|Monday, 17 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 26 September 2008 Issue No: 3006
 PM confers with transport minister on OA restructure planPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met on Thursday with transport and communications minister Costis Hatzidakis to discuss developments regarding the ailing national carrier Olympic Airways (OA), following the European Commission's recent approval of the government's plan for its restructure and future privatization.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Hatzidakis said that OA was the only completely state-owned airline in the EU, while it was also the most loss-making airline company in Europe, relative to its size, adding that consequently the government could not remain inert.
He said that the government had proceeded forward, carrying out its patriotic duty, and solved a problem that has been plaguing Greece's political system, economy and society for 30 years.
The government, he continued, was determined to move ahead with reason and sensitivity, adding that the OA employees were aware of the reality and of the fact that the government would not be stingy with them.
"We are proceeding, consequently, with this corrective reform for a new OA that will retain both the name and the logo of the present company," he said
Replying to questions, Hatzidakis said that the relevant tender would be completed at the end of the year, noting that before that the Denationalizations Committee would meet to give the thumbs up for the open public tender, in accordance with the conditions agreed with the European Commission.
 FM Bakoyannis holds talks with RiceNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held 40-minute talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice here on Thursday saying afterwards that "I had a friendly and substantive discussion with the U.S. Secretary of State, Mrs. Rice. A discussion that covered all the issues of special Greek interest, and also broader issues."
The issues raised by the Greek side were: the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the issue of Cyprus, Greek-Turkish relations, as well as regional issues, such as the problem in Georgia and the situation in the Caucasus in general, while relations between the European Union and Russia and the Middle East question were also discussed.
Bakoyannis said that they discussed "the course of negotiations on the FYROM issue, Greek-Turkish relations, and also issues concerning the Middle East and the crisis in Georgia."
The foreign minister added that "I had the opportunity of explaining analytically to the U.S. minister the issue of Cyprus, on which negotiations have begun - as you are aware, (Cyprus) President (Demetris) Christofias took a specific initiative - and the great importance placed by Greece on the success of the negotiations and on support for the Greek Cypriot leader."
Asked how the Americans and Rice in particular view talks on the Cyprus issue and President Christofias's urging for influence to be exerted on Ankara for a new climate in the talks, Bakoyannis said "my feeling is that the United States are very interested in a successful conclusion to these negotiations and I believe that they will move in this direction. But, it is not up to me to speak on behalf of the United States. My job is to explain Greek positions in the best possible way and this happened in every detail."
Also asked whether there is something new on the part of the U.S. on the FYROM issue, she said that "there is encouragement, the known encouragement to all sides for the negotiating process under Mr. (UN mediator Matthew) Nimetz to go ahead, which she (Rice) stated clearly that she supports."
 Rice statementsNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, welcoming her Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis at the American diplomatic delegation's meeting place at the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Thursday, expressed hope that a mutually acceptable solution will be found to the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), a development which will allow the accession of this country to NATO, that the United States support.
Replying to a relevant question, Rice said "we want to see the issue resolved as soon as possible. We shall discuss it. What is most important is that it is resolved. We are trying to help the finding of a solution, that can be acceptable by both sides."
Shortly afterwards, Bakoyannis was also due to meet her counterpart from Georgia.
The Bakoyannis-Rice meeting was attended on the part of the U.S. by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Daniel Freed, under whose jurisdiction the issue of FYROM falls, and other aides of Rice, while participating on behalf of Greece are Ambassadors Mallias, Halastanis and Vassilopoulos and Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos.
 FM Bakoyannis continuing contacts in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who is continuing her contacts at the UN's headquarters on the sidelines of the General Assembly's 63rd session, will be meeting New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg late on Thursday night (Greek time).
Bakoyannis began her programme on Thursday with a working breakfast in honour of women personalities from all over the world, that was hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The foreign minister then participated in the high-level meeting on the assessment of the Millennium Development Goals and afterwards she met with Rice.
Bakoyannis will continue her contacts with meetings with counterparts from various countries and late at night (Greek time) she will be visiting New York's Town Hall to meet the city's mayor.
Late at night, she will be attending a reception given in her honour by Greece's general consul in New York, Agi Balta, which is expected to be attended by members of the Greek American community and by many ethnic Greeks.
 EU ministers agree on common immigration rulesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
European interior ministers on Thursday agreed on a common approach to immigration and asylum issues, drafting a pact that will be ratified by European Union leaders at the next EU summit in October. The meeting also discussed the better protection of the EU's external borders by upgrading Frontex, an issue of vital importance to Mediterranean countries like Greece that have extensive sea borders and face strong immigration pressures from the Middle East and Africa.
Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos expressed satisfaction with the overall package agreed, saying that it met Greek positions, and noted that the council had decided to increase both the budget and the resources available to Frontex:
"The aim is to upgrade Frontex and turn it into a Community organisation, like Europol," the minister said, adding that the groundwork needed to be laid for creating a European Patrol Network and a European coast guard.
Pavlopoulos said that non-EU nationals currently accounted for 3.8 percent of the EU's population and that the number of people arriving in the EU each year was between 1.5 and 2 million. The number of illegal immigrants that entered Greece in 2007 was estimated to be around 112,000, he added. The country's total population according to a 2001 census was approximately 11 million.
Pavlopoulos stressed the need for European countries to tackle the problem of illegal immigration together, noting that this would require "an active expression of solidarity, cohesion and mutual understanding between the member-states in order to distribute the burden and coordination of policies".
He said the deal agreed by the council had focused on encouraging legal migration based on the needs and capacity of the countries receiving immigrants, while also seeking to discourage illegal immigration and protect human rights.
The member-states decided to establish EU-wide asylum procedures, provide assistance to any member-state that needed it and to work with the immigrant origin and transit countries in order to support their growth and development.
Among proposals made by Greece during the council meeting was the creation of regional branches or centres under the supervision of Frontex for the management of EU land and sea borders, with one such centre based in port of Piraeus in Attica where it could use the cutting-edge facilities of the existing National Centre for Sea Borders.
 Souflias: Govt going through rough patchEnviroment, Town Planning, Public Works Minister George Souflias on Thursday said that just like all governments, the current government was going through a rough patch.
Replying to press questions on whether prime minister Costas Karamanlis should take initiatives to change the present political climate, Souflias said that the prime minister had all the facts and analyses in order to proceed with the necessary and proper decisions, "with the support of all of us".
The minister declined comment when asked whether a government reshuffle should take place.
 PASOK spokesman on ND Central CommitteeMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, referring on Thursday to the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's Central Committee meeting scheduled for Friday, claimed that "the prime minister will challenge those questioning him and he might also threaten with elections."
"At the meeting of ND's Central Committee, the prime minister will declare that he is determined, once again, to proceed with reforms, the most abused word in the Greek vocabulary, to clash with interests and to forge ahead without fearing anything, challenging at the same time those who question him and, probably, also threatening with elections," he said.
Papaconstantinou further said that the prime minister will also be referring to PASOK in his address which "is continuing to blame, according to Mr. (Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis, for all of the country's woes" and added that "the Greek citizens know very well what Mr. Karamanlis will be saying, as well as his next moves, either small or big and the recycling of persons."
Lastly, the spokesman said that "the Greek citizens are calling persistently for a change in course with a different government."
 Mt. Athos elders sharply criticise Vatopedi abbot in letter to Greek MPsEmbattled Vatopedi Monastery abbot Efraim was assailed on Thursday by a group of fellow Mt Athos monastic community elders, who in a letter charged the former with a number of illegal dealings, financial and otherwise.
The letter was addressed to all 300 Greek Parliament members, and forwarded to the all-male monastic community's civil administration and the community's 20 monasteries.
Efraim is accused of illegally taking over the monastery, exploiting its forestland and springs, seizing other monks' cells, removing priceless objects and even opening a brokerage firm under his control.
 Former navy chief passes awayThe honorary chief of Navy General Staff, Adm. Georgios Theodoroulakis, passed away on Thursday evening in the United States, where he was undergoing medical treatment.
Theodoroulakis was born in Rethymno, Crete in 1945.
He served as commander of the submarine division, commander of the fleet and in 2001 as chief of the navy general staff. He retired in March 2002.
 US top diplomat quoted by Skopje TV stationSKOPJE (ANA-MPA)
US Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Daniel Fried was quoted by a local television station here on Thursday, emphasising that the current period is conducive for the finding of a mutually acceptable solution to the FYROM 'name issue'.
Fried also revealed that US President George W. Bush, in fact, often asks him about the "name issue".
 Gov't petitions court to declare customs strike illegalThe government on Thursday sharply criticised an ongoing strike by customs officials around the country, with the government spokesman charging, among others, "that it is not possible for one group of well-paid public servants to attempt to hold Greek society and the economy hostage".
Hours later, the finance ministry petitioned an Athens first instance court to declare the strike illegal and abusive of public interests.
A scheduled meeting between representatives of striking customs officers and Deputy Minister Antonis Bezas was postponed following the announcement, while it is still expected to take place within the day.
On his part, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos earlier stressed, without mincing his words, that the only reason for the current industrial action -- responsible for a petrol shortage in much of the country -- "is because they themselves (the customs officers) want to manage a special (revenue) account, at the same time when other such accounts are being abolished in other ministries."
