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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-01-21

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

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

January 21, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis says his visit to Beijing a 'landmark in Greek-Chinese relations', after talks with President Hu Jintao.
  • [02] President Papoulias on official visit to Italy next week
  • [03] All measures against bird flu being taken, government reiterates
  • [04] Finmin approves funds for anti-bird-flu measures
  • [05] Reinforcing local government one of ND's priorities, Interior Minister says
  • [06] PASOK MPs table report against minister
  • [07] Government attempting to manipulate education, PASOK party leader says
  • [08] Coalition party's Central Political Committee to convene over the weekend
  • [09] New 'Eurobarometer-Greece' survey to be presented on Tuesday
  • [10] Thessaloniki's Prefectural Council denounces CoE's anti-communist memorandum
  • [11] Tourism Minister Avramopoulos addresses WTTC meeting in Washington, Greece to host special conference in February
  • [12] Greek competitiveness improved in 2005, minister says
  • [13] Greek govt raises bus, taxi, railway fares by 7-9 pct
  • [14] Gov't to tighten controls on EU fund absorption
  • [15] Tripartite Committee to convene on Tuesday to examine 3E company issue
  • [16] Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council warns of strike action
  • [17] OTOE's general council reacts to working hours in Eurobank
  • [18] Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling, TCCC buy Serbian juice producer for 19.5 mln euros
  • [19] Greek trade deficit up 7.2 pct in Jan-Nov, yr/yr
  • [20] Both flexibility and security necessary in the labor market, Greece says
  • [21] Pilot scheme to gauge electricity consumption
  • [22] Building materials' cost up 3.5 pct in December, yr/yr
  • [23] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise, finishing off day's highs
  • [24] Two charged for Monday's robbery in Athens
  • [25] Paris courts to consider Bourboulia extradition on January 25
  • [26] President Papoulias receives 120 youths of Greek origin from the Southern Hemisphere
  • [27] Mt. Athos monk dies, Christodoulos expresses condolences
  • [28] Circo de Madrugada and Marseille's Oere theatre troupe in Patras
  • [29] Cyprus President Papadopoulos arrives in Moscow for working visit
  • [30] Archbishop of America: US efforts for a Cyprus solution to continue
  • [31] Cyprus and US to implement Agreement on Extradition
  • [32] Agreements between Russia and Cyprus on visa policy come into force

  • [01] PM Karamanlis says his visit to Beijing a 'landmark in Greek-Chinese relations', after talks with President Hu Jintao.

    BEIJING 21/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)

    Greece's Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday described his visit to Beijing as a "landmark in Greek-Chinese relations", after a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, which wound up his series of contacts in the Chinese capital.

    "You are an old friend of China, and place great importance on the development of bilateral relations. You see Chinese growth as an opportunity for Greece," Hu greeted Karamanlis upon arrival for their meeting, while the Greek prime minister responded that although the two countries differed greatly in size and population, their long histories and ancient civilizations were a common element.

    Hu also lauded the outcome of Karamanlis' meeting on Thursday with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, during which the two premiers signed a Joint Declaration calling for the establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Relationship between the two countries.

    Karamanlis, accompanied by foreign minister Petros Molyviatis, minister of state and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, deputy foreign minister Evripides Stylianidis, and a large business delegation, arrived in Beijing on Thursday on a three-day official visit considered important from both a political and economic viewpoint. He met later with premier of China's state council Wen Jiabao, with whom he reviewed the course of bilateral relations, after which they signed the Joint Declaration on establishing a Greece-China Comprehensive Strategic Relationship, as well as several other memoranda in the economic and business sector.

    After his talks with the Chinese President, Karamanlis said "we ascertained that the present excellent relations between our two countries are based on a strong foundation, which we should utilize, and on mutual deep respect for the history and civilization of the two peoples".

    He said that they reviewed bilateral relations, and noted the "prospects for further strengthening of our cooperation at all levels, and chiefly in the sectors of business, commerce, merchant shipping and tourism".

    Turning to political matters, Karamanlis stressed that the two countries were working closely in the UN Security Council, adding that they had identity of views on many issues.

    Regarding the Cyprus issue, Karamanlis expressed appreciation for the Chinese President's stance.

    Karamanlis further reiterated the Greek positions on matters of concern to China.

    "Regarding the issue of Taiwan, I reaffirmed our firm position in favor of the one-China principle and our antithesis to the independence of Taiwan," he said.

    On the question of lifting the EU arms embargo on China (which was imposed after the 1989 massacre of student activists in Tienanmen Square), Karamanlis expressed the Greek government's positive view, but noted that the embargo was slated to be lifted when the work on specific elements of the code of conduct (a strengthened code of conduct on all EU arms sales that would replace the ban) was completed.

    Karamanlis further endorsed a Chinese request that the EU extend "market economy" status to China, adding that he had expressed his understanding, but had also stressed that "for this purpose, under EU legislation, required is the fulfillment of certain technical matters and a relevant proposal of the European Commission".

    He said that the Greek government supported the relevant dialogue and would actively contribute to the prospect of granting China "free market" status as early as possible.

