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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 3, 2006


  • [01] Prime minister meets with ENAE leadership
  • [02] Karamanlis meets with recently promoted justices
  • [03] PASOK Secretary on developments in the Middle East
  • [04] Athens mayoral candidate Skandalidis meets with Lebanese envoy
  • [05] Antiwar demonstrations in Thessaloniki
  • [06] SYN delegation visits UNEP in Athens over Lebanon oil slick
  • [07] Athens Municipality launches campaign for humanitarian aid to Lebanese city of Saida
  • [08] Sixth C-130 carrying humanitarian aid for Lebanon leaves Greece
  • [09] PASOK accuses gov't of 'non-use and abandonment of the Olympic installations'
  • [10] Emporiki privatization in final phase, Finmin says
  • [11] Gov't rejects criticism over farm income
  • [12] Sioufas to visit Albania on Thursday
  • [13] Industry: Social partners should run state funds
  • [14] Alpha bank forecasts ECB rate rise
  • [15] Greek firms to Chinese trade fair
  • [16] Number of IKA's sanitation staff to be boosted
  • [17] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks up
  • [18] The 28th River Party opens at Nestorio, Kastoria
  • [19] Italian warship "San Giusto" sails into Thessaloniki
  • [20] 'Ethnic Rock Festival' in Samos
  • [21] Manhunt launched for dangerous escaped convict
  • [22] Ikaria chosen as best holiday destination for alternative forms of tourism
  • [23] International Flute Festival in Pilio to be dedicated to Middle East
  • [24] Illegal immigrants arrested in Samos
  • [25] President Papadopoulos sends letter to Talat for meeting
  • [26] Ministry of Finance presents assessment on economy in occupied areas

  • [01] Prime minister meets with ENAE leadership

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with the leader-ship of the Greek prefectures union ENAE on Wednesday in the presence of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and deputy minister Thanasis Nakos.

    Pavlopoulos stated that it was a scheduled meeting within the framework of dialogue on administrative reform launched by the prime minister. He underlined that existing institutions must be supported for the reform to take place, adding that this is the policy followed by the government during the past few years.

    Pavlopoulos stated characteristically that prefecture-level local government was created by previous PASOK governments but had been abandoned in the past decade, pointing out that the current government has solved economic issues and the funds allocated were threefold compared to 2004.

    The issue concerning welfare benefits was settled, said Pavlopoulos adding that prefectures will get additional personnel as a total of 1,500 positions will be staffed with permanent employees through the ASEP (Supreme Staff Selection Council) procedures.

    The interior minister also said that prefectures will play a role in the 4th Community Support Framework and, in spite of the fact that funds are less compared to the 3rd CSF, the regions will not be deprived of money.

    Athens-Piraeus supra-prefect Fofi Gennimata stated that the dialogue with the prime minister and the interior ministry leadership was constructive. She underlined that the code for prefecture administrations will be voted by parliament by the end of the year and that it was confirmed that the role of the prefectures in the 4th CSF will be upgraded.

    Gennimata added that they also discussed everyday life problems and issues concerning welfare benefits, the lowest of which being those received by women and single-parent families.

    Drama-Kavala supra-prefect Costas Tatsis pointed out that the positive interventions made by the government have reversed the situation in local government, pointing out that the foundations were laid leading to the institution’s improvement and evolution.

    [02] Karamanlis meets with recently promoted justices

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Wednesday with the justices recently promoted to the top positions of the Greek courts in the presence of Justice Minister Anastasis Papaligouras.

    Papaligouras stated that the reform, modernization and upgrading of justice are fundamental priorities for the government based on the policy followed by the ruling party of New Democracy for more than two years.

    The prime minister met with the new judiciary leadership to congratulate them and wish them success, stated Papaligouras, pointing out that the common goal of the political and judicial powers is the upgrading of justice to be able to respond to current demands and serve the people in the best way.

    Present in the meeting were Supreme Court Prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas, Court of Audit chairman Giorgos Kourtis, Court of Audit general commissioner Giorgos Schiniotakis and the administrative courts’ general commissioner Panagiotis Roumeliotis.

    [03] PASOK Secretary on developments in the Middle East

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) National Council Secretary Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou on Wednesday evening criticized the decision taken by the European Union's foreign ministers emergency meeting in Brussels on Tuesday on the Middle East.

