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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-06-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

June 22, 2006


  • [01] Finance Minister optimistic over economic prospects
  • [02] 4th CSF funding discussed by Karamanlis, Alogoskoufis
  • [03] Bakoyannis meets Sarkozy in Paris, discusses European affairs
  • [04] FM Bakoyannis to meet new Cyprus foreign minister on Thursday
  • [05] Gul repeats 'four-party' meeting idea for Cyprus solution talks
  • [06] Education ministry unveils draft bill for university reforms
  • [07] PM confers with justice minister
  • [08] Latest poll gives ND 2.5-point lead over PASOK
  • [09] ND secretary Lefteris Zagoritis addresses event on local administration
  • [10] Coalition party leader comments on municipal elections
  • [11] Greek UN representative participates in UN Security Council discussion on Kosovo
  • [12] Cyprus defense minister to meet Greek counterpart
  • [13] Supreme Patriarch of Armenians visits Istanbul
  • [14] More than 10 investors interested in Olympic Airlines, minister says
  • [15] Tourism minister addresses official opening of BITE 2006
  • [16] Bank of Cyprus to submit bid for Emporiki Bank acquisition
  • [17] Greek current accounts deficit up 57.7 pct in Jan-April, yr/yr
  • [18] Greek economic competitiveness needs further improvement, report
  • [19] International venture capital forum in Athens
  • [20] Gov't says culture ministry-affiliated organizations to submit budgets
  • [21] Greek fuel-lubricants market sees higher turnover, lower profits in 2005, report
  • [22] Air traffic controllers suspend strike
  • [23] Measures to support Greek milk
  • [24] Ecolife 2006 ecological products exhibition
  • [25] Bulgarian court rules in favor of PPC buyout
  • [26] Culture minister convenes 'Greek Culture Year in China 2008' Organizing Committee
  • [27] Tang Dynasty China exhibition to open in July
  • [28] Women deputies from 60 countries want better future for children
  • [29] Onassis Foundation to donate €1.5 million for new juvenile cancer hospital
  • [30] Cyprus asks for Rehn's intervention as regards direct trade regulation
  • [31] Zackheos draws attention to human rights violations in Cyprus by Turkey
  • [32] US: Discussions on Cyprus should be done in the Annan plan context

  • [01] Finance Minister optimistic over economic prospects

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday expressed his optimism over the country's economic prospects and stressed that the previous two years the government has introduced significant reforms in taxation, development, privatizations, cooperation between public and private sectors, combating bureaucracy, tax-evasion, promoting a digital age and reviewing a Third Community Support Framework program.

    Addressing a meeting on a National Strategic Framework Benchmark, for the period 2007-2013, the Greek inster said he expected a series of business programs, certified agencies and the operation of five wider regional programs to be agreed this summer.

    Alogoskoufis said final decisions would be taken by an inner cabinet meeting and stressed that implementing a National Strategic Framework Benchmark, along with government-promoted reforms, could transform the country. "We must avoid mistakes made in the past," he said.

    The Greek minister said the country's per capita income (measured on purchasing power units) rose to 77.1 pct last year, from 75.4 pct in 2004 and was projected to reach 80 percent in 2007. He also stressed that comparisons of Greek figures should be made with the EU-15 member states and not with the EU-25.

    [02] 4th CSF funding discussed by Karamanlis, Alogoskoufis

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis here on Wednesday for talks focusing squarely on preparations to absorb 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) funds between 2007 and 2013.

    Greece is due to receive 20.1 billion euros in CSF support over the period, with Alogoskoufis reiterating on Wednesday that the emphasis will be placed on developing human resources and new technologies.

    "We'll be ready to exploit 4th CSF funds from the very first day," he told reporters, adding that whatever mistakes and delays recorded in absorbing previous CSF funding will be corrected in cooperation with the European Union.

    Opposition rejects Gov't proposal on EU funding: The main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement on Wednesday rejected a government plan for the European Union's next Community Support Framework (CSF) package of funds for 2007 to 2013.

    "Unprecedented is the vagueness and generalized nature of strategic targets concerning the so-call national strategic support framework, in other words the 4th CSF," the party's shadow economic spokeswoman, Vasso Papandreou, said in a statement.

    "Impressive is the use of stereotyped bureaucratic language and a lack of ideas. Ministries and regions have been asked to formulate programs by the end of July on the basis of these generalizations and a document due for release at the end of June," Papandreou said.

