|Friday, 23 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-06-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 5 June 2008 Issue No: 2911
 PM on initiative to grant expatriates voting rightsPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday called the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) the main axis of a joint national effort to promote and support Hellenism around the world, while also emphasising the government's intent to establish voting rights for expatriates.
The prime minister said competent government ministers and political party representatives will meet to discuss the expatriate vote issue and have a draft law drawn up as soon as possible, taking under consideration SAE' s positions.
"The intention is to have the effort completed by the end of 2008," Karamanlis said, citing the government actions in preparing a draft law that was forwarded to parties in Parliament and SAE, adding that he is aware of the existing differences in viewpoints.
Considering that a strong majority of 200 MPs is necessary for the draft law in question to be passed in Parliament, a convergence of views is imperative.
The prime minister congratulated and thanked expatriates for their initiatives in support of the national issues, referring characteristically to their mobilisation ahead of the NATO Summit in Bucharest and their endeavors on issues concerning youth, education and culture and the creation of closer relations between the Greek expatriates and local societies in their countries of residence.
Karamanlis stated that SAE's contribution is recognised in practice, adding that the government honors its expatriate Greeks and will offer its unreserved support to SAE and its organisational improvement.
He also referred to the establishment of youth networks, the conventions for the upgrading and better organizing of Greek-speaking education and the promotion of the systematic teaching of the Greek language via the internet pointing out that though simple in their essence, these measures are very effective in preserving the Greek language and identity.
Karamanlis stressed that the upgrading of Greek-speaking education is a top priority for the government and referred to the promotion of a complete scholarship programme for the Greek expatriates who in turn will undertake to teach the Greek language in their countries of residence.
The prime minister also referred to the initiatives for the creation of closer relations between the Greek expatriate communities and the enabling law passed recently allowing SAE to assume its current representative and effective role. He also pointed out that the presidential decree setting the criteria and procedures for representation in SAE's assembly meeting is on its last processing stage.
Karamanlis concluded that the government's main goal and a steadfast national objective is to offer substantive and tangible support to Greek expatriates, adding that the government is looking forward to SAE's firm and constructive assistance and contribution to this direction.
SAE President Stefanos Tamvakis cited the issue of voting rights and the election of Greek expatriate MPs, noting that the objective is to have the number of Parliament seats filled from nationwide party lists on a top-down basis and based on the proportion of the total vote each party received, increased from 12 to 15, three of them occupied by Greek expatriate candidates.
 PM confers with interior minister ahead of EU meeting on migration/asylumPrime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Wednesday with interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, ahead of Thursday's meeting of the EU council of interior ministers in Luxembourg, which will discuss illegal migration issues.
Pavlopoulos told reporters after the meeting that these issues concern the entire European Union, which he said delayed in preceding years to take initiatives for formulation common rules and common policies, and added that France, which takes over the rotating EU presidency from Slovenia for the second half of the year, has focused most of its attention in this area, aimed at completion of a pact on migration among the 27 member states by the end of the year.
The minister stressed that Greece was a protagonist in this area, given that "we are a country that faces the biggest problems, due to its geographical position, regarding illegal migration issues, and particularly in matters of asylum, which are more intense and more different in our country than in other, northern, EU states".
Pavlopoulos explained that he had put this issue forward at the preceding meeting of EU interior ministers in Luxembourg, and will do so again on Thursday, and also on the basis of what has been agreed with his French counterpart.
Thus, he continued, now it is Greece that will take the necessary initiatives so as to have a substantive role in the formulation of European policy on immigration and asylum and in order to for the EU to contribute to the creation of the necessary infrastructures given the predictions that the wave of illegal migration, due to the circumstances in the wider region, will increase.
Greece's goal, Pavlopoulos said, was protection of human rights, stressing that the country's history and culture "mandates that we do what is necessary so that all these people, who are seeking a better destiny, will have the fate they deserve, but this is a common effort of all the EU member countries, and that is the direction that we will follow at tomorrow's council of interior ministers".
 FM on FYROM refusal of passage to Greece peacekeepers headed for KosovoForeign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday expresed the belief that FYROM and its leadership, despite the lack of government at the present time, realised how serious the obstruction of a peace force, whose presence was necessary in Kosovo, was, and "I believe that the matter will soon be cleared up", commening on FYROM's refusal of passage to a Greek military contingent headed for Kosovo.
