|Tuesday, 12 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-06-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 20 June 2009 Issue No: 3225
 PM welcomes EU decision on illegal migrationBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday expressed his personal satisfaction with the decisions taken during a two-day EU Summit here -amongst others, on the increasingly troubling problem of illegal immigration into the Union as a whole, and particularly its repercussions on Greece.
Specifically, Karamanlis said an agreement by the Union's 27 member-states on dealing with illegal immigration marks the climax of a long-standing diplomatic initiative vigorously promoted by Athens, which included letters sent by Karamanlis towards other EU leaders as well as persistent activity by Greece's diplomatic staff and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
The Greek PM said a common stance by EU members was of particular significance given the different approaches and views that some of the member-states hold on the issue of illegal immigration, and given that the burden emanating from the increasing flow of illegal migrants adversely affects a specific group of countries in the Union more than others.
Greece and other countries in the Union's southern periphery -- Spain, Italy, Malta and Cyprus -- have recently been increasingly vocal in demanding EU support in coping with an ever-rising tide of illegal immigration from mostly Third World countries in the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
Referring to decisions taken by EU leaders only hours earlier, Karamanlis cited an agreement on a more "equal" sharing of the burdens associated with illegal immigration between all member-states, pointing to stepped up guarding of the EU's external borders via the Frontex initiative as well as the commencement of jointly chartered flights by EU governments to repatriate illegal immigrants to their home countries.
In briefing Greek reporters here, Karamanlis confirmed that the EU aims to sign re-admission protocols with countries where a large number of illegal migrants originate, but also with countries that serve as transit points for illegal immigrants, an indirect reference to EU candidate-state Turkey.
Turning in particular to Turkey and Libya, both of which are mentioned in the summit's conclusions as "key countries" in dealing with the illegal immigration phenomenon, the Greek prime minister underlined that Turkey bears significant responsibility for the rising problem.
Along those lines, Karamanlis said the Union also unanimously backs the position that Turkey must fully implement bilateral agreements it has signed for the re-admission of third party nationals that illegally enter other countries from its territory. This point is a clear reference to a landmark 2001 re-admission protocol that Ankara signed with Athens, a pact that Ankara is reportedly failing to satisfactorily honor.
Karamanlis added, at this point, that Turkey's actions and behaviour on this specific matter should now be closely scrutinised.
Turning to another major issue that dominated talks here, Karamanlis said there are indications that the ongoing global economic crisis is abating, although a cautious stance is still necessary.
Amongst others, Karamanlis referred to an improvement in regulatory supervision of financial institutions in Europe and on the issue of member-states' fiscal stability.
He called Friday's decisions vis-à-vis supervision of financial institutions within the EU a significant step forward.
 PM on decision to re-elect BarrosoKaramanlis expressed satisfaction at the European leaders' decision to appoint Jose Manuel Barroso to serve a second five-year term as president of the European Commission, pointing out that Barroso had given Greece valuable support on a number of issues affecting the country's interests.
According to the Greek premier, Barroso was also well acquainted with the problems faced by the European south, while he also pointed to the European Commission's strong solidarity with Greece during the crisis caused by the massive 2007 fires.
Karamanlis additionally stressed that the decision to reappoint Barroso was taken unanimously, with the support of the socialist leaders on the European Council.
On terrorism, domestic politics
Replying to questions on domestic issues, especially in light of the shooting in cold blood of a police officer by terrorists earlier this week, Karamanlis defended the response of the government and the police force.
"The destructive and nihilist criticism exercised by some does not help anything," he underlined, denying that the structure of the police anti-terrorism squad had been disrupted by the removal of high-ranking officers and pointing out that the majority had remained in the same positions.
"We need the police force to have a high morale," he added, stressing that those engaging in such criticism were sending out the wrong messages.
Once again ruling out the prospect of early elections, Karamanlis went on to also rule out the prospect of cooperation between ruling New Democracy and the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, stressing that the two were separated by "unbridgeable differences".
Regarding a decision to allow the foreign minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to land at a Greek airport in a plane bearing the FYROM national airline's logo, contrary to standard policy, Karamanlis stressed that Greece had recently made significant progress on the name dispute with FYROM. If the Greek side had refused to allow a FYROM plane to land in Corfu so that the FYROM minister could attend a OSCE foreign ministers' meeting taking place on the island, this would be construed as "pettiness, nervousness and insecurity," the Greek premier added.
Questioned about recent airspace violations in the Aegean by Turkish aircraft, Karamanlis said that intended to raise the issue with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in Athens on Saturday, in addition to the discussion that he had on the same issue with U.S. President Barack Obama two months ago.
