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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-05-31

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

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

Saturday, 31 May 2008 Issue No: 2907

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM, PASOK cross swords over health policy
  • [02] PM blasts SYRIZA for fuelling crisis in education
  • [03] Papandreou, Skandalidis discuss dialogue with other leftist parties
  • [04] EU health commissioner due in Athens for Women Leaders Working Group conference
  • [05] Interior minister addresses 'training public administration directors' event seminar
  • [06] Amendment tabled for establishment of National Council on Justice
  • [07] MPs to discuss deal for OTE on June 9
  • [08] Greek military receives modern Leopard-2 tanks
  • [09] Provopoulos tagged by central bank council as new BoG chief
  • [10] Con'f on indigenous plants for use in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics
  • [11] 62nd Pan-Macedonian Union congress in NYC
  • [12] Thessaloniki swarms up ICCA rankings as conference destination
  • [13] Retail sales turnover index up 4.5 pct in March
  • [14] Neochimiki Lavrentiadis says EBITDA up 35.5 pct in Q1
  • [15] Intrakat says EBITDA jumps to 3.4 mln euros in Q1
  • [16] Maxim Pertsinidis says turnover down 8.82 pct in 2007
  • [17] Thessaloniki prefect discusses tourism cooperation with Finnish Ambassador
  • [18] Greek stocks jump by 2.07% on Friday
  • [19] ADEX closing report
  • [20] Greek bond market closing report
  • [21] Foreign Exchange Rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [22] Climate change conference in Athens sees crisis coming faster than expected
  • [23] Euro-Med summit of culture ministers ends in Athens
  • [24] Education Minister at Int'l Book Exhibition in Thessaloniki
  • [25] University in 'state of siege' asserts injured rector
  • [26] Student protest march held without incident
  • [27] Chief prosecutor says Greek law forbids marriage between same sex individuals
  • [28] Remand prisoner commits suicide at Korydallos
  • [29] Partly cloudy on Saturday
  • [30] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM, PASOK cross swords over health policy

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis announced on Friday the immediate appointment of 850 hospital intensive care unit (ICU) staff, during discussion of a question on the National Health System (ESY) tabled in parliament by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    Karamanlis said that adequate staffing of the ICUs was a main priority for his government, so that 147 equipped clinics in IC units that were not in operation at this time would become fully operable, and also to increase the personnel in many other such units.

    In total, he said, 850 nursing staff would be appointed through direct procedures from the ASEP's (public sector hiring examinations board) rolling charts for that purpose.

    Karamanlis, responding to charges by Papandreou of a reduction of personnel in the public health sector, said that by end 2009 the hiring would proceed of about 4,500 doctors in excess of the original planning, thus eliminating the "inertia of many years and the non-existence of actions which should have begum in 1993 (when PASOK was still in government), and cited the example of the Attiko University Hospital where "in 2004 there were only 294 developed clinics, whereas today 635 are in operation".

    The premier denied, as "blatant lies", Papandreou's claims that the ESY was on a downward course, and accused PASOK of leaving behind it a "system of mismanagement and corruption", adding that audits into the health sector's finances have increased.

    On his part, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou charged, from Parliament's podium, that health expenditures, as a percentage of GDP, are declining "constantly and ceaselessly" throughout the four years of ND's governance, whereas staff being hired accounted for only half of those retiring.

    He further charged that "mismanagement and corruption are reining in the ESY" and that the health minister was engaging in public relations, while pharmaceutical expenditures have "derailed" due to abolition of the list of approved medicines that are covered by social security funds.

    Citing a newspaper report, the PASOK leader also said the government's plan was to turn over the health sector to the 'unrestrained' market, just as it has done with the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) with the 'shameful' contract (with Deutsche Telekom) it tabled in parliament on Thursday.

    Papandreou further charged that, in the four years of ND governance, no doctors have been hired for the 150 ICUs left by PASOK in 2004, while procurements were made through "unconventional" procedures, and accused the government of not issuing a call for tenders for a radiation machines for the treatment of cancer patients at the Aglaia Kyriakou Children's Hospital.

