|Saturday, 10 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-06-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 21 June 2008 Issue No: 2924
 Lisbon Treaty must stay on track, Karamanlis stressesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Efforts to ratify the Lisbon Treaty should not be abandoned but remain "on schedule", even in the face of recent setbacks like the 'no' vote in the Irish referendum, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stressed in a press conference after the end of the European Council meeting in Brussels on Friday.
He also conceded that failure to ratify the treaty would effectively stall the expansion process, raising obstacles in the path of Turkey and western Balkan states wishing to join the European Union, but appeared sanguine that the problem would be resolved eventually.
Pointing out that the treaty had already been ratified by 19 of the 27 member-states of the Community and that most of the remaining countries had indicated that then intended to go through with its ratification, Karamanlis expressed hope that a formula for overcoming the problem with Ireland and other countries that faced "technical problems" with ratifying the treaty would be overcome by the time EU leaders next convened in October.
Questioned about what this deferment of action meant for Greek consumers, when they would be called to shoulder the burden of higher heating costs in the autumn, Karamanlis said that the discussion held in Brussels on this issue and the European Council's instructions to the European Commission to propose further measures were "not the end of the road but a step in the right direction". He stopped short, however, of promising that the problems would be dealt with.
"There are no magic wands," he underlined to reporters as he outlined the steps agreed by EU leaders, adding that the measures "do not mean that this is a problem that can be solved" but only that its worst repercussions might be alleviated for the more vulnerable groups.
The Greek premier also fielded repeated questions from reporters regarding the latest developments regarding the investigation into the Siemens bribery scandal, following Thursday's revelations that senior members of the main opposition PASOK party may have received money from the German multi-national group.
Reporters particularly focused on whether the government would insist on the line it has taken up until now and wait for the findings of the judicial investigation or whether it would consent to a Parliamentary inquiry into possible political involvement or responsibility. In his reply, Karamanlis underlined the government's commitment to letting justice do its work and bringing everything out in the open.
"In the past years, justice functions without any hindrance," he said and stressed that the government's political stance was one of "full investigation, full exposure, assigning blame and responsibility without discounts".
Clarifying justice would be allowed to complete its investigation, the premier also categorically ruled out any involvement by ruling New Democracy (ND) in the affair. At the same time, he indicated that he would not hesitate to expel members of his government or Parliamentary group, in spite of ND's currently slim majority in Parliament, if the investigation uncovered evidence implicating members of his party in the scandal.
"The last thing that interests the Greek people is whether one person or another loses their seat in Parliament or is expelled from their party. What they want is full disclosure and offenders brought to justice," he underlined.
On another note, the prime minister stressed that he would not seek to obtain political benefits from the current discomfiture of PASOK party and did not believe that this would benefit democracy.
FYROM's path to Europe depends on name issue
Presenting the results of the summit meeting to reporters, Karamanlis particularly emphasised a reference in the text conclusions to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and highlighted the fact that, for the first time, these included a specific reference to the issue of the name dispute between FYROM and Greece.
He noted that the EU's message to FYROM and the other western Balkan countries was positive but clear: their path toward EU membership depended on complying with the principles governing the Community, among them that of promoting good neighbour relations.
In FYROM's case, this included finding a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of its name with Greece, Karamanlis said.
Asked whether Greece was hopeful of a breakthrough in talks with FYROM on this issue or whether Athens would once again be put in a position of using a veto to block FYROM's entry into the EU, Karamanlis again stressed the need for FYROM to adopt democratic behaviours required by the Community and stressed that Greece would support its EU prospects if it did so.
PM repeats call for coordinated policy on migration
Another issue highlighted by the Greek premier was that of illegal immigration into Europe and he repeated a call for an integrated EU approach to managing its borders.
Karamanlis pointed out that Greece's position on the edge of the Union and its extensive borders meant that it was bearing the brunt of the problem largely alone. He repeated Athens' call for measures to discourage illegal immigration, such as punishing employers that employed illegals or a common policy on immigrants' rights, as well as reminding his counterparts of Greece's proposal for a European coast guard to patrol its borders and the need to promote re-admission treaties with the main countries that illegal immigrants passed through to enter Europe.
 Karamanlis: 'Name dispute' solution necessary for FYROM's EU courseBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said conclusions of the European Union Summit here make it clear that good-neighbourly relations are necessary for the further promotion of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) EU candidacy.
Karamanlis also didn't mince his words during a press conference at the end of the two-day Summit, saying that a long-sought "mutually acceptable solution" to the "name issue" is part and parcel of good-neighbourly relations.
Moreover, the Greek premier said the first-ever reference to the thorny "name issue" by the EU Council is also a significant development, while also noting that the Council issued a positive message to countries in the western Balkans, as long as prerequisites for accession are met.
Returning to the FYROM "name issue" -- which re-emerged with a vengeance onto the regional spotlight after lying in a "political limbo" since a bilateral interim agreement was signed in September 1995 - Karamanlis said the neighbouring former Yugoslav republic's European course will only open when it respects, in practice, Europe's acquis communautaire, which dictates democratic behavior within the landlocked country and "European behavior" in its relations with neighbours.
