|Friday, 23 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Gov't faces issues of terrorism with high priority and respects the constitutional order, Justice Minister saysPrime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred Friday morning with justice minister Anastasis Papaligouras, who briefed the premier on ministry affairs.
Replying to press questions after the meeting, with respect to the university asylum prompted by the recent violent incidents by masked troublemakers during a demonstration, Papaligouras said that "it is time for the university to become an asylum for ideas, and not for such actions that we see occuring".
Regarding the incidents themselves, Papaligiouras said that "the State has the organisation to effectively tackle them with the necessary (safety) valves".
To another question on the operation and use of security cameras, the justice minister said that a decision was awaited from the Council of State, stressing that "the government faces issues of terrorism with high priority and respects the constitutional order".
He was referring to a government petition tabled with the Council of State, the country's supreme administrative court, requesting permission to use video-footage from traffic surveil-lance cameras in the environs of the US embassy in Athens in its investigation on last Friday's early-morning rocket attack at the embassy, which caused minor material damage but no injuries.
Under a standing ruling by the Personal Data Protection inde-pendent authority, the use of footage from the traffic sur-veillance cameras for any other purpose is prohibited.
Questioned on the role of the Independent Authorities, Papali-gouras noted that "the institution has been tried internationally", adding that the institution was relatively new in Greece, and their effectiveness "will be judged over the course of time".
To a question on new incidents of judicial corruption that have recently come to light, Papaligouras replied that "as you know, the government tackles every incident of corruption effici-ently".
 Greek authorities in charge of Athens RPG strike investigation - WashingtonWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA - A. Ellis)
It is up to Greek authorities to determine who was responsible for last week's rocket-propelled grenade strike against the United States Embassy and the results of the investigation, State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters during Thursday's press briefing.
He was replying to a question concerning the contribution of FBI experts in enhancing the embassy's CCTV recordings of three suspects taken on the day of the attack - now in the hands of Greek authorities - to bring out more details, and whether the final results would be circulated by the DOS or FBI.
"I think the people that will determine the results of the investigation are the Greek security police and security forces who are doing the investigation," Casey said, while pointing out that U.S. agencies were obviously going to cooperate with them in every way possible.
"If FBI officials can help contribute to that investigation, whether that's through helping to do enhancements of video-tapes or whatever else they're capable of doing, if it will help the Greek authorities in their investigation, we're certainly happy to do it," he said.
Asked whether Washington ruled out the possibility that the attack was actually a covert operation by an intelligence agency rather than a strike by a terrorist group, Casey replied that taking military action, such as firing RPGs against a diplomatic facility was an act of terror, regardless of who was behind it.
 PM Costas Karamanlis addresses meeting of Prefectural Committee presidentsPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressed a meeting of the Council of Presidents of Prefectural Committees of the ruling New Democracy party on Friday, stressing that "we want the party to be a living organism, one which expresses develop-ments and is open to society" and adding that the party's summer congress (due to take place between June and July) will be a congress of continuation and consistency.
Karamanlis said that the parties of the 21st century must create developments and not be dragged along by them and pointed out that modern parties must understand the messages of society and compose and produce policy.
Saying that the new era requires modern parties, the prime minister announced the reconstruction of the party's regional organising.
"Our party is an agency of changes and reforms. Our policy is in the right direction, however, we still have a difficult path ahead of us. The problems bequethed to us by yesterday cannot be tackled easily," he said.
Karamanlis further stressed that the government "will not deviate from its course since the positive results of its policy make it imperative for it to continue along the same path with an intensified pace."
Addressing the cadres participating in the meeting, Karamanlis said "I trust you and I request from you to trust citizens as well because this is our principle, regardless of individual political views."
 Gov't on social spending policyThe government policy followed to date has resulted in notable, substantial and measurable improvements for lower-income classes, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Friday during his regular press briefing.
Commenting on Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis' state-ments of a day earlier, Antonaros cited an extra 2.5 billion euros for social spending.
 GSEE on government pledge to increase social spendingThe government's promises to increase social spending were tardy and hypocritical, according to a statement made on Friday by Giannis Panagopoulos, the head of Greece's largest umbrella trade union group, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE).
After three years in which its policies had shaved incomes, reduced the buying power of wage earners and pensioners and redistributed wealth in favour of the economically powerful, the government had finally discovered poverty and degradation in Greek society, Panagopoulos noted.
The government's proposals did not provide solutions to the very real problems of Greek society but instead further magnified injustices and social exclusion, he added.
"They are selling hope with a five-year horizon, when their proposals essentially lead not to the reduction but a sharing of poverty," Panagopoulos stressed.
 Gov't on university asylum regimeThe government has launched a major debate on the university asylum issue for more than a year ago, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said, adding that the govern-ment is ready to make detailed announcements.
He also pointed out, in reference to the university asylum status, that the government has proved that it observes the Constitution and laws, as opposed to others who do not.