    [03] Bakoyannis meets Sarkozy in Paris, discusses European affairs

    PARIS 6/22/2006 (ANA-MPA - C. Poulidou)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday met French Minister of State Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France's conservative UMP party and a candidate for the 2007 presidential elections. During Bakoyannis visit to the French ministry of state in Paris, Bakoyannis was also introduced to Sarkozy's second wife Cecilia, in one of the latter's rare public appearances.

    The Greek foreign minister said her talks with Sarkozy had covered all current European affairs, such as enlargement, the European Constitution and EU-Turkish relations, but had concentrated most on that of migration - a high priority issue for all European countries, particularly those in the south.

    In an interview with the French newspaper "Le Figaro" that was published on Wednesday, meanwhile, Bakoyannis noted in comments on Turkey's European accession course that the journey toward accession was equally important to accession itself, citing the Greek experience.

    "In 1977, the Commission had approached Greece's application to join negatively and four years later, with the support of Valery Giscard d'Estaing, Greece became a full EU member," Bakoyannis pointed out.

    Regarding the European Constitutional Treaty, she said that the one-year extension of the "period of reflection" decided by the European Council was adequate, in her opinion.

    "Afterwards, we must make decisions and have the political strength to go on. Europe's future, in any case, largely depends on the courage that will be displayed by politicians," she added.

    [04] FM Bakoyannis to meet new Cyprus foreign minister on Thursday

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will hold talks at noon on Thursday with her visiting Cypriot counterpart George Lillikas, a ministry press release said on Wednesday.

    This is Lillikas' first visit to Athens since he assumed office as part of a major government reshuffle under Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    The two ministers will hold a press conference after their talks, followed by a working lunch hosted by the Greek foreign minister.

    Bakoyannis will also meet on Thursday with Canada Metropolitan Sotirios as well as with the Head of the Athens Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Karen Madeleine Farkas.

    [05] Gul repeats 'four-party' meeting idea for Cyprus solution talks

    ISTANBUL 6/22/2006 (ANA-MPA / A. Kourkoulas)

    Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Wednesday reportedly expressed satisfaction with his Greek counterpart's recent comments over the long-standing Cyprus issue, claiming that Athens "has for the first time clearly stated that it is involved in the Cyprus issue".

    In statements from Baku, Azerbaijan, where he is attending the 33rd session of the council of foreign ministers of Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) member-states, Gul said "Greece has until today said it was not getting involved in the Cyprus issue despite the fact that it is a guarantor power. Now it is officially declaring its involvement ... Greece's position satisfies us."

    He added that within a framework of involvement by all parties, "Turkey, Greece and both sides on Cyprus could meet".

    In echoing a position often favored by Turkey's diplomatic establishment, namely, excluding international organizations and third parties from long-time efforts to solve the Cyprus issue, Gul referred to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statement of "all four of us meeting, having a coffee and talking."

    He also said a recently tabled "action plan" by Ankara foresees such a meeting. Gul's statements follow a series of reports, mostly in opposition papers in Turkey, highlighting Bakoyannis' interview with an Athens daily on Sunday.

    In published statements on Sunday in the "Eleftherotypia" daily, Bakoyannis cited the possibility of a plan for a "United European Cyprus" arising from the United Nations' reunification efforts, while reiterating that Athens and Nicosia were following a common strategy.

    She explained that such a plan would arise from the UN process and be based on elements of work accomplished at the Secretary General's level, the European reality that Cyprus has been "living" over the past two-and-a-half years -- Cyprus and nine other countries officially became members of the Union on May 1, 2004 -- and the political volition of the two communities on the divided island republic to reach a compromise.

    [06] Education ministry unveils draft bill for university reforms

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Wednesday unveiled her ministry's proposed draft bill for reforming Greece's tertiary education system, which included changes to university asylum rules, number of years of study, the introduction of student loans, the election of university administrations and the regulation of their finances.

    A key focus of the proposed changes appeared to be eliminating the phenomenon of so-called "eternal students" by placing a maximum limit on the number of years in which students must obtain their first degree.

    The ministry proposals were presented at the Zappion building, with deputy minister Spyros Taliadouros, general secretary Andreas Karamanos and special secretary Thanassis Kyriazis present.

    Yiannakou underlined that the changes were exclusively designed to upgrade state universities and were in no way connected to a possible change in article 16 of the Greek Constitution to allow the establishment of private, non-profit universities.

