|Tuesday, 4 August 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-11-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 17 November 2007 Issue No: 2751
 PM: Only definitive, mutual acceptable to 'name issue' will enable Euro-Atlantic access for FYROMOnly a definitive and mutually acceptable solution and proof, in action, of the agreements and the principles of good-neighborliness can ensure objective opportunities for an alliance, partnership and solidarity relations with FYROM, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stressed on Friday in Parliament, adding that no other path existed for the neighbouring country's accession to Euro-Atlantic institutions.
"This is clear and succinct," Karamanlis said, speaking during his institutional response to the opposition, and in response to a question tabled by Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis regarding the government's positions on the FYROM "name issue".
Karamanlis said that Athens and Skopje have been engaged in negotiations for approximately 15 years, aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution on the basis of a composite name.
"There is no change of direction. What exists is frankness, determination and a constructive spirit" on the part of Greece, the Greek prime minister said, adding that "these long-standing negotiations have already entered a new stage, one of great importance".
"Only a definitive and mutually acceptable solution, only active respect of the Agreements and the principles of good neighbourliness can 'unlock' and ensure objective prospects for alliance relations, partnership relations, relations of solidarity with the neighbouring country. There is no other road that leads to its (FYROM's) accession to Euro-Atlantic organisations. This is clear-cut; succinct words," Karamanlis said.
The prime minister further said that any perception that the responsible parliamentary procedure, the procedure set out in the country's Constitution, was a process of "reduced democracy" was "erroneous and dangerous", stressing that Parliament was fully able to ratify a prospective agreement with FYROM on the name issue if such an agreement was achieved.
The Constitution, he explained, "does not rule out the choice of other procedures, such as a referendum', adding that "it does not, however, gradate democratic sensitivity and responsibility".
"If and when a final agreement arises, parliament can responsibly fulfil its own duty," the prime minister stressed.
 Events commemorating Polytechnic uprisingEvents commemorating the 34th anniversay of the Novembert 17, 1973 students' uprising at the Athens Polytechnic, which essentially led to the collapse of the seven-year military dictatorship in Greece (1967-74), continued on Friday, with the laying of wreaths at the Polytechnic monument by the ruling New Democracy (ND) party and it's youth organisation ONNED.
ONNED president George Papanicolaou laid the wreath on behalf of the ruling party's youth organisation, while wreaths were also placed by representatives of the DAP-NDFK (ND-affiliated student organisations) in the AEI and TEI (university and technical institutions of higher education).
A wreath on behalf of ND was laid at the monument by education deputy minister Spyridon Taliadouros.
Commemoration events began throughout the country on Thursday, as the Polytechnic (now the National Technical University of Athens-NTUA) opened its gates to the people, mostly pupils and students, to deposit a flower on the memorial in the front courtyard.
The anniversary is held each year in tribute to a student uprising against the military dictatorship ruling Greece at that time, that was violently put down in the early hours of November 17, 1973 when the army and tanks were brought in to disperse the students that had taken over the Athens Polytechnic building and the civilians who had thronged to the site in support of the uprising.
The NTUA gates will close after the conclusion of the three-day memorial events.
In a message on the uprising anniversary, education minister Evangelos Stylianidis said that "Peoples are worthy of their history when they have a deep historic memory and do not forget those who fought in the past, with self-sacrifice, for the humanity-wide values".
"We, therefore, have an unwavering duty to pay tribute to the Polytechnic fighters who courageously defended the ideals of democracy, justice and liberty. The meaning of the Polytechnic inspires and binds us all to daily seek the further shielding of democracy, a condition for which is without doubt the upgrading of the quality of education," Stylianidis said.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Central Committee, in a message, stressed that "the meaning of the popular uprising of November 1973 against the dictatorship, the US and NATO becomes timely today in the pressing need for growth of the popular struggle for the rights and modern needs of the popular family".
"The opponent is the class policy for increasing the profitability and competitiveness of capital, which is being materialised today by the ND government, and aims at further deduction of the elementary rights of the working people and their children," the KKE message said.
Delegations of the KKE and its youth organisation KNE will lay wreaths at the Polytechnic at noon on Friday.
The Central Political Committee of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN), in a message, said that "The Polytechnic lives in the struggles of today and tomorrow for peace, social liberation, the struggles for safeguarding and expanding the social conquests, the democratic rights and freedoms, the harsh clash with the forces of war and neo-liberalism".
