|Thursday, 15 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-01-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 27, 2006
 FM meets British counterpart, rejects Turkish proposals on Cyprus
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis discussed the issue of Cyprus with his British counterpart Jack Straw, who arrived in Athens on Thursday evening in the framework of a working visit. Earlier, Straw was received by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Molyviatis noted that the Greek government examined the Turkish proposals on the issue of Cyprus very carefully.
"The conclusion is that in essence they do not differ from the proposals which had been tabled last May and which led nowhere," Molyviatis said.
"The thought of a quadripartite conference was revived," the foreign minister said, adding that "this framework is not suitable since the issue of Cyprus constitutes an international issue which is being discussed at the level of the United Nations."
Molyviatis recalled the statement by Commissioner Olli Rehn that Turkey has assumed obligations which it must fulfill and reiterated Greece's position on the reunification of Cyprus in such a way that all the inhabitants of the island will enjoy the benefits from accession to the European Union.
Referring to the Cyprus issue, Molyviatis said Greece wished that proper conditions ought to be created for the resumption of talks so as a new process could lead to success and not to a new failure.
Responding to reporters' questions whether the process for a solution to the Cyprus issue through the United Nations "has died" or "at least has weakened," Molyviatis said that "this depends on the political will of the involved sides and whether motivations exist." The Greek foreign minister added:" I personally believe that both exist. The maintenance of the present status quo is not to the benefit of anyone. On the contrary, an agreed solution is to the benefit of all. We shall make every attempt so that the process resumes in seeking a solution of the Cyprus problem."
Referring to proposals made by Ankara a few days ago on the resumption of negotiations aimed at finding a solution to the political problem of Cyprus, Foreign Secretary Straw said "as was said by both the United Nations and the commissioner responsible for enlargement Olli Rehn, the proposals constitute a positive step forward, which provides the opportunity for constructive negotiations", adding that "they could be examined carefully."
Asked whether the Turkish proposals on the Cyprus issue are compatible with Ankara's obligations on the ratification and implementation of the Customs Union Protocol, the British minister said that "every candidate member assumes specific obligations and it must fulfill them" and noted that "the proposals of (Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah) Mr. Gul concern a solution to the issue of Cyprus. They are two different things."
The United States on Thursday welcomed Turkey's recent proposal on Cyprus, according to a written statement by State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack.
PASOK rejects Turkey's proposals for Cyprus, Papandreou says: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday underlined his party's rejection of Turkey's recent proposals for the Cyprus issue, following a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis at Papandreou's office in Parliament.
"Turkey has undertaken certain obligations toward the EU. It is trying to avoid these obligations and, in addition, is seeking the indirect, de facto recognition of the north part of Cyprus, the occupied section, in exchange," Papandreou stressed.
"I hope that, in the face of these proposals, the Greek government will also act in the same way that we did. We call on the government to make the appropriate moves in all directions, especially toward the EU, which must guarantee that Turkey will implement all its obligations without any deviation," he added.
He also stressed that the Cyprus problem was an international problem and one that involved the invasion and occupation of an independent state.
Papandreou had requested the meeting with Molyviatis and a briefing on Turkey's proposals earlier on Thursday, in a telephone call he made to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
 FM communicates with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis contacted Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos on Thursday afternoon in the framework of continuous communication and cooperation between the two governments, according to a foreign ministry announcement.
Moreover, in light of recent developments regarding the issue of Cyprus, Molyviatis communicated on Thursday with his Austrian counterpart Ursula Plasnik, whose country is currently holding the European Union presidency, to brief her on Greece's views on recent Turkish proposals on Cyprus.
In addition, relevant briefings had been made for the European Commission's relevant services and enlargement Commissioner Oli Rehn as of Wednesday, the announcement said, adding that instructions have been given to all Greek embassies in EU member-states to inform the governments of partners on Greek positions regarding the known Turkish positions.
 Straw comments on Hamas victory
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)The United Kingdom respects the results of any democratic and fair electoral process, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in Athens on Thursday.
Asked by reporters on the stance which the British government intends to maintain towards the new Palestinian government, following the victory of Hamas, the British foreign secretary said, following his meeting with his Greek counterpart Petros Molyviatis, that "we respect the results of any democratic and fair electoral process."
Straw added:" And those however who participate in such a process must abide by the principle that democracy is not compatible with the use of violence. If someone is a candidate, he promises to his potential voters that he will renounce violence and follow the road of democracy. Hamas is at a cross-road, between the road of democracy and the peaceful solution of differences and to that of violence."
"Britain and the international community as well, will formulate their position towards Hamas according to the stance Hamas will take," Straw added.
