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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-12-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

December 9, 2006


  • [01] Greece's leadership addresses 6th Convention of overseas Greeks
  • [02] PM pledges law allowing Greeks abroad to vote
  • [03] Church leaders' messages to SAE Convention
  • [04] Government on Turkish proposal for customs union protocol
  • [05] PM has phone discussion with Turkish counterpart
  • [06] Papandreou on Turkey and Cyprus
  • [07] Socialists 'source of hope', Papandreou claims
  • [08] Turkish Cypriots' isolation due to continuing Turkish occupation, Greek UN representative says
  • [09] Interior minister meets with German counterpart
  • [10] Meimarakis meets with Serbia's Armed Forces General Staff Chief
  • [11] GSEE-ADEDY confer with ND secretary on Education issues
  • [12] Upgrade of SE Europe Stability Pact's Thessaloniki HQ
  • [13] Greece, US on joint Balkan growth policy
  • [14] Draft bill on state proclamations in local press to parliament
  • [15] PASOK party questions professional soldiers' hiring procedures
  • [16] Amendments for OTE, OGA pensions and ATE tabled in Parliament
  • [17] PASOK party spokesman criticizes government over OTE issue
  • [18] Labor confederation leader reacts to Special Social Solidarity Fund
  • [19] Alogoskoufis-Avramopoulos meeting
  • [20] KKE leader pledges to support struggle of hospital staff and doctors
  • [21] Gov't raps industry for "short memory"
  • [22] Main opposition opposes ECB rate rise
  • [23] Tourism minister to USA
  • [24] Hellenic Petroleum to expand energy group
  • [25] Popular Bank renamed Marfin
  • [26] Professional Premises Observatory in Thessaloniki
  • [27] Greek-Australian negotiations on social security and pension issues
  • [28] Life-saving operation by EKAB
  • [29] New technologies help children with dyslexia
  • [30] Blood drive in memory of George Rallis
  • [31] Appeals court for N17 trial reconvenes with new judges
  • [32] Student-teacher protests in Athens, Thessaloniki over article 16
  • [33] Drug arrests in Thessaloniki
  • [34] Lebanese national arrested for immigrant smuggling
  • [35] President says Cyprus wants Security Council permanent members involved
  • [36] Cyprus not satisfied with European Council draft conclusions
  • [37] European Council draft conclusions set out sanctions for Turkey
  • [38] Finland says Turkish proposal to open port for Cyprus not enough
  • [39] British official says Turkey's EU accession strategically important
  • [40] Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos begins Cyprus visit

  • [01] Greece's leadership addresses 6th Convention of overseas Greeks

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Foreign Minister Dora Bako-yannis and Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party president Alekos Alavanos all addressed the first day of the 6th World Convention of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), which opened in Thessaloniki on Friday with an address by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    The two-day convention will be addressed on Saturday by main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou.

    All the speakers stressed the importance of preserving unity and close ties between Greeks throughout the world in order to ensure that Greece maintained a strong presence on the international scene, while the prime minister also announced plans to pass legislation executing the Constitution that would give Greeks living abroad the right to vote in general elections.

    President Papoulias additionally noted that the SAE's contribution in achieving the goal of unity among the world's Greeks could be decisive in this effort, and that Greeks abroad were a bridge of friendship and cooperation between their new countries and Greece, helping to serve its foreign policy interests with great efficiency.

    According to Karamanlis, the SAE convention sent out a message of "national unity and accord of the Greeks of the world", while he called the 6th convention "a landmark in the organization's history".

    "With the experience of the efforts made over the 11 years, by using the relevant law executing the Constitution and, above all, with the expressed will, contribution and joint action of all the political forces in the country we can now proceed more strongly," he stressed.

    The prime minister also pointed out that the coming years would be very important for the future of Greeks throughout the world, since the original generation of emigrants would now have to hand over the reins to the next generations born and raised abroad.

    "We all realize that the needs and life experiences of the emigrants in the '30s, '50s and '60s are very different to the needs today of the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those that left back then. The world has changed and is still changing at an unprecedented pace. The technological leaps taking place in our age have eliminated distances," he said.

    According to the premier, these new technologies and the opportunities for communication that they created provided new tools, not just for preserving the ties between Greece and its expatriates but for actually making them closer and stronger.

    The foreign minister, on her part, described Greeks abroad as a factor of strength for Greece and its foreign policy and outlined the government's actions to reorganize and upgrade the SAE, while she thanked outgoing SAE President Andrew Athens for his work.

