|Wednesday, 23 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-09-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 25 September 2007 Issue No: 2706
 PM discusses agriculture ministry programme with minister, deputy ministerPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met consecutively Monday with Agricultural Development and Food minister Alexandros Kontos and deputy minister Costas Kiltidis.
Kontos told reporters afterwards that they briefed the premier on the ministry's programme for the first 100 days in office, noting that priority was on the plan for the restoration of the fire-stricken regions.
He said they also discussed matters concerning the ministry's organisations, aimed at increasing exports, strengthenng and reinforcing the competitiveness of the Greek agricultural production, and by extension boosting the incomes of the Greek farmers.
Asked how produce could reach the end consumers at cheaper prices, Kontos stressed that the solution was to strengthen the collective actions of the farmers.
So long as there were intermediaries between production and consumption, it was only natural that the prices of products increase, he said. Consequently, an effort was being made to strengthen the collective actions on a sound basis. "We are not talking about cooperatives, which have many problems, but about healthy actions, groups of producers and young farmers, which can promote themselves their products on the market," Kontos said.
Questioned on the restructuring of cultivations, Kontos said that the goal was the qualitative upgrading of the traditional farm products, as well as supporting a "different farming", which he explained referred to products produced on a small scale in many parts of the country by groups of young farmers "who are the future of Greek agriculture".
Kontos said that there were approximately 260 such groups, with which he has already met, who produce exceptional agricultural products which could comprise the future and prospect of Greek agriculture.
 PM meets culture minister, deputy sports ministerPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday had a meeting with Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis and Deputy Sports Minister Yiannis Ioannidis to discuss the culture ministry's priorities over the next four years.
The minister afterwards said the top priority would be to restore the grounds around the site of ancient Olympia in time for the Olympic Torch lighting ceremony in March 2008. Next in line was the completion of the new Acropolis Museum that was due to open to the public in a few months time.
The ministry's plans also include the introduction of new legislation through draft bills that had already been prepared to be tabled in Parliament and continuing to support cultural activity away from the capital through the funds available under the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF), Liapis added.
Regarding sports, the minister said the foremost priority was to quash sports violence.
"Witnessing scenes of this sort does our country no credit," Liapis stressed, noting that the goal was to develop the social face of sport and particularly to promote sport in schools.
"We will make every effort to improve these two areas, which must form part of the daily life of citizens," he stressed.
 PM meets with health ministry leadershipPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Monday morning with Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, followed by a meeting with Deputy Health Ministers Giorgos Konstantopoulos and Giorgos Papageorgiou.
Commenting after the meeting, the health minister said that substantial work has been accomplished so far in the ministry of health, adding that efforts will continue for even better results in the months to come.
The draft law on primary healthcare will be tabled in Parliament next month, while the deep reform process in the procurements sector will be completed soon leading to reform, expenditure cuts, infrastructure improvement and the creation of a new updated national healthcare network, he stressed.
The sector of health is among the main priorities of the new governance, Avramopoulos underlined, adding that the objective set is to create the preconditions for the refoundation of the National Health System (ESY) adjusted to new standards and able to fully and effectively meet the needs of the Greek society.
All programmes announced are in the process of being implemented without delays, with a special emphasis on the intensive care units and the hiring of new healthcare personnel, he stressed, underlining the determination to meet the goals set.
 PM receives new tourism development ministerPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday received newly appointed Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos at his office, with the latter telling reporters afterwards that set targets for the country's all-important tourism sector are ambitious but feasible.
"Tourism development is a one-way street for Greece," the new minister and one-time spokesman for the ruling New Democracy party said. He also stressed that a greater emphasis should be given to high-quality services and other tourism development-related factors.
Meanwhile, the National Confederation of People with Disabilities on Monday addressed a memo to the new minister, calling for the adoption of measures to substantially increase access and infrastructure for tourists with special needs. The confederation stressed that accessibility is a fundamental right for people with disabilities.
 Greek FM meets U.S. Under Secretary of StateNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/N.Melissova)
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met here on Monday evening Greek time, with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns.
The meeting, which took place on the sidelines of the 62nd UN General Assembly session, focused on developments in the Balkans, with emphasis on the issue of Kosovo, and the Cyprus problem.
Bakoyannis met on Monday morning (local time) with her Albanian counterpart Lulzim Basha and was expected to meet Serbian President Boris Tadic at the UN headquarters later in the day.
In the context of Greece's interest in the Middle East but also of the traditional good relations which Greece has with the region, Bakoyannis also met Monday morning with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal.
All meetings are taking place on the sidelines of the 62nd UN General Assembly session.
 FM Dora Bakoyannis addresses meeting on climatic changesNEW YORK (ANA-MPA)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis addressed the High-level Meeting on climatic change at the UN headquarters on Monday, stressing that there has been a great delay on handling the issue and added that for a long period of time climatic change had been faced as an "abstract phenomenon."
