|Monday, 18 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-12-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 9 December 2010 Issue No: 3665
 Greece firmly backs independent Palestinian state, PM reaffirms after meeting with AbbasGreece steadfastly backs the creation of an independent, viable and democratic Palestinian state that will coexist peacefully with Israel, within internationally-recognised borders based on the pre-1967 line, prime minister George Papandreou reaffirmed on Wednesday after talks with visiting Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, adding that Greece remains dedicated to a comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute.
Papandreou, in statements to the press after the meeting, said that Abbas was actively showing the way to peace and security in the region, "which is, precisely, the creation of a Palestinian state".
Greece, he added, will continue to stand by and aid the efforts of Palestine and the Palestinian people for a just and viable solution that will facilitate a comprehensive settlement of the Middle East issue.
The Arab peace initiative continues to be an important tool for achieving that goal, Papandreou said, stressing that Greece, which maintains friendly relations with all the countries of the region, is prepared to contribute to the peace process both now and in the future.
Papandreou also announced that Greece will undertake an initiative for the creation of a regional firefighting force in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean, in agreement with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas, adding that the relevant authorities of Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Russia, in addition to Palestine and Israel, will be invited to join the initiative.
Abbas, in turn, fully endorsed the proposed initiative.
The Greek premier also underlined the special political symbolism of the proposal with respect to "the prospects we have in this region, when we work together to confront crises and underline the region's dynamic".
Papandreou cited as an example of cooperation between the regions, the recent wildfires in Israel, where Greek firefighting forces were dispatched to help battle the blaze, and where the Palestinian Authority also dispatched six vehicles, a move that he described as "substantive and particularly symbolic" on Palestine's part towards Israel.
Speaking in turn, Abbas expressed the Palestinian Authority's gratitude to Greece, which he said "plays an important role in the EU", adding that "we are certain that you are making every effort for the resolution of the Palestinian issue in a just way".
On the crisis in Greece, Abbas expressed conviction that it will be overcome with the wisdom of the prime minister and the government.
Abbas further said that the Palestinian Authority is moving in two directions: the first is the political process and the second is national reconciliation "because any solution that arises in the future cannot be applied if there is no agreement and conciliation".
"We are committed to this political roadmap," Abbas said, adding that the Israeli military forces must be withdrawn.
Asked whether prospects exist for "a light at the end of the long tunnel of negotiations", Abbas said it is without doubt that a hard crisis exists, adding that "we and Greece are in permanent contact".
"Greece plays a significant role in the discussions for continuation of the effort in general," he said while, on the talks between Israel and the US, he said that the crisis they have entered needs to be overcome.
"We must be led to a solution for the good of the region," Abbas said, adding that Papandreou will play a very fundamental role in advancing the peace process in the Middle East.
Papandreou warned that if the peace process fails, there will once again be huge and justified disappointment -- not only among the states but also the peoples -- in so many countries, which in turn would lead to extreme perceptions and reactions.
The only path is that of the success of the talks, the Greek premier stressed, adding that the EU has an important role to play, as does Greece, ?which is always prepared to do so".
Papandreou further said that foreign minister will convey Greece's thoughts on the peace process at the upcoming EU foreign ministers' council on general affairs.
"We can play a role in the EU and we are doing so, but we are also playing a role in the wider region as neighbors, and through other channels, such as the Socialist International (SI)," said Papandreou, who is also president of the SI.
Papandreou also expressed worry over the current impasse in the direct negotiations, but voiced optimism that, with the assistance of the international community -- and of course the EU will also play a role, there will be a satisfactory solution for all sides.
He also expressed satisfaction with the state institutions and infrastructures building program aimed at the creation of a Palestinian state, which he said has made impressive progressive and to which Greece is also contributing.
"Now that there is a stronger Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, one sees a different Palestine that is more certain, more secure and developing, which actively shows that, if a recognised state existed and the border issue had been resolved, on the basis of the 1967 borders, that would be a guarantee of security as well not only for the Palestinian people but also for Israel and wider," Papandreou continued.
The Greek premier also expressed hope that a solution will soon be found to the issue of endo-Palestinian reconciliation, and congratulated Abbas for his efforts in that direction.
 Papoulias hosts dinner for Palestinian presidentPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential mansion on Wednesday, for a dinner held in Abbas' honour.
During talks prior to the dinner, they discussed the close cooperation with neighbouring countries and Israel during the devastating fires that swept through Israeli territory, agreeing that "disaster diplomacy" was a good opportunity to develop peaceful cooperation.