    Referring to his recent hospitalisation at the KAT hospital, Papandreou said he had ascertained physicians' disappointment with the government's policy, adding that the ESY has problems because it has "bad bosses, you".

    In reply, Karamanlis said the newspaper report cited by Papandreou referred to a report by the Auditors' Corps and reflected "what the ND government inherited".

    "It shows what we inherited at the beginning (of ND's governance) and what, under difficult conditions, we are trying to change," the premier said, adding that he was not claiming that things have reached a satisfactory level.

    "What we are saying, however, and are showing every day, is that, day by day, things are improving," Karamanlis said, and noted that the expenditures for health were 9.4 percent higher and that the new ESY procurements system shielded transparency and guaranteed savings of hundreds of millions of euros annually.

    Karamanlis said that PASOK had left behind it an ESY system with "substantial deficiencies in personnel and debts of 3 billion euros to suppliers," whereas the ND government had secured close to 1.5 billion euros in EU funds for the new programming period (2007-2013).

    "We still have much to do to revive the ESY, and adapt it to the new state of affairs ... and on this course, we have at our side the Greek citizens, who remember, judge and compare," Karamanlis concluded.

    [02] PM blasts SYRIZA for fuelling crisis in education

    In a heated exchange in Parliament on Friday, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was strongly critical of statements made by the leadership of the left-wing parties, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), concerning the crisis in universities.

    "The government initiated the educational reform by placing priority on improving tertiary state education, culminating in the framework law [for education], with the clear goal of making universities truly self-regulating, to connect them with the social and professional success of their graduates and allow them to play a leading role on an equal footing within the European sphere," he stressed.

    The opposition, by contrast, had made no proposals, suggested no measures and taken no action to improve state universities, the premier stressed.

    Replying to questions tabled during the premier's hour by the head of SYRIZA Alekos Alavanos and KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga, Karamanlis accused both but particularly Alavanos of inaccuracies, distorting the truth and inflammatory statements that fuelled the few extremists that were causing the upheaval within state universities.

    While critical of KKE's opposition to the introduction of assessment for universities, he singled out SYRIZA and its leader for much tougher criticism, intimating that the party's statements had given a green light to phenomena of violence on Greek campuses.

    He also blasted SYRIZA for distorting events, and its "indirect advance announcement of inflammatory situations in universities and the attempt to attribute these, in advance, to government statements".

    Disagreeing with the government on article 16 did not give SYRIZA's head the right to say that it was alright to go around breaking things and attacking people, Karamanlis said at another point, slamming the party for contradictions and "unbelievable, deliberate and conscious inaccuracies", as well as an inability to submit any specific proposals.

    The premier also underlined that the government would not budge from its position on educational reform, which he stressed would continue with absolute respect for the Constitution and with full enforcement of the framework law for education passed by Parliament the previous year, as well as Greece's full compliance with EU directives concerning the operation of centers offering franchise degree courses of universities within the EU.

    He also promised to start a broad-ranging debate on a new system for university entrance within the next year.

    Regarding the government's plans for article 16 of the Constitution, which forbids private universities being founded in Greece, Karamanlis said the government was now looking into ways of exhausting all legal options within the framework of the existing Constitutional article for allow the concurrent operation of non-state, non-profit universities operating under institutional predetermined conditions alongside state universities, he said.

    According to Papariga, private universities would become a "lever for the most untrammeled and uncontrolled subjugation of state universities" and she described the government's policy as "exceptionally violent". She said her party was categorically opposed to the framework law for universities and had every right to fight for conditions that would prevent its implementation and cause it to remain null and void.

    "We call the Greek people to a conscious disobedience but one acting through processes of persuasion. We have assessed your assessment and we reject it because it is a tool that promotes the economic extortion of universities and Technical Educational Institutes and their complete subjection to the laws of struggle of competition and monopolies," she said.

