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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-01-10

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

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

January 10, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM discusses constitutional revision with President
  • [02] Karamanlis to meet with PASOK leader next week
  • [03] PM continuing to handle constitution revision issue with 'communication terms', PASOK says
  • [04] President briefed on new municipal code Interior
  • [05] PM, authorities assess damage after Sunday's earthquake
  • [06] Gov't denies knowledge of Papazahos quake prediction
  • [07] Opposition comments on Sunday's earthquake
  • [08] Post-quake telecoms failures lead to gov't intervention
  • [09] FM Molyviatis to meet with visiting Belgian counterpart on Tuesday
  • [10] Greek, Japanese parliament presidents reaffirm good bilateral relations
  • [11] Transport and defense ministries to cooperate in air-traffic control
  • [12] EU Environment Commissioner Dimas replies to former PASOK deputy
  • [13] Economic reforms to start yielding in 2006, FinMin says
  • [14] Greece remains a safe country, Tourism minister says
  • [15] Greek exports up 14.9 pct in November, yr/yr
  • [16] Industrial production up 0.9 pct in November, yr/yr
  • [17] President Karolos Papoulias attends Hotel Chamber event
  • [18] President Papoulias attends annual reception of Athens Chamber of Light Industry
  • [19] MasterCard circulates 1.58 mln cards in Greece
  • [20] Sharp rise in fine for breach of food safety law
  • [21] British Airways to launch Iraklio, Manchester link
  • [22] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise in blue chip buying
  • [23] President Papoulias receives country's first 'secure' passport
  • [24] Civil Protection authority warns public to avoid Evros River banks
  • [25] PM briefed on initiative for return of Parthenon frieze section from Heidelberg University
  • [26] Greek tenor holds concert in Ecumenical Patriarch's honor
  • [27] Rare Macedonia maps on display in Thessaloniki
  • [28] 'Anti-State Justice' claim responsibility for attack on bank
  • [29] Belgian FM: Cyprus settlement a precondition for Turkey's EU accession
  • [30] IMF Director: Cyprus on the right track for adoption of Euro
  • [31] Czech MPs to visit Cyprus

  • [01] PM discusses constitutional revision with President

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday called on President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias to discuss the procedures for the revision of the constitution that his ruling New Democracy party (ND) has proposed.

    Karamanlis told reporters after the meeting that the constitutional revision is the new government's most ambitious institutional initiative, and the epitomy of the reforms underway in all areas of public life.

    The premier explained that constitutional revision was a basic requirement so that the individual changes being made would have optimum results on the country and the citizens, adding that the large majority of the Greek people and political forces acknowledged the need for the revision, and noting that the citizens demanded "changes everywhere".

    The aim, he said, was to give all citizens the ability for creativity and prosperity, to liberate the education forces, ensure the greatest possible degree of transparency in public life, and to effectively protect and upgrade the natural environment.

    In order for the constitutional revision to be a success, Karamanlis said, a responsible, open and board dialogue was necessary with all the political forces, the specialized agencies and the citizens. He added that the dialogue process would begin within the next few days.

    Karamanlis and Papoulias also discussed the prime minister's upcoming visit to China, where he would be accompanied by a large business delegation.

    The premier told Papoulias that apart from the political significance of his visit, there was also great economic interest, as his talks with the Chinese officials would also focus on Greek-Chinese cooperation in light of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and the promotion of Greek agricultural products on the vast Chinese market.

    Present parliament to pave way for revising Constitution, gov't says

    The present Parliament would pave the way for the "government's major institutional initiative" to revise the Constitution so that the next Parliament would be a revisionary one, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Monday.

    He stressed that revising the Constitution was "demanded by society in order to liberate education, ensure transparency and protect the environment".

    The spokesman added that there would be a wide-ranging dialogue with the political forces, social bodies and the academic community.

    Roussopoulos announced that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis would convene ruling New Democracy's Parliamentary group on the morning of January 17 for an in-depth discussion on the issue of revising the Constitution. At the same time, the premier was organizing a series of meetings with the political party leaders because the process was one required consensus.

    The spokesman noted that such a discussion had already taken place with the head of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party Alekos Alavanos, while a meeting was scheduled to take place on Wednesday with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga. A meeting with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou is also on the cards.

