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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-01-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

January 18, 2006


  • [01] PM Karamanlis unveils Constitutional revision proposals at ND parliamentary group meeting
  • [02] PASOK leader charges government with 'slipshod' approach to Constitutional revision
  • [03] Civil servants oppose abolition of tenure
  • [04] Greece fully prepared for bird flu, Agriculture Minister says
  • [05] First post-bird flu illegal immigrants detained on Samos
  • [06] Turkish minister indirectly responds to Kaklamanis' warning on travel to Turkey
  • [07] Greece to ratify extradition agreement with US on Wednesday
  • [08] Greek UN permanent representative addresses Security Council meeting
  • [09] FM spokesman outlines Athens' position on EU-Turkey ties, other foreign policy issues
  • [10] KEDKE board to meet Commissioners Hubner and Dimas in Brussels
  • [11] Greek, Albanian customs vow to combat cross-border crime
  • [12] Greek ambassador in Belgrade offers 100,000 euros for Vojvodina flood victims
  • [13] Education minister proposes memory day for terrorism victims
  • [14] President Papoulias hosts annual reception in honor of the Diplomatic Corps
  • [15] Avramopoulos to convey Athens' condolences for late Emir of Kuwait
  • [16] Intracom in Europe's top 300 firms for R&D investment
  • [17] Athens hotel occupancy rate rises in November
  • [18] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise slightly
  • [19] Public prosecutors briefed on Monday's violent robbery, suspected terrorist link
  • [20] Public order minister congratulates Syntagma guards
  • [21] Athens mayor invited to 'Sound of Europe' conference
  • [22] National Telecommunications and Post Offices Committee stresses need for emphasis on land-based digital TV
  • [23] Yiossakis indicted, ordered held in custody on remand
  • [24] Policeman sentenced to life imprisonment for murder
  • [25] 'Cow Parade' to hit Athens streets this summer
  • [26] Development ministry hosts exhibition on Democritos research centre
  • [27] HAU's Spyrou to be honored by Greek Alumni of US Universities
  • [28] Cyprus President Papadopoulos ready for talks 'tomorrow'
  • [29] Straw's visit to take place as planned, says London
  • [30] Foreign Minister Iacovou says UN official apologetic over UNDP fund
  • [31] Britain continues to warn of risks in purchase of property in north

  • [01] PM Karamanlis unveils Constitutional revision proposals at ND parliamentary group meeting

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    The possibility for hiring in the public sector with open-term contracts, changes in the system of promotions to senior ranks in the justice system, the institution of a Constitutional Court, the establishment of non-state universities, changes to the parliamentary immunity, and changes to the professional incompatibility clause for Members of Parliament, are among the provisions contained in prime minister Costas Karamanlis' proposal for the revision of the country's Constitution, which he unveiled on Tuesday while addressing a meeting of his ruling New Democracy party's (ND) parliamentary committee.

    Pointing out the constitutional provisions slated for revision, Karamanlis said that, in the sector of Education, the changes he proposed aimed at allowing the establishment of no-state, non-profit universities, as well as the establishment of branches of foreign universities, under the same prerequisites.

    The second sector slated for reform was justice. He proposed that the presidents of the country's three supreme courts -- the Areios Paghos supreme court (the highest court of appeal, with both penal and civil sections), the Council of State (the supreme administrative court), and the Council of State Auditors (the supreme court for fiscal matters) -- should be selected only from among the Court's vice-presidents, while the vice-presidents themselves should be selected only from among the 10 most senior members of the courts under the specific supreme court's jurisdiction. He also proposed that a fixed term be established for the vice-presidents of the three supreme courts.

    Karamanlis further proposed the establishment of a Constitutional Court with a fixed composition, whose authorities would include: the final ruling of the constitutionality of laws, following recourse by the plenary of the Supreme Courts; supervision of transparency in the finances of the political parties and candidate MPs; investigation of the "source of wealth" statements of the MPs; and the imposition of severe sanctions which would also include forfeiture of the MP position.

    "The present system of checks by Parliament must change. Those being censured cannot also be those conducting the censuring," he said.

    He also proposed the adoption of a regulation that would avert the burdening of the budget with sums concerning previous years in the execution of court rulings with retroactive application.

    Regarding the political system, Karamanlis' proposal contains guarantees in three directions. Firstly, transparency in the finances of the political parties and tickets, with parallel prohibition of the use of additional radio and television time beyond that stipulated. Second, transparency in the campaign and operational expenditures of the candidate MPs. Third, transparency in the finances of the MPs and the members of government, through consolidation of the "source of wealth" statement requirement and the provision of strict regulations for implementation of the requirement.

