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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-12-02

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

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

December 2, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis briefed by FinMin Alogoskoufis on economy, new tax bill
  • [02] Turkey must honor its signature, FM Bakoyannis says
  • [03] Gul visit rescheduled for later date, FM spokesman says
  • [04] PASOK leader announces changes to party structures
  • [05] Ecumenical Patriarch attends Catholic liturgy officiated by Pope Benedict in Istanbul
  • [06] Greek businessmen invest about 200 million euros a year in Bulgaria
  • [07] Alpha Bank announces share capital increase plan worth 1.3 mln euros
  • [08] Greek stocks end 0.50% up on Friday
  • [09] Culture minister to address UN General Assembly
  • [10] World AIDS Day commemorated in Greece
  • [11] Unification of Crete with Greece commemorated
  • [12] President Papoulias holds reception for National Confederation of People with Special Needs
  • [13] Greek-German relations in the post-WWII period detailed in Athens event
  • [14] Two stockbreeders accused of five hunters' killings to be remanded in custody
  • [15] 112 illegal migrants intercepted off Pylos, SW Greece
  • [16] Smuggling of goods via green line examined
  • [17] Cyprus House ratifies agreement with Italy on environment
  • [18] Cyprus and Korea sign commercial shipping agreement

  • [01] PM Karamanlis briefed by FinMin Alogoskoufis on economy, new tax bill

    ATHENS, 2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Friday with National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, who briefed him on the course of the economy and the new tax bill, which was due to be tabled later in the day in Parliament.

    Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting that the bill contains substantial tax relieves for all the Greeks.

    Regarding the economy, Alogoskoufis said that the developments were positive, stressing the 4.4 percent growth in Greece's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the third quarter of 2006 against the corresponding period last year, adding that the reduction in the deficit was proceeding in accordance with the budget forecasts.

    Alogoskoufis further noted that unemployment was also declining, while the development of employment was within the margins of the forecasts.

    On inflation, the minister said it was being contained, assisted also by the containment of international oil prices.

    The country's national statistical service on Thursday announced that GDP had grown by 4.4 percent in the third quarter of the year over the same period of 2005, following growth rates of 4.1 percent in both the preceding quarters this year.

    The statistical service, in a report, said investments rose 7.6 pct in the July-September period from the corresponding period in 2005, adding 1.6 percentage points to an increase in final demand.

    Greek exports grew 7.4 pct in the third quarter, adding 1.1 percentage points to the increase of final demand. The value of exports totaled 7.898 billion euros.

    Imports rose by 5.8 pct to 11.273 billion euros. The statistical service said final consumption grew by 3.3 percent in the third quarter.

    [02] Turkey must honor its signature, FM Bakoyannis says

    NICOSIA, 2/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Athens and Nicosia shaped a plan of action in talks held on Friday between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    Speaking after the talks held at the Presidential Palace here, which lasted for over two hours, Bakoyannis said that a useful analysis of new developments was made, following the proposals of the European Commission on Turkey's European prospects.

    She said that Greece and Cyprus have continuous cooperation and coordination in their movements, while stressing that "we are at the beginning of long negotiations and great consultations" that will heighten either at the level or foreign ministers or at the summit on December 14.

    "Our view is that Turkey, being a candidate member-state, must honor its signature and the commitments that it has undertaken towards the European Union, otherwise Europe must send an explicit and clear message," the foreign minister said.

    Bakoyannis recalled the statement made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis that the European Commission's proposal for the freezing of eight chapters in Turkey's accession negotiations is a basis for discussion.

    "From then on, the target is to achieve what we desire during the negotiations," she said, adding "allow me, however, not to announce this now."

    Bakoyannis stressed that "Europe is seeking that mixture that will lead its decisions to the best possible result."

    Lastly, she made the assessment that "all desire the message to Turkey to be clear."

    Bakoyannis left for Athens at the end of the talks.

    [03] Gul visit rescheduled for later date, FM spokesman says

    ATHENS, 2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul will not visit Athens on the proposed dates of Dec. 7-8 and a later date for the trip will be determined through diplomatic channels, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos announced on Friday in Amman, Jordan, where he is accompanying Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on the 3rd ministerial meeting of the "Forum for the Future", which opened on Friday.

    Ankara has responded that Gul's visit to Athens will not be able to take place on the Dec. 7-8 date, and it was agreed that it will take place at a later date to be decided via diplomatic channels, Koumoutsakos said.