"From dealing with natural disasters we can move on to dealing with the calamities of extremism, with the final goal of achieving peace," Abbas said.
After the fires, the next opportunity will be given with water, which was a shared and inadequate resource in the Middle East, he added.
Abbas announced that the Palestinian Authority intends to create desalination plants in collaboration with Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
"After the fires we will also quench the thirst for water," he emphasised, adding that Israel possessed very advanced technology in this area.
"We want greater cooperation because water and power are for everyone," he underlined and called on other Mediterranean countries to help.
Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, who was present at the dinner, said that Greece actively encourages the formation of a "regional force for natural disasters, especially putting out fires". He praised the "excellent example" given by Abbas, who sent aid immediately in response to Israel's call for help, and said it was a good opportunity to see where cooperation was possible.
Also present during the dinner was Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou.
 PM: Turning crisis into opportunityPrime minister George Papandreou once again urged Greeks to turn the crisis into an opportunity, addressing a development and competitiveness ministry event on Wednesday on the plan for extroversion of the country.
He said the government was seeking to set new bases with young people and businesses that will be the rule, rather than the exception to the rule, in a dynamic, developmental effort.
He said that many institutional structural changes have been made in 2010 and the effort will continue more dynamically in 2011 for a Greece that will be optimistic, will have no fear, and will face the future without loans and surveillance, while he also noted the government's new strategy aimed at green development and making use of agricultural production and tourism.
Greece, the premier stressed, has immense potential, adding that it is facing a crisis "not because we were unable to make a better country, but because we had the abilities and did not exploit them".
He added that "we must create a different Greece and be optimistic that we can achieve even miracles, not only for political reasons but also in order to attract investments and increase our country's credibility".
"We must turn the crisis into an opportunity," Papandreou said, and stressed the importance of initiatives being undertaken by entrepreneurs themselves, adding that the state will contribute to such an effort by eliminating long-standing problems.
 PM Papandreou holds talks with economist RoubiniU.S. based Economist Nouriel Roubini expressed congratulations to Prime Minister George Papandreou and the government regarding the handling of the crisis, during the meeting they had at the Maximos Mansion, reports said.
According to the same reports, Rubini termed as necessary all that the government is doing for the exit from the crisis, regardless of whether he has different views.
In this framework, the economist reiterated the position that he has expressed on the handling of the crisis that Greece is experiencing, on some kind of restructuring of the country's debt.
However, according to the same reports, the reply to Roubini was that the extension of the period for the repayment of the Greek loan is adequate.
The same sources stressed the wider consequences that a possible restructuring of the debt of one of its member-states would would have in the Eurozone.
 PM receives Albania's Orthodox ArchbishopPrime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday received the Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and All Albania Anastasios, head of Albania's Orthodox Church.
 PM chairs meeting on energy issuesPrime Minister George Papandreou chaired a meeting focusing on energy issues, following his meeting with economist Nouriel Roubini at the Maximos Mansion.
The meeting was attended by Finance Minister George Papacon-stantinou, Minister of State Haris Pamboukis, Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Tina Birbili and Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, as well as the secretary general for supporting the prime minister's work R. Vartzeli.
According to reports, Birbili provided a briefing on the third energy package.
 Rehn due in Athens on ThursdayBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn is due in Athens on Thursday, where he will have a succession of meetings with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos and the board chairman of the Financial Stability Fund Panagiotis Thomopoulos.
During Wednesday's press briefing in Brussels, Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said that Rehn's talks in Athens will focus on the effort for financial stabilisation, structural reforms and ways to bring about the recovery of the Greek economy.
Bailly also referred to a visit to Athens on Friday by European Commissioner for regional policy Johannes Hahn, who is to meet Papandreou and members of the government and attend a conference on regional policy with Greece's newly-elected local government officials that take over in January.
Hahn is expected to emphasise the importance of fully utilising financing from EU structural funds in order to help the recovery of the economy.
 Samaras in Thessaloniki on Monday?ain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras will visit the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Monday.
In the afternoon, Samaras will meet with representatives of the productive entities at a Thessaloniki downtown hotel and in the evening during a dinner at the same premises he will speak to representatives from the five major foreign Chambers of Commerce (Greek-American, the Greek-British, Greek-French, Greek-Italian and Greek-Spanish).
