|Wednesday, 13 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 19 September 2008 Issue No: 3000
 PM confers with development ministerPrime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Thursday with development minister Christos Folias.
Replying to press questions related to the fuel market afterwards, Folias said that a large team of inspectors from the General Secretariat for Commerce had earlier Thursday commenced purchase and sale price checks on petrol stations, adding that the inspections would continue in order to record any prospective distortions on the market.
The minister added that, by the end of the month, the Competition Committee would submit a report arising for a broad dialogue it has opened, which was nearing completion, and its recommendations would be examined before the relevant decisions were made.
He said that the ministry had asked for, and was collecting, cost data from every level of the fuel marketing chain, beginning at the refineries all the way to end-consumption.
Folias continued that a strategy was being formulated with consistency and level-headedness, given that 'fire' extinguishing measures were insufficient, and that a long-term confrontation of the issue was necessary.
The minister further added that an international research firm would be assigned the project of recording the course of fuel prices on the Greek market in conjuctin and comparison with the other EU countries.
To another question, Folias expressed belief that fuel prices would soon begin falling at petrol stations.
 FM Bakoyannis on EU-Central Asia ForumPARIS (ANA-MPA/O.Tsipira)
A dynamic rapprochement and "overture" by Greece was attempted towards the countries of Central Asia here on Thursday, through bilateral contacts held by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on the sidelines of the European Union-Central Asia Forum on Security issues, which was organised for the first time in Paris at ministerial level by the French presidency.
"As regards 2009, Greece's relations with the countries of Central Asia will be an absolute priority. We must invest in our relations with countries that are energy producers and in which, indeed, we have a very big and very important ethnic Greek community, which constitutes the basis and the bridge for our cooperation with them," she told reporters.
Bakoyannis acknowledged that the relations in question had not been developed adequately until now and pointed out that "we had not worked enough until now. It is the Greek government's decision that 2009 will be the year for the promotion of these relations. They are countries for which I must say that from the moment they see you, they speak to you about Alexander the Great and about Greece's cultural influence on them."
The Forum's main issues were cooperation with the countries of Central Asia in the sectors of security and energy, as well as the handling of the problems of terrorism and drug trafficking.
Participating from Central Asia were the foreign ministers of the five countries invited, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.
Bakoyannis stressed that "it was an opportunity because all were present around the table and so I had the opportunity of having consecutive meetings with my five counterparts from the countries of Central Asia, particularly with Kazakhstan which will hold the next presidency."
The foreign minister added that "it is our intention to activate from the very first moment of our presidency both the Troika and the Quintet, meaning all 'three' and all 'five' to enable us to have a basis for a balanced dialogue between Europe and Central Asia. In this way we shall be able to take the necessary initiatives for peace and stability in the region."
Bakoyannis will be holding a work meeting on Friday morning with her French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, during which, as she explained, a "substantive discussion will be taking place on many open issues," such as relations between Europe and Turkey, developments in Cyprus, the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and joint initiatives between Greece and France that will be brought before the UN General Assembly.
 180th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Greece and RussiaMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
On the occasion of the 180th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Greece and Russia, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov exchanged messages.
Bakoyannis said that one of the basic parameters of Greek foreign policy is the consolidation of an integrated partnership relation between Russia and the European Union.
"The surpassing of any conjunctural difficulties, the promotion of the Euro-Atlantic dialogue, the deepening and consolidation of an integrated partners' relationship between the European Union and Russia, on the basis of common principles, constitute basic parameters of Greek foreign policy, to the benefit of both our peoples, as well as of the peoples of Europe, to which we belong, but also more broadly to the whole of the international community," Bakoyannis said in her message, which was sent on Thursday via the diplomatic channel.
The foreign minister assesses that the long lasting relationship between the two countries "determines an optimistic future" and expresses her certainty that the potential of cooperation will be strengthened even further, "not only on a bilateral level, with most manifest the recent example in the energy sector, but also that of European cooperation."