    She expressed "PASOK's solidarity with the people of Lebanon and Palestine," adding that "the international community and the European Union at long last should abandon this stance of perplexity and weakness and the hypocrisy which yet again was expressed yesterday (Tuesday) at the EU Council of Foreign Ministers. Because the decision taken yesterday was a pretext decision and we do not see the reason why the Foreign Minister (Dora Bakoyannis) expressed her satisfaction."

    "At long last the European Union must stand its ground against the one-sided approach and one-sided policy of the United States, for there to be an immediate ceasefire and truce, for there to be an immediate release of prisoners by both the sides which would lead to an international regional conference which could lay the basis for a viable and just peace for all the peoples of the region," she said.

    She was in Chania, Crete, where she spoke about PASOK's campaign in light of the local government elections in October.

    [04] Athens mayoral candidate Skandalidis meets with Lebanese envoy

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Athens mayoral candidate Costas Skandalidis called on Wednesday for an immediate end to the war in Lebanon after meeting with Lebanese Ambassador to Athens William Habib.

    Skanadalidis, whose list "Athens Changes" stands for the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in October's local government elections, said the war should stop "also because of another important reason: a country which is a model of multiculturism and multireligion is in danger of extinction."

    Ambassador Habib thanked Skandalidis, noting that "Greece's solidarity and humane support towards the non-combatants of Lebanon is of great help to our people."

    [05] Antiwar demonstrations in Thessaloniki

    THESSALONIKI, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Antiwar demonstrations in support of the peoples of Palestine and Lebanon were held in Thessaloniki on Tuesday organized by PAME trade unionist movement and the Committee for International Detente and Peace as well as by the Alliance, Stop the War in cooperation with leftist organizations. The local Palestinian community was also represented in the demonstrations.

    The demonstrations’ organizers condemned the murderous attacks on the peoples of Palestine and Lebanon, called for the withdrawal of the foreign military forces and wished that the bloodshed will end soon.

    The demonstrators marched to the US consulate and burned US and Israeli flags in a show of protest. Many of the demonstrators marched to the Holocaust Monument and some of them broke the police line and posted pictures on the monument portraying the horror of war.

    Theodoros Roussopoulos comments: Minister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos responding, Wednesday, to a relevant question on the incident during an anti-war demonstration in Thessaloniki Tuesday night, in which demonstrators marched to the Holocaust Monument and some of them broke the police line posting pictures on the monument depicting the horror of war in Lebanon, said:

    "Every act that insults the Humanity's moral principles and values is condemnable."

    Reaction of the Thessaloniki Jewish Community: Reacting to incidents on Tuesday evening at the Greek Jews Holocaust Monument in Thessaloniki, during a demonstration in protest to the bloodshed in the Middle East, the Thessaloniki Jewish Community on Wednesday issued a statement condemning the incidents and the effort to desecrate the monument.

    The announcement noted that the monument, inaugurated in 1997 by the then Hellenic Republic President Constantine Stephanopoulos, was dedicated by the Greek State to the 50,000 Jews of Thessaloniki killed by the Nazis. Any attempt to associate it with other events is inappropriate and an insult to the memory of the innocent victims, concluded the statement.

    [06] SYN delegation visits UNEP in Athens over Lebanon oil slick

    THESSALONIKI, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    A delegation from the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party on Wednesday visited the offices of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in Athens to be briefed on a huge oil slick caused by Israeli bombardment of fuel depots in Lebanon and ways that it could be handled.

    SYN Political Bureau member Panos Trigazis afterward noted that Lebanon was now also faced with an ecological catastrophe that threatened the entire Eastern Mediterranean, in addition to the horrors of war and the problems of refugees.

    More than 20,000 tons of crude oil had polluted more than 100 miles of coastline in Lebanon and Syria and were now threatening to spread to the shores of Turkey and Cyprus, he added.

    He called for the immediate coordinated mobilization of UNEP, the EU and all the countries that have signed the Barcelona Treaty in order to "neutralize this major ecological bomb" and reiterated SYN's demands for an immediate cessation of the war, or at least an immediate and substantially long ceasefire that would allow clean-up crews to tackle the oil slick.

    Trigazis also stated that SYN was in contact with Leftist organizations and environmental movements in the Mediterranean and Europe in order to organize a coordinated condemnation of the oil spill, which he termed a "major ecological crime", while stressing that Cypriot officials that he contacted were extremely concerned about the possible repercussions of the spill.