 PASOK spokesman on EU summit, illegal immigration, terrorismMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papa-constantinou said on Friday that decisions taken by the European Union summit the same day, and on the issue of illegal immigration in particular, were "below the expectations and the needs of our country."
"There is no binding display of solidarity by our partners towards Greece," he said and added that "the only country mentioned in name is not Greece but Malta."
Papaconstantinou also referred to the decision taken by the EU's leaders to support the candidacy of Jose Manuel Barroso. He stressed that PASOK remains steadfast in its position against Barroso's candidacy, both for the positions that he expresses and because the relevant decision must be taken in the framework of the new Lisbon Treaty by the European Parliament at the end of the year.
Focusing on the European Council's decisions regarding the economic crisis, the spokesman said "there is no direction that we had expected for a more aggressive handling of the crisis."
Papaconstantinou also expressed PASOK's "deep concern" over statements made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on terrorism.
"The terrorists' target is served by services that do not function, by governments that leave the antiterrorist services unused and leave policemen exposed to dangers, as was the case in past days," the spokesman said.
 FM Bakoyannis speaks to Turkish TV stationISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A.Kourkoulas)
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis called Friday on Turkey to respect agreements it signed and fight against illegal immigration.
"I want to believe that the upcoming visit of Mr. (Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip) Erdogan will offer us, once again, the opportunity to discuss and agree that both our countries are obliged to abide by our agreements and fight with all our forces against human trafficing, to send the message that in no case we will accept illegal immigration," Bakoyannis told a Turkish TV station.
She also underlined the need for the implementation of the protocol, already signed by Greece and Turkey, regarding the readmission of illegal immigrants.
 MEP Koumoutsakos interview with NETThe next five years at the new European Parliament will be "difficult and extremely crucial," newly-elected MEP and former foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said in an interview with the state television channel NET on Friday.
Koumoutsakos noted that the European Parliament is a political arena with its own rules and its own logic, in which it was necessary to do various things in order to build alliances and thus promote issues.
The New Democracy MEP said that the first challenge facing the new European Parliament in the next five years was to show how it would handle the new, enhanced powers it has been given under the Lisbon Treaty and to convince European citizens that it was at their side and truly represented their own voice within the institutional structures of the European Union.
The second challenge was an economic one, he added: "It is to be expected that serious decisions will be taken that concern the European economy, because we are in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis, a recession that affects European citizens," he stressed.
The third great challenge concerned the crucial issue of illegal immigration and overall migration flows toward Europe, with Greece among the countries on the front line.
Another important challenge for those politicians that supported Europe was to win the political and ideological "tug-of-war" with the Euro-sceptics, he added, stressing the crucial role of the European People's Party (EPP) in this effort.
"The EPP, in the face of this challenge, has a special role to play because it is by far the largest and most powerful political family in the European Parliament. And, of course, the ND MEPs, as members of the EPP, will have their own important role to play," he noted.
"What we must do, is talk to citizens in a different way about European issues from now on. Not with the language of experts, specialists and technocrats, because this drives citizens away from European affairs rather than bringing them closer. This is the wager that must be won," Koumoutsakos stressed.
 Papandreou receives nat'l anti-smoking committeeMain opposition PASOK President George Papandreou on Friday offered his "full and unreserved" support to members of the national committee against smoking, during a meeting with the group at his office in Parliament, during which he also signed a declaration against smoking.
Papandreou underlined that public health is a major issue for the people, adding that huge amounts of money are being spent to treat illnesses that can be prevented.
Members of the committee presented the PASOK leader with a national action plan for public health and smoking.
 Alavanos insists on resignationThe head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos appears determined to resign after the party's poor result in the European Parliament elections, despite pleas from SYRIZA MPs on Friday asking him to reconsider.
After a meeting of SYRIZA MPs lasting several hours, MP Fotis Kouvelis said that SYRIZA's Parliamentary group were urging Alavanos to reconsider his decision or at least wait a few days before submitting his resignation, so that the issue might be discussed by other party organs, but he had insisted on his decision to resign.
A repeat meeting of SYRIZA's secretariat will take place on Monday, when Alavanos will announce his final decisions.
 SYN leader: Let cool-headedness prevailCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos-SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras said that what came first was for the party to listen to what its members and friends have to say before taking any decisions.
"Society needs a strong and united Left," he said in Ioannina on Thursday night.
