|Sunday, 21 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 9 September 2008 Issue No: 2991
 EESC con'f 'Entrepreneurship with a Human Face' opens in Athens with address by PM KaramanlisA European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) biennial conference on the subject of "Entrepreneurship with a Human Face" opened in Athens on Monday, inaugurated by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who stressed that "entrepreneurship means that it extends far wider than the purely economic sphere".
"Entrepreneurship is an attribute of the person who utilises his specific knowledge, talents and prowess to improve his own and his fellow human beings' living conditions," Karamanlis said in his opening address at the two-day conference of the EESC, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
"In a society where no one can claim to hold all knowledge, entrepreneurship is the efficient tool we have so that different combinations of knowledge, imagination and abilities are put to the test and compete with each other, so that those that prove more successful will become a common possession," he said.
Karamanlis said that today's pressing global problems, such as climate change or the food crisis, can be solved only through the mobilisation of all the forces of humanity.
"In this effort for finding cheaper and clean energy, for discovering more efficient and environment-friendly farming methods, for seeking people's access to clean water, the countries and supra-national organizations can and must play an assisting and coordinating role," he said.
The progress, but also the very survival, of a society depends on the degree of freedom and the incentives for people to assume business initiatives from the knowledge available to each as a social capital, and from the ease with which the results of this business activity will be passed on to the society, the premier said.
"But it also depends on the society's ability to imbue its fundamental values into business activity," he added.
Businesses, such as every public or private body active in a society, operates within the existing system of values of the society, and is judged on the basis of those values, Karamanlis said, adding that this was the meaning of the European social acquis, which, he underlined, expresses the Europeans' determination to strengthen their economy, without, however, accepting deductions in the values that characterize them, both as individuals and as societies.
"It is our duty to prove that the competitiveness of the European economy can be enhanced in a way that befits the physiognomy of Europe and its culture. To achieve that, we are obligated to turn to entrepreneurship, in the broader sense of the term, something that is very difficult," the Greek premier explained.
In order to meet that reality, he continued, "we need to move in four directions", which comprised: boosting the efficiency of the already known and applied actions for encouraging entrepreneurship and upgrading the available work force; encouraging the evolution into an economy of knowledge, quality and innovation through investment in education and culture; undertaking specific measures so that the EU will become, beyond a union of states and economies, a genuine union of peoples; and setting as a goal the formulation of new attitudes on the promotion of robust entrepreneurship, with emphasis on services, new cutting-edge technologies, and the small and medium size enterprise, which he said was "the backbone of European economic activity".
Morning session: Other speakers
Brief greetings were also delivered to the opening session of the conference, which will continue with various workshops and two panel debates on "Entrepreneurship and political decision making", and "Using entrepreneurship for societal/social change".
EESC president Dimitris Dimitriadis stressed that, without entrepreneurship, Europe could not exit from the crisis, adding that "we must start again to think entrepreneurially".
Greek development minister Christos Folias said that "we must invest in entrepreneurship, and not demonise lawful and licit profit", adding that the human being is inalienably tied with entrepreneurship, and urged that "we must, at European level, overcome the state obstacles and function as a single market".
In a message read out to the conference, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso stressed that Europe increasingly needs its businesspeople, noting that the lack of entrepreneurship could be dealt with through reinstatement of discussion of entrepreneurship in the schools and the family.
European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, told delegates that Europe "wins when it develops by embracing the enterprises, the politicians and the citizens".
Commissioner for Environment Stavros Dimas, in turn, stressed that entrepreneurship was inconceivable without a human face, and without protection of the environment. He said that legislation should be stricter on enterprises that do not protect the environment, and underscored the power that the citizens have as voters and consumers.
 Greek enterprises have invested more than 15 bln euros in SEEGreek enterprises have invested more than 15 billion euros in neighboring countries supporting their development, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday.
Addressing a seminar on Southeastern Europe, Alogoskoufis added that Greece has also taken initiatives to tranfering know-how over the management of community programs in the region, particularly with Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus.
The procedures of transferring know-how over the management of EU Structural Funds and other community programs could become a decisive factor of accelerating the integration of new members in the European Union and ensuring a viable and stable growth.
The Greek minister also said significant steps have been made for the creation of a single investment framework in western Balkans by 2010. "Greece, thanks to community programs and its reform program, has made great economic progress," Alogoskoufis said.
 Regional Policy commissioner on SE Europe economic integrationEuropean Union Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hubner, addressing a conference organised by the Finance and Economy ministry at the Zappion Mansion on Monday, stressed the need for the further strengthening of policies contributing to the economic integration of the region of southeastern Europe.