    Noting the need for decisiveness, flexibility and imagination to formulate new policies in the face of new realities and challenges, she pledged to further strengthen cooperation with overseas Greeks to ensure a better future for Greeks throughout the world.

    The meeting was also addressed by Alavanos, who criticized the premier for announcing plans to give Greeks abroad the right to vote before having heard their own proposals and stressed the need for the SAE to be autonomous of the government, parties and the Church.

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, proposed a "Parliament" of overseas Greeks and allowing the diaspora to elect 12 MPs to the Greek Parliament from among their numbers, while calling on the parties to promise to place an overseas Greek at the head of their state deputy list in the next general elections.

    A message to the convention from Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga was read out by KKE MP Nikos Gatzis.

    [02] PM pledges law allowing Greeks abroad to vote

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Greeks living abroad will be able to vote in the general elections to take place in Greece after the next general elections due by March 2008, and voting will be based on the European Parliament election model, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said Friday, while addressing the opening session of the two-day 6th World SAE (Council of Hellenes Abroad) Convention taking place in Thessaloniki.

    The prime minister stated that those eligible to vote will be all Greeks living abroad who are registered voters, adding that those living in other countries will be able to vote for candidates in the electoral districts they were registered.

    He reiterated that legislation executing article 51 of the Greek Constitution, which guarantees Greek expatriates the right to vote, will be tabled in Parliament before the end of the current government's term in office.

    In comments to reporters in Athens, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that the prime minister's commitment deepened democracy and responded to a long-standing demand of Greeks throughout the world.

    The spokesman also noted that the government was seeking to strengthen institutions and did not intend to take anyone by surprise, pointing out that the measures were included in the Constitution but that the previous government had failed to pass a law to execute them.

    He also reiterated that the details of the measure needed to be carefully worked out and that this required time, since there were major problems to be resolved.

    [03] Church leaders' messages to SAE Convention

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos urged constant unity and harmony in views, decisions and actions, in a message to the 6th Convention of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) that opened Friday in Thessaloniki that was read out at the convention by Metropolital Michail of Austria

    Jerusalem Patriarch Theofilos, in his greeting, said that the today, more than ever, the rallying of the Greeks abroad around the Church was necessary in order to neutralize the dangers of assimilation of the Greek element in the big cultural melting pots of the world of globalization, while a greeting by Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria stressed the need for the continuation of his Patriarchate's work and its moral and material support.

    In another greeting, Archbishop Christodoulos called on Greeks abroad to keep their faith in God, preserve the institution of the family, to not forget the Greek language, and to continue being benefactors.

    Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus' message contained references to the Cyprus issue, and called on Greeks all over the world to work towards transforming not only the public opinion but also that of the governments in which they lived, adding that this would be the greatest contribution to the struggle of the Cypriot people.

    [04] Government on Turkish proposal for customs union protocol

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    The government on Friday stressed that the agreements signed by Turkey with the European Union required that it implement the additional customs union protocol without terms and conditions.

    Responding to questions about a Turkish proposal to open one of its ports and airports to traffic from neighboring Cyprus, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that Greece was basing its response of official and binding EU documents.

    Antonaros pointed out that Ankara had made a commitment to implement the additional protocol without terms and conditions in December 2004 and then once again on December 21, 2005 when the EU said it expected Turkey to implement the Ankara Agreement and lift obstacles to the free movement of goods.

    EU texts also state that the EU will assess Turkey's stance in 2006, Antonaros said, while reiterating that the European Commission's proposal to freeze eight of the 35 chapters of the accession talks was considered a basis for negotiations by Athens.

    [05] PM has phone discussion with Turkish counterpart

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had a brief telephone discussion on Friday with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayip Erdogan, held at the Turkish premier's initiative.

    During the 10-minute conversation, Erdogan outlined the Turkish positions on his country's EU course, while Karamanlis outlined Greece's positions, which are summarized in the principle that "Greece supports Turkey's European course, but the neighboring country must fulfill the obligations it has undertaken towards the European Union", an announcement said.

    [06] Papandreou on Turkey and Cyprus

    PORTO 9/12/2006 (ANA-MPA - G. Milionis)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader and Socialist International President George Papandreou on Friday sent a clear message to Ankara from the podium of the Party of European Socialists congress held in Porto, Portugal, stressing that Turkey must meet its obligations toward the European Union.

    Papandreou, referring to Cyprus, underlined the fact that Turkey is not simply an occupation force in the north part of the island but an occupation force on EU territory, stressing that this is unacceptable.

    "Nobody in the world can believe that Cyprus constitutes a military threat for Turkey", the Socialist International president pointed out and called for the withdrawal of the occupation troops, reiterating his proposal for the demilitarization of the island.

