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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-01-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 7 January 2008 Issue No: 2787


  • [01] Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece
  • [02] PM Costas Karamanlis holds talks with U.S. Ambassador Daniel Speckhard
  • [03] U.S. ambassador meets development minister
  • [04] Papandreou criticizes government in newspaper interview
  • [05] Alavanos replies to Papandreou interview
  • [06] New round of testimonies on Zachopoulos case
  • [07] Lifting of bank, communications confidentiality ordered in Zachopoulos case
  • [08] PASOK calls for Parliament's briefing on Zachopoulos case
  • [09] Lawyer involved in Zachopoulos case injured by truck
  • [10] LAOS party deputies Georgiadis and Plevris give press conference on Koutelidas issue
  • [11] President Karolos Papoulias meets Middle East Communist parties delegation
  • [12] KKE leader addresses meeting of Middle East Communist parties
  • [13] PASOK party spokesman visits Trikala, gives press conference
  • [14] Considerable growth impetus expected in 2008, FinMin says
  • [15] Sales of cars up 3.8 pct in 2007
  • [16] Thessaloniki port employees to strike on Monday
  • [17] Athens Bourse close
  • [18] ADEX closing report
  • [19] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday
  • [20] Powerful 6.5R earthquake rattles most of Greece, seismologists reassuring
  • [21] Slight earth tremor near Thessaloniki
  • [22] Archbishop must not resign despite illness, survey shows
  • [23] Man arrested for transporting illegal immigrants
  • [24] Lena Samara dies
  • [25] Greek Super League soccer results
  • [26] Cloud, light showers on Monday
  • [27] AHI: Bush should call for the removal of Turkish troops from Cyprus Politics

  • [01] Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece

    Epiphany was celebrated throughout Greece on Sunday, with the traditional blessing of the waters, and with swimmers diving into the cold waters to retrieve the cross cast in by the priest.

    The main celebration was held in the port of Piraeus, officiated by Metropolital Serafeim of Piraeus and Faliron, and attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, parliament vice-president Anastasios Nerantzis, employment and social protection minister Fanny Palli-Petralia, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis, and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MP Theodors Dritsas, Piraeus mayor Panagiotis Fasoulas, Athens-Piraeus supra-prefect Dina Bei, Piraeus prefect Yannis Michas, former prime minister Costas Simitis, and a number of MPs and officials.

    Petralia said afterwards that the Epiphany feast highlighted the values of faith, humbleness and circumspection, adding that "we must all work together for a more just, stronger and humane Greece".

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis attended the blessing of the waters ceremony in the seaside town of Rafina, where he lives.

    He wished everyone health and progress, and noted the need for extending love to the children and the elderly "who need our care", as well as the need for solidarity to the fellow citizens who were having difficulty in making ends meet.

    The premier further noted the need for respect of our fellow human beings who were far from their homeland, seeking a better future in Greece. "In a difficult conjunction for the whole world, the first thing we must do is to daily forge our unity as a people, and our cohesion as a society," he said.

    At the beginning of the ceremony, Karamanlis released a dove, the symbol of peace, into the air.

    The Rafina ceremony was also attended by deputy foreign minister Petros Doukas, MPs, and Eastern Attica prefect K. Kouris.

    A similar ceremony was held in central Athens, at the Reservoir, attended by interior and public order minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis, Athens mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, and MPs.

    Ceremonies were held throughout Greece, and in many cities abroad with large Greek communities.

    [02] PM Costas Karamanlis holds talks with U.S. Ambassador Daniel Speckhard

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis held a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Athens Daniel Speckhard at the Maximos Mansion on Friday morning. The talks lasted for one hour and 20 minutes.

    No statements were made after the meeting.

    [03] U.S. ambassador meets development minister

    U.S. Ambassador to Athens Daniel V. Speckhard visited Development Minister Christos Folias at the ministry on Thursday.

    The two men exchanged best wishes for the New Year and discussed issues related to the improvement of economic and commercial relations between the United States and Greece. They also exchanged views on Greece's progress as an energy hub as well as for the international energy market.

    No statements were made after the meeting.

    [04] Papandreou criticizes government in newspaper interview

    PASOK party leader George Papandreou, speaking in an interview with the Sunday newspaper "Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia", accused the government of serving a system that is enjoying power as being its sole aim and of not preoccupying itself with the problems of the people.

    "The government is functioning as the servant of the few and powerful, it is settling interests and producing new scandals continuously," the PASOK leader said.

    Papandreou further mentioned that the prime minister is part of the system of corruption, while calling on the parties of the Left to listen to the real problems of the Greek people who "want solutions and results."

