|Friday, 24 May 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-07-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 9 July 2007 Issue No: 2639
 'Reforms are our duty to the country and the younger generations', PM tells closing session of ND Congress"The reforms are our duty to the country and the younger generations, and cannot be discontinued or stopped," prime minister Costas Karamanlis stressed on Sunday, addressing the closing session of his ruling New Democracy (ND) party's three-day 7th Congress, and unveiled the outline for the reforms in the second four-year term in office.
"The reforms are our duty to the country and the younger generations. They cannot be discontinued, suspended or stopped," Karamanlis said, adding: "The reforms will continue in the new four-year term, with the completion of the revision of the Constitution, and particularly of Article 16 (of the Constitution, which covers the education sector at all levels of learning) that had been proposed by the main opposition party (PASOK). This is where each and every one will prove his credibility".
The second area of reforms will be the resolution of the social insurance issue, while the third will be the continuation of the education sector reforms, and the fourth area of focus will be completion of the administrative reform and and the formulation of the state's new administrative structure, the prime minister explained.
"We are the political party of the major choices, changes and reforms," Karamanlis said, adding that "we have made important reforms in the past years, and have created the groundwork for their continuation".
Karamanlis said that his government has placed the country in the "cycle of changes".
"We are serving the vision of a strong homeland at the crux of Europe. We are serving the vision of a society of cohesion, solidarity and humanity that wins the future," Karamanlis said, adding that "we are moving firmly ahead, faster, stronger, more determined, for a strong and prospering Greece".
The prime minister said the government was fully aware that weaknesses existed, particularly in the state mechanism, stressing that it was not complacent, but was proceeding with even greater determination on its reform strategy, backed by the Greek society, and far removed from dogmas and discriminations.
"The changes and reforms are imperative necessities because that is the only way to increase the product procuded and widen the social dividend," he said.
In an indirect reference to the opposition, Karamanlis said that "political weakness cannot manufacture accusations and insults and lead to polarisation and fanaticism", which he said harmed democracy.
"We are not playing the game of those who, in their desperation and isolation, sacrifice the future of the country. The destruction-mongering, slander and insults will not come to pass," the premier stressed, adding that "we are in a new era that seeks new ideas, in which there is no room for fanaticism".
In his address, Karamanlis referred to the work accomplished by his government to date.
Regarding the Greeks abroad, he noted that the government gave dual citizenship to the Northern Epirotes (Greeks of Albania), while a bill has been tabled in parliament -- slated for vote in October when parliament resumes its plenary session after the summer recess sessions - to give the overseas Greeks the ability of absentee voting. "There can be no delay, nor rejection. We know very well what uprooting and migration means. We are applying a policy of equality before the law and the state."
Karamanlis also thanked the party's youth for ther "decisive" contribution to the educational reforms. "You fought and proved that the youth do not compromise with the established interests. Together, we drafted policies for education, together we are continuing the reform in higher education. For an Educatin that ensures the right to employment, that will ensure equal opportunities in a homeland of great prospects".
Regarding the government's policy on the priphery, he said that "we left behind the perception of a 'one and another Greece' and are applying a national strategy of regional development", adding that "the largest programme of public works that the country has ever known is being implemented, the largest part of which concerns the periphery".
The government's agricultural policy, he continued, reinforced the farmer so as to become a modern-day businessman on his land, and applied a strategy for dynamic agricultural growth in an attractive periphery.
Karamanlis also said that the biggest problem the country faced was unemployment, caused by the state-dependent development of the past, and stagnation in investments. "We are serving the triphtych edication-development-employment, with targeted reforms," the premier said, noting that "70 percent more businesses were created in 2006 over 2003, employment exceeded 8.1 percent, unemployment fell to below 9.0 percent", and adding that "Greece is changing, it is creating for all its citizens".
Other accomplishments of the government were the acceleration of the procedures for retirement, modernisation of the urban bus fleet, the tram in Athens and also the Athens Metro, while the Thessaloniki Metro would soon begin, the lowest inflation rate in recent years, and teh government's extrovert, aggressive energy policy "that is making our country an international (energy) hug", while the environment has been rendered a national cause.
Karamanlis explained that the people are at the crux of his government's policy, with the state being the servant of the citizen. "Greece is moving forward," he said.
ND Central Committee secretary Lefteris Zagoritis said that the Congress was the culmination of a particularly productive, substantive and fruitful dialogue carried out with the participation of not only the party's cadres and members but also thousands of active citizens throughout the country.
