|Friday, 23 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-06-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 8 June 2007 Issue No: 2613
 PM and environment minister visit Psyttalia sewage worksPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday paid a visit to a new sludge-drying plant that recently went into operation at the sewage works on Psyttalia, an islet in the Saronic Gulf, accompanied by Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias.
The prime minister stressed that, with the Psyttalia drying plant, the sewage sludge management problem was being solved in the most appropriate, scientific way. Sewage sludge produced from waste collected all over the Attika basin had been accumulating on the islet of Psyttalia because the sewage works did not include a drying plant, creating fears that the partly-treated sludge would destabilize and contaminate the surrounding sea.
Karamanlis stressed that the government had now met its commitment to solve the problem within just three years.
Referring to environmental protection issues, the prime minister stressed that the environment is a major challenge that the present generation is being called on to tackle with a sense of responsibility, realizing the gravity of the situation.
The efforts aimed at protecting the environment should be a year-round effort and not be limited to empty words and statements on each World Environment Day, stressed Karamanlis. Environmental planning and government action was aimed at protecting biodiversity, rational management of water resources, promotion of renewable energy sources and environmentally-friendly management of waste, he added.
On his part, Souflias stressed that the new plant solved a 15-year-long problem for the people of Attika and the neighboring municipalities. Back in 2004, the government inherited an unacceptable and dead-end situation with a daily production of 500 tons of sewage sludge, 150 thousand tons of accumulated sewage sludge, no chance of transporting it elsewhere and no drying plant, he stressed.
An ecological disaster in the Saronic Gulf has been averted, underlined Souflias, adding that the permanent solution to the problem became a priority for the ministry of environment. He also referred to projects materialized in the past three years aimed at harmonizing Greece with the relevant EU legislation.
The trial operation of the plant was launched on June 1. Initially, only two of the four drying lines will be in operation and by the end of June they will be processing 500 tons of sewage sludge daily, equal to the daily production of sewage sludge in the region of Attika.
The other two drying lines will be put in operation in early July, raising the plant's sewage sludge drying capacity to over 750 tons daily, while the goal set for the next 6 months is to permanently solve the problem of the 150 thousand tons of accumulated sewage sludge.
Antonaros on PM's visit, Psyttalia plant
Questioned about the prime minister's visit during the regular press briefing, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros cited a statement by Souflias that "an environmental crime" had been committed at Psyttalia.
The minister had stressed that the drying plant should have been constructed in 1995, when the sewage treatment plant first went into operation and began producing 250 tons of sewage sludge each day.
Souflias had also related how the project had been included in EU funding programmes in 2000 but had failed to materialize - in spite of six supplementary contracts that pushed the total cost up to 202 million euros instead of the original 128 million euros - so that Greece was penalized by the European Commission in 2003 with the loss of 30 million euros in EU funding.
Questioned about the fact that reporters had only been notified about the visit at 6:00 on Thursday, Antonaros said only that the "Prime Minister makes public appearances and all journalists are welcome".
Opposition party officials comment on PM's visit to Psyttalia
Main opposition PASOK party public works and environment rapporteur Andreas Loverdos and Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party economic and social policy rapporteur Panayiotis Lafazanis on Thursday criticised the visit made to Psyttalia by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
"The prime minister and his ministers are celebrating test functions of factories and the supposed future resolving of the problem of sewage mud, while they have broken every record concerning the violation of timetables that they themselves have set to solve this problem," Loverdos said.
"At this time, instead of government moves of election expediency, we are expecting to ascertain in practice the observation of timetables for the full operation of the draining factory and the absorption of sewage mud already accumulated in Psyttalia," Lafazanis said on his part.
 FM briefs prime minister on Egypt visit, ministry mattersPrime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred Thursday with foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, who told reporters after the meeting that she briefed the premier on her visit to Egypt earlier in the week, the situation in the Middle East and her upcoming visit to the area, as well as ministry matters.
Replying to a question on the FYROM name issue and whether that country would accede NATO under that name, Bakoyannis replied that parliament will be briefed on the issue "and detailed discussions will take place".
 Bakoyannis to visit Middle East on SundayGreek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be in the Middle East from Sunday, June 10 for a succession of visits to Israel, Ramallah in the Palestinian territories, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos announced on Thursday.
The minister's visit confirmed Greece's strong, continuing and active interest in the developments in the region, Koumoutsakos added.
"The visit is planned during a crucial period of the region. Tension between the Palestinians and Israelis, the situation in Lebanon and the region in general, justifies the worry and concern of the international community. Greece believes that efforts must be intensified to re-initiate a comprehensive peace effort, it sees an important role for the European Union and is acting in this direction," he told reporters.