On his part, Lavrov said in his message that "the bonds of friendship and mutual understanding which link our countries and peoples, are built on a firm spiritual and historical foundation and have passed the test of time." He added that "today, Greek-Russian cooperation is being upgraded, reaching a new level of strategic cooperation, bilateral political dialogue is developing dynamically, major plans in the economic sector are being implemented with success and the rapprochement between Moscow and Athens on many current international problems has the same voice."
Lavrov also expresses his certainty that "in the contemporary complex conditions, we will also be in a position to jointly cooperate for the consolidation of peace, stability and security on the European continent."
Concluding, he said that "I continue to sincerely count on the independent, balanced position of principle of Greece which is friendly towards us, as regards the acute problems of world politics."
 Rehn on Western Balkans accession, Cyprus talksBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn stressed in statements on Thursday that the process of European Union enlargement was continuing, including the EU accession perspective of the Western Balkans confirmed at the June European Council.
"Since then, we have opened negotiation chapters with both Turkey and Croatia. The EU has signed Stabilisation and Association agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and with Serbia. The enlargement process is on track - not a bullet train, but on track," he stressed during his address to a conference on "The EU and the Western Balkans: the Critical Year of 2009" organised by the Czech foreign ministry, in view of the country's upcoming EU presidency.
During his speech, the Commissioner also referred to the accession prospects of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and noted the Commission's support for recent efforts to reunify Cyprus.
Regarding FYROM, Rehn said its perspective would depend on its performance in meeting the criteria set by the EU.
"In the progress report on FYROM, we will assess the fulfilment of the key priorities of the Accession Partnership, especially the judiciary and administrative reforms and electoral standards. Any recommendation concerning the accession negotiations will depend on the country's performance," the Commissioner said.
Turning to the talks underway for a solution to the Cyprus problem, he noted that the EU was prepared to accept any negotiated solution that would allow Cyprus to observe the Community's principles and meet its obligations to the EU:
"The EU supports the efforts of the leaders of both communities to achieve a comprehensive settlement under the auspices of the United Nations. The Commission is ready to contribute to a UN settlement process with its expertise in matters of EU relevance.
The EU can accept any solution agreed by the two communities, as long as a united Cyprus respects the Union's founding principles of liberty, democracy and the rule of law, and is able to carry the obligations of EU membership. This implies a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant UN Security Council resolutions," he said.
 Parliament question on Vatopedi Monastery furorJustice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis verbally sparred in Parliament on Thursday with main opposition PASOK party MP Apostolos Kaklamanis, the former Parliament president, as the latter tabled a question focusing on the ongoing Vatopedi Monastery land exchange furor.
The justice minister offered his full backing to Supreme Court Prosecutor Georgios Sanidas' handling of the Vatopedi case, while he lashed out at PASOK, stressing that "this crime (1997-2003) was committed and completed when it was in power".
On his part, Kaklamanis charged that the government has political responsibility for the case, and launched a direct attack on Sanidas, accusing him of violating the law regarding ministers' liability.
 Papandreou tours children's hospitalsMain opposition leader George Papandreou on Thursday toured Greece's two largest children's hospitals, the side-by-side Aghia (St.) Sophia and Aglaia Kyriakou facilities in east Athens.
Afterwards, Papandreou reiterated that his party's focus is on the individual, echoing recent addresses to party cadres.
"...and, of course, the healthcare system, with particular sensitivity to the health of children," he said, before expressing his gratitude to the medical and nursing staff of the facilities while at the same time launching into a sharp critique of the government's policy in the public healthcare sector.
Among others, Papandreou said the procurement of vital radiation therapy equipment is pending at the facilities.
 Tsipras holds talks with Greenpeace Greek bureau directorCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras and the director of Greenpeace's Greek bureau, Nikos Haralambidis, dicussed environmental issues during their meeting on Thursday.
Haralambidis said in a statement that "the number one issue or that which we call the 'mother of all battles' is the issue of climatic changes."
