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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-04-22

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Tuesday, 22 April 2008 Issue No: 2875

CONTENTS

  • [01] Athens dismisses FYROM FM's reaction to Greek overtures
  • [02] PM letter to UN chief on FYROM 'name issue'
  • [03] Papandreou's health improving, PASOK spokesman says
  • [04] Papariga says struggle against port privatisations will go on
  • [05] SYN denounces poor conditions for Manolada farm hands
  • [06] Education minister meets Cypriot counterpart
  • [07] Torpedo boat upgrades
  • [08] Discussions continuing on strategic accord with DT for OTE
  • [09] PASOK deputies table Parliament question on OTE issue
  • [10] Greek FinMin approves 70 mln euros to Prefectural Authorities
  • [11] Tourism minister, Athens mayor discuss joint actions in tourism sector
  • [12] EBEA president on Greek participation in EU programmes
  • [13] Greek current accounts deficit down 18.4 pct in Jan-Feb
  • [14] National Bank buys 5.16% stake in Hellenic Postbank
  • [15] EFG Eurobank announces 112-mln-euro share capital increase plan
  • [16] Public sector staff to hold four-hour strike next month
  • [17] Fashion Box Hellas opens new retail unit in Bucarest
  • [18] Greek stocks end 1.35 pct lower
  • [19] ADEX closing report
  • [20] Greek bond market closing report
  • [21] Foreign Exchange Rates - Tuesday
  • [22] Ancient lekythos returned from Switzerland
  • [23] Education minister meets heads of marking centres for nationwide exams
  • [24] Greece top Easter, summer destination for Romanian tourists
  • [25] Karditsa folklore museum enriched with 19th century household objects
  • [26] Trikala Prefecture cultural and tourism product in digital form
  • [27] Roman Law conference in Kavala
  • [28] Ships collide in port, 115 passengers disembark
  • [29] Explosion on Samos kills teenager
  • [30] Man seriously injured in explosion of unidentified object
  • [31] Football fans arrested in Larissa
  • [32] Two arrested for cultivating cannabis
  • [33] Famagusta should be part of talks to solve Cyprus problem
  • [34] Working groups to bear results, Schlicher says Politics

  • [01] Athens dismisses FYROM FM's reaction to Greek overtures

    Greece on Monday afternoon brushed aside the latest diplomatic volley fired by a top official in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), in this case, a more-or-less impertinent reaction by the country's foreign minister to high-profile statements by his Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis, who among others, referred to increased funding and the possibility of visa-free travel following a solution to the nagging "name issue".

    "Bilateral cooperation with the purpose of implementing the Greek Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is proceeding smoothly in recent years, with the participation of relevant authorities in the neighbouring country (FYROM)," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said in reply to a reporter's question.

    "Therefore, it is obvious that today's latish reactions and statements by the Skopje government are part of and exclusively serve pre-election expediencies ... this says it all," the spokesman added.

    A day earlier Bakoyannis was quoted in a published interview as saying that Athens was eyeing a comprehensive funding package and other measures for the neighbouring state when a mutually acceptable solution to the nagging "name issue" is finally achieved.

    The response to Bakoyannis' overture came a day later in Skopje, as FYROM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki quipped that "it is easy for Greece to show off with European funding, but we're not merchants, we are and we will remain 'Macedonians' and this does not depend on Greek money."

    In the interview, published by the Athens daily "Apogevmatini", Bakoyannis said that if such a solution was reached, Greece would immediately allocate 75 million euros towards construction of Road Corridor X, which would link the landlocked country with Greece, to the south, and the rest of the European Union, as well as funding of business ventures, whereas she said the visa requirement for FYROM citizens could also be gradually abolished.

    Milososki made the remark nearly three weeks after FYROM's course towards NATO membership suffered a 'train wreck' due to failure to achieve a mutually acceptable solution with Greece over the "name issue" dispute. His comments came in answer to reporters' questions following a meeting with the speaker of the Canadian House of Commons.

    Milososki's statements also coincided with a visit to Skopje by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who among others, noted after a meeting with the FYROM FM that "my personal ambition is to see your country in NATO. I believe that Euro-Atlantic integration is crucial for the stability of this region."

    "You can do two things: to look back with anger and to look ahead. I want on July 9, when Albania and Croatia will be signing the NATO accession protocol, to be joined at the table by a third nation, your nation ... You have the opportunity as of now until July 9 to find a name solution," Scheffer was quoted as saying by local media.

