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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-07-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Wednesday, 4 July 2007 Issue No: 2635

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis chairs Inner Cabinet meeting on ameliorating repercussions of recent forest fires
  • [02] PASOK's time is come again, Papandreou tells MPs
  • [03] Papandreou to visit Ecumenical Patriarch on Wednesday
  • [04] Government denies lagging in absorption of EU funds
  • [05] Government unveils draft communications privacy bill
  • [06] Greek envoy in US cites 'hostile, irredentist propaganda' by FYROM against Athens
  • [07] Ombudsman holds seminar on asylum and EU directives in Greece
  • [08] Archbishop's health improved after Monday, doctors say
  • [09] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos to visit Viotia, Livadia on September 24
  • [10] Govt actively supports business activity, FinMin says
  • [11] Sale of 10.7% of OTE a positive development, CEO says
  • [12] EKO-ELDA to invest 100 mln euros in Bulgarian operations
  • [13] HELEXPO SA delegation visits Munich
  • [14] Grecian cuisine seminars in Germany
  • [15] Fuel trade companies' turnover up 17 pct in 2006, report
  • [16] Visa Europe carries out survey on consumer attitude
  • [17] Greek stocks end 0.42 pct higher
  • [18] ADEX closing report
  • [19] Greek bond market closing report
  • [20] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday
  • [21] PM inaugurates Parliamentary exhibition on PMs and Parliament presidents
  • [22] Public Power Corporation on forest fire prevention
  • [23] Event commemorating birth of Rigas Fereos held in Belgrade
  • [24] Inter-Parliamentary Orthodox congress convenes in Athens
  • [25] Chinese-language edition of 'Civilisation of the Olive and Olive Oil' debuts
  • [26] Fire reported at Ellinika on Evia
  • [27] Prosecutor orders inquiry into video of police brutality
  • [28] Slightly hotter on Wednesday
  • [29] Archbishop of America Demetrios holds meetings in Cyprus
  • [30] Cypriot President honours Sarbanes and Brademas
  • [31] US: Mooney's death a personal tragedy

  • [01] PM Karamanlis chairs Inner Cabinet meeting on ameliorating repercussions of recent forest fires

    The Inner Cabinet, chaired by prime minister Costas Karamanlis, on Tuesday discussed measures for ameliorating problems caused by the recent spate of devastating forest fires throughout the country.

    Environment, town planning and public works minister George Souflias, who will assume the role of coordinator, in accordance with a decision of the Inner Cabinet, told reporters after the meeting that the first step was to map out the destroyed regions and their reforestation, in tandem with anti-flooding and anti-erosion projects.

    Souflias said that the anti-flooding and anti-erosion works needed to be completed by end-September, before the rainy season commenced, while reforestation would begin in November and should be completed by February.

    Replying to questions, Souflias said that he backed public order minister Vyron Polydoras, adding that there was no political blame, although there may be operational responsibilities.

    Interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed that the government's volition, and decision, was that "where there was forest, it will remain forest", adding that the government was determined not to allow a repetition of the "phenomena of the past" where villas would spring up in the forests.

    "We are beginning immediately, with aerial photographs, and then proceed with all the measures for the reforestation," Pavlopoulos said.

    The government will further proceed with compensation for those who suffered damages or losses due to the wildfires, in accordance with the relevant legislation, and has been done in the past.

    [02] PASOK's time is come again, Papandreou tells MPs

    Main opposition PASOK party is preparing for the "new great change" that will once again bring it to power, PASOK leader George Papandreou told the party's Parliamentary group on Tuesday.

    "PASOK's time is come again. The right-wing interlude is collapsing and coming to an end, the reversal is taking place, the new great change is coming," PASOK's president told MPs.

    He stressed that the party was "readier and more mature than ever" but had no room for complacency since the road to the elections was long and difficult.

    According to Papandreou, this was the start of the battle for the final straight, shortly before the elections that would rid the country of its worst government since democracy was restored in 1974. He said the government was in a panic, while the prime minister and all members of his government were permanently obsessed with the date of the elections.

    Whatever they did, however, it was certain that this crumbling structure would topple over and not last, he added.

    He predicted a tough pre-electoral race in which the government would not hesitate to use all methods to prevail, including vast quantities of money, manipulation of the press and an ideology that saw the state as a "trophy" to be used to buy votes and consciences.