Bakoyannis added that "the matter will be resolved and the Greek forces will continue to pass through FYROM territory".
"We are in a period of tension in that country. The weaknesses arising are many, and are being judged particularly austerely by all the European countries, but also by the US. It would be good if the Skopje leadership realises that it effort will be necessary for it to convince Europe and NATO," she added.
Meanwhile, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, asked whether FYROM president Branco Cervenkovski was due in Greece on June 13 for the SE Europe summit on culture, replied that he had no relevant information and would reply after being briefed.
 GEWD Balkan Greens conference to open Friday in ThessalonikiA three-day conference of Green parties of the Balkans opens in Thessaloniki on Friday, organised by the European Green Party (EGP, the federation of Europe's green parties) in cooperation with the Greek Ecologists-Greens (Eco-Greens) party, in the framework of the Green East-West Dialogue (GEWD).
The purpose of the conference is an exchange ov views and experiences from the activities of the ecological movements in Southeastern Europe and the development of Balkan cooperation on the crucial issue of climate change, on nuclear energy, cross-border waters, forest protection and other themes, and also political cooperation among the Greek parties of the region, removed from tensions and nationalism.
Taking part in the conference will be the Greek parties from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, FYROM, Moldova, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey and the Ukraine, as well as specialised scientists and officials of the European Greens.
The conference opens on Friday evening at the University of Macedonia, on the theme "Nuclear energy and oil and gas pipelines in the Balkans - What is the alternative energy policy?".
The development of nuclear plants being advanced as a solution to the energy problem and global warming is, according to the Greens, a dangerous and dead-end paty, while the various energy pipelines in Greece and the Balkans entail incalculable hazards for the sensitive balance of the marine ecosystems, but also to tourism in the coastal countries and to public health.
The goal of the Greens is to draft an alternative energy policy that is founded on the development of alternative energy sources, bio-climatic architecture, mass transports and an ecological way of life.
 PASOK spokesman on growth rate, Deutsche TelekomMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papacon-stantinou, commenting on Wednesday on quarterly results announced by the National Statistical Service, said that the New Democracy party government "has brought the Greek economy 10 years back".
Papaconstantinou said that "a decrease has taken place in the recovery rate, that has fallen to 3.4 percent, while a decline is also appearing in consumption" and termed the reduction in investments by seven percentage points unprecedented, at a time when the budget anticipates a 10 percent increase in investments.
He added that over the past four years, the Greek economy "has lost all the achievements of the previous years".
The PASOK spokesman also observed that for "the first time in 10 years the income per capita of the Greeks is decreasing in relation to the European average".
On the question of high prices, Papaconstantinou said that the great increases in food, oil and other products are not justified since the euro-dollar parity is such that it is being used as a "cushion."
Asked to comment on a report in the German "Spiegel" magazine on the Deutsche Telekom company, the spokesman said that it "is being confirmed that the German company is involved in a big sdandal."
He added that if the government "was unaware of the tapping scandal in which Deutsche Telekom is involved, it did not do its job properly. And if it was aware of it but ignored it, it misled the Greeks." He further reiterated that PASOK has raised issues concerning the sale of OTE (the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation) that reach the issue of breach of faith.
 KKE on high cost of livingA statement issued by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Wednesday termed the government's measures to tackle the high cost of living as "decorative" and a "mockery". It also lashed out at the opposition parties PASOK and SYRIZA, accusing them of engaging in hypocritical criticism.
"The high cost of living is the result of a number of anti-popular measures and restructurings promoted by the governments of PASOK and ND in the process of implementing EU policies," KKE statement charged.
 Papoulias message for World Environment DayPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday said a "reversal of the destruction in the environment constitutes the great moral, political and economic challenge of our era."
In a message on the occasion of World Environment Day on Thursday, he said "this demands the consolidation of an environmental and cultural conscience, individually and collectively, as well as the activation of society in its entirety. It demands a new way of thinking."