    More tellingly, the NATO chief reminded his FYROM hosts that the Alliance is based on the "principles of consensus".

    A declaration issued by the 26 NATO member-states following the early April summit in Bucharest, underlined, in reference to FYROM's NATO ambitions that: "... Within the framework of the UN, many actors have worked hard to resolve the name issue, but the Alliance has noted with regret that these talks have not produced a successful outcome. Therefore we agreed that an invitation to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be extended as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached. We encourage the negotiations to be resumed without delay and expect them to be concluded as soon as possible."

    [02] PM letter to UN chief on FYROM 'name issue'

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sent a letter to the UN Secretary General last week detailing Greece's positions on the nagging issue involving the the name of the neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), while also underlining Athens' willingness to continue negotiations, reports stated on Monday.

    [03] Papandreou's health improving, PASOK spokesman says

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, speaking during a press briefing on Monday, conveyed the gratitude of the party's leader, George Papandreou, to everyone who wished him a speedy recovery, as well as to the medical staff of the state-run KAT hospital.

    "The health of George Papandreou is improving daily and we hope that in the coming days he will be returning to his home for a speedy recovery," Papaconstantinou said.

    Papandreou was injured during an accident with his bicycle on Sunday.

    [04] Papariga says struggle against port privatisations will go on

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Monday said her party would continue to fight against plans to privatize Greece's two largest ports, Athens and Piraeus. She made the statements after meeting with the Federation of Port Employees of Greece.

    "We will continue our efforts so that this struggle against the privatization of Piraeus port and the other ports of the country will turn all the workers into a great army," she stressed.

    The problem was not just the concern of dock workers and not limited to the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, she added and stressed that the struggle to avert the government's plans had to be successful, or at least cause these plans to be shelved, so that in the future there might be a "radical overthrow of this option".

    [05] SYN denounces poor conditions for Manolada farm hands

    Members of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party and non-governmental organizations involved in immigrant rights issues on Monday denounced the very poor working conditions for immigrant workers employed as strawberry pickers in the farms of Manolada, Ilia prefecture. They called on the government to intervene in order to solve the problems, impose the law and protect immigrant workers in Greece.

    According to party officials, farm hands are hired for just 23 euros a day and are not insured, even though labor laws set a minimum wage for unskilled labor of 30.4 euros a day. They are also required to pay rent from this money for substandard housing that basically consists of hastily erected shacks within the fields that lack basic amenities and violate basic hygiene regulations.

    There are about 3,000 immigrant workers in the Manolada area, who live in makeshift camps that they have built themselves in land owned by small-scale farmers.

    The party representatives also denounced the stance adopted by Greek authorities and police during a dispute between the farm hands and farmers, pointing out that they should have intervened long ago since the farmers were in flagrant violation of Greek labour laws and human rights laws.

    [06] Education minister meets Cypriot counterpart

    Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Monday had a meeting with his Cyprus Republic counterpart Andreas Demetriou in Athens.

    In statements after the meeting, Stylianidis said that they had discussed cooperation between Greece and Cyprus and their respective governments in order to strengthen bilateral ties and bring results, such as encouraging systematic cooperation between the universities of both countries in undergraduate and postgraduate courses, improving education services in schools and a return visit by Stylianidis to Cyprus.

    [07] Torpedo boat upgrades

    The first of four Hellenic Navy Combattante III-class torpedo boats slated for upgrading was delivered on Monday, following a ceremony at the Elefsina Shipyard, west of Athens.

    The "Liaskos" was delivered during a ceremony in the presence of Deputy DM Costas Tassoulas.

    Two additional vessels of the same class will be upgraded in 2008, with the fourth to be delivered in 2009.

    Financial News

    [08] Discussions continuing on strategic accord with DT for OTE

    The discussion of a strategic agreement between the Greek state and Deutsche Telekom regarding the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) are continuing, according to an economy and finance ministry announcement on Monday.

    Economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis and transport and communications minister Costis Hatzidakis met Monday morning and discussed the matter of an agreement between the Greek state and Deutsche Telekom on OTE, after which the two ministers discussed the same topic in a meeting with the German telecom's vice-president Karl-Gerhard Eick.

