|Thursday, 21 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-12-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 4, 2006
 Relations between Greece and Italy excellent, PM Romano Prodi says ahead of Athens visit
ROME, 4/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi will arrive in Athens on Monday morning for talks with his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis in the framework of his bilateral contacts with counterparts in Mediterranean countries.
Talks between the two prime ministers will focus on bilateral issues, as well as those concerning the wider region.
Speaking to the ANA-MPA ahead of his visit to Athens, Prodi termed relations between the two countries excellent and pointed out that "there is an identity of views and common interests, particularly in the Balkans and the Mediterranean, regions of direct cooperation."
The Italian prime minister places emphasis on capitalizing on the European Union's Mediterranean dimension, that should be achieved with close cooperation between all European partners.
He added that cooperation in the energy sector is essential, stressing that "we must speak with one voice and in this sector the natural gas pipeline project between Italy and Greece is at an advanced stage."
Prodi expressed his satisfaction for cooperation with Athens over the Balkans, with which he agrees "on a European prospect of the region, something that will bring progress and stability."
Referring to Kosovo, the Italian prime minister said he supports the initiatives of the UN's envoy Marti Ahtisaari, saying that "we are in favor of a clear and viable solution without vagueness. Our military forces in Kosovo in the framework of the KFOR are considerable. There are 2,400 troops and we intend to keep them as much as is necessary to maintain order in the region. We are also ready to undertake greater responsibilities in the framework of a greater presence of the EU."
Focusing on Turkey's European prospects, Prodi said that "when there are problems dialogue must be necessary. Italy supports the initiative of the European Commission, which recognizes the problem, meaning the non-fulfillment of the commitments of Turkey, but at the same time it leaves open the door to negotiations, meaning that they must be continued, even at a different pace. Only by keeping this process alive can we succeed in everyone fulfilling his commitments."
PM Costas Karamanlis to meet Italian counterpart Romano Prodi on Monday: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will meet his Italian counterpart Romano Prodi at noon on Monday, while statements and a working luncheon will follow. At 3 p.m. the two leaders will be inaugurating an exhibition at the Byzantine Museum titled "Myths and Models in the Mediterranean." Earlier, Karamanlis will be meeting his New Democracy party Deputy Miltiades Evert.
 Ecumenical Patriarch comments on atmosphere during Pope's visit Istanbul,
4/12/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Sunday described as "enthusiastic" the atmosphere during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate last week.
"We are certain, and pray, that this visit, blessed in every aspect by God, will bear fruit to the dialogue among the Christian Churches, and particularly that between the Catholic and the Orthodox Church, and more widely for the inter-religious dialogue," the Ecumenical Patriarch said, addressing a large gathering of worshippers from Greece and abroad, after a liturgy at the Patriarchal church of St. George.
"The improvement of the climate in our relations contributes towards the prevalence of a permanent and firm peace on our planet," he said.
Vartholomeos said that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has for many years been a pioneer and leader in the dialogue among the faiths and civilizations, and today saw with satisfaction that this will for improvement in the relations among the individuals and peoples was spreading throughout the world.
"We pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the archon of peace, to help us people, particularly the still divided Christians, to realize his will for peace in the world," the Ecumenical Patriarch said.
 Deputy FM heads business mission to Kuweit, Bahrain
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)A business mission, headed by deputy foreign minister Euripides Stylianidis, was due to leave Sunday for Kuwait and Bahrain.
The mission, organized by the Arab Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Development, comprises 14 businessmen representing the branches of aluminum, construction, textiles, tourism, food-stuffs, capital investment, and joint ventures.
The purpose of the visit is to increase Greek exports to those countries and the attraction of investments to Greece.
Stylianidis will also hold a series of bilateral meetings with the deputy foreign, economy, commerce and industry ministers of the two countries, aimed at strengthening the bilateral, political, commercial and economic relations with them.
 Justice minister pays four-day official visit to China
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras paid a four-day official visit to China, at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wu Aiying, according to an announcement by the justice ministry on Sunday.
During his visit, the first to be made by a Greek justice minister to China, Papaligouras held important meetings with leading officials of the country in Beijing and Shanghai.
Papaligouras also met with Zhou Yongkang, member of the Supreme State Council, the highest government and party organ in the country, responsible for justice and national security issues.
"The Greek justice minister pointed out that his presence in China underlined the steady progress observed in Sino-Greek relations over the past years and constituted yet another expression of continuity of the joint declaration signed by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China Wen Jiabao, during the official visit made to Beijing by Karamanlis last January," the announcement noted.
