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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-02-21

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

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

Saturday, 21 February 2009 Issue No: 3128

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM to seek meetings with party leaders on crisis
  • [02] PASOK to accept PM's invitation for dialogue
  • [03] Cyprus president receives ND's Zagoritis
  • [04] ND secretary meets Cyprus House speaker
  • [05] ND Sec't Zagoritis' interview
  • [06] Gov't, PASOK on Turkish military maneuver
  • [07] Interior minister speaks in Thessaloniki
  • [08] U.S. Senator Durbin received by Ecumenical Patriarch
  • [09] Development minister, U.S. envoy discuss energy issues
  • [10] Transportation ministry reacts to TIR drivers' strike
  • [11] Employment minister: New bill on Labor Inspectors Corps to be tabled in next few days
  • [12] Bill eyes changes in cap market
  • [13] Interview by PASOK econ sector head Katseli
  • [14] Bucharest-Alexandroupolis-Iraklion direct flight launched
  • [15] Foreign interest in Greek fiber optics project
  • [16] 'Dionysia '09' wine show in Athens
  • [17] Building cost index up 2.9% in Jan.
  • [18] Greek hotels record less stays in Jan-Sep '08
  • [19] Greek stocks end lower on Fri.
  • [20] ADEX closing report
  • [21] Greek bond market closing report
  • [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [23] Papoulias visits Ioannina, opens exhibition
  • [24] ESIEA delegation meets with enclaved pupils in Cyprus, visits historic monastery
  • [25] Irene Papas to receive Venice theatre award
  • [26] Investigation at Siemens offices in Marousi
  • [27] High court upholds ruling against surgeon who left needle in patient
  • [28] Tornado reported on Rhodes
  • [29] Demonstration in support of injured trade unionist in Athens
  • [30] US Consular Section closed last Wednesday of month
  • [31] Heroine confiscated at Greek-Albanian border
  • [32] Bushfires in Australia blaze through "Greek" Mt Mela
  • [33] PASOK MPs table question over 2013 Med Games
  • [34] Cloud and brief showers, snow on Saturday
  • [35] The Friday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance
  • [36] China supports Cyprus solution based on international law Politics

  • [01] PM to seek meetings with party leaders on crisis

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis announced on Friday that he will seek separate meetings with political party leaders to discuss ways of tackling the impact of the global economic crisis, while speaking in Parliament during the "Hour of the Prime Minister".

    "I consider it necessary to agree, at least on issues of national significance, such as confronting the repercussions of the international crisis," Karamanlis said, adding, "for this purpose, immediately after the extraordinary EU summit, I will seek meetings with all political leaders".

    "I will seek such discussions of substance on all the major issues of this critical period," Karamanlis said.

    The statement was made during debate revolving around a tabled question by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis.

    Karatzaferis suggested an all-party government be set up, headed by European Central Bank (ECB) vice-president and former Bank of Greece (BoG) governor Loukas Papademos -- pointing to a brief government by Xenophon Zolotas in 1989-90 -- and comprising ministers from all the parliamentary parties, "so that we will all, together, support an effort to exit the crisis".

    In such an event, "we should agree that this (all-party government) will have an expiration date ... in a year we will elect a President of the Republic, and next year when, hopefully, we will exit the crisis, we can proceed to general elections 'from a zero basis'," Karatzaferis proposed.

    Responding, Karamanlis noted that "the country has an elected government" and that various proposals being voiced recently "do not comprise responsible approaches for facing the repercussions of the global crisis" but, rather, "are launched to create impressions".

    "This is the truth. And they prove political opportunism," Karamanlis said, adding that "countries facing much more serious repercussions are not resorting to such methods, and this is because they have responsible political forces that truly care about confronting the crisis and not forces that think they have found the opportunity to assume, or share, power".

    Commenting on the premier's announcement later on Friday, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that Karamanlis' initiative demonstrated that he was prepared to listen to anyone having truly realistic and effective proposals.

    He also repeated in response to questions that the government had made its position on the possibility of early elections absolutely clear but certain parties seemed unable or pretended to be unable to understand.