Addressing the Congress shortly before it closed, with the election of the ruling party's new Central Committee, Zagoritis said that "we are the party that can create political events and put forward new cadres", and was operating in all areas with prudence, measure and responsibility, noting that the three-day discussions had covered all areas, with new ideas and pioneering proposals put forward for the future.
ND parliamentary group secretary Apostolos Stavrou instructed all party members holding positions in the state machine to be cautious, following prime minister Karamanlis' example with his clear-cut values and principles, noting that ND was working to consolidate a stronger and wider state, with social sensitivity that embraces the financially weaker citizens.
Deputy education minister George Kalos said that "we are in the middle of the upward road of reforms", adding that the educational reforms were the testing ground for the government's durability, determination and effectiveness, and stressing that education, without quality in all three levels, would only be a failure.
ND deputy Katerina Papacosta proposed that the governmental term in office be increased to five years from the current four, and called for a change of the electoral law in agreement with the main opposition party.
Public order minister Vyron Polydoras, in turn, said that the government would not bow down to violence and fascism by any minority that provokes the lawful order and democracy.
Employment and social protection minister Vassilis Magginas criticised the preceding PASOK governments and current PASOK leader George Papandreou, saying those governments had left behind immense economic and social problems, as well as pathogenies that required bold decisions, as mismanagement and the lack of reforms had undermined the economy's competitiveness.
Interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that ND was the party of the great national choices, major public works and support of the public interest, which the people had placed their trust in in the difficult times to take Greece out of the quagmire it was in.
Health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that ND's victory in the next elections would inaugurate a new road of development, adding that the majority of the Greek people backed ND. He also said that the government wanted a social state deserving of the people's efforts and sacrifices.
Culture minister George Voulgarakis said that main opposition PASOK was in a difficult position, and under pressure both ideologically and politically.
Addressing the Congress on Saturday evening, justice minister Anastasis Papaligouras said the government had waged and was continuing to wage a tough battle to halt the "trafficking of justice" and corruption in the justice sector, so as to restore the injured credibility of the large majority of honest judicial functionairies.
 Dutch PM addresses 7th ND Regular CongressDutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenede addressed the ruling New Democracy party's 7th Regular Congress on Saturday, saying that "I am glad to be here to support you with all my strength."
The Dutch prime minister further said that "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is a good friend of mine," adding that both of them were elected at a time when Christian Democrat parties were losing ground in Europe.
However, he added, this situation changed, first of all with the election of Angela Merkel in Germany and recently with Nicolas Sarkozy, who won both the presidential and Parliamentary elections in France.
 Government creating just society with reforms, FinMin saysFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis addressed the ruling New Democracy party's 7th Regular Congress on Saturday, saying that the government is creating a just society with its reforms and through a dynamic economy.
Alogoskoufis outlined the government's main guidelines for growth, employment and social cohesion, that are restructuring public finances, boosting entrepreneurship, improving the economy's competitiveness and extroversion and creating an effective social state.
The finance minister also spoke of the results of economic policy, that are tangible. Alogoskoufis said that public finances are on the right path, the fiscal deficit dropped for the first time to 2.6 percent of GDP, growth is dynamic and it is being strengthened.
He stressed that the growth rate is one of the highest in the eurozone and has reached 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2007. The GDP per capita is nearing 80 percent of the European Union's average. Unemployment is decreasing and the real available income of households is increasing.
Alogoskoufis further said that inflation is easing and social cohesion is being strengthened with specific action, while the minimum unemloyment benefit is increasing from 311 to 404 euros.
The finance minister also criticised the main opposition PASOK party and made a comparison of the ND government's economic policy with that of PASOK governments, saying that "they, when in power, had undermined the economy and broken the social fabric with their options for a quarter of a century, tripling the public debt, tripling unemployment and turning away investments."
Alogoskoufis ended his address by saying that the government is preparing reforms that will secure the continuation of the country's progress.
 Development minister addresses 7th ND Regular CongressDevelopment Minister Dimitris Sioufas addressed the ruling New Democracy party's 7th Regular Congress on Saturday, calling on every progressive citizen to help the country to forge ahead.
"Those who will try to divide will find us in front of them he said," adding that "our struggle is continuing with consistency and determination. Reforms are continuing, development is spreading all over the country. This is our path and we will not change it."