    Alavanos accused the prime minister and the government of "inspiring and being protagonists in an organized provocation against state universities" and said referred to a recently-established requirement that universities submit four-year plans in order to receive funding as a unconstitutional.

    He also counter-accused Karamanlis that his own party's supporters were behind violent incidents in universities around the country, denying that any of SYRIZA's youth had been involved, a suggestion strongly rejected by the prime minister as "laughable".

    [03] Papandreou, Skandalidis discuss dialogue with other leftist parties

    Main opposition PASOK party Deputy Costas Skandalidis met on Friday with party leader George Papandreou and presented his proposal to him on dialogue with the other leftist parties.

    Speaking afterwards, Skandalidis said that this issue will be discussed during the Political Council meeting on Monday, adding that "we are steadfastly on the course to victory, but at the same time to cooperation with the progressive social and political forces as well."

    Replying to questions on the rejection of cooperation by the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos), Skandalidis wondered whether "verbal acrobatics" and the reaction by Synaspismos leaders Alekos Alavanos and Alexis Tsipras have their cause in some internal problem of theirs.

    Skandalidis also said that "nobody is provoking anyone" and that "we are speaking of who wants to drive out the Right from government as soon as possible, because this is what the country needs."

    [04] EU health commissioner due in Athens for Women Leaders Working Group conference

    European Union Health Commissioner Androulla Vasilliou is due to arrive in Athens on Monday on a two-day visit, at the invitation of foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    Vassiliou, who took over the post in the European Commission after her predecessor Markos Kyprianou was appointed as Cyprus' foreign minister, will be in Athens to represent the Commission at the Meeting of the Women Leaders Working Group being organized at Bakoyannis' initiative on Monday and Tuesday at a hotel in the seaside resort town of Lagonissi, east of Athens.

    The Group is comprised of women heads of state, ministers, and high-ranking officials from all over the world, and meets regularly to discuss current challenges as well as strategies for strengthening the position of women all over the world.

    In that context, the Lagonissi meeting, being held under the auspices of the Greek foreign ministry, will be an International Conference for women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa entitled "Next Generation Initiative: Local Business for Global Rights - Middle East Regional Forum of Local and Regional Women Entrepreneurs".

    The Group meets regularly, and the meeting in Athens follows similar meetings held in New York and Vienna in 2007.

    The conference, beyond the plenary discussion, includes two thematic workshops entitled: "Women entrepreneurship within the framework of conflict resolution: Women as factors for peace" and "Women entrepreneurship in the post-conflict framework: Women Entrepreneurs as factors for stability in the process of building nations".

    The proceedings of the Conference will focus on promoting practical ways for the strengthening of women in the region, while also bringing into contact women already active there and Women Entrepreneurs from Greece and the rest of the world.

    The organization of this conference in Greece is taking place within the framework of Greece's more general activation in the region of the Middle East and North Africa, and it aims to contribute to confidence-building measures within civil society in the region and to promote peace and practical ways to strengthen women in the region economically, overcoming hurdles and biases and expanding the potential for peaceful coexistence and cooperation.

    [05] Interior minister addresses 'training public administration directors' event seminar

    The government, through application of a specialized training program via the National Center for PUblic Administration and Self-Administration, was aiming at the development of knowledge, dexterities and initiatives among division directors and their active participation in the formulation of public policies and the exercise of more efficient management of the administration process, in the framework of the 2007-2013 Administrative Reform, nterior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Friday, addressing a day seminar on the theme "Training public administration directors".

    Pavlopoulos said that one of the major innovations contained in the new Civil Servants' Code and the Code of Municipal and Community Employees was the introduction of obligatory training and education, for the first time, of Division directors in the public sector, in an effort to acquaint them with the new information and communications technologies, and in general with the increased demands of the evolving administrative reality.

    He explained that the purpose of those training programs was the "active participation of the human factor" in public administration through the assumption of initiatives, submission of proposals to the political leadership, implementation of operational plans, and other related activities.

    [06] Amendment tabled for establishment of National Council on Justice

    An amendment establishing a National Council on Justice, as an advisory body to the Justice ministry, was tabled in parliament on Friday.

