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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-06-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

June 2, 2006


  • [01] Greek-Turkish relations scrutinized by national foreign policy council
  • [02] PASOK leader announces initiative for new strategy on Greek-Turkish relations
  • [03] PM confers with culture minister Voulgarakis
  • [04] Karamanlis-Pavlopoulos meeting on local government issues
  • [05] Premier meets with former FM Molyviatis
  • [06] Foreign Minister Bakoyannis to meet Serbian finance minister on Friday
  • [07] DM briefs PASOK party delegation on country's defense policy
  • [08] Gov't stands by proposed higher education reforms
  • [09] Deputy FM Evripidis Stylianidis holds talks with FYROM's deputy
  • [10] Deputy DM Vassilis Mihaloliakos visits Veliko Tirnovo
  • [11] Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis on visit to Romania
  • [12] Roussopoulos reaffirms government's confidence in ELPE chief Christodoulou
  • [13] PASOK spokesman criticizes government spokesman on bomb attack against Voulgarakis
  • [14] Archbishop Christodoulos holds consultations in Bern
  • [15] Greece infringed EU law on personal data issue, European Court rules
  • [16] Thessaloniki Prefect Psomiadis meets Macedonia-Thrace Muslims
  • [17] Eurostat: Greece's annual GDP growth highest in Eurozone at 4%
  • [18] Finmin slams PASOK reaction to Finansbank deal
  • [19] Minister Basiakos addresses farmers' general assembly
  • [20] Greece on EU working week
  • [21] Greece 20th in EU for research and technology spending, MEP told
  • [22] Papademos takes over research, financial stability portfolios
  • [23] Posidonia shipping fair opens June 5
  • [24] New consortium represents Bulgarian gov't in the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project
  • [25] Hellenic Petroleum launches FYROM sales network
  • [26] Delta merger creates largest Greek food firm
  • [27] Eurobank Securities ranks top in brokerage turnover
  • [28] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop in across-the-board decline
  • [29] Black Sea news agencies establish BSANNA association
  • [30] International conference on peace, security and prosperity in the Mediterranean
  • [31] Cultural cooperation conference in Croatia
  • [32] Interior minister addresses conference on 'Democratic Society and the Rights of the Person'
  • [33] Freighter sinks after collision; one death reported, 5 seamen missing
  • [34] Three charged over Titan cement plant accident
  • [35] New hope for young heart patient from Afghanistan
  • [36] Deputy FM and Education Minister receive pupils from Tirana primary school
  • [37] Police point to breakup of major migrant smuggling ring
  • [38] Int'l scientific symposium held in Kavala for the protection of lagoons
  • [39] Koronia Lake is facing a serious ecological crisis, scientists say
  • [40] Christofias re-elected New House President as deputies sworn in
  • [41] Cyprus solution top priority of new House, Christofias says

  • [01] Greek-Turkish relations scrutinized by national foreign policy council

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday stressed the importance of seeking the greatest possible consensus in foreign policy issues, in order to strengthen the "central national goal", during a meeting of the National Council for Foreign Policy.

    At the meeting, chaired by Bakoyannis, the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) repeated a call for a new "road map" in relations with Turkey.

    In statements after her talks with representatives of the opposition parties in Parliament, Bakoyannis said that her plans concerning an upcoming trip to Istanbul were unchanged. She also stressed the importance of seeking the greatest possible consensus in foreign policy issues, in order to strengthen the "central national goal".

    The minister said that the next meeting of the Council and the issues it would address had already been announced and underlined that the meetings will continue with the same intensity, since there were a great many issues that arose in Greek foreign policy.

    Bakoyannis echoed a call made by Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party representative Nikos Constantopoulos for more responsible reporting by the Greek media, stressing that she agreed on the need to inform public opinion correctly and responsibly.

    PASOK MP Christos Papoutsis, who had represented his party at the meeting, said that the main opposition had asked for a change in policy and a new national strategy to defend Greece's sovereign rights.

    "We need initiatives toward European institutions, toward Turkey but also domestically," he added.

    Papoutsis underlined the significance of an initiative announced by PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday, who said he would approach all the leaders of the political parties to discuss a new "road map" and a new national strategy, based on Greece's constant striving for "peace, security, cooperation and good neighborly relations with all the peoples of the region".

    Asked if the Council had agreed concerning the referral of outstanding issues with Turkey to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, PASOK's spokesman stressed that this question did not have a simple 'yes or no' answer.

    "What matters is the process, the road map, the conditions that might lead to the International Court - as regards the Aegean continental shelf," he added.

    Constantopoulos, on his part, stressed that Greece should intensify its political and diplomatic efforts within the international community and at the European Union in order to cover the distance that separated Turkey from fulfillment of its obligations to the Community.

    He also appealed to the media to ensure that the Greek public was properly and substantively informed on major foreign policy issues.

    "Public opinion must be aware and the political leadership of the country should be able to handle these issues without fears, misinterpretations and distortions," Constantopoulos stressed, while noting that they way these issues were currently discussed did not help to form healthy attitudes among the public that would truly support the interests of the country.

    New Democracy MP Panos Kammenos, who attended as head of Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, noted that the political parties largely agreed on national strategy, with disagreements confined to minor details.