    PASOK's leader pointed to the timing of a bill on media concentration introduced by the government, saying this aimed to give a nod and a wink to friendly media while intimidating those less cordially disposed to the government.

    He also accused the ruling party of preparing to spend several millions to cover up scandals like that with the structured bonds, the Competition Commission affair and graft and on a hugely expensive advertising campaign. Papandreou said that this money would be provided by sponsors representing interests assisted by ND, who would now "pay off" their debts.

    Against the advertising and spin, PASOK would range the truth and the superiority of both its programme and its people, Papandreou said.

    "Beside them will stand the few and the powerful interests, while beside us will be the Greek people," he added.

    PASOK's leader also warned members of his party to brace themselves for a mud-slinging war, predicting that ND would not hesitate to use slander and libel but stressing that PASOK would answer with the truth and transparency.

    Commenting on the recent fires, meanwhile, Papandreou attacked the government for incompetence, lack of coordination and dismantling state services. Responding to the government's pledge to employ the "Halkidiki model" in restoring Parnitha's forests, meanwhile, Papandreou said that nothing had actually been done in Halkidiki following the fires that devastated the peninsula last summer. To make promises and then pull out was ND's model of governing, he added.

    Finally, he praised PASOK MPs for their work over the past three and a half years, saying that this would be rewarded by the electorate's vote in the polls and stressed that the countdown for the present government had begun when PASOK submitted a no-confidence motion.

    He urged party officials to remain close to the public, talk with ordinary people and convince them about the party's positions while stressing that the party would not tolerate those who were solely concerned with getting themselves a position in the state.

    Addresses by MPs speaking after Papandreou dwelt on the destruction of the Parnitha National Park during last week's fires as the supreme proof of the government's incompetence and said that in the coming months PASOK must strike a balance between criticism and presenting its programme, gradually shifting the emphasis on the latter.

    They also pointed to the constant downgrading of Parliament and called for proposals to upgrade its function.

    In his closing remarks, Papandreou pledged to launch initiatives concerning Parnitha, beginning with measures to address the immediate problem and moving on to a "serious and responsible policy for forests and the environment".

    He also conveyed to his party's MPs the support expressed by the Socialist International after his abrupt departure from an SI meeting due to the Parnitha fire.

    PASOK's leader reiterated his call to PASOK officials and MPs to "convey the party's programme positions" everywhere, stressing the need for direct contact with voters and pointing out that "for the media it is often not considered news to talk about a party's programme".

    Gov't reaction

    In response to Papandreou's statements, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos charged that "Mr. Papandreou saw every single one of his opposition tricks collapse last night (Monday) in Parliament. It surprises no one, therefore, that he once again retreated to his party's familiar trench of populism and radicalism ... the more he (Papandreou) scorns, the more his political bareness is exposed."

    [03] Papandreou to visit Ecumenical Patriarch on Wednesday

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou is to travel to Fanar, Istanbul on Wednesday in order to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the party announced.

    Papandreou will express his support for the Patriarchate in person and assist the Patriarch's efforts to solve the problems being faced by the Patriarchate.

    [04] Government denies lagging in absorption of EU funds

    The government on Tuesday denied opposition party claims that it was lagging in the absorption of European Union funds, citing figures published by the European Commission.

    "According to the figures in various absorption tables for Cohesion Fund projects, it arises that the sum of the required funds that have been made available by the EU, amounting to 3.235 billion euros, have been fully secured," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said.

    "For the funding of projects by the Cohesion Fund, the European Commission issues decisions for each project and according to these decisions, the implementation of a great number of projects is extended until 2010. The projects require a lengthy period until contracting and the outflow of funds and, therefore, the picture of zero absorption in no case reflects the progress in carrying out the projects and the efforts that have been made to accelerate and complete them," Antonaros added, noting that presenting absorption figures without taking other factors into account was a "sterile approach" that did not reflect the reality and created mistaken impressions.

    He had been asked to respond to a statement by Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader Alekos Alavanos on Monday, who said that Community funds dealing with fire fighting had not been absorbed by either ruling New Democracy nor previous PASOK governments.

    Antonaros clarified that the figures that he cited concerned all Cohesion Fund projects in total and noted that SYN had already been answered in detail on these issues in October 2005.

    Regarding the extent of the territory that would be earmarked for reforestation after last week's fires, the spokesman stressed that all areas of forest burnt while ND was in government had been declared due for reforestation, without exception.