Tsipras said that today that "the global economic crisis is highlighting the deadlocks of a model of economic enlargement orientated towards an increase in profit-making without limits, withut control, it is an imperative need more than ever today that we orientate ourselves towards an alternative model of growth that focuses on social needs and the protection of the environment."
The Coalition leader predicted that environmental problems will be intensified in the near future, adding that what "is pleasing is that the activation of citizens movements that are claiming a better quality of life and a different growth model is also intensifying."
 Leftist personalities on developments at Synaspismos-affiliated dailyFourteen Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) cadres have signed a joint statement essentially rejecting decision by the party's leadership aimed at restructuring of party-affiliated daily "Avgi", while also questioning the purpose of recent developments within the newspaper.
The statement stresses that the future of "Avgi" cannot be based on a hastily planned merger with a party-affiliated radio station while, at the same time, creating a new decision-making directorate, as suggested by the party's leadership.
"Any initiatives toward the necessary and unavoidable reform of the newspaper can be productive only in a spirit of broad-based consensus without exclusions," the statement reads, adding that the leftists want the newspaper's future to be ensured by becoming independent, both financially and journalistically.
 Papoulias meets with ND MP TatoulisPresident of the Republic President Karolos Papoulias met Thursday with ruling New Democracy (ND) Parliament deputy Petros Tatoulis, at the latter's request.
While exiting the presidential mansion, Tatoulis told reporters that he briefed the president on an initiative, which he said is backed by "active citizens", vis-a-vis the free online access of all public domain information, underlining that this is an important step in the effort to combat corruption in the country.
 DM in London for NATO meetingLONDON (ANA-MPA / L.Tsirigotakis)
National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis arrived here on Thursday for a two-day NATO defence ministers' meeting at Lancaster House. Meimarakis is expected to address a press conference at the end of the meeting, on Friday afternoon.
 Patriarch of Alexandria received by education ministerEducation and Religious Affairs Minister Evripides Stylianidis met on Thursday with visiting Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II for talks on the upcoming opening of the Patriarchate's seminary after 470 years.
The minister promised to recognise the seminary via a special amendment. The school has already been recognised by the Egyptian government.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Patriarch Theodoros expressed his gratitude to Stylianidis, who "officially informed me of the assistance the ministry will provide to me."
 Gov't hails Commission-approved plan to rescue OAIntense and tough negotiations between the Greek government and the European Commission resulted to the latter's approval of the Olympic Airlines (OA) restructuring plan, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters Wednesday, during his regular press briefing.
Responding to a relevant question, he stressed that approval by Commission "was of crucial importance for investors, because we had never received it in the past ... and was necessary in order to be able to keep the OA name and the Olympic logo, utilise the company's assets, continue flights to non-profitable domestic destinations and keep the OA landing slots until the privatisation process is completed."
Nevertheless, he pointed out that "there is still a long way to go", adding that the loss-making domestic flights will continue as scheduled, while pointing out that such flights are subsidised regardless of whether an air carrier is state-run or private.
On the fate of OA employees, Roussopoulos said there are 14,000 job positions available in the public sector for those wishing to transfer, while there will be voluntary retirement programmes that they can utilize, adding that in the transitional period until the airline privatisation is completed employees will face no further changes.
Responding to another question, he said OA accumulates a daily operating deficit of one million euros, with accumulated losses reaching 2.6 billion euros when other private carriers in Europe are increasing profits.
 Transport Minister Hatzidakis on Olympic AirlinesTransport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Thursday attributed to main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) "embarrassment and a dogmatic fixation in the maintenance of the sick situation at Olympic Airlines."
He reiterated that "the solution which the government gives is clear, European and allows the company to continue flying with the same name, the same insignia and with developmental prospects."