 DM Evangelos Meimarakis gives interview to Athens newspaper
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis gave an interview to the Athens newspaper "Imerisia", stressing that "our program is for elections to be held at the end of the four-year term and from then on, of course, we must be prepared, and we are, for whatever might happen at any moment."
Commenting on the issue of a change in the election law, Meimarakis reiterated that "the election law must be a tool of stability, it must not function in a chaotic fashion and, of course, it must not create a lack of correlation between the will of the people and the majority in Parliament regarding the first party."
He further said that "the first party must have a comfortable Parliamentary majority that will allow it to implement the program for which it was voted into power."
The minister also referred to the technical issue that appeared with a private company regarding the question of the submarine "Papanikolis", considering it an isolated event and expressing certainty that "in no way does it cast a shadow on relations between the two countries or between the two governments."
Focusing on relations with Turkey, Meimarakis said "it is premature to speak of a possible reversal in the climate of our relations with Turkey", due to a possible slowdown in relations between Europe and Turkey and expressed the hope that the attitude of the neighboring country will be fully adjusted to the preconditions necessitated by its European prospects, that also include relations of good neighborliness with Greece.
 Former PM Mitsotakis TV interview
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Former prime minister and ruling New Democracy (ND) party honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis described the sweeping changes announced on Friday by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou to his party's organizational structure as positive, but added that "Mr. Papandreou was obliged to do something following his repeated setbacks", in an interview Saturday night on state NET television channel.
Mitsotakis said that Papandreou's move was correct, at tactical level, but added that it did not, in essence, change anything, since PASOK's problem was not, nor is, the faces.
He said what was most important for PASOK was for the party to acquire a political position, to acquire a policy, and not to suffice only with negativist rejection, extremities and insults which, he added, did not suit George Papandreou's character.
Mitsotakis also called on the government to proceed more quickly with its reforms, taking advantage of the time remaining to the end of its current four-year term in office.
"The government has not switched off its engines, nor has it stopped moving ahead in the right direction," Mitsotakis said, but added that he was "not satisfied with the rate at which the reforms are being made."
"The reforms are a matter of life or death for Greece, and we have no time to lose," he warned.
During the interview, the former prime minister proposed that the government pass a law enabling all those who desire to do so to work for an additional two years beyond the 35-year requirement for retirement.
He maintained that the retirement ages would have to be gradually increased, opining that the approach that the social insurance problem will be solved without an increase in the retirement ages and in the contributions, and without a reduction of pensions, was unrealistic.
He further expressed his conviction that the government should, immediately after the New Year holidays, proceed decisively to the taking of the first measures in the education sector, noting that "the issue of education cannot wait, in my opinion".
"The government has taken a correct position, I absolutely agree with its policy, as announced by the government and Ms. Yannakou (education minister)," Mitsotakis said, adding that he also endorsed amendment of Article 16 of the Constitution (which gives the State the exclusive right to establish recognized institutions of tertiary education), noting "let's start with non-profit private universities...It is progress".
On EU-Turkey relations, Mitsotakis said that the Greek government was in full harmony with the government of Cyprus, and described foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis' (his daughter) meeting with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos late last week in Nicosia as "a success", adding that the problems will be tackled jointly, and a solution will finally be found.
"Turkey is obliged to respect its obligations, on which it has undertaken an explicit commitment. No one wants at this time to see the train derailing, and more particularly Greece and Cyprus. When we speak of sanctions, this does not mean that there will be a discontinuation of the negotiations" with the EU for Turkey's accession, Mitsotakis said.
The former premier stressed that the Cyprus issue must be resolved, adding that the Annan Plan required improvement on very many points, and warned that "time is working against us, and partition is not a solution".
He further proposed a change of the electoral law, suggesting the German system, with a reduction of the parliamentary seats to 250 (from the present 300), of which 100 would be elected by list and the remainder in single-seat electoral districts.
Questioned on the prospect of a government reshuffle, Mitsotakis stressed that this was the prerogative of the prime minister, adding that such a move was "a conjunction of the course on which the prime minister, who is the leader, will decide to follow".
Mitsotakis also said he planned to take recourse to justice and the National Radio/Television Council (ESR) over television programs by investigative journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos on political kickbacks, charging there was a "well-orchestrated smear campaign" against him and a "recycling of mud", and citing two court rulings irreversibly terming inaccurate and slanderous the charges of black money and irregularities in the management of ND finances during the period 1989-1993, when he was the ND leader.
