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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-12-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 3 December 2007 Issue No: 2763


  • [01] Minister Hatzigakis, Papandreou address public prosecutors' annual general assembly
  • [02] PM Karamanlis congratulates newly elected Australian PM Kevin Rudd
  • [03] PM Karamanlis extends condolences to Turkish counterpart over plane crash
  • [04] Education, State ministers call on PASOK to return to dialogue for constitutional reform
  • [05] Minister says gov't wants 'economically viable, legally correct' solution for OA
  • [06] KKE on developments at OA
  • [07] UN envoy Nimetz in FYROM on Mon.
  • [08] LA.OS leader calls for tough stance vis-a-vis FYROM 'name issue'
  • [09] Alavanos confirms he'll step down from SYRIZA, SYN helms
  • [10] Latest poll shows wide support for pension reform, opposition to specific changes
  • [11] Assumption of leadership action against AIDS
  • [12] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday
  • [13] Events held marking 94th anniversary of Crete's unification with Greece
  • [14] Four illegal immigrants, trafficker arrested in Kilkis
  • [15] AEK win over Aris keeps club in first place
  • [16] Scattered showers, windy on Monday
  • [17] FM says Cyprus still blocked from joining Open Skies Treaty by OSCE member

  • [01] Minister Hatzigakis, Papandreou address public prosecutors' annual general assembly

    The Union of Public Prosecutors held its 23rd annual general assembly on Sunday at the Athens Bar Association, in the presence of Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis and main opposition leader George Papandreou, among others.

    In his address, the minister stressed that "the weakening of the state corrodes citizens' respect for the law. At the same time, their (citizens) willingness to abide by the primary (state) institutions diminishes in the face of new institutions. These new institutions are often implemented with the fanaticism of a convert. I refer here, in particular, to the otherwise useful independent authorities, such as the Personal Data Protection Authority. This independent authority, in applying its policy, outflanked the rights of other unprotected citizens, and of course, often violated social rights, in attempting to bypass our institutional state system," the minister said, adding:

    "The justice ministry's effectiveness is based on specific pillars, specifically in the acceleration in the administration of justice, increasing human resources in all sectors of justice, securing dignified conditions in detention centres, and respect of the personal but also the social rights of citizens. At the same time, I feel the need to declare yet again that we trust the justice system."

    On his part, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou mainly criticised the current government.

    "The evaluation of the New Democracy government in the sector of justice is not at all positive. And there are crucial questions, which have been raised for our democracy, such as the issue of the intervention of justice, the major structured bonds scandal, about which we have not yet learnt the truth, and whether the guilty parties will be punished, as well as what happened with the Zorbas report; why is the prime minister is afraid and does not want, even in Parliament, to discuss it.

    "The downgrading of the independent authorities, the intense partisan manipulation of public administration by non-transparent partisan systems and, of course, the lack of meritorious hiring in the public sector..."

    Responding to Papandreou, Hatzigakis said that as long as long as he has been at the helm of the ministry, "there have been no interventions in justice," adding that "we honor the work of the justice system and we safeguard it in order for it to operate as an independent institution."

    [02] PM Karamanlis congratulates newly elected Australian PM Kevin Rudd

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has sent a congratulatory letter to newly elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

    According to a press release issued on Saturday, Karamanlis underlines the will for the further promotion of already excellent relations and cooperation between the governments of Greece and Australia, both on a bilateral and multi-sided level, to the benefit of the peoples and in the direction of peace, stability and development in the world.

    [03] PM Karamanlis extends condolences to Turkish counterpart over plane crash

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressing his condolences on behalf of the Greek people and government, over the loss of lives in the plane crash in southern Turkey, according to a press release issued on Saturday.

    [04] Education, State ministers call on PASOK to return to dialogue for constitutional reform

    Education Minister Evripides Stylianidis called for main opposition leader George Papandreou's return to dialogue for revising the Constitution, with a view to revising controversial Article 16 that outlaws all but state-run universities in the country.

    Stylianidis, in an interview published in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily "Vima", said that "leaving the negotiation table does not comprise a policy position"

    Meanwhile, the minister said that any university that does not submit the newly mandated four-year agreements with the state will not be funded.