    These steps will promote dialogue for a lasting and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, he added.

    [07] Socialists 'source of hope', Papandreou claims

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Continuing his speech at the PES congress, Papandreou said that socialists were a "source of hope" for many parts of the world, while predicting that socialists and progressive forces were making a comeback in Europe, also.

    "They bring new hope for a social and just Europe, that is near the citizens and their problems, a Europe of employment, development and social cohesion," he added.

    He underlined the differences between socialist and conservative political forces, saying that the letter cultivated policies of fear rather than socialist policies cultivating policies of security and self-confidence in peoples, while stressing the important steps taken by Socialist International to formulate policies for dealing with environmental issues.

    The SI's president also pointed to the Democrat victory in the United States Congress, saying it marked a step for a new approach to the Middle East and Iraq, while he emphasized the Baker report.

    He said that the Socialist International must help the Democrats in the U.S. - with the initial goal being that of achieving peace in the Middle East. He also urged support of leaders like Lebanon's Walid Jumblatt or Serbia's Boris Tadic, who faced difficult negotiations for Kosovo.

    He also referred to EU enlargement, expressing hope that the western Balkans would become part of the European family and stressing that the momentum must not be lost.

    On the sidelines of the congress, Papandreou had meetings with Tadic, Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev, Jumblatt, U.S. Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean and former Czech premier Jiri Paroubek.

    [08] Turkish Cypriots' isolation due to continuing Turkish occupation, Greek UN representative says

    NEW YORK 9/12/2006 (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)

    Greece's permanent representative at the UN, ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, speaking during Friday's discussion at the Security Council on the peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), said that "the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots is due to the continuing Turkish occupation."

    Vassilakis underlined that "the occupation of territory of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey harbors danger for international peace and security in the region," adding that "the fact that there is a clear difference between the defensive activities that a sovereign country undertakes to secure its sovereignty and territorial integrity and the activities of an occupation force is of decisive significance."

    He further stressed that "we must not avoid pointing out this difference in the name of neutrality."

    Referring to developments in relations between Europe and Turkey and the initiatives of the European Union's Finnish presidency, he said that "while parallel procedures might have a positive effect for providing good services, the procedure of the UN is clearly separate from whatever other one."

    Following Friday's briefing of the Security Council plenum, its five permanent members will have unofficial consultations to discuss the British draft resolution.

    [09] Interior minister meets with German counterpart

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Interior, public administration and decentralization minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos met Friday with his visiting German counterpart Peter Altmaier, for talks that were also attended by the German ambassador to Greece and Greece's Civil Protection secretary general Panayotis Fourlas.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Altmaier said he had a "very good and constructive discussion" with Pavlopoulos which focused on immigrant integration and Germany's preparations for its assumption of the EU presidency.

    He said they also exchanged views on measures for disaster management in the EU.

    Pavlopoulos, in turn, said they had a very useful discussion that included migration and civil protection issues.

    Particularly on the issue of immigrant integration, Pavlopoulos noted that Greece and Germany have a common course with respect to the Greeks who lived for many years as immigrants in Germany and who now are EU citizens.

    Having this experience and cooperation, he said, "today we are speaking of a course of integration of the immigrants we have in our country".

    He added that Greece and Germany have many common points in this issue, because the goal was a more smooth, juster and more substantial integration of immigrants into Greek society.

    "We also discussed matters concerning the legalization of immigrants living here illegally. I explained the measures we have taken. And, in this matter, we are ahead of many of the other European Union countries," Pavlopoulos added.

    Another topic of discussion, the Greek minister continued, was that of civil protection, and particularly the relations that the EU member countries should have among themselves on the issue of natural disasters. "In other words, what cooperation there should be among the member states so that, when we face problems of natural disasters, the necessary solidarity and cooperation will function so that the problems we faced in the past will not be created anew," the interior minister explained.

    [10] Meimarakis meets with Serbia's Armed Forces General Staff Chief

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Friday received Serbia's Armed Forces General Staff Chief Major General Zdravko Ponos who is on a formal visit to Greece until Saturday, at the invitation of his Greek counterpart National Defense General Staff Chief Admiral Panayiotis Hinofotis.

    Meimarakis expressed Greece's support to the accession of all Balkan states into the Euro-Atlantic structures stressing that it will benefit peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

    He also congratulated Serbia for receiving a NATO invitation during the summit meeting in Riga to participate in the alliance's Partnership for Peace program.

