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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-06-01

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

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

June 1, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] Inner cabinet meeting discusses restructuring of public sector enterprises
  • [02] Liapis praises signing of labor agreements at state-run utilities, enterprises
  • [03] Gov't: No change in policy vis-à-vis Ankara
  • [04] FM Bakoyannis hails U.S. proposal regarding Iran's nuclear program
  • [05] ND announces candidates for Athens, Piraeus prefectures
  • [06] Greek Parl't President addresses European counterparts in Tallinn
  • [07] Deputy DM Michaloliakos visits Bulgaria
  • [08] Government comments on bomb attack against Voulgarakis
  • [09] Funeral service for Air Force pilot Iliakis with hero's honors
  • [10] DM Meimarakis visits combat squadron in Crete
  • [11] Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR, violate national air space
  • [12] Cypriot foreign minister speaks to ANA-MPA in Berlin
  • [13] PM to meet culture, interior ministers and Molyviatis on Thursday
  • [14] National Council for Foreign Policy to convene on Thursday
  • [15] Archbishop Christodoulos comments on Turkish EU accession
  • [16] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos visits Saint George church at the Fanar
  • [17] KKE delegation to Czech Republic
  • [18] Karamanlis-Sioufas confer on development and energy issues
  • [19] Bank of Greece Governor Garganas appears positive on acquisition of Turkish bank
  • [20] FM addresses general assembly of Northern Greece Exporters Federation
  • [21] Finance minister signs relief decisions for Evros flood victims
  • [22] Greek economy grew 4.1 pct in 1st quarter, yr/yr
  • [23] Reduced connection between education, job market in Greece, report
  • [24] Event held on prospects of turning Greece into energy hub
  • [25] Conference on viability of Greek businesses
  • [26] Greeks save 8.8 pct of net income, Eurostat
  • [27] Gov't backs energy saving in buildings
  • [28] Delta launches direct flights from Atlanta to Athens
  • [29] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise, led by banks
  • [30] Greek beaches praised in European environment report
  • [31] Athens to observe World Environment Day
  • [32] AHI delegation to visit Cyprus and Greece
  • [33] International campaign for Saint Sophia to reopen as Orthodox church
  • [34] Doctors to be appointed on islands and coastal shipping vessels
  • [35] Greece top in Europe, third worldwide for percentage of smokers
  • [36] Equestrian federation pleads for confiscated smugglers' horses
  • [37] Road deaths decline 6 pct. in March
  • [38] Spokesman says UN believes conditions not right for new Cyprus talks
  • [39] Cypriot government expresses regret over Turkish stance
  • [40] Cypriot FM continues Berlin meetings

  • [01] Inner cabinet meeting discusses restructuring of public sector enterprises

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    An inner cabinet meeting on Wednesday discussed progress of a new legislation envisaging the restructuring of public sector enterprises.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis expressed his satisfaction over progress in implementing the law and noted that the vast majority of public sector enterprises have concluded collective labor talks.

    Pay rises will not exceed 3.0 pct this year and 4.0 pct in 2007, Alogoskoufis said, adding it was a very significant decision and underlined a climate of consensus prevailing in the wider public sector.

    This climate is strengthening the country's economy, employment and social cohesion, while it also contributed in the restructuring of public sector enterprises, the Greek minister said.

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas also expressed his satisfaction over the implementation of the new legislation adding that industrial peace prevailed in the public sector.

    Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said a policy of dialogue has brought very good results, while Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis underlined a climate of consensus.

    [02] Liapis praises signing of labor agreements at state-run utilities, enterprises

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Transport and Communication Minister Mihalis Liapis on Wednesday expressed his satisfaction with the signing of collective bargaining agreements at various state-affiliated public utilities and enterprises under the ministry's supervision, following an inter-ministerial committee meeting focusing on such entities.

    Liapis emphasized that political critics who forecast the opposite were proved wrong, "for our ministry the safety nets in this dialogue are the good relations we have with the employees, an open and permanent dialogue as well as a spirit of consensus."

    More importantly, he said dialogue over the government's proposal for changes in the state-run enterprises' labor regimes will commence where necessary -- part of a high-profile government policy to push forth public sector reforms and flexibility in work relations.

    "A mild adjustment in the economy necessitates mild changes in labor relations, and this means that only with employees' consent can we change certain anachronistic provisions," he said.

    Opposition attacks gov't over public utilities: The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Wednesday called a cabinet meeting held to discuss public utilities "a fiasco".

    "Three government ministers of the Karamanlis government met today to announce with a six-month delay that its touted overhaul for public utilities ended in a fiasco," the party said in a statement.

