|Sunday, 11 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-01-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 19, 2006
 Gov't sets ¬ 5000 wage ceiling for CEO's and presidents of public utilities
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday announced that wage increases for staff in public-sector companies and public utilities, known in Greece by the shorthand DEKO, that are not listed on the Athens bourse will be determined by government policy for revenues, while a ¬ 5000 ceiling will be set for the maximum wages of CEO's and board chairmen of these companies.
Current budgetary policy calls for wage increases not exceeding 3 per cent.
He said that a ministerial committee for DEKO that met at the finance ministry on Wednesday with Alogoskoufis in the chair had decided to activate articles governing DEKO contained in a law that was passed in 2005. He also clarified that any minister wishing to implement the wage ceiling for CEO's and company presidents would be free to do so from Thursday.
Alogoskoufis said that the committee's decision marked the culmination of a major effort to reform and restrain the public sector, stressing that this would put a brake on public-sector waste and ensure that DEKO had obligations as well as rights.
The minister said the law required public utilities to produce a Charter of their obligations towards the public within six months, which would be subject to the ministerial committee's approval and would then be used to judge their future perfor-mance.
Each ministry, meanwhile, will have to compile a list of the DEKO that it supervises and collect figures for their earnings and costs, state grants, investments, loans, debts and staffing. This information will then be used to create a database for public utilities and other state enterprises.
 Transport minister calls for reduction of DEKO senior administrators' remuneration
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)A reduction of remuneration for the presidents and CEOs of the DEKO public utilities and organisations under the jurisdiction of the Transport and Communications ministry was proposed on Wednesday by minister Michalis Liapis, during a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee on the DEKO held at the national economy and finance ministry.
Liapis, who proposed a 50 percent reduction in the senior administrators' remunertion, said that the new law on the DEKO being prepared wuld comprise a major reform, adding that he was determined to wipe-out wasteful spending.
Addressing the same meeting, development minister Dimitris Sioufas said that the DEKO discussion in the inter-ministerial committee would be "on all issues".
 Main opposition says workers paying for plight of state firms
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) said on Wednesday that the government was hurting workers at the state corporations it was seeking to overhaul.
"Yet again, the government has burdened the responsibility for the condition of state corporations solely on the shoulders of workers, with no reference whatsoever to the social nature of the firms and ensuring the public interest," PASOK's economics spokeswoman, Vasso Papandreou, said.
"Faithful to his austerity policy for workers and pensioners, the finance minister has announced the procedure for hikes in tariffs set by the firms along with cuts in workers' income," Papandreou charged in a statement.
Responding to statements earlier in the day by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, she also charged that the finances of state corporations had worsened since the ruling New Democracy party took office in 2004.
 Opposition party raps overhaul of state firms
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology on Wednesday criticised the terms of a government overhaul of state corporations.
"It is not enough that the government has announced a tough austerity policy with below-inflation rises in the core public sector. It also intends to impose this rigid policy on workers in state corporations," Panayiotis Lafazanis, the party's economic and social policy spokesman, said in a statement.
Lafazanis was responding to statements earlier in the day by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.
 Revision of Constitution part of effort to 'refound state', gov't says
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Commenting on the government's proposals for revising the Constitution - particularly articles governing public-sector recruitments - government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday said that they were part of the ruling party's strategic goal to "refound" the state.
He said that the measures would not scrap tenure for civil servants but would make it easier to hire more staff with indefinite contracts than at present and solve problems concerning their promotion and career prospects.
Concerning a proposal to strip court powers to regulate issues of economic policy, Roussopoulos noted that this had been made by main opposition PASOK and the government now considered it correct.
"Our position is clear, no rights will be taken away but the budget will not constantly be overturned," he said.
He also announced that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be chairing a meeting of ND's Political Council on January 23 and of ND's Central Committee on January 29 that will discuss the proposals for revising the Constitution and strategy during the upcoming local government elections.
 PM Karamanlis, former PM Mitsotakis, discuss Constitutional revision
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Wednesday with former prime minister and honourary president of his ruling New Democracy party (ND) Constantine Mitsotakis, with whom he discussed the planned revision of the Constitution.
Karamanlis unveiled his proposals for the Constitutional revision on Tuesday during a meeting of the ND parliamentary group.
After his discussion with the premier, Mitsotakis said the meeting had focussed exclusively on the Constitutional revision, from which he said the country would benefit greatly, adding that he had offered his assistance.
Mitsotakis opined that there would be consensus in the revision, adding that the few disagreements that currently existed would cease to exist.
He anticipated that the climate of consensus that had existed during the previous Constitutional revision would be repeated, "and I imagine that PASOK (the main opposition party, which was in government at the time of the preceding revision) will act as we acted as main opposition party".
Commenting on the abolition of tenure in the civil service proposed by the government vis-a-vis the Constitutional revision, Mitsotakis said that tenure in the narrow public sector "will not be abolished", adding that "no one is considering this". He noted, howerver, that "the matter is open for new appointees", while "tenure is not foreseen" for the wider public sector.