"We are alive, and present in the upcoming battles. What doesn't kill you makes you more alive. In the difficult hours weare going through, we have a responsibility towards the citizens and our voters. We must remain calm and lucid, and have unity and comraderie. Even at the last minute, let cool-headedness prevail, so as to take our decisions on Monday," Tsipras said.
He was referring to the surprise announcement mid-week by the SYN-led Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos to resign from both the SYRIZA leadership and his seat in parliament, in the aftermath of the parliamentary alliance's disappointing results in the recent Euroelections.
The SYRIZA secretariat on Wednesday decided unanimously not to accept Alavanos' resignation, and to continue discussions on Monday, while Alavanos on Thursday reaffirmed his intention to resign.
 FM to receive Vietnamese Dep. PM on MondayForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will receive Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem at the foreign ministry on Monday morning. Statements will be made afterwards, followed by a working luncheon Bakoyannis will host for her visiting counterpart.
 OTE board members to testify on July 15-30The president and ten board members of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE S.A.) facing felony charges for breach of faith will testify between July 15 and 30 after the examining magistrate appointed to the case accepted a relevant request made through their attorneys.
The charges concern technical support contracts signed in 2005 between OTE and Siemens, Intracom and Anco totaling roughly 40 million euros.
An indictment had been issued in June 2007 against anyone responsible following a preliminary investigation conducted by First Instance Court Prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki in response to relevant press reports.
 Gov't, Papandreou on farm policyAgriculture Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, responding to accusations by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday from Parliament's podium, charged that the latter "appears to be inadequately briefed as regards the farm sector and is being misled by his advisors into making ungraceful exaggerations."
Papandreou earlier charged that the government failed to successfully demand a continuation of EU support to farmers beyond 2013.
Speaking in Parliament's first summer session and during a discussion on a current question tabled by his party, Papandreou also accused the government of failing to redirect the farming sector toward more viable and competitive products, underlining that farmers feel helpless as a result of the economic crisis and defenseless in view of the EU Summit next fall, when the 2014-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) financial perspectives will be discussed.
On his part, Hatzigakis outlined the moves made by the government to boost the farmers' income, citing the measures concerning pesticides, pressures exerted to have fertilizer prices drop 30 pct and implementation of a fuel price management programme.
Hatzigakis also stated that 80 pct of the programmes included in the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) will be implemented in the country's provinces, stressing that the specific CSF reached 5.23 billion euros when initially launched and now exceeds the seven-billion-euro mark.
"In addition, 900 million euros are being dedicated to environmental protection projects, while roughly 1 billion euros will go to water management related projects," he stressed, pointing out that farming sector programmes of over 3 billion euros are being currently promoted.
 Lambrakis Press to sell 49 pct of EurostarThe board of Athens-listed Lambrakis Press (DOL) on Friday announced its decision to sell 49 percent of shares in its subsidiary Eurostar SA, which manages the travel agency Travel Plan. The decision was taken in the framework of attempts by Lambrakis Press to restructure its portfolio and shed investments in activities that are not related to its main area of activity in the media sector.
The 49 percent share in Eurostar was sold to the company First Leisure World Limited (FLW) for five million euros. After the sale, Lambrakis Press will retain a 51 percent majority share of its subsidiary's share capital.
The main shareholder in FLW is also a shareholder and board-member of Lambrakis Press, which means that the decision must first be approved by an extraordinary meeting of Lambrakis Press shareholders that will take place on July 13.
 Hellenic Exchanges company's General Assembly of shareholdersThe Ellinika Chrimatistiria (Hellenic Exchanges SA) company decided during the Second Repeat General Assembly of shareholders to decrease its share capital by 6,396,250 euros through a decrease in the total number of shares from 70,485,563 to 65,368,563 common name shares.
According to an announcement, the above 5,117,000 shares were purchased during the period between 12/6/2008 and 18/12/2008, in accordance with the decision taken on 14/5/2008 by the company's General Assembly of shareholders, as well as the decision taken by its board on 28/2/2008.
It also decided to decrease the company's share capital by 9,805,284.45 euros, that will be carried out with a corresponding reduction of the share's nominal value from 1.25 euros to 1.10 euros. Following the above reductions, the company's share capital now amounts to 71,905,419.30 euros, divided into 65,368,563 common name shares having a nominal value of 1.10 euros.
 Greece-Vietnam air transport agreementGreece and Vietnam on Friday will sign a bilateral air transport agreement on Monday, expressing both countries' volition for a direct air link between Athens and Hanoi in order to boost relations and trade ties.
