|Sunday, 11 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-06-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 5 June 2007 Issue No: 2610
 PM Costas Karamanlis addresses Economic Forum on BalkansPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressed the Economic Forum on the Balkans in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Monday and stressed that Greece is steadfastly following policies of peace and good neighbourliness and is encouraging the European prospects of neighbouring countries in practice.
Referring to Turkey, Karamanlis said that "its full adjustment to the prerequisites and the principles and values of Europe also means its full accession to the European Union."
The prime minister went on to say that "we want a Turkey that rejects practices of unilateral demands, that respects its neighbours and responds to the commitments that it has undertaken itself, towards all the members of the EU. It cannot, in the 21st century, maintain an occupation force against the Republic of Cyprus, that is separating the island with the last wall remaining in European territory. It is necessary for a workable and viable solution to be found for Cyprus. A solution that is compatible with the resolutions of the Security Council and the principles and values of the EU. Cyprus must be reunited and all its inhabitants must enjoy with security the benefits of its incorporation in the European family."
On the question of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Karamanlis said that "if, indeed, it desires to move towards Europe it must: "follow and prove in practice a policy of good neighbourliness, abandon actions and practices of irredentist propaganda, quit its deadlocked stance and cover the distance belonging to it to enable us to meet on a mutually acceptable name."
The prime minister stressed that Greece is following a policy of open horizons and is aiming at strengthening cooperation with all the peoples and countries in the wider region.
Karamanlis termed the great fiscal adjustment achieved in Greece a "national success", as well as the high growth rates attained in the first quarter of 2007. He noted that growth is no longer linked to deficits and debts. It is based mainly on investments and on exports that are increasing spectacularly. Big investments, particularly in energy and tourism, are now finding open paths and suitable ground in Greece.
He further noted that the great successes achieved in the energy sector are upgrading the country's geopolitical importance and prestige, while unemployment has dropped below 9 percent after many years and inflation is at its lowest levels in past years.
"Greece is changing, it is on a dynamic development course," the prime minister said and stressed that changes and reforms will be continued.
The Forum is being organised by the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece and the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce.
 Climate change a 'pressing and threatening reality', Karamanlis stressesPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday underlined the need for joint action on all levels against climate change, which he described as a "pressing and extremely threatening reality".
In a message to mark World Environment Day on June 5, Karamanlis stressed the need for everyone to meet their responsibilities in practice, with clear goals and measurable results.
He urged all sides to set aside any differences and coordinate action on a global, regional and local level.
As a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol and in the framework of its obligations as a member of the European Union, Greece is following a comprehensive strategy for sustainable development pivoting on protection of the natural environment, restriction of greenhouse gas emissions, the import of green technology and renewable, environment-friendly energy sources, the Greek premier added.
"Seeing action for the environment as a duty, we are constantly enriching our planning with the new findings of research and the new capabilities offered by technology," Karamanlis said, stressing that the state has an obligation to continue to coordinate action for the environment at an even more intense pace, outlining rules and ensuring that they are strictly observed by all.
He also pointed out, however, that the starting point of all efforts for the environment was the active participation and support of the citizens themselves:
"With the conviction that realising this need will lead to a new environmental culture, we are continuing the common struggle with will and determination. We are ensuring, in practice, a viable, quality environment for this generation and those to come," he concluded.
 President Papoulias' message for World Environment DayThe time has come to put a stop to the destruction of the natural environment, President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias said on Monday in a message to mark World Environment Day.
"The margins of time and endurance of Nature itself have been spent," Papoulias noted, calling on all sides to coordinate their action and join forces "to put an end to this course of destruction".
"Even though we are going through an era when our technology gives up the option of making great strides toward the future, our relationship with Nature is heading backward, following a course of decline". It is a course that does not only degrade nature but also man himself. Climate change, the thinning of the ozone layer, the reduction in biodiversity, city smog, water shortage, the destruction of forests, the problem of waste management do not just foreshadow a dire future but have now become a nightmarish reality."
 Papoulias to spend World Environment Day on KarpathosPresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias is to travel to the Aegean island of Karpathos on Monday, where he will spend World Environment Day on June 5 by visiting a nearby protected marine region belonging to the NATURA 2000 network.
On Thursday, Papoulias will visit the island of Kassos to attend events commemorating the 183rd anniversary since the wholesale massacre of the island's inhabitants by Ottoman Turkish in 1824.