    "The good state university primarily supports the young men and women of the economically weaker classes and is a serious mechanism for redistributing income, given that those with economic power can send their children to any foreign university they want," she noted.

    She also pointed out that the proposals had been preceded by a year's public debate on their main aims, while she invited all interested parties to present their views either through Parliament's educational affairs committee, the National Council for Education, the congress of rectors, directly at the ministry or through the Internet.

    Dialogue could not last forever but all sides will be given sufficient time to express their views, the minister stressed.

    The changes proposed by the ministry include measures to boost the independence of tertiary education institutes through four-year academic programs, including measures to increase their financial independence like the abolition of spending inspections, tax incentives and relief and others.

    The bill also refers to measures for the support of students, such as studies advisors, reciprocal scholarships and student loans with no interest and the provision of free papers from bibliographies provided by the universities themselves.

    University asylum is made stronger, according to the ministry, with the rules remaining as they are today, except that the Rectors' Council will henceforth be responsible for lifting asylum only in the presence of a judicial official at all times.

    With regard to the maximum length of studies, the ministry proposes allowing students that enroll after the bill is passed to complete their first degree studies within the minimum number of terms required plus 50 percent extra, so that the average four-year degree can be completed in six years. An additional year can also be given at the discretion of the university itself.

    Students will, however, have the option of suspending their studies for an indefinite period of time and then applying to resume them at a later date.

    For students that have already begun their studies when the bill is passed, the ministry proposes that they should have an additional five years to complete their studies, in addition to the minimum years of study required for their degree.

    Another measure refers to the election of the administration in universities, technical educational institutes, their departments and schools. Here the ministry proposes the direct and universal participation of all members of the academic community, including students and staff, but without reducing the percentage of the electors.

    Government spokesman comments on educational reform bill: Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, commenting on Wednesday on the presentation of the government's educational reform bill, said that the bill on education has been completed and the government's proposals have been provided to enable a dialogue for as long as is necessary.

    Basing itself on this bill, the government will pursue the greatest possible consent by the interested parties, he added.

    Replying to questions, Roussopoulos said the government "will not take anyone by surprise with the tabling of the bill, dialogue will be exhaustive, it cannot be for only one or two months and the bill will be presented to Parliament for ratification in autumn."

    The spokesman further said that "we are expecting all to make their own proposals. There will be a special place in the education ministry's site for the proposals of interested parties to be publicized."

    [07] PM confers with justice minister

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Wednesday morning with justice minister Anastasis Papaligouras, with whom he discussed the course of catharsis in the justice system and the prospect of additional security measures in the correctional system.

    Papaligouras told reporters after the meeting that they also discussed a ministry bill that was due to be voted on later in the day in parliament, as well as major security issues in correctional facilities and measures in the event of an attack by air, following a recent jail-break by two prisoners, who were airlifted out of Korydallos prison by helicopter in an operation masterminded by one of the inmates' fugitive brother.

    Asked whether electronic surveillance chips would be placed on prisoners serving long-term sentences, the Justice Minister replied categorically "absolutely not".

    [08] Latest poll gives ND 2.5-point lead over PASOK

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) continues to lead main opposition PASOK in the latest opinion poll released this week by the Athens-based MRB firm, garnering 36.6 percent of respondents' preferences to PASOK's 34.1 percent - a lead of 2.5 percentage points.

    Regarding the question of which party will win the next general elections, ND holds a sizable 34.9-percentage point lead over PASOK.

    In terms of other parties, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is favored by 7.3 percent of respondents; 3.1 percent picked the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) and the out-of-Parliament LA.OS party garnered 3.9 percent.

    Favorable opinions of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis totaled 42.6 percent; 37.3 percent for rival PASOK leader and former foreign minister George Papandreou. Additionally, Karamanlis holds a 9.1-percentage point lead over Papandreou on the question of "who is better suited for the prime minister's post".

    In terms of gauging current political trends and based on respondents' answers, the survey gives ND the advantage over PASOK in terms of being more capable of solving problems dealing with transparency and corruption; Church-state relations; public services; terrorism; transports and traffic management; environmental pollution; health care; drugs; the tax system; issues dealing with foreign workers; the social security system; unemployment; crime and development of the provinces.

    Government, main opposition comments:

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, commenting on Wednesday on the latest opinion poll by the Athens-based MRB firm that gave the ruling New Democracy party a 2.5 percent lead over the main opposition PASOK party, said that "the government is pleased that under difficult conditions the majority of citizens understand the reforms of the government."