    Roussopoulos said that no meeting was planned with the leader of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party George Karatzaferis, noting that Euro-MPs did not vote on the revision of the Constitution.

    Asked if the revision would also include changes to article 14 - which became a cause of controversy between Greece and the European Commission over a succession of laws that were passed to enact it - Roussopoulos said the specific article was not necessarily among those to be revised.

    "We have already passed one law for primary media shareholders and are now in the process of passing a second, while a process of open consultation is underway with interested parties and ordinary citizens via the Internet," Roussopoulos said.

    Process for revision of the constitution collective, interior minister says: Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, speaking in an interview with the Alpha 98.9 radio station on Monday, reiterated the general guidelines set by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on the revision of the constitution, stressing that the process of the constitution's revision is primarily a Parliamentary one.

    Pavlopoulos referred to the main points of the constitution's revision that concern "the issue of non-state but non-profit universities, the issue of the protection of the environment and such issues as the funding of political parties, election expenditures of candidates and sources of income. Moreover, issues such as the creation of a constitutional court which will have a considerable role to play, particularly on issues concerning 'political money' and sanctions imposed in the event of the violation of transparency rules on 'political money'."

    Referring to the issue of relations between the state and the Church and issues regarding the President of the Republic, the minister said "they will not constitute the focus of an initiative on the revision of the constitution on the part of the government majority and if some wish to raise them it is up to them."

    He also pointed out that the views of any government official are not binding before they are set out collectively.

    Pavlopoulos rejected any connection of the revision of the constitution with early elections, noting that "the one issue is different from the other."

    [02] Karamanlis to meet with PASOK leader next week

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be meeting with main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou at Maximos Mansion next Monday within the context of planned meetings with political leaders in order to discuss the revision of the Constitution.

    Karamanlis is also scheduled to meet with Communist Party of Greece Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Wednesday.

    According to KKE, the meeting has been requested by Papariga regarding the 'anti-communist' resolution being debated by the Council of Europe, but it is considered likely that the revision of the Constitution will also be discussed.

    [03] PM continuing to handle constitution revision issue with 'communication terms', PASOK says

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, referring to the revision of the constitution, said on Monday that the prime minister "is continuing, as he started on the evening of the debate on the budget in Parliament, to handle the issue with communication terms."

    Athanassakis said that the revision of the constitution "is a serious issue to be shown or attempted to be shown as 'the icing on the cake' of ND's so-called reforms, reforms which are either nonexistent or in the wrong direction and, in any case, against working people and against the majority of citizens."

    The PASOK spokesman said that the revision of the constitution "cannot be the alibi for the government to prevaricate and the prime minister to prevaricate as regards the problems of today, referring them to after the revision", adding that "in no way does the constitution of the country prevent the government from implementing the policies which the country is in need of."

    Athanassakis reminded that PASOK and its leader George Papandreou have expressed themselves positively on the revision issue, while the party's leader has spoken in Parliament of "a revision that that can take place following a serious discussion, a revision focusing on the citizen, man and the relation between the citizen and the state."

    Government spokesman calls on PASOK party to handle constitution revision issue with responsibility: Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, replying on Monday to main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis' statement on the issue of the constitution's revision, said that "we hope that the main opposition party, despite today's statements by its spokesman, will ultimately handle the issue of the revision of the constitution with responsibility and seriousness."

    [04] President briefed on new municipal code Interior

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday briefed President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on the new code for municipalities and communities and issues concerning the revision of the Constitution.

    During the meeting, they also discussed Sunday's earthquake and the state response to it.

    After the meeting, Pavlopoulos said that he had outlined the basic elements of the new code:

    "The first is the adoption of institutions of direct democracy in the framework of local government, such as local referendums and the ability of citizens to exercise control over municipal councils through reports and questions.

    The second concerns local authority finances and, especially, matters of municipal and community enterprises that are now being set up on a new basis, so that local authority organizations are able to rise to future challenges and, especially that challenges of the 4th Community Support Framework."