    A UN official said that several countries had responded and mobilized in response to the spill but no plan of action could be carried out while the war was still underway since it would require volunteers to take part.

    [07] Athens Municipality launches campaign for humanitarian aid to Lebanese city of Saida

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Athens Municipality, responding to an urgent appeal by the mayor of the city of Saida in Lebanon, for immediate aid so as to deal with the major problem of the homeless and refugees in the southern regions of the war-ravaged country, on Wednesday began a campaign for the gathering of aid for those affected.

    Athens Mayor Theodoros Behrakis called on the citizens of Athens to contribute in the effort for the gathering of humanitarian aid which will be sent to the city of Saida, where 30,000 homeless people have found refuge, a number which is continuously increasing.

    [08] Sixth C-130 carrying humanitarian aid for Lebanon leaves Greece

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    The sixth Greek C-130 military transport plane carrying humanitarian aid for Lebanon left for the Cypriot airport in Larnaca on Wednesday afternoon, loaded with 10 tons of medical supplies, food and water sent by the foreign ministry's Hellenic Aid service. From there it will be loaded onto military transport ships docked at Larnaca and shipped to Beirut.

    Hellenic Aid coordinates the dispatch of aid collected by non-governmental organizations like the Hellenic Red Cross and the Church of Greece charity "Solidarity". So far, more than 70 tons of aid have been sent to Lebanon in C-130s provided by the Greek defense ministry, while the aid has been donated by the health ministry, the civil protection secretariat, the Red Cross, Doctors of the Heart, Medecins du Monde and Solidarity.

    Hellenic Aid has also launched a fund-raising drive for the victims of the Lebanon war, inviting the public, NGOs and other organizations to deposit funds in four bank accounts. These are:

    National Bank of Greece: 040/483100-41

    Emporiki Bank: 85601920

    Alpha Bank: 101002001000610

    Agricultural Bank of Greece: 0170300300058

    [09] PASOK accuses gov't of 'non-use and abandonment of the Olympic installations'

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, in light of an event held by the Culture Ministry at Ancient Olympia on Tuesday marking the second anniversary of the Olympic Games in Athens, on Wednesday accused the government of "non-use and abandonment of the Olympic installations.

    "The government must account for its heavy responsibilities in the handling of the Olympic legacy," Athanassakis noted, and spoke of "incompetence".

    "The government failed to put into operation even one installation, it observes with indifference the decay of the valuable Olympic legacy, scorns the needs of the youths for sport and of the citizens for a better quality of life."

    Responding to Athanassakis, Minister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that "capitalizing on Olympic infrastructures is an issue that concerns every citizen, who in any case financed their construction. It is a serious issue and that is why the whole process is moving through transparent tenders which safeguard public interest."

    "As for the rest, all those who, more or less, are asking from the government to hastily get rid of the Olympic installations, are the same who today present themselves as the safekeepers of public property," Roussopoulos noted.

    [10] Emporiki privatization in final phase, Finmin says

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    With the decision to accept an offer from Credit Agricole of France, the privatization of Emporiki Bank had entered its final phase, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday, while he urged Emporiki shareholders to consider the offer "calmly and rationally".

    The minister also stressed the great strategic importance of Emporiki's privatization for Greece and criticized the objections of the parliamentary opposition parties, especially the tactics used by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).

    "Unfortunately, the main opposition insists on its irresponsible effort to undermine this initiative. It uses methods condemned in the eyes of the public. Threats against the boards of insurance funds and public-sector organizations are unacceptable and reminiscent of third-world type behaviors. Greek society has overcome xenophobia, partisanship and statism," he said.

    Alogoskoufis said current Emporiki shareholders - including the boards of the social insurance funds and state-sector companies owning stock in the bank - should take into account "the beneficial consequences for the bank's development prospects and the Greek economy generally," when assessing Credit Agricole's improved public offer.

    He expressed conviction that the funds and state companies would act "in accordance with the true interests of those insured with them" and said they had nothing to fear from the "main opposition's attempt at intimidation".

    In comments on the French bank's new offer on Wednesday, PASOK MP Maria Damanaki repeated that the government was planning to pressure the social insurance funds and other state-sector entities owning substantial shares in Emporiki to accept the deal agreed with Credit Agricole, which will offer €25 per share.

