|Tuesday, 13 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-04-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 24 April 2008 Issue No: 2877
 PM Karamanlis briefed by agricultural development ministerPrime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Wednesday with agricultural development minister Alexandros Kontos, who briefed the premier on the agricultural sector, exploitation of the country's water resources, climate changes and their repercussions on farming, animal-breeding and other agricultural activities.
Kontos told reporters after the meeting that he also briefed Karamanlis on progress in implementation of the study on restoration of the fire-stricken prefectures, adding that the study was being smoothly materialised, given that a 350 million euros program of state reinforcements has been approved by the EU, and 230 appraisers were nearing completion of their inspections of the damages.
Also, Kontos said he was due to meet with the prefects of the fire-stricken regions next week, for submission of their proposals, so that the projects regarding infrastructures in the agricultural sector could proceed.
To questions on the measures to be taken for protectin of the country's forests in view of the coming summer, Kontos said that forest-protectin measures were being introduced constantly, while studies were also progressing on enhancement and protection of the forests in the stricken areas.
 EU Parliament progress report on FYROMSTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA)
The European Parliament on Wednesday approved a report by Dutch Euro-MP Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) regarding progress by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), with the "name issue" between the country and EU member-state Greece featuring prominently in the report, which was adopted by 601 votes in favour, 52 against and 30 abstentions.
Among others, the report reaffirmed that "...a Member State, Greece, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are in the midst of a negotiation process taking place under aegis of the United Nations in order to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the name of the candidate state."
In terms of the substance regarding the actual dispute, an ominous "thorn" on FYROM's hoped-for course towards Europe, the report "... Welcomes the increased bilateral cooperation, as well as people-to-people contacts between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece; notes with satisfaction that, since the adoption of Parliament's above-mentioned resolution of 12 July 2007, bilateral talks have been held in the region, under the auspices of the United Nations and assisted by Special Envoy Matthew Nimetz, with a view to finding a mutually acceptable solution to the difference that has arisen over the name of the country; notes the Special Envoy's proposal of 19 February 2008 and welcomes the fact that both countries have accepted that proposal as a framework for further discussions; calls on both sides to intensify efforts to resolve the issue, which should in no circumstances become an obstacle to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's membership of international organisations, as provided for in the Interim Accord of 1995, which is still in force..."
Additionally, it notes that: "... Recalling the Conclusions of the December 2007 General Affairs and External Relations Council, stresses the importance of regional cooperation, good neighbourly relations and the need to find mutually acceptable solutions to outstanding issues in the process of moving closer to the EU ... Supports the efforts of the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to establish joint committees on education and history with neighbouring EU Member States with a view to reviewing possible discrepancies and misinterpretations of history that may cause disagreements, and urges the authorities to promote the joint celebration of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's common cultural and historic heritage with its neighbours..."
 Greece not out of Kyoto Protocol, environment ministry saysThe Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry said in an announcement on Wednesday that Greece has not been excluded from the Kyoto Protocol and nor has the recording of the country's emissions stopped, adding that "unfortunately, there is an excess of populism and disinformation once again."
According to the announcement, "exactly the same, meaning that Greece has not been excluded from the Kyoto Protocol, is being clarified today in an interview by Mr. Raul Estrada, a former president and current member of the UN's relevant Committee. However, the newspaper publishing this interview, is insisting on its front page to speak of an 'expulsion' of the country from Kyoto. All who are supporting these inaccuracies, either out of ignorance or out of expediency, are creating an image which is doing flagrant injustice to our country."
The announcement further speaks of "organised attacks" against the ministry's political leadership and stresses "let some not dream of references to the European Court and fines."
Lastly, it noted that "Greece is participating in the Kyoto Protocol and has undertaken to restrict the increase in pollutants to 25 percent over the 2008-2012 period, compared to 1990. We are implementing an integrated National Programme for this purpose."
 EU Environment Commissioner Dimas on Kyoto Protocol issueBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The office of European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas issued an announcement on Wednesday, in relation to a press release by the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry, stressing that the European Commission is obliged to activate the violation procedure.
"It is the European Commission's obligation, following the condemnatory decision taken by the UN's Compliance Committee against Greece, to activate a viololation procedure itself as well, since together with the Kyoto Protocol Greece is also violating EU legislation that incoroporates it in EU law," the Commissioner's office said in its announcement.