    [05] PM, authorities assess damage after Sunday's earthquake

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday expressed the state's support for those facing problems in the wake of an earthquake near Kythira that shook the entire country on Sunday, while local authorities on Kythira and nearby Crete sent out teams to make an assessment of the damage caused.

    The damage reported so far has been limited in spite of the magnitude of the quake, which measured 6.9 on the Richter scale. Seismologists have essentially ruled out the possibility of strong aftershocks in the region, noting that the largest tremor since Sunday was a 4 Richter earthquake at 7.34 on Monday morning.

    Emerging from his offices, Karamanlis also praised the prompt response to the quake by state services.

    Teams from the Anti-Seismic Protection Organization (OASP) and the Piraeus Prefecture arrived on the island of Kythira on Monday morning to assess the extent of damage of buildings. Deputy Education Minister George Kalos announced on Monday that all 12 school buildings on the island had been inspected and that only one kindergarten and day-care centre in a leased building had suffered damage.

    The ministry said that prefabricated containers will be shipped out to the island to temporarily cover the kindergarten's housing needs. Damage has also been reported to two kindergartens in Lakonia, in the Peloponnese, while teams of inspectors have been sent out to examine school buildings in Attica and Saronic Gulf islands that may have been damaged by the quake.

    The Local Union of Municipalities and Communities of Attica (TEDKNA), meanwhile, has pledged 50,000 in aid to deal with problems caused by the earthquake and will be sending a delegation to the island on Tuesday to view the damage first-hand and decide if it is possible to provide technical assistance.

    Also badly hit by the earthquake was Hania on Crete, where an emergency meeting was held at the prefecture chaired by Prefect George Katsanevakis. According to the initial estimates, the damage was mainly confined to older buildings in the old city and the Venetian shipyard.

    About 40 buildings have cracked walls, fallen plaster or fallen masonry but none is considered to be dangerous. Teams of experts have spent the day examining schools and public buildings, which remained closed on Monday, while problems were found in a school for autistic children in Agios Ioannis, two primary schools and one highschool.

    Seismologists said that much of the worst was avoided because the epicenter of the earthquake was at an intermediate depth of 75 meters beneath the sea, which absorbed alot of the energy released.

    According to the head of the Thessaloniki University Geophysics Laboratory Manolis Skordilis, the earthquake's depth was also the reason why the tremor was felt in so many areas of the country, even as far away as Italy or Egypt.

    "Earthquakes of intermediate depth are felt at a great distance but do not cause great destruction at the epicenter and do not trigger neighboring faults, unlike surface quakes," he said, noting that it would be difficult for the quake to set off an earthquake in the neighboring southern Aegean fault.

    [06] Gov't denies knowledge of Papazahos quake prediction

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    The government on Monday denied all knowledge of a prediction of Sunday's earthquake that seismology professor Vassilis Papazahos claimed to have made as early as February 2002.

    In a statement to the radio station Alpha 98.9 on Monday, Deputy Environment Minister Themistoklis Xanthopoulos stressed that the ministry did not fund seismic research and was not in a position to make scientific predictions or validations.

    "There is the Anti-Seismic Protection Organization (OASP) that does this and which is responsible for validating or rejecting predictions. We were not aware of this prediction, we only found out today. It was discussed at OASP by the committee on which Prof. Papazahos is a member and a report was issued saying that the prediction was too general and somewhat vague and that we should not take special measures to protect a specific region".

    Xanthopoulos pointed out that the prediction concerned a circle covering a 100-kilometre radius around some epicenter with a two-three year margin of error on either side. This meant taking special measures in an area comprising a great part of the country for some six years, he added.

    "The announcement alone would be a disaster for tourism and elsewhere, and at the end of the day there would be no reason for it," he added.

    The minister said that programs have been underway for the past 1.5 years to inspect schools and older public buildings in order to separate them into categories for priority repairs.

    Following Sunday's earthquake, Papazahos complained that he had accurately predicted the quake as early as February 2002 but that the state not paid due attention. He also claimed that the Committee for the Assessment of Seismic Risk had similarly failed to pay attention to his team's predictions of quake's in four other areas, all of which were later confirmed.

