|Thursday, 15 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 18, 2006
 IMO meeting in Piraeus on oil spill in Lebanon
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)According to initial assessments by specialized experts of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the cost for combating the oil spill which was caused during the war in Lebanon and currently constitutes an ecological disaster to Lebanon's and Syria's coasts, will amount to more than 50,000,000 euros.
The sum of the operation for clearing up the oil spill was discussed during the sessions of the IMO's International Coordination Meeting, which was held in Piraeus on Thursday at the initiative of Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis. Referring to the results of the meeting in which there were representatives from Cyprus, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, the European Union and the United Nations as well as the Greek Environmental Commissioner Stavros Dimas, IMO Secretary-General Efthymios Mitropoulos said that "the coordinated action of the interested sides has been achieved, and already resources are sought which will contribute economically in the combating of the oil spill." Mitropoulos said that the EU will pay 10,000,000 euros, OPEC 200,000 euros and IMO will attempt to accumulate money by transferring sums from other funds, such as the one which has been set up for the combating of pollution.
The executive director of the United Nations' Environment Program (UNEP), Achim Steiner, referring to the oil spill caused by the bombardment of an oil storage unit, noted that his service will send letters to all the major oil companies, asking them to help in the operation of combating the oil spill.
Minister Kefaloyiannis said that "in the heart of the Greek summer, we have the honor today to host distinguished personalities of the competent international organizations, of governments, and of diplomatic authorities, under pressing conditions which are caused by the unpleasant developments in our region."
Kefaloyiannis added that "it is also my conviction that the development of international cooperation for a coordinated removal of the oil spill can help in measuring or also in eradicating its consequences."
 Development minister briefs PM on Greece's development course, growth rate
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Thursday with development minister Dimitris Sioufas, who briefed him on the country's developmental course, highlighting the fact that the growth rate in Greece reached 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2006, more than double the EU average. Sioufas also briefed the premier on the operation of the markets, the regional development programs, and on his recent visit to Albania.
Replying to press questions after the 2 1/2-hour meeting, Sioufas said he disagreed with the view that profiteers were having a free-for-all, explaining that although certain extreme instances appeared on the market, there were nevertheless systematic inspections in cooperation with the Prefectures, while strict fines and penalties were also being imposed.
Regarding the fuel market, Sioufas said that the Competitiveness Committee had undertaken the issue and, in a specific time period, would recommend specific measures to tackle the problems. He stressed that despite the fact that Brent prices had reached record heights, the price of unleaded gas was nevertheless 16-17 percent cheaper in Greece with respect to the rest of Europe.
Sioufas said that the effort was continuous, noting that the above did not mean that the ministry leadership was satisfied but, rather, was seeking to contain the costs below the inflation rate, with all possible measures.
Responding to a question on the possibility of an electricity blackout in the coming days due to the anticipated heatwave, Sioufas said that all the necessary steps have been taken to avert such an eventuality.
To another question on diesel fuel for private vehicles in Athens and Thessalonica, the minister said that relevant studies were being awaited, as well as relevant recommendations from environment minister George Souflias.
Sioufas further said, in reply to a relevant question, that there was "no issue' of a heating oil subsidy being introduced.
He also described as "bold" public order minister Vyron Polydoras' initiative to commence dialogue on the issue of limiting the chaos caused by demonstrations in the centre of Athens.
Sioufas expressed solidarity with the initiative, noting that the right to assembly, as provided by the Constitution, must be safeguarded, while at the same time the city's 5 million citizens should not be inconvenienced when small-scale demonstrations and protests were being held.
He said that Polydoras' choice of holding a public dialogue on the issue was in the right direction, and could provide a solution for relieving the Athenians of inconvenience and the merchants of the related problems, while at the same time allowing for demonstrations to be freely held.
 Reactions continue over minister's call for talks vis-à-vis protests in downtown Athens
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)Reactions to Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras' high-profile invitation, a day earlier, towards parties, trade unions and even mayoral candidates in Athens to participate in a wide-ranging debate on whether to change the status governing protests, rallies and demonstrations in downtown Athens, continued to reverberate on Thursday.
Following acerbic criticism on Wednesday by Parliament's two leftist parties, KKE and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), as well as trade unions, it was main opposition PASOK candidate for the mayor's seat, former minister Costas Skandalidis, to take umbrage on Thursday with even the prospect of discussing restrictions on Athens' roadways. Among others, he said the idea merely serves the pre-election campaign of his main rival, ruling New Democracy-backed Nikitas Kaklamanis.