"If recent predictions are accurate, the destruction of the environment due to climatic change is one of the biggest social and economic challenges being faced by our planet. In the decades to come, most of its consequences will appear, regardless of what we shall decide to do today to restrict the problem of pollutant emissions," she said.
Stressing that this is due to two sources of delay, the foreign minister went on to say that "the one concerns the delay between political decisions and their implementation. The second constitutes the product of the phenomenon itself, given that scientists predict that the oceans that have stored the biggest part of the high temperature that has appeared over the past 40 years, gradually, will be releasing it in the coming decades."
Bakoyannis, referring to wildfires that ravaged parts of Greece this summer, said that "Greece, just like other countries in Southern Europe, experienced a tough ordeal this summer. As was anticipated by the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Committee on Climatic Changes (IPCC) as well as the Stern report, destructive wildfires threatened the region and cost the lives of 65 of our fellow human beings. The flames burnt the homes and the property of thousands of people."
The foreign minister further stressed that "our government reacted as best as it could to tackle the tragedy and to limit its repercussions. We also received aid from abroad, from our friends and partners. And for this reason we are grateful to them."
Lastly, Bakoyannis said that "having the recent, painful experience of the destructive repercussions of climatic change, Greece believes that the world leaders who have gathered here today must send a resounding message to the negotiators in Bali, that it is an imperative need for an international agreement to be reached on a restriction system. Adopting unilaterally new restrictions on pollutant emissions, the European Union is paving the way to enable a courageous response to be given on behalf of all the developed world in these negotiations."
 Consultations continue ahead of Nov. 11 PASOK electionsConsultations continued on Monday in the main opposition PASOK party in view of the procedure for the November 11 leadership elections in the party, while PASOK leader George Papandreou is preparing for the first, after the recent general elections, parliamentary confrontation, within the framework of the government's program statements at the end of the week.
Papandreou willl speak on Wednesday, day of the swearing-in ceremony of the new deputies, at a session of PASOK's Parliamentary Group.
 High Court prosecutor: Zorbas report on structured bonds should not have been submittedThe Supreme Court's top prosecutor on Monday concurred with an earlier appellate court prosecutor's opinion disputing the lawful submission of a high-profile report -- overseen and tabled last month by the chief of the independent money-laundering watchdog authority -- regarding the purchase of questionable structured bonds by state-run pension fund managers.
The high court's chief prosecutor, George Sanidas, issued a circular to first instance and appellate-level prosecutors detailing the jurisdiction and actions of top prosecutor George Zorbas, who heads up the money laundering watchdog authority, stressing that the latter erred in submitting the highly anticipated report without the approval of the independent authority's entire board.
Moreover, Sanidas opined that Zorbas' judicial investigation should have been suspended the moment a criminal indictment leveled charges against several individuals implicated in the bonds case, which erupted earlier in the year and generated a political furor and high-pitched criticism against the government for much of the period.
"The Zorbas report was derived illegitimately and is invalid as a finding. It is merely a routed document," Sanidas said, mostly backing up last month's opinion by the head of Athens' appellate courts prosecutor's office, George Koliokostas.
"There is no issue of a conflict between Mr. Koliokostas and the president (Zorbas) of the independent authority, as some attempted to portray it, but an issue as to whether the head of the authority adhered to legality or not," Sanidas concluded.
In a later reaction, new Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis declined to comment on the development, saying it was exclusive an issue affecting the independent judiciary.
 Opposition parties on structured funds issueMain opposition PASOK party spokesman Yiannis Raggousis, commenting on Monday on latest developments in the structured bonds case, said that "today, we watched one more badly-presented performance aimed at complete disdain for the (top prosecutor George) Zorbas report. Supreme Court prosecutor Mr. George Sanidas is 'vindicating' the head of the Appeals Court Prosecuting Authority Mr. George Koliokostas, claiming that the actions of the Committee's President on the laundering of black money Mr. G. Zorbas, were not in accordance with the law."
Raggousis added that "the New Democracy government must realise that it is a government of tolerance. The ND government does not have a 'blank cheque'. And it will realise this very soon inside and outside Parliament. PASOK will be in the front line of confrontation, in the front line of demanding, always with the truth being the sole criterion."
Commenting on the same issue, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Deputy Fotis Kouvelis said that "the Supreme Court prosecutor is intervening unacceptably in the work of the Independent Authority, which is headed by G. Zorbas. He is attempting with his circular to guide the judgement of the relevant prosecuting functionaries and to downgrade the Independent Authority."
Kouvelis added that "the Authority's investigation has its self-sufficiency and is not in a relation of monitoring with the work of Justice. It is also unacceptable that the bonds scandal to be referred before the elections, regarding its investigation, as the government was saying, to the Independent Authority and now, evidently in light of the content of the report, to be disputed."