    Asked if the invitation to dialogue was in reality an attempt to persuade the political parties to agree to painful austerity measures demanded by the European Commission, Antonaros merely referred reporters' to the briefing given on Thursday and repeated that the government had a plan for dealing with the crisis and was convinced that this would achieve the goals set.

    "Why the invitation, therefore? Don't the political leaders want dialogue? The prime minister and we have said that we are not unerring. We do not claim to have all the answers. The political leaders are therefore invited to dialogue. Isn't it possible that they have proposals? We hope so," he said.

    [02] PASOK to accept PM's invitation for dialogue

    Main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou on Friday said that PASOK will accept the prime minister's invitation for a meeting with the political party leaders on economic issues, while continuing to have "many and grave reservations". He asserted that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was not seeking a true consensus through his proposal but "accomplices for the failure of his policies".

    "If he had wanted consensus, he would have achieved it on several crucial issues on which it was offered in the five years that he has been governing the country," he added.

    At the same time, he underlined that the main opposition had never refused to take part in dialogue when it was invited and did not intend to give the government the chance to make such a claim in this instance.

    Commenting on the premier's speech in Parliament, in which Karamanlis criticised opposition parties for "irresponsible" suggestions to dissolve the present Parliament and either hold early elections or replace it with an interim 'consensus' government, Papaconstantinou said that the premier did not have a monopoly on responsible behaviour.

    "In the other countries that the prime minister referred to there are governments that draft plans for confronting the crisis, while here there is no such plan. Also, the other governments understand that a country cannot exit the crisis only through restrictive measures but primarily when there is a developmental target," the spokesman added.

    He also pointed out that the real income of the average Greek in terms of purchasing power had remained level in the past four years, while in other European countries it had risen.

    Regarding the amendment tabled by Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou in order to put pressure on banks to make funds available to the real economy, Papaconstantinou said that it was a correction that would fall short of its target, pointing out that PASOK had warned the government that the previous measures essentially gave banks a carte blanche.

    "All this is happening because the government, above all, cares about bankers and not about the average Greek business and Greek household," PASOK's spokesman stressed.

    [03] Cyprus president receives ND's Zagoritis

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA - A. Viketos)

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on Friday received ruling New Democracy's Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis, who is on Cyprus at the head of a delegation sent by Greece's ruling party.

    Christofias briefed Zagoritis on the latest developments regarding the Cyprus issue and the upcoming EU Summit in March.

    "We want to once again stress that we are at the side of the Cypriot people for a just, viable and functional solution [to the Cyprus issue], in the framework of UN decisions for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation having a federal government, a single international identity, a single sovereignty and nationality. This solution will at last end the illegal occupation of Cyprus," Zagoritis said afterwards.

    [04] ND secretary meets Cyprus House speaker

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)

    New Democracy's Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis, who is visiting Cyprus at the head of a delegation sent by Greece's ruling party, met on Friday with President of the Cyprus House of Representatives Marios Garoyian.

    Zagoritis said he was given an "analytical and multifaceted" briefing by Garoyian on developments regarding the ongoing Cyprus problem.

    "We once again reiterate our well known position, that we stand by the people of Cyprus for a just, viable and functional solution to the Cyprus problem," Zagoritis added.

    He further said that the solution must be a bi-communal, bizonal federation based on United Nations resolutions . "We will do everything necessary to achieve this target, so that the (Turksih) occupation army get off the island," he emphasised.

    On his part, Garoyian wished all the best to the Greeks at home and abroad "as regards achieving their targets".

    [05] ND Sec't Zagoritis' interview

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis on Friday expressed the party's objection to policies promoting flexible labor relations, underlining that the objective is "quality and full-time work for all".

    Zagoritis stated that this stance was vindicated by the fact that unemployment dropped 4 percentage points, from 11.3 pct roughly five years when the current government took over, adding that currently it is lower than the Euro-zone average.

    In an interview with ANA-MPA, Zagoritis there is no issue of disunity within ND, pointing out that different opinions, personal strategies, exaggerations and shallow viewpoints are not allowed, as they undermine common efforts and are harmful.