According to the Greek president, the struggle for the environment's protection also "demands that we place the interest of future generations above the short-term cost of our immediate action. It demands that we place the interests of those we possess nothing above the interests of those who possess so much. It demands vigilance and continuous struggle: a struggle for the right to the environment."
 Message by Interior Minister Pavlopoulos for World Environment DayInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday issued a message in view of Thursday's World Environment Day.
Thirty six years after the establishment of June 5th as World Environment Day by the United Nations, "the reality which is appearing on the Planet with regard climatic changes, the greenhouse effect, the reserves of natural resources, and the laying in waste, is an enormous threat for mankind. All recognize the need for there to be an immediate world mobilization to overcome, even now, this catastrophic course. Because the effective protection of the environment and the securing of viable conditions for the next generations does not constitute a problem which one country or a group of countries can confront by itself," Pavlopoulos said.
 Education minister, Archbishop, Tsipras on World Environment DayEducation Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said in a message on the occasion of World Environment Day that the participation of all in the overall mobilisation to save the environment is imperative, adding that the key-sense in this collective awakening effort is "education", because "everything is a matter of education."
The minister further said that "education on the environment and sustainable growth is considered one of the most effective tools today to build personalities with friendly attitudes towards the environment and to develop capabilities among our young people to enable them to influence social options in the direction of sustainable growth."
In a message on the same issue, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos said that "the natural environment is none other than the home of God in which he placed man for him to live and manage the material products that he is providing for him. In order for him to enjoy these products, he must live a spiritual life."
The Archbishop went on to say that "we must think that we must behave towards the environment as Orthodox Christians and responsible citizens. Speaking usually about the environment, we mean our fellow man, the family, friends, society."
In another development, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras made an address during a discussion on the theme of "Climatic change: challenges and political answers," that the party organised on Wednesday in Koumoundourou Square on the occasion of World Environment Day.
Tsipras said that "we are in a position to jointly admit that if we do not act immediately, if we do not abandon the model of life of over consumption and the neo-liberal model of development, then we shall be led with mathematical precision to the path of self destruction, since the consequences of climatic change, which are already evident, will very soon become uncontrollable and disastrous."
 Ecumenical Patriarch message for World Environment DayThe Ecumenical Patriarchate adds its voice to calls of environmentally sensitive individuals and organisations, regardless of their religious or political affiliation, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos (Bartholomew I) stressed in his message, issued on the occasion of Thursday's World Environment Day.
Vartholomeos, often referred to as the "Green Patriarch" for his ecological initiatives, called on rival countries to leave their differences behind and offer their unreserved financial and scientific assistance to nations ravaged by famine and civil wars.
He added that the time has come for the world's people to radically reconsider their conduct and way of thinking and protect the environment.
"Human beings have adopted a greedy attitude towards nature resulting to the catastrophic climate change witnessed, water pollution, overfishing, loss of biodiversity, desertification, forest destruction and other manifestations of an unprecedented ecological crisis," he stressed.
 Greek economy to grow by 3.5 pct in 2008/09, OECD reportThe Greek economy is expected to grow at a rate of around 3.5 percent in 2008 and 2009, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Wednesday.
In its report on the Greek economy, the Paris-based organization, said economic growth rate was strong in 2007 (4.0 pct) although economic activity slowed somewhat last year due a slower domestic demand. The OECD said the inflation rate, already up so far this year, is expected to ease later in 2008, but to remain above the Eurozone's average level, further burdening the country's competitiveness. The harmonized consumer price index is projected at 4.2 pct this year (from 3.0 pct in 2007), falling to 3.2 pct in 2009.
The Organisation said the country's current accounts deficit would reach 15.3 pct of GDP this year from 14.1 pct in 2007 and noted that fiscal consolidation must remain a top priority for the government, focusing more on primary spending and expanding the tax base. It also called for a further reduction of the country's public debt and to implement a recent reform on the pension system. OECD also called for a reform of the country's healthcare system and for a more efficient public administration.
The general government's deficit is projected at 2.1 pct of GDP this year and 2009, from 3.1 pct in 2007, unemployment is expected to ease to 7.7 pct in 2008 and 2009, from 8.0 pct in the previous year, while exports are projected to rise by 5.5 pct and imports to grow by 3.5 pct in 2008.
