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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-09-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 25 September 2009 Issue No: 3306


  • [01] Papandreou chairs SI presidium meeting in NY on sidelines of UN General Assembly
  • [02] PM Karamanlis holds dialogue with citizens in Egaleo
  • [03] ND campaign spokesman on foreign policy issues
  • [04] KKE leader addresses rally in Nikea
  • [05] SYRIZA presents farm policy
  • [06] Eco-Greens hold nationally televised press conference
  • [07] FM Bakoyannis on CTBT
  • [08] Health minister on novel influenza vaccination programme
  • [09] EU Commission to examine environmental degradation of Axios River Delta
  • [10] Motor Oil buys Shell's storage, distribution activities for 291 million euros
  • [11] Stocks end flat on Thur.
  • [12] ADEX closing report
  • [13] Greek bond market closing report
  • [14] Foreign Exchange rates -Friday
  • [15] Four arrested after discovery of terrorist safehouse
  • [16] Findings announced for Halandri safehouse
  • [17] Murder of abducted Cretan businessman solved
  • [18] Three persons prosecuted
  • [19] "Magic and Religion: Gods, saints and demons" exhibition at Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki
  • [20] Greeks below EU average for learning foreign languages
  • [21] Athens municipal police to get 'eco-friendly' patrol cars
  • [22] Inauguration of conference on Electronic Democracy
  • [23] Renegade Mt. Athos monks sentenced for 'disturbing peace'
  • [24] Drug arrests in Ioannina
  • [25] Illegal immigrants spotted
  • [26] Rainy on Friday
  • [27] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [28] President hopes Turkey to reconsider positions in second round of Cyprus talks
  • [29] President Christofias tells Erdogan Turkey is key to Cyprus solution
  • [30] UNSG urges leaders in Cyprus to search for middle ground Politics

  • [01] Papandreou chairs SI presidium meeting in NY on sidelines of UN General Assembly

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greek main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou chaired a meeting of the SI presidium on Wednesday night, in a conference hall at the United Nations headquarters in New York, while he also had a series of bilateral meetings with world leaders and personalities taking part in the annual UN General Assembly meeting.

    Papandreou further attended a reception for leaders attending the General Assembly hosted by former US president Bill Clinton, who wished Papandreou 'good luck' in the October 4 general elections in Greece and also expressed his desire to take part again in the Symi Symposium.

    The annual Symposium, which was launched in 1998 on the island of Symi under the aegis of the Andreas Papandreou Foundation, is a think tank/retreat that brings together leading academics, entrepreneurs, politicians, religious leaders, diplomats, scientists, and activists for the purpose of developing progressive policy solutions to global challenges.

    In press statements after the SI presidium meeting, Papandreou explained that the session was held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, and focused on two overriding issues facing humanity today: climate change and the global financial crisis.

    He said he considered it an SI success that all the socialist and socialdemocrat parties have now put at the core of their policies the issue of confronting the ecological destruction with specific proposals, "which we will have the opportunity to present at the Copenhagen summit in December", referring to the UN Climate Change Conference 'Copenhagen 2009'.

    He also considered as n SI success the fact that the SI-sponsored Stiglitz Commission, chaired by US economist and recipient of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and a former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, for the purpose of charting a roadmap for emerging from the present global financial crisis, "is submitting (to the UN General Assembly) very specific proposals for changes, for protection of the citizens, working people, small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), which proposals will also be sent to the G20 meeting being held here in the United States these days (the two-day G20 summit opens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Thursday)".

    Papandreou noted that both these two major issues converge on a single, very simple target: to change the present growth model with its replacement by a new developmental model, a new pact that puts the human being, the citizen, the family at the center, and reconciles production and economic growth with nature and the environment.

    "This means that we need to take radically different decisions on the manner of governance of our planet, our economies and the financial-credit system. We can't be salvaging the credit system and the banks on the one hand, and on the other say that we will freeze salaries, pensions, social benefits for the working people and the real economy," Papandreou elaborated.

    A general conclusion reached by the relevant SI commissions, but also all the progressive, socialist parties, is that an economic structure needs to be created that will redistribute the wealth, but also the burdens so that they will fall on the shoulders of those who can carry them, in order to have an economy that is founded on equality, social cohesion, quality, and therefore viability, Papandreou said. "I believe that these conclusions are important for our planet, just as they are very important for Greece as well".

    SI Presidium meeting

    The reports of two SI ad hoc working groups were presented during the presidium meeting.

    The one report was by the Stigliz Commission of Experts on Global Financial Issues.

    The second report was by SI Commission for a Sustainable World Society, co-chaired by former Chilean president and the UN secretary general's special envoy on climate change Ricardo Lagos and Swedish former prime minister Goran Persson.

    These reports are the outcome of a year of systematic work by the two Commissions, which will lead to "valuable conclusions" also for the 'green growth' model.