    [09] PASOK deputies table Parliament question on OTE issue

    Ten deputies of the main opposition PASOK party tabled a question in Parliament for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis regarding what they dubbed the "major political and economic scandal regarding the sale of OTE (the Hellenic telecoms utility)."

    The text of the question refers to "business initiatives that have taken place which lead to the reasonable conviction that the government and the MIG corporation have had an understanding and back-door cooperation for a year and-a-half."

    [10] Greek FinMin approves 70 mln euros to Prefectural Authorities

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday approved the immediate handout of 70 million euros to the Union of Prefectural Authorities of Greece (ENAE), Dimitris Drakos, the Union's president said on Monday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with the Greek minister, Drakos said Alogoskoufis pledged the handout of another 50 million euros from the 2009 budget to support the Union's projects.

    [11] Tourism minister, Athens mayor discuss joint actions in tourism sector

    Tourism development minister Aris Spiliotopoulos met Monday with Athens mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis to discuss the coordination and organisation of joint initiatives in the tourism sector.

    In view of the new tourism year, Spiliotopoulos said that his ministry, from the very first moment through specialization of the tourism product, placed emphasis on Athens as a destination for exhibitions and conferences, as well as for short (City Break) holidays. In that framework, he said, a special promotional campaign for Athens was already underway.

    Spiliotopoulos praised the climate of cooperation between the ministry and the municipality, adding that during the meeting they had ascertained margins for joint actions aimed at the tourism and cultural development of Athens.

    The minister and mayor agreed to cooperation between ministry and municipality on a series of issues aimed at better coordination and organization of sanitation and Athens' image.

    It was also announced that tourism information booths (Info Kiosks) would be set up soon, possibly in central Syntagma Square, to facilitate visitors to Athens.

    [12] EBEA president on Greek participation in EU programmes

    Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) President Costas Mihalos on Monday addressed a conference jointly organized by the economy ministry and EBEA on the subject of "Opportunities and possibilities offered to the private sector by the EU's Funding and Development Programs."

    Mihalos said the successful participation Greek businesses in the EU programs constitutes a considerable challenge and an opportunity for development, that has not only to do with direct financial benefit but likewise concerns the boosting of their extroversion and experience obtained from their participation in these programs.

    [13] Greek current accounts deficit down 18.4 pct in Jan-Feb

    Greece's current accounts balance improved in the first two months of 2008, the Bank of Greece said on Monday. The central bank, in its monthly report, said the current accounts deficit fell by 18.4 pct to 4.8 billion euros in the January-February period, compared with the same period last year, reflecting an 190 pct jump in the transfer surplus (due to a more effective absorption of community funds) and a 72 pct rise in the services surplus (due to higher shipping foreign exchange inflows). On the other hand, the trade deficit widened by 15 pct in the two month period.

    The trade deficit totaled 6.9 billion euros, reflecting a 19.5 pct rise in the fuel balance and a 17 pct rise in the other goods deficit). Exports rose by 19.5 pct while imports rose by 19 pct.

    The services surplus rose by 703 million euros, reflecting higher net proceeds from transport services, while the travel services balance remained unchanged.

    A higher current transfers surplus in the January-February period reflected an 115 pct jump in the transfers of money from the EU to the general government and lower payments to the EU. The capital transfers balance showed a surplus of 1.341 billion euros.

    The financial services balance recorded a 71 pct increase in portfolio investment inflows to 11.3 billion euros, while direct investments recorded a net outflow of 195 million euros.

    [14] National Bank buys 5.16% stake in Hellenic Postbank

    Ķational Bank of Greece on Monday said it has purchased a 5.16-percent equity stake in Hellenic Postbank, raising its stake to around 5.73 percent. Greece's largest financial institution said it has bought 7,340,000 shares of Hellenic Postbank at a price of 13.25 euros per share. Commenting on the development, Hellenic Postbank chairman Aggelos Filippidis said: "We welcome the entry of any new shareholder in our bank, a development proving investors' confidence in our strategy".

    [15] EFG Eurobank announces 112-mln-euro share capital increase plan

    An EFG Eurobank Ergasias' repeat general shareholders' meeting on Monday approved a board plan for a 42-mln-euro share capital increase through the issuing of 15,272,727 new shares of a nominal value of 2.75 euros per share and at an issue price equal to the bank's share price during the first four working days of ex-dividend trading in the market, reduced by a 3.0 pct discount.

