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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-06-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

June 23, 2006


  • [01] PM sharply attacks PASOK, Papandreou; 'Citizens considered PASOK part of the establishment'
  • [02] Papandreou slams gov't for reviving partisan 'shadow state'
  • [03] KKE leader comments on education reforms in Parliament
  • [04] SYN leader emphasizes education during Parliament debate
  • [05] Students hold rally in Athens for public and free education
  • [06] Foreign minister meets newly appointed Cypriot counterpart
  • [07] Development minister meets with new Cyprus FM
  • [08] Foreign ministry spokesman on Cyprus issue
  • [09] Foreign ministry clarification on Bakoyannis interview with Le Figaro
  • [10] FM Dora Bakoyannis to meet German counterpart on Friday evening
  • [11] FM meets Canada metropolitan, UN official
  • [12] Statements confirm reforms anxiety in Turkey
  • [13] PASOK party leader meets former Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega
  • [14] President Papoulias attends event in memory of late Andreas Papandreou
  • [15] Athens mayoral candidate Costas Skandalidis meets FM Dora Bakoyannis, former PM Costas Simitis
  • [16] New SAE draft bill to Parliament
  • [17] Protest demonstrations in Halki against the Armenian Patriarch
  • [18] DM attends luncheon given by Austrian ambassador to Greece
  • [19] Bulgarian naval exercise to be held in Black Sea
  • [20] Bank of Cyprus submits bid for 100pct acquisition of Emporiki
  • [21] ATEbank to buy Romania's MindBank
  • [22] Greek energy sector to change drastically by 2010
  • [23] Greek pavilion opens at Beijing tourism fair
  • [24] Record year for Greek metal industry, report
  • [25] Egnatia Bank announces 93.8 mln euro share capital increase plan
  • [26] Hellenic Telecoms received 10 bids in the sale of 90 percent in Armen Tel
  • [27] EU regions' meeting in Alexandroupolis
  • [28] Evros-Maritsa proposal approved
  • [29] 1st Greek-Turkish Forum of Young Businessmen in Thessalonica
  • [30] Black Sea Bank expands financing to Moldova
  • [31] Prosecutor says evidence clearly points to suicide in Vodafone executive's death
  • [32] Cavafy's poems recited at Berlin's Martin Gropius-Bau
  • [33] SAE-Europe Youth Coordinating Committee meeting
  • [34] International New Participants Conference begins in Ancient Olympia
  • [35] European Parliament Education and Culture Committee president visiting Cyprus

  • [01] PM sharply attacks PASOK, Papandreou; 'Citizens considered PASOK part of the establishment'

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday launched into an acerbic attack on the rival main opposition PASOK party, highlighting what he called the colossal mistakes and oversights of successive PASOK governments between 1996 and 2004, mismanagement he charged left a negative inheritance for his government, which is now called upon to solve decades-old problems.

    "But the river will not turn back," Karamanlis said from Parliament's podium during an off-the-agenda debate on the state's operation and state institutions, where he also vilified what he called a "sterile reaction, polarization and political party expediencies".

    In pinpointing what he listed as the weaknesses in the country's democratic fabric, Karamanlis referred to growing collusion and corruption over the past decade under PASOK governments; an attempt to manipulate the political system by "vested interests"; the unregulated growth of private television; the massive increase in the public sector's size, and above all, "the adoption of regime-like attitudes".

    In citing two examples of this condition under his predecessors, Karamanlis referred to illegal naturalizations that took place over the past few years and the 1999-2000 Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) "bubble." We've proved in practice that we operate as a government of all Greeks ... The doors to my office are always open to political leaders and it is my intention to hold more regular and more substantive talks," the premier said in listing-off the resumption of the political party leaders' council meetings, more debates in Parliament and better briefing for the opposition.

    Moreover, he dismissed a comment in PASOK leader George Papandreou's letter calling for the specific debate, namely, referring to the state's operation, and asking: "Now? They just lost the elections; it's been two years since they lost the elections and found themselves (PASOK) in the opposition and this problem with the state's operation arose since then? ... Why is there such recklessness as to the essence of the problem and regarding the period when it mushroomed, why is there such a pretension of ignorance, amnesia and such outrageous self-denial," the prime minister rhetorically asked.

    "We never denied that there are problems, but we're also not fans of a virtual reality," Karamanlis said, before reiterating that Greece's bloated public sector is the country's "great sick man".

    In again hammering home what he called PASOK's heightened responsibilities for the 1996-2004 period, Karamanlis referred to "wholesale hiring" by state entities, especially with contract or temporary terms -- 85 percent of the total hiring -- "thereby burdening public services, utilities with redundant personnel ... Bureaucracy hampered our citizens, undermined (the country's) development prospects and fed corruption, without even the most rudimentary measures being taken ... roughly 100 tax hikes were recorded over the last few years PASOK governments were in power, and the public debt in PASOK eight years doubled," the prime minister emphasized.

    "Citizens considered that PASOK had become part of the establishment ... no one (in the public sector) had an incentive to work. Quite simply, all they had to do was to be on good terms with the political leadership in order to receive promotions and supervisors' positions," he said in painting a bleak picture of the public sector in previous years.

    "Did you or did you not say these same things?" he said in reference to Papandreou. "And now, two years later, you speak of a client-state? You all (PASOK), who prided yourselves in demolishing everything in order to strike at those who did not declare themselves PASOK? You all, who declared that you dolled out crucial positions in the public sector to friends and acquaintances? How is it possible to condemn these things before the election and to defend them afterwards? Why are you today identifying with the conservatism of the past? What have you done so that changes, which you yourself (Papandreou) considered necessary, proceed? Why are you fighting against them today? What do you propose for tomorrow?" the prime minister said in reeling off a series of rhetorical questions to the PASOK leader and the opposition.