    It stated that no legal changes were required for collective labor pacts to be signed in the companies; and that workers had refused to bow to the government's austerity policies.

    In a separate statement, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology accused the government of having tried to impose incomes policy in state utilities using the threat of abolition of collective bargaining.

    [03] Gov't: No change in policy vis-à-vis Ankara

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government on Wednesday was once again called on to comment on the current state of Greek-Turkish relations and recent statements by top ministers, as last week's midair collision over the Aegean between Greek and Turkish warplanes generated a decidedly pensive mood in Athens even though both sides quickly and effectively defused possible tension in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

    The government spokesman again told reporters during his normal press briefing that Athens' policy and strategy vis-à-vis the neighboring country and EU hopeful remain unchanged.

    Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos was queried on separate statements by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis over the past few days specifically on the possibility of Greece taking recourse to the International Court at The Hague over a handful of Turkish claims in the Aegean Sea -- a proposal outlined by former president Kostis Stephanopoulos in an article published by an Athens daily on Sunday.

    [04] FM Bakoyannis hails U.S. proposal regarding Iran's nuclear program

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in a statement hailed Wednesday's proposal by the United States regarding Iran's nuclear program and expressed "the hope that Tehran will examine the proposal for a dialogue with the required attention and will respond constructively."

    Bakoyannis described the proposal as "a significant and positive development which is in accordance also with our country's steadfast strive for a peaceful solution of the matter, through diplomatic means."

    [05] ND announces candidates for Athens, Piraeus prefectures

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The ruling New Democracy party on Wednesday announced its three candidates for the high-profile Athens-Piraeus supra-prefecture and the Athens and Piraeus prefectures in the upcoming local government elections.

    ND Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis said the party would be fielding journalist Argyris Dinopoulos, currently the mayor of Vrilissia, for the Athens-Piraeus supra-prefecture, flanked by journalist and top-ranking Athens municipal councilor Fotini Pipili for the Athens prefecture and Poros Mayor Spyros Spyridonas for Piraeus.

    Zagoritis said that all three candidates had served local government for many years and made an important contribution to local communities, making it a choice that served the criteria of merit, ability, honesty and contributing to the citizens of the Athens basin.

    All three candidates later met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [06] Greek Parl't President addresses European counterparts in Tallinn

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The issue of the gradual integration of different religious, racial or cultural groups into the social and political scene as a prerequisite for the stabilization of Europe and its consolidation as an area of freedom and security, was raised by Greek Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda on Wednesday, while addressing the European Conference of Presidents of Parliaments in Tallinn, Estonia.

    The conference, held with the participation of representatives from 46 countries, was organized by the Estonian Parliament in cooperation with the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly.

    As the main speaker on the role of parliaments in promoting pluralistic democracy at home and abroad, she stated that pluralistic democracies function more effectively when minorities -- religious, racial or cultural -- coexisting in the same society are able to express themselves through political parties with a distinct political and ideological identity.

    The Greek parliament president pointed out that the democratic organizing of political parties is a self-evident precondition for the system to operate correctly, allowing religious, racial or other differences to find expression in a political party.

    [07] Deputy DM Michaloliakos visits Bulgaria

    SOFIA, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Bulgarian Defense Minister Vesselin Bliznakov and visiting Greek Deputy National Defense Minister Vassilis Michaloliakos on Wednesday expressed the common will for the further development of the "excellent" relations between Greece and Bulgaria in all sectors, particularly in the defense sector.

    The two men met in the context of Plovdiv's "Emos 2006" international exhibition.

    The Bulgarian defense minister gave particular emphasis to the will of his country's military and political leadership to utilize both Bulgaria's scientific and productive impetus and the possibility of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the framework of the Euroatlantic institutions, for the modernization of the armed forces, so that these can correspond with success to the duties which participation in NATO dictates.

    Michaloliakos was given a tour of the international exhibition of defense systems and technologies, in Bulgaria's second largest city, at which are taking part 157 specialized companies (90 from foreign countries). The Greek deputy defense minister expressed his satisfaction over the "upgrading of the level" of this year's exhibition in comparison to those of the two previous years.

    [08] Government comments on bomb attack against Voulgarakis

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The police investigation will uncover who had targeted Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Wednesday, referring to the bomb that exploded a short distance from the minister's home on Tuesday.

    The fact that Voulgarakis had become a target was apparent from the publicity of recent weeks, he added in response to questions.

    Stressing that his own position on the issue had been absolutely clear, Roussopoulos noted that reporters were free to comment on the events as they wanted.

    At the same time, he stressed that the minister's young son had passed by the spot where the bomb was planted three minutes before the explosion, while the minister himself, his wife and their four children usually passed by that spot at the time the bomb went off.