"This is a logical legal consequence of Greece's condemnation by the UN's Compliance Committee and, in any case, it is known by the Greek authorities and has been expected for some time," it added.
Lastly, the announcement said that "relevant reference in the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry's announcement to 'leaks' through which the activation of the Commission's legal procedure was supposedly announced in advance to Greek services is a cause for surprise."
 Environment ministry responds to announcement by EU Commissioner's officeResponding to an announcement issued by the office of European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas on Wednesday, the Press and Public Relations Office of the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry stressed that the decision taken by the UN's Compliance Committee "is not a condemnatory decision, no matter how much the Commissioner is trying to dramatise the matter, it is a compliance decision for the country by the UN's relevant Committee."
The ministry added that the same decision notes that they will be coming to Greece in a few months' time for a check up and to take their final decision, while pointing out that in an interview with the newspaper "Eleftherotypia " on Wednesday Mr. Estrada, a member of this UN Committee, fully confirms the above.
The announcement by the ministry said that the "logical consequence of the condemnation of Greece, as he (the Commissioner) mentions, is a stale argument and Dimas can very well wait for the UN Committee's final decision."
Lastly, the ministry said in its announcemnt that "the 'condemnation', as he terms it, was not expected by the Greek authorities. He himself had expected it and, indeed, he had announced it in advance two months ago. He had surprised us at the time, just as he is surprising us today as well."
 PASOK on Greece's expulsion from Kyoto ProtocolGreece's expulsion from the Kyoto Protocol carbon-trading mechanisms was a major blow to the country's international image, main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou stressed on Wednesday.
He pointed out that the development would cause major problems to more than 150 Greek businesses that would not be able to buy carbon emission rights, among them nearly all power plants belonging to the Public Power Corporation (PPC).
The spokesman said the government was trying to shift its responsibility for this negative development onto others and demanded that Environment Minister George Souflias retract statements to this effect made by the deputy environment minister Stavros Kaloyiannis.
The spokesman also denounced what he said was an attempt to prevent PASOK officials from distributing leaflets on high prices at toll posts, saying that those in charge of the toll posts had called the police, while noting that cooler heads had prevailed and the leaflets were finally distributed as planned.
Papaconstantinou further accused the government of delaying four years in buying essential medical equipment for Evangelismos hospital in comments on the resignation of the hospital's director, who is the second director of Evangelismos to resign in a very short space of time.
He accused Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos of repeatedly announcing the hiring of new medical and nursing staff at state hospitals when the recruitments have never actually taken place, while huge problems existed in hospital procurements.
Finally, in response to government announcements regarding public administration, the spokesman dismissed these as "wishful thinking" and pointed out that Greece ranked alongside Hungary within the EU for bureaucracy and occupied the last place in Europe in fighting corruption.
 PASOK leader discharged from hospitalMain opposition PASOK President George Papandreou was discharged from KAT hospital in Athens late on Wednesday afternoon. Papandreou was admitted to KAT on Sunday suffering from minor fractures to the spine and one finger following an accident while riding a bicycle.
PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou said Papandreou was being released after making satisfactory progress in his recovery, adding that this was assisted by his good physical condition.
He said the party leader would be confined to his home for the next few days but would continue to carry out meetings and party business from there. According to the spokesman, Papandreou is expected to return to full activity at the head of the party after the Easter holiday but no exact date was specified.
 PASOK's Venizelos received by US Dep. Assistant Sec't of State BryzaWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/A. Ellis)
The FYROM "name issue" and US policy in the western Balkans as well as energy issues were expectedly broached by former minister and top main opposition PASOK party MP Evangelos Venizelos, during a meeting here with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza.
Venizelos, who is visiting Washington and New York on private visit, referred to a "common front" by almost all political parties in Greece as regards to the "name issue". He also reportedly conveyed his view on Washington's stance vis-ŕ-vis FYROM with a view to a future mutually acceptable solution.
Venizelos, who vied for PASOK's leadership last November, stressed that Greece has exercised a "positive pressure" on Skopje and is ready to offer "positive assistance" as soon as a solution is reached, which will open the way to FYROM's NATO membership and the acceleration of negotiations for its EU accession, considering that the land-locked country's size and type of economy will not translate into any burden for the Union.
