|Saturday, 10 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-04-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 8 April 2008 Issue No: 2863
 PM briefs President on NATO summitPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis briefed President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias Monday on the outcome of the recent NATO Summit meeting in Bucharest.
Referring to the FYROM name issue, Karamanlis said that it is not an easy issue and called again on the neighboring country to adopt a positive stance in order to reach a solution soon.
He said that the strategy drawn by Greece was being implemented with consistency, adding that we will continue to work within the UN framework in a self-confident, serious and responsible manner . We hope that the other side will be responsive and a solution will be reached soon, he stressed.
In the brief talk they had in front of reporters, President Papoulias said that Bucharest was a success, pointing out that it creates a new starting point.
The premier stressed that this was a difficult turning point, adding that there is still a long way to go before a solution is found, expressing the hope that the outcome will be positive.
President Papoulias pointed out that Bucharest offers a new sense of optimism that the end result will be a success.
 Government on FYROM issue, possible Moscow visitGovernment spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday confirmed that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had been invited to visit Moscow but said that nothing was yet definite, with arrangements still being discussed through diplomatic channels.
He denied any knowledge of plans to sign an agreement for the construction of a new fuel pipeline between Greece and Russia during the visit.
Replying to questions about the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and possible US involvement in a solution of the name dispute with Greece, the spokesman stressed that Greece's foreign policy was consistent, stable and used strategies that brought results. He also indicated that Athens wanted the process underway at the United Nations for finding a solution to the name issue to continue.
"We want a solution to the problem. Neither acceleration [of the process] nor a freeze. A solution to the problem within the framework of the UN," he emphasised.
He also rejected suggestions that the prime minister and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis were sending out mixed messages about what a "geographical qualifier" meant in the framework of the FYROM name dispute.
 U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Fried on FYROM name issueWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried, commenting on the outcome of last weeke's NATO summit said, during a briefing of foreign correspondents, that one of the "difficult" issues was that of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), adding however that there was a way to proceed to a solution to the land-locked republic's name and the the U.S supported ongoing efforts for resolving the issue.
Replying to a question by a Greek reporter on "so-called language and ethnic entity," Fried said that "the 'Macedonian' language and the 'Macedonian' people exist, they are not so-called."
He added that in this context, the language is being taught at the State Department's School of Diplomats and mentioned, as an example, that the Bosnian language has also been added, while the language of Montenegro might also be added.
Speaking as a former historian, Fried said, these are codified through historical procedures.
"This, however, is not related to the historic region of Macedonia which is different from the present country of 'Macedonia'. The government of Skopje, as Greece calls it, or of 'Macedonia', as we Americans call it, is not raising claims," he said.
He noted that "peoples ultimately determine themselves" and added that he himself "is not a negotiator, nor an athropologist to speak of ethnic entity issues."
Having replied to other questions as well, he concluded by describing Greece as "an ally and a good friend".
Focusing on the issue of FYROM being extended an invitation for NATO accession, Fried said "of course, the position of the United States is well known. We wanted an invitation to 'Macedonia', either based on the Nimetz proposal or as FYROM. Greece didn't accept that. However Greece has made clear that it wants a solution to the name issue. And the 'Macedonian' government has made clear that it wants a solution to the name issue. Both sides want to move ahead. And this became clear during the course of the discussions we had, and President Bush had, with the 'Macedonian' leaders. And it became clear in the course of conversations that Secretary Rice and I had with the Greek foreign minister. It's clear that both governments don't want to get into a cycle of mutual recrimination. And I think that the press in Skopje reflects this. If you see, it is -- the 'Macedonians' do want to move forward. They're obviously disappointed, but I applaud their constructive approach. And frankly I'm quite heartened that the Greek government seems ready to engage intensely. And it's our intention to try. We're not going to give up. We support the Nimetz process. Nimetz -- well, I can't speak for him, but I believe he is ready to engage, certainly not throw in the towel. We want to move ahead."
Greece and FYROM have been engaged in UN-sponsored talks under UN mediator Matthew Nimetz for the finding of a mutually acceptable solution to the former Yugoslav republic's "name issue".
 PM Karamanlis confers with development ministerPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with development minister Christos Folias, who briefed the premier on his recent trip to Azerbaijan for talks on energy issues.