Conversely, following a distinctly positive response by the merchants' and business chambers of commerce, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said he favored a dialogue on the matter, while current Athens Mayor Theodoros Bechrakis said he would participate in a forum considering the issue as well.
Finally, the out-of-Parliament LA.OS party, founded by former ND deputy and current Euro-MP George Karatzaferis, on Thursday referred to "well-advertised protests that more often than not disintegrate into 'merrymaking' affairs, ones that severely affect the incomes of thousands of SMEs and make the lives of hundreds of thousands of residents difficult".
 Opposition parties against Greek participation in Lebanon multinational force
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)Opposition parties on Thursday expressed disagreement with Greece's participation in the multinational force to be sent to war-torn Lebanon.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Secretary Nikos Hountis said in a statement that "unfortunately, the presence of UN forces is not part of an overall settlement framework for the Middle East issue, meaning the recognition of a Palestinian state and the withdrawal of Israel to pre-1967 borders that would contribute to stability in the wider region."
According to Hountis, there is no clear mandate on the role of UN forces, which is ascertained by such powers as France that initially appeared willing to participate.
The out-of-Parliament Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party also stressed in an announcement that "the immediate acceptance by the New Democracy government of the proposal to send Greek troops to the battle zone in Lebanon signals its increased dependence on the will of Washington and Tel Aviv lately."
LAOS added that Greece can be useful for the people of Lebanon with other initiatives, such as with its substantive contribution to the restoration of the cities of Lebanon and with help in achieving a return to normal living conditions as soon as possible.
 Two protest demonstrations held in Thessalonica on Middle East situation
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)Two protest demonstrations were held in Thessalonica, Macedonia, on Thursday night, focusing on the situation in the Middle East and on solidarity for the people of Cuba.
The demonstrators stressed that no foreign military forces should be sent to Lebanon and that Greece should not involve itself in such missions.
The first demonstration was organized by the trade union PAME, affiliated to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the International Detente and Peace group and the second by the Greek Social Forum and leftist groups.
The demonstrations created problems for traffic in main streets in the city.
 Patriarch continues visit to Samos
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos continued his visit to the eastern Aegean island of Samos on Thursday, where he toured the Aegean Natural History Museum on the verdant island.
The Patriarch, the "primus inter pares" of the world's Orthodox Patriarchs, arrived in Greece over the weekend, and specifically on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, to participate in Dormition of the Virgin religious services on Tuesday.
Vartholomeos met with local officials, wine-makers and subsequently visited a local monastery on Samos.
 Information Society special secretary responds to statements by PASOK party coordinators
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)Information Society Special Secretary Vassilis Asimakopoulos, commenting on Thursday on recent statements by main opposition PASOK party coordinators Petros Efthymiou and Dinos Rovlias, said that Greece is following the path of Digital Strategy with firm steps.
"Greece is following the path of Digital Strategy with firm steps and is proceeding with work on informatics and the Internet, which is becoming practice on a daily basis, leaving the bad past behind," he said.
"One wonders why in this great effort by the country, which is also recognized by international organizations now, PASOK remains adhered to the myopic partisan aspect of distortion, barren reaction and antiquated slogans, instead of contributing with substantive proposals. Greece has decided to forge ahead towards its digital future with greater speed. In this national effort, PASOK can only select the era that suits it," Asimakopoulos added.
 Gov't to grant new tax relief in 2007
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)The government is drafting a bill to allow 150 million euros in tax relief for the public in 2007, implementing a pledge made last year.
"This is the final phase towards taxation reform that began in 2004," Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told reporters on Thursday.
"The overhaul had a major favorable impact on the rise in gross domestic product, which grew by 4.1% in the second quarter of 2006, although we are not currently considering adjusting the (annual) target of 3.8%," he noted.
Government policy was bringing returns in growth and employment while tackling losses from the rise in oil prices, the Minister added.
The bill is destined for parliament in October.
Opposition objects: Later in the day, the main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) complained that the tax relief would fail to offset losses in incomes.