 PASOK announces members of new Parliamentary Council
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)By decision of main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, the composition of the Parliamentary Council, the Parliamentary Representatives, the party spokesman and the party's Programming Committee were announced on Sunday.
Petros Efthymiou was appointed party spokesman, while the Parliamentary Council is composed of Dimitris Reppas as Parliamentary Group Secretary, Theodoros Pangalos Foreign Affairs and Defense, Evangelos Venizelos Interior and Public Administration, Vasso Papandreou Economy and Finance, Christos Protopappas Health and Welfare, Mihalis Chrysohoidis Education, Telemahos Hytiris Culture, Sport and Mass Media, Christos Papoutsis Tourist Development and Shipping, Andreas Loverdos Public Works and Environment, Maria Damanaki Employment and Social Security, Alekos Papadopoulos Justice and Public Order.
Haris Kastanidis, Miltiades Papaioannou and George Floridis were appointed Parliamentary Representatives, while Anna Diamantopoulou will be responsible for the Programming Committee.
 Greek Prosecutors Union holds annual general assembly
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Areios Paghos (Greek supreme court) prosecutor's G. Sanidas' proposal for extension of court hours to 8:00 p.m. mainly dominated the annual general assembly of the members of the Union of Prosecutors of Greece held Sunday at the Athens Bar Association (DSA) events hall, which was also attended by justice minister Anastasis Papaligouras, as well as several MPs, the Cabinet general secretary Argyris Karras, Coalition of the Left Movements and Ecology (SYN) former leader Nikos Constantopoulos, the presidents of the Areios paghos and Council of State, the chairmen and representatives of judicial unions throughout Greece, lawyers and prosecutors.
Addressing the assembly, Papaligouras said that a common, decisive effort has been undertaken to clean up the justice system.
The ministry, he said, was providing the necessary weapons for in-depth catharsis -- with its legislative initiatives, actions and unwavering political will -- which would be completed without exceptions or discounts.
He said the investigation was continuing as long as evidence existed, and would be completed when the proportionally few who contaminated the judicial corps and gave a bad name to the many justices with integrity had been expelled from the corps.
The prestige of the law and the judicial functionaries has already begun to be restored, the minister added.
Papaligouras also outlined the ministry's legislative work, particularly the speeding up of the process of rendering justice, its upgrading of court and prison facilities, and also the improvements made in the lock-up facilities throughout the country.
The minister said that the Greek citizen, today more than ever, needed strong institutions to rely on and thirsted to regain his lost confidence in the law. "We are allies and partners in an effort of vital importance for the state and our society. We were allies and partners in the multi-faceted effort we have undertaken to put Greek justice in a new speed and a new era. We are allies and partners in the vital work being carried out to restore the prestige of and upgrade Justice. We are working, toiling, together to build a modern Greek Justice system that is respected and strong in the conscience of society," Papaligouras concluded.
Sanidas, in turn, noted that penal justice was rendered at a very slow pace, since felonies went to court, at the first degree, after at least 10 years since being committed, warning that this very large time lapse altered the form of the penal case. He attributed this slow speed to postponements of the trials and to the "very limited working hours of the penal courts".
Consequently, Sanidas proposed that courts be in session from 8:00 a.m. to at least 7:00 p.m., a four-hour extension from the current 3:00 p.m. closure, adding that this was feasible and within the abilities of those involved in trials.
He said extension of the court hours to 8:00 p.m. would enable the hearing of many more cases each day, while also reducing the number of days that judicial functionaries spend in the penal courts and those spent by court secretaries and prosecutors, and also limit the hardship and expenses on the citizens.
Above all, however, it would accelerate the trial of cases and serving of justice by 100 percent with respect to the present, without requiring the passing of relevant laws and finding more court houses, etc., Papaligouras said.
 Culture minister to address UN on 'return of cultural property' draft resolution
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece's culture minister George Voulgarakis will address the plenary of the 61st UN General Assembly, calling for adoption of a draft resolution submitted by Greece in early November for "the return or restoration of cultural property to its country of origin".
Voulgarakis, who arrived in New York on Saturday, is also scheduled to inaugurate on Tuesday an exhibition titled "Athens-Sparta: From the 8th century to the 5th century BC", which is jointly organized by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation and Greece's National Archaeological Museum.
 Agricultural development minister in Cairo,
4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece's agricultural development minister Evangelos Basiakos on Sunday addressed an event at the Greek Centre in Cairo, Egypt, where he is on a visit.