Folias told reporters after the meeting that Greece remained solid in its goal to render the country a key energy hub in the region of Southeastern Europe, aimed at ensuring a "guaranteed energy adequacy" for the country and also of evolving into a dependable energy transit center.
Asked whether cooperation with Russia in the energy sector would be expanded, Folias said that cooperation was continuing, adding that the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project was progressing.
"We always cooperate with all all who have something to contribute to our targets," Folias said.
To a question on the high prices, Folias said that a number of steps have been taken, but not all, adding that the problem could not be solved from one day to the next.
The minister noted that 41 measures have already been announced, which had been positively received by the market and society, of which 12 have already entered into effect, while new announcements would be made in two weeks.
He said that the government was continuing its efforts to check any dysfunction arising on the market, and warned that tough steps would be taken against transgressors.
 FM confers with UN official over CyprusForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday conferred here with visiting UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe over developments on the Cyprus issue, and specifically, on a March 21 agreement between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
The UN official arrived in Greece after his visit to Cyprus, and before heading to Turkey.
After the meeting, Pascoe said: "We had very fruitful talks with Ms. Bakoyannis about Cyprus. We both agreed that there is a very good chance to proceed and we must find a way to help. We will work together in order for procedures to be accelerated. We will cooperate firmly with Greece, Turkey and all the people in Cyprus to reach a solution".
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos stressed that Bakoyannis reiterated Greece's position for the resumption of a well-prepared negotiations process in order to accomplish a just and viable solution for Cyprus.
Later in the day, Pascoe will meet separately with Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.
 Minister chairs anti-doping meeting; prosecutor orders urgent probeCulture Minister Michalis Liapis on Monday chaired a wide-ranging meeting on the use of banned performance-enhancing substances (doping) by Greek athletes, as the same time as an urgent investigation was ordered into the national weightlifting team following an announcement that samples of all 11 athletes checked in March by WADA were positive.
According to Liapis, a special committee will be formed within 10 days to suggest stricter anti-doping measures, pointing out that stricter penalties will have to be imposed on violators.
On his part, Deputy Minister for Sports Yiannis Ioannidis, who attended the meeting chaired by Liapis, announced the establishment of an inter-party parliamentary committee on the issue, following instructions by the prime minister. Ioannidis, a well-known basketball coach in Europe, also stated that laws on banned substances will be changed, while incentives for athletes to win medals will be re-examined.
The latest doping furor broke on Friday when it was announced that 11 out of 14 athletes -- both in men's and women's national teams -- had failed tests conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on March 7. Well-known national team coach Christos Iakovou tendered his resignation immediately, in the wake of the news.
The judicial investigation, ordered by chief prosecutor Panagiotis Poulios, will be headed up by Athens first instance court prosecutor Andreas Karaflos, who will determine whether any crimes have been committed in relation to the law on the use of banned substances.
The Greek Weightlifting Federation is expected to be ordered to turn over all documents, including results of the out-of-competition anti-doping tests.
Meanwhile, in an unconfirmed report that emerged on Monday, a Chinese company that produces the detected substance -- illegal by WADA standards -- informed Greek authorities on the same day that within the next few days it will assume, in writing, responsibility for sending the controversial substance to the Greek weightlifting team by mistake.
 PASOK's Papandreou addresses students at Athens Law SchoolMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Monday addressed students at the Athens University Law School, expressing conviction that "a reversal was on the way and the change will stop the country's downhill slide".
"Because PASOK is a force for radical change, many people would like it to slowly fade. But PASOK is forging ahead with its ideas, united and strong," he underlined.
Expressing a wish that their generation will "become the generation of the new change," he said that PASOK differed from both the conservative forces that told young people that they were helpless to resist the blows of fate and the Left that "shut themselves in their shell and dealt with problems as a protest".
"PASOK undertakes actions, deflecting the culture of fear," he underlined.
Referring to the outcome of the NATO summit in Bucharest with regard to the name dispute - and the Alliance's decision not to extend an invitation to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) after Greece raised a veto - Papandreou said that Greece had "played defence" and that this had been right but that it also needed to take the initiative.
He stressed, meanwhile, that the current generation of young people would find themselves up against with the most unprecedented problems yet to face humanity, such as climate change, immigration, new technologies, biotechnology, unemployment and general insecurity, warning them to "be ready for everything".