 President Papoulias visits Perugia on 3rd day in Italy
PERUGIA, 27/1/2007 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, who is currently on the third day of an official visit to Italy, on Thursday visited the city of Perugia. There he met Perugia's mayor and was made an honorary professor of philosophy at the city's university, which this year celebrates the 700th anniversary since its foundation.
During a speech at the university on "The European Union: challenges and visions", the Greek president stressed that tackling unemployment and ensuring dynamic growth were the main challenges for the Community. He called for the adoption of a "realistic policy" that will combine growth and macro-economic balance with yet more emphasis on the European social model, which he described as an "existential factor" that underpinned the architecture of Europe.
Papoulias said that the necessary conditions for achieving this were to eliminate bureaucratic inflexibility within the EU and liberate the creative forces of Europe, both at university level and in primary and secondary education. He called on European students and universities to take a leading role in this direction.
He said that the EU must pay particular attention to vulnerable groups such as European youth and farmers due to the problems created by the difficult situation for the global economy.
Concerning the EU's external relations, Papoulias noted that the world order in the 21st century must be based on giving priority to international law and the broader democratization of international relations, and not strategies based on unilateral selective actions.
With respect to the Cyprus issue, the Greek president called for a solution based on the resolutions and decisions of the United Nations and EU authorities, while expressing hope that the process for finding a solution under the UN secretary-general would soon be resumed. He said that it was a fundamental duty of the EU to contribute to ending the illegal situation and the occupation by Turkey of an EU member-state, noting that this was a situation that offended the deepest European values.
Papoulias also referred to the EU's response to terrorism, saying that European societies were determined to defend themselves effectively without compromising the dictates of their Constitutions and human rights.
With regard to the future of European institutions following the rejection of the European Constitutional Treaty by France and Holland, the President stressed that dialogue must give rise to political goals and that any effort would be doomed to failure without the participation of European citizens.
While Papoulias was at the university, a protocol of cooperation between the universities of Perugia and Ioannina in northwestern Greece was signed by their respective chancellors.
During an earlier speech at Perugia Town Hall, Papoulias praised Perugia as an open city that was full of life and had not shut itself behind its imposing medieval walls and its past but had chosen to be open to the world and become a hopeful meeting point for different people and cultures, without prejudices and discrimination.
Visit to St Francis of Assisi monastery: After Perugia, President Papoulias paid a visit to the monastery dedicated to St Francis of Assisi in the town of the same name where he was shown around the St. Francis basilica.
Afterwards, the president and the Greek delegation are due to continue on toward Venice.
 Greece determined to incorporate international obligations on Humanitarian Network into nat'l legislation
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Greece's political volition to incorporate its international obligations regarding the Humanitarian Network into its national legislation was reiterated Thursday by deputy foreign minister Evripides Stylianidis, at the opening session of the Third European Meeting on International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which is taking place in Athens with the participation of representatives from 35 countries.
The three-day meeting is organized by the Greek inter-ministerial committee for the implementation and spread of the International Humanitarian Network, which is under the jurisdiction of the foreign ministry, and is taking place under the aegis of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Stylianidis acknowledged the work of the Hellenic Red Cross, which he said had for decades comprised the main agency for implementation of humanitarian law in Greece, and also outlined the activities of the Greek foreign ministry, through its Hellenic Aid organization, "which in the period 2004-2005 was active in 46 countries and expended 0.23 percent of GDP for humanitarian or developmental aid".
On the legislative and administrative measures taken by the Greek State for optimum implementation of IHL, Stylianidis noted parliament's recent ratification of the 2nd Protocol for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and the signing of the 13th Protocol to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances, and stressed the role of the Greek committee for the adoption of these items of legislation.
The Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1999) was signed by Greece in March 1999 -- during the May 17-December 31, 1999 period it was open for signatures) and ratified by the parliament of Greece in April 2005. The Protocol officially entered into force on March 9, 2004 and was registered with the UN on May 5, 2004.
Stylianidis also stressed that Greece was "proceeding to the immediate ratification of the Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions on acceptance of the third emblem, alongside the Red Cross and Red Crescent, for the countries not covered by these two emblems".
Greek committee president, International Law professor Calliope Koufa, agreement was reached last December on establishing the third emblem, to be called the Red Crystal, following many years of arguments, particularly among the countries of the Middle East not covered by the existing two emblems. She said the Red Crystal -- which will appear as a red square frame standing on one corner with a white interior, placed on a white background and is expected to provide a comprehensive and lasting solution to the emblem question -- will comprise a uniform scheme and emblem framework inside which each country may place its own symbol.