 Athens' International Airport environmental protection initiativesAthens' International Airport, one of the few airports worldwide with an EN ISO 14001 certified Environment Agency, will participate in the June 5 World Environment Day celebrations with a programme aimed at the protection and promotion of the Vravrona wetlands, involving interventions estimated at 40,000 euros.
In addition, it will undertake the construction of infrastructure projects and offer 20,000-euro-worth of educational material as a reward to schools participating in the airport's recycling programme by collecting over 16 tons of paper and aluminum.
Encouraging the study of environmental issues, the Athens International Airport will continue its five-year-long practice granting two scholarships on environmental management to postgraduate Aegean University students.
 FM Bakoyannis arrives in Egypt for working visitALEXANDRIA, Egypt (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis arrived in Egypt on Monday for a three-day working visit.
On Monday night, she officially inaugurated an exhibition on the late actress and politician Melina Mercouri at the state-of-the-art Alexandria Library, organised under the aegis of the Greek foreign ministry, UNESCO, the Melina Mercouri Foundation and the Alexandria Foundation of Greek Culture.
While in the city, Bakoyannis also met Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II and representatives of the local Greek community.
Bakoyannis congratulated the Patriarch for his mission and the efforts he is making for the relief of the people of Africa.
"I wish to assure you on behalf of the prime minister (Costas Karamanlis) and the entire government that we are close to you and will support you. We are aware of our responsibility, we are aware of the importance of the Patriarchate," she told Patriarch Theodoros II.
The Greek foreign minister also met with World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis and the president of the Greek Community of Alexandria, Haralambos Katsibris.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the minister is scheduled to visit Cairo and hold talks with her Egyptian counterpart Aboul Gheit, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the General Secretary of the Arab League Amr Moussa.
A foreign ministry announcement said that the talks between Bakoyannis and Egyptian officials will focus on bilateral relations and regional issues, especially the latest developments in the Middle East. During the meeting with Moussa, mean-while, the minister is to sign a memorandum of understanding with Greece for cooperation in the political, economic and cultural sectors.
 Government on prospect of early electionsAlternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Monday rejected suggestions that an an event held by the ruling New Democracy party in Thessaloniki over the weekend had a strongly "pre-electoral" atmosphere.
"The prime minister referred at length to specific achievements made by the government on the specific issue, which was the central focus of a pre-conference meeting in Thessaloniki. The government's commitments are being turned into action," he said.
According the spokesman, meanwhile, the question seemed to imply that the prime minister and the government did not have a right to present the things they had done.
Commenting on last week's statements by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who said that the interior ministry was ready to hold elections immediately if necessary, Antonaros denied that this was a sign that early elections were imminent, repeating the prime minister's statement that the "elections will be held in good time".
 Government denies plans to scrap tenure for civil servantsAlternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Monday denied that the government intended to do away with tenure for civil servants.
"There is no question of scrapping tenure for civil servants. It is guaranteed by the Constitution and nobody will touch it. The prime minister said, for one more time, something that has to do with the revision of the Constitution and which seeks to deal with the problem of a section of public sector staff that do not have the status of permanent employees. For these employees, that do not have the option of promotion, there is now provision for giving them the opportunity to rise within the service for reasons of internal fairness," he said.
He made the comment in response to questions, while he also clarified that newly-hired staff in the public sector would be hired under the same regime that exists today.
To another question regarding those hired with short-term temporary contracts, Antonaros stressed that the government's measures had provided solutions for 33,000 contract workers "held hostage for many years, with political intent, by former governments," who would now benefit from the new proposal for internal career development.
 PASOK leader slams government for underfunding educationMain opposition PASOK President George Papandreou on Monday roundly attacked the government for starving education of funds while at the same out granting questionable tax exemptions.
He was speaking to the parents' associations of two extended-day primary schools in the Thessaloniki district of Neapolis, during a two-day visit to the city, in response to complaints by the local mayor Nathanail Ladopoulos that contracts and other programmes for the area's schools could not be carried out because funding had been cut.
According to Papandreou, education was a top priority throughout the world and was an issue on which countries and people would be judged. He stressed that education could not be an economic burden for families, promising that PASOK would create extended-day schools throughout the country within its first four-year term if elected, in addition to radical reforms of the educational system.