 PASOK rapporteur on Greek economyMain opposition PASOK party economic affairs rapporteur Louka Katseli, referring on Wednesday to data publicised by the OECD on the Greek economy on the same day and on statements by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, said that Alogoskoufis and the government "are currently exposed and accountable to the Greek people and the agencies of the European Union".
"Every serious observer could from the end of the past year, already, assess that the deficit for 2007 would exceed the 'red line' of 3 percent of GDP. We had warned the government of this, during the discussion on the budget. The government paid no attention at the time. Today, the OECD is confirming the fiscal deviation. It assesses that the deficit for 2007 has exceeded 3 percent of GDP. This creates a major political issue and the government is obliged to provide explanations immediately," she said.
Katseli further said that Alogoskoufis must reveal what the real amount of the "secret expenditures" is, what are the deficits of hospitals and of ELGA, what are the expenditures for armaments programmes and what are the real interest expenditures for serving the public debt.
Lastly, the rapporteur called on the finance minister to present citizens with the real state of the Greek economy. An economy in which low growth rates in the region of 3.6 percent in the first quarter of 2008 are becoming consolidated and high inflation rates exceed 4.5 percent.
 FinMin says better coordination needed to combat inflation, financial crisesOECD's report confirms the Greek economy's favourable course, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday, commenting on the release of the Organisation's report on the Greek economy. The Greek minister, however, stressed it was necessary to continue a fiscal consolidation policy and a reform program to boost growth, competitiveness and social cohesion.
In his address at the Ministerial meeting of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, Alogoskoufis stressed that "a current slowdown of global economic coincided with rising prices of raw materials and food, resulting to higher inflation. OECD member-states need the implementation of a policy mixture based on a widespread reform program. A current financial crisis, an economic slowdown and higher inflation highlighted the need for reforms not only in product and labour markets, but in world trade and in the financial sector, where there is room to improving competition, efficiency and transparency".
The Greek minister stressed that in periods like the current one it was important to coordinate actions and recommended an approach based on five principles:
-monetary policy aimed at containing inflation around the globe,
-credible and stable fiscal targets,
-deregulating domestic markets, such as world trade, foreign exchange regimes, capital markets and product markets.
-focused social and development programs to support poor countries and regions and the most vulnerable groups of population in rich countries and -better coordination to deal with global inequalities.
 Greece, Iran seek closer economic and trade relationsGreek Development Minister Christos Folias on Wednesday recommended the set up of a Greek-Iranian Chamber with the aim to strengthen possible synergies between companies from both countries, in acknowledgement of the significant improvement recorded in the business climate in Iran and efforts made to privatise large Iranian state enterprises.
The issue was discussed during a meeting with Iran's Commerce Minister Dr. Ghazanfari. The Greek minister expressed the hope of further strengthening economic and business cooperation between the two countries in the future, promoting their bilateral relations based on mutual friendship and trust.
The Iranian Minister invited the Greek Development Ministetr to visit Tehran, leading a business delegation, with the aim to promote business relations and investments.
 Agriculture minister addresses FAO conferenceROME (ANA-MPA/Th. Andreadis-Syngelakis)
Agricultural Development Minister Alexandros Kontos addressed the international conference of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) here on Wednesday, stressing that the shortage and high prices of basic foods have created considerable tensions on a worldwide scale over the past two years, as well as over the past months.
"It is an imperative need, more than ever now, that we should all assume initiatives and policies in the direction of curbing the present crisis and the effective handling of the phenomenon of hunger, instability and fluidity in markets, on a worldwide scale," he said.
Referring to targets that must be achieved, the minister highlighted as priorities an increase in productivity in the sector of agriculture, providing assistance for the poorer countries, an ambitious agreement in the framework of the Doha Round and, lastly, the redefining of the goal of biofuel production at international level.
"Greece has already contributed and will continiue to contribute in these efforts, through the implementation of concrete programmes, helping at the same time the most vulnerable countries both on a bilateral and a multilateral level," Kontos concluded.
 Minister says some 150 tons of tainted sunflower oil used by industriesDevelopment Minister Christos Folias underlined the shortcomings of a market monitoring mechanism in a meeting he had Wednesday morning with Greek Food Authority (EFET) inspectors.