    Referring to the global economic crisis, Zagoritis said the government has a plan, which is constantly being updated to meet developments both at international and European level. Preserving growth, supporting the financially weak and protecting employment as well as fiscal reform, are the three key-points of the government plan, Zagoritis stated, accusing main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou of copying the Stability and Development Programme already presented by the government.

    "Greece is one of the five Eurozone countries with positive growth rate," Zagoritis said, adding however, that public debt remains high, as it has for many decades.

    "Our policy is firmly orientated toward a reduction of deficit, which is already lower than the Eurozone average, reduced by half from the 7.5-pct deficit handed over by PASOK.

    Referring to the opinion polls, he said election results will show which party has the lead, pointing out that the political scene is characterised by fluidity.

    Zagoritis denied that there was any suggestion to change the election law. Regarding a recently tabled draft law for the Greek expatriate voting rights, Zagoritis expressed a hope that it will be supported by all political parties, allowing overseas Greeks to vote in national elections from their countries of residence after 2011. Moreover, he called on PASOK to display a measure of responsibility on the issue.

    [06] Gov't, PASOK on Turkish military maneuver

    A government spokesman on Friday said all the necessary measures are being taken by the Greek side vis--vis a planned Turkish aero-nautical maneuver in the Aegean, with the reported participation of other NATO member-states.

    Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, speaking at his regular press briefing, declined to provide details.

    Turkish military maneuvers often generate violations of Greek airspace and territorial waters in the Aegean, as well as infringements of Athens FIR rules, provocations that always result in Greek vessels and planes dispatched to the scene.

    On his part, a main opposition PASOK spokesman said characteristics of the specific military maneuver, as reported, are worrying, as they belie a dispute of Greek territorial boundaries and Ankara's theory 'grey zones' in the Aegean.

    [07] Interior minister speaks in Thessaloniki

    The government assumes its responsibilities and there are still three years ahead for solving the country's problems, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Friday.

    "The (prime minister Costas) Karamanlis's government has never searched an alibi, is able to assume its responsibilities and we have in front of us four years, counting from September 2007 until the end of our term in office, to fight for solving the people's problems," Pavlopoulos said on the sidelines of a one-conference organised by the Central Macedonia's Region authorities in Thessaloniki focusing on public administration issues.

    "The climate of early election speculations is harmful for the country, while phenomena of terrorism lead us to take more measures in order to secure order," Pavlopoulos added.

    The interior minister also accused the main opposition PASOK party of "excessive statements that create impressions harmful for the country."

    During his address to the conference, Pavlopoulos said that "decentralisation and regional growth cannot exist without strong local government authorities."

    [08] U.S. Senator Durbin received by Ecumenical Patriarch

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)

    US Senator for Illinois Richard Durbin on Friday promised Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I his full support in dealing with the problems faced by the Patriarchate, during a visit to Fanar.

    "I will do what I can to help the Ecumenical Patriarch's mission achieve success," the Senator said after meeting Bartholomew I, whom he praised strongly for "his wisdom, goodness and his work".

    Their talks focused on the problems faced by the Patriarchate and the Greek minority in Istanbul, while the Senator had earlier been briefed on the prospects of reopening the Theological School on Halki.

    Financial News

    [09] Development minister, U.S. envoy discuss energy issues

    Closer cooperation between Greece and the United States in renewable energy sources policy - an area that the new U.S. administration considers highly important - was agreed during a meeting on Friday between Greek Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and U.S. Ambassador to Athens Daniel Speckhard.

    "We agreed to intensify our cooperation in this area and, in this framework, Mr. Speckhard has invited me to visit the U.S. and more specifically Colorado, where there is a special U.S. centre like our Centre for Renewable Energy Sources," Hatzidakis told reporters after the meeting.

    He said the meeting had also focused on attracting U.S. investment in RES, especially in the wake of new legislation for photovoltaic ventures that facilitated this sort of investment.

    "We had an exchange of views on the issue of energy adequacy in Europe and the pipeline policy being followed by other European countries and by Greece," he added.

    The minister also answered questions about the pressures the government was putting on banks to continue providing money to the real economy.

    "The challenge at this time is to move on three different levels: the first level is to support the real economy, the second is to continue changes and reforms, while the third is to implement a policy that has a strong hue of social justice. Everyone, therefore, and quite obviously banks, must realise that the government will not compromise with anyone. Above all we are interested in the citizens and the future of the country," Hatzidakis underlined.

