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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-17

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

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

Wednesday, 17 September 2008 Issue No: 2998

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis briefed by FinMin
  • [02] Government on economic policy, crisis
  • [03] PASOK, Coalition on economy
  • [04] PM confers with new Merchant Marine minister on sector priorities
  • [05] PM confers with ND Parliamentary group sec't
  • [06] Inner cabinet meeting on transport issues Wednesday
  • [07] Roussopoulos on Vatopedi monastery affair
  • [08] ND's Zagoritis on opinion polls
  • [09] PASOK spokesman on opinion polls
  • [10] Chinese Vice-Minister of communications in Athens for talks
  • [11] Greek FM addresses Paris conference
  • [12] Deputy FinMin minister in New York
  • [13] UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues Gay McDougall in Greece
  • [14] Minister on fate of OA
  • [15] SETE urges end of OA monopoly in ground services
  • [16] Greek-U.S. cooperation memorandum on competitiveness
  • [17] Greek inflation slows to 4.8% in Aug., Eurostat
  • [18] EFG Eurolife buys Activa Insurance
  • [19] Marfin Egnatia Bank branch network at 163
  • [20] PC Systems to issue 5.0-mln-euro bond loan
  • [21] Greek stocks end 1.99 pct down
  • [22] ADEX closing report
  • [23] Greek bond market closing report
  • [24] Foreign Exchange rates: Wednesday
  • [25] Liapis tours new Acropolis Museum, sees March opening
  • [26] Exhibition of Greek antiquities in Melbourne
  • [27] Madrid hosts exhibition on Byzantium
  • [28] 5th International Puppet Festival in Sofia
  • [29] 'Josef Koudelka retrospective' opens in Athens Wednesday
  • [30] Petrified Forest of Lesvos candidate for the 'seven wonders of nature'
  • [31] Illegal migrants intercepted by Coast Guard
  • [32] Man intercepted carrying khat at airport
  • [33] Forest fire reported in Lakonia
  • [34] Panathinaikos loses 2-0 to Inter Milan in Champions League qualifier
  • [35] Weather Forecast
  • [36] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [37] FM briefs Rehn on latest developments in Cyprus issue Politics

  • [01] PM Karamanlis briefed by FinMin

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed on Tuesday by ecnomy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis on recent EU ministerial meetings in Nice forcusing on the international economic crisis.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, Alogoskoufis said that the international credit crisis and rise in global inflation have affected Europe, with many European economies finding themselves stationary, if not with negative growth rates, in the second quarter of the year, while inflation has also risen throughout all of Europe, creating a number of problems also for the EU member states' budgets.

    Greece has also been affected, but to a very limited degree in relation to most of the other EU member countries, Alogoskoufis noted.

    He added that growth was continuing in Greece and remained high, at double the rate of the rest of the eurozone, while there were also substantial positive results in unemployment, which was declining.

    There were also repercussions on Greece's budget which, however, had been confronted with the bill recently passed in parliament that also laid the foundations for the 2009 budget, Alogoskoufis continued.

    He stressed that the economic policy being followed needed to be continued, referring to the policy of reforms and fiscal adjustment, so that, in the present very difficult conjuncture for the international economy, "the ship called Greece will continue to sail steadily in the direction we all desire, that of raising the standard of living of the Greek citizens".

    [02] Government on economic policy, crisis

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos reiterated the need to press on with economic reforms on Tuesday, underlining that there had to be steadfast dedication to the goals of improving daily life and making the economy competitive. He was replying to reporters' questions concerning a reference by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Parliament to "a threat by economic interests outside the institutions".

    "The efforts are in order to make something that sounds theoretical a reality," Roussopoulos told reporters, citing the effort to stamp out tax evasion as an example.

    "The fact that there is still a way to go before fully stamping out the tax evasion that is rampant in Greece, as in other countries, does not mean that the tax reforms have failed," he stressed.