He also underlined that the United States will have to clarify its policy in the western Balkans, particularly regarding Serbia, and taking under serious consideration the Albanian minority in FYROM, stressing that it corresponds to 35 percent of the country's population and is in favour of a composite name because "citing the need for stability, it is more interested in the country's accession into the EU and NATO," he said.
In terms of energy, Venizelos stated that they had a detailed discussion on the plans and construction course of the oil and natural gas pipeline projects, adding that Greece is in favour of alternative sources of energy but its approach does not fully coincide with current US administration views.
"...They had a good discussion about some bilateral issues, including Mr. Bryza's recent trip to Athens. I think they also did have an opportunity to touch on relations between Greece and the 'Republic of Macedonia' on the 'name issue' and otherwise have a good conversation about the general ... (issues) between the US and Greece," according to State Department spokesman deputy spokesman Tom Casey, who used the "constitutional name" favored by the neighbouring country, in response to a Greek reporter's question.
Venizelos also met with US House Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
 PASOK's Ragoussis visits Ilia prefectureMain opposition PASOK National Council Secretary Giannis Ragoussis on Wednesday paid a brief visit to the prefecture of Ilia in the Peloponnese at the head of a PASOK delegation, where he met with local officials.
Explaining the brief nature of his visit, Ragoussis said that it was preparing for a later visit by PASOK president George Papandreou to regional areas, once the main opposition leader had recovered from a recent accident.
During the visit, Ragoussis was briefed by the Ilia prefect and the mayor of Pyrgos regarding the problems faced by the prefecture, the biggest of which were housing and farming issues, as well as very high unemployment. Local officials also called for PASOK to set up an observatory in the area to monitor government action for its restructuring.
According to Ragoussis, a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Agriculture Minister Alexandros Kontos on Wednesday was arranged in response to PASOK's visit to Ilia, while the accused the government of lacking a plan for the region's recovery after last summer's devastating fires, stressing that this was obvious from the national spatial plan that was recently unveiled by the environment ministry.
Ragoussis and the PASOK delegation completed a tour of Ilia by visiting the burnt villages in the municipality of Varvasaina, which also includes areas that fell victim to frost. The last stop of their visit will be the fire-stricken village of Salmoni.
 KKE leader visits Mitera infants centreCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Wednesday paid a visit to "Mitera" infants centre, in the framework of a KKE campaign for children.
She was briefed by the centre director Stella Kalaitzaki-Athanasopoulou regarding the number of babies and children currently staying at the foundation, staffing needs, and procedures for adoption and fostering.
There are 95 infants and children being cared for at the centre at this time, of which 28 have some sort of mental, motor or psychiatric disability.
The head of the centre informed Papariga that there was a large number of applications to adopt children but that the centre was unable to keep up with this because of the lengthy adoption process, which required that prospective adoptive parents wait for up to two or three years before the adoption was approved.
"It is not enough that a mother should agree. An adoption must be decided through the courts. A court date is set in three months and, by the time the decision reaches the centre, another 12 months have usually elapsed," Kalaitzaki-Athanassopoulou said.
Regarding staffing levels, she said that the hiring of an additional 20 people the previous summer and another 20 employed with eight-month contracts had covered the foundation's needs, while the centre also received valuable assistance from child care students doing their training.
KKE's leader then visited the facilities and spoke with some of the children.
"We are seeking to become acquainted with places and structures where abandoned or abused children live over as large an area of Greece as possible. The basic criteria for the proper functioning of these facilities is having adequate staff. Wherever we have visited so far, there have been problems," Papariga underlined.
She stressed that such centres could not be dealt with like factories because children were not products.
"They must employ experienced, specialist staff and not make up the gaps with practical training," she added.
 Interior minister on public administration restructuring, e-governanceThe radical restructuring of Public Administration, uprooting of the bureaucracy and intransparency that had developed over the preceding 20 years, and boosting its efficiency, were an immediate priority for the New Democracy government, which in its four years in power has proven to the citizen that "we came to change all this, placing goals and achieving measurable results," interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Wednesday, addressing a conference of the National Council on Administrative Reform.