Asked whether the minister would raise issues connected to the Jerusalem Patriarchate during her meetings with the region's leadership, Koumoutsakos said the talks would chiefly focus on issues concerning peace and stability, while adding that the issue was expected to be raised "in meetings with Israeli authorities" which had still not officially recognised the new Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos.
 Burns and Bakoyannis to have working dinner on SaturdayForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be having a working dinner with visiting United States Undersecretary for political affairs Nicholas Burns at the Greek foreign ministry on Saturday, according to an announcement on Thursday.
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said that talks between the two officials were expected to focus on the latest developments in Kosovo and the Middle East - where Bakoyannis is to begin a tour the following day - as well as issues of regional interest.
Another issue likely to come up is the inclusion of Greece in the U.S. 'visa waiver' programme, which allows citizens of the specific country to travel to the U.S. without obtaining a visa.
According to the spokesman, a team of experts will soon be visiting Greece over the last issue, for contacts on a technical level.
 PM and President to meet on FridayPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to visit President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias at the presidential mansion on Friday for the regular briefing of the president by the prime minister, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced.
 Foreign ministry on FYROM's NATO accessionThe accession of a candidate state into NATO depends on whether it meets a number of criteria regarding legislation, measures against corruption, smuggling and illegal arms trade, the effective and democratic operation of the justice system and definitely, the total observance of good neighborly relations, stated foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos during the regular press briefing on Thursday.
Koumoutsakos reiterated the latest foreign ministry statement according to which, the Interim Agreement is being challenged through a number of recent actions mainly by the current FYROM government, adding that the strategic goal of all actions undertaken by the Greek government is to reach a mutually acceptable solution on the FYROM name issue given that the present situation is temporary.
Referring to the Interim Agreement, the foreign ministry spokesman pointed out that it consists of a number of articles that cannot be cited on an individual basis, stressing that the objective of the agreement and the UN Security Council decisions is reaching a mutually acceptable solution.
Responding to a question on whether Athens intends to clash with the United States because of the different positions they have on the issue, Koumoutsakos denied that there will be a clash stressing that the Greek government seeks to meet its objectives in compliance with international law.
 PASOK spokesman on FYROM issueMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement Movement (PASOK) spokesman Petros Efthymiou on Thursday responded to reporters' questions regarding the upcoming visit to Albania by US President George W. Bush.
"The government was not aware from the start how one actively and effectively defends national issues and is constantly taken by surprise and unfavorable alliances are formed," Efthymiou said.
Efthymiou added that "we defend, in all the international forums and PASOK president (George Papandreou) in his capacity also as president of Socialist International (SI), the Greek positions and we notify everywhere that everyone must take into account the Greek positions and not create additional burdens and cultivate the intransigence of Skopje with its options."
Asked to comment on the position of the president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) that his country accepts to enter NATO "with its temporary name" and "whether the government has henceforth margins, after this maneuver, to react to FYROM entering NATO," the PASOK spokesman replied that "the difference between the (ruling) New Democracy (ND) party and PASOK is referred to the real field of politics. The PASOK government shaped in advance the alliances which were positive for the country."
 US Congressmen address letter to President Bush on FYROM name issueWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA / T. Ellis)
Members of the US Congress addressed a letter to US President George W. Bush, calling on him to use his upcoming meeting with FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski on June 10 in Tirana to underline the need for a mutually acceptable solution between Athens and Skopje on the FYROM name issue.
In the letter, signed by Robert Wexler (D-FL) chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Europe and minority leader in the same subcommittee Elton Gallegly (R-CA), it is pointed out that the meeting in Tirana presents a major opportunity to settle a lasting but solvable problem in the Balkans.
The two US House Representatives express their deep concern over FYROM's violations of the interim agreement which, as they point out, prohibits "hostile actions and propaganda". They referred particularly to the publishing of FYROM Military Academy books that include maps showing the so-called "Great Macedonia" stretching out to Mount Olympus on Greek soil.
The US House Representatives point out to the US President that he is offered an opportunity to play a historical role in tackling a issue which, if solved, will greatly benefit the US interests in Greece and the Balkans, adding that they are ready to work with him. They also call on the US President and his administration to express opposition to existing or future violations of the interim agreement by FYROM and encourage President Crvenkovski to take immediate and constructive steps and work with the Greek government and the United Nations to reach a mutually acceptable decision.
 FM spokesman on UNSG's report on UNFICYPForeign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Thursday that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's report on the renewal of the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) contained both positive and negative elements.
"The report is a comprehensive text, which contains a series of references, of which some are assessed as positive and some not. It is the necessary procedural step for tabling a draft resolution concerning the renewal of the mandate of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus. What is important and has particular weight is the final decision that will be taken by the Security Council on prolonging the presence of the peacekeeping force on the island," Koumoutsakos said, responding to a relevant question.