    Regarding the size of pensions, meanwhile, he claimed that the increases in real wages in the last three years in Greece have been the highest in Europe, while he also pointed to generous increases in the size of the pension supplement EKAS and OGA farmers' fund pensions that had been coupled by a reduction in taxation rates.

    Roussopoulos also said that no country remained unaffected by the global economic crisis at this difficult international conjunction, including Greece, while noting that the government had never claimed to be fully satisfied.

    "Our efforts are in the direction of having as few losses as possible to incomes and the country's economy," he stressed.

    [03] PASOK, Coalition on economy

    Main opposition PASOK party economic affairs rapporteur Louka Katseli, commenting on statements made by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday, accused the government of "irresponsibility and offhandedness".

    "Mr. Alogoskoufis, day by day, is pulling the curtain more and more, revealing the government's irresponsibility and offhandedness in fiscal management and the exercising of economic policy. He said that the fiscal deficit for 2007 could exceed the 'red line' of 3 percent," she said.

    "We had proved this for him in December 2007. What remains now is for him to admit that the government and its policies are responsible for the great economic deadlock being experienced by the citizens. His desperate effort to blame it all on the international crisis is convincing no one any more," she added.

    Referring to the same issue, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) economic and social policy rapporteur and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Deputy Panayiotis Lafazanis said that "an international crisis exists and it is a capitalist crisis" and stressed that "the tax raid against the working classes, which Mr. George Alogoskoufis confirmed that he will reinforce with the introduction of new criteria does not shield the economy but exhausts the financially weak even more and brings recession phenomena even closer to the economy."

    [04] PM confers with new Merchant Marine minister on sector priorities

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met on Tuesday with the new Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy minister, Anastasis Papaligouras, to discuss governmental priorities in the sector.

    Papaligouras, a former justice minister who was sworn in as merchant marine minister on Monday, said his first priority was to carry on with and complete port reformsm stressing that this was an extremely crucial matter, explaining that it was a structural reform of importance to the country's growth and the economy.

    The second priority, Papaligouras continued, was coastal shipping, focusing on ensuring the best possible link of the country's islands with the mainland, particularly the capital and the other major cities.

    Papaligouras said that every possible effort would be made to improve the overall conditions of the island inhabitants.

    Another crucial matter, he continued, was that of the Harbor Corps personnel, as well as the economic 'shielding' of the Aegean so that it will be sea of peace and growth.

    On ocean-going shipping, Papaligouras said incentives were necessary to maximize its contribution to the Greek economy, explaining that he was not referring only to investments at sea, but also to state incentives for investments on shore as well.

    [05] PM confers with ND Parliamentary group sec't

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with ruling New Democracy (ND) Parliamentary group general secretary Yannis Tragakis at his office in Athens on Tuesday. The meeting reportedly focused on parliamentary group issues.

    [06] Inner cabinet meeting on transport issues Wednesday

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced that the inner cabinet will meet at 11:00 on Wednesday to discuss issues relating to the transport and communications ministry. In response to questions regarding a fine on Olympic Airlines imposed by the European Commission, the spokesman said that the EU Commission will announce its position on Wednesday afternoon, after which Transport Minister Kostis Hatzidakis will hold a press conference to announce the government's response.

    [07] Roussopoulos on Vatopedi monastery affair

    The government has exhausted all margins for clearing up the controversy concerning the Vatopedio Monastery land deals, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos claimed on Tuesday in response to questions.

    "The government, through the decisions it has made, has taken things to the utmost point it is able, in other words the highest level of re-evaluating an affair to its full depth, using all institutional bodies, while an investigation is being conducted by justice," Roussopoulos said.

    He stressed that full light had to be shed on the affair in order to restore the standing of institutions such as the Legal Council of State, whose recommendations were being questioned.

    [08] ND's Zagoritis on opinion polls

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) party Central Committee secretary Lefteris Zagoritis, speaking after Tuesday's session of the party's Intersecretarial Body, termed recent opinion polls that showed the main opposition PASOK party ahead of ND "momentary impressions that do not overturn the political scene."