    "PASOK, on the contrary, left very large sections outside in 1995, 1998 and 2000," he added, commenting on a front-page article in the newspaper "Ta Nea".

    Regarding the fire-fighting effort on Parnitha, he clarified that the fire brigade and civil protection agency have "clearly distinct roles" and dismissed speculation of tension in the relations between the head of the fire department and the civil protection agency.

    [05] Government unveils draft communications privacy bill

    Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras and and Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Tuesday unveiled a draft bill designed to strengthen legal protection for the privacy of telephone communications.

    The government set out to revise laws on protecting telephone communications privacy following shocking revelations in early 2006 that the mobile phones of several state officials, including one belonging to the prime minister, had been illegally tapped by unknown parties.

    "The phone-tapping affair, of which the government was the chief victim, led to an urgent need to revise the legal framework for protecting communications privacy, a commodity protected directly by the Constitution," Papaligouras said, noting that this task had been assigned to Liapis and himself.

    He said the committee drafting the bill would present the final version to Parliament after a period of 45 days, which was allowed for consultation with the appropriate bodies.

    Papaligouras said the bill had focused on several areas, including a simplification of existing laws so as to do away with overlapping responsibilities that had led to a lack of effective control.

    Attempts were also made to tighten up security regulations for mobile and land-line telephone service providers, creating greater obligations and responsibilities in terms of ensuring privacy for their subscribers, including regular checks of their hardware and software systems.

    Another important new measure introduced under the bill is the obligation of providers to record any operations for the management of their software systems through log files, making it impossible to erase evidence of any kind of intervention in the system and ensuring that those who illegally interfered with communications privacy can be traced.

    In addition, providers are also required to provide the independent communications privacy authority ADAE with three-monthly reports listing all cases where communications privacy has been legally suspended, enabling the authority to better carry out inspections in order to ensure the law is being observed.

    The draft bill introduces new penalties for protecting communications that are of similar weight as those for the protection of transport and public utilities, while the offence of compromising communications privacy by illegally accessing a connection, network or special software used to provide such services is established as a misdemeanour, which is punished more severely if the person involved is a staff-member or associate of the provider.

    Violation by the service provider or his legal representative of the terms of his operating licence or the regulations referring to security of electronic communications, as well as failing to take the necessary measures to prevent their violation, is treated as a criminal offence under the new law if the culprit intended to earn money or make other illegal financial gains or otherwise injure another. The penalties are even more severe in cases where the violation might endanger the democratic state, national security and the security of public utility facilities.

    Finally, the draft bill introduces legislation that punishes acts arising through negligence and forbids the sale on the market of special technical means for violating privacy.

    [06] Greek envoy in US cites 'hostile, irredentist propaganda' by FYROM against Athens

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)

    Greece's ambassador to the United States, Alexandros Mallias, was the keynote speaker at the 61st annual national convention of the Pan-Macedonian Association, which was held from June 26 to July 1 in Baltimore.

    Mallias told an audience of Pan-Macedonian Association delegates on Saturday evening that although relations between Washington and Athens are based on common values and interests, the unilateral recognition of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in November 2004 by the Bush administration as merely "Republic of Macedonia" did not take into account Greece's interests.

    Moreover, Mallias the Greek envoy that the policy of the current FYROM government, including references to Alexander the Great the Macedonian phalanx, among others, in tandem with a hostile and irredentist propaganda against Greece is a guaranteed recipe for failure.

    Coalition party's Political Secretariat convenes on environmental problems

    The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party's Political Secretariat convened on Tuesday to examine the problem of forest fires and of environmental problems in general.

    "Only concern is justified from yesterday's discussion in Parliament for big words without a meaning, which exhausted themselves once again on promises for reforestations and on a cheap bipartisan quarrel as to who is less competent and on the stremmas burnt during its governance," a party announcement said.

    "It is clear that New Democracy in particular, that is in power today, as well as PASOK are inspired by policies that burden in many ways and strengthen negatively climatic changes," it added.

    The party's Political Secretariat, the announcement further said, has planned further actitivites in the framework of the campaign on environmental issues in their entirety and calls for the "active participation of all citizens, and of young people in particular, in events taking place these days with the Greek Social Forum and citizens' movements being the organisers."

    [07] Ombudsman holds seminar on asylum and EU directives in Greece

    Greek Ombudsman George Kaminis on Tuesday cautioned Greece to adapt to European Union directives concerned with issues of political asylum and be much more careful in rejecting asylum requests.