 Deputy FM Stylianidis meets Jerusalem PatriarchJERUSALEM, Israel (ANA-MPA/P. Haritos)
Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Thursday, second day of his official visit to Israel, met with Jerusalem Patriarch Theofilos III.
Stylianidis visited the Jerusalem Patriarchate accompanied by a Greek business delegation.
Theofilos thanked the Greek deputy foreign minister "for the undivided support which Greece offers to the Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre."
Referring to the recent crisis of the patriarchal foundation, Theofilos noted that "behind the actions of the questionability of the institution are political and economic interests," while he stressed that "the patriarchate will continue to play its role in the broader region."
On his part, Stylianidis stressed that "Greece stands and will stand next to the Patriarchate and will support with all its strength the presence of the Foundation in the region."
 Archbishop Christodoulos to visit CairoArchbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos departs for Cairo on Saturday at the invitation of Alexandria and All Africa Patriarch Theodoros.
Christodoulos will attend the official celebrations for the inauguration of the renovated Saint Nicholas Church in Cairo and the inauguration of the renovated Patriarchal Foundation.
 Health minister meets Cypriot counterpartHealth and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos met with his Cypriot counterpart Haris Charalambous in Athens on Thursday.
After the meeting, Avramopoulos referred to his own recent visit to Cyprus, where, with Charalambous, they shaped "a framework of stable cooperation for the future, which covers all the sectors of the broader space of health and social solidarity."
Among these are the promotion of joint policy programs and research, the twinning of major hospitals such as the Attico on the part of Greece and the Makarios III Hospital, as well as the hospitals of Limassol, Cypus and Iraklio, Crete.
Avramopoulos also said that discussed in depth were common problems in the health sector, as is the confrontation of epidemics.
 HAI signs agreement with US for upgrading of F-16sAn agreement was signed in Athens on Thursday night between the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) and the US Air Force for the upgrading of F-16s.
The agreement was signed during a special event which took place at the Zappion Mansion.
The agreement concerns the electronic upgrading by HAI of about 95 American F-16s which are based in Europe and the total amount of the program will exceed 50 million dollars.
The agreement is of a six-year duration and the work will be carried out at Tanagra.
 Gov't unveils wide-ranging draft bill governing funds' investments, assetsThe government on Thursday unveiled a high-profile draft bill envisioning a stricter and more transparent framework for managing state-run pension funds' investments and assets, an initiative that comes amid the ongoing political clash between the government and opposition over a questionable bond purchase by one such fund.
According to Labour and Social Securities Minister Vassilis Magginas, who took over from Savvas Tsitouridis in late April, state-affiliated funds will be allowed to invest up to 23 percent of their accumulated assets in property, stocks/bonds and securities of companies listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, under certain conditions. Additionally, a provision in the draft bill will allow funds, for the first time ever, to invest in euro zone products, in co-financing schemes of Greek state projects, leasing of properties and public-private sector partnerships.
Beyond the 23-percent level, pension funds will be allowed to invest up to 3 percent of assets in fixed term accounts, up to 1 percent in structured bonds issued by the Greek state.
Among others, funds will be allowed to set up mutual funds, individually or in groups, as well as real estate holdings companies
Funds will also be free to lend interest-bearing loans to beneficiaries, contributors and even fund employees without the lending calculated as investments.
Additionally, a framework for the hiring of qualified investment and portfolio managers is laid out.
Under the draft bill, state-run funds will be given a five-year grace period to harmonise their portfolios with the aforementioned provisions. During the five-year period, however, funds will not be allowed to purchase Greek state structured bonds.
In unveiling the bill, Magginas, a veteran New Democracy cadre, also underlined that placement in commercial banks' structured bonds will be disallowed.
"The government cannot guarantee the future of pension funds because it has very serious responsibilities for the theft that these (funds) have experienced; nor can this bill act as a screen to cloak responsibilities and illegalities," top PASOK deputy Maria Damanaki said.
On the other hand, she said PASOK will comment on the substance of the draft bill's provisions when it comes to Parliament.
On its part, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) charged that the draft bill was "merely another step towards promoting a gambling away of funds' assets and their exploitation in order to finance big capital's goals," a KKE press release read.
Finally, Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos criticised the draft bill as opening the way for "robbery, which until now was done illegally, to be carried out legally".
According to Alavanos, pension funds were called on to cover deficits, public debt and huge arms purchases, especially from the United States, while at the same time they were being surrendered to speculative gambling and support of large private enterprises.
 Global economic conjucture favours Greek economy, Greek industrialist saysThe Greek economy is going to be tested when the global economy ends its long-term positive course, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, former president of the Federation of Hellenic Industries and chairman of S&B Industrial Minerals, said on Thursday.
