|Wednesday, 20 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-12-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 7, 2006
 Karamanlis holds talks with visiting Russian deputy PM
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Wednesday with visiting Russian deputy prime minister and defense minister Sergey Borisovich Ivanov.
The two men reviewed bilateral relations and also discussed Russia's relations with NATO and the European Union, as well as matters related to energy cooperation.
The two sides reiterated their political volition that the relevant memorandum for advancement of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline by the end of the year, as agreed during the trilateral summit meeting between Greece, Georgia and Russia in September 2006 in Athens, where Russian president Vladimir Putin, Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis and Bulgarian president Georgi Purvanov signed a political agreement to that effect.
Karamanlis and Ivanov further discussed Balkan issues, particularly Kosovo, while the Russian deputy prime minister also conveyed greetings to Karamanlis from Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Defense cooperation discussed by Ivanov, Meimarakis: Visiting Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov held talks centered on bilateral cooperation in defense during a meeting with his Greek counterpart Vangelis Meimarakis in Athens on Wednesday. The two men also discussed the security situation in southeastern Europe, the Middle East and its surrounding region.
During the meeting, the two ministers outlined specific proposals for present and future cooperation in arms procurements and signed a program for military cooperation in 2007.
Ivanov and Meimarakis described cooperation between Greece and Russia as strategic and expressed political will to further promote cooperation in the defense sector.
Meimarakis also thanked the Russian government for its positive and constructive stance at the UN Security Council on achieving an overall settlement of the Cyprus problem, while repeating Greece's support for finding a comprehensive, just and viable solution for reuniting the island republic that would benefit its population.
He noted Greece's support for strengthening relations between Russia and NATO, as well as Russia and the European Union, and Athens' support for efforts to establish a climate of security in the Balkan region.
Regarding arms procurements, the Greek minister stressed that Russian weapons system would be assessed by Greek services on an equal basis as the systems of other suppliers, without prejudice and in accordance with Greek laws.
Ivanov, noting that the decision to purchase weapons system lay at the discretion of the government and Parliament of each country, clarified that Russia respected Greek laws and that every contract would include sections on servicing the systems and training military personnel in their use, as Greek law now require.
All spare parts would be certified by the single Russian company that produced them, he added.
The Russian minister also pointed out that Russian arms equipment already purchased by Greece had so far proved reliable.
Another point discussed during the meeting was the creation of a system for supplying spare parts for the Russian weapon system Greece had already purchased, as well as the creation of a "joint-venture company" that would have a license to manufacture Russian high-technology systems in Greece to support Russian weapons system.
Meimarakis said that the proposals for extended cooperation by the Greek and Russian defense industries, including that of manufacturing sub-systems in Greece, was positively received by the Russian side. He said the prospect would be mutually beneficial for both countries and would also help boost Greece's national defense industry.
The ministry revealed that the Russian side has approved the future sale to Greece of short and medium-range missile systems and an amphibious armored combat vehicle.
Asked whether Russia intended to sell the same weapons systems to Turkey, Ivanov noted only that Russia currently had no orders from Turkey, while pointing out that Russia had a larger balance of trade in military equipment with Greece than with Turkey, even though this relationship was reversed in terms of overall trade.
Regarding Russia's stance toward North Korea, Ivanov urged the UN Security Council to make a realistic decision in the direction of a diplomatic solution.
The Russian minister left Athens on Wednesday afternoon.
 Government wants united European position on Turkey, FM says
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, commenting on Wednesday on the positions of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Turkey, said "many thoughts are being heard and tabled in the overall effort to find a timetable for Turkey," adding that "at the moment the Franco-German proposal also contains the 18 months from which we are beginning."
Bakoyannis also said "we shall see where it shall lead to" and pointed out that "our goal is to have a united European position, with a timetable. We shall be discussing on Monday what this timetable will be."
Negotiations for Turkey's EU accession at 'delicate stage', government says: Negotiations for Turkey's progress toward European Union accession were currently at a "delicate" stage, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Wednesday. He stressed that the government was determined to participate in demanding Cyprus' rights and that there was continuous cooperation between the Greek and Cyprus governments.
 Government underlines desire for consensus over Constitutional revision
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government on Wednesday underlined its desire to achieve the maximum possible degree of consensus over the revision of the Constitution.