Hubner said that in southeastern Europe one must not only insist on the region's prosperity but also because economic integration will contribute to the region's political stability as well.
Moreover, she stressed that considerable economic growth exists in the countries of the region that already constitute EU member-states and noted that the challenge for the region lies in the maintenance of this growth with the aim of economic integration.
Hubner added that what is necessary in this direction is boosting employment (since in some countries in the region unemployment is particularly high), improving productivity and competitiveness and increasing exports.
Lastly, the Commissioner underlined the significance of candidate country status since, as she said, it is recognition of the effort of these countries both in the economic and political sectors and for this reason there is also funding for various policies in the pre-accession stage.
 PASOK on economy, PM's presence at TIFMain opposition PASOK party Economic Affairs rapporteur Louka Katseli said on Monday that if the government's same economic policy is continued, "which is leading to the widening of the country's fiscal and production deficit, the result will not only be the country being led to a supervision status but to bankruptcy as well."
Katseli was speaking at a press conference, together with other party officials, on social and economic policy in the wake of the presence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
Katseli said that Greece "was stunned to hear Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis attributing everything to the international crisis and speaking of mild adjustment," while the economic situation in the country is due to the policy followed by the government and the international crisis is worsening the situation.
The rapporteur further said that Greece found itself from 5th place in 14th place in the European Union as regards the growth rate in 2007 and its position regarding classification based on the economy's competitiveness dropped by 18 positions over the 2006-2007 period.
Focusing on mild adjustment, Katseli raised the question of "how does the government realise mild adjustment with the tax raid that has taken place and that deals a blow at the middle and low income levels" and pointed out that the consumers' purchasing power has not been protected at all.
"The policy of the collapsing of auditing apparatuses, of the creation of powerful cartels, of the collapsing of the social state and of the absence of a clear development policy that is being followed by the government must be reversed," she concluded.
 PASOK leader meets with labour headsMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met on Monday with the presidium of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), headed by the labour umbrella federation's president Yannis Panagopoulos.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Panagopoulos said it the union had submitted a draft economic policy to Papandreou, calling for a "major redistribution of income" to bring it to the level of 1981 under the government of the late PASOK founder and George Papandreou's father, Andreas Papandreou, as well as the safeguarding of social security and the public sector.
Panagopoulos, who also heads the PASOK-affiliated grouping within GSEE, said the labour unions asked Papandreou to include these items in a party platform to be announced later in the week at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), as well as for PASOK's support for the "social struggles that will take place over the coming period."
The labour leader said, in reply to press questions, that "the prime minister had told us not to expect any surprises in Thessaloniki ... but we were surprised because it appears that we working people, pensioners and wage-earners, are living in a different country than the prime minister and his government".
Papandreou launched a series of meetings on Monday ahead of his visit to the 73rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
The PASOK leader will be in Thessaloniki from Sept. 11 to 14, combining his visit to the TIF exhibition with other activities and events, while he will outline PASOK's positions in an address on Saturday, before giving a press conference the following day.
Afterwards, Papandreou received the head of the civil servants' union (ADEDY), Spyros Papaspyrou, with the latter echoing his labour counterpart's positions, adding that "the solution to our problems lies in labour action, which must be expanded in the coming period."
Finally, Papandreou also met with the president of the Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE), George Asimakopoulos, who afterwards said that his group called on Papandreou to back a return of a ceiling for tax-free income, while he called the latest tax measures an "affront" to small business owners.
 Latest inflation figures 'a slap' for PM, SYRIZA claimsCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MP Panagiotis Lafazanis on Monday remarked on the high inflation rates for August announced by the National Statistics Service, saying that these left Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis deeply exposed in the eyes of public opinion after his speech regarding the Greek economy at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) just a day earlier.
The news that inflation had remained at a record-high of 4.7 percent in spite of the summer sales and a dip in global oil prices was a "slap in the face" for Karamanlis and his government's attempts to reassure the public, he added.
The collapse of the budget followed by persistent inflation and galloping high prices, soon to be exacerbated further by yet more taxes, highlighted the complete and utter failure of the government's policy and neoliberal beliefs, Lafazanis stressed.
 UN envoy on Cyprus issue, Downer, meets with PM, FM in AthensThe UN's new special advisor on the Cyprus issue Alexander Downer met in Athens on Monday with prime minister Costas Karamanlis and with foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.
Downer had a bilateral meeting with Bakoyannis at the foreign ministry, after which the two officials had a joint meeting with Karamanlis.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting with Karamanlis, Bakoyannis said that Downer had visited Cyprus before coming to Athens, and had been present at the first meeting between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
On the Athens meeting, she said that "we had the opportunity to reiterate the well-known message from all the political forces in Greece of support for this new and very important effort for resolution of the Cyprus issue".
