|Thursday, 15 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 1, 2006
 FM Bakoyannis reiterates call for ceasefire after meeting with prime minister
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Greece's appeal for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the Middle East was reiterated on Monday morning by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis during which they discussed the developments in the Middle East, ahead of Bakoyannis' departure for Brussels on Tuesday morning to take part in the EU Council of Ministers meeting.
"Greece calls for an immediate ceasefire," Bakoyannis stressed to reporters after her meeting with Karamanlis.
She said that the pictures from the war zone seen by the entire world on Sunday night "are unbearable", and stressed that no significant step could be made unless the killing of civilians was not halted.
Bakoyannis said the EU foreign ministers were due to discuss "all issues" at Tuesday's meeting, with emphasis on humanitarian aid to the strife-torn region.
She also expressed hope that a meeting of the UN Security Council would be called in order to send a message that the hostilities must stop.
Bakoyannis further appealed to Greek businesses and citizens to contribute to the collection of humanitarian aid at the foreign ministry, urging them to contact the ministry to be briefed on the supplies needed, so that the dispatch of the aid for the citizens of Lebanon could commence immediately.
PASOK spokesman criticizes government's policy on Middle East: Main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Monday accused the government of "immobility, inaction and lack of initiatives", regarding its policy on the Middle East crisis.
Commenting on statements by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis after her meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis earlier in the day, Athanassakis added that "all the above are not foreign policy and lead to a retreat of Greece's positions."
He charged that the government was handling foreign policy issues in a "publicity manner" and "thinks that everything is going well."
The PASOK spokesman also condemned the Israeli attack in Lebanon's Qana saying that attacks against non-combatants and children "are not justified by and cannot be included in any framework of self-defense."
"It is the responsibility of the international community and the UN Security Council to put an end now to this war," Athanassakis concluded.
KKE condemns Israeli attack in Qana: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday condemned the latest Israeli attack in Lebanon, calling for an immediate end to "Israel's criminal attacks against the people of Lebanon".
An announcement issued by the KKE said that the party condemned "in the most decisive and categorical manner, the new criminal massacre by the Israeli army of 65 children and women in the city of Qana", and calls for an immediate, unconditional termination of "Israel's criminal attacks against the people of Lebanon".
The KKE also called on the Greek government to shoulder its responsibilities and demand, at the United Nations Security Council, of which it is a non-permanent member, and at the emergency EU meeting, an immediate termination of Israel's attacks and its condemnation for the massacre of con-combatants.
It further called on the other political parties to take action immediately and abandon their "equal distance" between aggressor and victim.
The KKE also hailed the Lebanese government's decision not to accept US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in Lebanon "due to the provocative stance of the US in supporting the massacres by Israel", and also the Lebanese government's decision to charge Israel of war crimes.
 Foreign minister meets SYN delegation over Middle East, kids from Kosovo
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday received a delegation of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party that recently visited Lebanon to find out about the situation they encountered there and learn their positions on the crisis.
Afterwards, SYN MP Thanassis Leventis expressed the solidarity of the European Left toward the people of Lebanon for what he called Israel's "unfair attack" against that country and said that his party aimed to sensitive and mobilize international public opinion.
He called on the European Union to adopt a position independently from the United States and stressed that military violence was not the solution to the problems of the Middle East.
Earlier on, Bakoyannis also received a group of children from Kosovo that are staying at the Athens municipality summer camps and shared out souvenirs of the Athens municipality and Athens Olympic Games.
Hellenic Air Force C-130 cargo plane departs for Larnaca with humanitarian aid to Lebanon 1/8/2006 (ANA) The fifth Air Force C-130 cargo plane, with the coordination of the Foreign Ministry's Hellenic Aid (International Development Cooperation Service) was scheduled to depart from Elefsina military airport at 8 p.m. on Monday for Larnaca, transporting 10.5 tones of humanitarian aid, consisting of medicine and tents, to Lebanon, which was gathered by the Health and Social Solidarity Ministry and the National Defense Ministry.
The dispatch of the humanitarian aid responds to the Lebanese government's request to the European Union, foreign ministry press release said.