 Tsipras addresses press conference on occasion of European Left Party conferenceRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliementary president Alexis Tsipras, replying to a question during a press cocnference on International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn who advised that "we should not be resentful with the doctor if he gives medicines swhen that we do not like", said that "in some cases the medicine is worse than the illness."
Tsipras added that "in any case, the IMF managing director is not behaving like a doctor, but like a 'undertaker' of the rights of the working people" and stressed that it will be the first time that the Party of the European Left in France will not support the candidate of the socialists in the second round of the presidential elections, if the candidate is Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
At the press conference on the occasion of the 3rd conference of the Party of the European Left, that was held in Paris (December 3-5), and at which he was elected vice president,Tsipras spoke of the "Agenda for a Social Europe", that was approved with an overwhelming majority and constitutes "the political plan for coordinated action all over the continent, the product of the deep convergence of many forces of the left in Europe."
 President briefed by employment ministerPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received employment and social security minister Louka Katseli at the Presidential Mansion.
Katseli, upon arrival at the Presidential Mansion for the meeting, said that Greece is at a difficult conjuncture, and coordinated efforts are being made to save jobs and for the necessary structural changes to proceed.
She said that all the social partners need to aid the effort, adding that the dialogue is constant both with the domestic and international partners.
"We are on a good path. We will succeed," the minister added.
In a statement after the meeting, Katseli said that a new bill on the legislative framework for labor relations was in the final stage, with only a few details remaining.
She added that if the details were completed Wednesday, the bill would be unveiled at Thursday's Cabinet meeting, otherwise it would be made public next week.
Katseli said the discussion with the President was constructive, adding that she briefed him on the efforts being made by her ministry to preserve jobs, the programs of the manpower employment organisation OAED, programs to combat poverty, and cooperation with all the pertinent agencies with the aim of supporting workers and their families at this critical time.
 Turkish fighter planes violate national airspaceAccording to the National Defence General Staff, 18 Turkish aircraft entered the Athens FIR on Wednesday without submitting flight plans.
Fourteen infringements of air traffic regulations were recorded in the Athens FIR that developed into 13 violations of national airspace between the islands of Lesvos and Chios.
The Turkish aircraft were recognised and intercepted by corresponding Greek fighter planes. Four of the Turkish aircraft were armed.
The neighbouring country has sealed a region in the central Aegean and is carrying out an aeronautical exercise.
Meanwhile, Greek Army General Staff chief Frangoulis Frangos is visiting Turkey (December 7-9) at the invitation of the commander of the Turkish land forces Erdal Seilanoglu.
 Greek aid to flood-stricken Albania; envoy in regionTIRANA (ANA-MPA)
Greek ambassador to Albania Nikolaos Pazios, accompanied the embassy's military attach? Col. Panayiotis Farantatos, toured flood-stricken areas of northern Albania on Wednesday, while also flying over water-covered regions in one of two search-and-rescue helicopters provided by the Greek military to assist in humanitarian efforts.
One of Wednesday's missions included the transport of aid to the village of Pentari, in the country's north.
Amb. Pazios also met with the commander of the Albanian military forces participating in the flood relief operations, Jhemal Gjunkshi, who briefed him on the situation on the ground and thanked him for the aid and assistance provided by Athens.
"The assistance provided in such situations is an expression of solidarity towards our friend, the Albanian people," Pazios said.
 Gov't on individual business work contracts; public utilities"The government has the will and determination to proceed with all major, substantive and real reforms that will liberate the country's potential, reinforce viable development and consolidate the sense of social justice," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis reiterated on Wednesday.
Responding to a question on whether wages in the private sector will be directly linked with productivity as suggested on Tuesday by IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, he underlined that "there can be no further wage cuts" and underlined that "the major challenge is to increase productivity".
He stressed, however, that "the association of the salaries earned with productivity can be considered."
As regards the prevalence of individual business work contracts over the sector-wide work contracts, he repeated that it will take place under very specific terms, preconditions and time limitations, pointing out that the only criterion and care for the government is to preserve job positions.
"We will not let businesses to close down," he stressed, adding that the government seeks the best and most effective solutions guaranteeing job positions, labour interests and rights.
He underlined that an understanding between the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) and the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) is of major importance for the government.
Responding to a question on whether the issue of individual business work contracts was discussed in the meeting the premier had on Tuesday with the IMF head, he said that they had a general discussion on the country's economic situation, the European and the global crisis. He also pointed out that "the government acts collectively, has an independent policy and ministers who work hard."
