|Friday, 23 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 4 September 2008 Issue No: 2987
 Inner Cabinet focuses on new academic yearPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the Inner Cabinet, which focused on education issues, during which the top ministers werebriefed by Education Minister Evripides Stylianidis on preparations made for the new academic year that begins late next week and on progress in the implementation of the national strategy in education.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Stylianidis said he presented the first results of the "smart schools" policy, noting that for the first time the textbooks were already in the schools awaiting the pupils, and the operational and anticipated gaps have already been fully covered, while the system was also ready to fill in any last-minute vacancies in teaching staff.
Stylianidis further said that the introductory training of the teaching staff was being completed this year for the first time before the schools opened, while support tutoring at school would also commence from the beginning of the academic year this year for the first time.
The minister pointed out that a program for the construction of 1,233 schools was currently underway throughout Greece, which would enable a modernization of the structures and amelioration of the problems.
Regarding the mandatory attendance of five-years at kindergartens, which is being introduced this academic year, and following press charges of a shortage in public kindergartens, Styliandis said that not a single pre-schooler would be left out of the educational system, and warned that the ministry will not ease up on its strict requirements in the approval of private kindergartens with respect to safety and quality of education provided. The government recently mandated that pre-schools could not host five-year-olds unless they had a separate permit and separate facility to house a kindergarten.
Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis said after the meeting that the Inner Cabinet also examined matters related to preparation for the new academic year, and the education ministry's planning, which he said indicated that the government was operating efficiently and effectively in this sector, as it was in all sectors.
 Greece reiterates support as direct talks commence on CyprusGreece on Wednesday reiterated its full support of the new UN-brokered effort for a Cyprus solution, in a statement by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on the commencement of direct talks between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
"Today's meeting between the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Christofias, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Talat marks the beginning of a new effort - within the framework of the UN - to achieve a solution on the Cyprus problem. The Cyprus problem concerns the invasion and occupation of the territory of an independent member state of the UN and the EU, and it has remained unresolved for thirty-four years," Bakoyannis said in a statement.
"Greece supports this new effort to achieve a just, viable and functional solution within the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, with single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality, in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the principles and values of the EU," she said.
A united Cyprus will benefit stability in the southeastern Mediterranean region, and - above all - will benefit the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, who will be able to enjoy the benefits of Cyprus' EU membership only after such a solution is achieved," Bakoyannis' statement continued.
"We would like to hope that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side will participate in this new process with the requisite political will, moderation and constructive stance, so that this effort can have a positive outcome, with rectification of the injustice in Cyprus, the end of partitioning, and the reunification of the island," the foreign minister concluded.
 Talks in New York on Sept. 11 on FYROM name issueNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
A new round of talks will take place in New York on September 11 on the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
According to an announcement by the UN's General Secretariat, "the special envoy of the UN's Secretary General, Matthew Nimetz, plans to meet with Ambassador Mr. (Adamantios) Vassilakis of Greece and with Ambassador Mr. (Nikola) Dimitrov of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), in New York on September 11. The purpose will be the continuation of the talks regarding the name issue."
The UN announcement does not clarify whether Nimetz will have separate meetings with the two representatives or whether there will be a joint meeting.
 National Council on Foreign Policy convenes Thursday on Balkans, Cyprus, Caucasus developmentsThe National Council on Foreign Policy will be convened on Thursday by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.
The meeting, which begins at 11:00 a.m. at the Foreign Ministry, will focus on developments in the Balkans, the Cyprus issue, and developments in the Caucasus region.
 European Parliament resolution on GeorgiaPARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
Greek Eurodeputies in their entirety expressed their disagreement with the final text of the "joint draft resolution" on Georgia, either by abstaining, as in the case of the New Democracy party's Parliamentary group, or voting against it as in the case of the deputies of the rest of the groups, including the Eurodeputy of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party.
The overall assessment of the Greek Eurodeputies is that the text "places unilaterally" responsibility on Russia, upsetting in this way the balance logic adopted by the EU Council.
Speaking after the vote, the head of ND's Eurodeputies, Ioannis Varvitsiotis, explained that his group abstained from the vote because the final draft resolution was shaped in such a way that it lifted the balance logic that existed in the previous draft resolutions, as well as in the conclusions of the recent summit.
Varvitsiotis further said that this crisis "must lead us to three main conclusions on European policy: the need for a single voice in foreign policy, the necessity of creating a European army and all those, including Greece, who had opposed the recognition of the independence of Kosovo were ultimately vindicated."
The main opposition PASOK party's Parliamentary group also explained, in a press release, the reasons for which the Greek socialists voted against the resolution.