The spokesman made the statement in response to a press question on whether the government is considering a mobilisation order to break the strike. He added that the next move would be a court order declaring the strike illegal.
Meanwhile, a PASOK spokesman on Thursday noted that "once again the government has proved incompetent and unreliable ... for five years the government has not advanced in its listing, evaluation or consultation of special accounts in the national budget."
Finally, a deputy for the leftist SYRIZA Parliament coalition, Panagiotis Lafazanis, called on the government to enter into a dialogue and guarantee the customs' officers' benefits.
 Deputy FinMin Bezas on customs officials' strikeDeputy Finance and Economy Minister Antonis Bezas held talks with striking customs officials on Thursday and reassured them that their bonuses will not be harmed.
Bezas told the directorate of the Federation of Customs Employees that ministerial decisions which will be issued in connection with the new taxation law will reveal clearly that their bonuses will not be harmed.
On its part, the directorate will await the hearing of the case at an Athens court, following the government's request for a restraining order to have their strike declared illegal and abusive.
The Federation's general council will then take place for the new developments to be considered and for a decision to be taken regarding the strike.
Commenting on the customs officials' strike, main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou attributed to the government "incompetence and unreliability" in managing the self-evident, such as the Greek citizen's travelling and the smooth supplying of the market.
On the question of the restraining order, Papaconstantinou said that "such a move two hours before the dialogue starts raises great questions" and added that a similar actions come after "the dialogue has reached a deadlock, while there is not even a dialogue."
 FinMin on Greek banking systemThe government's privatisations policy has reinforced the country's banking system, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday.
"It is a policy which was introduced by the previous (PASOK) government and was completed, through difficult decisions, by our (New Democracy-ND) government. This proves that one must continue the work achieved by the other and not demolish it," Alogoskoufis added while addressing the presentation of the book "Emporiki Bank 1907-2007-Changes of Identity and Transformations" by Professor Margarita Dritsa in Athens.
The finance minister also noted that the Greek banking system had today strong bases, after a long period of adaptations and growth and it occupied a central position in the broader region of South Eastern Europe, adding that it "will remain safe, thus contributing to the Greek economy's and society's develop-ment."
"Competition in the banking sector has increased and within this framework I believe that Emporiki Bank and the banking system in general will continue contributing significantly to Greece's progress," Alogoskoufis concluded.
 Greece supports Commission's action plan on sustainable productionBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
Greece supports European Commission's action plan on sustainable production and consumption, as it includes clear and specific proposals to improving environmental performance, energy efficiency of products and encouraging their promotion to the market, Greek Development Minister Christos Folias told an EU Competitiveness Council in Brussels on Thursday.
"We are awaiting more detailed proposals to expanding directives on eco-planning and labeling of products with low energy consumption which also have significant environmental impact," Folias said. The Greek minister stressed the more emphasis should be given to cooperation with the commerce sector, along with initiatives to inform consumers over the benefits of sustainable production and low energy products.
Greece also agrees with initiatives aimed to promoting environmental protection measures by industries, particularly renewable energy sources and recycling. Small and medium-sized enterprises should be supported to fully exploite business opportunities offered by a fair management of the environment, he noted.
 Gov't welcomes RTL investment in local media groupGovernment spokesman and Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos on Thursday welcomed "the arrival of a major business group active in the media sector", commenting on the purchase of the Athens-based Alpha broadcaster by Germany's well-known RTL group.
Roussopoulos said the development constitutes a vindication of the political philosophy of a law he sponsored last year in Parliament, which amended clauses mandating a 25-percent ceiling for broadcast mass media share ownership.
RTL, a member of Bertelsmann Group, with established activities in 10 European countries, on Tuesday announced the purchase of a 66.6 percent equity stake in Alpha Media Group for 125.7 million euros.
 SYN leader presents proposals for low-paid young workersA series of proposals to address the problems of a new generation of low-paid young workers, the so-called '700-euros generation', was presented on Thursday by Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader Alexis Tsipras.
Tsipras criticised the two main parties for allowing these forms of low-paid, insecure employment to arise and treating them as though they were natural when it was the result of specific political choices they had made.
Among his proposals was the introduction of a 1,300 euros minimum wage, an increase in unemployment benefit to 80 percent of the basic wage, tax-free allowances of 15,000 euros a year, permanent jobs for contract workers covering standing and constant needs and others concerning social insurance contributions and welfare benefits.
Tsipras said the money to fund the measures was available, if one considered that capital tax in Greece today was at 17 percent, when in Europe overall it was taxed at 29 percent. An increase in taxation of capital to European levels would secure funds of 15 billion euros, he said.
Replying to another question, Tsipras said he was opposed to centre-left cooperation and that the solution was not in the centre-left but the Left, which was SYN's goal.