In statements he made in the afternoon, Hatzidakis announced that he had already sent a letter to the trade unions of Olympic Airlines, calling on them to have a discussion with him. He will also send a personal letter to all the employees, in order to brief them on the package of labor measures, in accordance with the categories of the individual employees. In reply to reporters' questions, the transport minister reiterated that the measures he announced will soon officially be measures of the state.
 KKE rails against OA planCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga on Thursday reiterated that her party wants to contribute to the popular classes' reaction against the privatisation of debt-ridden national carrier Olympic Airways (OA).
Speaking a day after the EU Commission approved a Greek government plan to rescue, restructure and eventually privatise the ailing national carrier, Papariga said OA was being sold for the same reasons that public utilities, ports and airports are on sale, namely, EU directives and not because of their operating deficits and losses.
Papariga also claimed that OA employees should not rely on government's promises that their jobs will be guaranteed.
 Creditor banks to offer 30-mln-euro loan to Lanaras GroupA group of banks will handout a loan of 30 million euros to Lanaras Group next week, a meeting between Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, representatives from creditor banks, enterprises and GSEE's president G. Panago-poulos, agreed on Thursday.
The meeting discussed ways of finding a legal formula allowing the funding of Lanaras company and to overcoming hurdles set by the European Commisison. The meeting also agreed that a new meeting, between interested parties, will be held next Tuesday to finalize details of the formula.
An earlier rescue plan envisaged the funding of Lanaras Group with 30 million euros by a group of banks with the guarantee of the Greek state. The European Commission said the Greek state cannot guarantee any loan to private enterprises.
 Signing of cooperation memorandum with U.S. Competitiveness CouncilFederation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos and the President of the Competitiveness Council of the United States, Deborah Wince-Smith, signed a cooperation memorandum on Thursday, in the presence of U.S. Ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard.
The agreement is the outcome of efforts which the Greek-U.S. Business Council and SEB had begun as of last year, with the aim of promoting good practices and the adoption in Greece of activities, such as those being implemnted in the United States with a specific programme at national and regional level and with the monitoring of specific results measurement indicators.
In the framework of cooperation with the U.S. Competitiveness Council, SEB will be assuming initiatives for the transfer of know-how, organising technical events and the holding of contacts with officials shaping competitiveness improvement policies.
Daskalopoulos referred in his address to the contribution of modern, healthy businesses that produce wealth, create development and show an increased feeling of social responsibility in exiting from the present-day crisis.
"The modern, healthy businesses are mainly those which avoided practices and mistakes that led to the crisis. Although they are suffering, at a limited degree fortunately, from the repercussions of global unrest, the modern, healthy businesses are those that, when the suitable time comes, will undertake to lead the economy far from the current gloomy reality," he said.
 Meeting between shipowners, maritime cooperation councilsA joint meeting between the Councils of the Greek Shipowners Union and the London-based Greek Maritime Cooperation Committee took place in Piraeus on Thursday, focusing on an exchange of views between members and on ascertaining the state of Greek shipping and its problems.
The members of the two councils hailed the assumption of the Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy ministry by Anastasios Papaligouras and wished success for his work in the framework of cooperation and mutual understanding.
The next meeting between the councils will be taking place in London in March, 2009.
 Message by Papaligouras to Greek seamenMerchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasios Papaligouras addressed a message to Greek seamen on Thursday on the occasion of the celebration of World Maritime Day 2008, stressing that the government "is continuing its efforts to develop competitiveness which is currently a one-way path."
The minister added that this is "necessitated by international developments and the challenges of the times, with respect to the environment, the continuing destruction of which constitutes one of the greatest problems."
Papaligouras further said that the "splendid course of Greek shipping would not have been possible without the contribution of the Greek seamen," adding that protection and backing for Greek seamen was a priority for the government and "for this reason it has taken measures to combat unemployment among seamen and to upgrade maritime training."
 Intracom signs 122.5-mln-euro contract with Romania's Education ministryIntracom Telecom, a member of Sitronics Group, on Thursday announced the signing of a contract, worth 122.5 million euros, with Romania's Education and Research ministry for the supply of a total of 8,000 lyceums' information laboratories in the country. Intracom will supply the infrastructure of the laboratories, including work stations, servers, while in cooperation Siveco Romania it will supply multimedia, software and education equipment.
