|Thursday, 26 November 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-06-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>June 3, 2006
 Changes and reforms will continue, PM assures Fthiotida
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday assured productive groups in Fthiotida prefecture, central Greece, that his government will steadfastly press ahead with the changes and reforms that would ensure new and better prospects for the country.
"These changes and reforms will create an environment of confidence, trust and security," he stressed as he addressed a meeting at the Lamia Labor Centre.
Citing his government's achievements in the economy, Karamanlis said there was a constant improvement in the economic climate, with the public deficit set to fall below 3% of GDP for the first time since Greece entered the Euro zone and the country's GDP per capita expected to rise to 80% of the EU average by the end of 2007.
He also stressed rapid growth rates, a rise in investments (which increased 6.9 percent in the first quarter of the year), Greece's improved global ranking in competitiveness from 50th to 42nd place, a reduction in unemployment to below 10% coupled with higher employment above 60%, a 7% rise in revenues from tourism and an increase in exports by 21% in the first two months of 2006.
"These results clearly show the positive trends developing in our country. They are not enough, of course, nor do they mean we can be complacent. But they are, however, an absolutely tangible proof that our policy is yielding important results," the prime minister said.
Karamanlis also highlighted the role of local communities and local government in helping build Greece's future, one in which it fully exploited its membership of the European Union, its geography, its human resources and its traditional advantages.
The prime minister outlined a series of government measures that aimed to boost the funds and responsibilities of local government authorities, allowing them to assist the country's development, and stressed the great strides made in that direction.
He said that his tour of Fthiotida was an opportunity to hear the views of local groups for the prefecture's development and to inspect the progress of roadworks at Maliakos, which aim to reduce accidents along one of the most dangerous stretches of Greece's road system.
Karamanlis stressed that his government had shifted the main thrust of its policies away from the capital and toward the countryside and provinces from the first moment it came into power.
He said this had been done through simultaneous actions on three parallel axes; a new developmental model, support for local government and policies for sectors that most benefited rural areas and small towns, such as agriculture and tourism development.
As examples of the last, he pointed to a draft bill on health spa tourism that was coming to Parliament in the next few days, emphasizing that Fthiotida had numerous natural spas and great potential for development in this area, and a central government campaign to promote olives and olive oil - a key product for the area.
In his speech, the prime minister emphasized measures and laws passed by the government to assist small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially those setting up outside Athens, as well as land-planning programs, measures to promote joint ventures between the public and private sectors and other aids for new business start-ups.
He also underlined major infrastructure road-building projects currently underway in Fthiotida, particularly the imminent start of work on the 175-km national highway E65, which will link the Patras-Athens-Thessaloniki highway with the Egnatia highway.
Earlier, the prime minister had visited the work sites for the Aghios Konstantinos and Kammena Vourla bypasses and was briefed on improvements to the safety of the Maliakos 'horseshoe' during a visit to the new traffic police department at Thermopylae.
During his visit, the prime minister was briefed on plans for a new Thermopylae museum near the monument to the ancient hero Leonidas, who died defending the pass against a vastly superior force of invading Persians with a company of just 300 Spartans.
Karamanlis also received a warm welcome from pupils at Lamia's 10th primary school, when he visited to inspect work for a new special school being built in the area for people with special needs.
 Gov't stresses need for consistent approach toward Turkey
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)The government on Friday underlined the need for consistency in the country's policy toward Turkey and denied opposition claims that it had "abandoned" the agreements made at Helsinki in 1999.
Speaking in Parliament, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stressed that the government was working according to a plan, methodically and consistently, to fully meet the challenges that arose in the country's international relations.
In her response to a question by Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology MP Nikos Constantopoulos, Bakoyannis pointed out that the government was currently trying to deal with a particularly difficult period in the neighboring country, in which tension was rising sharply.
"It is a completely different situation from that two years ago," the minister underlined.
Bakoyannis also referred to the loss of Greek Air Force pilot Costas Iliakis during last week's collision with a Turkish fighter jet above the Aegean, expressing her condolences toward the unlucky pilot's family, but stressed that such incidents should not be used to call central foreign policy strategies, such as that of supporting Turkey's European prospects, into question.
"Strategic choices should not easily and hurriedly be called into question, even more so when this occurs in the heat of the moment, she said.