"The resolution goes much further than the results of the European Council and places unilaterally the responsibility for the crisis on Russia, due to the asphyxiating pressures by the majority People's Party," they said.
They further underlined that "following a policy of principles consistently", they condemn force wherever it may come from.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) Eurodeputy Dimitris Papadimoulis justified the negative vote by saying, among other things, that "I voted against, as did the European Left in its entirety, the resolution on the situation in the Caucasus because it reads the crisis with the coloured glasses of the pro-Bush policy and expediency."
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Eurodeputy Thanassis Pafilis spoke in a press release of "identity" with the policy of the United States.
Explaining the rejection of the joint draft resolution by KKE's Eurodeputies, Pafilis said that "the resolution supports the imperialist pursuits of the European Union to strengthen its presence in this important region."
The joint draft resolution on Georgia tabled by the five biggest political groups in the European Parliament was ratified with a considerable majority by the Eurodeputies on Wednesday.
The Eurodeputies call on Russia in their resolution "to respect the independence, territorial integrity and the inviolability of the international borders of the Republic of Georgia" and condemn the recognition by the Russian Federation of the independence of the seceded Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as contravening international law and the "unacceptable and disproportionate" military reaction by Russia and the in-depth invasion of Georgia.
They also "request insistently" from Russia to honour all the commitments contained in the ceasefire agreement, starting from the total and immediate withdrawal of its troops from Georgia and at the same time they accept the restriction of the Russian presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia to the military forces that had been deployed, as peaceful, before the conflict.
 FM on press report alleging Turkish military complicity in migrant smugglingGreek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday responded to a local press report here claiming that Turkish military craft have recently been spotted ferrying illegal immigrants in the eastern Aegean by merely noting that "there is a constant briefing that is taking place with everyone, and with Europe, and, of course, on a bilateral basis with Turkey."
Bakoyannis also added that "we have proceeded with all relevant demarches. This type of briefing will continue as long as there is a problem (with illegal migration from Turkey to Greece), with is a huge problem and is nothing new ... we will continue our efforts."
The press report was carried in the Athens daily "Ethnos".
 Papandreou addresses party rally in AthensMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou addressed on Wednesday evening an open rally in the Athens district of Thisio, on the occasion of the party's 34th anniversary of its founding on September 3, 1974, calling for the holding of early elections.
"Today's situation can go no further. I have been calling in Parliament since the end of June for factfinding committees for all the cases of scandals, the phonetappings, the best men, the structured bonds and the sellout of OTE (the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation). To discuss and agree in Parliament to all the proposals on transparency and the combatting of corruption and resorting to the popular mandate. This is what we are calling for today as well. This government must leave. In democracy the solution is given by the people. The sooner the better," he said.
Referring to next year's European Parliament elections, Papandreou said that "the Euroelections will not only be a vote on the course of Europe, but they will have the character of a referendum for the government and its policies to which an end must be put," adding that institutions, persons, parties, politicians and state functionaries, the media and the citizens will be judged in this course.
Papandreou expressed his conviction that on the day after the elections there shall be "a different governance, one of democracy and transparency, far from the practices of today."
"We were shocked by the sight of adulteration in the sacred place of Parliament," he further said, adding that "we believed that after 1974 these phenomena had been eliminated because we believed that, despite our differences, there was a wide consensus between all the political forces in the country on the basic principles of democracy. We shall denounce all the arbitrariness by authority."
Referring to his party's principles, he said that PASOK's guide is its values which define its goals, and the motive for its actions, that interpret its history and constitute the base of its unity.
Papandreou summed up PASOK's proposal for the country in the phrase "a country with a human face" and stressed that today PASOK is extending a call for national unity to enable the situation in the country to change and stressed that "we are assuming our responsibilities, we are prepared with solutions."
 PASOK spokesman on party's anniversaryA main opposition PASOK spokesman commented on Wednesday on the 34th anniversary of the party's creation, saying that the essence of PASOK's message remained timely.
"We celebrate the foundation of PASOK, 34 years ago, of the movement that changed the country and the citizens' life. After 34 years, our values and the nucleus of the message of Sept. 3 always remains timely, namely, restoring social justice, consolidating democracy, people's rule and national independence," spokesman George Papconstantinou told reporters during his daily briefing.
"Our country today is going through a crisis in which we, loyal to our values, provide answers to Greek citizens. We have given a long-standing promise: to secure, for the Greek citizen, the right to a humane society," Papaconstantinou added.
 KKE leader visits RhodesCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said working people must realise that, although they were like "David", they nevertheless had the strength to face the "Goliath", which was the government's and EU's policy, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday during a visit to the island of Rhodes.