He noted that the Greek community of Cairo had succeeded in overcoming many obstacles in the past and to reverse a pessimistic course, creating a positive outcome for themselves but also for the history of Greeks abroad.
"These volunteers, these protagonists of the national initiatives, preserve the roots, the traditions, and remember Greek history. They make us proud of their contribution, and they prove this at every opportunity," Basiakos said.
Paying tribute to the accomplishments of the Greeks of Egypt, Basiakos said that "your work is an example for imitation by the overseas Greeks all over the world", and expressed admiration at the Greek community's activities in the sectors of health, education, and also their social work, as well as their substantial contribution to the work of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
He reiterated the Greek government's support in any problems they may face, replying to Greek community vice-president Vassilis Sarantinos, who asked for Athens' economic support as well as its assistance in staffing the Greek Community's foundations, so as to enable this vital part of the Greeks of Egypt to continue.
The event, held in honor of Basiakos, was attended by Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria, who thanked the Greek state for its assistance to the Orthodox Church of Africa's work.
 Message by interior minister for World Day for Handicapped People
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in a message on the occasion of World Day for Handicapped People on Sunday, outlined his ministry's activities to achieve equal participation in society for handicapped people.
"The need to secure for all citizens without exception, consequently for handicapped people as well, equal opportunities for their unimpeded and independent participation in all aspects of the country's social, economic and political life constitutes a basic priority for us in fulfilling the constitution's relevant mandate," he said.
In a similar message, main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou said that defending the human and political rights of handicapped people constitutes a collective duty and the responsibility of ours to do our duty is both collective and individual", adding that this day "constitutes for all socialist and democratic citizens not only a day of sensitization for those fellow men of ours who are giving the struggle of survival but also an opportunity to reconfirm our will to continue the struggle to combat discrimination, for the lifting of exclusions and for the promotion of necessary policies for their unconditional accession to society."
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos referred in his message to the "spiritual strength" of handicapped people, adding that "they know how to struggle in the field of day-to-day life and to face trials calmly, courageously and optimistically" and that "my wish and prayer is for Benevolent God to bless and protect all these children of His night and day."
National Confederation of Handicapped People: The National Confederation of Handicapped People said in an announcement that December 3 has been proclaimed World Day of Handicapped People and constitutes a day of social protest.
It added that in Greece "10 percent of its population refuse a passive role and claim their participation in the country's social, economic and political firmament.
As far as the national movement of the handicapped is concerned, December 3 is the culmination of an overall effort it is making on a daily basis to highlight related issues and to improve the living conditions of handicapped people and their families.
The Confederation calls for a new public policy for the handicapped. Studies have shown that 84 percent of such people are not part of the labor force and the average family income of households having a handicapped member is less than that of other households.
 Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos pays official visit to U.S.
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos paid an official visit to the United States, at the invitation of the Hellenic Medical Society of New York.
According to an announcement by the health ministry, Avramopoulos was informed during his stay in New York of the structure of the American health system by relevant government officials and visited two hospitals in the city.
The minister went to the Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens, in the heart of Astoria, where he was briefed on the activities of the hospital by the board and visited wards where he also had the opportunity of speaking to patients of Greek origin.
Avramopoulos then visited the Hospital for Special Surgery of New York where he was given a detailed briefing on its functions by the board and talked to Greek doctors employed there.
On Saturday night, Avramopoulos was the guest of honor at the annual event organized by the Hellenic Medical Society of New York.
 Health minister addresses Hellenic American Medical Society event
NEW YORK, 4/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the government intends to bring the expatriate medical society closer to Greece, which "is distinguishing itself and achieving successes."
Avramopoulos made an address on Saturday night during the annual dinner event organized by the Hellenic American Medical Society of New York.
"For the first time, next June, about 10,000 doctors of Greek origin from all over the world will gather in Kos, the land that gave birth to Hippocrates," Avramopoulos said, calling on the expatriate doctors to feel proud of the medical science and the public system of our country.
He went on to say that "in the era of globalization, Greece has the network ready and with Greek doctors in the front line it is entering the competitive environment with self confidence," while underlining the government's determination to make the country an international research centre in the sector of biotechnology and medicine.
The Alexandros Onassis Foundation was honored during the event with the "Distinguished Greek" award, Dr. Charles Yio, who is of Greek origin, with the "Distinguished Doctor" award and expatriate Dr. Alexandros Karfopoulos as a "Distinguished Colleague."