"The conjucture is favourable, that's why our course is positive. This is the reality for Greek economy," Kyriakopoulos said while he underlined the need for a further restructuring of the Greek economy and strengthening its competitiveness.
"A fiscal consolidation and containing of the country's foreign debt will help Greece look forward to a better future and enabling it to meet challenges, such as the social security system, an ageing population and intense international competition. We are currently at our limits, we cannot afford any new problems," the Greek industrialist said.
He added that the Greek state was big, public services were supernumerary paid by Greek taxpayers, while deficits were chronic and the country's external borrowing was not satisfactorily reduced.
Kyriakopoulos is currently president of the Youth Enterpreunship Union.
 Chinese tourism minister visits RhodesChinese Tourism Minister Shao Qiwei paid a brief visit to the Dodecanese island of Rhodes on Thursday and referred to the island's great potential to attract Chinese tourists.
China's tourism minister urged the island's local government to undertake an initiative and to play a protagonist role in this effort, which, as he said, "will have great benefits for the island."
However, he stressed that Rhodes, "which constitutes an ideal destination," must inaugurate its presence to the tourism exhibitions taking place in China and to be advertised to the country's population.
He also referred to the growth of cultural tourism in Rhodes, noting that Chinese tourists are particularly interested in trips to destinations which have such a tourism product.
The Chinese tourism minister arrived in Rhodes in the morning at the head of a nine-member delegation, accompanied by Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.
A meeting was held later at the Dodecanese Chamber of Commerce, in the presence of local tourism officials and agencies, but also representatives of the island's local government, at which the will was expressed by the two sides for the development of relations in the tourism sector.
Valinakis said "today we are called upon to open new roads of cooperation and tourism is a privileged corridor of communication," noting that 22 million Chinese tourists visited Europe last year.
"The ministry is working systematically for the development of these relations," said Valinakis, noting that "Rhodes which combines everything, can have great benefits from the development of tourism cooperation."
 Council of EU Telecommunications Ministers ratifies roaming regulationBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The European Union's Council of Telecommunications Ministers convened in Luxembourg on Thursday and unanimously ratified the European Commission's proposed regulation concerning roaming in public mobile telephone networks in the EU. Greece's positions were outlined by Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis.
As a result of the regulation's ratification, the cost of roaming services is expected to decrease dramatically, meaning of services provided by a national mobile networks agency to a mobile networks exploitation agency of another country for the benefit of consumers and businesses in the framework of the unified market.
The Council also examined the directive conerning the completion of the EU's domestic post office services market, but reached no agreement. Liapis stressed the need to safeguard the universal service through a realistic and effective way of funding it.
 Greek inflation rate up to 2.6 pct in May, yr/yrThe Greek annual inflation rate rose to 2.6 pct in May, from 2.5 pct in April, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in its monthly report, said the May consumer price inflation reflected an 8.8 pct increase in food, beverage and tobacco, a 3.2 pct rise in healthcare and a 3.8 pct increase in education. Clothing and footwear rose 3.2 pct and hotel-restaurants was up 3.7 pct in May, while durable goods-household appliances and services rose 2.4 pct.
The consumer price index was up 0.2 pct in May from April, reflecting an 1.3 pct increase in clothing-footwear and an 1.3 pct rise in transportation prices, while food/beverage were down 0.4 pct and hotel/restaurant fell 0.5 pct.
Greece's harmonised inflation rate rose 2.6 pct in May, from the same month last year, for an average rate of 2.80 pct in the five-month period from January to May, compared with a 3.24 pct figure in the corresponding period in 2006.
NSS, secretary general, Manolis Kontopyrakis, said he expected the inflation rate to remain unchanged at May's levels in June.
 Euro-court rules against Greece over capital duty practiceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
The European Court of Justice on Thursday announced its ruling on Greece's practice of applying a capital duty in the event of transfer of a registered office or an effective centre of management of a company and exemption from that duty of all agricultural cooperative organisations, associations or consortia, as well as co-ownership of vessels, among others.
The Court ruled that Greece (the Hellenic Republic) "has failed to fulfil its obligations under Council Directive 69/335/EEC of 17 July 1969 concerning indirect taxes on the raising of capital (OJ, English Special Edition 1969 (II), p. 412), as amended by Council Directive 85/303/EEC of 10 June 1985 (OJ 1985 L 156, p. 23) ('Directive 69/335')."