    Furthermore, he stressed that two government priorities, namely, constitutional reform to better monitor political parties' finances and transparency along with increasing the judiciary's independence, as well as reforms in the education sector will proceed.

    Reply to main opposition criticism: Replying to accusations of partisanship and setting up a 'shadow state' leveled against the government by Papandreou, Karamanlis stressed in his rejoinder that more than 80 percent of public-sector recruitments approved by the government in the past two years concerned the renewal of contracts originally made under PASOK.

    He also rejected the main opposition leader's claims of a cover-up in the Pakistani abductions affair, saying that cover-ups were a hallmark of previous PASOK governments and stressed that ND had agreed to six off-the-agenda debates in Parliament during its two years in power, compared with just two over four years by the previous government.

    Regarding his party's refusal of a Parliamentary investigation into the Pakistani abductions, Karamanlis pointed out that PASOK had rejected 13 out of 14 proposals for Parliamentary investigations when it was last in power, accepting only one made by PASOK MPs.

    He also accused the main opposition party of "misusing" his attendance of an event to mark the 10th anniversary since the death of PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou for petty party-political ends.

    Replying to Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos, meanwhile, the prime minister stressed that ND's proposals for revising the Constitution required broad-based consensus by the parties and the holding of elections.

    [02] Papandreou slams gov't for reviving partisan 'shadow state'

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    In a stinging attack on the government during Thursday's off-the-agenda debate on the state and its institutions in Parliament, the president of the main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) George Papandreou said ruling New Democracy's two years in power had revived a behind-the-scenes partisan 'shadow state' that was promoting the party's interests the public sector.

    He said this went as far as the creation of the illegal mechanisms behind the phone-tapping and Pakistani abductions scandals and was responsible for social impasses and the systematic violation of the Constitution and laws.

    "At the next elections, the key choice will be which party can ensure a state of law and that the Constitution is enforced. The people know that the party that can do this is PASOK," Papandreou stressed.

    He also highlighted that the ruling majority had rejected calls for a parliamentary investigation of the Pakistani abductions, when as the opposition it had demanded such inquiries into the stock market crash, the sinking of the 'Samina' and a road accident at Tempi, and he accused Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis of covering up for a minister and organs of state authority that had broken the law.

    Among a catalogue of essentially partisan decisions, PASOK's leader listed the removal of a capable army officer frowned on by the party, influence-peddling and "management through putting out fires" at state-sector companies through the introduction of interviews that allow recruitment along party-political criteria, and others.

    He particularly stressed the hiring of hundreds of thousands of contract workers and public-sector staff, which he said was done essentially without criteria and without involving the public-sector recruitments body, the Supreme Council for Personnel Recruitment (ASEP).

    Papandreou also referred to the dramatic prison escape by the Paleokostas brothers and other incidents in Korydallos prison, saying they revealed the "complete demolition" of the country's correctional system, while accusing the government of violating seniority lists to promote the judges it preferred and of blatant interference with justice in specific cases.

    Referring to the government's proposed reforms to education, meanwhile, he accused ND of undermining studies to promote influence-peddling and of dashing the hopes of thousands of young people to attend university.

    Reply to Karamanlis: Replying to Karamanlis in his rejoinder, Papandreou challenged the Prime Minister to tell Parliament exactly how many recruitments approved by the government were involved in the renewal of "real contracts" and insisted that the government was "demolishing the rule of law to build a state of the Right".

    He leveled more accusations against the government for failing to implement the Reppas laws for social insurance and causing its degradation, a shrinking public investments program and no transparency in defense procurements, while noting that Karamanlis had only appeared in Parliament once to answer the 70 questions put to him during Prime Minister's Question Time.

    PASOK's leader also demanded "clear answers" concerning the purchase of Turkey's Finansbank by the National Bank of Greece, claiming that NBG governor Tassos Arapoglou had said one thing in Parliament and another to shareholders.

    Wrapping up, Papandreou said the country was being ruled by "a government of irresponsible ministers to whom the meaning of political responsibility is unknown" and stressed that the country "is not harmed by the truth but by its concealment".

    [03] KKE leader comments on education reforms in Parliament

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga, speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on the state and its institutions, said on Thursday that the dialogue on education is being used to cover up the existing democratic deficit, stressing that for this reason her party chose to abstain.

    Commenting on the proposed reforms unveiled by the education ministry on Wednesday, Papariga stated - referring to the EU funds that reach universities - that consciences are corrupted because there is control only over management and not over the necessity of expenditures.

    Papariga also accused the two main political parties, New Democracy and PASOK, of following the same anti-popular and repressive policy.

    [04] SYN leader emphasizes education during Parliament debate

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Addressing Parliament during Thursday's off-the-agenda debate on the operation of the state and its institutions, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader Alekos Alavanos emphasized the current protests by students against proposed university reforms, saying they were a "beacon of hope" of the future.

    According to Alavanos, the student movement had achieved a great victory because it had prevented the draft bill on education from being rushed through Parliament using emergency procedures, as the government would have liked.

    He sharply criticized government tactics on education, urging the abolition of a minimum pass mark of 50% for entering university and invited the other opposition parties to join with SYN in attempts to prevent private economic interests from infiltrating universities and changes to article 16 of the Constitution to allow private universities to be established in Greece.