The key to the success of the government's efforts was forward-looking planning, coordination of all the individual administrative structures, and implementation of e-governance by specialised staff in Public Administration and Local Government, the minister explained.
He said that the Operational Program 'Politeia 2005-2007' had been part of a broader planning for administrative reorganisation leading to Digital Public Administration, which includes the major projects of the e-Governance program being carried out by the Information Society S.A., many of which have already been rendered operational.
More specifically, during the 2005-2007 period, 274 projects budgeted at 15.5 million euros were incorporated in the Politeia Program, reflecting the Program's decentralised character, which encourages projects in the Periphery, Pavlopoulos said, adding that the Politeia Program was a useful and fnctional tool for implementation and advancement of crucial and targeted interventions such as facilitation of citizens and businesses, new systems of organisation and administration of public services, e-governance, transparency, civil protection, and management of disasters.
For the next three-year period (2008-2010), he continued, the government has drafted an integrated National Action Plan for Public Administration, which was being implemented through the new Operational Program 'Politeia 2008-2010', budgeted at approximately 30 million euros.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos' Easter messageISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A.Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos prayed for "peace in the world, illuminating truth and justice in people's souls", in an Easter message issued here on Wednesday.
"The heavy winter of death belongs to the past and henceforth our Life and Resurrection is not a quest anymore, is not a dream nor an utopia but a tangible reality," Vartholomeos noted.
"From our suffering Patriarcal and Ecumenical seat, we pray God may give peace in the world, illuminating truth and justice in people's souls, patience and support to every one suffering, taste of salvation and eternal life to all faithfull," the Patriarch added.
 Easter messages by Archbishops of Athens, TiranaThe Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos, as well as the Archbishop of Tirana, Dures and All Albania Anastasios issued messages on Wednesday on the occasion of the Christian Orthodox Easter on Sunday.
"Feeling confident that the sacrificed and triumphant love of God can give happiness and hope, wherever darkness and grief may still be prevailing, I am make an appeal in every direction, to those close and to those far away, wishing to all and to each one personally the Easter greeting: Christ has Risen," Archbishop Ieronymos said in his message.
"The Church has nothing less than light to offer to you. It has nothing more important than the Resurrection to proclaim. Come to our common home, the House of God, where there is nothing more valuable than Light and Resurrection for us to share," he added.
Archbishop Anastasios said in his message that "the hope of resurrection cannot be imposed. It is conveyed. Let us convey it to our wounded society with our speech and our lives," adding that "we can face the tough reality of our lives with the hope which transforms even the most tragic of conditions, giving them a sense of redemption."
 Alexandria Patriarch issues Easter messageAlexandria Patriarch Theodoros II issued a message on Wednesday on the occasion of the Christian Orthodox Easter on Sunday, stressing the importance of peace for the entire world.
"It is not possible for there to be peace only because there are no wars with an external enemy, when inside spirits, souls, marriages, morals are upset and there are on a daily basis murders, thefts, infidelities, riots, ingratitude," he said in his message.
The Patriarch also noted that peace means "the conciliation of man with God and of man with man through the mediation and the grace of Peacemaking Christ."
 Liapis visits Zachopoulos in hospitalCulture Minister Michalis Liapis visited former culture ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos at Evangelismos Hospital on Wednesday on the occasion of the Easter celebration.
Liapis stated afterwards that the half-hour meeting with his old associate was held in a good atmosphere. According to information, Zachopoulos will be released from hospital in about a month.
Nearly four months ago, Zachopoulos 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.
 DM visits 1st Army CorpsNational Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Wednesday concluded his two-day visit to the headquarters of the 1st Army Corps.
He visited guard posts, accompanied by Armed Forces General Staff chief General Dimitrios Grapsas, Army General Staff chief Lieutenant General Dimitrios Voulgaris and the commander of the 1st Army Corps, Frangos Frangoulis.
Meimarakis visited the Dipotamia guard post in Kastoria and the Niki guard post in Florina.
 Budget yields 522 million euros surplus in first two months of 2008The budget has yielded a surplus amounting to 522 million euros in the first two months of 2008, compared to a deficit totalling 43 million euros over the corresponding period last year, according to General State Accounting Office data publicised on Wednesday.