    The meeting was also attended by MPs from the opposition parties, except the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Prof. Theodoros Kouloumbis, Ambassador Vyron Theodoropoulos, foreign ministry general secretary H. Rokanas and other officials.

    ND and PASOK have common policy and strategy on foreign policy issues, KKE says

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement referring on Thursday to statements made on foreign policy by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, said that "New Democracy and PASOK have, already, a common policy and strategy on foreign policy issues as well."

    The announcement added that "the target of positions expressed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and the President of PASOK on the need to define a 'national strategy' or a 'new strategy' is to extract the approval and consent of the people in light of new possible plans."

    KKE believes that "it has been proved that their common strategy is both deadlocked and dangerous for the people."

    The announcement further said that NATO, the United States and the European Union "are not factors operating in favor of stability and the peaceful and just solution of problems but constitute factors for their worsening."

    [02] PASOK leader announces initiative for new strategy on Greek-Turkish relations

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader said Thursday that he was launching an initiative for forging a new strategy on Greek-Turkish relations, speaking to reporters after a one-hour meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias. He said that he would ask to see prime minister Costas Karamanlis and the other political party leaders for this purpose, adding that it was also the reason he had sought this meeting with Papoulias.

    Papandreou said that "we are all monitoring this climate of tension, with Turkey's provocative actions", and expressed concern regarding the country's security due to the Turkish provocations.

    The main opposition leader said it was imperative that a new strategy be formulated, one that would guarantee Greece's sovereign rights, and the security and confidence of every Greek citizen, as well as open up new horizons for cooperation and peace in the region, as well as create a "share" of peace for health, education and growth.

    This road exists, Papandreou said, noting that he knew this from his own term as foreign minister (in the preceding PASOK governments) and from the initiatives he had undertaken in that capacity.

    [03] PM confers with culture minister Voulgarakis

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Culture Minister Voulgarakis on Thursday.

    Vourgarakis told reporters after the meeting that he briefed the prime minister on culture ministry issues, and stressed that the exploitation of the Olympic Properties is on the right track, adding that some tenders have already been completed.

    They also discussed the issue of sponsorships, as there are many who want to help but the necessary legal framework is lacking. Voulgarakis further briefed the prime minister on the summer cultural events to be held during the Athens Festival at Herod Atticus Odeon and Epidaurus theatre.

    Voulgarakis said that another issue he discussed with the prime minister was the culture ministry's role in the efforts to spread Greek culture abroad.

    In addition, he noted that the effort for the return of Classical Era antiquities to Greece is on the right path.

    Voulgarakis did not comment in response to questions on the recent bomb attack against him.

    [04] Karamanlis-Pavlopoulos meeting on local government issues

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday and discussed local government issues.

    Pavlopoulos said that according to the prime minister’s statements the dialogue on local government issues was commencing, and next Wednesday Karamanlis will meet with the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE) representatives. The minister stated that a meeting will also be held with the Greek National Union of Prefectural Local Authorities (ENAE) at a later date.

    Another issue under discussion was the civil servants’ working hours in view of the relevant Confederation of Civil Servants (ADEDY) proposal to be presented to him later in the day. A decision on the new working hours schedule will be reached based on the government and ADEDY proposals and will be in effect on July 1, the minister said.

    PASOK party organizing nationwide conference on local administration

    The main opposition PASOK party will hold a nationwide conference on local administration at Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus on Friday and Saturday, following the completion of regional conferences organized by the party all over the country.

    According to a relevant announcement, the aim of PASOK is "to have the Nationwide Conference on Local Administration constitute a wider space for dialogue and deliberation."

    [05] Premier meets with former FM Molyviatis

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Thursday with former foreign minister Petros Molyviatis.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Molyviatis declined comment on former President of the Republic's recent statement that Greek-Turkish differences be referred to the European Court of Justice at The Hague.

    He reiterated that, from his first meeting with Karamanlis following his departure from the foreign ministry, he had stated that he was discussing and would continue to discuss with the premier on all matters.

    [06] Foreign Minister Bakoyannis to meet Serbian finance minister on Friday

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Mnister Dora Bakoyannis is to meet on Friday with visiting Serbian Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic, a foreign ministry press release said on Thursday.

    No statements to the press will be made after the meeting, the announcement said.

    [07] DM briefs PASOK party delegation on country's defense policy

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and National Defense General Staff chief Panayiotis Hinofotis on Thursday briefed a delegation of the main opposition PASOK party, headed by foreign affairs and defense sector chief Christos Papoutsis, on the entire spectrum of the country's defense policy.

    Speaking after the meeting, Papoutsis called on all political forces to send a message of unity and undertake, considering that sovereign rights are non-negotiable, all those initiatives that will strengthen the country's position.

    Papoutsis said that they had a "substantive and good" briefing by Meimarakis and Hinofotis and pointed out that "there is no quantitative and qualitative upgrading of Turkey in the Aegean but intense aggressive activity on the part of the neighboring country with the purpose of doubting our sovereign rights."

    However, he stressed that he feels "more at ease" following the briefing he had since, as he said, he ascertained that "planning exists, there is a will and it has been understood that the armed forces do not accept reasons of backing down and diplomatic immobility."