    Earlier, the Serbian Armed Forces General Staff Chief had a meeting with his counterpart Admiral Hinofotis and discussed issues concerning the expansion of bilateral military cooperation.

    The two sides will also sign the 2007 military cooperation program.

    [11] GSEE-ADEDY confer with ND secretary on Education issues

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) on Friday presented their proposal for a socio-political dialogue on Education to ruling New Democracy party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.

    After meeting with the GSEE and ADEDY presiding boards at the ND central offices in Athens, Zagoritis stated that dialogue is positive and any proposal made is useful. He added that the issue of Education is a top priority and stressed that all proposals tabled are being considered, pointing out that the dialogue on Education is ongoing and was launched two years ago.

    GSEE President Yannis Panagopoulos said that the two umbrella labor organizations presented a proposal on the way the dialogue on Education can be held and endorsed free public education. He added that their initiative will continue and next month both GSEE and ADEDY will present to the political and social partners a detailed outline on the way the dialogue should be organized.

    ADEDY vice-president Yannis Antonakos commented that any attempt for a dialogue aimed at solving the problems in the sector of Education is positive.

    [12] Upgrade of SE Europe Stability Pact's Thessaloniki HQ

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    The SE Europe Stability Pact's permanent headquarters in Brussels on Friday upgraded the alternate headquarters in Thessaloniki, with the transfer of the responsibility for Cross Border Cooperation to the Thessaloniki HQ.

    The director of the Pact's Working Table I (on Democratization and Human Rights) Marijana Grandits, on behalf of the Central Secretariat in Brussels, on Friday turned over the Cross Border Cooperation (CBC) responsibilities to Thessaloniki HQ chief Veniamin Karakostanoglou during a special ceremony, stressing that "Thessaloniki has traditional and historical ties with all the countries of the region, and is the absolute strategic point for the future".

    The transfer of authorities took place in view of the strategic evolution of the Stability Pact into the Strategic Cooperation Council (RCC) as of 2008.

    Karakostanoglou said that the Thessaloniki HQ will encourage local democracy with corresponding economic initiatives, by helping the accession processes of the SE Europe countries into the Euro-Atlantic institutions.

    Greek foreign ministry spokesperson Eleni Vakali expressed satisfaction with the upgrading of the Thessaloniki HQ which, in 2007, intends to facilitate contacts among the local communities, networks and universities with the European institutions, to renew the support of the contributors (private individuals, organizations and governments to boost cross border cooperation) to the Euroregions/microregions, to increase the efforts for combating corruption and trafficking, and to advance cooperating between the public and private sector, in collaborating with the Pact's Business Advisory Council, which is also headquartered in Thessaloniki.

    Also, a meeting took place of the Pact's Local Democracy and Cross Border Cooperation Task Force (LODE/CBC Task Force).

    [13] Greece, US on joint Balkan growth policy

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and US Ambassador in Athens Charles Ries on Friday spoke of forging a joint strategy for growth policy in the western Balkans and Black Sea countries.

    The two officials told a seminar at the foreign ministry that policing and suppression were not enough to combat smuggling and terrorism. The world community's answers to the problems were an alliance of developed countries in the OECD's DAC group, under the aegis of the United Nations.

    Stylianidis said that as a new donor nation in 2000, Greece had turned to more powerful and experienced countries for valuable knowhow; and he praised the contribution of USAID, Ambassador Ries, and the president of USAID, Randal Tobias.

    Countries that are a key priority for Greece and the USA include Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania and Serbia.

    Ries pointed out that his country's contribution to growth was the largest worldwide at 27 billion US dollars annually, with Japan ranking second at 13 billion dollars.

    [14] Draft bill on state proclamations in local press to parliament

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    A ministry of state draft bill entitled "placement of announcements in the daily and weekly regional and local press and other clauses" was tabled in parliament on Friday.

    The draft bill completes existing legislation referring to the mandatory placement in the daily and weekly press of specific announcements signed by state and broader public-sector agencies.

    [15] PASOK party questions professional soldiers' hiring procedures

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    The main opposition PASOK party questioned on Friday, during the discussion of a question it tabled in Parliament, the transparency of procedures implemented for the hiring of professional soldiers by the Greek military.

    PASOK deputies criticized the government both over the "personal interview" process and the suspicious, as they termed it, change of members of Evaluation Committees within five days.

    The main opposition party expressed strong suspicion over the changing of results in the ministry's website, which government circles had attributed to hackers, a view confirmed by the deputy defense minister.