    The poll gives ND 36.6 percent of respondents' preferences, PASOK 34.1, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 7.3, the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) 3.1 and the out-of-Parliament Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party 3.9.

    Referring to the same poll, PASOK's National Council secretary Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou said that "the central message from this poll, as well as from all the polls that have come to light, is the profound uncertainty and insecurity felt by Greek citizens as a result of the conservative policy of the ND government, the great frustration, disappointment and contrast they feel towards the policies being implemented."

    [09] ND secretary Lefteris Zagoritis addresses event on local administration

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Ruling New Democracy party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis on Wednesday criticized the Attica supra-prefecture's administration for lack of work, while addressing an event organized by ONNED, ND's youth organization, on local administration.

    The main speakers at the event were ND's candidate for the supra-prefecture Argyris Dinopoulos and the party's candidate for the prefecture Fotini Pipili.

    Speaking about the candidates of the supra-prefecture, Zagoritis stressed that "they are persons having strength who are the most competent and who have produced work compared to others who had the opportunity and who have produced no work." He clarified that he was referring to the supra-prefecture's current administration, issued from the main opposition PASOK party.

    [10] Coalition party leader comments on municipal elections

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday referred to a "positive course" of his party, despite problems, while expressing a negative opinion on the course of the government. He also said there was no ground for political cooperation with the main opposition PASOK party but only for joint action in certain sectors.

    Speaking at a press conference, Alavanos focused his interest on student mobilization and assessed that this mobilization "creates a climate of optimism and hope for our society" adding that all the opinion polls which, as he said, registered an indifferent and non-political youth were proved wrong.

    Alavanos, who has been heading the party for a year and a half, also said that during this period he and his party have tried to rally wider radical forces, while on the issue of municipal elections he said that they must not develop into an opinion poll between parties but certain answers must be given such as for environmental problems.

    The Coalition party leader was very critical of the government, which he accused of "implementing harsh class policy in all sectors", stressing the need for a change in the correlation of forces and for the strengthening of the Coalition party.

    [11] Greek UN representative participates in UN Security Council discussion on Kosovo

    NEW YORK 6/22/2006 (ANA-MPA/P.Panayiotou)

    Greece's permanent representative at the United Nations, ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, participating in a discussion at the UN Security Council on Wednesday on the situation prevailing in Kosovo, said that "it is certain that the reconciliation process and the promotion of the new democratic and multinational Kosovo will not be able to be achieved for as long as a climate of insecurity and restriction of freedom of movement will prevail for the minorities."

    Vassilakis stressed that "the increase in cases of violence in the past month, particularly in the north, and with the victims coming mainly from the Serb minority, is a reality which must not be ignored nor should its significance be downplayed. Some of these cases may not have ethnic motives. It is, therefore, even more important that the conditions of the cases should be ascertained and necessary assurance be given to those in need of it that their concerns and fears will be taken into serious consideration and will be handled effectively."

    Lastly, he reiterated the Contact Group's guiding principles adopted by the Security Council last November: - The settlement of the status quo must be fully compatible with international criteria on human rights, democracy and international law. - The settlement of the status quo must strengthen regional security and stability. There will be no changes to the present territory of Kosovo.

    These principles constitute a right that can be pursued and an obligation that must be respected both by the Kosovo Albanians and the Serbs, he concluded.

    [12] Cyprus defense minister to meet Greek counterpart

    NICOSIA 6/22/2006 (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)

    New Cyprus Minister of Defense Phivos Klokkaris will meet his Greek counterpart Evangelos Meimarakis, next Tuesday, June 27.

    This was announced here on Wednesday by Klokkaris himself after meeting Cypriot party leaders.

    Klokkaris assumed office in June 13 as part of a major government reshuffle under President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    [13] Supreme Patriarch of Armenians visits Istanbul

    ISTANBUL 6/22/2006 (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)

    His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos and Supreme Patriarch of all Armenians, on Wednesday began an official visit to Istanbul at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul.

    Karekin II visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Wednesday morning and was received by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, before the start of talks between the two Churches.

    [14] More than 10 investors interested in Olympic Airlines, minister says

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    The government's aim is to complete procedures regarding Olympic Airlines by the end of 2006, Finance Deputy Minister Petros Doukas said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, Doukas said "it would take a few weeks to change European Commission's views".

