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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-01-31

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

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

January 31, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou unanimously elected Socialist Int'l head, unveils priorities
  • [02] President Papoulias hosts reception for Socialist International officials
  • [03] Greek and Bulgarian PMs meeting in Athens, discuss bilateral ties
  • [04] FM departs on visit to Brussels and London
  • [05] FM to meet with US Undersecretary of State on Tuesday
  • [06] Deputy FM meets with S. African counterpart Pahad
  • [07] Athens on Gul statements vis-a-vis Cyprus
  • [08] FM spokesman on Hamas election victory
  • [09] First stage health care a priority, deputy health minister says
  • [10] More schools containing asbestos found, Deputy Education Min says
  • [11] President Karolos Papoulias sends message of condolences on death of former German president
  • [12] Development minister seeks to brief Parliament on gov't response to weather
  • [13] Turkish nationalist group pushes for relocation of Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • [14] 'Bird flu' instance reported in Turkish-occupied Cyprus
  • [15] FinMin calls for immediate dialogue on pension system
  • [16] Coalition party official criticizes social insurance policy
  • [17] FinMin, Development ministers in Lisbon
  • [18] National Employment Committee meeting productive and creative, employment minister says
  • [19] Government invites political parties to dialogue on electronic media
  • [20] Greece renews ban on GMO corn; is applauded by Greenpeace
  • [21] Greek exports to China rise sharply
  • [22] ATEbank presents three-year business plan
  • [23] Greece, "partner country" in Plovdiv trade fair
  • [24] Greek retail sales up 5.1 pct in November, yr/yr
  • [25] Altec gets Montenegro project
  • [26] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks nose down
  • [27] Thessaloniki to host seminar on organized crime in SE Europe
  • [28] Thessaloniki police seize large quantities of hashish and heroin, make nine arrests
  • [29] Teen suicide averted by electronic crime squad via Internet
  • [30] House President meets with Senate France-Cyprus Friendship President
  • [31] Alexander: Cherie Blair acting in her private capacity in Orams case
  • [32] Cyprus to continue supplying occupied north with electricity

  • [01] Papandreou unanimously elected Socialist Int'l head, unveils priorities

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou was unanimously elected here on Monday as the new president of the Socialist International, during a meeting of the organisa-tion's council in Athens.

    Papandreou was the uncontested candidate for the position, following his official nomination by a SI working group, headed by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero. The working group's recommendation was unanimously adopted in a show of hands vote.

    In addressing delegates, Papandreou, the former Greek foreign minister, outlined what he called a vision for a better world and the central role that socialists have in such a prospect.

    The PASOK leader cited an emphasis on greater freedom and democracy around the world, greater security, prosperity, equality and opportunities, but distinctly less poverty and hunger. "This will be a world that is more peaceful, with more cooperation," he said.

    Papandreou added that the means humanity has at its disposal today can eradicate poverty, stop the "green house" effect, guarantee gainful employment, reduce infant mortality, improve healthcare, achieve equality between the sexes, include immigrants in local societies and stop the trafficking of drugs, weapons and people, among others.

    Moreover, he outlined seven priorities for the organization during his presidency, including: - "democratization of globalization", noting that it is impossible to "have true democracy in the world when there is a massive accumulation of capital and power in the hands of the few; when multinationals challenge the power of democratically elected representatives of the people; and when mass media is controlled by vested interests and big business" - Developing regional cooperation; - Uniting citizens in common action, saying that socialists must today "redefine the balance between productivity, social justice and freedoms", while he again voiced his support for the "Scandinavian model", as he said; - Relations between political parties and citizens; - Cooperation with the "society of citizens" and the creation of new alliances; - Gender equality, and finally, - Building peace around the world and resolving crises, especially terrorism.

    "We won't eradicate terrorism unless we tackle the reasons that cause it (terrorism)," he underlined.

    Earlier, Papandreou also criticized the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank's policies, saying both organizations are following the principle of "one dollar, one vote".