She said workers, farmers and small-scale professionals must rid themselves of their fear and fight those policies that harm their interests, and criticised the New Democracy and preceding PASOK governments, calling on the people to disengage themselves from the two mainstream parties.
She further criticised the Coalition of the Left (SYN) party and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party as exercising "pseudo-opposition" to the government.
Earlier, she met with Rhodes mayor Hatzis Hatziefthimiou, who asked for her intercession in obliging the Rhodes Casino to materials its commitments of carrying out investments in the city of Rhodes, the island's capital.
Papariga had a series of meetings with local authorities, while in the afternoon she will visit the Laermon village in Lindos municipality, which was one of the hardest-hit areas in the recent fire.
The KKE leader will further address a political rally in downtown Rhodes on Wednesday night.
 U.S. official stresses need for more funding against traffickingThe need for governments, in Greece and elsewhere around the world, to pour more energy and financial resources into the practical aspects of combatting human trafficking was stressed in Athens on Wednesday by Ambassador Mark P. Lagon, the head of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP).
"I think alot of governments have been focused on the achievement of enacting legislation [against human trafficking] and not on the difficult part of actually enforcing it. There is a need to put more energy and financial resources into this and I think there is a need in Greece for this also," he said in response to questions.
In a press conference held at the end of a visit to Athens on September 1-3, during which Lagon met with Greek ministers, judicial authorities, police and non-governmental organisations in the country, the ambassador reported a "spirit of cooperation that was even better and more productive than he would have hoped" in his talks with Greek officials.
Among aspects he stressed, and which he said were addressed during his meetings in Athens, was the need for the Greek government to take the progress it has been making in prosecuting traffickers and examine how many of the prosecutions were actually leading to convictions, as well as the need for progress in victim protection.
Pointing out the recent closure of a trafficking-victim shelter in the country and complaints by NGOs about the withdrawal of government funding for such shelters, Lagon said the U.S. would like to see an increase in the capacity of shelters and also the amount of funding allocated for these by the Greek government, whether they were run by government agencies or NGOs.
Another topic stressed was the role of government in raising public awareness of the problem and trying to reduce demand by the commercial sex market in Greece, as well as the special needs of children victims of human trafficking.
A new element in the 2008 TIP report on Greece that Lagon also raised during his talks in Athens was evidence of corruption and complicity by some Greek public officials in human-trafficking cases, including police, judges and even consular officials, and the need to hold such corrupt officials to account.
Responding to reporters' questions, he said that this did not appear to be a "systemic problem" in Greece but one confined to individual cases but he underlined the need for successes in convicting such corrupt officials and informing the public.
Discussing global trends, Logan said that the U.S. State Department estimated that there were some 800,000 victims of human trafficking that crossed borders but that those trafficked within their own country, the majority for the purposes of forced labour, were probably in the millions. At the same time, he reported just 5,700 prosecutions and 3,400 convictions globally in 2007 and pointed out that these had dropped from a peak in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Among two possible explanations for this reduction, he noted, was that corruption was retarding success.
He noted that victims of human-trafficking, many of which belonged to vulnerable groups like women, children and migrants, were often reluctant to come forward and identify themselves, Lagon said that law enforcement agencies, governments and NGOs had to work together more effectively to find and identify the victims of sex and forced labour trafficking.
Issues raised by the ambassador were the traumatising and dehumanising effects of human-trafficking, which he described as a modern version of slavery, and the need to allow victims to recover before pressuring them to appear in court as witnesses for the prosecution. He said that in discussions with Greek police, he had ascertained a greater awareness of the need to balance the needs of prosecution with those of victim protection, as well as greater cooperation between local police and NGOs for the support of victims.
Regarding concerns raised in the TIP report about the long periods for which convicted human traffickers remained at large on bail while their cases were pending appeal, Lagon said he had received assurances from Greek authorities that this was being addressed to some extent by imposing stronger sentences on traffickers so that they were not eligible for bail but said that this was still a concern.
During his visit to Athens, Ambassador Lagon presented the 'Hero Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery' award to Emma Skjonsby-Manousaridis, the head of the Greek NGO 'Nea Zoi' that helps victims of sex trafficking, who received one of the 11 citations of this award given out this year.
Greece is classified as a Tier 2 country in the U.S. State Department's TIP report, which means that it does not fully meet requirements for combatting human trafficking but is considered to be making genuine efforts to do so.
 Archbishop of America Demetrios at Republican party's congressNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Archbishop of America Demetrios, following an invitation by the organizing committee of the congress of the Republican party, will attend Thursday's sessions of the congress, in the city of Saint Paul of the state of Minnesota.