 Greek unemployment down to 7.2 pct in Q2Greek unemployment fell to 7.2 percent of the workforce in the second quarter of 2008, from 8.1 percent in the corresponding period last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday. The statistics service, in its monthly report, said the second quarter figure was the lowest for the same period since 1998. Unemployment among women was 10.9 pct, significantly up from 4.7 pct among men, while the 15-29 year age group recorded the highest unemployment rate (15.5 pct).
West Macedonia (12.4 pct) and western Greece (9.3 pct) recorded the highest unemployment percentage rates, while north Aegean (4.2 pct0 and Crete (5.1 pct) the lowest rates. NSS said part time employment accounted for 5.5 pct of employment in the country.
 Greece warned for failure to inform EU CommissionBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Thursday announced that it is sending two reasoned opinions to Greece for failing to inform the Commission about the incorporation of two directives related to VAT into its national legislation.
The announcement said that the obligations of member-states were not limited to incorporating directives in domestic law but also required them to inform the Commission about the action taken.
 Greece under EU fire for tax breaks to home buyersThe European Commission on Thursday sent Greece a reasoned opinion, in which it asks Greece to eliminate discrimination in its laws between home buyers resident in Greece and those resident in other EU countries.
Specifically, the Commission's objections are centred on tax breaks that relieve first-home buyers from having to pay property transfer tax when the same tax relief is not provided to buyers of first homes that are not permanently resident in Greece but intend to settle in the country in the future.
Greece is also called up to abolish discrimination under which Greek citizens living abroad can under certain conditions be relieved of property transfer tax when buying their first home in Greece, without this same relief being available to foreign nationals.
Unless the Greek government amends these laws within two months, the Commission can then refer the case to the European Court of Justice.
 EU action over civil aviation security in GreeceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Thursday decided to send Greece a reasoned opinion over its failure to properly implement Community rules for civil aviation security from illegal actions.
According to the Commission, Greece was failing to comply with two directives setting up common specifications for national quality control programmes for civil aviation security, under which member-states have an obligation to regularly inspect airports in their territory in order to promptly locate and correct possible defects in the following of security measures to protect civil aviation from illegal actions.
As a part of this requirement, member-states are also obliged to employ an adequate number of inspectors.
The European Commission called on Greece to take the necessary measures to fully comply with the requirements within a specific deadline, warning that it may otherwise be referred to the European Court of Justice.
 PASOK seeks cap on unjustifiably high fuelMain opposition PASOK on Thursday called on the govern-ment to impose a cap on the prices of lead-free petrol and diesel fuel throughout Greece, noting that these remained at unjustifiably high levels despite a drop in international oil prices.
"The price of petrol, with international oil prices at exactly the same levels as today, was 1.089 euros in February and is now at 1.193 euros - in other words, 10.5 cents more. What has intervened in the past seven months so that petrol is sold 11 cents more. This is the crucial question. Shouldn't the government be protecting consumers," said PASOK MP Mihalis Chrysohoidis during a Thursday press conference.
Specifically he called on the government to impose a blanket reduction of 11 cents per litre on all motor fuels by placing a cap on petrol prices that was 11 cents lower than the average price announced by the development ministry a few days earlier.
Chrysohoidis also referred to a sharp rise in the cost of natural gas between July 2007 and July 2008, which ranged from 37.7 percent for households and 51 percent for small businesses, and added that there was a high risk for further upward pressure on natural gas prices over the winter, even if demand was lower than expected.
The party's spokesman on development issues Apostolos Katsifaras also referred to the large increase in electricity rates imposed by the Public Power Corporation in the last two years, saying that these totalled about 23.4 percent, and said the power company's investment programme was virtually stalled in the past four years.