    PASOK said that the improved offer was below a fair value range stated by Emporiki's privatization consultant of €28.4-31.5 per share, and that any sale would damage the state and other shareholders.

    "We warn [the government] not to do this. The managements of the funds are managing the money of the insured and have a full obligation to respect their interests," Damanaki said.

    Following a meeting on Wednesday with the leadership of Emporiki's staff union, Damanaki said the government was rushing into the sale without any previous financial study or assessment of the gains for the insurance funds and without solving the problems of the bank's own insurance fund.

    "The result is that, for the past two months, the pensions of staff retiring from Emporiki Bank are being paid by the Social Insurances Foundation (IKA) and IKA, which is using the money of the Greek public and has been burdened with €10 million in three months. The situation is unacceptable and the employment minister owes an explanation," she stressed.

    The government on Tuesday announced that it had accepted a revised offer from Credit Agricole of France for the acquisition of 11% of stock the state holds in Athens-quoted Emporiki as part of a public offer, describing it as a great improvement in terms of price versus the original proposal.

    Acceptance of the offer was in line with a recommendation by the government's consultants in the sale, and by Emporiki's board, which said the new price at €1.5 euros higher than initially offered was favorable, as it lay in the middle of the fair price range and included a premium of 8.7% against the range's lower end, and a premium of 2.25% against the stock's average market price for the month before announcement of the tender offer.

    The French bank is already a strategic investor in Emporiki.

    Main opposition slams Emporiki's sale price: The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Wednesday renewed its criticism of the government's privatization of Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank, especially what it views as a low sale rice.

    Party spokesman Nikos Athanasakis claimed that the ruling New Democracy party had gone back on its own arguments in terms of sale price calculation when the previous PASOK government had attempted to sell stock in the bank.

    "In 2003 (when PASOK was in government), under discussion was an average three-month bourse price. As they raised this method then, why aren't they applying it now? On that basis, Emporiki's sale price should be 26.70 euros per stock instead of 25 euros," Athanasakis added.

    Minister: No pressure on pension funds over Emporiki: Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on Wednesday denied that the government planned to intervene in the sale of stock by pension funds in the privatization of Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank.

    "The funds are free to decide and it is unacceptable for their managers to be threatened by senior officials of the main (PASOK) opposition party," Tsitouridis told a reporter when he was asked to comment on a claim by Emporiki's staff union that his ministry had intervened.

    "It should halt these third-world threats against the fund managers," the minister added.

    Emporiki Bank workers extend strike to August 7: Workers of Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank said on Wednesday that they would extend their 48-hour strike held on August 1-2 until August 7 in protest against the government's privatization process for the bank.

    The government on Tuesday accepted an offer from Credit Agricole for the acquisition of 11% of stock the state holds in Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank as part of a public offer; and a day earlier Credit upped its stake in Emporiki to about 12.71% from 12.21% through the bourse.

    The French bank has called a public offer that ends on August 7 to amass at least 40% of Emporiki's shares.

    [11] Gov't rejects criticism over farm income

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Agriculture and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos on Wednesday rejected criticism by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement that per capita farm income had dropped since the government took office in March 2004.

    "Eurostat data shows that in 2003 per capita income from agriculture rose in the EU-15 by 3% against the previous year. In Greece, it fell by 7.1%, Basiakos stated.

    "In 2005, per capita income from farming in the EU-15 fell by 6.3% but in Greece it only dropped by 1.8%, with the decline mainly due to a rise in fuel prices," the minister noted.

    [12] Sioufas to visit Albania on Thursday

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas will visit Albania on Thursday, following an invitation by Albanian Economy, Trade and Energy Minister Genc Ruli.

    His meetings in Tirana seek to expand bilateral cooperation on development and energy issues and further promote cooperation and issues pertaining to the operation of the SE Europe Energy Community, the treaty signed in Athens last October.

    Sioufas is also scheduled to meet Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durres and All Albania.

    The minister is to be accompanied by development ministry general secretary Nikos Stefanou, Energy Regulatory Authority Chairman Prof. Michalis Karamanis, PPC CEO Dimitris Maniatakis and other officials.

    [13] Industry: Social partners should run state funds

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    The Federation of Greek Industry (SEB) proposed on Wednesday that the social partners should manage social insurance and state funds including the Manpower Employment Organization.

