|Saturday, 16 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 23 September 2008 Issue No: 3003
 PM assures that economy and households will be shielded from int'l crisisThe government, the Bank of Greece and the other supervisory authorities are prepared to take every necessary measure to further shield the national economy and the Greek households, prime minister Costas Karamanlis assured on Monday after a meeting with economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis and the governor of the country's central bank George Provopoulos, which was also attended by the Bank of Greece's two deputy governors Panayiotis Thomopoulos and Eleni Dendrinou-Louri.
Karamanlis stressed that the government's policy, in the present negative conjuncture, focused on ensuring that the international crisis would have the smallest possible repercussions on the Greek citizens, particularly the financially weaker brackets.
The premier conceded the inevitability of impact on the Greek economy from the international crisis, due to the rise in interest rates and higher inflation, developments which affect households.
Karamanlis added, however, that there should be no compla-cency despite the growth rate in the first half of the year, which he noted was more than double that of the eurozone, given that the fiscal margins in Greece were much smaller due to the high state debt and high fiscal deficits, which have for decades burdened the economy and the Greek taxpayers.
 Greece, African Union sign Memorandum of UnderstandingNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and former foreign minister of Gabon, Jean Ping, signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Greece and the African Union here on Monday.
Bakoyannis said that the signing of the Memorandum is proof of Greece's readiness to strengthen its commitments towards the African continent.
The Memorandum anticipates Greece granting 12 million euros over the next four years for programmes related to climatic change. She said that with this commitment Greece is becoming one of the countries turning its attention to this dimension of the problem of climatic change in a direct and substantive way.
Bakoyannis added that Africa has achieved great progress in adopting the Development Targets of the Millennium, stressing that many things have yet to be done and that the international community must support Africa's efforts.
She also said that Greece, being a neighbour of the African continent, is ready to play the role corresponding to it in the international community's efforts for Africa's development and underlined that the present upgrading of its cooperation with Africa is tangible proof of its commitment.
Bakoyannis, who is participating in the present High Level Meeting on the Development Needs of Africa, mentioned that Greece, in the framework of its presidency in the Human Security Network, adopted as a top priority climatic change and its repercussions for the sensitive groups of the population and noted that the challenges being faced are many, but Greece will stand by Africa and will help it to enable the 21st century to become Africa's century.
 Greece to sign memorandum with Caribbean CommunityNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Following the signing of a Memorandum between Greece and the African Union on Monday, a similar Memorandum of Understanding will be signed at the press office of Greece's Permanent Delegation at the UN on Tuesday with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center for the funding of activities regarding adjustment to climatic change, amounting to one million euros a year over the next four years.
The Memorandum will be signed by the Greek Foreign Ministry's International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation Secretary General Theodoros Skylakakis and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center's Executive Director, Dr. Kenrick Leslie.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Center is based in Belmopan, the capital of Belize, and it is the regional activity processing agency for handling climatic change in the countries of the Caribbean.
 PM aware of Bakoyannis-Milososki meeting, spokesman saysGovernment spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday indicated that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had been aware of the meeting arranged last week between Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Antonio Milososki.
Replying to questions referring to this meeting, Roussopoulos stressed the close and harmonious working relationship between the prime minister and Bakoyannis on all issues, adding that this was "clearly apparent from the political reality".
Roussopoulos also confirmed plans for a meeting between Bakoyannis and United Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz, the mediator for UN-sponsored negotiations over the name dispute between Greece and FYROM, saying that the foreign minister would be making statements immediately afterwards.
"The effort is to find a solution that historically and in everything concerning the feelings of Greeks will correspond to what we seek," he said.
The Greek position on this was known and had been repeated many times by both the prime minister and Bakoyannis, he added.
Replying to another question concerning the alleged refusal by FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski to meet Greece's foreign minister, Roussopoulos denied that any such meeting had ever been arranged.
 PASOK spokesman on Political Council meetingMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, speaking after Monday's Political Council meeting chaired by party leader George Papandreou, said that the economy is the top issue on PASOK's agenda.
Papaconstantinou said that PASOK "is standing with a feeling of responsibility before the big crisis that the country is experiencing" and added that "we are starting the struggle for the budget that we shall turn into a struggle to defend family income, the social state and the country's growth course."
