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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Saturday, 6 September 2008 Issue No: 2989

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis at 73rd TIF on Friday
  • [02] Culture minister inaugurates exhibition at Thessaloniki White Tower
  • [03] ANA-MPA live broadcasts of TIF events from its own pavillion
  • [04] Protest against Thessaloniki trade fair planned by Boutaris
  • [05] PASOK slams government over scandals, economy
  • [06] Greek Visa Centre in Moscow
  • [07] Renewed allegations of Parliament vote-rigging countered
  • [08] PASOK leader meets with central bank governor
  • [09] Head of NAT seamen's pension fund resigns
  • [10] POESY convenes in Thessaloniki for first time
  • [11] Car registrations down 3.1% in Jan-Aug
  • [12] L.A. Greek Fest 2008
  • [13] Two binding bids for ATE Insurance
  • [14] Greek stocks end sharply lower on Friday
  • [15] ADEX closing report
  • [16] Greek bond market closing report
  • [17] Foreign Exchange rates: Saturday
  • [18] Police seize 26 kilos of hashish in Varkiza
  • [19] Trial for slain soccer fan's death begins
  • [20] Armed robbers caught in citizens' arrest
  • [21] Illegal immigrants spotted off Samos
  • [22] Portuguese geopark delegation visits Lesvos
  • [23] Humanitarian Aid to for Caucasus
  • [24] Fair on Saturday
  • [25] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [26] Swedish PM: Reunification of Cyprus is in the best interest of Europe
  • [27] UNSG Special Adviser says peace process has the potential to succeed
  • [28] Madrid praises Nicosia for efforts to solve Cyprus problem
  • [29] US to support both sides during direct negotiations Politics

  • [01] PM Karamanlis at 73rd TIF on Friday

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday began his three-day visit to Thessaloniki, on the occasion of the 73rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), with tours of the National Research and Technological Development Centre's new building complex and construction works at the port city's metro.

    "The Thessaloniki metro project is proceeding with a fast pace and based on the construction time frame that we have placed ... At this moment, construction is taking place at 13 worksites, with the assembly of the first boring machine having begun, so that tunneling under the city can commence. The citizens of Thessaloniki will be able in a short while to use their own metro system," the prime minister said, adding that the archaeological finds uncovered by the metro works constitute the biggest excavation in the area's history.

    The TIF's inauguration will be taking place on Saturday morning and immediately afterwards the prime minister will visit the TIF-HELEXPO's administration and exhibition premises, while in the evening he will address representatives of producer classes at the Vellidio Convention Centre.

    The prime minister's visit to Thessaloniki will be concluded at noon on Sunday with the customary press conference at the same venue.

    In another development, the premier spoke on Thursday evening at the inauguration of the Athens National Observatory's Geoastrophysics Museum, announcing the more than doubling of the Foundation's funds by the year 2013, as well as a new institutional framework for research and technology.

    Karamanlis also said there was encouragement for the attraction of competitive research funds which, together with the hard work and the volunteerism shown by the Foundation's leadership and staff, the Observatory can and must continue to constitute a bright example for the country.

    The example of the Athens National Observatory "is yet another resounding proof that Greece has people with talent, capabilities and an inclination for creative work and for the production and dissemination of new knowledge in our society."

    The event was attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos.

    [02] Culture minister inaugurates exhibition at Thessaloniki White Tower

    Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Friday inaugurated the permanent exhibition on the history of Thessaloniki at the northern Greek city's landmark monument, the White Tower.

    "The government's goal is for culture to become a catalyst for quality in the daily life of all citizens," Liapis said as he opened the exhibition, which uses digital technology to explore the city's past, and listed culture-related projects being funded by the ministry in northern Greece.

    He stressed that more than 200 million euros had also been secured from the EU for such projects in Macedonia and Thrace under the National Strategic Reference Framework.

    The minister also noted that the culture ministry's 'special' account would be scrapped under the new budget for 2009 and all spending would be given separate codes, so that everyone would know what means were at their disposal in plenty of time and be able to responsibly plan their activities within a set budget that would not be overrun.