    Supervision of the implementation of the new regulations would be assigned to the Constitutional Court.

    The premier further referred to the ownership status, financial situation and financing of the mass media, saying that control of the concentration in the media was of great importance. Regarding the more specific provisions concerning the primary shareholder, he said the revision should be effected in the broader spirit of the Constitution in order to confront collusion.

    "The clash with corruption and collusion was, is and will be head-on," Karamanlis stressed.

    For the purpose of ensuring full transparency in the operation of the public sector, Karamanlis proposed that the agreements of high financial value entered into by the public sector should be audited by a special composition of the Council of State Auditors. He proposed, in other words, a stricter and more efficient audit of public sector contracts so as to avert and neutralize, at the outset, phenomena of collusion, corruption and wasteful spending of public monies.

    With respect to changes on issues concerning the MPs, parliamentary immunity and professional incompatibility, Karamanlis proposed that it should be clearly stipulated that the lifting of parliamentary immunity would not be approved only if parliament ascertained that the lifting of immunity was being sought for political transgression or other political reasons. "In other words, it must be clarified that parliamentary immunity does not mean impunity for the MPs," he said.

    He further proposed amendment of the Constitutional provision concerning the professional incompatibility of the MPs. He proposed that the "absolute" incompatibility clause be replaced by a "partial incompatibility" clause.

    Another proposal was to increase the number of MPs elected without crosses of preference (on ballot tickets) -- the Deputies of State -- with the premier proposing a doubling of the number from 1/20 of the total number of MPs to 1/10.

    Karamanlis also proposed changes in the sector of the environment, and spoke of an urgent need for spatial planning, with the linking of the use of forest expanses to the corresponding spatial plan, adding that the official documentation for the designation of a forest expanse needed to date back to the year in which the country's Constitution came into effect, 1975.

    "We are proceeding to a revision without surprises, without dogmatism, without preconceptions, and have opted for a strategy of unity, unanimity, and conjoining of our efforts," Karamanlis said.

    [02] PASOK leader charges government with 'slipshod' approach to Constitutional revision

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday accused the government of taking a "slipshod" approach to the revision of the Constitution.

    Speaking to the coordinating body of PASOK's Parliamentary group, Papandreou said that the issues raised before ruling New Democracy's Parliamentary Group by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis earlier on Tuesday were "afterthoughts" that had not been properly thought through and chiefly served a "communications" agenda.

    He advised PASOK MPs not to engage in debates on the issues raised by ND and to wait for PASOK to present its considered positions on the issue, which were due to be announced at the first PASOK Political Council meeting that takes place after the meeting of the Socialist International on January 30-31.

    Papandreou also accused the government of initiating talks on revising the Constitution in order to deflect attention from the real problems of the Greek people.

    PM's proposal on constitutional revision poor, PASOK party spokesman says: The main opposition PASOK party, with statements by its spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Tuesday, said that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' proposal on constitutional revision was "poor and conservative and lacked boldness."

    He added that the proposal by Karamanlis was an "offhand" one and viewed the past and not the future, as is required by the country's needs.

    Athanassakis also said that the prime minister's proposal "confirms criticism made so far by PASOK and its president", adding that "the fireworks and diversion efforts by Mr. Karamanlis to get away from the problems of his government will not disorientate the people from the real problems of the country."

    The issue of constitutional revision was examined during PASOK's Coordinating Body meeting on Tuesday, as well as cultural issues and matters concerning the handling of cases by the public order ministry.

    People must reject constitutional revision, KKE says: Greek citizens must reject the constitutional revision being proposed by the government, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in a statement on Tuesday.

    KKE also called on Greek citizens to denounce main opposition PASOK over its agreeing to the proposed revision.

    According to KKE, the government's motive regarding the revision is "to fulfill the demands of the plutocracy by setting up a general legislative framework that will serve its [plutocracy's] interests, as well as to bring it [the constitution] in line with the new anti-democratic and anti-popular laws and measures of the EU."

    Through the proposed revision - according to KKE - ruling New Democracy and PASOK aim to commercialize and privatize higher education; place the fate of the environment in the hands of corporations; step up their attack against workers' rights; and control political parties' operation and activities by using state funding as a tool along the lines of European political parties.

    Finally, KKE believes that the constitution needs to be drastically revised but in the opposite direction to that being proposed by ND and agreed to by PASOK. The constitution should be revised so that the social and democratic rights of workers and young people be better safeguarded, it said.

    SYN leader criticizes ruling party on revision of the Constitution: Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos, referring on Tuesday evening to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' speech on the revision of the Constitution, said the ruling New Democracy party's proposals "abolishes the permanency in the public sector which has been valid for a century," instead of it being extended also to the private sector.