    The amendment proposes that the Council will submit recommendations on the operation of the justice system and the country's courts, legislative initiatives undertaken by the ministry and the adaptation of national legislation to the European and international law, and on the operation of the correctional facilities.

    The amendment further provides for subsidization, by the justice ministry, of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Transparency International-Greece national chapter, to aid TI-Greece's organization and hosting of an International Conference on combating corruption that will take place in Athens in November this year, which is projected to cost 2 million euros.

    TI-Greece is hosting the 13th edition of the world's leading International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC), which runs from October 30 to November 2, in Athens, bringing together leading experts and practitioners on governance, corruption and transparency, for a survey of the role of corruption and governance in the crucial social, political, economic and environmental questions that will define the quality of life for people across the globe, in the present and the future.

    [07] MPs to discuss deal for OTE on June 9

    Debate on the agreement for a strategic alliance between the Greek state and Deutsche Telekom in the management of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) will begin before the appropriate Parliamentary committee on Monday, June 9.

    [08] Greek military receives modern Leopard-2 tanks

    Sessions of a two-day Euro-Mediterranean summit of culture ministers concluded on Friday at the Zappeion Hall in downtown Athens, with delegates later given a guided tour of the new Acropolis Museum.

    "The Euro-Mediterranean culture ministers' summit brings peoples closer together, it creates the conditions for mutual understanding and above all, it contributes to the peaceful co-existence and greater economic development of the region," Greek Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis said.

    The main items on the agenda included joint action against the illegal trade in cultural goods and the return of stolen items to the countries of their origin.

    Financial News

    [09] Provopoulos tagged by central bank council as new BoG chief

    Former Emporiki and Piraeus Bank CEO George Provopoulos was recommended on Friday by the Bank of Greece (BoG) general council to take over the post of governor of the country's central bank, replacing outgoing BoG Gov. Nick Garganas.

    Provopoulos was born in 1950 in Piraeus, and is married with three children.

    A graduate of the Athens University law school's department of economics, he received his MA and Ph.D in economics from the University of Essex in Britain (1977), and has been an assistant professor at the Athens University's department of economic sciences since 1979.

    He served as vice-president and managing director of Piraeus Bank from 2006 to May 21, 2008 and also as president and managing director of Emporiki Bank from 2004 to 2006. Before that, he was economic consultant at Alpha Bank, and deputy governor of the Bank of Greece from 1990 to 1993.

    [10] Con'f on indigenous plants for use in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics

    Greece is apparently one of the richest lands in the world in terms of plants used to manufacture pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and fragrances, including some 400 indigenous varieties, according to University of Thessaloniki professor Constantinos Papanikolaou, who spoke on Friday at a conference in Florina, northwest Greece.

    "There is a gap in the exploitation of these plants, because farmers are not familiar with this kind of farming, surveys have not been held and the country lacks production units specializing in this process," the academic said, adding:

    "All medicines come from plants. Hippocrates gave willow leaves as a pain killer, it was the aspirin of ancient Greece. On Mt. Grammos the blooms a certain species of Chamomile are also helpful for the liver".

    [11] 62nd Pan-Macedonian Union congress in NYC

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA)

    The opening of the 62nd Pan-Macedonian Union of America's congress was held Thursday evening in the Astoria district of New York City.

    "This year's congress is dedicated to the young Macedonians, whose presence guarantees the future and continuation of Hellenism in this, our new homeland. The Union will continue pressure in all directions, opposing use of the term Macedonia or any derivatives to be included in the name of FYROM," Pan-Macedonian president Nina Gatzouli said.

    [12] Thessaloniki swarms up ICCA rankings as conference destination

    The northern Greek city of Thessaloniki has climbed 24 places in a list of the 100 most popular conference destinations worldwide, ranking 67th in the annual report for 2007 released on Friday by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).