"Mr. Alogoskoufis has underestimated the intelligence of the public if he thinks that his promise of tax relief of 150 million euros in 2007 - mainly on high incomes - can offset severe losses in the income of workers and pensioners," PASOK's shadow economy spokeswoman, Vasso Papandreou, said in a statement.
 Cosmote gets regulatory OK for Germanos buyout
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)Athens-quoted Cosmote SA, a mobile phone operator, announced on Thursday that it received regulatory approval from the National Telecommunications and Post Commission for its acquisition of Germanos SA.
The buyout also includes the purchase of Athens-listed Germanos' commercial agent, Mobilbeep Ltd, subject to clearance, Cosmote said in a statement to the bourse.
Regulators in Bulgaria, Ukraine and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia already approved the acquisition. Approval is awaited from Romanian authorities.
Cosmote plans to call a public offer in order to acquire remaining shares in Germanos at 19 euro per share.
 Emporiki Bank index weighting falls
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank of Greece will remain in the FTSE/ASE 20 index for large capitalization stocks with an unchanged share total of 132,391,470 and a decreased investment weighting of 30% from 75%, effective from August 24, FTSE/ASE said in a statement on Thursday.
The same applies to Emporiki's listing in the FTSE/ASE-140 index, the statement added.
The change follows a public offer for stock called by Credit Agricole of France leading to its acquisition of 71.97% of the Greek bank.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks nose up
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)The Athens share index closed at 3,919.75 points, showing a rise of 0.10%. Turnover was 236.9 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.27% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks was unchanged; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.47% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 178 to 83 with 52 remaining unchanged. The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank of Greece, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank, ATEbank and PPC.
Foreign Exchange Rates:
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.298
 City of Athens to vie for 2009 Int'l Children's Games
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)The City of Athens will present a candidacy file next week in Bangkok, Thailand as part of its bid to host the 41st International Children's Games in 2009.
Thursday's announcement coincided with a send-off of the young athletes representing Greece at the 40th International Children's Games in Thailand, Aug. 23-29.
Athens Mayor Theodoros Bechrakis, who took over from Dora Bakoyannis when she was appointed as foreign minister, expressed his confidence that Athens will win the bid to host the 41st International Children's Games, in briefing comments during the team's send-off.
The City of Athens' Youth and Sport Organization (ONA) delegation will present the Athens candidacy file on Aug. 23.
 Concert by renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Patras next week
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, under the recently announced direction of maestro Leonard Slatkin, will give a concert in Patras, western Greece, and next week as part of the European Capital of Culture - Patras 2006 series of events.
The concert, scheduled for the evening of Aug. 25, is under the auspices of the US embassy in Athens.
The orchestra is on a European tour and will open its European performances in Greece, a press release by the embassy stated.
For more information and tickets visit the webpage www.patras2006.gr
 City of Athens to open centers in case of heat wave
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)The City of Athens announced this week that it will leave a total of 26 air-conditioned centers, 19 friendship halls and seven municipal health clinics, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. as of Friday ahead of forecast "mini heat wave" expected to move through the east Mediterranean country.
The example is expected to be followed by state services and local government entities throughout Greece, in the wake of a directive issued by the General Secretary for Civil Defense on Thursday.
The weather service forecast a high of 37C for the greater Athens area on Friday.
 Wildfire continues to rage in Drama prefecture
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)A forest fire that broke out in a forested area of Mavrokordato in the northern prefecture of Drama at noon on Thursday was continuing to rage at nightfall.
According to the Drama Fire Brigade, the fire has laid waste 25 acres of land so far, 15 acres of forests and 10 of scrubland. However, no residential areas were reported in danger.
The Fire Brigade has received reinforcements and the blaze was being combated by at least 11 vehicles, but efforts were being hampered by strong winds prevailing in the area.
 Trembler near Thessalonica
ATHENS, 18/8/2006 (ANA)An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale was recorded 20 kilometers east-southeast of Thessalonica on Thursday morning.
The trembler was recorded at 7:27 a.m., with its epicenter near Zagliveri.
According to Thessalonica Aristotelion University Geophysics Laboratory seismologist Odysseas Galanis, the area is not considered highly seismic.
 July 8th agreement must be implemented without preconditions, says government
NICOSIA, 18/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The Cyprus government attaches great importance to the implementation of the July 8th agreement between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, without any preconditions, Deputy Minister to the President and Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes said here on Thursday.