 FM Bakoyannis outlines foreign policy, ministry issues to Greek ambassadors abroad
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue, as well as Greece's position on the crisis in the Middle East and the "utmost importance" of economic diplomacy, were the focus of Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis' address on Monday to a conference of Greek ambassadors abroad, inaugurating what she said would be established as an "annual institution" that would enable better coordination between the policy centre and the embassies, aiming at the greater efficiency of Greek diplomacy.
On policy concerning Turkey, Bakoyannis said that the priority was to take advantage of the abilities offered by the European mechanism for Turkey's adaptation, while at the same time advancing Greece's issues at other levels as well, utilizing every opportunity arising for that.
Bakoyannis reiterated that Greece supported Turkey's European prospect, stressing, however, that "we do not give cartes blanches" but "we are working on an alternative position in the undesirable event of inability of progress in the Turkish (EU) candidacy for reasons independent of our own desire and policy".
"We are not complacent, nor are we ceasing to work on solutions for every possible development. Thus must be clear to everyone," she added.
On the Cyprus issue, she said that Greece remained "devoted to the search for a just and viable solution on the basis of a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation, which must be founded on the UN resolutions, the work accomplished thus far by the UN Secretary General, and the new reality of Cyprus' accession to the EU".
Bakoyannis said that the recent agreement between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat under the aegis of UN Under-Secretary-General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari constituted a "positive and encouraging development" in the direction of implementation of what was agreed in Paris between Papadopoulos and UN secretary general Kofi Annan.
Referring to the so-called "direct commerce" regulation, she said that Greece believes that the Famagusta proposal was a good, strong basis, adding that such a solution would lead to substantial improvement of the climate and bring the two communities closer together.
Bakoyannis further said that, in present crisis in Lebanon, Cyprus has emerged as "an oasis of tranquility, stability and effectiveness in the SE Mediterranean region", adding that "the recent events add another weapon to Greece-Cyprus cache for a speedy, definitive and just solution to the problem".
On Greece's position regarding the flare-up in the Middle East, Bakoyannis reminded that Greece was among the first countries to call for an immediate ceasefire and the first to send assistance to evacuate Greek and foreign nationals caught in the war zone, as well as humanitarian aid, and assured that "we shall remain at the front lines of the countries that want to and can actively contribute to confronting the situation and to the creation of a peaceful Middle East in the future".
Regarding the region of the Middle East, she said that the government was reactivating itself politically and financially in the region after many years of inertia, noting that the most tangible result of that policy was the jump in Greek exports to the area.
On relations with Turkey, Bakoyannis said that Greece looked to a "principle of mutuality" to the mutual benefit of both countries, adding that these relations were founded on three axes:
1) On Greece's strategy for utilization of Turkey's EU course. "We support its European prospect, but without discounts on the principles that are in force for all the candidate countries. There are no cartes blanches in this choice we have made. Autumn will be a critical period in which Turkey will be assessed by the EU regarding the fulfillment of the obligations it has undertaken. An important obligation is the full implementation of the Ankara Protocol. We hope that, even at the last minute, Turkey will take the required actions and allow Europe to continue its negotiations with it. We are in contact both with the government of Cyprus and with our (EU) partners for the best possible handling of the developments," she said.
2) On the overall development of economic, energy, cultural and social relations. "This policy has wrongly been described by many as low-key. In the past two years, we have had impressive progress concerning the energy networks and the increase of exports and acquisitions," Bakoyannis explained.
3) On the creation of conditions of calm and avoiding provocations, and chiefly on preparation for resolving the problems between the two countries.
"Just as Turkey looks out for its interests, so does Greece," Bakoyannis stressed, adding that "for Greece, the interests are justice, respect of borders and all sovereign rights, respect of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its full freedom to exercise its duties, respect of the Greek Orthodox minority and its property rights".
Bakoyannis further stressed the need for avoiding provocations and abolition of the casus belli, as well as a constructive contribution towards resolving the Cyprus issue.
The foreign minister further highlighted Greece's dynamic economic and political presence in the Balkans, noting that the goal was the accession of the Balkan states in the Euro-Atlantic structures, and expressing hope that the new government in FYROM will submit proposals for a mutually acceptable solution to the name problem.
She further expressed hope for a balanced solution for Kosovo and its future status, adding that Greece was closely monitoring the relevant negotiations.