    According to diplomatic sources, Hu placed particular emphasis on maritime issues during his talks with Karamanlis, while with respect to tourism matters, he told the Greek premier that he encourages Chinese to travel to Greece.

    Karamanlis also referred to Greek agricultural products, particularly olive oil, as well as the prospects for strengthening bilateral relations in the cultural sector as well, taking advantage of the organization of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

    In addition to promoting Greek agricultural products -- such as olive oil -- on the vast Chinese market and cooperation in the sector of construction and know-how, the Greek government is also interested in attracting Chinese investments to Greece, as the country is strategically placed to serve as a springboard for Chinese entrepreneurs to Europe and the wider Balkan region.

    In his talks with Wen on Thursday, Karamanlis also discussed cooperation in the shipping sector, tourism and further boosting cooperation linked to China's preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, while a Memorandum was signed for the organization of a "Cultural Year of Greece" in China in 2008.

    Karamanlis also met Thursday met with the president of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (BOCOG) Liu Qi, who is also secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Beijing Municipal Committee, a member of the CPC Central Committee Politburo and former mayor of Bejing (1999-2002).

    The Greek prime minister was slated to leave later in the day for Shanghai, where he would address a Chinese-Greek business conference on Saturday.

    PM Karamanlis tours Great Wall of China, Forbidden City: Greece's Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, currently on a three-day official visit to China, on Friday toured the Great Wall of China, accompanied by his wife Natassa.

    Karamanlis was given a tour of the historical monument, and wrote in the Visitors' Book: It is moving for me to return, after 27 years, to one of the most impressive monuments built by man".

    The Greek premier later met with the president of the COSCO shipping company and the presidents of two ports, in the context of the Joint Declaration for establishing a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation between the two countries, which he signed in Beijing on Thursday with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.

    One of the targets of reinforced Greek-Chinese relations is to render the major Greek ports into transit centers for Chinese products destined for the Balkans and Europe.

    Karamanlis also visited the Forbidden City, before being received by Chinese President Hu Jintao. He was also scheduled to meet with the chairman of the Chinese parliamentary committees.

    [02] President Papoulias on official visit to Italy next week

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will be departing for Italy next Tuesday where he will be on an official five-day visit.

    During his visit Papoulias will discuss bilateral, international and European issues with Italy's political leaders.

    He will be meeting with his counterpart Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, main opposition leader Romano Prodi and others.

    Papoulias will be accompanied by Education Minister Marietta Giannakou, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis, Deputy Foreign Minister Panagiotis Skandalakis and Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis.

    The Greek ministers will be meeting with their Italian counterparts during the five-day visit.

    In addition to meeting with political leaders, Papoulias is also scheduled to inaugurate an exhibit featuring Proto-Cycladic art on Wednesday afternoon.

    On Thursday, the Greek delegation will depart for Perugia where Papoulias will be named honorary Doctor of the School of Philosophy during a special ceremony held at the University of Perugia.

    Before departing for Athens on Saturday afternoon, Papoulias will be meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.

    [03] All measures against bird flu being taken, government reiterates

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    All the necessary measures were being taken to protect the country against a potentially deadly bird flu epidemic, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros reiterated on Friday.

    He had been asked whether the government was prepared to deal with possible victims of the disease.

    The spokesman stressed that scenarios of numerous victims were linked to the possibility of a pandemic and that there was no sign that this would take place at present. He stressed that all steps to ensure that Greece was ready to deal with such a case were being taken.

    Antonaros also pointed to the release of funds to the agriculture ministry on Friday for additional measures against bird flu and the tour being conducted by agriculture minister in areas along the borders to brief local authorities on the measures to be taken.

    Deputy Agriculture Minister Alexandros Kontos, meanwhile, visited the veterinary laboratories in Thessaloniki on Friday, where he said that the danger of the virus spreading had been minimized though not altogether eliminated and that state services were operating in the most efficient way.

    He said that 400 additional veterinarians and technicians had been appointed in the framework of the bird-flu alert, while a visit to outlying prefectures near Turkey on Thursday had shown them to be adequately staffed and equipped .

    The minister noted that three on-the-spot intervention teams with 10 members each had been set up, which would be mobilized in cases where bird flu was suspected.

    Kontos said that all 1,827 samples sent to the Thessaloniki laboratories since September 2005 had shown no trace of the deadly HN51 virus, while the Veterinary Institutions Centre would be manned with extra staff.

    He also underlined that the greatest risk for the spread of the virus came from birds bred by people in their homes and farms rather than large-scale, organized poultry farms, especially in regions near the border where they might come into contact with wild migratory birds.

    It was vital that these birds should be restricted to enclosed spaces and that their owners carefully follow the instructions of vets, the minister noted.

    Thrace health services fully prepared, KEELPNO chief stresses: Speaking from the first regional conference of health administrative district chiefs that began in Alexandroupolis on Friday, the head of the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO) Angelos Hatzakis stressed that health services in the region Thrace were at their highest-ever level of readiness and everyone was very satisfied with the preparations.

    Hatzakis said improvements were daily and that all necessary work in terms of infrastructure, instructions and training had been carried out in order to make the barrier at the border as strong as possible.