    In its meteoric rise relative to the ICCA report for 2006, the largest city in the northern Greek province of Macedonia has outstripped some prestigious rivals that include Washington, San Francisco, Moscow, Dubai, Frankfurt, Nice, Milan, Lausanne and Oxford.

    Its rapid rise was attributed to last year's impressive increase in the number of international conferences of the so-called "association market", which are held by non-profit organizations and scientific bodies.

    According to the Thessaloniki Conference and Visitors Bureau, the ICCA annual reports are among the most prestigious for the international conference community and use the strictest evaluation criteria, making the city's achievement that much more remarkable. It also attributed much of this success to the Thessaloniki Organization for Tourism Promotion and Marketing.

    [13] Retail sales turnover index up 4.5 pct in March

    Greece's retail sales turnover index (in current prices) rose 4.5 percent in March compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service announced on Friday. The statistical service also said the retail sales volume index rose by 0.5 pct in the same month.

    NSS, in a report, said the 4.5-pct increase in the retail sales turnover index reflected a 12.3-pct rise in off-shop sales, an 11.0-pct increase in large food stores, a 6.6-pct rise in pharmaceuticals/cosmetics, a 6.2-pct increase in food/beverage/tobacco, a 5.6-pct rise in department stores and a 2.3-pct increase in bookstores, while clothing/footwear fell 9.3 pct and furniture/electronics dropped 5.3 pct.

    [14] Neochimiki Lavrentiadis says EBITDA up 35.5 pct in Q1

    Neochimiki Lavrentiadis on Friday reported a 44.4-pct increase in consolidated turnover to 107.9 million euros in the first quarter of 2008, up from 74.7 million euros in the corresponding period last year.

    Gross profits totalled 31 million euros in the January-March period, up from 23 million euros last year, for an increase of 34.8 percent, while the gross profit margin eased to 28.7 percent of consolidated turnover from 30.8 pct last year. Pre-tax, interest and amortisation earnings (EBITDA) jumped 35.5 pct to 19.1 million euros in the first three months of the year.

    [15] Intrakat says EBITDA jumps to 3.4 mln euros in Q1

    Intrakat on Friday reported a 31.2-percent increase in consolidated first quarter turnover to 37.9 million euros, up from 28.9 million in the same period last year, while gross profits jumped 92.1 percent to 5.6 million euros, up from 2.9 million in the corresponding period in 2007. Gross profit margin improved by 4.7 percentage points to 14.9 pct of consolidated turnover.

    Consolidated pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) soared to 3.4 million euros in the January-March period, from 1.2 million in 2007, while pre-tax and interest earnings jumped to 2.4 million euros from 401,000 euros last year. Pre-tax profits totalled 493,000 euros, after losses of 200,000 in the first quarter of 2007.

    [16] Maxim Pertsinidis says turnover down 8.82 pct in 2007

    Maxim Pertsinidis on Friday reported an 8.82-pct decline in its 2007 turnover to 9.2 million euros and losses of 896,000 euros, down from a loss of 2.1 million euros in 2006. The company said it would skip dividend payment for the year, and attributed its lower results primarily to lower prices for its services and a slowdown in the sector during the second half of 2007

    [17] Thessaloniki prefect discusses tourism cooperation with Finnish Ambassador

    Thessaloniki prefect Panayiotis Psomiatds met on Friday with Finnish Ambassador to Greece Erkki Huittinen for a discussion on tourism cooperation and promoting commercial transactions between the two countries.

    Huittinen said that Greece was the second most popular tourism destination among the Finnish tourists' preferences, adding that there was, however, increasing interest in Greece, particularly among Finland's pensioners, who he said considered Greece attractive for acquiring a second home abroad.

    Psomiadis, in turn, expressed the desire to visit Finland in the future, and stressed that Greece offered many prospects, but "the foreigners have greater belief in Greece's prospects than we do".

    [18] Greek stocks jump by 2.07% on Friday

    Greek stocks ended sharply higher in the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) on Friday, with the composite index jumping 2.07 pct to end at 4,176.51 points. Turnover was a massive 748.437 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index jumped 2.82 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.58 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 1.42 percent.