 Credit Agricole reiterates confidence and support for Emporiki BankCredit Agricole on Thursday reiterated its confidence and support for Emporiki Bank, its subsidiary in Greece, an important strategic partner. "We are here to stay," Rene Carron, Credit Agricole's chairman said during an event held in Athens on the occasion of the bank's 100 years.
Jean-Frederic De Leusse, Emporiki Bank's chairman and deputy chief executive in Credit Agricole, in his address, said that Emporiki operates under the highest international banking standards, particularly on risk management, and reminded that Emporiki Bank will become a platform for Credit Agricole's further expansion in Southeastern Europe.
Antonis Krontiras, Emporiki Bank's chief executive and vice-chairman, presenting a book on the history of the bank, said it symbolized a bridging of yesterday and today, continuity and evolution, vision and future with respect to the past. Krontiras also underlined that the Credit Agricole as an ally we want to transform Emporiki Bank into a model banking organization, top in credibility in the Greek market, with the highest level of service and international networking in 70 countries.
 GSEBEE on work stoppageThe General Confederation of Light Industry and Merchants of Greece (GSEBEE) said on Thursday that the nationwide closure of businesses belonging to GSEBEE, on October 13, 2008, and the main rallies in Athens and Thessaloniki "signal the beginning of the struggles that will follow, to enable small and medium-level professionals to express their reaction to government policy on the social security issue and on taxation."
GSEBEE said in an announcement that it called on its member- Federations to "activate themselves and to contribute actively to the defence of the professionals, handicraftsmen and merchants fund and to confront the non-observation of the government's commitments to cover its deficits and the compromising of their businesses' future."
 Greek trade deficit down 4.6 pct in JulyGreek trade deficit fell by 4.6 percent in July, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a monthly report, said the trade deficit totaled 3.114 billion euros in July 2008, from 3.264 billion euros in July 2007. The statistics service attributed the decline in the trade deficit to an 11.1 percent increase in exports and a 0.2 pct rise in imports.
The trade deficit in the January-July period totaled 20.212 billion euros, from 21.022 billion euros in the corresponding period last year. Excluding oil products, the trade deficit rose by 5.6 pct, or 965 million euros, over the same period.
The value of export-deliveries grew 3.0 pct in the January-July period, while the value of import-arrivals fell by 1.7 pct.
 Elmec Sport launches subsidiary in MoldovaElmec Romania SRL, a subsidiary of Elmec Sport ABETE, on Thursday announced it was setting up a subsidiary in Moldova under the name ICS Elmec Sport SRL. The new company, based in Chisinau, will set up a retail sales network in the country. The move is part of Elmec Sport group's strategy to strengthen its position in southeastern Europe.
 Greek stocks end slightly higher on Thurs.Greek stocks moved slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, in line with a prevailing upward trend in other European markets. The composite index rose 0.25 percent to end at 3,070.40 points, with turnover a moderate 244.7 million euros, of which 49.2 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher with the Insurance (5.72 pct), Media (1.44 pct) and Banks (1.18 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Constructions (3.28 pct), Food/Beverage (2.16 pct), Utilities (2.07 pct) and Oil (1.66 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 0.41 percent, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.43 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.88 pct higher. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 140 to 95 with another 43 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.66%
Personal & Household: -0.86%
Raw Materials: -0.06%
Travel & Leisure: +0.82%
Food & Beverages: -2.16%
Financial Services: +0.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 15.04
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.44
HBC Coca Cola: 16.16
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.70
National Bank of Greece: 31.38
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 13.26
Piraeus Bank: 16.30
Titan Cement Company: 24.04
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to 105.700 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.20 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 11,083 contracts worth 93.338 million euros, with 28,877 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,990 contracts worth 11.767 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,471), followed by Eurobank (295), OTE (244), PPC (524), Intracom (449), Marfin Popular Bank (644), Intralot (891) and Cyprus Bank (584).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 924 million euros on Thursday, of which 485 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 439 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 410 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds eased to 0.75 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.96 pct and the German Bund 4.21 pct.
In money markets, interest rates moved further up. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.48 pct, the six-month rate 5.29 pct, the three-month rate 5.11 pct and the one-month rate 4.97 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.481
Pound sterling 0.798
Danish kroner 7.519
Swedish kroner 9.760
Japanese yen 157.16
Swiss franc 1.607
Norwegian kroner 8.337
Canadian dollar 1.532
Australian dollar 1.763
 Metro expansion to Ellinikon to open in first quarter 2010The Athens Metro extension from Aghios Dimitrios station to Ellinikon will open to the public in the first quarter of 2010, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works minister George Souflias announced on Thursday, during a visit to the construction site, noting that the extension would include three new intermediate stations in Ilioupolis, Alimos and Argiroupolis.