    The U.S. ambassador noted that his meeting with Hatzidakis was "a strong message of our president's interest in strengthening our cooperation with our allies, including Greece, and our cooperation to face global problems together."

    Noting that U.S. President Barack Obama "placed great emphasis" on RES, he said the discussion with the minister had covered these and a package for economic recovery that included more than 30 billion dollars that the U.S. was prepared to invest in renewable energy. Other topics discussed were diversification in the energy sector and cooperation to ensure that the Greek and U.S. economies possessed the necessary energy resources in order to ensure full employment in this sector and prospects for the future.

    "We are particularly satisfied with our relations with Greece and this ministry is working together with the U.S. for the good of our two countries," he added.

    Regarding a recent spate of terrorist attacks in Greece, Speckhard noted that these were worrying but not something unique to Greece:

    "All countries must be constantly alert and ready to cooperate as partners and allies. I hope that by working together, exchanging information and experiences and by teaching one another, we will be in a position to protect our citizens," he said.

    [10] Transportation ministry reacts to TIR drivers' strike

    The transport ministry reacted strongly to a strike declared by a segment of the Federation of International Transports (TIR) truck drivers (OFAE) and their blockade of customs posts and border crossings in northern Greece, which entered its second day on Friday.

    The ministry accused the strikers of obstructing international transports and thus rendering Greece accountable to the international community and its EU partners.

    The customs posts at Evzoni, Doirani and Niki, in northern Greece, as well as the border crossings of Promahonas and Exohi, were blocked by lorries and other large vehicles on Thursday due to the mobilisations by truckers who remained in place on Friday, while similar blockades spread were set up later Thursday at the ports of Patras and Igoumenitsa.

    The protesting truckers blocked access to other vehicles transporting goods allowing, however, passage to private cars and tourist coaches.

    Their demands include implementation of 24-hour checks on trucks with foreign license plates to tackle the problem of "pirating", i.e. foreign truckers illegally working in Greece. They also called for measures aimed at dealing with the problem of illegal migrants in seaports attempting to stow away on Italy-bound trucks.

    The ministry has also asked prefectures in the country to tighten checks by mixed monitoring units, and indeed in the presence of representatives to be designated by their union organisations, while the ministry has further asked the ministers of the interior and justice to seek methods of tackling the phenomenon of illegal immigrants boarding and hiding in trucks, the announcement explained.

    In the afternoon, it was reported that long lines of trucks formed at the border crossings of Evzoni and Promahonas in northern Greece. Roughly 120 trucks transporting goods remained stuck at Evzoni and approximately 200 at the Promahonas border crossing, while no problems are faced by motorists using the Doirani crossing at the border with FYROM.

    [11] Employment minister: New bill on Labor Inspectors Corps to be tabled in next few days

    Employment minister Fani Palli-Petralia announced in parliament on Friday that her ministry would table in the next few days a bill on the Labor Inspectors Corps (SEPE), replying to a questin tabled by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos on the impact of the global financial crisis on the working people.

    The new bill on the SEPE is ready and will be tabled in parliament in the coming days, Petralia said.

    Referring to her meeting two days earlier in Athens with the SEPE directors from all over Greece, Patralia said that "we set out two distinct directions: intensification of inspections and adherence to the labor legislation, under which the government would be strict with those acting in an anti-social manner or transgressing the rules, but would stand at the side of those enterprises abiding by the law and safeguarding jobs.

    [12] Bill eyes changes in cap market

    The government on Friday tabled a draft law in Parliament envisaging changes in the capital market, taxation and tourism sectors. The draft legislation seek to extend, by end 2011, all tax incentives offered for the merger of small- to medium-sized enterprises, cutting from 3.0 pct to 0.5 pct a special social contribution to a fund aiding farmers with organic cultivations, while raising a ceiling for repossessions and subsidisation of a "Next Solar SA" energy project in the Peloponnese.

    The draft law also envisages a rescheduling of the Greek state's debt to municipal authorities with the issuing of bonds in eight annual tranches by 2017.