The minister said that the government has two directions before it. Reforms and decline, while noting that "all of us together have decided on reforms. The citizens will decide which path our country will follow."
Sioufas said the 7th Congress is a milestone for the present and the future and expressed confidence that the New Democracy party will be in power in the next four-year period as well.
 ND party must clarify political agenda priorities, FM Dora Bakoyannis saysForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis addressed the ruling New Democracy party's 7th Regular Congress on its second day on Saturday, referring to the party's political agenda in the years to come.
"Our main concern today is to clarify the priorities and directions of our political agenda in the years to come, following the victory of ND and of Costas Karamanlis," she said.
"The next four-year period will be a period with important political milestones. In June 2009 we will be having Euroelections, in March 2010 the election of the President of the Republic, in the autumn of 2010 municipal and prefectural elections," she added.
Bakoyannis further said that these milestones must not affect ND's overall policy since there will be many temptations and stressed that "PASOK (the main opposition party) will resort to the known sport of denial and of petty-partisan exploitation, while various groups might consider it an opportunity to make demands that cannot be accepted."
Outlining government policy, the foreign minister said that it has specific commitments that it is implementing, it is carrying out reforms that are changing Greece and it is following a policy of sincerity that is creating confidence and optimism among the citizens.
Bakoyannis went on to say that ND must create new paths for issues that will be dominant, such as new technologies, the confrontation of poverty and a solution for the social insurance issue.
She underlined that the choice in the next elections will not merely be between ND and PASOK, it will be a choice between those who express Greece of accommodation, inertia and stagnation and those who want reforms to enable Greece to be strong, powerful and proud.
Lastly, Bakoyannis referred to the sector of her responsibility, foreign policy. She said that Greece is emerging in the international environment as a reliable force having strength and influence. The government is defending and strengthening the country's national interests with consistency and determination, it is strengthening bilateral relations with all the main factors of the international community and it has restored relations of mutual respect with the United States, while it is promoting its relations with Russia and China dynamically.
 Minister of State addresses 7th ND Regular CongressMinister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos addressed the ruling New Democracy party's 7th Regular Congress on Saturday, attacking the main opposition PASOK party and underlining the differences existing between the two parties.
"Yesterday, today, tomorrow we reply to those who have selected the path of tension and polarisation, the path of populism and irresponsibility, the path of nihilism and abuse. We understand them. That is how they have been taught. That is how they are and they will not change," he said.
Roussopoulos said that the more national elections approach, the more they will be feeling the shadow of impending defeat and pointed out that "our work is our weapon," while adding that "we have done what they had not dared to do themselves when in power for 20 years, what they had been promising again and again for 20 years and which they had never turned into practice."
The minister of state further noted that "our greatest opponent is not PASOK. It is the levelling that is being condensed in the phrase that supposedly they are all the same. This is what the main opposition party is trying to promote in order to conceal the sins of its past when it was in power."
Roussopoulos concluded his address by saying that "clear positions are our strength. Because only with clear positions can you create clear relations with the citizens."
 PASOK party leader calls on government to define region of forestland burnt before electionsMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressed a rally in Menidi, Western Attica, on Sunday evening and called on the government "before leaving to define immediately the region of forest land that has been burnt by wildfires."
Papandreou further said that flood-protection work must be carried out soon, any attempts at arbitrary building must be prevented and there must be intervention to preserve biodiversity.
The PASOK leader said that after the elections his government will take a series of measures for forests such as the creation of an Environment ministry that will be responsible for all duties concerning forestry policy, the immediate preparation of forest maps and a reforestation programme.
Referring to the neighbourhoods of Western Attica, Papandreou appealed in particular to Black Sea Greeks living there, commented on measures taken by the PASOK government in 2000 and accused the prime minister of doing nothing for the Black Sea Greeks.
Papandreou also referred to the five major commitments contained in his party's programme, the first being the redistribution of wealth for the benefit of the weak, followed by a new growth model based on the economy of knowledge and the green economy, great changes in education with a guarantee for the public educational system, a new contract with the people regarding employment, the family, the child, health and pensions and the combatting of poverty.
He said at this point that PASOK "guarantees a decrease in unemployment by 3 percent in the first four-year period and an increase in the unemployment benefit to 70 percent of the basic salary."
He added that the fifth commitment was the role of the state with a "guiding government", fewer ministries, an elected regional governor, fewer regions and new unifications with a new "Kapodistrias" plan.