    Liapis underlined, meanwhile, that all bodies involved in the area of arts and culture would be judged based on their performance and funding would be given to those that produced a true body of work and put taxpayers' money to good use.

    On Friday afternoon, Liapis will carry out a visit to the archaeological site in Vergina in order to be briefed by the head of the unversity excavation team Dr. Chrysoula Palideli about the important new finds made by archaeologists at this historic site of ancient Macedonia.

    [03] ANA-MPA live broadcasts of TIF events from its own pavillion

    Greece's first internet television, and its other services, will be presented by the Athens News Agency-Macedonia Press Agency (ANA-MPA) on high resolution LCD screens at its own pavillion at the 73rd Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (TIF) that opens in the northern Greek capital on Saturday.

    The Greeek national news agency is taking part in the TIF with its own pavillion this year at the HELEXPO venue, opposite the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) tower, from where it will cover all the TIF events on a daily basis with its press and technical staff, broadcasting live on its Internet hub the most significant events of the day, such as the inauguration ceremony, the prime minister's address, and the addresses of the main opposition leader and other opposition party leaders.

    It will also cover the planned events to be held in the framework of the TIF, while it will host political, economic and business officials at a studio it has set up at the TIF for interviews that will be broadcast live on the Internet.

    [04] Protest against Thessaloniki trade fair planned by Boutaris

    Plans for a protest against the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) that opens on Saturday, consisting of a human chain surrounding TIF facilities and the 3rd Army Corps grounds, were unveiled by the municipal council faction "Initiative for Thessaloniki" on Friday.

    The head of the local government party Yiannis Boutaris, who held a press conference on "The City and the Exhibition" on Friday, underlined that the site occupied by the fair organisers HELEXPO and the army base should be converted into a park.

    "The trade fair has veered from its goal and become a political fest-bazaar," Boutaris said, adding that he would seek meetings with the heads of the political parties in order to discuss local government issues.

    [05] PASOK slams government over scandals, economy

    Main opposition PASOK on Friday launched a renewed attack on the government over the state of the economy and yet another round of scandals recently hitting the headlines, with PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou stressing that the public expected Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to provide explanations when he arrived at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) the next day.

    "What the Greek people expect to hear from the prime minister at TIF is an account of their lost income, the lost developmental prospects of the country and explanations about the things that watch stunned every night on television channels concerning his ministers, his MPs and major issues of scandal and corruption that the government has been covering up for some time," he said.

    According to Papaconstantinou, the prime minister's speech would not contain anything new but simply rehash past pledges that he had already failed to deliver, including a policy of 'zero tolerance' for corruption and graft.

    "He will declare his determination to continue reforms, meaning the selling-off of state property through untransparent procedures, he will declare war on privileged trade union groups, attempting to divide workers, he will announced a uniform pay scale for the public sector for the fifth time, a second 'Kapodistrias' about which we know nothing and a Fund Against Poverty for the second time," the spokesman said. He pointed out that the poverty fund, in particular, had made no progress whatsoever and no one had received even a single euro from it.

    Regarding attempts by Marine and Island Policy Minister George Voulgarakis to explain recent revelations in the press regarding his involvement in business activity that raised ethical questions, Papaconstantinou said the minister's attempt to convince the public was a "dismal failure".

    He stressed that the ethical issues remained unaddressed, as did the fact that the government's ministers were forgetting their mission and becoming involved in business or with finding ways to avoid paying taxes that were paid by ordinary Greek citizens. Regarding the resignation of the NAT seamen's pension fund president over his association with Voulgarakis, the spokesman said that this was "the least that should have been done".

    Finally, he called on law enforcement authorities in Thessaloniki to ensure that those wishing to demonstrate and peacefully protest against the government's policies over the weekend would be able to do so without incident.

    [06] Greek Visa Centre in Moscow

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis announced that a Greek Visa Centre will be operating in Moscow as of September 15. He was speaking during an event held by the Panhellenic Hoteliers Federation and the Federation of Tourist Businesses in Thessaloniki and with the participation of tourist and hotel business representatives from various prefectures.

    The Centre will be operating in cooperation with a company that is also cooperating with other cocuntries (VFS) and which will be issuing visas in parallel to the Consulate in Moscow.