    Defending the procedures being applied, Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos said that the personal interview "is carried out by committees appointed by order of the Army General Staff chief and are composed of members of the relevant branch of the armed forces who are experiencing the true reality of our military and, consequently, have the ability, due to their knowledge and experience, to assess the personality of the candidate and his ability to exercise his duties."

    [16] Amendments for OTE, OGA pensions and ATE tabled in Parliament

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    With a series of amendments to the draft tax bill tabled in Parliament on Friday, the finance ministry has opened the way for reducing the state's share in the former state telecom Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) to less than 33%, increasing the OGA farmers' pension and shifting the Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE) pension fund to the unified pension funds IKA-ETAM and ETAT.

    The bill also changes the OTE personnel code, making it similar to that of the mobile phone service provide Cosmote.

    The measures are preparation for the further privatization of OTE scheduled to take place within 2007.

    According to Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, the telecom's current personnel regulations preserved "all the rigidity and inflexibility of the organization's mode of operation when it was a state monopoly, resulting in a very high operating cost, low productivity and shortcomings in the service to consumers".

    Among its failings was the inability to hire staff to executive positions from the job market, a lack of flexibility in internal movement and a lack of performance incentives, he said. The minister said that the new code would not affect the labor rights of those hired by OTE before July 14, 2005.

    According to Alogoskoufis, the government was forced to proceed with passing the amendment after a stalemate in negotiations between OTE's management and union representatives in talks lasting more than two years.

    The amendment for the OTE personnel code was roundly criticized by General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) President Giannis Panagopoulos, who said that it "completed the demolition begun by the government will the bill for the state utilities (DEKO)". He accused the government of "trampling over the results of collective agreements and collective bargaining" by passing a law that essentially abolished collective agreements and divided the workforce, in order to create insecurity and sell off OTE to private interests.

    The measures for the ATE bank pension fund include incorporating the ATE Staff Pension and Welfare Fund to the Unified Employees Insurance Fund (IKA-ETAM) and shifting pensioners and those insured by the ATE Staff Members Special Auxiliary Account (ELEM) to the Unified Bank Workers Insurance Fund (ETAT) from January 1, 2007.

    ATE will pay IKA-ETAM the sum of 28 million euros a year for 15 years, while it will pay ETAT and the bank workers unified auxiliary pension fund (ETEAM) 380 million euros in total. Of this sum, 280 million euros will be paid in January 2007 and the remaining 100 million euros in 10 equal annual installments.

    Finally, the amendment for the OGA farmer pensions provides for an increase in the basic pension to 277.75 euros a month from January 1, 2007 and to 330 euros from January 1, 2008, from 227.75 euros a month at present.

    In addition, the government will increase the EKAS low pension supplement to 195 euros a month from January 1, 2007 and then to 230 euros a month from 2008.

    [17] PASOK party spokesman criticizes government over OTE issue

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Petros Efthymiou on Friday expressed the party's strong disagreement with the decrease in the state's participation in the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) to less than 33 percent, stressing that "we shall not accept this."

    Efthymiou said that it is an action "that is harmful for the national economy", adding that the Organization's sale "creates national security issues for telecommunications."

    According to the spokesman, the Organization's sale will have repercussions on the cost of telecommunications services that will burden every Greek citizen, as well as thousands of small and medium-size businesses cooperating with OTE.

    [18] Labor confederation leader reacts to Special Social Solidarity Fund

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Yiannis Panagopoulos reacted strongly on Friday to information concerning the creation of a Special Social Solidarity Fund, meaning a fund that will support the unemployed in specific regions or branches suffering from unemployment.

    Panagopoulos spoke of an action that favors specific businessmen who create unemployed people, adding that the fund could be called a "fund helping businessmen who dismiss."

    The labor confederation leader focused his criticism on the fact that the money for the fund will result from the restructuring of funds for unemployment, meaning that money destined for the unemployed will be directed to some unemployed people from special businesses, while financing from the budget is not anticipated.

    Panagopoulos further spoke of a "hope trade" and of money that will be led to specific directions having a name and surname and pointed out that the promotion of local employment agreements is also being attempted indirectly.

    [19] Alogoskoufis-Avramopoulos meeting

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos focused on health ministry issues in the meeting they had on Friday.

    Among the issues discussed was the hiring of 4,000 nursing staff and doctors' overtime work.

    [20] KKE leader pledges to support struggle of hospital staff and doctors

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga committed herself on Friday that she will support the struggle of hospital staff, doctors and nursing personnel.

    Speaking after her meeting with the EINAP union, Papariga said that the need to form a popular movement is more than mature for substantive and real public health, without its coexistence with every form of private activity.