Souflias visited the construction site at the Ilioupolis station, as the tunnel boring machine arrived at the station.
He explained that the extension had been due for completion in December 2009, but has been delayed due to the unearthing of significant antiquities along the route, and mainly in the Alimos area.
The extension will serve more than 80,000 passengers daily, while the route from Ellinikon to Syntagma Square, which currently requires 40 minutes by car, would only take 15 minutes by metro. Parking facilities are also planned at all the stations, as well as transfer points to urban buses.
Souflias further announced that the tendering procedures are progressing for another Metro expansion from Haidari to Piraeus, while the relevant studies are also progressing for the tendering of a new metro line from Galatsi to Syntagma Square, and form there to Maroussi, totaling 20 kilometers.
 Papoulias receives Onassis Center headPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday received Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center President Ioannis Papadimitriou at the presidential mansion in Athens.
Papoulias congratulated him for the work done at the hospital and research facility, which specialises in cardiovascular surgery and diagnostic and interventional cardiology, stating that he is impressed with the large number of operations performed and the number of patients treated.
On his part, Papadimitriou thanked the president for the interest he expresses and stressed that efforts are focusing on the qualitative upgrading of the medical services provided to reach even higher standards.
The visit took place on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center's opening.
 Aristotle University professor receives prestigious Prigogine AwardThe head of Mathematics Department at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Professor of Mathematics Yannis Antoniou, received the prestigious 2008 Prigogine Award for his contribution to establishing the chaos and complex open systems theory, developed for the first time by his teacher and Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine.
Prigogine (1917-2003) was a Belgian physicist and Nobel Prize winning chemist noted for his work on dissipative structures, complex systems, and irreversibility. He is known best due to his definition of dissipative structures and their role in thermodynamic systems far from equilibrium, a discovery that won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977.
The dissipative structure theory led to pioneering research in self-organizing systems, as well as philosophic inquiries into the formation of complexity on biological entities and the quest for a creative and irreversible role of time in the natural sciences.
The Prigogine Award was instituted by the University of Siena in Italy and Britain's Wessex Institute of Technology.
 Ennion Morricone concert at Herod AtticusFamous Italian composer Ennio Morricone will conduct, in a world premiere on Sunday and Monday at the ancient Herod Atticus Odeon, under the Acropolis, his new symphonic work inspired by the Seikilos epitaph, which is the oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world.
The song, the melody of which is recorded, alongside its lyrics, in the ancient Greek musical notation, was found engraved on a tombstone, near Aydin, Turkey, not far from ancient Ephesus.
"I come to pay tribute to your city with a work which was born here, three thousand years ago, with influences from the Middle East, and which has through its evolution, influenced the music of Rome, Ireland, the U.S.A, the gospel," 80-year Morricone told a press conference in Athens on Thursday.
The Italian composer, who will conduct the "Roma Sinfonietta" orchestra, will also perform a series of suites with excerpts from some of his hundreds of film scores.
 European Languages DayEducation Minister Evripidis Stylianidis issued a message on Thursday on the occasion of Friday's European Languages Day, stressing that the celebration is aimed primarily at "sensitising the public over the need to protect and promote the rich language, and by extension cultural, heritage of Europe."
The minister added that "in our country the factors are relatively encouraging since, according to a relevant European report, 57 percent of citizens speak a foreign language, a percentage that coincides with the EU average, but only 19 percent two foreign languages."
Stylianidis further said that "we are taking care for children in Greece, in particular, to have the teaching of more than one European language (English, French, German, Spanish and Italian), while we are among the first countries that is beginning to teach, even on a pilot basis, a language from a neighbouring country, Turkish, as well as Russian."
 Athens Technopolis programme unveiledThe Athens municipality's Technopolis Centre in Gazi, central Athens on Thursday unveiled the new programme of events planned at Technopolis over the next three months, until the end of December.
The director of Technopolis' board Fotis Ignatiou also referred to the annual Babel International Comics Festival, saying that this would be held in January 2009, and announced that the refurbished 'Maria Callas' museum would reopen on the site on November 24 at the Angelos Sikelianos building.
Included in the planned events is the "Sunshine Reggae Festival" beginning on Thursday night and featuring mainly bands from the German music scene, the 1st Athens Hip Hop Festival on October 4 that will also include a graffiti exhibition and dance performances by the Magma group, the 8th Greek Fashion Week Vodafone Athens Collections for summer 2009 on October 7-12 featuring Greek designers, the 1st Athens Digital Week on October 16-19, and the visual art performance "Inhale" by the Landscape dance troupe of choreographer Ioanna Parali and the artist Danai Stratou, starting October 29 and ending on November 2.