    A claim to have predicted the Kythira quake was also made by Professor Philippos Valiannatos at the Crete TEI Geophysics and Seismology laboratory, who said he had made an announcement predicting a 7.1 Richter earthquake (with a margin of error of 0.4) from the specific fault after middle of 2005 two years ago at the European Geophysics Conference and in April 2004 at the Greek Geophysics Society Conference. He said a similar assessment had been made in 2002 and published in the "Natural Disasters and Geosystems" periodical in 2003.

    [07] Opposition comments on Sunday's earthquake

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    The main opposition PASOK party voiced its support towards all those citizens who may have suffered any problems due to the powerful earthquake that rocked most of Greece over the weekend, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) accused the current government and former PASOK governments for the lack of infrastructure necessary to deal with earthquakes in a statement issued on Monday.

    PASOK Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said that "we are all relieved that the epicenter was such that we didn't have greater or more serious problems."

    KKE said that the need for protecting the country from earthquakes and minimizing related damage is a priority, but noted that while Greece is one of the most seismogenic countries in the EU, anti-earthquake measures are taken in a haphazard manner.

    In order to better prepare for earthquakes, KKE demands more research, strict monitoring of construction of buildings, ensuring workers' safety at the workplace, inspecting schools and any other buildings where youngsters congregate and educating citizens on how to respond in case of an earthquake.

    Mayors to visit Kithira in show of support

    The Defense Ministry has agreed to make available a C-130 military aircraft to several Attica mayors who wish to visit the island of Kythira in a show of support following the earthquake that rattled most of the country over the weekend.

    Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos and Secretary General of the Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Athanassios Vezyrgiannis will be accompanying the mayors, who will depart from Elefsina on Tuesday morning.

    [08] Post-quake telecoms failures lead to gov't intervention

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Telecommunications failures following the earthquake that rattled the country over the weekend have led to Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Anastasios Neratzis and the National Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) to question providers over faulty service.

    On Monday, Neratzis sent a letter to EETT informing the commission of problems mobile phone and fixed telephony subscribers encountered after Sunday's earthquake.

    Neratzis has asked the commission to investigate whether telecoms providers are in compliance with their permitting obligations and to investigate the reasons that led to technical difficulties.

    The commission in turn has asked the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) and mobile phone operators for relevant information.

    However, OTE and the mobile phone companies issued separate statements on Sunday, saying that they were able to respond to increased customer demand, but acknowledged that their networks were temporarily overloaded.

    [09] FM Molyviatis to meet with visiting Belgian counterpart on Tuesday

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis will meet on Tuesday with his Belgian counterpart Karel de Gucht, who is currently on an official visit to Greece, it was announced on Monday.

    A ministry announcement said that the two ministers would discuss issues of bilateral interest, with emphasis on the political and economic relations between the two countries, European and regional issues, such as the cause of the EU and its enlargement, the western Balkans and the Cyprus issue, and also issues of wider international interest.

    The two foreign ministers will give a joint press conference after their talks, following which Molyviatis will host a luncheon in honor of his Belgian counterpart.

    [10] Greek, Japanese parliament presidents reaffirm good bilateral relations

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki and her visiting Japanese counterpart Yohei Kono on Monday reaffirmed the very good relations between their two countries, during a meeting in the Greek parliament.

    "The relations between the two countries are developing constantly, and communication between Greece and Japan is at a very satisfactory level," Psarouda-Benaki said after the meeting.

    Kono said it was a great honor for him to be in Greece, and described as a success Psarouda-Benaki's visit to Japan last May, particularly her visit to Hiroshima.

    Psarouda-Benaki said the message of Hiroshima must "remain alive and strong", adding that "we, the peaceful countries, must work for peace, for respect of the rules of international law, respect for human rights" and also work to eliminate conflicts.

    She also presented to Kono the Gold Medal of the Hellenic Parliament.

    The Japanese parliament president also met on Monday with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [11] Transport and defense ministries to cooperate in air-traffic control

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis and Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos on Monday signed a Protocol calling for cooperation between the Airforce and the Civil Aviation Authority that is set to transform air traffic control in Greece.

    The two ministers stressed that the envisioned cooperation between civil aviation and the military would further upgrade the system of handling air traffic and achieve greater coordination of civilian and military flights for all users of both national and international airspace within the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR), which is controlled by the Greek civil aviation authority YPA.