    "Many bells are tolling, such as the announcement that a private medical school will be established," she said, adding that "it is the beginning of a course that will show that the public health system is tending to be transformed into a branch office of insurance companies and businessmen."

    [21] Gov't raps industry for "short memory"

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday rapped industrialists for having "a short memory" about the government's economic reform.

    Sioufas was responding to criticism by the Federation of Greek Industry, Dimitris Daskalopoulos that the government lacked boldness in its reform drive.

    "Reform carried out over the last two and a half years has founded a new growth model, and reforms in progress will improve that," the minister noted.

    He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an inauguration ceremony for a 390-MW electricity plant belonging to Thessaloniki Energy SA, budgeted at 260 million euros.

    [22] Main opposition opposes ECB rate rise

    PORTO, Portugal 9/12/2006 (ANA-MPA/G Milionis)

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Friday criticized the latest hike in key interest rates by the European Central Bank.

    Shadow economy spokeswoman Vasso Papandreou complained that powers of the ECB should belong to politicians.

    Borrowers would suffer from Thursday's rate rise coupled with profiteering in the domestic banking system, Papandreou claimed during a visit to Portugal for a conference of the European Socialist Party.

    [23] Tourism minister to USA

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Tourism Minister Fani Palli Petralia is to pay an official visit to Washington on December 11-15.

    The minister will meet officials in the travel and media sectors in order to publicize tourism to Greece from the USA.

    [24] Hellenic Petroleum to expand energy group

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Athens-quoted Hellenic Petroleum SA plans to expand its existing energy group by setting up an electricity producer, chairman Efthymios Christodoulou said on Friday.

    The project is still on the drawing board but should be implemented "in the not-too-distant future", according to Christodoulou and CEO Panos Kavoulakos.

    The two were speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an inauguration ceremony for a power plant belonging to Thessaloniki Energy SA that was attended by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas.

    The new power company being planned would include the new 390-MW electricity plant launched in Thessaloniki, which was budgeted at 260 million euros.

    [25] Popular Bank renamed Marfin

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Cyprus Popular Bank has been renamed Marfin Popular Bank Public Co. Ltd, management said in a statement on Friday.

    The name change follows acquisition by Athens-quoted Marfin.

    [26] Professional Premises Observatory in Thessaloniki

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    The Professional Chamber of Thessaloniki (EETH) on Friday decided to proceed with the establishment of a Professional Premises Observatory to register all available spaces offered for sale or rental for professional use and record real estate market prices in an effort to assist the members of the sector.

    A committee will be formed soon to make all necessary decisions concerning the timetable for the observatory's founding and operation.

    [27] Greek-Australian negotiations on social security and pension issues

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Greece and Australia agreed on the wording of a draft agreement text that will serve as a basis for further negotiations regarding their social security systems and the issues arising in case an individual moves, changing country of residence and social security system.

    A delegation of Greek employment ministry officials visited Canberra, Australia on December 4-8 for talks and according to the ministry of employment, the goal is to sign a bilateral social security agreement in the immediate future.

    Foreign Exchange Rates

    Reference buying rates per euro released

    by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.338

    [28] Life-saving operation by EKAB

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    The family of a 65-year-old man who died in an intensive care unit at a private clinic in Patras from cerebral hemorrhage on Friday decided to donate his organs to people in need of a transplant operation and the State Emergency Ambulance Service, EKAB, in western Greece set up a life-saving operation.

    A team of doctors from Thessaloniki took his liver while one of his kidneys was sent to the National Transplant Center in Athens and the other one remained at the Patras University Hospital.

    [29] New technologies help children with dyslexia

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    New technologies are being placed to the service of children with dyslexia and learning disabilities based on the fact that an image on a computer screen can help them master the reading and writing mechanism.

    A one-day conference will be held at the City College amphitheater on Saturday in Thessaloniki to inform teachers, professionals and parents on the software available that can assist children with learning disabilities.

    People diagnosed with dyslexia make up 5-6 percent of the population. Dyslexia can be traced at the end of the first grade in primary school when children face problems in reading, writing and spelling. Better information is necessary because in many cases teachers misread the symptoms and misunderstand dyslexia for laziness, indifference or carelessness.

    [30] Blood drive in memory of George Rallis

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    A blood donation dedicated to the memory of former Prime Minister Georgios Rallis was organized on Thursday by the Greek Parliament employees association in cooperation with the "George Gennimatas" General Hospital.

    Justice Minister Anastasis Papaligouras and 93 parliamentary deputies and employees donated blood during the one-day event.