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos made the statement while responding to questions regarding the controversy that has arisen over deciding a date for discussing article 16, which the government hopes to amend so as to allow the foundation of private, non-profit universities within Greece.
Roussopoulos said the government had initially agreed to a request by main opposition PASOK to postpone the debate until January. In a later session of the Parliamentary committee for education, however, PASOK then asked that the discussion take place at its allotted time in December.
According to the spokesman, the government again agreed so that a common target and a common space might be found and the greatest possible consensus achieved, for the benefit of the revision and the better operation of universities.
 PASOK spokesman denies deal with ND party on revision of constitution's article 16
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Petros Efthymiou on Wednesday denied the existence of any behind-the-scenes deal with the ruling New Democracy party on the debate in Parliament concerning the revision of article 16 of the constitution.
Efthymiou said that ND is attempting once again to turn the terms of political confrontation back to "dark ages" and to "condemned practices" and spoke of a "wretched scheme by ND" in its effort to escape from the deadlocks of the government's policy.
 DM inaugurates Atlantic Treaty Union's 52nd General Assembly
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis inaugurated the Atlantic Treaty Union's 52nd General Assembly in Athens on Wednesday night and referred to Greece's contribution to the consolidation of security, peace and stability in the wider region.
Referring to Afghanistan which, as he said, he intends to visit during the second fortnight this month, the minister called on the international community to have a more coordinated shape in its actions, that should include political actions and reconstruction policies to enable the authorities of Afghanistan to have the possibility gradually of ruling the country.
Focusing on the situation in the Balkans, Meimarakis said that turning this neighborhood into a neighborhood of peace, stability and development for the benefit of the peoples in the region is a difficult but necessary undertaking.
As regards Kosovo, he reiterated that negotiations must aim at finding a viable and mutually acceptable solution.
The 52nd General Assembly of the Atlantic Treaty Union, organized by the Greek Union for Atlantic and European Cooperation, is being attended by 150 representatives from 40 countries.
 Meeting on European prospects of the Balkans held in Brussels
BRUSSELS, 7/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)Several heads of state and government from western Balkan countries attended an international meeting on the European prospects of the region, organized in Brussels by the Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy, in collaboration with the "Friends of Europe" Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Institute.
The meeting took place in the Belgian capital on Tuesday, while among those attending was Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, Bosnia-Herzegovina Prime Minister Adnan Terzic, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Deputy Premier Imer Selmani, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic and his Montenegrin counterpart Milan Rocen and ministers from other states in the region.
Also among the participants were several EU member-state ministers and officials, European Commissioner for research Janez Potocnik and representatives of the UN and EU in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The aim of the meeting was to assess the prospects for economic and political stability in southeastern Europe, the role of the EU in the region and the progress of regional cooperation among Balkan countries.
All speakers agreed that a European prospect for all western Balkan states would benefit both the countries themselves and the EU, since it would contribute to their economic development and political stability.
 New traffic code designed to protect lives, government notes
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The new traffic code proposed by the government was more than just a legal text but sought to protect the lives of Greek citizens, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed on Wednesday.
He also pointed out that the government's efforts in this direction would not stop at the new traffic code but also included a series of preventive measures, such as better policing of roads and improving the road network to reduce the number of traffic accidents.
Asked if the government would consider a reduction of the sharply increased fines for dangerous traffic violations introduced by the proposed traffic code, Roussopoulos said that this was a possibility if it was proposed and accepted by a Parliamentary majority.
Finally, he stressed that the government hoped for consensus on this issue and that the transport minister would welcome the opposition parties' views on his proposals.
 Opposition MPs propose investigative committee for phone-tap scandal
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)MPs for the opposition parties on Wednesday submitted a proposal calling for the conversion of Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee into a Parliamentary investigative committee for the mobile phone-tapping scandal.
In a letter to Committee chairman Anastasios Karamarios, they said that accepting their proposal would "contribute to ascertaining the multitude of crimes committed at the expense of the country's national security" and signal that the Greek Parliament, aside from all ulterior ends, would do its duty to uncover the culprits.
 Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos to visit Cyprus on Friday
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos will begin a two-day visit to Cyprus on Friday and will meet acting Cyprus President and House of Representatives Speaker Demetris Christofias, his counterpart Neoklis Sylikiotis and Nicosia Mayor Mihalakis Zambelas.