 New Civil Protection secretary general namedLt. Gen. (ret) Margaritis Mouzas was on Monday appointed as the new secretary general for Civil Protection, replacing Panagiotis Fourlas who resigned last week.
Mouzas, 56, is married and has two children. He graduated from the Air Force Cadets Academy in 1974, while from 2005 to February 2007 he served as second deputy chief of the Armed Forces General Staff (GEETHA), and also studied at the Canadian Armed Forces' Staff Command School.
Also, honourary Areios Paghos (Greek Supreme Court) prosecutor Athanasios Andreoulakos was named secretary general of the interior ministry responsible for issues of public order, taking over from honourary ambassador Costis Ailianos, who was secretary of the former public order ministry, which has been merged with the interior ministry. The appointment follows Ailianos' resignation.
 EU funds to Greece amounted to 6.833 billion euros in 2006BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
European Union funds provided for Greece in 2006 amounted to 6.833 billion euros, according to data publicised here on Monday by the European Commission, concerning the implementation of the EU budget by its member-states. EU funds provided for the country in 2005 totalled 5.596 billion euros.
More specifically, last year Greece received 3.590 billion euros from the structural funds (compared to 2.652 billion euros in 2005), 3.071 billion euros from the Agricultural Fund (2.755 billion euros in 2005), 148 million euros from the Internal Policies (167.2 million euros in 2005) and 24 million euros from the Administration (21.4 million euros in 2005).
According to the Commission's data, it appeared that net funding to Greece in 2006 amounted to 2.68 percent of GDP. It is the highest percentage and was followed by Lithuania (2.52 percent), Malta (2.09) and Latvia (1.63).
 FinMin, Transport minister confer ahead of policy statementNational economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis and transport minister Costas Hadzigakis met Monday ahead of the government's policy statement in parliament.
 FinMin meets MIG vice-presidentEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday met with the vice-president of Marfin Investment Group (MIG), Andreas Vgenopoulos and discussed issues related to the present situation and the business and strategic prospects at the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), the ministry said n a press release.
According to an own announcement, MIG possesses a percentage of more than 10% of the share capital and is the second greatest shareholder of OTE.
On the occasion of the meeting, Minister Alogoskoufis reiterated the already declared position of the government regarding the privatization of OTE.
On the part of MIG, Vgenopoulos assured of the intention of excellent cooperation with the government regarding OTE's future.
 National Bank offers 5.5 euros per share for remaining 23.08 pct in National InsuranceNational Bank of Greece on Monday launched a voluntary public bid to buy a remaining 23.08 percent of shares in National Insurance at a price of 5.50 euros per share, valuing the company at 710 million euros.
A bank statement said the price offered is 18 percent higher compared with National Insurance's share closing price of September 21, 2007 and 21 percent up compared with its weighed share price in the last month. The bid will be financed by National Bank's cashflow.
Commenting on the move, Takis Arapoglou, National Bank's chairman and chief executive said: "our bid offers National Insurance's minority shareholders an opportunity to re-examine their investment position and liquidate, if they wish, their investment at attractive levels compared with the share price's current level".
National Bank aims to expand cooperation with National Insurance, particularly boosting bancassurance activities and create scale economies to facilitate the implementation of National Insurance's business plan.
Goldman Sachs International and Morgan Stanley & Co Limited are acting as exclusive consultant to the bid.
 Greek budget deficit up 30.1 pct in January-JulyGreece's regular budget revenues rose 6.9 pct in the seven-month period from January to July 2007, compared with the corresponding period last year, the General Accounting Office said on Monday.
In a report, the accounting office said that budget spending was up 6.8 percent over the same period. Budget revenues were slightly lower in January-July compared with a budget target for an annual growth rate of 7.2 pct while spending was slightly up compared with a 6.3 percent growth rate target for the year.
Total proceeds grew by 5.0 pct, down from a budget target of 5.5 percent, while primary spending grew by 8.9 pct in January-July, up from a budget target of 7.4 pct.
The accounting office said the budget deficit totaled 7.925 billion euros, up 30.1 pct in the seven-month period this year, from 6.091 billion euros in the same period in 2006.
An Economy and Finance ministry statement attributed the higher deficit to an increase in spending through the Third Community Support Framework (up 1.2 billion euros).
The Public Investments Program's revenues rose by 26.3 percent in January-July, sharply up from a 4.7 pct annual target, while spending were up 39.7 pct from a budget target of 6.9 pct.
 PASOK official on 2007 budgetMain opposition PASOK party economy and finance rapporteur Vasso Papandreou, referring to the performance of the 2007 budget, said that data concerning the first seven months of the year publicised on Monday "confirm the derailment of the main fiscal indexes," stressing that revenues "are collapsing since they are increasing by 3.8 percent, when the annual target is 6.2 percent".