Papandreou accused the government of "mudslinging and of polarising political life with the aim of having its responsibilities forgotten," while calling for elections and sending a message of solidarity to the demonstration held at Syntagma Square on the protection and reforestation of Mount Parnitha.
He further said that the (Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis government "is dividing Greece and is hurting it on a daily basis" and spoke of a "tottering government".
Papandreou also said that the prime minister and his ministers "want the Greeks to forget the looting of social insurance funds, phonetappings, illegal abductions of citizens, torture at police precincts of (public order minister Vyron) Mr. Polydoras, the dissolution of the National Health System, closed universities, ecological disasters and scandals.
 PASOK leader calls for regeneration of burned forests, early general electionsMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou called for immediate steps for regeneration of the forest burned in the recent devastating blaze on Mt. Parnitha, beginning with anti-flooding works, during a visit to the area on Sunday, while the previous evening during a visit to Salamina he reiterated his call for early general elections.
Papandreou on Sunday visited the Dervenochoria cluster of villages on the western slope of Parnitha, and the municipality of Phylis, which bore the brunt of the repercussions of the fire.
He called for immediate measures for rejuvenation of the forest, beginning with anti-flooding measures for the farmland as well as the forest, charting of all the affected areas and the creation of forestry maps, and steps by the state to completely prevent squatting in any forest expanse and building of unlicenced homes and structures.
During his visit to the Dervenochoria, and particularly the villate Stefani where the Mt. Parnitha blaze started, the PASOK leader was briefed by the prefect of Viotia and the local mayor on the causes of the fire, while in Phyli municipality he had a meeting with local officials, during which the town's mayor also called for immediate anti-flooding works.
Papandreou spoke of "criminal negligence", accusing the government of not looking after the public interest but, instead, putting forward his petty political activities, resulting in the decimation of the fire-fighting services, which he said lacked the appropriate personeel, while maintenance of equipment was also inadequate.
"The forests do not vote, and therefore they are not considered a priority," Papandreou said.
The PASOK leader also outlined 12 points of his party's platform concerning the environment, including the establishment of a ministry of the environment, town planning and housing, as well as the completion of the National Land Registry, mapping projects, the prevention of illegal construction, protection of the environment from squatters, listing of the country's entire national wealth, and institutional consolidation of environmental education.
During a visit to the island of Salamina on Saturday night, Papandreou reiterated his call for general elections "here and now", adding that his party was determined to win the next general elections and make a new start", and charging that, while "PASOK is with the people", the ruling New Democracy party (ND) "is living in its own world".
 PASOK leader visits hospitals in Western AtticaMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou visited two hospitals in Western Attica on Saturday morning, the Thriasio Hospital and the General State hospital in Nikea.
"We are not dividing the people. All will have equal rights in a fair society," he said, while accusing the government of bringing the National Health System (ESY) into disdain.
Papandreou was briefed by the hospitals' administrations on problems they are facing, the main one being the shortage of medical staff.
The PASOK leader said he did not wish to speak of granting benefits, but stressed that his party will be hiring 3,000 medical staff annually so that the entire system can function properly in 4-5 years, while the ESY will be subsidised with an additional 1 percent from the GDP.
 Former minister Theodoros Pangalos criticises ND, KKEMain opposition PASOK party deputy and former minister Theodoros Pangalos criticised both the ruling New Democracy (ND) party and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in an interview with the Sunday newspaper "Eleftheros Typos tis Kyriakis."
Pangalos said that "ND and KKE have joint enterprises. Enterprises with a specific financial outcome," pointing out that he does not wish to mention evidence at the moment, but stressing that "an alliance exists."
Replying to a question on whether "a vote for KKE is a wasted one," he said that he would never tell a citizen that his vote is wasted, but that "a vote that does not lead to a government solution must be given with awareness of this fact" and that "the people voting for KKE must know that they are voting for a party that lacks a government proposal."
 Upcoming elections not mother of battles, KKE leader saysCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga addressed the 16th anti-imperialist 2-day conference of the party's affiliated youth wing KNE in the town of Lavrio on Saturday evening, saying that the upcoming elections "are not everything, they are not the mother of battles but they are an opportunity for a step forward to be taken for the benefit of the people and for youth in particular."
Papariga said that "the barbaric class measures that are contained shamelessly in both the programmes of the (ruling) New Democracy and (main opposition) PASOK parties concern the working class and the other popular classes and mainly the young people belonging to them."