According to the data, the budget's net revenues increased by 10.2 percent as against an annual increase target of 13 percent, while expenditures increased by 5.7 percent, considerably less than the 8.1 percent increase that had occurred during the corresponding two-month period last year.
The decrease in the expenditures' increase rate is mainly due to lower expenditures for interest by 37.9 percent during the first two months this year, while last year they had presented an increase of 7.2 percent.
The budget's first stage expenditures increased by 12 percent over the same period, compared to an annual target of 8.3 percent, while the increase in the revenues of the public investments programme is considerable.
 PASOK official on state of economyMain opposition PASOK party economy sector rapporteur Louka Katseli, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, criticised the government over the course of the economy, stressing that "the report by the Bank of Greece confirms what we had pointed out and what every citizen is experiencing."
Katseli said that "Greece is the champion in high prices all over Europe," adding that "price increases in main consumer goods are soaring and the Easter dinner table is 18 percent more expensive compared to 2007 and 70 percent more expensive than in 2004. Between 2004 and 2008 the income that is required for a four-member family to cover the cost of living has increased from 2,015 euros to over 3,000."
The PASOK rapporteur further said that "inflation is close to 4.5 percent, to levels that our country had not seen since 1998. And this, of course, has nothing to do with imported inflation, that is indeed burdensome as well."
She concluded by saying that "at this moment that recession is 'at the gates', now that inflation is worsening is the time for the government to take measures. To take measures to relieve the family. To take measures to revive turnover in the market. To take measures to improve the prospects of the economy with substantive incentives for productive investments and a speedup in the public investments increase rates."
 Tourism minister in SantoriniTourism development minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Wednesday outlined the government's new tourism strategy to local government officials and tourism industry representatives in Santorini, on the second leg of his tour of top Greek destinations, adding that the country intended to mount a diplomatic campaign for the island's inclusion in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage monumments.
Spiliotopoulos was briefed on the positions of the local society and officials on tourism-related matters, and explained to them the new conditions world-wide that also impact the Greek tourism product. The minister said the situation arising this year from the "expensive euro", which he said was making European tourists opt for countries outside the euro-zone for their holidays, coupled by the Olympic Games being staged in China, had obliged the ministry to develop a new tourism strategy, which was characterised by emphasis on the quality of services offered and targetting quality visitors, which will be achieved through specialisation of the tourism product in nine "vertical sectors".
He explained that extroversion of the tourism product was the answer to the slump in the traditional markets, stressing that Greek tourism was a national cause that had no room for political party differences, warning that Greek destinations that had undergone slumps had never recovered.
Spiliotopoulos recently announced planned actions to render Santorini a "pilot island" of tourism development, with immediate priorities including the construction of a marina, which the island currently lacks, and restoration of the island's four windmills, which are an exquisite example of Cycladic architecture.
More than 1.6 million tourists visited Santorini in 2007, of which 777,000 arrived by cruiseship, while, according to local hoteliers, the 2008 tourism season was expected to end equally well or better.
