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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-01-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

January 3, 2006


  • [01] Gov't talks to Russian, Ukraine envoys over natgas rift
  • [02] Greece working towards defusing a Russian-Ukrainian dispute on gas
  • [03] Barroso statement on occasion of Greek accession to European Communities
  • [04] Deputy environment minister visits landslide-stricken village of Harokopi in Ioannina
  • [05] KKE hails 47th anniversary of Cuban revolution
  • [06] Orthodox and Catholic senior clerics of Syros issue joint New Year message
  • [07] Archbishop of America to visit Cyprus
  • [08] Unleaded gas price below European average
  • [09] Int'l trade fair to be held in Cyprus, May 6-June 4
  • [10] Tax revenues' growth exceeded budget target in 2005
  • [11] Greek stocks end first trading session of 2006 flat
  • [12] Escaped Russian murderer found dead, suicide confirmed
  • [13] Three Iranian nationals arrested for antiquities smuggling
  • [14] Occupation regime frees Greek Cypriot Euro MP
  • [15] Egypt assures of continuing support for Cyprus

  • [01] Gov't talks to Russian, Ukraine envoys over natgas rift

    ATHENS, 3/1/2006 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Monday held separate meetings with the ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine over a rift between the two countries involving natural gas prices.

    Moscow on Sunday cut supplies to Ukraine, which had rejected a fourfold price increase for the fuel, resulting in a decline in gas supplies to Europe through Ukrainian pipelines. State-run Gazprom of Russia has pledged to restore full deliveries to Europe by Tuesday evening.

    Sioufas told Russian envoy Andrey Vdovin that Russia and Ukraine should reach agreement as soon as possible in order to meet international agreements on gas supplies.

    The minister also underlined the importance of a pact between Greece and Russia on construction of a gas pipeline between Komotini and Alexandroupoli, and another agreement for construction of an oil pipeline between Burgas and Alexandroupoli.

    He also noted that Greece supported initiatives in the matter taken by the European Union's Austrian presidency.

    In a meeting with Ukrainian ambassador Valerii Tsybukh, Sioufas pointed out that although the price rift was bilateral, Greece believed a rapid solution was needed to avoid jeopardizing supplies.

    Furthermore, the government also backed initiatives by other countries to aid resolution of the problem.

    Greece does not want reduction in supply of natgas, foreign ministry says: Greece's interest for the quantity of natural gas supplied to the country not to be reduced, due to the matter which has arisen between Russia and Ukraine regarding the determination of the price of natural gas, was expressed on Monday to the ambassadors of the two countries by the director of the foreign minister's diplomatic office.

    In the meeting of Ambassador Constantine Rallis with the ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine in Greece, Andrey Vdovin and Valerii Tsyboukh, respectively, the Greek side expressed the wish for a speedy settlement of the natural gas price issue. Finally, the Greek side noted that it is important that both sides are giving assurances for their already obligations.

    As announced by a foreign ministry press release, the meeting was held following instructions by Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis. The same announcement said that the foreign ministry communicated with the Austrian EU presidency to brief it on the Greek positions.

    [02] Greece working towards defusing a Russian-Ukrainian dispute on gas

    ATHENS, 3/1/2006 (ANA)

    Russia's decision to cut off gas deliveries to Ukraine would not lead to any prices increases in the Greek market, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Monday.

    The Greek minister, in a radio interview, said the government was fully alerted to ensure smooth supply of natural gas in the domestic market. Sioufas said Greece has not experienced any problems so far and stressed that the Austrian EU presidency has acted immediately by informing both Ukraine and Russia to overcome their dispute.

    The Greek minister acknowledged that Hungary and Poland already faced some supply problems but reassured that both the EU presidency and the Greek government were working closely to solve the problem.

    Sioufas said Russia (mainly) and Algeria were Greece's suppliers with natural gas, but said the country's natural gas, and liquefied natural gas reserves were enough to ensure the smooth supply of domestic markets. He acknowledged, however, that a further escalation of the crisis could create wider problems. Sioufas said the government would continue a procedure of signing liquefied natural gas supply contracts with Algeria.

    Sioufas said Ukraine was a member of Europe's energy charter and stressed that the country had specific obligations to meet.

    Liquefied natural gas imports hiked in light of Russia-Ukraine crisis: Development ministry and DEPA officials on Monday said they were reassured by the Russian energy giant Gazprom that natural gas shipments to Greece would not be affected by the ongoing and unprecedented Russian-Ukrainian energy crisis.

    Nevertheless, DEPA, the state-run natural gas utility, said it has ordered higher quantities of liquefied natural gas from Algeria for storage at the Revythousa offshore facility as a precautionary measure.