    "The state has proven to be ineffective," SEB said in a statement.

    "We need more efficient management of property and monetary reserves belonging to these organizations as part a broader investment rules set by the state, and professional management undertaken by specialized credit institutions," the statement noted.

    [14] Alpha bank forecasts ECB rate rise

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    The European Central Bank is likely to hike its intervention rates to 3% at its meeting on Thursday, Alpha Bank said in a market report.

    The report released on Wednesday also forecast that the rate would rise to 3.5% in December with the slight chance of a further increase to 3.75% in the final quarter of 2007.

    [15] Greek firms to Chinese trade fair

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    The Hellenic-Chinese Chamber said on Wednesday it was arranging participation by Greek firms at the China International Fair for Investment and Trade on September 8-11.

    The main sponsor of the exhibition is China's trade ministry.

    [16] Number of IKA's sanitation staff to be boosted

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Employment and Social Protection Minister Savva Tsitouridis met on Wednesday with representatives of the Federation of Hygiene Personnel of the Social Security Foundation (IKA) and said that the Employment Ministry will proceed in covering 95 per cent of the permanent positions of IKA's sanitation staff.

    The tender concerns the covering of 1,700 permanent jobs.

    At the meeting, Tsitouridis presented the timeframe of actions until September, so as to satisfy demands of the sanitation sector, which covers, only at IKA, 7,000 employees.

    "The aim of all of us is to be able to improve the services which IKA provides to its insured which number 6.5 million," the employment minister said.

    [17] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks up

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,794.39 points, showing a rise of 0.79%. Turnover was 213.7 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.65% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.89% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.51% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 140 to 100 with 69 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): National Bank of Greece (409)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 72.5 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.25% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bond: unavailable

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (600 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.0 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Thursday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.290

    [18] The 28th River Party opens at Nestorio, Kastoria

    3/8/2006 (ANA)

    The 28th River Party at Nestorio, Kastoria in northwest Greece gets underway on Thursday and already thousands of young campers have arrived at the Aliakmon River banks. An estimated 8,000 people will camp in the region, while a total of 45,000 will attend the four-day music festival.

    One of the biggest rock festivals in Greece is held within the framework of the River Party events at Nestorio, while extreme sports are also included in the program.

    The River Party is an annual event held each summer in the beginning of August. It was first held years ago by children of Greek immigrants who spent their summer vacations at their parents’ home village and organized parties at the river banks looking for a way to have fun.

    [19] Italian warship "San Giusto" sails into Thessaloniki

    THESSALONIKI, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    The Italian warship “San Giusto” sailed into the port of Thessaloniki on Wednesday within the framework of the summer training courses for the 2nd grade students of the Italian Naval Academy in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The 7,900-ton NATO warship will leave port on Saturday, August 5.

    The ship, under the command of Captain Domenico Di Capua, began its voyage from Taranto, Italy on July 30 and its first stop was the port of Thessaloniki, to be followed by Odessa and Istanbul before returning to Brindisi, Italy on August 21. On board the “San Giusto” are 129 students, among them 18 female officers and 7 of different nationalities.

    The ship’s captain, accompanied by the military attaché of the Italian embassy in Greece Colonel Roberto Quattrociocchi and honorary Italian consul in Thessaloniki Christos Sarantopoulos had a ceremonial meeting with deputy prefect of Thessaloniki Dionysis Psomiadis.

    [20] 'Ethnic Rock Festival' in Samos

    3/8/2006 (ANA)

    The 3rd "Ireo Ethnic Rock Festival" will be held on the eastern Aegean island of Samos at Ireo beach from August 11-12-13.

    The Rock Festival will be organized by the Ireo Cultural Association with the support of Pythagorio Municipality.

    The program is as follows:

    August 11: Performance by amateur groups. Concert by Domenica.

    August 12: All-day Beach party. Reggae music by Locomondo.

    August 13: Performance by the group NO NAME. It will be followed by a concert by MBLE (Blue).

    At the same time, throughout the days of the events, exhibitions of local art, paintings and of traditional products will be held at the village's renovated square.

    [21] Manhunt launched for dangerous escaped convict

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Authorities on Wednesday announced that the launch of a manhunt for highly dangerous escaped convict Mihalis Makrygiannis, incarcerated for multiple counts of murder, who failed to return to Alikarnassos prison on Monday after a five-day prison leave.