The spokesman also stated that lifting the university asylum is not under discussion, while responding to a question on whether the asylum prevents police from making arrests during clashes with self-styled anarchists, he told reporters that the state does everything that needs to be done to limit delinquent behavior.
Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alekos Alavanos, meanwhile, stressed that his party and leftist forces will be on the academic community's side and will fight for the university asylum.
He also accused main opposition PASOK of supporting ruling New Democracy by not saying "no" to a revision of Article 16.
 ND Secretary Zagoritis on 'abuse of university asylum'Ruling New Democracy (ND) party Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis said on Friday that "the abuse of university asylum and the disturbances of the past few days, insult culture and freedoms, as well as the idea on which university asylum was based."
He was speaking following the meeting earlier in the day of the party's Council of Presidents of Prefectural Administrative Committees (NODE).
He added that "this situation must concern all of us and first of all, those who violate the asylum."
Asked by reporters why the police made no arrests during the recent disturbances, Zagoritis stated that "the Greek police always attempts the avoidance of further tension and greater disturbances."
"I am the last person to judge the methods of the police authorities, they have plans of handling crises, the most important thing is for disturbances to be avoided and not for arrests to be made," the ND's Secretary added.
President Papoulias appeals to Libyan leader for pardon for Palestinian doctor, Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death
Greece's President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias has sent a letter to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi appealing for a pardon to be granted to a the Palestinian doctor and five Bulgarian nurses who have been sentenced to death for "the deliberate infection of 426 cildren with the HIV virus in a Benghazi hospital", it was announced on Friday.
The sentence of death by fire squad has drawn strong protests from the international community.
Papoulias, who has long-standing personal ties with the Libyan leader, expressed in his letter the "sentiments of grief and indignation over the deaths of the children", and stressed that "the European Union and Greece are prepared to help".
Papoulias' initiative comes ahead of a state visit to Bulgaria scheduled for February 12 and 13.
The Bulgarian state has protested that the trial that resulted in the December 2006 conviction of the six and their death penalty verdict was "unfair", and has charged a full violation of the rights of the defendants who backed their claims of inno-cence with scientific evidence that the children had contracted the virus in the hospital where they were being treated, where HIV and hepatitis viral strains were circulating, at least three years before the medical workers arrived in Libya in March 1998, blaming the infections on unhygienic practices at the hospital.
The six co-defendants, who have already served seven years in prison (since 1999), were initially convicted and sentenced to death a year earlier, but after international outcry the Libyan Supreme Court ordered a retrial, which upheld the initial verdict and sentence, with the case returning automatically to the Supreme Court for appeal.
Fifty of the children have died, while the rest were treated in Europe.
 PASOK party president condemns Turkish-Armenian journalist's assassinationMain opposition PASOK party President and Socialist Interna-tional President George Papandreou made a statement on Friday condemning the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink earlier in the day.
"Hrant Dink was an intellectual journalist who worked hard with consistency, a profound feeling of responsibility and great energy for democratic rights and freedom of the Press in Turkey, facing judicial prosecutions," he said.
High-profile Turkish-Armenian editor, Hrant Dink, a frequent target of nationalist anger for his comments on the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War One, was shot as he left his weekly newspaper Agos around 1300 GMT Friday in the centre of Istanbul.
"His assassination is an act of violence that constitutes a blow to efforts being made to strengthen the country's European prospects," Papandreou added and pointed out that "Hrant Dink is the victim of the fanaticism of those forces that are pursuing obscurantism."
Lastly, Papandreou said that "all we democratic socialists in Greece and all over the world condemn the hideous assassi-nation of Hrant Dink and express the hope that the Turkish authorities will take every necessary action to achieve the complete solving of the crime and the sending of the perpe-trators to Justice."
 Greek MEPs hold press conferenceGreece's MEPs held a press conference on Friday, in which they assessed the results of their work since their election to the European Parliament 2.5 years ago. The press conference follows the election of New Democracy MP Rodi Kratsa as first vice-president of the European Parliament, the first time a Greek has been elected to this post.
Apart from Kratsa, also participating in the conference were representatives of the Greek opposition parties represented in the European Parliament, with the exception of Popular Ortho-dox Rally (LAOS) MEP George Karatzaferis.
The topics discussed included the changes to the EuroParlia-ment following the accession of 12 new member-states and upcoming challenges facing Europe. According to the MEPs, the new member-states had been easily incorporated, while problems due to the increase of the official languages from 11 to 22 had been dealt with through new procedures in interpretation and translation.
They said the past two years had been dominated by efforts to adapt to the EU's rapid enlargement and overcoming the shock of the rejection of the EU Constitutional Treaty in some EU countries. At the same time, the EU Parliament had been able to wrap up important issues and important acts of legislation.
Kratsa noted that the Greek Parliament would be taking over the presidency of the EuroMediterranean Parliamentary assembly in March, and that she looked forward to close coope-ration with Greek Parliament President Anna Psarouda Benaki.