The agreement will be signed by Transport Minister Evripides Stylianidis and Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Transport and the head of the country's Civil Aviation Administration, Pham Quy Tieu.
 Stocks 2.38% upThe Athens Stock Exchange maintained its upward trend on Friday, with the general share price index up 2.38 percent to end at 2,233.90 points and turnover at 241.6 million euros, of which 29.9 million euros were block trades.
Most individual sector indexes moved upwards, with the biggest gains posted in Health (5.61 percent), Construction (5.04 percent), Commerce (4.47%) and Insurance (3.97 percent).
The FTSE/20 index ended 2.94 percent higher, the FTSE/40 index posted gains of 1.39 percent and the FTSE/80 closed 2.78 percent up.
Advancers led decliners by 166 to 59 with another 40 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.40%
Personal & Household: +0.64%
Raw Materials: +3.83%
Travel & Leisure: +1.15%
Food & Beverages: +0.90%
Financial Services: +3.62%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.14
Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.20
HBC Coca Cola: 13.76
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.90
National Bank of Greece: 18.65
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.75
Bank of Piraeus: 7.64
Titan Cement Company: 19.60
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount 2.97% in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover rising to 123.038 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,952 contracts worth 88.752 million euros, with 29,084 open positions in the market.
Volume on futures contracts on equities totaled 55,189 contracts worth 34,286 million euros, with investment interest focusing on GEK's contracts (8,408) followed by Mytilineos (8,341), Marfin Popular Bank (6,458), National Bank (5,498), Hellenic Telecoms (4,552) and Alpha Bank (3,163).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.404
Pound sterling 0.853
Danish kroner 7.502
Swedish kroner 11.060
Japanese yen 135.92
Swiss franc 1.522
Norwegian kroner 8.970
Canadian dollar 1.583
Australian dollar 1.742
 New Acropolis Museum to be inaugurated on Saturday - Tour of the permanent collections (part 3)The New Acropolis Museum will be officially inaugurated on Saturday afternoon, and ANA-MPA concludes its three-part tour of the Museum's five Permanent Collections: The Acropolis Slopes, divided into sub-categories on The Settlement, and The Sanctuary; The Acropolis during the Archaic Period, with sub-categories on The Hekatompedon, The Ancient Temple, and The Votives; The Parthenon, with sub-categories on The Monument, The Metopes, The Pediments, and The Frieze; Other Monuments of the Classical Acropolis, with sub-categories on The Propylaia, The Temple of Athena Nike, and The Erechtheion; and Other Collections, with sub-categories on The Sanctuary of Artemis Vravronia, The Votives of the Classical and Hellenistic Periods, and The Votives of the Roman Period. The Museum opened its electronic gates (www.theacropolismuseum.gr) on Monday.
Once the Sacred Rock had been cleared of the ruins left behind from the Persian Wars, the Athenians quickly repaired the ruined temple of Athena Poliados and continued their worship. A new temple was not built on the Acropolis until the middle of the 5th century BC. At that time, Pericles launched a new construction program. He assigned the direction of all work on the Parthenon to the sculptor Pheidias and the program began in 447 BC. The temple, dedicated to the Athena Parthenos, was constructed in 15 years and was the collaborative work of a large number of architects, sculptors, painters and others.
Architects Iktinos and Kallikrates designed the Parthenon, while for the carving of the sculptures, Pheidias collaborated with his pupils Agorakritos, Alkamenes and other great sculptors. Pheidias himself created the gold and ivory statue of the armed Goddess that adorned the cella interior.
The Parthenon architectural sculptures, namely the metopes, frieze and pediments, were made of Pentelic marble and were embellished with the addition of metal attachments and paint.
The 92 metopes were the first of the sculptural decoration to be made for the Temple. They were carved on the ground by different teams of sculptors and stone-cutters, who undertook the work in separate teams. Among them were also metics, (resident aliens), who had come to Athens mainly from the Aegean islands. This explains the slight differences of style in the metopes.
On the metopes of the Parthenon there are four main themes, known from the sculptures of many other Greek temples, as well as from various other works of art. The themes are connected with The Contest, the struggle between two adversaries, whoever they may be. This expression of The Contest is unsurpassed and stands as a symbol of the eternal fight between the opposing and counterpoised forces in nature, in human society and in the human soul.
The pediments, the triangular spaces formed by the horizontal and raking cornices of the roof at each end of the Temple, were the last parts of the building to receive sculptural decoration (437-432 BC). They comprised colossal statues in the round and the themes were drawn from Attic mythology.