    The Synaspismos leader added that the ND's proposals "prohibit courts to rule on economic compensation or positive measures in support of the working people."

    "It is a coup at the expense of Democracy, of labor and social rights, of public education and of the environment. And unfortunately, this is complemented with the silence and consensus on the part of the leadership of (the main opposition) Panhellenic Socialist Movement."

    Concluding, Alavanos said:" We shall resist. The Left will resist. We call on Greek society to mobilize and not allow our country to turn a century back."

    [03] Civil servants oppose abolition of tenure

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    The ADEDY civil servants union said on Tuesday that would oppose any moves by the government to abolish tenure in the public sector under planned revision of the constitution.

    Tenure was linked to the nature of the job and benefited society, representing an integral part of the state in Greece and Europe, ADEDY said in a statement.

    [04] Greece fully prepared for bird flu, Agriculture Minister says

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greece is fully prepared against the bird flu virus, Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos told regional authority heads on Tuesday, explaining that the government has adopted all relevant EU measures and is working closely with local authorities.

    Basiakos asked local officials to contain free-range poultry, particularly in border regions and areas that are near wetlands.

    The minister said that cooperation among local authorities is being reinforced, including police, customs, health inspection agencies and breeders' organizations.

    Furthermore, inspections aimed at ensuring that resources necessary to deal with the disease are in sufficient supply will be carried out on a daily basis.

    Finally, Basiakos said that seminars will soon be held aimed at educating breeders, hunters and other local organizations about the dangers of the disease, necessary preventive measures, as well as related fees and penalties in the event of violations.

    An Emergency Action Plan in case bird flu is suspected or confirmed has also been set up.

    [05] First post-bird flu illegal immigrants detained on Samos

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    The first illegal immigrants since the outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) in neighboring Turkey arrived Monday on the Greek island of Samos in the Aegean, and were detained by officials under stringent safety measures, it was announced on Tuesday.

    The 20 illegal immigrants, from Afghanistan and Mauritania, were detained Monday night by Samos security police in the Vlamari region of the island, after arriving on the island from the opposite Turkish coast.

    Security police involved in the operation, wearing special masks and gloves, led the detainees to the island's Immigrant Reception Centre, where they were undergoing testing for bird flu and other illnesses.

    On Tuesday, a specialized doctor of the Greek Police's Hygiene Division was scheduled to brief local police on the bird flu outbreak and protective measures.

    [06] Turkish minister indirectly responds to Kaklamanis' warning on travel to Turkey

    ISTANBUL, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    The first reaction, albeit indirect, from Turkish officials to warning issued by the Greek health minister over unnecessary travel in the neighboring country due to bird flu came on Tuesday, with Turkish Culture & Tourism Minister Attila Koc citing a market competition factor.

    "In the Mediterranean, we are all competitors for tourism," was Koc's response to a statement a day earlier by Greek Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis.

    The latter, a radiologist by training and former high-ranking hospital administrator, urged Greek citizens to avoid traveling to neighboring Turkey when possible as a precautionary measure amid concerns over several recent bird flu-related deaths in eastern Turkey.

    If a visit to Turkey cannot be avoided, Kaklamanis urged those traveling to closely follow health instructions listed in pamphlets available at the country's entry and exit points.

    [07] Greece to ratify extradition agreement with US on Wednesday

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greek Ambassador to the United States Alexandros Mallias and US Undersecretary of State Daniel Fried will be signing a protocol on Wednesday ratifying the extradition agreement already reached between the US and the European Union.

    The extradition agreement between the US and the EU was signed in 2003 by US President George W. Bush and then EU President Costas Simitis, then Greek prime minister.

    According to a Justice Ministry announcement, the objective of the extradition treaties is to fight terrorism and international crime more effectively.

    The extradition agreement to be ratified defines the crimes that justify extradition and provides for special arrangements should more than one country ask for the extradition of a criminal or criminals.

    Furthermore, it provides stronger guarantees in terms of ensuring a fair trial and refusing extradition if a suspect faces the possibility of the death penalty.

    The accord also allows for joint investigation teams to be set up by American and Greek police officers.

    Finally, it ensures a higher level of protection of personal data than the bilateral accord signed by Greece and the US in 1999.

    [08] Greek UN permanent representative addresses Security Council meeting

    NEW YORK, 18/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greece's permanent UN representative, ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, addressing a Security Council meeting during a briefing by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) president, stressed that "30 years after the Helsinki Final Act and the creation of the OSCE, Europe is a different continent. Basically in peace and developing new cooperation structures dynamically."

    Vassilakis thanked OSCE President and Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht for his participation and the overall presentation of OSCE's prospects for 2006 and stressed that "it is certain that the Belgian presidency will have many challenges to face in the next 12 months."