    Agriculture minister to visit Drama, Thessaloniki and Kozani: Continuing his visit to regions near the Greek border, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos is to visit Drama, Thessaloniki and Kozani on Saturday for further meetings with local authorities and services in these areas concerning preparations against the spread of bird flu.

    The meetings will be attended by officials from nearby prefectures, while Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis and Deputy Agriculture Minister Alexandros Kontos will also be in the government delegation.

    [04] Finmin approves funds for anti-bird-flu measures

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday approved the release of Č 3,926,500 to the agriculture ministry in order to cover the cost of extra staff, supplies and equipment needed to protect Greece against bird flu.

    The order signed by Alogoskoufis will also allow the agriculture ministry to hire 250 extra staff in case of emergencies that may arise in connection with bird flu.

    [05] Reinforcing local government one of ND's priorities, Interior Minister says

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    One of ruling New Democracy's key priorities is to reinforce local government, Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos told attendees of a two-day seminar focusing on local government issues on Friday.

    He added that the government wants to safeguard local government both on a legislative level as well as on a financial level by ensuring the resources necessary for local government authorities to stay independent.

    In her address, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis noted that in the European Union local government agencies are no longer decentralized authorities but are rather powerful institutions.

    She added that in Greece, primary local government is currently at a cross-roads realizing that while all previous governments have made efforts to reinforce it, still the institution in Greece is on a diverging course from that of the EU.

    According to Bakoyannis, three major changes must take place so that primary local government can move along a new course. The first change involves creating central administrations in major urban centers; the second concerns ensuring municipalities' financial independence; and the third is to strengthen local government's role in shaping policy related to the respective city, since municipalities need to take initiatives regarding regional development ahead of the Fourth Community Support Framework.

    The two-day seminar, which concludes on Saturday, is being organized by the National Centre of Public Administration and Self-Government's (EKDAA) Training Institute in cooperation with the Central Union of the Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE).

    [06] PASOK MPs table report against minister

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    Four main opposition PASOK MPs on Friday tabled a report against merchant marine minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis over the reinstatement and promotion of chief petty officer G. Kalykas to the coast guard, saying that there should be an immediate and full court investigation into the circumstances that led to his return.

    They stressed all actions by merchant marine ministry services concerning this case should be scrutinized, while expressing the view that "great criminal liabilities" would arise.

    The four MPs said that their report was being tabled after the publication of a letter sent by Kalykas to the prime minister in which they are described as "pimps" and "minders".

    Kalykas had left the Coast Guard in 1978 after he was diagnosed as being 100 per cent handicapped and had later returned. During a question tabled in Parliament on the issue, he was also presented as the leader of a far-right, royalist organization and the star of a porno film.

    At that time, Kefaloyiannis had underlined that Kalykas had returned to the coast guard in 1997 when PASOK was in power.

    Also tabled in Parliament was an official complaint against the present and former health ministers over conditions in state hospital ICUs from 2003 until the present day and lack of beds.

    [07] Government attempting to manipulate education, PASOK party leader says

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, addressing a conference organized by the party's education sector with the participation of professors, teachers and academics on Friday, said that the government "is attempting to manipulate and involve party politics in education".

    Papandreou said that the conception of the New Democracy party for education "strengthens social inequalities and wants good education for the rich and the average and low level education for the socially weak".

    Referring to public and private universities, the PASOK leader said that the main pylon of PASOK's policy is the public university, but also free access, with meritocracy and strict rules, to non-state universities which will be financed by the state.

    Papandreou placed blame on businessmen, saying that it is the responsibility of private capital to invest in education, adding that Greek businessmen have not responded to this request.

    He further said that all the parties are to blame for the clientele conception prevailing in universities.

    Maria Damanaki, who is responsible for the education sector as a member of the Political Council, analyzed PASOK's proposals on education, pointing out that the present day Greek university does not meet modern requirements and leaps are needed for the future.

    [08] Coalition party's Central Political Committee to convene over the weekend

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    The Central Political Committee of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party will convene over the weekend to examine action planning over the next three months and current political developments.

    Coalition party leader Alekos Alavanos will be making the opening address and the presentation of the action plan by the Committee's secretary Nikos Hountis will follow.

    The plan, that will be put to the vote, includes political developments, a brief account from the 4th regular congress to date, as well as the party's organizational reconstruction.

    Basic action points include elections for local administration, the organizing of the European Social Forum and initiatives in the framework of the European Left Party.

    Alavanos will be cutting the party's New Year's cake at noon on Saturday, during a break in the Central Political Committee's meeting.

    [09] New 'Eurobarometer-Greece' survey to be presented on Tuesday

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    The results of the survey of the new "Regular Eurobarometer for Greece" will be presented on Tuesday.

    The specific survey was conducted, following a request by the European Commission, in the 25 member-states of the European Union, in the two countries due to join the EU (Bulgaria and Romania) and in two candidate countries (Croatia and Turkey) and covers the period between October 11 and November 15, 2005.

    In Greece, the survey was conducted from a sample of 1,000 citizens, who were asked to express their opinion on matters of daily interest, but also on broader social concerns.