    [05] Students hold rally in Athens for public and free education

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Students held a rally in downtown Athens at noon on Thursday, with the participation of trade union and social agencies, that organizers described as "impressive in size and determination to continue the struggle for public and free education."

    The students demonstrated their demands, while at the same time rejecting arrangements being promoted by Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou.

    The presence of strong police forces in streets close to Stadiou and Panepistimiou avenues, as well as the stringent guarding of the education ministry and the House of Parliament safeguarded calm in the capital.

    The rally began outside the Athens University campus at about 2 p.m. with small-scale incidents between police and students which did not spread thanks to intervention by unionists. Police also prevented a group of about 100 youths clad in black from infiltrating the rally.

    Banners carried by demonstrators read "Dialogue takes place in the street, we shall not back down unless our demands are vindicated: Unified degrees, consolidated rights, public and free education and humane study paces."

    Earlier, agency representatives said in their speeches that "the government's decision to postpone the ratification of the draft law was a victory for the student movement."

    University professors, on their part, express disagreement with the amendment of the Article 16 of the Constitution, calling for support and improvement for education, self-governed universities, better education conditions and no seasonal professors.

    [06] Foreign minister meets newly appointed Cypriot counterpart

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday met her newly-appointed Cypriot counterpart George Lillikas, who is carrying out a visit to Athens.

    In statements after their meeting and a working dinner, the two foreign ministers underlined the close and seamless cooperation between Greece and Cyprus and the complete coordination of their governments' efforts for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, which Bakoyannis described as "the primary and major goal".

    The Greek foreign minister reiterated that the Cyprus issue was a top priority for Greece, noting that Athens and Nicosia were working together to bring about the adoption of a solution based on the resolutions and decisions of the United Nations, on the overall effort made by UN secretary-generals and on the new European rules and regulations, given that Cyprus had now been a full member of the European Union for two and a half years.

    The two ministers also reviewed all issues and exchanged views regarding the recent EU summit and the best way to prepare for coming developments.

    "We had very good cooperation with George Iacovou (Lillikas' predecessor), which will continue and become even closer with Mr. Lillikas, with whom we go way back," Bakoyannis said.

    On his part, Lillikas said that his talks with Bakoyannis had been very productive and that the visit would help him better prepare a visit to Athens by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos in early July.

    Asked about Turkey's fulfillment of a pledge to open its ports and airports to Cypriot traffic, as per its commitment in the Ankara Agreement, the two ministers noted that the EU summit conclusions had called on Turkey to comply within the year 2006. Lillikas stressed that the time up until the European Commission's report assessing Turkey's progress in October had to be used to persuade Turkey to meet its obligations and allow a solution.

    The Cypriot minister also pointed out that Cyprus had at no time publicly stated that it would use its veto but had asked for specific proposals to be included in the text for opening the first chapter of accession negotiations with Turkey.

    "If we had not achieved our goals, the chapters would not have opened," he underlined.

    In response to other questions, meanwhile, Bakoyannis stressed that both Athens and Nicosia attached huge importance to having absolutely identical strategic goals and complete knowledge and briefing of various measures during the exercise of tactics.

    "There is no difference in the strategic goals of Greece and Cyprus, nor could there be. We are working in the same direction," she emphasized, echoed by Lillikas.

    President Papoulias receives visiting Cyprus foreign minister: President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday received visiting Cyprus Foreign Minister George Lillikas at the presidential mansion.

    Papoulias expressed his pleasure at meeting the minister and conveyed his best wishes, while Lillikas relayed the warm regards of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    PASOK party leader holds talks with newly-appointed Cyprus FM: Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou held talks on Thursday with newly-appointed Cyprus Foreign Minister George Lillikas.

    "We have stated that the course of Turkey towards the European Union is in our national interest, but what is a precondition is for Turkey to respond to its own obligations which the EU itself has set for each of its candidates and, among them are good neighborliness, respect for international law and as regards Cyprus, the will for a solution to the question of Cyprus, in accordance with international law and the resolutions of the UN," Papandreou said after the meeting.

    The Cypriot foreign minister said on his part "our intention and our effort is indeed, on the one hand, to support the course of Turkey towards the EU and on the other, however, Turkey must respond positively and must implement in practice the commitments it has voluntarily assumed towards the EU and, consequently, towards the Republic of Cyprus and if and provided it responds positively our support will continue. If it has and maintains the negative stance it is presenting today then our support for this course must in no way be considered a foregone conclusion. A solution to the issue of Cyprus and the reunification of Cyprus and not partitioning remains the target."

    Lillikas expressed his gratitude for the solidarity the people of Cyprus have for their struggle for the reunification of Cyprus from the entire Greek people and the political forces of Greece and stressed that Papandreou, being the president of the Socialist International, can help ongoing efforts, at this stage in particular, through the Socialist International's podium and the possibilities that it provides for him, since there are quite a few socialist governments in the EU.

    [07] Development minister meets with new Cyprus FM

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Development minister Dimitris Sioufas met Thursday with Cyprus' new foreign minister George Lillikas, who is currently in Athens.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Sioufas reaffirmed that the Greek government and people will be at his side and at the side of the Cypriot people "in the struggle for a functional and viable solution of the Cyprus issue, in accordance with the principles of the European Union".

    Lillikas said that beyond their political and governmental cooperation, he and Sioufas shared a strong friendship "which we have placed in the service of the interests of Greece and Cyprus".