Regarding the Helsinki agreement, the foreign minister denied that this had been abandoned by the government, but claimed that, conversely, it had been strengthened and improved. She admitted, however, that Greece would not have been ready to take outstanding issues with Turkey to the International Court of Justice at The Hague at the end of 2004.
"There was no preparation of an agreement to refer the dispute to the court, no one had clarified what the object and content of such an agreement might be," she said.
At the moment, Turkey has not acceded to treaties establishing the International Court of Justice and politicians on the Greek side believe Ankara must sign an agreement promising to respect the results of the court's arbitration.
Greece currently only recognizes one outstanding difference with Turkey, that of delineating the extent of the Aegean continental shelf, a position that is backed by both main parties.
Constantopoulos questioned this stance in Parliament, saying that there were other issues that Greece could pursue to its own advantage, and accused both ruling New Democracy and the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) of failing to use the Helsinki agreements to best advantage.
He also criticized Bakoyannis predecessor at the foreign ministry, Petros Molyviatis, for adopting a strategy of "optimistically waiting for things to improve automatically" regarding the Cyprus issue.
\Antonaros on government policy toward Turkey: The government had already outlined its positions on foreign policy and relations with Turkey, following its strategy responsibly and consistently on the basis of national interests and far removed from petty party-politics, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Friday.
The government's policy was presented by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis during the National Council on Foreign Policy held on Thursday and had certain stable elements that were supported by both main parties, he added.
Asked about the prospect of referring differences with Turkey to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Antonaros said that referral to the international court was a tool in the overall strategy supported by both main parties, which supported Turkey's adaptation to European standards and conditions.
Deputy FM Yiannis Valynakis comments on Turkey: Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis said in Rhodes on Friday that there is no other policy than that of the "Europeanization of Turkey". Valynakis arrived on the island to attend a conference of the Aegean University's Mediterranean Studies faculty on security and cooperation in the Mediterranean.
After the inauguration of the conference, the deputy foreign minister referred in a statement to Turkey and its course towards the European Union.
He said that Greece supports the adjustment of Turkey to European terms and the prerequisites set for it by the EU.
Valynakis said that "it is very important, and the inhabitants of the Dodecannese realize this, probably more than others, that Turkey should proceed along this path with the essential condition, of course, that every time it will pass the examinations it has before it."
He pointed out that this procedure, in which Greece is a judge and Turkey the judged, has only just begun and will be long and must be watched with particular attention.
Referring to the proposal by former president of the republic Kostis Stephanopoulos that "all differences between Greece and Turkey could be referred to the Court at the Hague with the exception of 'grey zones'", Valynakis said that referral to the court was an issue always being examined and is considered as remaining in the "arsenal" of Greek foreign policy.
 Papandreou cites initiative for 'new strategy' in Greek-Turkish relations; airs concerns over coup threat in Ankara
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday announced that he has requested meetings with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis as well as to the leaders of the two other Parliament-represented parties, Communist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alekos Alavanos, to discuss policies and a "new strategy" vis-à-vis Greek-Turkish relations.
In a relevant letter, the former foreign minister refers to "increased concern" over a series of recent "provocative actions" by Turkish forces in the Aegean.
"...It is with a feeling of heightened responsibility that we (PASOK) voice our concerns and reflection over the course of the country's foreign policy, especially Greek-Turkish relations. Our country, and the wider region, cannot continually be faced with the threat of surging tension and the prospect of a major crisis," Papandreou said, adding:
"We must again find the path towards a normal course in relations with Turkey. This is in the interests of the Greek and Turkish peoples. Today, what is necessary is for Greece to formulate a new strategy, taking into account all of the latest developments."
In referring to a new "strategy" on a handful of occasions, Papandreou said its pre-eminent tenets should include an absolute consolidation of Athens' sovereign rights and interests in tandem with outlining to Ankara its commitments towards respecting International Law, the principles of good-neighborly relations, the values on which the EU is based and obligations vis-à-vis the 25-member bloc.
Papandreou added that his initiative means the commencement of talks with the government and other opposition parties, following his meeting recently with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Meanwhile, in statements to PASOK delegates in Athens attending a party conference on local government issues, Papandreou first referred to foreign policy issues, especially in light of recent developments in Turkey, cautioning the military establishment in Ankara not to "dare overthrow the country’s elected government".
He also criticized the government for lacking long-term strategy and goals in foreign policy, as he said, adding that this said "entraps" the country and weakens its position regionally. At the same time, the former foreign minister expressed concern over the continuing provocations by the Turkish military in the Aegean, while directly pointing to Turkey’s military leadership as responsible for the situation in tandem with publicly voicing his concerns over coup threats in the neighboring country.