    The EU's executive says that a debt by Olympic Airways to the Greek state was carried over to Olympic Airlines. The Greek minister said there were more than 10 offers to buy Olympic Airlines and that the names of both Greek and foreign candidate investors have been sent to the European Commission. Doukas said the buyer of the national carrier would be determined by an agreement expected to be reached between the Greek government and the European Commission.

    The deputy minister said the plan envisages the selling of Olympic Airlines and stressed: "we are referring to very delicate negotiations".

    He noted that the government has submitted to Brussels a full plan over the national carrier's debts and underlined there were alternative scenarios in case current negotiations did not reach a positive conclusion.

    [15] Tourism minister addresses official opening of BITE 2006

    BEIJING 6/22/2006 (ANA-MPA - M. Tsivgeli)

    Greece's Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Wednesday stressed that no journey to Europe was complete unless it began in Greece, during her address at the official opening of the Beijing International Tourism Exhibition (BITE) 2006 taking place in Beijing.

    The Greek minister stressed that it meant a great deal for Greece and Greek tourism that it was participating as Partner Country in BITE 2006, two years after the Athens Olympic Games and two years before the Olympics kick off in Beijing.

    She also stressed that China was now at the centre of the development of the global economy, with a bright and promising future.

    "It is certain that economic cooperation between our two countries and peoples can be even further reinforced in the coming years. Tourism is one of the most privileged fields of economic cooperation but also cultural exchange between two countries," she said.

    She urged Greeks to get to know China and said that Greece could show every Chinese person and family both the cradle and the modern face of European culture.

    [16] Bank of Cyprus to submit bid for Emporiki Bank acquisition

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    The Bank of Cyprus intends to submit a bid for 100 percent acquisition of Emporiki Bank, it was announced on Wednesday.

    Cyprus Bank CEO Andreas Eliades said that the bid would be autonomous, competitive, and comparative with that recently submitted by the French Credit Agricole bank.

    Eliades, speaking to reporters after a meeting with national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis, said the Bank of Cyprus' bid would be submitted to the Capital Market Committee as soon as possible.

    [17] Greek current accounts deficit up 57.7 pct in Jan-April, yr/yr

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's current accounts balance swung deeper into deficit in the first four months of 2006, totaling 10.1 billion euros for the an increase of 57.7 percent compared with the same period last year, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.

    The central bank, in a report, attributed this development to a widening trade deficit of the country due to international high oil prices. The trade deficit rose 31.5 percent to 11.9 billion euros in the January-April period. Fuel imports jumped 69 percent while exports -excluding fuel and vessels- rose 16.9 percent over the same period.

    The services' surplus fell by 394 million euros in the first four months of the year due to lower net revenues from transport services and to higher net payments for "other" services. Net revenues from travel services rose slightly, while the incomes' deficit rose by 546 million euros due to higher net payments for interest, dividends and profits. Net current transfers to the general government (mostly EU funds) fell by 33 million euros in the January-April period.

    The financial services balance recorded a significant increase in foreign direct investment inflows to 374 million euros. Portfolio investments recorded a net inflow of 755 million euros, while the "other" investments category recorded a net inflow of 8.228 billion euros.

    [18] Greek economic competitiveness needs further improvement, report

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's economic competitiveness index rose this year, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Wednesday.

    Presenting a report by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), Chrysostomos Stoforos, IOBE's consultant, said Greece improved its position in an international list, rising to the 42nd place from 50th in 2005.

    Greece managed to report improvements in the "domestic economy" sub-category (38th in 61 countries and regions), while the "employment" sub-category was the weakest link (55th position).

    A report by the Federation of Northern Greece Industries (SBBE), showed that despite a marked improvement, Greece still had great margins of further improvement. SBBE said Greece ranked 17th among 21 EU states in competitiveness and 10th in the Euro zone, while it also ranked 25th in the 30 member-state of the OECD.

    SBBE presented a plan aimed to boost economic competitiveness, including intensifying government efforts to attract foreign direct investments and offering more incentives to export-oriented companies.

    [19] International venture capital forum in Athens

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Center for Investment, New Economy Development Fund, Innovation Relay Centre HELP-FORWARD and Hellenic Venture Capital Association have invited entrepreneurs and researchers with ambitious and innovative business plans to participate in bilateral business meetings with Greek and international venture capital firms at a forum in Athens on June 28-29.

    Executives, researchers, and policy makers from southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean, especially Bulgaria, Cyprus, FYROM, Greece, Israel, Romania and Serbia-Montenegro, are expected to present their business ideas and discuss venture opportunities at the meetings, organizers said in a statement.