    For the capital market, the new law foresees stricter sanctions for breaching market regulations, promotes changes in the operation of closed-end investment funds -- to allow them to becoming more attractive -- and introduces a ban on market abuse practices in the Alternative Market of the Athens Stock Exchange.

    [13] Interview by PASOK econ sector head Katseli

    "The biggest problem in the Greek economy is the continuous and accelerating slowdown of economic activity and recession," main opposition PASOK economy sector spokesperson and MP Louka Katseli said in an interview with the ANA-MPA on Friday.

    Katseli characterised the government's forecasts on the predicted growth rate as overly optimistic, and pointed out that the government has not presented a reliable "road map" to the Greek people and EU regarding the management of the crisis and the country's exit from it.

    "Taking into account the government policy, a proposal made by Bank of Greece Gov. George Provopoulos suggesting a deficit reduction below 3 pct is not feasible," she said, adding that it could have unwelcome results amidst the crisis.

    On the role of domestic banks, Katseli stressed that the presence of a strong public-run bank that will formulate borrowing terms and affect the banking system is imperative.

    [14] Bucharest-Alexandroupolis-Iraklion direct flight launched

    The private Greek airline Sky Express on Friday launched a Bucharest-Alexandroupolis-Iraklion (Crete) direct flight, which will be carried out two times a week on Tuesdays and Fridays.

    The airline's representative in Romania, Nikolaos Con-stantinidis, told ANA-MPA that the new direct connection was filling the flight gap for Romanians wishing to travel to Alexandroupolis, so up to now there had been no direct flight from Romania.

    The company anticipates that at least 50 passengers will be flying the route weekly, Constantinidis said, adding that the global financial and credit crisis would not impact the 'venture' because "we offer a better commection with Greece".

    The flight will take 75 minutes.

    [15] Foreign interest in Greek fiber optics project

    Foreign institutional investors have expressed a strong interest in a project to develop a fibre optic network in Greece, during the annual European congress held in Copenhagen earlier this month.

    The congress on Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) was organised by FTTH Council Europe and brought together 2,200 executives, amid more than 70 addresses and 71 pavillions of the most significant companies in the sector.

    Greece was represented by executives from the Invest in Greece Organisation and transport ministry officials. Greece plans to develop a fiber optic network in the country, linking two million households and enterprises and expanding in 50 large cities, budgeted at around 2 billion euros. An international tender for the project is expected to be held in the second half of 2009.

    [16] 'Dionysia '09' wine show in Athens

    A three-day wine festival and trade sector show, "Dionysia 2009", opens its doors on Friday at the Zappeion Hall in downtown Athens. The exhibition includes the participation of some 150 local winemakers along with thousands of Greek and foreign brands on hand for wine connoisseurs' sampling.

    Additionally, an exhibition of works by noted French wine posterist Jean-Pierre Got will be on display.

    Entrance for the entire three days is 15 euros, and includes a catalogue of all exhibited wines and a commemorative sample glass.

    [17] Building cost index up 2.9% in Jan.

    Greece's home building materials cost index rose by 2.9 pct in January 2009, compared with the same month last year, after recording increases of 5.3 pct and 7.0 pct in January 2008 and January 2007, respectively, the National Statistics Service announced on Friday.

    The statistical service said the home building cost index fell 0.3 pct in January from December 2008, after recording increases of 0.7 pct and 0.4 pct in the same months in 2008 and 2007, respectively.

    [18] Greek hotels record less stays in Jan-Sep '08

    Overnight stays at Greek hotels fell by 3.5 pct in the January-September 2008 period, compared with the corresponding period in 2007, while customer arrivals also fell by 3.2 pct over the same period, the National Statistics Service announced on Friday.

    The statistical service, in a report, said average stay per person was 4.3 overnight stays, unchanged from the nine-month period in 2007, while hotel room occupancy rates rose to 62.6 pct in 2008, from 60.8 pct in 2007. The service attributed the increase in occupancy rates to a reduction of hotel beds during the nine-month period.

    [19] Greek stocks end lower on Fri.