The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, in its message, said that the Polytechnic anniversary was being exploited today for petty-political and party purposes. "We honour the victims of the struggle against the dictatorship. Their vindication is national independence, popular sovereignty, democratic stability," the message added.
The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), in its own message, paid tribute to the memory of the fighters, students and working people at the Polytechnic uprising.
A GSEE delegation will lay a wreath at the Polytechnic on Friday.
PASOK message on '73 Athens Polytechnic uprising
Main opposition PASOK party on Friday stressed, in a message on the 34th anniversary of the Athens Polytechnic uprising, that the ideological and political basis of the struggle against the then dictatorship continues to be timely by assuming a new content.
"Thirty four years after the goals of national independence, popular sovereignty and social justice, the call is now for a new national strategy that will strengthen Greece's role in Europe, the SE Mediterranean and the Balkans, while defending Greek sovereign rights in an effective manner, the message read.
"A viable development model that respects the environment and invests in the people, knowledge and innovation, while guaranteeing quality free public education as well as a new modern social state that supports the weak, are necessary, according to the message.
Papandreou lays wreath at the Athens Polytechnic
Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou laid a wreath at the Athens Polytechnic on Friday, commemorating the 34th anniversary of the November 1973 student uprising against the junta then ruling Greece.
"The spirit of uprising and reversal is always timely. The struggle for democracy, the consolidation of democracy, is always timely, just as it is today for the reversal, the changing of a political system that is not a true reflection of the Greek people's needs", he said.
Journalists' union federation on Polytechnic uprising anniversary
The Panhellenic Federation of Journalists' Unions (POESY) on Friday highlighted the role that journalists play in preserving a memory of historic events, during a message regarding the 34th anniversary of the Athens Polytechnic student uprising of November 17, 1973.
"During a period when exploitation and neoliberal political choices and business centres show their hardest face by overturning social insurance rights and attempting to control journalists and the right of the Greek people to be infomred, the message of 17 November 1973 remains forever current," a POESY announcement said.
 Gov't on the election lawAlternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Friday underlined that the government seeks a new election law guaranteeing stable governments, and one able to process and implement necessary solutions for the benefit of the people.
Antonaros made the comment when asked about the government's refusal to fully support a so-called "German model" proposal made by main opposition PASOK in recent days.
"The government has stated its position clearly and the election law debate will take place at the appropriate time in parliament," Antonaros stressed.
 Papandreou in London for Socialist Int'l sessionMain opposition PASOK and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou will be in London next week to chair the first meeting of an SI session on a "viable global society" to take place at 10 Downing St., the residence and office of the British Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Gordon Brown.
The meeting will be begin on Monday morning and will be completed with the working lunch hosted by the British PM.
The establishment of the Viable Global Society Committee was decided at a SI council in Santiago, Chile on Nov. 6-7, 2006, and ratified at the Geneva council on June 29-30, 2007. Coordinators are former Chilean president UN special envoy on climate change, Ricardo Lagos, as well as former Swedish premier Goran Persson.
 Papandreou addresses PASOK National CouncilPASOK leader George Papandreou addressed the party's National Council on Friday, announcing that PASOK's 8th congress will be taking place in mid-February (the exact date will be set by the Congress Organising Committee).
Moreover, the National Council will be turned into a Central Organising Committee, but the most substantive role will be played by the Organising Committee's Secretariat that will have the exclusive responsibility of preparing the congress, whose aim will be the party's political revival.
Papandreou said that the Secretariat will be manned by "persons who have the inclination, the energy, the contact with new approaches and conceptions, the distance from power and greater contact with the new world."
 Exclusive interview with SYRIZA Secretary Nikos HoundisA policy of joint actions with main opposition PASOK party and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is firmly supported by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) as being the only way to head off the government's policies.
In an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos, or SYN), which head the SYRIZA parliamentary collaboration) Secretary Nikos Houndis says that he sees no change in the policy followed by PASOK, and stresses that SYRIZA is engaged in meaningful opposition.
The 5th SYN Congress will consolidate the unity of the leftist forces and further define an alternative policy toward the bipartisan, conservative and neo-liberal policies, he said, adding that it became obvious during the recent PASOK leadership election procedure that the main opposition party does not wish to adopt radical policy changes.