She further said that her party's political election goal "is clear:this time something different must happen, the election must not be a repetition of 1990, 1993, 1996, 2000 and 2004. In this struggle, the country's bourgeoisie, its parties, will assess if the people are prepared to react to the so-called reforms of ND or to the modernisation of PASOK that are different in slogans, but in essence they are the same class-wise."
Papariga urged all those who "are fed up with bipartisan alternation and their squabbling to dare to do what they have not done so far, to punish them by throwing the blue and green ballots into the waste paper basket at the polling station and to enclose KKE's ballot in their envelope."
 SYN, ODP wind up weekend of peace events in MytileneCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alekos Alavanos said Sunday that his party's initiative for a joint appeal with the Turkish Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) for a mutual reduction of armaments "comes at a time when the government of Greece, headed by the prime minister, knows well only ow to play cops and robbers, or, rather robbers and robbers, with the main opposition party, casting the country itno a dangerous void of political proposals and actions".
Alavanos was speaking on the Greek island of Mytilene, at the second day of a joint peace event with the ODP -- the first day was held in Ayvalik, in Turkey, on Saturday -- in the framework of the two parties' joint call for a mutual reduction in armaments and military expenditures by Greece and Turkey. The events were addressed by the two parties' leaders Alekos Alavanos and Kemal Ultusaler, and attended by representatives of social and peace organisations from both countries.
Alavanos also stressed the need for reduction of the cost of visas Turkish citizens visiting Greece, so as to increase the flow of Turkish visitors to the Greek islands.
Referring to the significance of the two parties' joint appeal for arms reduction, Alavanos said: "We do not want more F-16s (fighter planes), we want firefighting planes. We don't want more tanks, but want hospitals with doctors and nursing staff. We don't want our children with armaments aimed at nighbours, but with modern university studies. We don't want kickbacks in procurements of weapons systems, but pensions. And most of all, here in the eastern Aegean, we want substantive investments".
Referring to the reactions prompted by heavy words he used regarding prime minister Costas Karamanlis in parliament earlier in the week, Alavanos said that he did not accept "lessons in political attitude" from a government "that didn't utter one word on the streams of blood by the Americans in the Middle East and Iraq", a government "that pretends it knows nothing about Guantanamo, just as the Germans during World War II knew nothing about Auswitch (concentration camp)", which "does not dare to ask the opinion of the people on the Euro-Constitution", and which "overnight, at the NATO Council, ratified the anti-ballistics shield, casting Europe into new mis-adventures".
 ND posts 3.4pct lead over PASOK in N. Greece opinion pollThe ruling New Democracy party posted a 3.4 percent lead in popularity over the main opposition PASOK party, in an opinion poll conducted by KAPA RESEARCH in northern Greece, the results of which appeared in the Sunday edition of Aggelioforos newspaper.
The opinion poll was conducted in end-June in a sampling of 1,744 households in Macedonia and Thrace, on behalf of the newspaper.
In a similar opinion poll conducted by the same polling company a year ago, ND was leading PASOK by 7.8 percent, while in a poll during the March 2004 elections the ruling party was leading by 10.6 percent over the main opposition party.
The latest poll also posted an increase in the popularity of the other three parliamentary parties, with intended vote for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) at 6.6 percent, against 2.4 percent in the 2004 elections and 4.8 percent in last June's opinion poll.
The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party was preferred by 6.4 percent in the latest poll, against 2.8 percent in the 2004 elections and 5.0 percent in the June 2006 poll.
The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party was preferred by 4.9 percent of the respondents in the June 2007 poll, against 2.4 percent in the 2004 elections and 2.7 percent in the June 2006 poll.
Former PASOK minister Stelios Papathemelis' newly-established Democratic Rebirth party was preferred by 0.4 percent of respondents in the latest poll.
Also, 52.7 percent of the respondents were in favour of reinforcement of the so-called small parties, even if this led to inability of formation of a self-sufficient government, while 43.5 percent favoured the emergence of a strong single-party government in the next elections, while 7.1 percent of the respondents were undecided and 1.0 percent declined to answer.
To a question regarding the eventuality of no party emerging with a self-sufficient majority in the next elections, 28.2 percent of the respondents said they would prefer a "big coalition" between ND and PASOK, while 28 percent said they preferred a PASOK-SYN coalition government, and 1 in 10 respondents said they would prefer an ND-LAOS government.