    The Greek representative said "from what we have heard today, they are ready to handle all the problems and the challenges with renewed strength, new ideas and sincere dedication. We wish them success and recognition of their efforts."

    Vassilakis also said that "the contribution of OSCE, as the biggest regional security organization which unites countries from Vancouver to Vladivostok, was of decisive importance for the building of Europe's new security architecture."

    He noted that "despite difficulties, or maybe due to them, one point has become clear, particularly recently: the OSCE has not become outdated. It continues to be useful."

    [09] FM spokesman outlines Athens' position on EU-Turkey ties, other foreign policy issues

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    The foreign ministry's chief spokesman on Tuesday outlined many of Athens' standing foreign policy positions in an address to a large group of visiting Greek expatriate youths from Latin America, where he underlined that Greece not only creates security, peace and stability for its own people, but for the entire region.

    In response to a question regarding Turkey's closely watched European orientation, spokesman George Koumoutsakos noted that "we are doing everything possible to be on friendly terms, but there are certain particularities ... we must provide the opportunity for results of Turkey's policy to surface in the 10 years, minimum, that its course towards (EU) accession will last. However, we are not extending carte blanche."

    Koumoutsakos reminded that a clear-cut framework of conditions that Turkey must meet have been laid out by the Union for the first time, as he cited good-neighborly relations, respect for minorities and religious rights, as well as Ankara's stance vis--vis the Cyprus issue.

    "It (Turkey's course towards the Union) will be long and difficult, but I believe that in the end we will have a positive outcome," he said, adding that all of the Balkan countries should have the opportunity to be part of the EU.

    "...because such a prospect would leave behind a past filled with conflicts and help the region. The same applies to Turkey," the spokesman said.

    Asked about the 16-year issue still preventing a full normalization of relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), namely, the "name issue", Koumoutsakos merely noted that moderation was needed to find a mutually acceptable solution, "something we're doing within the framework of the United Nations and the European Union in order to achieve stability in the region.

    "Patience and persistence are necessary; conditions for creating new hostilities should be avoided," he added.

    In terms of Greece's position in the eastern Mediterranean and its proximity to the Middle East, Koumoutsakos reiterated that Athens has traditionally good relations with both the Arab world and Israel.

    As per the Palestinian issue, specifically, he repeated Athens' position of two secure states in the region living peacefully side by side.

    In terms of the international fight against terrorism, Koumoutsakos said the purpose of such a collective effort is to protect human life and dignity, "although the battle against terrorism cannot be aimed at religions or civilizations".

    "The added value of Greece's foreign policy is our sincere belief in the principles of democracy, peace and stability," he concluded.

    [10] KEDKE board to meet Commissioners Hubner and Dimas in Brussels

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    A meeting between the board of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) and EU Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hubner will be held in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon.

    The meeting is taking place at the initiative of KEDKE and will have as its theme the course of the implementation of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) and the more active contribution of Local Government and of local authorities in the planning and implementation of the 4th CSF.

    KEDKE's board will also meet Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas on Thursday. The agenda of the talks will include issues relating to duties of Local Government which are financed by structural funds and the Cohesion Fund.

    [11] Greek, Albanian customs vow to combat cross-border crime

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greek and Albanian customs authorities on Tuesday pledged to maintain their drive against cross-border crime.

    Customs officials from the two countries met in the northwestern town of Ioannina to discuss their campaign against smuggling, the drugs trade, car theft and other crimes.

    Albania said it would continue modernization of its customs system; and Greece is to recruit another 25 staff for customs in Epirus, including 15 more personnel for the Kakavia border post.

    [12] Greek ambassador in Belgrade offers 100,000 euros for Vojvodina flood victims

    BELGRADE, 18/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas)

    Greek Ambassador to Belgrade Christos Panagopoulos on Tuesday delivered a cheque for 100,000 euros to Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic for the flood victims of Vojvodina in 2005. The aid follows the promise given by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis in May 2005 when he had visited Belgrade.

    Speaking during the delivery ceremony for the cheque, Panagopoulos said that this act constitutes an expression of the Greek people's solidarity for the people of Serbia. The Greek ambassador referred to the friendly ties between the two peoples and pointed out that Greece will continue to display its sensitivity and to provide aid whenever necessary.

    Draskovic called on the Greek ambassador to convey the thanks of the people of Serbia to the Greek people and said that when he visits Athens next week he will have the opportunity of thanking "my friend Petros Molyviatis" personally.

    The Serb foreign minister said that the money will be used to repair damage caused by the floods in five villages, including the village where he himself was born.