Bakoyannis also stressed the "utmost importance" placed by Greek foreign policy on economic diplomacy, which she said would comprise the "basic assessment criterion of all", but also on "cultural diplomacy", through utilization of the overseas Greeks, adding that the Orthodox Church and the Greek embassies abroad should become meeting places for intellectuals and artists.
The foreign ministry, in order to meet the new challenges, was also reorganizing itself internally she said, adding that the plan that was being discussed, which provided for the establishment of new institutions and better utilization of existing institutions, was part of that effort.
She said the ministry planned to digitalize its archives, and was seeking funding under the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) for that project. The minister said the aim was to combine the ministry's excellent personnel with the organization of a modern foreign ministry, with the goal of "safeguarding and maximizing the national interests and the country's prestige".
 PM confers with FinMin, merchant marine minister, Deputy FM
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyannis and Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, and discussed issues concerning major development projects and interest by foreign companies for investments in the Greek shipping sector.
The merchant marine minister underlined after the meeting that major investments were commencing in the Greek ports, adding they were guaranteed by the prime minister's unreserved interest, the 3-billion-euro protocol signed between Greece and the European Investment Bank and the great interest expressed by foreign companies in upgrading the Greek ports.
The goal is to turn Greece into a transit trade center and a hub of commercial activity in the southeastern Mediterranean region, he said.
 Development, defense ministers address ambassadors' conference
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)The government's plans to establish Greece as an international energy hub and its potential stabilizing role in the surrounding region were outlined by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis at the first conference of Greek ambassadors held at the foreign ministry on Monday.
Listing projects like the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, an agreement between Greece and Turkey for a natural gas pipeline, an underwater natural gas pipeline linking Greece and Italy and others, Sioufas said these aimed to ensure energy supplies and establish Greece as an international energy conduit.
He also pointed to agreements with the Egyptian government for the supply of natural gas and research into hydrocarbons and recent visits by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Greece's very good relations with its Russian natural gas supplier Gazprom and its "very satisfactory" relations on an energy level with Turkey.
"At this moment, we have one of the foremost and largest installations for the storage of liquefied natural gas and its degasification at Revythousa, which we are expanding. We transport natural gas there from Algeria and are developing our contacts with Libya," Sioufas said, noting that Greece's strategy was to ensure multiple supply sources.
Regarding high oil prices, the minister saw the trend continuing but attributed the rise to stock market pressures rather than any reduction in supply. The impact on Greece was high, he explained, because the country had among the highest imports of fuel as a percentage of GDP than any other European country.
Meimarakis stressed Greece's efforts to establish an environment of trust, mutual understanding and cooperation that would enhance a climate of security and peace in the surrounding region.
He said the Greek armed forces were prepared to continue sending humanitarian aid to Beirut during the crisis in Lebanon.
The minister said that Greece currently had 1,200 troops taking part in peacekeeping operations throughout the world, which cost more than €250 million a year but whose presence "made a unique contribution to the country's standing and image worldwide."
He also called on Turkey to fully comply with its European obligations, noting that there could not be a repetition of tragic accidents like one that cost the life of a Greek pilot earlier this year, following a collision between Greek and Turkish fighter jets above the Aegean.
The ambassadors' conference, gathering together all Greece's foreign envoys for a general briefing on all aspects of foreign policy, is an initiative launched by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis for the first time this year and is envisioned as an annual event.
Deputy FM Kassimis addresses Greek ambassadors' conference: Addressing the first conference of Greek ambassadors abroad, held at the foreign ministry in Athens on Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis stressed that "the Greek voice in international organizations is heard mainly about our national issues and there is no global presence of Greek positions on international matters."
The conference had as its theme: "Issues of Hellenism Abroad, Churches and Cultural Policy".
Kassimis emphasized the need for Greece to have global positions on all international affairs.
The deputy foreign minister asked of the Greek ambassadors abroad to participate substantially in the shaping of priorities, in educational, ecclesiastical and cultural matters "so that we know what Hellenism Abroad finances and why. You must readjust priorities on the basis of the knowledge of existing reality in the region of your responsibility."
 Presidential decree on status of nationals from third countries residing in Greece
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)The presidential decree for the "Adaptation of Greek legislation to the European Union's November 25, 2003 Directive regarding the status of nationals from third countries, who have resided (in Greece) for a lengthy period of time" was published in the Government Gazette on Monday.