    "Six Greek citizens were in danger because there was an explosion next to their home at the time they usually leave - with the clear intention of killing the minister or his family," Roussopoulos said.

    [09] Funeral service for Air Force pilot Iliakis with hero's honors

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The funeral service for 36-year-old Air Force pilot Costas Iliakis was held at Hania, Crete on Wednesday with honors reserved for heroes, in the presence of Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Defense Minister Vangelis Meimarakis, Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis, main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou, PASOK secretary Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou, parliament deputies, local officials, his fellow officers and hundreds of people. The armed forces were represented by Armed Forces General Staff Chief Admiral Panagiotis Hinofotis.

    President Papoulias laid a wreath at the pilot’s cenotaph, since the pilot's body has not been found.

    Iliakis’ F16 fighter jet went down last Tuesday, May 23 following a mid-air collision with a Turkish fighter jet over the Aegean Sea, near the Greek island of Karpathos.

    [10] DM Meimarakis visits combat squadron in Crete

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis had a meeting in Hania, Crete, on Wednesday with the Commander of Combat Squadron 115, Colonel Yiannis Kontoyiannis, and the unit's personnel.

    He was accompanied on arrival at Souda military airport by Aegean & Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis.

    Meimarakis encouraged the pilots "in their difficult task" in the Aegean, saying that "they must remain dedicated to the high duty of defending our country's rights."

    [11] Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR, violate national air space

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Three formations of Turkish warplanes on Wednesday entered the Aegean without submitting flight plans, resulting in three infringements of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) and three violations of the national air space in the region of the central and northern Aegean.

    In all cases, the 16 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by corresponding Greek fighter jets, while in two cases, the process of interception developed into a mock dogfight.

    [12] Cypriot foreign minister speaks to ANA-MPA in Berlin

    BERLIN, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou, following talks he had here on Wednesday with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said that "the countdown" for the evaluation of Turkey's course towards the European Union "has already begun."

    "The countdown for the evaluation of Turkey's course towards the European Union has already begun and the Cypriot government is determined to insist on the 'reminder' of the commitments which Turkey has assumed and is not implementing, already from this first phase of the start of the accession negotiations," Iacovou told the ANA-MPA.

    The Cypriot minister appeared particularly satisfied by the two-hour talks he had with German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, but also with the meeting he had on Tuesday with Deputy Foreign Minister (responsible for European Union Affairs) Gunther Gloser.

    Foreign Minister Iacovou, expounding on his talks told the ANA-MPA that although the relevant European Commission report may be expected in October (or in November) "the countdown for the evaluation of Turkey's course has already begun," and referred to the Common Position of the EU Council which will be prepared this week, in light of the EU-Turkey Association Council on June 12. "There are gaps and we will raise an issue," said Iacovou, making it clear that "Cyprus wants there to be a reference to the commitments assumed by Turkey in every Chapter of the Acquis Communautaire."

    Furthermore, Iacovou repelled the seeking "by certain countries," as he said, at the Association Council for the "easy" Chapter (the Chapter for Research and Technology, where the Acquis Communautaire is still extremely thin) "to open and closed on the same day and on the spot," because it would be a "wrong political message."

    [13] PM to meet culture, interior ministers and Molyviatis on Thursday

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will have successive meetings with Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and former Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Thursday, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced.

    The spokesman said the meeting with Molyviatis was taking place at the premier's request.

    [14] National Council for Foreign Policy to convene on Thursday

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's National Council for Foreign Policy is to convene at the foreign ministry on Thursday, chaired by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    The meeting will discuss relations between the European Union and Turkey, developments in the Balkans, Europe's course during the period of reflection on the European Constitution and developments in Iran, a foreign ministry announcement said.

    [15] Archbishop Christodoulos comments on Turkish EU accession

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos commented on Turkey's accession to the European Union on Wednesday in Geneva, where he is on an official visit to the World Council of Churches.

    Commenting on the position of the Greek Church on the accession of Turkey to the EU, he said "the accession of Turkey to the EU depends on its compliance with the so-called acquis communautaire, its respect for the principles, values and culture of the peoples of Europe. This is the meaning of procedures preceding the taking of final decisions in order to make clear that Turkey has the will and the ability to adjust to these principles. If these principles are observed then the relevant governments will have a strong card in their hands in order to take the final decisions."