    Under the plan, the share capital increase will be made through the re-investment of the remaining dividend.

    The bank will also move with a share capital increase plan, worth 70 million euros, through the issuing of 25,454,545 new shares of a nominal value of 2.75 euros.

    [16] Public sector staff to hold four-hour strike next month

    The civil servants' union ADEDY on Monday announced that it was calling a four-hour nationwide strike by all public sector personnel on May 15, beginning at 11:00 in the morning until the end of the day's shift.

    The strike will apply to civil servants, employees at organizations subject to public sector regulations and local authorities.

    The union's leadership has also decided to arrange a series of rallies on the same day in all major cities throughout Greece.

    The strike is being organized in order to press for real wage increases above inflation, a new pay scale with a starting wage of 1,300 euros a month and "genuine collective labor negotiations in the public sector".

    [17] Fashion Box Hellas opens new retail unit in Bucarest

    Fashion Box Hellas SA on Monday said it has inaugurated its first Replay Store in Bucarest, Romania, as part of its strategy to expand its activities in the wider Southeastern Europe.

    Fashion Box Hellas operates a network of 45 retail units, of which 33 in Greece and another 12 abroad.

    [18] Greek stocks end 1.35 pct lower

    Greek stocks ended lower on Monday, following a decline in other European markets. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange fell 1.35 pct to end at 4,025.73 points with turnover an improved 387.5 million euros, of which 113.98 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Food/Beverage (2.99 pct), Banks (2.36 pct), Utilities (1.90 pct), Telecommunications (1.08 pct) and Travel (1.0 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Oil (4.91 pct), Technology (3.32 pct0 and Industrial Products (1.25 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 1.72 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.11 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index gained 0.43 pct. AEGEK (13.64 pct), Revoil (12.62 pct) and Maillis (9.86 pct) were top gainers, while Perseus (10.0 pct), Karamolegos (9.47 pct) and Viosol (7.55 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 126 to 110 with another 59 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.40%

    Industrials: +1.25%

    Commercial: -0.01%

    Construction: +0.31%

    Media: +0.36%

    Oil & Gas: +4.91%

    Personal & Household: -0.19%

    Raw Materials: +0.47%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.00%

    Technology: +3.32%

    Telecoms: -1.08%

    Banks: -2.36%

    Food & Beverages: -2.99%

    Health: +0.61%

    Utilities: -1.90%

    Chemicals: +0.07%

    Financial Services: +0.50%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Post Office Savings Bank, National Bank, OPAP and Bank of Piraeus.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 20.08

    ATEbank: 2.66

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 27.00

    HBC Coca Cola: 28.82

    Hellenic Petroleum: 9.24

    National Bank of Greece: 33.10

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 18.74

    Intralot: 12.40

    OPAP: 24.00

    OTE: 18.30

    Titan Cement Company: 28.22

    [19] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices ended with a widened discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 132.305 million euros. The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.87 pct while the May contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.59 pct.

    Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap totaled 6,680 contracts worth 69.177 million euros, with 29,258 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 62 contracts worth 1.513 million euros with 231 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 40,117 contracts worth 52.310 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Hellenic Postbank's contracts (28,917), followed by Marfin Investment Group (528), OTE (928), OPAP (304), National Bank (724), Alpha Bank (963), Intracom (817), Marfin Popular Bank (578) and Mytilineos (661).

    [20] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 764 million euros on Monday, of which 335 million were buy orders and the remaining 429 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 480 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.50 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.63 pct and the German Bund 4.13 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved higher. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.80 pct, the two-day rate 4.0 pct, the one-month rate 4.39 pct and the 12-month rate 4.85 pct.

    [21] Foreign Exchange Rates - Tuesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.602

    Pound sterling 0.807

    Danish kroner 7.521

    Swedish kroner 9.455

    Japanese yen 165.75

    Swiss franc 1.618

    Norwegian kroner 8.008

    Canadian dollar 1.606

    Australian dollar 1.700

    General News

    [22] Ancient lekythos returned from Switzerland

    Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Monday officially presented an ancient marble oil flask or lekythos dating from the 4th century B.C. that was returned to Greece from a private collection in Switzerland, at a press conference held at the National Archaeological Museum.

    The procedure to repatriate the ancient artifact was completed last Thursday and in a few days it will be taken to the museum's conservation workshops, where it will remain for two months.