Referring to his party's policy on higher education, including the controversial article 16 of the Constitution, Papandreou stressed that Greece's educational system was badly in need of reform and outlined his party's policies for achieving these, including an increase in funding and autonomy for universities and technical colleges.
Papandreou's address to the students, the first by a PASOK president to the Athens law school, comes in the run-up to student elections throughout the country, in which he said the party-affiliated student party PASP should fight to overturn the ageing system and to bring internal changes within the student movement.
 Venizelos address to PASOK-affiliated students' groupMain opposition PASOK deputy and former minister Evangelos Venizelos spoke in his election district of Thessaloniki on Monday, where he addressed a rally by PASOK's affiliated college students' grouping, PASP.
In his address, Venizelos, who vied for the party's leadership during an internal election last November, referred to a "victorious return" for the current main opposition party, while charging that the government "clashed" with the majority of society in passing social security reform.
Moreover, he reiterated his opposition to allowing non-state universities to be established in the country while calling for the creation of a "support fund for the new generation".
 PASOK parliamentary reps and shadow cabinet namedMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou appointed on Monday party cadres Evangelos Venizelos and Christos Papoutsis as the Movement's parliamentary representatives.
Papandreou also appointed a "shadow cabinet". Among those appointed are Haris Kastanidis (Interior), Louka Katseli (Economy and Finance), Andreas Loverdos (Foreign Affairs), Vasso Papandreou (National Defence) and Michalis Chrysohoidis (Development).
 KKE leader Papariga calls for rejection of EU Reform TreatyCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga called on working people on Monday "to demand a referendum and reject the European Reform Treaty and the European Union itself."
Speaking at a party event on the EU's new Reform Treaty, Papariga said that the aim of KKE is to contribute to the development of a movement for these goals, "strengthening the wave of resistance, disobedience and insubordination to EU decisions."
Papariga accused the two mainstream parties, the ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK, of "agreeing on and implementing the anti-popular and reactionary policies of the EU" and of accept the new Lisbon European Treaty.
Referring to the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspsismos) party, she said that its stance "is disorientating and dangerous for a different European Treaty with more and a more unified Europe."
"In essence, this means a more, a more reactionary imperialist Europe that will compete in strength with the United states and the other imperialist forces in the distribution of markets and of spheres of influence," she added.
 Magistrate again interviews ZachopoulosThe hospitalised former culture ministry general secretary, Christos Zachopoulos, spoke for a second day on Monday to a special investigative magistrate assigned to the explosive blackmail case involving the former.
The first statements provided by Zachopoulos came on Friday, nearly four months after he was severely injured in a fall from his fourth-storey apartment, apparently in response to alleged blackmail attempts against him by a former associate and lover, as well as a couple of local attorneys.
A third meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at the Evangelismos Hospital in Athens, where Zachopoulos is being treated.
 Greek parade in ManhattanNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Tens of thousands of Greek Americans watched or participated in the great parade held in 5th avenue in Manhattan on Sunday, on the occasion of the March 25 national anniversary of the 1821 Revolution against Ottoman rule.
The parade lasted for three-and-a-half hours and began with a group of Presidential Guard Evzones, while Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas was a master of ceremonies.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the government were represented by Deputy Employment and Social Protection Minister Sofia Kalantzakou and the Cypriot government by Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou.
Speaking during the parade, Sioufas referred to the longstanding messages of the national anniversary of March 25, saying that "freedom is the predominant value in the lives of peoples and people. Democracy is the only form of government that suits free peoples and human beings."
 Five-hour work stoppage at ANA-MPA on TuesdayThe Board of the Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) has declared a five-hour work stoppage on Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and in view of this, the Athens News Agency-Macedonian Press Agency (ANA-MPA) will not broadcast news during this period of time.
 Greece, Cyprus agree to further strengthen economic, trade tiesGreece and Cyprus agreed on Monday to further strengthen their economic and trade ties, during a meeting in Athens between economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis and visiting Cyprus finance minister Charilaos Stavrakis.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Alogoskoufis said they discussed ways of boosting bilateral economic and trade relations.
The Cyprus economy, he added, had marked immense progress in recent years, and was one of the first countries among the EU's new member states to join the eurozone.
"We have many common points, and both economies are founded on extroversion," Alogoskoufis said, adding that he had invited Stavrakis, at the head of a delegation, for talks here aimed at further strengthening the relations between the two countries.