 Greek stocks end flat on Wed.Greek stocks ended flat on Wednesday, reflecting lack of fresh incentives and directions at the Athens Stock Exchange ahead of the Easter holidays. The composite index fell 0.01 pct to end at 4,055.08 points, with turnover a low 279.5 million euros, of which 48.7 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower with the Utilities (2.68 pct), Healthcare (1.43 pct) and Travel (1.08 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Insurance (2.38 pct), Raw Materials (1.68 pct) and Telecommunications (1.27 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index rose 0.04 pct, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.65 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.10 pct down. Diekat (14.29 pct), Interfish (10.0 pct) and Altec (9.24 pct) were top gainers, while Tria Alpha (20.0 pct), Elviemek (9.55 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 120 to 104 with another 55 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.53%
Personal & Household: -0.85%
Raw Materials: +.68%
Travel & Leisure: -1.08%
Food & Beverages: +0.04%
Financial Services: -0.88%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, OTE and Public Power Corp.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 20.90
Public Power Corp (PPC): 26.60
HBC Coca Cola: 29.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 9.46
National Bank of Greece: 32.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 19.12
Titan Cement Company: 27.40
Marfin Popular Bank: 5.26
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices widened their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover easing further to 90.819 million euros. The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 3.01 pct, while the May contract on the FTSE 40 index was traded at a discount of 0.68 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 7,491 contracts, worth 76.946 million euros, with 29,862 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 50 contracts worth 1.221 million euros, with 232 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,252 contracts worth 10.085 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE's contracts (10,085), followed by Marfin Investment Group (755), Piraeus Bank (268), National Bank (445), Alpha Bank (229), Intracom (365), Marfin Popular Bank (844), Hellenic Postbank (440) and ATEbank (1,846).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 680 million euros on Wednesday, of which 400 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 280 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 375 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds rose to 0.50 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.65 percent and the German Bund 4.15 percent.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved higher. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 3.97 pct from 3.95 pct on Tuesday, the two-day rate rose to 4.02 pct from 4.00 pct, the one-month rate was 4.42 pct, from 4.39 pct , and the 12-month rate was 4.96 pct from 4.85 pct the previous day.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.606
Pound sterling 0.809
Danish kroner 7.522
Swedish kroner 9.393
Japanese yen 165.61
Swiss franc 1.620
Norwegian kroner 7.988
Canadian dollar 1.628
Australian dollar 1.688
 Popular singer injured in helicopter crashA popular Greek laika singer injured in a private helicopter crash was due to undergo surgery for spinal injuries on Wednesday, but doctors said his overall condition was good and were optimistic about the outcome.
Costas Makedonas and his flying instructor, a retired Air Force officer, had flown from Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA) to Tanagra and were on their way back to Athens when their private helicopter vanished from radar screens at 2:43 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon some 40 kilometers north of Athens, just 7 minutes before they were due back at the AIA.
A search and rescue operation was immediately mounted by military aircraft, and the missing helicopter was spotted south of the town of Malakasa.
The two passengers were reported to be in good shape, and were rushed by ambulance to a hospital in Athens.
The instructor was reported in good health but hospitalised for precautionary reasons, while Makedonas was transferred at his own request to a private hospital, where he will undergo surgery.
 Concert against climate change in AthensA concert dedicated to the fight against climate change is to take place at Syntagma Square in central Athens on May 9, organised by the representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament in Greece in collaboration with the foreign ministry and Athens municipality.
Nikos Aliagas will be the event's main presenter, while a host of Greek and foreign artists will participate, among them Marios Fragoulis, C Real, Adam Cohen, Demi Evans and others.
The concert is set to begin at 20:30 in the evening and will be free to the public. It will also feature a giant video wall, on which organisers will screen environmental messages from people that have distinguished themselves in the fight to protect the environment.
The aim of the concert is to encourage people to participate actively in solving the problems and to transmit messages that will raise environmental awareness among the public.
The European Commission in Greece wants to broadcast a message that people will have to change their habits through a new campaign on climate change, in order to encourage people to mobilise and take effective action to protect the environment.
 Bulgarian killed in Aspropyrgos industrial accidentA 40-year-old Bulgarian man was killed in an industrial accident at the premises of the firm Alpha Glass in Aspropyrgos at 10:00 on Wednesday morning.
The unlucky man was a truck driver and was crushed by a large crate measuring 3mx3m that fell on him as it was being unloaded. He was pulled out dead shortly afterwards.
An inquiry is being carried out by the Aspropyrgos police department.
 Jewellery worth 400,000 euros stolen in Kos burglaryUnknown burglars managed to get away with jewellery worth an estimated 400,000 euros after breaking into a jewellery shop on the Aegean island of Kos. The break-in was discovered by the owner on Tuesday morning.
The burglars managed to enter the premises by disabling the alarm and breaking through an intervening wall from an empty apartment next door, whose owner was absent at the time.
Police have launched a search covering the entire island, particularly at the ports and airports, to find the culprits.
 Arrests over illegal possession of antiquitiesTwo men, aged 52 and 54, were arrested outside Thessaloniki on charges of illegal possession of antiquities. Police found and seized a number of ancient artifacts in the suspects' houses dating back to the archaic and classical era, reports state.
 Car dealerships firebombed in AthensThree firebomb attacks took place within a space of 5 minutes, between 2.05 am and 2.10 am, in the early morning hours of Wednesday, targeting car dealerships in the Athens suburbs of Peristeri, Galatsi and Halandri.