    The Gul visit had been originally set for Dec. 7-8, while Bakoyannis personally discussed with her Turkish counterpart -- on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Riga earlier in the week -- the possibility of a postponement due to an urgent UN Security Council session, tentatively called by the Qatari UNSC presidency for Dec. 7.

    A Greek foreign ministry announcement on Thursday, how-ever, said that Greece, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, was informed by the Qatari presidency that the urgent council session, at the ministers' level, has been moved from Dec. 7 to Dec. 12 following a request by the UN Secretary General, which Bakoyannis would be attending.

    Following that development, the Greek foreign ministry communicated with the Turkish foreign ministry to reiterate its proposal for Gul's visit to take place on the originally scheduled dates of Dec. 7-8, the announcement said.

    In response to questions during a regular press briefing on Friday, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros dismissed any other interpretation for the development sans the momentary scheduling conflict that arose with the UNSC session. He also said he could not predict when the Turkish FM would be able to travel to Athens.

    [04] PASOK leader announces changes to party structures

    ATHENS, 2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou on Friday announced the appointment of party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis as the new Secretary of PASOK, while he also unveiled his candidates to fill the party's political council, following his surprise announcement a day earlier to ask for the resignations of all its current members.

    Papandreou made the announcements during a meeting of the party's national council.

    Athanassakis replaces Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou, who in turn has been proposed by Papandreou to fill Athanassakis' post as party spokesperson.

    Papandreou announced his decision for sweeping changes to the party's organizational structure, which are expected to be ratified on Friday at the meeting of the new PASOK national council, on Thursday evening during a 15-minute meeting of the political council.

    The proposed members for the new political council are Xenoyiannakopoulou and veteran PASOK cadres Evangelos Venizelos, Fofi Gennimata, Maria Damanaki, Anna Diamantopoulou, Petros Efthymiou, Paris Koukoulopoulos, Marilena Koppa, Panos Beglitis, Theodoros Pangalos, George Panayiotakopoulos, Vasso Papandreou, Christos Papoutsis, Christos Polyzogopoulos, Sylvana Rapti, Costas Skandalidis, Rovertos Spyropoulos, Thanassis Tsouras, Michalis Chrysohoidis, and Eva Christofilopoulou.

    The new composition proposed includes five new individuals from the previous political council -- Xenoyiannakopoulou, Efthymiou, Beglitis, Rapti, Chrysohoidis, and Christofilopoulou -- in the place of outgoing members Milena Apostolaki, Nora Katseli, Panayiotis Fassoulas (who was recently elected as Piraeus mayor), Angela Gerekou and Vangelis Papachristos.

    Papandreou further announced the establishment of a new, "tight and flexible" scheme in Parliament that will operate under Parliament group leader Dimitris Reppas, the composition of which will be announced on Sunday.

    Address to party meeting: In addressing the national council session at a downtown Athens hotel, Papandreou repeated an array of criticism against the government, ranging from the Cyprus issue to recent local government election results to charges that the government is autocratic in its policies.

    Regarding education reform, and especially the Karamanlis government's stated volition to allow the establishment of private, non-profit universities in the country, Papandreou said differences between ruling ND and PASOK over education moved in different direction.

    However, he sternly defended his view backing a revision of Article XVI of the constitution - the provision that forbids anyone but the state from operating recognized tertiary institutions - saying the decision was taken at a party congress and proposed by PASOK's Parliament group. He also pejoratively referred to "political maneuvering" in describing internal PASOK opposition to the revision, saying he's willing to hold an "ideological" discussion with society and the younger generations over the issue.

    Regarding Cyprus, Papandreou called on the government to offer more support towards the island republic's government, especially now, as he said, when EU hopeful Turkey's appears in trouble over its failure to meet commitments towards the Union.

    On her part, outgoing secretary Xenoyiannakopoulou said that the country was entering a new, critical stage in which the people and the country needed a "progressive outlet".

    "When we speak of a victorious course for PASOK, we do not do so because we want to become government at any cost, but because we truly believe that we have a plan, a proposal, the determination and the cadres to materialize them for the good of our country and people," she said.

    PASOK secretary elect Nikos Athanassakis addresses party meeting: Newly-elected main opposition PASOK National Council Secretary Nikos Athanassakis said on Friday that he shall work with the support of all and his job will be to organize the work of the party's cadres and members in the best possible way, while stressing that PASOK is with the many and the weak.

    Athanassakis referred to the founding of PASOK and to its founder Andreas Papandreou who, as he said, always cared about the ordinary Greek and had the party's unity as his primary concern.