He said that social insurance, education, the environment and privatizations are the major problems faced by the people, stressing that his party does not support government moves that lead to greater social inequalities and favor the downgrading of the environment, which serve large economic interests and profiteering.
SYN-SYRIZA backs the adoption of a simple proportional electoral system, Houndis stressed.
He said that SYRIZA is the only true opposition to the ruling New Democracy government's policy, despite the fact that it is a small political party, adding that it is well aware that is necessary for the opposition forces to engage in joint action in order to avert the government's policies.
The government can achieve the approval of unpopular legislation based on the weak majority it has in parliament, but it will also meet with the people's disapproval, as was the case in the September 16 general elections, said Houndis, who did not rule out the likelihood of early general elections aimed at activating the new election law.
 Alavanos on Zoniana incidentRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos blamed both ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK on Friday for the situation that developed over time in the infamous Cretan village of Zoniana, where a police convoy was headed to earlier this month when it was ambushed by gunmen.
In referring to the Zoniana region from nearby Irakleio, the largest city on the island and his election district, Alavanos essentially charged that the state's organs in area - i.e. law enforcement, politicians and the judiciary - were in collusion with drug-trafficking, gun running and protection rackets allegedly being run out of the Zoniana district - a mountainous township in Rethymno Prefecture.
Conversely, he blamed the government for not fully detailing and explaining the problems of the region, saying this omission has led to wholesale demonisation of the entire island of Crete by various mass media.
A severe police crackdown in the Zoniana and nearby Mylopotamos regions followed the assault rifle attack on the police convoy, in which one police officer was seriously injured.
 Bakoyannis addresses municipality union conferenceAddressing the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) conference taking place in Ileia on Friday, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis underlined the work done by the government and the interior ministry to strengthen and support local authorities since 2004.
"They have acted to boost local government developmentally and institutionally through the Thiseas programme and by revising the Municipalities and Communities Code," the minister said, while also noting an increase in regular funding and bold measures for upgrading primary local government administratively.
Bakoyannis highlighted the role of local government in the protection of the environment, saying that they should be at the forefront of this struggle and stressed that "development cannot exist unless it is combined with organised environmental actions".
She pinpointed urban waste management as the greatest of these problems, saying that it constituted "the most important threat now before us".
"The entire state, local governments, scientific community and social bodies have for years being trying to hide behind their finger. The time to act responsibly is here. Solutions are needed and solutions exist. There is national and regional planning, that must finally be put into action. But there are also new technologies that we must adopt in order to protect the environment," she said.
The minister then referred to the major reforms that she said were imposed by the current requirements of local government and the state:
"We have an obligation to adopt a new approach. We must create a new philosophy for local government and the administrative structure of Greece. The prime minister, Costas Karamanlis, and the New Democracy government have chosen to follow this path. They have begun dialogue with KEDKE, with [the national prefecture union] ENAE and the people of local government, on the major administrative reform the country needs," she added.
Citing her own experience as mayor of Athens, Bakoyannis pointed to three areas that she said should be the main focus of attention: creating metropolitan local government organisations in major urban centres like Athens, Thessaloniki, Piraeus, Patras and Irakleio; introducing regional administrations elected directly by voters, while reducing their number, increasing their size and creating two levels of local government; and basing a new organisation of the state on the principle of financial autonomy for municipalities.
 Transport minister addresses event on public transportTransport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis on Friday addressed an event organised by the "Epivatis" (Passenger) network, that is a non-profit organisation which, according to the minister, constitutes the citizen's voice.
Hatzidakis reiterated the government's undeviating decision to upgrade public transport to enable three main goals to be achieved, namely a cleaner environment, the capital's decongesting and better service for the citizen.
The minister further said that next week he will be announcing measures to upgrade public transport with the aim of decongesting urban centres, creating a cleaner environment, facilitating the citizens' access to the city and strengthening safety in public transport.
 UN High Commission delegation for refugees holds talks with merchant marine ministerA UN High Commission delegation responsible for refugees, headed by regional representative Walfer R.B. Irvine, held talks with Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister George Voulgarakis on Friday, during which excellent cooperation existing between the High Commission and the ministry was confirmed once again.
According to a relevant announcement, the two sides referred to cooperation at aliens' points of entry, training for Harbour Corps staff and cooperation in the framework of implementing European programmes on managing immigration waves, with regard to detecting cases requiring protection.