    Zagoritis added that "ND and Costas Karamanlis are continuing to be politically dominant" and stressed that "despite the problems that exist, the government and the party will work with greater speed and with greater determination."

    A message issued after the session stressed that "the government has achieved a drastic decrease in unemployment, and in parallel it has maintained the economy's growth rate at 4 percent and restricted the deficit below 3 percent."

    [09] PASOK spokesman on opinion polls

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman, George Papaconstantinou, speaking during Tuesday's press briefing, said "the message of hope and of prospects that the president of PASOK sent over the weekend from Thessaloniki is meeting with a response from the Greek citizens."

    "This response fills us with responsibilities for us to prove that an exit exists from the present plight to which the New Democracy (ND) government has led the country and that there is another course of change," he said.

    Replying to a question on Monday's opinion polls, particularly on where he attributes the reversal in the lead between the two mainstream parties, Papaconstantinou said that "there is a combination of disappointment in the government by public opinion and of increased confidence in PASOK, which shows that it is an alternative and solvent governance party."

    Responding to another question on whether the 28.2 percent PASOK got in the opinion poll gives it a lead, the spokesman said that there are large percentages of undecided, as well as a considerable percentage of citizens who are waiting to be convinced.

    [10] Chinese Vice-Minister of communications in Athens for talks

    Issues concerning the forging of closer cooperation between Greece and China in the transports sector were discussed in Athens on Tuesday between Greek Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Xu Zuyuan, the visiting Chinese Vice-Minister of Communications.

    Hatzidakis suggested the launch of direct Air China flights between Beijing and Athens, replacing the current flights via Dubai, which were launched last year. He also reiterated Athens' volition to act as a "bridge" linking China with Europe, in terms of transports and investments.

    [11] Greek FM addresses Paris conference

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis addressed in Paris on Tuesday evening the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) on the theme "Confronting new challenges: Greece's perspectives," referring to a series of important questions namely the world economic crisis, the proliferation of poverty, underdevelopment, the cracking down on organised crime, climate change and terrorism, as well as the situation in the Caucasus, European affairs, the situation in southeastern Europe, Serbia, Kosovo and FYROM.

    Regarding the crisis in the Caucasus, the Greek foreign minister hailed the positive results achieved by the French European Union presidency underlining that Europe has done everything in order to avoid a new Cold War.

    As regards southeastern Europe, she noted that the region is called upon to confront socioeconomic challenges.

    [12] Deputy FinMin minister in New York

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panayiotou)

    Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Antonis Bezos will be visiting New York from September 17-20, where he will meet with Archbishop of America Dimitrios and members withe Greek-American community.

    Deputy FM Kassimis receives IJCIC delegation

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis received Tuesday a delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), comprising its president, Chief Rabbi David Rosen, and vice-president Rabbi Richard Marker.

    The meeting, also attended by Metropolitan of France Emmanouel, who is Ecumenical Patriarchate's responsible for the interreligious dialogue, and Israeli Ambassador to Greece Ali Yahia, focused on how dialogue between the three great monotheistic religions could contribute towards peace among peoples of the world, and in particular of the Middle East.

    Possibilities of cooperation towards the better understanding between nations of the broader region were also discussed.

    [13] UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues Gay McDougall in Greece

    UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Gay McDougall, who paid an official visit to Greece from September 8-16, said that she will submit at the UN Council of Human Rights in March 2009 her report on the situation of the rights of the minorities in Greece.

    McDougall visited Athens, Thessaloniki, Thrace and the prefecture of Florina.

    In a press conference she gave in Athens on Tuesday, she declined to announce any of her conclusions, but hailed "the opportunities which she will be given in the coming months so that she can discuss in detail her preliminary findings with the government of Greece."

