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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-12-14

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

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

December 14, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government on EU decision regarding Turkey; PM to Brussels on Thursday
  • [02] Mechanism for monitoring Turkey's accession adequate, Athens says
  • [03] PM briefed by culture minister
  • [04] PASOK leader Papandreou chairs party's Political Council session
  • [05] Archbishop Christodoulos arrives in Rome for historic visit to the Vatican
  • [06] President Papoulias receives Constantopoulos
  • [07] Interior minister says bill for new civil servants' code 'an imperative need'
  • [08] Ruling ND leads PASOK by 4.5%, according to VPRC opinion poll
  • [09] Article 16 to be discussed on January 10, 2007
  • [10] Minister outlines new tourism forms developing in Greece during Washington DC talks
  • [11] Greek delegation headed by Stylianidis ends Jordan visit
  • [12] Gov't defends telecom privatization
  • [13] Unions report high turnout for Wednesday's 24-hour general strike
  • [14] PASOK's Damanaki calls for withdrawal of amendment to tax bill
  • [15] Fines on banks for lack of transparency
  • [16] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise
  • [17] Seminar on psychological support of children with postwar syndrome
  • [18] Former SAE president honored by Central Jewish Council of Greece
  • [19] Exhibition in Vienna of post-Byzantine icons
  • [20] Albanians escape lock-up facility, duty police offers face suspension
  • [21] Illicit trade in antiquities arrests in Thessaloniki
  • [22] Arrest of foreigner accused of being member of network trafficking children
  • [23] EU Commission to take Greek to court over artists' royalties directive
  • [24] Congress on the Greek Left in Egypt
  • [25] Cyprus to bring back its demands if Turkish proposal re-submitted
  • [26] President Papadopoulos receives Hungarian President

  • [01] Government on EU decision regarding Turkey; PM to Brussels on Thursday

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Greek foreign ministry on Wednesday stressed that the EU's criteria in making decisions was primarily that it should not wrong itself, one day before Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' scheduled departure for Brussels on Thurs-day to attend the European Union summit.

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos was responding to criticism voiced by Turkish officials, who said that EU foreign ministers had "wronged" Turkey on Monday by adopting the European Commission's recommendations to freeze accession negotiations with Turkey on eight of the 35 chapters, in response to Ankara's failure to implement a customs union agreement and open its ports and airports to Cyprus traffic.

    According to Koumoutsakos, the way that Turkey chose to meet its obligations to the EU was its own responsibility and it would adopt whatever policy it considered best served its priorities and interests. Similarly, the EU would adopt a policy in accordance with its own interests and objectives, he added.

    "The Union's primary interest is to preserve its credibility and effectiveness. This is a priority of strategic importance for the Union; ensuring a Union that functions smoothly, effectively, with prestige and credibility. All else comes after," the spokes-man said.

    Announcing the prime minister's agenda during his trip to Brussels, meanwhile, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that the premier was scheduled to participate in the European People's Party (EPP) meeting at 13:00 and a European Council session beginning at 17:45, as well as the official dinner hosted by the Finnish EU presidency at 20:00.

    The summit meeting was expected to end on Friday morning, after which Karamanlis will return to Athens.

    The issues to be discussed by European leaders will be that of establishing an area of freedom, security and justice, as well as immigration. During the dinner, there is to be a discussion on the results of deliberations for an EU Constitutional Treaty and EU enlargement. On Friday, the debate will be devoted to approving the conclusions of the European Council.

    Asked whether the debate on EU enlargement would also cover accession talks with Turkey and whether the government anticipated any change or modification to the decision taken by the EU General Affairs Council on Monday, Roussopoulos said that there was no other EU decision on this issue that he was aware of.

    [02] Mechanism for monitoring Turkey's accession adequate, Athens says

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The foreign ministry considered the mechanism decided on by EU foreign ministers for monitoring Turkey's accession progress to be adequate, Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Wednesday.