Further, 63.3 percent were not satisfied ('not satisfied' and 'rather not satisfied') with the present course of the ND government and its governance of the country, up from 53.8 percent in response to a similar poll question six months ago. Conversely, 36.3 percent were 'very satisfied' or 'quite satisfied'.
One in three respondents (66.6 percent) were not satisfied with PASOK's work as main opposition, while 32.4 percent were satisfied.
In addition, 56.7 percent of the respondents were not satisfied with prime minister Costas Karamanlis, while 43.2 percent were 'very' or 'quite' satisfied, whereas 63.4 percent of the respondents were not satisfied with George Papandreou's opposition tactics, against 34.9 percent which were satisfied.
To a question on who was the more appropriate for prime minister, Karamanlis led in northern Greece with 47.7 percent against 36.1 percent for Papandreou, whereas to a similar poll question six months ago 44.9 percent of the respondents favoured Karamanlis and 26.9 percent favoured Papandreou, while 15.3 percent replied "neither of the two".
 President Karolos Papoulias visiting Cyprus July 28-29NICOSIA (ANA-MPA - A. Viketos)
Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will be visiting Cyprus on July 28-29, according to an announcement by the Greek embassy here.
According to the announcement, President Papoulias will be the guest of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos to attend events commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of the first president of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III.
 Bonds will become boomerang for PASOK, deputy FinMin saysDeputy Finance and Economy Minister Petros Doukas said in an interview with the newspaper "Kosmos tou Ependiti" (World of the Investor) that "the bonds will become a boomerang for PASOK," adding that the finance ministry became the "target" of the main opposition party "because it is producing work."
Doukas said there is no danger for the pensions of the insured since "at the end of 2003 the social insurance funds had property worth about 22 billion and at the end of 2006, meaning in three years, they increased it by over 50 percent, meaning to 32 billion euros."
 Panmacedonian Union of U.S. issues resolution on FYROM name issueNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greeks of a Macedonian origin living in the United States expressed disappointment over the insistence of the government of the United States in recognising the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) under the name of "Republic of Macedonia", while reiterating that they will not accept a solution containing the term "Macedonia" or its derivatives.
During the 61st conference of the Panmacedonian Union of the United States, held in Baltimore, Nina Gatzouli was elected president, succeeding Panos Spiliakos.
The Greek Parliament was represented at the conference by Serres deputy and president of the Interparty Overseas Hellenism Committee, Evgenios Haitidis.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.374
Pound sterling 0.681
Danish kroner 7.501
Swedish kroner 9.230
Japanese yen 168.44
Swiss franc 1.668
Norwegian kroner 7.987
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.454
Australian dollar 1.598
 Opinion poll on forest fires, Interior minister's interviewA substantial proportion of respondents to an ALCO opinion poll appearing in the Sunday edition of Athens daily believe that the burnt forest of Mt. Parnitha will not become a forest again.
More specifically, to a question on whether they believed that the burned forest will become a forest again -- referring to prime minister Costas Karamanlis' commitment that all the forestland burned in the recent wildfires will be reforested -- 37.1 percent of the respondents replied 'no' and 28.4 percent replied 'probably not', while 19.5 percent replied 'probably yes' and 11.3 percent replied 'yes'.
To another question on the success of the government's handling of the forest fires, 57.1 percent of the respondents said they considered the handling 'a failure' and 35.1 percent 'probably a failure', while 7.5 percent considered it 'rather successful' and 3.2 percent 'successful'.
A large percentage (63 percent) of the respondents considered the two mainstream parties (ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK) to be at fault over the inability to tackle the forest fires, while to a question on 'which government (ND or PASOK) do you have confidence in for protection of the forests', 51.3 percent of the respondents replied 'neither', while 21.9 percent replied 'PASOK, under Papandreou' and 18.6 percent replied 'ND, under Karamanlis'.
Finally, to a question on who they considered to be responsible for the devastation, 29.3 percent said public order minister Vyron Polydoras, 25.8 percent said prime minister Costas Karamanlis, 19.9 percent said the Fire Brigade, and 11.3 percent said interior and public administration minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
 Minister reiterates intention of immediate reforestationInterior, public administration and decentralisation minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos reiterated the government's determination for immediate reforestation and organised protection of the areas on Mt. Parnitha that were devastated in the recent forest fire, in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Eleftherotypia daily.