    The Socialist International began its sessions with a concert at the Athens Concert Hall Sunday evening.

    Monday's afternoon session was slated to discuss the situation in the Balkans and the Middle East, as well as alliances between cultures.

    Socialist party representatives at Socialist International Council support continuous dialogue between cultures: Speakers representing socialist parties participating in the Socialist International Council, convening in Athens on Monday, expressed support for continuous dialogue between cultures.

    Cypriot socialist EDEK Honorary President Vassos Lysarides said the invasion, occupation and usurping of property, such as in the case of Cyprus, cannot secure peace and normalcy.

    Belgian socialist party President Elio di Rupo said that "in the Middle East, where we have achieved a great deal, we had the role of mediator, while the direction will not be denial of talks with Hamas. On the contrary, there must be a recognition of Israel and the giving of guarantees to the Palestinians."

    He also announced that the 4th international conference of mayor-members of the Socialist International will take place in Mexico on October 27-29.

    The Spanish socialist party representative said that cultures must be open to enrichment and conflicts cannot be above discussion.

    The first secretary of Morocco's Socialist Union of Popular Forces Mohammed Eliazgi announced that in April Morocco will enter a process of negotiations on the viable autonomy of Moroccan Sahara. Referring to the dialogue between cultures, Eliazgi said that the alliance of cultures requires joint action based on solidarity which must be understood correctly and not be imposed by the mandates of security.

    [02] President Papoulias hosts reception for Socialist International officials

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, on Monday evening hosted a reception in honor of the heads of the delegations which are taking part in the two-day meeting of Socialist International's Council.

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou was unanimously elected as the new president of Socialist International, during the first day of the meeting of the organization's Council in Athens earlier in the day.

    Present at the reception were, among others, Serb President Boris Tadic, Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev, Socialist International Secretary General Luis Ayala, former prime minister Costas Simitis, Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos, Deputy Foreign Minister Panagiotis Skandalakis, ruling New Democracy (ND) party Central Committee Secretary Evangelos Meimarakis, many deputies and members of the diplomatic corps.

    [03] Greek and Bulgarian PMs meeting in Athens, discuss bilateral ties

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Bulgarian counterpart Sergei Stanishev confirmed the very good bilateral ties between Greece and Bulgaria during their meeting in Athens on Monday.

    Karamanlis stressed that the two countries were progressing steadily toward a "new stage of deepening their multi-faceted cooperation" and announced that he had accepted an invitation to visit Sofia on April 14.

    He said their meeting was also an opportunity to discuss the European prospects of western Balkan states and note their joint desire to support the prospects of countries in the region "with respect for good neighborly relations and to consolidate stability in the region via the resolution of all outstanding problems."

    Expressing his satisfaction with Bulgaria's progress toward EU accession, Karamanlis said that he looked forward to welcoming Bulgaria and Romania as new EU member-states on January 1, 2007.

    Concerning Kosovo, meanwhile, the Greek premier reiterated Athens' position in favor of a "multicultural Kosovo that respects human and minority rights" and stressed that any future regime in Kosovo must be compatible with the principles and values of the EU and promote stability and security in the region. He said that similar positions were expressed by the Bulgarian side.

    Finally, Karamanlis thanked his Bulgarian counterpart for supporting the election of George Papandreou, leader of Greece's main opposition party PASOK, as president of the Socialist International.

    Stanishev, on his part, confirmed the good relations between Athens and Sofia and the general agreement on the issues discussed, while he also thanked Greece for its support of Bulgaria's EU accession.

    The Bulgarian prime minister stressed that Greece was the second-largest investor in Bulgaria and that economic transactions between the two countries were over 14 billion in just the first eight months of 2005.

    He said that Karamanlis' visit to Sofia would be an opportunity to discuss joint infrastructure projects in particular, such as the 'corridor 4' road link and railway axes or the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline that both countries were very interested in.

    With respect to Kosovo, Stanishev stressed that "the standards and historical monuments must not be forgotten, so that the people of Kosovo can live peacefully and quietly, irrespective of their religion or ethnicity."