The spokesman further said that the party will wage "the struggle in Parliament with specialised proposals on what PASOK's president said at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), in society with activities in all the prefectures of Greece and in all the social sectors and workplaces, to convince citizens on our alternative proposal."
Asked whether there is a possibility of PASOK tabling an "alternative budget," he said that "the role of the main opposition party is to check the government and to submit proposals," adding that he was not aware of a European country in which the main opposition party tables a complete budget "for the simple reason that, among other things, the services of the General State Accounting Office are also required."
 PASOK spokesman on party cooperationMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou said on Monday that the party's aim "is and remains the same, PASOK must be the first party in the next elections to enable the country to change course," adding that the target is victory and seeking an absolute majority and that the party is prepared for "joint acts and dialogue."
Called on to comment on the six proposals made to PASOK by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group President Alekos Alavanos, Papaconstantinou said that "the aim in the progressive sector must be for us to find what unites us" and reiterated that PASOK met with no response on the proposals it had made, while also accusing Alavanos of making "pretextual proposals."
Replying to questions by the press in Iraklio, on the island of Crete, on Monday night on proposals for cooperation with PASOK, Alavanos said that "we, at a moment of great crisis in the (ruling) New Democracy (ND) party, believe that despite the great differences that exist, the parties of the democratic opposition must present a series of common issues against ND. And we have been impressed by the fact that PASOK is closing this door. We are insisting."
Alavanos visited the settlement of Knossos and held a meeting with the cultural Society and with local agencies. After listening to the inhabitants' problems, he stressed the need for the status governing the archaeological zones to be revised.
 Gov't on opinion poll resultsA government spokesman on Monday reiterated that opinion polls are regarded as useful tools by the government and taken under consideration, when asked about the outcome of the recent opinion polls putting the main opposition ahead in respondents' preferences.
Moreover, spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the current political situation has been affected by the ongoing international economic crisis.
"The government is not indifferent to the problems ... Press reports and viewpoints of commentators, however, are being mistaken for government views," he stressed, adding that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has emphasised that the government deals with real problems, such as the Olympic Airlines issue, and adopts groundbreaking solutions.
 Int'l economic crisis on Inner Cabinet agendaThe international economic crisis, which has reached Greece's doorstep as well, will be among the issues on the agenda at Tuesday's Inner Cabinet meeting, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Monday, adding that the government will support the economy in every way and whenever it can.
Referring to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' visit earlier in the day to the Bank of Greece, Roussopoulos stated that the aim of the meeting was to ensure that the consequences on the Greek economy will be limited, especially for lower income households.
 Ombudsman sees problems with military service exemptionsThe Greek Ombudsman on Monday pointed to problems in the operation of committees judging the ability of conscripts to serve in the armed forces, in response to complaints by the public and an examination of the existing legal framework.
It has written to the national defence ministry regarding the practice of Exemption Committee rulings that ignore the expert opinion of specialised military doctors and the existing "Ailments Table" outlining which health and physical problems lead to automatic exemption from military service, and requiring that conscripts enlist in spite of any health problems they may face.
The Army General Staff defended the practice, however, saying that these rulings were only "temporary" and a result of doubts regarding the true state of health of the conscript, while final evaluations of physical fitness were made after the enlisted man was admitted to a military hospital.
Another problem raised by the independent authority was the irregularity of calling someone up for military service after a two-year postponement on health grounds when no positive judgement of fitness had been made.
 Data Protection Authority's annual report submittedThe 2007 annual report of the Hellenic Data Protection Authority was delivered to Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas on Monday by Christos Geraris, head of Greece's privacy watchdog and honorary president of the Council of State.
According to Geraris, the independent authority has issued a total of 65 rulings and responded to 980 citizen questions, while roughly 3,000 cases are still pending, pointing out that the agency's staff members should be increased to ensure its smooth operation.
On the issue of open-air rallies and the role of the police surveillance cameras, he said political parties should draft legislation on such public gatherings, while he added that Greek Police have submitted a new request concerning surveillance cameras' operation.
 Greece to submit nat'l reform programme by Oct. 15Greece will submit its National Reform Programme for the period 2008-2010 to the European Commission by Oct. 15, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday.
Addressing an event organised by the Economic and Social Commission, Alogoskoufis said the government was finalising the drafting of its National Reform Programme, which focused both on progress made towards adopting EU Council's recommendations and drafting of specific future actions.