Downer, who is due to leave for Ankara in the afternoon for talks with Turkish officials, said "I did not come here to say alot, but to hear and record the views and experience of the Greek side", adding that he would also record the views and the issues put forward by Turkey during his Ankara visit.
The UN envoy was also cautious in reply to a press question on whether he was worried over the different interpretation given by the two sides on Cyprus for the term "bizonal-bicommunal federation", saying that it was important to understand that the negotiations (the direct talks) "have just begun".
"We are at the beginning, not the end. Differences are to be expected at the beginning. That's why negotiations take place," Downer said, adding that "we hope to reach a point of agreement".
Downer was equally cautious in his reply to a question on Christofias' position that Greece and Turkey should step down as guarantor powers, noting that "That's Mr. Christofias' position. The Turkish Cypriot side has a different position, and that is one of the items of the negotiation".
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said that Bakoyannis outlined to Downer the Greek positions in detail, and described the aspects that comprise a just, viable and functional solution, stressing the European dimension that must be taken into consideration in a Cyprus solution, given that Cyprus is an EU member.
He said that the Greek side stressed that it supports the new effort for a Cyprus solution, as well as Cyprus President Christofias, "who has proved his constructive attitude for a positive outcome of the process".
 Education minister denies staff shortages in schoolsEducation Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Monday denied claims made by teacher trade unions that up to 6,000 teaching positions remained unfilled, describing them as "totally inaccurate".
In statements on the sidelines of a meeting with Transport Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, Stylianidis said the figure was wrong and that all operational gaps had been filled for the first time ever.
"All that is now left to do is to deal with those gaps that are unforeseeable, which are usually caused by pregnancies and illness, in other words by emergency leave. We are, however, ready for these also and I believe we will respond more efficiently than ever," he added.
The minister also asserted that public kidnergartens would also be able to cover all needs that arose and absorb all the children enrolling.
 Greek Communist Party youth festival in ThessalonikiThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) youth group KNE will hold the KKE-KNE Festival at the former Pavlos Melas army camp in Stavroupolis, Thessaloniki on September 12-14, it was announced.
The theme of the festival will be linked to the 90th anniversary of KKE and the 40th anniversary of KNE while the programme of events will include a number of artistic and other performances. The first day of the festival is also dedicated to the Balkans.
 Hatzidakis on Olympic Airlines, OSETransport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis appeared optimistic on Monday that a solution will be found to the issue of Olympic Airlines by the end of the year.
Replying to relevant questions, Hatzidakis reiterated that the government's aim is for a solution to be found by which the name and the emblem will be retained and a new company will be created that will be privatised and which will stop burdening taxpayers with about one million euros a day. He also clarified that employees of the national carrier will be fully covered.
Asked whether an agreement has been reached with the European Union, the minister said that negotiations are continuing and announcements will be made when talks will be concluded.
Hatzidakis reiterated that 54 of the 68 non-subsidised routes of Olympic are loss-making and this situation must stop at some time. However, he did not disclose whether investors exist and when the new company will open.
On the question of the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE), Hatzidakis termed it an extremely problematic organisation and reiterated that with the restructuring and development programme recently announced by the government the Organisation's operational deficit will decrease from 455 million euros in 2007 to 80 million euros in 2010.
 EU aid for fire-ravaged areasEuropean Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hübner on Monday signed an agreement with the Greek government for the immediate allocation of 89.7 million euros for restoration of damages from last year's wildfires in the Peloponnese and Evia island.
Hübner signed the agreement with Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, with the funds coming from the EU's Solidarity Fund. According to the Commissioner, Greece will have a year to absorb the funds.
The Polish EU Commissioner arrived in Athens to attend the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) biennial conference, held in Athens on the subject of "Entrepreneurship with a Human Face".
On his part, Alogoskoufis said other items up for discussion included completion of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) and implementation of the National Strategic Framework Reference.
Finally, Hübner expressed her satisfaction for Athens' growing emphasis on environmental and investments in innovation.
 FinMin meets with EIB official, culture ministerEconomy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis met on Monday with visiting European Investment Bank (EIB) vice-president Ploutarchos Sakellaris, for a discussion that mainly focused on investments.
Alogoskoufis later met with culture minister Michalis Liapis, with the discussion centering on the budget.
 PASOK leader meets SEB presidencyMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Monday met the presidency of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEB). According to SEB President Dimitris Daskalopoulos, the federation's talks with Papandreou had centred on the accumulated problems of the Greek economy, which had been brought to the forefront by the current global crisis.