    Financial News

    [14] Minister on fate of OA

    Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Tuesday reiterated that state-run Olympic Airways (OA) is the most problematic carrier in Europe relative to its size, speaking to reporters a day before the EU Commission is expected to rule on a last-ditch restructuring plan submitted by the Greek government.

    Hatzidakis, a veteran Euro-MP who has tabled questions in the European Parliament regarding OA's debts and finances before assuming the Cabinet post, added that OA is the only airline in Europe that remains entirely under state ownership.

    "The government's goal is to create a new company that will keep the OA name and logo while, at the same time, relieving taxpayers," he said, speaking to reporters.

    Asked when Olympic Airlines will be replaced by a new airline under the name "Pantheon", the minister referred to "technical issues", while adding that OA employees "have no reason to be alarmed, because the government will display reason and sensitivity".

    [15] SETE urges end of OA monopoly in ground services

    The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) on Tuesday urged the government to terminate state-run Olympic Airlines' monopoly in ground handling services at 33 Greek airports.

    In a statement to the press, SETE stressed that prices were significantly lower in the five major airports of the country (Athens, Thessaloniki, Irakleio, Rhodes and Corfu) where no monopoly exists for offer ground services, while service has improved significantly.

    SETE said the monopoly in ground services at the more than two dozen airports breached free market rules, while it was against government's policy statements.

    SETE also stressed that IACA (the International Air Carrier Association) has briefed its members that ground handling services were expected to be fully deregulated in Greece and that a number of tenders were expected to be tabled soon.

    [16] Greek-U.S. cooperation memorandum on competitiveness

    Development Minister Christos Folias said during the signing of a cooperation memorandum with the United States Council on Competitiveness that the administrative burden for entrepreneurship in Greece must decrease by 25 percent, a percentage which is equal to four billion euros, and it is one of the government's main targets, adding that this administrative burden currently stands at 6.8 percent of the GDP.

    Folias, who is also president of the National Competitiveness and Development Council, and the President of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, Deborah L. Wince-Smith, signed on Tuesday a cooperation memorandum on boosting competitiveness in the framework of cooperation which is being promoted by the Development ministry's Special Secretariat on Competitiveness.

    Folias noted that the country's position has improved considerably in the international ranking on competitiveness and pointed out that "it is very important that we realise that the effort to improve the competitiveness of the Greek economy is not up to one ministry, but it is up to the government in its entirety, all the ministries, the agencies, the employees, the businesses and up to society in general."

    Smith said that the memorandum signed is very important, she reminded that the trip to reach the signing had begun in 2005 and stressed that "Greece is in my heart and influences the way with which I see things."

    She also emphasised that all new successful operations in the United States start from small and medium-size enterprises and not from huge ones.

    International conference on 'role of ports as hubs of communication between land and sea transports'

    An international conference on "The role of ports as hubs of communication between land and sea transports" will be held on Wednesday and Thursday at the Piraeus Port Authority.

    The sessions of the conference will be opened by Merchant Marine & Island Policy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras.

    Invited to participate at the conference, which is organized by the Economic Committee of the United Nations for Europe (UNECE), in cooperation with the Merchant Marine & Island Policy Ministry, are representatives of international organizations, politicians, representatives of public administration, agencies, entrepreneurs, academics and experts in the field of transport from the UNECE's 56 member-countries.

    [17] Greek inflation slows to 4.8% in Aug., Eurostat

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)

    Greece's annual inflation slowed to 4.8 percent in August, slightly down from 4.9 pct in July, Eurostat announced on Tuesday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a monthly report, said that the inflation rate also slowed to 3.8 pct in August, from 4.0 pct in July, but remained sharply up compared with an 1.7 pct reading in August 2007. In the EU, the inflation rate slowed to 4.2 pct in August, from 4.4 pct in July, but up from 1.9 pct in August 2007.

    The Netherlands (3.0 pct), Portugal (3.1 pct) and Ireland (3.2 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates in August, while Latvia (15.6 pct), Lithuania (12.2 pct) and Bulgaria (11.8 pct) posting the highest inflation rates. The inflation rate fell in 19 EU member states, it remained unchanged in three and rose in four members.