A series of various events is also planned in November, ranging from a WIND telecoms career fair on the 11th and an organic foods exhibition on 8-9, to art exhibitions and the international Video Platform digital film festival on 7-10.
The programme for December includes an exhibition of art by established Greek and Chinese artists entitled "Bonds of Matter" on December 20-22, an individual exhibition by artist Stephanos Constantinidis on December 17-24 and the annual Christmas bazaar by the Paremvasi programme on December 18-21.
The full programme of events is available from the Athens Technopolis at 100 Pireos Street, Athens. Tel. 210 3461589.
 "Little Alex" case goes on trial in ThessalonikiThe trial of five schoolboys involved in the case of little Alex Meshivili from Veria, northern Greece, who disappeared on February 3, 2006 and is still missing, got underway in a juvenile court in Thessaloniki on Thursday. The five, three Greeks (two of them brothers), a Romanian and an Albanian, now aged 14 to 15, are accused of killing 11-year-old Alex Meshivili and hiding his body.
The 17-year-old brother of the two Greek boys will also stand trial, accused of perjury and abetting a criminal.
The boys are accused of jointly committing murder and desecrating a dead body.
"The trial is our last hope to find out where Alex is," said Alex's mother Natela, speaking to reporters, and expressed her confidence in the justice system while calling for the punishment of those guilty.
A total of 100 witnesses have been called to testify in the trial that is being held behind closed doors. The parents of the accused were allowed to be inside the courtroom to offer moral support to their children while several people from the city of Veria have gathered outside the Thessaloniki Courthouse in support of the missing boy's family.
Seven other individuals, the parents of the boys, will also be tried at a later date accused of neglecting a minor, while the grandfather of the two Greek brothers will be tried separately, accused of perjury and abetting criminals.
 Van full of illegal immigrants intercepted in AtticaA van carrying 34 illegal immigrants was intercepted by police on the Athens-Sounion road at Palea Fokaia on Thursday morning.
One woman, 17 men and 16 children from Somalia and Afghanistan were found in the truck when it was stopped for a routine inspection. Police arrested two Greeks sitting in the driver's cab, aged 51 and 65 years old respectively, who will be led before a public prosecutor.
The illegal immigrants were transferred to the Attica Foreign Nationals Department and an investigation launched to find the immigrant-trafficking ring that brought them to Greece.
 Antique Cars rally on Samos islandThe 37th International Vintage Car Rally begins on Thursday on the southeastern Aegean island of Samos.
Cars from early 20th century up to the 1970s will be arrayed at the starting point on the island's main coastal road.
The 80 cars from different European countries participating in the 3-day rally will cover 300km, and also the 13 stages of the special 70km race.
 Prosecutor presses charges against teacher who killed his wifeThe public prosecutor on Thursday pressed charges against the 36-year old high school music teacher who confessed to having killed and buried his wife in a park in the Athens northern suburb of Filothei, Athens suburb.
The teacher will give testify on Friday before the examining magistrate. His attorney, Yannis Mantzouranis, said to reporters: "It is a family and personal tragedy and we must treat it with due sensitivity".
 Freighter's crew suffering from tuberculosisPort authorities in Piraeus were alerted on Thursday morning after it was ascertained that the 34 crewmembers of the North Korea-flag freighter "Rak Wand 2" had contracted tuberculosis.
A number of doctors from the Piraeus Prefecture have already boarded the ship and all the seamen were to be taken to a hospital in the Attica prefecture on Friday morning.
The development came to light when one of the 34 seamen was reported ill on Tuesday and doctors ascertained that he was suffering from tuberculosis.
 Sports bill on violence, doping ratifiedThe Parliament ratified in its entirety on Thursday the bill on violence at sports venues and on doping.
Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis, referring to his decision to withdraw the amendment on the implementation of proportional representation in elections for members of the boards of sports federations, said that "this issue does not only touch Greek law. It also has parameters abroad."
The minister further said that "from the moment that the federations are in a developing elections phase we shall give them time. There must be order in the federations, there should be democratic processes and transparency. However, to avoid mistakes on issues concerning FIFA, UEFA and the International Olympics Committee, a dialogue must be held with the federations to enable them to assume their responsibilities."
 Cloud, local showers on FridayCloudy and showery weather and northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 24C. Cloudy and showery weather in Athens, with 4-5 beaufort northwesterly winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 23C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 18C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe meeting of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's Central Committee on Friday, the new salaries and raises in the public sector and the Armed Forces, and the ongoing strike by Customs employees and the resulting problems in the fuel market were the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The new salaries in the public sector, as of October 1", when the second part of the salary raises in the public sector, as provided in the 2008 incomes policy, enters into effect.
APOGEVMATINI: "The new salaries in the public sector - The 2 percent second installment of the salary raise as of October 1".