The primate of the Greek Orthodox Church will deliver a service before the speech by Senator John McCain, who is the Republican party's presidential candidate for the presidential elections on November 4.
Archbishop Demetrios had also been invited to deliver a service on August 27 at the congress of the Democratic party which was held in Denver, Colorado.
 FinMin discusses local administration issues with KEDKEFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis discussed issues relating to the financing of local administration during the current and coming years with the President of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), Nikitas Kaklamanis, at his ministry on Wednesday.
The meeting was also attended by the members of KEDKE's Executive Committee, Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Nikos Lekkas and other relevant officials.
According to a press release issued by the Finance and Economy ministry, Alogoskoufis proposed the establishment of a financing system for local administration by the state budget, by which its funds will be linked to the GNP.
Kaklamanis said after the meeting that the tax bill was discussed and that the minister accepted improvements to be made to articles 8-12, in accordance with the proposals made by KEDKE.
He added that current economic issues were also aired and that the minister promised to implement his written pledge regarding the payment, in the form of bonds, of retainted funds amounting to 1.711 billion euros.
Lastly, in connection with the lumpsum payment of 250 million euros for the current year, the minister counter-proposed their payment in four equal instalments, two in 2008 and two in the first quarter of 2009.
 PASOK spokesman on economyMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou called on Wednesday for the immediate withdrawal of the tax bill in its entirety and not only of arrangements concerning the "generation of the 700 euros and of "receipt booklets", because "it is profoundly unfair and counter-productive and creates new tax evasion incentives."
The spokesman added that "yesterday (Tuesday), following the barrage of criticism he received from all the social agencies and all the parties, the Finance minister attempted to 'pull wool over eyes', by annuling the most burdensome points in the tax bill."
Papaconstantinou claimed that despite this development "the essence of the bill will not change" and added that "it is the first time in Greece that a government taxes income that is below the level of poverty, this is the case with a New Democracy government."
PASOK's spokesman also referred to the party's proposals on a "unified progressive index-linked tax scale for all" and the "restoration of the tax-free limit for professionals and self-employed people," a measure that "the government of PASOK will implement."
 Tourist development minister holds talks with SETE directorateTourist Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos held a meeting with the directorate of the Federation of Greek Tourist Businesses (SETE) on Wednesday, during which an assessment was made of the tourist period, while issues concerning the next tourist year were also examined.
Speaking after the meeting, the minister stressed that it appears that 2008 "will close positively" and noted the resilience of Greek tourism and the prospects for its further development.
Extensive reference was also made to Greek tourism infiltrating developing overseas markets, since Greek tourism was boosted considerably this year, both in visits and revenues from Russia and the markets of Eastern Europe.
On his part, SETE President Nikos Angelopoulos praised the good level of cooperation with the ministry and also noted the resilience of the Greek tourist product in 2008.
 Tsipras on Olympic AirlinesCoaliton of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras visited the technical base of Olympic Airlines at Athens airport on Wednesday, accompanied by party officials.
"We are convinced and we are struggling for this in every way in Parliament and the movements for an Olympic Airlines which will be unified and state-run," Tsipras told a gathering of employees and presented the positions of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on prospects for the survival and development of the state-run Olympic Airlines.
The Coalition leader further said that "the deficits are developing and swelling by the government policy itself that is being exercised in the company" and pointed out that "the dominant element both in air transport and in railways is human life."
 EU informal meeting on shipping and protection of sea environmentThe further strengthening of the safety of shipping and the protection of the sea environment were the main topics of the two-day discussions at the EU informal Council of Transport Ministers which took place in the French city of La Rochelle.
Greece was represented at the meeting by Merchant Marine & Island Policy Ministry Secretary General Yiannis Tzoannos.
 Greek exports in first half of 2008The total value of exports increased by 1.6 percent during the first half of 2008, while the value of exports in June this year increased by 7.5 percent, according to a data analysis made by the Greek Trade Organisation (OPE).
Exports of food and drinks, that account for 18.3 percent of Greek exports, increased by 11.2 percent during the first half of the year, compared to the corresponding period in 2007.
More specifically, the total value of exports during the first half of the year increased by 1.6 percent, amounting to 8,518.4 million euros, as against 8,384.7 million euros during the corresponding period in 2007.
The value of exports not including petroleum products increased by 4.2 percent, totalling 7,665.7 million euros, compared to 7,355.9 million euros in 2007.
Greek exports to European Union countries increased by 6.5 percent during the first half of the year, exports to Russia rose by 30.7 percent and to the United Arab Emirates by 45 percent.