    He also praised the contribution made by his predecessor, Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou, saying that he will feel fortunate if he also hears praise when he will be handing over his post to his successor.

    Athanassakis further stressed that his top priority will be to maintain contact with young people and promote new cadres.

    [05] Ecumenical Patriarch attends Catholic liturgy officiated by Pope Benedict in Istanbul

    ISTANBUL, 2/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Friday paid a reciprocal visit to the 160-year-old Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit here, where he was welcomed by Pope Benedict XVI.

    "The Church does not wish to impose anything on anyone, it asks only for freedom," the Pontiff said after a service at the cathedral, adding that 90,000 Catholics live in predominately Muslim Turkey, sharing a day-to-day comradeship with people of a different faith.

    Both Church leaders joined in a procession leading into the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, where the Pope celebrated a divine liturgy for the Roman Catholic community of Istanbul. During the service the Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos offered a common blessing to the faithful.

    Also in attendance for the Roman Catholic liturgy were the heads of other Christian communities of the Bosporus metropolis. Judging by headlines in the Turkish press this week, the Pope's visit was utterly successful, as his reported support for Turkey's European prospects and a visit to a renowned Muslim place of worship, the Blue Mosque, eased negative sentiments in the country. The Ecumenical Patriarchate also appeared satisfied with the steps towards rapprochement between the two Churches as well as Benedict's vocal support for religious and minority rights in Turkey.

    Benedict was due to depart Istanbul on Friday, with Vartholomeos expected to accompany him to the airport.

    The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit was built in 1846 under the direction of Italian architect Julien Hillereau. It is located near the Beyoglu district of Istanbul, and among others, hosts a statute of one of the Pope's same-name predecessors, Benedict XV, in its courtyard -- a gift from the Turkish state.

    [06] Greek businessmen invest about 200 million euros a year in Bulgaria

    2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greek businessmen have invested about 200 million euros a year in Bulgaria over the past six years. In addition, over the period between 1996 and the first nine months of 2006 Greece was in third place among foreign investors in Bulgaria, with investments totaling 1.421 billion euros compared to 2.52 billion by the leading investor Austria and second-place Holland with 1.542 billion. Bulgaria attracted a total of 14.9 billion euros in direct foreign investments during this period.

    During the January-September period this year, the three top positions on the list were held by Holland, Britain and Austria, that account for 54.27 percent of total foreign capital invested over this period that amounted to 2.845 billion euros.

    They were followed by Greece, Hungary and Ireland, according to the informative bulletin for November of the Economic and Trade Affairs office of the Greek embassy in Sophia, that the ANA-MPA has at its disposal.

    [07] Alpha Bank announces share capital increase plan worth 1.3 mln euros

    ATHENS, 2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Alpha Bank on Friday announced a board approval to a share capital increase plan, worth 1,314,105 euros, through the issuing and distribution to 48 shareholders of 336,950 common nominal voting shares at a nominal offering price of 3.90 euros each, as part of a stock options program.

    The share capital increase plan was approved by a general shareholders' meeting in April 2001.

    After the plan, Alpha Bank's equity capital will total 1,591,285,807 euros or 408,022,002 common nominal voting shares of a nominal price of 3.90 euros each.

    [08] Greek stocks end 0.50% up on Friday

    ATHENS, 2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greek stocks ended higher in the last trading session of a volatile week in the Athens Stock Exchange, pushing the composite index 0.50 pct up to end at 4,241.64 points. Turnover was a strong 395.4 million euros.

    Sector indices move higher with the Utilities (3.73 pct), Telecoms (2.22 pct), Food-Beverage (1.21 pct) and Insurance (1.18 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Constructions (1.54 pct), Technology (1.21 pct) and Healthcare (0.44 pct) suffered losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.43 percent, the Mid Cap index ended 0.02 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.52 pct.

    Tria Alpha (19 pct), Ergas (18.18 pct) and Mouzakis (13.73 pct) were top gainers, while Fanco (15 pct), Maxim-Pertsinidis (10.0 pct) and Technical Publications (9.02 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 140 to 113 with another 58 issues unchanged.

    Foreign Exchange Rates until Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.335

    Pound sterling 0.678

    Danish kroner 7.513

    Swedish kroner 9.108

    Japanese yen 155.00

    Swiss franc 1.601

    Norwegian kroner 8.227

    Cyprus pound 0.582

    Canadian dollar 1.526

    Australian dollar 1.691

    [09] Culture minister to address UN General Assembly

    NEW YORK, 2/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Culture Minister George Voulgarakis will address the UN General Assembly on Monday on the issue of "The return or restoration of cultural goods to their countries of origin."