    The discussions also focused on the problem of climate change (global warming) ahead of the Copenhagen summit, the latest developments regarding the global financial crisis, and the socialists' priorities with respect to the G20 summit.

    The SI presidium further adopted a resolution that will be sent to the G20 summit.

    The presidium meeting was also attended by invited guests including heads of state and government, foreign ministers and heads of international organisations.

    [02] PM Karamanlis holds dialogue with citizens in Egaleo

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis held a dialogue with citizens in the western suburbs of Athens during an event on Thursday night at the "Yiannis Ritsos" cultural centre in the district of Egaleo. The prime minister received many questions from citizens and gave replies.

    Focusing on his decisioon to hold early elections, Karamanlis spoke of "extortion by the PASOK party with elections in March" and, as he said, he could not leave the country in a prolonged election period, stressing that the criterion for his decision was national interest.

    Commenting on the 28 billion euros allocated to the banking system of the country, the prime minister said that the monetary system had to be supported in the crisis and pointed out that "a great deal of populistic talk is being heard," clarifying that only 5 billion euros went to back liquidity of the banks while the rest were guarantees. From borrowing, the public sector receives 500 million a year and a strict check is carried out for the management of the amounts, he added.

    Karamanlis noted that with the freezing of salaries this year special support was given to low wage earners of up to 12,500 euros, amounting to 500 euros. PASOK is saying an increase above inflation and it is not even 150 euros a year, he added.

    Referring to illegal immigration, he said that it was an issue that concerns many countries and not only Greece stressing that the European Union was pressured by Greece, Italy and Spain to bring a programme on the improvement of the performance of policies to handle the problem.

    "No country can handle it alone. We are doing everything that we can ourselves. Our policy in Athens had a considerable result and in Patras as well. You can realise that when a country receives such waves (of illegal immigrants), you can understand that it is impossible to intercept this trend," he said and stressed the need for a common European immigration policy.

    [03] ND campaign spokesman on foreign policy issues

    New Democracy (ND) campaign spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Thursday stated that foreign policy issues need to be approached with "caution, care and a measure of responsibility".

    Responding to a relevant question, he said foreign policy issues were first brought up during the election campaign by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, when he referred to the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project and when he accused the prime minister of giving up the country's veto power in the case of Turkey.

    "No issue raised will be left unanswered," he stressed.

    [04] KKE leader addresses rally in Nikea

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, addressing a rally in the western Attica district of Nikea on Thursday evening, stressed that "if KKE is not strengthened on October 4 a new obstacle will have been created for the popular movement," adding that a vote for KKE is a "one-way path."

    Papariga further said that "on October 4 it is not possible for workers and employees, poor farmers and the small shops to vote for the same parties together with the big industrialists and the shipowners."

    The KKE leader, referring to the issue of a majority government after the next elections, said that "on Monday we must have a weak antipopular government and a strong KKE."

    [05] SYRIZA presents farm policy

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) 0resident Alexis Tsipras on Thursday outlined the Radical Left Coalition's (SYRIZA) proposals on farm policy and the reconstruction of rural areas.

    The fundamental principle of the policy outlined in the central city of Karditsa is that SYRIZA seeks to "ensure the revival of the agricultural economy" and "avert the abandonment of rural areas."

    It was underlined that SYRIZA supports "a form of agriculture that respects the environment, the producer and the consumer while seeking to eradicate the exploitation of the small and medium size producers and land labourers."

    [06] Eco-Greens hold nationally televised press conference

    The October 4 elections were not just about choosing a prime minister and government but also about choosing between policies, the chief spokesman for the Ecologists-Greens party Nikos Chrysogelos said on Thursday, during a nationally televised press conference.

    Chrysogelos went on to stress that the Eco-Greens did not confine themselves only to criticism but also offered solutions and had a "specific and cohesive programme that links the environment with the economy and society".

    He asked the electorate to vote according to their conscience, saying that the EcoGreens were "interested in the policy of the citizens and not the politicians".

    Chrysogelos criticised the solutions for the economic crisis proposed by the two main parties - austerity on the part of New Democracy and stimulus to boost consumption by main opposition PASOK - by stressing that both approaches were outdated and were responsible for creating the current problems in the first place.

    "What we are saying is that in order for the country to emerge from the crisis, new jobs must be created that simultaneously protect the environment. Greece must invest in new technologies and green development. The money spent on buying energy must be spent on saving energy, creating jobs within the country" he added.

    The Eco-Greens candidate appeared confident that his party had already amassed enough voter support to elect one person to Parliament and said that his party did not completely rule out the possibility of post-election cooperation with other parties, noting that the terms of such cooperation would be decided later and would not concern only environmental issues.

    [07] FM Bakoyannis on CTBT

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stated on Thursday that "the Greek government attributes special importance to the Ministerial Conference taking place today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday -24-25/9/09) in New York on promoting the activation of the Treaty on the Complete Ban on Nuclear Tests (CTBT), which is important for the international security architecture."

    Bakoyannis added that "support for CTBT by the new American Government creates new opportunities for the Treaty's ratification and implementation."