 GDP up 3.5 pct in Q2 yr/yrGreece's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.5 percent in the second quarter of 2008 against the corresponding quarter in 2007, according to provisional data released on Wednesday by the National Statistical Service (ESYE), on the main macroeconomic aggregates of the second quarter.
The rise in GDP was attributed to a 1.8 percent increase in the final demand of the economy, ESYE said.
Investments posted a 2.7 percent decrease in the second quarter of the year against the same quarter in 2007, and the decrease caused a 0.5 percentage point slowdown in the rate of increase of the final demand of the economy.
In addition, exports rose by 4.6 percent in the second quarter of the year against the corresponding quarter of 2007, contributing by 0.7 percentage point to the increase in the final demand of the economy, while imports declined by 3.9 percent in the second quarter against the same quarter in 2007.
Furthern, final consumption expenditure rose by 2.5 percent in the second quarter of 2008 against the same quarter in 2007, with the rate of final consumption contributint by 1.6 percentage points to the increase in the final demand of the economy.
 Interamerican reports improved H1 resultsInteramerican, a member of Eureko Group, on Wednesday said its after tax profits totaled 5.8 million euros in the first six months of 2008, up 132 percent compared with the corresponding period last year, reflecting positive performances in the sectors of life and healthcare, despite a negative economic climate which affected the insurance industry.
Premium production totaled 241 million euros in the January-June period, up from 220.1 million euros in the first half of 2007. Interamerican said premium production in the life insurance sector grew 11 pct, with the company raising its market share to 11.4 pct. General insurance premium production rose 6.5 pct to 89.7 million euros, with the sector's market share at 6.9 pct. Group insurance premium production jumped 58 pct.
 Greek stocks end 1.42 pct lowerGreek stocks ended substantially lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, hit by a wave of selling in most other European markets. The composite index ended 1.42 pct down at 3,293.98 points, with turnover a moderate 220.2 million euros, of which 27.6 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Raw Materials (2.83 pct), Travel (2.37 pct) and Banks (1.84 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Industrial Products (0.82 pct), Food/Beverage (0.41 pct) and Constructions (0.38 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 1.61 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.90 percent lower and the FTSE 80 index eased 1.04 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 172 to 54 with another 46 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.52%
Personal & Household: -1.44%
Raw Materials: -2.83%
Travel & Leisure: -2.37%
Food & Beverages: +0.41%
Financial Services: -1.20%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Bank of Cyprus and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 16.90
Public Power Corp (PPC): 17.18
HBC Coca Cola: 16.72
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.56
National Bank of Greece: 31.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 14.10
Piraeus Bank: 17.90
Titan Cement Company: 24.52
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended mixed in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover unchanged at 88.984 million euros. The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a premium of 0.52 percent, while the September contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.94 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 7,994 contracts worth 73.078 million euros, with 33,436 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was two contracts worth 39,405 euros with 11 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,851 contracts worth 15.276 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,423), followed by Eurobank (577), OTE (427), Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (773), Alpha Bank (344), Intracom (1,286), Marfin Popular Bank (1,572) and ATEbank (413).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.478 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 745 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 735 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 880 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds eased to 0.70 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.85 percent and the German Bund 4.15 percent.
In money markets, interest rates moved slightly lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.32 percent, the six-month rate 5.16 pct, the three-month rate 4.96 pct and the one-month rate 4.51 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.455
Pound sterling 0.819
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.541
Japanese yen 158.0
Swiss franc 1.617
Norwegian kroner 8.075
Canadian dollar 1.562
Australian dollar 1.748
 Repatiated antiquities from Shelby White collection presented by culture ministerTwo antiquties returned to Greece by US philanthropist and collector Shelby White from her private collection were presented to the public on Wednesday by culture minister Michalis Liapis during an event at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, where the artifacts will be temporarily on display.
The first artifact is a fragment of a funerary stele depicting a warrior and a younger man dating to 410-400 BC, which has been identified as the upper part of a lower section of a stele that was excavated by the National Archaeological Service in the 1960s near the coastal town of Porto Rafti in Attica prefecture and currently on display at the nearby Vravrona Museum,
The second artifact is a bronze calyx krater with a silver inlay dating to 340-320 BC, which archaeologists believe was found during illegal excavations in a royal tomb in Pieria, northern Greece.
The culture ministery and White struck a deal in July for the return of the two artifaces, which both sides described as "important" and rare", which were looted by antiquities smugglers and illegally exported from Greece.
The two sides further said at the time that White and her late husband Leon Levy acquired the artifacts "in good faith".