    The agreements provides for joint use of aeronautics infrastructure and covers issues such as air-traffic control, certifying aeronautical systems, assessment and handling of air-traffic incidents, search and rescue operations, certification of Greek Airforce airstrips by YPA, use of infrastructure, means and equipment, providing services at airports and others.

    An announcement said that the protocol would allow Greece to meet the increased air-traffic control demands imposed by implementing the Single European Sky rules and increase flight safety, in spite of an increase in passenger traffic and to harmonies the services offered by military and civilian units in order to increase the capacity of the Greek air-traffic control system.

    [12] EU Environment Commissioner Dimas replies to former PASOK deputy

    10/1/2006 (ANA)

    European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, in a letter of reply to main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) former deputy at Kozani Prefecture, Roulis Kokelidis, briefed him on a broad spectrum of environmental issues which were raised to him in Kokelidis' letter.

    In his letter to the former PASOK deputy, Dimas referred at length to the measures taken by the European Commission aimed at strengthening its preparedness and the possibility of coping with natural disasters.

    Dimas said the EU, at the European Council in June 2005, supported the creation of a more unified global infrastructure for environmental governance, aimed at improving the effectiveness and cohesion of the existing system of the United Nations.

    [13] Economic reforms to start yielding in 2006, FinMin says

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday said 2006 would be a year of implementing and yielding of economic reforms in the country.

    Presenting his ministry's priorities and goals for the new year, Alogoskoufis said the government was steadfast in its goal to reducing the country's fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of Gross Domestic Product and said he expected yields from reforms in: -changes introduced in public sector enterprises, -promotion of joint ventures between public and private sector enterprises, -privatizations, focusing mainly in banks, with priorities the listing of Post Savings Bank in the stock market, selling a new stake in AgrotikiBank and a further privatization of Emporiki Bank.

    Alogoskoufis said the government would continue a dialogue on reforming the pension system, promoting a new law on reforming physical persons' taxation, establishing a new framework for a Fourth Community Support Framework Program and persisting with combatting tax evasion.

    He also announced new legislative initiatives aimed to form a new agency for fiscal supervision, a new framework aimed to achieve a more efficient use of the public sector's real estate assets and supporting a National Export Council.

    Alogoskoufis said a total of 1,100 applications for private investments, worth 2.3 billion euros, have been submitted so far and that 526 of the have been approved by the government, worth 817 million euros. These investments are expected to create 3,082 new jobs around the country. Fiscal restructuring and growth were the government's top priorities, Alogoskoufis said. Commenting on a recent rally of prices in the Athens Stock Exchange, the Greek minister said everyone should remember what happened in 1999 and 2000.

    Alogoskoufis said the government should seek to approve the highest possible increases in its incomes policy, in the context of the state budget.

    Finmin contradicting himself, opposition says: The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Monday accused Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis of contradicting himself.

    "We are asking him to tell the truth. Last week he said the 2006 budget could not be implemented and that he would seek an extension of (EU) supervision for a year," PASOK economy spokeswoman Vasso Papandreou said in a statement.

    "Today he tells us that he will achieve the deficit-reduction target to below 3.0%. When is he telling the truth?" Papandreou queried.

    She also accused Alogoskoufis of reducing real income for employees and pensioners.

    In a separate statement, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology accused him of "fierce" neoliberal policies.

    "The finance minister today confirmed that for the government the new year will be devoted entirely to strengthening privilege and hyper-profits for major business groups," the party's economic and social spokesman, Panayiotis Lafazanis, said.

    "But working people will see their industrial rights restricted and experience tough austerity," Lafazanis stated.

    [14] Greece remains a safe country, Tourism minister says

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greece remains a safe country, Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos told a seminar on Monday a day after a strong earthquake jolted the country.

    Addressing the seminar, organized with the Hotel Chamber of Greece, on upgrading the country's tourist product through a cooperation of tourism ministry and local authorities, Avramopoulos said seismic activity in the Mediterranean was known from ancient years and noted that witnesses of seismic resistance were the historic monuments preserved through the ages. The Greek minister also stressed that modern constructions in Greece were using the latest anti-seismic technology.