    [08] Gov't stands by proposed higher education reforms

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government on Thursday again stoutly defended a batch of unprecedented -- by Greek standards -- reforms targeting the country's tertiary education system, particularly universities, the same day as a rally by college students in downtown Athens vociferously demonstrated against the reforms.

    Among others, the Karamanlis government has emphasized that it will implement a pre-election promise to allow the establishment and operation of private, non-profit universities in the east Mediterranean country as well as to institute a long-absent evaluation process for individual faculties at state universities and technical institutes (TEI).

    "The government is approaching the issue of education with particular respect and with great caution," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said during his normal press briefing.

    He also noted that the government welcomed and commenced a wide-ranging dialogue on education reform that generated numerous proposals and viewpoints.

    "The government's initiative, which was unveiled even when it (ruling New Democracy party) was in the main opposition, will conclude with the submission of a draft law in Parliament, one aiming exclusively at the upgrading and strengthening of higher education in Greece," Roussopoulos stressed.

    Other lesser measures expected to be included in the draft law include a provision capping the number of years a student has in order to earn an undergraduate degree, reducing the number of free textbooks and altering the broad credit transfer regime in force today.

    [09] Deputy FM Evripidis Stylianidis holds talks with FYROM's deputy

    PM SKOPJE, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis discussed upcoming infrastructure projects in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) that are being financed by the Greek Plan for Balkan Economic Reconstruction (ESOAB) with one of FYROM's Deputy Prime Ministers, Radmila Shekerinska, during their meeting in Athens on Thursday.

    According to an announcement issued by Shekerinska's office in Skopje, special emphasis was placed during the meeting on funding for the completion of parts of the road axis 10, which links Greece to central Europe, particularly the Demir Kapia-Udovo and Udovo-Smokvica parts that have a total length of 33 kilometers.

    It was agreed that experts from the two countries will meet in July to examine technical characteristics and to determine the next stages for the construction of these parts of road axis 10 that lie close to FYROM's southern borders with Greece.

    Stylianidis and Shekerinska also discussed the extension of cooperation in the sectors of investments, construction and infrastructures, as well as the utilization of European Union funds concerning cross border cooperation projects.

    About 75 million euros are anticipated from the ESOAB for funding projects in FYROM.

    [10] Deputy DM Vassilis Mihaloliakos visits Veliko Tirnovo

    SOFIA, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos concluded his two-day visit to Bulgaria on Thursday with a visit to the ancient capital of Veliko Tirnovo.

    He also inaugurated a modern laboratory for teaching the Greek language at the Military University at Veliko Tirnovo, where he was welcomed by the rector of the biggest military educational establishment for training army officers, Georgi Georgiev, representatives of the Bulgarian defense ministry and other dignitaries.

    Ten modern computers, a large library containing Greek books and other advanced technology technical equipment for the learning of languages are provided by the laboratory, not only for the cadets of the Bulgarian military establishment but also for every inhabitant of Veliko Tirnovo who wishes to learn Greek.

    Addressing the ceremony, Mihaloliakos said that the Greek ministry will continue to support the new Centre for learning the Greek language in every way, which will contribute to mutual acquaintance and friendship between the two neighboring peoples and will bring them even closer.

    [11] Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis on visit to Romania

    BUCHAREST, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for Expatriate Hellenism affairs Theodoros Kassimis and Romanian Deputy Minority Minister Attila Marko on Thursday discussed the possibilities for establishing and operating a Greek school in Bucharest, with Romanian being the second language, in the near future and possibly for the new school year.

    Kassimis pointed out that this school will cover the basic need to rejoin businessmen and cadres coming to work in Romania with their families, a basic precondition for which is the possibility of educating children, and to cover the standard needs of the Greek community in Romania.

    It is an initiative by the Greek government which was considered to be very important by the Romanian side, as Marko said, stressing that it will have his support in discussions to follow with the Romanian education ministry to enable the school's operation to begin as soon as possible.

    [12] Roussopoulos reaffirms government's confidence in ELPE chief Christodoulou

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government has full confidence in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) president Timos Christodoulou, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed on Thursday when asked if the absence of Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas from ELPE's general shareholders' meeting on Wednesday signified a cooler attitude toward ELPE's chief.

    According to Roussopoulos, Sioufas did not ordinarily attend ELPE's general shareholder meeting but had intended to attend the meeting on Wednesday.

    A last-minute ministerial committee meeting on public-sector enterprises that he had to attend and the debate on a development ministry bill in Parliament that demanded the presence of the ministry's leadership prevented him from doing so, the spokesman added.

    [13] PASOK spokesman criticizes government spokesman on bomb attack against Voulgarakis

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, referring on Thursday to a statement by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on the "targeting" of the culture minister in the bomb attack against him earlier this week, termed it "unacceptable, dangerous and undemocratic."

    PASOK's spokesman said that the "thought alone of the government spokesman combining journalistic criticism or criticism by parties with terrorist activity provides an alibi for terrorists."

    In a related development, the board of the Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA), in an announcement on Thursday, condemned the terrorist attack against Culture Minister George Voulgarakis and criticized the government spokesman for all that he said about the "targeting of the minister due to publicity."