    The Financial Services, Personal Products, Healthcare and Bank sectors recorded the biggest percentage gains of the day. Ygia (13.68 pct), Sprider (13.16 pct), MIG (10.03 pct) and Mediterra (9.78 pct) were top gainers, by Alma-Atermon (14.29 pct), Xylemporia (8.84 pct), AEGEK (8.33 pct0 and Allatini Ceramics (7.46 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 160 to 80 with another 51 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.84%

    Industrials: -1.16%

    Commercial: +2.93%

    Construction: -0.58%

    Media: +0.05%

    Oil & Gas: -0.22%

    Personal & Household: +4.27%

    Raw Materials: +1.41%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.27%

    Technology: -0.70%

    Telecoms: +0.78%

    Banks: +3.71%

    Food & Beverages: +2.37%

    Health: +4.11%

    Utilities: +1.15%

    Chemicals: +3.07%

    Financial Services: +7.30%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were MIG, National Bank, Alpha Bank and Marfin Popular Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 22.06

    ATEbank: 2.54

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 24.48

    HBC Coca Cola: 29.22

    Hellenic Petroleum: 10.44

    National Bank of Greece: 36.50

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 18.32

    Intralot: 12.18

    OPAP: 25.20

    OTE: 18.00

    Piraeus Bank: 21.60

    Bank of Cyprus: 8.96

    Marfin Popular Bank: 5.50

    [19] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contracts prices widened their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover rising to 126.401 million euros. The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.65 pct and the June contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 2.10 pct.

    Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 8,865 contracts worth 96.766 million euros, with 31,791 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 100 contracts worth 2.449 million euros with 240 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 21,774 contracts worth 21.812 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank (11,807), followed by OTE (701), National Bank (2,103), Intracom (868), ATEbank (253) and MIG (2,450).

    [20] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.34 billion euros on Friday, of which 630 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 710 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 385 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.55 pct with the Greek bond yielding 4.95 pct and the German Bund 4.44 pct.

    In the interbank market, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.09 pct, the six-month rate 4.92 pct, the three-month rate 4.86 pct and the one-month rate 4.46 pct.

    [21] Foreign Exchange Rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.563

    Pound sterling 0.792

    Danish kroner 7.518

    Swedish kroner 9.402

    Japanese yen 165.05

    Swiss franc 1.640

    Norwegian kroner 7.971

    Canadian dollar 1.550

    Australian dollar 1.634

    General News

    [22] Climate change conference in Athens sees crisis coming faster than expected

    An international conference on Climate Change and Human Security organized by the Greek foreign ministry ended in Athens on Friday, with speakers concluding that climate change was coming faster than expected, especially in terms of the melting of the polar ice caps and rising sea levels.

    According to the World Meteorological Organization General Secretary Michel Jarraud, this acceleration in the melting of the ice was only now beginning to be studied and understood by scientists.

    Among the meeting's conclusions was a prediction that Greece would find itself at the crossroads of environmental migration in years to come, with environmental factors seen as playing an increasing role in the volume, frequency and direction of migration.

    Experts noted that calculating levels of migration in coming years could prove very difficult, with estimates ranging from 24 million people on the move today to 700 million people by 2050. They stressed the need for studies on population movements linked to climate change, as well as estimates of their cost as part of the overall costs of climate change on the global economy.

    Another point noted by the conference was the lack of funding for programmes targeting adaptation to climate change, with speakers stressing that adaptation would be a decisive factor in reducing the cost of climate change in human lives from freak weather events, diseases and other threats.

    Speakers said that funding for such programmes by both national governments and international organizations was extremely low, amounting to a few hundred million dollars when the estimated funding needs according to the World Bank and the UNDP ranged between 46-80 billion dollars.

    Participants in the conference included specialist scientists and representatives of several international organizations, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who delivered an address via a teleconferencing link from Istanbul.