Lastly, the merchant marine ministry accepted to jointly organise a conference of experts on sea rescue and cases of stowaways requesting asylum, that is expected to take place in January 2008.
 Greece-Turkey natgas pipeline to be inaugurated by PMs Karamanlis, Erdogan on SundayThe Greece-Turkey natural gas pipeline will be inaugurated at noon on Sunday by prime minister Costas Karamanlis and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a ceremony on the the Greek-Turkish frontier at Evros, after which natural gas will begin flowing via the pipeline.
Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, replying during a regular press briefing to a question on whether Russian natural gas would also be conveyed via the Greece-Turkey pipeline, said that the details would be unveiled during the speeches at the inauguration ceremony.
The Greece-Turkey natgas pipeline will have a transport capacity of 11.5 cubic metres of natural gas annually, and the project will eventually extend to Italy via the construction of a Greece-Italy natgas pipeline, officially known as the "Interconnector Greece-Italy (IGI)", which is slated for completion in 2011 and comrpises a supplement to the Greek-Turkish pipeline, transporting 8 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year.
Turning to other topics, Antonaros said that agricultural development minister Alexandros Kontos and state minister Theodoros Roussopoulos would unveil a study for the restoration and development of the agricultural sector, the forests, and environmental protection in the areas of the country devastated by last summer's wildfires, at a special event at noon on Monday at the Zappeion Press Centre.
He said a detailed presentation of the study, which was drawn up by 150 experts under the supervision of the Athens Agricultural University and the Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's School of Agriculture, would be made by the heads of the ad-hoc commitee of experts.
Antonaros explained that the study records the necessary actions by prefecture, and was drafted following consultations with the prefectural and regional authorities.
 Greek trade unions reject plan for merger of pension fundsGSEE, Greece's largest trade union umbrella group, on Friday claimed that the government's plan to reform the pension system was a "rehearsal of anti-insurance policies" in the country, while it reiterated opposition to "forced" mergers of the country's innumerable state-run retirement funds, saying government policy aimed at undermine insurance rights and to "plunder" pension funds' reserves.
The labour union said a debate on the pension system so far showed that the government deliberately ignored the problem of funding of the system, the main problem as cited by mostly opposition-controlled trade unions.
GSEE warned that wage earners were already on a strike alert and will "give their answer" to the government with a strike beginning Dec. 12.
ADEDY, the civil servants' union, said the government's plan to reform the pension system was another step towards shrinking insurance rights, reducing pensions, raising retirement ages through a unification and merger of pension funds.
 Deputy Defence Minister addresses development conference on CreteCrete is called on to play a leading role, and its development is a necessity and not just another aspect of the government policy, Deputy Defence Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis said on Friday, addressing a development conference on Crete hosted by the Heraklion Chamber of Commerce.
He referred to the government's new economic and development policy focusing on fiscal reform while at the same time ensuring dynamic development.
The Greek economy managed to exit the EU procedure of excessive deficit in a relatively short period, while showing the highest growth rates in the Euro-zone (4.4 percent), he said.
The goal is to attract more investments, create more job positions and improve social welfare, Plakiotakis said, adding that this can be accomplished through a greater emphasis on entrepreneurship and fair distribution of wealth. The economy is becoming strong, extrovert and competitive, with an equally competitive and viable growth, he concluded.
 Eurozone trade surplus up in SeptemberThe Eurozone's trade surplus with the rest of the world increased in September, while the EU's trade deficit with China also widened in the same month, Eurostat said on Friday.
The Eurozone's trade surplus with the rest of the world rose to 3.1 billion euros in September, up from 2.3 billion euros a year earlier, after a trade surplus of 1.9 billion euros in August and a trade deficit of 5.4 billion euros in August 2006. The EU-27 trade deficit widened to 16.5 billion euros in September, up from 14.7 billion in September 2006.
EU trade transactions with its main trade partners rose in the January-August period, with the exception of exports to the United States, which fell by 2.0 percent, along with imports from Norway and Russia (-9.0 pct and -5.0 pct, respectively).
European exports grew by 29 pct to Russia, 22 pct to India, 17 pct to Brazil and 15 pct to China. Imports from China rose 22 pct, from Brazil and India 17 pct each and from Turkey 14.0 pct.
The EU's trade surplus with the US shrank in January-August to 52.5 billion euros, from 58.2 billion euros a year earlier, with the trade deficit with China soared to 100.8 billion euros from 80.2 billion euros, over the same period, respectively.