The minister noted that drafting of the programme was made at a time when the global economy was going through one of the most critical periods of the last decades.
"The impact from international developments has affected the European economy more than originally estimated. These developments are affecting Greece as well but reforms made in the previous years have strengthened the country's resistance to external shocks," Alogoskoufis said.
He urged for alertness and stressed that the reform programme should ensure fiscal stability in the country. Alogoskoufis said the government was facing two great challenges: containing public spending and combating tax evasion.
 Transport minister on Olympic AirlinesTransport and Communications Minister Costis Hadzidakis criticised the main opposition PASOK party on Monday for its stance on a government plan regarding Olympic Airlines, while replying to questions by the press in the framework of statements he made on World Day Without Cars and on the occasion of a question tabled by PASOK deputies, requesting the presentation of documents.
Hadzidakis reminded that in the European Union now there is not even one exclusively state-run airline company and that PASOK, when in power, "had made three failed efforts to privatise Olympic Airlines' and stressed that "there is a question of elementary reliability on the part of PASOK."
The transport minister noted that according to a plan being promoted by the government, public and open international tendering will be taking place, with the cooperation of the European Commission, and the most profitable bid will be selected at the end, "in the light of the day".
He also reiterated that the name and emblem of Olympic Airlines will be kept, while employees will not be harmed in the least and they will have the same remuneration as they have now.
 Employment Minister Petralia on reformsEmployment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, addressing an Economic and Social Commission (OKE) conference on the theme of "Social dialogue and Lisbon strategy: more effective public administration, more competitive business, more and better jobs" on Monday, said that the reforms are "a one-way path even with delays and even with obstacles placed by disorientation from the social vision and addiction to parapolitics."
The minister added that the nucleus of government policy is pursuing growth in a way that will decrease social inequalities gradually and in this direction the government will aim at preserving the stability of all that it has acchieved to date and speeding up the reformist programme that is being implemented at all levels.
OKE president Christos Polyzogopoulos said that "it appears that what is being sought for the Greek economy in the new National Reformist Programme are the terms that will allow the effective functioning of the administrative apparatus, will turn possibility into production reality and will confront the structural problems of the Greek economy."
 Hellenic Petroleum sells exploration rights in Libya to GDF Suez for 151 mln US dollarsHellenic Petroleum on Monday announced the signing of an agreement to sell its hydrocarbon exploration and production rights in Libya to GDF Suez for 151 million US dollars. The Greek company owns a 20 percent stake in a consortium in Libya, with Woodside owning 45 pct and Repsol 35), under a contract signed with NOC, the state company in the country, for exploration and production rights in six regions (in Sirte and Murtzuq).
Hellenic Petroleum said the decision to sell its stake was part of a plan to restructuring its portfolio in exploration and production of hydrocarbons. Standard Chartered Bank acted as a consultant to the sale. Ioannis Kostopoulos, Hellenic Petroleum's chief executive, said the deal was another step towards implementing a restructuring strategy with the aim of creating addition value and boosting its competitiveness.
 Greece receives third prize in Zaragoza EXPO 2008 exhibitionThe very successful presentation of the Zaragoza EXPO 2008 central theme "Water and Viable Development" by the Greek mission won it the third prize, after Germany and Russia, among a total of 104 national participations.
Greece's modern face in sectors associated with technology, natural environment, products, tourism and culture was promoted in a 1,000 sqm pavilion organized by the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) under the auspices of the ministry of national economy and finance.
The main theme of the Greek pavilion referred to the water and viable development since the ancient times based on the ancient Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus thought that the origin of all matter is water.
The Greek pavilion, which was among the most visited ones, attracted roughly 600,000 visitors during the 93 days of the exhibition, a number representing over 10 percent of the Zaragoza EXPO 2008 visitors. Parallel events of trade and cultural nature were also held aimed at promoting the Greek products and culture.
 Greek delegation participates in 7th Sochi ForumMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
A Greek delegation headed by the Foreign Ministry's alternate secretry general responsible for international economic relations and development aid, Nikos Tachiaos, held consultations over the weekend with the Construction Organisation for projects of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games at the Russian resort of Sochi on the Black Sea and with the local leadership of the region of Krasnodar.