    After the conference there was the annual ministerial meeting of the Human Security Network, which marked the end of Greece's presidency of the Network and included texts prepared by the Greek presidency on climate change and the security of vulnerable population groups and on the links between climate change, human security and development.

    Points raised during the meeting included the adverse effect of climate change on gender equality, the need for a successful outcome of the international negotiation for the post-Kyoto regime, especially for children, and the need to development appropriate strategies for international developmental cooperation for dealing with the repercussions of climate change on human security.

    It also ascertained a need to support the least developed countries and developing island states in preparing for an active role in the negotiations for the post-Kyoto era.

    [23] Euro-Med summit of culture ministers ends in Athens

    Sessions of a two-day Euro-Mediterranean summit of culture ministers concluded on Friday at the Zappeion Hall in downtown Athens, with delegates later given a guided tour of the new Acropolis Museum.

    "The Euro-Mediterranean culture ministers' summit brings peoples closer together, it creates the conditions for mutual understanding and above all, it contributes to the peaceful co-existence and greater economic development of the region," Greek Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis said.

    The main items on the agenda included joint action against the illegal trade in cultural goods and the return of stolen items to the countries of their origin.

    [24] Education Minister at Int'l Book Exhibition in Thessaloniki

    Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Friday inaugurated his ministry's pavilion at the "International Book Exhibition" in Thessaloniki, Macedonia.

    The pavilion mostly hosts books of ancient Greek literature.

    Stylianidis noted that "we are in a transitional period towards a new era, the characteristics of which have not yet become manifest," underlining that "it is very important to resort to sources which have enlightened us in the past and directed human thought internationally" but also "to borrow from the thought of our ancestors."

    "At the same time, however, we should be prepared with an open spirit to approach worthy sources from other countries as well which we shall adjust to our own reality," Stylianidis said.

    The education minister condemned the phenomena of violence in Greek universities noting that "democracy, quality, cool-headedness, responsible and modern thought will be the final winner, which will determine our country's pace in the new European course."

    The exhibition will last until Sunday.

    [25] University in 'state of siege' asserts injured rector

    Thessaloniki university is in a state of siege according to the rector of Thessaloniki's Aristotelian University Anastasios Manthos, who on Friday deplored yet another incident of violence within his campus, this time involving a dawn attack on campus security guards by culprits believed not to belong to either the student body or the faculty.

    "I consider that our university is in a state of siege, that we are in a state of emergency. As rector I state that I cannot guarantee the physical safety of the people working at the university," he stressed.

    Speaking from Thessaloniki's AHEPA hospital, where he is still being treated after his collapse during a run-in with students protesting against recent reforms for tertiary education, Manthos appealed for a solution that would put an end to the upheaval, protect asylum and people's physical safety and also allow the academic community to get back to the business of teaching and education.

    The rector blamed the attack on shady groups of individuals from outside the university itself that "operate in the form of a gang, in the form of people of the underworld" and took advantage of the opportunities offered by the campus and laws for university asylum.

    Manthos asserted that the people in question were inconvenienced by the closure of the university and by the checks being carried out on cars entering and leaving the campus and were using these methods to stop them.

    [26] Student protest march held without incident

    A protest march to Parliament by students demonstrating against the framework law for tertiary education was carried out in central Athens on Friday. The march took place without incident and the protestors dispersed early in the afternoon.

    [27] Chief prosecutor says Greek law forbids marriage between same sex individuals

    The Supreme Court's chief prosecutor on Friday essentially warned the mayors of municipalities and communities around the country that the institution of marriage between people of the same sex is not foreseen or allowed under Greek law, therefore the issue of such a license by a local government entity would be not only be void and but also illegal.

    The office of chief prosecutor George Sanidas on Friday released a copy of a letter the former sent to the head of the first instance prosecutor's office on the island of Rhodes, following a recent batch of press reports claiming that the mayor of the small Dodecanese isle of Tilos had agreed to preside over a civil marriage between homosexuals. The press reports claiming such a marriage was pending were first published in the form of a wedding announcement in the far left weekly "Epochi" on Sunday and then reprinted in the mass circulation daily "Ta Nea" this week.