    The forum is a unique two-day event dedicated to raising financing for ambitious and dynamic entrepreneurs, business oriented researchers and new technology-based firms in Southeast Europe.

    The event also provides a forum for institutional and other investment professionals to meet with policy makers, entrepreneurs, academics and researchers for an open exchange of views and ideas. It is now the largest international private equity forum in Southeast Europe, the statement said.

    For the third year, a Best Business Plan Prize will be awarded to three business plans selected by participants.

    The event will be held under the auspices of the finance ministry.

    [20] Gov't says culture ministry-affiliated organizations to submit budgets

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis and Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Wednesday announced that all entities under the latter ministry's oversight will submit individual budgets and results from now on.

    Both men added that funding the ministry's ongoing operational needs is a priority along with a gradual pay-off of past debts and a re-examination of contracts the ministry has with various affiliated organizations and agencies.

    [21] Greek fuel-lubricants market sees higher turnover, lower profits in 2005, report

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek fuel and lubricants market's turnover rose by around 30 percent in 2005 from the previous year, although profits fell by 27 percent for the 54 companies in the domestic market, a report by Stat Bank said on Wednesday.

    The report, based on balance sheets published by June 13, 2006, excluded Shell -a company with increase profitability due to the transfer of brand use rights. Stat Bank said the sector had also reported a 16 percent drop in 2004 profits and attributed this steady decline to the fact that fuel companies paid higher prices to refineries suffering lower profit margins due to a fierce price war in the country. Out of the total 54 companies in the market, 23 suffered a decline in profits and another 13 suffered losses.

    Last year's sales totaled 7.86 billion euros, up 30 percent from 2004. Including Shell and Aretakis, sales totaled 9.3 billion euros in 2005. Profits fell 27.2 percent to 95.2 million euros. Including Shell and Aretakis, profits totaled 189.7 million euros.

    The fuel-lubricants sector, along with the supermarket-department stores, cars, pharmaceutical-cosmetics, office machines, electrical appliances, mobile telephony equipment, food-beverage and clothing-footwear sectors, accounted for the vast majority of turnover in Greek commerce. The fuel, supermarket and car sales sectors, however, accounted for 65 percent of the domestic commerce with a turnover of 21 billion euros.

    [22] Air traffic controllers suspend strike

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Air traffic controllers have suspended a work stoppage scheduled for Thursday at 12:00-16:00 hours, allaying fears that flights from airports around the country would be grounded.

    At the same time, the Federation of Civil Aviation Unions will stage a work stoppage from 12:00 to 15:00 hours, disrupting Olympic Airlines flights.

    The controllers had originally said that they would join a 24-hour strike called by the ADEDY civil servants union on Thursday in which other civil aviation workers will take part.

    [23] Measures to support Greek milk

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    The government is to take measures in support of domestically produced milk.

    Following a meeting with sector representatives on Wednesday, Deputy Agriculture Minister Alexandros Kontos will urge milk industries to fully absorb domestic output of cow's milk and halt producer price reduction seen from the start of the year.

    In addition, steps will be taken to help cattle breeders lower their milk production costs in conjunction with sector industries.

    [24] Ecolife 2006 ecological products exhibition

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    The Ecolife 2006 ecological products exhibition will be taking place June 23 to 26 at the Agora Calatrava at the Athens Olympic Stadium complex in the Athens district of Maroussi. It is the first such exhibition to take place in Greece that is harmonized with the Kyoto Protocol and the European Commission's corresponding campaign.

    The cost of pollution to be created by the exhibition's operation will be offset by the payment of a corresponding price (in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol) for the construction of projects that are friendly for the climate in some part of the planet, such as for support for a coal restoration program as a means of household fuel in parts of Eritrea in Africa.

    [25] Bulgarian court rules in favor of PPC buyout

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    The Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria on Wednesday rejected an appeal by the Privatization Agency of Bulgaria against the acquisition of Bobov Dol thermal station in southwest Bulgaria by Athens-quoted PPC S.A.

    Following the decision in favor of PPC, which is final, the company expects to be invited for negotiations as part of the privatization process, management said in a statement.

    Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop with banks under pressure

    The Athens share index closed at 3,543.50 points, showing a decline of 1.36%. Turnover was 367.6 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.73% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 2.25% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.69% down. Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 161 to 83 with 56 remaining unchanged.