"First stage expenditures are increasing by 8.9 percent as against an annual goal of 7.4 percent. The state budget deficit during the first seven months of 2007 is moving with an increase rate that is about four times (30.1 percent) that of the annual target (8.1 percent)," Papandreou said.
"The failure of carrying out the budget for 2007 for the period preceding the proclamation of the elections and before the wildfires was known to the government," she added.
 PPC fined one million euros for exceeding emission limitsThe state-run Public Power Corporation (PPC) will be fined one million euros for exceeding limits for the emission of atmospheric pollutants, the Greek environment, town planning and public works ministry announced on Monday. The fine was imposed following environmental inspections at several power plants operated by the PPC throughout the country.
"Climate change is a major global problem. Greece must observe the obligations it has undertaken under the Kyoto Protocol," said Environment Minister George Souflias regarding the decision.
Pointing out that the PPC accounted for 40 percent of carbon emissions in Greece, while also making a significant contribution to overall atmospheric pollution, Souflias said he had ordered environmental inspectors to carry out in-depth checks at all PPC facilities in the country.
The fines announced on Monday were based on the findings of these inspections, the minister added.
In a breakdown of the fines imposed, Souflias said that power plants at Megalopolis in the Peloponnese had been fined 400,000 euros for greatly exceeding hourly and daily limits for sulphur dioxide gas emissions considered safe for public health, while sulphur scrubbers at one Megalopolis plant had not operated for 31.1 per cent of the hours the plant was in operation in 2006, so it greatly exceeded sulphur dioxide emission limits.
The plant had also failed to monitor levels of sulphur dioxide, dust, nitrogen oxides and percentage oxygen at several of its units.
Fines totaling 600,000 euros were also imposed on power stations at Kardia, Ptolemaida and Aghios Dimitrios in Kozani because their dust emissions had exceeded daily limits for public health.
Souflias underlined that the ministry was determined to strictly enforce regulations for the operation of PPC power plants, adding that he had ordered environmental inspectors to continue their inspections at all PPC power plants, while evidence of transgressions would be immediately sent to justice.
 Minister Voulgarakis meets boards of maritime federation, union & chamberMerchant Marine and Island Policy Minister George Voulgarakis on Monday met successively with the boards and representatives of the Panhellenic Maritime Federation, of the Union of Coastal Ship Owners and of the Maritime Chamber of Greece.
During the meetings, views were exchanged on the course of Greek shipping, but also issues of sectors, particularly of the Panhellenic Maritime Federation which represents about 20,000 Greek seamen.
On Tuesday, Voulgarakis will meet with the board of the Union of Greek Shipowners.
 Aegean Airlines announces fuel surcharge due to high oil pricesAegean Airlines on Monday announced a fuel surcharge of two euros on every domestic flight ticket and four euros on every international flight, beginning October 1, 2007.
The Greek airline said it was forced to this move after the price of oil surpassed 80 US dollars per barrel and said that fuel accounted for 25 percent of its operating costs. Aegean Airlines said the fuel surcharge will not be imposed on its discount and offer tickets of 39 euros (domestic flights) and 59 euros (international flights).
 Greek poultry industry recovering, reportGreece's poultry industry is one of the most significant sectors of the domestic meat industry, with a total production of 177,000 tones of poultry in 2005 or 35 percent of total production in the country, a report by Hellastat said on Monday.
The poultry sector is characterised by a strong consolidation with the five larger companies in the industry accounting for 68.9 pct of the market, with the poultry cooperatives of Pindos and Arta (Epirus) holding a significant market share (45 percent), followed by Central Greece (27 pct) and Macedonia-Thrace (18 pct).
The report noted, however, that the sector's profitability was badly hit by the avian flu epidemic which kept several units closed and led to a sharp decline in demand. Poultry businesses, however, worked hard in adopting high-quality standards in production, a trend combined with a recovery in demand is expected to return the sector into profitability this year.
The five larger companies in the sector accounted for 69 pct of total sales last year, while the value of imported products accounted for 33.8 pct of total sales reported by 16 enterprises in the industry. From the 16 enterprises, 10 recorded lower sales, six reported pre-tax losses, while the four profitable companies saw their profits fall in 2006.