    [03] Barroso statement on occasion of Greek accession to European Communities

    BRUSSELS, 3/1/2006 (ANA)

    European Commission President Josť Manuel Barroso on Monday issued a statement on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Greece's accession to the European Communities, as well as on the 20th anniversary of Portuguese and Spanish accession to the European Communities

    "... 25 years ago, Greece became a member of what was then the European Communities. 20 years ago, Portugal and Spain joined in, too. Today, we can proudly say that Greece, Spain and Portugal as well as Europe as a whole have all become much stronger as a result of the second and third enlargements.

    "The perspective of membership did much to consolidate democracy and encourage reform in these countries. Membership led to unprecedented development, the result of which was greater stability and greater competitiveness.

    "But the benefits of enlargement move in both directions.

    "The accession of these countries made Europe bigger and stronger. It consolidated Europe's Mediterranean and Atlantic dimensions, and opened up new vistas in Africa and Latin America.

    "The example of Greece, Spain and Portugal provides good evidence that enlargement is beneficial to the existing as well as to the acceding countries. One expression of this experience is the unstinting support Greece, Spain and Portugal have given to all enlargements which have followed - particularly the last one, towards Central and Eastern Europe.

    "Of course, we should not allow celebrations to slip into complacency. Greece, Spain and Portugal, like the rest of Europe, face new challenges. They must constantly adapt and reform in order to be fit for the 21st century and to reap the full benefits of globalization.

    "But if they continue to progress over the next years how they have over the last decades, then they - and Europe as a whole - can look forward to a very bright future indeed," the statement concluded.

    [04] Deputy environment minister visits landslide-stricken village of Harokopi in Ioannina

    3/1/2006 (ANA)

    Deputy Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Stavros Kaloyiannis on Monday visited the village of Harokopi, Ioannina, where landslides occurred.

    Another two families at Harokopi were forced on Monday to evacuate their homes as they were deemed dangerous.

    These families, like the other three families whose houses were destroyed by the landslide, will be hosted by relatives or friends until they are settled into houses which have been rented in the same village.

    The deputy environment minister was accompanied by a ministry team of experts who will reach conclusions on measures which must be taken in continuation.

    [05] KKE hails 47th anniversary of Cuban revolution

    ATHENS, 3/1/2006 (ANA)

    On the occasion of the 47th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in a message on Monday sent its greetings to the Communist Party of Cuba and the country's "working class and people."

    The KKE message said:"In these difficult years for the peoples due to the 'new world order'', the example of the Cuban people who courageously defended their socialist homeland, and their gains against the strongest imperialist force, is a source of inspiration and hope for all the peoples who counter-attack imperialist aggressiveness."

    [06] Orthodox and Catholic senior clerics of Syros issue joint New Year message

    ATHENS, 3/1/2006 (ANA)

    Metropolitan of the island of Syros Dorotheos and Catholic Bishop of Syros Frangiskos sent a joint New Year message to the faithful of both the doctrines.

    In their joint message, the two senior clerics said "we are obligated to join our hands, in an inter-personal dialogue and a society of love which will eliminate the divisive lines and give to the people a message of peace and Christian solidarity."

    [07] Archbishop of America to visit Cyprus

    NEW YORK, 3/1/2005 (ANA-MPA/P Panayiotou)

    Archbishop Dimitrios of America is to visit Cyprus on January 24-29, invited by the island republic's president and church synod.

    Beyond talks with President Tassos Papadopoulos, Dimitrios will meet leading government and church officials during his stay.

    It is the first time that an archbishop of America visits the island republic.

    [08] Unleaded gas price below European average

    ATHENS, 3/1/2006 (ANA)

    Domestic retail prices for unleaded petrol are 21.48% below the European Union average and the lowest in the bloc, the development ministry said on Monday.

    The average nationwide price for unleaded on December 29, 2005 was 0.905 euro per litre, down 0.55% from 0.91 euro on December 22, the ministry said in a statement.

    From the beginning of 2004, the price of unleaded gas has risen by 23.8% against an increase of 86.42% for Brent oil, the statement said.

    The ministry's surveys are conducted in about 2,300 petrol stations around the country.

    [09] Int'l trade fair to be held in Cyprus, May 6-June 4

    3/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greek businessmen, participating in the 31st international trade fair to be held in Cyprus, May 6-June 4, will have the opportunity to forge new business agreements with enterprises from Cyprus and other countries.

    This year's fair is expected to draw more than 350 exhibitors from 15 countries, with the organizers expecting more than 130,000 visitors.

    The trade fair, to be held in Nicosia, will exhibit manufacturing products made in Cyprus (furniture, building material, plastics, mattresses, food, pumps, travel products, children accessories, aluminium products, etc) along with other imported goods.

    [10] Tax revenues' growth exceeded budget target in 2005

    ATHENS, 3/1/2006 (ANA)

    Tax revenues rose by 13 percent in December, to record a 6.0 percent annual increase exceeding a budget forecast for a 5.0 pct growth rate in 2005, Greece's Finance ministry said on Monday.