    Responding to a question on the position of the Church of Greece on the Armenian Genocide, Archbishop Christodoulos said "both the genocide of the Armenians and that of our Pontian Orthodox brothers must not be related to the citizens of modern-day Turkey, just as the Jewish Holocaust cannot have a bearing on the modern-day Germans. It is a mistake to attribute the crimes of the past to modern-day peoples. The problem lies in the recognition of historical crimes and placing responsibilities on those who perpetrated them. And this is necessitated by elementary integrity, on the one hand, for the memory of the victims of those tragic events and, on the other, to educate the younger generations for such global and inhuman crimes to be avoided in the future."

    Archbishop Christodoulos further referred to other issues such as the theologian dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church which, as he said, had been discontinued during the '90s and will begin again now. Its issues also include that of the Uniates.

    "We hope that with the new spirit characterizing Pope Benedict XVI the seriousness of the problem will be realized and we shall be led to the taking of decisions which will promote the common issue of unity," he said.

    [16] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos visits Saint George church at the Fanar

    ISTANBUL, 1/6/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Wednesday addressed pilgrims and journalists at the church of Saint George, at the Fanar.

    "We are struggling legally, judicially to remedy injustices done, and which are unfortunately continuing to take place, against the Mother Church and the community and, unfortunately, the other minorities as well," he said.

    "It is an ungracious struggle, a continuous one, which has been going on for years," he pointed out, adding that "we hope that Justice here and Justice that is administered by the European Human Rights Court will put things right."

    Vartholomeos also expressed the hope that "the reopening of the Halki School of Theology will be permitted, finally, which was closed unfairly 35 years ago."

    [17] KKE delegation to Czech Republic

    1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga will lead a party delegation to the Czech Republic this week following an invitation by the communist party of Bohemia-Moravia.

    Among others, Papariga will briefly address a campaign rally in Prague on Thursday ahead of general elections in the country on June 2-3.

    [18] Karamanlis-Sioufas confer on development and energy issues

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday.

    Sioufas told reporters afterwards that he briefed Karamanlis on important issues concerning development and notable initiatives in the sectors of industry and energy.

    He announced that companies from Greece, Bulgaria and Russia will meet in Moscow on June 7 to form the international company that will undertake the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline.

    Sioufas also said that he briefed Karamanlis on his imminent trip to Finland and the meeting with his Finnish counterpart in view of the major conference to take place on the south Aegean island of Rhodes at the end of September with the participation of 35 government ministers, 25 from the European Union and 10 from the Mediterranean region. The conference will tackle issues concerning the Euro-Mediterranean market to be established in the Mediterranean Basin by 2010.

    Sioufas also briefed the prime minister on the upcoming EU Energy Ministers Council in Luxembourg on June 7-8 and the Athens forum that will take place at the end of June with the participation of all energy regulators.

    [19] Bank of Greece Governor Garganas appears positive on acquisition of Turkish bank

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Bank of Greece Governor Nikos Garganas on Wednesday appeared positive regarding the planned acquisition by Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece of Turkey's Finansbank.

    However, he clarified that "these evaluations of his, are based on the evaluations which have been made by four international reliable firms."

    Garganas, who briefed Parliament's Finance Committee, assessed that the National Bank of Greece can face the adverse changes from danger factors, noting that simulation has been conducted and from the assessment of data, it arises that the National Bank of Greece will not be significantly burdened.

    "Even a heated incident in the Aegean cannot rattle the group of the National Bank after the acquisition of Finansbank," Garganas said.

    Regarding the agreed cost of the acquisition, which the opposition deputies describe as very high, the Governor of the Bank of Greece noted that "it is not far from the intermediate assessments of the four international firms which ranged from 4.7 and 6.7 billion dollars."

    Opposition again blasts Turkish bank buyout: The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Wednesday renewed criticism of the planned acquisition by Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece of Turkey's Finansbank.

    "Today the scandal by the government and (state run) National's management was proved. A Belgian bank is to buy a larger bank in Turkey than Finansbank for 80% less than National has agreed," shadow economy spokeswoman, Vaso Papandreou, complained in a statement.

    "The government and National's management must immediately explain where the extra money will go," Papandreou said.

    According to the opposition Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology, a statement on Tuesday by the International Finance Corporation that it intends to buy a stake in Finansbank's share capital indicated that National itself was gradually being sold off US global capital.

    On Thursday, National is to hold a shareholders' meeting on raising its own share capital so that the acquisition can go ahead.

    [20] FM addresses general assembly of Northern Greece Exporters Federation

    1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis addressed the 31st general assembly of the Federation of Northern Greece Exporters in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Wednesday night, stressing that the creation of a united economic space in the Balkans is being placed at the "centre of gravity" of Greek economic diplomacy for the years to come.

    "The meaning of promoting the united economic space in the region of the Balkans is of focal significance for our policy in the years to come," the minister said and pointed out that Greece's economic extroversion must be directed to a great extent outside the eurozone.