ICRC Director of International Law and International Relations Francois Bugnion listed the legislative reforms and the establishment of the three international Courts (two ad hoc Tribunals on the crimes in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, respectively, and the permanent International Criminal Court-ICC), and stressed that the biggest challenge faced by the international community as a whole was to ensure greater respect for the existing rules of law.
On the future, he said one of the biggest challenges to be faced in the coming years was the efforts to find ways with which the international community will wish to rid itself of its obligation to ensure respect of International Humanitarian Law.
Addressing the representatives of the national committees, he said the main targets included the containment of war crimes, the implementation of the Rome Regulations on the ICC, protection of the emblems, and the spread of and education in IHL.
Justice ministry secretary general P. Panouris spoke of the political volition and consent of the State as a condition for the implementation of IHL, and outlined a series of problems caused by the international community by the question of war.
Referring to one of the most recent developments, Stylianidis said that Greece has completely embraced the UN General Assembly initiative on the Human Security Network "in which we have been participating from its establishment in 1999", adding that Greece was displaying particular determination for the promotion of the positions of the Network, the rotating one-year presidency of which it is slated to assume in May 2007.
The meeting is being attended by representatives of the national committees of 35 countries, representatives of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The Greek inter-ministerial committee, which operates under the jurisdiction of the foreign ministry, comprises representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs, national defense, justice, the interior, public order, education and religious affairs, health and social solidarity, and culture, and two university professors.
 State services still fully mobilized for bad weather, government stresses
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday underlined that state services were still fully mobilized, even though the bad weather appeared to have abated since earlier on Thursday morning.
He said that Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos was still coordinating the action of the civil protection agency on a 24-hour basis, to deal with the problems caused by the heavy snow fall and low temperatures.
Antonaros emphasized that the most serious problem at the moment was frost and ice and advised the public to exercise extreme caution in all their movements, whether on foot or in vehicles.
All major roads and many smaller roads were now open, while minor problems continued in areas of northern Evia that the government was now trying to solve, he said.
The spokesman also noted that great efforts were being made to restore power to the Ionian islands of Kefallonia and Ithaki, while technicians working round the clock had managed to partially restore power. Antonaros also denied that the government was considering declaring a state of emergency on either of the two islands, stressing that the problem was being repaired at a satisfactory rate.
Efforts were also underway to repair various smaller problems that had arisen with the power supply in other areas of the country, he added.
Finally, he noted that prefectures had been given instructions to monitor the fruit and vegetable markets in their jurisdiction to avoid instances of profiteering. At the same time, he pointed out that problems with the harvesting, transport and supply of these goods made fluctuations in their price unavoidable, even though inspection mechanisms were working well.
 Parliament approves measure making blank ballots 'spoiled votes'
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)A proposed measure presented by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, under which blank ballots would no longer count as valid votes, was approved in Parliament by a comfortable majority on Thursday with just one vote against and one abstention.
Pavlopoulos noted that the measure did not change the electoral system and he proceeded to ask for a roll-call vote to achieve a two-thirds majority so that there was no "misinterpretation".
Earlier, PASOK rapporteur Costas Skandalidis said that blank ballots should not be able to affect the distribution of seats in Parliament. He also called for a two-thirds majority so that the article would be valid during the next elections.
The sole nay vote came from independent MP Stephanos Manos, who said it was inconceivable for the political choice of casting a blank ballot to be equated with the spoiled votes.
Supporters of the measure argued that blank ballots, under the present system, lost their meaning of "complete rejection" since they worked in favor of some parties and against others.
 Press conference at noon Friday ahead of upcoming Council of Socialist International meeting in Athens
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Secretary General of Socialist International Luis Ayala, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) National Council Secretary Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou and Paulina Lampsa, responsible for PASOK's International Relations Sector, will give a press conference at PASOK's headquarters in Athens at noon on Friday, ahead of the Council of Socialist International meeting which will be held at a central Athens hotel on Monday and Tuesday.
PASOK leader George Papandreou will be the sole candidate for the presidency of Socialist International.
Papandreou, who was elected vice-president of Socialist International at the proposal of president Antonio Gutteres during the Council of Socialist International held in Ramallah in May, is slated to be the uncontested candidate for the post of president.
Socialist International, which is the worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist and labor parties, will elect its President at the upcoming meeting of its Council in the Greek capital.
PASOK party leader holds talks with Women's Socialist International officials: Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou held talks on Thursday with Pia Locatelli and Marlene Haas, the President and Secretary General respectively of the Women's Socialist international, as well as with Antigoni Karali-Dimitriadi, a member of PASOK's Women's Sector and the International Relations Committee.