    A finance ministry announcement attributed the significant increase to a 13.5 pct rise in VAT revenues. Ministry officials said tax revenues would continue rising in 2006 and in particular in the first months of the new year, which are of particular significance to the smooth implementation of the government budget.

    [11] Greek stocks end first trading session of 2006 flat

    ATHENS, 3/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended the first trading session of 2006 flat as investors remained on the sidelines extending their New Year's holidays.

    The composite index fell 0.02 percent to end at 3,663.31 points with turnover a low 139.5 million euros.

    The Big Cap index eased 0.03 percent, the Mid Cap index rose 0.77 percent and the Small Cap index jumped 1.75 percent.

    The Insurance index scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (8.99 pct), followed by the Commerce (3.76 pct) and Technology (2.32 pct). On the other hand, the Raw Materials (2.24 pct), Oil (1.24 pct) and Food-Beverage (0.72 pct) indexes suffered the heaviest losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 198 to 81 with another 40 issues unchanged.

    The Athens Stock Exchange welcomed the new year with a festive ceremony at the opening of the session. ASE chairman Spyros Kapralos welcomed all members, representatives of listed companies and capital market authorities.

    In his speech, Kapralos said 2005 was a very good year for the stock market since it laid the foundations to restore transparency and confidence among investors. Kapralos said the composite index of the Greek market ended 2005 with a net gain of 31 percent, while turnover jumped by 50 percent over the same period. He said ASE board's aim for 2006 was to continue efforts to attracting conscious investors back in the market.

    Iakovos Georganas, chairman of Hellenic Stock Markets Group SA, said the group has achieved its main goals in the first three-year program.

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: -0.03%

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: +0.77%

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (939)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 44.5 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2015): 3.56% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bund: 3.33%

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2015 (490 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 1.2 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.192

    [12] Escaped Russian murderer found dead, suicide confirmed

    3/1/2006 (ANA)

    The body of a 23-year-old Russian man who escaped last week after killing two police guards while being transported in a police van was found on Monday along the banks of a river with a bullet wound in the head, and roughly 1.5 kilometers from where he initially fled.

    According to reports, Maxim Zhilin was clutching the revolver he took from one of the two slain officers. Authorities found the body near a remote riverside trout farm after local residents reported hearing a single gun shot in the early morning hours.

    Meanwhile, a Larissa coroner later in the afternoon confirmed reports that Zhilin had committed suicide by aiming and firing the revolver into his right temple. The time of death was determined as taking place 20 to 24 hours before the body was found.

    His body was found on the banks of the Malakasiotis River, a tributary of the Pinios River.

    Police believe the man attempted to cross the river in order to escape Special Forces search teams and was possibly exhausted after spending two days outdoors in adverse weather conditions without food.

    According to top police officials during a subsequent news conference, the escaped man was without shoes and wearing only the shirt and pants he wore during the escape, even though temperatures were routinely below zero throughout the time he was on the run. Additionally, authorities said the site where the body was found had been previously and repeatedly searched both by ground forces and from the air by helicopter crews.

    A manhunt was ordered late Friday morning for the Russian man after he killed the two policemen escorting him and two 17-year-old Albanians charged with minor drug offences from a detention centre in Ioannina to jails in Larissa and Volos. One of the Albanians was injured by gunfire in the police transport van, while the second teen, who escaped with Zhilin after the slayings, was apprehended on Sunday some 12 kilometres from the scene of the crime.

    The two police officers -- a driver and a guard -- were killed near the village of Malakasi in the Kalambaka district of Trikala prefecture (central Greece) on Friday when they made an unscheduled stop because the prisoners persistently asked to relieve themselves.

    According to reports, Zhilin asked the guard to remove the handcuffs he was wearing and when the guard complied, he attacked him and grabbed the officer's weapon, shooting him in the head. The Russian and one of the Albanians reportedly overpowered and killed the driver before fleeing, while the second Albanian was injured during the incident and declined to participate in the escape.

    As police had said shortly after the incident, Zhilin took the revolver he snatched from the officer with him, with only one bullet left in the revolver.

    Zhilin was jailed for the murder of a 42-year-old woman in Corfu on Oct. 2. The Russian had then posed as a hitchhiker before robbing and murdering the woman after she offered to give him a lift.

    [13] Three Iranian nationals arrested for antiquities smuggling

    ATHENS, 3/1/2006 (ANA)

    Three Iranian nationals have been arrested in Athens on antiquities smuggling charges after attempting to sell three ancient Greek coins for 17,000 euros, the finance ministry's special investigations service revealed on Monday.

    The ministry said that the three men were arrested by police in Athens on Friday, following a joint investigation by the ministry's special investigations service and the Attica security police headquarters. The arrests were made in a joint operation by the Attica security police's narcotics squad and the security police's antiquities smuggling squad.