Pavlopoulos, who will be accompanied on his visit by Equality Secretary General Evgenia Tsoumani, will address an event organized by the National Apparatus for the Rights of Women on the theme of "Equality between women and men in local administration."
During his stay in Cyprus, the minister will also be visiting the Holy Archdiocese of Cyprus and the Tomb of Makedonitissa.
 President Papoulias visits Syros for feast of St Nicholas
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday paid a visit to the Aegean island of Syros to attend celebrations for St Nicholas' Day, the island's patron saint.
While on the island, the president visited the Ermoupolis town hall, where he was declared an honorary resident of Ermoupolis and presented with the key to the town.
 Greece, UNDP sign accord for trade, investments promotion in wider region
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece and the United Nations on Wednesday signed an agreement for the promotion of trade and investments.
The agreement was signed in Athens by national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis and the resident representative and Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director of the UN Development Program's (UNDP) regional bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Marta Ruedas.
The agreement provides for the establishment of a bureau in Athens aimed at better cooperation among the 12 countries in the wider region and the promotion of trade and investments. The regional program is co-financed by Greece, Turkey and the UN, while the participating countries in the agreement are Greece, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Hungary, Georgia, Armenia, Moldova and Azerbaijan.
Alogoskoufis told reporters after the signing of the agreement that the establishment in Athens of a UNDP bureau for the development of commerce and investments will focus its targets on the development of the private sector through exploitation of investment opportunities in the region, while emphasis will also be on advancing exports to the EU countries and the US.
The accord, Alogoskoufis added, marked a new era in cooperation with the UN. Greece, he said, places special weight on the economic growth, peace and prosperity of the peoples of the wider region.
Fuedas, in turn, said the program was a very important agreement, and expressed deep appreciation to the Greek government and to minister Alogoskoufis.
She said Greece's participation was of strategic importance, adding that the region was expected to tackle its economic problems via this cooperation.
Greece, she said, was the only signatory of the agreement that was also an EU member country, and consequently could convey its expertise with the other countries.
 Supply for market not affected by port 'strike', gov't says
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)No problems with market supply had arisen as a result of the dock workers' 'go-slow' in Piraeus port, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Wednesday.
Referring to statements on the issue made on Tuesday by Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou, Roussopoulos pointed out that only 17 percent of goods were distributed to Greek markets via the ports, so that the strike had limited impact on supply.
He repeated that the government was in talks with all interested parties on this issue, pointing out that it had already been a month since the affair first arose, so that there was still a margin of two months for dialogue according to the timeframe announced by Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis.
According to Roussopoulos, the aim of the talks was to persuade dock workers that their labor rights would not be affected by the proposed changes.
The government wants a framework of understanding with all social groups. However, it could not let the possibility of upgrading the ports pass unused, the spokesman added.
Dock workers have boycotted overtime work for the past month to protest against the merchant minister's proposal to privatize several services in Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports on a concession basis. The scheme is also opposed by main opposition PASOK as untransparent and 'disastrous' for the ports' finances, on the grounds that it will strip port organizations of the services from which they earn the bulk of their income for at least 30 years.
 Mini social security bill discussed and ratified
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on Wednesday reiterated assurances that the government has "no secret agenda on the social security issue, either for this or the next four-year term."
The minister added that "its positions are clear on a socially fair system that will not harm any insured person and it will be decided following prolonged consultations", while at the same time speaking of capitalizing on fear games and inaccuracies.
Deputies of the main opposition PASOK party had accused the government of concealing its real intentions.
"Some people are playing the game of capitalizing on fear but, fortunately, the government is being judged on the basis of what it does and not on what you say. For this reason it shall win the next elections," Tsitouridis said during the discussion on the mini social security bill, whose ratification was completed on Wednesday.
 Interior ministry replies to labor confederation on contract employees' issue
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The interior, public administration and decentralization ministry responded to an announcement issued by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) on Wednesday and the document it is producing for the collection of signatures on the question of contract employees, calling for a "referendum" to be held, stressing that it is making this move "at a time when the contracts of 32,924 working people, for which the Supreme Staff Selection Council (ASEP) reached the conclusion that they are serving longstanding and permanent needs, have become contracts of an indefinite duration with presidential decrees 164/2004 and 180/2004."