    Meanwhile, in an interview with another Athens newspaper on Sunday, Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos also called on PASOK to return to discussion on Constitutional reform regarding the election law revision, saying that such a development would allow discussion on implementing a law closer to the so-called "German electoral" model.

    In an interview published by the daily "Eleftheros Typos", Roussopoulos expressed support for changes concerning large election precincts.

    Moreover, he reiterated that the prime minister's commitments regarding pension reforms stand.

    [05] Minister says gov't wants 'economically viable, legally correct' solution for OA

    Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Saturday reiterated that the Greek government aims to find a solution for debt-ridden national carrier Olympic Airways (OA) that is "economically viable and legally correct".

    Speaking in Brussels following his meeting with EU Commissioner Jacques Barrot, the long-time Greek Euro-MP said the situation for state-run OA has worsened following a new legal challenge tabled with the Commission by Ryan Air.

    "We must all end this impasse We want a healthy company," he said, reiterating that OA jobs will not be eliminated, remote Greek islands will still retain their air link, "and taxpayers will not continue to see their money being thrown away without any result"

    [06] KKE on developments at OA

    The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in an announcement on Saturday referred to developments at Olympic Airlines, noting that "a crime" has been committed against the company

    "The continous crime against Olympic Airlines is not a matter of incompetence or mistaken options of the New Democracy and PASOK governments. It is a conscious option of theirs in cooperation with the European Union and with the implement of its decisions. The problem at Olympic Airlines is not economic or legal, as they want to present it, but political," the announcement said.

    [07] UN envoy Nimetz in FYROM on Mon.

    SKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)

    UN Secretary General special envoy Matthew Nimetz, who is mediating in the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the so-called "name issue", will meet here on Monday with FYROM's top political leadership.

    A meeting is scheduled in the early afternoon at the office of FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski.

    Taking part in the high-level meeting, apart from the president, will be FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki as well as the country's representative in the negotiations at the UN headquarters on the 'name issue'.

    Nimetz will hold meetings in Athens on Dec. 5.

    [08] LA.OS leader calls for tough stance vis-a-vis FYROM 'name issue'

    The Parliament-represented Orthodox Popular Rally's (LA.OS) central committee met in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, with party leader and founder George Karatzaferis mostly focusing on a handful of foreign policy issues that feature prominently in the party's presence on the national scene.

    Specifically, referring to the re-surfaced FYROM 'name issue', Karatzaferis, a former Euro-MP, reiterated that the neighboring northern state should not use the title "Republic of Macedonia ... because, firstly, Macedonia is Greek, and secondly, it's debatable as to how much of a republic it really is."

    He also expressed his satisfaction that the Greek government is discussing the possibility of vetoing the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) course towards NATO accession, while demanding a referendum on FYROM's Euro-Atlantic prospects and not the customary ratification by Greece's Parliament.

    Moreover, he said time is working in favor of Athens and not in Skopje's favor, citing fluid developments over Kosovo.

    Finally, he referred to some 187,000 ethnic Greeks, as he said, in land-locked FYROM that need Athens' protection.

    "Mother Greece embraces all of Macedonia, which is its natural child," he told supporters.

    In an unrelated issue, Karatzaferis referred to a coming visit this week to Greece of Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, as well as the latter's tour of the northeast Thrace province, saying that Athens has continually made concessions to Ankara without getting anything in return.

    Along those lines, he called on Greek leadership to follow the example of French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

    Interior minister inaugurates centre for illegal immigrants in Samos

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Saturday inaugurated a second centre for illegal immigrants, with a capacity of 285 people, on the island of Samos.

    Pavlopoulos hailed the importance of the project, due to the particularity of Samos as a target for illegal immigrants from the broader region.

    The centre cost 2.6 million euros and the sum was allotted in its entirety by the ministry, while its equipment exceeds 150,000 euros.

    Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Pavlopoulos stressed Turkey's obligation to also help in the reduction of the phenomenon of illegal immigration, particularly with the combating of human trafficking.

    [09] Alavanos confirms he'll step down from SYRIZA, SYN helms

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos on Sunday directly confirmed his departure from the leftist coalition's helm, with a new president to be elected at a January party conference.

    Alavanos also said, in an interview published in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily "Vima", that if the new president is also a Parliament MP "then is it self-obvious that he/she will assume the leadership of the party's parliamentary group".