 PM addresses EPP's European Ideas Network
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sent a clear message to all countries hoping to become members of the European family that they must respect the acquis communautaire and the principles and values of the European Union without exception.
Addressing a meeting of the European People's Party's European Ideas Network on Friday, jointly organized by the "Constantine Karamanlis Institute of Democracy", the prime minister stressed that while economic unification has proceeded considerably this is not the case with the political unification of Europe.
He added that while the common currency is a tangible reality, steps of a corresponding significance have not been taken in the direction of a real common foreign policy and defense and security policy.
Karamanlis said that Europe needs to set ambitious and realistic targets for the future. He pointed out that the Lisbon strategy is the road map for what must be done, it is the path leading to a Europe that will be more competitive, more cohesive and more social, a Europe that will reveal its social image.
The prime minister further said that the key for Europe to achieve its targets lies in one and only concept, reform, stressing that "we must go ahead with the greatest possible consent, with effectiveness and social sensitivity in reforms and changes required in institutions, the economy and society."
Karamanlis used Greece as an example for reforms. He said that over the past two and a half years the "government has turned into practice, as it had promised citizens, the changes and reforms needed by the country." He underlined that it was proceeding with steps that should have been taken years ago, it was correcting mistakes, covering gaps and omissions and building the conditions for a better tomorrow for all Greeks.
Today, he added, Greece "is very close to its fiscal targets. It is maintaining steadfastly one of the highest growth rates in Europe and, in parallel, unemployment is being decreased considerably."
Concluding, Karamanlis reiterated his adherence to the policy of the modern-day social centre, meaning the "point where policies and people meet in a broad social alliance, apart and above the dividing lines of the past."
 PASOK announces mayoral candidates for Athens, Piraeus, Thessaloniki
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK on Friday announced its candidates for the country's three largest municipalities -- including Athens, the capital -- during a national party conference here focusing on local government issues.
PASOK leader George Papandreou himself made the announcements, tipping former interior and public administration minister Costas Skandalidis, a current and high-ranking MP, as the party's candidate for Athens -- the largest and most populous municipality amongst nearly two dozen in the greater Athens area.
Skandalidis, a native of the Dodecanese island of Kos, goes up against former health minister -- up until a few months ago -- Nikitas Kaklamanis, the candidate backed by ruling New Democracy (ND) party.
In Piraeus, former Greek international basketball centre Panayiotis Fassoulas, a former PASOK deputy, gained the nod in a bid to unseat ND-backed incumbent Christos Agrapidis.
In Thessaloniki, meanwhile, PASOK deputy Chryssa Arapoglou is the party's candidate for mayor in a race pitting her against incumbent Vassilis Papageorgopoulos. In Thessaloniki prefecture, moreover, 1992 Olympic gold medalist hurdler Voula Patoulidou will face incumbent prefect and former ND deputy Panayiotis Psomiadis.
In referring to the party's newest and most prominent local government candidates, Papandreou said Skandalidis symbolizes the relationship PASOK has traditionally enjoyed with local government.
He termed Fassoulas as a younger generation politician with fresh ideas and ideal for the country's largest port.
Referring to Arapoglou, Papandreou praised her involvement from various posts serving the country's second largest municipality, while noting that Patoulidou is a person who know how to set goals and fulfill them.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) have also announced or will shortly announce their candidates for the three large municipalities as well.
Papandreou proposals: In citing what he called five axes for local government, the PASOK leader cited the need for fewer ministries and less responsibilities by ministers; elections at the regional level; a new initiative to further merge municipalities and communities into larger entities; the gradual transfer of a portion tax revenues (property taxes, personal income, possibly VAT) to local governments, and finally, more transparency and oversight.
 Interior minister replies to PASOK party leader on local administration criticism
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, replying to criticism leveled at the government on local administration issues by main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou at PASOK's Nationwide Conference on Local Administration on Friday, accused Papandreou of "vagueness, contradictory positions and provocative distortion of the truth".
Pavlopoulos said that after such a "gestation of ideas and, indeed, by a party which ruled for so many years, how can it be that such vague and such contradictory positions are being made on such a serious institution as local administration?".
The minister added that even if one stands by these "positions", why didn't PASOK turn into practice during the so many years of its governance today's "visions" of Papandreou on local administration.