    Such a regime would benefit stability in the entire region, he added.

    Concerning the EU prospects of the western Balkans, the Bulgarian premier pointed out that the European Union could not be a "fortress in Europe" and that a steady policy for the European prospects of all countries in the western Balkans was needed, including for Croatia which led this group.

    [04] FM departs on visit to Brussels and London

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis left on a visit to Brussels and London on Monday to participate in the European Union's Council of General Affairs and Foreign Relations and in the international conference on Afghanistan.

    Molyviatis gave a working luncheon for Serb President Boris Tadic on Sunday, who is currently on an unofficial visit to Greece. Their talks focused on developments and prospects regarding the issue of Kosovo, also in light of the next stages of the process under way to determine its future status quo.

    [05] FM to meet with US Undersecretary of State on Tuesday

    31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis will be meeting with US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns in London on Tuesday, following the latter's request.

    The meeting will take place on the sidelines of the International Conference on Afghanistan which Molyviatis will be attending.

    [06] Deputy FM meets with S. African counterpart Pahad

    31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis on Monday received his South African counterpart Aziz Pahad at the foreign ministry, with talks focusing on international development issues, aid and bilateral trade ties.

    Pahad also extended an invitation to the Greek deputy FM to visit South Africa.

    [07] Athens on Gul statements vis-a-vis Cyprus

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Athens on Monday merely noted that the Cypriot side will unveil its proposals when it deems necessary, "regardless of the (Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah) Gul statements".

    The government spokesman made the comment in response to press questions citing the Turkish FM's recent invitation towards the Greek Cypriot side to table its latest proposals over solving the long-standing Cyprus issue.

    [08] FM spokesman on Hamas election victory

    BRUSSELS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    A Greek foreign ministry spokesman on Monday again commented on the victory of the Hamas group in last week's Palestinian elections, this time from the Belgian capital.

    "The Greek government praises the smooth holding of elections on Jan. 25 in Palestine, considering this a step towards strengthening democracy, which is based on specific principles and values that must be respected by all," spokesman George Koumoutsakos said, adding:

    "The pinnacle of these principles and values is respect for human life and dignity, which means renunciation of all forms of violence. On this basis, we believe that Hamas must disarm and recognize Israel's right to exist. Only then can the international community's efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian issue be strengthened, a solution that will lead to the peace co-existence of two states and two peoples, the Israeli and Palestinian peoples," Koumoutsakos said.

    [09] First stage health care a priority, deputy health minister says

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    First stage health care, mental health and the development of social care units are the priorities and the basic elements of the strategy which the health ministry will follow during the next decade, Deputy Health Minister George Konstantopoulos said on Monday.

    The deputy minister was speaking during the development conference on "Health and social solidarity 2007-2013" being held in Thessaloniki, Macedonia.

    Konstantopoulos said that the ministry places great importance on restricting regional and social inequalities in the health and welfare sectors and on narrowing the gap between health services in the capital and in rural areas.

    "Our target is a health system focusing on man and where man and the patient will be at the centre of our policy," he added.

    [10] More schools containing asbestos found, Deputy Education Min says

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Hundreds of schools were found to contain asbestos in addition to the 271 already reported, Deputy Education Minister Yiorgos Kalos said in Parliament on Monday.

    Specifically, an additional 470 schools were found to contain asbestos following inspections carried out throughout 37 of the country's prefectures.

    Prefectures have sent out instructions to the schools for the removal of the asbestos.

    According to Kalos, the asbestos removal program is expected to cost 1.77 million.

    The deputy minister said that the removal program, being carried out by the School Buildings Organization over the past 15 months, is progressing at a quick pace with asbestos having been removed completely from 58 schools and soon to be removed from another 167 schools.

    Finally, he stressed that all necessary measures are being taken during the removal process and that asbestos is safely being transferred to Germany where it is buried.

    [11] President Karolos Papoulias sends message of condolences on death of former German president

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    President Karolos Papoulias on Monday sent a message of condolences to German President Horst Keller on the death of the country's former president Johannes Rau.

