|Saturday, 10 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 9, 2006
 Gov't thoroughly pleased with sale of Emporiki to Credit Agricole
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The sale of Emporiki Bank is the biggest strategic privatization and largest direct investment ever in the country, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis stressed on Tuesday following the successful purchase of the previously state-run financial institution by France's Credit Agricole.
"It is very important that a very large banking organization showed confidence in Greece and now becomes active in the wider region through Emporiki Bank," he said in comments to reporters.
The minister said the Greek state stands to earn 1.74 billion euros from the sale of its share of Emporiki shares, slightly higher than the 1.65-billion-euro goal initially set. He also said the deal more-or-less concludes the government's privatization program for 2006, although if an inter-ministerial committee decides otherwise another sale of a state-run company may be in the works.
Alogoskoufis added that the Greek banking system and economy will reap major benefits from Emporiki's sale, benefits that will be obvious in the coming years.
As per Credit Agricole's share of Emporiki on Tuesday, Alogoskoufis said it could reach the 70-percent mark.
On his part, Labor and Social Insurances Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said the board of directors of 42 out of the 47-ministry regulated pension funds and other entities holding Emporiki shares convened to decide whether or not to sell their shares to Credit Agricole, with 31 opting to sell and 11 deciding against.
Finally, Deputy Economy Minister Petros Doukas indirectly pointed to the previous PASOK government in charging that the Public Securities Co. (DEKA) "purchased 1.7 million (Emporiki) shares at 65 euros a piece, which the previous government turned over to us at 15 euros (each). We received them (Emporiki share price) at 16 euros and sold at 25 euros."
Opposition blasts sale of Emporiki Bank: The country's three main opposition parties on Tuesday criticized the government for its privatization of Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank.
"This is selling off Emporiki Bank, which will lead to fewer jobs. And there is not the slightest guarantee from (buyer) Credit Agricole of a drop in interest rates and rise in competitiveness," PASOK's shadow economy spokeswoman, Vasso Papandreou, said in a statement.
According to the Communist Part of Greece, privatization by the current New Democracy government and its PASOK predecessor aimed solely at serving big capital.
The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology's economy and social affairs spokesman, Panayiotis Lafazanis, called the privatization a cheap sale of a public resource that was a major political and economic crime.
 FM Bakoyannis has telephone talks with U.S. counterpart in New York
NEW YORK, 8/9/2006 (ANA-MPA/A.Panagopoulos)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who is here to attend a United Nations Security Council session on the Lebanon crisis, had a telephone conversation on Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on latest developments in the war-ravaged Middle East country.
Bakoyannis also had telephone talks with her French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy. Foreign Ministry Spokesman George Koumoutsakos said that Bakoyannis and Douste-Blazy made a detailed review of developments. The Greek foreign minister also had a meeting with Israel's UN Permanent Representative Dan Gillerman.
Bakoyannis had discussed earlier in the day the situation in Lebanon with the country's Culture Minister Tarek Mitri, who is acting foreign minister representing his government at the Security Council's forthcoming session. Koumoutsoukos said the talks focused on the proposed draft resolution, adding that Greece was aiming at the broadest possible acceptance of the text.
The spokesman said that Bakoyannis' contacts and talks will move within this framework, given that Greece assumes the council's presidency as of September 1. He reminded that UNIFIL peacekeeping force's mandate in Lebanon expires on August 31.
Koumoutsakos also said that Greece "hails the Lebanese government's brave decision and readiness to send 15,000 troops to southern Lebanon." He also expressed Greece's support for a "strong and reinforced" government in the Middle East country, which will be able to exercise its sovereignty on Lebanon's entire territory.
Responding to a relevant question, Koumoutsakos said that "it is a matter of principle and Greece cannot accept the presence of foreign troops in another country's territory."
As regards reports that the Republic of Cyprus might be the place of departure of a peacekeeping force for Lebanon, Greek diplomatic sources said that such eventuality would be a positive development, adding, however, that it was too early to begin a debate on any operational aspects of the mission.
Koumoutsakos reiterated that Greece, from the very start of the crisis, asked for an immediate ceasefire, underlining the need for a quick and immediate meeting of the Security Council.