AVGHI: "The 'life-raft' of a government reshuffle is full of holes - Pressure for action by Karamanlis".
AVRIANI: "Abolition of confidentiality of tax data and audit of assets of all civil servants - Radical recommendations by the Union of Prosecutors aimed at stamping out corruption in the public sector".
CHORA: "Get rid of Efraim (Vatopedi Monastery abbot) and clear up the scandal (of real estate exchanges with the state), Karamanlis orders".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "LAOS' (Popular Orthodox Rally party) George (party leader Karatzaferis) predicts chaos - In statements on several radio stations, he did not mince his words".
ELEFTHEROS: "Spectacular turn-about by Nimetz (UN secretary general's special mediator) on the FYROM name issue - He no longer advocates Gruevski's (FYROM prime minister) irrational demands".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Karamanlis considering (now) triple 'reshuffle' - Structural changes to the governance model, movement of ministers, new faces and new roles in Maximos Mansion (government headquarters)".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis 'caressing' the rebels and keeping is intentions to himself" ahead of Friday's central committee meeting, in an attempt to close fronts and sweep the problems under the rug.
ESTIA: "What is expected of Karamanlis: Rebirth of the lost hope".
ETHNOS: "Looting (new wave of price hikes) in food, petrol, with government a simple onlooker".
KATHIMERINI: 'The speculation on Karamanlis' next moves - Whispers in ministers' offices of reshuffle and early general elections".
NIKI: "The people's tolerance hits red - The crisis plaguing the country peaks".
PONTIKI (weekly): "PASOK-SYN headed for 'marriage'? - The prospect that Karamanlis dreads, and the KKE is hoping for".
RIZOSPASTIS: "New anti-insurance measures being 'cooked up' with 'directionally guided' reports on the social security sector".
TA NEA: "Karamanlis running out of...fuel".
TO VIMA: "Elections dilemma...to be put forward tomorrow (Friday) by the prime minister - He is determined for a showdown with the 'rebels'."
VRADYNI; "The new salaries in the public sector, Armed Forces - October's salary will contain the second installment of the raise".
 Cyprus gives official reply to Turkish President's references on CyprusUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Republic of Cyprus has given an official reply to Turkish President Abdullah Gul's references on Cyprus, during his speech this week at the UN General Assembly.
In a written statement, which has circulated as an official document of the United Nations, Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN, Minas Hadjimichael, stresses that the ongoing negotiations' process, which began September between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, aims at reunifying Cyprus through an agreement, which would serve the interests of all Cypriots.
Hadjimichael notes that through efforts to reach a political settlement, the Republic of Cyprus will evolve to a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined in the relevant UNSC resolutions.
The basis of the solution, he adds, has been agreed upon in the past and has recently been reaffirmed by the two communities of Cyprus, allowing thus the commencement of fully-fledged negotiations.
Cyprus' Permanent Representative also welcomes the Turkish President's statement that Turkey supports the ongoing effort of the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus in the framework of the UN Secretary General's good offices mission to achieve a political settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Referring to the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, he notes that economic disparities between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities in Cyprus are the immediate result of the continuous occupation of an important part of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkish occupation troops.
He also says that the government of Cyprus continues to support the Turkish Cypriot community with financial and social measures as well as with EU financial aid.
Hadjimichael also notes that the government of Cyprus is committed to continue its support because it believes that the economic integration of the two communities of the island is necessary, among other things, for the smooth unification of Cyprus.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
A fresh attempt to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem began this September when the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, Cypriot
President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, began substantive negotiations with a view to reunify Cyprus.
 Cyprus and Belgium: Turkey must recognise Cyprus RepublicNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Turkey cannot join the European Union if it does not recognise beforehand the Republic of Cyprus, Acting President of the Republic and House of Representatives Speaker Marios Garoyian and Belgian Senator and Chairman of the Belgium-Cyprus Friendship Group at the Belgian Parliament Philippe Monfils have said.
In statements after a meeting on Thursday, Garoyian said that there is a common understanding with the Belgian officials "that a solution cannot be functional or viable without the withdrawal of Turkish troops and settlers and without creating the preconditions to set up a functional and viable state which will secure all human rights without intervention rights and guarantees which Turkey wants".
He said the meeting concentrated on developments in the Cyprus issue as well as on relations with the two parliaments.
Garoyian said he conveyed to Monfils the positions of the Greek Cypriot side on the progress of negotiations the Greek Cypriot side is facing at peace talks with the Turkish Cypriot community, due to intransigent positions the Turkish Cypriots put forward.
The Acting President said that they discussed Turkey's progress towards EU accession and it was agreed that its "accession negotiations cannot continue with opening more chapters if Turkey does not fulfill its obligations and commitments towards the EU and Cyprus, that is, to recognise the Republic of Cyprus and normalise its relations with the country".