    The spokesman noted that the review process decided on by the EU General Affairs Council on Monday did not allow a margin of several years in which the EU did not observe, examine and evaluate Turkey's stance with respect to its outstanding obligations.

    "There is an evaluation mechanism that begins immediately in 2007 but which emphatically, in recognition of certain political facts during that year, increases its weight in 2008 and then in 2009, if this proves necessary. Therefore, an evaluation mechanism exists, providing for special reference to the reports of the European Commission on Protocol issues and is essentially the position of the Commission toward the Council; in other words the observations, notes and assessments of the Commission essentially act as a recommendation to the Council, which has the option, depending on what the Commission finds regarding Turkey's fulfillment of its obligations, to take new decisions if required," Koumoutsakos explained.

    Greece judged this mechanism adequate, especially in light of the difficult climate during the negotiations, he added.

    The spokesman emphasized that the reference to Turkey's accession progress called for both a follow-up of its progress but also expressly referred to a 'review" via the Commission's reports to the Council.

    Koumoutsakos also pointed out that there was a majority and solid group of member-states that clearly and actively sought to ensure the minimum common denominator of sanctions against Turkey over its failure to implement the Customs Union Protocol and open its ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus.

    He denied that the opening of new chapters in the accession talks with Turkey was a problem, saying that this part of the process foreseen and did not undermine the EU's message to Turkey.

    "This is a message that the EU does not close the door against Turkey and, at the same time, that the progress of its accession talks will not be smooth if the neighboring country does not carry out its outstanding obligations and commitments," Koumoutsakos said.

    He said the result was in accordance with Greece's objectives and strategic choices on Turkey's European course, which was that Turkey must fully meet all terms and obligations required by the EU.

    The spokesman also commented on the failure of efforts so far to find a formula for an EU regulation that would allow direct trade between the EU and the Turkish-Cypriot community, predicting that the debate would probably continue in 2007 under the German presidency of the EU.

    Commenting on the Finnish EU presidency's statements regarding a solution for the Cyprus issue, Koumoutsakos said that this essentially "stated the obvious" and was in agreement with Greece's desire for continuing the process in order to arrive at a just, viable and functional solution, while noting the need for careful preparation of the process. He denied seeing any attempt to link the Cyprus issue with Turkey's European progress.

    Asked about a possible visit to Greece by Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul, Koumoutsakos said that Greece intended the visit to take place soon and would deal with the possibility after New Year.

    [03] PM briefed by culture minister

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed by culture minister George Voulgarakis on matters falling under the ministry's jurisdiction, during a meeting on Wednesday morning.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Voulgarakis announced that a draft law was being prepared that would establish an Antiquities Smuggling Directorate, while also being advanced were stricter provisions to the law on antiquities with respect to the illicit antiquities trade.

    Voulgarakis further said that three bills would be tabled in parliament immediately after the holidays, while another three bills were currently being discussed in ad hoc parliamentary committees and were also pending tabling in the parliament plenary.

    "Things have entered a specific course. I am optimistic on the matters that we are dealing with," Voulgarakis said, adding that more antiquities that had in the past been smuggled out of the country would be returned to Greece.

    "When the State operates with a plan and a specific goal, it produces results," the culture minister added.

    [04] PASOK leader Papandreou chairs party's Political Council session

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou on Wednesday chaired a session of the party's Political Council at which he noted that "PASOK is entering the battle station on all levels."

    PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou stated that Papandreou said that "the "battle station concerns organization on all levels, concerns each member and every friend and has a double target: Firstly the condemnation of the impasses of the New Democracy party's policy and secondly, the proclamation of PASOK's positive proposal for a just society and a Greece which can achieve its targets for society and the country."

    As stated by Efthymiou, "the battle will be given mainly in order for the working people to have the rights which they had won and to again win the hope for a better life." And this, Efthymiou stressed, "is a commitment by all the members of the Political Council."