    There can be no National Tourism Policy without the cooperation of regional authorities, Avramopoulos said, adding that a strategy of viability and tourism all year round were closely related with regional development. He urged for greater efforts to change Greece's image and to attract high quality tourism.

    Addressing the seminar, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said his ministry was supporting Tourism ministry's strategies.

    [15] Greek exports up 14.9 pct in November, yr/yr

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greek export-deliveries jumped 14.9 pct in November compared with the same month in 2004, while import-arrivals rose 2.8 percent over the same period, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.

    NSS, in its report, said the value of export-deliveries in November 2005 totalled 1.308 billion euros, from 1.139 billion euros in the same month in 2004, while import-arrivals totalled 3.917 billion euros, from 3.812 billion euros over the same periods, respectively.

    [16] Industrial production up 0.9 pct in November, yr/yr

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's industrial production composite index rose 0.9 percent in November compared with the same month in 2004, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.

    NSS, in its report, said the manufacturing production index rose 1.3 pct, the electricity-natural gas-water production index was up 0.1 pct and the mining production index fell 1.8 percent in November.

    Industrial production in the first 11 months of 2005 was down 0.8 percent compared with the corresponding period in 2004, reflecting a 5.7 pct drop in mining production, a 0.8 pct fall in manufacturing and a 0.9 pct rise in electricity-natural gas-water production.

    [17] President Karolos Papoulias attends Hotel Chamber event

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    The annual event organized by the Hotel Chamber was held at a downtown Athens hotel in the presence of President Karolos Papoulias and the tourism ministry's leadership on Monday.

    The event was attended, among others, by Parliamentary deputies from all parties and tourism sector agencies.

    [18] President Papoulias attends annual reception of Athens Chamber of Light Industry

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday attended the annual reception of the Athens Chamber of Light Industry.

    In his address, Papoulias said:"I am moved that I am here today with you creators, the back-bone of the Greek economy. I wish you health and progress for the homeland, Greece."

    Also present at the reception were main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou, government members and representatives of the political world and of the country's economic field.

    [19] MasterCard circulates 1.58 mln cards in Greece

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    A gradual replacement of cash with plastic money would improve the efficiency of European economy by as much as 50 billion euros through lower costs and increased spending by consumers, George Sideris MasterCard's head in Greece said on Monday.

    Presenting a survey by the European Payment Council on plastic money, Sideris said cash still used for around 70 percent of transactions made in Europe with the rate even higher in Greece.

    More than 5,503,641 debit and credit cards were circulating in Greece by the end of September 2005. Holders of MasterCard cards in Greece used their cards for 4.93 million transactions in the third quarter of 2005 with a turnover of 501 million euros. Turnover in the first nine months of 2005 totalled 1.54 billion euros. By late September 2005 a total of 1.58 million cards with the MasterCard brand name were circulating in the country.

    [20] Sharp rise in fine for breach of food safety law

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    The government has hiked the ceiling on fines for breach of food health and safety rules to one million euros from 60,000 euros under a bill destined for parliament.

    The increase contained in the development ministry bill comes in the wake of repeated violations by food manufacturers and retailers. Fines are imposed by the National Food Control Agency.

    The amendment was tucked into a bill that allows creation of a national energy strategy council, which will act as an advisory body comprising trade and regulatory officials and experts in the field.

    [21] British Airways to launch Iraklio, Manchester link

    10/1/2006 (ANA)

    British Airways (BA) is to launch a direct link between Iraklio, Crete and Manchester on May 2 that will last for the peak summer season.

    An Airbus A320 is to serve the twice-weekly flight run by GB Airways, a franchise partner that currently links Iraklio and London, BA said in a statement on Monday.

    The route will run until the end of October.

    [22] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise in blue chip buying

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,799.02 points, showing a rise of 0.83% to post a five-year high. Turnover was 453.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.08% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.03% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.19% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 161 to 123 with 47 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (1403)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 167.1 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2015): 3.47% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bund: 3.22%

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2015 (830 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.6 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.217

    [23] President Papoulias receives country's first 'secure' passport

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday was presented with the country's first new-style passport from the Greek Police's (ELAS) new passport service, bearing the symbolic number "1".