This presidential decree introduces for the first time, to Greek law and order, an integrated status on lengthy residence, and in a period less than a year from the passing of Law 3386/2005 (August 2005).
The decree grants to immigrants, nationals of third countries, increased protection and more rights as well as equal treatment with the domestic nationals in the country's economic and social sectors, with the broader target their complete social integration, in combination with the facilitation of their family reunion but also the acquisition later on of political rights.
A basic prerequisite for the immigrant to acquire the status of lengthy stay and to benefit from the adjustments is the previous year-year period of legal and uninterrupted residence in the country.
However, it is foreseen that periods of absence, which, given that they are less than six consecutive months and do not exceed in all ten months within the five-year period, are added in the five-year period.
 Emporiki Bank board backs buyout offer
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)The board of Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank said on Monday that it favored an improved offer from Credit Agricole of France for acquisition of the Greek state-run credit institution.
"We are of the opinion that the improvement of the price offered to Euro 25.00 per Share, namely Euro 1.5 per Share in addition to the price initially offered, is a positive development. The improved price lies exactly in the middle of the fair price range per Company share and that it includes, relative to the lower end of the fair price range, a premium of 8.7%, and a premium of 2.25% relative to the average market price of the last month prior of the announcement of the initial Tender Offer; " the board said in a statement to the Athens bourse.
"Acceptance of the revised Tender Offer by the shareholders of Company leads to the completion of the already existing as of 2000 strategic cooperation between the Company and Credit Agricole SA, by integrating Emporiki Bank in one of the largest Banking groups internationally, with the advantages that such integration would entail," the statement said.
Later in the day, the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) said the board was attempting to justify selling off the bank.
Credit Agricole's improved offer was below a fair value range stated by Emporiki's privatization consultant of 28.4-31.5 euros per share, PASOK's shadow economy spokeswoman, Vasso Papandreou, said in a statement.
In a separate announcement, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology said that the first to suffer from the likely sale of Emporiki to Credit Agricole was a subsidiary, Hellenic Fertilizers Industry, which would be downsized and then sold.
 Greek direct investments in Bulgaria up sharply, embassy reports
SOFIA, 1/8/2006 (ANA-MPA)Greek direct investments in Bulgaria roughly quadrupled in the first quarter of 2006 compared with the same period last year, according to figures released on Monday by the Economic and Trade Affairs bureau at the Greek Embassy in Sofia.
A memo quoting temporary figures issued by Bulgaria's central bank said that Greek capital invested in Bulgaria in the first quarter of 2006 came to €109.4 million, up from €28 million during the first quarter of 2005, and that the rise represented a 290% jump compared to investment rates the last financial year, when total Greek investments came to €181 million.
There was no breakdown, however, of the types of investments involving Greek capital.
Despite the increase, Greece's share of foreign direct investments during the 1st quarter of 2006 was 14.8% and it ranked 4th among countries with the largest direct investments in Bulgaria, after Austria (25.8%), the United Kingdom (22.6%) and the Netherlands (20.8 %).
This did not affect rankings for the countries with the largest direct investments from June 1996 until 2006, in which Austria still ranked first with total investments of €2.33 billion (19.6%) and Greece second with €1.333 billion (11.2%), followed by the Netherlands and Italy.
 Greek and Albanian employment ministers agree on the signing of a cooperation protocol
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis met in Athens on Monday with Albania's Work, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Koco Barka. The ministers agreed on the signing of a cooperation protocol in which will be included all the existing cooperation for work and social insurance.
The Albanian Minister of Work delivered to Tsitouridis a letter by Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha to Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The letter concerns matters of social insurance.
"I wish to express the gratitude of the people of Albania, of the Greek minority, as representative of which I am in the government formation, for the support and help which Greece offers to Albania," Barka said.
On his part, Tsitouridis said "it is particularly important for us to organize in the best possible way the relations between the two countries, when a great number of Albanian nationals live and work in Greece." As he said, according to assessments, "600,000 Albanian nationals work in our country."
 Commissioner replies to SYN Eurodeputy on Cohesion Fund's financing of transport projects
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hubner, in reply to Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) Eurodeputy Dimitris Papadimoulis said that the overall absorption by Greece for transport projects (road and railway networks) by the Cohesion Fund amounts to 56 per cent, six years after its start, according to a Synaspismos announcement on Monday.