    [31] Appeals court for N17 trial reconvenes with new judges

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    The five-member appeals court that is trying the November 17 terrorist case reconvened on Friday with a new panel of judges in order to examine a petition by Dimitris Koufodinas and another three defendants that two judges and two prosecutors be barred from trying the case on the grounds of bias.

    [32] Student-teacher protests in Athens, Thessaloniki over article 16

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    Students and teachers at all levels of education staged protests in the centre of Athens and Thessaloniki on Friday to protest against plans to revise article 16 of the Constitution, so as to allow the foundation of private universities in Greece.

    Protestors in Athens marched to Parliament and dispersed without incident at about 15:00.

    [33] Drug arrests in Thessaloniki

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    A 23-year-old foreign national has been arrested on drug trafficking charges in Thessaloniki, police said on Friday.

    Police found in his apartment a total of 734 grams of cocaine, two electronic precision scales, 2,740 euros and notes referring to drug transactions. Three drug addicts were also arrested after buying small quantities of drugs from him.

    Meanwhile, in an unrelated incident a 26-year-old was arrested in the region of Dendropotamos, Thessaloniki while getting rid of 12 micro-packages of heroin to avoid being caught having them in his possession.

    [34] Lebanese national arrested for immigrant smuggling

    Athens 9/12/2006 (ANA)

    A 35-year-old Lebanese man was arrested following a pursuit by a coast guard patrol boat stationed on the island of Samos on Friday, after he was caught transporting 21 illegal immigrants to Greek shores in a Turkish speedboat.

    [35] President says Cyprus wants Security Council permanent members involved

    BEIJING 9/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Friday that Cyprus is asking the UN for the five permanent members of the Security Council to become involved in the Cyprus problem and not for the question to be monopolized by only two members, as in the past.

    Speaking at a press conference in Beijing after wrapping up an official visit to China, President Papadopoulos said ''every discussion, initiative, thought on the Cyprus problem must be a topic

    of discussion by the five permanent members as well.''

    President Papadopoulos said the government has been requesting this from UN representatives, and he himself in person requested it from the UN Secretary General and even French President Jacques Chirac, who said he would be giving instructions to France's Permanent Representative at the UN in that direction. He added that he has also made the same request from the presidents of Russia and China.

    The Cypriot President noted that France, Russia and China have been seeking a direct involvement in the Cyprus problem over the past period, both in New York and Cyprus, adding that the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller has meetings in Nicosia with the representatives of the Security Council permanent members once a month.

    Referring to the July 8 agreement, President Papadopoulos said the Greek Cypriot side is focusing on matters of substance, while the Turkish side is interested in day-to-day issues.

    ''We are saying that we are interested in solving the Cyprus problem, reunification, while the Turkish side seems to be interested in learning to live apart and solve the problems arising from the division,'' he pointed out.

    Asked if working groups and technical committees have been set up, President Papadopoulos said they have not yet began work.

    President Papadopoulos departed from Beijing and was on his way back home on a special flight. He will be arriving at Larnaca Airport on Saturday.

    [36] Cyprus not satisfied with European Council draft conclusions

    BRUSSELS 9/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) of the EU member states concluded its discussions in Brussels on Turkey's EU course on Friday, in the framework of preparing the General Affairs Council, which will convene in Brussels on Monday.

    The Finnish presidency informed the member states that there would be no further meeting of COREPER on Saturday and that new revised draft conclusions would be prepared and sent to the member states by Sunday, so that the could prepare for Monday's meeting.

    Cyprus' Permanent Representative to the EU Nicos Emiliou said on Friday that the draft European Council conclusions on Turkey's EU accession course did not satisfy the Republic of Cyprus.

    Speaking at the COREPER meeting, Emiliou pointed out that the Finnish presidency's draft conclusions did not contain a date for the reassessment of Turkey, since the text is restricted to the annual report by the European Commission, something which Cyprus considers inadequate.

    Also absent from the draft conclusions is the element of Turkey normalizing its relations with the Republic of Cyprus, which is one of the commitments Ankara has undertaken towards the EU.

    [37] European Council draft conclusions set out sanctions for Turkey

    BRUSSELS 9/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Finnish EU presidency submitted on Friday to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) of the member states the draft conclusions on Turkey's EU course, which sets out sanctions to be imposed on Ankara due to its refusal to open its ports and airports to the Republic of Cyprus.

    The Finnish presidency makes no reference to Turkey's proposal to open a single port and a single airport to Cypriot ships and airplanes, probably due to reactions on behalf of Cyprus, Greece and

    other member states during Thursday's COREPER meeting.