Referring to information that surfaced on Wednesday concerning the imposition of wage cuts in the deficit-ridden public utilities and organisations, Petalotis stated that an effort is being made to bring a balance to the salaries paid and subsequently bring social justice. He added that a relevant draft law will regulate the public utilities and their wage scales thus limiting extravagant spending.
Petalotis stated that "through the draft law in question, to be presented in the cabinet on Thursday, the government -- having public interest in mind -- is trying to reform the organizations that belong to the public sector and handle public revenues."
 Inflation rate at 4.9% in Nov.The Consumer Price Index (CPI) in November 2010, compared with November 2009, increased by 4.9 percent, the Hellenic
Statistical Agency announced on Wednesday. In November 2009, the annual rate of change of the CPI was 2.0 percent.
The CPI in November 2010, compared with October 2010, increased by 0.2 percent. In October 2009, the monthly rate of change of the CPI was 0.5 percent. In the twelve-month period from December 2009 to November 2010 compared with the period from December 2008 to November 2009 the annual average rate of change of the CPI was 4.5 percent. The corresponding annual average rate of change of the CPI in the previous year (December 2008 to November 2009), was 1.2 percent.
 Minister announces export-friendly planLess than 1/5 of the large export businesses are engaged in exporting activity that exceeds 50 pct of their turnover, Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis stressed on Wednesday.
He underlined that "we barely utilise the rise recorded in world trade considering that exports correspond to just 8.7 pct of the GDP whereas in Spain are higher than 16 pct, while in Portugal and Holland are over 20 pct and 50 pct respectively."
The extroversion plan includes the adoption of a national brand and the reorganization of agencies such as, the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) and the Export Credit Insurance Organization (ECIO) to acquire new roles and cooperate with the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) and Invest in Greece to guarantee an overall improvement of Greece's image abroad, Chryssohoidis stated.
A common logo and system of products will be created within this framework while all government ministries and commercial attaches will be in continuous cooperation and coordination under the umbrella of the regional development and competitiveness ministry. In addition, the exporters associations and chambers will also contribute to the improvement of exporting activities.
 SEB energy conservation symposiumGreat prospects exist for energy conservation in buildings, and Greek entrepreneurs are called on to turn the challenge into an opportunity by investing in innovation, and in new methods and products for energy conservation, Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB viable development council president E. Vidalis said on Wednesday morning, inaugurating a SEB symposium on energy efficiency in buildings.
Vidalis said that 40 percent of the energy consumption in Greece is consumed in buildings, the largest proportion in the EU countries.
The present model of energy consumption and irrational use of natural resources is not viable, Vidalis warned.
According to figures he presented at the symposium, buildings give off 38 percent of overall greenhouse gases internationally, compared with 33 percent by industries and 26 percent by transport.
Vidalis stressed that energy consumption is directly linked with the everyday lives and habits of the consumers.
 Maniatis at SEV symposium on building energy efficiencyGreece's "unbelievable bureaucracy" was to blame for the delay in proclaiming the 'Saving at Home' programme for improving home energy efficiency, Deputy Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis said on Wednesday.
Under the programme, low-income home owners will be able to obtain low-interest loans and subsidies in order to carry out home improvements that lead to lower energy consumption.
"The funds have been secured, the European Commission agrees, there are beneficiaries, the market wants it and the regulations for the programme are ready but unbelievable Greek bureaucracy delays," the minister said.
Maniatis said the governments that would run the funding programme had been selected, naming National Bank of Greece, Piraeus Bank, Eurobank and Alpha Bank, and all that now remained was for their legal services to sign off on the deal.
The minister also urged households to apply for inclusion in the Social Domestic Power Rate, noting that the estimated number of beneficiaries were 1.2 million and that applications now stood at just 70,000.
Maniatis was speaking at a symposium organised by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) ?n improving building energy efficiency.
Other speakers stressed that Greece's buildings were among the least energy-efficient in Europe since 60 percent had been built before rules for the energy insulation of buildings were introduced in 1980. Energy efficiency expert Prof. Manthos Santamouris presented figures predicting that energy consumption by Greek households would rise by 40 percent by the year 2050 unless corrective action was taken, with most power spent on cooling buildings as temperatures climbed due to global warming.
Santamouris said the target was to restrict the rise in domestic power consumption to 28 percent and said the cost of converting all Attica buildings to zero consumption would be 77 billion euros.