 PM Karamanlis meets ND's Central Committee Secretary Meimarakis
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Ruling New Democracy (ND) party Central Committee Secretary Evangelos Meimarakis met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the Maximos Mansion in Athens on Wednesday.
Speaking to reports after his meeting with the premier, Meimarakis said "the ND with the proposal for the revision of the Constitution, is proceeding in the completion of the institutional framework, through which the state must move, the state of law and the welfare state which we have the ambition to build."
To a question whether he foresaw a government reshuffle, Meimarakis said that in his opinion "the issue does not seem to be in the prime minister's immediate plans."
 PASOK party spokesman comments on constitution's revision
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said that statements made by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday confirm the position of PASOK of a "poor and conservative revision of the constitution which also lacks boldness and is a slapdash one".
Athanassakis said that the issue of the constitution's revision "conceals expediencies of diversion and the prime minister escaping from current problems". He added that the issue was opened during the discussion on the budget, four whole months before the process began in Parliament.
The PASOK party's spokesman also spoke of an offhand fashion in the way with which the government is introducing issues for revision, referring to such issues as employees' permanence and the lifting of Parliamentary deputies' asylum.
In another development, PASOK leader George Papandreou held prolonged talks on Wednesdaay afternoon with the president of the party's municipal and prefectural elections committee Alekos Papadopoulos, regarding election tactics and candidacy issues.
Antonaros responds to Athanassakis regarding revision of the Constitution: Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, in response on Wednesday evening to statements made earlier in the day by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, said that "unfortunately for himself and his party, Mr. Athanassakis, with his statements also today, confirmed that for PASOK the habit has become second nature."
Antonaros added:"However difficult it is for the main oppo-sition to abandon - even only for the paramount matter of the Constitutional Revision - the easy road of petty political expediency and empty slogans, it is obliged, in front of the citizens, to do so."
 Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Anthimos comments on constitution revision issue
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Anthimos said on Wednesday that the statement by the prime minister that no question of separating the State from the Church will be raised during the revision of the constitution "satisfied the common sentiment of the Greek people".
"The statement by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis that during the revision of the current constitution no question will be raised of separating the State from the Church satisfied the common sentiment of the Greek people and vindicated those who had resisted such an eventuality from the beginning," Metropolitan Anthimos said.
"The prime minister clarified that issues which are the duty of the ordinary legislator will be arranged following research and dialogue, by relevant State and Church officials," he added.
Metropolitan Anthimos further stressed that "the main opposition party as well, with statements by its leadership, is orientating itself only on the claim that the distinguished roles between the State and the Church be clarified."
Lastly, he said that "all this shows that the two paramount institutions of Hellenism, meaning the State and the Church, must never separate. For the well-meaning interest of all and of the Greek people in particular."
 PM departs for official visit to China
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis departed for Beijing and an official trip to China on Wednesday, during which he will meet with China's political and state leadership.
The trip forms part of a series of contacts being made by the premier to increase bilateral cooperation and promote Greek enterprise.
He is being accompanied on the visit by Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylia-nidis.
Karamanlis will also visit Shanghai, where there will be a large delegation of people involved in business and finance.
Prior to his departure on Wednesday morning, the prime minister had successive meetings at his offices with the honorary president of New Democracy Constantine Mitsotakis and ND Central Committee Secretary Evangelos Meimarakis to discuss a planned revision of the Constitution.
Mitsotakis stressed that Constitutional revision will greatly benefit the country and that there would be consensus for the changes. He advised against scrapping tenure for state employees in the narrower civil service as opposed to the broader public sector, venturing that there were no thoughts for such a change.
At the same time, he said the matter should be reconsidered for newly-recruited staff and that tenure was not "foreseen" for the broader public sector.
Meimarakis, on his part, noted that that ND was proceeding toward completing the institutional framework required in an organised state that the government was trying to build with its proposal for revising the Constitution.
 Greece ratifies extradition agreement with US
WASHINGTON, 19/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Ellis)Greek Ambassador to the United States Alexandros Mallias and US Undersecretary of State Daniel Fried signed a protocol here on Wednesday, ratifying the extradition agreement already reached between the US and the European Union.
Fried described it as a positive step for further strengthening bilateral relations.
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, a fact Fried stressed in comments he made to reporters, congratulating those Greek officials who worked towards this objective.
On his part, Mallias said that signing of the protocol showed the 'continuity and consistency' of Greece's foreign policy and expressed satisfaction for being given the opportunity to sign the document on behalf of the Greek government three months after being posted in Washington.
The extradition agreement that was 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.
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.
 Agriculture minister to visit north Aegean islands for bird flu briefing
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Agriculture Minister Evangelos Basiakos will be visiting three island prefectures in the north Aegean Sea on Thursday, accompanied by a team of specialist scientists and ministry staff, where he will chair a series of meetings with local services and authorities concerning action to protect against bird flu.
The meetings will be held successively at the headquarters of the three prefectures with the participation of all services involved and will discuss the coordination of regional services and providing assistance to prefecture authorities to implement the measures to be taken.
The minister will be accompanied by North Aegean Region General Secretary Sergios Tsiftis.
The meetings will take place at 11:05-13:00 at Samos prefecture, at 14:00-16:00 at Chios prefecture, and finally from 17:00-19:00 at the Aegean ministry.