    He was speaking during a seminar on "Asylum in Greece and Incorporating Community Directives" that is being organised by the Ombudsman's office in collaboration with the UN High Commission for Refugees and other bodies.

    "Greece must expressly establish temporary court protection in the case of asylum seekers," Kaminis said, noting that there were problems in how to treat refugees, who were often confused with illegal immigrants, but also in terms of infrastructure.

    The most important thing, however, was that there be a just and efficient examination of asylum requests, Kaminis stressed, while welcoming the participation of public order ministry officials in the seminar as "a very positive factor".

    [08] Archbishop's health improved after Monday, doctors say

    Doctors treating Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, on Tuesday said his health had again improved after undergoing a procedure to remove excess fluids around his liver the previous day.

    On Monday, the Archbishop had been returned to an intensive care unit for a few hours after his condition took a sudden turn for the worse.

    An announcement signed by Prof. Christodoulos Stefanadis at Aretaion hospital, where the archbishop had undergone intestinal surgery a few weeks earlier, said that Christodoulos had returned to his room in an ordinary ward later on Monday.

    "He spent a few hours in the ICU, where a paracentesis in the abdomen, scheduled following an ultrasound examination, was carried out to remove ascites fluid that was related to chronic liver damage. After the removal of the fluid he presented an improvement. For the past three days he has been eating normally," the announcement said.

    It also announced that scheduled visits by specialists from Europe and America would begin on Wednesday in order to discuss and decide the next steps in dealing with the Archbishop's liver problems with the Greek medical team, while noting that this had been planned from the start.

    Earlier on Tuesday, the Archbishop received a visit from Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Thessaloniki Metropolitan Anthimos.

    Christodoulos underwent surgery on June 13 to remove an adenocarcinoma in his large intestine, which doctors believe developed from a polyp. At the time, they also diagnosed what they said was an unrelated tumour some centimetres across on the right lobe Archbishop's liver. They said the nodule was a primary growth that was possibly linked to an earlier bout of hepatitis that had impaired liver function and not the result of metastasis.

    [09] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos to visit Viotia, Livadia on September 24

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will visit the prefecture of Viotia and the city of Livadia for three days as of September 24, at the invitation of the Metropolitan of Thebes and Livadia Ieronymos.

    During his stay in the region, the Ecumenical Patriarch will be visiting local religious monuments, while he is also expected to be proclaimed a tutor of the Sterea University in a special ceremony to be held in Livadia.

    The Metropolitan of Thebes and Livadia has already had meetings with mayors and local officials in the framework of preparations for the official programme and for events that will be organised in Vartholomeos' honour.

    Financial News

    [10] Govt actively supports business activity, FinMin says

    The Greek government is actively supporting business activity in the country, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday.

    Addressing the Eighth International Conference on Venture Capital, the Greek minister said the government policy to support business activity was based on four axis: New financial products offered by the banking system, restoring the credibility of the capital market, relaunching a New Economy Fund on a new basis and a more efficient use of EU funds.

    Alogoskoufis underlined the success of a government policy to support small- and medium-sized enterprises, noting that a total of 5,525 investment projects have been approved, worth 632 million euros, creating 7,500 new jobs.

    [11] Sale of 10.7% of OTE a positive development, CEO says

    The landscape in the telecoms market in Greece and Europe is rapidly changing, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) chairman and chief executive Panagis Vourloumis said on Tuesday, while adding that a recent sale of a 10.7-pct equity stake in OTE by the government was positive, hinting that this development distanced the possibility of a strategic investor for the telecoms utility.

    Speaking at a press conference, Vourloumis said the move helped OTE, since it cleared the horizon and noted that a reduced stake by the Greek state in OTE did not change anything in the state-run company. He noted that a plan to find a strategic investor was not progressing and that he had expressed his objection to set timetables, while he said that the timing for the specific equity stake sale in OTE was correct.

    He also dismissed talk of a merger between OTE and Cosmote, saying that no one has referred to such a plan, as the company will lose flexibility.

    Vourloumis said powerful players, such as Vodafone, were currently entering the fixed-telephony market and noted that such a move would totally change the landscape in the telecoms market.

    Additionally, he said OTE did not plan to sell its 20-pct equity stake in the Serbian telecom operator, while he predicted that OTE could lose more than 170,000 subscribers by the end of the year due to new regulations introduced by a independent telecoms authority (EETT). He noted that first policy priority for OTE was to make a more efficient use of its real estate assets, not through sales, but through alliances.