During the symposium, Maniatis also announced that a Greek city, possibly Athens or Thessaloniki, might be included in the massive "Smart Cities" programme worth 11 billion euro. Up to 30 European cities will participate in the programme, which is based mainly on new bioclimatic buildings, new energy networks and new mobility.
 N. Greece winemakers take action to ensure 'Macedonia' brand only for Greek winesA local cooperative of winemakers in northern Greece on Wednesday announced that it will file a lawsuit in Germany against distributors and super market retailers offering wines from the neighbouring former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) under the indication "Macedonia".
The president of the Association of Winemakers & Viticulturalists of Northern Greece (ENOABE), Yiannis Voyiatzis, noted that several retailers in Germany have already complied with European law and removed the wines from their shelves.
The term "Macedonia" enjoys a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status for wines produced in the Greek province of Macedonia, which dominates northern Greece.
"This specific geographic designation is only allowed for wines emanating from the geographic province of Macedonia in Greece," Voyiatzis.
Along those lines, he noted that the circulation of wines from fYRoM bearing the stand-alone name "Macedonia" or "Macedonian" was recently banned in Slovenia, as well.
According to the ENOABE president, his association has been in contact with the Greek embassies in all EU member-states in order to ascertain whether similar instances of illegal wine branding has occurred.
 35,000 people use Zlatograd-Xanthi border X-ing in Nov.The operation of the Zlatograd-Xanthi border crossing on the Greek-Bulgarian frontier has generated a threefold increase in tourism revenues, according to local authorities on the Bulgarian side of the border, BTA reported on Wednesday.
Greeks mostly visit nearby Zlatograd for shopping, for car repairs or even visits to local dentists, whereas the Bulgarians mostly commute across the border to work in northern Greece.
Roughly 35,000 citizens of both countries have used the specific border crossing in November alone.
 Athens municipality garbage collectors strike suspendedThe strike by garbage collectors of the Athens municipality has been suspended and garbage collection crews will be waging a struggle to clean the capital's streets and squares of thousands of tons of garbage that have been accumulated.
 Dockworkers to go on strike on December 15The Panhellenic Maritime Federation has called a 24-hour nationwide strike of dockworkers on December 15 in all categories of ships.
An announcement by the Panhellenic Union of Merchant Marine Engineers (PEMEN) and the Panhellenic Union of Lower Engine Crews "STEFENSON" stresses that "our decision for strike action replies to the hilarious argument of the government that decided on political mobilisation for 'extraordinary needs'".
 Stocks flat on Wed.Stocks were flat at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with the composite index down 0.67 pct to end at 1,523.51 points. Turnover was a disappointing 69.00 million euros.
The Big Cap index lost 0.27 pct, the Mid Cap index was marginally down 0.03 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 2.49 pct.
Technology (3.93 pct) and Mass Media (3.76 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Foods & Beverages fell 5.28 pct.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 93 to 60 with another 61 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.98%
Personal & Household: +0.17%
Raw Materials: +1.21%
Travel & Leisure: +0.63%
Food & Beverages: -5.28%
Financial Services: +0.47%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, OPAP and Coca Cola 3E.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.64
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.67
HBC Coca Cola: 19.55
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.72
National Bank of Greece: 7.11
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.42
Bank of Piraeus: 3.30
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount 0.38 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover falling to 42.038 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,618 contracts worth 30.962 million euros, with 33,664 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,739 contracts worth 11.077 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,669), followed by PPC (3,357), OTE (2,293), MIG (1,907), Piraeus Bank (1,050), Mytilineos (437) and Alpha Bank (433).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bond fell on Wednesday to 861 from 882 basis points on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.69 pct and the German Bund 3.08 pct. Turnover in the market was 48 million euros of which 22 million were buy orders and the remaining 26 million euros were sell orders. The three-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 19 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.52 pct, the six-month rate was 1.25 pct, the three-month 1.02 pct and the one-month rate 0.82 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.330
Pound sterling 0.843
Danish kroner 7.514
Swedish kroner 9.221
Japanese yen 111.97
Swiss franc 1.316
Norwegian kroner 8.026
Canadian dollar 1.346
Australian dollar 1.358
 Event for ethnic Greeks of Istanbul at Euro-ParliamentBRUSSELS (???-MPA)
The restoration of the human and civil rights of the displaced ethnic Greeks of Istanbul was the main issue at an event hosted at the European Parliament on Wednesday, following an initiative by Greek MEPs Marilena Koppa (PASOK) and George Koumoutsakos (ND).