    Makrygiannis is considered a friend of the notorious Paleokostas brothers, who two months earlier staged a spectacular, Hollywood-style prison escape in a helicopter. He is serving a double life sentence for the murders of five people, as well as three attempted homicides, armed robberies and other crimes.

    The five murder convictions were for the killing in the early 90s of waiter Spyros Valtadorou, Makrygianni's own girlfriend Angeliki Tsenepi, postman Ilias Liavas in Legrena and a bloodbath at a nightclub in 1993, during which he killed the brother of a friend, Antonis Dimitropoulos, cashier Stelios Christodoulakis and injured another two people.

    He had also been accused of the attempted homicide of a relative of nightclub owner Diamantis Zloutas at Varkiza and for a 1994 shootout with police in Petroupolis, prior to his arrest later than year while hiding in a house on the Attica coast near Lagonissi.

    [22] Ikaria chosen as best holiday destination for alternative forms of tourism

    3/8/2006 (ANA)

    The alternative forms of tourism program (July 20-30) by the Friends of the Sea Group, which is a member of the International Organization "Friends of Natura", was crowned with success.

    The Dodecanese island of Ikaria was chosen this year by the Group as the best holiday destination for alternative forms of tourism.

    Therefore, other members of the Group will visit Ikaria again in September with the objective of continuing the program.

    The visitors had the opportunity of touring the island's traditional villages and historic monuments and enjoy themselves in many fairs.

    [23] International Flute Festival in Pilio to be dedicated to Middle East

    3/8/2006 (ANA)

    This year's International Flute Festival, which will be held on Saturday at Makrinitsa in Pilio, in central Greece, will be dedicated to the crisis in the Middle East.

    The Festival is being held at Makrinitsa for the ninth consecutive year.

    "This century does not belong to us. It belongs to our children and to the children of our children. If they are attacked, then our century is attacked as well. We, the flutists of the 9th International Flute Festival of Makrinitsa 2006, strongly protest against the war which Israel has launched against the people of Lebanon. This is why we unite the voices of our flutes, hoping for peace and acceptance," the organizers of the Festival said in an announcement on Wednesday.

    They called for "the hostilities to stop immediately," and dedicate to this purpose, their concert, which will take place at Makrinitsa on August 5, at the hostel "Adam" at 9.m.

    [24] Illegal immigrants arrested in Samos

    ATHENS, 3/8/2006 (ANA)

    Twelve illegal immigrants were arrested early Wednesday afternoon on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, in the region of Sidera.

    The illegal immigrants were a woman, a baby and ten men from Afghanistan.

    According to initial reports, a Turkish trafficker left the 12 Afghanis on land and afterwards departed unhindered for the Turkish coast.

    The illegal immigrants were sent to Samos hospital for medical examinations and were due later to be transferred to the welcome centre where there are another 64 refugees.

    [25] President Papadopoulos sends letter to Talat for meeting

    NICOSIA, 3/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has recently sent a letter through the UN to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat for a meeting between them so that they could review and evaluate developments as a follow-up of exchanging lists of issues to be discussed on a technical level and discussions between their representatives towards a Cyprus settlement.

    Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said it appears Talat has replied positively to the proposal, adding that a date has not yet been set and would depend on developments.

    The spokesman said that during the 8 July 2006 meeting between President Papadopoulos and Talat, in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari, it was agreed verbally that the content of talks between the representatives of the leaders of the two communities would not be referred to either directly or indirectly.

    He noted that the Greek Cypriot side, consistent with this commitment, neither publicizes nor leaks or comments on positions and issues raised by the other side during the course of the discussions.

    Asked about Talat's remarks about a meeting with President Papadopoulos, Pashiardis said he assumed that the statements were ''a positive reply to a written proposal the President of the Republic has already submitted for such a meeting, so that the two leaders could review and assess developments as a follow-up of exchanging lists and discussions between their representatives.''

    To a question what the agenda of the meeting will include, Pashiardis said it is not a matter of agenda and that such meetings were anticipated by the July 8 agreement.

    Asked if the government intended to brief the political parties on the work of the technical committees, set up to deal with day-to-day issues and issues of substance concerning the Cyprus problem, Pashiardis said the president is ''always willing and ready to convene the National Council so that all parties are informed.''