The ministry's announcement also said "which were the reactions and protests of GSEE when, during the governance of PASOK, the presidential decree 81/2003 had been issued with which not even one contract employee had obtained indefinite duration status" and spoke of a "selective memory and delayed sensitivities or probably partisan, and not only, games and a trade of hopes on the backs of working people."
 Finmin raps tax evaders
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis sharply criticized tax evaders on Wednesday, calling their behavior antisocial.
"When people avoid paying tax or consent to the theft of tax, they are contributing to the maintenance of high taxation for those who declare their income and to under-funding for services essential to the smooth workings of society," the minister told a parliamentary committee.
The committee is studying a government tax bill.
 Government rejects PASOK criticism over finance ministry ads
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government on Wednesday rejected the main opposition's criticism of a promotional campaign launched by the finance ministry to publicize planned income tax reductions in its new tax bill.
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed that state services had an obligation to inform the public of their decisions, while noting that previous PASOK governments had followed a similar tactic by circulating a flyer outlining the government's economic policy through the press in 2003.
PASOK had slammed the ministry for using tax-payers' money to pay for "propaganda" that should have been paid for from party coffers, as well as misleading the public into thinking that they would be paying less tax when they were actually paying more.
 Greek banking seen showing more growth
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The domestic banking market is likely to maintain brisk growth over the next three or four years before reaching the mature phase of developed European markets, speakers told a sector conference arranged by The Economist business magazine.
In the same period, Greek banks will continue to expand in southeastern Europe, aiming to boost earnings in the regions, which, in turn, would increase their overall profitability, the conference concluded on Wednesday.
Among speakers were senior executives of the country's major credit institutions.
 Investment trip for diplomats
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Hellenic Investment Centre successfully implemented an information visit to Larissa for 26 economic and trade attaches of foreign embassies in Greece.
The diplomats met local business representatives in the prefecture of Thessaly as part of a campaign by the investment centre to promote opportunities in the regions via embassies.
Among speakers during the trip was the general secretary for industry, Spyros Papadopoulos, who outlined the country's development law and investment proposals for Thessaly.
 Gov't backs holiday homes market
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government backs growth in the holiday homes market from abroad, Tourism Minister Fanny Palli Petralia said on Wednesday.
"The ministry has placed special emphasis on this. The purchase of holiday homes in Greece by foreign tourists will make a decisive contribution to a stable and sustainable increase in arrivals to Greece," the minister told a construction project and real estate forum arranged by the Kalofolias Group.
A survey at Athens International Airport showed that 16% of tourist arrivals from abroad owned a home in Greece, the minister added.
 Greek exports to Japan rise
7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greek exports to Japan rose by 62.9% in January-September 2006 in comparison with the same period a year earlier, the Hellenic Exports Promotion Board said on Wednesday.
Exports to South Korea are also believed to have risen in the same period, the board said in a statement.
The two countries have been targeted by the board in its action plan for 2007, the statement added.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise in correction
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Athens share index closed at 4,210.91 points, showing a rise of 0.45%. Turnover was 351.6 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.41% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.31% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.77% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 141 to 87 with 78 remaining unchanged.
Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 3.94 pct
Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.0 bln euros
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.338
Pound sterling 0.680
Danish kroner 7.515
Swedish kroner 9.148
Japanese yen 153.8
Swiss franc 1.601
Norwegian kroner 8.200
Cyprus pound 0.582
Canadian dollar 1.529
Australian dollar 1.702
 Athens-Sparta exhibition opens in NY
NEW YORK, 7/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)Hundreds of visitors flocked to the opening of the "Athens-Sparta: From the 8th to the 5th century BC" on Tuesday night at the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation's Onassion Cultural Centre in Manhattan, which was inaugurated by Greece's culture minister George Voulgarakis, forming long waiting lines outside the entrance, also attracting wide coverage by the US media.
Voulgarakis congratulated the Centre on its initiatives and, referring to the Athens-Sparta exhibition in particular, noted that "two great city-states of antiquity are being projected in a modern multicultural city, adding that "Greece's best ambassador is its culture".
Foundation chairman Antonis Papadimitriou outlined the Center's cultural activities in the US, while brief greetings were also addressed by Minister of State (PASOK) Anna Diamantopoulou, and the Foundation's executive director in the US, Ambassador Loukas Tsilas.