 Bakoyannis-Meimarakis meeting on Friday
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday met with Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis. A foreign ministry spokesman later briefed reporters over the meeting, noting that it was held within the framework of standing and close cooperation between the two ministries and in light of the recent meeting of Parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee.
The chairman of the armed forces' joint chiefs of staff, Vice-Adm. Panayiotis Hinofotis, also attended the meeting.
 EU justice and internal affairs ministers convene in Luxembourg
LUXEMBOURG 3/6/2006 (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)The European Union's Council of Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers convened here on Friday and examined the priorities of the EU in the sector of combating organized crime, the prospects of EUROPOL and developments in confronting terrorism.
The Council also focused on developing cooperation in the sector of internal security with the western Balkan countries, as well as on the progress of the EU's plan of action to restrain illegal immigration, with emphasis being placed on the Mediterranean region.
Addressing the Council, Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras referred to the need for strengthening the operational role of EUROPOL which, as he said, will increase the European citizens' feeling of security.
He also said that legal obstacles must be overcome to enable the operation of EUROPOL to become more flexible and more effective with transparency and full respect for human rights and protection for citizens' personal data.
 Greek ambassador hosts informative dinner for U.S. deputy defense secretary
WASHINGTON 3/6/2006 (ANA-MPA - T. Ellis)Greek Ambassador to Washington Alexandros Mallias briefed U.S. officials on issues concerning Greece during a dinner he gave in honor of US Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.
The dinner was attended by Congresswoman Kay Granger, senior Pentagon officials, the deputy commander of the Marine Corps Robert Magnus and the State Department's official responsible for Greece Joe Parente.
During the dinner, held in a very warm climate, Gordon referred to the close relations of friendship and alliance between the two countries, as well as to the Greek contribution in Afghanistan and Iraq.
ASE chairman says primary target expansion in the Balkans Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA) The Athens Stock Exchange on Friday said it was in talks with all stock markets, including large European capital markets and smaller Balkan markets, in the framework of a wave of rapid changes in the sector following the announcement of alliances or takeovers between international stock markets such as a merger agreement between NYSE and Euronext and the purchase of a 25 percent stake in LSE by Nasdaq.
"We speak with everyone," ASE chairman Spyros Kapralos said in Thessaloniki on Friday, adding "we must always have the doors open for any decision to the benefit of the Greek capital market and of Greek listed companies' shareholders".
Kapralos, however, stressed that ASE's strategic goal was to play a leading role in Southeastern Europe, a move that would enhance its position in the international scene and offer a bigger negotiating clout in future talks. Developments in the Balkans are not so fast as in other capital markets, that's why ASE has not specified its interest in the region, Kapralos said. "In Bulgaria, for example, we heard the chairman of the stock market saying that the Bulgarian state would sell 44 percent of the country's capital market. If something like this happens we will be able to evaluate our moves. If not, how to bid for something not yet offered for sale," Kapralos noted.
Commenting on a recent sharp correction of prices in international capital markets, Kapralos said volatility remained high in recent days but noted he expected markets to find a balance since "in general, news from markets and economies were good". Emerging markets suffered the most in recent weeks after recording sharp increases in the past, while the Greek stock market also reacted "violently" showing characteristics of an emerging market.
Kapralos said "foreign investors are good when they buy and markets go up, but they are bad when they sell", while he sounded satisfied that Greek listed companies timely reported their results and showed increased profits in the first quarter of 2006.
A total of 35 Greek listed companies, not included in the FTSE/ASE 20 index, are expected to participate in a roadshow scheduled for September in London, in cooperation with Bloomberg.
 Greece, Serbia reaffirm very good economic relations
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Greece and Serbia on Friday reaffirmed the very satisfactory level of bilateral economic relations.
Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, speaking to reporters, after a meeting with visiting Serbian Economy Minister Mladjan Dinkic, said the two countries agreed to intensify efforts to further improve bilateral economic relations and stressed that economic growth contributed in the prosperity of peoples.
Greece is one of the biggest investors in Serbia, while the country is one of our main trade partners, Alogoskoufis said, adding that Greek investments to Serbia totaled 1.2 billion euros in the last decade. The Greek minister said Serbian economy was rapidly growing.