    The questions included: - citizens' expectations for the new year (both on a personal level and for the country in general) regarding the economic situation, job opportunities and the level of the quality of life, - concern about social matters such as unemployment, the combating of poverty and social exclusion, the increase in prices and inflation, - the evaluation of Greece's participation in the European Union as well as the degree of confidence in the institutions, - the necessity for Constitution for the European Union, as well as the feeling of participation of citizens in European matters, - the support of EU policies, such as the common defense and security policy between member states, common foreign policy of member-states towards other countries, - the enlargement of the EU, with the accession of new countries within the coming years and the opinion of citizens on Turkey's entry to the European Union, - the role of the EU and of the United States on peace issues, the combating of terrorism, world economic development, the combating of poverty and the protection of the environment, - the need for more information and knowledge regarding the EU's institutions and agencies and - the preferences regarding the source of information (newspapers, television, radio, Internet, etc) on issues concerning the European Union.

    [10] Thessaloniki's Prefectural Council denounces CoE's anti-communist memorandum

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    Thessaloniki's Prefectural Council unanimously denounced the Council of Europe's anti-communist memorandum with a resolution it adopted on Friday.

    The Council describes the memorandum as 'unacceptable' since it equates communism with fascism.

    It has called for the memorandum's withdrawal and for Greek MPs of all political parties to reject the document when it is tabled for a vote by Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.

    [11] Tourism Minister Avramopoulos addresses WTTC meeting in Washington, Greece to host special conference in February

    WASHINGTON 21/1/2006 (ANA/MPA - T. Ellis)

    Greece's Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos predicted a rise in tourism to Greece, following the country's organization of the safe and successful Athens 2004 Olympic Games, while addressed a round-table discussion on tourism developments worldwide organized in Washington on Thursday by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

    During the discussion, Avramopoulos expounded on the increase of tourism to Greece following the successful and safe hosting of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    At a press conference that followed the meeting, Avramopoulos announced that Athens will host a special meeting of the WTTC on February 18, while it was also announced that the WTTC's 6th Global Travel and Tourism Summit would be hosted in Washington from April 10-12, with the theme "Open Mind-Open World".

    Avramopoulos underlined the post-Olympic Games performances of Greek tourism, noting that tourism was one of the sectors of the Greek economy that had benefited most from the successful 2004 Games, and adding that Greece has upgraded its image internationally.

    Replying to questions at the same press conference, J.W. Marriott Jr., Chairman and CEO of Marriott International, said that following the success of the Athens Games, his company was seeking new locations for investments in Greece.

    Avramopoulos said that given Marriott's deep knowledge and expertise in the sector, his statement was of great importance for Greek tourism and, by extension, the Greek economy, since the major hotel chains usually follow their competitors when they expand into specific markets.

    Taking part in the round-table discussion on global tourism developments, in addition to Avramopoulos and Marriott, were Washington mayor Anthony Williams, WTTC president Jean-Claude Baumgarten, and WTTC chairman and chairman emeritus of Carey International Vincent Wolfington, among others.

    Avramopoulos spoke of the role of tourism diplomacy and the importance of tourism not only as a significant source of revenue and employment, but also as a driving force of social upgrading and cultural mutual understanding globally. He congratulated the "visionary" mayor of Washington, Anthony Williams, on Washington's selection to host the April WTTC global summit, the first summit to take place in a US city.

    Williams lauded Avramopoulos as a true leader, noting their friendship dated back to Avramopoulos' term as mayor of Athens, calling him the "Mayor of Mayors".

    In a televised interview with Reuters news agency later, and questioned on the lessons learnt from the successful hosting of the Olympic Games in Athens, Avramopoulos replied that Greece has modernized itself and has proven that it is a safe destination, a fact that has been acknowledged by the US, from which a significant rise in tourists to Greece is forecast this year.

    Asked whether he was concerned about the repercussions in the wider region from the outbreak of deadly bird flu cases in neighboring Turkey, Avramopoulos replied that the whole world was worried and that confrontation of this problem, as well as other global phenomena such as terrorism, required international cooperation and solidarity. He added that Greece was vigilant and was implementing strict legislation.

    Tourist industry enters new phase, gov't says: The domestic tourism industry has entered a new phase, Deputy Tourism Development Minister Anastasios Liaskos said on Thursday.

    "Tourists are gradually shifting away from mass holidays, increasingly preferring more individual, personalized tourism products," said Liaskos, opening "Exclusive Travel 2006", a trade fair in Athens.

    "Seasoned travelers are now seeking better services as part of individualized tourism products for which they are prepared to pay," he reported.

    The ministry was working to improve the competitiveness and quality of Greek tourism in order to attain the level of developed tourism countries.

    The target was a higher level of income and quality, he added.

    The trade fair ends on January 22.

    [12] Greek competitiveness improved in 2005, minister says

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    A total of 85,000 enterprises benefited from a government-sponsored "Competitiveness" business program last year, worth 536 million euros, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Friday.