    "The deceased was a great leader of international distinction who leaves as a living legacy for all of us his personal and political course," the message said.

    President Papoulias added in his message that "he believed and struggled with passion, as well as with wisdom, for a peaceful, fairer and more human world. Europe lost a great European."

    [12] Development minister seeks to brief Parliament on gov't response to weather

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Monday asked that the Parliamentary Committee for Production and Trade to be convened so that he might brief its members on the government's handling of problems arising during the recent wave of bad weather, in a letter sent to Parliament President Anna Psarouda.

    [13] Turkish nationalist group pushes for relocation of Ecumenical Patriarchate

    ISTANBUL, 31/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Turkish nationalist group Milli Guc announced on Monday that it has collected 2 million signatures petitioning the relocation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate headquartered in Phanar.

    Dozens participated in the demonstration staged by the group in Izmir.

    [14] 'Bird flu' instance reported in Turkish-occupied Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 31/1/2006 (ANA - A. Viketos)

    Two European Union experts arrived here Sunday evening to investigate the first instance of bird flu reported on the east Mediterranean island, and specifically, in the Turkish-occupied areas in the northern third of the island republic.

    According to government officials in the internationally recognized Cypriot government, the two EU experts are expected to travel to the occupied areas to review the situation and whatever measures are being taken.

    Roughly one-third of the island remains under the occupation of Turkish military forces since 1974, while a pseudo-state declared in 1983 is recognized only by Ankara, the occupying power.

    [15] FinMin calls for immediate dialogue on pension system

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    The country's pension system is a "time-bomb" that is likely to explode in the next 15, 20 or 30 years, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis warned on Monday.

    Addressing a seminar entitled, "The future of Greece's Pension System and the Third Pylon", organized in Athens by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Association of Insurance Companies of Greece, the Greek minister said the problem was not urgent, "but close", adding that the issue needed mild and well focused interventions.

    Alogoskoufis stressed that the government was committed to its promise that no decisions would be taken on reforming the pension system by the end of its ongoing four-year term, while urging for a dialogue on the issue to begin.

    The pension system is expensive, ineffective and unfair, Alogoskoufis said, adding that together with Labor Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos they have been trying for months to persuade political parties, employers' groups and employees' unions to begin a dialogue. The state's contribution to the pension system totaled 5.0 percent of GDP and could reach 15 pct in the future, Alogoskoufis said.

    The Greek minister said a dialogue would help to find an answer to the question of funding the pension system in the future, while adding that a milestone reform in 1992 ensured the viability of the current system.

    [16] Coalition party official criticizes social insurance policy

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Political Bureau member Panayiotis Lafazanis on Monday criticized the government's social insurance policy in the wake of statements made by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on the social insurance system earlier in the day.

    "What the government of PASOK did not achieve with the demolishing measures of Mr. Yiannitsis, the New Democracy government is paving the way to implement. The anti-social insurance measures against shipping workers, which are being promoted in Parliament these days, are revealing the government's intentions absolutely," he said.

    "The real time bomb for our social insurance system is the policy of the government," Lafazanis added.

    [17] FinMin, Development ministers in Lisbon

    31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas are visiting Lisbon, Portugal, on Monday to attend a European Leaders Forum, organized by Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa.

    The forum, on "International Competitiveness-Local Innovation", is organized under the auspices of Prime MInister Z. Socrates and the Portuguese government.

    During his stay in Lisbon, Sioufas will meet with his Portugal's Finance and Innovation Minister Manuel Pinho and Mariano Gago, Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education. The Greek minister will also meet with Microsoft International's president Jean-Philippe Courtois.

    [18] National Employment Committee meeting productive and creative, employment minister says

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Employment Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos said Monday's National Employment Committee meeting was productive and creative and spoke of a mild and sober approach by all sides to the issues discussed.

    The minister said that the Employment Committee agreed, among other things, to the creation of a working group that will prepare proposals for it that will aim at specific policies on reducing unemployment.