It is the first Greek participation in the Investments Forum of Southern Russia, that is now named the Sochi Forum in honour of the Russian Olympic city, and attracted for the seventh consecutive year this year the attention of over 3,000 participants from 23 countries and Russia.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held meetings on the sidelines of the Forum with his counterparts from Belgium, Bulgaria and France, while hundreds of deals were concluded between companies that are primarily interested in participation in the Olympic projects and in the region's rapid development.
Speaking after his meeting with the regional governor of Krasnodar, Aleksandr Tkachov, Tachiaos said that "we have a great deal to do in the investments sector in Russia and this is the first picture of my contacts," adding that "after this exploratory approach, we are ascertaining that the climate is very good, there are prospects and foundations for cooperation and, of course, we shall provide information and support for Greek businesses that will be interested in opening these markets."
 Greek-Israeli chamber to offer more info, servicesThe Greek-Israeli Chamber of Commerce will be offering new services and facilities to Greek entrepreneurs eying business ties with Israeli counterparts.
According to the Greek-Israeli Chamber of Commerce and Technology (E.I.E.E.T), the chamber will now offer information and services to local businesspeople about the Israeli market and companies.
In recent years bilateral trade between Greece and Israel has shown rapid growth. Between 2002-2006, trade between the two countries increased by 70 percent. Bilateral trade grew another 20 percent over 2006-2007, reaching US$542 million.
 OTE included in FTSE4Good indexHellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) is included in the FTSE4Good international stock indexes, the first Greek enterprise to be included in the index, compiled by FTSE International Group. The decision to include OTE in the index was based on the Organisation's systemic efforts to promoting dialogue, transparency and credibility and its management commitment to ensuring a responsible corporate practice.
The social responsibility indexes FTSE4Good, include top enterprises from around the world for their high sensitivity in protecting human rights, environmental protection and constructive relations with all social partners.
 Consumer group reports outcry over rising road tollsThe Greek consumer group INKA on Monday reported hundreds of complaints from ordinary citizens outraged by recent increases in the price of road tolls on national highways.
The group pointed out that tolls charged on the Athens-Corinth-Patras national highway had increased by 80 percent in the last two years, while those on the Athens-Lamia-Thessaloniki national highway by as much as 150 percent.
It reported strong protests by the public that they had to pay for the use of roads that were in fact judged dangerous and sub-standard. Motorists also objected at being asked to pay in advance for improvements that may or may not transpire at some future date - especially when money for these road works had already been received from European Community funds in the past.
INKA demanded a freeze on any increase in road tolls "or the imposition of new road tolls for imaginary future trips".
 Building materials' cost index up 9.3% in AugustGreece's building materials' cost index jumped 9.3 pct in August compared with the same month last year, after increases of 5.9 pct and 5.8 pct in August 2007 and August 2006, respectively, the National Statistics Service said on Monday. The statistics service said the building materials' cost index, however, was down 0.5 pct in August from July 2008.
 Turnover index in transport sector up in Q2Greece's turnover index in land transport grew 11.1 pct in the second quarter of 2008, compared with the same period last year, after an increase of 17.5 pct in the second quarter of 2007, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
The statistics service said the turnover index in sea transport grew 16.8 pct in the second quarter, after a decline of 2.9 pct in 2007, while the turnover index in air transport rose 11.4 pct in the April-June period, from an increase of 3.5 pct in the same period in 2007.
 Turnover index in tourism sector up 2.7% in Q2Greece's turnover index in the tourism sector grew by 2.7 pct in the second quarter of 2008, compared with the corresponding period last year, after an increase of 5.4 pct in the second quarter of 2007, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
The statistics service said the turnover index in the tourism sector grew by 55.2 pct in the second quarter, compared with the first quarter of the year, slightly down from a 58.3 pct growth rate in the corresponding period in 2007.
 Athens hotels report lower average occupancy rates in JulyGreek tourism is going through its most difficult year since 2004 this year, the Hoteliers' Association of Athens-Attica said on Monday.
The Association said tourism in Athens was affected by a negative international economic juncture and noted that tourism trend was steady to slightly down in June 2008, compared with the same period last year.
July figures showed a decline in average hotel room occupancy rates in Athens, by 4.1 percent, compared with the same month last year, with three-star hotels recording the highest average occupancy rates (73.10 pct), evidence of a deteriorating financial condition of visitors. Five- and four-star hotels reported declines of 2.5 pct and 6.5 pct in average occupancy rates, respectively.