Late on Thursday night the minister is due to attend a further meeting on bird flu measures, this time at the headquarters of the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace regional authority in Komotini.
In Parliament on Wednesday, meanwhile, 29 main opposition PASOK MPs requested that Parliament's Committee for Production and Trade be immediately informed about the measures being taken for bird flu.
 Communist party leader hold press conference over CoE memorandum
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Wednesday announced that a large KKE delegation will travel to Strasbourg on January 24 to deliver a document with thousands of signatures to the Council of Europe, which expresses opposition to an anti-Communist memorandum that is being brought before the CoE Parliamentary Assembly.
Papariga said the anti-Communist memorandum proposed at the CoE was a "strategic choice bred in the soil of generalised imperialist strategy", which would be the forerunner of a new cycle of barbarous reactionary measures targeting social rights, democratic rights and the launching of a new cycle of war.
She also singled out the memorandum's attempt to equate Nazism with Communist regimes as "a mistake bordering on a crime and an unhistorical lie" that "turned history on its head".
The KKE leader expressed satisfaction with the assurances given by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis that New Democracy would vote against the memorandum - as both ND and PASOK had done at an earlier stage - and underlined that all MPs should attend the assembly in Strasbourg when the memorandum would be put to the vote.
Papariga noted that her party had carried out self-criticism where this was needed and announced that it would soon be publishing the initial conclusions of a study begun by KKE in 1995 concerning the purported mistakes and crimes carried out by the former Soviet Union.
"We answer to the working class and the people, not to the imperialists," she added.
European Left party condemns promotion of anti-communist memorandum at Council of Europe: The Executive Committee of the European Left party, in which the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) participates, condemned with a unanimous decision the promotion of the anti-communist memorandum at the Council of Europe, stressing that with this action an effort is being made to "incriminate ideas and an effort to falsify history."
The decision stresses that "fifty years after the death of McCarthy the rapporteur (a Christian Democrat) of the document is trying to start a new McCarthism of a European style, legalising in advance threats of banning, such as that that is currently hovering over the Czech Communist Youth", adding that "we underline the fact that the whole process lies outside the jurisdiction of the Council of Europe."
It further pointed out that "it is attempting to change the institution of the Council of Europe into an ideological court and use it in a wretched way in the political struggle."
The decision also noted that "we wish to attract attention to the extremely serious nature of this initiative which, in reality, is leading to the downgrading of Nazi genocide and the offending of the memory of the many communists, resistance fighters and victims of fascism."
 Ecumenical Patriarch meets with Bulgarian PM
ISTANBUL, 19/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev met with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Wednesday during his official visit to Turkey.
Stanishev said that he had an interesting meeting with the patriarch with whom he discussed the role of Orthodoxy in today's fast-changing world.
He added that people oftentimes tend to forget their roots and where they're headed, a point where the Orthodox Church can play an important role.
The Bulgarian premier also stressed the respect Bulgaria's government and Church has for the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the patriarch himself.
Finally, Stanishev asked to be briefed on the situtation regarding the Greek minority in Istanbul.
 Turkish party leader Deniz Baykal due in Athens
19/1/2006 (ANA)The leader of Turkey's Republican People's Party (CHP) Deniz Baykal is due to visit Athens on January 30 to take part in the Socialist International conference, the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported on Wednesday.
Baykal is one of the Socialist International's vice-presidents.
 Public order minister chairs meeting on Monday's robbery
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis on Wednesday chaired a meeting on the violent bank robbery and shootout that took place in the centre of Athens on Monday, to discuss the progress made in the police investigation.
The meeting was attended by the public prosecutor in charge of terrorism cases Dimitris Asprogerakas, as well as the leadership of the police and the officers carrying out the investigation.
Afterwards, Voulgarakis said that the investigation must be handled methodically and must make full use of the capabilities offered by Greek forensics laboratories in order to collect evidence and build up a watertight case against the culprits.
So far, police have received the results of ballistics tests and on two blood stains found after the shootouts in the electric railway station in Kifissia and at Klafthmonos Square, where the robbers passed while making their getaway.
These show that the weapons used by the robbers had not been fired in any past robbery, while confirming that the blood found belonged to two different people.
Police are also narrowing their search to two members of the gang that were recorded by cameras while making their getaway and whose descriptions match those given by witnesses, while the facial characteristics of the other two are also emerging from further camera footage viewed. If these are confirmed beyond all doubt, police may issue photographs of the suspects.
The two men provisionally identified are believed to spend time in the Exarhia area and have been questioned in connection with armed robberies in the past.
Already released is a photograph of the robber that was injured and caught during the shootout, 28-year-old Yiannis Dimitrakis. Police have asked the public to come forward with any information about his habits, the areas he is known to frequent and people that he spent time with, with a view to locating possible arms caches belonging to the gang.
The armed robbery in a central branch of the National Bank of Greece on Monday culminated in two shootouts bear busy Panepistimiou street, during which a bank security guard and one of the robbers was seriously injured and an aged lottery-ticket seller sustained slight injuries from a ricocheted bullet. The remaining four robbers believed to be involved managed to elude capture and are still being sought.