According to the announcement, seven of the 28 projects with a total budget of 1.8 billion euros, present absorption below 50 per cent.
As stressed by Commissioner Hubner in her reply to Papadimoulis, the causes for the bad course of the financing by the Cohesion Fund, are due to the "insufficient preparation of the projects, delays in the procedure of expropriation and the procedures of issuing environmental permits, the technical complexity of the projects and the problems of compatibility with EU legislation, for example, with regard the environment legislation and of public contracts."
 GSEE trade union group concerned over labor problems in TV, radio
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organization, on Monday expressed concern over worsening labor problems in smaller radio and television stations over the past few days, accusing employers of "using staff as hostages" in "business games".
The union stressed that information for the general public should be protected by the laws of the Greek State and that broadcasters must operate within specific program guidelines and conditions, while respect the laws and the rights of their employees.
 Cosmote gets buyout OK from regulators abroad
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Athens-quoted Cosmote SA said on Monday that it had received approval from regulators in Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to acquire a majority stake in Germanos S.A., which has subsidiaries in the two neighboring countries.
The acquisition is awaiting approval from Greek, Romanian and Ukrainian competition authorities, the Greek mobile phone operator said in a statement to the Athens bourse.
Subject to approval, Cosmote will buy 42% of Germanos at 19 Euro per share. A public tender will be called to acquire remaining shares, as announced on 9 May 2006, the statement said.
 Main opposition query on high fuel prices
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)The main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Monday asked Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas to explain a statement he made that fuel prices in Greece have raised more sharply than in the rest of the European Union.
Party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis noted that the price of leadless petrol had risen by 20.5% in Greece versus 16.8% in the rest of the EU.
In addition, Greece ranked second in the bloc in a pre-tax fuel price ranking, up from eighth place in 2004.
 Hellenic Petroleum in biodiesel project
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Athens-quoted Hellenic Petroleum said on Monday that it would take part in a project to create a biodiesel output plant for sale of the fuel at home and abroad.
In an investment totaling 20 million euros, the plant located in Magnesia will have an annual capacity of 100,000 tones.
Hellenic Petroleum has a 25% stake in the plant, the same as Viohalko SA, Hellenic Textiles SA and Prima Holdings SA.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks up
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)The Athens share index closed at 3,747.98 points, showing a rise of 0.79%. Turnover was 194.3 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.73% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.73% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.63% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 179 to 70 with 54 remaining unchanged.
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank of Greece, OPAP, OTE Piraeus Bank and Emporiki Bank.
Foreign Exchange Rates:
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.286
 Archbishop Demetrios of America to visit the "Ionian Village"
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Archbishop Demetrios of America will hold his first visit to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America-operated “Ionian Village” youth camp site near Vartholomio, in the prefecture of Ilia, Peloponnese, on August 7-9, it was announced on Monday.
The Archbishop will arrive in Greece on August 7, and during his stay at the “Ionian Village” he will tour the camp site and be briefed on the daily program followed by the campers. On August 8, is scheduled to host a dinner in honor of local Church authorities and other officials.
The “Ionian Village” is a camping facility situated on the northwestern coast of the Peloponnese at Glyfa beach. The Greek government assigned the 11,500 stremma expanse to the Archdiocese of America in 1966, and since 1970 a summer camp site for young Greek Americans is in operation.
During their 20-day stay, the Greek American youths visit many historical monuments, while they also travel to the city of Patras and the islands of Zakynthos and Aegina to venerate the relics of saints.
Since 1970, more than 15,000 youngsters from the United States and Canada have spent their summer vacations at the “Ionian Village” and have had the opportunity to learn more about Greek civilization and the Greek Orthodox faith.
 Two men killed in major fire at Paleo Faliro building site
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Two workmen were found burnt to death in a major fire that broke out at 13:40 on Monday at a construction site for a three-storey recreation centre and multiplex in Paleo Faliro.
The fire broke out on the first floor of the huge building, possibly as a result of a spark from machinery, and quickly blazed out of control due to the large number of flammable artificial materials, insulation and false ceilings used on the site, spreading to the second floor.