Folias pointed out hat they should be "fair with the responsible vendors and relentless with the bad".
As regards to the latest furor regarding adulterated sunflower oil, the minister stated pointed to a figure of roughly 150 tons of mineral oil-tainted Ukrainian sunflower oil being used by the local food processing industries.
 Event on Romanian economyEurobank EFG organised a series of meetings, as well as a presentation to Greek institutional investors of developments and prospects of the Romanian economy, in cooperation with the UBS and Credit Suisse banks.
The presentation took place at Eurobank's central administration offices in the presence, among others, of Eurobank's managing director Nikolaos Nanopoulos, the bank's alternate managing director Nikos Karamouzis and the Romanian Ambassador to Greece George Ciamba.
The main speakers on the Romanian side were Finance Minister Varujan Vosganian, the Central Bank's alternate governor Cristian Popa and the general director of the Public Debt Management Department Stefan Nanu.
 Closed-end investment funds' assets up 1.4 pct in MayGreek-listed eight closed-end investment funds' net assets totaled 352.2 million euros at the end of May, from 347.3 million euros a month earlier, for an increase of 1.4 percent, official figures showed on Wednesday.
A monthly report by the Association of Institutional Investors said the average numerical return of the sector was -12.11 pct by the end of May, while the average weighed return was -12.73 pct. All eight companies in the sector recorded negative internal value returns, ranging from -9.09 pct to -19.20 pct, outperforming the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange (-19.35 pct). All companies were traded at a discount in May, ranging from 13.55 pct to 31.28 pct.
 Athens International Airport celebrates 100 million passengersThe Athens International Airport on Wednesday celebrated its 100th million passenger resulting from more than 1.3 million flights, during its almost seven years of operation.
The 100th million passenger was a Greek woman arriving from Paris. She received a very special welcome accompanied with gifts and a return ticket to Paris, courtesy of Air France
 Exhibition on China at 'The Mall' this week"The Mall", Greece's largest shopping mall, will host the "China World" exhibition at the complex's level 2, beginning on Friday, an event that will be inaugurated by the Chinese ambassador to Greece, Luo Linquan.
A tour of the exhibition and a buffet with Chinese delicasies will follow.
The exhibition will last until June 21.
 Greek stocks end 1.52 pct lowerGreek stocks came under strong pressure to end significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The composite index fell 1.52 percent to end at 4,113.55 points, with turnover a low 292 million euros.
Most sectors moved lower with the Telecommunications (2.69 pct), Raw Matetrials (2.40 pct) and Banks (2.01 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Industrial Products (0.78 pct), Utilities (0.30 pct) and Food/Beverage (0.15 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 1.68 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.31 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.08 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 174 to 73 with another 45 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.69%
Personal & Household: -1.06%
Raw Materials: -2.40%
Travel & Leisure: -1.40%
Food & Beverages: +0.19%
Financial Services: -0.25%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, PPC and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.40
Public Power Corp (PPC): 24.84
HBC Coca Cola: 28.10
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.20
National Bank of Greece: 34.50
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 18.30
Piraeus Bank: 21.42
Bank of Cyprus: 8.88
Marfin Popular Bank: 5.56
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover staying a low 98.971 million euros. The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.63 pct and the June contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.51 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 7,324 contracts worth 80.136 million euros, with 32,420 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 48 contracts worth 1.179 million euros with 186 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,311 contracts worth 12.080 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (3,571), followed by OTE (667), Piraeus (240), National Bank (639), Alpha Bank (753), Intracom (698) and ATEbank (820).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.369 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 706 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 663 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 593 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds eased to 0.57 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.94 pct and the German Bund 4.37 pct.
In the interbank market, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month Euribor rate rose to 5.10 pct, from 5.09 pct on Tuesday, the six-month rate was 4.93 pct, the three-month rate 4.86 pct and the one-month rate 4.46 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.559
Pound sterling 0.796
Danish kroner 7.518
Swedish kroner 9.419
Japanese yen 163.11
Swiss franc 1.616
Norwegian kroner 8.039
Canadian dollar 1.573
Australian dollar 1.622
 Culture Minister Liapis opens sessions of 6th Int'l Sports Conference 'Sportaccord'Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Wednesday opened the sessions of the 6th International Conference "Sportaccord" which are taking place at a central Athens hotel.