The East pediment above the Temple entrance depicted the birth of the Goddess Athena from the head of her father, Zeus, in the presence of the Olympic gods. The West pediment illustrates the dispute between Athena and Poseidon for the claim of the land of Attica, a legendary fight that resulted in Athena's victory.
In contrast to the mythological subjects of the metopes and pediments, on the Parthenon frieze, Pheidias chose to depict the Great Panathenaia, the greatest festival of the city in honor of the Goddess Athena.
The frieze consisted of 115 blocks. It had a total length of 160 meters and was 1.02 meters high. Some 378 human figures and deities and more than 200 animals, mainly horses, are presented in the process. Groups of horses and chariots occupy most of the space on the frieze. The sacrificial procession follows next, with animals and groups of men and women carrying ceremonial vessels and offerings. The procession concludes with the giving of the peplos, the gift of the Athenian people to the cult statue of the goddess, a xoanon (ancient wooden statue). Left and right of the peplos scene sit the twelve gods of Mount Olympos.
From the entire frieze that survives today, 50 meters are in the Acropolis Museum, 80 meters in the British Museum, one block in the Louvre, and several fragments are scattered in the museums of Palermo, the Vatican, Vienna and Munich.
The campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles
Replicas of the Parthenon Marbles that are in the British museum are supplementing the original Marbles in Athens in the new Museum.
Greece has long been vigorously campaigning for the return of the priceless 5th century B.C. Parthenon Marbles -- friezes and other architectural parts of the Parthenon -- from the British Museum to Athens.
The Marbles, which date from between 447 BC and 432 BC, were removed from the Parthenon -- the temple dedicated to the ancient goddess Athena that crowns the Acropolis -- by British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century with the tacit permission of local Ottoman administrators then ruling in the area. Elgin removed the friezes and other parts of the impressive Parthenon temple and later sold them to the British Museum.
Greece's campaign for the repatriation of this important part of its cultural heritage has been consistently gaining support worldwide, with a plethora of national Committees for the return of the marbles having been created in a plethora of countries, including Britain.
An International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures has also been established. It is an association of various national committees with the shared goal of "The reunification of all the surviving Parthenon Sculptures in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens" where, as Greek President Karolos Papoulias said recently, there is a spot awaiting them, referring to the Museum's Parthenon Galleries.
The International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures
In the week before the New Acropolis Museum opens, the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures wrote to both the British Museum and the British Government, reminding them of some of the facts surrounding the marbles. The letter, signed by the Chairman of the International Association, appears below:
"On behalf of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures I would like to draw to your attention to the inauguration on June 20, 2009, of the magnificent new Acropolis Museum, which provides an ideal opportunity for the Parthenon sculptures currently held in the British Museum to be returned to Greece.
"We believe the Parthenon sculptures could be returned to Athens in an arrangement that could be mutually beneficial to both Greece and the British Museum.
"The International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures has member organisations in sixteen countries, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA. (www.parthenoninternational.org <http://www.parthenoninternational.org>). The International Association is a powerful indication of the growing and now overwhelming support around the world for the Parthenon sculptures to be returned to Greece.
"The new Acropolis Museum has been designed specifically to allow for the proper exhibition of all of the surviving two and a half thousand- year - old sculptures of the Parthenon in their original configuration. This cannot be done in the Duveen Gallery of the British Museum, which is too small even for the Elgin collection to be correctly exhibited.
"Also, more people now visit the Acropolis each year than visit the Parthenon Sculptures in the Duveen Gallery of the British Museum. The opening of the new Acropolis Museum and the prospect of reuniting the currently dispersed collection of Parthenon sculptures will provide yet further accessibility for the people of the world to study and enjoy the wonders of Classical Greece. The event also provides an opportunity for collaboration between two great cultures and two great institutions, the symbolism of which would further advance the standing of the British Museum as a museum of the twenty first century.
"We would urge the British Museum to now investigate ways in which a cultural exchange agreement with Greece involving the return of the Parthenon sculptures could yield benefits to both the British Museum as well as Greece."
 Int'l media given New Acropolis Museum previewInternational media representatives were the latest privileged visitors to tour the imposing New Acropolis Museum in central Athens on Friday, one day before a gala inauguration before heads of states and governments is expected to dramatically showcase Greece's standing demand for a return of the Parthenon Marbles to a state-of-the-art venue some 250 metres from the Acropolis itself.
The more than 120 media professionals and camera crews were given guided tours of the ultra-modern facility, built atop an excavated ancient settlement, in separate groups, as organisers repeatedly asked for caution in galleries with prominent free-standing exhibits.