Conversely, he said that should FYROM's leadership prove its volition to choose the "European path", Greece will stand beside it.
"Our positions are crystal clear, they are standing and known to all," he concluded.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, Karamanlis reminded that the continuing increase in oil prices has major repercussions on growth, employment and social cohesion, especially for weaker socio-economic strata. The Greek PM said Europe must play a leading international role in ameliorating the effects from skyrocketing oil prices, such as greater supports for certain segments of European societies.
 Sarkozy reiterates French support for Athens in 'name dispute'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday again expressed Paris' support for Athens' stance regarding the still unresolved FYROM 'name issue', speaking to reporters at the conclusion of an EU Summit here and ahead of France's assumption of the EU Council chair for the next six months.
"France cares for Greece and wants to counsel the government in Skopje towards the right direction. This is France's position. It is well-known that France is close to Greece," he said, while repeating that no EU enlargement is possible without the Lisbon Treaty.
 FM to participate in Vienna con'f on LebanonVIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will take part in a Lebanon Conference bringing together donors for the construction of a destroyed Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, which will be held in the Austrian capital on Monday.
Participating in the conference are representatives of more that 50 countries and international organisations, who have been invited by Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.
 Ex-aide to former minister Mandelis questioned in Siemens caseA past adviser to former PASOK transport minister Tassos Mandelis provided testimony on Thursday before a prosecutor appointed to investigate the increasingly explosive Siemens bribery and kickback case in Greece.
The former adviser, who was called as a witness on Friday, has been named as the possible author of a hand-written text providing details on where the Siemens money should be deposited in PASOK's coffers, a charge he flatly denies.
According to reports, an examination by handwriting experts will be ordered by the prosecutor if the witness and ex-adviser, Aristidis Mantas, disputes authorship of the letter.
The prosecutor has also summoned a man identified as a bodyguard to one-time prime ministerial adviser and PASOK State Deputy (2000-2004) Theodoros Tsoukatos, who first admitted that German multinational Siemens offered a one-million-Dmark "campaign contribution" prior to the 2000 general elections to then ruling PASOK. Siemens throughout much of the 1990s was a major contractor and supplier of state-run Hellenic Telecoms (OTE), as well as a primary contractor in a costly contract to install a C4I system for Greek law enforcement ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Tsoukatos, one of the closest advisers to former PM Costas Simitis, will testify as suspect in the case before the prosecutor on Monday.
Siemens investigation progressing rapidly, minister says
The judicial investigation in the Siemens bribery case is proceeding at a very rapid pace, Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis told reporters on Friday.
"The course of the examinations proves, in the most categoric fashion, that Justice's investigation into the Siemens affair is proceeding at an extremely rapid pace, seeking the full truth in this difficult and complicated issue. Without interventions, without ulterior ends and with full respect for its independence," he said.
The minister also stressed his conviction that, as long as Costas Karamanlis was prime minister, the battle against corruption and to ensure that the courts fully examined every case or complaint of corrupt transactions would be "uncompromising, inexorable and incessant".
"An unfailing goal of my political career is transparency in public life, a goal that raises the ethics of our political world and the standing of justice," he added.
Hatzigakis also clarified one of his earlier statements regarding the Siemens case, in which he said that no political figures appeared to be involved, saying that this had been correct in light of the evidence uncovered in the case up to that time but did not rule out the emergence of new evidence to the contrary.
"When I made that statement, it was an action that was responsible and accurate because no evidence pointing to the involvement of political figures of any side had arisen. If the involvement of such figures is proved - something that I do not wish for - I will not be lenient with anyone, because neither justice nor the government will be lenient," he emphasised.
He also repeated an earlier call to all parties to show restraint with respect to this issue.
 PASOK leader visits PiraeusMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday visited the port city of Piraeus, in the framework of a campaign to bring the party closer to the people.
Papandreou met with Piraeus prefect Yannis Michas and mayor Panagiotis Fasoulas, before taking a walk through the city's central market, where he spoke with consumers and merchants.
In a statement afterwards, Papandreou said that he was, and would continue to be, at the side of the people, whom he said were suffering today due to the high cost of living, the impunity of the cartels "which are protected by the New Democracy government", and "when they see, in the country's political life, that no only do we not respect their money, but that there is also mismanagement and corruption".
Papandreou said he did not, and would not, tolerate this situation, adding that he would fight to strike a blow against everyone to blame with respect to the high cost of living and the cartels, or had anything to do with corruption and black money.
He said that, contrary with prime minister Costas Karamanlis, "I will fight to clean up the country and for the political life to finally deal with the real problems faced by the people, with the high cost of living, with social policy, with health, education, and the needs of the Greek citizen".
 PAME protest against EU directives on illegalsThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE)-affiliated trade grouping PAME held a protest outside the EU offices in Athens on Friday against what it called "draconian measures adopted recently by the EU interior and justice ministers". According to PAME, illegal migrants in Europe will face prison sentences of up to 18 months and expulsion, while they will be banned from entering EU territory for up to five years.
The PAME delegation delivered a petition to the EU offices suggesting the adoption of measures aimed at legalising migrants and guaranteeing their rights.