    In the draft conclusions, the Council ''recalls the declaration of the European Community and its Member States of September 21, 2005 and notes that Turkey has not fulfilled its obligation of full non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement.''

    ''The Council welcomes the Commission's recommendation of November 29. In this context the Council agrees that the Intergovernmental Conference on Accession with Turkey will not open chapters covering policy areas relevant to Turkey's restrictions as regards the Republic of Cyprus until the Com-mission confirms that Turkey has fulfilled its commitments related to the Additional Protocol,'' it adds.

    It agrees that ''no chapter will be provisionally closed until the Commission has confirmed that Turkey has fulfilled its commitments related to the Additional Protocol,'' and ''invites the Commission to report to the Council on progress on the issues covered by the declaration of September 21 in its annual progress reports.''

    ''The Council emphasizes that the screening process will now continue and chapters for which technical preparations have been completed will be opened in line with the Negotiating Framework,'' it adds.

    In the draft conclusions, the Council ''welcomes the continued progress made by Turkey in the reform process, but regrets that the pace of reforms has slowed down in 2006,'' adding that ''the substantial and technical preparation of the negotiations have progressed well.''

    ''The Council recalls that, in line with the Negotiating Framework, the advancement of the accession negotiations continues to be guided by Turkey's progress in preparing for accession. In this context the Council notes that further efforts are required to strengthen freedom of expression, freedom of religion, women's rights, minority rights, trade union rights and civilian control of the military,'' it adds.

    It notes that ''Turkey also needs to pay due attention to good neighborly relations and regional cooperation, including making the necessary efforts towards finding solutions to outstanding bilateral issues, in particular border disputes.''

    [38] Finland says Turkish proposal to open port for Cyprus not enough

    NICOSIA9/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose country is currently holding the EU rotating presidency, said on Friday that Turkey's proposal to open one port to Cypriot ships was ''not enough.''

    ''What Turkey has said is not enough and of course the Union will make the decision how to continue the negotiation process with Turkey,'' he told reporters in Brussels during a video conference from Helsinki.

    According to press reports, Vanhanen said he expected EU member states to agree next Monday to a partial suspension of entry talks, as proposed by the European Commission for Turkey's refusal to extend a customs union with the EU to Cyprus.

    ''The Commission proposal I believe is quite near the compromise,'' he said of the EU executive's proposal for slowing Turkish accession talks by suspending eight of 35 negotiation areas, or chapters.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [39] British official says Turkey's EU accession strategically important

    LONDON 9/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    British Minister of State for Europe Geoff Hoon reiterated at the House of Commons that Turkey's EU accession is strategically very important.

    ''We remain firmly committed to Turkey's accession to the EU. While recognizing that Turkey must fulfill its obligations, we stress to our EU counterparts that Turkey's is a strategically important accession,'' Hoon said, replying to a question by Labor MP Ben Chapman on Britain's stance regarding Turkey's EU course.

    Hoon noted that ''the Foreign Secretary and I have regular and frequent discussions with our EU counterparts on Turkey's EU accession process.''

    [40] Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos begins Cyprus visit

    NICOSIA 9/12/2006 (ANA-MPA - A. Viketos)

    Greek Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos began an official two-day visit to Cyprus on Friday, at the invitation of Justice Minister Sophocles Sophokleous, with a meeting with acting Cyprus President and House of Representatives Speaker Demetris Christofias. Pavlopoulos is being accompanied on his visit by Equality Secretary General Evgenia Tsoumani.

    Christofias said that an exchange of views took place on the current situation concerning the Cyprus issue and developments in the European Union related to Turkey's communication moves, as well as on the European Human Rights Court's decision on the case of Myra Xenidi-Aresti.

    Pavlopoulos said that he had the opportunity of expressing his congratulations over the course of Cyprus in the European Union, that he termed excellent.

    "Despite difficulties, despite the problems it is facing, it is a model country that is forging ahead in the EU, utilizing possibilities and the acquis communautaire. Consequently, it must have the relevant treatment inside the EU and not only," Pavlopoulos said and pointed out that Cyprus must be respected as an EU member-state.

    Referring indirectly to the accession course of Turkey and its refusal to comply with its European commitments, Pavlopoulos said that Europe must move ahead and countries wanting to join must keep up with Europe.

    Pavlopoulos also met with Interior Minister Neoklis Sylikiotis and Nicosia Mayor Mihalakis Zambelas. On Saturday, he will be addressing an event organized by the National Apparatus for Women's Rights on the theme of "Equality between men and women in local administration."

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