In a brief address, Greek Culture Minister Antonis Samaras referred to the new museum as an "unabashedly modern structure" as its beaming lead architect, Swiss-born Bernard Tschumi, sat in the audience.
"This is the greatest collection of sculptures from classical Greece, gathered in this museum ... however (this period) cannot be fully illuminated because half of the Parthenon sculptures have been taken and are now in forced exile," Samaras said, adding that whatever arguments the British Museum expressed in the past to reject calls for the Marbles' return are now "demolished".
In referring to the rectangular glass gallery at the top of the concrete-metal-glass museum, the Greek culture minister said the "Parthenon Gallery" will feature replicas of the sliced-off pieces on display in London, "like photos of family members far away or lost," he poignantly said, while also mentioning Greek statesman Constantine Karamanlis and iconic Greek actress and culture minister Melina Mercouri as inspirations for the purpose-built museum.
The museum's inauguration will come on Saturday, with local press speculation hinting at a laser-light display illuminating the nearby Acropolis and the monuments atop the "sacred hill" as well as projecting some of the best known pieces as holograms above the museum.
In fact, Greek organisers on Friday declined to allow camera crews and photographers into the museum's top floor in order to keep the ceremony's particulars a secret.
 Activists urge return of Parthenon Marbles during 2012 OlympicsRepresentatives of national committees for the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures on Friday cited the 2012 Olympic Games in London as the best occasion for Britain and the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
They were speaking during a press conference given by 17 members of committees representing 15 countries, who are currently in Athens for the inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum on Saturday.
The chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures David Hill also announced the start of efforts to establish a Parthenon Day every year in mid-June and the launch of a major campaign for their return based on the slogan "Why not?"
Apart from the above, the movement intends to conduct opinion polls and collect signatures in favour of the sculptures' return.
Hill was also dismissive about an offer from the British Museum to loan the sculptures to Greece for three months:
"The Marbles are like our children; it is though they were kidnapped and returned for three months," he said.
The members of the national committee for the return of the Parthenon sculptures that are in Athens for the inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum represent the committees of Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Switzerland, Cyprus, Germany, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Italy, the United States, Serbia, Spain and Sweden.
 Beijing celebrates New Acropolis Museum inaugurationThe Greek Embassy in Beijing issued a press release on Friday, stressing that Beijing celebrated on June 18th, during an extravagant fiesta, that took place in the Beijing "International Club", the inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum.
It further said that guests received folders, that have been especially designed on this occasion, along with DVD on the New Acropolis Museum, produced by the Secretariat General for Information, and other informative material as well.
Lastly, the press release stressed that the "unrivalled uniqueness of the Parthenon demonstrates why the Chinese public opinion strongly supports the Greek request for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to their site of origin, with arguments that refer to the return of Chinese stolen antiquities and underline the fact that cultural rights are part of the global cultural heritage, and should be properly protected."
 Mikis Theodorakis honored by Bosporus Univ. of IstanbulISTANBUL (ANA-MPA / A. Kourkoulas)
Noted Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis referred to the common musical tradition shared by modern Greece and Turkey, in thanking Bosporus University (Bogazici Universitesi) for awarding him a honorary doctorate, during a ceremony here.
Theodorakis addressed the audience at the university's Hall of Ceremonies, speaking via satellite link from his residence in Athens, while he underlined that he is "filled with joy simply upon hearing the word 'Bosporus'," saying he associates it with the Byzantine musical tradition that has been an inspiration for much of his work.
The honorary degree was received on behalf of Theodorakis by performer Maria Farantouri, an artist associated with many of the composer's best known works.
 Permanent exhibition on El Greco in Iraklio, CreteThe permanent exhibition "El Greco-Return Home" opened at Gate Bethlehem in Iraklio, Crete, featuring costumes and objects used in the big screen film "El Greco" directed by Iannis Smaragdis.
The exhibition includes copies of paintings by Domenicos Theotokopoulos (1541-1614), known as El Greco, and objects used in the making of the film which are associated with the life and work of the world-famous painter.
The permanent exhibition is on display in a specially modified space at the Gate Bethlehem gallery in the city's Venetian Walls. The 371,000-euro project was funded by the Regional Operational Programme of Crete.
El Greco, who is a representative of late Renaissance Spanish art, was born on the island of Crete and settled in Toledo, Spain in 1577 after studying in Venice under Titian.