    It is a funerary lekythos depicting a farewell banquet for the deceased, in a classic farewell scene. It was presented at an international antiquities dealers exhibition in 2007 in Maastricht, where it was put up for auction by a Swiss antiquities dealer.

    After a series of negotiations, the Swiss dealer decided to hand over the lekythos to the Greek government in an out-of-court settlement, without reservations or conditions. It was delivered to a representative of the Greek embassy in Berne and then crated in the customs free zone in Basel before being transported to Greece.

    In statements at the press conference, Liapis said that the ministry was considering an exhibition at the New Acropolis Museum in the autumn that would feature all the ancient artifacts repatriated to Italy, which would be completed with artifacts repatriated to Greece.

    Liapis was then shown around the National Archaeological Museum's Egyptian collection, made up of some 1,200 sculptures, that will open officially on May 14.

    [23] Education minister meets heads of marking centres for nationwide exams

    Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Monday met the directors of marking centers for Greece's nationwide university entrance examinations, giving them instructions on how to ensure the proper and unimpeachable marking of exam papers.

    Education ministry general secretary Dimitris Platis noted after the meeting that the ministry had recently taken measures that favored candidates, stipulating that their final mark of re-marked papers would be the average of the two highest marks.

    He also outlined measures designed to prevent cheating - like devices that will block mobile phones smuggled into the examination room - and a redistribution of marking centers throughout the country, so that no one will know where his or her paper is being marked.

    [24] Greece top Easter, summer destination for Romanian tourists

    BUCHAREST (ANA-MPA/I. Radus)

    Greece has become a top Easter and summer holiday destination for Romanians, after a two-year respite when the top spot was occupied by Bulgaria and Turkey, respectively.

    According to National Association of Romanian Tour Operators, roughly 12,000-15,000 Romanian tourists will spend the Orthodox Easter Holy Week (April 20-27) and May Day in Greece.

    Popular destinations include the islands of Rhodes and Crete, while Thessaloniki and northern Greece are also favorite spots.

    [25] Karditsa folklore museum enriched with 19th century household objects

    A total of 1,600 household objects dating back to the 19th century were added to the History and Folklore Municipal Museum of Karditsa.

    They all came from the house of Christos Giotsas (1858-1938) of Samarina, northwestern Greece, who was involved in gun repair and had moved to Karditsa, as did many of his fellow-villagers, soon after the region of Thessaly joined the Greek state.

    Furniture, household items, textiles, embroidery, clothing, jewelry, photographs, official documents even UNRA relief aid canned food are among the objects that provide valuable information on the history of Karditsa from the late 19th century to WWII.

    [26] Trikala Prefecture cultural and tourism product in digital form

    An internet portal for the promotion of the Trikala Prefecture cultural and tourism product will be created soon using innovative digital technology.

    The portal will feature maps of the central Greek prefecture's main municipalities enriched with the region's most important sights that are linked with local history (museums, historical sights, archaeological sites) and alternative tourism and entertainment options (hotels, restaurants, theaters, parks, city squares).

    [27] Roman Law conference in Kavala

    The first International Mock Trial and a conference on Roman Law, attended by students from the law schools of four famous European universities, came to an end in the Roman Agora of the ancient city of Filippi, in northern Greece, at noon on Monday.

    The universities were those of Oxford and Cambridge from Britain, Trier from Germany and Liege from Belgium.

    The event was undertaken by the Institute "Mohammed Ali for the Research of Eastern Tradition" in cooperation with the Merchant Marine ministry, the municipalities of Kavala and Filippi and the enlarged Prefectural Administration of Drama-Kavala-Xanthi.

    Students from the universities' law schools participated in the five-day conference with the purpose of promoting the study of Roman Law. The initiative was held under the auspices of distinguished university professors from the aforesaid universities.

    [28] Ships collide in port, 115 passengers disembark

    The ferry boat "Rodanthi" collided with the high-speed passenger ferry "Aiolos Express" as the former was preparing to leave the port of Piraeus at Monday evening, heading for the islands of Paros, Naxos, Ios and Thira, port authorities said.

    The "Eolos Express" was on a trial run in preparation for scheduled routes to Aegean islands that would be beginning in the coming days.

    All 115 passengers on board, none of whom were injured, disembarked from the ship that remains docked and that will be carrying out its schedule after being inspected for its seaworthiness to be confirmed.