Germany (1289.9 billion euros), the Netherlands (26.3 billion), Ireland (20.6 bln), Sweden (9.3 bln) and Belgium (9.0 bln euros) recorded the biggest trade surplus in the January-August period, while the UK (87.6 bln), Spain (60.7 bln), France (27.6 bln) and Greece (25.3 bln) the biggest trade deficits.
 Credit conditions improved in OctoberCredit conditions improved in Greece in October, with the value of bounced cheques and unpaid bills totalling 956.8 million euros in the January-October period, down from 1.17 billion euros in the corresponding period last year.
A monthly report by Teiresias SA showed that bounced cheques numbered 7,608 in October, worth 78.31 million euros, up 6.0 pct and 8.0 pct from September, respectively. The number of unpaid bills numbered 7,182, worth 72.6 million euros over the same period.
In the 10-month period from January to October, the number of bounced cheques numbered 76,637, worth 801.11 million euros, while the number of unpaid bills numbered 93,084, worth 1.02 billion euros, a decrease of 20.2 pct and 19.2 pct, from 2006, respectively.
 Forthnet reports improved nine-month resultsForthnet on Friday reported a 17.5-percent increase in its nine-month income to 86 million euros and a negative EBITDA of 18.2 million euros, reflecting higher costs of acquiring new subscribers (more than 15 million euros). Capital investments totaled 33.9 million euros, up from 16.4 million euros in the January-September period last year, with cashflow exceeding 45 million euros.
The telecoms and internet services company said its customer base totaled 189,267 in broadband services, of which 42,580 were serviced by Forthnet's private infrastructure, with two-thirds of the customers enjoying Forthnet 2play services.
Forthnet said revenues in the July-September period rose 21.8 percent compared with the same period last year, up to 29.3 million euros, while pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) fell to 4.8 million euros in the third quarter, down from 7.5 million euros in the second quarter of 2007.
 Organic farming on the rise in northern GreeceOrganic farming is becoming increasingly popular in northern Greece, marking a two- or even three-digit rise in 2005-2006 ranging from 54 percent to 120 percent, depending on the region.
Based on figures released by the organic farming division of the agricultural development and foods ministry, a total of 616,819 stremma of farm land in northern Greece was used for organic cultivation in 2006.
According to Eurostat figures presented on the occasion of the 2007 Green Week, in 2005 organic farming in the EU of the 25 member states corresponded only to 4 percent of the overall cultivated land.
The countries where organic farming is gaining the most ground are Austria (11 percent), Italy (8.4 percent), Greece (7.2 percent) and the Czech Republic (7.2 percent), while Malta (0.1 percent), Poland (0.6 percent) and Ireland (0.8 percent) are lagging behind in alternative farming methods.
 Greek stocks end 0.42 pct lower on Fri.Greek stocks ended Friday's session lower in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index of the market eased 0.42 percent to end at 5,096.04 points, with turnover a moderate 382.5 million euros, of which 63.98 million were block trades.
Most sectors ended lower, with the Chemicals (1.89 pct), Utilities (1.69 pct) and Financial Services (1.53 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Insurance (2.66 pct), Raw Materials (0.84 pct and Food/Beverage (0.71 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index fell 0.37 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.38 pct lower and the Small Cap index dropped 0.96 pct. Kyriakoulis (8.33 pct), Atti-Kat (8.25 pct) and Douros (6.77 pct) were top gainers, while Praxitelio (9.47 pct), Ippotour (9.21 pct) and ANEK (9.14 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 137 to 118 with another 48 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.19%
Personal & Household: -0.04%
Raw Materials: +0.84%
Travel & Leisure: -0.71%
Food & Beverages: +0.71%
Financial Services: -1.53%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OTE and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 24.92
Public Power Corp (PPC): 25.28
HBC Coca Cola: 28.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.88
Emporiki Bank: 20.80
National Bank of Greece: 45.90
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 24.68
Titan Cement Company: 31.70
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices ended mixed Friday's session in the Athens Derivatives Exchange, with turnover 141.16 million euros. The market faced technical difficulties that affected almost half of the session. The December contract on the Big Cap index was traded at a discount of 1.26 percent and the December contract on the Mid Cap index was traded at a premium of 0.20 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 8,845 contracts worth 117.815 million euros, with 36,092 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 399 contracts worth 12.714 million euros with 1,162 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 6,344 contracts worth 10.363 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Investment Group (1,386), followed by Eurobank (395), Marfin Popular Bank (831), PPC (558), National Bank (413), Alpha Bank (491), Intracom (560) and ATEbank (491).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.614 billion euros on Friday, of which 742 million were buy orders and the remaining 852 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 845 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.31 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.41 pct and the German Bund 4.10 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved higher. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 4.08 pct from 4.07 pct on Thursday, the two-day rate also rose to 4.08 pct from 4.07 pct, the one-month rate rose to 4.17 pct from 4.16 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.60 pct from 4.58 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.476
Pound sterling 0.721
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.332
Japanese yen 163.28
Swiss franc 1.653
Norwegian kroner 8.095
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.441
Australian dollar 1.653
 Greek culture minister supports common European agenda on cultureBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Spinthourakis)
Greek Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Friday said that Athens was in favour of creating a common European agenda for culture during his participation in a meeting of EU culture ministers held in Brussels.