Asked whether a meeting between the two leaders will take place, he said that the July 8th agreement provides that they will meet from time to time to give guidance to bicommunal working teams of experts and to review the work of the technical committees.
"President Papadopoulos' proposal for a meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader was made within this framework," he added.
He noted that the most important thing is "the implementation of the July 8th agreement without terms and preconditions and the establishment of the working teams and the technical committees. There is no issue of finalizing the lists of issues of substance," the spokesman said.
On July 8th, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari and agreed to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and those that concern substantive issues, to pave the way for an overall solution of the Cyprus problem.
During his daily briefing, Pashiardes was also invited to comment on a statement made by so called prime minister of the pseudo state in Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas Ferdi Sabit Soyer, who described as a "vain imagination," the Cypriot government's wish for the return of the occupied town of Famagusta to its legitimate inhabitants and the reopening of the occupied Famagusta port, under a joint operation by Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.
"Soyer deems as vain imagination the return of the legitimate inhabitants to their home town of Famagusta. I hope that he does not consider as vain imagination the achievement of a proper solution to the Cyprus problem," Pashiardes said.
"If the return of the Varosha area (fenced area of Famagusta, deserted and under the control of the Turkish military) lies, according to the Turkish side, within the framework of an overall solution to the Cyprus problem, why should this not apply for the opening of the Famagusta port as well?," he wondered.
He recalled that apart from the government's proposal to the EU on the Famagusta issue, the United Nations resolutions call for the return of the fenced town of Famagusta to its legitimate inhabitants, regardless of the time that a solution of the Cyprus problem is reached.
''But it seems that the compliance of the Turkish side with the UN resolutions is indeed a vain imagination," he concluded.
Nicosia has proposed the implementation of the EU direct trade regulation with the Turkish Cypriots along with the return of the fenced-off area of the occupied town of Varosha to its legal inhabitants and the joint administration of the city's port.
UN Security Council resolution 550 of 1984 provides for a priority to be given to the return of the town of Varosha to its legitimate inhabitants.
 Compensation committee set up by Turkish regime is illegal, spokesman reiterates
NICOSIA, 18/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The so called compensation committee set up in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, to deal with Greek Cypriot property issues, is illegal, Deputy Minister to the President and Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes said here on Thursday.
Invited during his daily press briefing to comment on Turkish Cypriot press reports that the Greek Cypriots who resorted to the so called compensation committee amount to 42 and not to three, the Spokesman said that he is not in a position to know their exact number.
"I know and I reiterate that this committee is illegal," he said.
Asked whether those who resort to the "committee" are committing an illegal act, Pashiardes said he did not wish to comment.
''My only comment is that the committee is illegal. The conclusions belong to you," he concluded.
The European Court of Human Rights found on December 22, 2005 Turkey guilty of violating the human rights a Greek Cypriot refugee in terms of her property in Turkish occupied Cyprus and ordered Ankara to put in place, within six months, a mechanism to offer reparations.
The Cyprus government deems that the so- called committee for compensation and restoration of the Greek Cypriot property set up by the puppet regime in Cyprus, Turkish occupied areas consist of an illegal mechanism, which provides compensations and not a full recovery of the properties and residences of the Greek Cypriot displaced persons.
 FM due in Lebanon next week, at the invitation of Lebanese Premier
NICOSIA, 18/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas departs next Thursday, 24 August, for Beirut at the invitation of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, for consultations with the Lebanese government, Deputy Minister to the President and Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes announced here on Thursday.
Pashiardes also said that the Foreign Minister on Wednesday sent a letter to his Finnish counterpart Erkki Tuomioja, whose country holds this semester's EU Presidency, as well as to the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, in which he states that ''Cyprus places at the disposal of the EU and the UN its infrastructure for the transfer of humanitarian aid to Lebanon, as well as members and equipment of the UN Peacekeeping Force in the area."
"Moreover, the Republic of Cyprus offers to send two officers of its National Guard to Lebanon, to participate in the UN Peacekeeping Force, in accordance with the recent UN Security Council resolution," the Spokesman added.
Pashiardes said that the United Nations Secretariat has already been informed about Cyprus' contribution as a transit station, as well as its willingness to participate in the Peacekeeping Force.
He added that so far there has been no official response from either the EU or the UN, noting that "there is surely no serious reason for a negative response."