    [12] EKO-ELDA to invest 100 mln euros in Bulgarian operations

    Eko Elda Bulgaria, a subsidiary of Hellenic Petroleum, on Tuesday unveiled plans to invest around 100 million euros for the expansion of activities and to raise its share to 10 percent in the Bulgarian market.

    Christos Tziolas, a board member of Hellenic Petroleum, said Eko Elda expects to raise its market share to 4.3 pct in the fuel market by the end of the year, up from 1.5 pct in 2005, with a target of more than 10 percent by 2011.

    The company has invested around 60 million euros in Bulgaria since the beginning of its operations in 2003 and currently operates a petrol station network of 46 units around the country.

    Eko-Elda Bulgaria EAD was founded in 2002.

    EKO-ELDA owns more than 1,500 petrol stations in Greece, Southeastern Europe, Georgia and Cyprus, three refineries in Greece and one in FYROM. The Greek company is the fifth largest fuel supplier in Bulgaria.

    [13] HELEXPO SA delegation visits Munich

    A delegation of the HELEXPO SA company's staff, administrative cadres and board held an informative meeting with officials of the new International Exhbition Centre of Munich (MMI), in the framework of the new strategy being implemented by the company regarding marketing issues and the training and development of its human potential.

    HELEXPO's president, Aristotelis Thomopoulos and managing director Themis Kartsiotis met with the board of the Bavarian Exhibition Agency to examine possibilities of future cooperation, such as in the field of know-how.

    According to an announcement issued by HELEXPO on Tuesday, its officials were in Munich between June 29 and July 1 to exchange views with their German counterparts on modern-day exhibition developments and to be given a guided tour of MMI's facilities.

    [14] Grecian cuisine seminars in Germany

    Germany is one of the most important food and beverage markets for Greece, Panagiotis Drossos, the chief executive of the Hellenic Export Promotion Organisation said on Tuesday, during a series of seminars on Grecian Mediterranean cuisine in German cities.

    HEPO, in cooperation with the German-Hellenic Business Union, the Greek embassy in Berlin and the German Academy DEHOGA, is holding seminars on Grecian and Med cuisine on July 3-4 in Dortmund and Cologne, within the framework of the "Kerasma" promotion campaign.

    The move signals the beginning of a wider cooperation between HEPO and the German-Hellenic Business Union, soon to be sealed with the signing of a memorandum of cooperation.

    [15] Fuel trade companies' turnover up 17 pct in 2006, report

    Fuel and oil product trade companies reported a 17 percent increase in their total turnover last year, compared with 2005, to around 11 billion euros, a survey by Stat Bank said on Tuesday.

    The report, however, noted that although turnover was steadily rising, profits lagged behind with an annual growth rate of 9.0 percent to 103.9 million euros in 2006. Stat Bank said that including Shell's results, total profits by the 67 largest enterprises in the sector totaled 113.9 million euros, adding that 56 enterprises were profitable and 11 were loss-making, while from the 56 profitable companies 21 of them reported lower profits.

    EKO recorded a 12 percent increase in profits last year, maintaining its leading position in the market, while Shell improved its sales with net profits around 10 million euros.

    BP's subsidiary in Greece was the most profitable enterprise of the sector (32.2 million euros), while Jetoil ranked sixth in the list of most profitable companies despite a slowdown in profits last year.

    Avin, a member of Motor Oil, recorded profits of 5.7 million euros, slightly down compared with 2005, while Aegean Oil ranked sixth in the list with the highest sales.

    [16] Visa Europe carries out survey on consumer attitude

    Visa Europe has carried out a survey to probe the consumer attitude and subsequently the lifestyle and preferences of young adults compared to people in their 50s and 60s.

    According to the survey, young consumers over 18 prefer large department stores (75 percent) and choose the city centre for their purchases (80 percent), they seek well-known products (60 percent), but if they see something they like they will buy it even if its label does not bear a known brand and, of course, over half of them declare that fashion affects their purchasing options and trends (66 percent).

    The phrase "shopping list" and the sense of "preparing a budget for some specific purpose" are more or less unknown to the majority of the young purchasing public (only 30 percent use a list, 19 percent are aware of the exact content of their wallet, while almost 1 out of 2 admits that he usually forgets the value and essence of a budget).