    In order to find itself in the "front line" of developments, Greece will assume specific initiatives such as the creation of a free trade zone that will include all its close and distant Balkan neighbors and will replace the complicated bilateral agreements existing between them, Bakoyannis said.

    "Our target is to have the new agreement on the issue completed in 2006," the minister said noting that the promotion of road and energy axes is also a priority.

    According to Bakoyannis, the promotion of a united economic space in the Balkans is essential since it is "demanded" by the so-called "fatigue" of enlargement among public opinion in many European countries, the appearance of more new countries, such as Montenegro, and the serious political problems in the region.

    At a time when the creation of brand names is of vital importance for business growth and extroversion constitutes a need of survival for the Greek economy, the possibility of Greek economic "units" to appeal to the wider Balkan market is decisive, she added.

    According to the foreign minister, the development of economic relations with rapidly developing economies outside the European Union, particularly with those having large long-term growth rates, such as China, or with those having considerable energy wealth, such as the markets of the Middle East, Russia and other developing ones is important.

    Main opposition PASOK party Deputy Yiannis Mangriotis said that considerable opportunities have been lost on the exports "front" due to weaknesses in central policies and stressed that PASOK president George Papandreou, as former foreign minister, had contributed to the promotion of economic diplomacy as a crucial parameter in foreign policy.

    [21] Finance minister signs relief decisions for Evros flood victims

    1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday signed two decisions concerning the state's housing assistance for victims of floods occurring in the Evros prefecture in March 2006 and supporting businesses established in the prefecture.

    With the first decision, regions struck by the floods are defined, whose inhabitants are entitled to housing assistance for the restoration of damage sustained by their buildings.

    Housing assistance will be provided in the form of an interest-free loan and free state support for the restoration of buildings or the repair of all kinds of damage sustained by buildings.

    The second decision anticipates the subsidization of interest rates for new loans for working capital to be provided for businesses operating in the Evros prefecture.

    [22] Greek economy grew 4.1 pct in 1st quarter, yr/yr

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Greek economy grew by 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2006, compared with the same period last year, the National Statistics Service said on Wednesday.

    NSS, in its report, said the 4.1 pct increase in the Gross Domestic Product reflected a 3.9 pct rise in final demand of the economy and a 6.9 pct increase in investments -which contributed by 1.4 percent to economic demand growth.

    Greek exports rose 1.8 percent in the first three months of 2006, compared with the corresponding period in 2005, while imports rose 2.9 pct.

    Spending on final consumption rose 3.4 percent in the January-March period.

    [23] Reduced connection between education, job market in Greece, report

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The majority of new entrants into the Greek labor market are not employed in positions related with their studies, a report by Adecco Hellas stated on Wednesday.

    The report, based on a sample of 2,317 employees aged 18-35 with little or no work experience, said that 64 percent of respondents began working between the ages of 18-20; 82 percent said they found their first job through social acquaintances, while only 32 percent through classified ads.

    Forty-one percent said they searched via classified ads, another 35 percent asked for assistance from a human resources firm and only 24 percent said they exploited their social circles.

    The report stated that 53 percent of respondents noted that their first wages ranged from 400 to 650 euros gross, while 63 percent said they desired a first salary of 560-750 euros gross (up 14-40 percent from real market wages).

    Only 46.63 percent said their university studies helped them find their first job, while 53.37 percent did not believe that their diploma would help them land a position.

    [24] Event held on prospects of turning Greece into energy hub

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Development ministry Secretary General Nikos Stefanou on Wednesday addressed an event organized by the Greek-French Chamber of Commerce on "Prospects of turning Greece into an energy hub in the sector of natural gas."

    Stefanou analyzed possibilities of cooperation with various countries producing natural gas that would be interested in taking their gas to Europe through Greece.

    He referred in particular to natural gas from Azerbaijan. The undersea gas deposit of Shah Deniz is located 70 kilometers southeast of Baku in the Caspain Sea and its estimated capacity in full development amounts to 400 billion cubic meters.

    Regarding Egypt, Stefanou said the protocol signed by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Fahmy, in the framework of the minister's official visit to Egypt on May 5-9, expresses the will of the two countries to examine the possibility of cooperation in the sectors of liquefied and condensed natural gas and the possible carrying of gas to Greece through the Arabic pipeline.

    Lastly, in the framework of the official visit made by a Greek delegation to countries of the Arab peninsula, the administration of DEPA probed the possibility of obtaining gas from these countries in the form of LNG. Qatar has large quantities of gas and has invested in large-scale liquefaction plants with the aim of it becoming the first power in the world in LNG exports as of 2012.