Athens hotels also recorded a 2.3 pct decline in average occupancy rates in the period from January to July 2008, compared with other European cities, although Athens hotels recorded a 5.7 pct increase in average room rate and a 3.2 pct rise in revenue per available room, compared with other European cities.
 Greek stocks end 1.05 pct down on Mon.Greek stocks ended 1.05 percent lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, pushing the composite index of the market below the 3,200 level to end at 3,175.54 points. Turnover was 247.7 million euros, of which 26.5 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Food/Beverage (4.04 pct), Telecommunications (3.86 pct), Utilities (2.58 pct) and Travel (1.23 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Technology (4.45 pct), Oil (2.40 pct), Insurance (1.44 pct) and Industrial Products (0.63 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 1.20 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 0.31 pct and the FTSE 80 index dropped 1.06 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 121 to 112 with another 43 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.40%
Personal & Household: -0.02%
Raw Materials: +0.16%
Travel & Leisure: -1.23%
Food & Beverages: -4.04%
Financial Services: -0.41%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alapis, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 15.84
Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.70
HBC Coca Cola: 17.22
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.22
National Bank of Greece: 31.40
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 14.02
Piraeus Bank: 17.00
Titan Cement Company: 26.00
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a premium in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover at 109.047 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a premium of 0.10 pct. Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 10,961 contracts worth 95.654 million euros, with 26.129 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,189 contracts worth 12.570 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,237), followed by Marfin Invesstment Group (563), OTE (382), PPC (387), Piraeus Bank (564), Alpha Bank (256), Intracom (1,197), Marfin Popular Bank (1,112), Intralot (535) and ATEbank (351).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 885 million euros on Monday, of which 530 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 355 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security of the day with a turnover of 200 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds shrank to 0.75 pct with the Greek bond yielding 5.01 pct and the German Bund 4.26 pct.
In money markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.44 pct, the six-month rate 5.24 pct, the three-month rate 5.02 pct and the one-month rate 4.76 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.468
Pound sterling 0.798
Danish kroner 7.519
Swedish kroner 9.612
Japanese yen 156.44
Swiss franc 1.611
Norwegian kroner 8.232
Canadian dollar 1.542
Australian dollar 1.757
 Titian in Athens exhibition on Italian artAn exhibition featuring 24 works by Titian, Annibale Carracci and other major Italian painters will be officially opened at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens on Wednesday night by Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and visiting Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.
The exhibition is entitled "From Titian to Pietro da Cortona: Myth, Poetry and the Sacred" and was organised with the assistance of the Italian Embassy in Athens to mark the Italian president's official visit to Greece.
The works of art on display, including seven by the Venetian painter Tiziano Vecellio or 'Titian', are on loan from major Italian museums and galleries and explore the development of art in Italy during the 16th and 17th centuries.
The curator was Professor Giovanni Morello, working in collaboration with Cycladic Art Museum director Professor Christos Stampolidis, Maria Tolis and Georgos Tassoulas.
The exhibition is accompanied by a trilingual catalogue (Greek-Italian-English) which contains the paintings on display and scholarly articles by Prof. Claudio Strinati, Prof. Giovanni Morrello and Dr. Sergio Guarino. It is set to run until December 20.
 Greek books from the National Library of Kazakhstan on display in AlmatyRoughly 500 Greek book titles and publications of the 19th and 20th centuries kept in the Historical Archives of the National Library of Kazakhstan are on display for the first time in a special exhibition in Almaty held under the auspices of the Greek embassy.
The copies of most of the books exhibited are so limited that they cannot be found not even in Greece. Among them, are publications of works by Plato, Homer, Plutarch and Sophocles dating back to 1815-1917, as well as, dictionaries, Greek schoolbooks, literature and history books.
The owners of the books were Russian intellectuals, who brought them to Kazakhstan when they fled Moscow and St Petersburg during the Bolshevik Revolution.
The exhibition will run until the end of the month.
 Famous Japanese director to visit Thessaloniki for Film FestivalFamous Japanese director, Takeshi Kitano, is expected to attend the Thessaloniki Film Festival in November this year.
Kitano will present his new film, "Achilles and the Tortoise," and receive an honorary Golden Alexander award for his overall contribution to cinema.