    Asked why he is attacking Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis personally, Papandreou said that he is trying to highlight the prime minister's responsibilities, whom he accused of presiding over and managing the system.

    "He is heading a government that the only thing that it has done is a sackful of scandals, a deadlocked economy and an impassive Greece in the face of provocations that are unacceptable for our national interests," Papandreou added.

    [05] Alavanos replies to Papandreou interview

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos on Saturday expressed his regret over "the repeated attacks by the president of PASOK against the Radical Left Coalition," referring to comments made by PASOK leader George Papandreou on SYRIZA in an interview with the Sunday newspaper "Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia."

    "If the leadership of the main opposition party is concerned over the fact that our initiatives are becoming a point of reference and of hope for a large sector of its supporters, let it not deal with us. Let it deal with the convergence of the policy of PASOK and of New Democracy on the issues of privatizations, the social security issue, the curbing of the labor rights of young people, article 16. Let it realize at last that the citizens are experiencing the end of the era of two-party rule and are changing the political scene in depth," Alavanos added.

    [06] New round of testimonies on Zachopoulos case

    A new round of testimonies is expected to be started by the special investigator involved in the case of former culture ministry secretary general Christos Zachopoulos.

    The 34-year-old woman accused in the extortion case will admit the love affair she had with Zachopoulos, according to her defence attorney Costas Chrysikopoulos.

    Speaking after his visit to Korydallos prison, Chrysikopoulos said that she will request a new summons by the investigator to whom she wants to explain, as the lawyer said, why she had concealed her relationship with Zachopoulos.

    Chrysikopoulos further said that she denies anything to do with the controversial DVD that the investigator has in his hands, as well as with any other audiovisual material that might be publicised. She also denies the charge of extortion and stated categorically that she knows nothing of a ring of extortionists.

    [07] Lifting of bank, communications confidentiality ordered in Zachopoulos case

    The lifting of bank and communications confidentiality has been ordered by court rulings for former culture ministry secretary general Christos Zachopoulos and the 34-year-old woman accused in his extortion case.

    The lifting concerns four mobile phones, two belonging to Zachopoulos and two to the woman and for the period between November 1 and December 20, 2007.

    The rulings also ordered the lifting of bank confidentiality for all bank accounts belonging to both of them and for the period between 2003 and December 20, 2007.

    [08] PASOK calls for Parliament's briefing on Zachopoulos case

    Seventeen deputies of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) tabled a request in Parliament on Friday for all the culture ministers of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's past governments to testify before the Parliamentary Cultural Affairs Committee.

    In a relevant letter to the president of the Parliamentary Cultural Affairs Committee, M.Kolla-Tsarouha, following the resignation of the culture ministry's secretary general Christos Zachopoulos, the main opposition deputies view as necessary for all the culture ministers since March 7, 2004 to date, to be called to testify so that Parliament and the Greek people to be briefed on what had happened and is happening at the Culture Ministry.

    [09] Lawyer involved in Zachopoulos case injured by truck

    One of the two lawyers involved in the case of former culture ministry secretary general Christos Zachopoulos, was injured by a passing truck in Posidonos avenue in the seaside Athens district of Paleo Faliro on Friday evening.

    According to the police, the lawyer Iraklis Koutelidas was crossing the motorway at about 6 in the evening, when he was run over by the truck heading for the district of Glyfada.

    The truck driver told police that the man fell at the vehicle's wheels before he had time to react.

    Koutelidas was taken to the Nikea General Hospital in an ambulance and his life is in no danger.

    The Attica police are investigating the case in cooperation with the Traffic Police.

    [10] LAOS party deputies Georgiadis and Plevris give press conference on Koutelidas issue

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party Deputies Adonis Georgiadis and Thanassis Plevris, speaking at a press conference that they organized at noon on Saturday, presented their views on the letter that they received from the lawyer Iraklis Koutelidas, who is involved in the case of former culture ministry secretary general Christos Zachopoulos and who reportedly attempted to commit suicide on Friday afternoon by falling at the wheels of a truck in Posidonos avenue.

    The two deputies clarified that there was one letter and not two and that Georgiadis was the recipient. Plevris said that Koutelidas visited him at his office and delivered the letter to him, asking him to bring him into contact with Georgiadis and, if this was not possible, to deliver the letter to him by himself. Plevris added that Koutelidas then visited Georgiadis and delivered a copy of the same letter to him, to which two more pages had been added.

    On his part, Georgiadis said that he did not know the lawyer, but that he had only seen him two or three times in the past. He said that he saw a depressed man and had tried to give him courage.

    He further said that Koutelidas claimed that he was the scapegoat in the case and that he was not involved in it at all.