    [25] Conference on viability of Greek businesses

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A conference was held in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Wednesday evening on "International social and economic developments and the viability of Greek businesses."

    Research work coordinated by Professor Lois Lambrianidis of the Macedonia University's Economic Faculty and presented during the conference reached the conclusion that labor intensification sectors will be moved entirely to countries having a cheaper labor force.

    According to the results of this research, some parts of the production process will remain in Greece, while the higher parts of the market will be moved since a cheap labor force is a comparative advantage of others.

    Questions on whether internationalization changes businesses, indicated that only 5 percent of businesses included in the research showed signs of improvement since, according to data provided, "success" depends on other more decisive factors.

    During the conference, the "Platon" project concerning small and medium-size firms was presented.

    "Platon" is an ambitious project that is financed by the European Union by up to 50 percent and its purpose is to highlight the role research in social, economic and humanitarian sciences can play in the long-term planning and the competitiveness of small and medium-size firms.

    [26] Greeks save 8.8 pct of net income, Eurostat

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greeks save 8.8 percent of their net income, Eurostat said on Wednesday, down from an average 14.7-pct savings rate in the Eurozone and a 12.2-percent rate in the EU-25, based on 2004 figures.

    Italians were the best savers in 2004, with a savings rate of 17 pct of their income, followed by Germans, 16.1 pct; French, 15.6 pct; and Belgians 12.8 pct. On the other hand, Lithuanians and Latvians saved the least (0.6 pct and 1.8 pct, respectively) followed by people in Britain, 4.3 pct; Denmark 5.7 pct and Poland 6.7 pct.

    [27] Gov't backs energy saving in buildings

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Wednesday that the rapid rise in oil prices had demonstrated the importance of energy efficiency for buildings.

    Attention to energy performance in construction was key to saving costly energy resources and pollution control, a matter that had been given priority by the European Union, the minister told a seminar arranged by the Renewable Energy Centre.

    "In both new and restored buildings, energy saving can reach or top 60%," the minister noted.

    [28] Delta launches direct flights from Atlanta to Athens

    WASHINGTON, 1/6/2006 (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)

    An official ceremony was held at Atlanta's international airport on Wednesday on the occasion of the resumption of direct flights by the American company Delta from Atlanta to Athens, with which are linked anew the major city of the American South with the Greek capital.

    As stated during the ceremony, this daily flight by Delta aims at filling a gap and to serve tourists and businesspersons from the western and southern states of the U.S.

    Present at the ceremony was Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Alexandros Mallias who spoke of the "great importance which this direct airline link of Atlanta with Athens has for the support of the tourism flow and of trade and investment relations between the two countries, uniting the largest airline hub in the world with the most modern airport of southeast Europe."

    [29] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise, led by banks

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,753.21 points, showing a rise of 0.97%. Turnover was 512.0 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.47% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.84% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.22% down.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): National Bank of Greece (1467)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 242.3 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.29% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bond: 3.97%

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (495 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.1 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.297

    [30] Greek beaches praised in European environment report

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The high quality of Greek coastal waters and beaches, as well as the country's high biodiversity, was praised in a report on the state and prospects of the environment in European Union countries carried out by the European Environment Agency, which was presented in Thessaloniki on Wednesday.

    Greece fared badly with respect to its recycling efforts and the development of renewable energy sources, however, ranking last in Europe.

    The EEA's report was presented at the 2nd session of Thessaloniki University's Environment Council focusing on the environmental problems faced by the city and surrounding region.

    According to the report, 99.9 per cent of Greek beaches satisfied national criteria and 97.6 per cent satisfied EU criteria in the summer of 2004.

    On the other hand, greenhouse gases have increased steadily in the country over the past decade, while the main sources of these emissions are the production and use of energy, the disposal of wastes and agriculture.

    By contrast, renewable energy sources covered only 8 percent of the total use to generate electricity when the European average is 14 per cent.

    At the same time, Greece ranks last among EU countries for the rate of recycling, while refuse and urban waste increased by 42.5 per cent between 1995 and 2003 due to economic development, intense urbanization and increased consumerism.

    The country is also slammed for its methods of disposing and handling wastes, which are judged unsuitable and lead to the degradation of surface and underground waters, but has made improvements in the handling of hazardous wastes.

    Problems are also pinpointed in the distribution of water, which is seen to be particularly unequal. Agriculture is the largest consumer of water, with demand for irrigation purposes double over the past 20 years.

    [31] Athens to observe World Environment Day

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The municipality of Athens on Thursday announced a series of events on the occasion of World Environment Day (June 5) aimed at informing the public on the importance of protecting the environment.