Asked whether "everything was done correctly" in the handling of the blaze, Pavlopoulos "challenged" anyone who believed the opposite, with respect to himself and Civil Protection Secretary General Panayiotis Fourlas, to "say what it is they attribute to us over the Parnitha case".
To a question on whether the ministry was prepared for elections, Pavlopoulos said that the ministry was prepared "not because elections will take place tomorrow, but because that is the job of the interior ministry".
"Elections will take place at the end of the four-year term in office," the minister added.
 Political Protection General Secretariat warns of wildfire risk regionsThe Political Protection General Secretariat has issued an announcement by which a very serious wildfire risk exists on Monday in the regions of Eastern Attica, Western Attica, Athens-Piraeus, Evia, Lesvos, Chios and Samos.
The Secretariat has notified state officials, as well as local and prefectural administration organisations in the above regions, to be in a state of increased readiness to handle the possible breaking out of wildfires.
People are requested to avoid activities in the countryside that might cause a fire through negligence, such as burning dry grass and branches, using machinery that cause sparks and throwing away lighted cigarettes.
 People protest disaster on Mount Parnitha outside ParliamentPeople responded impressively on Sunday evening to a spontaneous call by anonymous young people for a protest gathering outside Parliament over the recent disastrous wildfire on Mounth Parnitha.
The call for a protest "without sponsoring", as they said in their messages through the Internet, activated the sensitivity of many mass media sources, ecological organisations, municipal initiatives and, mainly, hundreds of people who turned up at the "blind date" at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 7 in the evening.
People deposited symbolically a branch from "a tree that was saved" on Mount Parnitha and emptied many sacks full of charred pinecones and pineneedles.
Shouting slogans in protest at the lethal harming of the last lung of greenery in the prefecture, the crowd stayed in the area for quite a long time, blocking traffic and then dispersing peacefully.
 Fire at EBO factory in Egio extinguishedA fire that broke out in the factory of the Hellenic Weaponry Industry (EBO) in the city of Egio, in the Peloponnese, on Saturday morning has been extinguished.
Firemen succeeded in restricting the fire to the location where it had started, that is the shell testing department, before it had time to spread to other parts of the factory or to the neighbouring forest.
Explosions were heard during the operation to extinguish the fire, but no injuries were reported.
 Policemen attacked and injured outside baseball facilityTwo policemen were attacked and injured outside the baseball facility in the district of Elliniko on Friday night, where a rock concert was taking place, and the life of one is even in danger, according to an announcement by the Greek Police Headquarters.
According to the announcement, the two policemen, aged 24 and 35, were outside the facility when they were attacked by about 30 people from the anti-establishment sector, who punched and kicked them, as well as hitting them with crowbars and other objects.
It added that the 24-year-old has serious head wounds, as well as multiple injuries on the rest of his body. The 35-year-old has fractures on his left arm and bruises on his back.
 Two brothers arrested for robbing DEH offices in KalamariaTwo brothers aged 41 and 45 have been arrested by police on charges of armed robbery at the offices of the Public Power Corporation (DEH) in Kalamaria, northern Greece, on June 29, from which they had made their getaway with 82,487 euros.
The two had been initially held for questioning on the day of the robbery, but had been released later on. However, they were arrested on Friday after the identity of the robbers was ascertained.
 The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Social care for 60,000 employees: Changes to municipal employees' holiday leaves".
APOGEVMATINI: "Karamanlis (prime minister) 'locks in' second term in office - Power, clout, leadership, efficiency the prime minister's 'weapons' ".
AVGHI: "The citizens' hour - Popular movement for the salvation of the forests".
AVRIANI: "The ministers take PASOK to task".
CHORA: "The building cooperatives can now build - Relevant regulation will be included in draft law".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Pangalos (main opposition PASOK founding member and MP) firebomb: There are joint (ruling New Democracy party) ND-KKE (Communist Party of Greece) enterprises".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The documentation of the guilt - Environment, town planning and public works ministry document to the EU proves that the government was aware of, and had concealed, the dissolution of the forest protection service".
EPOCHI: "ND and PASOK hiding behind the acrimony".
ETHNOS: "Opinion a slap for the prime minister and the government - 'The burn forest will not become forest again' - 65.5 percent of the respondents do not believe Karamanlis' commitments".
KATHIMERINI: "Karamanlis' agenda for the elections - Announcement of reforms plan, in climate of acute polarisation - Rumbling in PASOK".