Officials present at the inauguration included Archbishop Demetrios of America, Greece's and Cyprus' permanent representatives to the UN, Ambassadors Adamantios Vasilakis and Andreas Mavroyannis respectively, and the two consuls general, Ekaterini Boura and Martha Mavrommati.
The exhibition is organized by the Onassis Foundation in cooperation with Greece's National Arcaheological Museum, and comprises three unities: the parallel cultural, political and economic courses of Athens and Sparta.
According to Greece's National Archaeological Museum director and curator of the exhibition, Dr. Nikos Kaltsas, "For the first time has such a large number of Laconic and Attic artwork been gathered side by side," while noting that the purpose of the exhibition was not a comparison, but rather to highlight the differences of the two city-states in mentality, organization and artistic expression "which, in times of peace, developed that which today is known worldwide and universally acknowledged as classical Hellenic civilization".
The rival Hellenic city-states, Sparta and Athens, were distinct from one another not only politically and culturally, but also artistically. While ancient Sparta was famous for militarism and austerity, its artistic developments are typically regarded as less advanced than those of Athens, which has long been revered for producing some of the most exquisite artworks in all of ancient Greece.
The exhibition, to be inaugurated by Voulgarakis on Tuesday, will trace both Laconic and Attic artistic developments from the 8th to the 5th centuries B.C., with a focus on the historically overlooked achievements made in Spartan art during this period. A total of 289 rare artifacts from the two city-states are brought together in this exhibition, many of which are visiting the U.S. for the first time. Highlights of Athens-Sparta will include a marble head of Leonidas, from the 6th century B.C., and Laconic bronze figurines of hoplites, from the 8th to the 6th centuries B.C., with loans drawn from museums across Greece.
Artifacts on display include a marble statue believed to represent the Spartan king Leonidas, weapons found at Thermopylae where he died fighting Persian invaders, and finds from Marathon, where Athens defeated a Persian army in 490 B.C. Athens and Sparta overcame decades of mutual distrust to ally against Persian invasions in the early 5th century B.C., but fought each other in the bitter Peloponnesian War which divided Greece's querulous city states and lasted, with brief intervals, from 431-404 B.C. Sparta won that war but lost the peace, declining in later years into a rural backwater, while Athens remained a center of learning and culture for most of its later history.
Of the 289 artifacts on display, particular interest is presented by the marble bust of a hoplite believed to be that of Leonidas, dating to the end of the 5th century BC, a marble 5th century BC statuette of an Attic Kore from the Acropolis Museum, bronze hoplite figurines from Sparta dated between the 8th-6th century BC, a 6th century BC clay cylix by the Laconian painter Arkesilas, a mid-4th century BC marble statuette of the goddess Athena, Attic bas-reliefs and a gravestone stele from the late 5th century BC, and 5th century BC arrowheads and spears from the site of the Battle of Thermopylae.
The Onassion Cultural Centre is the Foundation's headquarters in the US, and a subsidiary of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation established in 1975 after the death of shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, named after Onassis' son Alexandros who was killed in a private plane crash.
 Unique exhibition of Nobel collection at Athens International Airport
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece's newly-acquired Hellenic Nobel Museum is organizing a world-wide exclusive exhibition titled "Alfred Nobel and Greece" at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA), which opens Thursday evening at the airport's Arrivals Level, marking the 110th anniversary since Nobel's death.
Tens of rare and previously unknown exhibits will be on display, part of the Swedish inventor's collection, which was recently acquired by Hellenic Nobel Museum owner and founder Prof. Giorgio Marcou.
Previously unpublished manuscripts by Franz Liszt, Paul Valery, the first women to be awarded Nobel prizes in Literature, Bertha von Suttner (1905) and for Peace, Selma Lagerlof (1909), Friedrich Nietzsche and others are presented in photographs, as well as numerous other photographs depicting the Socrates oil tanker, Nobel stock in the Isthmus of Corinth -- which was created using Nobel's new invention at the time, dynamite -- and receipts of Nobel's payment for the explosives used in the project, among others, many of which reflect Alfred Nobel's love for Greece.
The exhibition will run through February 10, 2007, and will be open 24 hours a day.