The incendiary devices, planted by unidentified individuals, destroyed three cars at a NISSAN dealership in Peristeri, two at an OPEL dealership in Galatsi, and three in Halandri.
In a separate incident an hour later, a group of 10 hooded individuals attacked with stones the police officers guarding the main opposition PASOK party headquarters in downtown Athens. No damages or injuries were reported and no arrests were made.
 Three traffickers arrested for transporting illegal immigrantsThree traffickers were arrested by border guards on Wednesday at Evros, northern Greece, for transporting with two trucks and a van a total of 28 illegal immigrants.
Investigations showed that the illegal immigrants would have paid a network active both in Turkey and Greece, the total sum of 98,000 dollars.
The three vehicles were impounded, while the traffickers and illegal immigrants appeared before the Alexandroupolis Public Prosecutor.
 Illegal import of fireworks detectedA 70-year-old man was arrested at the Promachonas border station in Serres prefecture, northern Greece, when a search in his luggage revealed a sizeable cache of fireworks and flares he was attempting to illegally sneak into Greece from Bulgaria, days ahead of Orthodox Easter celebrations over the weekend.
Large quantities of fireworks and firecrackers have already been confiscated in several regions in central and western Macedonia of northern Greece.
 Cloud and rain on ThursdayCloudy and rainy weather with westerly, southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 5-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 26C. Partly cloudy in Athens, with westerly, southwesterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 13C to 24C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 20C.
 Greek Cypriot side will not discuss on basis of Annan planNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou stressed on Wednesday that the Greek Cypriot side will not discuss the Cyprus problem on the basis of a UN-proposed solution plan, which it rejected in a referendum four years ago.
Commenting on remarks by Ozdil Nami, adviser to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, that negotiations for a solution will be on the basis of the Annan plan, Stephanou said the position of the Greek Cypriot side is well known.
''The position of our side and that of the government is well known. We are not engaging in talks on the basis of the Annan plan. Our side is participating with its own positions in the dialogue which has begun at the working groups and the technical committees,'' he pointed out.
Six working groups and seven technical committees, comprising experts from the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities, are currently engaged in discussions of substantive issues as well as day to day concerns that affect the people. The purpose of the exercise is to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations between the leaders of the two communities, who have agreed to meet in three months' time to review the progress achieved by these preparatory discussions.
In an interview with the daily newspaper ''Phileleftheros'', Nami said the aim of the Turkish Cypriot side was for negotiations to be held on the basis of the Annan plan.
''We are beginning a process. There will be discussions, dialogue. We have said that it is very likely to have problems in this dialogue, given the differences in our positions,'' he said, adding that ''we should be patient, the dialogue will continue.''
Efforts to reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, have been rekindled in the past several weeks, following an agreement between President Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat.
In April 2004, the Greek Cypriot side rejected by an overwhelming majority a UN-sponsored solution plan, named the Annan plan, while the Turkish Cypriot side by majority vote accepted it, in separate referenda. The UN had said, prior to the referenda, that failure to have the plan approved by both communities will render it null and void.
 Cyprus problem cannot be solved in the courts, says spokesmanNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Wednesday that the Cyprus problem cannot be solved in the courts but through comprehensive negotiations that will lead to a mutually accepted settlement.
Commenting on decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in two cases concerning Greek Cypriot property in Turkish occupied
Cyprus, Stephanou said the government, in cooperation with the Attorney General, will study in depth all the aspects of the judgment in Greek Cypriot Michael Tymvios' case.
"Should anything in this judgment clash with our legislation or contradict the interests of the Republic of Cyprus, the government will defend its interests," the spokesman said.
The ECHR endorsed on Tuesday an out of court friendly settlement reached between Tymvios and Turkey with regard to his property in Turkish occupied Cyprus. Turkey offered Tymvios Turkish Cypriot owned property in the southern government controlled part of the country in exchange for his property in occupied Cyprus.
Tymvios had said that the Turkish authorities were preventing him from having access to and use and enjoyment of his property in a Turkish occupied area of Cyprus.
Asked if the government might not execute the Court judgment, Stephanou said the issue would be examined and, having studied all aspects of the issue, the government would take its decisions, ''taking into consideration the interests of the Republic and its laws.''