 Appellate court rules against extradition of Pakistani manAn appellate council of judges on Friday unanimously turned down a request by Pakistani authorities for the extradition of a Pakistani national in Greece who heads a group representing compatriot guest workers in the country.
Islamabad requested the extradition of Javed Aslam, via an Interpol warrant, on migrant trafficking charges.
Aslam garnered a measure of notoriety over the past year as a champion of several Pakistani men who claim they were illegally arrested and interrogated by counter-terrorism agents in Greece following the London underground bombings in July 2005.
 Greek-US agreement to sign MOU on KnowHow transferDevelopment minister Dimitris Sioufas met Friday with visiting president of the US national Council on Competitiveness, Deborah L. Wince-Smith, and the two sides discussed and agreed on the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Greece's National Competitiveness and Growth Council and the American Council on Competitiveness on matters of transfer of KnowHow.
They also examined the prospect for cooperation in specific sectors of economic activity presenting innovation interest.
During the meeting, Sioufas announced that an International Forum on Competitiveness will be held in Athens in the autumn, with the participation of representatives of the corresponding Councils from the countries of SE Europe, the Black Sea countries, and the countries of the Middle East and N. Africa.
Also present at the meeting were development ministry special secretary on competitiveness Spyros Efstathopoulos, Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) secretary general Thanassis Lavidas, American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (AHCC) president and general director St. Kostopoulos and Al. Lamnidis, respe-ctively, US embassy commercial counselor Stephen Alley, and the minister's special advisor Vassilis Rallis.
Event held on world competitiveness
The President of the Competitiveness Council of the United States Deborah Wince-Smith stressed the need for dynamic reaction by a country such as Greece regarding the issue of competitiveness in the international environment, speaking in the Old Parliament building on Friday evening.
She also expressed her conviction that Greece is facing the issue of challenges appearing in the competitiveness sector very seriously.
Addresses were also made by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and the Secretary General of the Federation of Greek Industries and President of the Greece-U.S. Business Council, Thanassis Lavidas. The event was also attended by the main opposition PASOK party's development, tourism and shipping sector chief Christos Papoutsis.
The Competitiveness Council of the U.S. was founded in the mid-'80s and makes proposals on the policy of the U.S. in this sector and also cooperates with its partners and organisations at an international level.
 Transport minister inaugurates revamped railway lineTransport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis inaugurated on Friday the 25-million-euro revamped Thessalo-niki-Amynteo-Kozani railway line, which was out of service for four years due to bad maintenance. The specific railway connection will be serviced three times daily and the trip will last three hours.
Liapis said that the Kozani-Grevena-Kalabaka railway line project is in the process of being examined, and assured that in the next few years western Macedonia will acquire a complete railway network with north and south axes.
The transport minister also stated that 2-billion-euro major infrastructure projects will be constructed by 2013, stressing that the updated railway network is a fundamental element for economic growth and prosperity.
 Greece further liberalises natural gas marketDevelopment Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday signed a ministerial decision further liberalising the domestic natural gas market. Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said the decision offered private investors could now select their natural gas suppliers and noted that the government's energy policy aimed at building at least four new electricity power stations using natural gas by 2010.
 Employment minister attends Berlin employment ministers councilBERLIN (ANA-MPA/P. Stangos)
Greece and Bulgaria are jointly examining exemptions for specific categories of Bulgarian workers who will be able to find employment in Greece legally during the existing two-year transitional period as well -during which the free movement of Bulgarian workers to Greece is not valid- according to a statement by Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on the sidelines of the informal Council of Employment Ministers that came to an end here on Friday night.
During this two-year period, which began with Bulgaria's accession to the European Union as of January 1, 2007, and also applies to Romania, a relative "flexibility" could be secured for Bulgarian workers in sectors where the Greek economy is in need and is unable to fill relevant shortages from the local labour market, Tsitouridis told Greek reporters.
Defining sectors and, possibly, the arithmetical ceiling, are issues whose examination has been scheduled at a technical level, while the solutions to be proposed will constitute a focal point in talks the Greek minister will be having during his visit to Bulgaria in March, at the invitation of his counterpart Emilia Maslarova.
 Tourism minister optimistic over 2007Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Friday said 2007 would be a special year for Greek tourism as the government would continue and enhance its strategic policy in the sector.
Addressing a ceremony to celebrate the new year, the minister said both employees and the political leadership of the ministry would be judged by results and underlined her optimism over tourism trends this year.
 PPC expands activities in renewable energy sourcesThe board of the Public Power Corp. (PPC) on Friday approved a business plan of its 100-pct subsidiary, PPC Renewables SA.
The six-year plan (2007-2012) envisages large investments - through corporate partnerships with third parties - of projects in renewable energy sources with a total power of 900 MW by 2012. PPC Renewables seeks to obtain and preserve up to 23 percent of the Greek renewable energy sources' market by the year 2014 through a series of policies including: 1) maximizing efficiency of its skilled-workforce, 2) maximizing the performance of its windpower and hydroelectric parks of total power of 85 MW and implementing new investments in the sector of total power of 45 MW.