"The antidote to these problems is not more taxes because they further burden an already difficult situation, with a risk of harming production, the market and employment. The only way forward is development and without enterprise this cannot exist," Daskalopoulos stressed after the meeting.
Asked to assess the statements made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis during the customary premier's speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), SEB's president noted that "the determination for action broadcast by the prime minister, applied in practice, is exactly what the country needs during these difficult times."
 Development Minister Folias to visit Baku on TuesdayDevelopment Minister Christos Folias departs for Baku on Tuesday, where after an invitation of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, will speak at an international conference on the theme "Prospects in the sectors of oil and natural gas in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan: Strategy for energy, the economy, ecology and cooperation".
During his visit to Baku, Folias will meet with Azeri Industry and Energy Minister Natiq Aliyev.
 Federation of Attica-Piraeus Industries on economyThe Federation of Attica-Piraeus Industries stressed on Monday that for one more year it cannot see a vision being shaped in the country's economic policy.
According to an announcement by the Federation, the orientations given by the government are correct indeed, but it is self-evident that they are linked with the time that they will be applied and with the boldness that will be shown, not only at political level but at the administrative one as well.
Consequently, it added, one must see if and how these reforms will affect the economy positively and that will also be faced with major social reaction obstacles.
Lastly, it pointed out that the only tangible element of the new economic policy are the interventions in tax policy.
 Inflation slows to 4.7% in AugGreece's annual inflation rate slowed to 4.7 pct in August, down from 4.9 pct in July, the National Statistics Service announced on Monday. The statistical service, in its monthly report, said the consumer's price index fell 0.9 percent in August from July, while the country's harmonised inflation rate was 4.8 pct in August.
Commenting on the figures, Manolis Kontopyrakis, NSS's secretary-general, said core inflation was 3.9 pct in August, down from 4.0 pct in July, but significantly up from 2.6 percent in August 2007. Kontopyrakis said that based on current data regarding international oil prices, the consumer price rate was expected to remain unchanged in September.
 Chinese to manage Thessaloniki harbourChinese ambassador to Greece, Luo Linquan, met with the prefect of Thessaloniki, Panagiotis Psomiadi, to speak about the selection of a Chinese company to manage the harbour of Thessaloniki.
"I congratulate Mr. Linquan for the presence of a Chinese company in the harbour of Thessaloniki and I believe this will open new avenues for the two countries. I thank him for the presence of Chinese business in our country and I hope that our commercial relations will increase," Psomiadi said.
The ambassador to China replied expressing his satisfaction with the diplomatic relations between the two countries, which spans 36 years.
"We attribute great importance not only to our political relations but also to our economic collaboration," he said.
 Tourist arrivals in Greek airports down 0.78% in Jan-Aug, SETE reportTourist arrivals at Greek airports fell by 0.78 pct in the January-August 2008 period, compared with the corresponding period last year, the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) said on Monday.
In a statement to the press, SETE said the figures covered international arrivals at the 13 selected airports, accounting for 95 pct of total air travel in the country.
SETE said this year's tourism trend will be around last year's levels in road tourism from Bulgaria and Romania was added to the figures.
SETE noted that any percentage changes, between 1-2 pct, should be become the reason for either jubilation or "catastrophology", since 2007 was a very good year for Greek tourism.
SETE also said that Greek tourism will be able to move steadily upwards if it successfully resolved some of its chronic-structural problems. The association also urged for a change in the methodology in calculating tourism trends in the country.
 ASE suspends trading in METKAThe Athens Stock Exchange on Monday announced a board decision to suspend, temporarily, trading in the shares of METKA SA, pending a company announcement over its business activities.
 Foreign investors net sellers in Greek stock market in Aug.Foreign investors were net sellers at the Athens Stock Exchange in August, with the Greek market recording a net capital outflow of 262.4 million euros.
Foreign institutional investors were sellers (324.2 mln euros), while private foreign investors and off-shore companies were net buyers in the market (62 mln euros) in August.
On the other hand, Greek investors were net buyers with total inflows of 249.2 million euros. Foreign investors' participation in the Greek stock market's capitalization eased to 51.4 pct in August, from 51.6 pct in July and 52.2 pct in August 2007.
Turnover in the Athens Stock Exchange fell by 36 percent in August to 3.631 billion euros, from 5.681 billion euros in July and 9.328 billion euros in August 2007, while average daily turnover was 181.6 million euros, from 247 million euros in July and 424 million euros in August last year.