    This process will enable the issuing of a visa in 48 hours (the shortest period among all the European countries). The price of a visa will remain 35 euros and those choosing the Greek Centre for its issuing will be charged with the amount of 17.5 euros, which Valynakis said is the lowest compared to other countries and which was set after negotiations took place.

    The deputy minister said that the operation of a corresponding Centre in Kiev, in Ukraine, and in other cities in Russia, apart from Moscow, as well as of other countries is already being considered.

    The foreign ministry is heeding the signs of the times and the new international trends, Valynakis said and noted that the government is also responding to the claims of the tourist sector, that expects a great deal from the market of Russia and of other countries of the former Soviet Union.

    [07] Renewed allegations of Parliament vote-rigging countered

    Members of the ruling New Democracy (ND) on Friday denied renewed allegations of irregularity during a Parliamentary vote in May on the revision of the Constitution, among them Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos whose vote was at the centre of the controversy.

    "In terms of changing my vote, it is clear that this did not happen. It is clear that no one asked me to change the product of my own will. If something like this had happened, I would be the first person to report it," Spiliotopoulos stressed in response to a press conference held by LAOS MP Athanassios Plevris.

    The minister noted that there had been some problems in the procedure and some of the ballots could not be processed by the system and needed to be fixed. "One of these was my own. I am the only one that could say what my opinion was," he added.

    The issue of vote tampering was revived on Friday when members of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party released the findings of their own investigation into the controversial vote, in the wake of accusations levelled a few days earlier by main opposition PASOK that the voting procedure had been tampered with.

    According to LAOS, Spiliotopoulos' ballot had originally been collected by Plevris and turned over to ND MP Costas Agorastos. In the Parliamentary records, however, the minister's ballot is shown to have been collected by the other vote collector on that day, ND MP Ioannis Bougas, and the announcement that Spiliotopoulos' had voted was made a full seven minutes after the minister had come forward and after a number of consultations between people involved in the process, in a clear sign of "procedural irregularity".

    Members of LAOS said that they did not question the result, given that no MP had complained that his vote was altered, but said that the affair confirmed that the process fell short of being a fully free and unobstructed expression of will, as required by the Constitution.

    Agorastos also commented on the LAOS press conference, providing explanations and insisting that there was no tampering with the process:

    "There was no problem, as we explained in previous days. The problem was technical and this technical problem was with the ballot of Aris Spiliotopoulos. We called Aris Spiliotopoulos, as can be clearly seen on Parliament's television circuit, clearly and repeatedly. We called him and he filled in a new ballot that he handed over to the vote collectors. Obviously, the second ballot signed by Mr. Spiliotopoulos was not received by Mr. Plevris as vote-collector but by Mr. Bougas. And afterwards, it was recorded. The first ballot was not recorded anywhere," he said.

    Main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou, however, questioned the way that the government was handling the affair.

    "What is clear [from the new evidence presented by LAOS] is that the position of the government on this issue is becomeing steadily worse and it is also clear that, in spite of this evidence, the prime minister is continuing to not take up a position on the matter," he noted.

    "The overall way that this extremely serious issue is being handled by the government leaves citizens in absolutely no doubt about what happened," Papaconstantinou added.

    The spokesman confirmed that LAOS leader George Karatzaferis had contacted PASOK President George Papandreou regarding this issue the previous day but said there were no plans for a joint PASOK-LAOS initiative at this time.

    Financial News

    [08] PASOK leader meets with central bank governor

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met Friday with the new governor of the Bank of Greece, George Provopoulos, for discussion on a wide range of issues.

    PASOK officer for economic policy Louka Katseli told reporters afterwards that the two men had "very constructive discussion", which focused on the international fiscal crisis and its repercussions on the European and Greek economy, and concluded that the impact was relatively small and did not pose an increased risk for the Greek economy.

    The second item on the agenda of talks was the challenges faced by the Greek economy, on which the two sides agreed that the matter concerned the country's production ability, which needed to be enhanced, as well as the competitiveness of the Greek economy, Katseli said.