For the entire judgement, see: http://www.curia.europa.eu/en/actu/news/index.htm
 Inauguration of new oil installations at AspropirgosInstallations belonging to the Aegean petroleum company were inaugurated at Aspripirgos on Thursday which, as it was stressed, will boost the company's plans to expand its activities in the domestic market, in the Attica prefecture, the Peloponnese and southern and insular Greece, as well as the market of oil lubricants and shipping fuel.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by the Metropolitan of Piraeus Serapheim and by Deputy Development Minister Anastasios Nerantzis, who referred to the important role played by businesses that are active in the petroleum sector and in the energy sector in general in serving consumers and the country's development.
Aegean Oil's facility in Aspropirgos was obtained from Texaco in July 2006 and was completely modernised, while it possesses 21 storage tanks having a total capacity of 32 million litres.
Aegean Oil, with a network of 500 outlets, is in fourth place nationwide with a share of about 8 percent in the oil market, according to an announcement by the company. After receiving the new RO-RO tankers, the company expects its competitiveness and position in the insular region to gain momentum.
 Announcement by French BNP PARIBAS on Bank Employees Health Fund bondThe French BNP PARIBAS Bank issued an announcement on Thursday in the wake of statements made by the President of Alpha Bank's employees, Tassos Giatis, who called for the checking of a partnership bond between the Bank Employees Health Fund and BNP PARIBAS, speaking of a possible fake agreement and raising questions as to whether BNP PARIBAS recognises the genuineness of the bond.
"BNP PARIBAS sold, among other investors, in November 2006, a bond having a face value of 40,000,000 euros with a five-year duration to the Bank Health Fund, that is listed with the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. The bond in question has been issued by BNP PARIBAS S.A., it has an AA/Aa2 assessment and its capital is guaranteed 100 percent on expiry," the announcement said.
"According to allegations, this bond was sold on the basis of a letter in which it was mentioned that the Bank of Greece was to guarantee a minimum yield for investors. After an internal check was carried out, we are certain that no letter was sent by BNP PARIBAS with this content to a potential client," it added.
The announcement concluded by saying that "we are absolutely unaware as to how this document was produced and how it reached the hands of the Bank Health Fund, since it is obviously fake. As far as we know, no other investor of this Bond has received such a document."
 Social security fund presidents file lawsuit in bonds issueThe presidents of the social insurance funds of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), Greek Post Office Orgasnisation (ELTA) and Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) employees on Thursday filed a lawsuit against all persons responsible for the offences of fraud, embezzlement and the legailsation of revenues resulting from illegal activities concerning the purchase of a structured bond in June 2006.
The lawsuit mentions that the fund, according to assessments made by the plaintiffs, has so far suffered a loss amounting to five million euros due to the decrease in the value of the structured bond, that cost 25 million euros.
 Papariga visits finance ministry, warns of changes for civil servantsCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday visited the Information Systems General Secretariat at the Greek finance ministry, where she met and talked with members of the staff.
In statements during her tour of the service, she underlined that the arguments over which party dominated state services were misleading.
"In reality there is the State, which is staffed by people that defend the system and is, above all, a state that wants civil servants to be controlled, an entire nation to be controlled and subjugated by the dominant policy. This is the crux of the problem," she said.
It was also apparent that changes to the labour relations of civil servants were being promoted, KKE's leader warned.
"Already there are people in this field that are hired with contracts and are not permanent. Therefore, the public sector, public administration, will also be used to extend part-time work and flexible labour relations," she said, adding that the political parties needed to clarify their positions on this issue.
 European Court rules on issue of cars with foreign licence platesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The European Court, examining on Thursday a Greek case concerning sanctions anticipated by Greek legislation against citizens who, while having their regular home in Greece, import and use cars with foreign licence plates, decided that the Greek law anticipating the temporary confiscation of the vehicles and their return after fines have been paid is contrary to European Union law.
The European Court stressed in its decision that this measure deprives the beneficiary of the use of his vehicle over a period that may be long. Taking into consideration the importance of the right to drive a vehicle for the effective exercising of rights related to the free movement of people, the court ruled that this measure is disproportionate with the aim pursued.
 Hi Tech Innovators' Partenariat participation applications deadline on June 11Applications for participation in the Hi Tech Innovators' Partenariat, to take place in Thessaloniki on October 5-6, 2007 within the framework of the Infosystem international exhibition, will be accepted until June 11, 2007, it was announced on Thursday.
The Hi Tech Innovators' Partenariat, organized by the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO), is held under the auspices of the national economy and finance ministry and the ministry of development, providing cooperation opportunities for companies active in the sectors of information technology software, research and hi-tech.
 Thias Fisheries company purchases 51 pc of Mare Nostrum share capitalThe listed Thias Fisheries company has signed a contract to purchase 51 percent of the share capital of the Mare Nostrum SA company. The purchase price amounts to two million euros and will be paid with own capital by the year 2011.