The market's capitalization fell 2.5 pct to 124.5 billion euros in August.
 Greek stocks end 4.17 pct higherGreek stocks staged a spectacular rebound in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, following a similar performance by all other international markets. The composite index ended 4.17 pct up at 3,275.08 points, with turnover rising to 313.1 million euros, of which 40.4 million euros were block trades.
All sectors moved higher with the exception of the Chemicals sector which fell by 0.02 pct. Banks (7.07 pct), Raw Materials (4.33 pct), Industrial Products (3.20 pct), Personal/Home Products (2.70 pct), Utilities (2.25 pct) and Telecommu-nications (2.21 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
The FTSE 20 index jumped 5.16 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 2.10 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.62 pct up. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 161 to 62 with another 56 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.10%
Personal & Household: +2.70%
Raw Materials: +4.33%
Travel & Leisure: +0.16%
Food & Beverages: +1.37%
Financial Services: +2.02%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Marfin Popular Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 16.78
Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.60
HBC Coca Cola: 16.12
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.16
National Bank of Greece: 33.10
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 14.16
Piraeus Bank: 17.66
Titan Cement Company: 25.38
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 122.044 million euros. The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.60 percent and the September contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.95 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 11,793 contracts worth 106.293 million euros, with 33,261 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was three contracts worth 58,515 euros with 11 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,141 contracts worth 20.245 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,278), followed by Eurobank (638), Marfin Investment Group (517), OTE (676), GEK (2,111), Alpha Bank (1,725), Intracom (460), Marfin Popular Bank (747), Mytilineos (1,077) and ATEbank (1,142).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 769 million euros on Monday, of which 335 millin euros were buy orders and the remaining 434 million euros sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 397 million euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds jumped to 0.75 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.83 pct and the German Bund 4.08 pct.
In money markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. 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.
 Foreign Exchange rates: TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.432
Pound sterling 0.813
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.534
Japanese yen 155.66
Swiss franc 1.618
Norwegian kroner 8.061
Canadian dollar 1.521
Australian dollar 1.748
 Papoulias visits astroparticle physics institute in PylosPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday visited the Institute of Astroparticle Physics NESTOR (Neutrino Extended Submarine Telescope with Oceanographic Research) in Pylos, on the southwest coast of the Peloponnese. The institute forms part of the National Observatory of Athens.
He was met by the director of the institute Prof. Leonidas Resvanis, who stressed that the Nestor Institute had played a ground-breaking role worldwide in the birth and development of the new science of neutrino astronomy, a role that had been decisive in obtaining both recognition and funding from the Organisation of the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union.
Resvanis said the institute was currently striving to ensure the installation of a planned international neutrino telescope measuring one cubic kilometre in deep waters off the coast of Pylos.
"We have the data to install the telescope and we are interested in making it the centre of European interest because, after all, it was here in Pylos that everything began," he said, stressing that the effort to win the wager begun 15 years earlier had to continue.
Resvanis said the institute hoped to improve its negotiating position by significantly improving its technical and management infrastructure, thus setting in motion its transformation into an international research centre.
The siting of the international neutrino telescope will come up for discussion at the next EU development ministers' council. Apart from Pylos in Greece, other contenders include deep sea sites off Toulon in France and Sicily in Italy but Greek scientists claim that Pylos has major advantages over both sites in terms of its natural features.
 Ministry data on drug, illegal migrant arrests by coast guardThe Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy ministry on Monday released statistical data concerning arrests for illegal immigration and drug trafficking between January and August 2008.
According to the ministry, the Greek coast guard recorded 536 incidents of migrant-trafficking in this period, during which it arrested 8,880 illegal immigrants and 153 migrant traffickers, while confiscating 128 vessels and 11 motor vehicles used to transport the foreign nationals.
During the same period there were 209 cases of drug trafficking that led to 270 arrests and the confiscation of 113.109 kilos of raw cannabis, 39 joints made with raw cannabis, 42.16 kilos of processed cannabis, 63.338 kilos of hashish oil, 283 cannabis seeds, 17 cannabis plants, 24.345 kilos heroin, 10 codeine tablets, 299 grammes, 43 tablets and 55ml of methadone, 1.304 kilos cocaine, two ecstasy pills, 496 tranquillizer pills and one tab of LSD.
The ministry's navigation safety directorate also reported that 457 individuals were assisted in 191 incidents during August 2008 by the Search and Rescue Coordination Centre.