A large fire-fighting force was sent to battle the blaze, led by the fire department's second-in-command George Kardaras and Attica Regional Authority secretary Stelios Stefanidis, which managed to place the fire under partial control by around 15:30 but not before two floors were virtually destroyed.
One of the workmen was a Greek and the other an Albanian, it was disclosed.
An inquiry into the cause of the fire will be carried out by fire department inspectors after the blaze is fully under control.
 FM meets Kosovo children who are hosted at Athens Municipality's camping sites
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday received a group of children from Kosovo, who are being hosted at camping sites of Athens Municipality from July 25 to August 8.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, the group is comprised of 43 children, 37 of Albanian, two of Serbian, two of Bosnian and two of Turkish origin, who are accompanied by four teachers.
This hospitality, which was jointly organized by the foreign ministry and Athens Municipality, aims at the reconciliatory rapprochement of Kosovo's various nationalities, so as to facilitate the ongoing negotiations for the determination of the future status, but also their future peaceful co-existence.
 Major "skunk" cannabis bust in Greece
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Athens police seized 100 kilos and 253 grams of “skunk” --a potent form of cannabis grown in nutrient-rich water-- the largest quantity of the drug ever found in Greece.
According to police, the drugs came to Greece through a Dutch frozen meat import company, the 45-year-old owner of which was arrested together with a 45-year-old Greek and a 50-year-old Albanian.
Police were acting on information pointing at a meat company refrigerator truck from Holland that arrived at the port of Patras, southern Greece, on July 29 driven by the 45-year-old meat company owner. The truck was handed over to the Albanian culprit who drove it to a country house, near Corinth, owned by the Greek member of the ring.
The three were arrested in a police raid and inside the truck were found 21 paper boxes containing 100 kilos and 253 grams of "skunk". Police also confiscated 35 grams of processed cannabis, a small quantity of cocaine, a handgun, counterfeit money, 31,610 euros, US and Canadian dollars, a private car, an assay balance, 12 mobile phones, 2 personal computers, and bankbooks.
The mastermind of the drug trafficking ring is believed to be a 27-year-old Greek who is wanted by the police together with another individual. The ring launched its illegal drug trade two years ago and 4 drug deliveries were made in the past 10 months alone.
 New evidence on the pedophile child psychologist
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)New evidence has come to light on the 37-year-old child psychologist arrested last Saturday at the Agios Andreas summer camp, near Athens, accused of repeated molestation of minors to whom he offered rewards, police said on Monday.
According to police, the child psychologist was active in the sexual abuse of minors since 1984 when he was 15 years old, while 8 years ago he was accused of being a member of a Dutch pedophile ring but no incriminating evidence was found against him.
Police searched his house and discovered about 50 DVDs with indecent content, including names and details on children he had molested.
Until now, a total of 5 children have been identified but their number is believed to be much larger most of them coming from summer camps, where he worked in the past, and boy-scout teams.
The 37-year-old deputy leader of a children's summer camp was arrested on Saturday on charges of repeated molestation of minors at the facility near Athens.
The man, who worked as an educationalist and child psychologist in the suburb of Marousi, allegedly lured an 11-year-old boy into his room with gifts and repeatedly performed indecent acts on the child, who was holidaying at the camp that opened in early July.
The child psychologist also allegedly induced the boy to perform sexual acts with a 13-year-old, which he photographed.
Preliminary enquiries indicate that for the last two years the man had committed sexual acts on the 13-year-old in his Marousi office, also showing him pornographic films.
Athens Mayor Theodoros Behrakis on Sunday ordered an administrative enquiry under oath in the city's summer camp service.
Behrakis also urged staff to try to keep the camp running smoothly and assist authorities in their enquiries.
 Twelve illegal immigrants arrested in Samos
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Port authorities on Monday morning arrested twelve illegal immigrants on the Aegean island of Samos, in the sea region of Kedros.
The arrested were 11 Afghani men and a woman.
According to a preliminary investigation, they passed through the straits of Mykalis in a dinghy and were detected by a Harbor Authority vessel which was on patrol in the region.
The 12 illegal immigrants were led to Samos Hospital for a medical examination and were later due to be transferred to the Welcoming Centre for Illegal Immigrants.