    He said that "without the substantive assistance, particularly in EU matters, of the Development Ministry, and thanks to the personal interventions of our friend Dimitris (Sioufas), Cyprus could not have easily adapted to the new environment and achieve the desired results".

    [08] Foreign ministry spokesman on Cyprus issue

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek position is "unwaveringly negative" to any proposal for a quadric-partite conference on the Cyprus issue, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Thursday, commenting on statements attributed to Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul.

    Koumoutsakos, replying to questions during a regular press briefing, said that references to the Turkish Cypriot community had also been made in the past at the Islamic Conference, and noted that the policy of recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by all the member countries that respected the United Nations resolutions was "clear-cut".

    Questioned on the prospect of a new plan for a Cyprus resolution being submitted, as intimated at in a Sunday newspaper, the spokesman said that a careful reading of foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis' interview with the newspaper attributed the Greek positions in full and did not allow for misinterpretations.

    He reiterated that the Annan Plan had not provided a way out and solution for the Cyprus problem, adding that any effort to reactivate a plan, in the framework of the UN, must be very well prepared in advance.

    The framework for achieving this, the spokesman added, must take into consideration elements contained in all previous United Nations efforts to solve the problem and the political and institutional reality existing in Cyprus following the country's full membership in the EU. It must also take into consideration the need for the agreement and acceptance of that plan by both communities on the island.

    Koumoutsakos further reiterated that no new Cyprus plan had been announced, and anything beyond the above was a misinterpretation.

    [09] Foreign ministry clarification on Bakoyannis interview with Le Figaro

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    The foreign ministry on Thursday described as an "arbitrary summary" an article in the French newspaper Le Figaro on a written interview to the newspaper by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    "The text appearing as the minister's interview is an arbitrary, summarily rendering and has no relationship whatsoever with the interview given in writing," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said in reply to questions during a regular press briefing.

    He said that Bakoyannis, on the issue of recourse to the European Court of Justice at The Hague, had stressed that Greece, contrary to Turkey, recognizes the authority of the Hague court.

    "What remains is for Turkey to agree as well, and from there on for the content of the compromissum that is required to be signed to be agreed. For Greece, only one political issue can be referred to the International Court at The Hague, the issue of the (delimitation of the Aegean) continental shelf,' was the written reply that Bakoyannis had given, and had added that 'we are still far from reaching a compromissum'," Koumoutsakos explained.

    [10] FM Dora Bakoyannis to meet German counterpart on Friday evening

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be meeting her German counterpart Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the foreign ministry on Friday, June 23 at 20.00 hours, according to a press release issued by the foreign ministry on Thursday.

    The meeting will be followed by statements to the press and afterwards Bakoyannis will be hosting a working dinner in honor of Dr. Steinmeier.

    [11] FM meets Canada metropolitan, UN official

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday had successive meetings with Canada Metropolitan Sotirios and the head of the Greek office of the UN High Commission for Refugees Karen M. Farkas. No statements were made after the two meetings.

    [12] Statements confirm reforms anxiety in Turkey

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    The recent statements by Turkish politicians confirm that there is anxiety over responding to the need for reforms in the neighboring country, foreign minister spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Thursday, adding that this was also the assessment of other Europeans.

    Replying to questions during a regular press briefing, Koumoutsakos noted that there had been an increase in relevant references by officials of the Turkish government, and reiterated that a "reform fatigue" has been ascertained in Turkey.

    [13] PASOK party leader meets former Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party and Socialist International leader George Papandreou met on Thursday afternoon at the Zappion Mansion in Athens with former Nicaraguan president and candidate in the forthcoming presidential elections in the country Daniel Ortega.

    Ortega was given a guided tour of the Mansion that houses an exhibition on the political career of PASOK's founder Andreas Papandreou, who passed away 10 years ago.

    Papandreou referred in a statement to his longstanding personal and political ties with Daniel Ortega. "We are currently in the big family of the Socialist International and Daniel Ortega remains a dynamic fighter in Nicaragua and Latin America," he said. "We are watching with particular interest all the developments in Latin America, which are very interesting for the international progressive movement and we wish Daniel Ortega every success," Papandreou added.

    Ortega said on his part that he feels greatly honored to be in Greece once again and to be meeting with "the brother, fellow fighter and comrade George Papandreou 10 years after the 'master' Andreas Papandreou passed away."

    Ortega also said that he had the opportunity of sharing with Andreas Papandreou crossroads in the history of Nicaragua and pointed out that they were preoccupied with solidarity and peace and "today we are seeing the Greek people showing the same solidarity and struggling for peace."

    The former Nicaraguan president said that it was a great honor that Papandreou is the president of the Socialist International, particularly now that winds of change are blowing in Latin America and the Caribbean and stressed that solidarity among peoples is very important in the struggle for peace, democracy and justice.

    [14] President Papoulias attends event in memory of late Andreas Papandreou

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias attended on Thursday evening an event in memory of the founder of main opposition PASOK party and former Prime Minister Andrea Papandreou.

    The event, held at the Athens University's central hall, focused on the theme "The economist Andreas Papandreou". Speakers included professor Adamantios Pepelasis and American professor James Galbraith, son of renowned economist John K. Galbraith, who referred to the economic teachings of the late prime minister during his career as professor in the U.S.

    Also present at the event were Deputy Education Minister Spyros Taliadouros and former Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega.