    A total of 66 percent of Greek consumers in the 45-54 age bracket use a "list" as a purchase guide, while this age bracket records income and expenses at a double rate compared to young people belonging to the 18-24 age bracket (38 percent as against 19 percent). The percentage of those who maintain their consumer spontaneity is almost half of that of young people (30 percent compared to 54 percent).

    [17] Greek stocks end 0.42 pct higher

    Greek stocks continued moving higher in the Athens Stock Exchange with the composite index ending 0.42 percent up at 4,880.52 points, off the day's highs. Turnover was a heavy 504.17 million euros.

    Most sectors ended higher with the Insurance (2.42 pct), Technology (2.21 pct) and Media (2.07 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Utilities (1.43 pct), Personal/Home Products (0.27 pct) and Telecoms (0.13 pct) suffered the heaviest losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.34 percent, the Mid Cap index ended 0.82 pct higher and the Small Cap index jumped 1.75 percent.

    Boutaris (13.58 pct), Diekat (12.73 pct) and ELBE (10.83 pct) were top gainers, while ANEK (9.83 pct), Gevka (7.18 pct) and Karatzis (6.49 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 189 to 85 with another 34 issues unchanged.

    [18] ADEX closing report

    Futures contract prices were traded at a premium in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover an improved 128.515 million euros.

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a premium of 0.20 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.41 pct.

    Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 7,912 contracts worth 102.713 million euros, with 37,615 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 469 contracts worth 15.042 million euros, with 1,305 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,705 contracts worth 10.759 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Intracom's contracts (1,919), followed by Eurobank (215), Piraeus Bank (655), National Bank (503), Alpha Bank (285), Marfin Popular Bank (866), GEK (853) and ATEbank (321).

    [19] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.746 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 1.291 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.455 billion were sell orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.025 billion euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was unchanged at 0.22 percent. The Greek bond yielded 4.76 pct and the German Bund 4.56 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved lower. National Bank's overnight rate eased to 4.04 pct from 4.08 pct on Monday, the two-day rate also fell to 4.04 pct from 4.08 pct, the one-month rate was 4.11 pct and the 12-month rate eased to 4.52 pct from 4.53 pct.

    [20] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.371

    Pound sterling 0.680

    Danish kroner 7.501

    Swedish kroner 9.311

    Japanese yen 167.96

    Swiss franc 1.668

    Norwegian kroner 8.001

    Cyprus pound 0.588

    Canadian dollar 1.449

    Australian dollar 1.602

    General News

    [21] PM inaugurates Parliamentary exhibition on PMs and Parliament presidents

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis inaugurated a Parliamentary exhibition on the theme of "Prime ministers and Parliament presidents of the post-junta era" on Tuesday evening, in the presence of Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda.

    Benaki said that the purpose of this new exhibition is to honour the prime ministers and the Parliament presidents who are no longer alive and who contributed substantively with their work to the consolidation of Parliamentarism, the safeguarding of the quality of the form of government and the country's rapid economic and social development.

    The political personalities included in the exhibition are the prime ministers Constantine Karamanlis, George Rallis and Andreas Papandreou and the Parliament presidents Constantine Papaconstantinou, Dimitrios Papaspyrou, Ioannis Alevras and Athanasios Tsaldaris.

    Aspects of the seven politicians' work and personality is highlighted in the exhibition with photographs, manuscripts and printed material, as well as with personal effects.

    Benaki said that Parliament wants the exhibition to have a permanent character and be inspired by a momentum so that the work of politicians who have left their personal mark on Greek political life and the history of Parliamentarism can be outlined with the continuous use of new material and new technologies.

    The inauguration of the exhibition, that is being housed in Parliament's Eleftherios Venizelos hall, was attended by relatives of the deceased politicians, donors of exhibits, Parliamentary deputies and other people.

    [22] Public Power Corporation on forest fire prevention

    The Public Power Corporation (DEH) on Tuesday provided information on the degree of its readiness to prevent forest fires, responding to media reports on the issue.

    "DEH systematically implements measures every year to prevent fires, such as pruning trees coming into contact or being close to power cables and power substations, clearing up locations under power distribution pylons, etc. Power cables are inspected and maintained systematically in accordance with a specific programme," DEH said in an announcement.

    "It is mentioned indicatively that the last inspection of power cables involved with the fire on Parnitha took place in the spring. A repeat inspection of the power cables took place after the fire at specific locations that crossed the fire, without there being indications that it was caused by them," the announcement added.