 Contraband cigarettes confiscated in Thessalonica
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)The finance ministry's Special Audit Service, in cooperation with the Thessalonica customs office, on Monday confiscated a total of 274,830 packets of contraband cigarettes and 297 paper boxes containing 22,164 coffee cups loaded on a truck with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) number plates.
The truck was spotted at Thessalonica’s port on Friday after being loaded with a container coming from the United Arab Emirates. According to the travel documents displayed, the truck was carrying table glassware to Kosovo via the Evzoni Customs Station.
The loss of revenue from the contraband cigarettes would have totaled €688,704. The truck driver was arrested.
 Nestos River Festival in Xanthi
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)The Nestos 2006 Festival will take place at the Nestos River banks, northeast Greece, on August 19-20 attracting visitors who want to experience nature through alternative sports activities.
The annual festival was first-held eight years ago organized by the prefecture of Xanthi.
Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy free camping along the river banks where a number of alternative sports activities will take place such as canoe-kayak race, archery, mountain cycling, target-shooting, hiking.
 Hailstorm causes extensive damages
ATHENS, 1/8/2006 (ANA)Over 1,000 stremma (100 hectares) of cultivated land were damaged by the hailstorm recorded on Sunday afternoon in the wider region of Fiki, Trikala central Greece.
The intense hailstorm lasted only a few minutes and mostly affected were farmers cultivating cotton, watermelons, corn and vines.
Farmers will be compensated after the damage is assessed by Greek Agricultural Insurance Organization (ELGA) staff.
 Two sides exchange issues of substance for Cyprus problem
NICOSIA, 1/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides exchanged Monday lists of issues to be discussed concerning the substance of the Cyprus problem, in accordance with the agreement reached on 8 July 2006 between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari.
An official press release says that the issues of substance will be discussed and examined by teams of experts on a bicommunal level.
The lists were exchanged by the representatives of the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev respectively, in the presence and at the residence of Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Nicosia Michael Moller, in the Nicosia UN buffer zone.
''Moller, Tzionis and Pertev will continue their meetings in the next days, with a view to promote the implementation of the agreement (reached on July 8th) that provides for the establishment of bicommunal working teams of experts for the discussion of issues of substance of the Cyprus problem, as well as for the establishment of bicommunal technical committees for the discussion of practical day-to-day issues,'' the press release says.
It adds that ''the Confidence Building Measures will be discussed, in parallel, in accordance with the standard practice, by making use of the good offices of the United Nations Peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).''
On July 8th, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met in the presence of Gambari and agreed to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues.
The agreement states that ''the Technical Committees on issues that affect the day-to-day life of people will commence by the end of July provided that, at the same time, the two leaders will also have exchanged a list of issues of substance and its contents to be studied by expert bicommunal working groups and finalized by the leaders.''
 Cyprus condemns Qana killings, President sends condolences
NICOSIA, 1/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The Cypriot government condemned in the strongest and most resounding manner, Sunday's Israeli bombing of the Lebanese village of Qana which resulted in the deaths of civilians, including a large number of children and women, said here Monday Deputy Minister to the President and Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis.
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has sent a message of condolences to the president and prime minister of Lebanon, expressing his repulsion and deep regret for the death of innocent civilians in Qana, a foreign ministry statement said.
In his daily briefing, the spokesman reiterated the government's appeal for an immediate ceasefire and to create the conditions of permanent ceasefire as a precondition to start a peace process which will lead to a solution of the current crisis.
He said the government's position is and remains that armed violence, wherever it comes from, does not solve anything, instead it exacerbates political problems.
Pashiardis pointed out that "Cyprus, as a country which neighbors Israel and Lebanon, is also a victim of a similar invasion and occupation and has every reason to support every effort to restore peace in this so sensitive and tried region".
The foreign ministry, in a statement issued here Monday, called for an immediate ceasefire and for urgent action on the part of the international community to secure permanent and lasting peace.
It also said President Papadopoulos has sent a message of condolences to the president and prime minister of Lebanon, expressing his repulsion and deep regret for the death of innocent civilians in Qana.
The government of the Republic of Cyprus "unreservedly condemned the unjustified attack of Israel in Qana which resulted in the death of tens of civilians, including children and women".
"Israel's action, is a flagrant violation of International law principles and fundamental humanitarian values", the statement added.