    In that framework, she explained, they also discussed the role of the banking system and also the prospective risk they would face from the spread of the crisis to neighboring countries, some of which, she pointed out, were not in the euro-zone.

    A third matter discussed was the supervision of the credit sector and the role of the Bank of Greece (BoG), the country's central bank, given that certain authorities have been transferred away from the BoG, Katseli continued, adding that Papandreou presented to Provopoulos PASOK's proposals regarding the overindebted households and how to ameliorate the problem.

    She said Papandreou further broached the matter of Personal Bankruptcy Law, and also the more general issue of what the BoG, as a supervisory authority, can do to protect consumers from overborrowing and overindeptedness.

    Katseli said the two men had a "frank exchange of views", adding that the cooperation would continue the following year.

    [09] Head of NAT seamen's pension fund resigns

    The president of the seamen's pension fund NAT Panagiotis Papagiannopoulos on Friday submitted his resignation, in the wake of press reports naming him as a friend and associate of Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister George Voulgarakis.

    Papagiannopoulos was appointed NAT president on June 12 this year, replacing the former head of the pension fund Antonis Grigorakis who resigned in May.

    [10] POESY convenes in Thessaloniki for first time

    The General Council of the Panhellenic Journalists Union Federation (POESY) convened for the first time in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday and called on all people employed in the mass media "to be vigilant and united in reversing the counter social security and anti-labour laws that are being promoted by the government."

    The General Council dealt with "unfavourable developments regarding labour relations" and promised to examine them extensively with the criterion of full and exclusive employment for journalists and opposition to all forms of flexible labour that are tending to dominate some of the media.

    The Council also reached a majority decision in condemning judicial intervention in POESY's trade union developments.

    [11] Car registrations down 3.1% in Jan-Aug

    Car regristrations fell by 3.1 percent in the eight-month period from January to August 2008 compared with the corresponding period last year, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.

    The statistics service said car registrations were up 4.6 pct in the January-August 2007 period. Registration of motorcycles were up 1.9 pct in the eight-month period.

    [12] L.A. Greek Fest 2008

    The sights and scents of Greece are expected to dominate the streets around St. Sophia Orthodox Church in Los Angeles beginning on Friday, as the annual "L.A. Greek Fest" kicks off for 2008.

    The festival, which runs for three days, includes a variety of traditional and pop music, dances, theatre and, of course, cuisine.

    This year's festival will be hosted by Hollywood star Tom Hanks and his producer wife Rita Wilson, whose parents were born in Greece.

    Among others, Hanks urged visitors to bring "a little madness to life."

    [13] Two binding bids for ATE Insurance

    Two European groups submitted binding offers for the purchase of ATE Insurance and the signing of a strategic partnership agreement in the bankassurance business, ATEbank said on Friday.

    The Greek bank said the two bidders were Groupama SA, a French Group, and Germany's Ergo Insurance Group. Groupama owns Groupama-Phoenix Insurance (former Phoenix Metrolife Emporiki), while Ergo Insurance Group is represented in Greece through Victoria Insurance.

    ATEbank said it would start immediately the evaluation of the two bids in cooperation with its consultant Deloitte.

    [14] Greek stocks end sharply lower on Friday

    Greek stocks suffered heavy losses in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, in line with other European markets. The composite index dropped 2.44 pct to end at 3,143.92 points, with turnover a moderate 256.5 million euros, of which 5.3 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the exception of Constructions which ended 0.18 pct up. Technology (5.26 pct), Utilities (5.02 pct), Food/Beverage (4.13 pct), Industrial products (3.90 pct), Raw Materials (3.48 pct) and Banks (2.75 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index dropped 2.49 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.33 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index dropped 1.92 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 206 to 29 with another 46 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.43%

    Industrials: -3.90%

    Commercial: -2.22%

    Construction: +0.18%

    Media: -0.82%

    Oil & Gas: -2.20%

    Personal & Household: -2.04%

    Raw Materials: -3.48%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.72%

    Technology: -5.26%

    Telecoms: -0.69%

    Banks: -2.75%

    Food & Beverages: -4.13%

    Health: -2.13%

    Utilities: -5.02%

    Chemicals: -1.55%

    Financial Services: -1.69%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and OTE.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 15.72

    ATEbank: 2.24

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.22

    HBC Coca Cola: 15.90

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.10

    National Bank of Greece: 29.96

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 13.60

    Intralot: 7.80

    OPAP: 23.10

    OTE: 14.48

    Piraeus Bank: 16.50

    Titan Cement Company: 24.68

    [15] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover rising further to 141.101 million euros. The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.35 percent and the September contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.95 pct.

    Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 14,131 contracts worth 122.373 million euros, with 33,261 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was seven contracts worth 134,215 euros, with 14 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,850 contracts worth 17.716 million euros, with investment interest focusing on GEK's contracts (4,916), followed by Eurobank (432), Marfin Investment Group (345), OTE (1,172), PPC (620), National Bank (2,929), Alpha Bank (1,460), Intracom (2,110), Marfin Popular Bank (1,372) and Hellenic Postbank (446).

    [16] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 882 million euros on Friday, of which 315 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 567 million were sell orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 315 million euros. The Greek 10-year bond yielded 4.75 percent and the 10-year German Bund 4.03 pct.

    In money markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.33 pct, the six-month rate 5.17 pct, the three-month rate 4.96 pct and the one-month rate 4.51 pct.

    [17] Foreign Exchange rates: Saturday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.436

    Pound sterling 0.815

    Danish kroner 7.515

    Swedish kroner 9.554

    Japanese yen 152.75

    Swiss franc 1.601

    Norwegian kroner 8.070

    Canadian dollar 1.531

    Australian dollar 1.774

    General News

    [18] Police seize 26 kilos of hashish in Varkiza

    Port police seized 26 kilos of hashish and a small quantity of cocaine on Thursday night from a car in the pier of the coastal resort town of Varkiza, south of Athens, after a chase, but the driver managed to evade arrest.

    The port's narcotics squad detected a suspicious car in the port, which immediately increased speed and attempted to evade the officers and exit to the central Varkiza highway.

    In the attempt to escape, the car crashed into an urban bus and was immobilized, while the driver fled and was being sought.

    A search of the car revealed 26 kilos of hashish in 17 plastic packets, and two more packets containing a total of 15.8 grams of cocaine.

    Between 1987 and 2007, port drug squad officers confiscated, in 2,282 cases, a total of 54,810 kilos if Indian cannabis and 40 cannabis plans, according to figures from the Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy ministry, as well as 83 kilos of heroin and thousands of tranquilizers and hallucinogens.

    Also, in cooperation with other Greek and foreign services, hundreds of tons of hashish and cocaine have been located and seized during that same period.

    [19] Trial for slain soccer fan's death begins

    A trial for the events leading to the death of a 25-year-old football fan, who was killed in a violent clash between rival team supporters on Lavrio Avenue in March 2007, began before an Athens criminal appeals court on Friday.

    There are 27 defendants in the case facing charges of varying severity, nine of which are accused of inflicting fatal injury to 25-year-old Panathinaikos supporter Mihalis Filopoulos, who died as a result. Of these, 26 are supporters of the Piraeus-based club Olympiakos and one of its arch-rival Panathinaikos. Three of them are currently in jail on remand.

    Among the charges against the accused are that of intentional homicide, forming a criminal organisation, causing explosions and supplying explosives.

    The trial is set to continue on Wednesday.

    [20] Armed robbers caught in citizens' arrest

    Two armed robbers that hit a bank in Kato Tithorea in Fthiotida on Friday were later apprehended in citizen's arrests and handed over to police.

    The two foreign armed robbers, permanent residents of Eptalofo, Parnasida, arrived at a branch of the Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATEBank) in Kato Tithorea in a pick-up truck at 13:30, armed with a sawn-off shotgun.

    After making bank staff hand over some 10,000 euros in the tills, they then demanded that the staff open the bank's main safe, which was fitted with a time-delay security mechanism and required at least 10 minutes to open.

    This delay was their undoing, however, since a kiosk employee opposite the bank became aware that a robbery was in progress and warned local residents in adjacent cafes, among them an off-duty police officer working with the Livadia traffic police, a retired policeman and the Tithorea mayor.