    Papoulias visited the passport issue service, which has passed to the Greek Police as of the New Year, on Monday morning and, after a tour of the facility, expressed satisfaction that the Greek citizens would be facilitated in their travels with secure travel documents, such as the new passports.

    Present at the ceremony were foreign minister Petros Molyviatis, as well as public order minister George Voulgarakis, who noted that the secure passports were a wager that Greece must win, "and I believe that we are winning it".

    Police chief George Aggelakos outlined the security features of the new passports. He noted that the security features were in three tiers, while there were also seven different features that made counterfeiting of the new passports virtually impossible.

    According to ELAS, 1,575 new-style passports have been issued to date from 138 services, including the Consular offices.

    The goal is for Greece to be removed, by October, from the list of countries whose travel documents are easily counterfeited.

    According to sources, some glitches have arisen in the issue of the new passports, due to the fact that many citizens fail to submit all the proper documentation with their passport applications, resulting in the return of 70 percent of the applications to the applicants. The sources said that the majority of the problems had to do with the photographs submitted for the passports, which did not meet specifications.

    [24] Civil Protection authority warns public to avoid Evros River banks

    10/1/2006 (ANA)

    The General Secretariat for Civil Protection on Monday warned the public to avoid approaching the banks of the Evros River, whose waters are still dangerously high, as well as tributary streams.

    It also advised farmers to remove animals and machinery from locations near the river bank to avoid damage.

    Authorities in Evros are on standby to deal with any problems that might arise.

    [25] PM briefed on initiative for return of Parthenon frieze section from Heidelberg University

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday met with Heidelberg University vice-rector Angelos Chaniotis, who briefed the premier on ongoing initiatives for the return of a section of the Parthenon's frieze in the possession of the university, given the university's approval of the return.

    The meeting was also attended by deputy culture minister Petros Tatoulis.

    Karamanlis also holds the culture ministry portfolio.

    Earlier, the premier met with the visiting president of the Japanese parliament, Yohei Kono.

    [26] Greek tenor holds concert in Ecumenical Patriarch's honor

    ISTANBUL, 10/1/2006 (ANA/MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Greek tenor Marios Frangoulis held a concert in Tarpon Springs, Florida last week in honor of visiting Ecumenical Patriach Vartholomeos.

    Accompanying Frangoulis were the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and the Youth Choir of the Greek-Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

    At the end of the concert, Vartholomeos invited Frangoulis to visit Istanbul in July in order to support Greeks' daily struggle in the Turkish city.

    [27] Rare Macedonia maps on display in Thessaloniki

    10/1/2006 (ANA)

    Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos inaugurated an exhibit at the Thessaloniki Historical Centre (KITh) on Monday evening, featuring rare maps of Macedonia dating back to the 15th-19th centuries.

    The maps were bought and given as a gift to the centre by the "Friends of KITh Society."

    The exhibit will run through January 14.

    [28] 'Anti-State Justice' claim responsibility for attack on bank

    ATHENS, 10/1/2006 (ANA)

    The organization "Anti-State Justice" on Monday claimed responsibility for the explosion of a makeshift bomb in the entrance of a branch of the National Bank of Greece in the early hours of Monday morning.

    Minor damage was caused by the explosion and subsequent fire.

    Soccer

    Results of Greek First Division soccer matches played over the weekend:

    Panionios Athens - Egaleo Athens 0-1

    Panathinaikos Athens - Larissa 3-0

    Atromitos Athens - Akratitos Athens 2-0

    Kallithea Athens - Iraklis Thessaloniki 0-0

    Levadiakos - OFI Crete 1-0

    Xanthi - AEK Athens 0-0

    Ionikos Piraeus - Olympiakos Piraeus 0-1

    Apollon Kalamaria - PAOK Thessaloniki 2-2

    (match played on Monday)

    The standings after the 15th week of play:

    Olympiakos 39 points, AEK 36, Panathinaikos 30, Xanthi 25, PAOK 24, Iraklis 22, Atromitos 21, Ionikos 19, Egaleo 19, Larissa 17, Apollon Kalamaria 16, Levadiakos 14, OFI 12, Panionios 12, Akratitos 10, Kallithea 9.