 FTSE Int'l says ASE maintains developed market statusFTSE International on Thursday said it was maintaining the Athens Stock Exchange into its watch list for an additional 12 months period.
In a statement, FTSE International said the Greek market would maintain its developed market status until September 2009, although it stressed that ASE could be downgraded to an advanced emerging market in the next review, scheduled for March 2009.
ASE president, Spyros Kapralos, commenting on the FTSE International's decision said: "In a difficult period for stock markets internationally, FTSE's announcement that our market remains among developed markets was a pleasant note. The decision did not came by chance, but it was the result of hard work made by the Greek market in cooperation with the Capital Markets Commission during the year, with the aim to fulfil criteria set by FTSE International. It is extremely important to communicate these changes to the market and to gradually boost liquidity and transaction volume in the Greek market."
 Greek stocks end 0.17 pct lowerGreek stocks eased in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, ignoring gains in international markets. The composite index fell 0.17 pct to end at 2,952.81 points, with turnover a strong 345.2 million euros, of which 34.9 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Food/Beverage (4.17 pct), Constructions (1.46 pct) and Media (1.05 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Insurance (4.29 pct), Commerce (3.28 pct) and Chemicals (2.83 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index eased 0.74 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.35 pct and the FTSE 80 index dropped 2.62 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 184 to 56 with another 39 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.35%
Personal & Household: +0.54%
Raw Materials: -1.94%
Travel & Leisure: +0.16%
Food & Beverages: +4.17%
Financial Services: -0.02%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 14.90
Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.46
HBC Coca Cola: 17.04
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.66
National Bank of Greece: 26.94
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 12.62
Piraeus Bank: 14.72
Titan Cement Company: 24.90
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 291.954 million euros ahead of the termination of the September contracts on Friday. The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.55 pct, and the September contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.16 pct. Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 30,615 contracts, worth 243.399 million euros, with 39,364 open positions, while on the Mid Cap index volume was three contracts worth 52,235 euros, with 17 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equitieis totaled 63,624 contracts, worth 291.954 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (30,003) followed by Eurobank (887), Marfin Investment Group (3,324), OTE (3,616), PPC (2,293), Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (1,447), National Bank (4,121), Alpha Bank (1,053), Intracom (3,642), GEK (1,200) and ATEbank (2,054).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 581 million euros on Thursday, of which 201 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 380 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 160 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds rose to 0.90 pct with the Greek bond yielding 4.94 pct and the German Bund 4.09 pct.
In money markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.38 pct, the six-month rate 5.22 pct, the three-month rate 4.99 pct and the one-month rate 4.58 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.461
Pound sterling 0.800
Danish kroner 7.519
Swedish kroner 9.676
Japanese yen 153.18
Swiss franc 1.596
Norwegian kroner 8.400
Canadian dollar 1.551
Australian dollar 1.810
 Health minister Avramopoulos presents "Life beats cancer" campaignCancer is the second cause of death in Greece after cardiovascular diseases, with the numbers of its victims marking a steady increase, stated Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, presenting an action plan against cancer under the slogan "Life beats cancer".
Avramopoulos said that cancer-related figures in other developed countries have been showing a decline in cancer-caused deaths from as early as the mid 80s, as opposed to Greece.
The 108-million-euro action plan aims at boosting scientific research, create a national archive of malignant tumors, create new early diagnosis structures and programmes such as the founding of specialized mammography and Pap Test centres and improve home care for cancer patients.
 European Organization for the protection of cultural heritageThe establishment of the European Organization for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (EPOCH) was decided during aninternational conference on Cultural Heritage Monuments and Natural Disasters held at the War Museum of Volos.
The EPOCH organization, to be based in Brussels, will focus on the adoption of a single European policy for the protection of monuments from natural disasters and the briefing of the competent institutions.
The System Improvement Workshop, University of Thessaly, was the organizer of the conference, which marked the completion of the PROOHF (Protect our Heritage from Fire) project that materialized within the framework of the "Interreg IIIB Archimed" European Initiative.