    [18] EFG Eurolife buys Activa Insurance

    EFG Eurolife Insurance, a subsidiary of Eurobank EFG, on Tuesday announced the purchase of 100 pct of Activa Insurance, from Commercial General Insurance Ltd Cyprus, for an undisclosed sum, a move aimed at strengthening the company's activities in the insurance business.

    Activa Insurance (former CGU Hellas) operates an insurance portfolio with a net combined ratio of 86 percent, offering all kinds of insurance contracts. Turnover was 25.4 million euros last year, while pre-tax profits totaled 3.3 million euros.

    [19] Marfin Egnatia Bank branch network at 163

    Marfin Egnatia Bank on Tuesday announced the opening to two new branches in the greater Athens area, raising its total branch network to 163 units. The two new branches are located in the Aghioi Anargyri and Kamatero districts of western Athens.

    [20] PC Systems to issue 5.0-mln-euro bond loan

    PC Systems SA on Tuesday announced the signing of a contract for the issuance of a bond loan, worth 5.0 million euros. The four-year bond loan will have an interest of an annual Euribor plus 1.7 margin. National Bank is the coordinator to the issue, while National Bank of Greece (Cyprus) Ltd. will also act as a consultant. The new money will be used to cover the cost of a merger between PC Systems and OpecTEC and the absorption of Computerbank Networking AEBE.

    [21] Greek stocks end 1.99 pct down

    Greek stocks suffered another heavy blow in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as international stock markets crashed amid an expanding credit crisis. The composite index of the market fell 1.99 pct to end at 2,933.45 points, with turnover at 338.4 million euros, of which 34.2 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Food/Beverage (4.57 pct), Insurance (4.32 pct), Commerce (3.83 pct) and Banks (3.21 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Travel (1.16 pct), Oil (0.20 pct) and Financial Services (0.09 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 2.14 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.04 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index dropped 2.97 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 201 to 44 with another 40 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -4.32%

    Industrials: -2.74%

    Commercial: -3.83%

    Construction: -1.97%

    Media: -2.25%

    Oil & Gas: +0.20%

    Personal & Household: -2.25%

    Raw Materials: -2.56%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.16%

    Technology: -2.10%

    Telecoms: -6.43%

    Banks: -3.21%

    Food & Beverages: -4.57%

    Health: -1.03%

    Utilities: -1.14%

    Chemicals: -2.26%

    Financial Services: +0.09%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 14.46

    ATEbank: 2.10

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.60

    HBC Coca Cola: 16.00

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.32

    National Bank of Greece: 27.70

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 12.02

    Intralot: 6.76

    OPAP: 22.60

    OTE: 13.68

    Piraeus Bank: 14.80

    Titan Cement Company: 24.26

    [22] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices turned to premium in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover jumping to 315.352 million euros. The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a premium of 0.13 percent. Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 32,512 contracts worth 262.642 million euros, with 35,813 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 39,061 contracts worth 42.338 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (7,116), followed by Marfin Investment Group (4,568), OTE (3,255), Pireaus Bank (1,032), National Bank (5,927), Alpha Bank (1,44), Intracom (2,443), GEK (1,117), Mytlineos (1,806) and ATEbank (2,612).

    [23] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 835 million euros on Tuesday, of which 355 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 480 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 240 million euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.81 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.77 pct and the German Bund 3.96 pct.

    In money markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.34 pct, the six-month rate 5.16 pct, the three-month rate 4.96 pct and the one-month rate 4.52 pct.

    [24] Foreign Exchange rates: Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.438

    Pound sterling 0.803

    Danish kroner 7.517

    Swedish kroner 9.717

    Japanese yen 149.25

    Swiss franc 1.595

    Norwegian kroner 8.312

    Canadian dollar 1.540

    Australian dollar 1.810

    General News

    [25] Liapis tours new Acropolis Museum, sees March opening

    The new Acropolis Museum will mostly likely have its official opening in March 2009 when it will be fully open to the public, Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis announced on Tuesday after a tour of the museum's newest galleries.