 Conference on regional development of Europe
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The decisive role of regional development in Europe and policies that must be followed to sustain it, since the European Union is experiencing a period of prolonged crisis, were presented in Larissa, central Greece, on Friday as part of a conference organized by the European People's Party at the initiative of Larissa Eurodeputy George Dimitrakopoulos.
Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Christos Folias, the head of the New Democracy party's Eurodeputies I. Varvitsiotis and the Eurodeputies Antonis Samaras, George Papastamkos, N. Vakalis and George Dimitrakopoulos referred to all the parameters of the issue, stressing that the key words for the development of Europe, Greece and regions are competitiveness, research, innovation and the environment.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)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
 Stockbreeders accused of Agrinio killings kept in custody at Nafplio prison
4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The two stockbreeders, father and son, jointly accused of the killing of five hunters in the region of Agrinio last week, are being kept in custody at a prison in Nafplio.
Commenting on Saturday on their conditions of detention, Nafplio prison director Sotiris Mytakis said that for reasons of security they are being kept separate from other inmates and go into the prison's yard and eat alone, while they will also be receiving visitors separately from the other inmates.
He added that the two defendants are exhausted and the father is continuing to take the medication he used to take for health reasons. They both telephoned to relatives on Friday.
 Delivery of personal archives of late statesman Eleftherios Venizelos
4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The official delivery of the personal archives of the late statesman Eleftherios Venizelos, formerly in the possession of the Benaki Museum and the Greek Literary and Historical Archives, to the National "Eleftherios Venizelos" Studies and Research Foundation took place at the "Stavros Niarchos" hall in Hania, on the island of Crete, on Friday night.
The delivery ceremony was part of the program of official events held in Hania on the occasion of celebrations marking the union of Crete with Greece 93 years ago.
The archives contain Venizelos's mail, documents from government services and of associates of his, newspapers, maps, post cards and photographs.
 Explosion outside ND party's office in Athens suburb
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)A makeshift explosive device composed of gas canisters exploded outside the entrance to the ruling New Democracy party's office in the Athens suburb of Neo Psychiko at 1.45 a.m. on Saturday, causing damage to the premises.
 Illegal immigrants arrested in northern Greece
4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Police arrested 38 illegal immigrants in Soufli, in northern Greece, at 2 a.m. on Saturday as they were preparing to travel to Athens in a truck. Two foreigners believed to be involved in a gang specializing in the transfer of illegal immigrants were arrested at about the same time at a regional bus terminal in the city of Thessaloniki.
Another 10 foreigners were also arrested at the bus terminal, who had previously been brought from Athens and who were heading for Italy through the port city of Igoumenitsa.
The immigrant smugglers used to send illegal immigrants from Turkey to Greece, through the Evros River, and to other European Union countries, primarily to Italy.
 Police arrest 49 drug traffickers in Thessaloniki in November
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Police arrested 49 people involved in drug trafficking in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, during the month of November. The people arrested were found in possession of over 3.5 kilos of heroin, 3 kilos of cocaine, 70 kilos of hashish, 120 XTC pills and 966 other drug pills. Police also confiscated 81,261 euros.
 Artist Yannis Pappas' home, workshop donated to Benaki museum
ATHENS, 4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Sunday inaugurated the Benaki Museum's new acquisition in the Zografou district of Athens, the home and workshop of renowned Greek artist Yannis Pappas, which contains a collection of the artist's sculptures and paintings.
The building was recently donated to the Museum by the deceased artist's family.
Pavlopoulos spoke of Pappas' overal contribution to the country, particularly during his term as Chair of the Higher School of Fine Arts, when he evolved the School into a model institution, according to the minister.
He also thanked Pappas' widow Mimi and son Alexandros for their donation, saying such gestures mirrored the sensitivity and culture of the family.
Benaki Museum chairman of the board Aimilia Geroulanou described the acquisition of Pappas' home and workship as an important acquisition, adding that it would comprise a vital centre of art and culture for the public.
Benaki Museum director Alexis Delivorias called the workshop 'sacred', as it was the birthplace of some of the most important creations in Greek art, adding that the spirit and work of Yannis Pappas would be kept alive there.
Yannis Pappas (1913-2005) was born in Istanbul, and came to Athens in 1922, before going on for studies to France, where in 1937 he received the gold medal at the Paris international exhibition, and the gold prize for sculpture at the Panhellenic exhibition in 1940.