    It added that "nothing can justify the insistent effort by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, as well as by other government and party officials, to victimize criticism, whether it is exercised by journalists or by the political world."

    [14] Archbishop Christodoulos holds consultations in Bern

    2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos met in Bern on Thursday with the Director of the Political Affairs Division of the Swiss government Jean-Jacques de Dardel.

    The Swiss official showed particular interest in relations between the Church and the State. "Our Churches as well have dialogue and relations with politics," de Dardel told the Archbishop. He also praised the "opening" of the Church towards other religions and convictions, stressing that "the role which the Greek Church played during the Ottoman period in order for traditions and many other things not to be lost is known."

    Archbishop Christodoulos noted that relations between the Church and the State "are very good and inspired by mutual respect and a sense of solidarity," adding that "we do not make discriminations."

    Archbishop Christodoulos met later with Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin.

    [15] Greece infringed EU law on personal data issue, European Court rules

    BRUSSELS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The European Court ruled on Thursday that Greece, "by not enacting (by October 31 2003) necessary (national) legislative, canonical and administrative terms in compliance with directive 2002/58/EK of the European Parliament and the Council, on July 12 2002, concerning the processing of data of a personal character and the protection of private life in the sector of electronic communications", has infringed European Union law.

    The decision was issued following an appeal against Greece by the European Commission. The purpose of the appeal was to oblige Greece to include the above directive in its law which, as it was pointed out, should have taken place as of 2003.

    It is recalled that on April 1, 2004, the European Commission had prepared a warning on the issue, calling on Greece "to fulfill the obligations it has from the directive within two months from receiving this warning."

    [16] Thessaloniki Prefect Psomiadis meets Macedonia-Thrace Muslims

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The president of the Association of Macedonia-Thrace Muslims, Osman Ismailoglou and the Association's secretary, Memet Hasanoglou, on Thursday met with Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis with whom they raised the matters of the burial of the dead and of the place of prayer of Muslims.

    Regarding the burial of Muslims, Hasanoglou noted that there is no Muslim graveyard in Central Macedonia, like those which exist in Xanthi, Komotini, Alexandroupoli, Orestiada, Didymotiho and Sappes, resulting in the dead being transferred by trailer to other regions of Greece for burial.

    "In Thessaloniki there are a total of 1,500 Muslims while in the whole of Central Macedonia their number comes to at least three thousand," Hasanoglou said.

    On his part, Psomiadis noted that "it is inconceivable in the 21st Century for people to transfer the dead by trailer in other regions of Greece to bury them." He said that arrangements would be made for the transfer to be made "in a dignified manner until a space for burial is found in Thessaloniki."

    Thessaloniki Prefect Psomiadis also promised that he would look into the issue of the place of worship and its construction, noting that an effort would be made on the part of the prefecture.

    [17] Eurostat: Greece's annual GDP growth highest in Eurozone at 4%

    BRUSSELS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's GDP increased by 4% in the first three months of 2006 compared with the same period in 2005 and by 2.7% compared with the last trimester of 2005, the European statistics agency Eurostat announced on Thursday. This makes Greek GDP growth the highest among all Eurozone countries, both on an annual and a quarterly basis, in that period.

    Average GDP growth rates in the Eurozone during the same period were 1.9% on an annual basis and 0.6% compared with the last three months of 2005. Among the 25 EU member-states, GDP growth rates on an annual basis were 2.2% and on a quarterly basis 0.7%.

    [18] Finmin slams PASOK reaction to Finansbank deal

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis leveled strong criticism against the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Thursday, over its reactions to the acquisition of Turkey's Finansbank by the National Bank of Greece (NBG).

    Addressing PASOK MPs on Parliament's Economic and European Affairs Committee, Alogoskoufis accused the main opposition of "phobic syndromes" and said that it was inappropriate for the party to interfere in a company's business strategy or to be discussing arcane details of a business deal.

    "You cannot appear to be exercising opposition to business moves as though you were businessmen," he stressed, pointing out that PASOK's stance raised a number of questions when it involved large companies like NBG or the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), whose business tactics impacted strongly on the interests of their competitors.

    The minister also noted that NBG had consulted with the government concerning the political repercussions of its move and had received the government's approval to invest in Turkey.

    PASOK's economy spokeswoman, Vasso Papandreou, on Wednesday queried the purchase price for the bank and the risk factor in Turkey, also claiming that National's management had offered inadequate information on the deal.

    "This is a massive investment, with massive economic, political and military risk. From a business point of view, the acquisition is very expensive. It is globally unprecedented for a bank to place 70% of its shareholders' equity in a very risky market," Papandreou noted.

    Opposition calls Turkish bank buyout "a scandal": The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Thursday called "a scandal" the planned acquisition of Turkey's Finansbank by Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece.

    "Scandalous are the price of the acquisition and procedures that were employed at National's shareholders' meeting today to approve a share capital rise to allow the purchase," shadow economy spokeswoman, Vaso Papandreou, charged in a statement.

    "The authorities must address this," Papandreou said.

    In a separate statement, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology said it was opposed to National's acquisition of Finansbank as a move "under America's aegis" that would gradually place the Greek bank in the hands of speculators.