The Hellenic Nobel Museum will open its doors to the public in the Spring of 2007, housing a unique collection of more than 3,500 unknown and unpublished exhibits in a state-of-the-art building in the Athens suburb of Halandri.
 Actor, director George Lazanis dies
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Stage actor and director George Lazanis, one of the last remaining legends of the Greek theatre, after Carolos Koun and Mimis Kougioumtzis, died Tuesday night from heart failure in an Athens hospital where he was taken with heart problems. His funeral will be held on Thursday.
Lazanis, 78, actor and director, had a 50-year-long successful career in the Greek theatre and his name was associated with Koun's Art's Theatre.
Lazanis graduated from Koun's Drama School in 1954 and acted in all theatre plays directed by Koun.
Between 1967 and early 2000 he continued acting while at the same time he directed major theatre plays.
In 1959, he became the manager of the Art's Theatre School which changed the Greek theatre scene.
Messages of condolences were sent to his family on Wednesday by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, Coalition of the Left Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos and Culture Minister George Voulgarakis.
 The SAE 6th world assembly opens in Thessaloniki on Friday
7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The two-day 6th World Assembly of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, SAE, opens in Thessaloniki on Friday with the participation of 450 expatriate Greeks from different parts of the world.
Minister of Macedonia-Thrace Giorgos Kalantzis will give a formal dinner in honor of the delegates on Thursday evening at the Governor's mansion and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will open the conference proceedings on Friday morning. The delegates will be greeted by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, Information General Secretary Panagiotis Livadas and others.
The conference will attend PASOK main opposition party leader George Papandreou, LAOS president Giorgos Karatzaferis, politicians, parliament deputies and local officials.
Messages will be sent by Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias, Cyprus Republic President Tassos Papadopoulos, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria, Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens, Greek Communist Party General Secretary Aleka Papariga and SYRIZA President Alekos Alavanos.
The conference will be addressed by Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, responsible for issues concerning the Greeks living abroad and SAE President Andrew Athens.
Among the foreign officials attending the conference will be former Foreign Minister of Cyprus Georgios Iakovou, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem and the newly elected Archbishop Chrisostomos of Cyprus.
 Greek student murdered in Bulgaria
SOFIA, 7/12/2006 (ANA-MPA - B. Borisov)A Greek student was murdered in downtown Plovdiv in Bulgaria on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old student was stabbed to death by a 20-year-old Bulgarian during a scuffle outside a music hall at 4 in the morning, according to a local police spokeswoman.
The student died on the spot, while the perpetrator was arrested.
According to the authorities, the cause of the fight was the two youths' interest in a young woman.
 Mastermind of Mont Parnes heist arrested
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)A 38-year-old former petty officer of the Greek Air Force is allegedly the mastermind of the Wackenhut armored van heist.
On September 25, armed robbers had attacked a Wackenhut security van transporting money from the Mont Parnes casino and had managed to get away with 1,577,000 euros.
Police announced on Wednesday that the 38-year-old was arrested together with a 40-year-old businessman, a 36-year-old and a 53-year-old Roma, while two more Roma, a father and a son, and two Albanians are still wanted.
The gang was made up of 8 males but the role of a female in the heist is under investigation. Police found a total of 390,000 euros in a bank safe-deposit box and seized five luxury cars bought with heist money, bank books, cheque books, two handguns, a dagger, a hand grenade and a sledgehammer.
Four of the eight culprits had rammed the security van with a stolen truck, broke the windows of the armoured vehicle with a sledgehammer and snatched four bags full of money at gunpoint while threatening the guards with a hand grenade. They got away using another stolen car parked nearby by two accomplices. Police found both the truck and the car shortly after the heist.
One of the seized guns was in the possession of the 38-year-old who had a license to carry a weapon, maintaining that until recently he was working for a politician as a bodyguard. Using the robbery money, he had also opened a spa in Athens.
Police are investigating the role of some of the gang members in other major armored van robberies, while an operation is underway for the arrest of the rest of the suspects. The four in custody have already appeared before a prosecutor.
 Drug lab arrests in Athens
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)A fully equipped drug lab was discovered by police in an apartment in the district of Ampelokipi in Athens, it was announced on Wednesday.