The talks focused on issues concerning cooperation between the Socialist International and the Women's Socialist international, also in light of the meeting of the Women's Socialist International Council in Athens on January 27-28 on the issue of "Women are promoting international values in a multicultural world."
The Council's session will be inaugurated with an address by PASOK's leader at 3 p.m. on Friday.
 KKE comments on anti-communist memorandum
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in an announcement on Thursday that "the anti-communist memorandum, despite the insistent efforts of its inspirers, did not succeed in gathering the necessary majority at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, for the corresponding measures accompanying it to become compulsory for its member-states."
KKE added that "this is primarily the result of the big, wide and dynamic popular wave of protest that surged in Greece and Europe, of the big mobilizations that took place."
However, KKE believes that "no complacency is permissible because the imperialists' pursuit for the starting of a new form of global anti-communist hysteria will not stop."
The announcement concluded by saying that "no form of anti-communism must be legalized in the conscience of peoples. On the contrary, it must meet the most categorical and determined condemnation."
 Greek ambassador in Washington hosts dinner in honor of outgoing USAID administrator Natsios
WASHINGTON, 27/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)Greece's ambassador to the US Alexandros Mallias on Wednesday hosted a dinner in honor of outgoing USAID administrator Andrew Natsios, who is of Greek descent, at the ambassadorial residence in Washington.
Andrew S. Natsios was sworn in on May 1, 2001, as Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which is the US government agency that administers economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide, and tendered his resignation on January 14, 2006 to join the faculty of his alma mater Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
Mallias paid tribute to Natsios' work at USAID and the reciprocal cooperation with Greece in various developmental and humanitarian aid programs. He also outlined Greece's developmental policy in the Balkans, for which the country was recently honored with a USAID award.
During his term at the helm of USAID, Natsios also served as Special Coordinator for International Disaster Assistance and Special Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan. He previously served at USAID as director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance from 1989 to 1991, and then as assistant administrator for the then Bureau for Food and Humanitarian Assistance (now the Bureau for Humanitarian Response) from 1991 to January 1993.
A native of Holliston, Massachusetts, Natsios also served as chairman and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (April 2000-March 2001), secretary for administration and finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (March 1999 to April 2000), held the Jennings Randolph Senior Fellowship at the US Institute of Peace (1998), was vice president of World Vision US (1993-1998) and executive director of the Northeast Public Power Association in Milford, Massachusetts (1987-89).
Earlier, he served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1975 to 1987, and was named legislator of the year by the Massachusetts (MA) Municipal Association in 1978, the MA Association of School Committees in 1986, and Citizens for Limited Taxation (1986), and was also chairman of the MA Republican State Committee for seven years.
Natsios is a graduate of Georgetown University, and received a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Attending the dinner in Natsios' honor were White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) ambassador John Negroponte, US Homeland Security Adviser Frances Townsend, US deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs Matthew Bryza, Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Maryland), Cyprus ambassador to Washington Euripides Evriviades, former US ambassador to NATO, Robert Hunter, chairman of the board of trustees of the Fund for American Studies Randal Teague, and American journalists.
 Serbia will accept all 'legal representatives of Kosovo Albanians,' Batakovic says
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Serbia-Montenegro will accept all legal representatives of Albanians in Kosovo, but not those involved in the killing of civilians, Dusan Batakovic, former Ambassador to Athens and adviser to Serbia's president told the ANA-MPA on Thursday.
Referring to Serb President Boris Tadic's proposal that two separate entities - a Serb and an Albanian one - be established in Kosovo, Batakovic said that it is a view circulating in Serbia and one that Tadic felt the need to define further: "something more than autonomy, something less than independence," he said.
"There is a red line that we cannot cross. This means that we need to maintain control of Kosovo's external borders with Albania and FYROM, control of customs and several other elements of state sovereignty," he added.
As for Kosovo's Serb community, Batakovic said that the international community seems to accept UN Envoy Kai Eide's report, which calls for the creation of new Serb municipalities where Serbs make up the majority. Allowed to interconnect operationally, these municipalities will be able to function as self-administered local authorities.
"We understand these [municipalities] to be an entity not geographically united as is the case in Bosnia, but with strong jurisdiction in areas such as education, health care, economy, justice and policing," Batakovic said.
"Additionally, this entity must have constitutional ties to Belgrade so that it can, for at least the first 10-20 years, survive," he explained.
Batakovic also referred to an international military and political presence in Kosovo, saying that it is 'necessary' for the protection of Serbs and Serbian churches and monasteries.
He estimated that Balkan countries will be Serbia-Montenegro's allies in negotiations, "since all neighboring countries firmly support a solution that will result from negotiations."