LOGOS: "He's holding the 'secret trump card' of the elections to himself - Karamanlis will not reveal his intentions even today", the last day of the ND 7th Congress.
PARON: "The bonds affair turns upside-down - Civil war breaks out in PASOK, with mutual finger-pointing, and all together pointing the finger at George (Papandreou, PASOK leader)".
PROTO THEMA: "GPO opinion poll on the forest fires - 55 percent say that Karamanlis also at fault".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Health and Welfare sector: Undisputable evidence of ND and PASOK co-blame".
TO VIMA: "The premier's intentions on the timing of the elections - Wait and see - Everything hinges on the opinion polls in August".
VRADYNI: "Karamanlis deflecting the polarisation".
 AKEL General Secretary to run for President of the RepublicNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Extraordinary Pancyprian Congress of left-wing AKEL party, decided to propose to the other two government coalition parties the candidacy of its own General Secretary Demetris Christofias for the presidential elections of coming February.
Én favor of Christofias' candidacy voted 1,447 from the 1,566 delegates (92,7%) and 103 voted against (6,6%) while eleven abstained (0,7%).
The delegates approved the proposal submitted to them by the Central Committee of AKEL, Cyprus' main ruling coalition partner, "that the party suggests to the President of the Republic and the government partner parties the candidacy of AKEL's
General Secretary Demetris Christofias to lead the three party coalition".
The approval of the Central Committee's proposal is expected to mark the end of the three-party coalition government, composing of AKEL, Democratic Party (DIKO) and Social Democrats Movement EDEK.
Addressing the Pancyprian Party Congress, Christofias said that AKEL would like to continue the cooperation with the other two coalition parties, but noted that if the party's proposal is not accepted by DIKO and EDEK, then AKEL would have to run for the elections with its own candidate.
He noted that AKEL's decision to propose its own candidate for the first time in its history constitutes a "democratic right of the party and its people who have been supporting for 47 years now other personalities, who most of the times have been elected presidents".
But Christofias said that first and foremost, AKEL would continue to struggle for a just solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation and in line with the UN resolutions and the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979, for the benefit of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots as well.
Christofias also said that on Monday they will talk with their partners in Government Coalition in an effort to convince them to continue their cooperation. If not then AKEL will proceed with its Secretary General's candidacy.
AKEL participates in the government with four Ministers, Foreign Minister George Lillikas, Transport Minister Harris Thrassou, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis and Health Minister Charis Charalambous, who are expected to submit their resignations to the President of the Republic by Wednesday.
President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, is expected to announce his bid for re-election some days after AKEL announces its final decision.
The other government partner, Social Democrats Movement EDEK has already said it would back Papadopoulos, if he decides to run. The Democratic Party (DIKO), headed by Papadopoulos until recently, also decided to back Papadopoulos candidacy.
On June 13th, Cypriot Member of the European Parliament, Ioannis Kasoulides officially announced his decision to run for the presidency at the forthcoming elections of February 2008.
Kasoulides served as Foreign Minister and Government Spokesman between 1997-2003 in Glafcos Clerides' government and is backed by the main opposition party, the Democratic Rally party (DISY).
The first to announce his candidacy was Costas Themistocleous, former Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment.
Other parties have yet to make up their final decisions on the matter.
 State Department: July 8th Agreement, a lost opportunityWASHINGTON (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The one year anniversary of the July 8th Agreement represents a lost opportunity which neither side has seized, said Friday a US State Department Spokesman.
"The one year anniversary of the July 8th Agreement represents a lost opportunity which neither side has seized. We are deeply disappointed in the lack of progress in terms of a constructive dialogue over the past year; leaders on both sides must be prepared to take risks, look ahead toward future progress", he said.
Invited to comment on the one year anniversary of the July 8th agreement, between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, the Spokesman said that the international community needs to see political resolve and ownership of the process on the parts of both parties.
"Cypriots must demonstrate they are tackling their problems and be ready in spirit for a mutually acceptable solution, both sides must contribute to forward movement", he indicated.
The State Department, he added, encourages both parties to put the envisaged technical committees and working groups together, "even as we move into election periods in Cyprus and Turkey".
"Both sides need to commit again now to overcoming the impasse. We will continue to fully support the UN and the parties to make quick progress on all agreed issues", he concluded.
Cyprus, an EU member state since May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on 8 July 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of UN senior official Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
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