    Greece, through its permanent representative at the international Organization, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, has submitted a relevant draft resolution that is expected to be adopted by the members of the General Assembly.

    On the morning of the same day (local time), the culture minister will be speaking at a press conference to be held at the Cultural Centre of the Alexandros Onassis Foundation on the exhibition titled "Athens-Sparta:From the 8th to the 5th century B.C.".

    On Tuesday night, Voulgarakis will inaugurate the exhibition, to be held with the cooperation of the National Archaeological Museum, in the presence of politicians, businessmen and artists from Greece and the United States.

    [10] World AIDS Day commemorated in Greece

    ATHENS, 2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The international campaign to end AIDS (World AIDS Day) was also celebrated in Greece on Friday, with several political and religious leaders issuing statements on the occasion.

    On his part, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos said the issue of AIDS was primarily one of prevention, while expressing the Church of Greece's compassion for sufferers of the deadly virus.

    According to reports, 485 new HIV cases were reported in the east Mediterranean country in 2006, with 50 of those cases declared full blown AIDS.

    Events marking the day were held in Athens and Thessaloniki, with medical students in the latter handing out pamphlets and prophylactics.

    [11] Unification of Crete with Greece commemorated

    ATHENS, 2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Events marking the 93rd anniversary of the union of Crete with Greece heightened in the city of Hania on Friday with the hoisting of the Greek flag at the Firka Fort in the city's old port. Regional Secretary General Serapheim Tsokas represented the government at the events.

    [12] President Papoulias holds reception for National Confederation of People with Special Needs

    ATHENS, 2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    President Karolos Papoulias held a reception at the Presidential Mansion on Friday for the members of the National Confederation of People with Special Needs and their escorts, on the occasion of celebrations marking the National Day of Handicapped People on December 3.

    The event was attended by Deputy Health and Social Solidarity Minister Athanasios Yiannopoulos, State Deputy and President of the Special Parliamentary Inter-Party Committee responsible for issues concerning handicapped people Eleftheria Bernidaki and the President of the National Confederation of People with Special Needs Ioannis Vardakastanis.

    [13] Greek-German relations in the post-WWII period detailed in Athens event

    ATHENS, 2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greek-German relations, particularly in the period immediately after the Greek civil war to the restoration of democracy in the east Mediterranean country following a seven-year military dictatorship, roughly from 1949 to 1974, were the subject of an event in Athens on Friday.

    Three lectures were given, with the first entitled "the Reconstruction of Greece", by Danish historian and professor Mogens Pelt, the author of "Tying Greece to the West: US-West German-Greek Relations, 1949-1974".

    The event was hosted at Plaka-district Danish Institute of Athens, in the shadow of the Acropolis. Among others, Pelt detailed the pre-eminent position Germany held in Greece's foreign trade and business sectors both before and after World War II, interrupted by what he called the "brutal Axis occupation" by the Nazi (1941-1944), while also citing the significant ties due to Greek emigration to West Germany in the '50s and '60s.

    Other speakers included Prof. Dimitris Apostolopoulos, who reviewed Greek-German relations from 1974 to the present, and Prof. Hagen Fleischer of the University of Athens, who spoke on ties from 1945 to the present.

    The event was co-sponsored by the Danish embassy of Athens' cultural section and the Athens-based think tank Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). Danish ambassador to Greece Niels Henrik Sliblen and German envoy Wolfgang Schulteiss made brief introductions before the lectures.

    [14] Two stockbreeders accused of five hunters' killings to be remanded in custody

    ATHENS, 2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The 37-year-old stockbreeder and his 73-year-old father, who are jointly accused of the killing of five hunters at Kalyvia near the city of Agrinio last Saturday, will be led to a prison in the city of Nafplio.

    The two men made their pleas before an investigating magistrate in Agrinio on Friday, while a prosecutor charged them with joint multiple intentional homicide and their remanding in custody was consequently ordered.

    According to what his defense lawyer told reporters, the 73-year-old claimed that he reached the field together with his son but went directly to the sheepfold and had no involvement in the killings.

    His son confirmed all that he had claimed in his testimony to the police, in the presence of the prosecutor, that he had killed the five hunters.

    Father and son were led to the courthouse in Agrinio under strict security measures, while both wore bullet-proof vests for their own protection.