 Photo exhibition in Copenhagen on Zea Harbour ProjectCOPENHAGEN (ANA-MPA)
A photographic exhibition was held here on Thursday evening entitled "Piraeus -- A Sea of Moments", organised by the Danish Institute of Athens to commemorate the underwater and coastal archaeological research conducted at the Zeas site -- the Zea Harbour Project -- in the modern port city.
The exhibition is hosted at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and will continue until the end of August 2009.
The works of five noted Danish photographers are on display, namely, Ture Andersen, Jorgen Borg, Krass Clement, Sofie Svare Fischer and Jannik Seidelin.
Greek ambassador to Denmark Alexandros Kouyiou was present during the inauguration of the exhibition.
 Iberoamerican Festival of Literature at TechnopolisThe city of Athens' intercultural centre, the cultural magazine "Sol Latino", the Institute for Intercultural Development, the Institute of Migration Policy, and the Greek-Colombian Association will organise the inaugural "Iberoamerican Festival of Literature in Greece" at the municipality's "Technopolis" venue between June 24 and June 27.
The festival is held under the auspices of the culture ministry, the youth generation secretariat along with the embassies of Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba, Spain, Mexico, Uruguay, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Chile, the honorary consulate of Colombia in Greece and the Cervantes Institute.
The Iberoamerican Festival, also known as Festival LEA - Literature in Athens), will take place at the Technopolis, 100, Pireos St in the Gazi district.
 Rigas Feraios Charter reprint at Thessaloniki book fairA reprint of the well-known Charter of Rigas Feraios, a precursor of the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman domination, will be on display until Sunday, an initiative within the framework of the ongoing Thessaloniki book fair.
The idea to reprint the 12-page charter into a single four-square-metre page became a reality in 2007 on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Rigas Feraios' birth.
 Man assumes responsibility for slaying of special guard in 2005The 31-year-old anarchist who appeared at the Athens Police Headquarters at noon on Friday and declared that he assumes the responsibility for the slaying of special guard Haralambos Amanatidis, on New Year's eve in 2005 outside the residence of the British military attache in the northern Athens suburb of Kifisia, has been referred to an investigator.
The man, who had been in custody and had been charged with beating up Christos Polyzogopoulos and with arson at a bank in the northern city of Xanthi, had been released from prison on Friday morning. Immediately after his release, the anarchist went to the Police Headquarters and told the guard that he assumes responsibility for the killing of Amanatidis.
The anti-terrorist service was duly informed and arrested him, while the prosecutor responsible for terrorism issues and the investigator in charge of the Amanatidis issue were notified to attend the testimony that the anarchist would be making.
The man said in his testimony that, together with another person, they attempted to take Amanatidis' weapon, but he had resisted and because they feared that he would shoot them they shot him and killed him. Asked who the second person was, he replied that he would not reveal his name and that he assumes the political responsbility for the action.
Questioned by police and the prosecutor about the killing of Amanatidis, he did not provide precise descriptions of the location and of the action, a fact that made the police reserved about what he was claiming. However, he has been detained in order to testify before the investigator.
 Gunshop owner charged with arson in Mt. Hymettus blazeA 47-year-old gunshop owner was arrested on Friday by the Fire Brigade's arsons division, accused of arson in connection with the massive fire that ravaged Mt. Hymettus at the beginning of the week.
The fire, which broke out on Monday, threatened occupied areas in the Athens southern coastal suburbs of Ano Glyfada and Voula and destroyed 5,000 stremma of forestland on Mt. Hymettus
The Fire Brigade's investigation turned up that the man, who owns a gunshop in the southern suburbs of Athens, would frequently go to the area that caught fire to try out weapons and cartridges, and had also done so on Monday for the same reason. He is accused of causing the fire, which spread quickly fanned by high winds blowing at the time.
Based on the evidence contained in the case file, an arrest warrant was issued for the 47-year-old man, identified only by his initials (A. S.), by the examining magistrate assigned to the case. The suspect was tracked down Friday morning on the island of Rhodes, where he had gone immediately after the fire, and was arrested on felony charges of intentional arson of a forest and of endangering human lives.
The suspect was taken before an examining magistrate later Friday. He asked for, and received, a continuance until Monday to prepare his testimony.
 Halkidiki fire partially under controlA fire reported at noon on Friday in a pine forest north of Neos Marmaras in Sithonia, in the northern Greek prefecture of Halkidiki, was reported to be under partial control later the same afternoon.
The fire brigade said the fire had probably begun on Wednesday due to a lightning strike and smouldered quietly until hotter conditions in the area on Friday had caused it to flare up and burn 0.2 hectares of forest.