    The foreign minister concluded her statement by saying that "Greece encourages the countries of Section 2, that have not signed or ratified the treaty, to utilise the positive conjuncture and acivate themselves in this direction."

    [08] Health minister on novel influenza vaccination programme

    Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday announced the government's programme for administering the vaccines against the novel A-H1N1 influenza virus, after a meeting of the national committee for tackling the disease.

    Priority for the vaccination will be given to those with long-term health problems, both children over six months and adults, pregnant women in the 2nd and 3rd trimester of their pregnancy, and people working in healthcare and with children under six months.

    According to the ministry, these priority groups are comprised of roughly two million individuals.

    The vaccine will next be administered to healthy individuals aged 15-40 years of age and then to healthy children under 15 years old.

    All those receiving the vaccine will be required to sign a consent form, which the chairwoman for the national committee for the novel influenza pandemic described as standard practice when a new drug goes onto the market.

    Thursday's meeting also clarified the conditions under which schools and classes will be closed to protect against swine flu:

    A class will be closed when one to five children develop at least one symptom of novel influenza and have a fever of 38C or more.

    Schools will be closed when two to three of its classes have been closed on account of novel influenza fears and in cases where more than one school share a compound, the entire compound will close when problems arise in the majority of the schools using it.

    Reporting on the advance of the novel influenza epidemic in Greece, authorities said that three people were currently admitted to intensive care units in a serious condition, six people were in the stage of recovery and a total of 56 had developed pneumonia as a complication, of which 46 had already recovered.

    [09] EU Commission to examine environmental degradation of Axios River Delta

    The European Commission will contact Greek authorities and request information as regards the implementation of relevant regulations included in the EU directive on wetlands focusing on measures that could have a negative effect on the Natura 2000 area "Axios - Loudias - Aliakmonas Estuaries - Greater Region - Axioupolis".

    European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas underlined in response to a question on the environmental degradation of the Axios Delta tabled by main opposition PASOK MEP Kriton Arsenis that in case a violation is verified the Commission will not hesitate to launch all necessary procedures.

    The Axios River Delta, one of the most important wetlands in Greece, is facing serious environmental degradation due to pollution and illegal dumping.

    Financial News

    [10] Motor Oil buys Shell's storage, distribution activities for 291 million euros

    Motor Oil -a Greek-listed refinery- on Thursday announced the acquisition of Shell's petrol station network in Greece, along with a series of the oil giant's assets in the country, for 291.1 million euros.

    Under the agreement, Motor Oil will buy from Shell Overseas Holding Ltd its around 700 petrol stations, fuel storage facilities (located in six Greek cities), its lubricants manufacturing facilities in Perama, storage and distribution of chemicals and 49 pct of aircraft fuel activities (Shell Oversease Holdings Ltd will maintain the remaining 51 pct stake). Under the deal, Motor Oil will maintain Shell's brand on its petrol stations for a period of at least five years.

    Motor Oil will pay an additional 26.5 million euros to buy Shell Gas (LPG) Holdings BV.

    Meanwhile, Petros Petropoulos AEBE announced it will buy Shell's lubricants activities for around 14 million euros.

    [11] Stocks end flat on Thur.

    Stocks ended flat at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with the composite index of the market reversing an initial rally to end 0.09 pct lower at 2,609.25 points. Turnover was 260.4 million euros, of which 20.1 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved upwards, with the Oil (1.21 pct), Utilities (1.10 pct) and Travel (1.04 pct) scored gains while Health (2.68 pct), Media (2.33 pct) and Insurance (1.83 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index eased 0.18 pct, the FTSE 40 index fell 0.75 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.61 pct down. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 121 to 89 with another 49 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.83%

    Industrials: -0.53%

    Commercial: -0.53%

    Construction: -0.11%

    Media: -2.33%

    Oil & Gas: +1.21%

    Personal & Household: -1.17%

    Raw Materials: -0.60%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.04%

    Technology: -1.00%

    Telecoms: +0.18%

    Banks: -0.55%

    Food & Beverages: +0.59%

    Health: -2.68%

    Utilities: +1.10%

    Chemicals: +0.06%

    Financial Services: -0.36%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 12.40

    ATEbank: 1.58

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.71

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.44

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.75

    National Bank of Greece: 23.22

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 10.50

    Intralot: 4.97

    OPAP: 17.42

    OTE: 11.35

    Bank of Piraeus: 11.95

    Titan: 24.06

    [12] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.77 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 76.835 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,147 contracts worth 62.551 million euros, with 20,577 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,309 contracts worth 14.284 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (4,427), followed by Eurobank (724), MIG (717), PPC (1,167), OPAP (803), Piraeus Bank (1,093), National Bank (1,872), Alpha Bank (842) and ATEbank (563).