 Permanence of civil servants not harmed, interior minister says
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos referred on Wednesday to the main issue on the agenda of dialogue which has begun on the revision of the constitution, also following the prime minister's address at the New Democracy party's Parliamentary Group, that is the status of employees in the narrow public sector, stressing that "permanence is an institution which is not being harmed", as it is precisely determined by article 103 of the constitution.
Pavlopoulos said that in the proposal by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis the need is stressed, since a second big category of employees exists with contracts of an indeterminable duration, for the possibility of them taking up organic positions to be anticipated explicitly.
Speaking to the Antenna radio station, Pavlopoulos said that "it is a reality that in the future we will have more with a private law and indeterminable duration labour relation."
The minister added that "it is, therefore, a proposal aimed at the rationalisation of staff potential which is pending."
 EU Commission adopts Dimas proposal for flood handling
BRUSSELS, 19/1/2006 (ANA - V. Demiris)The European Commission on Wednesday adopted a proposed directive for dealing with flooding, at the recommendation of Greek Commissioner Stavros Dimas, responsible for issues relating to the environment.
The aim of the directive is to provide assistance to EU member-states to prevent and restrict flooding and its catastrophic impact on human health, the environment, infrastructure and property.
According to the Commission, the risk and extent of flooding is expected to increase in the coming decades in Europe due to climate changes that will lead to more intense rainfall and higher sea levels. There is also an emerging trend for more and more people and businesses to reside or be established in areas at high risk from floods.
 Greece and Tunisia to cooperate in higher education
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Education Minister Marietta Giannakou and Tunisia's Higher Education Minister Lazhar Bououni signed a memorandum of cooperation in higher education that will be included in the Greek-Tunisian Education Cooperation programme for the period 2006-2008, in Tunis on Wednesday.
Giannakou expressed satisfaction with the signing of the memorandum and stressed the friendly relations maintained between the two countries.
The Greek minister also referred to the programme aimed at upgrading cooperation between Mediterranean countries in the field of higher education.
On his part, Bououni expressed his pleasure with Giannakou's visit to the Tunisian capital and referred to the educational reforms currently under way by the Tunisian government.
He also stressed the close friendly ties existing between the two countries and the close cooperation between Greek and Tunisian educational institutions.
 SYN leader Alavanos meets clerics
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday met with the Holy Association of Clerics of Greece.
Alavanos termed his talks with the clerics as "excellent" and stressed that they discussed a number of matters "in an open spirit, which we have not been accustomed to discuss like this."
Alavanos also said that his party supported a series of demands for "the democratisation and functioning of the church and for ecclesiastical justice."
 Iranian ambassador refers to nuclear programme during press conference
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Iranian Ambassador to Athens Mehdi Mohtashami, speaking during a press conference on Wednesday, said that Iran believes that Greece "is playing a very important role" as a member of the Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), in the handling of the international problem that has arisen with Iran's nuclear programme.
At the same time he said that Tehran is determined to go ahead "with research to obtain peaceful nuclear technology" and accused "certain countries" of following the policy of "double standards."
"We are members of the agreement on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the International Atomic Energy Association, by whose charters we have the right to research and activity in the sector of peaceful nuclear technology," he said.
"From the beginning of negotiations with the European countries (France, Germany and Britain) the spirit was to build trust between the two sides and for this reason we accepted even to freeze what was our right, meaning research for the production of peaceful nuclear energy," Mohtashami added.
The ambassador said that Iran wishes to resolve the problem "through negotiations with the European countries" and urges "restraint and tolerance" and considers the issue "a legal and technical" matter, while "certain countries want to politicalise it."
Replying to a question on the issue being referred to the Security Council, the ambassador said that "we are still far from this", adding that if the issue is raised there Iran will raise the issue of Israel and of "double standards" which are being followed towards Iran and Israel.
However, referring Iran "would practically mean the end of cooperation with the IAEA, a possibility with serious economic and political consequences for all sides."
Summing up the issue of the use of peaceful nuclear technology, Mohtashami said that Iran is the fourth oil producing coutry in the world and second in natural gas deposits, but it is also a country having a population of 70 million people and it has a high percentage of young people, while in 50 years mineral fuel will have been exhausted.
"Peaceful nuclear technology is essential for our industry and economy," he concluded.
 Development minister promises greater coordination between food control agency and prefectures
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday promised greater coordination between the Unified Food Control Agency and prefectural administrations, regarding a crackdown on food adulteration and referred to a regulation to be submitted in Parliament in the coming days.
Sioufas announced, during a discussion on the draft law on the creation of a National Energy Strategy Council at the relevant Parliamentary Committee, the participation of geotechnicians of the agricultural development ministry in food control agencies to be created at the central service and regional departments of the Unified Food Control Agency, in parallel with employees of the State General Chemistry Laboratory and local administration representatives.
The minister also announced that a representative of the Hellenic Petroleum company (ELPE) will not be participating in the National Energy Strategy Council to be created, as had been anticipated initially.