    [13] Education minister proposes memory day for terrorism victims

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    The third Sunday in January every year is being proposed, at the initiative of Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou, as a memory day for the victims of the criminal action of terrorism in Greece.

    According to an announcement by the education ministry, the character, content, agency and the way of organizing events will be determined by a Presidential Decree to be issued, following a proposal by the interior, economy and education ministers and an opinion by the most acknowledged societies of victims, relatives and their friends.

    The minister's proposal will be tabled in Parliament for ratification with an amendment signed by the interior, economy, education and justice ministers and will be included in the draft law on local youth councils.

    [14] President Papoulias hosts annual reception in honor of the Diplomatic Corps

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias hosted the annual reception in honor of the members of the Diplomatic Corps at the Presidential Mansion in Athens on Tuesday evening.

    Present at the reception were Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou, Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, National Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos, former president of the republic Christos Sartzetakis, New Democracy party Honorary President Constantine Mitsotakis, Deputy Foreign Ministers Yiannis Valinakis and Evripides Stylianidis, Deputy Culture Minister responsible for Sport George Orfanos, many ambassadors and heads of foreign missions in Athens and foreign ministry officials.

    [15] Avramopoulos to convey Athens' condolences for late Emir of Kuwait

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    Tourism Development and former Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos will represent the Greek government in paying respects to Kuwait's royal family for the death of late Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah

    [16] Intracom in Europe's top 300 firms for R&D investment

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    Athens-quoted Intracom SA ranks among the world's 300 largest industries, regardless of sector, that are leaders in investment in research and development.

    The company was included for the second straight year in Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard 2005 released by the European Union's executive Commission.

    The report carries data on 1,400 firms, 700 half based in Europe and the remainder elsewhere that invested an overall 315 billion euros in the sector, topping 50% of private investment worldwide.

    Intracom, an information technology and telecoms manufacturer included in the FTSE/ASE-20 LargeCap index, has 5,450 employees and sells its products and services in 60 countries, focusing on the European Union, North Africa, Middle East and the USA. It has subsidiaries in 16 countries.

    [17] Athens hotel occupancy rate rises in November

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    The hotel occupancy rate in Athens rose slightly in November 2005 against the same month a year earlier, the Union of Attica Hoteliers said on Tuesday.

    Occupancy at five-star hotels was 41.2%, up 4.6%; at four-star units 40.9%, up 4.9%; three-star hotels, 32.2%, down 10.4%; and two-star facilities 31.6%, up 4.5%, the union said in a monthly report.

    In January-November, the occupancy rate was an average 64.1%, down 0.8% from the same period of 2004, which included the Athens Olympics, according to the report.

    [18] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise slightly

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,946.91 points, showing a rise of 0.15%. Turnover was 399.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.27% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.06% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.62% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 206 to 92 with 32 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (2714)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 335.4 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2015): 3.55% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bund: 3.18%

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (1.1 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.5 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.217

    [19] Public prosecutors briefed on Monday's violent robbery, suspected terrorist link

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    A meeting on Monday's violent robbery and shootout in the centre of Athens was held at the Athens First-Instance Court Public Prosecutors office on Tuesday, with the participation of two officers from the police anti-terrorism squad and Attica police headquarters.

    The two police officers briefed the head of the public prosecutor's department Dimitris Papangelopoulos, as well as the public prosecutor supervising the Anti-terrorism service Dimitris Asprogerakas and his predecessor Ioannis Diotis, on their findings in the investigation so far, as well as the police suspicions that the culprits may be linked to terrorist groups.

    According to earlier reports, police were led to suspect a terrorist link by the type of weaponry used by the robbers (machine guns) and the ruthless way in which the robbers reacted when pursued by the police and a security guard.

    A meeting was also held late on Monday night at police headquarters with Asprogerakas and the leadership of the police force to discuss the case.

    The latest reports on the robbery say that five men were actually involved, four in the bank and one standing guard outside, who attempted to get away on foot toward Panepistimiou Street.

    One of the bank security guards followed them, however, while keeping police informed of their whereabouts on his cell phone. When four of the robbers reached the Hatzichristou arcade leading onto Panepistimiou (while the fifth escaped by another route) they found a Syntagma police station patrol car and two special guards waiting for them, while the security guard was coming up behind.

    When the security guard attempted to immobilize them, they fired a volley of shots that hit him in the abdomen and chest, and then fired a volley of shots against the two special guards that were running up the arcade toward them. The police officers returned fire and hit one of the robbers in the leg.

    Undeterred, the four bank robbers continued running out onto Panepistimiou Street where they hijacked an environment ministry car after forcing the driver to get out. They found their way blocked by the two guards, however, who had taken cover in the meantime and were warning members of the public to stay down.