    [13] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.555 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.405 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.150 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.890 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 120 basis points with the Greek bond yielding 4.50 pct and the German Bund 3.30 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates eased slightly. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.24 pct, the six-month rate 1.03 pct, the three-month rate 0.74 pct and the one-month rate 0.44 pct.

    [14] Foreign Exchange rates -Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.488

    Pound sterling 0.917

    Danish kroner 7.501

    Swedish kroner 10.191

    Japanese yen 134.92

    Swiss franc 1.523

    Norwegian kroner 8.578

    Canadian dollar 1.597

    Australian dollar 1.701

    General News

    [15] Four arrested after discovery of terrorist safehouse

    Four people were arrested by the police counter-terrorism squad Wednesday night after the discovery earlier in the afternoon of a safehouse belonging to a terrorist group in the northern Athens suburb of Halandri, and were due to appear before a public prosecutor on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.

    During a raid on the safehouse, police arrested the 21-year old tenant, the owner's 20-year-old son and a 20-year-old woman, and a fourth person was arrested in related investigations in Galatsi, while a fifth person brought in for questioning from the Galatsi investigation was released.

    Police press officer Panagiotis Stathis announced later Thursday that a fully operational home-made time-bomb placed in a pressure cooker was found in the safehouse apartment, and was a carbon copy of the bomb that exploded shortly before noon on Wednesday at the entrance of the fourth-floor apartment of main opposition PASOK former minister Gerassimos Arsenis and his wife, PASOK officer on economic affairs Louka Katseli in the posh downtown residential district of Kolonaki.

    Police further found in the Halandri safehouse explosive mechanisms packaged without explosives, quantities of explosive materials, bomb components (clocks, wires, bonding material, etc.), PCs and printed material, which were removed to the Crime Lab for examination.

    Stathis said that a search of another house in Athens turned up a keychain pistol with a large quantity of cartridges, 3,800 euros in cash that could not be accounted for, hidden in the mount of a propane canister, a variety of tools and materials for the making of explosive mechanisms and a PC, adding that the investigation was continuing.

    Police officials said that the Halandri premise was used as a safehouse by the "Conspiracy of Fire Cells" organisation, which is believed to be the successor of the "Ambush-Armed Revolutionary Action" organisation.

    The explosives and pressure cookers are similar to those used in recent bomb attacks in Athens.

    Alternate interior minister for public order Christos Markoyiannakis visited the counter-terrorism squad headquarters at noon on Thursday, where he congratulated the police on their big success'.

    [16] Findings announced for Halandri safehouse

    The criminal service laboratories publicised on Thursday their findings concerning the safehouse discovered in the northern Athens suburb of Halandri on Wednesday.

    According to a police announcement, the bombs planted at the home of former deputy Public Order minister Panayiotis Hinofotis, on July 12, at the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace, on September 2 and at the home of Louka Katseli on Wednesday have exactly the same making and materials.

    A police spokesman said at noon on Thursday that the bomb at Katseli's home was identical with the one found in the safehouse in Halandri. It is reminded that the responsibility for the bomb attack on Hinofotis's home had been assumed by the organisation calling itself "Conspiracy of nuclei of Fire-Nihilists Sect." This fact confirms the initial assessment made by officers of the anti-terrorist squad that the safehouse belonged to this group.

    Four people had been arrested by the police on Wednesday night after the safehouse had been discovered.

    [17] Murder of abducted Cretan businessman solved

    Security police in Heraklion, Crete, on Thursday announced they had solved the case of the abduction and murder of businessman Yiannis Kypriotakis on May 18, whose charred body was found in his car two days later, after the family had paid a 155,000 euros ransom.

    The perpetrators of this unprecedented, for Greece, crime are two Syrian nationals aged 25 and 26 and a 33-year-old local Greek housepainter.

    The two foreign nationals were working for the businessman, while the 33-year-old had worked for him a year ago.

    Police had traced the crime to the three approximately two months ago, but were waiting for the appropriate moment in order to make the three arrests simultaneously.

    The 26-year-old Syrian was arrested on Wednesday night at the Nikos Kazantzakis airport as he was returning from Syria, while the other two were also arrested in a simultaneous operation.

    Both cell phones used for negotiating the ransom with the victim's wife were found in the detainees' possession, as well as several marked bills of 50 and 100 euro denominations from the ransom money.

    According to police, the 25-year-old Syrian and the Greek housepainter have confessed the crime, but not the 26-year-old.

    The detainees will be led later in the day before the local public prosecutor.

    The body of the 50-year-old businessman found dead in the trunk of his car two days after his abduction, although the family had paid the ransom demanded by the kidnappers.

    Kypriotakis, the owner of a paint factory in the Heraklion Industrial Zone and the father of three children, had been abducted in the Vasilies district of Heraklion, where he had been lured to by a telephone call from an unidentified person posing as a prospective customer in order to supposedly undertake the painting of a building.

    All traces of the businessmen disappeared after he went to the appointment, and his family reported Kypriotakis as missing after a search by his wife and relatives failed to find him. The family was later contacted by the abductors, who asked for a ransom.