Liapis stressed during the event that "the repatriation of antiquities is of great importance to the Greek people, but also the Greek archaeologists who are making heroic efforts for their protection and restoration".
He said the newly-established directorate for identifying and protecting cultural treasures was making a systematic effort to locate and repatriate Greek antiquities.
The two repatriated artifacts will be temporarily on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, and will subsequently returned to their places of origin next year.
 Praise to gesture by 'Henri Dunant' to honor AustralianMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA/S. Hatzimanolis)
The Australian press on Wednesday referred to the decision by Athens' hospital "Henri Dunant" to honor Australian Doujon Sammit, who was killed on the island of Mykonos.
According to the press reports, the name of ill-fated Australian Doujon Sammit has been given to "Henri Dunant" hospital's 1st Intensive Care Unit, bestowing in this way tribute to the 25-year-old who was murdered in Mykonos and whose parents found the courage to donate his organs to Greek citizens.
 Police helicopter spots hashish plantation in MessiniaA police helicopter spotted a large hashish plantation in the forest area of Rapi, near the village of Monastiri in the Aetos municipality in Messinia, police announced on Wednesday.
They said that narcotics squad officers, who were backing up the air patrol, immediately went to the site of the plantantion, which comprised 1,790 hashish plants of 1.5-3.5 meters in height, of which 140 had already been harvested.
From evidence found at the site, including 1,050 grams in harvested hashish, police concluded that the hashish growers had spotted the helicopter as they were harvesting the plants and fled.
Three home-made tanks filled with water were found aon the perimeter of the plantation, as well as two camping tents.
The plants were uprooted by police, while the Kalamata narcotics squad was searching for the hashish growers.
 Int'l child porn sweep nets 9 suspects in GreeceGreek police arrested nine individuals around the east Mediterranean country on Wednesday as part of an international internet child porn sweep in some 75 countries around the world.
The nine individuals -- another two people are wanted and four individuals are named in separate indictments -- were arrested in various parts of the country. One suspect is mid-ranking police officer serving in a precinct outside Thessaloniki, reports added. The other suspects reportedly included a civil engineer, a dock worker, a graphics artist, a truck driver and three private sector employees.
The worldwide operation, code-named "Carousel II", netted 349 digital "imprints" traced to Internet users from Greece.
The often gruesome footage reportedly originated from Brazil, with victims also hailing from that country. Police said the current group of Internet users primarily exchanged child porn files amongst themselves.
 Triple drowning of family in home's poolA mysterious triple drowning was reported on Wednesday in a luxury home in coastal SE Athens when authorities discovered the bodies of a 40-year-old Georgian national and his two childen, 15 and 12, in the residence's pool.
Police said the man was a caretaker at the Vari-area residence, which reportedly belongs to the ex-wife of a shipowner. The man lived at the residence with his daughter, 15, and son, 12
Time of death was put at late Tuesday evening.
Initial speculation centres on the possibility of one of the children falling into the pool, with the other other victims then attempting a rescue, despite the fact that none of the victims knew how to swim.
 Truck driver arrested, 15 illegal immigrants intercepted in PatrasA 33-year-old truck driver was arrestd in the western port city of Patras on Wednesday, after 15 migrants lacking travel documents were found hidden in his truck by port authorities.
The truck was stopped as it was preparing to board a ferry headed for Italy, and its driver was arrested and the illegal immigrants were detained.
All 16 detainees were due to appear before a public prosecutor later in the day.
 Fair on ThursdayFair weather with northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 16C and 34C. Fair in Athens, with 3-5 beaufort northerly winds and temperatures ranging from 21C to 33C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 18C to 29C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe new tax measures and the relevant committee of experts' recommendations on changes in the list of professions designated as "heavy and hazardous" were the main front-page items in Wednesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "September 3 (anniversary of founding of the main opposition PASOK party) for laughs - George's (PASOK leader Papandreou) 'gift' to the government with the 'bubble' on the adulteration", of the vote (in parliament) on revision of the Constitution (on May 27), alleged evidence of which PASOK recently presented in a videotape.
APOGEVMATINI: "The new list of 'heavy and hazardous' professions - Which professions are being taken off the list, and the professions that are being entered in the list's four categories".
AVGHI: "Partial retreat after the outcry over the abolition of the tax-free ceiling of professionals".
AVRIANI: "Bubble no. 2 by 25 PASOK deputies - The public laughing at George's opposition gaffes", referring to a question tabled in parliament by 25 PASOK MPs "attempting to implicate merchant marine minister, Aegean and island policy minister George Voulgarakis and his wife in supposedly suspicious real estate transactions", and adding that they made a mess of it as they "mixed up the companies and attributed to the minister a company that has a different owner".