PPC's board also approved a cooperation between PPC Renewables with EdF Energies Nouvelles in the joint building of windpower parks in the country.
 Greek, Italian telecoms authorities to cooperateGreece's independent telecoms authority, the National Tele-communications and Post Commission (EETT), has signed a cooperation memorandum with its Italian counterpart, the Communications Regulatory Authority AGCOM.
According to an announcement issued on Friday by EETT, the aim of the memorandum is to exchange experiences and technical know-how regarding regulation and oversight in electronic communications in the two countries, which will contribute to joint actions and an efficient handling of important issues arising in this market.
 Dubai Financial shrugs off Piraeus offerDubai Financial, the main shareholder in Athens-quoted Marfin Popular Bank, said on Friday that it was not interested in a public offer for stock in the bank by Piraeus Bank, which is also listed.
"Dubai Financial wishes to express its full support for Marfin Popular Bank's management, both in terms of its vision and strategy, and in terms of the initiatives it has taken for the creation of value," the shareholder said in a statement.
"We have no interest in accepting the proposal submitted by Piraeus Bank," the statement noted.
Dubai holds about 17% of Marfin.
 Indian Silks Exhibition buyer/seller meet to be held in AthensThe Indian Silk Export Promotion Council, in association with the Embassy of India in Athens, will be organising a Buyer Seller Meet (Exhibition of Indian Silks) at the Holiday Inn Hotel, Athens, from 22nd to 24th January 2007, and Indian Embassy announcement said on Friday.
The Buyer Seller Meet will be open for business from 1000 hours to 1800 hours on all the three days.
Silk is a traditional product of India. India is the second largest producer of silk in the world and the only country to produce all the four commercially produced varieties of silk, i.e. mulberry, tasar, yeri and muga. The silk production in India has gone up from about 7000 tons in 1985 to over 14000 tons now.
Greece has long been associated with silk. It seems to have been woven very early on the island of KĆ³s, mentioned by Aristotle mentions as the place where silk was āfirst spun,ā About A.D. 550 two former missionaries to China, succeeded in smuggling to Constantinople, in a hollow staff, both the eggs of the silkworm and the seeds of the mulberry tree. Byzantium became famous for splendid silken textiles and embroideries, used throughout medieval Europe for royal and ecclesiastical costumes and furnishings. From the 10th century, Thebes became a centre of the new silk trade, and by the middle of the twelfth century, the city had become the biggest producer of silks in the entire Byzantine empire, surpassing even the Byzantine capital at Constantinople. The women of Thebes were famed for their skills at weaving. Theban silk was prized above all others during this period, both for its quality and its excellent reputation, according to the embassy announcement
India exports silk to over 100 countries. Major export destinations for Indian silks include the USA, Britain and Italy. India silk exports during the year 2005-06 (April-March) reached US$ 713 million. Silk fabrics form the largest category of silk exports from India. They range from dazzling dupions to fine mulberry organzas, tuffetas, crepe, georgette, chiffon, tabby, satin and twills. Quality designers all over the world use Indian silk fabrics for their premium selections, the announce-ment said.
The event will showcase the splendour of Indian silks and products by reputed Indian exporters and will be a rare opportunity for Greek business in the textile, furnishings, made-ups and dress materials and the fashion designers.
 Greek industrial activity up in November 2006, yr/yrGreece's turnover composite index in the industrial sector (measuring both domestic and foreign markets) rose 1.1 pct in November 2006, compared with the same month in 2005, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed the increase to a 3.5 pct rise in the domestic market turnover index and a 5.4 pct decline in the foreign market turnover index.
The mining sector turnover index jumped 27.2 pct in November, while the turnover index in the manufacturing sector rose 0.7 pct over the same period.
The new orders index in the industrial sector (measuring both domestic and foreign markets) rose 6.6 pct in November compared with the same month in 2005. The rise reflected an 18.1 pct increase in the foreign market index and a 0.7 pct rise in the domestic market index.
 Eight municipalities sign 'digital community' agreementA declaration of cooperation was signed in Trikala, central Greece, on Friday by the representatives of eight municipalities within the framework of a two-day conference.
The agreement on the use of digital technologies management systems signed by the municipalities of Trikala, Larisa, Lamia, Grevena, Karditsa, Volos, Katerini and Nea Ionia of Volos lays the ground for the establishment of the first digital community in the country, with the objective to better serve the citizens.
The eight municipalities stressed in the declaration of coopera-tion that their aspiration is to further improve the peopleās quality of life, boost employment and improve the municipa-litiesā competitiveness in the globalized economy.
Deputy finance minister addresses event organised by General Information Systems Secretariat
Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Antonis Bezas was the main speaker at an event organised in Patra, western Greece, by the General Information Systems Secretariat on Friday on the presentation of electronic services it provides for citizens and businesses.
