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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-01-02
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM calls off-the-agenda debate on educationPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis has requested the holding of an off-the-agenda Parliamentary debate on the subject of education, in a letter on Friday to Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas.
In his letter, Karamanlis underlined that "the issue of education in all its aspects and at all levels, and particularly with regard to tertiary (higher) education, is an exceptionally important matter that requires a priority discussion in the national parliament, so that all the political forces may take a stance."
"This is so because the future and the course of education require common positions, to the degree possible, as they are a timeless issue and do not concern only decisions of the government at any given time. For this reason, I request the holding of an off-the-agenda discussion, as per Article 143 of the Parliamentary Rules of Order."
 Papandreou speaks with Abbas on GazaMain opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou had a telephone conversation on Wednesday night with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, and also with Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos for the second time in the past three days.
Papandreou's ongoing contacts with officials who can play a role in resolving the renewed crisis in the Middle East are part of an initiative undertaken by Socialist International, which goes one step further than the proposals for an immediate ceasefire and truce in proposing the convening of a regional conference.
The SI proposal for a regional conference has been met positively by all the officials with whom Papandreou has spoken thus far. In addition to Abbas and Moratinos, Iranian FM Manuchehr Motaki was also positively oriented to the proposal, according to reports.
The regional conference, under the SI proposal, would focus on peace in the wider area of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, including an immediate ceasefire and truce between Israelis and Palestinians. The conference would deal with such matters as the West's relations with Iran and Syria, aimed at achieving lasting peace throughout the entire Middle East, so that it will cease comprising a cause of clashes among the countries of the region.
 Greek mutual funds' assets drop 58.26% in 2008, yr/yrGreek mutual funds' assets totaled 10.2 billion euros on Dec. 31, 2008, recording an eyebrow-raising 58.26 percent decline from the same figure at the beginning of last year, when they stood at 24.4 billion euros on Jan. 1, 2008
Three mutual funds managers retain 76.73 percent of assets: Ethniki Asset Management (a subsidiary of National Bank) with 27.02 percent of market share; EFG AEDAK (a subsidiary of EFG Eurobank) with 23.35 market share, and Alpha Asset Management (a subsidiary of Alpha Bank), with 18.32 percent of market share.
 Patriarch praises Mideast peace effortsISTANBUL (ANA-MPA) -- Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (Vartholomeos) on Friday referred directly to the peace efforts underway in the Middle East in order to achieve stability there, speaking on the occasion of the New Year during a ceremony in the Patriarchate's Fanar-district seat.
"... We hope, on the occasion of the mediation and peace efforts by the prime minister of Turkey, this will succeed ... as both he (Turkey PM Tayyip Erdogan) and other institutions and personalities are struggling in this divinely cherished direction," the Patriarch said.
 House president on OSCEParliament President Dimitris Sioufas issued on Friday a message on the occasion of the beginning of the Greek Presidency at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
"The Greek Parliament will support the Presidency with the aim of achieving a more effective promotion of the goals and challenges facing the OSCE," he said.
"The OSCE constitutes a forum of dialogue and cooperation for security and cooperation on the European continent, gathering 55 countries from Vancouver to Vladivostok," he noted.
"In the framework of the Greek Presidency at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Greek Parliament will host the autumn sessions of the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly (Athens, October 9-12, 2009) on the issue of 'Energy Security and the Environment'," Sioufas added.
 Greek stocks enter '09 1.18% upGreek stocks opened the first trading session of 2009 with a noteworthy 1.42 percent rise. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange ended at 1,811.83 points, with turnover a very low 47.2 million euros, of which 3.9 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with Raw Materials (4.82 pct), Commerce (3.31 pct) and Household/Personal Goods (3.01 pct) posting the biggest percentage gains while Insurance (6.46 pct), Chemicals (1.90 pct) and Construction (2.33 pct) suffered the biggest losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 1.12 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.03 pct up and the FTSE 80 index was marginally up by 0.25 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 113 to 85 with another 58 issues unchanged.
 Greek tanker flees pirate attackA Greek-flagged tanker was the target of two failed piracy attempts in the Gulf of Aden early Friday, the merchant marine ministry in Piraeus reported.
According to the ministry, the two attempts by armed Somali pirates was thwarted by the "Kriti Episkopi" tanker crew's evasive actions, as the vessel was sailing in the Gulf of Aden carrying a cargo of oil.
According to reports, the vessel's Greek skipper ordered maximum speed and evasive maneuvers, while the 29-member crew repelled the pirates by shooting water at them with the vessel's high-pressure hoses. The tanker permanently avoided capture when a Spanish helicopter and Danish frigate arrived on the scene.
The ministry said there were also open lines of communication with the coast guard chief and the chief of the General Defence General Staff (GEEThA), and the headquarters of the EU's special naval operation, code-named EUnavfor, was also immediately alerted, while a warship and helicopter hastened to the scene, and a frigate was also dispatched.
According to a ministry announcement, the above coordinated actions averted the two attempts by pirates to seize the ship.
The ministry's latest information was that the pirates were some 10 nautical miles from the Kriti Episkopi, with which the ministry's Crisis Management Centre was in constant contact with the skipper and the shipowner company.
The European Union launched its first naval operation in history, code-named EUnavfor, in early December 2008, aimed at the interception, prevention and suppression of piracy off the Somali coasts and to protect vessels carrying humanitarian aid to the refugees in Somalia, replacing the NATO force that had been operating in the area since October, and assuming the task of protecting the vessels of the UN's World Food Program (WFP) carrying humanitarian aid to Somalia. At a second stage it will further undertake the job of escorting merchant ships under EU member states' flags in the area.
Eight countries -- Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK -- are participating in the operation with six warships accompanied by three reconnaissance aircraft.
Caption: A handout photo by the French navy taken at sea on 06 December 2008 shows members of the EPE, an embedded protection team, performing observation duty aboard the Frigate Jean de Vienne as it convoys merchant ships near the coast of Somalia, where numerous acts of piracy pose a constant danger to maritime traffic. To combat piracy off the coast of Somalia it has been launched the first EU naval military operation, Operation Atalante. Its mandate is to protect vessels chartered by the World Food Program which are delivering food aid to displaced Somalis, to protect merchant ships sailing in the area where it is deployed, to monitor the areas off the coast of Somalia at risk for maritime activities, and to take the necessary measures to deter and prevent acts of piracy and armed robbery off these coasts. ANA-MPA/EPA/ NICOLAS NELSON.
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