    Papandreou noted that "the three years of the New Democracy (ND) party's policy has led the country to an impasse everywhere, it has intensified social inequality and social polarization. With its policy, the government is selling out public property and through its measures, it burdens the many in favor of the few and partners."

    The PASOK leader also accused the government that "it is undermining the fundamental gains of the working people, while it has failed in all the major policy sectors, such as Health, Education and the social insurance system."

    Papandreou added that "the government's policy is described by clientele perception, the creation of a partisan state, as well as the creation of corruption centers."

    [05] Archbishop Christodoulos arrives in Rome for historic visit to the Vatican

    ROME, 14/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos arrived here late Wednesday afternoon for a historic visit to the Vatican and talks with Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday.

    It is the first visit ever by a prelate of the Church of Greece to the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, which will be concluded on Saturday morning.

    The Archbishop told reporters that his visit and talks with Benedict XVI, will not touch on dogmatic issues but will focus on the Churches' cooperation "as History demands, so as that Churches can contribute to avoiding greater pains for humanity."

    "The aim of the visit is the reinforcement of ties and cooperation in mutual love between the two Churches and the encouragement of our efforts for peace and the unity among us, because the world is asking from our Christian Churches to cooperate for consolidating peace, justice and love among human societies," Christodoulos noted.

    "We are certain that our contacts at the Vatican will contribute to the cementing of our common wish for more love and cooperation in sectors that touch to contemporary social needs and problems," he added.

    Welcoming the Archbishop, Cardinal Walter Kasper said that "our Churches can contribute to avoiding crises and conflicts in the world in favor of the establishment of justice and love between peoples. We are awaiting with joy tomorrow's meeting which is being held in a relationship of love."

    [06] President Papoulias receives Constantopoulos

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received former Coalition party president Nikos Constantopoulos, who outlined his concerns about the attacks against him by TV presenter and journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos through his news programs on the private Alter TV channel.

    Constantopoulos said that he intended to lodge a memorandum on the issue with the National Radio and Television Council on Thursday.

    President Papoulias also received Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki earlier the same day, stressing the efforts of the Greek leadership to maintain close ties with Greek expatriate communities.

    [07] Interior minister says bill for new civil servants' code 'an imperative need'

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, speaking in Parliament on Wednesday on the bill regarding the civil servants' code, described the bill as "an imperative need in order for the strengthening of the functioning, productivity, transparency and meritocracy of members of public administration."

    Pavlopoulos said "the bill was completed through consensus procedures, in the overwhelming majority of its provisions, after a fruitful cooperation with the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY)."

    Earlier, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) deputy Evangelos Venizelos called on the government to withdraw the relevant decree, saying that it was "a provocative trick which has as its only target to alter the balance of forces."

    [08] Ruling ND leads PASOK by 4.5%, according to VPRC opinion poll

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The ruling New Democracy (ND) party is leading the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement Movement (PASOK) by 4.5 per cent and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is considered most suitable for premier, according to the monthly baramometre of Sky radio station and of VPRC, which was released on Wednesday.

    The VPRC opinion poll was conducted after the recent changes in PASOK.

    ND garners 43 per cent, PASOK 38.5 per cent, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 7.5 per cent, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) 4.5 per cent and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) 3.5 per cent.

    Karamanlis is most suitable for prime minister with 49 per cent, against 26 per cent for PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    According to the barometer, PASOK's positive points are registered in the increased degree of cohesion - a phenomenon which is also observed in the ruling party - and to the strengthening of Papandreou to the question of who is the most suitable for premier, but at the same time the strengthening of Karamanlis.

    [09] Article 16 to be discussed on January 10, 2007

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The controversial article 16 of the Constitution, which currently bars the establishment of private universities in Greece, will be brought up for discussion in the Constitution Revision Committee on January 10, 2007, committee president Yiannis Tragakis announced on Wednesday.