Bezas referred to the government's economic policy and to reforms, changes in taxation and the utilisation of new technologies.
"The course of reforms will be continued. However, because economic development must be distributed fairly to all it is a priority for us, with initiatives to be undertaken in the near future, to improve the effectiveness of social expenditures to combat poverty, meaning to strengthen social cohesion in our country," he said.
Presenting data on state revenues, the deputy minister said "total revenues increased by 8.8 percent during the 12-month period between January-December 2006, compared to an annual target of 8.6 percent. From these, tax revenues increased by 6.8 percent, exceeding the target of tax revenues that had been foreseen."
 Bulgaria sees rise in business with GreeceSOFIA (ANA-MPA/B Borisov)
Bulgarian businesses are expected to show rising interest in coming years in trade fairs arranged by Greece's Helexpo in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, and in alliances with Greek firms, the head of Bulgaria's Economic Development Centre said on Friday.
According to Alexander Bozkov, Bulgaria's entry into the European Union will make it easier for companies based in Sofia or nearby to show their products in Thessaloniki.
In addition, Thessaloniki has a larger port than Varna that is conveniently located in the Mediterranean, he said in an interview to the ANA-MPA.
 National Bank makes offer for Ukraine bankAthens-quoted National Bank of Greece said on Friday that it had made a binding offer for the aquisition of a majority of shares in a Ukrainian bank.
In a reply to the Athens Stock Exchange, National stated that the move followed a statement to investors on January 12 that the management was interested in two Ukrainian banks.
In a separate development, National said its holding in Finansbank of Turkey was now 82.8%.
 Alumil Rom gets 10-day extension to settle IPORomania's Capital Markets Commission on Friday offered an additional 10-day deadline for settlement of an initial public offering by Alumil Mylonas' subsidiary in Romania, Alumil Rom.
The settlement was been postponed in early January after charges that certain investors breached market regulations in public offering procedures.
An Alumil Mylonas announcement to the press stated that the 10-day deadline aimed to give time for a final solution to the problem and noted that the results of the public offering would be published after the deadline expired.
Alumil Rom aims to list its shares on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. The parent company said developments would not affect its subsidiary's listing in the market.
 Greek stocks end flat on FridayGreek stocks ended Friday's session flat in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index rose 0.06 pct to end at 4,678.31 points with turnover a heavy 426.3 million euros.
Most sectors ended higher with the Media (7.35 pct), Utilities (1.86 pct) and Personal-Home Products (1.39 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Chemicals (2.77 pct), Technology (0.80 pct) and Commerce (0.75 pct) suffered the heaviest losses.
The Big Cap index eased 0.01 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 0.21 pct and the Small Cap index ended 0.31 pct higher.
Marak Electronic (18.40 pct), Pegasos (18.39 pct) and Ikona-Ihos (13.04 pct) were top gainers, while Boutaris (7.25 pct), MLS (5.69 pct) and Zampa (5.0 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 144 to 113 with another 48 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.43%
Personal & Household: +1.39%
Raw Materials: -0.12%
Travel & Leisure: +0.11%
Food & Beverages: +0.11%
Financial Services: +0.26%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, Eurobank, and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 25.10
Public Power Corp (PPC): 21.40
HBC Coca Cola: 29.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.98
Emporiki Bank: 22.98
National Bank of Greece: 37.20
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 29.68
Titan Cement Company: 43.20
 Derivatives Market Close: PPC top in stock futures tradeEquity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.29 pct
 Foreign Exchange RatesReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.306
Pound sterling 0.661
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.192
Japanese yen 158.3
Swiss franc 1.630
Norwegian kroner 8.434
Cyprus pound 0.583
Canadian dollar 1.531
Australian dollar 1.658
 Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey meeting on final proposals for tackling Evros River floodingTrilateral contacts between Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, at technocrat level, for the formulation of a study and final proposals to be submitted to the three countries' political leaderships on tackling the problem of the Evros River flooding will resume on February 1, to be held in Alexandroupolis, it was announced on Friday.
During the preceding meeting in the Turkish town of Edirne (Hadrianople), the Greek and Turkish sides expressed joint interest in a fortification model entailing the construction of equal-weight embankments on both sides of the River, in the areas of Kastanies, Poros, Ormenio, Nea Orestiada, Soufli and Tychero.
At the same time, the issue of controlled release of the River's waters from the Bulgarian dams was also discussed, with the Turkish side requesting a release level of 1,000 cubic meters per second, from the current 2,000-3,500 cubic meters, and Greece agreeing with the proposal.
 Death, injuries in brawls, robberyA 32-year-old Armenian national was killed outside a nightclub in Thessaloniki during a brawl in the early morning hours on Friday.
Approximately five foreign nationals were involved in the row that broke out inside the nightclub and continued outside with gunfire exchange during which the 32-year-old was killed.
The culprits fled the scene and a police search recovered 15 cartridges in the area.
The causes of the clash remain unknown and an investigation is underway for the arrest of the assailants.