    MPs call for information on Finansbank acquisition decision: Nineteen main opposition PASOK party parliament deputies and independent MP Andreas Andrianopoulos on Thursday tabled a motion in the 300-member House requesting that Hellenic Capital Market Committee president Alexis Pilavios be called before the responsible parliamentary committee to provide information on the National Bank of Greece's decision for the acquisition of Turkey's Finansbank.

    NBG shareholders OK share capital increase to buy Finansbank: National Bank of Greece (NBG) shareholders approved an approximately €3.0-billion share capital increase to allow the buyout of Turkey's Finansbank, during a repeat general meeting held on Thursday.

    Addressing the meeting, NBG governor Takis Arapoglou sought to reassure shareholders that National would remain independent, continue its autonomous course and was not becoming less Greek. He said that the share capital increase would fully cover National's needs for the purchase of the Turkish bank and leave funds to spare for further selective acquisitions in south eastern Europe.

    [19] Minister Basiakos addresses farmers' general assembly

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos and the ministry's Deputy Minister Alexandros Kontos were present at the start in Athens on Thursday of the sessions of the 18th general assembly of the Confederation of Democratic Agricultural Associations of Greece (SYDASE).

    Basiakos briefed the members of the Confederation on the latest developments in the country's agricultural sector. Particularly, he referred to the safeguarding of farmers' subsidies, as well as on the course of the activation of the total number of their rights in accordance with the new Common Agricultural Policy.

    The minister further noted the increase in the export of Greek agricultural produce in 2006.

    [20] Greece on EU working week

    LUXEMBOURG, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece said on Thursday that setting a ceiling set on weekly working hours in each member of the 25-member European Union must be conducted jointly, with no individual member states acting unilaterally, Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said on Thursday.

    "Greece is opposed to a country being able to apply what it chooses by itself as a ceiling for weekly working hours on the basis of individual labor contracts," Tsitouridis told a meeting of EU employment ministers.

    The United Kingdom, Germany and several new EU members back a flexible approach through individual pacts. Against the proposal are Greece, France, Spain and Sweden, which claim that the move would hurt labor rights.

    "If individual countries, employers and employees act as they wish, common values and community cease to exist among European states," the minister added.

    He also stated that each country's stand should not upset fair competition in terms of remaining member states.

    "The (EU's) Lisbon strategy aims at boosting the productivity of labor, and, consequently, quality labor, safe labor with respect for the rights of employees, and that is the direction in which we should move," Tsitouridis added.

    [21] Greece 20th in EU for research and technology spending, MEP told

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece ranks 20th among the 25 European Union countries for investment in research and technology, according to European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik.

    Responding to a question from New Democracy MEP Kostis Hatzidakis, the Commissioner presented figures for 2004 showing that Greece spends 0.58% of GDP on research and development of technology. The average spending on research and technology for the 25 EU member-states by contrast is 1.9% of GDP.

    The percentage of the Greek workforce employed in the research and technology development sectors is 1.21% when the EU 25 average is 1.31%. Overall, jobs in this sector increased by roughly two million between 1997 and 2002 in these sectors, Potočnik said.'

    The Commissioner also cited an OECD study showing that every 1 percent increase in state and private-sector spending on research and technology development led to increases in productivity of 0.17% and 0.13% respectively.

    [22] Papademos takes over research, financial stability portfolios

    FRANKFURT, 2/6/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The European Central Bank (ECB) announced on Thursday that ECB Vice-President Lucas Papademos will take on two additional areas of responsibility, as well as his statutory duties as deputy to ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, taking over the Research and Financial Stability and Supervision portfolios.

    The decision was made during a meeting of the ECB Executive Board on Thursday, which decided on a redistribution of responsibilities among its members following the departure of board-member Otmar Issing, who is replaced by Jürgen Stark.

    [23] Posidonia shipping fair opens June 5

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Posidonia, a five-day international shipping trade fair, opens its gates on June 5, organizers said on Thursday.

    The biennial event, which attracted over 1,600 Greek and international exhibitors in 2004, will be held at the Hellenikon Exhibition Centre on the site of the former Athens Airport, and is expected to be the largest in the show’s 37-year history.

    The fair showcases the latest developments in technology, which affect all sectors of international shipping. Participants and visitors come from all sectors of the shipping industry including shipbuilding and repair yards, shipbrokers, insurance, P&I Clubs, banks, port authorities, classification societies, shipping surveyors, vessel registration, suppliers, high-tech equipment, technical support, publishing companies etc, and organizers said.

    A total of 25 countries and territories are participating at Posidonia with a national pavilion as follows: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Cayman Islands, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Malta, The Netherlands, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the USA.

    The following 78 countries and territories will be represented: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Barbados Island, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hong Kong SAR - China, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands Antilles, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Quatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Union of Myanmar (ex Burma), United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam.

    [24] New consortium represents Bulgarian gov't in the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project

    2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The company Neftoprovod Bourgas-Alexandroupolis AD, will represent Bulgaria in the international company which has undertaken the construction of the oil pipeline Bourgas-Alexandroupolis, the Bulgarian government announced on Thursday.

    According to the Bulgarian news agency BTA, the relevant announcement states that it is an important economic project and for this reason, the construction must start correctly and be completed in 2010, with the agreed opinion of all the interested countries and companies.