    Using their cars, they managed to set up a road block around the bank so that there was no escape route when the two robbers emerged. The two culprits attempted to escape on foot but were pursued through the narrow side streets by local residents, who quickly managed to locate and disarm the first of the two robbers. The second attempted to hide in a basement but was also caught by ordinary citizens a short while later.

    Both men were then handed over to police who arrived on the scene, whose job was restricted to putting them in handcuffs.

    [21] Illegal immigrants spotted off Samos

    The ferryboat Samos Star spotted 17 illegal immigrants on board an inflatable dinghy floating out of control off the island of Samos on Friday morning. The immigrants, who included women and two babies, were calling out for help.

    The ship's captain notified port authorities of the development and coast guard vessels were instructed to launch a rescue operation.

    Samos Port Authorities also arrested another 100 illegal immigrants on Thursday, creating congestion at the Welcoming Centre, where the number of inmates exceeds 300 on a daily basis.

    [22] Portuguese geopark delegation visits Lesvos

    A four-member delegation of the Portuguese Arouca geopark, comprised of the mayor of the city of Arouca, the science sector chief, the director of the Local Action Group of the LEADER programme and the person in charge of the park's development, visited the prefect of Lesvos Pavlos Voyiadzis in his office.

    Voyiadzis and his Portuguese guests discussed the importance of the two regions' natural monuments and to what extent they can contribute to the promotion of relations between Lesvos and Portugal and tourist development.

    The members of the Arouca delegation pointed out that the meeting is the beginning of close cooperation in the sector of tourist development, as well as the management and highlighting of natural monuments.

    [23] Humanitarian Aid to for Caucasus

    The Athens-based NGO Hellenic Aid on Thursday dispatched another shipment of humanitarian aid to the Caucasus.

    The aid, totalling 13 tons, was collected by the military general staff offices, and includes blankets, foodstuffs and medical supplies. The aid will be distributed by the Greek embassy in Tbilisi.

    Weather Forecast

    [24] Fair on Saturday

    Fair weather with northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 15C and 37C. Fair in Athens, with 3-6 beaufort northerly winds and temperatures ranging from 21C to 35C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 20C to 34C.

    [25] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The Thessaloniki International Fair opening, where economic policy for the following year is traditionally announced by the prime minister and the Development Ministry's efforts to deal with product overpricing by multinational groups were the main front-page items in Friday's dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Brake on the lawlessness of the multinationals - Steep fines on companies selling their products at higher prices on the Greek market than in the rest of Europe".

    APOGEVMATINI: "The unethical attack", referring to the recent scandal-mongering.

    AVGHI: "Alavanos (SYRIZA Coalition of the Radical Left parliamentary alliance leader) on the crisis: Immediate elections the only way out".

    AVRIANI: "Successive elections (Europarliament and early general elections) for a strong government are the reply to the scandal-mongering and the 'pimps' (of political life) - Karamanlis cannot be coerced, he does not collude, nor does he succumb to pressure".

    CHORA: "Umbrella for the unemployed - Unemployment benefit increased to 430.75 euros (from present 375.85 euros) for 290,000 beneficiaries".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Everyone is judged..." - Karamanlis message to dissident ministers".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Government opts for silence".

    ESTIA: "All indications point to early general elections - The present situation cannot continue".

    ETHNOS: "Voulgarakis appointed the administrator of his companies to the NAT (Seamen's Pension Fund)".

    KATHIMERINI: "Cross-fire against Voulgarakis (merchant marine, Aegean and island policy minister) and the replies - The minister makes clarifications", adding that after becoming the target of main opposition PASOK, which was tabling consecutive questions in parliament on the minister's business activities, Voulgarakis was now also facing 'friendly fire' from ministers and ruling ND deputies as well.

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Let's make life difficult for the executioners of the social security rights".

    TA NEA: "Karamanlis under siege - 'Do something about the scandals'".

    TO VIMA: "Lawyers' and notaries' commission fees on real estate transactions heading for abolishment - New 'bomb' from Brussels".