    The businessman was allowed to contact his wife, asking that she not involve the police in the case.

    The abductors later asked for a larger sum of money, but after negotiations the sum agreed was 155,000 euros, which was dropped off the day after the abduction by the wife, accompanied by relatives, at a remote spot in the Gouves area. The abductors then contacted the family again, saying that they would find the businessman two hours later at a remote spot in Potamies, Heraklion.

    Shortly afterwards, the local fire department and police were informed that a jeep was on fire in the Potamies area, where they found the businessman's charred body in the trunk of the vehicle, which belonged to Kypriotakis himself.

    [18] Three persons prosecuted

    A prosecutor in the city of Iraklio, on the island of Crete, launched prosecution against three persons on Thursday in relation to the abduction and slaying of 50-year-old businessman Yiannis Kypriotakis.

    The three were charged with creating and participating in a criminal gang, kidnapping for ransom, intentional homicide, abusing a dead person and causing damage.

    They will be making their pleas on Monday after requesting and receiving time to prepare them.

    [19] "Magic and Religion: Gods, saints and demons" exhibition at Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki

    The relationship between magic and religion, from the Early Christian era onwards, is examined in a temporary exhibition at the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki, which opens on Friday in the context of observation of the annual European Cultural Heritage Days, and is titled "Magic and Religion: Gods, saints and demons".

    The exhibition will run through November 30.

    A selection of related objects from the Museum's permanent collections will be on display in a special thematic exhibit between Hall 7 and 8 of the museum.

    "Magic and religion are concepts as old as humanity itself," exhibition curator Nikos Bonovas told ANA-MPA, adding that "the exhibition presents these two concepts as interdependent, since both have a common root, which is the human being's fear and hope".

    The objects include an 18th century bead talisman that wards off the 'evil eye', which was found in excavations at Vlatadon Monastery in Thessaloniki, other talismans such as copper lamina inscribed with curses placed in lead cylinders found in tombs, a mid-19th century copper engraving depicting St. Haralambos with an anthropomorphic demon as a footrest, a 17th century icon of the Second Coming, and a 19th century Russian copper engraving depicting the "Demons of the soul", in other worlds the passions of the soul personified as winged demons. Also on display are other talismans and icons, reliquaries and copper engravings.

    In the context of the European Cultural Days, a series of events will be held from Friday to Sunday, including a role-playing game for adults and teenagers aged 15 and up titled "Magic and Faith", in which participants will be called on to imagine how specific exhibits such as talismans, crosses, vials of myrrh, religious icons and engravings were used in their time.

    An event for younger children will also be organised, including readings of folk tales, accompanied by live music.

    ΤέλοςφόρμαςΑρχήφόρμαςThe Museum of Byzantine Culture aims to present the various aspects of life during the Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods: art, ideology, social structure and religion, as well as how historical changes and the political situation affected the everyday life of the people.

    At the same time, the activities of the Department of Educational Programmes, the good structure and function of the conservation laboratories and of the archaeological material storerooms, the provision of scientific know-how to Balkan countries, the organisation of scientific meetings and conferences, as well as the editing and publishing work, have rendered the Museum an exceptionally important centre for the preservation, research and promotion of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine culture. Since the Museum's inauguration in 1994, an annual bulletin is published, the first of its kind by a Greek public museum.

    [20] Greeks below EU average for learning foreign languages

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    Of those attending upper secondary schools in Greece during 2007, 91.8 percent were learning one foreign language, 6.9 percent were learning two or more foreign languages and 1.4 percent were learning no foreign languages, according to figures released by Eurostat on Thursday.

    Throughout the European Union (with the exception of Germany, Portugal and Cyprus where figures did not exist), 33.4 percent of pupils in the equivalent stage of education in 2007 were learning one foreign language, 60.1 percent were learning two or more foreign languages and 6.4 percent were learning no foreign languages.

    The highest rates of pupils learning two or more foreign languages were recorded in the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Finland, where it was 100 percent, while Slovenia and Slovakia followed with 98 percent and Estonia with 97 percent.

    According to the same report, 44.8 percent of Greeks aged 25-64 reported that they speak one foreign language (compared to 35.7 percent in the EU), 43.4 percent speak no foreign languages (36.2 percent in the EU) and 11.9 percent speak two or more foreign languages (28.1 percent in the EU).

    [21] Athens municipal police to get 'eco-friendly' patrol cars

    The City of Athens municipal police are to acquire a fleet of 10 electrically-powered patrol cars that are absolutely environmentally friendly. These were officially presented to Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Wednesday by Piraeus Bank Chairman Michalis Sallas.

    The cars were donated by Piraeus Bank and aim to enhance security in the city and raise the performance of the municipal police and their service to Athenians.

    The new fleet of cars for the municipal police force is part of a wider programme initiated by the City of Athens to use environmentally-friendly vehicles.