    The company Neftoprovod Bourgas-Alexandroupolis AD is a consortium of Universanel Termninal Bourgas AD with 75 per cent of the shares and of the Bulgarian natural gas company Bulgargas with 25 per cent. The new consortium will be a shareholder of the international construction company and will participate in all the decisions for the project. The company will also participate in negotiations for the involvement of Bulgarian companies in the planning, construction of the oil pipeline and in the transport of the oil through the Black Sea to the final receivers.

    [25] Hellenic Petroleum launches FYROM sales network

    SKOPJE, 2/6/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Athens-quoted Hellenic Petroleum on Thursday launched a retail fuel distribution network in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where it owns Okta, an oil refinery.

    Ten of the sales outlets carrying OKTA's logo were opened out of a network of 20 outlets due to operate by September.

    The outlets were launched by Hellenic's managing director, Panos Kouvalakos in a ceremony attended by FYROM's finance minister, Fatmir Besimi.

    [26] Delta merger creates largest Greek food firm

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Shareholders of Athens-quoted Delta Holding S.A. on Thursday approved management's proposal of a merger with snack manufacturer Chipita International SA, which will lead to creation of Greece's largest food company.

    Also in the merger led by Delta are Delta Dairy S.A., Goody's S.A. a fast food chain, and General Frozen Foods S.A.(“Uncle Stathis”).

    The new company to emerge named Vivartia will rank as second largest domestic food and beverage firm, seventh largest domestic industry, 16th largest company in Greece, and 35th largest food company in Europe, Delta's chairman, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, told the meeting.

    "The road we have chosen is full of challenges," he said.

    Due to the merger, Vivartia will have a presence in 29 countries and nine out of ten Greek households, added Daskalopoulos, who is also head of the Federation of Greek Industry.

    [27] Eurobank Securities ranks top in brokerage turnover

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    EFG Eurobank Securities ranked top in brokerage turnover in May 2006, gaining 19.55% of the market, the Association of Athens Stock Exchange Members said on Thursday.

    Eurobank was followed by P&K Securities at 11.38%, National Securities (10.62%), Investment Bank (9.56%), and Alpha Finance (9.40%), the association said in a statement.

    [28] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop in across-the-board decline

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,676.85 points, showing a decline of 2.03%. Turnover was 963.0 million euros, fuelled by 650 million euros in Post Office Savings Bank after its IPO.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 2.18% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 2.52% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 2.63% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 216 to 64 with 27 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): OTE (25,856)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 321.5 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.33% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bond: 4.00%

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (445 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 1.6 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.283

    [29] Black Sea news agencies establish BSANNA association

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The national news agencies of the 12 Black Sea country-members of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) initiative have signed a Declaration of Cooperation in Kiev, it was announced on Thursday. They agencies also announced the establishment of the Black Sea Association of National News Agencies (BSANNA).

    The Declaration, which was signed Wednesday in Kiev by the general directors of the Black Sea littoral countries, stresses respect for the principle of unobstructed dissemination of news and information, and the agencies' desire to cooperation for providing full, objective and speedy information. They also stressed the necessity of cooperation with the international and regional organizations of the area for better coverage of their activities that influence the peoples of the Black Sea countries.

    The Declaration was signed by the national news agencies of Albania (ATA), Armenia (ARMENPRESS), Azerbaijan (AZERTAJ), Bulgaria (BTA), Georgia (CAUCASUS-PRESS), Greece (ANA-MPA), Moldova (MOLDPRESS), Romania (ROMPRESS), Russia (ITAR-TASS), Serbia-Montenegro (TANJUG),Turkey (ANADOLU), and Ukraine (UKRINFORM).

    ANA-MPA was represented by special consultant to the general director Andreas Christodoulides, who comprised the founding conference's presidium together with his counterparts from ITAR-TASS and BTA.

    UKRINFORM general director Viktor Samara was elected as the first president of BSANNA, to serve a one-year term, while BTA general director Maxim Minchev was elected as alternate president.

    The next meeting of the members of the new Association will be held in Bulgaria in 2007.

    [30] International conference on peace, security and prosperity in the Mediterranean

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    An international conference on "Peace, security and prosperity in the Mediterranean. 10 years of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation. Account and prospects", will be organized on Friday and Saturday in Rhodes by the University of the Aegean with the support of the foreign ministry, the municipality of Rhodes and the International Black Sea Research Centre.

    The conference will begin at 5 p.m.on Friday with Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis being the main speaker.

    Issues to be discussed during the conference include security and cooperation in the Mediterranean, Mediterranean: A zone of prosperity and free trade and Mediterranean: A zone of human communication and cultural transactions.

    [31] Cultural cooperation conference in Croatia

    ZAGREB, 2/6/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Ways to improve cultural cooperation in southeast Europe for the promotion of the common European heritage will be examined in the two-day conference on “Communication of Heritage: a new vision of Southeastern Europe” that opened in the Croatian city of Opatija on Thursday under the auspices of the President of Croatia Stjepan Mesic.