The current school year ended in the midst of problems as pupils had to contend with the government's inconsistent and chaotic education policies, which had also lumbered Greek families with additional costs and burdens, he added.
He pledged that PASOK would make education its top priority, with the state picking up the full cost so as to reinstate free education.
On Monday afternoon, Papandreou is scheduled to visit the Thessaloniki Labour Centre and meet representatives of the staff at the Thessaloniki water and sewage company and the Hellenic Vehicles Industry (ELVO), following by meetings with local MPs in the evening.
On World Environment Day on Tuesday, Papandreou is to visit Echedoros, a municipality facing acute environmental pollution problems and a serious sewage sludge problem. On Tuesday afternoon at 15:30, he is due to deliver the opening speech at the 11th Thessaloniki Forum organised by the Association of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE).
 PASOK leader refers to educational issues during Thessaloniki visitMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou completed the first day of his visit to Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Monday with a long discussion at the First Junior High School and the First Senior High School of Kalamaria, devoting it to educational issues. Teachers, parents, pupils, students and local administration officials participated in the discussion.
Replying to a relevant question, Papandreou pointed out that his party does not favour non-state universities, saying that "we are in favour of the public university and we shall finance it."
Also commenting on issues concerning the funding of education, the PASOK leader said that funds exist and the party knows where to find them, provided that there is a political will for a fair redistribution of funds and noted that the goal is to enable Greece to have among the best school infrastructures in the world.
 Moldova's President to visit Greece next weekThe President of Moldova, Vladimir Voronin, will pay a state visit to Greece next week at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias, it was announced on Monday
Voronin, accompanied by his wife, is due to arrive in Athens on June 12 for a two-day official visit.
 PM to attend opening of conference on late statesman KaramanlisPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to attend the opening event of an international conference on his uncle and namesake, the late Greek statesman Constantine Karamanlis, on Tuesday at 18:30.
The conference is entitled "Constantine Karamanlis in the 20th century" while at 21:00 the same day, the prime minister will open an exhibition entitled "Constantine Karamanlis and his era" at the Benaki Museum in Athens.
 Antonaros on the FYROM name issueAlternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Monday reiterated the Greek government's stance for a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) via the UN, adding that Greece has entered the UN procedure in a very constructive way.
Responding to a question on FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski's statements, the spokesman cited the comments made on Sunday by Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on the issue according to which, Skopje needs to demonstrate good-neighborly behavior and abandon its irredentist logic opposite a member state of NATO and the EU.
 Justice minister holds talks with UN office executive director on combatting drugs and organised crimeJustice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras held talks on Monday with the executive director of the UN's office on combatting drugs and organised crime and general director of the UN's office in Vienna, Austria, Antonio Maria Costa.
"I am very pleased that we hosted Mr. Costa today, who heads the UN's office on combatting drugs and crime. A very important service, just like the work he is carrying out is very important," Papaligouras said after the meeting.
"The ascertainment is that crime in particular, but drugs as well of course, are problems that cannot be tackled effectively within the borders of whatever country. In reality, we are now speaking of 'globalised' crimes and this means that the effort for cooperation between countries to handle them must be similar," he added.
Papaligouras also noted the possibility of the UN organising a conference of ministers from the wider Balkan region, possibly in Thessaloniki, to coordinate the struggle against drugs and organised crime in this region.
 Coalition party leader visits ElefsinaCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos visited the region of Elefsina on Monday on the occasion of World Environment Day.
During his visit, he visited the coastal region of Elefsina and was given a briefing by Elefsina Mayor George Ambatzoglou on problems concerning industrial and toxic waste.
Alavanos said in a statement that the region is a cemetery for industrial pollutants, either through ship dismantling facilities or through the formation of locations for depositing industrial and toxic waste.
The Coalition party leader also noted that Greece lacks a plan on curbing polluting activities and for developing renewable energy sources in which case, as he said, all these problems might not have been created.
 PM Karamanlis briefed on rural development and food ministry issuesPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Rural Development and Food Minister Evangelos Basiakos in Athens to discuss farmer subsidies' issues, compensation payments, the government programme on the EU's 3rd CSF (Community Support Framework) absorption rate and the overall effort to promote quality farm products.