 Avramopoulos to attend World Travel and Tourism Council meeting in Washington
WASHINGTON, 19/1/2006 (ANA/MPA - T. Ellis)Greece's Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramo-poulos was due to arrive in Washington on Wednesday to take part in a round-table discussion on tourism developments worldwide, which will be organised on Thursday by the World Travel and Tourism Council.
The meeting will be followed by a press conference at which will be announced the holding of the 6th World Tourism Congress in the U.S. capital from April 10-12.
 Majority of Greeks have financial difficulties, Eurostat survey finds
BRUSSELS, 19/1/2006 (ANA/MPA/M. Spinthourakis)The majority of Greek citizens face financial difficulties, according to a Eurostat survey released on Wednesday.
Specifically, 62% of Greeks either have difficulty paying standing expenses, (rent, loans, utility bills), are not able to have a 'proper meal' (ie., fish or meat) 3-4 times a week, cannot afford a week's vacation away from home or are unable to sufficiently heat their residence.
Of the EU-15, only Portugal ranked worse with the corresponding figure standing at 70%.
Regarding durables, 12% of the Greek population cannot afford to buy a car (vs. 17% in Portugal and less than 10% in northern and central Europe), while 22% of Greeks live in homes that need repairs which they cannot afford. Only Portugal fared worse in this category with the corresponding figure standing at 37%.
 President Papoulias receives civil servants union leadership
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received the leadership of the civil servants' union ADEDY, who informed him of the union's positions on current issues.
The trade unionists outlined demands concerning the new wage-scale and insurance stamps for unhealthy and hard work. They also stressed that, in a time when market-oriented beliefs predominated, they aimed to ensure the independence of public administration and to upgrade public services. They also outlined their positions against a possible abolition of tenure in the public sector that is being discussed in the framework of revising the Constitution.
ADEDY President Spyros Papaspyrou said that public-sector employees were open in their thinking and practices because they considered that public administration was an advantage and had an open future.
At the same time, he stressed that they faced many challenges in terms of knowledge, technology, training and employment limits.
Papoulias said that the country was going through an "interesting period" during which many discussions will take place and a number of proposals will be put on the table.
 Greece lags behind EU peers in high-tech employment
BRUSSELS, 19/1/2006 (ANA/MPA/M. Aroni)Greece lags behind other EU member states in terms of the number of people it employs in high-tech manufacturing and knowledge intensive services, a Eurostat survey released on Wednesday, has found.
According to the Eurostat survey based on 2004 data, although Greece has made some progress in this sector in recent years, it placed last, employing only 0.2% of the workforce in the high-tech manufacturing industry (or 7,000 employees), 2.1% (or 89,000 employees) in medium high tech, and 10.9% (or 473,000 employees) in low and medium low tech manufacturing.
In knowledge-intensive services Greece fared better with 64.9% of the workforce (or 2.8 million people) being employed in the sector, a percentage which is close to the EU average of 66.9%.
European regions leading in medium and high-tech manufacturing were Lombardy (Italy), Stuttgart and Oberbayern (Germany) and Paris.
As for the knowledge-intensive services sector, Paris led, followed by Lombardy, Denmark and London.
 OTE gives satellite internet access to remote areas
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Athens-quoted Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) said on Wednesday that it would provide satellite telephone and internet access to remote areas that are not on the company's regular network.
Managing director Christodoulos Protopappas told a news conference that the Hellas Sat service, through Greece's satellite, complemented OTEnet, the firm's internet subsidiary, with no conflict of interest.
"This service comes to strengthen the (OTE) group's drive for the swiftest possible introduction of broad-band, employing all the means offered by modern technology, land and satellite," Protopappas said.
Monthly charges for the service range from 119 euros to 549 euros a month, and the cost of equipment is 1,499 euros, he added.
 Minister visits German tourism fair
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Deputy Tourism Minister Anastasios Liaskos on Wednesday visited Germany's second largest travel trade fair where the Greek National Tourism Board has a pavilion.
A forum was held as part of the fair in Stuttgart by the Orthodox Holy Bishopric of Germany under the ministry's auspices, with the Church of Greece taking part.
Presented were the first religious tourism programes by travel operators in Germany.
 Dr. Triantafyllou appointed new general director of Black Sea International Studies Centre
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Dr. Dimitris Triantafyllou was appointed on Monday, January 16, as the new general director of the Black Sea International Studies Centre (DIKEMEP).
Triantafyllou is an International Relations assistant professor at the Mediterranean Studies Department of the Aegean University in Rhodes.
Triantafyllou studied Political Sciences and History at University of California at Berkeley and International Relations (MA and Doctorate) at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.
DIKEMEP was founded in Athens in 1998 by Presidential Decree and constitutes the think tank of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop, tracking markets abroad
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)The Athens share index closed at 3,893.96 points, showing a decline of 1.34%. Turnover was 378.5 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalisation shares ended 1.37% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.47% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.12% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 242 to 57 with 27 remaining unchanged.
Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers
• Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.0 bln euros
Foreign Exchange Rates: Thursday
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.222
 Wanted former justice Constantina Bourboulia arrested in Paris
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Wanted former justice Constantina Bourboulia was arrested in Paris on Wednesday, in a joint operation between Greek police and French authorities.