    Georgiadis said that he read the letter, that ended with the lawyer's intention to commit suicide. He then informed the lawyer's wife of this issue and headed to the Public Prosecutor's office to deliver the letter. He added that shortly before arriving at the Prosecutor's office, the lawyer's wife informed him that she had contacted her husband and that he had assured her that he was well and that there was no question of suicide.

    Georgiadis then turned back and kept the letter because, as he said, he feared that if he delivered it there was the possibility of its possible revelation and the revelation of his name ultimately leading the lawyer to suicide.

    Georgiadis pointed out that the letter makes no reference to the prime minister's environment and that Koutelidas's explanation of the Zachopoulos case is mentioned.

    Asked why he chose him to deliver the letter and not somebody else from other political sectors, Georgiadis said that the lawyer told him that he watched his television interventions and believed that he was the only one who was distant from the channels of contact with the power system.

    [11] President Karolos Papoulias meets Middle East Communist parties delegation

    President Karolos Papoulias met on Saturday with a delegation of Communist and Labor parties from the Middle East, that is holding a two-day conference in Athens over the weekend on "Recent developments in the region-plans for the new Middle East and the duties of the Communist and anti-imperialist movement, expressing the wish that their parties will become stronger in 2008 and achieve what they have not achieved in the past.

    The delegation was headed by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga.

    President Papoulias congratulated Papariga "for the nice initiative to gather the Communist and Labour parties of the region, that are struggling for peace and the social achievements of the peoples of their countries."

    Lastly, President Papoulias underlined the special role played by these parties "being the pioneer of struggles for justice and for peace and for a just and steadfast solution to the Palestinian issue."

    [12] KKE leader addresses meeting of Middle East Communist parties

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga addressed a meeting of Communist and Labor parties from the Middle East in Athens on Saturday, stressing that new and important developments are expected in 2008 for the entire region of the Middle East, that has become the focal point of tough competition and of resistance by peoples and governments.

    Papariga further said that the new element is that competition that had always existed between the United States, France, Germany and Britain has now been widened since these powers now consider Russia, China and India as being competitors.

    She added that their competition is expanding all over Southeastern Asia continuously, it is becoming tense and is taking on the character of war, coup d'etats and assassinations.

    Referring to the United States in particular, Papariga pointed out that they are having a tough time in Iraq and Lebanon, but "they have offset difficulties in the region by promoting their positions in the Balkans," adding that the military presence of the United States and of NATO has increased greatly with troops and bases in all Balkan countries.

    [13] PASOK party spokesman visits Trikala, gives press conference

    PASOK party spokesman Yiannis Ragoussis, speaking at a press conference in the city of Trikala, central Greece, on Saturday spoke of a wider move that the party will be making all over Greece, that is related to the absolute need of the Greek people to listen to and to record PASOK's positions in connection with everything that is taking place in the country.

    Ragoussis also spoke of a medium-term wager which is, as he said, the holding of PASOK's congress through a logic of extroversion and not of an internal party quest and discussion.

    Referring to the problems currently facing the country and the Greek people, PASOK's spokesman said that there was not only the major political scandal that has broken out with the Zachopoulos case but there was also the great negative financial conjuncture that is dealing a blow at Greek households.

    Ragoussis went on to speak of the cost of living that is harming the income of the Greeks and the great need of households to resort to loans to meet their needs, creating a "noose round the necks of the Greek people."

    Financial News

    [14] Considerable growth impetus expected in 2008, FinMin says

    Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, speaking in an interview with the Sunday newspaper "Eleftheros Typos tis Kyriakis", said that the Greek economy is shielded with regard to growth and that a considerable growth impetus is expected in 2008.

    The minister stressed at this point that what is important is that salary increases that will be scheduled in the framework of the new collective labor agreement between the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the employers unions will lead to an improvement in income and not to a vicious circle of inflation since "it is in nobody's interests for us to proceed with excessive increases that will refuel inflation that the economy cannot stand."

    Referring to the issue of privatizations, Alogoskoufis said that "the government's will for privatization in infrastructures (ports and airports) and network corporations is clear."

    Commenting on the state budget in an international environment of strong fluctuations, the minister said that international uncertainties are incorporated in planning and stressed that "the greatest risk we are facing is the turning of certain circumstantial international price increases into permanent inflation and how we must face it is not an issue for the government alone but for all the social partners as well."

    Lastly, focusing on a possible increase in Value Added Tax (VAT), Alogoskoufis said that it is a measure that might be necessary after 2008 to annul the deficit, adding that "of course, I would like to hope that it will not be necessary."