"There is need for the Security Council to take decisions, as the situation on the ground is worsening, while Greece is working so as to have a blending of views for the broadest possible acceptance of and support to any resolution taken by the international community," Koumoutsakos noted.
Responding to a question regarding comments by UN and U.S. state department circles that Bakoyannis arrived "too early" at the UN headquarters, Koumoutsakos said that these were "assessments made by others," underlining that the Greek foreign minister "is aiming with her presence to have a full briefing on the situation and participate in consultations and developments as Athens wants to respond successfully to her duties as president of the Security Council."
 DM: No requests for Greek military presence in Middle East
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Athens on Tuesday reiterated that no request has been made for the potential presence of a Greek military presence in the Middle East, whereas Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis again dismissing criticism by the political opposition in the country claiming inaction by the government vis-à-vis the Middle East crisis.
"We have said it loud and clear that there should be a ceasefire, (we should) have peace and reach a solution," the minister said.
Meimarakis added that the Greek government and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis were playing a significant role in international initiatives to defuse the crisis.
 PM to meet with Liapis, ND sec't on Wednesday
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is set to meet with Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis on Wednesday morning. Afterwards, the premier will receive ruling New Democracy party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.
 SYN delegation meets French Embassy official on Lebanon crisis
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)A Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synapismos) delegation, headed by the party's Political Bureau member Panos Trigazis, on Tuesday had a meeting with an official of the French Embassy in Athens, to whom it expressed Synaspismos' position regarding the under discussion draft resolution at the UN Security Council on the war in Lebanon.
On his departure from the French Embassy, Trigazis stated that "this resolution is not a resolution of peace and will constitute yet another blow to the status of the United Nations."
"The Greek government, taking into account the positions of the Lebanese government which is the victim of the attack, is obliged to move actively so that a radically different resolution, than that of the initial plan, is formulated. Otherwise, it must say 'no'," said Trigazis, adding that "the war in Lebanon must stop immediately."
 PASOK leader meets citizens willing to host families from Lebanon
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou met at the party's headquarters on Tuesday with citizens and families who responded to the initiative of PASOK's Solidarity and Voluntary Work Department, to host families from Lebanon.
The specific action is part of the general initiative of the Solidarity and Volunteer Work Department for the granting of humanitarian aid to the people of Lebanon, following understanding with the Lebanese government.
"We have before us a war which we all are anxious about. PASOK and Socialist International have taken initiatives aimed at an immediate truce. We have united our voice with the voice of so many people throughout the world, who ask for this war to stop," Papandreou said prior to the meeting.
"However, we also have the humanitarian dimension of the war, the many refugees, the many victims, the many children, the families which have been dealt a blow by this war," he added.
 PASOK leader Papandreou ousts deputy Papantoniou from party's Parliamentary Group
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou on Tuesday ousted from the party's Parliamentary Group deputy and former minister Yiannos Papantoniou because of statements he had made concerning the sale of Emporiki Bank.
Papantoniou in statements he made on Monday viewed as positive the sale of Emporiki Bank but he had disagreed with the selling price, while he had also disagreed with the party's intense criticism of the government over the specific sale.
Papandreou in a statement on Tuesday stressed that "the expression of personal views publicly, untimely, without any understanding and at a time of crucial juxtaposition, cannot be considered as a responsible stance."
 Anti-war rally in central Athens
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)An anti-war rally was organized under the Acropolis, in central Athens, on Tuesday evening by peace and trade union movements.
The rally was held on the occasion of the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki as well as against the on-going war in Lebanon.
The demonstrators also marched at the EU Commission's offices in Athens demanding an immediate end to the "imperialist crime of Israel against the Palestinians and Lebanon" and nuclear disarmament.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Athens share index closed at 3,836.60 points, showing a decline of 1.04%. Turnover was 186.2 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.40% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.09% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.25% up.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 130 to 104 with 72 remaining unchanged.
Bond Market Close: Buyers outpace sellers
Foreign Exchange Rates:
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.294
 Draft law targets 'modern forms' of pedophilia
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Justice Minister Anastasis Papaligouras on Tuesday announced that an amendment combating "modern forms of pedophilia" will be included in a draft law on violence in the family, discussed during an inner Cabinet meeting the same day.