 Rescue robot developed by Thessaloniki UniversityA search-and-rescue robot, a system for monitoring electromagnetic radiation and a special piece of educational software for children suffering from autism were some of the innovations developed by the Thessaloniki University Research Committee and presented at the 73rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
The robot was developed by PANDORA (Program for the Advancement of Non-Directed Roboting Agent) by 17 undergraduates at the university's electrical engineering and computer engineering department and earned them 9th place in an international competition held in China last July among 18 competitors.
A small device measuring just 60 centimetres, the robot has 19 sensors to help locate victims of natural disasters like earthquakes, linked to a central processor, 13 motors and a special system allowing it to move on uneven terrain, an automatic navigator that also charts the territory it is covering by the use of scanner lasers, allowing it to alert rescue crews to the location of victims.
The robot currently operates with a battery lasting 40 minutes and the team's efforts are now focused on further improvements.
The broadband electromagnetic radiation counter was developed by the university's physics department and is the first such counter developed in Greece at a fraction of the cost of such counters currently imported from abroad.
Apart from being roughly five times cheaper, it is also capable of taking measurements over the entire spectrum, from very low frequencies to the high frequencies emitted by 4th-generation mobile phones.
Developers said it had high technical specifications for accuracy and was easy to install, able to operate autonomously and able to record electromagnetic pollution levels on a 24-hour basis through installed memory.
An additional 30 Greek counters will be scheduled in public buildings in Greece to complete a nationwide radiation monitoring network that already has 130 counters. The next step planned is the development of an individual portable radiation counter to be used chiefly by those working with telecommunications systems.
The educational software system presented is especially designed for autistic children and can even be used without supervision by teachers and parents.
The programme, aimed at primary-aged children over four, monitors the biological reactions of the children through a special bracelet (heart rate, stress levels, perspiration and other indicators) and adjusts the difficulty of the games and questions accordingly. A small robot also watches the child's progress and rewards every successful attempt, contributing to psychological development.
According to the chairman of the research committee Stavros Panas, the new software could prove a valuable tool for teachers in special schools, while strong interest has already been expressed by parents of autistic children.
 World Democracy Day on Sept. 15World Democracy Day will be celebrated on September 15 in all of Greece's schools following a circular by Deputy Education and Religious Affairs Minister Andreas Lykourentzos.
On the specific day, a series of events will be held in the country's schools which is organized by the Education and Religious Affairs Ministry in cooperation with the Greek Parliament, which will include the organization of a painting and composition competition.
The awarding of the pupils, whose works are distinguished, will be made by the Greek Parliament president, the Education and Religious Affairs Minister and the Deputy Education and Religious Affairs Minister.
 PASOK official meets Archbishop of EstoniaMain opposition PASOK party rapporteur on foreign affairs Andreas Loverdos met on Monday with visiting Archbishop of Tallinn and all Estonia Stephanos.
According to a party press release, the meeting focused on issues regarding the orthodox church in Estonia.
 Fires reported in northern GreeceA fire that broke out in an area of mixed forest and pasture in Antartiko, Florina prefecture was still burning on Monday, the fire brigade reported. The fire first broke out on Sunday afternoon.
A force of 14 fire-engines and 30 firemen, with another 30 fire-fighters on foot, were attempting to control the blaze, assisted by two Canadair water-dropping aircraft and one helicopter, but their efforts were being hampered by the inaccessible terrain and strong winds.
Meanwhile, another fire broke out in dried grass at Ieropigi in Kastoria prefecture, near the border with Albania. Eight fire men are attempting to prevent the fire from spreading to a nearby pine forest but are again hampered by strong winds.
A third fire broke out at 14:00 on Monday in a forest of oak in the Vitsi municipality, in a location known as Pimeniko. Two fire engines manned by a crew of eight and another team on foot have been sent to put out the blaze.
 Fair on TuesdayFair weather with northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 18C and 37C. Fair in Athens, with 3-6 beaufort northerly winds and temperatures ranging from 23C to 36C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 20C to 32C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePrime minister Costas Karamanlis' press conference at the 73rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) dominated the front pages of Athens' dailies on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Everyone awaiting bold decisions - The prime minister succinct in Thessaloniki".
APOGEVMATINI: "Fortunately, there is Karamanlis - The premier uncovered and blasted the bad-faith and gaffes of the opposition, left the media exposed over its verbalism and blunders, and proved that he is the only hope".
AVRIANI: "The scandal-mongering and attempt to shake the government failied - Karamanlis launched counter-attack, fully backed the top governmental members who have been targeted by the para-centers of authority, ruled out the prospect of a reshuffle, is carrying on with the reforms, and preparing for elections".