Basiakos stated that a conference for the promotion of farm products will be held at the Zappion Hall, Athens, on Tuesday, pointing out that he discussed with the prime minister measures aimed at boosting the agricultural sector and the countryside in general. On the farmers' compensation timetable, he clarified that ELGA (Hellenic Agricultural Insurance Organization) is responsible for compensation of damages in the three-month period after harvest, adding that compensation for certain farm sector damages needs the approval of the competent EU bodies.
The rural development minister stated that compensation payments from national resources are made in two years compared to four years in the past, resulting to compensation payments of up to 400-500 million euros annually, while the farmers' annual contributions are roughly 80-90 million euros.
Basiakos stressed that there will be no problems in the payment of compensations as a result of this year's drought, adding that the damages caused to fruit trees by hailstorms are being recorded.
 FinMin George Alogoskoufis arrives at Eurogroup conferenceFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis referred in Luxembourg on Monday to the achievements of the Greek economy in past years. Arriving at the conference of Eurogroup member-states, Alogoskoufis said that "Greece has made a very important effort in past years, decreasing its deficits dramatically, resulting in the fiscal deficit being below 3 percent of the GDP for the second consecutive year this year."
The minister further said that "due to the mixture of economic policy that was followed and of reforms that were adopted, we succeeded in having very high economic development and a decrease in unemployment," adding that the fact constitutes "an example of a successful mixture of economic policy and correct implementation of the Stability and Development Treaty."
Lastly, Alogoskoufis noted that "without all the problems having been solved, since fiscal problems also remain, as well as other reforms that must be promoted, we are quite satisfied at this phase that the first stage of the implementation of our reformist programme has been completed with success."
 'European strategy for viable development and Greece'Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Monday evening addressed an event in Athens on the theme "European strategy for viable development and Greece," which was organized by the Greek Watch of the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Greek Union of Graduates of the London School of Economics (LSE).
Valinakis noted "the challenge which viable development constitutes for every citizen," stating that the issue is a current one given that Tuesday is World Environment Day.
He stressed that "the protection of the environment and economic development are interlinked as there cannot be economic prosperity without a healthy natural environment."
Valinakis pointed out that the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Ministry and the other relevant ministries, including the Foreign Ministry, have set up a strategy for viable development in Greece in the coming years, "the main elements of which constitute the protection of basic rights, solidarity between the different generations, the democratic institutions, cohesion between the sectors and the protection of the environment."
 National Bank's investment in Turkey justified, governor saysNational Bank's choice to acquire Finansbank in Turkey was justified, the Greek bank's governor Takis Arapoglou said on Monday.
Addressing the 11th Thessaloniki Forum, the Greek banker said Finansbank is the best bank in Turkey and noted that National Bank has proof of the results it envisaged in its investment.
Arapoglou said National Bank needs around one year to fully absorb its acquisitions in Turkey and Serbia and noted that the bank opted to maintain the Finansbank brand name and the Turkish bank's board "to avoid disturbing anyone in Turkey " and underlined that the bank did not lose any savings deposits and customers. National Bank's investment in Turkey has led another 53 Greek enterprises to follow suit and invest in the country, he said.
The Bulgarian market is the second most profitable for National Bank, after Turkey, while the Romanian market was still maturing, Arapoglou said while he urged enterprises based in Northern Greece to focus more on their export activities.
 Greece, Egypt seek to boost bilateral economic relationsGreek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Monday met with visiting Egyptian Investments Minister Mahmoud Mohieldin and discussed ways to boost economic cooperation between the two countries and in particular investment opportunities in Egypt.
The two ministers discussed ways to implement a bilateral cooperation in energy in the framework of a bilateral agreement signed in Cairo, May 6, 2007. They also discussed plans to forge closer cooperation in energy and technology.
 Globus Maritime lists shares in AIM marketGlobus Maritime, a Greek shipping company, on Monday announced the listing of its shares in the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) market of the London Stock Exchange.
A company statement said trading of its shares will begin June 6, at an entry price of three UK pounds.
Globus Maritime said its initial public offering, worth 50 million US dollars, was one-and-a-half times oversubscribed totaling 75 million US dollars. The company said 29.5 pct of shares was offered to institutional investors in London, Paris and Zurich.
Globus Maritime operates a fleet of six cargo ships and has already announced it would distribute 50 pct of its net annual profits to its shareholders.
 Minerva reports sharply improved results in Q1Minerva on Monday reported a 30.1 pct increase in its first quarter turnover to 7.46 million euros, from 5.74 million in the same period last year.
Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) jumped 56.3 percent to 1.091 million euros in the January-March period, while consolidated pre-tax profits soared 92.4 pct to 731,000 euros.
After tax earnings jumped 86.9 percent to 716,000 euros in the first three months of the year, from 383,000 in 2006, with earnings per share at 0.115 euros, up from 0.062 euros in 2006.
Parent turnover rose 26.6 percent to 6.64 million euros, while pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings jumped 51.7 percent to 1.004 million euros from 662,000 euros in 2006. Pre-tax profits jumped 83.5 pct to 688,000 euros and after tax earnings soared 78.2 pct to 688,000 euros.
 Cars in Greece increased 131 percent from 1990-2005The number of cars in Greece has increased by 131 percent between 1990 and 2005, European Commissioner for monetary affairs Joaquin Almunia said on Monday. He was replying to a question put by Greek MEP Kostis Hatzidakis, from the ruling New Democracy party.
The Commissioner also confirmed that Greece was at the top of the EU league for percentage energy consumption on transport, the sector that is the largest percentage contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.
In his reply, Almunia said that Greece ranked sixth in the EU for the percentage increase in the number of cars per person, jumping from 170 per 1,000 inhabitants in 1990 to 393 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2005. During that time, the average increase in the number of cars throughout the EU was 31 percent, with the highest increases in EU newcomers Lithuania (222 percent), Latvia (206 percent) and Estonia (138 percent) and the lowest in the Netherlands (18 percent), Sweden (10 percent) and France (5 percent).
According to figures gathered by Eurostat, however, Greece continues to be below the EU average for the number of cars per thousand inhabitants, which currently stands at 476. It ranks 17th among the 25 EU member-states, with the highest number of cars per 1000 inhabitants in Luxembourg (669), Italy (590) and Germany (559) and the lowest number of cars per 1000 inhabitants in Slovakia (242), Hungary (287) and Poland (323).
Hatzidakis noted, however, that transport accounts for a much larger share of carbon dioxide emissions in Greece than either households or industry, contributing 39.3 percent of the total.
"Unfortunately, we are the most petroleum-driven country in Europe, exacerbating the energy problem and burdening urban centres with additional emissions of pollutants. It is clear that the efforts to adopt a more effective policy for clean cars and to promote public transport must be intensified," the MEP stressed.
 Greek stocks end 1.12 pct down on MondayGreek stocks ended sharply lower on Monday in the Athens Stock but the composite index of the market managed to close above the 4,900 level. The index fell 1.12 pct to end at 4,917.67 points with turnover a heavy 444.8 million euros.
Most sector indices ended lower with the Telecommunications (2.15 pct), Utilities (1.89 pct) and Media (1.88 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Healthcare (2.41 pct), Constructions (0.99 pct) and Oil (0.49 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index dropped 1.37 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.30 pct lower and the Small Cap index rose 0.95 pct.
Tria Alpha (20 pct) and ANEK (19.80 pct) were top gainers, while Lanacam (9.72 pct), Hellenic Acquaculture (6.67 pct) and Ippotour (6.59 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 178 to 99 with another 31 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.49%
Personal & Household: +0.12%
Raw Materials: +0.07%
Travel & Leisure: +0.23%
Food & Beverages: -1.37%
Financial Services: -1.42%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 23.60
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.10
HBC Coca Cola: 33.86
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.42
Emporiki Bank: 20.74
National Bank of Greece: 42.00
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.30
Titan Cement Company: 44.12
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover an improved 124.077 million euros.
The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.35 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.72 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 6,459 contracts worth 84.865 million euros, with 38,617 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 345 contracts worth 10.766 million euros, with 1,495 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 21,419 contracts worth 8.445 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Intracom's contracts (7,175), followed by PPC (4,870), OPAP (536), National Bank (734), Alpha Bank (663), Titan Cement (614), ATEbank (858), Viohalco (1,078) and Hellenic Petroleum (1,176).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.519 billion euros on Monday, of which 1.357 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.162 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 965 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek an German bonds was 0.22 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.66 pct and the German Bund 4.44 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate fell to 3.78 pct form 3.80 pct on Friday, the two-day rate eased to 3.79 pct from 3.80 pct, the one-month rate was 4.03 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.48 pct from 4.47 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.359
Pound sterling 0.683
Danish kroner 7.508
Swedish kroner 9.398
Japanese yen 165.65
Swiss franc 1.663
Norwegian kroner 8.173
Cyprus pound 0.587
Canadian dollar 1.436
Australian dollar 1.630
 Suburban railway extended to PiraeusTransport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis inaugurated an extension of the suburban railway to the port city of Piraeus on Monday. The new extension has a length of 7.5 kilometres and includes the new stations of Lefka, Rentis and Rouf.