    Addressing a meeting of the National Council for Competitiveness and Developments, Sioufas said the program tripled the rate of absorbing EU funds in 2005, to rank fourth in a list of Third Community Support Framewok in the country.

    Sioufas also announced that a third and final review of the program would be made in spring and underlined the positive performance of the Greek economy last year. The Greek minister said exports rose 12.8 percent, tourist arrivals were up 8.0 percent, unemployment fell by 9.8 percent, while the country improved its position in international transparency lists and improved its competitiveness in the third quarter of 2005.

    Sioufas said foreign investments totaled 1.3 billion US dollars in 2004, from 661 mln in 2003, while a total of 1,155 business plans were submitted in a new development law, worth 2.6 billion euros. The ministry approved 551 plans, worth 430 million euros.

    He also said that Greece ranks sixth, among 27 countries, in the number of experts participating in evaluating commissions of research infrastructure, fourth in the Eurozone in employment rates in the high technology service sector and 12th in the "domestic innovation demand" index.

    [13] Greek govt raises bus, taxi, railway fares by 7-9 pct

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Friday announced it was raising fares in Athens bus, taxis and intercity bus services from March 1.

    New fares were determined after a joint decision by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis.

    Athens bus and electric bus fares will rise to 0.50 euros from 0.45 currently, fares in the Piraeus-Kifisia train service will rise to 0.70 euros from 0.60, while fares in the Athens Metro system will rise to 0.80 euros from 0.70 euros currently. The two ministries agreed that monthly and combined ticket fares will remain unchanged.

    A transport ministry announcement said the average weighed fare increase was 9.0 percent, and stressed that fares have remained unchanged for the past five years.

    The ministry also announced higher taxi fares and a 7.0 percent increase in intercity bus fares, and lorry fares. Railway fares will rise by 7.0 percent only in the Athens-Thessaloniki and the Piraeus-Chalkis lines. All other railway fares will remain unchanged.

    Gov't on ticket price increases on public transport: Commenting on a rise in ticket prices for public transport announced on Friday, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros noted that ticket prices were rising for the first time in five years.

    He also pointed out that prices for travel cards, the new 1.5-hour tickets used on all types of public transport and fares on the tram and Proastiako Railway were unchanged.

    "Essentially, this means that regular users of public transport will not have to pay more," he noted, while confirming that the price hikes had been proposed by the transport ministry and approved by the economy ministry.

    [14] Gov't to tighten controls on EU fund absorption

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    The government is to tighten controls and reduce final recipients for the European Union's 4th Community Support Framework in order to avoid complications and delays seen in management of the funding package's predecessor, Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias said on Friday.

    Folias was replying to a parliamentary question from the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology.

    The party's leader, Alekos Alavanos, said the average rate of absorption for the 3rd CSF in the EU-25 was 50%, for the EU-15 52%, and for Greece 36%.

    [15] Tripartite Committee to convene on Tuesday to examine 3E company issue

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    A meeting of the Tripartite Committee will be held at the employment ministry on Tuesday to examine reports that the 3E company is planning mass redundancies.

    Representatives of the company and of the staff have been summoned to the Committee, while Deputy Employment Minister Gerasimos Giakoumatos will be participating on behalf of the ministry.

    Meanwhile, the staff decided on Friday to begin strike action as of Monday, warning that if Tuesday's Tripartite Committee meeting fails their strike will take on the character of an open-ended one.

    The company is speaking of a staff reduction by 150 people and of a voluntary withdrawal program, but employees fear that job losses in the company may be as many as 700.

    In another development, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that the issue of the possible closure of the Coca Cola factory in Athens will be raised at a tripartite meeting to be held at the employment ministry on Tuesday and stressed that "the government will take an interest and will take care so that no employee will be harmed."

    Replying to a question on job losses, Antonaros pointed out that "as it appears from unquestionable official evidence, unemployment has decreased which is a fact that shows that new jobs are being created."

    [16] Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council warns of strike action

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    The General Council of the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) convened on Friday and authorized its Executive Committee to proceed with strike action in the event the government makes a specific move in the direction of lifting the status of permanence for civil servants.

    ADEDY also decided to hold a rally at Syntagma Square in downtown Athens on February 5.

    Facing the discussion on revising the constitution was the dominant issue among the public sector's unionists. The assessment that prevailed was that the government "is using the revision as an opportunity to open the prospect of creating two-speed employees, to change correlations in the public sector and raise, at an ultimate stage, an issue of a full and substantive reversal of permanence".

    On the issue of working hours, ADEDY expressed solidarity for the Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) and the General Council confirmed the position of the organization which rejects and calls for the withdrawal of the anti-communist memorandum that is being discussed at the Council of Europe.

    [17] OTOE's general council reacts to working hours in Eurobank

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    The general council of the bank employees' union OTOE convened on Friday to deal with developments following the signing of an operational contract in Eurobank, which allows the operation of its branches in the commercial centers of "The Mall" in Athens and of "Cosmos" in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Saturdays and daily until late the night.

    The OTOE trade unionists warned that this contract will be abolished in practice and attacked the government, accusing it of serving major interests.