    Greek Communist Party, KKE, rapporteur Antonis Skyllakos said that New Democracy backed the PASOK proposal and the discussion on article 16 will be held two days after end of the Christmas Holidays for the students.

    Synaspismos party deputy Fotis Kouvelis reminded that initially article 16 was scheduled to be discussed after the constitutional revision debate and commented that the article 16 discussion was rescheduled taking into account that there will be an absence of reactions because of the holidays.

    [10] Minister outlines new tourism forms developing in Greece during Washington DC talks

    WASHINGTON, 14/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Greece's tourism development minister Fanny Palli-Petralia on Tuesday discussed the new forms of tourism developing in Greece, such as conference tourism, sea tourism and spa tourism, with Democratic Senator from Hawaii Daniel Inouye, during the second day of her visit to Washington.

    Inouye is co-chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and founder and ex-officio chairman of the subcommittee on Trade, Tourism and Economic Development.

    It was noted during the meeting that arrivals of American tourists in Greece had increased impressively in 2006, a fact that creates optimism for both sides.

    Petralia also outlined the prospects for new tourism investments in Greece and the post-Olympics exploitation of the infrastructures that had been built for the 2004 Games hosted by Athens, while the Greek side also put forward the prospect of a tourism agreement between the two countries.

    Earlier, Petralia had an informal meeting with US president George Bush's wife, Laura, at the White House.

    Petralia told reporters after the meeting that Laura Bush was involved in human rights and women's issues, as well as issues concerning the trafficking in women, noting that she, too, has personally dealt with such issues in the past during her term as president of the European Union of Women but also in her present capacity as president of the international Democratic Union of Women.

    Petralia and Bush exchanged views and positions on these issues, while the Greek minister also met with Washington Post publisher and CEO Boisfeuillet Jones Jr.

    [11] Greek delegation headed by Stylianidis ends Jordan visit

    AMMAN, 14/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Eight bilateral agreements on a state and business level were signed here on Wednesday, during the second day of a two-day business mission to Jordan headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.

    The two sides held the 4th Joint Ministerial Committee meeting and the agreements signed cleared the way for Greek exports and joint ventures.

    The cooperation protocol signed concerns, among others, the sectors of tourism, constructions, energy, alternative sources of energy, and agriculture, while another agreement was signed between the Greek Energy and Technology General Secretariat and the competent agency in Jordan for the exchange of know-how in the higher education sector.

    In addition, agreements were signed by ELOT (Greek Standardization Organization) and OPE (Hellenic Foreign Trade Board) aimed at facilitating Greek exports. The Centre for Renewable Energy Sources, CRES, also signed agreements for the exchange of know-how and the creation of the appropriate environment for such investments.

    The exchange of visits and the promotion of the Greek products in the Jordanian market were the objectives of agreements signed by ACCI (Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry), SEV (Federation of Greek Industries) and SEVE (Exporters Association of Northern Greece).

    The deputy foreign minister had meetings with the Jordanian foreign minister, the commerce and industry minister and the planning and international cooperation minister, while he also met with Greek Metropolitan Bishop Benedict of Philadelphia.

    Cooperation pact for Greek, Jordanian industry: The Federation of Greek Industry said on Wednesday that it had signed a cooperation protocol with the Industry and Trade Chamber of Jordan.

    The pact was signed in Amman as part of a joint ministerial meeting between Greece and Jordan.

    The King of Jordan visited the trade group's offices in December during a visit to Athens.

    [12] Gov't defends telecom privatization

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday defended the government's decision to privatize Athens-quoted OTE telecom as a move to improve the company's future.

    "A strategic investor will ensure that OTE is the right size in the new global environment, bring the company state-of-the art technology, and mean better and cheaper services for the public," the minister told a parliamentary committee.

    "To achieve this, however, operational modernization of OTE was required, and this is what the new labor regime for the company incorporates," he said.

    Responding to criticism from the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement, Alogoskoufis noted that when in power, the party had employed the same procedure for finding a strategic investor for the telecom through the privatization commission.