Bourboulia had fled the country in the summer of 2005, after she was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to serve some three years in prison. A warrant for her arrest was issued last September but she had left the country.
According to an announcement put out by the public order ministry, two Greek police officers had left for Paris on Monday with information and evidence concerning the fugitive former judge's whereabouts in order to request the assistance of the French police.
She was arrested in Paris at 12:30 and procedures for her extradition to Greece will now be initiated. Her arrest was based on a European arrest warrant issued by the Athens Appeals Court public prosecutors' office.
After Bourboulia's arrest, Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis congratulated the chief of police George Angelakos on this success and asked him to convey the Greek government's thanks to the French chief of police.
He also contacted French Ambassador in Athens Bruno Delay to express his gratitude for the good cooperation between French and Greek police.
The charges against the former judge were legalising income from illegal activity and abuse of authority. The first charge relates to money that the former examining magistrate received while handling a stock market fraud case in 1999-2001 in order to issue a favourable ruling for the defendants, one of whom she was having an affair with.
Bourboulia - who had since become a first-instance court judge - was expelled from the judiciary when her connection to trial-rigging circuits was exposed.
"The Greek justice system will do whatever is necessary to complete the process for the European arrest warrant and the wanted fugitive will be extradited to Greece," Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras said on Wednesday evening after Bourboulia's arrest.
"With this arrest, a new important chapter in the fight against corruption in the judiciary has begun," he said, adding that the 'cleaning up' of the system will continue until it is complete.
 Heidelberg Univ. to return fragment of Parthenon frieze to Greece
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)The Heidelberg University's Museum of Antiquities will be returning a piece of the Parthenon sculptures in its posession to Greece, following the university Rectorate's recent decision to present the Acropolis Museum with an 8x11 cm fragment of a relief of the Parthenon's northern frieze that is currently part of the university's Collection of Antiquities.
"The University of Heidelberg is returning this fragment "exlusively in recognition of the significance of the Parthenon as part of the world's cultural heritage," Prof. Angelos Chaniotis, Vice Rector of the University, told ANA-MPA.
"Our incentive is to promote the unification of the Parthenon as a unique monument of world culture. This specific fragment, which has never been put on display in the Museum's collection, acquires its significance only through its reunification with the rest of the frieze," Chaniotis said.
Professor Chaniotis, who has been living and working in Germany for the past 23 years following extensive studies in archaeology and history both in Greece and abroad, said it was unknown how the fragment emerged in Heidelberg. He said the fragment was first listed in the Museum of Antiquities' catalogue in 1871, and consequently it was surmised that it had been donated by a private individual, since during the 18th and 10th centuries visitors to the Acropolis frequenly collected small fragments from the monument, which they easily transported abroad.
The fragment depicts a section of a man's leg, with the word "Parthenon" inscribed on the reverse side, which finally led archaeologist German Hafner, in an article appearing in 1948/49, to attribute the fragment to the sculpted frieze of the Parthenon, and designate its precise position as the lower right corner of section 8 of the north frieze.
The transfer of the fragment to Athens, the return of which had been requested of the University of Heidelberg in early 2005 by the president of the Hellenic Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, Angelos Delivorias, will be made in 2006.
In accordance with the current international practice when fragments of art monuments are brought together, the University of Heidelberg looks forward to the Greek Ministry of Culture donating another work art to its Collection of Antiquities. A similar attempt of exchange for a fragment of the Parthenon frieze at the Salinas Museum in Palermo, Italy, failed in 2002. Sections of the Parthenon frieze are also found in many museums in Europe, apart from the Acropolis Museum, and of course the extensive sections in the British Museum.
Greece has long been vigorously campaigning for the return of the priceless 5th century B.C. Parthenon Marbles -- friezes and other architectural parts of the Parthenon -- to Athens.
The Marbles, which date from between 447 BC and 432 BC, were removed from the Parthenon -- the temple dedicated to the ancient goddess Athena that crowns the Acropolis -- by British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century with tacit permission of local Ottoman administrators then ruling in the area. Elgin removed the friezes and other parts of the impressive Parthenon temple and later sold them to the British Museum.
 Italian Embassy to host panel discussion on how OCHI Day anniversary is perceived today
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)The Italian Embassy in Athens is organising a historical panel discussion among Greek and Italian scholars on "How the October 28 anniversary is perceived today", to take place on Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Old Parliament House on 13 Stadiou street.
The panel will comprise University of Athens history professor Antonis Liakos, Teramo University contemporary history professor Umberto Gentiloni Silveri, author, scriptwriter and theatrical playwright Petros Markaris, and theatrical director Maurizio Scaparro, who is also the director of the Venice Biennale's theatrical division.
The discussion will be coordinated by Italian journalist Antonio Ferrari, Athens correspondent of the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
According to an embassy press release, relations today between the two countries are stronger than ever, and are further reinforced by Greece's and Italy's common membership in the European Union.
It said that the Italian Embassy wishes to provide the opportunity for an analysis and understanding of how the October 28th OCHI Day anniversary is perceived by the public opinion as well as by historians.
Members of the press attending the are welcome to take part in the discussion, the press release said.