    It also agreed to the promotion of regional and local policies to boost employment which shall differ according to the region and the sector. These policies will be planned in accordance with studies and will be applied through the logic of local employment agreements.

    Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Odyseas Kyriakopoulos stressed the need for action and new initiatives to enable solutions to be found for unemployment.

    General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos said the Employment Committee had not convened for over a year, speaking of a huge delay and stating that working people are not to blame for unemployment, but what is primarily to blame are the policies that had been applied and businessmen.

    [19] Government invites political parties to dialogue on electronic media

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday announced that he had sent letters to the leaders of Greece's political parties, inviting them to participate in a new round of dialogue on the electronic media industry that will start on February 2.

    The talks will focus on concentration of the media market and licensing laws.

    The letter notes that the first round of dialogue with industry organizations and bodies ended on January 16 and that the process will include a third stage, during which there will be a new discussion for the codification of the proposals put forward.

    Roussopoulos said that the dialogue process is expected to be concluded by the end of February, while the next step will be to draft a bill that will be presented to Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee for perusal by MPs.

    [20] Greece renews ban on GMO corn; is applauded by Greenpeace

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    The environmental group Greenpeace on Monday applauded Greece's decision to renew a ban on the sale and cultivation of genetically-modified corn seed, in defiance of a European Union ultimatum ordering Athens to lift the ban by January 10.

    The Greek agriculture ministry on Monday announced that Deputy Agriculture Minister Alexandros Kontos had signed a decree banning the sale of genetically modified hybrid corn containing the MON810 genetic modification for another 18 months.

    The government decree also extends the varieties of banned hybrids from 17 to 31 and has a firmer basis in law, since it includes all the latest scientific figures and findings that formed the basis for the decision to extend the ban.

    Among these, the agricultural ministry cited scientific evidence that the MON810 genetic modification caused the following adverse effects: - Development of high resistance among the most damaging insects infesting Greek corn and cotton crops - Disruption of biodiversity among non-harmful and beneficial insects in the Greek countryside - Heightened danger that genetically modified pollen will be transported to cultivations far from GM crop cultivations due to the high prevalence of bee-keeping in Greece and the relatively small size of holdings.

    Stressing the need to fully and effectively implement the principles of protection and prevention, the ministry noted that each EU member-state must be given adequate time to assess the danger from the cultivation of GM crops so that they neither damage the environment nor necessitate modification of pre-existing agricultural practices in order to adapt to new conditions created by genetically modified crops.

    The ministry also announced that it will inform European Commission services of its decision, providing the scientific findings on which it was based.

    Kontos stressed, meanwhile, that "today's decision continues the government's unswerving policy for the non-cultivation of genetically modified varieties in Greece".

    According to Greenpeace, the new ban by Greek authorities affects GM corn strains developed by Monsanto and another 14 new varieties that the European Commission "secretly" added to the European list on December 30, without informing the public.

    "Greenpeace applauds the decision of the Greek government to remain steadfast in its position to protect the Greek environment and agriculture and condemns the European Commission for lack of transparency regarding its decisions for mutant products. The Commission should follow Greece's example in democracy and stop doing the dirty work of the U.S. biotechnology industry," an announcement by the environmental group said.

    Noting that the risk from genetically modified corn had not been fully assessed, Greenpeace also pointed out that there were currently 12 bans on GM products in seven member-states that the EU had allowed to stand and criticized the Commission for its constant attempts to cover up decisions concerning GMOs and trying to promote these products, in spite of the reaction from European public opinion.

    In a later joint announcement, the ministry's decision was hailed by environmental, farmer and consumer organizations - including Greenpeace - who said that "Greece continued to be a front-runner in the lengthy battle against genetically modified organisms".

    They included the farming cooperative GESASE, the consumer organization EKPOIZO and INKA-GOKE and KEPKA.

    "Organizations fighting to upgrade agriculture, protection of the environment and protection of consumers will support this ban and any further active practical initiative by the government to keep Greek territory free of GMOs," they said.