    The leftist leader, who will retain his deputy's seat in Parliament, reiterated that his decision to leave the party's leadership is due to personal reasons, while noting that a premier role for today radical left necessitates a convergence with the new generations.

    Finally, he stressed that the possibility of a pre-election cooperation between SYRIZA and PASOK does not exist.

    [10] Latest poll shows wide support for pension reform, opposition to specific changes

    A vast majority of respondents, 78.8 percent, in a latest opinion poll said they were in favour of social security reforms -- the most pressing political issue in the country over the recent period -- with only 17.1 percent of respondents saying reforms are unnecessary.

    Despite the volition for reform, a slight majority of respondents, 51.3 percent, said they opposed mergers of Greece's dozens of pension funds.

    Along those lines, 55.1 percent of respondents said they opposed incentives for early retirement or a law mandating a 65-year-old age limit for retirement, 60 for women.

    Despite opposition, of varying degrees, a whopping 79.5 percent of those queried in the poll said they want the government to proceed with changes in social security despite whatever political costs, whereas 72.1 percent called for opposition parties to submit their own proposals.

    The poll, conducted by the Rass firm and published in the weekly "Paron", was undertaken between Nov. 27 to Nov. 29 on a sample of 1,001 respondents.

    [11] Assumption of leadership action against AIDS

    "The issue of this year's World Day against AIDS is the assumption of leadership action. Without this, we will never overcome this plague," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an announcement on the occasion of World Day Against AIDS on Saturday.

    In Greece, the total amount of people who were HIV positive from 1984 up to the end of October 2007 reached 8,584 people, of which 80.1 per cent were men and 19.3 per cent were women, while for a small percentage the gender was not declared.

    The number of children under the age of 13 came to 77 cases in Greece, of which 62.3 per cent were boys and 36.4 per cent were girls.

    The total amount of AIDS cases in Greece from 1984 to October 31, 2007 comes to 2,829 people, of which 84.6 per cent were men and 15.4 per cent were women. The total amount of AIDS cases in children reaches 36, of which 63.9 per cent were infected by the mother.

    The number of deaths from AIDS which were declared in 2007 came to 30, while the total number of deaths from 1983 to date reached 1,552 people, of which 87.4 per cent were men and 12.6 per cent were women.

    [12] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.487

    Pound sterling 0.720

    Danish kroner 7.517

    Swedish kroner 9.446

    Japanese yen 164.74

    Swiss franc 1.667

    Norwegian krone 8.178

    Cyprus pound 0.588

    Canadian dollar 1.481

    Australian dollar 1.677

    General News

    [13] Events held marking 94th anniversary of Crete's unification with Greece

    Celebrations marking the 94th anniversary of Crete's unification with Greece culminated on Saturday in Hania, Crete. Present at the events were Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas.

    A church service was also held, officiated by Archbishop of Crete Irineos.

    Cretans with traditional customs held the Greek flag which they later hoisted.

    On December 1, 1913, statesman Eleftherios Venizelos hoisted the Greek flag and Crete united with Greece.

    "As president of the Greek Parliament, hoisting the flag on the anniversary of the union of Crete with Greece, I feel particular honour also for the deputies of the Greek Parliament and for the political world," Sioufas said in an address.

    [14] Four illegal immigrants, trafficker arrested in Kilkis

    Four illegal immigrants who entered Greece by an unguarded point of the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as well as a 44 year-old Greek woman who transported them with her car, were arrested at dawn on Saturday by police officers in Kilkis, northern Greece.

    According to the police, the trafficker, at a price, would have transported the four illegal immigrants to Thessaloniki, northern Greece.

    The five will be led before the Kilkis public prosecutor.


    [15] AEK win over Aris keeps club in first place

    AEK Athens picked up a tough 1-0 away win against Aris Thessaloniki on Sunday evening to retain its lead over rival Panathinaikos Athens and Olympiakos Piraeus by three points, with the former failing to down this season's lacklustre Xanthi on Saturday at home and with Olympiakos picking up an easy 3-1 victory on Sunday against Atromitos Athens.

    AEK's sole goal came in the 82nd minute on an own-goal by the home side, as AEK revved up its engines in the second half, with Brazilian international Rivaldo leading the way.