 Illegal migrants found hidden in coal truckPolice on Monday reported the discovery of 29 illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin hidden in a special compartment within a truck carrying coal. The truck was intercepted at the Elefsina toll posts shortly before 16:00 on Monday.
The Greek driver of the truck was arrested, as were two Iraqis in a private car that was driving in front of the truck, on suspicion that they were acting as lookouts for the immigrant smuggling ring. All three will be taken before a public prosecutor to be charged.
The truck had set off from Athens headed for the port city of Patras and Igoumenitsa, from where the immigrants would be loaded onto ships headed for Italy.
 Shots fired at ship owner's carUnidentified shooters fired nine rounds against the car of a ship owner while it was parked outside his home in the Athens seaside suburb of Voula.
The incident occurred on Sunday night and police believe that financial or professional differences may have been the motive for the attack.
 Bear cub dies in traffic accidentA bear cub just nine months old was found dead on a road near Karpero in Grevena today.
Local residents alerted the "Arcturos" research team of the death, and an autopsy was soon conducted by biologists.
It was found that the male cub, weighing 29 kilos, died from a blow to the head.
This marks the 13th traffic accident and 11th fatality involving a bear in western Macedonia over the last four years.
"Arcturos" has sent a proposal to the Ministry of Environment suggesting measures to avoid killing the animal and to safeguard wildlife corridors between mountain ranges.
 Gov't, Special Olympics committee sign cooperation memoEnsuring effective cooperation that will guarantee the success of the Athens 2011 - Special Olympics World Summer Games -- set for June 25 - July 4, 2011 -- was the purpose of a memorandum signed in Athens on Monday by the interior ministry and the Games' organising committee.
Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that hospitality for the more than 70,000 people (athletes, family members, press) that will arrive in Greece should be impeccable, while Athens 2011-Special Olympics President Gianna Despotopoulou stressed that the biggest challenge will be to prepare society to welcome 10,000 participating athletes in 100 venues, five days before the opening of the Games.
 Hurdler Halkia to testify on doping case on FridayOlympic medalist Fani Halkia, who was expelled from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in August after testing positive for the banned substance M3-methyltrienolyne in a WADA-performed doping control in Japan, will appear before a prosecutor on Friday morning to testify about the case.
A first instance court prosecutor gave her the new deadline following her request.
Her attorney maintains that his client denies ever knowingly using the specific substance and a relevant statement will be delivered to the prosecutor on Friday.
Halkia had won the gold in the women's 400 metres hurdles at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
 Cloud, local showers on TuesdayCloudy and showery weather and northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-4 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 25C. Cloudy weather in Athens, with 3 beaufort variable winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 24C. Cloud and rain in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 11C to 21C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe latest polls indicating main opposition PASOK leadinin popularity and ruling New Democracy losing ground, and the Vatopedi monastery scandal dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS: "People 'drowning' in opinion polls - All parties trying to manipulate the the polls' results".
APOGEVMATINI: "Employment Ministry consideings the possibility of reduction of the retirement ages".
AVRIANI: "Karamanlis will not be coerced or manipulated by suspicious foreign centres and local pimps (of the country's political life)".
CHORA: "Fiscal crisis and political chaos devastate the country, as inertia dismantles ND's grass roots".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "The cesspool of our political world revealed".
ELEFTHEROS: "Do something, we are sinking - ND voters send dramatic plea to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Expensive buildings in Athens bought by Vatopedi monastery".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Parties concerned after poll results indicating reversal of political scene".
ESTIA: "Latest polls point to possible PASOK- SYRIZA co-governance".
ETHNOS: "Vatopedi Monastery Abbot Efraim's new 300 million euros ruse".
TA NEA: "Government at a dead end ".
VRADYNI: "ND - PASOK, like Obama- McCain - Polls indicate fluidity and vagueness in the political scene".
 President Christofias praises Ban's interest for Cyprus solutionUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has called on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to appeal to Turkey so that the Turkish Cypriot side will become more logical during the ongoing discussions for a Cyprus settlement.
Christofias and Ban reviewed the course of the direct talks underway in Nicosia between the leaders of the two communities, during their meeting on Sunday at the UN headquarters.
Sources said the Secretary General was positive towards the need to implement further confidence-building measures, including opening the Limnitis checkpoint.