    They also noted that the Greek initiative would prove important for member-states that have preserved similar bans and said that it was time for Greece to take the lead on a European level to stop the incursion of GMOs.

    The Democratic Agricultural Association of Greece (SYDASE) lauded and supported the decision by the leadership of the Agricultural Development and Foods Ministry.

    SYDASE said that this decision "confirms yet again our country's firm stance against genetically-modified produce and the prospect for Greek agriculture to be rid of genetic modifications."

    The Panhellenic Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives (PASAGES) likewise announced that "it completely agreed" with the decision by Deputy Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Kontos.

    PASEGES President Tzanetos Karamihas stated that the ministry "is obliged to shield the country from the use of genetically-modified cultivations beyond the time period of 18 months."

    [21] Greek exports to China rise sharply

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greek exports to China in January-October 2005 totaled 65.624 million euros, more than 60.072 million euros for the whole of 2004, the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) said on Monday.

    Topping exports were non-ferrous scrap at 16.239 million euros to take a 24.88% stake. Ranking second was aluminium at 10.602 million euros, or 16.16% of the total, HEPO reported.

    Main Chinese imports to Greece were ships and other floating vessels at 114.404 million euros (7.83%) and children's games, sports goods and footwear at 106.211 million euros (7.27%).

    In 2004, Chinese imports totaled 1.4 billion euros, HEPO said.

    The export board released the data at a seminar in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

    New book on doing business in China

    A guide entitled "How to do business in China" has been published, authored by Stavros Nikolakopoulos under the aegis of the Greek-Chinese Trade and Industry Chamber.

    According to the chamber, it is the only business book on China available in Greece.

    [22] ATEbank presents three-year business plan

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    ATEbank is offering new opportunities to its customers through a series of partnerships of strategic importance and successfully heals past wounds, such as unperforming loans and the pension problem of its staff, the bank's governor Dimitris Miliakos said on Monday.

    Presenting the bank's business program to the Association of Institutional Investors, Miliakos said ATEbank has recorded a significant recovery of its performance, reporting profits that would lead to a stronger position in the market.

    Miliakos pledged that ATEbank would continue operating with private sector standards to the benefit of its shareholders and with the aim to further strengthen its position in the domestic financial market.

    Panagiotis Varagis, ATEbank's vice-governor, said the bank's business plan for the next three years envisage a dynamic access to retail banking, supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises, containing expenses, maximizing capital management performance, improving asset quality and promoting strategic partnerships.

    [23] Greece, "partner country" in Plovdiv trade fair

    31/1/2006 (ANA)

    A delegation of Greek businesses and financial institutions will participate in a 4th international trade fair in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, to be held February 15-17.

    Greece will participate in the trade fair as a partner country and will include representatives of banks, enterprises, diplomatic and stock market officials, Dr Dimitris Zomas, first consultant of Economic and Trade Affairs at the Greek embassy in Sofia, told ANA-MPA.

    The Greek pavilion will be organized by the Greek embassy in Sofia. A round table discussion is scheduled for February 16, while a day earlier a conference on Greek investments to Bulgaria will be held.

    [24] Greek retail sales up 5.1 pct in November, yr/yr

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's retail sales index rose 5.1 percent in November 2005, compared with the corresponding month in 2004, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.

    NSS, in its regular report, said the November increase (current prices) reflected a 5.8 pct rise in the food stores category and a 4.5 pct increase in other stores.

    Supermarket stores reported a 6.2 pct increase in November sales, while electric-electronic-home appliance stores reported a 5.7 pct rise in the month.

    The retail volume index was up 1.6 pct in November from the same month in 2004, reflecting a 3.4 pct rise in supermarket stores over the same period.

    [25] Altec gets Montenegro project

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    Altec SA, an Athens-quoted computer and software manufacturer, said on Monday it had won a contract from State Electricity Corporation in Montenegro to design and supply an ERP information technology system.

    The project, whose pilot development budget is 2.9 million euros, is financed by the World Bank, Altec said in a statement.

