of this problem requires a positive and constructive stance by the Turkish side, so that any political considerations would be removed from the effort towards the economic assistance of the Turkish Cypriots.''
''The direct trade is a clear financial issue which must not be attached in any way to the political considerations of the Turkish side, or identified with the artificial issue of the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.''
Commenting on German press reports that President Tassos Papadopoulos committed himself to changing the climate regarding the direct trade regulation, Pashiardis said that ''the only commitment President Papadopoulos gave is that the Cypriot government would continue consultations so that a solution would be found to this issue.''
''He gave this commitment and he reiterates this commitment, a commitment which is in line with the EU Summit's conclusions,'' he added.
Regarding the opening of the EU chapters for Turkey, Pashiardis said that Tuesday's discussions on a working group level did not reach any results, adding that the EU's Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) was due to convene on Wednesday.
Pashiardis noted that ''the Cypriot Representative has clear and specific instructions on our side's response in case the Finnish Presidency suggests the opening of chapters of Turkey's accession course.''
The EU General Affairs Council decided on January 11, 2006, to resume ''without delay'' the work for the implementation of the EU regulation for direct trade with the Turkish Cypriot community, adopted by the EU Commission on April 26, 2004.
The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey, a country aspiring to enter the EU, refuses to implement the Customs Union Protocol by opening its ports and airports to Cyprus.
 Only two out of ten Greek Cypriots favor Turkey's EU accession
NICOSIA, 21/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Although Greek Cypriots favor a further EU enlargement, only 19% sees Turkey's accession to the EU as positive, according to the EU Eurobarometre's national report for Cyprus.
In the Eurobarometre, covering the areas controlled by the government of Cyprus as well as the Turkish Cypriot community, between September 6th and October 1st, Greek Cypriots rank fourth regarding their negative stance for Turkey's EU accession.
First who see Turkey's accession as negative are the Austrians 87%, followed by Germany 78%, Luxembourg 77% and Cyprus 74%.
On the other hand, Turkish Cypriots are the ones who most favor Turkey's accession with 78%, followed by the Turkish citizens with 68%.
Furthermore, 66% of Greek Cypriots and 54% of Turkish Cypriots favor a future EU enlargement, with 46% being the EU average.
First country of preference for the enlargement for the Greek Cypriots is Switzerland with 88%, followed by Norway (84%) and Iceland (78%).
Last countries of preference are Bosnia Herzegovina with 56%, Albania with 33%, with Turkey being the last country with 19% (EU average for Turkey is 28%).
Regarding the UN, only 26% of Greek Cypriots trust this international organization, a percentage that is the lowest in the EU.
Turkish Cypriots' trust to the UN shows a decrease from 48% to 41%. Greek Cypriots continue to trust the EU and its institutions with 57 (48% being the EU average) and Turkish Cypriots with 45%, a percentage that shows a decrease.
Only 38% of Greek Cypriots believe that their voice is heard in the EU while 55% of Turkish Cypriots believe that their voice is not heard.
Greek Cypriots rank third among Europeans regarding their understanding of the EU function. The results showed that 58% of Greek Cypriots and 38% of Turkish Cypriots answered that they understand how the EU works.
Asked which should be the priorities of the EU, Greek Cypriots answered combating poverty, maintaining peace and security, and combating unemployment. Turkish Cypriots see combating unemployment, poverty and organized crime as the main priorities for the EU.
Although happy with their lives, Turkish Cypriots believe that things are going in the wrong direction for them.
Greek Cypriots favor the EU's political union with 68% and the EU's common foreign policy with 78%.
First among all European regarding the development of the EU common defense policy are the Greek Cypriots with 89%.
Regarding the European Convention, 73% of Greek Cypriots and 43% of Turkish Cypriots believe that its implementation is important for the EU's good function. The Greek Cypriots' percentage is the third highest in the EU.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Six stolen icons from Cyprus were found in New York
NICOSIA, 21/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)Six religious icons from Cyprus which are believed to have been stolen by Turkish antiquities-smugglers were discovered in New York's Sotheby's auction house, according to the Cypriot daily Fileleftheros.
The icons will be returned to Cyprus after coordinated efforts made by the Cypriot foreign ministry, the Archdiocese of Cyprus and the Holy Metropolis of Morfou.
Three of the icons are from the Panagia of Asinou church and one from the Kalopanagiotis village, while it has not been established yet to which Cypriot church the remaining two belong.
Metropolitan Bishop Neofitos of Morfou will travel to New York in mid January to pick up the icons from Sotheby's and bring them back to Cyprus.