    The minister also announced the proclamation of a tender in Greece, following one abroad, inviting bids for a contractor to undertake the promotion of the new museum's official opening with events to be staged throughout Europe that would continue after the opening itself.

    According to Liapis, the promotional events held in London, particularly, would be an additional form of pressure on the British government for the return of the Parthenon Marbles currently on display in the British Museum.

    In response to questions, meanwhile, Liapis also confirmed the existence of an informal collaboration with Dimitris Papaioannou for the museum inauguration ceremony, citing a total cost of some six million euros for the event.

    He said the ministry was also making progress with the legislative work involved, with a draft bill setting up the legal public-sector law entity representing the museum tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. Liapis expressed hope that the opposition parties would support the bill when it came before the appropriate Parliamentary committee next week and the plenum the week after that, noting that "a modern museum must also have a modern legal status".

    During his tour of the museum, Liapis had a chance to see the new layout and display of the exhibits, starting with the famous owl statue dedicated to the goddess Athena, the patron of the city and the Parthenon they will meet in the lobby.

    Rising up the stairway into the interior of the museum, they will also see a marble collection box that had once graced the Acropolis, which belonged to the goddess of legal lovers Aphrodite. In antiquity, Athenians would cast an obolus in the box for Aphrodite as a symbol for the protection of newlyweds.

    Liapis was briefed on the placing of the exhibits, none of which will be adjacent to a wall so that they are lit by natural daylight and surrounded by glass cases with special filters that do not reflect the light.

    He also watched the placement of a stone from the west frieze of the Parthenon in the ancient temple's gallery on the third floor of the museum.

    There are already about 600 visitors a day to the new Acropolis Museum at present.

    [26] Exhibition of Greek antiquities in Melbourne

    MELBOURNE (ANA-MPA/S. Hatzimanolis)

    An exhibition titled Greek Vases (amphorae) opens this week at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne, to run until April 2009.

    The antiquities exhibited belong to the University of Melbourne Classics and Archaeology Collection representing some of the most important pottery producing centres of the Greek world, Athens, Corinth, eastern Greece and southern Italy. This important collection covers the period from the thirteenth to the fourth centuries BCE and is one of the most highly regarded collections of classical antiquities in Australia.

    The amphorae to be exhibited (two-handled jars with a narrow neck used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to carry wine or oil) date back from 5990 BC to 350 BC, and come from different parts of Greece.

    [27] Madrid hosts exhibition on Byzantium

    MADRID (ANA-MPA)

    An exhibition entitled "Texts of Byzantium: The Written Legacy of Greece in Spain," was launched here on Monday.

    The exhibition, hosted at the National Library, has brought together all the Byzantine texts in Spain for the first time.

    The exhibit consists of four different themes, with the first, "Beauties of Byzantium," containing manuscripts decorated with intricate illustrations and designs. It is followed by "Byzantium and Sicily," displaying manuscripts from Messina, including the Skylitzes Matritensis, the only surviving illustrated manuscript of a Greek history.

    The third theme, "Greek Study in the Spanish Renaissance," underlines the importance of universities like Alcala and Salamanca and the influence of individuals such as Cardinal Cisneros.

    The final theme, "Greek texts in the development of a Global Library," includes books collected by King Felipe II at El Escorial.

    [28] 5th International Puppet Festival in Sofia

    Sofia will host the 5th International Puppet Festival next week, according to the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA), adding that the festival will feature 20 different theatre troupes from Bulgaria and abroad, including Greece.

    Rhis year the Helix Street Theatre will represent Greece with a performance entitled "The Craze of the Day."

    Previous festivals included performances from Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Japan, Hungary, France, China, Spain, the Netherlands and Russia.