    [26] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks nose down

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,954.18 points, showing a decline of 0.11%. Turnover was 275.9 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.06% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.59% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.77% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 159 to 112 with 53 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): ELTEH (999)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 113.7 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2015): 3.78% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bund: 3.51%

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (1.0 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.0 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Tuesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released

    by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.217

    [27] Thessaloniki to host seminar on organized crime in SE Europe

    31/1/2006 (ANA)

    A two-day seminar on ways to combat cross-border organized crime in southeastern Europe is to take place in Thessaloniki on February 1-2.

    The seminar is taking place with the support of U.S. diplomatic authorities in Greece and the Centre of International and European Financial Law in Thessaloniki, under the auspices of the ministries of foreign affairs, justice, public order and Macedonia-Thrace.

    It will be attended by officials representing the police and judiciary in southeastern European countries, the Secretariat of the Stability Pact for Fighting Organized Crime, the European Commission and other international organizations. Its aim is to assist police, prosecuting authorities and customs in the region to effectively fight cross-border crime and present figures and statistics on the impact of international organized crime such as arms-smuggling, human-trafficking, illegal immigration and counterfeiting.

    [28] Thessaloniki police seize large quantities of hashish and heroin, make nine arrests

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    About 45 kilos of hashish and five kilos of heroin were seized by police in Thessaloniki, Macedonia on Monday. They arrested six individuals.

    In Ionia of Thessaloniki, police arrested three men who were transporting in a car 19 parcels of cannabis which totally weighed 19 kilos and 730 grams. They had brought the drugs from Albania and had hidden it next to a factory in the industrial region of Sindos, where a fourth member of the gang was staying. In a search that followed in the area, another 25 kilos and 906 grams of hashish were found by police who impounded two cars and four mobile phones.

    At the same time, police at Dentropotamos arrested at the toll of Malgara, two foreigners at the moment when the first was about to deliver to the second individual 13 parcels of heroin totally weighing four kilos and 914 grams. According to Thessaloniki security director Stergios Apostolidis, the two individuals had transported on other occasions as well quantities of heroin to Greece from Albania.

    Meanwhile at dawn on Monday, in Kastoria, north-western Greece, three foreigners were located in the region of Pteria carrying sacks with 30 kilos of hashish, while a short time later, a fourth man was arrested who was to buy the drugs.

    [29] Teen suicide averted by electronic crime squad via Internet

    ATHENS, 31/1/2006 (ANA)

    The suicide of a 14-year-old was successfully averted by officers scouring the Internet, the Attica Police electronic crime squad announced on Monday.

    During their habitual scanning of the web, officers came across the boy's blog in which he wrote that he planned to take his life on a specific date because of problems and lack of understanding from his parents.

    They initiated an investigation and managed to trace the boy's whereabouts and informed his parents, advising them to provide psychological support. The public prosecutor for juveniles was also informed in order to take other action to ensure the teenager's physical and mental health.

    Soccer

    Results of the first division soccer championship matches played over the weekend:

    Akratitos Athens - Egaleo Athens 0-3

    Kallithea Athens - Larissa 2-1

    Xanthi - OFI Crete 0-0

    Atromitos Athens - PAOK Thessaloniki 2-1

    Iraklis Thessaloniki - AEK Athens 4-0

    Panathinaikos Athens - Ionikos Piraeus 1-0

    Panionios Athens - Olympiakos Piraeus 2-3

    Levadiakos Livadia - Apollon Kalamaria

    (Match to be played on Wednesday February 1)

    The standings after 17 games:

    Olympiakos 45

    AEK 39

    Panathinaikos 33

    Iraklis 28

    PAOK 27

    Xanthi 26

    Egaleo 25

    Atromitos 24

    Ionikos 22

    Larissa 20

    Apollon Kalamaria (16 matches) 19

    Levadiakos (16 matches) 14

    OFI 13

    Panionios 12

    Kallithea 12

    Akratitos 10

    [30] House President meets with Senate France-Cyprus Friendship President

    NICOSIA, 31/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias met on Monday with President of the France-Cyprus Friendship Group in the French Senate Andre Rouviere, who stressed the need for a new initiative on the Cyprus problem.