    Foreign Exchange Rates:

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

    U.S. dollar 1.273

    [26] Culture minister convenes 'Greek Culture Year in China 2008' Organizing Committee

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Wednesday convened the first meeting of the Organizing Committee for the "Cultural Year of Greece in China 2008."

    Its aim is to achieve the multifaceted promotion of Greece in such sectors as foreign relations, trade and tourism, given that the cultural year coincides in time with the Beijing Olympic Games.

    Greece has undertaken the event thanks to bilateral cooperation with Chinese agencies for providing know-how for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. The relevant memorandum was signed during the official visit made to China by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis last January.

    The culture minister presented the diagram for the "Cultural Year of Greece in China" and stressed that the aim of the Greek side "is the presentation of a sustained and unified image of our country to achieve the greatest possible benefit from cooperation with China."

    The contribution of all relevant ministries is considered as being of great importance since every ministry will be called on to contribute to the implementation of the "Cultural Year" and can propose the holding of events pertaining to its duties.

    Voulgarakis called on ministry representatives attending to present the proposals of their ministries on holding events in the framework of the "Cultural Year" within a period of 15 days.

    Individual proposals made by various ministries will shape the general framework of the "Cultural Year" that will be submitted for approval by the Inner Cabinet.

    [27] Tang Dynasty China exhibition to open in July

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    An exhibition titled "Tang Dynasty China" opens at the Byzantine and Christian Museum on July 10, organized in cooperation with the culture ministry's directorate for museums, exhibitions and educational programs.

    The exhibition, which was recently on display at the Naples Museum of Archaeology, will run through August 31.

    The Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) was one of the golden eras in the history of China, as the Chinese Empire, under the Tang Dynasty, witnessed an unprecedented economic and cultural boom and expansion, doubling in size, while its political influence was consolidated in the wider Asian continent.

    Life in the empirical court, the Tang Dynasty's relations with neighboring countries, the burial customs of the emperors, life after death and the Buddhist religion, are revealed to the visitor through the 120 exhibits that will be on display.

    Visitors will also have the ability to compare the parallel course of two civilizations, as corresponding exhibits from Byzantine civilization during the same period, will also be on display on a different floor.

    [28] Women deputies from 60 countries want better future for children

    SOFIA 6/22/2006 (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)

    The president of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights, Maria Kollia-Tsaroucha, speaking to the ANA-MPA on the results of the conference of women deputies from 60 countries, held here on Tuesday and Wednesday, said that "our anxiety is for the children of the 21st century, not only in unified Europe, not only in Greece, but all over the world to have better handling."

    The high mortality rate due to starvation and bad living conditions, the scourge of AIDS that is 'wiping out' the children of Africa -and not only-, the hideous exploitation of minors in many countries of the so-called 'third world', where terrorizing conditions of confusion and bondage prevail were the problems at the focus of attention of the women's forum, according to the Greek politician.

    "Despite the fact that the situation in Greece is incomparably better, there is a great deal that can and must be done to improve it, mainly concerning the family and education," said Trikala deputy Soula Merentiti, who represented the Greek Parliament at the Sofia forum.

    [29] Onassis Foundation to donate €1.5 million for new juvenile cancer hospital

    ATHENS 6/22/2006 (ANA)

    The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation on Wednesday announced that it will donate €1.5 million towards the construction of a new juvenile cancer treatment centre being promoted by the Athens-based "Elpida" charity.

    The announcement came during a press conference in Athens by the president of the Onassis Foundation, Antonis Papadimitriou and Elpida president Marianna Vardinoyannis.

    [30] Cyprus asks for Rehn's intervention as regards direct trade regulation

    LARNACA 6/22/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Republic of Cyprus has asked for EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn's intervention as regards the issue of the direct trade regulation, Foreign Minister George Lillikas said Tuesday night, in statements upon his return from Brussels, where he held a series of meetings with EU officials.

    Lillikas, who held a meeting in Brussels with Rehn, said that Enlargement Commissioner assured him that the next EU Presidency (Finland) "has already started some thinking and preliminary consultations'' towards this goal.

    He reminded that the direct trade regulation (trade between Turkish Cypriots and EU countries) provides for the opening of the Turkish occupied port of Famagusta under the joint administration of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and under the EU control, as well as the return of the town of Famagusta to its legal inhabitants and a series of other things ''which we seek to implement.''