 ASE breaks 5,000 level againGreek stocks moved higher in the first trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, pushing the composite index above the 5,000 mark. The index ended 0.57 percent up at 5,024.85 points, with turnover a massive 600.5 million euros, of which 326.3 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher with the Insurance (2.27 pct), Financial Services (2.03 pct) and Food/Beverage (1.79 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Chemicals (1.15 pct) and Banks (0.05 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.33 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.05 pct higher and the Small cap index jumped 1.59 pct. Lavipharm (12.65 pct), Domiki Crete (12.63 pct) and Ippotour (7.69 pct) were top gainers, while Lyberis Publications (5.86 pct), Alsinco (5.43 pct) and Lanacam (4.72 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 185 to 77 with another 43 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.55%
Personal & Household: +0.26%
Raw Materials: +1.69%
Travel & Leisure: +0.99%
Food & Beverages: +1.79%
Financial Services: +2.03%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Marfin Popular Bank, Eurobank, OTE, Jumbo and National Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 24.40
Public Power Corp (PPC): 25.60
HBC Coca Cola: 36.50
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.98
Emporiki Bank: 20.94
National Bank of Greece: 43.70
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 25.30
Titan Cement Company: 35.90
 ADEX closing reportTurnover in the Athens Derivatives Exchange shrank significantly on Monday to 112.5 million euros, after last week's surge, while futures contract prices were mixed in the market. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.93 percent and the September contract on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.9 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 5,543 contracts worth 73.072 million euros, with 28,398 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 341 contracts worth 11.123 millin euros with 1,118 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,779 contracts worth 16.416 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Intracom's contracts (1,933), followed Marfin Investment Group (1,420), PPC (1,314), Piraeus Bank (560), National Bank (988), Hellenic Petroleum (520), Post Savings bank (650).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.44 billion euros on Monday, of which 651 million were buy orders and the remaining 789 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was again the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 667 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.34 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.63 percent and the German Bund yielding 4.29 percent.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 4.15 pct from 4.10 pct on Friday, the two-day rate eased to 4.15 pct from 4.20 pct, the one-month rate fell to 4.40 percent from 4.45 percent and the 12-month rate was 4.70 percent.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.422
Pound sterling 0.702
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.255
Japanese yen 163.65
Swiss franc 1.667
Norwegian kroner 7.845
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.422
Australian dollar 1.637
 Culture minister visits new Acropolis MuseumThe transfer of the antiquities at the old Acropolis Museum to the new ultra-modern museum that is now in the final stages of completion will begin on October 14, Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis announced on Monday. The transfer is expected to take three months to complete and the new museum will be opened to visitors in stages from the start of 2008, starting with the third floor. It will be fully open to the public after roughly one year, the minister added.
"A great vision is being carried out; an ultra-modern museum that has a dialectical relationship with the Acropolis," Liapis said as he toured the new building with Acropolis curator Alexandros Mantis and the director of the organisation for the construction of the new Acropolis Museum, archaeologist Dimitris Pantermalis.
In the first phase of the new museum's operation, possibly as soon as January, the public will be able to visit the top floor where the east and north metopes of the Parthenon will be on display after their transfer from the old museum.
In anticipation of the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum, meanwhile, copies of the sculptures currently in London will be displayed on the same floor but will be covered with a transparent veil to indicate their continued absence.
The minister also underlined that Greece would continue to press for the return of the missing Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
"We are all obliged to intensify our efforts for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum because only then will we have fulfilled our historic duty," Liapis stressed.
The new building is dominated by the use of new-technology glass that allows visitors to maintain visual contact with the buildings on the Athens Acropolis while viewing the artifacts on display.
On the ground floor it allows visual contact with the underground archaeological remains of an ancient Athenian neighbourhood that were discovered at a depth of seven metres when the foundations were being dug. This links the daily lives of the people of ancient Athens with the temples directly opposite the Museum.
To the right and left on this floor, artifacts found on the slopes leading up to the Acropolis will be on display, such as those from the theatre of Dionysus, the temple of Pan and the temple of the Nymphs.
On the ramps and the first floor will be placed the Caryatids and various archaic sculptures, on the second floor will be the cafeteria and the Museum restaurant and on the third the display will be devoted to the Parthenon Marbles.
Regarding the controversy that has arisen over the ministry's plans to knock down two buildings on Areopagitou street that block the view of the Acropolis on the lower floors of the Museum, Liapis said he would continue his predecessor's policy calling for their expropriation and demolition.
According to the minister, the old museum on the Acropolis will be used to display items and material that helped visitors gain a better understanding of the site, such as illustrations by 16th and 17th century travellers before the Parthenon and the other buildings had suffered extensive damage, material describing the archaeological digs around the site, photographs of brass and copper statues that were at the Acropolis and were only known through the copies and other information.
 Conference on Modern Greek studies in SofiaSOFIA (ANA-MPA / P. Barkas)
The Modern Greek Language in the Balkans of the 21st century, research, teaching problems and prospects were the main issues tackled at the 2nd Balkan Conference on Modern Greek Studies held in Sofia, Bulgaria on September 21-23 with the participation of delegates from Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, Albania, Croatia and Slovenia.