Replying to questions, Stephanou said that ''in the case of Mike Tymvios, the ECHR recognised the friendly settlement he agreed with Turkey, striking off the case from the Court's list.''
''The government, in cooperation with its legal adviser, the Attorney General, will examine in depth all the aspects of the ECHR decision and, where this may clash with laws or contradict the interests of the Republic of Cyprus, we will defend them,'' he said.
Referring to another case, that of Ioannis Demades, in which the ECHR ordered Turkey to pay 835,000 euro for the loss of use of his property in the Turkish occupied areas, Stephanou said ''Demades has been vindicated.''
The Court also said that the property in question belongs to Demades and it should be reinstated to him or his heirs.
He added that, since ''there are still eight test cases before the ECHR, the government notes that the Cyprus problem, as primarily a political problem, a problem of invasion and occupation, and with aspects relating to property, cannot be solved comprehensively in the courts.''
''The solution of the Cyprus problem can be achieved through comprehensive negotiations that will lead to a mutually acceptable solution, which will be based on UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus, the principles of international and European law, a solution that will reunite our homeland in the context of a bizonal bicommunal federation,'' Stephanou concluded.
The Court has selected eight test cases relating to property claims to consider whether a self-styled property commission, set up in Turkish occupied areas, actually provides effective domestic remedy for Greek Cypriots claiming their property rights through the ECHR.
 Cyprus Peace Platform criticises Turkey's stance towards Turkish CypriotsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Cyprus Peace Platform, which is based in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, has sent a letter to EU Council
President Janez Jansa, criticising "influential policy makers in Turkey" for their stance towards the Turkish Cypriot community and calling on the EU to take serious measures "to stop the extinction of the Turkish Cypriots since they are citizens of the EU".
A letter signed by the spokesman of the platform, Tezel Bayken, underlines the Turkish Cypriots' belief that the solution of most problems will be achieved when the Cyprus problem is solved and the united federal Cyprus is a member of the EU.
"However until a comprehensive solution is accomplished, we wish you to take serious measures to stop the extinction of the Turkish Cypriot community since they are citizens of the EU" Bayken said.
He also adds that the influential policy makers in Turkey should respect the will of the Turkish Cypriots for a solution and should not intervene and adversely influence the new peace process.
"Policy makers in Turkey are pretending as though they want an early solution to the Cyprus problem but their intentions are in fact to defer it until Turkey's accession. This is unacceptable. Statements such as "two states" and "confederation" is insistence of these circles to delay the possible early solution", he noted.
The platform also said the demographic structure in the occupied part of Cyprus has been drastically changing. "Although the population is officially expressed to be around 260,000 there is no verification for this. Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and others say the number is around 500,000. When one considers that; the number of "registered" vehicles is 223,275 and registered mobile phone users have reached 385,000, it is obvious that the 260,000 is not a correct figure and it reflects the degree of the deflection of the demographic structure in detriment of the Turkish Cypriots", the letter says.
The platform calls for an independent census to be carried out, adding that, allocations of work permits should continue as necessary "but as a respect to the Turkish CypriotÔs free will, citizenships should be stopped until a solution is reached. We ask for your support on our legitimate request".
Noting the issue is of vital significance to the Turkish Cypriot community, Bayken said that 'while the Cyprus problem drags on, the demographic structure in the northern part of Cyprus is changing rapidly to the detriment of the Turkish Cypriot community".
Bayken stressed the commitment of the Cyprus Peace Platform to a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal Cyprus based on political equality and a member of the EU.
Stability will be attained on the island and in the region when the Cyprus problem is solved, Bayken added.
He also said that the Cyprus problem is adversely affecting the EU-Turkey relations and recalled that since Cyprus became a member state of the EU on 1 April 2004, consequently the Turkish Cypriots have become EU citizens. "Therefore, it is our desire that EU uses all its influences to achieve a comprehensive solution at the end of the new negotiation process".
"In order to reach a solution and make it sustainable the existence of The Turkish Cypriot community and respect to its free will is of vital importance", he remarked, adding the "existence of the Turkish Cypriot community and respect to its free political will is a direct responsibility of the EU since the Turkish Cypriots are EU citizens".
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the islandÔs territory.
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