    OTOE President Dimitris Tsoukalas underlined that the specific branches must remain shut during the hours beyond the conventional working hours and stated that the working hours of operation is institutionalized in the collective labor agreements, like in all of the European Union.

    [18] Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling, TCCC buy Serbian juice producer for 19.5 mln euros

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling on Friday announced it was buying -together with The Coca Cola Company (TCCC)- Fresh & Co, one of the biggest fruit juice producer in Serbia and Montenegro for 19.5 million euros.

    The deal envisages the purchase of a production unit and the juice brand names Next and Su-Voce. Both Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling and TCCC held talks to buy the company in the past, but talks were suspended in December 13, 2005. The final sum of the purchase may vary, while the deal needs approval from Serbian competition authorities.

    Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling also announced the appointment of John Brady as region director, to replace Tony Maher who is leaving the company at the end of February.

    Brady works for the Coca-Cola Company for the past 24. His previous position was president and chief executive of Coca-Cola Bottlers' Sales and Services Company in Atlanta, US.

    [19] Greek trade deficit up 7.2 pct in Jan-Nov, yr/yr

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's current accounts deficit widened by 33.8 percent in the first 11 months of 2005, compared with the same period in 2004, to 11.5 billion euros, the Bank of Greece said on Friday. The central bank, in its report, said a jump of the deficit to 6.3 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product, was mainly attributed to a big increase in international oil prices, as reflected in a 35.5 pct widening of the fuel deficit.

    The country's trade deficit rose 7.2 pct to 24.7 pct in the January-November period, reflecting higher net payments in fuel imports and a 528 mln euros shortfall in the vessel balance. Excluding fuel and vessels, Greece's trade deficit fell by 740 million euros.

    The services' balance showed a 2.0 percent surplus increase, reflecting a 6.7 pct rise in tourism foreign exchange and a 4.1 pct rise in shipping foreign exchange revenues. On the other hand, Greek citizens' travel spending abroad rose by 6.1 pct, while gross payments on transport services rose by 7.1 pct.

    The incomes' deficit jumped by 28 percent, or 1.046 billion euros, due to higher net payments on interest. The transfer surplus shrank by 14 percent in the Jan-Nov period, while gross current transfers (from EU funds) rose by 15.7 percent. Budget gross current payments to the EU jumped by 38.4 percent.

    Foreign direct investments recorded a net outflow of 1.002 billion euros in the first 11 months of 2005, from a net inflow of 564 mln euros in 2004. The "other" investment category showed a net inflow of 3.790 billion euros.

    [20] Both flexibility and security necessary in the labor market, Greece says

    VIENNA 21/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Flexibility needs to be combined with security when it comes to jobs, Vassilios Dertilis, President and Managing Director of National Labor Watch said during the informal EU labor and social affairs ministerial meeting "Flexicurity" held in Villach on Friday.

    Representing Greece and speaking on behalf of Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, Dertilis said that defining flexibility on a European level is necessary, while for a constructive dialogue to take place one also needs to define security measures for workers.

    Regarding social policy, which was the second item on the agenda of the three-day ministerial meeting which concludes on Saturday, Dertilis said that a common strategy against poverty and social exclusion must be adopted. In Greece, this strategy was incorporated in the National Reform Program, he said.

    The conclusions drawn during the informal meeting will be presented at the Labor and Social Affairs Summit to be held on March 10.

    [21] Pilot scheme to gauge electricity consumption

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    A pilot scheme is to be launched that monitors electricity consumption among low-level users, funded under the European Union's Third Community Support Framework.

    The secretary general of the development ministry, N Stefanou, said meters would be installed in selected homes and small firms to record hourly electricity consumption.

    Stefanou was addressing the National Competitiveness and Development Council.

    [22] Building materials' cost up 3.5 pct in December, yr/yr

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's building materials' composite price index rose 3.5 pct in December from the same month in 2004, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.

    NSS, in its monthly report, said the index was up 0.3 percent from November 2005.

    The project category price index rose 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005, compared with the corresponding period of 2004. The index measures price changes paid to sub-contractors for building parts of new homes.

    [23] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise, finishing off day's highs

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,994.06 points, showing a rise of 0.66%. Turnover was 503.0 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.65% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.86% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.20% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 151 to 135 with 40 remaining unchanged.

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released

    by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.216

    [24] Two charged for Monday's robbery in Athens

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    Public Prosecutor Eleni Raiou on Friday pressed charges against two men for taking part in last Monday's violent robbery in the centre of Athens and the subsequent shootout with police.

    The suspects were charged with robbery, attempted homicide, illegal weapons possession and illegal weapons use.

    One of them is 28-year-old student Yiannis Dimitrakis, who was seriously injured during the shootout with police on the day of the robbery and is currently being treated at the State General Hospital in Athens.

    Late on Friday evening, police opened a safety deposit box rented by Dimitrakis at an Emporiki Bank branch on Akadimias street and found roughly Č 50,000 that is believed to have come from other robberies.

    The other man was identified as Symeon Seisidis, 30, who is still wanted by police. The public prosecutor is expected to issue a warrant for his arrest later on Friday, while police have appealed to the public to come forward with any information they may have concerning the suspect.