    [15] Athens mayoral candidate Costas Skandalidis meets FM Dora Bakoyannis, former PM Costas Simitis

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Athens mayoral candidate, supported by the main opposition PASOK party, Costas Skandalidis met on Thursday afternoon with Foreign Minister and former Athens mayor Dora Bakoyannis in the framework of his contacts with former Athens mayors.

    Earlier, Skandalidis held a 90-minute meeting with former Prime Minister Costas Simitis, focusing on the problems facing Athens.

    [16] New SAE draft bill to Parliament

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    The new draft law on the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, SAE, was tabled in Parliament on Thursday by Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, having as its main goal to upgrade the organization and make its operation more effective in order to meet its constitutional mandate.

    Kassimis stated that the draft law was prepared based on the experience gained during the 10 years of the SAE operation, the exchange of views between the foreign ministry leadership, the SAE bodies and representatives of the Greek Diaspora and the cooperation of the country’s political forces.

    Kassimis stated that the draft law safeguards SAE’s institutional role by clearly defining the legal framework, the limits and the way its authority will be exercised, while SAE’s organizational structure and the operation of its bodies are clearly stated.

    The SAE draft law provides, among others, that the SAE bodies will have 4-year tenure and no one will be elected to the same post for more than two terms. The basic principle of representation is being consolidated increasing the number of Regions and relevant Coordinating Councils from 4 to 7.

    Also, the SAE Presidium, the Coordinating Councils and distinguished Greek expatriates will meet in Greece 10 months after the SAE Regular Assembly to define the organization’s goals and priorities.

    Regional Assemblies, for the current period, will meet in September 2006, while the next SAE Regular Assembly will take place in early December 2006. In addition, the SAE Presidium will have to submit the SAE budget proposal each year in November.

    [17] Protest demonstrations in Halki against the Armenian Patriarch

    ISTANBUL 6/23/2006 (ANA-MPA/A.Kourkoulas)

    The protest demonstrations held upon the arrival of Catholicos and Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians Karekin II in Istanbul, Turkey on June 20 were repeated in Halki at the Prince’s Islands, off the coasts of Istanbul, where he visited the closed Halki Seminary on Thursday as the guest of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

    The Ecumenical Patriarch is the host of Patriarch Karekin II and Constantinople Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church Archbishop Mesrop who are also scheduled to visit the Armenian summer camps at the Prince’s Islands on board the patriarchal yacht “Halki”.

    Increased security measures went into effect around the yacht which was escorted by two Turkish Coastguard speedboats after information that nationalists had gathered to protest against the visit.

    Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II is on a formal pastoral visit to Istanbul at the joint invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Constantinople Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church Archbishop Mesrop.

    [18] DM attends luncheon given by Austrian ambassador to Greece

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis attended a luncheon given in his honor on Thursday by Austrian Ambassador to Greece Herbert Croll in a downtown Athens hotel in the framework of the European Union's Austrian presidency, according to a press release issued by the defense ministry.

    The luncheon was attended by the ambassadors of EU member-states, Turkey, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria and the Head of the Liaison Office in Athens of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    Speaking to the foreign diplomats, the minister referred to the reorganizing of the armed forces and to the EU's effort to develop its possibilities in the defense and security sector. He added that Greece has assumed an active role in all international efforts to promote peace, participating in multinational operation missions in support of peace, the handling of crises and in observer missions.

    [19] Bulgarian naval exercise to be held in Black Sea

    SOFIA 6/23/2006 (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)

    Twenty-five ships and aircraft, frogmen and other forces of the Bulgarian navy will be participating in the annual exercise codenamed "Breeze 2006", that will be taking place in the western part of the Black Sea between June 28 and July 9.

    Four vessels and a submarine from Greece, France, the United States and Turkey will be participating in the exercise, as well as NATO's permanent group of destroyers which includes six warships from Greece, Spain, Italy, France, the United States and Turkey.

    The scenario of the exercise anticipates aid and the rescuing of the population in the event of a natural disaster and a big industrial catastrophe.

    [20] Bank of Cyprus submits bid for 100pct acquisition of Emporiki

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    The Bank of Cyprus on Thursday formally submitted a bid for a 100 percent acquisition of Athens-listed Emporiki Bank. A bid for a 100 percent acquisition has also been submitted recently by France's Credit Agricole.

    The public offer, which will not require a capital increase, offers 6 euros in cash and 3.25 shares in Bank of Cyprus stock per each Emporiki Bank share, with 40 percent set as the minimum percentage for validity of the public offer.

    Regarding the part of the transaction to be effected through new shares in the bank, an extraordinary meeting of the Bank of Cyprus shareholders will be called next month to decide on the approved increase in the bank's share capital and annul the preferential rights of the existing shares.

    Bank of Cyprus Group president Vassilis Rologis said the bid submitted was believed to be "attractive" for its shareholders, as it gave them the ability to "invest in the creation of an important Greek banking organization", adding that substantial advantages would result for the shareholders, customers and employees.

    Credit Agricole, a strategic ally of Emporiki since 2000, on June 13 submitted a bid for the purchase of Emporiki Bank at 23.5 euros per share, valuing the Greek bank at 3.1 billion euros.

    The French bank's board of directors, on June 9, unanimously voted in favor of the public bid to buy 100 percent in Emporiki Bank.

    Credit Agricole said its bid was the largest foreign investment in Greece. The acceptance period for the bid will last from end-June to early August 2006, with more information expected after the approval of an information bulletin by the bank.

    The price offered by Credit Agricole is 0.3 pct higher than Emporiki Bank's closing share price on June 9 (23.44 euros), 0.6 percent higher compared with the weekly average market price of 23.36 euros and 17.9 pct higher compared with the average price from January 1, 2004. The price is 50 percent higher from the current P/E ratio of the four largest Greek banks for the period 2006-2007.