    [22] Inauguration of conference on Electronic Democracy

    Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Costas Mihalos, inaugurating the 3rd International Congress on Electronic Democracy "Next Generation Society" on Thursday stressed the role and the importance of electronic democracy in the political system of the country since "with the implementation of modern electronic systems the distance between the decisions of a government and the will of the citizens can even reach the point of being annihilated."

    Mihalos said that electronic democracy contributes to the creation of a new form of citizens' society with more transparency, greater credibility and more effectiveness.

    "The democratisation of technology can contstitute the therapy for the crisis that modern democracy is experiencing," he added and noted that the question is whether political life and the citizens are ready to utilise the possibilities of such a democratic process.

    [23] Renegade Mt. Athos monks sentenced for 'disturbing peace'

    A Thessaloniki court on Thursday passed down one-year prison sentences, suspended for three years, on a group of 14 'renegade' monks occupying the Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos, including their abbot Methodius.

    The 14 zealot monks were found guilty of disturbing domestic peace.

    The hearing, during which the monks were represented by a lawyer acting on their behalf, was dominated by the squabble between the new brotherhood of the Esphigmenou Monastery appointed by authorities in the semi-autonomous monastic state of Mount Athos and the renegades, who have taken possession of the monastery and refuse to leave, in defiance of an eviction order issues by Greece's supreme administrative court.

    Also sued by the new brotherhood in connection with the dispute were two police officers accused of breach of duty for allowing a private car carrying food and supplies for the zealot monks to enter Esphigmenou Monastery. The two officers were acquitted, however, due to reasonable doubt. Also acquitted was the driver of the car, the father of one of the renegade monks living in the monastery, who was accused as their accomplice.

    The dispute over Esphigmenou monastery dates back several decades, when the then abbot of Esphigmenou bitterly opposed early attempts by the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch based in Istanbul to improve ties with the Roman Catholic Church. The monks have staunchly defied the Patriarchate and Greek authorities in this and continued to reside in the monastery, even after being declared schismatic and ordered to evacuate the premises in 2002.

    [24] Drug arrests in Ioannina

    Police in Ioannina, northwest Greece, on Thursday announced the arrest of a Pakistani national in the process of delivering a bag with 505 grams of heroin to other four foreigners who are also in custody, acting on a tip-off.

    According to information that had reached local police, foreigners were transporting large quantities of drugs from Athens to Ioannina using intercity KTEL buses.

    The Pakistani was placed under police surveillance soon after he arrived by bus in the northwest city of Arta. The arrests were made when he arrived by cab outside a department store on the Arta-Kostakia provincial road on Wednesday night where he met with his accomplices to deliver them the drugs destined for Ioannina.

    [25] Illegal immigrants spotted

    Thessaloniki Police, acting on a tip-off, located a truck transporting a total of 28 illegal immigrants shortly before midnight Wednesday near the village of Profitis.

    The truck driver initially refused to stop when flagged down by police for a check, and later abandoned the truck, in which 28 illegal immigrants from Iraq, Pakistan and Bangladesh were hidden.

    Weather Forecast

    [26] Rainy on Friday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 28C. Cloudy with possible showers in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 27C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 24C.

    [27] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The discovery of a terrorist safehouse in the northern Athens suburb of Halandri on Wednesday and political parties' assessments of the one-on-one debate between prime minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou Tuesday evening, dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Terrorists' safehouse discovered".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Terrorists arrested - Counter-terrorism squad raids safehouse in Halandri and houses in Galatsi and Exarchia".

    AVGHI: "PASOK transfers the STAGE 'regime' exclusively to the private sector - Gift to employers".

    AVRIANI: "Several insurance companies will be closed - The owners have spent the people's money for their own purposes".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Karamanlis' next pre-election steps".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The trick with the STAGE - Karamanlis claims that it is an EU-funded program are belied".

    ESTIA: "The truth about taxation - What was not said by the ND and PASOK leaders".

    ETHNOS: "Gloom and grumbling in ND after Karamanlis' 'shipwreck' in the TV debates".

    KATHIMERINI: "Dramatic reduction in state revenues".

    LOGOS: "The final countdown to elections has begun - ND's and PASOK's strategy on new basis".

    NIKI: "George (Papandreou) states: EU is not a bogyman and warns: I will clash with (EU Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Joaqin) Almunia".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "No more time wasted - Vote for Communist party for relentless battle".

    TA NEA: "Succession dogfight in ND in the shadow of Olympic Air-Aegean Airlines conflict".

    TO VIMA: "The 10 days of the dauphins - Prediction of defeat in general elections accelerates the developments in ruling New Democracy (ND)".

    VARYING: "Terrorists were preparing attacks against politicians - Police's major blow against terrorism".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [28] President hopes Turkey to reconsider positions in second round of Cyprus talks


    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias expressed hope on Thursday that during the second round of negotiations for a solution of the Cyprus problem there would be a reconsideration of Turkish positions, so that a settlement could be found the soonest possible, adding that he would not present to the people a solution originating from outside or accept arbitration and exercise of pressure through artificial timetables.