Regarding the actual solution to Kosovo's status, Batakovic said it would not be viable unless Belgrade participates in the negotiations and approves of it.
He also stressed that the issue must remain within a UN framework, adding that the international community will not tolerate any resort to violence.
Batakovic expressed his support for Serb representatives in Kosovo's Parliament to have vetoing rights "so that no parliamentary or governmental decision can be imposed on the Serb community without the latter's consent," noting that such a provision is included in the Ohrid Agreement of August 2001.
He said he is in favor of the region's demilitarization and that in exchange Serbia-Montenegro is willing to economically upgrade the region so that it can have access to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other international, financial organizations.
Finally, referring to the concept of a "Greater Albania," Batakovic said it already exists, not de jure but de facto, since the Kosovo-Albania border remains open, there is no customs control and people move freely between the two countries.
He added that a great problem arises since many Albanians from Albania have been taking over the property of Serbs driven out of Kosovo after 1999.
 Commissioner Hubner satisfied with absorption of EU funds in 2005
BRUSSELS, 27/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)EU Commisioner for Regional Policy, Danuta Hubner, stressed here on Thursday her satisfaction over the fact that the member-states of the European Union, among them Greece, in 2005 absorbed almost the entire EU funds which they had the right to receive from the EU's structural funds.
Regarding Greece, according to data released on Thursday by the European Commission, the country absorbed 2.578 billion euros in 2005. Of this figure, about half the amount came from the regional fund.
The total absorption of funds by the 25 member-states in 2005 amounted to 33.1 billion euros.
 PM briefed over economic developments
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday was briefed by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis over economic developments in the country and the Eurozone after the Eurogroup and ECOFIN meetings early in the week in Brussels.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Alogoskoufis said the government would rapidly implement all decisions envisaging a restructuring of all public sector enterprises with the aim to make a more efficient use of taxpayers' money.
Commenting on a government plan to promote joint ventures between the public and private sectors in major infrastructure projects around the country, the Greek minister said an inter-ministerial commission meeting on Wednesday discussed the interest expressed for particular projects, such as new schools and university dormitories.
Alogoskoufis said the government has clear and specific positions on labor relation issues.
 Greece, EIB discuss expanding cooperation
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Greece seeks to expand its cooperation with the European Investment Bank in funding small- and medium-sized enterprises, joint ventures between public and private sector companies and plans to forge closer economic relations in Southeastern Europe, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday.
The issues were discussed during a lunch meeting held in Athens with the participation of EIB's president Philips Maystadt, Takis Arapoglou, president of the Bank Association of Greece and other banking and ministry officials.
 Greek ports to attract new investments
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Greek ports could attract new investments in improving their facilities and services through a government-sponsored plan to promote joint ventures between public and private sector companies, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, Alogoskoufis said the two ministers discussed the whole range of developing the country's ports, naval training and port authorities.
Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said Greek ports have great growth prospects, particularly after an agreement signed with the European Investment Bank for a credit line worth 3.0 billion euros to fund port projects. Kefaloyiannis stressed that following an agreement signed with China during the Greek PM's recent visit in Beijing, a new road of cooperation with Chinese companies was opening up to set up transit facilities in the regions of Mediterranean, Southeastern Europe and the Black Sea.
Merchant Marine minister also said that transit commerce with Chinese companies would service around one million container units, while he did not exclude a plan to build a new port in Crete. Kefaloyiannis said private investors have shown great interest in participating in joint ventures with the public sector on port projects.
 More than 2.0 million Greeks threatened by poverty, report
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)A total of 799,530 Greek households, with 2,126,750 members, are threatened by poverty, a report by the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
NSS set the poverty limit to the annual sum of 5,300.18 euros per person and 11,130.37 euros per household with a four-member family.
The report also showed that 20 percent of the country's population lived in households with low incomes in 2003, slightly down from a 21 percent rate in 2002. According to the report, 27 percent of Greek households were at the threshold of financial default, after excluding housing costs, while the percentage climbed to 39.8 percent before all social transfers. The default rate was higher among women (21.1 pct) compared with men (18.9 pct).
Men's wages were 10 percent higher compared with women. The statistics service said households in farm areas around the country faced more risk of defaulting, almost double compared with the country's total rate, despite the fact that home-ownership reached 97 percent in these areas.
The report said 19.4 pct of total population faced problems to pay for adequate heating, another 18.6 pct complained of noise from their neighbors and another 15.1 pct complained of environmental problems (industrial or traffic).
In the "poor population" category, financial inability for adequate heating reached 36 pct, while 12.2 pct of the same category did not have an indoor toilette.