Serbian minister Mladjan Dinkic said the value of Greek investments to Serbian was proof of the very good relations between the two countries. The Serbian minister urged for Greece's support in a proposal to approve funds, worth 1.0 billion euros, to be spent on road projects in the country. Alogoskoufis accepted the Serbian proposal.
Dinkic said the two countries agreed to sign -the soonest possible- an agreement avoiding double taxation and urged Greece to abolish entry visas for Serbs visiting Greece and other EU member-states. The Serbian minister also invited the Greek minister to visit Serbia.
 FM meets with Serb FinMin
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis met Friday with Serbian finance minister Mladjan Dinkic.
During the meeting, the two ministers discussed prospects for expanding economic cooperation between the two countries, developments in the Balkans and the EU prospects of the countries of the region, the situation in Kosovo, and the developments following the referendum in Montenegro.
 FinMin confers with Commercial Bank president on bank's privatization
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)The course of the Commercial Bank's privatization was discussed Friday during a meeting between national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis and the bank's president George Provopoulos.
According to information, the timetable for the privatization remains unaltered.
 Alogoskoufis meets with IMF officials
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis met in Athens on Friday with visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials.
The IMF representatives are in the process of collecting economic data from the economy and finance ministry and the Bank of Greece and are scheduled to visit Greece again in September.
Following that, they will draw up a report on the course and prospects of the Greek economy.
 Development minister in Finland
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas departs on Friday for an official visit to Finland, at the invitation of his Finnish counterpart Mauri Pekkarinen.
Sioufas will head a high-ranking Greek delegation to the Scandinavian country.
 Protocol signed on equal opportunities for men and women in businesses
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)A cooperation protocol was signed at the Zappion Mansion on Friday, in the presence of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, regarding "the promotion of equal opportunities for women and men in businesses."
The protocol was signed by the General Equality Secretariat and employers unions and constitutes an initiative taken for the first time in the country following close cooperation and a dialogue process between the two sides.
 Adrianos Sotiropoulos is the new SYDASE President
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Adrianos Sotiropoulos is the new president of the Confederation of Democratic Agricultural Associations of Greece (SYDASE).
The board of directors elected in the 18th SYDASE general assembly meeting also voted Sotiris Parlapanis to the post of the vice-president. Apostolos Hatzigiannis was elected second vice-president, Isidoros Mantakoudis general secretary, Thanasis Lygdas treasurer, Takis Bizatis executive secretary, Costas Chrisanthakopoulos public relations head, and Aspasia Ktistaki in charge of women’s issues.
The members of the new board of directors are: Costas Skiadas, Giorgos Panagiotopoulos, Yiannis Vogiatzis, Vasilis Deligian-nidis, Yiannis Giorgakis, Nikos Yiannakopoulos and Dimitris Kapriniotis.
The alternate members of the board of directors are Dimitris Bouzios, Dimitris Nanas, Yiannis Raptis and Dimitris Chiotis.
 New airline to link Greece, Turkey
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)A new airline is to launch operations in the near future, linking Izmir, Athens, Thessaloniki and Crete, the president of the Greek-Turkish Chamber, Panayiotis Koutsikos, told the ANA-MPA on Friday.
Taking part in creation of the new airline are the chamber, the Izmir Chamber of Commerce, Aegean Business Bank and entrepreneurs, said Koutsikos, who briefed Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis earlier in the day on the project along with members of Izmir's chamber.
The officials also briefed Alogoskoufis on progress in setting up Aegean Business Bank, which is due to run 26 branches in Greece and Turkey over five years with 360 staff.
The bank, which has a start-up capital of 110 million euros, is also anticipated to join the Athens and Istanbul stock markets.
Aegean has applied to the Bank of Greece, or central bank for permission to operate. Approval is expected in July.
 Lannet Telecoms buys Columbia Telecom for 3.99 mln euros
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Lannet Telecommunications on Friday announced the signing of a contract to buy Columbia Telecom, a domestic telecom-munications services provider, for 3.99 million euros.
Under the deal, Columbia Telecoms’ main shareholder will have to participate in a forthcoming share capital increase plan, worth 1.0 million euros, due to be completed in the next three months (before completion of the sale transaction) raising his stake in the company to 30 percent.
 OTESAT-Maritel to give 0.20 euro dividend
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Shareholders of OTESAT-Maritel on Friday endorsed management's proposal of a dividend of 0.20 euros per share on 2005 earnings.
Management said that strategy in 2006 and in coming years would focus on the Greek shipping market and expansion of commercial operations abroad.