    PASOK spokesman responds to FinMin's statements: Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Petros Efthymiou on Wednesday referred to a statement by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis in Parliament that the privatization interministerial committee's decision for the finding of a strategic partner at the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) is the same with that which the corresponding PASOK government's committee had.

    In response to the finance minister's statement, Efthymiou told reporters:"That which Mr. Alogoskoufis is hiding from the Greek people is that PASOK's decisions had two characteristics. The state retains 34 per cent, which Mr. Alogoskoufis abolishes today. And the state retains the management, which Mr. Alogoskoufis abolishes today. There is no relation between one and the other and Mr. Alogoskoufis is twice exposed with these which he is using."

    [13] Unions report high turnout for Wednesday's 24-hour general strike

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Trade unionists reported a high turnout for the 24-hour general strike declared on Wednesday by the two largest trade union federations in the country but more limited participation in a rally held in the centre of Athens to protest against the government's proposed draft budget for 2007.

    The strike and rally were organized by the civil servants' union federation ADEDY and the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), a trade union umbrella organization representing the majority of workers in the private sector and several public-sector services, such as buses and trains.

    Addressing the rally, GSEE President Giannis Panagopoulos described the draft budget as the most unfair and anti-social of recent years and warned the government against opening a new front over pension reform.

    He also criticized government plans for the further privatization of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) as a "cut-price sell-off" and stressed that no European country had so far handed over control of telecommunications to the private sector.

    ADEDY President Spiros Papaspiros underlined that the budget would further deepen inequalities and austerity measures, undermine the social insurance system and intensify an already classist taxation system.

    He called on all sides of the political system to "give a specific and not a rhetorical alternative solution to the neoliberal whirlwind threatening basic labor and social rights,".

    Meanwhile, OTE workers said their strike would continue on Thursday, when they would hold another rally.

    The strike was most apparent in the broader public sector, with high participation among civil servants, public utility workers (including OTE), bank staff. Also affected was public transport in Athens, with no services throughout the day on the metro, tram, Proastiako railway and electric railway and a skeleton service run by the Greek Railways Organization (OSE). Trolley buses and OASA buses held work stoppages at the beginning of the day and will stop running after 22:00 and 22:30, respectively.

    Buses in Thessaloniki were also not running before 9:00 and will stop again after 21:00, while a work stoppage by civil aviation staff caused the cancellation of three Olympic Airlines flights and changed departure times for five more.

    Teachers in both private and public sectors, as well as university teaching staff, were also called to participate in a 24-hour strike by their unions, while public hospitals and IKA surgeries will operate with a skeleton service on Wednesday and Thursday.

    Also shut on Wednesday were pharmacies throughout Greece, except those covering emergency shifts, to demand payment of money owed to them by the state social insurance funds.

    Government on general strike: Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, when asked if the government was concerned by Wednesday's general strike, stressed that the government had been elected to exercise a specific policy and to correct problems in the economy.

    "This is our number one priority, this is the direction in which we have been moving in the past 2.5 years and we already have positive results," he told reporters.

    [14] PASOK's Damanaki calls for withdrawal of amendment to tax bill

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) head of the party's Employment and Social Security Department, Maria Damanaki, met in Parliament on Wednesday with the Executive Secretariat of the Federation of Bank Employee Organizations of Greece (O.T.O.E.), headed by the president of the Federation, Stavros Koukos.

    After the meeting, Damanaki said that PASOK "seeks the immediate withdrawal of the amendment which the government submitted to the taxation bill," regarding the social security funds of the Agricultural Bank of Greece, of the Social Security Foundation (IKA) and of other insurance funds, viewing that the amendment "has been incorporated in Parliament unconstitutionally and in a 'coup like' manner."

    [15] Fines on banks for lack of transparency

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The central bank said on Wednesday that it would slap fines on banks that failed to show transparency in their business practices.