    VRADYNI: "Blow to the multinationals - Folias (development minister) puts brake on excessive profits".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [26] Swedish PM: Reunification of Cyprus is in the best interest of Europe

    STOCKHOLM (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The reunification of Cyprus is in the best interest of Europe and of Cyprus itself, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrick Reinfeldt has said.

    Speaking during a press conference after a meeting he had on Friday with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, who is paying an official visit to Sweden, Reinfeldt said that they discussed bilateral issues, the Cyprus problem and the upcoming Swedish presidency of the European Union.

    President Christofias stressed that Cyprus' reunification will serve the interest of the Cypriot people, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, but will also serve the unity in Europe and the possible enlargement.

    "I would like to warmly welcome President Christofias in his role in opening up the Cyprus issue with Mr. Talat, and we are very hopeful that this might move the process forward," Prime Minister Reinfeldt said.

    He stressed that "the reunification of Cyprus is what is best for Europe but also what is best for Cyprus. What we want to see of course is prosperity, security and openness," he added.

    Referring to the upcoming Swedish EU Presidency, Reinfeldt noted that it might very well be linked with questions of EU enlargement. "I have said to the President that we want to be a constructive partner in the dialogue. If we can help in any kind of circumstance with the Cyprus issue in the upcoming years."

    Asked whether, during its Presidency, Sweden is willing to take any initiative to help the new effort for a Cyprus solution and to influence Turkey to demonstrate respect to EU principles, the Swedish Prime Minister said that during his country's Presidency the Ankara Protocol would be revised.

    "I would definitely like to see that this question has moved at that time, and of course I would like to see that we can go on with the (accession) negotiations (of Turkey), opening the chapters rather than going back to the discussion we had a year ago and freezing down negotiations on the chapters," Reinfeldt noted.

    "So, we will definitely be active both if Cyprus wants us to take any kind of initiative but also in the talks with the Turks of course," he added.

    On his part, Christofias said they decided to promote further relations between Cyprus and Sweden.

    Christofias also thanked the Swedish Prime Minister and his government for their interest in the Cyprus problem and the reunification of the island.

    President Christofias stressed that Cyprus' reunification will serve the interest of the Cypriot people, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, but will also serve the unity in Europe and the possible enlargement.

    "In the EU, it is clear that only Sweden, Greece, Cyprus and maybe Britain are the countries which have a clear position on the full accession of Turkey into the EU," Cyprus President pointed out and noted that Turkey must fulfill the Copenhagen criteria in order to become a member of the EU.

    Referring to the Cyprus issue, President Christofias said the leaders of the two communities should be reasonable, flexible and should show good will, in order to find a common, acceptable Cyprus solution, to set the country free from the foreign armies and reunite Cyprus for the benefit of the Cypriots.

    "A solution by the Cypriots for the Cypriots," Christofias pointed out.

    Additionally, he noted that a solution to the Cyprus issue would be in the interest of the Turkish people "who want to modernise and democratise their country" and to promote its EU membership.

    Christofias pledged to do his outmost "in order to put an end to the tragedy of the Cypriot people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots."

    Responding to a question, President Christofias called for fewer statements and more actions on the part of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    Finally, Christofias stressed the need for finding a solution and preventing failure.

    "We want to honour Cypriots. Especially we want to honour old generations who lived together in peace, who fought together for their rights and for a better life, we want to honour the victims of the chauvinists' attacks against the Cypriot people," he concluded.

    Speaking earlier to Swedish journalists, President Christofias underlined that many things depend on the will of the two leaders in Cyprus.

    Furthermore, he underlined the right of refugees to return to their ancestral home and live there. ''I would not mind to return under Turkish Cypriot administration, as long as there is respect of human rights in a democratic administration system,'' he added.

    Cyprus President was also received Friday by the King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustav.

    Christofias had the chance to inform the Swedish King on the latest developments in the Cyprus question.

    They also discussed ecological and environmental issues and President Christofias informed the King about the severe drought Cyprus is facing.

    Christofias gave the King an ancient amphora as a gift. Christofias also had a meeting with the leader of the Swedish left party Lars Ohly.

    Turkey, which aspires to become an EU member, has been occupying 37% of Cyprus' territory since 1974. Until today, Turkey refuses to open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessel and aircraft, as called for in the Ankara Protocol. Cyprus has been an EU member since 1st May 2004.