The company's turnover in 2005 was 20.9 million euros.
 Misko on board of European trade group
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)The managing director and deputy chairman of Misko SA, George Spiliopoulos, has been named vice president of the European Association of Pasta Industries (UNAFPA).
Spiliopoulos, who is president of the Greek Association of Pasta Industries, will have a two-year term in the post.
 Hellenic Textiles mulls part-relocation abroad
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Athens-quoted Hellenic Textiles may relocate part of its manufacturing operations abroad, managing director Yiannis Akkas said on Friday.
"We are in a global market and cannot remain indifferent. We are eyeing all options, and, within this framework, studying various circumstances, either for transfer of part of production abroad or expansion abroad," Akkas told a presentation held by the Athens bourse for northern quoted firms.
"We are studying all scenarios. Overall, we are interested in expansion. If we cannot evolve export activity, it is likely we will see transfer," Akkas told reporters who sought clarification of his earlier statement.
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released
by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.291
 Massive search operation for missing Turkish seamen continues
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)The extensive air and sea search and rescue operation for the five missing Turkish seamen, crewmembers of the Panama-flagged cargo ship "Han" -- with an all-Turkish crew -- that sank on Thursday after colliding off the island of Hydra with the Greek tanker "Ayios Artemis" loaded with fuel en route to the island of Crete, was still continuing, but with no results as at noon on Friday.
Since early in the morning, Greek Navy and Coastguard vessels, fishing boats and other ships sailing nearby as well as the Greek tanker involved in the collision were combing the international waters off Hydra but there was no sight of the five missing Turks.
A Super Puma and a Navy helicopter were participating in the search operation. The "Alios Artemis" will leave the search area on Friday and its crew will testify on the incident before harbor authority officials.
Coastguard officials maintain that for unknown reasons the Turkish captain, who is among the missing, violated the international navigation safety laws, given the fact that "Alios Artemis" was on its right side, and failed to give way in order to avoid the accident.
However, unofficially the same officials put part of the blame on the Greek captain as well maintaining that the good weather conditions at the time of the accident --no wind, good visibility-- do not justify his moves.
The body of a merchant seaman was recovered on Thursday afternoon while seven crewmembers from the sunken cargo ship, loaded with steel and headed from Turkey to Casablanca, Morocco, were rescued by the Greek coastguard. The entire crew of the Greek tanker was safe and well.
 Body of missing fisherman from FYROM recovered
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)The body of a missing 52-year-old fisherman from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was recovered on Friday morning roughly 10 kilometres from where he was swept away by the Axios River's waters last Sunday.
A police helicopter spotted the man's body in the river bed near the rural site of Aspros, in the Kilkis border prefecture.
Authorities reported that the man, along with two companions, was fishing near a bridge on Axioupolis-Polykastro roadway when he decided to wade into the river for a better reeling angle only to be swept away by the river's current.
 World Environment Day on Monday
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)The Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry will organize a campaign to brief and sensitize citizens on the occasion of World Environment Day on Monday June 5. The campaign will have "You depend on the environment...More than you think" as its main slogan.
On Monday, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias will visit the island of Zakinthos and the country's first Sea Park where the Caretta Caretta turtle is being protected.
On the occasion of World Environment Day, Souflias said Friday in a statement that "at the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry, which is the key to the balanced development of the country and the improvement of the quality of life, we have the steadfast conviction that development brings real improvement to the quality of life only when it takes place with respect for the environment."
He added that "in the past, few realized the importance of environmental policy. Today, however, man realizes that he is not something separate from the environment but that he constitutes an inseparable part of it."
The minister went on to say that "the truth is that in Greece we were even more late in realizing this. Condemnations and Greece's pending issues with the European Union and the European Court on environmental issues, which were bequeathed to us by the previous government, are due to that.
The lack of environmental training for the Greek citizen is also due to that."
"Over the past 27 months, we have been making a systematic effort at the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry in the sector of the environment. We have evidently not had enough time to handle all the pending issues of the past 20 years. However, a huge task has been carried out which is recognized by the relevant services of the European Union," Souflias said.
 Conference focuses on pollution of Thermaikos Gulf
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Pollution of the Thermaikos Gulf in northern Greece by man was examined by scientists at the 2nd conference of the Aristotelio University's Environment Council.