    The game, played at Thessaloniki's Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium, was delayed for one hour during halftime when authorities ordered roughly 800 visiting AEK fans expelled from the venue due to the firing of flares in the first half.

    In other action:

    Panionios Athens - Iraklis Thessaloniki 1-1

    Asteras Tripoli - PAOK Thessaloniki 2-0

    Veria - Ergotelis Crete 1-1

    OFI Crete - Larissa 0-0

    Apollon Kalamaria - Levadiakos Livadia 2-0

    Standings after 10 weeks of play:

    AEK 24 points

    Panathinaikos 21

    Olympiakos 21

    Asteras 18

    Aris 16

    Atromitos 16

    Panionios 15

    Iraklis 14

    PAOK 13

    Apollon 11

    Levadiakos 10

    Xanthi 9

    Larissa 9

    OFI 8

    Veria 7

    Ergotelis 6

    Weather Forecast

    [16] Scattered showers, windy on Monday

    Scattered showers and sporadic storms with westerly, southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with wind velocity reaching 5-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 02C and 20C. Mostly fair in Athens, with westerly, southwesterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 05C to 18C; possibility of rain in the afternoon in Thessaloniki, with temperatures 02C to 15C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [17] FM says Cyprus still blocked from joining Open Skies Treaty by OSCE member


    Cyprus attaches great importance to the Treaty on Open Skies but deeply regrets that it is still blocked from joining the Treaty by one participating state of the OSCE, Minister of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou Marcoullis said on Friday.

    Addressing the 15th Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Madrid, Marcoullis said the OSCE is based upon a commitment to effective multilateralism, a concept of comprehensive security and an ambitious set of values with equal rights and responsibilities for all participating states.

    "In this framework, we underscore the importance of the OSCE election commitments, and recognise the valuable role of ODIHR in election observation and in assisting participating states in implementing these commitments. We are confident that the implementation by ODIHR of the improvements and recommendations contained in the Ministerial Decision on Strengthening the Effectiveness of the OSCE strengthens further its internationally acknowledged role in election observation,'' she said.

    Marcoullis noted that strengthening the performance of the OSCE is an essential and continuous process. The finalisation of a draft Convention on the International Legal Personality, Legal Capacity, and Privileges and Immunities of the OSCE, is a significant step in this direction, she said, adding that "we strongly support the adoption of the Convention and we remain open to further discussions in the course of next year, on the possibility of an OSCE Charter or a Statute."

    Regarding the future Chairmanships, Marcoullis said Cyprus commends the constructive efforts of the Spanish Chairmanship in reaching a compromise solution that is acceptable to all. Cyprus fully supports the draft decision based on a sequence for 2009, 2010 and 2011.

    ''As a Mediterranean country, Cyprus attaches great importance in strengthening dialogue and cooperation with our Mediterranean partners,'' she said, adding that it acknowledges the importance of working together towards increasing the level of involvement of our partners in the mainstream of OSCE activities.

    The adoption of the decision to establish a Partnership Fund, the Cypriot minister said, will contribute in giving ''more impetus and concrete substance to our cooperation.''

    "Cyprus is particularly pleased to have the opportunity to host an OSCE regional seminar on money laundering, due to take place in May 2008,'' she added.

    In her speech, Marcoullis noted that "Cyprus attaches great importance to the Treaty on Open Skies, as a confidence and security-building measure that provides enhanced transparency in military activities'' and that ''we deeply regret that Cyprus is still blocked from joining the Treaty by one participating state of our Organisation."

    EU member state Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory. Turkey, which aspires to join the EU, has so far refused to implement numerous United Nations calling for the immediate withdrawal of its troops from this east Mediterranean island Republic.

    Cyprus submitted her application for membership to the Open Skies Treaty in 2002 and the application remains on the Agenda of the Consultation Committee of Open Skies.

    The application, however, cannot move forward due to Turkey's refusal to consent to it. Ankara has been raising objections to Cyprus' presence at the workings of the Organisation.

    Turkey has also been vetoing Cyprus' membership in international organisations, arrangements and treaties, such as the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

    Furthermore, Turkey does not consent to the expansion of the EU-NATO dialogue with the participation of Cyprus (and Malta).

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