The new stations are fully accessible to people with special needs, while restoration work at the building housing the Piraeus Railway Station will also be completed by autumn.
Speaking on arrival in Piraeus, Liapis said that "the suburban railway has reached the port. At the beginning of the summer tourist period, the country's big port is being linked with the biggest airport. Greece's two main gateways are being linked. The journey from Piraeus to the airport can now take place with the suburban railway more comfortably and quicker in less than an hour."
The minister also revealed that the suburban railway will reach the coastal city of Kiato, in the Peloponnese, in a month and the city of Xylokastro, also in the Peloponnese, will follow.
 Waste composting plant inaugurated at Ano Liossia landfillInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday attended the inauguration of a recycling and waste composting plant in Ano Liosia, Athens, the same area that hosts the city's only legal landfill site.
Authorities noted that plants of this type ensure the management and processing of 50 percent of all garbage produced in the country, while limiting the total weight of waste by 75 percent. More importantly, the volume of waste in decreased by 90 percent, thus significantly reducing spare requirements and the amount of land occupied by landfill sites.
Pavlopoulos stressed that the solid waste management in Greece is among the most complex environmental issues in major urban centers, adding that the long-awaited project initially got underway in 1997 but its progress was hampered by a lack of political will and transparent procedures.
Other speakers said that the plant would be able to accept 1,000 tonnes of mixed waste a day, from which it would produce 350 tonnes of alternative solid fuel, 200 tonnes of compost, 25 tonnes of recyclable metals 800 kilos of aluminium and 250 tonnes of bundled waste to be disposed of at a landfill site.
The recycling plant will turn the site of the Ano Liosia landfill into a green area while the state finally meets its old debt to the people of the region of Attiki, particularly the neighboring Thriasio municipality and Western Attica, by materializing a project that respects the region and its people, stressed Pavlopoulos.
The minister also announced that a complete programme for the restoration of the uncontrolled garbage dumping sites will be ready by the end of 2008.
 Government spokesman on new waste processing plantAlternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros noted that construction of the waste processing plant was launched in 1997 but had not gone into operation by 2004, in spite of huge sums spent in conditions marked by a lack of transparency.
After long delays, the project's construction was finally completed within just three years and would begin operation with a processing capacity of about 1,000 tonnes of garbage daily, with the prospect that this would increase to up to 2,000 tons on a daily basis, added Antonaros.
The alternate government spokesman stressed that the government regards it as a pilot programme of great importance for the solution of the solid waste management problems throughout Attica, adding that a problem lingering for decades with grave consequences for the environment and the people's quality of life was approaching its solution.
 Actor Sotiris Moustakas diesPopular Greek actor Sotiris Moustakas died on Monday at dawn in the intensive care unit of Athens' General State Hospital, where he was rushed after feeling intense discomfort during a theater play rehearsal on Sunday evening.
Moustakas was born in 1940 in Cyprus and starred in many films, mostly comedies, produced during the so-called golden era of the Greek cinema in the 1960s, while he never stopped playing leading roles in the theater. He was married to actress Maria Bonelou, who co-starred with him in may of the films.
All Greece's politicians, including the president and prime minister, on Monday expressed their condolences for the sudden death of 67-year-old Greek comic actor Sotiris Moustakas, who died shortly after collapsing during a rehearsal for a production at a local theatre.
One of the most important comic actors of the late 20th century, whose career spanned for decades and countless roles in film and theatre, Moustakas is best known abroad for his part as the village idiot Mimithos in the film 'Zorba the Greek' starring Anthony Quinn, while he also appeared in the 2007 film 'El Greco'.
According to President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, Moustakas was "a worthy successor of ancient satire, whose genuine talent and gifted character gave the meaning of entertainment its ancient Greek sense".
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis described the actor as "one of the most important comic actors to emerge from Greek and Cyprus", while Culture Minister George Voulgarakis said that he had been "tested successfully both in Aristophanic roles and in modern satire and had emerged as one of the most significant actors of his generation".