The Mare Nostrum company has been active in the fish trade sector since 1999, as well as in the processing of fresh and frozen fish products. It sells about 5,000 tons of fish products a year, both from fisheries and open-sea fishing. It has an exporting character and covers all the main markets of Europe and of the rest of the world.
 Thessaloniki Water to expand activitiesThessaloniki Water & Sewage SA on Thursday announced a plan to create five subsidiaries with the aim to promote the company's expansion in telecommunications, energy and construction sectors. The plan is expected to be presented to a general shareholders' meeting in June 29.
George Skodras, the company's chief executive, presenting the plan to analysts and institutional investors, said the first subsidiary was expected to be launched by the end of the year, covering energy, telecommunications, water-sewage activities. In 2008, three more subsidiaries were expected to be launched covering telecommunications and energy activities, while a construction subsidiary was expected to be launched in 2010.
Thessaloniki Water plans to invest around 15.3 million euros in the energy sector, of which 4.8 million euros will be the utility's participation, 4.2 million euros in loans and the remaining in funding. Energy production is very significant for the company as Thessaloniki Water's consumption cost totaled 7.73 million euros in 2006.
 Greek stocks end 0.70 pct lowerGreek stocks plunged further on Thursday, pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange 0.70 percent down to 4,838.87 points. Turnover was a strong 398.7 million euros.
Most sector indices lost ground with Insurance (1.58 pct), Telecommunications (1.42 pct) and Food and Beverages (1.32 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Utilities (2.54 pct), Personal and Household (0.38 pct) and Financial Services (0.18 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 0.75 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.34 pct lower and the Small Cap index fell by 0.59 pct.
ANEK (9.96 pct), Parnassos (8.77 pct) and Kerameia Allatini (8.62 pct) were top gainers, while Iktinos (-19.61 pct), Hadjioannou (-10.00 pct) and Emporikos Syndesmos (-7.50 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 181 to 81 with another 42 issues unchanged.
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.339 billion euros, of which 969 billion were buy orders and the remaining 1.370 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 625 million euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was unchanged at 0.22 percent. The Greek bond yielded 4.73 pct and the German Bund 4.50 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.70 pct, the two-day rate fell to 3.70 pct from 3.75 pct on Tuesday, the one-month rate rose to 4.06 pct from 4.05 pct and the 12-month rate fell to 4.47 pct from 4.49 pct.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.04%
Personal & Household: +0.38%
Raw Materials: -0.53%
Travel & Leisure: -0.47%
Food & Beverages: -1.32%
Financial Services: +0.18%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.76
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.70
HBC Coca Cola: 33.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.18
Emporiki Bank: 20.90
National Bank of Greece: 41.30
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.32
Titan Cement Company: 43.56
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices continued their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, while turnover rose to 188.691 million euros.
The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.65 pct while on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.67 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 11,059 contracts worth 142.487 million euros, with 38,440 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 446 contracts worth 13.676 million euros, with 1,266 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,724 contracts worth 32.527 million euros, with investment activity focusing on PPC contracts (8,041) followed by Alpha Bank (1,280), Intracom (1,099) and ATEbank (1.054).
 Foreign Exchange Rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.357
Pound sterling 0.684
Danish kroner 7.506
Swedish kroner 9.395
Japanese yen 164.74
Swiss franc 1.660
Norwegian kroner 8.146
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.438
Australian dollar 1.605
 National Committee for the Social Integration of Immigrants meetingThe National Committee for the Social Integration of Immigrants held its first meeting on Thursday chaired by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos to discuss the existing immigration situation, form a framework of operation and plan future committee activities.
Pavlopoulos commented that the committee goals are to contribute to the establishment of a national policy on the social integration of immigrants and launch a broad-based social dialogue allowing for consensus and mutually acceptable solutions for the benefit of immigrants.
Participants in the meeting included political party representatives, the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute, immigrant associations, non governmental organizations, local government representatives, as well as representatives of ADEDY (Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council), the Church of Greece, GSEE (General Confederation of Workers of Greece) and SEV (Federation of Greek Industries).
 President Karolos Papoulias concludes three-day visit to Dodecannese regionPresident Karolos Papoulias concluded on the island of Kasos his three-day visit to the Dodecannese region on Thursday, moved by the welcoming he received from the inhabitants of both the islands of Karpathos and Kasos.
The President attended events commemorating the 183rd anniversary of the island's holocaust, accompanied by Minister of the Aegean and of Insular Policy Aristotelis Pavlidis and other officials.
Kasos Mayor Dimitris Erotokritos gave President Papoulias the key to the city to honour his presence on the island of Kasos.
Papoulias said in his address that in border regions of the country such as Kasos, the heart of Greece beats.
Shortly after 3 in the afternoon, President Papoulias left Kasos with an Air Force Super Puma helicopter, heading for the airport in Karpathos where he boarded a plane flying to Athens airport.