    A new exchange of fire ensued, during which one of the robbers was injured and the others got away. The injured man was arrested and taken to the State General Hospital in Athens. Also hit was a 73-year-old lottery-ticket seller who suffered a slight injury in the leg due to a bullet.

    The man arrested was identified as a 28-year-old man with a previous arrest record, who had been brought in for questioning after incidents in Exarchia. Hospital doctors said the man's condition is serious, while the band security guard's condition was described as serious but under control.

    Police say that at least one more of the robbers is also wounded and have appealed to the public to contact the authorities if they suspect they know their whereabouts.

    [20] Public order minister congratulates Syntagma guards

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis on Tuesday received the two Syntagma special guards that engaged with the robbers and congratulated them on their professionalism and presence of mind, and the bravery in the face of danger.

    In a statement after the meeting, Voulgarakis said that the Greek police were investigating the case seriously, assessing all the available evidence and using the capabilities offered by the forensic laboratories at their disposal.

    "The investigation is continuing patiently and systematically in order to arrest the remaining culprits and bring them to justice," he added.

    [21] Athens mayor invited to 'Sound of Europe' conference

    VIENNA, 18/1/2006 (ANA/MPA - D.Dimitrakoudis)

    Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni has been invited to attend the "Sound of Europe" conference, taking place in Salzburg on January 26-28 to explore 'European identity and culture', as an official guest of Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel.

    The conference is the first major event organized by the Austrian presidency of the EU and also marks the official start of 'Mozart Year' that marks the 250th anniversary since the musical genius' birth.

    Bakoyianni - the only mayor of a European city that has been invited to the conference - will take part in the discussion "And now what, a new sound" where the main speaker will be EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

    Attending the conference will be about 200 decision-makers, opinion-makers, artists and scientists, who will discuss approaches to promoting the project of European integration. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ricardo Muti will give a festive concert in the Great Festival Hall of Salzburg.

    [22] National Telecommunications and Post Offices Committee stresses need for emphasis on land-based digital TV

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    The National Telecommunications and Post Offices Committee (EETT) stressed the need for particular emphasis to be placed on promoting land-based digital television, in proposals it made on the occasion of the draft law concerning the licensing of the mass media.

    According to the EETT, by 2012 the country must have moved technologically to the status of land-based digital television, as anticipated by a European Union directive and for this reason the validity of licenses to be given will be brief.

    Otherwise, it added, Greece is in danger of being marginalized again and license television at a time when other countries of the European family will have entered the digital era.

    The EETT stressed that the conventional television set is no longer the sole means of receiving a television program, since the citizen can watch television programs either with electronic computers or with mobile telephones.

    The Independent Regulating Authority makes substantive proposals both on the functioning of the mass media and the institutional framework through which "an overall solution enabling the handling of the chaotic situation prevailing today" will be attempted.

    [23] Yiossakis indicted, ordered held in custody on remand

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    Iacovos Yiossakis, the defrocked Orthodox Archimandrite at the centre of an alleged trial-rigging ring, was indicted on six felony and misdemeanor charges late Monday and remanded in custody pending trial, following marathon nine-hour deposition before a panel of two examining magistrates and an appeals prosecutor.

    The alleged protagonist of the judicial corruption scandal faces six felony and misdemeanor charges, and was ordered held in custody on remand by the unanimous decision of examining magistrates Y. Sideris and Y. Fiorakis, and appeals prosecutor K. Karoutsos, following completion of the ex-Archimandrite's long-awaited deposition, which had been postponed three times on extension to enable him to prepare his response on the 49-page indictment.

    In addition to his deposition, Yiossakis also submitted a 60-page memorandum.

    According to reports, Yiossakis denied any involvement in the judicial corruption racket, and said his only connection was that he was acquainted with some of the implicated judges and lawyers, with some of whom he was on friendly terms.

    Questioned on the large amounts of money appearing in his bank accounts, which are said to exceed 300,000 euros, Yiossakis claimed they were the product of the sale of real estate properties left to him as an inheritance by the late Metropolitan Panteleimon of Limnos.

    Yiossakis is charged, among others, with money laundering of proceeds gained from illegal activity, fraud in Greece and abroad, attempted fraud, bribery, moral complicity in breach of duty, and establishing a criminal gang.

    The incarcerated cleric again jumped into the local newspaper headlines last week after filing a lawsuit against a high-ranking judicial magistrate and after alleging to a "cover-up" in the ongoing investigation of the unprecedented trial-rigging furor. He claimed that at least three other individuals -- including Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis' wife, attorney Christina Valnaki-Haratsari -- should have been charged as well.

    [24] Policeman sentenced to life imprisonment for murder

    18/1/2006 (ANA)

    A policeman was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder by a court in Thessaloniki, Macedonia on Tuesday.