He was the first speaker at the event which is also being attended by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge.
Rogge was due later to announce the final list of candidate cities for the hosting of the 2016 Olympic Games.
 Album presented on 'Struggles of the Greeks 1897-1947'A two-volume album titled "Struggles of the Greeks 1897-1947. The half a century that completed Greece through the photographic archives of the War Museum" was presented at the War Museum on Werdnesday evening at a special event organised by the newspaper Eleftheros Typos, under the auspices of the national defence ministry.
The event was attended by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who was welcomed by Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and the Deputy Ministers Constantine Tasoulas and Yiannis Plakiotakis, as well as the Angelopoulos couple.
Also present were ministers, party representatives, deputies, the leadership of the armed forces, veterans and other dignitaries.
Speaking during the event, Meimarakis said that "when we view the Struggles of the Greeks, this does not merely constitute a historic approach or paying tribute to those who we owe it to. It constitutes, mainly, a compass for tomorrow, as to how we must proceed in the future, as our ancestors proceeded, so that we can enjoy our freedom today, the most valuable thing together with life itself. And this is the greatest honour for those who struggled and sacrificed themselves for the motherland."
The minister also added that "we responded positively to the initiative by Eleftheros Typos on issuing the album and creating a documentary with such material, because we believe that it will contribute considerably to deepening our collective national self conscience and it will allow all, as well as the younger generations in particular, to have a first stage presentation of some of the Struggles that created this country."
The National Defence General Staff provided a considerable number of photographs from the War Museum's archives, to be included in the publication in question that reflects to a great degree the contribution of the Greek armed forces to the struggles of the Nation.
 President Papoulias inaugurates 'Folk Songs' exhibitionPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias inaugurated on Wednesday evening, in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, the exhibition "Folk Songs - History - Tradition - Identity".
The exhibition was organized by the Parliamentary Foundation.
Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas said that "folk songs express the passions and provide a shape to the dreams of people."
 Actor Nikos Sergianopoulos was found murdered in his apartmentPopular actor Nikos Sergianopoulos, 56, was found murdered in his apartment in Pangrati, Athens on Wednesday morning.
His body was discovered by his maid, lying on the floor with multiple stab wounds in the chest and neck.
The apartment had apparently been ransacked and, according to evidence, the victim had had visitors as it was surmised from empty beer bottles and cups strewn around the apartment. It is noted that Sergianopoulos had been arrested a few months ago on cocaine possession charges in the Athens district of Kolonos.
A police investigation is underway on the motives of the crime.
 Athens mayor receives Chicago counterpart DaleyAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Wednesday received Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley at City Hall, as the meeting was held within the framework of cooperation between the cities since 1997, when a friendship and cooperation agreement was signed.
Daley's wife Maggie Daley and former World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Andrew A. Athens also attended the meeting.
On his part, Kaklamanis conveyed his best wishes regarding Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, while accepting an invitation to visit Chicago, home to a large and vigorous Greek-American community.
 FM receives Chicago MayorForegn Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday received Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Daley is visiting Athens to promote Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic Games.
 US 'Liberty Ship' coming to Greece as museumThe transfer of the last remaining American "Liberty Ship," the "Arthur M. Huddell", for use in Greece as a floating museum was sealed on Wednesday during a ceremony on the sidelines of the Posidonia 2008 international shipping exhibition in Piraeus.
The top US maritime official, Maritime Administrator Sean Connaughton, signed a memorandum of understanding for the transfer of the vessel with Merchant Marine Minister George Voulgarakis, in the presence of US ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard.
Also present at the signing ceremony was Rhode Island State Sen. Leonidas Raptakis, a prominent Greek-American who championed the "Liberty Ship" project. In addition, several Greek officials and ship-owners who have played vital roles in advancing the project were recognised, including Deputy Minister Panos Kammenos, Spyros Polemis and Vassilis Konstantakopoulos.
 Tourism minister visits island of KalymnosTourist Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos visited the island of Kalymnos on Wednesday, the last stop in his tour of the Dodecannese islands, where he inspected the mountaineering and diving centre.