    In addition, the Bank of Greece set new, tougher rules for transactions between banks and their customers.

    The measures including abolishing charges on little-used accounts or accounts that only contain a small sum, the central bank said in a statement.

    In future, any charges for the account will not lower the amount deposited, the statement said.

    [16] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 4,327.52 points, showing a rise of 1.32%. Turnover was 460.3 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.46% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.67% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.33% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 168 to 87 with 50 remaining unchanged.

    Foreign Exchange Rates

    Reference buying rates per euro released

    by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.337

    Pound sterling 0.678

    Danish kroner 7.513

    Swedish kroner 9.113

    Japanese yen 156.5

    Swiss franc 1.607

    Norwegian kroner 8.217

    Cyprus pound 0.582

    Canadian dollar 1.539

    Australian dollar 1.694

    [17] Seminar on psychological support of children with postwar syndrome

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Educators from Lebanon on Wednesday participated in a Mediterranean Women Artists Network, FAM, and organized an art therapy seminar held within the framework of a three-year teacher training program for the psychological support of children suffering from postwar syndrome, a post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the profoundly traumatic experience of war.

    The seminar held on the Aegean island of Rhodes on December 4-9 under the direction of the ArtReach Institute scientific team offered the opportunity to the participating teachers to be trained in holding a number of creative activities such as theater plays and text writing. Such activities help children come to terms with feelings caused by violence, the loss of parents, relatives or friends, and war-caused displacement. Children learn to express fear and pain allowing the healing process to get underway.

    A total of approximately 250 teachers will attend the program during a three-year period and in turn they will be able to help an estimated 25,000 children in Lebanon.

    [18] Former SAE president honored by Central Jewish Council of Greece

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Former World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Andrew Athens was honored on Wednesday by the Central Jewish Council of Greece for his "contribution to the reinforcement of ties between overseas Greeks and the Jewish organizations in Greece and the U.S."

    Addressing the event, the Jewish Council's President Moisis Konstantinis referred to Athens' contribution during his long tenure as SAE president.

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, also present at the event, termed Andrew Athens as an "infatiguable worker of Hellenism in the world."

    [19] Exhibition in Vienna of post-Byzantine icons

    VIENNA, 14/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Vienna's History and Art Museum is exhibiting tens of historic Greek icons of the post-Byzantine era, which originate from the famed collection of Emilios Velimezis (1902-1946).

    The exhibition, titled "The Brilliance of Heaven", was inaugurated on Tuesday night and will last until February 25, 2007.

    The exhibition was organized in cooperation with the Benaki Museum and the Foundation of Greek Culture in Berlin.

    [20] Albanians escape lock-up facility, duty police offers face suspension

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Six Albanian detainees escaped from a police lock-up facility at the Athens Prisoners Transfer Department early Wednesday, four of whom were later re-captured, while the five police officers on duty at the time will be brought before a public prosecutor and face suspension pending a Sworn Administrative Inquiry (EDE).

    The six Albanian nationals, arrested on charges of theft, burglary and narcotics, escaped from the second-floor lock-up facility at 2:40 a.m. after one of the detainees -- an iron-monger -- with the assistance of the other five managed to remove the bars from the restroom window.

    The detainees squeezed through the window onto the corridor where they broke a window and, using sheets tied together, climbed down onto a side court. Two of the Albanians suffered fractures in the arms and neck and were immediately recaptured and taken to hospital, while two others were recaptured in the truck parking lot of a nearby dairy industry, while the last two managed to escape and were being sought by police.

    The five police officers on duty on the 2nd floor at the time -- a duty officer and four guards -- have been taken into custody and are due to appear before a public prosecutor over the escape. The officers claimed that the surveillance camera system in the lock-up facility was not in operation due to damage, and consequently they had not immediately taken notice of the escape.

    The director of the Prisoners Transfer Department tendered his resignation on Wednesday morning over the escape to Police Chief Anastasios Dimoschakis, who did not accept the resignation.