Condolences for the actors death were also expressed by Communist Party of Greece General Secretary Aleka Papariga, main opposition PASOK MP Tilemachos Hytiris and the Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) party.
Voulgarakis also announced that the actor would be given a funeral at public expense.
The funeral will take place on Wednesday at 16:00 at Halandri cemetery.
The actor was born in Limassol, Cyprus in 1940 and studied acting at the National Theatre drama school in Athens.
 Eighty-three lose driver's licence under new traffic codeAttica traffic police on Monday reported that 83 drivers lost their driving licence due to traffic violations since Sunday, when a new traffic code with stiffer penalties went into effect. Police also removed licence plates from 36 cars and registration papers for another 32.
They said that tickets for a total of 722 traffic violations were written out on the same day, of which 67 were misdemeanours and 655 were fines.
Specifically, 70 were for exceeding the speed limit, 96 for failing to wear a helmet, 13 for not wearing a seatbelt, 20 for use of a mobile phone while driving, 17 for running a red light, four for dangerous driving and 99 for illegal parking.
There were also 975 inspections for drunk-driving in which police found 41 offenders over the blood-alcohol limit, six of which were prosecuted as misdemeanours.
 Former U.S. president George Bush arrives in KavalaFormer United States president George Bush arrived at Alexander the Great airport at Chrysoupoli, near the coastal city of Kavala in northern Greece, on Monday, accompanied by his wife, his twin granddaughters and personal friends and under draconian security measures.
The former president and his entourage flew by helicopter to the yacht "Turama" that had anchored at the port of Nea Peramos on the previous day.
George Bush, who was in a very pleasant mood, walked briefly on the vessel's deck with his wife and grandchildren before going inside the luxury yacht, that sailed for a trip in the Aegean Sea at noon, accompanied by a coast guard vessel.
 Attica police dismantle ring selling fake public transport ticketsAttica police on Monday said they had dismantled a ring of foreigners selling fake travel cards giving unlimited journeys on the Athens public transport system. They said the group sold large numbers of such fake monthly passes for 15 euros each and had been doing this for the past four years.
The ring was discovered on Saturday, when police arrested a Moldovan and a Romanian woman that were selling the fake tickets, as well as a Russian man that was supplying them. A search is now on for a Ukrainian man that is suspected of being the mastermind of the operation and actually producing the counterfeit tickets.
According to staff testifying at the trial of the three suspects on Monday, the scam caused huge losses to the Athens Public Transport Organisation (OASA).
The three were arrested following a tip-off that one of the women, who worked as a cleaner at an Athens hospital, was selling the counterfeit travel coupons. Officers posing as buyers contacted the woman and set up a meeting where they arrested her, while her two associates were picked up when they turned up for meetings at other Athens metro stations.
Forty fake monthly coupons for June and four fake unlimited travel cards were found in their possession, in addition to 1,770 euros from the sale of fake tickets.
 Exhibition director arrested on lewdness, offending nat'l symbol chargesThe arrest of a modern art exhibition director at an Athens exhibition centre over the weekend on charges of violating public decency and offending a national symbol will be held on Monday, a development that has briefly reawakened the age-old debate of where artistic expression ends and where lewdness begins.
The Helexpo centre exhibition director was arrested after authorities confirmed complaints that a video showing x-rated images -- involving a naked woman caressing herself accompanied by the Greek national anthem -- was amongst the exhibits.
 Environmental protection event in AthensA public awareness event on environmental protection issues will be held in Athens' Syntagma Square on Tuesday, organized by the presiding board of the Attiki Prefecture Local Union of Municipalities and Communities (TEDKNA).
The union has also expressed its full support for Ellinikon Mayor Christos Kortsidis, who leads mobilizations for free access of the public to beaches.
 Armed robbers take 140,000 in attack on SATO employeeTwo armed robbers on Monday got away with 140,000 euros during an early morning attack on an employee of the SATO furniture manufacturer on the Vari-Koropi road.
The two culprits cut off the SATO employee, who was riding a motorbike, firing one shot against him and grabbed a bag containing the firm's money had his personal effects.
The bullet damaged the man's motorbike but did not cause him any injuries.