He said that prospects for expanding relations in the framework of the wider region of southeastern Europe would be examined.
On his part, Stavrakis said that the commercial and economic relations between the two countries were very strong, adding that it was only natural that his first visit abroad, as Cyprus' new finance minister, was to Greece.
Both countries have comparative advantages, Stavrakis said: "Greece has stong ties in SE Europe, and Cyprus with Russia and the Ukraine. Our cooperation will continue also via joint enterprises, to the benefit of the Cypriot and the Greek economies."
 Greek FinMin, BusinessEurope head discuss economic developmentsGreek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday met with visiting president of BusinessEurope, E.A. Seilliere, and the president of the Federation of Hellenic Industries Dimitris Daskalopoulos and discussed global economic developments.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Mr Daskalopoulos said that employers and trade unions were responsible for agreeing on the incomes policy in the private sector.
Mr. Seilliere said that BusinessEurope expects a cut in interest rates by the European Central Bank later this year.
 Development minister holds talks with European Industries Union presidentDevelopment Minister Christos Folias held talks on Monday with the President of the European Industries Union and Employers Federation (BusinessEurope) Ernest Seilliere and the President of the Businesses and Industries Federation (SEB) Dimitris Daskalopoulos, focusing on strengthening the investments climate both in Greece and in Europe and creating a European entrepreneurship support network.
In this framework, improving the existing institutional framework, encouraging cooperation and joint action among companies, simplifying bureaucratic procedures for establishing and running businesses and attracting young people to the business sector was considered important.
 EU Council of Transport Ministers on Galileo programmeLUXEMBOURG (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The European Union Council of Transport Ministers reached an agreement on the implementation of the satellite Galileo radio navigation programme here on Monday. Greece was represented at the meeting by Transport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis.
According to the Greek minister, many satellite aspects that will facilitate such sectors as transportation, communications, search and rescue, agriculture, etc, will be developed with the Galileo programme.
Hatzidakis further stressed that the Council's finalised agreement allows for the possibility of small and medium-size enterprises involving themselves in issues concerning implementation and services provided, providing opportunities for Greek businesses as well to participate in the implementation of the programme.
The transport ministers also discussed international road commercial transportation and the functioning of the market and of businesses in this sector. Addressing the Council, the Greek minister supported the need for measures to be taken with respect for the particularities of member-states, particularly for control apparatuses concerning the smooth operation of the merchandise transportation market.
 FinMin meets with BoG's employees' groupEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis met with representatives of the Bank of Greece's (BoG) employees group on Monday, amid successive 24-hour strikes by employees at the central bank to oppose pension reforms for their sector.
Both sides decided to create a three-member committee to examine the reforms that will affect BoG employees in light of the recently ratified social security reform and in relation to the BoG's participation in the European Central Banks' System.
Representatives from the ministry, the BoG and employees, respectively, will submit a report within a month, as part of recommendations to the relevant employment and social securities ministry.
 Bank of Greece suspends strikeThe Administrative Council of the Association of Bank of Greece Personnel (SYTE) announced on Monday the suspension of the strike at the BoG.
A meeting was held with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and agreement was reached for the setting up of a tripartite committee which will be comprised by representatives of the Economy and Finance Ministry, of the Bank of Greece and of the Association of Bank of Greece Personnel, so as to examine the adjustments concerning the implementation of the recently voted law for the Pensions Fund of the BoG.
 Greek commerce figures for 2007The year 2006 was positive for Greek commerce, the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) said in its annual report for 2007, published on Monday.
The report said commercial enterprises' forecasts for 2008 diverged both on the volume of sales and profitability, with public and limited companies more optimistic over their outlook for the current year.
Presenting the report, Demetrios Armenakis, president of ESEE, said the confederation "in its drive towards economic development in the country agreed to a two-year national collective general labour agreement aiming to boost the moral of Greek citizens".
One in two public and limited companies reported a significant increase in sales and profits in 2007, while personal enterprises reported less optimistic estimates for their sales and profitability over the year.
Public and limited companies reported increases of 11.2 pct and 5.7 pct in their 2006 sales, compared with 2005, although the growth rate of personal enterprises was much smaller during the same period. The first two categories of commercial enterprises said their gross profit margin was almost unchanged at 20 percent, with net profits up by 32.5 percent to 2.8 billion euros in 2006.