The October 28th Ochi Day, a Greek national holiday, commemorate's the country's 'no' (ochi, in Greek) to then Italian dictator Mussolini's demand for free passage to invade Greece during World War I, which brought Greece into the war on the Allied side.
On Oct. 28, 1940, fascist Italy presented Greece with the ultimatum, but Greek leader Ioannis Metaxas tersely refused, and the country not only denied Mussolini's forces free passage, it went on the offensive in mid-November and drove the opposing forces back through part of southern Albania.
 Albanian President Moisiu awards honourary distinction to Greek doctor
TIRANA, 19/1/2006 (ANA-MPA)Albanian President Alfred Moisiu has awarded an honourary distinction to Greek doctor Panagiotis Koliomichalis, a member of "Doctors Without Borders", for "his contribution and help to thousands of Albanians in Greece, for his love and dedication in the activities towards the country's help and the strengthening of the friendly bonds between Greece and Albania."
The "Medal of Gratitude" was presented to the Greek doctor by Albanian Ambassador to Athens Bashkim Zeneli, according to reports in the Albanian Press on Wednesday.
Over the past 15 years, Koliomichalis made over the weekends more than one hundred trips to Albania, helping Albanian patients both with treatment in their homes, as well as transporting them to various Greek hospitals.
 Greek Health and Labour Security Institute publicises report on staff protection in case of earthquake
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)The Greek Health and Labour Security Institute on Wednesday publicised a report, in cooperation with the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), on staff security and protection in the event of an earthquake.
The report was carried out by the Metsovion Polytechnic's seismic technology laboratory with the purpose of producing instructions for the safer handling of earthquake risks in factory space.
Measures proposed in the report include securing escape routes, energy reserves, water supply, medication and telecommunica-tions.
The report also anticipates an emergency plan and the training of staff at businesses.
 Trial for stock-broker Kontalexis and lawyer for bribing judge begins
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)The trial of stock-broker Panagiotis Kontalexis and his lawyer Stavros Koumentakis, who are accused of bribing a judge, began before the Three-Member Misdemeanour Appeals Court on Wednesday.
According to the charge sheet, Kontalexis bribed examining magistrate Constantina Bourboulia 120 million drachmas through his lawyer Koumentakis so that she would not remand him in custody when he was charged for a stock market fraud case.
The court has rejected a request for the presence of lawyers representing a civil suit brought by business man Costas Avramidis, accepting the public prosecutor's argument that only representatives of Bourboulia's service could be considered as immediate victims in the case.
 Landslide at mine, no injuries
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)A landslide occurred at lignite mine in Amyntaio, Florina owned by Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation (PPC) on Wednesday. No-one was injured.
Key operational equipment was unscathed in the landslide, which was caused by a geological fault line, shifting ground, and ground water, PPC said in a statement.
The mine was due to resume immediate operations, the statement said.
 Sports minister inaugurates photo exhibit, athletes awarded for fair play
ATHENS, 19/1/2006 (ANA)Deputy Culture Minister responsible for Sports George Orfanos inaugurated the photo exhibit titled "Sports, Tolerance and Fair Play," at the General Secretariat for Sports on Wednesday.
"Today, Greece is continuing along the path created by the 2004 legacy. In this spirit, we are determined to promote in practice every ambitious effort that can contribute to spreading a genuine competitive spirit," Orfanos said, conveying a message by Prime Minister and Culture Minister Costas Karamanlis.
"In the summer of 2004 the Olympic Games returned to their birthplace. We, Greeks took on the staging of the Games with a sense of great responsibility: to highlight through sport the universal values of noble competition and fair play," Karamanlis' message continued.
During the inauguration, six athletes and teams received awards for their behaviour and dedication to the principles of fair play. The athletes awarded were: Emilios Papathanassiou (sailing), Alexandros Nikolaidis (Taekwondo), Kalliopi Astropekaki (track&field), Constantinos Skeparnakos (wrestling), Angelos Zafirakis (football), Constantinos Fykas (Paralympian, swimming) and Dimitris Constantagas (Paralympian, track&field).
The teams to receive awards were the football clubs Ergotelis and Haidari and the amateur sports association Aetos Alpohoriou, Ilia.
Also addressing the event were Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, Hellenic Olympic Committee President Minos Kyriakou, former deputy sports minister George Lianis and others.
The photo exhibit, organised by the deputy sports ministry and the Council of Europe, will run through January 31.
 Cyprus President Papadopoulos: No meeting with Straw
LIMASSOL, 19/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here on Wednesday night that he would not accept any meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, after the latter's decision to meet the Turkish Cypriot leader in his so-called presidential office in the Turkish occupied north.
Straw told his Cypriot counterpart George Iacovou over a telephone conversation on Wednesday afternoon that he would visit Cyprus next week as part of a three-nation trip that would also take him to Turkey and Greece and he planned to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat at his office at the so-called presidential palace in occupied Cyprus.
Invited to comment on Straw's decision to go ahead with his January 24-25 visit to the island and meet Talat despite the government's objection, President Papadopoulos replied "our positions are publicly known."
Referring to the British government's stance, President Papadopoulos said "they believe that their presence would assist in efforts to resume negotiations."