    Greek stocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, in line with a negative trend in other European markets. The composite index ended off the day's lows at 1,601.23 points, losing 0.86 pct, while turnover was 110.8 million euros, of which 4.1 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors ended lower, with the Food/Beverage (7.07 pct), Telecommunications (2.48 pct) and Oil (0.86 pct) scoring gains and the Financial Services (3.65 pct), Banks (3.13 pct), Media (3.07 pct) and Commerce (3.03 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 1.20 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.85 pct down and the FTSE 80 index dropped 1.76 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 168 to 44 with another 36 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.78%

    Industrials: -2.26%

    Commercial: -3.03%

    Construction: +0.40%

    Media: -3.07%

    Oil & Gas: +0.86%

    Personal & Household: -1.60%

    Raw Materials: -1.31%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.83%

    Technology: -0.84%

    Telecoms: +2.48%

    Banks: -3.13%

    Food & Beverages: +7.07%

    Health: -2.52%

    Utilities: -1.55%

    Chemicals: -1.61%

    Financial Services: -3.65%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, EFG Eurobank Ergasias, OPAP and Alpha Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.88

    ATEbank: 1.13

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.80

    HBC Coca Cola: 10.26

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.52

    National Bank of Greece: 10.60

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.38

    Intralot: 3.42

    OPAP: 20.20

    OTE: 10.76

    Bank of Piraeus: 4.32

    Titan Cement Company: 13.90

    [20] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a reduced discount (0.71 pct) in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover rising slightly to 44.807 million euros. Volume was a strong 9,483 contracts worth 37.105 million euros.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,699 contracts worth 7.702 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,505), followed by OTE (887), PPC (983), Alpha Bank (578), Eurobank (533), Cyprus Bank (475) and Piraeus Bank (604).

    [21] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds shrank to 250 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, with turnover at 985 million euros, of which 605 million were buy orders and the remaining 380 million euros were sell orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 405 million euros. The Greek bond yielded 5.54 pct and the German Bund 3.10 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor was 2.07 pct, the six-month rate was 1.97 pct, the three-month rate 1.87 pct and the one-month rate 1.57 pct.

    [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.269

    Pound sterling 0.888

    Danish kroner 7.509

    Swedish kroner 11.161

    Japanese yen 119.57

    Swiss franc 1.504

    Norwegian kroner 8.819

    Canadian dollar 1.603

    Australian dollar 1.990

    General News

    [23] Papoulias visits Ioannina, opens exhibition

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias is in Ioannina, northwest Greece, on the occasion of the 96th anniversary of the city's liberation from Ottoman rule.

    Shortly after his arrival, the president inaugurated an exhibition on folkloric songs, history, tradition and identity. Later in the evening, he will attend a formal dinner hosted in his honor by the mayor of the northwest lakeside city, the largest of Epirus province.

    The four-day series of events will wind up on Saturday.

    [24] ESIEA delegation meets with enclaved pupils in Cyprus, visits historic monastery

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)

    The Athens Journalists' Union (ESIEA) will effectively contri-bute to the conservation and renovation of the monastery of the Apostle Andreas, situated at the extreme point of the Karpass peninsula in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, ESIEA President Panos Sobolos said after a visit there on Friday.

    Sobolos, heading up a delegation, pledged an ESIEA 5,000-euro-donation as a first installment towards the monastery's restoration. The delegation was received and given a tour of the site by Father Zacharias, the monastery's monastic caretaker.

    Before visiting the monastery, the delegation visited the village of Rizokarpasso and the schools operating there for enclaved Greek Cypriot pupils.

    Addressing teachers and pupils, Sobolos assured them of the support of Greek journalists in their "important task, achieved under conditions of occupation." He also handed a cheque of 3,000 euros as an ESIEA donation to the schools.

    [25] Irene Papas to receive Venice theatre award

    ROME (ANA-MPA/Th. Andreadis-Syggelakis)

    The Biennale di Venezia (theatre) was to award the Leone d'oro (Golden Lion) for her lifetime achievements to Greek actress Irene Papas, a well-known and appreciated European artist. The ceremony will take place on Friday evening inside the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale.

    Italian daily "La Reppublica" notes, in an article on Friday, that "all Italians still remember Irene Papas for her performance in Franco Rossi's film 'Ulysses', even if four decades have passed since."