    [26] Ministry of Finance presents assessment on economy in occupied areas

    NICOSIA, 3/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The financial dependency of the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus on Turkey, which is due inter alia to the use of the Turkish lira, the uncertainty arising out of the Cyprus problem which remains unsolved, the insistence on secessionist actions and efforts aiming at the recognition or upgrading of the puppet regime in the occupied areas, and the massive presence of Turkish settlers, who are the majority of the population in the occupied areas, are among the reasons for the poor development of the occupied areas, according to an assessment published by the ministry of finance.

    In its research, with which it gives answers to the allegations of the occupation regime that the main reason for the underdevelopment of the occupied areas is the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, the ministry of finance notes that more reasons for the situation is the inefficient economic system based on large ''public'' intervention, the lack of credible and prudent macroeconomic policies leading to weak investment and growth, the structural weaknesses of the construction industry due to problems in the smooth functioning of the market mechanism, and the lack of transparency and market based institutions.

    The ministry says that the economy in the occupied areas has the characteristics of an open economy, reflected in large foreign trade, and that imports are much higher than exports, hence competitiveness problems and not isolation led to unsustainable high trade and current account deficits, while high inflows from Turkey are not directed towards productive purposes.

    It notes that isolated economies are characterized by restricted access to foreign markets for their goods and services, and restricted access to imports and capital.

    These isolation characteristics are normally reflected in a low export ration, a low import ratio and limited access to foreign direct investment and foreign financing, while the balance of payments reflects the degree of openness of an economy or the degree of isolation.

    In the conclusions of the study, the ministry of finance points out the underperforming economy in the occupied areas, the recent rebound which is not sustainable, that ''isolation'' is not the reason for poor performance, that the way to achieve sustainable growth and convergence is to unify the economy of the island, and that the UN proposed solution plan, known as the Annan Plan, is lacking in safeguarding this objective.

    In its general conclusions, it says that the de facto ''economic union'' of the occupied areas with Turkey is detrimental to growth and macroeconomic stability, and that self-imposed economic isolation has not been an important constraint.

    It adds that economic growth must be supported by sound and credible macroeconomic policies and institutions, and that the reunification of the island and EU accession will provide the framework for progress and growth.

    Cyprus joined the EU as a full member in 2004. The implementation of the acquis communautaire has been suspended in the occupied areas.

    The general conclusions point out that economic reunification should create conditions for macroeconomic stability and growth, observe rules governing the EU and the Eurozone, and exploit economies of scale for inter alia infrastructure projects, for the provision of services and the financial system.

    In its assessment, which it says is shared by external analysts, the ministry of finance notes that the acceleration of growth is not sustainable, and that the recent depreciation of the Turkish lira indicates that difficult times lie ahead.

    Referring to the recent trends of the economy in the occupied areas, the ministry points out the extraordinary high rates of growth since 2003, with the 11.4% GDP in 2003, 15.4% in 2004 and 10.6% in 2005.

    The main factors for this were the construction boom related to some problematic provisions of the Annan Plan, the consumption of Greek Cypriots in the occupied areas, the employment of Turkish Cypriots in the government controlled areas, and the tourism from the government controlled areas to the occupied areas. These sources correspond to 10% of GDP in the occupied areas.

    The ministry adds that improved economic conditions in Turkey also contributed to better growth performance and lower inflation, noting that fiscal deficits remain high.

    Presenting an analysis of the balance of payments in the occupied areas, the study notes that the low export ratio to Turkey and European countries, mainly the UK, is due to competitiveness problems rather than restricted market access.

    Furthermore, it says that Turkey is the main supplier of imported goods in the occupied areas, and that there is low foreign investment from third countries due to the status of the occupied areas and the property rights issue, but extremely high capital inflows from Turkey.

    Regarding the medium term trends of the economy in the occupied areas, the ministry notes the low per capita income, the low and volatile growth, the low investment ratio, the low capital productivity, the structural weaknesses in the labor market which are due to the high share of the employment in the agricultural and ''public'' sector, the low labor productivity, the high inflation, the weak currency of the Turkish lira, and the high current account and fiscal deficits, with dependency on Turkey for financing, which correspond to up to 20% of GDP.

    The ministry of finance says that the fundamental axes for a viable solution concerning the economic aspects should be a viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem, reunification that would benefit the entire population of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, the gradual convergence of living standards between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and the smooth integration of Cyprus into the EU and the Eurozone.

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