 President Papoulias to be declared honorary citizen of Cyprus' occupied town of MorphouThe City Council of Morphou, a town in the Turkish occupied northern part of Cyprus, decided to declare Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias as an honorary citizen in a special ceremony to take place on Saturday at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Morphou Mayor Haralambos Pittas stated that the municipality wishes to honor the Hellenic Republic President and, in his person, also honor the state and political leadership of Greece and the Greek people for their contribution in support of Cyprus' struggle.
 President Papoulias to visit Sparta and TegeaPresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias is due to visit Sparta on Friday, where he will officially declare the opening of the 2nd International Conference on Sports Administration organised by the Human Movement and Quality of Life School at the University of the Peloponnese.
Papoulias will arrive in Sparta by helicopter on Friday afternoon and visit the "Olive and Greek Olive Oil Museum" at 19:00. At 20:00 he will attend the opening of the conference at the Sainopoulos amphitheatre in the city.
On Saturday morning, he will leave Sparta and go the village of Kerasitsa in Tegea for the unveiling of a bust of Grigoris Lambrakis.
 CoE Social Rights Committee condemns GreeceGreece has been convicted by the Council of Europe's Social Rights Committee for violating citizens' rights regarding environment and public health issues.
The appeal, made in April 2005 by the Marangopoulos Foundation on Human Rights, concerns the violation by the Greek state of obligations towards the inhabitants of the city of Ptolemaida and employees at the lignite mines and the factories of the Public Power Corporation (DEH).
The decision by the Council of Europe's Committee was taken in February 2007, but an embargo had been in force until now.
The Council of Europe, whose decisions are not binding, will monitor the country's compliance with the decision. At the same time, the European Commission's General Environment Department has been notified accordingly.
 First Southeast European Theatre Festival in Thessaloniki this monthAncient drama will be the basic axis of the First Southeast European Theatre Festival organised by the State Theatre of Northern Greece (STNG) in cooperation with the culture ministry in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, from June 14 to July 13.
The festival, the first of its kind, is being organised under the title 'Aspects of Ancient Drama" and eight companies from Turkey, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, Albania, Cyprus and Greece will take part.
Nikitas Tsakiroglou, the STNG director, told a press conference in Thessaloniki on Thursday that the festival "tries to explore new proposals for staging ancient drama as well as the political, social, and philosophical questions which it raises from its birth until today world wide."
Euripides' Medea will dominate the festival as it will be staged by four different companies, or 50 per cent of the festival's participants.
 "Festitalia 2007" opens in Thessaloniki on June 13The ten-day "Festitalia 2007" festival organized for a fifth year by the Italian Cultural Institute of Thessaloniki will open on June 13 with a music concert by Italian singer Milva, and Greek music composers and singers Thanos Mikroutsikos and Stamatis Kraounakis.
Festival events include music concerts, theater, and Italian cuisine.
 UNMIK head on informal visit to Mount AthosHead of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Joachim Rucker is on an unofficial visit to the all-male monastic community of Mount Athos in Chalkidiki Peninsula, northern Greece, it was made known on Thursday.
He is accompanied by the head of Greece's Liaison Office in Pristina, Nikolaos Kanellos, and the heads of the diplomatic missions of Germany, Russia and Austria to Kosovo.
 Mokbel led before extraditions prosecutorWanted Australian fugitive Antonio (Tony) Mokbel, 41, appeared before a Greek public prosecutor responsible for extradition orders on Thursday, following his arrest two days earlier in the suburb of Glyfada.
Mokbel is one of Australia's most wanted criminals, with outstanding warrants and convictions in serious drugs and homicide cases.
The public prosecutor ratified the warrant issued for his arrest and ordered that he should be held in custody until Greek courts decided on his extradition.
Under the legal procedure, Australian authorities must send all the evidence required to support the request for his extradition and the case will then go before the Appeals Judges' Council, which will issue a ruling in the case.
Mokbel also faces charges brought against him by Greek authorities for the use of fake documents, which constitutes a misdemeanour under local laws. According to police, the 41-year-old Australian national was using a wig as a disguise at the time of his arrest and was carrying a fake passport and driving licence, while he had presented himself as a shipping firm employee.
According to an ANA-MPA correspondent from Melbourne, the Victoria State Police had offered a one-million Australian dollar reward for information leading to the capture of Lebanese-born Mokbel, who has been wanted since March 19, 2006, just before he was sentenced by a Melbourne court for cocaine trafficking. In addition to other charges, meanwhile, Mokbel also faces trial for the murder of a prominent member of the Australian underworld and is a suspect in several more killings during a gang war that left 30 people dead.