Samples were taken on a six-month basis by five stations, in the Thermaikos Gulf (Angelohori, Perea, Kalohori and Halastra) and in the Strymonikos Gulf.
According to evidence presented at the conference, the state of biocommunities on the northeastern coast of the Thermaikos Gulf reflects its downgrading as a result of interventions made by man.
 Greek and Bulgarian delegations discuss joint management of crossborder rivers
SOFIA 3/6/2006 (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)Greek and Bulgarian delegations discussed the basic steps for activating the inter-state experts committee that will undertake to coordinate the management of waters of the Evros River and of other crossborder rivers here on Friday.
The Greek delegation was headed by Ambassador Nikolaos Kouniniotis and the Bulgarian by Teodor Rousinov.
Emphasis was placed during the meeting, held at the Bulgarian foreign ministry, on finding practical ways of relieving the human factor in regions struck by floods, mainly at the end of winter, when snow begins to melt.
 Xanthi hosts first conference of Greek Rom from eastern Macedonia and Thrace
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)The needs for the full integration of all Greek Rom in Greek society was underlined during the 1st Conference of Greek Gypsies of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace that began on Friday morning in the city of Xanthi, in northern Greece, and was due to end late at night on the same day.
The conference focuses on "The position of the Greek Rom in the modern-day Greek and European structure", while the main demands of Greek gypsies are "housing-employment-education."
The opening of the conference, that gathered a large number of gypsies, was also attended by Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Kalantzis and Deputy Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Athanasios Nakos.
According to statistical data provided by the interior ministry, about 250,000 gypsies are living and working all over the country, while the deputy interior minister pointed out that after the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the European Union the gypsies in the EU will total 11 million.
It was also stressed that 2007 has been proclaimed equality year for the EU in an effort to abolish all dividing lines, xenophobia and racism. In this framework, a series of European programs will be implemented that aim at eradicating all inequalities between European citizens.
 Balkan Performing Arts Market begins in Thessaloniki
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, addressing the opening of the Balkan Performing Arts Market in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday, said that it was a "strategic initiative providing the opportunity for a decisive widening of the horizons of modern Balkan artistic creation in the sector of stage arts and promoting our conviction that Greece possesses all the specifications to constitute an epicenter of cultural activity for the entire region of the Balkans."
Referring to the work of 18th century activist and intellectual Rigas Fereos which, as he said, "has conveyed a message of cooperation and peace, stability and prosperity in the Balkans until today," Voulgarakis spoke of the "historic duty of highlighting the position of our region on the international cultural firmament."
The minister added that "we must utilize our comparative advantages, make them competitive and serve the interests of the countries and of the region in its entirety."
The Promotion of Greek Culture Organization (OPEP) has undertaken to host the 1st Balkan Performing Arts Market. With special funding by the culture ministry (1.5 million euros) it has invited and is hosting a total of 3,000 delegates in Thessaloniki over the June 1-4 period.
 Rion bridge management adamant that lightning severed cable
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)The Gefyra SA company, which manages the imposing Rion-Antirion bridge, on Friday detailed its conclusion that a severed cable on the bridge in February 2005 was caused by a lightning bolt, the second time in a week that the company has rejected the "material failure" theory put forth by a public works-established committee of experts.
Gefyra's top leadership said their engineering report early last month was not taken into account by the committee, whereas representatives for the bridge's concessionaire repeated that they have absolutely no objections to another round of inspections for the state-of-the-art structure, billed as the world's longest cable stayed bridge with a continuous deck of 2,250 meters.
The Rion-Antirion bridge links the Peloponnese with western Greece's mainland.
 Two traffic wardens assaulted in Exarchia district
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Two municipal traffic wardens were attacked and beaten by six unknown suspects on Friday in the central Athens district of Exarchia, an area often frequented by self-styled anarchist youths that is near the Athens Polytechnic.
According to police, the two municipal officers were attacked while they were issuing parking tickets to various illegally parked vehicles around Exarchia square.
The suspects fled after the incident, police said, while the two men were hospitalized.
 Bomb scare at Macedonia-Thrace ministry a farce
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)A bomb scare shortly before noon Friday at the Macedonia-Thrace ministry in Thessaloniki turned out to be a farce, according to police.
An anonymous caller telephoned police shortly after 11:00 a.m. on Friday and warned that an explosive device had been planted at the ministry.
The building, which had tens of employees and a number of citizens inside at the time, was immediately evacuated, but a search by security police, with trained sniffer dogs found the building to be clear of any suspicious devices.