    Dimoschakis ordered a Sworn Administrative Inquiry and set in motion the process for suspension of the five officers pending the conclusions of the EDE.

    At the same time, a preliminary investigation into the incident was assigned to the Athens Security Police sub-directorate to investigate all the parameters and inspect the site.

    [21] Illicit trade in antiquities arrests in Thessaloniki

    14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Two major illicit trade in antiquities cases were solved by the Thessaloniki police with the arrests of a university professor and a merchant, both accused of having in their possession artifacts of great archaeological value.

    A professor of German literature at the Democritus University of Thrace, who was keeping in his house an ancient statue head and hundreds of ancient artifacts of major archaeological value, was arrested in Thessaloniki. The man is a permanent resident of Thessaloniki and in a second apartment he used as a hiding place to stash the antiquities police found at least 8,000 ancient bronze coins, pieces of pottery, statuettes and other artifacts.

    In a separate case, a bottled water dealer was arrested in Efkarpia, Thessaloniki accused of having ancient artifacts in his possession such as coins, rings, and jewelry as well as three books of a major auction house listing photos of available ancient artifacts and their prices.

    The two illicit trade in antiquities cases are unrelated and the involvement of more individuals is being investigated.

    [22] Arrest of foreigner accused of being member of network trafficking children

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A Chinese national who is accused of being a member of a network which traffics children, was arrested by police of the Combating of the Trafficking of Persons Department in cooperation with Athens Airport police on Tuesday morning, it was disclosed on Wednesday.

    The foreigner arrived at Athens' "Eleftherios Venizelos" International Airport aboard an Olympic Airlines flight from Alexandria, Egypt.

    Upon his arrival, it was ascertained that he accompanied two children, a boy and a girl, ten and eleven years of age respectively, who he claimed were his own children and show-ed police passports of the Chinese authorities with the data of the minors.

    According to police, the arrested man was a member of a network which had received 2,500 euros for each child from their parents so as to transport them illegally to France where they live and work.

    The two children were taken by a member of the organization from China and accompanied them on foot through unguarded border crossings to Laos where he handed them over to the arrested man. He transported them by road to Thailand and from there by air via Dubai and Alexandria to Athens.

    He was later due to transport them to Milan where he would deliver them to another member of the organization for transportation to France. Following investigations, it was established that he himself had carried out at least two other transportations of children to Madrid and Athens.

    Attica Police informed Interpol so as to locate the parents of the children who were transferred to hospital for tests and later were handed over to a non-governmental organization where they are being hosted until the necessary procedures are completed.

    [23] EU Commission to take Greek to court over artists' royalties directive

    BRUSSELS, 14/12/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The European Commission on Wednesday announced that it would take action against Greece and four other EU member-states for failing to incorporate a directive to ensure that graphic artists might collect royalties from successive resales of their original artwork into national law by January 1, 2006.

    [24] Congress on the Greek Left in Egypt

    ATHENS, 14/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Archives of Contemporary Social History (ASKI) and the Political Movement of Greeks from Egypt of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party, are organizing a congress of contemporary history on the theme "The Greek Left Movement in Egypt, Ideas, Action, Contribution".

    The congress, which will be held this Friday and Saturday, will examine the actions and the contribution of the Greek left movement in Egypt assessing its role from the end of the 19th century until the middle of the Nasser era.

    [25] Cyprus to bring back its demands if Turkish proposal re-submitted

    LARNACA, 14/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus has no objection for a re-negotiation of the decision of the European Union Foreign Ministers Council on Turkey, in the event Turkey submits in writing its proposal on the opening of a single port and airport to the Republic of Cyprus.

    The position was outlined by President Tassos Papadopoulos on Wednesday, ahead of his trip to Brussels to attend the European Council.

    The president said that if Turkey presents its proposal again, then the government will submit its demands which were not achieved during Monday's General Affairs Council meeting.