Meanwhile, a 41-year-old was taken to Nikea General Hospital in serious condition after being shot by an unidentified individual inside a bar in Agia Varvara, Athens, at dawn.
According to police the gunman, who was wearing a hood over his head, entered the bar armed with a hunting riffle and opened fire four times, causing multiple injuries to the 41-year-old before fleeing the scene.
The victim was rushed to the hospital in a private car and the incident was reported to police an hour later.
According to police, the armed attack was made to settle personal differences stemming from illegal transactions and an investigation is underway to locate the gunman.
In a third incident, a man was hospitalized after being shot and injured by two robbers riding a motorcycle who opened fire at him with a hand pistol in the attempt to snatch his bag while he was leaving the Bank of Piraeus in Pangrati, Athens on Friday morning.
The robbers took off with the manās bag ,carrying an unspe-cified amount of money, and a police manhunt is under-way for their arrest.
 N17 defendant says Koufodinas, Giotopoulos the terror gang's most experienced membersFriday's session at the "November 17" appeals trial was dominated by the closing statement of a defendant chara-cterised as amongst the more "remorseful" in the first instance proceedings, Patroklos Tsenlentis, following the unapologetic and combative testimony of the terror group's arch-assassin, Dimitris Koufodinas, days earlier.
Tselentis, in fact, began by citing both Koufodinas and the group's alleged co-founder and ideological "guru", Alexandros Giotopoulos, saying that both "Giotopoulos and Koufodinas had the experience, that's why they had the respect of the others (members), without this meaning, however, that the others executed orders like soldiers."
Asked by the prosecutor over who took decisions about the ultra-leftist terror band's actions, the defendant replied: "Proposals for actions were made. All of us discussed them, and they were carried out by those that agreed".
Moreover, Tselentis said Giotopoulos, whom he said he was initially introduced to as "Petros", was the most experienced of all the N17 cadres. Giotopoulos appeared as a self-styled translator of French texts who vanished from leftist circles in Paris shortly before the Greek military junta (1967-1974) collapsed and subsequently lived in Greece under the assumed name "Michel Economou" for more than two decades.
Tselentis said Giotopoulos, who has denied his involvement in the group throughout, actually participated in an armed robbery in Athens, acting as an armed lookout.
Finally, he charged that Koufodinas was his "ideological mentor" and the man who recruited him in the early 1980s, adding that he left the terror gang in 1988.
 Eleven stockbrokers acquitted on appealA magistrateās court ĪæĪ½ Friday acquitted on appeal 11 stockbrokers, members of brokerage firms and businessmen involved in a stock manipulation scandal in the period between March and September 1999.
The court ruled that there was no evidence produced proving that the stocks sold in package deals increased offer and demand, while no malice was proven on the defendantsā part aiming at misleading investors for the purpose of illicit profits.
The defendants were found guilty in the first instance court for brokerage legislation violations and were sentenced from 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of 550,000 euros.
 Gov't on cancer vaccine price issueThe government has been aware of concerns over the price of a breakthrough vaccine against cervical cancer since last spring, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Friday.
He pointed out that the vaccine against specific types of cervical cancer has not yet been included in any EU member-state's national vaccination programmes, while adding, however, that the supreme council for vaccinations in Greece will examine the issue in order to reach the necessary decisions.
The vaccine is administered in three doses over six months and its cost, which are not covered by social insurance funds in Greece, is roughly 555 euros -- 185 euros per dose -- as opposed to approximately 360 euros (120 euros per dose) cited by recent press reports in the United States.
 AIDS now from fatal to long-term disease, professor saysAIDS has now become a long-term disease and not a fatal one thanks to new medicines and therapies, it was disclosed on Friday.
"It is an undisputable fact that the number of HIV/AIDS patients is continuously increasing, due to new infections and the lengthy survival of those affected, which is the result of the achievement of modern therapy," Thessaloniki University's A' Pathological Clinic professor Pavlos Nikolaidis said on Friday.
He was speaking at a scientific symposium on the theme "Approach-Handling of AIDS by the non-expert".
 Women's event held in Thessaloniki on Greece's immigration policyThe president of the Institute on Immigration Policy, Alexandros Zavos, said on Friday that "Greece's immigration policy is advanced in relation to other countries of the European Union, as it has already incorporated the directive for those immigrants who have stayed (in Greece) for a long time."
Zavos was speaking on the sidelines of an event on immigration policy which was held in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, by the Network of Women Immigrants of Northern Greece.
In statements to ANA-MPA, Zavos, referring to the countries of origin of the immigrants living in Greece, stressed that "most of them come from Bulgaria and from countries of the former Soviet Union," while the number of Muslim women is very small.
"However, mainly Albanians have achieved their family reunion in Greece as most of the immigrants leave their families behind them," he said. He also clarified that with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union, "all those who of course wish to come, can do so legally, but for them to work, a special permit is required."