    [29] 'Josef Koudelka retrospective' opens in Athens Wednesday

    A retrospective of work by world famous Czech photographer Josef Koudelka's opens at the Athens Benaki Museum on Wednesday where it will run for two months.

    The exhibition is organised in the framework of events dedicated to the French European Union Presidency and signals the start of the Benaki Museum's new period.

    "We are expecting thousands of visitors," Benaki Museum Director Angelos Delivorias told a press conference on Tuesday, also attended by the Czech artist.

    In 1968 Koudelka witnessed and recorded Soviet armies as they invaded Prague and crushed the Czech resistance, before he was forced to flee the country. His pictures of the events became dramatic international symbols (though he published them anonymously at first), helping him to win the esteemed Robert Capa Gold Medal. This proved a major turning point in Koudelka's life and career. In 1970 he won asylum in England, living there for the next ten years. A nomad at heart, he continued to wander around Europe hoping to capture something of the world that seemed to be vanishing before his eyes. He now lives in France.

    The Athens "Josef Koudelka retrospective" is being organised in cooperation with the Magnum and Apeiron photo agencies.

    [30] Petrified Forest of Lesvos candidate for the 'seven wonders of nature'

    The Museum of Natural History of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos and the Association "The Friends of the Petrified Forest", announced on Tuesday that the Petrified Forest is henceforth an official candidate natural monument for the proclamation of the "seven wonders of nature", within the framework of the world competition through the Internet.

    Tanker ship ran aground off the coasts of Komotini

    The Greek-flagged tanker ship "Vasilios 3" loaded with 800,000 litres of unleaded petrol and 1 million litres of diesel ran aground late Monday evening in shallow waters off Porto Lagos in Komotini, northeast Greece.

    The ship with ten crewmembers on board, all of them Greek, ran aground during the course of docking and according to reports there has been no damage to its hold and no fuel leak.

    The tanker, which supplies the island markets with fuel, will be tugged to the port after divers confirm that there is no risk of pollution.

    [31] Illegal migrants intercepted by Coast Guard

    The intensified Greek Coast Guard patrols across the Aegean Sea resulted Monday in the interception of a total of 92 illegal migrants who had originated from the Turkish coasts on board inflatable rubber boats.

    Twenty six migrants were spotted in the sea region of Ava, Symi island, north of Rhodes in the southeastern Aegean, on board a dinghy and in their effort to escape arrest they destroyed their boat and jumped into the water, to be picked up later by Coast Guard officers.

    A dinghy with 29 illegal migrants was spotted east of Agathonisi, southeast Aegean, while 33 were found on board two rubber boats northeast of the island of Lesvos, among them 6 children.

    Four illegal migrants were arrested in the port of Samos island, eastern Aegean.

    [32] Man intercepted carrying khat at airport

    The Attica police drugs squad on Tuesday announced the arrest of a 39-year-old Somali national carrying 16 kilos and 800 grammes of khat in his luggage while entering Greece through Athens International Airport. The man, who had arrived in Greece on a flight from London, was led before a public prosecutor.

    [33] Forest fire reported in Lakonia

    A wildfire was reported in the Vasilakio area of Krokees municipality in the prefecture of Lakonia, east Peloponnese on Tuesday afternoon.

    The fire was burning to an expanse of forest, battled by strong fire-fighting forces sent in from Sparti and Gythio, as well as four fire-fighting aircraft.

    Soccer

    [34] Panathinaikos loses 2-0 to Inter Milan in Champions League qualifier

    Panathinaikos Athens lost to Inter Milan (Italy) 2-0 (halftime 0-1) in a Champions League Group B qualifier played at the Athens Olympic Stadium (OAKA) on Tuesday night.

    Inter's goals were scored by Mancini in the 27th minute and by Adriano in the 85th.

    [35] Weather Forecast

    Cloud, rain on Wednesday

    Cloudy and rainy weather with northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 4-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 29C. Cloudy in Athens with possible showers, with 4-5 beaufort northwesterly winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 28C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 24C.