    Commenting on Credit Agricole's bid for Emporiki Bank, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said it was a positive development and stressed that the government would examine this bid, as any other bid in the framework of Greek law, adding that the government was open to all other bids that would be forthcoming.

    Offers for the acquisition of state-owned Emporiki Bank will be accepted until the end of July. Appointed to evaluate bids is the government's consultant in the tender, Citigroup.

    Piraeus Bank declines involvement in Bank of Cyprus' bid for Emporiki Bank: Piraeus Bank on Thursday stressed it had no part in a Bank of Cyprus offer to buy Emporiki Bank. In an announcement to the press, Piraeus Bank said there was no discussion over the issue and underlined that the bank was no involved in a bid to buy Emporiki Bank.

    The bank's board stressed that a recent purchase of a 6.0 percent equity stake in Bank of Cyprus was part of a strategy for the group's expansion in Greece and Southeastern Europe. Piraeus Bank believes that the prospects of strategic cooperation would benefit both banks by jointly strengthening their position in the region. Piraeus Bank and Bank of Cyprus operate a strong network in Greece and Cyprus, in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Albania and Egypt. They both have a remarkable presence in New York, London and Australia.

    The announcement added that Piraeus Bank's strategic growth plan did not need a share capital increase, since the bank enjoyed ample liquidity.

    [21] ATEbank to buy Romania's MindBank

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Athens-quoted ATEbank on Thursday signed an acquisition agreement for the purchase of a 50.94% stake in MindBank of Romania.

    The price per share is 2.15 times book value on December 31, 2005 to total 32.06 million euros, ATEbank said in a statement.

    Due diligence was completed and the transfer of stock will take place after regulatory approval is obtained from the Greek and Romanian central banks, the statement said.

    "ATEbank will seek to increase its holding in MindBank," management noted.

    The Greek bank's consultant in the acquisition is Deloitte Greece.

    State-run ATEbank has in the past stated that it planned to expand in the Balkans, Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean countries through the acquisition of a majority stake or a holding in the share capital of a foreign bank.

    [22] Greek energy sector to change drastically by 2010

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    The energy sector in Greece is expected to change drastically by 2010 as measures and policies introduced by the government could lead to one million Greek households using natural gas, at least three new private electricity production units projected to be included in the country's electricity grid and a total of 3,000 MW of energy by renewable energy sources added to the system, Nikos Stephanou, secretary-general at Development ministry said on Thursday.

    Addressing an 8th Athens Forum of Energy Community in Southeastern Europe, Stephanou said Greece would see its position in the global energy map upgraded in the future through completion of a Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline (expected in early 2007), a Greek-Italian natural gas pipeline and a new electricity interconnection line between Greece and Turkey (expected in the second half of 2007). The Greek official stressed that a second electricity power line with FYROM would be completed by the end of the year.

    The Athens Forum is the first to be held after the signing of an Energy Community treaty last October in Athens. Government officials from nine countries (Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, UNMIK, Bulgaria, Romania, FYROM and Bosnia-Herzegovina) have signed the treaty, while five EU member-states (Greece, Austria, Italy, Hungary and Slovenia) have also signed the treaty.

    The Energy Community aims to create a single energy market in the wider Balkan market and its interconnection -at a later stage- with the EU's energy market.

    [23] Greek pavilion opens at Beijing tourism fair

    BEIJING 6/23/2006 (ANA-MPA/M Tsivyeli)

    Tourism Minister Fani Palli Petralia on Thursday inaugurated Greece's pavilion at Beijing's international BITE trade fair on the second day of an official visit to China.

    "Greece already ranks high in the world tourism industry, in the 'visitors’ economy', the travel and leisure economy. With collaboration between the government and the private sector, we will succeed in raising Greek tourism even higher," the minister told the ceremony.

    "Greece is making use of 15% of its capacity for growth in tourism. That is why we are moving ahead with planning and an optimistic attitude, along with confidence in Greece's capabilities," she said.

    Petralia also underlined that Greece and China enjoyed good relations, which Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Greek government ministers cemented during a series of official visits.

    On the sidelines of the trade fair, Petralia told reporters that her ministry was working hard to increase tourism traffic between Greece and China.

    "Due to contribute to this endeavor is a tourism cooperation memorandum between Greece and China that will be signed on Friday," she noted.

    Petralia also met China's sports minister, Liu Peng, who said he was confident that the Beijing 2008 Olympics would be a success.

    [24] Record year for Greek metal industry, report

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Increased demand for mineral raw materials and metal products and increasing product prices positively affected international metal prices and Greek production in 2005, a report by the Metal Enterprises of Greece said on Thursday.

    The report said that the sector’s profitability was affected by rising oil prices, stabilizing shipping fares, a relatively stable euro-US dollar exchange rate and a general increase in the cost of raw materials used in production.

    Aluminum of Greece is the biggest consumer of Greek bauxite. Production of alumina and aluminum exceeded 780, 00 tones and 165,000 tones respectively, in 2005, with exports totaling 60 percent and 45 percent of total production respectively. Alumina prices jumped to historic highs last year and it is expected to remain at the same levels this year. Bauxite production totaled 2,490,000 tones, of which 900,000 tones were exported and 62 percent was used in alumina production. France, Spain, Germany, Russia, Romania and Ukraine were main exporting destinations.