The report said that 60.2 pct of the poor population could not afford to meet urgent but necessary spending, while 24.7 pct could not afford to pay for main food needs. A 82.2 pct of the same category could not afford an one-week holiday each year.
NSS said 31.1 pct of Greek households around the country faced difficulties in covering their usual needs, while 15.1 pct said they faced "great difficulties". Only 1.9 pct said it was "very easy" to meet their needs and another 11 pct said it was "easy".
The report also showed that 2.9 pct of the Greek population have not finished primary school, 36 pct have finished primary schools, 12.5 pct have finished gymnasium school and 28.6 pct lyceum education. Only 15.3 pct of population have an university degree and 0.4 pct a doctorate.
The report said 2.5 pct of Greek population suffered from bad health (3.5 pct for poor), 13.4 pct said their health condition was moderate, 20.9 pct reported good health and 56.9 pct said their health condition was very good.
 Deputy Health Minister inaugurates new Evangelismos labs
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Deputy Minister of Health and Social Solidarity Thanassis Yiannopoulos inaugurated the new laboratories of Evangelismos Hospital in downtown Athens on Thursday.
The laboratories are housed in the hospital's new five-storey wing.
During the inauguration, hospital staff, represented by Elias Sioras, took the opportunity to present their demands to the deputy minister.
According to Sioras, hospital staff have not been informed about the cost of the new labs, there are gaps regarding the delivery date, and they believe the building is not appropriate for housing medical laboratories.
On his part, Yiannopoulos said that while much has been achieved regarding health care, the government's key priority is to meet one of the most pressing demands made by medical personnel and that is the hiring of more staff.
In response, hospital staff informed the deputy minister that 1,300 job positions remain vacant leading to cancelled operations when staff is on leave.
 French Defense Studies Institute delegation visits Elefsina Shipyards
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Attendants of the French Supreme Defense Studies Institute visited the Elefsina Shipyards on Thursday as part of their tour of Greece and the wider Balkan region.
The Institute provides high-level education on defense and geopolitics issues for deputies, government and public functionaries, members of the military, university professors, businessmen, company managers, journalists and clerics who are participating in the tour of Greece.
The 55 members of the delegation were welcomed and briefed on the activities of the Elefsina Shipyards in commerce and the building of warships by officials of the Shipyards, headed by President Nikos Tavoularis.
They also toured the Shipyards' production installations and the sites where Super Vita missile boats are being built for the Navy.
 Greek stocks end 0.35 pct lower
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)Greek stocks ended lower on Thursday as sellers took the upper hand of the market during the biggest part of the session. The composite index fell 0.35 pct to end at 3,993.47 points, with turnover at 331 million euros.
Most sector indices suffered losses, with the Technology (3.11 pct), Personal and Home Products (1.44 pct) and Insurance (1.39 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while the Food-Beverage (2.87 pct), Retail (1.33 pct) and Telecommunications (0.53 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index fell 0.51 pct, the mid cap index ended 0.78 pct lower and the small cap index dropped 1.54 pct.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 186 to 106 with another 36 issues unchanged.
Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers
Foreign Exchange Rates: Friday
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.235
 Hellenic Festival shorter, 'more accessible', director says
ATHENS, 27/1/2006 (ANA)The Hellenic Festival in 2006 will be of shorter duration and more accessible to a broader social group, the organization's director Yiorgos Loukos said, presenting this year's program on Thursday.
It will run for two months, as opposed to the five months it ran previously, and will "bring new art trends closer to young adults and will eliminate the exclusive relations maintained between directors and theatre groups with the Epidavros and Herod Atticus Theatres," he said.
Other venues, beside Epidavros and Herod Atticus, will be used and ticket prices will be reduced, according to Loukos.
The Hellenic Festival will continue to feature plays, dance, concerts, classical music, opera and ancient Greek plays.
Present at Thursday's presentation was Minister of Tourism Development Dimitris Avramopoulos.
 Cyprus government makes strong representation to Enlargement Commissioner Rehn
BRUSSELS, 27/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The Cyprus government made a strong representation to Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn concerning his statements on the resumption of talks on Cyprus.
According to community sources, the representation is already at Rehn's hands and has also reached the 24 EU delegations in Brussels.
The same sources said that the representation points out that Ankara's so called action plan on Cyprus is a worse resumption of the previous Turkish positions and is in the framework of Turkey's efforts to avoid its obligations.
The Cypriot government expresses its surprise and indignation over the Commission's immediate reaction through Rehn's statement because it indicates an acceptance on the part of the Commission of Turkey's position for equating its obligations against the EU, with a political commitment on the part of the EU to financially assist the Turkish Cypriots.