CHORA: "I will not leave with early retirement - Karamanlis message to the 'chieftains' and the in-party dissidents".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "During his press conference yesterday (Sunday), the prime minister took even his close associates by surprise - He was succinct and determined".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Shield of reforms against the morose climate - The prime minister backed the ministers who have come under fire and transferred the dilemmas to the economy field".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis livng on another planet, blamed everything on the international state of affairs".
ESTIA: "Reforms to be accelerated - Explicit assurances by Karamanlis in Thessaloniki".
ETHNOS: "He 'blessed the sins' of his ministers - Karamanlis hostage to the scandals, the rebels and the '152' (slim majority of MPs in the 300-member parliament)".
TA NEA: "Scandals and ministers put through the washer - Karamanlis living on a different planet".
VRADYNI: "Karamanlis moving ahead with the reforms, assumes the political cost himself".
 President Christofias to maintain optimism about Cyprus talksNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot President Demetris Christofias has assured that he will not abandon his optimism regarding his direct talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to solve the Cyprus problem, despite the fact that the negotiations have not begun with the best of omens.
In an interview Monday with London Greek Radio, President Christofias said the United Kingdom has an obligation to play a positive role in the Cyprus problem, without however intervening in the talks.
''It is true that the talks, which start on September 11, do not begin with the best of omens, if one takes into consideration the international situation, which cannot be described as very smooth, with developments in Georgia, and above all the positions expressed publicly by the other side, not only Turkish Cypriots, but mainly during the recent trip of Mr. (Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali) Talat to Ankara, which reaffirmed the April positions of Turkey's National Security Council,'' President Christofias said.
He said these positions were beyond reason and besides the high level agreements of 1977 and 1979 and UN resolutions regarding a bizonal bicommunal federation in Cyprus. The positions they advocated referred to the creation of two new states in Cyprus which will form the united federal Cyprus. ''We can never accept,'' the creation of two states in Cyprus, the president pointed out.
''Of course we do not give up, we do not abandon our optimism and we will try every way to overcome these and any new obstacles, because new obstacles will arise, so that finally, if it is possible, to reach a solution that will be fair, viable and functional. That is what the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, are waiting for,'' he added.
President Christofias assured he would do ''everything possible to terminate this unacceptable situation.''
Asked about the role of other countries, such as the United Kingdom, in efforts to reach a settlement, President Christofias said the UK has an obligation to play a positive role, without however intervening in the talks.
President Christofias added that he agreed with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that the UK can and must contribute towards cultivating the best possible climate so that the talks are successful.
He said the UK could utilise its relations with and influence on Turkey so that it abandons its stance and intransigent positions. ''I look forward to a positive British role, but I have no illusions,'' the president added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Russia ready to support Cyprus settlement processNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Russian Special Coordinator on the Cyprus question Alexander Alekseev has expressed his country's readiness to support the process of direct negotiations, aiming at a political settlement and an agreement that will be based on international law and UN Security Council resolutions.
Alekseev who had here Monday talks with Cyprus Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou also said that in Cyprus the situation is completely different to the situation in New Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Speaking through an interpreter, he said there is no issue with regard to the recognition of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas.
Alekseev and Kyprianou discussed other international issues, in addition to preparations for a visit to Russia by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.
Kyprianou said Russia is a friend that has been tested in difficult situations as well and has proved that the Republic of Cyprus can rely on it.
He said that he briefed the Russian official on the latest development in efforts to solve the Cyprus question, with the beginning of the direct talks between President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat.
"I expressed our concerns and expectations and asked for the continuous support of Russia to this new effort for a settlement that will be based on the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979, Security Council resolutions and European principles," the minister said.
Alekseev described their discussion as very interesting and said that they discussed some important international problems and the process for a Cyprus settlement.
"On this occasion I would like to reaffirm the readiness of the Russian Federation to support the process of the talks that has just started. To reaffirm our support to the achievement of such an agreement that will be based on the international law, the decisions, the resolutions of the UN Security Council, the achievement of a just agreement. Only such an arrangement that will secure a single and viable Cypriot state will contribute to the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean and especially to Europe," he added.
"I would like to reaffirm the readiness of the Russian Federation to contribute to the achievement of this target, using the potentials with Russia has, in the framework of the UN Security Council, and by using the political and diplomatic means at our disposal," he added.
He said that they also discussed about the forthcoming visit of President Christofias to Russia which he described as very important for bilateral relations.
On the position of Russia as regards the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in Cyprus' occupied areas and the recognition of New Ossetia and Abkhazia by Russia, he had this to say: "The aim of the recognition of these two republics was to save their population, to save these two small peoples. Thank God as regards Cyprus here the situation is completely different. Here we have the documents of the SC, the UN, there are some processes going on in the framework of the international organization."