The minister was given a briefing by the Mayor of Kalymnos, George Roussos, on the island's alternative tourist activities in the sector of diving and mountaineering tourism.
Spiliotopoulos said in a statement that Kalymnos has both a rich mountain range that one can utilise for mountaineering and a rich seabed that he can use for another form of alternative tourism, diving.
In this context, the minister further said, a diving and mountaineering tourism centre is being created to enable Kalymnos to distinguish itself in a tourism sense in alternative forms of tourism.
 Papoulias receives ESIEA delegationPresident Karolos Papoulias received the Athens Journalists' Union (ESIEA) Educational Foundation board members on Wednesday, headed by ESIEA President Panos Sobolos and Greek Cartoonists Association President Costas Vlachos.
Sobolos offered Papoulias a special edition with caricatures by leading cartoonists, entitled "Environment SOS", co-published by ESIEA and the Greek Cartoonists Association.
The book will be distributed to all Greek MPs, Euro-MPs and mayors.
 US senior adviser Tahir-Kheli speaks in AthensUS Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's senior adviser for women's empowerment, distinguished ambassador and foreign policy expert Shirin Tahir-Kheli, spoke in Athens on Wednesday during a luncheon hosted by the Greek UNESCO committee on the subject of "Women's Role in Social Transformation".
The high-ranking US ambassador arrived in Greece to attend a conference this week for female entrepreneurs of North Africa and the Middle East, which was held in an Athens seaside resort within the framework of the Women Leaders' Working Group.
In her address, Tahir-Kheli said the emphasis of the conference concerned three primary issues, namely, increasing women's role in political leadership; promoting equality and better representation in the judiciary.
 Mediterranean Documentary Festival at Lavrio Technological ParkThe Prefectural Council of Eastern Attica has decided to organize the 11th Mediterranean Documentary Festival at the Lavrio Technological Park from September 6-9.
Taking part in this year's festival will be the Prefecture of Eastern Attica, the Association of Greek Cinema Directors and Producers, the Polytechnic's Society for the Implementation and Management of the Technological Park and Lavrio Municipality.
 Students end occupation of Macedonia University premisesStudents who had occupied the premises outside the conference hall of the University of Macedonia's Senate in Thessaloniki on Wednesday, left without incident after staying for about eight hours, without their demands being met.
The University's rector, Ilias Kouskouvelis, said that the Senate's decision regarding four-year economic and development planning was not ultimately recalled and no issue was raised of lifting asylum or of prosecution against any student.
 Attacks on ND, PASOK offices in ThessalonikiTwo firebomb attacks were recorded at dawn Wednesday targeting local New Democracy (ND) and PASOK party offices in Thessaloniki. Unidentified individuals firebombed the ground-floor level ND offices in downtown Thessaloniki causing limited damage. The PASOK offices in the old city section were targetted five minutes later when a homemade bomb exploded, causing minor damage.
 Cretan herbs museum in HaniaA unique collection of 9,000 herbs found on the island of Crete is on display in the Museum of Cretan Herbs of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, in Kolibari, Hania. The collection is the work of a French botany professor Jacques Safran, who studied locally grown herbs since 1964. The Museum of Cretan Herbs was established following his decision to donate his collection to the Academy.
 Mostly fair on ThursdayMostly fair 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 13C and 31C. Mostly fair in Athens, with southwesterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 16C to 31C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 28C.
 President Christofias wants Britain to play creative role in Cyprus problemLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot President Demetris Christofias will convey to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown the message that Cyprus wants Britain to creatively play the role other countries are playing in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.
He added that the memorandum of cooperation between Cyprus and Britain will determine the basis on which bilateral relations will continue as well as the role of the United Kingdom in efforts towards a Cyprus settlement.
Speaking Wednesday at Larnaca Airport before departing for London for a working visit, President Christofias said he would be meeting Brown and that ''the prospect is to sign a memorandum of understanding and cooperation.''
He expressed certainty that ''the outcome of this visit will be positive for Cyprus and positive for the relations between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Cyprus.''
''We know there were differences. We will try to solve the problems that have arisen and establish a permanent and continuous dialogue between the governments of the two countries on issues of mutual interest concerning the Cyprus problem, Turkey's EU accession course and in general the whole mesh of relations between the United Kingdom and Cyprus,'' he pointed out.