A 33-year-old Albanian national was arrested while an investigation is underway for the arrest of another Albanian, both alleged members of an organized drug trafficking network that puts significant quantities of heroin and cocaine on the Greek market.
According to police, it is the third such lab discovered in Athens within the past four months all of them run by Albanians.
Police seized a total of 3,380 grams of heroin, 164 grams of cocaine, 500 grams of a cutting agent, 4,000 euros and devices used to adulterate and package illicit drugs.
 Immigrant protest against delayed issue of residence permits
ATHENS, 7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Immigrants from Albania, African countries, Afghanistan, and Iran staged a symbolic protest in the Central Macedonia Region offices in Thessaloniki on Wednesday against the long delays in the issue of residence permits.
The delays have caused serious problems to many of them who cannot leave Greece, not even to attend their parents' funerals or visit their families in their own countries.
The protest was organized by the Immigrant Forum in Thessaloniki and the Anti-Racist Initiative.
The protesters claim that, in spite of the fact that the relevant procedure was launched back in October 2005, no residence permit has yet been issued by the Central Macedonia Region offices when in the rest of the country most of those eligible have received their permits.
Illegal immigrants arrested on Samos: A total of 33 illegal immigrants were arrested by authorities on the Aegean island of Samos since Wednesday morning.
The immigrants are of various nationalities, with seven from Afghanistan and five from Somalia, while the rest are from Lebanon. Thirteen of them are women. They said they reached Samos by boat from the nearby Turkish coast.
They have been taken to the island's reception centre for illegal immigrants, where currently houses a total of 180 people.
 AEK Athens draws 2-2 with Anderlecht away in Champions League match
7/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)AEK Athens drew 2-2 with Anderlecht of Belgium (halftime 1-0) in a Champions League Group H soccer match played in Anderlecht on Wednesday night.
AEK's goals were scored by Vassilis Lakis in the 75th minute and by Bruno Cirillo in the 81st.
Anderlecht's goals were scored by Anthony Vanden Borre in the 38th and by Nicolas Frutos in the 63rd.
AEK came third in the Group and will continue playing in Europe in the UEFA Cup competition.
 Cypriot President Papadopulos stresses high level of cooperation with China
BEIJING, 7/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here on Wednesday night that Cypriot-Chinese relations are based on principles, expressing gratitude for the longstanding support of China as regards the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of states, as well as non-interference of any state in the internal affairs of another.
In his address at a reception for the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the People's Republic of China hosted by Cypriot Ambassador to China Petros Kestoras, the Cypriot president also stressed the "ample possibilities, especially after Cyprus' accession to the European Union, for the further enhancement and expansion of relations in fields such as trade, shipping, tourism, and other."
Papadopoulos, visiting China at the invitation of President Hu Jintao, noted that having previously visited the country in the 80s and 90s he was amazed and vastly impressed by the economic development and progress achieved in such a short period of time and congratulated "the Chinese people and Government of the People's Republic of China, for their great and impressive achievements."
"December 14th, the 35th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations, is a day of celebration and a golden opportunity to renew our commitment to further strengthen the excellent relations that have been established, throughout this period between our two countries," he said.
He further noted that the closeness and the deepness of relations between China and Cyprus is also proven by the numerous exchanges of highly successful official visits, at all levels and the numerous bilateral agreements, which cover, inter alia, the fields of health, culture, maritime transport, press and information, as well as scientific, economic and technical cooperation, which are in existence and operative between our two countries.
The Cypriot president expressed gratitude to China, "for its principled support of the independence, territorial and sovereignty in several international fora and most notably in the Security Council of the United Nations, where China is one of its five Permanent Members."
He also expressed Cyprus' gratitude for China's support to the efforts for a just and viable solution of the Cyprus question on the basis of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, European principles and international law.
He further reiterated Cyprus' well-known position of full adherence to the 'One-China' principle as well as its active support of China's efforts for peaceful reunification, noting that "there are countries, who in consort with Turkey, are promoting the idea that the part of Cyprus which, since 1974 is occupied by Turkish troops, should be turned into a 'Taiwan type' entity in the Western world."
He stressed the Cypriot government's determination to resist all such efforts and expressed the hope that China "will again be an ally to our resistance."