 Attack on Lambrakis group building by hood-wearing vandalistsA group of 15 vandals concealed by hoods attacked the Lambrakis Journalism Organisation (DOL) building on Mihalakopoulou street in Athens on Monday afternoon, breaking windows on the ground floor and then splashing the interior and two private cars with red paint. Immediately afterwards, the culprits fled the scene, escaping on foot.
 Protection racket dismantled in ThessalonikiThe police on Monday announced that a ring operating a protection racket blackmailing storeowners in Thessaloniki had been dismantled.
Two foreign nationals, aged 24 and 26, were arrested and a third is still wanted accused of blackmailing fellow nationals for the past three months.
The culprits were selling protection to the storeowners and resorted to violence to persuade their victims to pay them the money they requested.
 Rain on TuesdayCloudy and rainy weather is forecast in all parts of Greece on Tuesday. Temperatures will range between 14C and 28C. Winds easterly, southeasterly, light to moderate. Scattered showers in Athens with temperatures ranging between 18C and 26C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 17C to 22C.
 Papadopoulos: July 8 Agreement the only way towards a solutionNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)
Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has expressed the hope that Ankara and the Turkish Cypriots will at long last cooperate in implementing the July 8 Agreement, "which now, is the only way towards the comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem."
Speaking at the state banquet on Monday in honour of the President of the Republic of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Papadopoulos said "the faits accomplis, imposed by the force of arms of the invading military forces of Turkey, cannot and will not be accepted or legitimized" stressing that "it is our greatest priority to seek a mutually acceptable solution through negotiations under United Nations auspices, on the basis of a bicommunal, bizonal federation, which will ensure the genuine reunification of the island, its people, its institutions and its economy; a solution based on international law, the relevant United Nations Resolutions and compatible with the principles and values on which the European Union is founded."
He noted that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus remains faithful and is committed to the full implementation of the July 8, 2006 Agreement, which provides for concurrent discussions on substantive issues of the Cyprus problem and those that affect the everyday life of all Cypriots.
"This process is necessary for a new successful endeavour for the comprehensive resolution of the Cyprus problem and has been so recognised by the Secretary-General as well as by all the Permanent Members of the Security Council of the United Nations. We sincerely hope that Ankara and the Turkish Cypriots will heed these calls and will at long last cooperate in implementing the Agreement, which now, is the only way towards the comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem," he added.
He noted that regrettably, however, the Turkish side appears to persist in pursuing its separatist policy on Cyprus and is currently focusing on politically upgrading the status of the secessionist entity in the occupied area, under the guise of the so-called "lifting of the isolation".
"In view of this, it is incumbent upon all to be fully aware of this political objective and, therefore, refrain from any actions or initiatives that encourage, even inadvertently, such a policy and thus undermine the prospects for a comprehensive solution and the reunification of Cyprus," he said.
Papadopoulos noted that the question of the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community is quite separate and one to which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus attaches great importance and has in fact taken a series of measures and initiatives in its support and recalled that recently, the Government adopted a new package for the economic benefit of Turkish Cypriots and the encouragement of bicommunal interaction through, for example, the financing of joint business ventures and interests and the support of bicommunal cooperation at the level of civil society.
"We shall continue to promote the economic integration of the island and increased contacts and cooperation between the two communities with the aim of facilitating the reunification of Cyprus," he pledged.
Referring to Turkey's EU accession process he said "Cyprus has supported Turkey's European perspective, provided that the common membership criteria are fully satisfied, the acquis is implemented and the European values, principles and norms of behaviour, are respected in practice."
"It is up to Turkey to demonstrate that it possesses the will to proceed on this path, fulfill the requirements and honour its obligations undertaken vis-a-vis all the Member States of the Union, including Cyprus, on the principle of solidarity amongst Member States of the Union, in relation to an applicant state. These criteria and conditions are, after all, not special to Turkey but are common to all candidate states."
He added that "in this respect, the Union needs to be firm, fair and consistent to safeguard the credibility, integrity and potency of the accession process and to ensure that Turkey's transformation into a truly European country becomes a reality. Turning a blind eye to Turkey's failures will, I believe, serve neither Turkey's best interests nor the Union's."
Papadopoulos said President of Latvia's presence to Cyprus "attests to the significant relations developing between our two countries, since our joint accession to the European Union" and said he was convinced that the substantial exchanges they had in their talks, will provide the impetus for closer and increased co-operation at the bilateral level, in the European Union, as well as in multilateral fora.
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