Replying to questions, President Christofias said ''the United Kingdom considers that this time the Cypriots will have to play a leading role, and we believe that the Cypriots should play a leading role.''
''Britain is a permanent member of the Security Council, is a guarantor power, and thus it naturally plays a role,'' he said, adding that ''we want Britain to play the role the other countries are playing in a creative manner.''
He noted ''this is the message we want to give and I believe that through the memorandum of cooperation the basis will be determined on which the construction of our relations will continue, and any role of the United Kingdom regarding efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.''
The president departed for London where he will meet British PM Gordon Brown and his Foreign Secretary.
Britain is one of three guarantor powers of Cyprus' inde-pendence according to the 1960 treaties that established the Republic of Cyprus (the other two are Greece and Turkey).
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 UNSG: Window of opportunity for Cyprus settlement openNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The UN Secretary General has welcomed the commitment of the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities to work towards a political settlement, reaffirming their support for a bizonal bicommunal federation.
The Secretary General also said that now a window of opportunity for Cypriots to finally resolve the Cyprus problem is clearly open and reiterated his intension to appoint a special adviser at the right time.
It is particularly heartening that over the past months, the two leaders have already taken decisive steps towards their shared objective of resuming negotiations aimed at a comprehensive settlement, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his report on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus.
Ban strongly encouraged the parties to build on the present momentum and continue using the current preparatory period to identify to the greatest extent possible areas of convergence as well as disagreement, while preparing options, where feasible, on the more sensitive elements for the two leaders to consider once formal negotiations begin.
He stressed that that agreement of 21 March, the subsequent active engagement in substance, and the Joint Statement of 23 May are clear indicators of the renewed political will to seek a solution to the Cyprus problem. "I am gratified to see both leaders, whose vision and commitment I commend, taking ownership of, and full responsibility of, the process," he noted.
He said that what is particularly encouraging is that the leaders have reconfirmed, at their meeting on 23 May, a broad outline of a solution, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions and a partnership comprising a Federal Government with a single international personality, as well as a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, with equal status."
"In light of further momentum created by the leaders on 23 May, the working groups and the technical committees may wish to increase the pace of their meetings, not least because their results will be examined by the leaders' representatives in early June," he said and expressed hope that the parties will record substantive results during this phase for the leaders to use to start full-fledged negotiations.
"In this regard, the planned meeting between the leaders in the second half of June may prove to be pivotal. I am firmly committed to helping them move forward to the formal talks as expeditiously and smoothly as possible, and intend to appoint a Special Adviser at the appropriate time," UNSG said.
He noted that the coming period "will not be easy and may require major compromises. It is therefore important for all parties to foster an environment that is conducive to moving the process forward. A flourishing and engaged civil society and an informed citizenry are important elements in this endeavour," he said.
Referring to the establishment of the crossing at Ledra Street, Ban said it is emblematic of what can be achieved with the requisite political will. "As per the Joint Statement of 23 May, the representatives of the leaders will consider other civilian and military confidence-building measures, including the opening of Limnitis/Yesilirmak and additional crossing points. The implementation of these and other confidence-building measures, aimed at improving the daily lives of Cypriot, would be welcome," he added.
Ban said that in the absence of a comprehensive settlement, notwithstanding improved prospects in recent months owing to the commitment of the parties concerned, he believes that UNFICYP continues to play a vital role on the island. "I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNFICYP by a further period of six months, until 15 December 2008", he added.
Ban welcomed the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) which has exhumed the remains of some 400 individuals. 91 Families have received the remains of their identified missing relatives, the report says.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Technical committees and working groups, set up after the March 21st Agreement between the two leaders, are meeting in order to prepare the ground for fully-fledged negotiations.
President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met May 23 and reviewed the work achieved at the bicommunal committees and teams.
They also agreed to come together in the second half of June to make a new assessment of the work being done by the bicommunal teams of experts who are dealing with various aspects of the Cyprus question.
UNFICYP, on the island since March 1964, comprises 853 military components and 69 police components, from more than ten troop contributing countries. The cost of its maintenance amounts to some 54.9 million dollars.
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