 Appeals court prosecutor orders inquiry into incidents at Wednesday's rallyThe head of the Appeal Court prosecutors' office George Koliokostas on Friday ordered an emergency inquiry into the violent incidents that took place in Athens during a student protest rally last Wednesday, in which businesses and vehicles were set on fire and two police officers were injured by fire-bombs.
In his instructions, he pointed out that the masked rioters had committed a series of serious offences that included attempted homicide, causing explosions and arson. He also asked the prosecutor in charge of the investigation to identify police officers that failed to make arrests during the incidents, noting that the police should not be involved in the investigation.
 Athens Bar Association criticises European Human Rights CourtThe Athens Bar Association, in a statement on Friday, criticised the work of the European Human Rights Court and announced the creation of a special committee to highlight issues preoccupying the Court.
"The Athens Bar Association believes that the European Human Rights Court is a universally recognised and acclaimed judiciary institution at the service of defending human rights and freedoms," the announcement said.
"However, it sounds the alarm in connection with its effective and adequate operation since, according to statistical data, individual appeals tabled before it are increasing with a geometrical rate (an increase of 850 percent over the 1990-2005 period), while the individual appeals which are ultimately accepted by the Court and are not rejected as unacceptable or are not abandoned by those making the appeals amount to 2.2 percent," it added.
 Lawyer Sakis Kehagioglou released after appearing before magistrateSakis Kehagioglou, a lawyer facing charges in connection with a trial-rigging scandal, was released after appearing before Special Appeals Examining Magistrate Ioannis Sideris on Friday.
His release followed a disagreement between the magistrate, who wanted Kehagioglou remanded in custody, and Public Prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos, who recommended that he be set free with 20,000 euros bail.
The disagreement will be settled through an order of the Appeals Court justices council.
 Ilias Theodorou appointed SG of Athens MunicipalityBy decision of Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Friday, Ilias Theodorou has been appointed as Secretary-General of Athens Municipality.
Theodorou is a graduate of the Thessaloniki Higher Industrial School (Macedonia University) - Business Administration Department, speaks English and is a member of the Economic Chamber of Greece. He has also served as economic director and managing director in the private sector.
 Hunter goes missing in PrevezaA hunter has gone missing in Prezeva, northwestern Greece, since Wednesday.
The 64-year-old businessman from Arta, western Greece, was hunting in the region of Trikastro of Preveza's Louros Municipality.
The search and rescue squad (EMAK) continued its efforts to trace the man on Friday but without success.
The search by teams of EMAK from Ioannina, firemen, police and inhabitants of the region, with the contribution by air of helicopters, ended at sunset on Friday and will continue on Saturday.
The man had remained in the area to hunt alone after his friends left, and from that moment there was no trace of him.
 Weather Forecast: Unseasonally warm on SaturdayUnseasonally warm weather is forecast in many parts of the country, with a slight, temporary drop in temperature in the east and north. Winds, very high, northwesterly. Temperatures in Athens from 9C to 17C; and in Thessaloniki between 5C and 13C.
 The Athens dailies at a glanceThe issue of university asylum being opened up by the government following Wednesday's violent incidents in the centre of Athens, and the package of measures to confront poverty being examined by the government, were among the main front-page items in Friday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Pensions: Gradual increase with incorporation of EKAS (low-pension benefit)".
ANO KATO: "The (university) asylum on the (negotiations) table - The unacceptable incidents prompt immediate changes in Education".
APOGEVMATINI: "The poor being reinforced with additional 2 billion euros - Package of governmental measures to support the low-income brackets".
AVGHI: "Pre-electoral cocktail - Education on the altar of the government's expediencies".
AVRIANI: "New law to abolish asylum in the university grounds - What the controversial provision foresees".
CHORA: "Beneficial measures for pensions to mothers - The terms and conditions by IKA (state-run social insurance foundation)".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "100 personalities on Eleftheri Ora's birthday - We continue as we started out: Independent, free, and far from the political parties and their funds and the capital benefits".
ELEFTHEROS: "End to the asylum inside the university compounds for anarchists-hooded troublemakers - Roussopoulos (government spokesman): Asylum a shelter for criminal actions".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The battle in Education intensifies - Asylum at the centre due to the incidents".
ESTIA: "Recital in hypocrisy over the independent Authorities - They are used as 'alibi' by the politicians".
ETHNOS: "Molotov cocktail from Maximos (Mansion, the government headquarters) - Tabling of the framework law on the AEI (institutions of higher education) being hastened".
KATHIMERINI: "Whom the violence at the AEI benefits - Questions over why not one arrest has been made".
LOGOS: " 'Asylum' to the Education bill - Government opts for 'aggressive' stance".
NIKI: "Games with the asylum - Diversion with the hooded troublemakers as 'Trojan' horse".
PARASKINIO (weekly): "The big banking deals a steam-engine - Full steam ahead for growth, investments".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The attack on Education escalating, with the academic asylum the target now".