    Participating in the meeting are the presidents of Albania, Alfred Moisiu, Bulgaria’s Georgi Parvanov, FYROM’s Branko Crvenkovski, Montenegro’s Filip Vujanovic, Bosnia-Herzegovina presidency Chairman Sulejman Tihic, government ministers and representatives from Greece, Slovenia, Turkey, and Romania, as well as representatives of UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the European Commission.

    A special emphasis will be placed on greater information regarding actions and initiatives aimed at forging stronger regional cooperation and joint action in the sector of culture. Among others, the conference participants will examine issues concerning the protection and return of artifacts of cultural heritage to the countries of their origin.

    The conference is a follow up to the May 2005 meeting of the SE European heads of state on “Cultural Corridors in Southeastern Europe” held in Varna, Bulgaria and its goal is to promote the fundamental role of culture and science in the development of SE Europe.

    The participants are scheduled to visit the Paleochristian Euphrasian Basilica in the city of Porec, one of the six monuments in Croatia included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

    [32] Interior minister addresses conference on 'Democratic Society and the Rights of the Person'

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday addressed an international conference organized by the International Centre for the Rights of the Person on the theme "Democratic Society and the Rights of the Person."

    "Today, more than any other time, we are obliged to be aware that Democracy, and consequently the Rights of the Person constitute a fragile good, which we must safeguard, always in a state of alert," Pavlopoulos notably told his audience.

    [33] Freighter sinks after collision; one death reported, 5 seamen missing

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The body of a merchant seaman was recovered Thursday afternoon following a collision between a small tanker and a Panamanian-flagged motorship southeast of the Saronic holiday island of Hydra -- south of Athens -- that resulted in the sinking of the latter vessel.

    Another five sailors, all believed to be Turkish nationals, were still missing at 4 p.m. local time (2 p.m. GMT).

    Conversely, seven crewmembers from the sunken cargo ship were rescued by the coast guard. The vessel was identified as the "Han". The tanker, meanwhile, was identified as the Greek-flagged "Alios Artemis". The tanker’s crew recovered the body of the dead merchant seaman, Greek authorities said.

    Meanwhile, the seven rescued crewmembers of the Han -- loaded with steel and headed from Turkey to Casablanca, Morocco -- were being transported by helicopter to an Athens-area hospital. The tanker had departed a refinery west of Athens and was headed for Irakleio, Crete.

    The collision occurred approximately 16 nautical miles southeast of Hydra.

    According to the coast guard, the tanker has sustained only material damages, while an investigation is underway regarding the circumstances surrounding the collision.

    Several coast guard patrol boats, Hellenic Navy surface ships and three helicopters have been dispatched to the area, the Piraeus-based merchant marine ministry announced.

    [34] Three charged over Titan cement plant accident

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A public prosecutor on Thursday pressed misdemeanor-level charges against the management of a Titan cement plant and a foreman in charge of maintenance and repair of a dockyard crane that came loose and killed two workmen.

    Plant manager Dimitris Dedes, safety technician Ioannis Kokkinopoulos and foreman Anastasios Tsigros, a shareholder of the firm MESKA that had a maintenance contract with Titan, appeared before the public prosecutor on Thursday and were charged with repeated counts of manslaughter through negligence and causing bodily harm through negligence.

    Two workers were killed and four others were injured in a labor accident at the Titan Cements plant in Elefsina on Wednesday.

    The accident occurred on the plant's dock, during maintenance work, when a section of a crane used to unload cargo came loose and fell on the workers.

    [35] New hope for young heart patient from Afghanistan

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Mohammad Hasim, the small boy who came to Greece from Afghanistan at the initiative of “Solidarity” (a non governmental organization of the Church of Greece) is still hospitalized at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens where he was admitted on May 11.

    The young patient suffers from a very serious type of congenital heart disease and because he was not operated on at infancy now has pulmonary hypertension, a condition that does not allow for a surgical solution to the problem.

    However, the only solution is the combined transplant of heart and lungs. The attending doctors have decided to follow an innovative drug treatment hoping that in a few weeks' time there will be indications of relaxed pulmonary resistance making his condition potentially treatable through surgery.

    In case there is no positive response to the drug treatment the only hope will be the combined heart and lungs transplant.

    [36] Deputy FM and Education Minister receive pupils from Tirana primary school

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Thursday received pupils from the Arsakion primary school in Tirana who are currently visiting Greece.

    "Your generation will work for friendship between Greece and Albania to develop. You know both cultures and this is valuable. Tomorrow, we want to be all together in the European family and we must have a common way of thought," Stylianidis told 32 pupils which he received from the Tirana primary school.

    The school's new ultra-modern installations will be completed within the year with the funding also of Hellenic Aid.

    Yannakou met at the Education Ministry with the pupils of the fifth grade of the Tirana primary school. She expressed her satisfaction over the meeting with "the children of the Greek community and the children of Albanian origin who speak excellent Greek."

    [37] Police point to breakup of major migrant smuggling ring

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Two Turkish nationals and a Bulgarian woman were arrested by police in Athens this week on migrant-smuggling charges, as authorities announced the breakup of a complex international ring transporting mainly Third World nationals into Greece and the European Union from neighboring Turkey.

    Additionally, 17 illegals -- including three minors -- were discovered in an apartment used by the suspects in the central Athens district of Kypseli.