    [36] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Poll results indicating main opposition PASOK leading for the first time over ruling party New Democracy, the tax reforms and the international financial crisis dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "FinMin George Alogoskoufis explains how the new tax system will work".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Shock and awe from the crash - Worry over the repercussions from the collapse of the American colossal (Lehmann Brothers investment bank, which declared bankruptcy on Monday".

    AVGHI: "Black Monday in stock markets - The biggest bancruptcy in US history"

    AVRIANI: "613 billion US dollars debt from the 4th largest US investment bank LEHMANN Brothers - Bad news for the global economy".

    CHORA: "Global economy rattled by banks' bankruptcies".

    ETHNOS: "ND - prime minister's defeat - PASOK takes lead for first time, with 2.2 percent difference, in two opinion polls".

    ELEFTHEROS "Hunger pensions for thousands of citizens - Three out of ten receive less than 450 euros per month".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The bank crash brings more expensive loans - Why Greek bankers are worried ".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Polls indicate reversal in political scene - PASOK leading by 2.2 percentage points, poll indicates".

    ESTIA "Karamanlis government didn't dare to make radical changes in taxation".

    KATHIMERINI: "Black Monday for international economy - Lehmann Brothers bankruptcy, sell-out of Merrill -Lynch and problems in AIG - Chaos on the Stock Markets".

    LOGOS: "Sharp change of scenery -PASOK takes the lead by 2.2 percent".

    NIKI: "PASOK leads by 2.2 percent, poll indicates - The people now realize the government's mistakes".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Six in ten pensioners barely surviving on 600 euros".

    TA NEA: "Leap in George Papandreou's popularity, and PASOK takes the lead leads - Taxes and scandals sinking the government".

    TO VIMA: "PASOK takes the lead! - For the first time since 2004 - Poll result gives it 2.2 percent lead over ND".

    VRADYNI: "Vague scenery - Assumption of initiatives mandatory for exit from the crisis".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [37] FM briefs Rehn on latest developments in Cyprus issue

    BRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has briefed EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn on the latest developments regarding the Cyprus issue as direct negotiations, which began between the leaders of the two Cypriot communities aiming at a solution, continue.

    "During our meeting I informed the Commissioner about the commencement of direct negotiations, I explained to him the difficulties which exist, as well as the procedure which is being followed," Kyprianou told journalists after his meeting with Rehn Monday evening.

    The foreign minister added that Rehn expressed once again the European Commission's support towards the process and its willingness to contribute to the process with technical support.

    Kyprianou added that the EU Commissioner noted that the solution of the Cyprus problem should include the fundamental EU principles and the acquis communautaire.

    The Cypriot foreign minister, who attended in Brussels the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council described the conclusions of the Council regarding Georgia are balanced and added that Cyprus attaches great importance to the implementation of the six-point agreement and the agreement of September 8th between the French EU presidency and Russia.

    The Council also discussed Serbia's relations with the EU. Kyprianou said that the government of Cyprus considers that Belgrade has the necessary political will to cooperate closely with the International Tribunal and therefore the EU could proceed with the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

    Meanwhile, in statements after a regular political meeting between the EU and Turkey, Rehn urged Ankara to update its constitution to reflect the country and the society at large as it has evolved and to consolidate the rights and freedoms for its citizens.

    ''These reforms are necessary not only for Turkey's EU prospects but essentially for Turkey to break the cycle of its - I dare say - annual political crises,'' he said.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Ankara was pressing ahead with an ambitious reform programme to achieve its goal of full EU membership, but EU support was also necessary to complete the process.

    French Secretary of State for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet, who chaired the talks, said France expected to open more chapters - or policy areas - for negotiation during its six months in the EU chair, which run until the end of December.

    Rehn said the chapters on free movement of capital and on information society and media policy were ripe for opening soon.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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