    Rouviere also supported a more active involvement of the EU in the question, without by-passing the UN.

    Christofias referred to the Cyprus problem, noting that the Greek Cypriot side was ready for the resumption of talks to reach a settlement, on the condition that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will seriously take into consideration the concerns of the Greek Cypriot community regarding his plan for a solution.

    The House President mentioned the measures the government is taking to support the Turkish Cypriots, noting that any further measures should not circumvent the Republic of Cyprus.

    He also expressed gratitude for Rouviere's personal contribution to further strengthening relations between France and Cyprus in the political, economic and other sectors.

    They also discussed ways to further enhance the relations of the French Senate and the Cypriot House of Representatives, with the more often exchange of visits and contacts of the two sides.

    [31] Alexander: Cherie Blair acting in her private capacity in Orams case

    NICOSIA, 31/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    British Minister for Europe Douglas Alexander has said the PM's spouse, Cherie Booth Blair is acting in her private capacity as a barrister and her involvement in the case of a British couple (Orams) who built a house on property belonging to a Greek Cypriot refugee in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus is entirely independent of the British government.

    In a response letter to British MP Theresa Villiers, Alexander also said that when she visited Turkey in her professional capacity last year, Blair was not the guest of the British Consul-General whilst in Istanbul as reported in some parts of the media, nor did she travel to the occupied part of Cyprus.

    In regard to property in the occupied areas, Alexander said the British Government warns British citizens, through its online travel advice and in response to enquiries, of the risks that purchasers face, including attempts to enforce judgments of Cypriot courts elsewhere in the EU.

    "We advise all potential purchasers to seek independent legal advice," he added.

    Commenting on the letter, Villiers said "although it is a relief to hear that Mrs Blair hasn't actually visited the Turkish controlled part of Cyprus in relation to the case, I am still dismayed at the complacency of the letter from Douglas Alexander. At a time when the British government - a guarantor power - is directly engaged in trying to bring the two sides together in Cyprus, the Foreign Office does not even seem to be worried by the controversy caused by Mrs Blair's involvement in Orams' case," she added

    "This whole incident is causing huge resentment in my constituency, where many residents are refugees who fled their homes in the north during the invasion and have been trying to get them back ever since.

    It is undermining any credibility that the Blair government has left in trying to promote a solution to reunite the island," she noted.

    She wondered how can the Foreign Office advice on buying property in the northern part of Cyprus have any credibility when Mrs Blair is so directly seeking to undermine it.

    "In defending the Orams, she is flatly contradicting the advice of the Foreign Office by actively supporting those who have gone against this advice and 'bought' land owned by refugees," she added.

    Villiers said at a private meeting with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the House of Commons, she and other MPs again protested about Mrs Blair's involvement with the Orams' case.

    "I will continue to campaign to get the government to strengthen its advice to those looking to purchase property and land in the northern part of Cyprus. It is vital that British holidaymakers do not make it harder to solve the Cyprus problem by encouraging building on stolen land," Villiers pledged.

    [32] Cyprus to continue supplying occupied north with electricity

    NICOSIA, 31/1/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Republic of Cyprus will continue to supply the Turkish occupied areas with electricity until the 20th of February, responding positively to a request by the illegal regime in Cyprus' northern part.

    The decision was taken at a meeting held on Monday with the participation of representatives from the Cyprus Electricity Authority and the Turkish Cypriot community, who agreed to provide the electricity until the 20th of February under several conditions.

    EAC Spokesman Costas Gabrielides told CNA that the supply will continue as requested by the Turkish Cypriots but at the same time the Authority will ensure that there is no overloading of power in the government controlled areas.

    The government of Cyprus decided on January 19th, to supply the occupied areas with electricity, upon a request by the Turkish Cypriots after an explosion at their main power plant in occupied Kyrenia.


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