"It seems there is chemistry and that satisfies me", said President Christofias, expressing certainty that Ban, who showed warm interest, will seriously take into consideration his appeals.
President Christofias said he called on the Secretary General to urge Turkey so that the Turkish Cypriot side will become more logical on the issues that are under discussion.
"I had the opportunity to give our own estimation on the course of the direct dialogue and to ask the SG to appeal to Turkey, because I believe that irrespective of my friend Mehmet Ali Talat's reaction, the key lies with Ankara. This way the Turkish Cypriot side will become more logical on the issues that we are discussing on governance and not merely the course of the negotiations", the president said.
He made it clear that the Greek Cypriot side will show flexibility and understanding but "will not deviate from the fundamental principles for a solution to the Cyprus problem".
"There will be understanding and flexibility on my part, but the principles which deal with the unity of the state, the economy and the people, will not be violated by me. We are an EU country and a federation should be functional and to be able to operate without special problems so that we can play a positive role within the EU", the president told journalists.
Commenting on statements made by Talat that President Christofias is slowing down the process, Christofias expressed his regret pointing out that exactly the opposite is taking place.
"I read that Mr. Talat accused me of protracting. What can I say, instead of me saying this, I hear it from Mr. Talat. I am sorry about these positions; there is no way Demetris Christofias will deviate from the fundamental principles concerning a Cyprus settlement. I conveyed this message to Mr. Talat and I convey it once again from inside the UN headquarters", he said.
Asked if the UNSG has plans to become actively involved in the process, President Christofias said that it is too early to talk about more involvement on the UNSG's or anyone else's part since there is a procedure underway and the key players have been appointed by the UN.
"I repeat, however, the UNSG is showing a warm, personal interest and I think that says a lot", President Christofias said.
He said that the whole procedure is part of the Secretary-General's good offices mission and according to the Security Council decisions.
"We should never forget this, that the procedure is a UN procedure", the president said, adding that the talks are bicommunal. As far as Turkey is concerned, he said, the international aspects of the Cyprus problem will be raised on the negotiating table, but the talks are bicommunal.
"We have an agreement between the two communities and not between two states," President Christofias added.
On Monday, President Christofias was due to address the High-level Meeting on Africa's Development Needs and later meet Archbishop of America Demetrios.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the islandÔs 37 percent.
UNSG calls for speedy implementation of confidence building measures
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warmly welcomed the start of the full-fledged negotiations aimed at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
In a statement read out by a spokesperson after Ban met President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias at the UN headquarters, the SG further urged the expeditious implementation of confidence building measures.
According to the statement, "the Secretary-General warmly welcomed the start of the full-fledged negotiations aimed at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem".
It further said, "The Secretary-General welcomed reaffirmation by President Christofias of his commitment to finding a solution and his willingness to continue to work with the United Nations, including Special Adviser of the Secretary-General, Mr. Downer".
The Secretary-General, the statement said, "further urged the expeditious implementation of confidence building measures. They also discussed collaboration between the United Nations and the Republic of Cyprus on global issues, including MDGs and climate change".
 US express optimism for a Cyprus solutionUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The US believes that "there has never been a better opportunity than now" for a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Daniel Fried, US Assistant Secretary of State, speaking after a meeting Monday with Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou, said that the issues are tough.
"But you have two leaders who respect each other, who are committed to reunification. Now is the time to do it", he added.
During the meeting, Fried and Kyprianou discussed the progress achieved so far at the process of the direct negotiations between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
Referring to the meeting, Fried said that he had the pleasure and the honour of meeting the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus.
"This was a good meeting. We discussed the progress the two sides are making in the negotiations. We welcomed the start of the negotiations and we have encouraged both sides to lead and find a way forward," Fried pointed out and added that the United States has always supported bi-zonal bi-communal federation, a reunified island.
Replying to a question, Fried noted that they had also discussed the situation in the South Caucasus and other issues of common interest.
"We discussed the situation in Georgia and we also discussed the hope that if and as the Cyprus problem is resolved and the island reunify, this will obviously make things a lot easier between NATO and European Union in their cooperation".
Referring to bilateral relations, Fried said the US "are grateful to the government of Cyprus for the help they gave us in the summer of 2006 with the massive evacuation. I haven't forgotten that and our cooperation is pretty good. I am very happy".
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