 Sa'ad Hariri thanks Papadopoulos for assistance in Lebanon crisis
NICOSIA, 1/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The leader of the ''Future Movement Bloc'' Sa'ad Hariri, son of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic al-Hariri, arrived in Cyprus Monday and met for about an hour with President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos.
''First of all,'' Hariri said to the press after the meeting, ''I would like to thank the President and the people for your friendship and for all the help you have given to Lebanon in such difficult time.''
''Your government and the people have always helped Lebanon,'' Hariri said to the Greek Cypriot media, adding that he also thanked President Papadopoulos for helping the Lebanese government and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and their plan to find a final resolution of this conflict.
''Once again, you see Cyprus with us,'' he said. ''I came here,'' Hariri stated, ''to thank the President also for letting all these refugees pass by Cyprus and also to send all the humanitarian aid through Cyprus and to help in the corridors which were established.''
Hariri said he also thanked President Papadopoulos for Cyprus facilitating the international investigations regarding the death of his father, Rafic al-Hariri, who on 14 February 2005 was killed with at least eight others when a massive car bomb was detonated. ''The whole team now is in Cyprus and continuing the investigation,'' Hariri said.
''We need peace in Lebanon, we need to end this conflict,'' Hariri said, adding that Israel should withdraw from Lebanon and free all the Lebanese detainees.
After the meeting, Hariri visited Larnaca Port before leaving Cyprus.
Replying to questions, he said he would be in Beirut ''very soon.''
Present at the meeting were also Lebanon's Ambassador to Cyprus Michel el Khoury and Director of the Cyprus problem division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou Markoulli.
 Cypriot ministers assure no danger from Lebanon oil spill
NICOSIA, 1/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cyprus is not in danger at the moment from a 20 thousand ton oil spill in the Lebanon waters, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment Fotis Fotiou and Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Michaelides said here Monday.
Fotiou described the situation as serious, adding however that it must be handled directly and if this is not done then the Eastern Mediterranean could be under threat.
Speaking in Larnaca, Fotiou said that ''south-west winds are pushing the oil slick towards Syria and Turkey'' and that Cyprus has agreed with Brussels and asked various countries which have relevant expertise and equipment to coordinate action to handle the situation.
He said it is dangerous at the moment to send expert staff with the right equipment to Lebanon, noting that he discussed the issue with Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas.
Fotiou said ''a political decision is necessary to secure the safety of the EU and Cypriot experts who will go to the scene and evaluate the situation.''
Cyprus, he added, has an action plan to handle such situations, noting that the equipment the island has can handle small and medium sized disasters.
The minister said 20 thousand tones of oil spilled into the Lebanon waters and as a result the Eastern Mediterranean ''is threatened with destruction.''
Asked what will happen if the oil slick reaches Cyprus, Fotiou replied that ''there is no reason to panic with the way things are at present.''
''Cyprus is not at risk at this moment,'' he said, adding that surely such disasters have ''negative repercussions on the ecological system and thus tourism.''
''I hope that after coordination with the EU there will be an action plan from other EU partners too so we can handle the situation more effectively,'' he concluded.
Michaelides said Cyprus is not at risk at the moment since the oil slick is at a great distance from the Cypriot shores.
Furthermore, the Meteorological Service has assured that weather conditions are such that it is virtually impossible for the oil slick to move towards Cyprus.
''We are closely monitoring the situation, we have an obligation to do so, but I assure you that there is absolutely no danger for Cyprus' interests,'' the minister added after a meeting with Iran's Ambassador to Cyprus Seyed Reza H. Zarqarbashi.
 France expresses gratitude to Cyprus for helping people flee Lebanon
NICOSIA, 1/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The French Embassy in Nicosia expressed Monday its gratitude towards the Cypriot ministry of foreign affairs and all its services for the ''exceptional assistance'' they have been providing to French and other foreign citizens who are abandoning Lebanon.
In a Verbal Note, the Embassy of France mentions that well beyond the infrastructure which was placed at the disposal of the foreign citizens, the whole of Cyprus has been mobilized in order to receive the thousands of people who have suffered the trials of war.
''France expresses its gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice and Public Order, the Civil Defense, the Red Cross, the Airport and Port Authorities and the Municipalities that have offered aid to the refugees from Lebanon,'' the Note says.