The inner Cabinet meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Papaligouras said that based on international figures, one in five women and one in 10 men have fallen victim to some form of sexual abuse or molestation, while in eight out of 10 cases the victim knew the perpetrator.
According to the amendment, an adult accused of sexually abusing a minor who is entrusted with the latter's supervision or guardianship, even on a temporary basis, will be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison if the victim is under the age of 14.
An adult could also be sentenced to up to six months in prison for gestures, propositions or descriptions of sexual acts to a minor.
Additionally, an adult coming into contact through the internet or other means of communication with an individual under the age of 16 can face prosecution by making propositions or by describing or portraying sexual acts. Repeated acts can also lead to a sentence of three years in prison.
In addition, the statute of limitation for such crimes comes into effect beginning from the date the victim reaches adulthood.
On his part and in reference to tighter provisions combating violence in the family, Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the reinforcement of administrative structures and measures aim to support and protect victims of violence in the family.
He also said draft legislation will allow for easier funding of NGOs active in fighting or preventing violence in the family and supporting victims.
 Mount Athos exhibition in Helsinki
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The "Monastic Life on the Holy Mount" exhibition of Byzantine art, featuring artifacts and rare ecclesiastical heirlooms from the all-male monastic community of Mount Athos in Halkidiki prefecture of northern Greece, will take be displayed in Helsinki with the framework of Finland's EU presidency events.
The relics -- icons, manuscripts, religious books -- have already been transported to Athens and will travel to Helsinki via special flights.
The exhibition will be hosted at Helsinki's Tennis Palace Art Museum from Aug. 17 until Jan. 21, 2007, while the opening ceremony will be attended by a large delegation of Mount Athos abbots and elders.
 Greek-Albanian study on environmental damage to Lesser Prespes Lake
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Desertification on the Albanian side of the Lesser Prespes Lake on the Greek-Albanian frontier is one ominous prospect if uncontrolled agricultural irrigation in the nearby Korce plains persists, according to findings of a first-ever joint Greek-Albanian study focusing on the border lake and the Devoll River ecosystem.
The study was prepared by the Greek NGO Prespes Lakes Protection Society in cooperation with the Albanian environmental group PPNEA (Protection and Preservation of the Natural Environment in Albania), and co-funded by the Greek foreign ministry and WWF Hellas.
Based on the study, diversion of the Devoll River in the mid 1970s, by the totalitarian Stalinist regime that ruled Albanian at the time, to Lesser Prespes severely downgraded the southern tip of the lake with notable environmental and socio-economic consequences, mostly felt by the nearby communities that experienced a massive emigration of local residents and the loss of resources.
The study also concluded that specific environment restoration and management measures must be taken in order to reverse the consequences of past man-made interventions, while additional studies should deal with the Korce plains irrigation issue.
 N. Greece route again preferred by Turks traveling to/from W. Europe
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Tens of thousands of Turkish migrants living in Western Europe again preferred northern Greece's road network this summer for travel to and from their adopted homes and their native country, authorities said.
Based on figures provided by police in the northeastern border city of Alexandroupoli, an estimated 50,000 Turkish nationals (8,178 entered Greece, 40,772 crossed into Turkey) passed through Greece in June.
In July, 42,537 Turkish nationals entered Greece and 131,981 crossed into Turkey, while in August, according to figures so far, the numbers are 35,687 and 27,029, respectively.
The route Turkish nationals usually follow is via Italy, arriving in Greece by ferryboat and then traveling towards Turkey by car on the mostly completed Egnatia motorway that spans the breadth of northern Greece. The specific route, although longer than the overland route through Bulgaria, is more-or-less preferred due to better highway conditions and services catering to travelers and motorists.
 5th Experimental Cinema Festival in Thessalonica in October
ATHENS, 9/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Thessalonica Cinema Museum will organize the 5th annual "Experimental Cinema Festival" on Oct. 4-8, with the emphasis this year being on innovative audio-visual productions that feature new ideas for image, style and narration, according to the organizers.