He called on Turkey to alter its attitude, and urged the international community to exert pressure towards this direction.
Referring to a draft resolution on Cyprus promoted at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Garoyian said it contains many positive elements but at the same time "we do not agree with some references", such as the reference to so-called direct trade between Cyprus' northern Turkish occupied areas and the EU.
Monfils said he fully shares the positions expressed by the Cypriot government on the negotiations.
"Belgium has no intention to lecture Cyprus on institutional aspects", he said, adding that the Belgian Parliament has unanimously approved a resolution which stresses that Cypriots should be left by themselves to decide their future, without outside intervention.
"By saying this, we refer to Turkey", he noted, speaking through an interpreter, and expressed concern about Turkey's willingness to allow Cypriot negotiators to agree to a solution.
Monfils said that European institutions have an obligation to exert pressure on Turkey, adding that "Turkey cannot join the EU if it does not recognise a priori the Republic of Cyprus. We should also ask Turkey, in the framework of the negotiations, to proceed with good will gestures and withdraw its troops, solving the settlers' issue".
"More pressure is necessary at the moment", he added.
Answering questions, Monfils said that there is a great difference between Cyprus and Belgium as far as a federal system is concerned.
He said that the two Cypriot communities are trying to set up a central government while Belgium has begun as a unified central state and is moving to increased autonomy for its communities.
He said that in Cyprus, both communities want to be reunited while in Belgium, there is fear that one community wants to break away.
The reunification of Cyprus, he added, will "bring benefits and prosperity for everybody within the framework and conditions set out by the Cypriot side. Reunification will be achieved based on proposals for a strong central government because this is the only way to have a federation and not a confederation."
Monfils said the Belgium-Cyprus Friendship Group will continue, on an EU and international level, to help efforts for a final settlement of the Cyprus issue, stressing that there should not be involvement from third parties which might contort the negotiating procedure.
 Russia supports a just solution for CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Russia's firm position on Cyprus was expressed during a meeting between the President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in New York on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said.
A Ministry press release said that during the meeting Moscow reaffirmed its position of principle in favor of a comprehensive, viable and just solution to the Cyprus problem, on the basis of relevant UN Security Council resolutions, taking into account the interests of the island's two communities.
The press release also noted that Christofias and Lavrov had an interesting exchange of views on current international issues, including the situation in the Caucasus.
The press release outlines the common interest of both countries to speed up the pace of the constructive and multi-faceted bilateral relations and in particular to activate the business of the Cyprus-Russian Commission on Intergovern-mental Cooperation in the areas of trade and economy.
In conclusion, the two expressed hope to further strengthen the inter-parliamentary ties.
 Cyprus should remain a single country, say Obama and BidenNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
United States Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Democratic Senator, candidate for the Vice-Presidency, Joe Biden "believe strongly that Cyprus should remain a single country in which each of the two communities on the island is able to exercise substantial political authority in its own geographical zone - with a just and mutually agreed settlement of difficult issues like property refugees, land and security".
This is included in a statement issued Wednesday on Cyprus from the Obama/Biden foreign policy plan, entitled "Barack Obama and Joe Biden: A stronger Partnership with Europe for a safer America".
According to the statement, "seeking a just and lasting political settlement on Cyprus : Barack Obama and Joe Biden will show U.S. leadership in seeking to negotiate a political settlement on Cyprus".
Obama and Biden note that "a negotiated political settlement on Cyprus would not only end the island's tragic division but would pave the way to prosperity and peace throughout the entire region".
"It would finally repose to the people of Cyprus after many years of division and uncertainty. It would help foster better Greek-Turkish relations, strengthen Turkish democracy, reduce the risk of military conflict, and remove a major obstacle to Turkish membership in the EU", the statement concludes.
Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. Efforts are underway between the leaders of the islandÔs two communities to reunite the country under a bizonal bicommunal federal roof.
 Delegation of the France-Cyprus Friendship Group visits CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
A delegation of the France-Cyprus Friendship Group at the French Senate will be visiting Cyprus September 25-30, headed by the Chairman of the Group Andre Rouviere.
During their stay in Cyprus the French Senators will be received by Acting President of the Republic, House President, Marios Garoyian.
They will also have meetings with the Chairman of the Cyprus-France Friendship Group at the House of Representatives, President of the
Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Averof Neophytou and members of the Cyprus-France Friendship Group.
The MPs will meet former Chairman of the Cyprus-France Friendship Group at the Cyprus House, former President of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Nicos Anastasiades.
They will also have meetings with former President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos, Social Movement EDEK Honorary President Vassos Lyssarides and former Foreign Minister George Lillikas.
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