In an announcement issued after the meeting, Liapis stressed that culture should be among the priorities of the European Union and be the object of a coordinated and joint policy by the 27 EU member-states.
Among proposals made by the Greek minister was creating a digital record of cultural assets and setting up a European communications network to promote cooperation and exchange of best practices, while he also highlighted the "economy of culture" and stressed the need to EU financial support small and middle-sized bodies engaging in cultural activities and were important in local communities.
Liapis additionally stressed the need to include training in the arts and culture at all levels of education and to promote vocational training courses for culture-sector professionals, in order to improve the human resources that would help culture and the artistic sector develop further.
A final reference was to the construction and operation of the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, which will henceforth house the antiquities from the Parthenon and other Acropolis monuments, with Liapis stressing that this form part of the framework for promoting European Cultural Heritage and inviting his counterparts to visit the Museum in the coming months.
On the sidelines of the ministers' meeting, he met his French counterpart Christine Albanel to discuss the European Heritage Label and other issues.
 Officer critically injured in Zoniana incident improving, doctors sayThe condition of special guard Efstathios Lazaridis, who was critically injured during an ambush set by criminals near the Cretan village of Zoniana in the prefecture of Rethymno, was showing signs of improvement on Friday according to doctors treating him. Lazaridis had been shot in the head nearly two weeks ago.
A hospital announcement said that the guard appeared to be regaining awareness of his surroundings and that if his health continued to improve in the same way over the next few days he would be transferred to a neurosurgery clinic.
 Karamanlis visits Archbishop Christodoulos at homePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday paid a visit to Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece at his home at 13:30 in the afternoon. The head of the Greek Orthodox Church was waiting for the prime minister at the door of his house and the two men spent about half an hour together before Karamanlis' departure.
Neither made any statements after the meeting.
Earlier, the archbishop had received members of the Holy Synod, who had asked to meet him either individually or all together. The archbishop had proposed that he meet them together on Friday.
According the departing clerics, Archbishop Christodoulos had been very optimistic, talkative and eager to learn all the latest news regarding the work of the Holy Synod, while noting that he followed this closely.
Earlier this year, the archbishop was diagnosed with advanced bowel and liver cancer and spent several months in hospital - including a stint in the United States for attempted liver transplant surgery that was eventually cancelled. Since his return to Athens his ill health has prevented him attending regular Holy Synod meetings.
 Istanbul church vandalised by nationalist extremistsISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)
The Orthodox church of Aghia Triadha in Halkidona was the target of an attack by nationalist elements early on Friday morning, who terrified the keeper and his family when they broke in through a window.
The Halkidona police have arrested three men for the attack, one of whom was seriously injured in the hand by broken glass and is considered a key suspect.
According to witnesses, the unknown attackers were between 25 and 30 years of age and used the blood from their own injuries to write messages on the walls like "this is Turkey, leave and go to Greece" while blood pooled in the garden outside the church. According to other witnesses, they also sang the Turkish national anthem.
The police were called in by the keeper and arrived in large numbers to take his statement. In another part of Istanbul, meanwhile, graffiti against Christians and Greeks was found written on the entrance of the Taxiarchon Church.
There are 70 Orthodox churches scattered around the old city in Istanbul, the villages on the shores of the Bosporus and the Asian coast.