Based on figures presented at the conference, the Greek language is currently being taught in 13 Balkan universities, while the courses offered are being attended by roughly 1,300 students. Bulgaria occupies the top place on the list with 5 universities followed by Turkey (3), Romania (2) and Albania (2).
The economic transactions with Greece and the fact that thousands of Greek companies are active in the region make the knowledge of the Greek language a prerequisite for employment.
Roughly 4,000 Greek companies are active in the Balkans with an estimated capital of 12 billion euros. The Greek banks alone are responsible for the creation of 27,000 new jobs since 2006.
The conference was organized by St. Kliment Ohridski University, the New Bulgarian University and the "Kostis Palamas" Bulgarian Cultural Association of Neo-Hellenism with the support of the Greek culture ministry and the education and culture ministry of Cyprus.
 Alexandria Patriarch inaugurates new Theology Academy in KinshasaKINSHASA (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)
The new French-language Orthodox Academy of Theology, was inaugurated here on Sunday evening by the Patriarch of Alexandria Theodoros II.
Congratulations for the project were conveyed on behalf of the President of the People's Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila by Minister to the Presidency Nkulu.
The minister honoured the event with his presence, thanked the Orthodox Church for what it is doing for the region's population and stressed the Patriarchate's great contribution to missionary issues and now to education, while pointing out that the country's government will continue to encourage the work of the Alexandria Patriarchate in every way.
On his part, the Primate of Alexandria thanked the President of the Congo, through the country's senior official, for the support that he always provides for the Orthodox Church of Africa.
 SAE president visits ArgentinaWorld Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Stefanos Tamvakis held a number of contacts with representatives of the ethnic Greek community in Argentina, during his ongoing visit to South American country.
Tamvakis had meetings with SAE and Greek community members in a special event hosted by the Greek ambassador to Argentina. In a meeting with the Buenos Aires' Greek community board representatives, he briefed them on SAE's work and congratulated them for their charity work and continuous efforts made to preserve the Greek language.
 Trial over 'coffee assault' on Venizelos indefinitely postponedThe trial of 62-year-old Dimitris Rellos, who was accused of an 'unprovoked act of vilification' for flinging a cup of coffee at main opposition PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos, was indefinitely postponed on Monday because no witnesses appeared at the hearing.
Rellos had thrown his coffee over Venizelos as he was making his way to PASOK's headquarters last Thursday.
 Two illegal migrants drown off Samos, scores intercepted in eastern AegeanTwo illegal migrants, an adult male and a child, drowned in rough waters while seven were rescued after their wooden boat capsized near Cape Kotsikas, off the eastern Aegean island of Samos -- a favorite destination for illegal migrants and migrant smugglers attempting to land on Greek and European Union after departing from neighboring Turkey.
Coast guard vessels and a military helicopter participated in the rescue efforts, conducted in adverse weather conditions in the region.
In separate incidents, the bodies of two migrants were recovered by the coast guard in a sea region off the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Sunday, while a total of 70 illegal migrants were intercepted on the islands of Kos, Samos, Lesvos and Farmakonissi over the weekend.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the trial of two high-ranking coast guard officers stationed in northern Greece commenced at a Thessaloniki naval tribunal on Monday. Both men are charged with receiving bribes in order to facilitate the transport of illegal migrants through their areas of jurisdiction.
 Slain Pakistani's flat-mates detained as suspectsPolice on Monday said they were holding the flat-mates of a stabbed 25-year-old Pakistani as suspects for his killing. The man's body was found in the Ano Liosia landfill site on September 18 bearing multiple stab wounds and wrapped in a sheet.
The prime suspects are the man's 25-year-old cousin and a 26-year-old Pakistani that were sharing a flat with him in the Athens district of Egaleo. According to police, the three came to blows over differences linked to their co-habitation and the victim was stabbed with a kitchen knife. He was then wrapped in a sheet and thrown into a rubbish bin so that he ended up in the landfill.
They appeared before a public prosecutor and remain in custody, while in addition to the murder charge they also illegally resident in Greece.
 Two arrested for violating state secrets lawsTwo 40-year-old men were led before an examining magistrate on Monday for repeated counts of violating laws on state secrets. They had been arrested in Volos and Athens on Saturday by the Attica computer crime squad.
Their activities were revealed when the Army General Staff reported that two Internet users had posted lists of confidential military maps drawn up by the army's geographical service on the Internet.
The two were traced to Athens and Volos and were found to have 290 maps stored on their computer hard disks, on which were marked the locations of military units, munitions warehouses, machine-gun nests and other sensitive information.
They said that they were given the maps by an individual working in the Greek defence ministry and wanted to use them for their work. Military security services were informed of the incident and will continue to investigate the possible involvement of military personnel in divulging the classified material.