The representation notes that in 2005 the EU's efforts to help the Turkish Cypriots failed twice because Turkey's intransigence did not allow an agreement to be reached.
It also describes as unfortunate the Commission's choice to support the unacceptable logic of a candidate state which is pursuing to fulfill its obligations in way that it is contrary to the dignity and national sovereignty of an EU state.
The Cyprus government questioned on which political order the Commission based its offer to participate in meetings proposed by Ankara with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
It also inquires which are the international regulations that allow the Commission to even think to contribute to discussions on the status of the entry points to the Republic, especially when the legal government considers the ports and airports in the occupied areas closed and their operation illegal.
In the representation, the Cyprus government asks Rehn since when the Commission has decided to associate Turkey fulfilling its EU obligations with the results of negotiations of other international organizations, such as the UN.
In a written statement on Tuesday regarding Ankara's proposal Rhen had said ''the Commission welcomes efforts to achieve progress in the current deadlock with regard to the Cyprus problem."
According to Rehn, ''Turkey's initiative deserves careful examination and he asked his services to do so.''
 Government brings up again proposals for Famagusta and two-way trade
NICOSIA, 27/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The Cyprus government has brought forward again its proposals for Famagusta and two-way trade between the two sides in Cyprus, after the submission of the Turkish proposal presented by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.
Cyprus government spokesman George Lillikas asked on Thursday if a representation was made to EU Commissioner Oli Rehn after his reaction to the Turkish proposals, he said "representations were made where needed with a view always the right procedure as regards the dialogue between partners and between the UN and the parties involved to the Cyprus issue."
Invited to say if the Cyprus government brings forward again its proposals for Famagusta and two-way trade at its representations, the spokesman said "we surely bring forward both issues because we believe that with the return of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants and the joint management of the Famagusta port jointly with the Turkish Cypriot community bridges of economic cooperation and trade cooperation are built and a positive climate is created for the common opinion which will be helpful for the undertaking of a new initiative."
Lillikas stressed that "the creation of common interests between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and even of common problems can be helpful for a solution that will reunite Cyprus."
"On the contrary the development of direct trade or the political upgrade of the pseudostate, the opening of illegal airports and ports at the occupied areas leads to the development of separate economic interests between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, and this cannot but reinforce those who want a divisive settlement for Cyprus," he added.
Lillikas also stressed that the undertaking of an initiative by the UN has to be made to create common ground so that when the two sides are invited to dialogue there will be preconditions or prospects for this dialogue to reach an agreed solution.
Invited to comment reactions by the EU, the US and the UN to the Turkish proposals, Lillikas said that "we deem that no one has so far adopted Gul's proposals."
He said the Cyprus government has received assurances by his EU partners that their stance as regards the Cyprus question remains unchanged.
"Our belief is that those interested sincerely in contributing to efforts for a new procedure that will lead to a settlement that will really reunite our country and will not lead to the division of Cyprus must work and support proposals and ideas that will create bridges of cooperation and exchanges between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and not support ideas and proposals who lead to the upgrade of the pseudostate or to the development of separate interests," he noted.
 Cyprus proposed to Britain to jointly recourse to ICJ
NICOSIA, 27/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cyprus has proposed to Britain to file a joint recourse to the International Court of Justice in The Hague to resolve the differences the two countries on the interpretation of the international law that derives from the Treaty of Establishment which Britain signed as a guarantor power.
Speaking after his meeting on Thursday with Archbishop of America Demetrios, Foreign Minister George Iacovou said the reasons which Cyprus proposed to Britain to jointly recourse to the Court are Britain's obligations against the Republic of Cyprus as a guarantor power, the fact that it did not avert the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the loss which the island suffered from the invasion, the Turkish settlement as well as the different interpretation of the Treaty of Establishment.
However, he said Britain will hide behind a reservation it has submitted to the Court whereby it prohibits members and former members of the Commonwealth to recourse to The Hague against it.
Iacovou said during his meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Wednesday he proposed the two countries resort together to the Court, in order to solve their differences.
He explained that the issue has been pending for many years now since the Republic of Cyprus had the legal advice to proceed with a recourse but did not do so since it was hoping relations between the two countries would have improved.
"I told Mr. Straw that the letter for Cyprus' recourse was written by myself to the Attorney General of the Republic 17 years ago, in an effort to have better relations with Great Britain. We did not take any legal measures, in an effort to maintain a good standard in our relations, but I see our effort has failed on a number many times," the FM said.
According to the Cypriot FM, the Treaty of Establishment includes a provision which obliges Britain to protect the percentage of population.