CHORA: "Fiesta with fireworks - PASOK celebrating September 3 with (political) fireworks" instead of focusing on the people's problems.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Incentives for withdrawal of (old technology) cars".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Explosions caused by video 'bomb' - Clash between government and PASOK".
ESTIA: "Unacceptable image of parliament - The quality of democracy being downgraded".
ETHNOS: " 'Midnight Express' in the Aegean - Turkish patrol boats disembarking illegal immigrants on the Greek islands", adding that members of the Turkish authorities are involved in the powerful people trafficking rings, citing an incident on August 19 off of Lesvos island, as "unseen passageways have opened on the Turkish coasts for channeling economic immigrants seeking a better life to Greece and from there to the rest of Europe".
KATHIMERINI: "Alogoskoufis (economy and finance minister), under pressure, makes adjustments (to new tax measures) to remove the injustices on the tax-free ceilings".
NIKI: "Tempest in ND over Voulgarakis - The minister made a mess with business on shore".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Children without right to attend (public) daycare centers/nursery schools - Thousands of working class families in despair, with the blame on ND and PASOK".
TA NEA: "Full-speed...backwards (by Alogoskoufis) after the outcry".
TO VIMA: "The new taxes changing...before they even enter into force - Last-minute amendments".
VRADYNI: "Withdrawal of cars and...taxes - Alogoskoufis tabled changes to the tax bill".
 Christofias and Talat pledge to do everything towards a solutionNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat pledged here Wednesday to do their utmost to achieve a settlement of the Cyprus issue this year.
The two were speaking to the press at the launch of direct talks, after a meeting which marked the beginning of the negotiating process ahead, which took place in the presence of Alexander Downer, Special Adviser of the Secretary General and Special Representative of the SG and UNFICYP Chief of Mission Taye Brook Zerihoun.
The meeting lasted almost two hours. The two leaders were accompanied by their advisers, Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou and Turkish Cypriot Ozdil Nami.
Addressing the press, Downer said that it was a great honour for the UN to host the beginning of the formal negotiations on Cyprus. "This is, without any doubt, an historic day for Cyprus, a very important day for Cyprus and a settlement will be an inspiration to a troubled world", he said.
Downer said he was "very impressed with the goodwill shown by the two leaders towards each other, their strong, personal relationship, the good humour they both have and it has been a very clear demonstration of the sincerity of the two leaders to achieve a successful settlement".
The next round of talks will be held on 11 September and the discussion, said Downer, will begin with the topic of governance and power sharing.
Asked if the Cyprus problem can be resolved this year, President Christofias replied "we shall try our utmost to achieve this aim as soon as possible," noting that he could not guarantee this would happen this year.
"As soon as possible, I cannot guarantee, neither Talat can guarantee tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. This is a common desire, and we shall make common efforts in order to achieve this noble target for Cyprus and for the Cypriots", he said.
Asked if he was at the talks without pressure from Ankara, Talat said that Ankara supports a solution, adding that there has been a stalemate for the past four years. "We are in favour of a solution, Ankara is supporting us, and we are confident that we will succeed in concluding a comprehensive agreement and hopefully as soon as possible as my friend Demetris said, and hopefully this year."
Asked if he had anything encouraging to announce about the opening of Limnitis checkpoint, to facilitate movement to and from the island's northern Turkish occupied areas, Talat said the representatives of the two leaders will continue discussions on the issue and conclude. "There is trust in our representatives", he said, adding that Wednesday's issue was the start of full fledged negotiations.
Downer delivered a message from the UN Secretary-General on the launch of negotiations on Cyprus, in which Ban Ki Moon welcomed the formal launch of the "fully fledged negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem".
"I commend the leaders for their seriousness of purpose, sense of compromise and commitment to seeing the peace process through to a successful conclusion", he said.
The United Nations supports and encourages both parties, the SG said, "as they take this historic step together, so as to reach a negotiated settlement to reunify the island for the benefit of all the people of Cyprus".
He assured the parties, that "as requested, the UN will provide unwavering support through the efforts of his Special Adviser, and his Special Representative, and all the United Nations' team".
Christofias and Talat decided on July 25 to start full-fledged negotiations, under the good offices mission of the United Nations Secretary-General.
The aim of the full-fledged negotiations is to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem, which will safeguard the fundamental and legitimate rights and interests of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The agreed solution will be put to separate simultaneous referenda.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.