The event, entitled "Ethnic Greeks of Istanbul: Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow", was attended representatives of the Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans (E.FE.CON.), members of the European Parliament and foreign diplomats.
Koppa underlined that the issue is not bilateral but concerns Turkey's EU accession course, while Koumoutsakos pointed out that the need for "systemic intervention" in the area of human rights is underlined in Turkey's progress report.
According to the group's president, Prof. Nikos Ouzounoglou, the federation was established in 2006 and includes up to 30 organisations from around the world.
 Church of Greece TV channel contemplatedThe Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece is considering its own television channel, following a recommendation during a Holy Synod meeting on Wednesday.
Late Archbishop Christodoulos was the first to contemplate the idea but failed to implement it due to the high cost of the endeavour at the time.
The Church of Greece has its own radio station with operating costs estimated at 800,000 euros.
 Award for director AngelopoulosNoted Greek film director Theo Angelopoulos was honored on Tuesday evening during the annual "Epilogos" cultural edition presentation in Athens.
Alternate Culture Minister Telemachos Hytiris presented Angelopoulos with a commemorative plaque for his contribution to Greek and international cinema, during an event at the Benaki Museum annex.
 Inauguration of "House of Letters and Arts"The Onassis Foundation's "House of Letters and Arts" was inaugurated late Tuesday in a ceremony attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
The "House of Arts and Letters' is a multiplex facility that will project modern culture, support Greek artists and also contribute to the creation of international cooperations on culture issues.
Onassis Foundation president Antonis Papadimitriou stressed in his opening speech that the idea was inspired by the late shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis himself.
The inauguration ceremony focused on the projection of the people who worked on the construction of the building. Papadimitriou noted that that this particular projection aimed to stress the fact that art is addressed to everyone and that nobody is excluded from it.
 Dock worker killed on Rhodes? 31-year-old Egyptian dock worker was killed on Tuesday at the Rhodes port of Kamiros after being crushed by an overturned forklift. The man was reportedly riding atop the heavy equipment when it overturned.
 Businessman Pavlos Psomiadis arrestedBusinessman Pavlos Psomiadis, president of the Aspis Group, was arrested late Tuesday night after a warrant was issued by an examining magistrate who has been assigned the case file pertaining to a fraud case against Aspis Capital investors.
The case file was compiled after completion on Tuesday of an examination of lawsuits lodged by Aspis Capital 65 investors , and the prosecutor's office filed felony charges of fraud and money laundering ('legitimisation of revenues from illegal activity") against Psomiadis.
The arrest warrant was issued on suspicion that the businessman would not respond to a summons to appear before the examining magistrate and would flee abroad.
Psomiaidis was led before an examining magistrate on Wednesday morning, whom he asked for and received a stay of testimony to Friday.
The businessman has been remanded in custody until his testimony.
 Bar and restaurant owners protest against universal smoking banBar, club and restaurant owners staged a demonstration outside the health ministry on Wednesday, to protest about the universal ban on smoking in indoor spaces, including bar and dining areas.
The protestors repeated their federation's position that smoking should be allowed in public places where the public's attendance was entirely optional and voluntary and only banned in areas that they were obliged to visit.
A health ministry announcement said that enforcement of the ban was continuing with more frequent inspections.
Cafe and bar owners, on their part, countered that the ban was leading their businesses into a swift decline and they were therefore forced to effectively ignore it.
After the demonstration outside the health ministry, the protestors marched to the interior and finance ministry wearing chefs' hats and clanging cooking pots.
In an announcement, the health ministry indicated that it does not intend to back down and stressed that smoking had been identified by scientists in Greece and abroad as a major danger to public health and a primary factor in ailments such as cancer and respiratory disease.
 Police arrest business owner for 33 armed robberiesPolice on Wednesday announced the arrest of a man who is a suspect for 33 armed robberies with a combined loot of 200,000 euros in the last 20 months.
The 44-year-old was arrested on the island of Salamina on Tuesday, shortly after his latest bank robbery committed on the island. On him at the time of his arrest, police found an air-gun and the money taken in the robbery.
Further investigation showed that the man arrested was also a suspect in 27 armed robberies in Attica, four in Loutraki and one in Sparti, as well as an attempted robbery in the Athens district of Nea Ionia.