    [23] Event commemorating birth of Rigas Fereos held in Belgrade

    BELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas)

    The 250th anniversary of the birth of the precursor of the Greek War of Independence Rigas Fereos was commemorated in Belgrade during an event organised by the "Rigas Fereos" Society of Greeks in Serbia.

    The event, held in front of the "Nebojsa Tower" where Rigas Fereos was put to death by the Ottomans, was attended by a delegation from his home town of Velestino, headed by Mayor Constantine Kanaris. Also present were the Greek Ambassador to Belgrade Christos Panagopoulos, the consul of the Republic of Cyprus Constantine Markou and local agency representatives.

    Wreaths were layed at the location of Rigas Fereos's martyrdom, while a reception including Greek music followed on a ship on the Danube. The Mayor of Feres gave the president of the "Rigas Fereos" Society of Greeks in Serbia Yiannis Savvas a copy of Rigas's charter and books for the society's library.

    [24] Inter-Parliamentary Orthodox congress convenes in Athens

    Culture ministers of a handful of countries participating in the Inter-Parliamentary Orthodox congress met in Athens on Tuesday for talks focusing on the "principles and values" that comprise the identity of peoples.

    Ministers from Russia, Cyprus and Bulgaria joined Greek Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, along with the ambassador of Ukraine and the general secretary of the congress, independent Greek MP Stelios Papathemelis and 24 representatives of parliament from around the world.

    [25] Chinese-language edition of 'Civilisation of the Olive and Olive Oil' debuts

    The seminal Chinese-language edition of the well-known book "Civilisation of the Olive and Olive Oil" debuted this week following nearly three years of efforts to translate the work.

    The 176-page book, authored by Nikos and Maria Psilakis, has already been translated into the major European languages and Japanese. The Chinese edition aims to fill an almost "absolute" void in the Chinese-speaking world for the quintessentially Mediterranean olive tree and its products, as well as showcasing the intricate link between the olive and Greece and Hellenism through the millennia.

    Among others, 130 recipes are included in its pages, using olive oil as the dominant theme.

    Chinese author and philologist Aidong Qu is credited with the translation.

    [26] Fire reported at Ellinika on Evia

    A forest fire broke out shortly after 13:00 at Ellinika on the island of Evia. According to the fire department, it is not threatening any inhabited areas but is located in a relatively inaccessible spot and will thus be hard to get under control. Taking part in the fire-fighting effort are four fire-fighting aircraft, one helicopter and 33 fire-fighters manning 11 fire-engines.

    [27] Prosecutor orders inquiry into video of police brutality

    The police Internal Affairs department on Tuesday launched a preliminary inquiry into a video showing police officers severely abusing a prisoner that was aired by the television channel MEGA the previous day.

    The inquiry was ordered by Appeals Public Prosecutor Isidoros Dogiakos, who supervises the police.

    An announcement from Greek Police (ELAS) headquarters said that an investigation had revealed that the video was recorded in November 2004 at the Northeast Attica Narcotics Squad. The prisoner shown being abused by police was a foreign national arrested on a charge of possession and dealing in drugs, specifically 2.2 kilos of heroin.

    At least six police officers are said to be involved in the affair, who will face criminal proceedings once the preliminary inquiry is complete.

    The video shows five police officers who have forced the prisoner to hold ice so that his hands would go number and then set about beating them with a truncheon. The incident was probably recorded by a sixth officer on his cell phone.

    Asked to comment on the incident on Tuesday, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros referred reporters to an announcement issued by the public order ministry.

    Responding to a question referring to "torture within a police station", meanwhile, Antonaros stressed that there "is no torture in the Greek Police".

    "Isolated incidents of violence wherever these might arise are condemned and do not describe the overall behaviour of the men and women employed by ELAS," he added.

    Asked about the number of such "isolated incidents", Antonaros stressed that in all the incidents that came to light, the culprits were made to face all the legal consequences of their actions.

    Weather forecast

    [28] Slightly hotter on Wednesday

    Temperatures are expected to increase slightly throughout the country. Winds light. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 22C and 36C and in Thessaloniki from 22C to 34C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [29] Archbishop of America Demetrios holds meetings in Cyprus

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriots who live in the US are engaged in a constant struggle to help achieve a settlement of the Cyprus question as soon as possible, Archbishop of America Demetrios said here Tuesday.