    [29] Belgian FM: Cyprus settlement a precondition for Turkey's EU accession

    NICOSIA, 10/1/2006 (CNA/ANA)

    The solution of the Cyprus problem is a precondition for Turkey's European Union membership, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht has stressed, noting that the settlement ofthe Cyprus issue is to the interest of the EU and very important for the peace and stability in the region.

    In statements on Monday after holding consultations with his Cypriot counterpart George Iacovou, De Gucht, who is visiting Cyprus, underlined that Turkey has to fulfill all its EU obligations, and made a special reference to the implementation of the Ankara Protocol on the extension of Turkey's Customs Union agreement with all new EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.

    "Solving this lasting problem is a precondition for Turkish EU membership. We have been of the opinion that the solution of the Cyprus problem should not necessarily be a precondition for opening accession negotiations, which we decided in October in Luxembourg but it certainly is a precondition for membership. We hope that the problem is solved as soon as possible. It is important for the EU, for the regional stability and for peace in the broader European region," the Belgian minister said.

    He added "it is obvious that Turkey should fulfill the obligations it undertook in the October Agreement'' regarding the EU-Turkey negotiating framework.

    "About the Ankara Protocol (for the extension of Turkey's Customs Union with all new member states) it is clear for us that there should be an early ratification (by the Turkish Parliament) of the

    Protocol and that it should work in practice. Not only legally but also in practice," he noted.

    Referring to the EU regulations for the Turkish Cypriots, the Belgian minister expressed hope that a solution will be found, and suggested first the adoption of the financial aid regulation for the Turkish Cypriots and then a discussion on the second regulation regarding direct trade of Turkish Cypriots with the EU countries.

    After consultations with his Cypriot counterpart, De Gucht was received by President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos.

    No statements were made after the meeting.

    Replying to questions, De Gucht said that no meeting was scheduled between himself and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and thus no such meeting will take place.

    Welcoming the Belgian minister, Iacovou said that his counterpart has a deep knowledge of European issues and is interested in the Cyprus problem.

    "We discussed European issues, such as the ratification of the European Constitutional Treaty, the Middle East problem and of course the Cyprus problem," the Cypriot minister said.

    The Cypriot and Belgian ministers also discussed ways of cooperation in matters concerning training of Palestinians in various areas, as well as cooperation in the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

    [30] IMF Director: Cyprus on the right track for adoption of Euro

    NICOSIA, 10/1/2006 (CNA/ANA)

    The Republic of Cyprus heads in a secure way towards the adoption of Euro on January 1st, 2008, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Director Jeroen Kremers said on Monday after a meeting here with Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus Christodoulos Christodoulou, adding that the sooner Cyprus adopts the Euro, the better for the island.

    According to a Central Bank press release, Kremers, who represents Cyprus and other eleven countries at the IMF Executive Council, said that during their meeting they "focused on monetary policy issues as well as on the adoption of the Euro, which is scheduled to be concluded soon."

    They also discussed issues related to Cyprus economy, Cyprus relations with the IMF as well as Cyprus course to join the Eurozone.

    The Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus said that Kremers is visiting Cyprus in order to be briefed on the economy of the island and to examine any new possibilities for further technical or other support to Cyprus.

    Christodoulou said he briefed Kremers and his associates on the state of Cyprus economy, with special reference to Cyprus course towards the Eurozone, as well as on the monetary and exchange policy of the Central Bank of Cyprus.

    [31] Czech MPs to visit Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 10/1/2006 (CNA/ANA)

    Deputy Chairman and members of the Committee on EU Affairs of the Senate of the Czech Republic will visit Cyprus January 10-13.

    During the visit, Deputy Chairman of the Committee Ludek Sefzig and the other Czech MPs will hold meetings with Cyprus House President Demetris Christofias, Foreign Minister George Iacovou, Chairman of the House Standing Committee on European Affairs Nicos Cleanthous and

    Members of the Committee, Nicosia Deputy Mayor Lia Tseriotou and Limassol Mayor Demetris Kontides.

    They will also visit the cease-fire line and the old town of Nicosia accompanied by Nicosia Deputy Mayor.

    They will leave Cyprus on Friday.


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