    The 41-year-old policeman served at the Pella Police Department. According to the court ruling, the policeman killed 30-year-old Anastasios Tsehilidis in the rural region of "Dorothea", on the outskirts of Aridea, in August 2004. Tsehilidis was shot in the head. Before the incident, the culprit and the victim quarreled because the latter was unable to repay in full the total amount of 1,700 euros he had borrowed from the policeman.

    During the court hearing, which began last Wednesday, the policeman claimed that he was defending himself. However, he did not convince the court which sentenced him to life imprisonment.

    [25] 'Cow Parade' to hit Athens streets this summer

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    The internationally-acclaimed outdoor exhibition "Cow Parade" is due to hit the streets of Athens this summer for four months, between May and September, after visiting 30 cities around the world.

    Dozens of white fiberglass cows will take over Athenian streets and squares, courtesy of the City of Athens municipality, and will then act as a canvas for artists, celebrities and even politicians over the next four months.

    In a press conference on Tuesday, Athens Vice-Mayor and head of the municipality's Cultural Organization Nitsa Loule stressed that "Cow Parade" had become an international institution for the arts since it was started in 1998 in Zurich by Swiss decorator Walter Knapp, while in that time it has appeared in New York, London, Tokyo, Dublin and Moscow, among other cities.

    Loule noted that the exhibition had been a success in all the cities it had visited, delighting the public with its originality, freshness and humor. She also stressed the fund-raising aspects of the show, which will donate half its proceeds to a children's charity.

    Access to the brightly-colored cows by members of the public will be free of charge, while the finished bovine artwork will be put up for auction at the end of the summer.

    [26] Development ministry hosts exhibition on Democritos research centre

    ATHENS, 18/1/2006 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Tuesday inaugurated an exhibition at the ministry on the work of the Democritos National Centre for Research in the Physical Sciences, along with Democritos president Dr. D. Niarchos and Research and Technology General Secretary Ioannis Tsoukalas.

    The exhibition will run until February 3 and will be open to the public on weekdays between 9:00 and 15:00 and forms part of a development ministry program to inform the general public on the work done by agencies under its supervision.

    [27] HAU's Spyrou to be honored by Greek Alumni of US Universities

    18/1/2006 (ANA)

    The Association of Greek Alumni of US Universities will hold its annual New Year's"pita cutting" ceremony Wednesday evening at the Hellenic American Union's (HAU) downtown Athens campus -- 22, Massalias St.

    The Association will also honor HAU President Chris Spyrou, a former state senator from New Hampshire, at the event for his significant contributions towards establishing the Athens-based Hellenic-American University.

    [28] Cyprus President Papadopoulos ready for talks 'tomorrow'

    NICOSIA, 18/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said here on Tuesday he is ready to return to the negotiating table "tomorrow" if the UN Secretary General invites him to talks, with no terms and no conditions, adding that there is nothing further than the truth that he wants a settlement "in the depth of time."

    Speaking at a lunch hosted by CNA for foreign correspondents, he also said that the EU can, if it considers it necessary, put a halt on Turkey's accession negotiations or postpone them, should Ankara fail to meet its obligations towards the Union, including opening its ports and airports to Cypriot flagged ships and aircraft.

    Asked what it would take to return to talks, he replied "an invitation by the Secretary General with no terms and no conditions, come to the talks tomorrow and I will, nothing else."

    Fending off criticism that he does not want a political settlement, he said "there is nothing further than the truth that I have ever planned or now expect a solution in Cyprus in the depth of time" adding that it is "ridiculous" to suggest that he does not want a solution.

    "We do not want a solution that would simply be used as an opportunity to eliminate from the map the legal entity which is called Republic of Cyprus, we do not want an unworkable solution, we

    want a viable solution that will have the chance to function normally," he stressed, noting that he has already given his positions on the changes he wants to a UN solution plan (Annan plan) in detail and with clarity to the UN.

    The president pointed out that the name of any solution plan is immaterial but its content is important.

    "We have two choices to go further, either we accept that the Cyprus problem will remain under the UN or it will be something else, under a different umbrella. I do not think there are many people who want to eliminate the UN as the proper forum for the discussion of Cyprus, Turkey does not certainly want any change and the EU does not want to substitute the UN in their role or inherit a headache of Cyprus," he said.

    The EU, he explained, is bound to have an active role in any future negotiations.

    Referring to initiatives to resume a dialogue, he wondered whether this meant face to face negotiations between the leaders of the two sides or preparatory work aiming at a constructive dialogue.