    President Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat began on Wednesday direct negotiations with a view to reunite the country. The two leaders will meet again next week.

    [27] UNSG Special Adviser says peace process has the potential to succeed

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    UN Secretary General Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer has said that the UN would do what they can to help the process of direct talks on the Cyprus question, and expressed the belief that the peace process has the potential to be successful.

    If the process will be successful "it will be an inspiration to the international community that people can sit down together and resolve their differences in a friendly, peaceful way and listen to each other's arguments and try to understand each other's arguments and try to come to conclusions which recognise different perspectives that also at the same time show a high degree of mutual respect. That is obviously very important part of this process", Downer said in statements to Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas, where he met Friday with leaders of Turkish Cypriot parties.

    Downer, who met on Thursday here leaders of Greek Cypriot parties, noted that it is important to hear what political party leaders have to say.

    He said the meeting of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on 3rd September when direct talks began was very good and that there was a very good and very positive atmosphere.

    Downer said that he was very impressed and that this gave him a degree of optimism that this process can succeed. He stated that he is very much hopeful that this will be the case.

    He noted that there are many difficult issues, noting however that there is sense of optimism and good will. "We hope for the best," he added.

    Donwer will meet on Monday in Athens with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyiannis and on Tuesday, he will hold meetings in Ankara with Turkish high-ranking government officials.

    On September 11, he will attend here the next meeting between President Christofias and Talat.

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

    [28] Madrid praises Nicosia for efforts to solve Cyprus problem

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Angel Moratinos has praised the constructive stance of the Cypriot government in renewed efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, and expressed hope that direct talks between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities would have a positive outcome.

    Moratinos was speaking during a meeting in Madrid with his Cypriot counterpart, Markos Kyprianou, who briefed him on developments in the Cyprus problem in the light of the commencement of direct negotiations on September 3, aimed at reuniting Cyprus, which has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    The two ministers also signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and Spain for the use of the embassies and consulates of either party in third countries.

    The Memorandum was signed during Kyprianou's visit to Madrid on Thursday, at the invitation of Moratinos, in the context of regular consultations established through the signing of a Protocol for Enhanced Cooperation.

    According to an official press release, the two ministers reviewed bilateral relations, with special reference to cooperation in issues of saving energy and using renewable energy sources. They also discussed international issues, such as the Middle East question, the situation in Georgia and the relationship between the EU and Russia.

    Kyprianou and Moratinos agreed to strengthen their cooperation - thus reaffirming the friendly relationship between the two countries - and their common interests, as European Mediterranean states.

    The two ministers departed on Friday morning for France, to participate in the Informal Meeting of EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs, to take place in Avignon on September 5 and 6.

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

    [29] US to support both sides during direct negotiations

    WASHINGTON (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The US has pledged to support both sides, the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot side, as they proceed with direct negotiations, aiming at reunifying Cyprus.

    Robert Wood, Deputy US State Department Spokesman, said Thursday that the US will do what they can "to support both sides as they go forward in their negotiations".

    He expressed satisfaction with the commencement on September 3rd of direct talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, saying that the US support a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

    "We are very pleased by the talks between the two parties. And obviously, our policy is to support a bizonal and bicommunal federation", Wood said.

    Asked whether the US share the optimism expressed by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat that a solution could be reached by the end of this year, Wood noted that the US "would love to see an agreement reached as soon as possible".

    "Whether that is feasible or not will depend on how much progress the parties make. But definitely we would love to see an agreement between the two sides as soon as possible," he commented.

    On a possible US mediation role in the talks, Wood replied that the US do not play a mediation role but "we have and will make ourselves available to assist the parties in the best way that we can".

    "But I'm not aware of any real direct role right now. That's really going on between the two parties", he concluded.

    Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met September 3rd in the presence of UN Secretary General's Special Adviser for Cyprus Alexander Downer to mark the commencement of direct talks between them, aiming at reunifying Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied one third of the island's territory.

    The leaders' next meeting is scheduled for September 11 and will focus on governance and power-sharing, while the third meeting is set for September 18.

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