Entry applications for artists wishing to participate in the festival's "Strange Screen" will be accepted until Aug. 16.
The festival program includes a competition part, tributes to distinguished local and foreign cinematographers, lectures, workshops, audio-visual "happenings" and exhibitions.
The festival is open all entries dealing with experimental video, creative documentary, video-art, animation and new mediums.
 Centennial of Greek community's presence in Montreal celebrated
OTTAWA, 9/8/2006 (ANA-MPA/I. Frangouli)Two ships of the Greek Navy are anchored since Monday at the old port of Montreal, to take part in celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the presence of Montreal's Greek community.
The ships "Egeo" and "Prometheus", which are on a special training trip of the Navy Cadet School, await daily from 5-7 p.m. Greeks and foreigners to be given a tour of them within the framework of the "Greek Flame" festival, which is organized by the Greek community of Montreal, dedicated exclusively to its centennial.
This year, the festival, which will be free to the public, will offer Greek traditional spectacles for the visitors, Greeks and foreigners, who are expected to gather in large numbers, from Wednesday until Sunday at the city's old port.
 German Minister thanks Cyprus for Lebanon evacuation efforts
LARNACA, 9/8/2004 (CNA/ANA-MPA)German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank Walter Steinmeier expressed his country's gratitude for the transportation of over six thousand German citizens from Lebanon back home.
Steinmeier met Tuesday evening at Larnaca Airport with Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas on his return from Lebanon.
The German Minister would be going to Israel for talks aimed at a ceasefire.
Welcoming Steinmeier, Lillikas expressed hope that the German minister's mission in the Middle East would be successful.
He added that during their meeting at Larnaca Airport he had the opportunity to exchange views with Steinmeier on the Middle East crisis and hear about the German minister's meetings in Lebanon and what he expected to discuss in Israel.
Lillikas, who also accepted an invitation to visit Germany in September, said they discussed Turkey's EU accession course and would elaborate on the issue when they met in Berlin.
Steinmeier, speaking through an interpreter, expressed satisfaction that Lillikas had accepted his invitation. ''I am very happy to say that my colleague was kind enough to accept my invitation to come to Berlin,'' he said.
''I just came from a brief visit to Lebanon and this takes place against the background of a situation that has been keeping us extremely worried for a few weeks now and I think that we believe that the people have suffered enough and we have to do everything we can to see that the weapons and the arms can be silenced,'' Steinmeier said.
Referring to discussions at the UN Security Council regarding the Middle East crisis, Steinmeier said it seems ''we can be hopeful that we might have a decision and a resolution before the end of the week.''
He added that ''we also talked about the recent decision by the Lebanese government to send in 15,000 Lebanese troops to Southern Lebanon.''
''I think that this decision will contribute to bring about what we all wished for quite some time and that is to see an independent, a strong, a sovereign and a stable Lebanon, a country, the government of which is able to exercise its authority to the whole of the country as a whole, and in so doing we will contribute to stability in the region as a whole and I hope that Lebanon too will be able to contribute and will be willing to contribute to the stability of the region as a whole,'' Steinmeier said.
The German minister added that the termination of hostilities ''is going to figure prominently in the talks that I will have in Israel, as it did today (Tuesday) in the talks that I had in Lebanon.''
Referring to his visit to Cyprus, Steinmeier said he was also here ''to say a word of gratitude, to thank the government of the Republic of Cyprus for the enormous efforts that it has undertaken, for the immense help that it has provided to us in helping us get German citizens out of Lebanon.''
''You helped us find ways and means to get all in all 6.200 Germans back to Germany,'' he said, adding that ''we know that all in all Cyprus had to deal with as many as 55,000 refugees, so we are really grateful for everything you have done, for the enormous efforts that your government has undertaken in order to manage this difficult problem.''
 EU Commissioner: Oil spill biggest threat for Lebanon shores
NICOSIA, 9/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Marcos Kyprianou described here Tuesday the oil spill caused by the Israeli bombing of Lebanon as the biggest threat for Lebanon shores, perhaps even Syria.
Speaking after a meeting with Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment Fotis Fotiou, Kyprianou said they discussed the issue of the oil spill, noting that he dealt with it last week in Brussels and according to reports ''the oil spill is the biggest threat for the shores of Lebanon and perhaps Syria.''