He was drafted in 1940, and during the years of the nazi occupation he worked at the workshop in Zografou. In 1944 he served in the royal navy at the naval commandment in Alexandria, where he remained until 1951 and studies Egyptian art.
Pappas was elected professor at the Higher School of Fine Arts sculpture workship in 1953, and was director of the School from 1959-1969, becoming honorary director of the school in 1978, and a member of the Academy of Athens in 1980.
Throughout his life he organized exhibitions in Athens and abroad, while many of his sculptures are seen in public areas in many capitals of Europe, including Athens, such as the bust of Eleftherios Venizelos in the parliament's courtyard, that of Evangelos Averof in Metsovo, and other works, including at the Onassion cardiosurgery centre in Athens.
 Thessaloniki lights up for the Chrismas holidays
4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Thessaloniki put on its festive garb on Saturday night, as mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos lit up the city's Christmas tree and traditional Greek Christmas boat in central Aristotelous Square.
During the city's traditional "Festival of the Angels" in the countdown to the Christmas and New Year holidays, Thessaloniki residents and visitors flocked to the square, where they were treated to a spectacular fireworks display, followed by a concert featuring popular local singers and bands.
 Greek Super League soccer results
4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Results of the Greek Super League soccer matches played over the weekend:
Kerkyra - Olympiakos Piraeus 0-2
AEK Athens - Ionikos Piraeus 2-0
Atromitos Athens - Apollon Kalamaria 1-1
Larissa - Ergotelis Crete 2-1
Iraklis Thessaloniki - Egaleo Athens 2-1
OFI Crete - Xanthi 0-2
Aris Thessaloniki - Panathinaikos Athens 1-0
PAOK Thessaloniki - Panionios Athens 1-1
Standings after 13 weeks of play:
Olympiakos 33 points
Note: Ionikos was deducted two points for disciplinary reasons.
 National Council describes Commission's recommendations as not satisfactory
NICOSIA, 4/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The National Council, top advisory body to the Cypriot President on the Cyprus question, which convened Saturday to discuss the European Commission's recommendations on Turkey's EU course, in the light of Ankara's refusal to comply with its EU obligations, unanimously agreed that these recommendations are not satisfactory.
Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes told the press after the three hour meeting of the National Council, that the members of the Council, presided by President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, expressed their views and suggestions and ''unanimously expressed the view that the Commission's recommendations are not satisfactory''.
"The National Council members agreed that it is imperative to make every effort so that the final conclusions (of the forthcoming European Council) include a framework that will secure the effective compliance of Turkey with its European obligations", he said.
The spokesman added that during the meeting, President Papadopoulos "analysed the developments so far in the EU-Turkish accession negotiations and presented his views and estimations".
On Wednesday, the European Commission said it was recommending a partial suspension of Turkey's EU membership talks for refusing to open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircraft, a recommendation that did not satisfy Nicosia.
EU member-state Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
Turkey, a country aspiring to join the EU, refuses to implement the EU-Turkey Customs Union Protocol by opening its ports and airports to Cyprus.
The National Council is composed of two members of all parliamentary parties, but main opposition party Democratic Rally (DISY) suspended its participation in the Council, due to "functional weaknesses and cover-up of dysfunctions of the Council".
 UNSG expresses regret over failure to solve Cyprus problem
4/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed regret over his failure to solve the Cyprus problem during his ten years as UNSG and blamed both the Turkish Cypriot as well as the Greek Cypriot sides for the impasse.
"The two sides in Cyprus must show the necessary good will and determination to overcome their apparent deep mutual distrust and suspicion of each other's true motives,'' Annan said.
He also called for an end to the ''blame game'' carried out ''relentlessly and unhelpfully by officials and the press of both sides.''
"Having dealt with Cyprus throughout my two five-year terms as UN leader, I cannot but regret the continued stalemate in the political process and the missed opportunities,'' Annan says in his final report to the UN Security Council on the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), that expires December 15th.
Annan says in his report that absent a comprehensive settlement of the dispute, the UN Security Council should authorize the force to remain on the job for another six months, until June 15, 2007.
EU member state, the Republic of Cyprus, is divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of the Republic's territory.
Cyprus entered the European Union in May 2004. One week before Cyprus' accession to the EU, the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities were called on to decide upon a UN envisaged comprehensive plan for a solution of the Cyprus problem, (called the Annan plan).
Although the Turkish Cypriot community accepted the plan, the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriot community rejected it since it did not guarantee the real political, social and economic reunification of Cyprus.