 Forestry service official arrested for briberyThe head of the Markopoulos forestry service was arrested on Monday morning on a charge of passive bribery after he accepted 5,000 euros in marked banknotes from a woman residing in Porto Rafti in order to draw up a favourable report in a case that concerned her husband.
The woman had met the suspect on Friday in connection with accusations against her husband that he had illegally encroached on forest land in the Markopoulos area, at which time the senior forestry official had asked for 5,000 euros to draw up a favourable report.
Instead, the woman reported the incident to the police and was given the sum in marked banknotes that were found in the suspect's office during a police raid immediately after their meeting.
The arrested man showed the police where the money was hidden under his office carpet but denied the charges against him. He is to appear before a public prosecutor on Tuesday while police are also investigating whether the suspect and other members of his department may be involved in similar cases.
 Major fire reported in Trikala prefectureA major fire was reported on Monday afternoon in pine forest within the limits of the municipality of Hasia in the prefecture of Trikala. Fire-engines, firemen on foot and one helicopter have been deployed to put out the fire.
 Mostly sunny on TuesdayMostly sunny weather with northerly, northeasterly winds are forecast throughout the country on Tuesday with wind velocity reaching 5-6 beaufort. Scattered cloud in northern and western mainland Greece. Temperatures will range between 11C and 29C. Sunny in Athens, with light, northerly, northeasterly winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 28C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 25C.
 Papadopoulos: UN Chief supports 8 July agreement on CyprusUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his support to the 8 July 2006 agreement reached between the two sides in Cyprus, in the presence of UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari.
This was stated by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos after a 20-minute meeting with the UN Chief at UN Headquarters on Sunday night. The Cypriot President is in New York for the UN General Assembly.
President Papadopoulos described his meeting with Ban "very good", adding that he discussed with him latest developments in the Cyprus problem. He also raised the missing persons' question.
The Cypriot president said the UN Secretary General "repeated his support to the Gambari process, saying that he looks forward to its full implementation."
Papadopoulos continued: "We hope that with his (UN SG's) help the process will go on."
"I referred to our willingness to intensify procedures so as to commence the earliest possible substantive negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem", he said.
President Papadopoulos added that at his meeting with the UN Chief he also raised the humanitarian question of missing persons, stressing the need to ascertain the fate of those missing, parallel with the identification of their remains.
Responding to a question whether he discussed with Ban the appointment of a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Cyprus, President Papadopoulos noted that "we have said that Mr. (Michael) Moller is doing an excellent job. As it has been repeatedly stated by the UN it is the UN Secretary General that he will decide whether progress has been achieved in order to name a Special Representative to move the process further."
He added that the UN SG welcomed President Papadopoulos' meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, on 5 September, expressing the hope that future meetings would be more productive.
Papadopoulos confirmed that he had also a meeting with former UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, who was present when the Cypriot President and Talat reached the 8 July 2006 agreement.
The agreement provided for the setting up of technical committees and working groups to discuss issues that affect the day to day life of the people and substantive issues of the question of Cyprus.
The 8 July agreement also provided for periodic meetings between Papadopoulos and Talat to help push the process forward. They had their first meeting in 14 months on 5 September 2007. The Turkish side appears unwilling to implement the agreement.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Ankara has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the immediate withdrawal of its troops from this east Mediterranean island Republic, a member of the European Union since May 2004.
 Cyprus government: international community supports July agreementNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The government of Cyprus has welcomed the support the international community has shown to a UN-brokered agreement, aiming at resuming substantive negotiations towards a political settlement that would reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said here Monday that it was important that the international community, the United Nations and the Security Council agree and endorse the need to create the preconditions for the implementation of the July 8 agreement of 2006.
"The contacts President Papadopoulos has had in New York with the UN Secretary General and other officials took place in a very good climate and there is a positive response to our approach to the July agreement," Palmas said.
He noted that a meeting between Papadopoulos and US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns will take place Wednesday at Burn's request, while on Thursday the president will attend a dinner with the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council.
He said the government was pleased with the support of the international community to this agreement but pointed out that "progress or the practical implementation of this agreement does not depend entirely on us."
On an initiative by Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt to discuss the Cyprus question with his counterparts from the US and other European countries, on the sidelines of the UN Assembly, Palmas said that "this is an initiative with a strange content", adding that while the US have been invited the rest of the UN permanent members have not.
"We think that this is a meeting that will not have any future or any result," he added.
 Commissioner: Turkish embargo on Cypriot fleet, an EU problemLIMASSOL (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport Jacques Barrot stressed Monday that the Turkish policy to impose embargoes on ships flying the Cypriot flag is a problem not only for Cyprus but also for the European Union and Turkey itself.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of "Maritime Cyprus 2007" conference that began its deliberations Monday in the coastal town of Limassol, Barrot said that the European maritime in general and the Cypriot maritime in particular have to tackle the problem of the Turkish ban and reassured that he would do his utmost to solve the issue.