    According to reports, the ring ferried would-be immigrants -- primarily from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan -- from the Turkish coastal district of Aivali to large Greek islands in the eastern Aegean aboard speedboats.

    Accomplices would then issue ferry boat tickets, using Greek names, for the illegal migrants in order to transport them to the Greek mainland (Piraeus). The entire underground journey from coastal Turkey to Athens cost between 3,000 to 4,000 euros per person, reports state.

    Authorities said another two Turkish nationals residing permanently in Turkey are believed to be the masterminds of the operation.

    Of the suspects arrested, one man was released from a Greek prison as late as Dec. 29, 2005 after serving a nearly five-year sentence on a migrant smuggling conviction, while the Bulgarian woman had been previously deported and put on a Schengen persona non grata list.

    All three of the suspects and the illegals are due to appear before an Athens prosecutor.

    [38] Int'l scientific symposium held in Kavala for the protection of lagoons

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    An international scientific symposium for the protection of lagoons began in Kavala, northern Greece on Thursday at the Fisheries Research Institute.

    The speakers noted that the ecosystems of lagoons are an important factor from which many people depend on to a great degree. However, lagoons face great repercussions due to human intervention, resulting in them worsening faster than the other ecosystems on earth, they said.

    That which was stressed at the symposium is that the broader region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace are rich in lagoons, which, however, are threatened in the event that liquid fuel reservoirs are installed, as attempted by certain companies.

    "The protection and the sustainable management of the protected lagoons and coastal waters" is the object of the symposium, the sessions of which will continue until Friday night.

    Taking part in the symposium are 50 researchers from research foundations and universities from Greece, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Bulgaria. The symposium is being conducted within the framework of the European Union's program INTERREG IIIB.

    [39] Koronia Lake is facing a serious ecological crisis, scientists say

    ATHENS, 2/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Scientists at the 2nd conference of Thessaloniki University's Environment Council on Thursday presented reports that Koronia Lake, Macedonia, is facing "a most serious ecological crisis."

    Pollution from agricultural and stockbreeding work and from industries "are continuously undermining Koronia Lake these past 30 years," the scientists said.

    The greatest depth of the lake from 8.5 meters in 1977 fell to 4.5 meters in 1987. In the summer of 2002 the lake had temporarily lost all its water and at present has a depth of less than one meter, they said.

    [40] Christofias re-elected New House President as deputies sworn in

    NICOSIA, 2/6/2006 (CAN-ANA/MPA)

    General Secretary of the left-wing AKEL party Demetris Christofias was re-elected Thursday afternoon President of the new 56-seat House of Representatives following the May 21 parliamentary elections.

    Christofias was elected with a total of 35 votes, 18 votes by the AKEL deputies, 11 by the deputies of the centre-right Democratic Party (DIKO), five votes by the deputies of the Social-democrats Movement (EDEK) and one vote by the deputy of the Movement of Ecologists- Environmentalists.

    Nicos Anastasiades, President of the right-wing Democratic Rally (DISI) was also a candidate for the presidency of the House and the 18 deputies of his party voted against Christofias' candidacy.

    The third candidate was President of the European Party, Demetris Syllouris who was supported by the three deputies of his newly formed party that entered the House for the first time.

    The 56 members of the new House of Representatives as well as the representatives of the three religious groups, (Armenians, Maronites and Latins) were sworn in at the start of the plenary session of the House, presided over by the eldest deputy, Costas Papacostas of AKEL.

    [41] Cyprus solution top priority of new House, Christofias says

    NICOSIA, 2/6/2006 (CAN-ANA/MPA)

    Re-elected President of the Cypriot House of Representatives, General Secretary of left-wing AKEL party, Demetris Christofias, stressed Thursday that the resolution of the Cyprus problem is the first priority of the new Parliament.

    Speaking before the plenary, after he was re-elected, the House President noted that the Parliament has an important role to play in the Cypriot peoples' struggle for vindication, through parliamentary diplomacy and utilization of the international relations, inside as well as outside the European Union.

    "We will continue to work hard to promote a just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem. The House will continue to work for a solution, based on the United Nations resolutions, the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979 and the principles of the international and European law", he said.

    He added: "We pursue a solution that frees Cyprus from Turkish occupation, that reunites our country and our people under a bicommunal, bizonal federation and restores the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, to help them live together and form their common future in a free and peaceful country. This is our goal, this is our dream for Cyprus".

    Stressing that the realization of this dream necessitates unity among Cypriots, he said that the policy of rapprochement with the Turkish Cypriots, is very important, because "no solution can be found without the common willingness, efforts and trust among Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots".

    Christofias thanked the House for re-electing him for the second time, saying that he is very well aware of "the heavy burden on my shoulders".

    He reassured that the new Parliament "will continue to work so that there is a close and productive cooperation with the government and especially with the President of the Republic, for further progress and prosperity of our people".

    One of the top issues on the agenda for the new House of Representatives, he said, is the establishment of the law service of the Parliament that would "stress the independence and autonomy of the House".

    "I will continue to work, in order to further upgrade the role and the status of the House of Representatives, and to modernize its function", he reassured.

    He also congratulated the Cypriot people for electing the new deputies in circumstances of "real democracy, order and respect for each other".

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