Iacovou said that the issue came up again when we were discussing the status of the occupied areas and that of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, stressing that there is a decision of the European Court of Human Rights which says that the occupied areas are under the complete control of the Turkish occupation forces and other commands which are subordinate to Ankara.
Minister Iacovou said he challenged his British counterpart to give his position on the issue and a debate began on disagreements regarding the interpretation of various issues which also have a political onset.
"I am sure that Great Britain will hide behind the reservation it has on article 36/2 of the Charter of the International Court to refuse the proposal" which Cyprus made.
The Cypriot minister said that Straw "did not try to sell the Turkish proposal to us as a great opportunity for a solution or gradual solution to the Cyprus problem; he simply said that he believes it has a very positive tone."
However, he said the tone is not sufficient "to make a proposal attractive to our side," adding that Straw did not bring any message or try to persuade us that Mr. Gul's (Turkish Foreign Minister) ideas are good."
 Cyprus expressed its concern to Straw over British policy
NICOSIA, 27/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Government Spokesman George Lillikas said that the Cypriot government heard the views and positions of Britain during Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's visit to the island and the government in turn expressed its concerns on the British policy.
In statements on Thursday, Lillikas said Straw also referred to Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's proposals on Cyprus, adding that Gul "brought back for a second time his well known proposals."
"There are issues on which we have a different view, a different estimation, even more a different approach from Britain as far as the Cyprus problem is concerned," said Lillikas.
"There was a sincere dialogue between the two sides and under other circumstances, Mr. Straw's visit could have been more productive and creative," the Spokesman added.
Asked to comment on Foreign Minister George Iacovou's proposal to Straw that Cyprus and Britain should jointly file a recourse to the International Court of Justice in The Hague on the issues of guarantees and interpretation of the Treaty of Establishment, Lillikas said Iacovou's suggestion was made in the framework of a discussion and was the result of some views expressed by Straw.
"No political decision has been taken to file a recourse to the ICJ. It is however, a possibility which can be utilized either now or in the future," Lillikas added.
The Spokesman said that in such an event, we will ask for "clarifications of the responsibilities of a guarantor power because it seems there is a different approach."
 Archbishop Demetrios: Conditions of Cyprus problem must be changed
NICOSIA, 27/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Archbishop of All America Demetrios, continued his meetings here Thursday with the island's political leadership.
Speaking after his meeting with House President Demetris Christofias, Archbishop Demetrios said if a problem seems unresolved, then the conditions of the problem must be changed.
He said no one will continue to deal forever with a problem which from its creation remains unresolved, and for this "reason, we must change the problem, to take it to another basis and to other relevant members so a solution can be found."
He also said that the Greek orthodoxy and the overseas Greeks of America "will always feel the pulse, difficulties and anxiety which the noble people of Cyprus are going through."
"We the Church, and overseas Greeks, are permanently working and are absolutely certain that God will give the conclusion to all difficulties that Cyprus is facing," the Archbishop said.
On his part, House President Christofias said the Archbishop was "completely right" that Hellenism is obliged through today's conditions to fight in an effort to prove the evident."
He also said the two wished they will meet the soonest within the framework of a free and united Cyprus.
Speaking after meeting Foreign Minister George Iacovou, the Archbishop said that with love and unity everything can be done, referring to the Cyprus problem.
He said he was informed by Iacovou on the "great issue," as he described the Cyprus issue, stressing that it is better to gain knowledge because it shows the difficult aspects of a problem and how painful these can be. However, Archbishop Demetrios said knowledge is better than not having any at all.
Demetrios said that the "God of truth, the God of love and peace for the people, will be with us all the time, so that there is a proper, fair and humane solution to the Cyprus problem."
 House approves law granting TCs right to vote
NICOSIA, 27/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The House of Representatives unanimously voted a law here Thursday granting members of the Turkish Cypriot community and who are residing in the Republic, the right to vote in elections in the Republic.
President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos had sent a letter to the House President calling for the approval of the bill, in line with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision in the case of Turkish Cypriot Ibrahim Aziz against the Republic of Cyprus.
In its ruling dated September 22, 2004, the ECHR held that the non-participation of Aziz in the electoral rolls for the May 27, 2001 parliamentary elections constituted a violation of article 3 of protocol 1 and a violation of article 14 of the Convention taken in conjunction with article 2 of protocol 1.
The law was approved with 36 votes in favor from AKEL, Democratic Rally, Democratic Party, European Party, United Democrats and the Struggling Democratic Movement ADIK, while four members of the House, from Socialist EDEK and European Democracy abstained.