    Athens is holding a series of events at Syntagma Square from June 3 to 5, in cooperation with the competent parliamentary committee.

    [32] AHI delegation to visit Cyprus and Greece

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    An American Hellenic Institute (AHI) delegation will visit Cyprus from June 5 to 9 and Greece from June 9 to 16, an AHI press release said on Wednesday.

    According to the press release, the delegation, headed by AHI President Gene Rossides and Executive Director Nick Larigakis and including other members of AHI'S Advisory Committee, is scheduled to meet with government officials and business leaders in both countries to discuss items of mutual concern and cooperation.

    ''Through this visit, the delegation aims to advance and project AHI's goals and objectives in Greece and Cyprus,'' the press release added.

    In addition, the AHI will hold its 2nd Annual Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Gala Dinner on June 14 at the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens. The 2006 honorees are Alexandra Mitsotakis, President of ActionAid Hellas, and Prodromos Emfietzoglou, Chairman of Michaniki Group of Companies.

    Last year's inaugural event attracted a capacity attendance of 300 persons, with the first honoree being former President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos.

    [33] International campaign for Saint Sophia to reopen as Orthodox church

    NEW YORK, 1/6/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greek American politician Chris Spyrou announced during a press conference at a hotel in Manhattan that the organization "Free Agia Sophia Council of America" will launch an international campaign to enable Saint Sophia, in Istanbul, to become an Orthodox church again and be the Cathedral of Christian Orthodox believers all over the world.

    The Saint Sophia church was built during the 6th century by the Emperor of Byzantium Justinian.

    Spyrou, the founder and president of the organization in question, as well as the president of the Greek American Union of Athens and former president of the Democratic party in the state of New Hampshire, presented the organization’s plan for a free Saint Sophia with action at political, legal and economic level.

    "It is an international movement which is starting from the United States and it is aimed at restoring the Great Church of Saint Sophia in Istanbul as an operating church of the Christian Orthodox faith," he said.

    [34] Doctors to be appointed on islands and coastal shipping vessels

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and Deputy Health and Social Solidarity Minister Athanassios Yiannopoulos have signed joint ministerial decisions on the appointment of doctors at health centers and regional clinics on islands and coastal regions, as well as on coastal shipping vessels to provide first stage health care services for passengers and crews.

    According to a merchant marine ministry announcement, the decisions will secure, at the greatest possible degree, the protection of the health of passengers with the presence of a doctor during voyages, particularly when the time for sailing from one port to another is considerable.

    The announcement also said that "the government's social sensitivity and the continuous interest of the merchant marine ministry in improving services provided for the inhabitants and tourists of our islands is being proved in practice."

    [35] Greece top in Europe, third worldwide for percentage of smokers

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece comes highest among all European countries and third in the world for the percentage of its population that are smokers, according to figures presented in Thessaloniki on Wednesday during an event to mark World No Tobacco Day.

    According to Vice-prefect for Public Health and Hygiene Mihalis Tzollas, fully 43 per cent of Greece's population smoke tobacco.

    He said that Wednesday's event aimed to sensitize public opinion to the dangers of passive smoking and the need for better enforcement of the measures against smoking in health and hygiene laws.

    Tzollas also announced a joint initiative by Thessaloniki's prefecture authority, the city's Aristotelian University and the Papanikolaou Hospital to set up an out-patients surgery to assist the prevention of smoking and those trying to give up the habit.

    At the start of the event, 250 children in the last two years of junior school held an anti-smoking demonstration in the streets around the Thessaloniki prefecture to demand that they should not become passive smokers and have to inhale the second-hand smoke of grown-ups.

    [36] Equestrian federation pleads for confiscated smugglers' horses

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Efforts to spare four horses abandoned recently by drug smugglers on the Greek-Albanian border after border guards spotted the small caravan attempting to enter the country picked up steam on Wednesday following an intervention by the Hellenic Equestrian Federation.

    The federation, in a letter addressed to the chief prosecutor in the northern town of Florina and also conveyed to the agriculture minister, has offered to pay for the horses' indefinite care and lodging. The federation also promised to transport the horses to a permanent home in any of its affiliated equestrian clubs of northern Greece.

    A similar incident in the past - Albanian smugglers attempting to ship illegal narcotics into Greece atop horses and mules - ended in the destruction of the animals.

    The drug-laden horses were intercepted in a remote area near Mount Sfika, whereas six smugglers fled back into the neighboring country when spotted by border guards.

    [37] Road deaths decline 6 pct. in March

    ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    One hundred and ten people lost their lives and 143 others were seriously injured in a total of 1,204 road accidents throughout Greece in the month of March, according to figures released Wednesday by the National Statistics Service of Greece (ESYE), marking a 6.0 percent decrease in road deaths over March 2005.