    According to police, Seisidis has been in trouble with the law before and was accused of setting fire to cars in 1994 and 1995, while in November 1995 he was one of 500 people arrested for incidents during the Polytechnic anniversary. In 2000, he had been convicted armed robbery against a bank in Nea Halkidona but was acquitted on appeal.

    Earlier on Friday morning, meanwhile, police also brought in a third suspect for questioning concerning the robbery, a 28-year-old known to be a close friend of Dimitrakis.

    Late on Thursday night, Public prosecutor Ioannis Diotis and police officers visited the ICU where Dimitrakis is hospitalized and asked to take his statement but he refused.

    Police open bank deposit box belonging to man injured in Athens shootout: A bank deposit box belonging to 28-year-old Yiannis Dimitrakis, who is currently being treated at an Athens hospital following the shootout in Athens earlier this week, was opened by police on Friday evening in the presence of a public prosecutor. The deposit box is at a branch office of the Emporiki Bank in Acadimias street.

    According to the police, money amounting to about 50,000 euros was found in the deposit box. Police believe that the money was obtained from robberies.

    [25] Paris courts to consider Bourboulia extradition on January 25

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    The Paris appeals court is to consider a request by Greek authorities for the extradition of former judge Constantina Bourboulia to Greece on January 25.

    Bourboulia will be represented by a French lawyer appointed by the State Legal Council of France.

    Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras on Friday held talks with his French counterpart Pascal Clement and stressed Greece's interest in a speedy extradition for Bourboulia.

    Bourboulia has been convicted in Greece for accepting bribes and an appeal hearing for the case has been set later this year.

    [26] President Papoulias receives 120 youths of Greek origin from the Southern Hemisphere

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received in Athens on Friday 120 youths of Greek origin from Oceania, Latin America and South Africa.

    The youths are hosted by the General Secretariat for Overseas Greeks, in the framework of the Hospitality Program "Greek Language and Culture".

    In receiving them, President Papoulias said:"We do not lack in anything. We are a few but very strong. The Greek soul is a prerequisite for creativity. And you all carry it in within you. Your heart beats Greek. And you should be proud of this. We are also proud of you."

    The president added:"You are the great Greece, because outside the homeland, you transported the name of Greece. And you are almost a second Greece. Because we are ten million here and all of you are seven to eight million."

    Papoulias reminded to the 120 youths that he himself had spent 15 years outside of Greece, in Germany, and stressed that "you are the best ambassadors of Greek history and of the future of Greece."

    [27] Mt. Athos monk dies, Christodoulos expresses condolences

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    Theoklitos Dionyssiatis, a monk from Mount Athos in Northern Greece, died in the early morning hours on Friday.

    He was known all over the world as one of the most humble and literary monks.

    Commenting on his death, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos said that "the Orthodox Church and Mount Athos have been deprived today of the presence of one of the most literary, wisest and humblest representatives of the Mt. Athos monastic community. Father Theoklitos has been, for a series of decades, one of the purest expressionists of the Orthodox faith, and a writer of historical and literary works."

    Concluding, Christodoulos expressed hope that other monks will resemble Theoklitos in spirit.

    [28] Circo de Madrugada and Marseille's Oere theatre troupe in Patras

    Athens 21/1/2006 (ANA)

    The Brazilian circus Circo de Madrugada and the Oere theatre troupe from Marseille will be putting on a unique spectacle in Agiou Georgiou Square in Patras on Friday night at 20:30, which the public can watch for free courtesy of the Patras Cultural Capital Organization.

    The act is entitled "Angels falling from Heaven" and features a performance on a 16-metre-tall and 33-metre-wide trapeze in the form of a giant spider's web, where the performers will carry out breathtaking stunts set to music.

    It features an aerial ballet of "angels" that fall to earth to meet clowns, jugglers, musicians, hip-hop dancers and ordinary earthlings, while the show culminates in a chaotic fiesta in the air.

    Based on a Brazilian myth according to which angels visit the earth to taste earthly delights every 500 years, the event marks the start of the "Carnival Unity" in the cultural capital's events program.

    Also on at the same time in the city is the outdoor cartoon exhibition "Masks and Politics: cartoonists of the world in Patras" on the Agios Nikolaos pedestrian road that will run until March 5.

    [29] Cyprus President Papadopoulos arrives in Moscow for working visit

    MOSCOW 21/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, heading a numerous delegation, arrived on Friday afternoon in Moscow, for a working visit.

    During his stay to the Russian capital, President Papadopoulos will hold talks with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Boris Grizlov and Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov.

    He will also meet the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexiy II, who will honor him and other distinguished personalities during a ceremony at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

    President Papadopoulos will meet with the President of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation Yevgeniy Primakov, with the participation of Russian and Cypriot businessmen who will be accompanying him.

    The president is accompanied by Foreign Minister George Iacovou, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister and Government Spokesman George Lillikas, Special Advisor Chrisis Pantelides, other officials and a large number of Cypriot businessmen.

    Papadopoulos said that during his working visit to Russia he will seek to confirm the good bilateral relations and develop them further.