    Papas, the muse of Greek filmmaker Michael Cacoyannis, has also worked with Italian film directors like Mauro Bolognini, Fransesco Rossi and Roberto de Simone.

    After receiving the award, Papas will perform Euripides's "Medea".

    In an interview in the Rome newspaper "Avvenire", Papas said she would also like to direct both on television and in cinema.

    [26] Investigation at Siemens offices in Marousi

    Special investigator Nikos Zagorianos, who has bee assigned to the Siemens "slush fund" case, conducted a search at the Siemens Hellas offices in Marousi, Athens on Thursday in the presence of a prosecutor and Special Audit Service inspectors.

    All liquid assets belonging to 38 individuals have been ordered frozen by Zagorianos, who is currently awaiting to receive information from foreign banks via judicial assistance.

    [27] High court upholds ruling against surgeon who left needle in patient

    Greece's Supreme Court on Friday upheld a ruling by the Thessaloniki appeals court awarding 44,000 euros to a former heart patient on a malpractice suit against a heart surgeon, after the former wound up with a needle left inside his body after the surgery.

    A Thessaloniki heart surgeon and Aristotle University associate professor was sued for damages after reportedly leaving a needle in the plaintiff's body following a bypass procedure in September 1995 at the university's cardiology clinic in Thessaloniki's AHEPA Hospital.

    According to the court ruling, the surgeon was found guilty of negligence.

    However, the surgeon maintained that his one-time patient should have instead sued the state, as is the case with National Health System (ESY) physicians. Based on the defendant's argument, he could be sued only by the state in demand of any compensation paid to the plaintiff.

    The Supreme Court cited in its ruling that high-level scientific knowledge must be confirmed and implemented in practice without errors during a surgery, adding that the attending physician should assume full responsibility.

    [28] Tornado reported on Rhodes

    An extremely rare tornado was reported early Friday afternoon on the large Dodecanese island of Rhodes, causing damages to seaside buildings in the same-name island capital. In one instance, part of a building housing a bank collapsed, slightly injuring a bank employee.

    [29] Demonstration in support of injured trade unionist in Athens

    Workers, youth movement representatives and immigrants participated in a demonstration in Athens on Thursday evening in support of a woman trade unionist seriously injured in a murder attempt last December.

    The demonstrators marched to the Parliament building and a 10-member delegation, including the trade unionist's mother and doctor, delivered a petition to the office of Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas.

    A police investigation is underway on the attempted murder of trade unionist Konstantina Kuneva, a Bulgarian national.

    [30] US Consular Section closed last Wednesday of month

    The US Embassy's Consular Section in Athens will remain closed to the public on every last Wednesday of each month for internal reasons, according to an embassy press release.

    In that context, the US Embassy's Consular Section in Athens will remain closed to the public on Wednesday, February 25.

    This includes the non-immigrant visa section, immigrant visa section, pension section, US passports and naturalisation services, and services for US citizens section. and US passports section

    In the event of an emergency on that day, please call 210-7212951 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and 210-7202490/1 after 5:00 p.m.

    [31] Heroine confiscated at Greek-Albanian border

    Ten and a half kilos of heroine were confiscated by Greek authorities at the Greek-Albanian border in Krystallopigi on Friday.

    The heroine was hidden in a car with Greek number plates driven by a 23-year Albanian national who has been arrested.

    [32] Bushfires in Australia blaze through "Greek" Mt Mela

    MELBOURNE (ANA-MPA/S. Hatzimanolis)

    The catastrophic bushfires in the State of Victoria that have burned down hundreds of houses, leaving 7,000 people homeless, and blazed their way through farms incinerating thousands of animals and trees, have also destroyed Mt Mela of the "Panagia Soumela" Pontian Greek Institution.

    Thousands of Greek-Australians had planted there their own olive trees, over 2,500 plants, in mass tree-plantings organized during the past few years.

    Sports

    [33] PASOK MPs table question over 2013 Med Games

    In a question tabled for Culture Minister Antonis Samaras in Parliament on Friday, 35 main opposition PASOK MPs alleged that there are substantial delays in the preparations for the 2013 Mediterranean Games to be held in the central Greek cities of Larissa and Volos.