    "The worst situation for the Greek Cypriots would be another round of talks which will fail in 2-3 months," he said, adding that a new deadlock in Cyprus would be "catastrophic" for the Greek Cypriots.

    Responding to questions, he said he has told and continues to tell the UN Secretary General that he wants to be engaged in talks.

    "We hope that the process of Turkey towards the EU would soon convince Turkey that there are greener pastures elsewhere than Cyprus," he said, noting that it is not insignificant that the EU has decided to review of Turkey with regard to its obligations in the negotiating framework.

    On Turkey's European aspirations, he said the EU want Turkey to negotiate and there is no member that wishes Turkey not to negotiate its accession, something he described as "good" for Cyprus.

    "There is no country that is prepared to stop the negotiations unless there is very serious reason affecting the EU" he said, adding that Brussels has no other measures to ensure compliance to its rules by an applicant country other than stopping or postponing accession negotiations.

    Asked if Cyprus would want the EU to use this measure if Turkey continues to block the usage of its ports and airport by Cypriot vessels and aircraft, the president replied "it depends on the attitude of Turkey."

    [29] Straw's visit to take place as planned, says London

    LONDON, 18/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's visit to Cyprus will take place according to plan on January the 24th, the Foreign Office's Official Spokesman told CNA.

    Asked whether the visit will take place on the basis of the original plan which provided for a meeting of the Foreign Secretary with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat at the so called presidential palace in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, the Spokesman said ''at his office''.

    Answering to another question whether the British High Commission in Nicosia will be having consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nicosia, the Spokesman said that he did not know what arrangements the High Commission was making in Nicosia.

    Asked whether Talat's visit to London will finally take place, the Spokesman said the appropriate services are dealing with that.

    [30] Foreign Minister Iacovou says UN official apologetic over UNDP fund

    NICOSIA, 18/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus and chief of mission of the UN peacekeeping force on the island (UNFICYP) Michael Moller appeared apologetic to Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou over the establishment of a UNDP trust fund to help the Turkish Cypriot community without discussing the matter with the Cypriot government.

    Iacovou met Moller on Monday afternoon and discussed the trust fund issue with the UN official.

    ''Moller was especially apologetic. He assured that it was clearly a mistake and that it was wrong of UNDP not to have discussed the issue with the Cypriot government. This should have been done before setting up the trust fund,'' Iacovou said.

    The minister said Cyprus' Permanent Representative at the UN met on Monday with UNDP Director General Kemal Dervis, of Turkish origin, who ''assured they had no intention to use resources for the development of the Turkish Cypriot community without prior consultations with the Cypriot government.''

    He added that Cyprus' Permanent Representative in Brussels met with the legal advisors of the European Commission and the EU Council, who clarified that ''the Committee cannot contribute amounts that have been lost due to the negativity of the Turkish side to cooperate on the financing regulation, namely the 120 million euros.''

    ''The potential of the Commission is a few thousand for emergencies. So if they expected to be given a large proportion of the 250 million euros they will be really disappointed,'' Iacovou pointed out.

    Commenting on reports that the British Foreign Office had decided to go ahead with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's visit to Cyprus, Iacovou said he had no such information.

    Asked what would happen if Straw decided to come to Cyprus and visit the Turkish occupied areas, Iacovou said ''such things cannot happen.''

    Meanwhile, Government Spokesman George Lillikas said the government insisted that there were institutions that should be respected regarding a possible visit between Straw and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat at the latter's office in the occupied areas.

    "It is out position that any actions by officials of other countries, especially European countries, EU partners, should be avoided if they strengthen Mr. Talat's wish for political upgrading, a policy that does not lead to the solution of the Cyprus problem and the reunification of our country, but on the contrary strengthens Mr. Talat in his effort to enhance or establish or promote divisionism policies,'' Lillikas said.

    [31] Britain continues to warn of risks in purchase of property in north

    NICOSIA, 18/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The British government has warned its citizens of the risks in purchasing property in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus due to the non-recognition of the puppet regime.

    The position was declared in a written answer of the Deputy Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Douglas Alexander, to a question posed by Conservative MP Mr Roger Gale relating to the purchasing of properties belonging to Greek Cypriots who were displaced following the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

    In his reply, Alexander said "the Government warns British citizens of the risks of purchasing property in northern Cyprus that arise from the international community's non-recognition of the self-declared 'Turkish republic of northern Cyprus', the property implications of any future settlement and the claims to ownership of Cypriots displaced in 1974."

    He added "we further warn British citizens that they may face legal proceedings in the Cypriot courts and elsewhere in the EU, including the UK."

    In addition, "the Government strongly advises British citizens to seek independent legal advice" said Alexander, noting this information is publicly available through the Travel Advice on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website and given in response to all enquiries.

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