"Let anyone judge if we wanted mediators for this job," the president said, stressing that "those who come here and impinge our sensitivities and sovereignty" are not good mediators.
 Cypriot government stands firm over Straw's visit to Cyprus
LARNACA, 19/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou on Wednesday informed British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos' decision not to meet him in case he insists to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat at the socalled ''presidential palace'' in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus is ''final''.
Iacovou told the press that on his way to the coastal town of Larnaca he had a telephone conversation with Straw, who informed him of his intention to visit Cyprus next week and meet with Talat at the latter's office at the so-called ''presidential palace''.
The Cypriot FM said that he informed Straw that President Papadopoulos' decision not to meet with Straw in case he meets Talat at the ''presidential palace'' in occupied Cyprus is ''final''.
Instead he will meet his Cypriot counterpart.
Talat told the press in occupied Cyprus that he would meet Straw on January 25.
In London on Tuesday, Straw expressed disappointment because his intention to visit Cyprus and meet Talat at the so-called presidential palace ''has been misunderstood.''
Straw, who attended for twenty minutes a one-hour-long meeting between a National Federation of Cypriots in the UK delegation and British Foreign Minister for Europe Douglas Alexander, reaffirmed that he intends to visit Cyprus next week.
According to a Federation press release, Straw said that he was disappointed because despite the fact that the British government has repeatedly stated that it does not recognise the breakaway state, his visit ''has been misunderstood.''
The British government's effort is to contribute to the commencement of negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem, Straw said, according to the press release, adding that he will be visiting Cyprus, Greece and Turkey next week.
 Cyprus President: We have submitted our positions to the UN
NICOSIA, 19/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The Greek Cypriot side has already submitted its positions to the United Nations and has pledged its readiness on a number of occasions for talks that will lead to a solution to the Cyprus problem, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos told the press on Wednesday.
''Our positions are well known to the UN. We have handed them over in every detail. There can be no delay since we are ready for talks," said President Papadopoulos and cited the UN Secretary-General's view that "every round of talks should be well prepared."
The Cypriot president was asked to comment on remarks made earlier on Wednesday by self-styled prime minister in the Turkish-occupied areas Ferdi Sabit Soyer, who had blamed the Greek Cypriot side for the lack of a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Asked if the National Council, the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus issue, would convene to review its strategy on the Cyprus issue, President Papadopoulos replied that this was not necessary.
''There is no question of reviewing our strategy...'' he added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
 EC Representation: no EU role in setting up UNDP Trust Fund for Turkish Cypriots
NICOSIA, 19/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The European Commission is in principle supportive of initiatives aiming to support the economic development of the Turkish Cypriots but dismisses allegations that it played a role in the setting up of the UNDP Trust Fund, established to help the community.
Asked to comment on reports that the Commission played a role in the setting up of the Trust Fund, an EC Representation in Cyprus, press officer told CNA on Wednesday that it was purely "an initiative by UNDP in which neither the EU nor the Commission is playing any role."
The press officer added that "there is also no link between the setting up of the Trust Fund and the loss of the 120 million euros because of the non approval of the draft aid regulation by the end of 2005."
Concerning the proposed feasibility studies on a needs assessment of the transport network of the Turkish Cypriot community and on the sustainable development of the Karpas peninsula, the press officer noted that "all necessary procedures for the formal consultation of Member States when implementing financial assistance programme have been followed."
The two studies in question, the press officer explained, "will be undertaken in a similar vein to enable to gain a better picture of how the economy works in the northern part of Cyprus," concluding that the study on transport does not aim to upgrade ports and airports but to understand what the needs of the whole transport sector are."
The UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus and chief of mission of the UN peacekeeping force on the island (UNFICYP) Michael Moller on Tuesday appeared apologetic to Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou over the establishment of the UNDP trust fund to help the Turkish Cypriot community without discussing the matter with the Cypriot government.
 Cyprus government to provide electricity to occupied north
NICOSIA, 19/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The Cypriot government has responded positively to a request by the illegal regime in Cyprus' northern part to urgently provide the areas occupied by Turkish troops with electricity following an explosion at the occupied Kyrenia power plant.
President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Wednesday that the Republic will provide, under conditions, every possible assistance to the occupied north.
''We replied immediately because we are willing to help, but there are technical problems because the network is separate and hasn't been used for many years," he noted.
President Papadopoulos said that he asked the engineers of the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) to work as hard as possible to achieve a connection of busbars.
''We will help, provided that we are not considered a third country but compatriots, and that we are helping a part of the Republic of Cyprus," he added.
Foreign Minister George Iacovou said there was no political problem in granting the Turkish Cypriots electricity after many areas in the occupied north experienced power cuts.
"The occupation authorities have already asked us to provide them with electricity," he said, adding that EAC engineers were working on making this feasible.
EAC Vice President Charis Charalambous said that EAC was trying to provide the electricity by connecting the busbars at Orounta and Athalassa areas with the occupied north.
He said the request for electricity by the occupation regime was conveyed through the United Nations and the Authorities of the Republic replied positively, adding that power was expected to be available through Athalassa before midnight and from Orounta early on Thursday.