The man was essentially identified through the motorbike he was using, which had also been used as the getaway vehicle in the various robberies, while police also confiscated a four-wheel drive vehicle and clothes that he used to disguise himself during the robberies as evidence.
Police sources said that the 44-year-old came from a fairly wealthy background and also had his own business but had run into heavy debt. He was taken before a Piraeus public prosecutor to be charged and police are continuing to investigate his possible involvement in other criminal actions.
 Contraband cigarettes seized in Patras port, two arrestsTwo truck drivers, both foreign nationals, were arrested at the western port of Patras on Wednesday after more than 800 cartons of contraband cigarettes were discovered hidden n their trucks.
The contraband cigarettes were found during a routine check on the trucks before boarding a ferry to Italy.
Port authorities found 350 cartons (3,500) packs of cigarettes hidden in the truck of one driver, 39, while a search of the truck of the second driver, 43, turned up 512 cartons (5,120 packs), bringing the total packs of contraband cigarettes, which were seized, to 8,620.
 Illegal migrants intercepted off Leros, EvrosThe coast guard intercepted a migrant smuggler and 68 illegal migrants (30 men, 17 women and 21 children) on board a vessel off the eastern Aegean island of Leros on Wednesday. The migrant-laden vessel had originated from the Turkish coast.
The vessel was spotted by two coast guard patrol vessels while sailing in Greek territorial waters.
Meanwhile, five illegal migrants, all Georgian nationals, were arrested by local police and Frontex officers in the northeast prefecture of Evros.
The suspects, who are facing charges for break-ins and burglaries, were spotted in the region of Lagina in possession of travel bags containing stolen jewellery and burglary tools.
Under questioning, the suspects told police that they had crossed into Greece from Turkey Greek on Nov. 25 and 26.
 Twenty seven baby monk seals born this year in Greek habitatsThe family of the Mediterranean Monk Seals, more widely known as Monachus monachus, has welcomed 27 new members since the start of the current breeding season, according to the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (MoM).
The female seals chose the Aegean islands of Kimolos, Tinos, Karpathos and Thasos as well as the mainland coasts of Mani, Evia, Pilio, Argolida and Platamonas to give birth to their pups.
Considering that this year's breeding season will end in a month the new births revive hopes that the Monachus monachus monk seal, listed as critically endangered species, will manage to survive and that more baby seals are yet to be born in the coming days.
The Monachus monachus monk seals are currently threatened with extinction with only 500 individuals known to exist. Half of these are in Greece, where their most important habitats are located.
 Cloudy on ThursdayCloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 2C and 23C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with southerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 22C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 14C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceReactions over International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn's visit to Greece and the development's in labour relations, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn 'Super prime minister'."
AVGHI: "In the jungle of individual work contracts'.
AVRIANI: "Strauss-Kahn a professional socialist - Without shame he gave us lessons in parliament".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Strauss-Kahn's seven recipes".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The...Boss has spoken!".
ESTIA: "We are denying reality".
ETHNOS: "Tax card to offer bonuses to users".
IMERISSIA: "Strauss-Kahn's recipe: Consensus, reforms and growth".
KATHIMERINI: "Strauss-Kahn: Consensus for the difficult stuff".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "IMF: Solution does not exist without sound development".
NIKI: "Greeks, surrender to the ...'doctor' (Strauss-Kahn)".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Head on counterattack against government and troika".
TA NEA: "40 percent income cuts in Public Utilities and Organisations (DEKO)".
VRADYNI: "Extension of loan repayment with predatory interest rates".
 Kyprianou briefs Westerwelle on Cyprus issueNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou paid an official visit to Berlin on Wednesday, at the invitation of his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle, whom he briefed on recent developments in the Cyprus issue, and affirmed the government's commitment for a solution, noting that Turkey must contribute to efforts to reach a settlement.
Kyprianou and Westerwelle also exchanged views on Turkey's EU accession course, in view of the forthcoming European Council, and Kyprianou pointed out that Turkey can hope for EU membership as long as it fulfills all its obligations.
The two ministers furthermore reviewed bilateral relations and confirmed their very good level, examined ways to further strengthen relations in the sectors of research, the economy and tourism, and discussed other issues of mutual interest, such as the Middle East and the Western Balkans.
Kyprianou also met with Christoph Heusgen, the Diplomatic Adviser of Chancellor Angela Merkel, in the framework of preparations for Merkel's visit to Cyprus in January.
The Cypriot Minister will be returning to Cyprus on Thursday.
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