    Papadopoulos said that during the EU Foreign Ministers Council, Cyprus' three pursuits were achieved.

    Asked if there can be a change in the EU Foreign Ministers' decision, he replied "theoretically it is possible but seldom, when there is a unanimous decision of the Foreign Ministers, it is averted by the European Council. If there is a discussion or not, that is an issue which is decided by each member state, or whether the presidency will allow it".

    Asked if reports are true that the Finnish presidency of the EU, together with all countries are putting pressure on Cyprus to release the chapters which the Council decided that will not open, President Papadopoulos said that decisions for the opening or closing of chapters are taken at an Intergovernmental Conference level.

    In this context the Council agrees that the Member States within the Intergovernmental Conference will not decide on opening chapters

    covering policy areas relevant to Turkey's restrictions as regards the Republic of Cyprus until the Commission verifies that Turkey has fulfilled its commitments related to the Additional Protocol.

    This, he added, does not take away the right in the proper political situations, for each member state to exercise this right. It is an issue, he said, which will be examined every time we believe serves best Cyprus' interests.

    To a question on Cyprus' right to block the opening of the next chapter in Turkey's EU negotiations since it continues to prevent Cyprus from entering various international organizations, Papadopoulos said it depends which those chapters are. "There are chapters which have no contents as far as the acquis is concerned, such as the one of statistics. There should be a valid reason to raise an objection", he said, adding that "it depends how it will be raised, under which circumstances and preconditions and when it will happen", he added.

    Invited to comment possible reports that Turkey might submit in writing its proposal for the opening of one airport and one port for Cyprus, prompting a re-negotiation of the EU Council of Ministers decision, Papadopoulos replied:

    "We have no objection for re-negotiation of the conclusions, and for this reason our demands which were not met at the Council will be resubmitted", he added.

    Regarding the issue of direct trade with the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus, President Papadopoulos said that early January the next presidency of the EU, Germany, will start work on completing the European Commission decision regarding the handling of Cypriot goods which come from areas of the Republic which are not controlled today by the government.

    "Our effort is to show that direct trade does not constitute embargo or blockading Turkish Cypriots, because its contribution will be insignificant, bearing in mind the volume of the production in the occupied areas", the president said, adding that the Green Line regulation provided the ability to Turkish Cypriots, if they consider themselves under an embargo, to proceed with exporting their goods through the lawful ports of the Republic.

    The president said the government has undertaken a commitment for discussions to begin on the issue in 2006. However, the issue will be discussed during the German presidency which begins in January, he concluded.

    European Union Foreign Ministers agreed unanimously on Monday night to sanction Turkey for failing to respect its trade obligations to Cyprus by slowing down Ankara's membership talks.

    The Council agreed that the member states within the Intergovernmental Conference will not decide on opening chapters covering policy areas relevant to Turkey's restrictions as regards the Republic of Cyprus until the Commission verifies that Turkey has fulfilled its commitments related to the Additional Protocol.

    The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of its territory.

    Turkey, a country aspiring to enter the EU, refuses to implement the Customs Union Protocol by opening its ports and airports to Cyprus.

    Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose country is currently holding the EU rotating presidency, said last week that Turkey's proposal to open one port to Cypriot ships was ''not enough.'' The proposal was also rejected by the Cypriot government.

    [26] President Papadopoulos receives Hungarian President

    NICOSIA, 14/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos received Wednesday Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom, who was paying Cyprus a one-day visit.

    The two presidents held Wednesday morning a private meeting at the Presidential Palace, followed by consultations with the participation of the two countries delegations.

    No statements were made after the meeting.

    Later on, the Hungarian president visited the Hungarian contingent of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

    According to an official press release, President Solyom was accompanied by Hungarian Minister of Defense Émre Szekeres, Hungarian Chief of Defense Staff General Andras Havril and other high ranking officials of the president's office, the ministry of defense, the ministry of foreign affairs, the ministry of justice and the Hungarian House of Representatives.


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