Since 1987 Turkey does not allow vessels, flying the Cypriot flag, to enter its ports. The Turkish ban on Cypriot vessels is considered to be the number one problem for the Cypriot shipping industry. The Cypriot ship registry ranks 10th worldwide and third in Europe.
"EU shipping in general and Cyprus shipping in particular has to cope with the handicap of the access to Turkish ports. Please be assured that I will put all my efforts in solving this issue. It is not only a problem for Cyprus, it is problem for Europe and it is also a problem of Turkey", Barrot stressed.
Ankara, that aspires to join the EU, has an obligation to open its ports to all EU members, including Cyprus which it does not recognise. Turkish troops continue to occupy the island's northern areas since they invaded in 1974.
"Maritime Cyprus 2007" conference is the tenth that takes place since the meeting was established in 1989. It is considered one of the three most important maritime events worldwide, attracting distinguished speakers and shipping executives from around the globe.
Around 800 delegates participate in this year's Conference that will last until Wednesday.
The EU Commissioner congratulated Cyprus on "succeeding well in the top challenge of the fierce competition that exists in the world shipping markets" and acknowledged that with the addition of the Cyprus fleet to that of the EU, the Union now represents the biggest collective force in influencing global maritime developments.
Cypriot Minister for Communications and Works Maria Malahtou-Pampalli welcomed Barrot's statements and described them as "very important".
Turkey is obliged to open its ports to Cypriot vessels, the minister said, adding that Turkey has to comply with international law and order.
In her speech at the conference, the Cypriot minister said that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and especially the Ministry of Communications and Works, through its Department of Merchant Shipping "has done its outmost to provide the local maritime industry with competitive tools to be addressed on competition".
"We are proud of having managed to maintain a reputable safe and environmentally friendly merchant fleet, one the 10 largest in the world. Cyprus is the 1st international register that has entirely undergone the IMO member-states audit with full success. As a result of coordinated and intense efforts, our national flag has improved remarkably its position and is in the white list of both the Paris and the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding", she concluded.
The conference was also addressed by Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Admiral Efthymios Mitropoulos, who advocated a campaign to inform the younger generation on shipping.
He noted that within the industry, shipping has "a good track record and a good story to tell, on how it carries more than 90% of the world's trade, safely, securely, efficiently and at a fracture of the environmental impact and cost of any other mode of wide transportation".
"Therefore we must spare no effort to ensure that through the media both national and international, such everyday realities are always given new prominence", he concluded.
The Cyprus Maritime 2007 Award was awarded this year to the Cyprus Marine Environment Protection Association (CYMEPA) for its contribution in encouraging ship owners, seamen and the general public to take action in preventing sea pollution.
 Cypriot President addresses UN High Level Meeting on Climate ChangeNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, has stressed the need for the creation of an effective mechanism that would tackle global climate change.
Addressing Monday the High Level meeting on climate change, that takes place at the United Nations Headquarters, President Papadopoulos said that the international community needs no further, scientific or other proof that climate change is one of the most serious interlocking crises facing humanity today.
"The fact that we gather here today we owe largely to the increasing awareness and concern of our citizens about the impact of climate change as well as to their demand that we display the necessary political will to tackle this threat to life as we know it", he added.
President Papadopoulos said that concrete measures have to be taken to effectively manage climate change risks while simultaneously working collectively and formulating longer-term policies and elaborating a comprehensive framework that will reverse, to the extent possible, the existing and future effects of climate change.
He also noted that the United Nations is the appropriate framework in terms of legitimacy, effectiveness and efficiency in the design and execution of the way forward to ensure that the quality of life we enjoy now is passed on to future generations.
Referring to the ecosystem in the Mediterranean, the Cypriot president said that it is one of those that have been under stress for some time.
In particular, he referred to the marine environment which has sustained considerable damage, to the droughts and heat waves, to severe water scarcity which will be intensified and to the erosion of coastal zones.
"More generally speaking, we are cognizant of the particular risks facing developing countries and Least Developed Countries and we can attest to the vulnerability of island states, especially small island developing states", he said.
In his speech, President Papadopoulos expressed the view that with a global phenomenon of this scale, our approach must be integrated and comprehensive.
He described the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol as "the milestone that initiated efforts to construct a multilateral framework to deal with climate change".
But he noted that "learning from its successes and failures, we must now proceed to elaborate its follow-up mechanism and work towards an effective regime that addresses the many facets of climate change on the many different levels they occur and do so in a national, regional and international context".
"We need to ensure that we will never find ourselves in a legal vacuum and that all the necessary instruments and tools will be in place at the right moment. Concerning adaptation, technical analysis of risk management, coupled with the appropriate infrastructure and planning are essential elements of any future strategy", President Papadopoulos concluded.
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