    Caoline production was steady around 2004 levels last year, totaling 44,000 tones, with the biggest part used in white cement production.

    Lignite production fell last year to 69 million tones, ranking Greece second in the EU and fifth in the global list of producer countries.

    Greek marbles faced increased domestic demand, although exports steadily fell in the last few years, with imports totaling 368,600 tones, worth 60 million euros, in 2005. Production in the Kavala-Thasos-Drama region, accounting for more than 50 percent of the national production, fell by 25 percent in the last five years.

    Bentonite production exceeded 1,100,000 tones last year. Bentonite products were mainly exported in northern and central Europe, Canada, North America, east Mediterranean countries and Russia.

    Nickel production totaled a record 93 kgNi/wage, according to Larko SA, the only producer of nickel in Greece.

    Perlite production was steady around 2004 levels last year, totaling 1,100,000 tones.

    [25] Egnatia Bank announces 93.8 mln euro share capital increase plan

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    An Egnatia Bank’s general shareholders’ meeting on Thursday approved a share capital increase plan, worth 93.8 million euros, through the issuance of 18.6 million new shares and 2.2 million preferential shares at 4.5 euros per share and at a ratio of one for five.

    Vassilis Theoharakis and Marfin Financial Group, the main shareholders of the bank, reiterated their intention to maintain their equity stakes at least for six months after completion of a share capital increase and the beginning of trading of new shares in the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The shareholders’ meeting also approved a plan to issue a convertible bond loan, worth 400 million euros, at a convertible price of 7.60 euros, and a common bond loan, worth 600 million euros, aimed to boost the bank’s liquidity. Egnatia Bank will pay a dividend of 0.05 euros per share to its shareholders.

    [26] Hellenic Telecoms received 10 bids in the sale of 90 percent in Armen Tel

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organization on Thursday announced it has received 10 non-binding offers to buy its 90 percent equity stake in Armen Tel, Armenia's main telephony operator.

    Hellenic Telecoms announced a short list of candidates for the sale, including AO Vimpelcom, Mobile Telesystems OJSC, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation/Istithmar PJSC/Emergent Telecom Ventures and the joint venture by VTEL Holdings/Knightsbridge Associates.

    [27] EU regions' meeting in Alexandroupolis

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    The EU Committee of the Regions Commission for Sustainable Development (DEVE) members and 100 European Union mayors, prefects and regional directors will discuss rural development and the Lisbon Strategy in a meeting to take place in Alexandroupolis, northeast Greece, on June 26-27.

    The meeting will focus on ways through which regional and local authorities can contribute to the implementation of the revised Lisbon Strategy in rural areas particularly concerning the creation of new jobs and the protection of natural environment.

    EU presidency, European Parliament, European Commission and Committee of the Regions representatives will be among the main speakers as well as representatives of different European regions and academicians.

    [28] Evros-Maritsa proposal approved

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    The Evros-Maritsa joint tourism region proposal submitted by the Local Association of Municipalities and Communities in Evros, northeastern Greece, has been approved by the Initiative INTERREG3-Greece-Bulgaria Program Management Agency, it was made known on Thursday.

    The project, budgeted at 250,000 euros, project provides for the establishment and pilot operation of a joint tourism development structure by the municipalities of Evros, Greece and Haskovo, Bulgaria aimed at the tourist and business development of the cross-border region of rivers Maritsa in Bulgaria and Evros in Greece.

    [29] 1st Greek-Turkish Forum of Young Businessmen in Thessalonica

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    The goal of the first-ever Greek-Turkish Forum of Young Businessmen, to be held in Thessalonica on Friday, is to establish closer cooperation between the Greek and Turkish communities of young entrepreneurs.

    A total of 77 Greek companies are currently active in Turkey, corresponding to investments of more than 350 million US dollars.

    Twenty seven young business people from Turkey and 40 from Greece have registered to attend the forum, during which participants will have business-to-business meetings.

    The forum, held under the auspices of the ministry of development, is organized by the Federation of Young Businessmen Associations of Greece (O.E.SY.N.E.) in cooperation with the Young Businessmen Association of Turkey - TUGIAD, both members of the “Yes for Europe” European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs.

    [30] Black Sea Bank expands financing to Moldova

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    The Thessalonica-based Black Sea Trade & Development Bank (BSTDB) is to offer a two-year un-guaranteed loan of three million US dollars in additional financing for small and medium-sized enterprises in Moldova.

    The money will be managed by Moldova's Procredit Bank, BSTDB said in a statement on Thursday.

    BSTDB is an international financial institution established by Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

    The bank supports economic development and regional cooperation by providing financing, guarantees, and equity for projects in the public and private sectors in its member countries.

    Athens Bourse Close: Stocks up on bid for Emporiki Bank

    The Athens share index closed at 3,578.55 points, showing a rise of 0.99%. Turnover was 386.3 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.23% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.67% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.40% up. Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 193 to 70 with 43 remaining unchanged.

    Foreign Exchange Rates:

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

    U.S. dollar 1.268

    [31] Prosecutor says evidence clearly points to suicide in Vodafone executive's death

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    A high-ranking prosecutor overseeing the investigation into the conditions surrounding the death of Vodafone Hellas executive Costas Tsalididis in March 2005 on Wednesday referred to a "suicide without the participation or pressure of other persons".

    Athens First Instance Court prosecutor Ioannis Diotis, best known for heading up a probe that led to the eradication of the "November 17" terrorist group, said the suicide was linked with the mobile phone surveillance conspiracy revealed by the government last February. Diotis, in a report submitted Thursday to Supreme Court prosecutor Dimitris Linos, said Tsalikidis was aware of the phone tapping.