 Six killed in head-on collision near PatrasSix people were killed in an early morning head-on collision on Friday on the Patras-Corinth national highway near Panagopoula, Egialia.
Five of the victims, among them the drivers of the two cars involved in the accident, aged 19 and 42, were killed instantly, while a 27-year-old Romanian woman died in hospital a few hours later.
Two more of the victims, a man and a woman, were also Romanian nationals living in Greece.
An investigation is underway to determine the causes of the accident, which took place in a treacherous section of the highway.
 Armed forces helicopter enlisted to reach islet of GavdosThe help of an Armed Forces Super-Puma helicopter has been enlisted to restore communications with the islet of Gavdos near Crete, which has been cut off for the past week due to bad weather that has prevented the only ferry service to the island from operating.
Hania Prefect Grigoris Archontakis said after a meeting with Deputy Defence Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis that the defence ministry had been asked to help and would send the helicopter to Paleochora to pick up stranded Gavdos residents wishing to return home, while also transporting food, medicine and other vital supplies.
On its return from Gavdos, it would bring back an elderly woman that had to be admitted to hospital.
The tiny island is often cut off during winter months because it lacks harbour infrastructure for larger vessels that are able to travel in poor weather conditions. The island has about 40 permanent residents during the winter months.
 Psychiatrist injured in bloody attackA psychiatrist was attacked ον Friday at his office in Ilion, Athens, by an unidentified man armed with a knife.
The victim suffered multiple stab wounds.
A police investigation is underway to track down the assailant, believed to be one of the psychiarist's patients.
 Iranian embassy hosts event on Persian poet RumiThe cultural centre of the Iranian embassy in Athens along with the Greek-Iranian Association and the Greek-French Association will organize an event on Sunday at the campus of the Athens College to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the birth of prolific Persian philosopher and poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi, better known in the west as simply "Rumi", the inspiration behind the Mevlevi Sufi order -- the "Whirling Dervishes".
The event, followed by a concert of Persian music, will begin at 6 p.m. at the Athens prep school's campus.
 Greek sheep dog a valuable conservation tool, group claimsGreek sheep dogs - a breed that had so far not received official recognition - could prove a valuable aid and ally in protecting crops and livestock while also protecting wolves and brown bears, their natural but now endangered predators. This was asserted on Friday by the conservation and environmental group "Callisto" during a seminar held in Aridaia on "Large predators and damage to agricultural and livestock production".
According to Callisto representative Constantine Godis, the Greek breed of sheep dog was able to guard against attack from bears and wolves and had been widely used by traditional herding. The breed itself was now at risk of disappearing, however, because it had no official recognition and went unused, so that it was allowed to interbreed with other kinds of dog freely.
Godis noted that farmers now largely resorted to other methods to protect crops and livestock from bears and wolves, mainly by shooting them or laying down poisoned baits that were fatal to the predators.
"Just this year in the Grevena area we found four bears that had been killed," Godis added.
He said that bears chiefly attacked corn and grapes, bee hives, sheep and goats and only rarely cows or horses, while the same livestock were a target for wolves. The simplest solution for dealing with these attacks was the Greek sheep dog, or alternatively the use of electrified fences, especially for beehives.
According to Godis the state has now recognised the usefulness of sheep dogs and was setting up a body to certify members of the breed and to subsidise its purchase by farmers. He also announced that Callisto had a small quantity of electrified fencing that it could install as a pilot scheme on selected farms.
In addition, the agricultural development and foods ministry is expected to announce a series of measures that will include subsidies for electrified fencing, for the purchase of sheep dogs and for not harvesting a crop in order to provide foods for bears. Farmers and livestock breeders are also compensated for damage caused by these predators, Godis added.