Public and limited enterprises re-invested their profits in 2006, particularly in the wholesale sector, while the return on equity rate rose significantly to 21 percent. Employment in the retail sector rose by 14,700 workers in 2007, while the rate of part-time employment fell to 4.7 pct from 5.8 pct in 2006.
 Value of Greek exports increases 4 pc in 2007The value of Greek exports increased by four percent in 2007, compared to 2006, and reached 17,148 million euros, while their value based on the devalued dollar totalled 23,469 million dollars, meaning an increase of 13.5 percent, according to a report by the Panhellenic Exporters Federation on the course of exports.
The leading role was played by the European Union's 12 new member-states. Greek exports to the rest of the Balkan countries also increased, while exports decreased in almost all of the remaining regions, according to the Federation.
As regards the composition of exports in large categories of products, the increase in Greek exports is mainly due to industrial products (10,350.7 million euros or 7.1 percent), while exports of farm products remained almost stagnant (1.2 percent). Exports of raw materials were lower (-11 percent), as well as those of fuel (-4 percent).
 British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce holding series of eventsThe British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce is holding a series of events in the framework of the "2 Nations-Athens 2008-London 2009" programme and with support by British Ambassador Simon Gass.
The programme is aimed at the parallel promotion of British and Greek interests, as well as the expansion and development of bilateral relations in new sectors.
The events will be held in Athens and in Thessaloniki between May and November, 2008, and will cover various sectors, such as the economy, businesses, science, literature and arts, sports, lifestyle and many others. Important personalities will be visiting Greece for this purpose.
The Chamber is the official representative in Greece of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and it is a member of the Council of British Chambers in Continental Europe (COBCOE).
 Intracom Telecom completes supply contract with Ward Telecom in UgandaIntracom Telecom on Monday announced it has completed the delivery of telecommunication products, services and IT infrastructure to Warid Telecom in Uganda ensuring the successful launch of operations of the Ugandan company in February 2008.
Under the agreement, Intracom Telecom and Sitronics Solutions (a Czech company) agreed to supply Warid with a FORIS NG customer support system, along with management and network support applications.
Warid Telecom is a member of Abu Dhabi Group and the most rapidly growing telecommunications company in the region with activities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uganda and the Republic of Congo.
 ERT at Cannes TV festivalGreek state broadcaster (ERT) will participate in the television festival MIP TV 2008, the world's largest television market, beginning in Cannes on Monday.
ERT will unveil 12 new productions under the slogan "TV Food for thought", according to a press release.
ERT's pavilion is in the centre of the exhibition hall, adjacent to the largest European and US companies.
 Greek stocks end 1.43 pct higherGreek stocks ended higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index rising 1.43 percent to end at 4,164.25 points. Turnover was a low 279.03 million euros, of which 29.5 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Food/Beverage (3.22 pct), Travel (2.35 pct), Telecommunications (1.86 pct) and Financial Services (1.76 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (1.72 pct) and Healthcare (1.10 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 1.65 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.56 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.36 pct. Epilektos (20.0 pct), Tria Alpha (9.92 pct) and Mathios (9.78 pct) were top gainers, while Diekat (14.89 pct), Perseus (9.80 pct) and Mesohoritis (8.0 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 130 to 101 with another 53 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.15%
Personal & Household: +1.51%
Raw Materials: +1.00%
Travel & Leisure: +2.35%
Food & Beverages: +3.22%
Financial Services: +1.76%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 21.42
Public Power Corp (PPC): 27.72
HBC Coca Cola: 30.10
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.90
National Bank of Greece: 36.96
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 20.16
Bank of Cyprus: 9.00
Hellenic Post Bank: 11.74
Piraeus Bank: 20.34
Titan Cement Company: 28.36
Marfin Popular Bank: 5.62
Marfin Investment Group (MIG): 5.06%
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices saw their discounts widening in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to 64.149 million euros. The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 3.16 pct, and the April contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.15 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 4,648 contracts worth 49.291 million euros, with 28,333 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 92 contracts worth 2.301 million euros with 247 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 6,819 contracts worth 9,376 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (1,061), followed by Marfin Investment Group (495), OTE (1,045), National Bank (951), Intracom (227), Mytilineos (321) and Hellenic Postbank (411).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was a low 593 million euros on Monday, of which 403 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 190 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 380 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.46 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.47 pct and the German Bund 4.01 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate eased to 4.02 pct from 4.07 pct on Friday, the two-day rate also fell to 4.02 pct from 4.07 pct, the one-month rate was 4.37 pct and the 12-month rate was 4.76 pct.