Kyprianou said the spill does not seem to be moving westerly, adding however that through satellites used by the EU, ''we are monitoring its movement and we have decided how to act in case the oil spill moves towards the west.''
He said the relevant European organization which is based in Malta has in its possession vessels that can handle such incidents and will be on alert if the oil spill moves towards open seas.
Fotiou said it was his first meeting with Kyprianou in Cyprus, noting that his ministry is directly involved with the Commissioner regarding ''very important and sensitive issues.''
The minister said he also informed Kyprianou on the destructive repercussions of the oil spill in Lebanon and informed him on the initiatives and actions which the government of Cyprus has undertaken. He also asked Kyprianou to inform the Commissioner for the Environment over the Cypriot request that the EU must undertake an initiative.
''An action plan should be prepared to correctly handle the oil spill, because I insist the ecological disaster is enormous,'' Fotiou pointed out.
The greatest problem in handling the spill, the minister said, is the safety issue, adding that various countries, including Cyprus, have exhibited interest to participate in an effort to combat the spill but ''the political intervention of the EU is required so that the safety of the expert staff and equipment will be secured.''
Fotiou also said he received on Tuesday a letter from the Lebanese Environment Minister who said the ecological disaster in the region is great and although it has not touched the Cypriot seas or shores, the Mediterranean is a closed basin and for this reason ''we must see which will be the consequences in the future.''
The minister said the two will meet again in Brussels because there are issues in which immediate cooperation is necessary.
They also discussed the operation of an incinerator at Kofinou, which is an issue that directly concerns Commissioner Kyprianou, Fotiou said.
The minister assured that the incinerator will begin operating in December 2006 or January 2007.
 US senators express gratitude to Cyprus over help in Lebanon crisis
NICOSIA, 9/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)A total of 72 U.S. senators have signed a letter addressed to President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, expressing their gratitude to the government, the President "and the people of Cyprus for the extraordinary support and kindness extended to U.S. and other citizens leaving Lebanon".
The senators said the "leadership exhibited by the Cypriot government and the generosity of the Cypriot people to accommodate these and the many other citizens of other countries during this trying time will not soon be forgotten by the U.S.".
The senators praised the ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government services for working around the clock to assist foreign nationals arriving in Cyprus, noting that those who remained in Cyprus awaiting for their chartered flights to their onward destinations, were provided temporary residence at the "Cyprus State Fairs Authority which generously made its premises in Nicosia available to U.S. citizens".
The letter was the initiative of senators Robert Menendez and Paul Sarbanes (both Democrats) and Olympia Snowe (Republican). Among those who signed it are Harry Reid, John Kerry, George Allen, Hillary Clinton and Charles Grassley.
 Strict security measures for UEFA match
NICOSIA, 9/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cyprus Police will be taking strict security measures for a UEFA cup football match between Nicosia team APOEL and Turkish team Trabzonspor to take place on Thursday, 10 August at GSP stadium in Nicosia at 2100 local time (1800 GMT).
Nicosia Police Chief Christakis Dionisiou has called on the football clubs to use the influence they have on their fans to ensure that the match takes place in a spirit of sportsmanship.
He said there is no official information that Trabzonspor fans will be passing to Cyprus' government-controlled areas from the northern part of the island, occupied by Turkey since 1974.
Dionysiou said that fans will be body searched three to four times before they enter the stadium and no-one without a ticket will be allowed to approach the stadium.
He said 400 police officers will be on duty during the match while fans will be allowed entrance to the football grounds half an hour before kick-off and not later.
Meanwhile GSP announced Monday that tickets for the match have already sold out and therefore ticket offices are now closed.
The Turkish football team was due arrive to the island on Tuesday night via the Greek island of Rhodes.
They will leave Trapezounta, Turkey, in the afternoon and are expected at Larnaca International Airport, where they will travel after a stop over to Rhodes, at 2230 local time (1930 GMT).
Last year Cypriot refugee football club Anorthosis of Turkish-occupied Famagusta disqualified Trabzonspor and advanced to the Champions League third qualifying round.