    In a statement at the General Debate of the 64th Session of the General Assembly of the UN, in New York, President Christofias said the key to a settlement is Turkey and that it is not enough for the Turkish leadership to publicly state that it supports the negotiating process but Turkey should contribute in a practical way to a solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality as defined in the relevant Security Council resolutions.

    President Christofias referred to the history of the Cyprus problem and the plethora of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on Cyprus, noting that, ''since its independence, the Republic of Cyprus has relied heavily on the principles of the UN in maintaining its independence, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity.''

    He noted that shortly after his election in office, he undertook the initiative to bring the stalemate to an end, resulting in the commencement of direct negotiations with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    ''We agreed that the process would be in the hands of the Cypriots without arbitration and artificial timetables. Some progress has been achieved in the negotiations but not such as to make us confident that we are close to a final solution to the Cyprus problem,'' he pointed out.

    He added that ''our goal is the restoration of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity of the Republic of Cyprus, the common homeland of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots,'' and that ''it is also our goal to restore the human rights and basic freedoms of all citizens of the Republic of Cyprus regardless of their ethnic background.''

    ''We are committed to the evolution of the unitary state into a federal state consisting of two largely autonomous regions. One region will be administered by the Greek Cypriot community and the other by the Turkish Cypriot community,'' he said, adding that ''the United Federal Republic of Cyprus must safeguard the unity of the state and its institutions, as well as of the economy and the people.''

    President Christofias noted that, ''despite our common efforts, the Turkish Cypriot side, supported by Turkey, continues to present positions and proposals which lead us outside the framework of the UN resolutions on Cyprus with regard to the termination of military occupation, the illegal possession of properties and the presence of settlers.''

    ''Possible acceptance of these positions would lead to an acceptance of many of the consequences of the occupation and to violations of international Conventions on human rights, basic freedoms and the principles on which federations are built. It is clear that such a solution would be neither viable, nor functional, and would not ensure the continuing unity of the state and the country,'' he added.

    President Christofias said ''we sincerely hope that during the second round of negotiations, which has just started, there will be a reconsideration of Turkish positions, so that we can, as soon as possible, reach an agreed solution which we can then present to the people in separate simultaneous referenda.''

    ''This solution must be by the Cypriots, for the Cypriots. It is evident that we will not present the people with a solution originating from outside and neither can we accept arbitration and exercise of pressure through artificial timetables. These preconditions were agreed with the Secretary General under whose auspices the negotiations are taking place,'' he said and thanked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for his good offices mission and for the role of the UN as a facilitator in the negotiating process.

    President Christofias pointed out that Turkey is a key player for the solution of the Cyprus problem and that ''the success of our efforts for a solution of the problem depends on Turkey's political will and the policies it implements.''

    ''It is not enough for the Turkish leadership to publicly state that it supports the negotiating process. Turkey should contribute in a practical way to a solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality as defined in the relevant Security Council resolutions. Instead Turkey pursues a confederal solution,'' he noted.

    He said a good will measure on the part of Turkey would have been the implementation of Security Council resolution 550 of 1984 which stipulates the transfer of the occupied ghost-town of Varoshia to the administration of the UN and the return of its legal inhabitants to their homes and properties, and in addition Turkey should proceed with the normalisation of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus, as well as with its recognition as stipulated by the decisions of the EU.

    President Christofias pointed out that it is a paradox for a country that is a member of the Security Council not to recognise the Republic of Cyprus, a member state of the UN, the EU and of all international organizations, for a member of the Security Council to maintain occupation troops for 35 years on the territory of another UN member state and a member state of the EU, and to undermine the unity and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus.

    ''Cyprus has never sought nor wishes to have hostile relations with its neighbour, Turkey, but it is our responsibility to defend the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of our state,'' he said.

    He also expressed his ''readiness to initiate dialogue with the Turkish leadership, in parallel to our negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot leader, to share ideas about the future, which would greatly enhance the chances of a positive outcome to the negotiations.''

    Referring to Turkey's EU accession course, President Christofias said Cyprus has consistently supported this course, ''in the belief that the whole adaptation process and Turkey's eventual membership would help our neighbours and would be beneficial for our region and us.''

    ''However, this support is not unconditional. Turkey should fulfill its obligations towards the Republic of Cyprus as well as towards the EU,'' he said.

    Furthermore, he assured that ''our Turkish Cypriot compatriots are equal citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, and that I personally will strive consistently for their rights and for finding their rightful place in all organs of the state,'' adding however that ''the rights of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots cannot be implemented at the expense of the rights of the bigger community, which is the Greek Cypriot community.''

    ''There must be mutual respect. I want to assure you that I will spare no effort in order to achieve a balanced and just solution which would restore the rights of the people as a whole,'' he said, adding that lasting peace ''will be beneficial for the people of Cyprus, of Turkey and for the peoples of our region as a whole.''