    More specifically, 110 people were killed, 143 were seriously injured, and 1,413 suffered light injuries in 1,204 road accidents throughout the country in March 2006, marking a 9.9 percent decline in traffic accidents, a 6.0 percent decline in deaths, a 9.5 percent decline in serious injuries, and an 8.8 percent decline in light injuries, over the corresponding month in 2005.

    [38] Spokesman says UN believes conditions not right for new Cyprus talks

    NICOSIA, 1/6/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Cypriot government deems that the UN Secretary-General believes the conditions are not right at the moment to start new negotiations for a Cyprus settlement.

    Government Spokesman George Lillikas was referring here Wednesday to a letter sent by UN Chief Kofi Annan to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, as reported in the Turkish Cypriot press.

    ''It is for this reason that we need to implement the soonest the agreement achieved in Paris during President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos' meeting with the Secretary General, just like it was noted down in the joint statement,'' Lillikas said.

    Only this way, he added, ''will there be a proper preparation of the ground and the creation of the conditions which the Secretary-General refers to in his letter, to allow the Organization, under the auspices of which we want the Cyprus problem to remain, to undertake a new initiative of direct negotiations, with the aim to solve the Cyprus problem.''

    The spokesman further noted that Annan refers to his 2004 report which followed the rejection of the Annan Plan, and which was not adopted by the UN.

    [39] Cypriot government expresses regret over Turkish stance

    NICOSIA, 1/6/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman George Lillikas expressed here Wednesday the government's regret and disappointment over Turkey's refusal to proceed with the approval of the Ankara Agreement by the National Assembly.

    In statements, Lillikas said that this stance will be judged by the European Union within 2006.

    Invited to comment on Turkish statements which rejected reports that the protocol was referred to the Turkish National Assembly, the spokesman said the Cypriot government would have welcomed such an initiative on the part of the Turkish side ''because it would have shown that for the first time it would be making some steps towards the implementation of its commitments which it voluntarily undertook towards the EU.''

    ''We are saddened by and disappointed with Turkey's negative stance and its refusal to proceed with the approval by the National Assembly of the Ankara Agreement,'' he said, adding that Turkey ''of course will be judged by the EU in 2006.''

    Lillikas reminded that there is a commitment from the 25 EU member states in evaluating Turkey's course and actions towards implementing its obligations.

    For this reason, by refusing, Turkey is ''creating problems for itself and the aim it has set, which is accession to the EU.''

    Asked if the government has any information regarding contacts held by Turkish Cypriot Rashid Pertev, advisor to the Turkish Cypriot leader, with the Austrian presidency on allowing Cypriot ships and airplanes to use Turkish ports and airports, Lillikas said that the Cypriot government is in contact with the Austrian presidency.

    He repeated that the government wants the soonest the adoption of the directive, which is based on the Cypriot government's proposal concerning the return of the town of Varosha, the opening of Famagusta port with the EU's co-administration and a moratorium on investments or illegal exploitation of Greek Cypriot properties.

    ''We would like this directive to be approved the soonest,'' Lillikas added.

    [40] Cypriot FM continues Berlin meetings

    NICOSIA, 1/6/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    German Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed the hope that Turkey will ratify the Ankara Agreement, extending its customs union agreement to all EU member states by the end of the year.

    He was speaking during a meeting in Berlin Wednesday with his Cypriot counterpart George Iacovou who is on a two-day visit to Germany.

    The two ministers examined issues of European interest such as the future of Europe and the Constitutional Convention in the light of the discussions held on 27 and 28 May at the Informal EU Foreign Ministers' meeting in Vienna, an official statement said.

    They also discussed the situation in western Balkans and prospects of incorporating these countries in European structures, the future of

    Kosovo and the situation created after the recent referendum in Montenegro.

    Both ministers agreed on the need to implement the conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council for the future of the region.

    The two also examined extensively the Cyprus issue in connection with Turkey's accession course and its obligations towards the EU and 25 EU states. Iacovou made a detailed and in depth analysis of the parameters that constitute Turkey's accession course as well as its obligations.

    The German minister expressed understanding over the positions of the Cypriot side and the hope that Turkey will ratify the additional protocol on the Ankara Agreement (Customs Union) before the end of the year, and generally to implement the obligations it has undertaken towards the EU.

    During his visit, Iacovou also met Dr. Wolfgang Thierse, Vice President of the Bundestag, and the President and members of the Cyprus-Germany friendship committee, and exchanged views on the latest developments in Cyprus and EU issues.


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