 Frankfurt council members in ThessalonikiA delegation of Frankfurt municipal councillors is visiting Thessaloniki with the purpose of exchanging views and experiences with the local government.
The head of the committee, Bernadette Weyland, stressed that one in four people in Frankfurt, with a population of 650,000, is an immigrant or has such a background, adding that cooperation with Greece is welcomed, particularly in terms of facilitating social integration and providing equal opportunities.
 City of Athens takes action against land squattersAthens municipal authorities and workcrews, led by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, on Thursday cleared and re-opened three properties at the "Koundouriotika" site, northeast of Lycabettus Hill and behind the Panathinaikos football stadium.
The sites have have repeatedly been targetted by commercial land squatters.
Specifically, sanitation and park maintenance crews removed asphalt that had been illegally poured on a property being used as makeshift car park, along with removal of garbage and rubble from a second site and the planting of trees on the third property.
The sites are located on Koniari street in the Ambelokipi district.
 US university fair in AthensThe annual US University Fair in Athens will be held on Oct. 8 and will showcase colleges and universities to prospective students interested in studying in the United States.
The fair, organised by the Fulbright Foundation, will host representatives from 23 different US institutions. The event aims to provide general information on America's incomparable higher education system and to answer specific queries.
People intending on sitting for SAT, TOEFL, GRE or GMAT examinations will also have the opportunity to learn more about these academic placement tests.
Boston University, the New York Film Academy and Yale University are among those participating in the fair.
 Children invited to submit art for UISAPChildren throughout Greece have been invited to submit artwork for consideration in this year's Unilever International School Art Project (UISAP) to be held at the Tate Modern in London, it was announced on Thursday.
This year's theme will be "Time and Space" and is organised in collaboration with the Museum of Greek Childrens' Art in Athens.
The first UISAP was held in 2001 and the project is now in its eighth year. It invites school children around the world to create a work of art - a painting, a sculpture, or a small installation - on a specific theme and submit them via their schools to a panel of judges.
In Greece, three works will be selected to represent the country at the exhibition to be put on display at the Tate Gallery in London at the end of March 2009.
Last year, Greece took part in the international competition with the work of a girl at the Leontio Lyceum in Patissia.
The deadline for submitting artwork for this year's UISAP ends on December 12 and schools interested in taking part can contact the 210 8172100.
 Fundraising for Thrace SOS Children's VillageThe SOS Children's Villages, a non-profit organisation that provides homes to abandoned, orphaned or destitute children, will be promoting its cause in the central Athens square of Korai until Sunday.
The promotional event, affectionately called "Home", is part of a nation-wide road show organised by the group to raise public awareness and funds for the construction of a new facility in Thrace.
"Home" is an opportunity for families to contribute to the project by adding to a piece to a giant puzzle that will slowly form a display.
Lasting until Oct. 13, the event will be repeated in Larissa, Thessaloniki, Kavala, Xanthi, Komotini, Didimoticho, Orestiada and Alexandroupolis.
 Greek-owned vessel foils pirate attack on route to IranThe Liberian-flagged freighter "Peter S" owned by Greek interests on Thursday succcessfully repelled an attack by heavily-armed pirates while sailing through the straits of Yemen and Somalia headed for Iran, laden with a shipment of grain.
According to reports, the ship was attacked by 12 pirates in four speedboats that attempted to board the "Peter S" at around noon.
Their attempt was foiled by the crew - consisting of 22 Filipinos, one Romanian and a Greek skipper - who knew they were sailing in dangerous waters and were on alert. As soon as the pirates were sighted, the crew turned the ship's hoses on their attackers, bombarding them with hundreds of tonnes of water.
The "Peter S" had set sail from a German port, while the attack was the second targeting a vessel owned by Greek interests in one day.
 Arrests on counterfeit money charges on RhodesTwo women, foreign nationals aged 33 and 26, and a Greek man, 37, all Athens residents, were arrested on Rhodes accused of using counterfeit 100-euro banknotes while vacationing on the island.