    [15] 112 illegal migrants intercepted off Pylos, SW Greece

    2/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A total of 112 illegal immigrants crammed aboard a decrepit wooden fishing vessel were spotted by the coast guard some five nautical miles off the town of Pylos, in extreme southwest Greece, on Friday morning. Four men were also arrested aboard the vessel on migrant smuggling charges.

    According reports, the illegals - hailing from various Mideast and South Asian countries - had departed from Egypt with the intention of reaching Europe undetected.

    The entire group, which includes minors as well, is being temporarily sheltered in Pylos' town hall, whereas the four trafficking suspects were jailed in the coast guard's brig.

    [16] Smuggling of goods via green line examined

    NICOSIA, 2/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Illegal trade of goods through the green line, dividing the government controlled areas from the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, must come to an end, since it threatens consumers' health and the interests of legal producers, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Fotis Fotiou said here on Friday.

    Fotiou, who discussed the issue with British High Commissioner Peter Millet, said that the smuggling of agricultural products originating from Turkey could prove to be dangerous for the consumers' health since substances like DDT which are forbidden in the EU, are allowed to be used in Turkey.

    During the meeting, the Cypriot minister raised the issue of goods smuggling through the green line and especially through the areas that are under the control of the British Bases, in the Pergamos and Dhekelia areas.

    In his statements, Millet described the issue as very serious and reassured that the British Bases in Cyprus would do their utmost to stop illegal trade.

    Fotiou said that 370,000 kilos of onions have been transferred via the green line to the government controlled areas the first two weeks of November, saying that "it is not possible that such great amounts are produced in the occupied areas."

    For this reason, he added, the government must look into the issue and ascertain whether product certificates of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce are being issued following the right procedures.

    "We cannot let illegal traders conduct trade anymore. The most dangerous aspect does not have to do with trade or the interests of the legal producers. It has to do with smuggling of drugs, weapons and agricultural products," he said.

    But Fotiou made clear that the Republic of Cyprus does not object trade with Turkish Cypriots.

    "We respect the green line regulations, provided that they are being implemented for the benefit of all, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots," he said.

    On Monday, a broad meeting will take place presided by the Minister of Agriculture in order to ascertain whether the controls at the government controlled areas are sufficient.

    "Smuggling is taking place not only in the area of the British Bases, but in our areas as well. There should be better controls. We also examine other measures that would reinforce our efforts," he concluded.

    EU member state, the Republic of Cyprus is occupied by the Turkish army since 1974.

    Britain has retained two military bases in Cyprus after the country gained its independence in 1960 from British colonial rule.

    In April 29, 2004, the Council of EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers' meeting in Luxembourg approved a proposal entitled ''Green Line Regulation'', which determines the legal framework of the crossing of goods, persons and services as from 1st May 2004 in Cyprus.

    The EU Green Line Regulation says that the products produced in the occupied areas can be sold and consumed in the free areas of the Republic or exported to the EU countries via the legal ports of Cyprus, as long as there is a correct certificate from the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and a relevant control by an EU expert who works in Cyprus for this task.

    [17] Cyprus House ratifies agreement with Italy on environment

    NICOSIA, 2/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Cypriot House of Representatives voted in a law on Thursday, ratifying an agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and Italy to prevent and reduce environmental pollution and to protect the environment through strengthening the cooperation between the two states.

    This cooperation is expected to contribute to the promotion of joint programs in the technology sector, the bilateral transfer of technical expertise and the exchange of information.

    The agreement provides that both countries cooperate in specified sectors, for the development of strategies and programs in the context of the International Strategy for Sustainable Development.

    Other provisions include the use of alternative sources of energy and other installations, in the context of multilateral environmental agreements.

    The agreement also provides for the creation of effective infrastructure for the implementation of the acquis communautaire and the obligations towards UN commissions, and training in environmental issues.

    Cyprus and Italy have also agreed to develop programs aimed at improving the infrastructure for the use of water, the implementation of mechanisms provided for by the Kyoto Protocol, in compliance with EU legislation, and the promotion of the comprehensive management of the coastal zone.

    The agreement includes a provision for the ecological restoration of polluted areas, the combating of desolation, the protection of nature, and waste management.

    [18] Cyprus and Korea sign commercial shipping agreement

    NICOSIA, 2/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus and Korea have signed a bilateral agreement for cooperation in commercial shipping.

    According to an official press release on Friday, the agreement was signed on Thursday between Cypriot Minister of Communications and Works Charis Thrasou and Ambassador of Korea in Athens Chung Hae-moon.

    During the meeting the bilateral wish for further enhancement of relations between the two countries was expressed, especially in commercial shipping.


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