Taking part in fire-fighting efforts are two water-bombing aircraft and 15 fire engines, manned by a crew of 30 firemen.
 Hashish plantation in Argolis perfecturePolice, acting on a tip-off, located on Thursday hashish plantation, with 320 plants, in a forested area in Trizinia, northeastern Peloponesse and arrested the owner, a Greek man, who is a local resident.
The plants were uprooted and confiscated, while Nafplio Police is conducting an investigation. The suspect will be sent before a prosecutor.
 Mild quake reported south of RhodesA mild earthquake -- a measure on the Richter scale is pending -- was reported at 5:05 p.m. (15:05 GMT) roughly 150 kilometres south of the holiday island of Rhodes and east of the island of Karpathos, in the SE Aegean.
No damages were reported. The quake follows a series of weak tremblers a day earlier in the same region.
 U.S. Embassy Consular Section closed on WednesdayA U.S. Embassy press release announced on Friday that as is normal on the last Wednesday of every month, the Consular Section of the United States Embassy in Athens, will be closed to the public on Wednesday, June 24, 2009, for internal administrative reasons.
It added that this closure includes the non-immigrant visa unit, immigrant visa unit, federal benefits unit, American citizen services unit and the passport unit.
 Cloudy, rainy on SaturdayCloudy weather and possible local showers, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 35C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 19C to 35C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 18C to 32C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceIllegal migration , the recent terroristic killing of a police officer and political developments, dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Emotion and rage over the policeman's murder".
APOGEVMATINI: "Parliament members must be reduced to 200 (Greek parliament has 300 MPs) - The Constitiution foresees it and the economic crisis demands it".
AVGHI: "No Guantanamo for the migrants".
AVRIANI: "Greek Police (ELAS) on alert ahead of the New Acropolis Museum's inauguration and the NATO-Russia ministerial summit on Corfu".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Turkey provocatively disputes Greece's borders".
ELEFTHEROS : "High profile New Democracy cadres putting big pressure on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to proceed with changes in the party and the government".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Police on red alert in fear of another terroristic attack".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "What prompted the crisis in the Synaspismos party".
ESTIA: "For how long can New Democracy withstand following the defeat in the Euroelections".
ETHNOS: "Turkish provocations over the Aegean Sea ahead of (Turkish prime minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Athens".
KATHIMERINI: "EU divided on markets' supervision".
LOGOS: "Terrorism upsurge brings another headache to government".
NIKI: "Greek police grandeur: Useless bulletproof vests, old weaponry and dilapidated patrol car".
RIZOSPASTIS : "Greece to give over innocent people to USA when and whenever they demand it".
TA NEA: "Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis joins the rebels and sends warning messages to Karamanlis".
TO VIMA: " It's Your problem" - The EU does not bother with the illegal migration problem in Greece".
VRADYNI: "'Terrorist look-out gave the signal for the assassination via SMS".
 President Christofias briefs EU leaders on the Cyprus issueBRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias held a series of meetings with EU leaders as well as with the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, on the sidelines of the European Council that concluded Friday, and briefed them on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem.
Speaking here at a press conference, President Christofias stressed that the EU leaders have shown great understanding so far, as regards the efforts and initiatives that are being taken by the Greek Cypriot side for solving the Cyprus problem.
''I am taking this support for granted and I wish to have progress,'' he said, noting that in the case of no progress, the blame should be attributed to the one who has the responsibility for the deadlock, and the European Council should take a decision on that.
President Christofias said that Barroso would pay an official visit to Cyprus next week, during which he will have the opportunity to discuss Cyprus problem extensively.
''I will hold a private meeting with Barroso, and we will have a common working lunch with Barroso and Talat, if the Turkish Cypriot leader accepts the invitation'', he said.
On the sidelines of the Council, President Christofias met and discussed Cyprus problem with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Christofias also said that he would probably pay a visit to London in order to have a more specific discussion with Brown on the Cyprus problem.
Replying to a question, President Christofias explained the reason why, as a leader of a communist party, he voted a politician that comes from the right wing European People's Party, Jose Manuel Barroso for the Commission's Presidency in the framework of the Council.
Barosso has shown great understanding as regards the Cyprus problem and his role is very helpful, Christofias said, stressing that Barroso's re-election will help the efforts of the Cyprus government for a solution.
In addition, Christofias pointed out that within the European Union keeping the balances is very important for promoting issues.
''We are working in this context in order to serve the interests of our people, taking into account these balances'', he concluded.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.
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