    [15] Sales of cars up 3.8 pct in 2007

    Car sales, including new and used vehicles, increased by 3.8 per cent in 2007 in relation to the corresponding January-December period of 2006 and amounted to 372,892 cars, according to the National Statistics Service on Friday.

    The circulation of new vehicles in 2006 was up 0.9 per cent compared to 2005.

    The number of new motorbikes (above 50 cc) in 2007 reached 103,879, against 92,183 in 2006, marking a 12.7 per cent increase. There was a 2.3 per cent increase in 2006 compared to 2005.

    [16] Thessaloniki port employees to strike on Monday

    Employees of the Thessaloniki Port Authority (OL-TH) will stage a 24-hour strike on Monday, in protest over plans to concede the port's container stations to private interests.

    OLTH employees also refused to work overtime on Saturday and Sunday, while another 24-hour strike is planned for Friday.

    [17] Athens Bourse close

    The Athens Stock Exchange marked a downward trend on Friday.

    The General Price Index closed at 5,112.22 units, presenting a 0.41% drop.

    The value of transactions reached 414.4 million euros, of which 68.9 million euros concerned preagreed transactions.

    The greatest increases were presented by food and beverages by 1.38%, oil and natural gas by 1.27% and fiscal services by 0.67%.

    The greatest drop appeared in industrial products by 1.94%, Commerce by 1.17% and constructions by 1.11%.

    [18] ADEX closing report

    Futures contract prices increased their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover reaching 155.171 million euros.

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.49 pct while the January contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.27 percent.

    Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 9,066 contracts worth 122.079. million euros, with 26,066 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 318 contracts worth 9,785 million euros, with 680 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 8,637 contracts worth 12.902 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank (1,143) Marfin Investment Group (1,052), Intracom (520) Marfin Popular Bank (446), Post Office Savings Bank (407), Mytilineos (241), Bank of Piraeus (221), PPC (219) and Viochalko 200.

    [19] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.484

    Pound sterling 0.750

    Danish kroner 7.510

    Swedish kroner 9.450

    Japanese yen 162.1

    Swiss franc 1.653

    Norwegian kroner 7.927

    Canadian dollar 1.466

    Australian dollar 1.684

    General News

    [20] Powerful 6.5R earthquake rattles most of Greece, seismologists reassuring

    A powerful earthquake, measuring 6,5 on the Richter scale, jolted most of Greece on Sunday morning, but seismologists were reassuring, noting that the trembler's intermediate epicentral depth averted widespread damage, and was the reason why it was so widely felt. No noteworthy damage was reported, while deputy education minister Andreas Lykourentzos rushed to Leonidio, accompanied by a team of engineers to inspect the area's schools and assess minor damage recorded in a few school buildings.

    According to the University of Athens' Geodynamic Institute, the quake, which struck at 07:14 a.m local time, was recorded in the southeastern Peloponnese, between Sparta and Kyparissia, with its epicenter in the coastal area south of the town of Leonidio, Arcadia prefecture, about 150 km south-southwest of Athens, the capital, coming from an epicentral depth some 70 kilometres below the earth's surface.

    The quake was felt throughout most of the Greek mainland all the way up to the northwester city of Ioannina, in the western Ionian islands, and Crete in the south.

    No injuries or serious damage were immediately reported.

    The director of the Athens Geodynamic Institute, George Stavrakakis, referred to a strong earthquake emanating some 70 kilometers in depth from the earth's surface, a fact that prevented widespread damage.

    "If the quake had been close the surface, with a depth of 15 to 20 kilometers, then an aftershock would have followed measuring 6 on the Richter scale, and there would have been consequences," he said, echoing an assessment by other noted Greek seismologists.

    He explained that earthquakes with such an epicentral depth, regardless of their magnitude and the fact that they are widely felt, produce insignificant post-quake activity and do not result in substantial damage, concurring with statements by other seismologists.

    Stavrakakis further said that the quake emanaged from the Myrtoon Pelagos (Sea), which occasionally produces tremblers of such a magnitude.

    Leonidio mayor Dimitris Tsigounis told ANA-MPA that there appeared to be no damage resulting from the morning quake, which he described as "unprecedented for the region".

    [21] Slight earth tremor near Thessaloniki

    A slight earth tremor measuring 3.4 points on the Richter scale occurred at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday in the wider region of Thessaloniki, Macedonia, in northern Greece.

    According to experts at the Geodynamic Institute of the Aristotelio University, the tremor's epicenter was located north of the town of Asvestohori, eight kilometers northwest of Thessaloniki.

    Seismologists said that the tremor is no cause for concern because it is considered as taking place within the framework of the region's seismic activity. However, the phenomenon is being monitored.