"Our position is based on principles. Our expectation of the support of China in this endeavor is the natural consequence of the indisputable fact that our countries share the same principles and ideals, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations: respect of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of States, as well as non-interference of any State in the internal affairs of another," he said.
Concluding, the Cypriot president stressed that on this basis, the future of Sino-Cypriot relations and friendship, based on commonly hold principles, is destined to be a bright one.
Vice chairwoman of the National People's Congress of China Wu Yun Qi Mu Ge said that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cyprus and China, the two countries support and respect each other, adding that China understands and supports Cyprus in its effort to secure its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Despite the geographical distance between the two countries, the two peoples enjoy a friendly relationship.
The Chinese people will never forget that in 1971 Cyprus voted in favor of China at the UN Security Council.
She thanked Cyprus for its support to China within the EU and noted that China has a good friend and partner within the Union.
After the ceremony the two sides exchanged gifts.
 Papadopoulos says Franco-German proposal on Turkey not yet finalized
BEIJING, 7/12/206 (CNA/ANA-MPA)A Franco-German proposal relating to a re- assessment of Turkey by the European Union, sometime in the future, has no specific date for the evaluation, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said here on Wednesday.
He explained that the said proposal does not refer to a reevaluation of Ankara's accession course in 2009 but to the period after the Turkish elections and before the European Parliament elections.
Asked whether the proposal refers to the reevaluation of Turkey in the spring of 2009, Papadopoulos said: ''That's not what the suggestion said. What it says is after the Turkish elections and before the European elections. The period is not clarified. It may be right after. It has not been decided. The proposal does not talk about 2009."
Invited to say if the suggestion provides for sanctions against
Turkey, Papadopoulos said "the text of the proposal has not yet been finalized. As it stands, it reflects the opinion of the two countries. I wish it is accepted."
Asked when it will be finalized, Papadopoulos replied: "December 14 and 15," when the European Council will meet in Brussels.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday called for a progress report on Turkey's troubled EU candidacy before spring 2009.
''We will campaign for the European Commission to draft a report some time between the elections in Turkey in autumn 2007 and the European elections in spring 2009,'' Merkel said after talks with the presidents of France and Poland.
French President Jacques Chirac said he backed Merkel's proposal for a progress report on Turkey's membership bid.
 FM Lillikas says time-table important for Turkey's obligations
LARNACA 7/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The Cyprus government said here on Wednesday that a Franco-German proposal as regards EU-Turkey relations is important in that it suggests a new evaluation of Turkey's European course.
Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas said that without a new date and without a time-frame for the evaluation, Turkey will have no incentive to meet its obligations.
He acknowledged that there are big countries, inside and outside the EU who do not favor a deadline for Turkey, countries which exercise significant pressure on EU allies or have important means and ways to offer their allies things in return or deprive them of benefits.
Speaking at Larnaca airport on his departure for Paris to meet French government officials, Lillikas said that Nicosia and Paris enjoy "an open dialogue on bilateral as well as European Union issues."
The meetings will focus on developments in Euro-Turkish positions.
The minister will be briefed on the discussion and agreement of the French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"It is very important that France and Germany have decided and share a common position as regards setting a new rendezvous for a new evaluation for Turkey and the fulfillment of its obligations towards the EU and its member states," he said.
He noted that "if this time-table is 18 months or two years it is not of great importance. What is important is that there will be a new evaluation for Turkey, something that was not a requirement in the EU Commission recommendations."
Responding to questions, he said that the government by no means feels lonely among the 25, noting that "on the contrary, there is a lot of understanding from many partners."
Lillikas further said that the "battle will be difficult" explaining that Cyprus has to compete with big countries, within the EU and outside the Union, "which support Turkey without taking into consideration whether it meets its obligations."
This, he explained, means that "we do not start from a position of power, we start from a weak position. But we will fight this battle until the end and safeguard our national interests."
Responding to another question, he said that what is important is to have a mechanism to monitor and supervise Turkey and that the only way is to set a time-table in which there will be another discussion and evaluation with a new report from the Commission as regards Turkey's EU obligations.
Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes said on Wednesday that it is wrong to say that the German-French proposal on Turkey came as a surprise, noting that it is just a proposal and not a conclusion to attribute dramatic dimensions to it.
What is important for us with this recommendation is that it suggests an evaluation of Turkey's European course, something that is not required in the recommendations of the Commission, he added.