    As such, a lawsuit tabled by the deceased's brother, Panayiotis Tsalikidis, calling for homicide charges to be brought "against all responsible parties", was rejected, while Diotis proposed that the suicide case file be correlated with an ongoing investigation into the unprecedented affair being conducted by First Instance Court prosecutor G. Aktypis.

    Linos, according to Diotis, was studying whether the mobile telephone bugging case should be assigned to a special examining magistrate.

    According to the report, Costas Tsalikidis had monthly meetings with Ericsson executives focusing on technical matters, such as new software, etc.

    It also arose from Diotis' investigation that Tsalikidis had been the recipient of the improved software that provided the ability for "low-phone interception". Diotis examined a total of 23 witnesses and a large volume of documents, hand-written notes and PCs -- including Tsalikidis' -- in his investigation.

    The report further said that no traces were found of files having been deleted from Tsalikidis' personal computer.

    Finally, the report said that an e-mail sent by Tsalikidis from his computer on the night of his suicide had been written two days previously.

    Also, no evidence was found indicating the presence of another person in Tsalikidis' apartment at the time of his suicide.

    Costas Tsalikidis’ suicide coincided with the discovery of an illegal phone-tapping system at mobile phone provider Vodafone.

    The phone-tapping case involving Greece's top mobile phone provider was revealed by the government in February, after a nearly year-long covert investigation by the authorities had failed to find those responsible. It said the roughly 100 phones that were tapped included those of the prime minister, members of the government, high-ranking police and armed forces personnel, activists, journalists, business people and even one US Embassy employee.

    The government revealed that the phone taps were discovered during a systems check initiated on March 4, 2005 after customers complained of a glitch in the system. The 'ghost' software responsible was then isolated by the multinational Ericsson, which had developed Vodafone's systems, on March 7, 2005.

    An order to disable the software was given the next day, March 8, and the government was notified two days later on March 10. The company's decision to disable the software before notifying the government has given rise to much press speculation, since the government said that this hampered attempts to trace those responsible, or even the location of the 14 pre-paid mobiles used to eavesdrop on the phones being monitored, once it ceased to function.

    The 'ghost' or 'shadow' software was actually a legal but very costly low-phone interception (LI)' program developed by Ericsson due on customer request after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, which Vodafone Hellas CEO George Koronias told a parliamentary investigative committee into the affair that his company had not requested, ordered or received.

    [32] Cavafy's poems recited at Berlin's Martin Gropius-Bau

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Poems by Constantine Cavafy, the famous Greek poet from Alexandria, Egypt, will be recited by German poet Durs Grunbein in an event on July 6 organized by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture and the Hilti Foundation at Berlin’s Martin Gropius-Bau in cooperation with the Berlin Festival.

    The event is held in parallel with the archaeological exhibition the “Submerged treasures of Egypt” held at Martin Gropius-Bau featuring about 500 Hellenistic period findings that reveal the ancient Port of Alexandria in Egypt and the lost city of Heraklion.

    Durs Grunbein is one of the greatest living German poets and has systematically studied ancient and contemporary Greek literature and poetry.

    [33] SAE-Europe Youth Coordinating Committee meeting

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    Issues concerning the young ethnic Greeks around the world will be discussed in the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE)-Europe Youth Coordinating Committee meeting scheduled to take place in Thessalonica on June 24-25.

    Participants will discuss, among others, ways to make the SAE-Europe Youth more active, promote their activities and cooperation with the existing youth organizations and upgrade the< site.

    The SAE-Europe Youth Coordinating Committee will also be briefed on the new Enabling Law on the SAE operation and the conclusions reached in the recent SAE-Europe Coordinating Council meeting.

    The meeting will attend SAE Vice-President and SAE-Europe Coordinator Angelos Aslanidis and the General Secretariat for the Greeks Abroad representatives to present current European programs for the young.

    [34] International New Participants Conference begins in Ancient Olympia

    ATHENS 6/23/2006 (ANA)

    The International New Participants Conference, organized by the International Olympic Academy, began on Thursday at installations at Ancient Olympia. The conference, that concerns 175 young people from 99 countries, has "Olympism" as its basic theme and "Sports and ethics" as its special one.

    International Olympic Academy President and Greek Olympic Committee President Minos Kyriakou said in his address that "let us not forget that not only are healthy athletes shaped through sport but healthy societies are also formed. You are, primarily, the heralds of the longstanding Ideals of Olympism in the modern-day era and you must work systematically and methodically when you return to your countries to contribute to the spreading and consolidation of the values you shall be taught here such as mutual respect, fair play and solidarity."

    [35] European Parliament Education and Culture Committee president visiting Cyprus

    NICOSIA 6/23/2006 (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)

    European Parliament Education and Culture Committee President, Nikos Sifounakis, currently on a visit to Cyprus with a Committee delegation, attributed substantive responsibility for the smuggling of antiquities in the occupied part of Cyprus to the occupation regime.

    The Committee's delegation watched part of the session of the Cyprus Parliament's plenum and had a private meeting with House Speaker Demetris Christofias.

    Sifounakis said in a statement that "the European Parliament's Culture Committee will help so that the Turkish Cypriot side will realize that this heritage is the heritage of this country, it is the most precious thing that man has created in the course of time and it must preserve it."

    The delegation also met with Education and Culture Minister Pefkios Georgiades and Nicosia Mayor Mihalakis Zambelas.

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