TA NEA: "Fire against asylum, with the molotov cocktails (home-made firebombs) the alibi - They're speeding up the law on the AEI".
TO VIMA: "They're setting up (early general) elections trap - Maximos' plans - Strategy of tension and escalation of the political crisis, with the new AEI framework law as the weapon".
VRADYNI: "War on poverty - Alogoskoufis (national economy and finance minister) announces package of measures".
 Turkey has no rights over Cyprus-Lebanon exclusive economic zone agreementNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus does not consider that Turkey has rights over the oil deposits which might possibly exist in the Cyprus
coastal areas, especially in the southern coastal part.
Invited to comment Turkey's objections to the signing of a maritime agreement between Lebanon and Cyprus that would cover potential underwater energy resources, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here Friday the need that these agreements should be kept secret until they are signed.
Turkey alleged that Lebanon should ask for Turkey's opinion before signing any agreement with Cyprus, which has ''a Turkish part", according to Ankara.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.
Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas signed on Wednesday in Beirut an agreement for the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone between the Republic of Cyprus and Lebanon.
"In all cases when we start negotiations, Turkey's presence is strong and for this reason, sometimes it is useful for something to take place before it is made public", the president added.
Asked if Turkey is reacting in an effort to create problems to Turkey or has an interest in the possible oil deposits in the area, President Papadopoulos replied that "Turkey claims that Cyprus' natural resources belong to Cyprus, and according to the law of the sea, and to all other neighbouring countries, therefore it claims it has rights".
"We do not think it has rights according to the legal advice which we have, especially as far as the northern part is concer-ned", President Papadopoulos stressed.
To a question whether Cyprus should make a relevant agree-ment with Turkey since it is also a neighbouring country, the president replied "not of course".
 EU Mediterranean Agriculture Ministerial meeting in CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus will be hosting the EU Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting entitled "EU Mediterranean Agriculture and New Challenges", which will take place in Nicosia between 20 and 22 of January.
Agriculture Ministers of eight EU Mediterranean countries, namely Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia, will meet here, in view of the serious amendments to the Common Agricultural Policy, promoted by the European Commission.
The meeting, to take place at the invitation of Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Natural Sources and Environment Fotis Fotiou, aims at ascertaining the common problems, noting down the concerns and views as regards the proposed amendments of the EU in the Mediterranean products and determining common positions for the future of the EU agricultural policy.
Special issues on the agenda of the meeting are the ongoing review of the Common Agriculture Policy in the fields of fruit and vegetables and the wine sector, which is an important component of the agricultural economy of the Mediterranean member states, as well as the Euro-Mediterranean relations and the negotiations held at the World Trade Organisation.
Moreover, Agriculture Ministers will examine the impact which drought has on various fields of agricultural production and stock farming, with a view to promote a common position for Mediterranean countries which will be promoted for discussion at the European Commission.
 Green Party and YKP sign joint declaration for a demilitarized NicosiaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus Green Party and Turkish Cypriot party ''New Cyprus'' (Yeni Kibris Partisi - YKP) have jointly declared that the demilitarization of the divided city of Nicosia from all military forces is of immense importance.
The joint declaration was signed by the General Secretary of Green Party Yiorgos Perdikis and YKP Secretary for Foreign Affairs Alpay Durduran, outside the entrance of Ledra Palace Hotel, in Nicosia on Friday.
The Declaration will be presented at a meeting of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parties, on January 24, at Ledra Palace Hotel.
Perdikis said ''the idea of demilitarization is supported by all Greek Cypriot parties and it is now time for them to support this practically through this joint declaration''.
He said that if all Cypriot parties sign the declaration then ''we will have an excellent political document that will urge the political and military authorities to put into force this brilliant idea.''
Durduran said ''there are difficulties but we are here to solve them. We insist that this is the best arrangement and we will try to persuade all Cypriot parties to give their consensus.''
Perdikis and Durduran said the joint declaration will also be sent to the United Nations and to the European Union.
The declaration said that especially the walled-city of Nicosia is where the dividing line of Cyprus brings the armed forces at their closest proximity.
''The old Nicosia also contains considerable no-man's land which cannot be utilized anymore as it is now a useless military zone, with a great cultural and historical value since it was full of life once upon a time'', it added.
That's why, it continued, the demilitarization of Nicosia would create numerous new jobs, offer solutions to the traffic congestion, commence the process of repairing and rehabili-tation, property reinstatement and the real and actual, reunifi-cation of the people and the city of Nicosia, and then of course the entire island will follow this example.
The joint declaration also added that the demilitarization of Nicosia would create the opportunity of recreating life in the buffer zone, where hundreds of historical houses, properties and workplaces can be reinstated as regards legal ownership and be revitilised.
''This zone could be turned into a common working zone and the dividing line could turn into a space for pragmatic reunion where Turkish and Greek-Cypriots will be living and working together, once again as they used to, in the same street, in the same neighborhood, in the same reunified town'', the decla-ration concluded.