    Police said that, at the time of the arrest, two of the three Iranians were armed with a military knife and hatchet.

    They further said that a small quantity of hashish and pills containing illegal substances, as well as photographs of hundreds of ancient coins were also found in the detainees' possession and confiscated.

    The three Iranians were taken before a public prosecutor.

    [14] Occupation regime frees Greek Cypriot Euro MP

    NICOSIA, 3/1/2006 (CNA/ANA)

    The illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus released on Monday afternoon European Parliament member Marios Matsakis, a Greek Cypriot who was illegally arrested on December 31st, 2005, accused of entering a Turkish military area and lowering a Turkish flag from an unmanned dividing line Turkish military post at Louroujina area, south of capital Nicosia, on November 1, 2005.

    Matsakis, who appeared on Monday before a military and a civilian court in the pseudostate said they had not maltreated him. He noted though that the hygiene conditions in jail were poor but he was well in his health.

    In statements to the press after being freed, the Cypriot MEP said that he had to sign a bailbond as a guarantee that he would appear to the civilian court on January 5th.

    He added that he signed the paper in order to be set free, but could not understand what was written since the paper was in Turkish.

    Cypriot MEP appeared before a so called military court that accepted his parliamentary immunity and decided to freeze the case until 2009, when the next EP elections will take place and his immunity is lifted.

    Earlier the "public prosecutor" said that the "state" could not accept Matsakis' immunity since the acquis communautaire is suspended in the northern part of Cyprus and the pseudostate has not signed any agreement with the EU regarding the MEPs' immunity.

    The regime's "judge" on the other hand said that the EU is not a state and thus no such agreement with the pseudostate could be signed. Provided that no ''law'' exists that prohibits the recognition of parliamentary immunity, the court accepted Matsakis' immunity, regardless of his citizenship, the judge added.

    Matsakis was then taken to a ''civilian court'' for the second case against him, regarding the lowering of a Turkish flag, on November 1, 2005, which he presented later to the European Parliament, before handling it to a Turkish journalist in Brussels.

    During his transportation to the second court, Turkish members of the "grey wolves" organization, holding Turkish flags shouted against Matsakis and threatened him.

    The civilian ''court'' decided adjourned until January 5. Matsakis was then taken to the ''police department'', where the regime forced him to sign a document, for a bailbond worth 17,850 Cyprus pounds (one pound is about 1.5 US dollars).

    In both so called courts Matsakis defended himself by saying that his arrest was illegal and that he only recognizes the Republic of Cyprus.

    Matsakis, together with the Polish Euro MP Genowefa Grabowska went on December 31 to Ledra Palace checkpoint in Nicosia with an aim to cross over to the occupied areas in order to carry sweets to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, on the occasion of the New Year's Day.

    An officer of the so-called police told Matsakis that he was ''under arrest''.

    The Cyprus government protested to the United Nations, urging them to make the necessary representations to the occupation regime to immediately release the Cypriot Euro MP.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.

    [15] Egypt assures of continuing support for Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 3/1/2006 (CNA/ANA)

    Egypt has assured Cyprus of its unwavering support, which Cairo says is based on international law and order, as expressed in UN resolutions.

    The assurances were given by Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit during a meeting in Cairo with the Permanent Secretary of the Cyprus Foreign Ministry Ambassador Sotos Zackheos. Zackheos also met with Egypt's assistant Minister for European Affairs Ashraf Rashid, an official statement said here Monday.

    The meetings were held in a very friendly atmosphere and covered the Cyprus problem, bilateral relations, developments in the region with special emphasis on the Palestinian problem and Egypt's relations with the European Union.

    Both sides said they were satisfied with the excellent level of bilateral relations and the increasing level of cooperation in various sectors, as well as the desire to deepen relations through the exchange of visits.

    Zackheos expressed appreciation for Egypt's constructive and leading role in efforts to solve the Middle East problem, noting that Egypt is a stability factor in the wider region.

    Zackheos has visited Egypt at the invitation of the Egyptian government.

    Secretary General of the Arab League Amre Moussa assured Zackheos of the League's continuous interest in a just settlement of the Cyprus issue, on the basis of UN resolutions.

    An official press release said Zackheos concluded his contacts in Cairo with a meeting he had on Monday with Moussa.

    They discussed ways of further enhancing the relations between Cyprus and the Arab League and its member states.

    Zackheos conveyed to Moussa the thanks of the Cyprus government for the League's consistent position of principles on the Cyprus issue.

    He also expressed to Moussa his appreciations for the efforts by the Arab League and Moussa himself for the safeguarding of Iraq's unity and territorial integrity and especially for their initiative to organize the Conference for National Reconciliation in Iraq.

    Moussa thanked the Cyprus government for its positions of principle on the Palestinian issue and other issues concerning the Arab world.

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