    Two tugboats are on standby next to the two vessels to provide assistance, if necessary, while the passengers are waiting on the quay.

    [29] Explosion on Samos kills teenager

    A 19-year-old boy was killed Sunday when a bombshell that most likely belonged to the army, exploded in his hands.

    He and a friend had found the shell abandoned in a farm in the region of Chora on the eastern Aegean island of Samos.

    The second boy was not injured because he was not near the explosive device when it blew up, but was taken to hospital for precautionary reasons.

    [30] Man seriously injured in explosion of unidentified object

    A 43-year-old man was hospitalized with serious injuries after being found by passers-by in a wooded area in the municipality of Aghios Pavlos, Thessaloniki.

    The man had lost his left arm while he had injuries and burns to his legs, face and other parts of his body.

    A police investigation is underway on the cause of his injuries and the likelihood of an unidentified explosive device is not being ruled out.

    [31] Football fans arrested in Larissa

    Three arrests were made Sunday in Larisa, central Greece, following scuffles and vandalisms caused by local Larissa FC fans after the game with Thessaloniki's PAOK FC.

    The violent incidents took place outside the football stadium and in surrounding areas. Damages were caused to shop windows, telephone booths and traffic lights.

    A 13-year-old boy and two foreign nationals, aged 30 and 15, were arrested and were led before a prosecutor on Monday.

    [32] Two arrested for cultivating cannabis

    Two young men aged 26 and 24, respectively, have been arrested on a charge of cultivating 118 cannabis plants in a rural area in the prefecture of Serres, police announced on Monday.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [33] Famagusta should be part of talks to solve Cyprus problem

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    Mayor of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta Alexis Galanos believes that the issue of Famagusta should be part of talks to solve the Cyprus problem and this should be seen as a confidence building measure.

    Speaking after a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou, Galanos expressed hope that a Famagusta delegation would soon be meeting President of the Republic Demetris Christofias, who has the last word on the handling of issues relating to the Cyprus question.

    Galanos, who was heading a delegation at the meeting with the Foreign Minister, said they also discussed ways in which the government could help in informing the international community about the plight of the town.

    Referring to efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, Galanos pointed out that ''the issue should be part of the talks,'' adding that ''we have not seen it being raised in any way at the technical committees or at any other level."

    The Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities have recently set up seven joint technical committees and six common working groups to discuss issues of substance and day to day concerns, with a view to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations leading to a political settlement.

    UN Security Council 550 "considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha (fenced off area of Famagusta) by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN."

    So far Turkey, which controls Famagusta, has refused to comply with the UN call.

    Famagusta Mayor said that ''we should in no way neglect the priority issue of Famagusta, because this issue, as a confidence building measure, must be discussed alongside any other development.''

    Resolving the Famagusta question would help towards creating a better climate, he added.

    He said ''two months have passed and the impression that the issue of Famagusta is being left behind must not be given.''

    Galanos noted that the first step would be for experts to enter the fenced-off town and prepare a report on the rebuilding of the town.

    Replying to questions, Galanos said ''the final decision on the handling of the issues lies with the President of the Republic.''

    [34] Working groups to bear results, Schlicher says

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    US Ambassador to Cyprus, Ronald Schlicher has expressed hope the technical committees and working groups will bear fruit and help towards a Cyprus reunification.

    In statements after a meeting on Monday with Minister of Health, Christos Patsalides, during which they discussed bilateral issues regarding health sector, Schlicher said that they have also examined the latest developments in the Cyprus Problem.

    Commenting on the commencement of the technical committees and working groups, Schlicher expressed the "fervent hope" that they would "bear quick results and sweet fruit for all the people of the island," adding that "this is a matter of great importance for the USA."

    "We very much want to see the reunification of Cyprus and we very much want to see it happen as soon as possible" he added.

    Cypriot Minister of Health expressed hope that the technical committees and working groups will give results and welcomed the US intention to financially support the operation of the technical committees and working groups.

    The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed March 21st to instruct their aides to set up technical committees and working groups to deal with various aspects concerning the Cyprus problem.

    To this end, seven technical committees and six working groups have been set up and begin their work on Tuesday.

    On March 21st, the two leaders agreed also to meet again in three months to review the work of the working groups and technical committees, the results of which will be used to start negotiations under UN auspices for a solution.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.

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