    Speaking after a meeting with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, Demetrios said that "we are engaged in a continuous struggle to help achieve as soon as possible the settlement we want which would bring justice and respect of human rights in Cyprus, as well as allow the people here to live in freedom just as the whole world does."

    He said that Cypriots living in the US are very dynamic and active as members of the Orthodox Church and Hellenism in the US and are also engaged in constant efforts to promote a Cyprus settlement through US policies, that would reunite the island, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    Demetrios met earlier with the Primate of the Church of Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos II.

    In statements after his meeting with Chrysostomos, Demetrios said that Cyprus as an island partly under occupation is making a contribution to peace, justice and the prevalence of human rights by virtue of its struggle to see these principles respected throughout the island.

    He said he was moved by his meeting with the new Archbishop of Cyprus, whom he had met last year when Chrysostomos was Bishop of Paphos.

    Chrysostomos extended a warm welcome to Demetrios, noting that the Archbishop of America and his entourage "are people who represent overseas Hellenes and we know their hard work for the issues that concern Hellenism and particularly Cyprus."

    [30] Cypriot President honours Sarbanes and Brademas

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has described former US Senator Paul Sarbanes and former US Congressman John Brademas "among the most ardent, tireless and unflinching supporters for the just cause of Cyprus in the United States".

    As he addressed the two men heer on Tuesday evening, the President stressed that only a solution based on UN resolutions and European Union law can secure a permanent, viable and stable political settlement in Cyprus, which is not tailor-made to the satisfaction of outside parties.

    Papadopoulos paid tribute to "two long-standing and unwavering supporters of the people of the whole of Cyprus, Senator Paul Sarbanes and Congressman John Brademas", as he bestowed on them the Grand Cross of the Order of Makarios II at a special ceremony at the Presidential Palace.

    "I can think of no other two people who have done more for the nurturing of closer bonds between the people of Cyprus and the United States of America. I have always held the view and have declared on several public occasions that the first loyalty of Americans of Greek origin is to their host country, the United States of America", the President said.

    However, when the best interests of the United States and the rules of international law and practice are not incompatible with the special interests of Greece and of Cyprus, Papadopoulos said, "we hope and expect that they will lean towards and publicly remember their ethnic roots."

    Both gentlemen have admirably honoured these principles, the President stressed.

    "For all these reasons, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus has decided to pay tribute to their life-long commitment to the Rule of Law, 'justice for Cyprus', for the condemnation of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, for the end of the occupation of Cyprus soil by Turkish troops, for the end of the massive violations of human rights in Cyprus by Turkey and for promoting a just, functional and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue", the Cypriot President added.

    This last notion, he pointed out, "forms the cornerstone of their support towards Cyprus. Both men have for many years advocated a just solution to the Cyprus problem, not only because it is a Hellenic issue but because it is essentially a rule of law and human rights issue, under United States law."

    "Only a solution based on the relevant Security Council Resolutions and in accordance with the principles of international law, as well as the acquis communautaire of the European Union can secure a permanent, viable and stable solution, which will benefit all Cypriots. Such a solution, which is not tailor-made for the satisfaction of outside parties, will enhance the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean and is conducive to the interests of the United States," he stressed.

    President Papadopoulos said Tuesday's honourees "have been exceptional leaders of the Greek-American Community. I would be remiss if I did not dedicate a few words to the Hellenic diaspora in the United States".

    President Papadopoulos conveyed his sincere appreciation to President of the Cyprus Federation of America Panikos Papanicolaou, who attended the ceremony and welcomed again to Cyprus "the spiritual leader of the community, his Eminence Archbishop of America Demetrios and to thank him for his efforts to stop the pillage and destruction of Cyprus' religious and cultural heritage in the occupied areas".

    [31] US: Mooney's death a personal tragedy

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The US embassy here has described the death of a senior embassy diplomat "a personal tragedy" and says that it has nothing to do with political or security matters.

    A statement issued on Tuesday by the embassy said that "at this point in the investigation, it is now clear that Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Mooney's death was a personal tragedy with no political or security implications".

    The American embassy thanked "the Cypriot authorities and people once again for the extraordinary level of support and the messages of sympathy they extended to the Embassy throughout this difficult and trying time".

    The US embassy in Cyprus confirmed on Monday that the body found in the mountainous area of Orkonta, west of the capital Nicosia, belonged to Mooney, an embassy military attache, who had been missing since last Thursday.

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