    During the meeting with Rehn, he said they also discussed ways of implementing the financial aid regulation for the Turkish Cypriots, adding that they discussed in detail the Commission's work and how the projects to be funded will be chosen, based on EU decisions, in order to serve the economic development of the Turkish Cypriots, as well as to enhance cooperation between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in collaboration with the EU.

    "These steps should lead to the economic integration of Cyprus so as to serve our main goal which is the reunification of Cyprus in the framework of a future solution", he noted.

    Regarding Turkey's EU accession course, Lillikas said that the commissioner expressed the view that "Turkey's negative stance creates a serious problem and it seems that the Commission's report -to be issued in October- will be especially aggressive towards Turkey".

    The Cypriot foreign minister informed Rehn that the Republic of Cyprus aims to use the period until October to persuade Turkey to respond positively and meet its obligations towards the EU and the Republic of Cyprus, so as to prevent a crisis in October.

    He added "it is obvious that if Turkey sticks to its current position then for sure there will be some sort of a crisis in the EU-Turkey relations".

    Referring to his meeting with EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, Lillikas said that they discussed ''Turkey's policy of constantly blocking Cyprus participation to various EU actions.''

    Lillikas informed Solana about the Cypriot government's position that all 25 EU member states should participate at the above actions and programs.

    "Solana agrees with this position", he concluded.

    [31] Zackheos draws attention to human rights violations in Cyprus by Turkey

    NICOSIA 6/22/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    On World Refugee Day, the attention of the people of Cyprus continues to be focused on the occupation of 37% of the island's territory and the consequent continuing human rights violations by Turkey, Permanent Secretary of the Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sotos Zackheos said in a speech at the first Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council that took place Tuesday in Geneva.

    "It is most disturbing that international conventions and principles of international law are not always upheld by the UN Organization itself, when formulating proposals and plans for the resolution of regional conflicts. This was the case of the UN plan (Annan plan) that was prepared two years ago, under pressures and political expediencies, and therefore, not surprisingly, rejected overwhelmingly by 76% of the Greek Cypriots, in view of its serious imbalances and deficiencies vis-à-vis international law", Zackheos noted.

    He described it as "particularly disturbing" when an occupying power "not only denies the refugee the right to return, but exploits the property offering it for sale to foreigners, aiming ultimately to the consolidation of the process of ethnic cleansing, the permanent deprivation of the human rights of the owner and the impediment of the settlement of the conflict, in accordance with the principles of international law".

    "Related to this issue is the implantation of settlers in occupied territories by the occupying power. The transfer by an occupying power of its population to the area it occupies is considered a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, as well as a war crime as stipulated also in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court", he added.

    Zackheos also referred in his speech to the drama of the fate of the missing persons as a tragic result of foreign aggression and military occupation.

    "The international community should be adamant in demanding that occupiers co-operate in ending the agony of the missing persons' families, including by opening the archives of their army and prisons. In that respect, the Republic of Cyprus welcomes the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the establishment of the 'Right to the Truth' and supports the early adoption of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances", he said.

    The permanent secretary made a reference to the systematic deliberate destruction of Cyprus' cultural and religious heritage by Turkey.

    "In Cyprus, there are more than 520 religious sites under occupation, which have either been desecrated or severely looted and the ecclesiastical artifacts illegally sold abroad", he said.

    Zackheos also informed the delegates at the UN Session that Cyprus, together with Malaysia, is hosting the second Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Interfaith Dialogue, due to take place in Larnaca, 3 - 5 July 2006.

    On the sidelines of the Session, Zackheos held a meeting with General Secretary of the Council of Europe (CoE) Terry Davis, with whom he discussed the latest developments of the Cyprus problem, as well as other issues concerning CoE.

    [32] US: Discussions on Cyprus should be done in the Annan plan context

    NEW YORK 6/22/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Ideas and discussions with regard to a resolution of the Cyprus issue should be done in the context of the Annan plan and through the good offices of the United Nations Secretary General and his staff, US State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli has said.

    "Our view is that ideas and discussions with regard to a resolution of the Cyprus issue should be done in a context of the Annan plan and through the good offices of the Secretary General and his staff, who I think have been tireless, or relentless, in their efforts to resolve this difficult issue. And we continue to support that process", Ereli noted.

    Asked whether any variations in the Annan plan have to be worked out with the UN, Ereli said ''in the context of the Annan plan and through the process set out in the Annan plan it's up to the parties to the dispute to come up with revisions to the Annan plan that would be acceptable to both sides in the referendum".

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