    [22] Archbishop must not resign despite illness, survey shows

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos must not resign despite his illness, 57 percent of respondents said in a nationwide survey carried out by the VPRC company for the bimonthly newspaper "Orthodoxos Kosmos" (Orthodox World), that will be publicised in Monday's edition.

    Archbishop Christodoulos was diagnosed with liver and abdominal cancer last summer.

    The survey also showed that 67 percent consider any discussion on his succession premature and hasty, while 68 percent oppose any government intervention in the election issue, 61 percent believe that the faithful must also have the opportunity of vorting for an Archbishop and 38 percent believe that matters in the Church are being led in the wrong direction.

    [23] Man arrested for transporting illegal immigrants

    A 27-year-old foreigner was arrested in the sea region one nautical mile east off the island of Samos on Friday, who was transporting with an inflatable dinghy 17 illegal immigrants, all men, who lacked travel documents.

    A patrol boat located the dinghy with the illegal immigrants and transported them to the Samos General Hospital for precautionary tests, while the 27-year old man was led before the public prosecutor. The 17 illegal immigrants were later sent to the detention centre where a total of 104 people are being held. From the start of the New Year, already about 70 illegal immigrants arrived on the island.

    [24] Lena Samara dies

    Lena Samara, mother of ruling New Democracy party Deputy and former minister Antonis Samaras, died at the age of 86. Her funeral will take place at the Athens First Cemetery on Monday at 2 in the afternoon.


    [25] Greek Super League soccer results

    Results of Super League soccer matches played over the weekend:

    Iraklis Thessaloniki - Olympiakos Piraeus 1-2

    Veria - Levadiakos Livadia 3-1

    Xanthi - Ergotelis Crete 1-0

    Atromitos Athens - Panionios Athens 0-2

    OFI Crete - Aris Thessaloniki 0-1

    Panathinaikos Athens - Apollon Kalamaria 1-0

    Asteras Tripoli - AEK Athens 2-1

    PAOK Thessaloniki - Larissa 1-0

    Standings after 15 weeks of play:

    Olympiakos 34 points

    Panathinaikos 33

    AEK 33

    Asteras 28

    Aris 25

    PAOK 23

    Panionios 22

    Atromitos 21

    Xanthi 18

    Larissa 15

    Iraklis 15

    OFI 14

    Veria 14

    Apollon 13

    Levadiakos 12

    Ergotelis 9

    Weather Forecast

    [26] Cloud, light showers on Monday

    Cloud and light showers are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, while temperatures will increase slightly, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 4C to 14C, and in Thessaloniki from 2C to 7C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [27] AHI: Bush should call for the removal of Turkish troops from Cyprus


    AHI, the American Hellenic Institute in a letter to US President George Bush, in view of his talks with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul on January 8, calls on Mr Bush to request the removal of the Turkish troops occupying the northern part of Cyprus.

    The letter, signed by AHI President Gene Rossides and AHI's Executive Director Nick Larigakis, recalls that the friendly relations between two NATO allies, Greece and Turkey, is a key to stability in the region, which is considered as important for the US interests.

    ''However, Turkey's continuing occupation of Cyprus, its intransigence in solving the Cyprus problem, its refusal to recognize Cyprus as a member of the EU, its continuing violations of Greece's territorial airspace integrity and continuing religious and human rights violations in Turkey, threatens and prevents this stability and damages US interests,'' AHI adds.

    The Institute calls on Bush to call on Gul ''to have Turkey to demilitarize Cyprus, withdraw its 40,000 occupation troops illegally in Cyprus, withdraw of the 140,000 illegal settlers from Turkey and tear down the green line barbed wire fence across the face of Cyprus which, together with Turkey's 40,000 occupation forces, isolates the Turkish Cypriots in occupied northern Cyprus.

    ''The removal of Turkey's troops, settlers and barbed wire fence would end the Turkish Cypriots' economic isolation caused by Turkey and go a long way to solving the Cyprus problem, because the Greek and Turkish Cypriots could then work out a fair and effective agreement,'' AHI points out.

    The Institute adds that getting Turkish troops out of Cyprus is in the best interests of the US, as was the removal of Syrian troops out of Lebanon in March 2005.

    ''Failure to call for the removal of Turkish troops from Cyprus is a striking example of the double standard in Turkey's favor. It is particularly distressing as the Turkish troops which invaded Cyprus caused substantial loss of lives, 170,000 Greek Cypriot refugees and huge destruction of property,'' AHI notes and concludes saying that ''the reasons to call for the removal of Turkish troops from Cyprus are equally compelling as getting the Syrian troops out of Lebanon and Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.''

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

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