    Speaking before departure for Moscow, Papadopoulos said that there will be a briefing on the current state of affairs in the question of Cyprus and discussion on the issue and expressed the hope that Nicosia and Moscow will reaffirm the "steady and unwavering position of Russia in achieving a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem."

    He said that in any new effort to solve the problem, all five permanent members of the UN Security Council must have a more active role, unlike what has happened in the latest UN-led attempt when only two members were actively involved.

    The president described his visit as "very important," noting it will help further strengthen and develop relations between the two countries.

    He talked about the traditionally good bilateral relations and "the firm support which Russia gives Cyprus at all fora."

    Asked if he would ask Russian President Putin to undertake an initiative on Cyprus, President Papadopoulos said the government's position is that "the Cyprus problem is under the UN auspices and instructions for the UN Secretary-General's efforts are given only by the Security Council."

    Russia, he added, "is a permanent member of the Security Council and in all discussions so far we have found firm support."

    "In every new effort we want all members of the Security Council to be involved and have a more active role," adding that he does not want a repetition of what has happened during the latest effort, when there was selective engagement by the Security Council and only two permanent members were involved.

    On British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat at the latter's so-called presidential palace, President Papadopoulos said the indifference to

    the sensitivities of the people of Cyprus and the government on this issue "will not lead Cyprus to a confrontation with London which would open up a front with the United Kingdom."

    "We do not want to elevate the indifference, if you want, to the sensitivities of the people of Cyprus and the government and Britain's efforts not for recognition but to upgrade the occupation regime, to lead us to a dispute and to create new fronts with the UK," the president said.

    He expressed hope that the British will understand the legitimacy of our position and try to restore the good bilateral relations.

    Responding to questions, he said that initially the purpose of Straw's visit was to embark on the structured dialogue agreed between Nicosia and London but other issues were added in the meantime.

    "We want to allow the procedure to have positive results. However, when the climate is being poisoned by such actions, you understand that additional effort is required to bring back relations to the good level we are pursuing." the president added.

    The government has informed London that it object to a Straw-Talat meeting at the latter's ''presidential'' office but London is adamant this will go ahead. Papadopoulos has said he would not meet Straw if the meeting takes place as the British have planned it.

    [30] Archbishop of America: US efforts for a Cyprus solution to continue

    NEW YORK 21/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Archbishop of America Demetrios has said that US efforts for a Cyprus problem settlement will continue, noting that this problem is important and has wider ramifications in the Middle East.

    In an interview with CNA ahead of his official visit to Cyprus January 24-30, the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America expressed the belief that as time lapses he notices a softening of the initially negative approach on the part of the US towards the Greek Cypriots.

    During his visit to the island his Eminence will be received by the Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, whose stance towards the referendum he praised, noting the president's disposition to display calm determination.

    "I have the feeling that he was fulfilling his duty to the full towards history and the reality in Cyprus, taking into consideration all factors," he said, referring to Papadopoulos' appeal to the Greek Cypriots to reject a UN-proposed solution plan which the president said did not serve the interests of Cyprus.

    Referring to the Cyprus issue, the Archbishop said that due to its importance and its impact in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean "I am certain that efforts take place and will continue in order to reach a solution to the problem."

    [31] Cyprus and US to implement Agreement on Extradition

    NICOSIA 21/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus and the US signed here on Friday all necessary documents for the implementation of the Agreement between the US and the European Union regarding ┼xtradition and ╠utual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.

    The documents were signed by Justice and Public Order Minister Doros Theodorou and US Ambassador to Nicosia Roland Schlicher.

    In statements to the press, US Ambassador said that Cyprus and the US have common interests in combating transnational crime, trafficking of persons and combating the trafficking of drugs.

    "By signing these documents, the US is sending a signal to the people of Cyprus that our bilateral relation, which has always been a good one, is one which we seek to expand and deepen in the coming years, across a wide range of matters including the subject matter of these agreements today," Schlicher said.

    He added that during a private meeting he held with the Cypriot minister before the signing of the documents, they talked about "the fact that the people of Cyprus and the people of the US have very important common interests, like combating terrorism."

    "In this effort of combating terrorism, Cyprus is our ally," the US Ambassador said.

    The Cypriot minister wished that other EU countries would proceed to finalizing the procedures for the implementation of the US-EU agreement as soon as possible.

    Theodorou reassured the US Ambassador that the government of Cyprus would give this matter every priority and noted that the Agreement on Extradition of Fugitives does not concern citizens of the Republic of Cyprus.

    [32] Agreements between Russia and Cyprus on visa policy come into force

    NICOSIA 21/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus' Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Sotos Zakheos and Russian Charge d' Affairs in Cyprus Alexandre Scherbakov exchanged here on Friday verbal notes, enacting as of Friday agreements between Cyprus and the Russian Federation.

    An official press release said the agreements concern the abolition of visas to diplomatic and other official passports and the terms for the entry of Russian and Cypriot citizens to Cyprus and Russia

    respectively.

    Furthermore, a protocol came into force as of Friday, canceling the Agreements between the governments of Cyprus and the Soviet Union on entry visas.


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