 Greece has most overweight children aged 12-14 in Europe, doctor reports
Athens 3/6/2006 (ANA)Greece has the highest percentage of overweight children in the 12-14 years age range in Europe, a top Greek cardiologist announced on Friday during the 1st Panhellenic Conference on interdisciplinary cooperation to ensure food-beverage safety and hygiene and public health.
According to cardiologist Apostolos Efthymiadis, a professor at Thessaloniki University Medical School, this was due mainly to bad diet and lack of exercise, while he stressed that obesity was the 2nd cause of death after smoking.
 Greeks wary of pesticides Athens
3/6/2006 (ANA)More than half of Greeks are extremely worried about the possibly damaging effect of pesticides on their health, according to a survey released on Friday.
Seriously concerned were 53.6% of consumers polled, with 35.1% showing moderate concern. Only 1.8% reported they felt no concern, showed the survey, which was conducted by the Greek Consumer Organization (EKATO).
The poll was presented at a conference of the Organic Products Network held in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
The network is a non-profit organization founded by the the Association of Northern Greek Industry.
 President Papadopoulos meets with third CMP member
NICOSIA 3/6/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The third member of the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP) Christopher Girod, who is currently in Cyprus in view of assuming his fulltime duties in July, was received Friday by President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos.
Girod was accompanied by the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller. Also present were Director of the Diplomatic Office of the President of the Republic Tasos Tzionis and the Greek Cypriot representative in CMP Elias Georgiades.
Commenting on the meeting, Government Spokesman George Lillikas said the Greek Cypriot side remains committed to its proposal for a meeting between the leaders of the two communities in the presence of Girod.
''We remain steadfast to the commitment we undertook, which was also a proposal by President Papadopoulos and which the UN Secretary General accepted, for a meeting between the leaders of the two communities in the presence of the third member of CMP, so that with their presence the two leaders could lend their political weight so that a clearly humanitarian issue could be led to a solution,'' Lillikas said.
He added that President Papadopoulos is ready for such a meeting any time and pointed out that it was not up to the president alone, or even Girod, but the concurrence of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, whom Girod met on Thursday.
 EU leaders to call on Turkey to comply with contractual obligations
BRUSSELS 3/6/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The 25 EU leaders are expected to call on Turkey during the forthcoming European Council in Brussels 15-16 June, to comply with contractual obligations with the EU, by implementing the Additional Protocol of its Customs Union with Cyprus.
The position is included in the revised draft conclusions of the European Council, following discussions in Coreper on 23 May 2006 and at Klosterneuburg.
In the section on Turkey, the draft conclusions note that "the European Council reviewed progress made in the acquis screening and welcomes the start of substantive accession negotiations with Turkey. Turkey is expected to share the values, objectives and the legal order set out in the treaties. The Union is committed to support Turkey in its efforts to comply with the Union's standards and membership obligations, including the Copenhagen criteria".
It stresses that "the European Council recalls, in line with previous conclusions, that the current negotiations are based on each country's own merits and that their pace will depend on each country's progress in preparing for accession measured against the requirements set out in the Negotiating Framework".
It emphasizes that "this includes the compliance with contractual obligations under the Association Agreement, including the Customs Union and the implementation in 2006 of the Additional Protocol as well as the implementation of the revised Accession Partnership".
In addition, "the European Council calls on Turkey to intensify the reform process and to implement it fully and effectively throughout the country, so as to ensure its irreversibility and sustainability as well as to progress towards the fulfillment of the Copenhagen political criteria".
 No change in US policy on recognition of Cyprus
WASHINGTON 3/6/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)There is no change in U.S. policy when it comes to the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, stated Acting Spokesman of the US State Department Tom Casey.
He was answering a question on Thursday on whether the US policy on the recognition of Cyprus has changed, following Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Bryza's reference in an interview to a Turkish daily newspaper to ''south Cyprus'' as he described the Republic of Cyprus.
"I am sure that whatever Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza said he was thoroughly eloquent and spoke absolutely in accordance with U.S. policy. But just to make it clear, there is certainly no change in U.S. policy when it comes to recognition of Cyprus", Casey stressed.
The Turkish Cypriot UDI was declared ''legally invalid'' by UN Security Council resolution 541 of November 1983 which called on all states not to recognize the self-styled regime and not to facilitate it in any way.
Only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Cypriot regime.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.