    They pointed to what they said were seven 'problem' areas where preparations were proceeding at a slow pace that created concern for "irreversible results for the organisation, which might restrict the growth benefits for Greece and Thessaly".

    Weather forecast

    [34] Cloud and brief showers, snow on Saturday

    Cloudy weather with possible brief showers and snowfall are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, while temperatures will remain low. Winds from mainly northwesterly directions, 5-8 beauforts. Temperatures ranging from -5C to 12 C. Cloudy in Athens, 1C-9C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, winds up to 7 beaufort, -1C to 3C.

    [35] The Friday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance

    The Economy and Finance Ministry's measures to contain public sector expenditure, the police investigation into the failed car-bomb outside a Citibank office building at the northern Athens district of Kifissia on Wednesday (which was neutralised by police bomb-disposal experts) and a prosecutor's visit to SIEMENS offices in Athens, dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Prosecutor confiscates 150 files containing facts on Siemens slush funds from Siemens offices in Athens".

    APOGEVMATINI:" Raid at SIEMENS offices - Prosecutor stormed into SIEMENS headquarters".

    AVGHI: "Banks acting without controls, and countries placed in excessive deficit procedures - The government conforms to the EU recommendations with drastic cutbacks in state spending".

    AVRIANI: "According to an Athens Journalists Union announcement: The government gave a nationwide broadcasting licence to private SKAI tv channel gratuitiously".

    CHORA: "FinMin Yannis Papathanassiou's direct answer to Almunia's message: We will tidy up spending".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Government decides a strict plan for exit from the crisis".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Former Public Order Minister in PASOK government Michalis Chryssohoidis on the terrorists: They are setting up a new group with young people".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The banks took 7.8 billion euros (under the government's liquidity package) and are giving crumbs - Government opens front on liquidity".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Contract employees being sacrificed to Almunia".

    ESTIA: "Statists return - The drama of the Greek economy".

    ETHNOS: "Following EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia's orders and a step before the excessive deficit procedure, the Financial Crimes Squad will raid a 'dead' market".

    KATHIMERINI: "Limitation on bank dividends - Only stocks will be given, in lieu of cash dividends (by the banks registering with the liquidity package)".

    LOGOS: "Government responds to Almunia with immediate cutbacks".

    NIKI: "Government is 'cooking up' new measures - Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) fears the people's reactions".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Communist Party of Greece (KKE) struggle for a different development course".

    TA NEA: "Give loans, not dividends! Government playing 'cat and mouse' with banks".

    TO VIMA: "Frightened government, terrified Police from the escalating blind terroristic attacks".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [36] China supports Cyprus solution based on international law

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in Gansu and President of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the same region Lu Hao assured on Friday that China supports a Cyprus settlement, in the framework of UN decisions and on the basis of the principles of respect of human rights and international law in general.

    Lu Hao and a delegation of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party were received on Friday by President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian, who expressed gratitude for the support of China to the struggle of the people of Cyprus to reunite the island.

    He said China has always supported the just cause of the people of Cyprus in the UN Security Council and other international bodies, and assured the members of the Chinese delegation that Cyprus would continue to provide its support to issues concerning China.

    Garoyian briefed the delegation on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and the direct negotiations between President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    He said the aim of the Greek Cypriot side is to achieve a viable and functional solution, a bizonal bicommunal federation, based on UN resolutions and in line with international law, which would guarantee the respect of fundamental human rights for the people of Cyprus, adding that Turkey still holds the key to a settlement.

    Garoyian also praised the high level of relations between Cyprus and China, and their parliaments, both on a bilateral and an international level, noting that these relations are based on common values and principles.

    Lu Hao assured Garoyian that China fully understands the wish of the people of Cyprus to reunite the island, and reaffirmed the steadfast support of China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to a Cyprus settlement, in the framework of UN decisions and on the basis of the principles of respect of human rights and international law in general.

    He also expressed satisfaction that the diplomatic relations between China and Cyprus has substantively improved over the years, since they are based on the foundations of mutual respect and shared values.

    During the meeting, it was noted that it was important to further upgrade relations and cooperation between the two countries in all sectors and on all levels.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

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


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