President Christofias and Talat began on September 3 direct negotiations with a view to reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The two leaders will meet again this week.
 Cypriot FM pays an official visit to AthensLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Markos Kyprianou, Cyprus Foreign Minister, is on an official visit to Athens, during which he will meet President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, President of the Greek Parliament Demetris Sioufas, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, and leaders of the Greek parliamentary political parties.
Speaking at Larnaca airport on departure Monday, Kyprianou noted that his visit is of great importance as direct negotiations begin with a view to reaching a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
"Coordination between Nicosia and Athens is very important at this time," he said.
"It is important to maintain close contact with the Greek government about the latest developments, our next steps, our concerns and expectations," at this phase of the process, Kyprianou added.
The minister said he had already talked with Bakoyiannis, on the sidelines of the EU foreign ministers meeting, and now the two will have the chance for a more detailed discussion.
Speaking on the Cyprus issue, Kyprianou stressed that "any solution should be based on the continuation and evolution of the Republic of Cyprus into a federal state. The Republic of Cyprus is the internationally recognised state, consists of two communities, and was founded in 1960. It is wrong to talk about two 'constituent states' on the island" which will form the united federal state, he pointed out.
Replying to questions, Kyprianou stressed that the united Cyprus, as a full EU member, will not need any kind of guarantor powers.
The minister described as "correct" a call to Ankara by the Greek Prime Minister to encourage the Turkish Cypriot leadership to work for a functional, democratic and European solution for a reunified Cyprus, free of occupation troops.
At the same time, Ankara has to fulfill its obligations towards EU, and show a positive and a constructive stance on solving the Cyprus issue, Kyprianou concluded.
On September 3 President Demetris Christofias and Talat commenced, in the presence of UN SG Special Adviser on the Cyprus problem, Alexander Downer, a new UN-led process of direct negotiations with the aim to achieve a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
Their next meetings are scheduled for September 11 and September 18. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Spokesman: A ceiling is needed regarding number of settlersNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
A 'ceiling' must be set regarding the number of settlers who will in the end remain on the island after a solution of the Cyprus problem, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said Monday.
Invited to elaborate on a statement made by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias regarding the number of 50,000 Turkish settlers who would remain on the island after the solution of the Cyprus problem, Stephanou said that as a matter of principle illegal settlement should end and all settlers should return to Turkey.
But he said that "the Greek Cypriot side for years now has accepted the fact that by solving this problem, exceptions would arise, having to do with the humanitarian aspect of the issue".
Since its 1974 invasion and subsequent occupation of 36,2% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, Turkey has maintained a policy of bringing in thousands of Anatolian colonists to settle in the occupied area, thus changing the demographic character of the island.
The spokesman recalled that the UN brokered Annan plan for a Cyprus solution, which was rejected by the Greek Cypriot side in a referendum in 2004, provided for 45,000 settlers to remain on the island, but at the same time the plan was giving room for more settlers to stay.
Stephanou said that the Greek Cypriot side had strong objections against this provision.
A ceiling is needed to be set, the spokesman said, regarding the number of settlers who will remain after the solution of the problem.
"Our position is that in order to be able to discuss this issue, we need a strict ceiling of the number of settlers who will remain", he continued.
He explained that the President of Cyprus made the particular statement regarding the number of settlers "showing readiness to negotiate with flexibility, but at the same time with consistency on matters of principle".
Stephanou said that the Greek Cypriot side had asked for the establishment of a working team to deal with the issue of settlers since it is a matter of deep concern.
He added that in his statements, the Cypriot president stressed that the settlers issue should be solved by giving an end to illegal settlement and by encouraging illegal settlers to return to Turkey.
"The president reiterated the stance of the Greek Cypriot side that by solving the problem we would be faced with some issues of humanitarian concern and he expressed his readiness to accept a number of 50,000 settlers, which is a number that our side has noted during recent negotiations", Stephanou said.
He also said that the Cyprus problem will be solved on the basis of a bicommunal, bizonal federation with one and single sovereignty, nationality and international personality.
The spokesman added that "in this federation there will be political equality" among the two communities in Cyprus, the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot, ''as outlined in the UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus''.
Stephanou said that the federation "will not emerge through a virgin birth nor through a partnership of two co-foundation states, as often stated by the Turkish side, but through an agreement among the two communities".
He stressed that "the united, federative, bicommunal, bizonal Republic of Cyprus would be the continuation of the Republic of Cyprus".
"These are the views outlined many times by Cypriot President Demetris Christofias", the spokesman continued saying.
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