    The island of Tilos comes under the judicial jurisdiction of nearby Rhodes.

    In his letter, Sanidas refers to Article 21 of the Greek constitution as mandating the protection of the family and the institution of marriage, while warning public officials that failure to abide by the law will result in dereliction of duty charges.

    "We request that all legal actions (be taken) in the case that the mayor of Tilos accepts a statement for conducting a marriage ceremony between homosexuals," Sanidas writes in his letter to the prosecutor on Rhodes.

    Prior to the most recent press reports listing Tilos as the first municipality to allow marriage between homosexuals in the east Mediterranean country, previous reports had claimed that a municipality in east Athens, Kaisariani, would consent to issue licenses for such civil unions.

    [28] Remand prisoner commits suicide at Korydallos

    A prisoner being held on remand at Korydallos prison in Athens took his own life on Friday morning by leaping off a walkway some 10 metres above the ground.

    Prison authorities said the 45-year-old Greek man had arrived in the prison just the day before, after he was remanded in custody by an examining magistrate of the Aegean court.

    On Friday morning, dozens of inmates in the prison's first wing were shocked when they saw the newcomer walk out of his cell on the second floor, head toward a 'bridge corridor' connecting the cells and then leap off the edge.

    He was rushed to hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival.

    An inquiry into the reasons that led the man to take his own life is being conducted by the Korydallos police department and the justice ministry.

    Weather forecast

    [29] Partly cloudy on Saturday

    Partly cloudy weather with westerly, northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 4-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 34C. Partly cloudy in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 18C to 34C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 17C to 31C.

    [30] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The government's measures to combat high prices, the situation in the Education sector (Universities) and the tabling of the Greek state- Deutsche Telekom agreement on the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) agreement dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "200 hooligans blocked access to the centre of Athens ".

    APOGEVMATINI: "(Development Minister Christos) Folias to entepreneurs: No time for delay, we must take action immediately".

    AVGHI:"Development Minister repeats the same things on how government will battle high cost of living".

    AVRIANI: "Red alert for high cost of living - Industrialists playing dumb - 7 measures to curb prices announced by Development Minister Folias".

    CHORA: " Second veto to US Secretary of State Condoleezza) Rice - Greece and Cyprus walked out of the PSI conference", referring to the walkout by the Greek and Cypriot delegations from a conference on Initiatives against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Desctruction (Proliferation Security Initiative-PSI) in the US capital on Wednesday, in protest of Washington's decision to insist on the use of the name "Republic of Macedonia" for FYROM in the framework of the conference.

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Leftist minorities sinking Education"

    ELEFTHEROS: "The Development Ministry leadership told us big fat lies on the combating of spiraling prices".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Dissension among ministers, citizens gloomy, over high cost of living".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Folias' meeting with 45 enterpreneurs was unproductive".

    ESTIA: "The parody-revision of the Constitution humiliates the entire political system".

    ETHNOS: "Cheap comedy over high cost of living - Government unable to protect the consumers".

    KATHIMERINI: "Government-industries in tough poker game on prices".

    LOGOS: "Prices soaring - The 10 measures (additional measures on combatting high prices which the development ministry had said it would announce on Thursday turned into 7 (measures actually announced) - Parties react to new measures".

    NIKI: "The meeting between Folias and industrialists was a fiasco".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Response to (ruling New Democracy) ND, (main opposition) PASOK and plutocracy's orchestrated attack for Universities serving corporate interests".

    TA NEA: "The 'secret' inflation is 50% higher (than the official rate) - Shocking survey on high cost of living".

    TO VIMA: "Water to follow in OTE's footsteps- Strategic partner being sought for EYDAP and EYATH (Water Boards of Athens and Thessaloniki) - (economy and finance minister George - Alogoskoufis announced the next privatisation (of a public utility company)".

    VRADYNI: "The OTE-Deutsche Telekom agreement tabled on Thursday in Parliament - 5 'safety valve' clauses ensure the state's rights".

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