According to the reports, drug trafficking in Australia had earned him an estimated 40 million dollars and roughly half of the money was channeled abroad. He was also involved in the production of ecstasy (XTC) pills and a police had found quantities with an estimated street value of 78 million Australian dollars in a raid on his lab.
 Abuse of minors by peers discussed in parliamentary committeeThe Parliament's Standing Committee on Cultural and Educational Affairs launched a five-session hearing on Thursday on the issue of the abuse of minors by their peers inside or outside the school before preparing an informal report to be presented to the ministry of education.
Based on findings gathered by Child Psychiatry Professor Ioannis Tsiantis from the Children's Hospital in Athens, 15 percent of schoolchildren have experienced some form of intimidating behavior from their peers, more often observed in the 8-15 age group, with the tendency to decline in frequency in older ages. The means most often used are verbal intimidation, sexual harassment, physical violence and social exclusion, while girls are twice as likely to become victims.
 Illegal immigrants arrested in XanthiPolice on Thursday said they were seeking the driver of a car with Bulgarian registration, owned by a resident in the Bulgarian city of Burgas, after he failed to comply to an order by Greek border guards to pull over. Instead, the driver accelerated and soon afterward abandoned the vehicle at the 13th kilometre of the Xanthi-Komotini national highway.
Following the car, police intercepted 11 illegal immigrants from Iraq, who lacked travel documents or legal papers allowing them to enter Greece. The immigrants entered the country via the Greek-Turkish border and were transported up to the specific point in a passenger car belonging to a Bulgarian.
They were led before the public prosecutor in Xanthi to be charged, while the vehicle was confiscated. An investigation has been launched by the Kotyli border guard's station.
 Mostly fair on FridayMostly fair weather is forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with scattered showers in western Greece and central Macedonia. Temperatures will range between 13C and 28C. Winds variable, light to moderate. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures ranging between 17C and 28C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 16C to 26C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe sentences imposed on the protagonists -- former Rectors and deputy Rectors -- of an embezzlement scandal at the Panteios University, and the high-risk structured bonds/social insurance Funds' reserves affair, were the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Three times life imprisonment and 150 years imprisonment (in total) for the former leadership of Panteios for embezzlement of billions (of drachma) from the university's coffers".
APOGEVMATINI: "Heavy penalities to professors/PASOK (main opposition party) members - The Criminal Appeals Tribunal imposed up to three times life imprisonment to the protagonists of the Panteios University scandal".
AVGHI: "The one billion euro secret loan from JP Morgan - The government refuses to release the information".
AVRIANI: "The three times life sentence over the looting of Panteios University terrifies the crooks".
CHORA: "Greek light for rational benefits - More tax reliefs are on the way".
ELEFTHEROS: "Sweeping counter-attack by economy minister Alogoskoufis against the PASOK leadership".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The rectors paid dearly for the embezzlement - 69 years imprisonment (in total) to four of the protagonists of the Panteios scandal".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Czar in hiding - What is being concealed about the secret loan to Alogoskoufis".
ESTIA: "The government doing itself an injustice - It is emitting a picture worse than the real one".
ETHNOS: "Benefits with secretly borrowing - Operation...surveillance of voters, with barrage of promises".
KATHIMERINI: "Corruption and punishment at Panteios - The sentences of the former rector, deputy rector, without ability of suspension".
LOGOS: "The lifting of the surveillance (the excessive debt procedure on the Greek economy) brings benefits - Reinforcement of the social state announced by Alogoskoufis".
NIKI: "Documentation of poverty - Papandreou (PASOK leader) accuses government over economic policy".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Communist Party of Greece (KKE): ND (ruling New Democracy party) and PASOK turning us back to the decade of the '50s".
TA NEA: "One in prison, to end this affair - Panic plan by government".
TO VIMA: "Draconean sentences of the Panteios scandal".
VRADYNI: "The Funds' reserves being 'shielded' - 2 percent ceiling on investments in structured bonds".
 Archbishop of Cyprus to meet the PontiffNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II will meet this month at the Vatican with Pope Benedict XVI.
CNA has learned that the meeting will take place on June 16. A press conference will follow.
Archbishop Chrysostomos II will go to Italy on June 12 and will leave on June 17.
During his stay there he will also have contacts with other officials of the Roman Catholic Church.
 Slovakian FM arrived in Cyprus īn a working visitNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Slovakian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Kubis arrived here on Thursday on a working visit, during which he will hold talks with his Cypriot counterpart George Lillikas.
The issues to be discussed are the two countries' bilateral relations, the Cyprus question, the EU-Turkish relations, the future of Europe and other issues of mutual interest.
Kubis will also be received by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopulos and will meet with the President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias.
He will also attend a meeting with the leaders of the Cypriot political parties.
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