 Christofias: Basic principles must be safeguarded in direct talksCyprus President Demetris Christofias said here Wednesday that it is of utmost importance to safeguard the basic principles which have been followed so far in the process that aims to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem.
In his opening statement at the launch of negotiations on Cyprus, Christofias stressed that "we must also consistently adhere to the agreed common basis that we reaffirmed during our meetings: a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined by the relevant Security Council Resolutions, with a single sovereignty, citizenship and international personality."
"In these full-fledged negotiations, which we officially commence today, it is of utmost importance to safeguard the basic principles which have accompanied us so far in this process: to reach an agreed solution under the good offices mission of the Secretary-General of the United Nations which will be approved by the people in separate simultaneous referenda with no arbitration or artificial timetables, to safeguard the Cypriot ownership of the process and that the outcome will be a Cypriot solution by the Cypriots and for the Cypriots," he said.
Christofias noted that "the foundations of an agreement are described in the High Level Agreements of '77 and '79 which provide for the transformation of the unitary state into a federal one."
"In our efforts we must be guided by the relevant United Nations Resolutions which endorse the solution of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as described in the relevant Security Council Resolutions, with a single sovereignty, citizenship and international personality," he stressed.
Moreover, Christofias said it should always be kept in mind that Cyprus is a full member state of the European Union and that the solution must respect and implement the principles upon which the European Union is founded.
"We also anticipate a new conciliatory spirit from all interested parties and that everybody will respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the United Cyprus. I wholeheartedly hope that the two Cypriot communities will put aside the conflicts of the past, will endorse a cooperative spirit and will take joint action to decide their future for a reunified homeland," Christofias said and pledged that he will do his utmost for the realisation of this vision.
Christofias welcomed the UN Secretary General Special Adviser for Cyprus Alexander Downer and the UN Secretary General Special Representative Taye-Brook Zerihoun and assured them "of our full cooperation."
"Please convey to the Secretary General our appreciation for his continuing interest and support and that of the United Nations. The time has come to put an end to the longstanding Cyprus problem and to give the Cyprus people the better future that they deserve," he concluded.
'We have exhausted our limits'
In additional comments beyond what he had said in his public statement, President Christofias has made it clear that the Greek Cypriot side has exhausted its limits as far as concessions for a political settlement are concerned and stressed that the federal solution will be a partnership of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities.
Christofias pointed out that "on 21 March 2008 we decided to start the preparatory process by establishing a number of working groups and technical committees. Our representatives worked out their titles and agendas and the groups and committees started their work."
"As I have stated during the assessment we undertook in our previous meeting", the president says, "convergence has been achieved in some areas whereas diverging views were identified in several others. However, there are issues we were unable to agree even on setting up a Working Group and we allowed the process to continue provided the problem would be revisited."
''I am referring to the issue of settlers included in the Working Group Citizenship, Aliens, Immigration and Asylum which has not been set up and which must be thoroughly discussed during this phase. Several other important issues such as properties and territory have not been adequately examined and many topics from all Working Groups remain outstanding'', he adds.
I also regret, he says, that the opening of Limnitis has not yet been realised, despite reference to its opening in our statements of 21 March, 23 May and 25 July 2008.
''Moreover the recent negative reply for the crossing of the people of Kato Pyrgos for the pilgrimage to Ayios Mamas falls short of the spirit of good faith which should have prevailed, in view of the start of full fledged negotiations and failed to respond to our good will gestures as manifested through the unhindered crossing of the Turkish Cypriots to Kokkina. Regretfully, these events have poisoned the good climate needed among us, as well as among ordinary people, which is essential for the process to move ahead and succeeded'', he points out.
''Allow me to stress here, in the presence of the Secretary General's Special Adviser, that a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation was a major concession made by President Makarios in 1977, and due credit should be given to this concession'', he notes.
"I wish to be clear from the beginning of this process: with this concession, the Greek Cypriot side has exhausted its limits and can not go any further. Neither confederation, nor a new partnership of two states through 'virgin birth' can be accepted. The federal solution will be a partnership of the two communities," the president stresses.
Turning to you, my comrade and friend Mehmet-Ali, he adds in his additional comments, "we have fought during difficult times for many years for the same ideals of peace and rapprochement, a solution based on principles, a solution by the Cypriots, for the Cypriots. The time has come for us to take joint action and to respond to the call of history; to realize the vision of a reunified homeland, belonging to its people, to the people of Cyprus, able and wanting to decide their own destiny, without third parties, and so-called guardians of our communities'', he adds.
"On my part, I wish to reiterate my commitment to do the utmost for the realisation of this target of life to give to the future generations the opportunity to live in a peaceful and reunified homeland," he concludes.
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