A police investigation revealed that they had in their possession a total of 27 counterfeit 100-euro banknotes.
 Cloudy on FridayCloudy weather with northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 27C. Cloudy in Athens, with 3-4 beaufort northerly winds and temperatures ranging from 16C to 26C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 23C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe ailing national carrier Olympic Airways (OA) privatisation plan released by Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis following EU approval, the Vatopedi monastery scandal and the bickering in ruling New Democracy(ND) dominated the headlines onThursday in Athens newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "New era for Olympic Airways - Same name, same flights and full protection of staff".
APOGEVMATINI: "Solution at last! - The approval of the OA rescue plan by the EU (Europan Commssion) a success of the government."
AVGHI: "OA in smithereens - Government and EU signed the end of the national aircarrier".
AVRIANI: "We (newspaper) call on the Supreme Court prosecutor to order an audit of all insurance companies' reserve funds".
CHORA: "Clean up the party from the crooks, say ND's grass roots, cadres and MPs - Those undermining Karamanlis' authority must be expelled".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "What the final taxation plan that will be announced shortly by the government contains".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Chaos in ND - Ministerial 'back-stabbing' in public".
ESTIA: "Government reshuffle is mandatory - Government has lost its pace".
ETHNOS: "ND a Roman arena - Internal strife scenery with Karamanlis as a spectator".
KATHIMERINI: "The depth of the financial crisis is frightening".
LOGOS: "Green light on Olympic Airways - European Commission approves the privatization plan".
NIKI: "Karamanlis under pressure, government reshuffle on the horizon - He will play his last card".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) youth organizazation's (KNE) festival begins on Thursday at the Athens University campus".
TA NEA: "Everyone looking out for himself in ND - Ministers' backstabbing over Vatopedi issue".
TO VIMA: "Karamanlis government trapped in Vatopedi scandal".
VRADYNI: "Off-campus student housing rents excessive".
 Leaders to meet again on October 8, to focus on executive powerNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus will meet again on October 8, in the context of UN-led negotiations, to discuss issues relating to the powers of the executive.
On Thursday, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat, who began a dialogue earlier this month, had their second substantive meeting, during which they continued discussions on the chapter ''Governance - Power-sharing.''
Speaking to the press after his arrival at the Presidential Palace, Christofias said that the discussion on ''Governance/Power-sharing'' has not been completed yet because there are ''some pending issues.''
''We are moving forward but there are some pending issues,'' he added, noting that the next meeting is scheduled for October 8.
Asked if discussions will focus on another aspect of the Cyprus question or if they will continue on the same chapter, the president said that at the next meeting ''we will begin with executive power,'' clarifying that executive power is part of the chapter ''Governance and power-sharing.''
Asked about the climate at Thursday's meeting, the president pointed out that ''the meetings always take place in a friendly spirit, regardless of whether we agree or not.''
Talks between Christofias and Talat aim at reuniting Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Christofias: Common language between two sides necessary to find a settlementPresident Demetris Christofias said that no settlement can be reached in the Cyprus question unless the two sides are able to speak a common language.
Christofias was speaking to the press before his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the framework of direct negotiations which began this month.
Invited to say if discussion on the issue of governance would wrap up at Thursday's meeting, Christofias said "if we reach an agreement it will wrap up, otherwise it will not". He also noted that the issue of governance has a lot of subsections. ’We are discussing about the powers of the central government. We also have to discuss about the legislative authority, the judicial authority, the mechanism for the resolution of disputes, there are a lot of issues, so it will take time," he added.
Invited to comment statements by Talat, Christofias said that Talat accepts other things during the talks and says other things in public. "What counts for me is what he is pledging during that talks and I hope that he will abide by them," the president added.
Christofias expressed hope that the two sides will be able to find a common language and that there will be a co-understanding on the fundamental principles of the Cyprus question.
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