 Rain, storms on SaturdayRain and storms with southerly winds are forecast in all parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 7-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 08C and 20C. Rain in Athens, with strong, southerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 18C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 08C to 14C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceSocial security reforms presented on Thursday in Parliament, the government's intention to change the electoral law, and ongoing police operations in the once-lawless village of Zoniana on Crete were the main front-page headlines in Friday's newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Parliament discusses social security funds," noting that the government's plan, presented on Thursday night in Parliament by Employment Minister Vassilis Magginas, will merge 155 funds into a maximum of 20 funds
APOGEVMATINI: "Drug mafia exposed," referring to uncovered crime and terrorism by a family "in charge" in Zoniana
AVGI:" Government's social security reform plan leads to pension reduction, increase in retirement age"
AVRIANI: "20 percent adulteration (of results) in main opposition PASOK party leadership election" at polling stations in which computers were down
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Accusations of adulteration in PASOK leadership election"
ELEFTHEROS: "Former PM Costas Mitsotakis' outburst over (US under secretary of State for European Affairs Nicholas) Burns' statements on FYROM name issue"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Olympic airways leased aircraft with a hole", saying that Olympic Airways maintenance staff discovered in a Boeing 737-400 leased from the Spanish company HOLA with a patched-up crack in its luggage compartment
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Government wants to access (social security) funds' reserves"
ESTIA: "PASOK is toying with us - Pompous words over German electoral law model"
ETHNOS: "Large unions warn government of massive protests against social security reforms"
KATHIMERINI: "Corrupt officials and money under the table uncovered by police in Zoniana"
LOGOS: "Turmoil over social security reforms"
RIZOSPASTIS: "Social insurance funds merging - Pensions and retirement age brought before the firing squad"
TA NEA: "Police officers and judges intervened in six court cases in Zoniana village criminal activities"
TO VIMA: "Scandal over blood transfusion checks," referring to two large pharmaceutical companies attempts to take charge of the national hospital blood transfusion testing centre
VRADYNI: "Government's plan for merger of social insurance funds"
 President Papadopoulos: The Cyprus problem never had religious connotationsNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)
The long-standing Cyprus problem was never tainted or associated or had religious connotations of any kind, President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos said here Friday.
Addressing the opening of the European Consortium for State and Church Research Conference, in Nicosia, President Papadopoulos said the Government of Cyprus, a member of the European Union, "holds freedom of religion as a basic and fundamental right of the individual. At no time there was any allegation that in the areas under the control of the Government of the Republic there was any incident of either repression or denial of absolute religious freedom," he stressed.
The Government, he added, "but more importantly, our free society, has made and continues to exert great efforts to ensure that everyone in Cyprus, Muslims, Catholics and other Christian denominations, Jews, Buddhists and others are free and able to practice their religion without obstacle or hindrance."
Unfortunately, President Papadopoulos said, the same attitude does not apply in the areas occupied, since the 1974 invasion, by Turkey.
In at least two decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, Turkey is condemned as a violator of the religious freedom in the occupied areas.
He stressed that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, has made important and effective efforts in protecting and preserving Muslim places of worship which are situated in the free areas of Cyprus, even after, in 1974, the Turkish-Cypriots who were living in the free areas chose to move to the occupied areas.
"At the same time, however, it should be stressed that the long-standing Cyprus problem was never tainted or associated or had religious connotations of any kind. It was only a month ago, and for the first time ever, that the newly elected President of Turkey, Mr. Gul, in a formal speech, tried to inject a religious aspect in the problem of Cyprus," the President underlined.
In today's globalized world religious freedom, tolerance and dialogue between religions are essential elements for stability and progress for all, President Papadopoulos said, adding that "these are the principles in which we deeply believe and for which we stand.
Government and people in Cyprus, we are determined to struggle, no matter what the consequences or price to be paid for the restoration, safeguarding and promoting these principles," he concluded.
 Russia supports UN-brokered agreement on CyprusNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)
Russia's special representative for Cyprus Leonid Abramov has expressed support for a UN-brokered agreement, in July last year, providing for preparatory discussions to help resume substantive negotiations, leading to a comprehensive settlement.
In statements to the press on Friday after a meeting with Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Marcoullis, Abramov, who was earlier received by President Tassos Papadopoulos, said that "we stand for the continuation of the process within the Gambari formula, within this agreed methodology of how to reach the comprehensive settlement negotiations. These are the only rules of the game for the situation today."
He added that Russia will continue its active efforts in the UN and as member of the five permanent members of the Security Council it will support a durable, just and fair settlement in Cyprus on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Asked about his recent meetings in Ankara, Ambramov said: "I hope first of all the main result was better understanding on both sides of the peculiarities, details of the situation today. Once again we stressed that we stand for the continuation of the direct contacts of both communities, continuation of the intercommunal dialogue within the Gambari formula. This window of opportunity should not be closed. Otherwise both sides would make a step back, not forward."
Russia, he said replying to questions, is going to play a more active role.
On July 8, 2006, President Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of UN 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 in Cyprus, to reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
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