    ''Real political leaders are not the ones who think of the next election but of the next generation. We have the responsibility to work together to achieve a lasting peace in our region,'' he pointed out.

    Referring to the global financial crisis, President Christofias said ''world stability and welfare have been threatened by the recent global economic crisis,'' adding that ''the crisis showed the weaknesses of our collective oversight systems.''

    ''It is only through collective international action and not through economic nationalism that we can overcome such challenges. The same is true of action against disease and poverty, as well as the prevention of further damage to the environment, which affects the lives of us all,'' he said.

    He added that ''the most important lesson to be learnt from the financial crisis is that the economy cannot be seen in isolation from the needs of society'' and noted that, ''despite the remarkable development of production forces, that could have secured decent living conditions for all, in many parts of the world people are still deprived of basic goods such as drinking water and health care, as well as access to education and work.''

    ''The magnitude of the financial crisis shows that it is a crisis of the system and of its most extreme manifestation, neo-liberalism and market lawlessness. In its present form, globalisation is not the realisation of the vision of philosophers and social revolutionaries for global brotherhood and prosperity for all. This is because globalisation is driven by the pursuit of excessive profits. As a result, the rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer,'' he said.

    Referring to the millennium development goals, with the 2015 deadline, President Christofias said ''the financial crisis is forcing states and institutions to re-assess global priorities,'' adding that ''the UN is the most important international body able to tackle the effects of the global financial crisis, and to act collectively and effectively, to prevent their most dire consequences.''

    He said ''the world today is facing multiple challenges and threats, climate change, depletion of resources, human rights abuses, failure to protect vulnerable populations, increased regional and interstate conflict, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, pandemics.''

    ''From this podium we have heard the desperate voice of those who live on small island states, the despairing appeal of youth and the dramatic warnings of scientists about climate change. If we do not take measures now, we face the risk of extinction. We join our voice and lend our support to the proposals for taking concrete action. We must take measures now. Tomorrow will be too late. The December Meeting in Copenhagen must become a historic turning point towards addressing effectively catastrophic climate changes,'' he pointed out.

    Concluding his statement, President Christofias wished to the family of nations a successful conclusion of the deliberations of the 64th Session of the General Assembly of the UN.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.

    [29] President Christofias tells Erdogan Turkey is key to Cyprus solution


    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday had a sincere, friendly and in depth discussion on developments in the Cyprus issue and its outlook.

    During their half-hour meeting in the presence of Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou, United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe and UN officials, President Christofias underlined that the Greek Cypriot side wants a solution sooner than anyone else, however it will not accept artificial and strict deadlines and mediation.

    "Today I had the chance to underline this with the Secretary General and the permanent five", the Cypriot president said on Wednesday.

    President Christofias added that during a lunch hosted by the UN chief, he had the chance to have a good discussion with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan, to whom he underlined that Turkey is the key to a solution to the Cyprus issue.

    "I told the UN, just as I told Mr. Erdogan, that Turkey is the key to a solution to the Cyprus issue. And that Talat must be helped by Turkey to change his stance. I analysed our positions on the property issue, where there is a difference of views, the positions on the settlers issue, security and governance. And I clearly stated that I have made offers to the Turkish Cypriot community and I am waiting for their response", the Cypriot leader said.

    President Christofias also raised the issue of the attitude of certain UN envoys, noting they have a responsibility to defend and implement UN resolutions.

    "I spoke about this, noting and stressing that UN people have a major responsibility to defend and implement UN resolutions. I think my statement is clear", the president remarked.

    Regarding the prospects of a joint meeting between the UN chief, President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Christofias told Ban that this must take place in Cyprus at the right time. He said "the Secretary-General is waiting for the opportunity that his presence will move the process forward".

    On his meeting with Ban, President Christofias said the UNSG congratulated him on the initiatives that are being undertaken "and for our courage to proceed and wished that there will be more progress".

    Christofias and Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations, under UN auspices, since September 2008. Ban's special adviser on Cyprus

    Alexander Downer attends the talks, which aim at finding a mutually acceptable political settlement that will reunite the country under a federal roof, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    [30] UNSG urges leaders in Cyprus to search for middle ground

    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed the importance of political compromise in Cyprus to search for a middle ground, in efforts to find a negotiated settlement.

    A UN Spokesman, referring to President Demetris Christofias' meeting with the Secretary-General, said Ban thanked President Demetris Christofias for his participation in the Climate Change Meeting.

    On the current political process, according to the Spokesman, "the Secretary-General said that both he and his Special Adviser, Alexander Downer, were encouraged by the progress so far".

    The spokesman noted that Ban "commended the President's commitment -- as well as that of Μr Talat -- and urged him to continue to demonstrate his leadership and political wisdom in order to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem".

    Furthermore, "as the talks move into the second phase, the Secretary-General stressed the importance of political compromise to search for a middle ground".

    He added "the Secretary-General reaffirmed the UN's readiness to actively support the process".

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