 Mayors of Athens, Sofia sign cooperation protocolAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and Sofia Mayor Boyko Borissov on Monday signed a protocol of friendship and cooperation between the two SE Europe capital cities, during a meeting at the city hall here.
Following the signing of the protocol, Kaklamanis noted that "this is the Sofia mayor's first visit to Athens, and I am very pleased that we have already agreed to cooperate in four key areas: the environment, culture, tourism and the economic development of the two cities.
Following an invitation extended by the mayor, I plan to visit Sofia to attend the first seminar, which will focus mainly on environmental issues ... Of course, we maintain friendly ties with Bulgaria and will continue this excellent cooperation for the good of our cities, as well as Bulgaria and Greece. We welcome him to Athens."
The protocol refers to friendship between the two countries, as neighbours and Member States of the EU; cooperation between tAthens and Sofia in the environmental, cultural, social and economic fields; the significance of culture and the preservation of its heritage in relation to the protection and improvement of the urban environment, as well as protection of the environment.
 Health minister presents action plans against smoking, environmental health threatsHealth Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday presented the government's National Action Plan against smoking, as well as the National Action Plan against environmental threats to health.
Pointing out that Greece is the only European country that had yet to implement Community regulations against smoking, he said that draft bills that forbade the sale and promotion of tobacco products to minors and to protect the public from passive smoking were already being processed by the appropriate Parliamentary committees.
He also quoted a survey showing that 84 percent of people agreed with banning smoking in public places and presented a CD-ROM prepared by the ministry to promote its anti-smoking message for young people.
The national action plan for environmental health threats includes the foundation of a environmental health observatory run by the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases, which will work with the National School for Public Health to set environmental health indicators, determine which population groups are at risk and develop a response.
It also immediately activates the Central Laboratory for Public Health to support environmental monitoring, the tracking of epidemics and research into contagious diseases.
 Injured Greek police officer to Israeli trauma rehab centreGreek special guard Efstathios Lazaridis, in Israel since February 27 to receive treatment for life-threatening and debilitating gunshot wounds sustained in the course of duty, was on Monday transferred temporarily from Hadassah University Hospital to a multidisciplinary rehabilitation centre to begin treatment with specialists.
Lazaridis, who was injured in the neck during the ambush of a police raid near the village of Zoniana on Crete, will also be monitored by a team of doctors from the hospital, a police announcement said.
Doctors treating Lazaridis said they managed to get infections suffered by the patient under control and that he did not have problems with bed sores, so that he would now begin an intensive programme of passive physiotherapy.
Further surgery on Lazaridis is scheduled to take place before the middle of May at Hadassah Hospital.
 Cloud, scattered showers on TuesdayCloudy and rainy weather with southerly, southeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 5-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 26C. Cloudy in Athens, with southerly, southeasterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 25C. Scattered showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 5C to 21C.
 CSU says Turkey a burden to Turkish CypriotsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Parliamentary Group of the Christian Democratic Union (CSU) Peter Ramsauer has expressed satisfaction over the opening of the crossing point in Ledra Street, noting however that Turkey has become a burden to the Turkish Cypriots and must stop using the Turkish Cypriot community as a hostage to meet its own national interests.
In a press release posted on the CSU website, Ramsauer expresses his satisfaction that he was able to participate in this greatly symbolic development, noting that although the opening of the crossing point rekindles hope and optimism, it is doubtful that it could be linked to a solution of the Cyprus problem any time soon.
He says that there are many interests and very complex issues to be taken into consideration. However, Ramsauer notes, this is a small but politically and psychologically important step and all interested parties must now be encouraged by this step and, despite various reactions, move things forward.
Ramsauer adds that both sides on the island must now achieve the reunification of Cyprus and that Turkey, as an occupying power, now has the unique opportunity to show good will, by giving the Turkish Cypriots a larger margin to move, something which they need and demand.
Concluding, Ramsauer notes that ''former protector power Turkey has for some time become a burden to the Turkish Cypriots and it must finally stop using the Turkish Cypriot community as a hostage to meet its own national interests.''
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
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