 Greek-US Economic and Trade Cooperation Committee meeting endsWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA / A. Ellis)
The meeting of the Greek-US Committee for Economic and Trade Cooperation was substantive and sincere focusing on routine issues as well as on investment and trade potential between the two sides, stated Greek foreign ministry Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation Theodoros Skylakakis.
The meeting, held at the US State Department, tackled issues as regards the strengthening of bilateral economic and trade cooperation, the promotion of investments, and joint action in the sector of developmental cooperation.
Skylakakis referred to the strengthening of relations between Hellenic Aid and USAID to include programmes currently in progress concerning trafficking issues in Albania and programmes in Sri Lanka and Jordan as well as strategic programmes on energy saving and renewable sources in SE Europe, and developmental cooperation in the Adriatic region in the sector of tourism.
The prospect of Greek investments in the United States was unthinkable a few decades ago but today has become a reality, Skylakakis said, referring to the 800-million-dollar Greek investments in the United States.
On behalf of the US side, the Committee was co-chaired by Mathew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and Paul Dyck, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the European Bureau. Deputy Assistant Administrator for USAID in Europe and Eurasia Thomas Fleetwood Mefford also attended on behalf of the American side.
 Copts decry attacks in EgyptMembers of an Egyptian Coptic community in Athens issued a statement on Friday expressing condemnation for several violent attacks suffered by their co-religionists in Egypt over the past few days, while demanding that the Coptic community in the Mideast country enjoy equal rights with the rest of citizenry.
The Coptic community will hold a demonstration in Athens' Omonia Square on June 25 to protest a May 29 attack against the Coptic Abu Fana Monastery in El-Minya, Egypt, which left four people seriously injured.
 Greece to participate in International Food ExhibitionNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greece will participate in the International Food Exhibition this year as well, which bears the title "International Fancy Food Summer Show 2008."
The exhibition will be held, as is the case every year, at the Jacob K. Javits convention and exhibition centre in Manhattan, from June 29 until July 1.
Greece will be participating with a large pavilion, under the auspices of the Greek Overseas Trade Organisation (OPE) and with the contribution of Greece's Economic and Trade Affairs Office in New York.
The Greek pavilion will include 22 Greek export companies, promoting some of Greece's finest products. In parallel, OPE's international campaign to highlight Greek gastronomy, under the title of "KERASMA", will also be promoted this year.
 Exhibition of Egyptian products in KalamataAn exhibition of Egyptian products will be held in Kalamata, southern Greece, hosted by the Small Scale Industries Union in Cairo in cooperation with the Messinia Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The exhibition will run between June 26 and 30, featuring Egyptian folk items found in the renowned Khan al Khalili market in Cairo.
 Greek stocks continue slide on FridayGreek stocks continued their week-long slide at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, pushing the composite index of the market 0.84 percent down to end at 3,619.11 points. The session marked the tenth consecutive downward daily result at the Greek bourse. Turnover was a low 332.1 million euros.
Most sectors moved lower, while the Mass Media (1.20 pct), Oil & Gas (1.14 pct) and Travel-Recreation (0.74pct) posted the biggest gains of the day, while Food/Beverage (3.63 pct), Utilities (2.65 pct) and Technology (2.50 pct) posting the biggest losses.
The FTSE 20 index eased 0.80 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.05 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index dropped 0.12 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 126 to 106 with another 49 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.14%
Personal & Household: -1.07%
Raw Materials: -1.31%
Travel & Leisure: +0.74%
Food & Beverages: -3.63%
Financial Services: -0.27%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 19.40
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.24
HBC Coca Cola: 19.04
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.08
National Bank of Greece: 29.84
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 16.64
Piraeus Bank: 18.28
Titan Cement Company: 26.50
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contracts were traded at a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover falling to 209.539 million euros. The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.71 pct and the July contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.37 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 15,312 contracts worth 148.376 million euros, with 37,203 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 154 contracts worth 4.962 millione uros with 165 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 57, 397 contracts worth 52.539 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (14,271) followed by OTE (7,932), Intracom (7,065), ATEbank (6,060), Hellenic Postbank (3,564), Mytlineos (2,864), MIG (2,664) and National Bank (1,925).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.726 billion euros on Friday, of which 709 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.019 billion were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 693 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.62 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 5.27 pct and the German Bund 4.65 pct.
In money markets, interest rates remained high. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.43 pct, the six-month rate 5.12 pct, the three-month rate 4.96 pct and the one-month rate 4.46 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.573
Pound sterling 0.795
Danish kroner 7.517
Swedish kroner 9.473
Japanese yen 169.17
Swiss franc 1.629
Norwegian kroner 8.107
Canadian dollar 1.593
Australian dollar 1.648
 Lycabettus Theater operation suspended for inspection and technical study, for 'safety reasons'The municipal authorities of the City of Athens closed the ancient open-air Lycabettus Theater fior safety reasons on Thursday afternoon, just hours before a concert by English singer and songwriter James Blunt was due begin, on the basis of a technical report stating that the theater must be closed immediately for further technical inspections and required repairs, sparking a clash with the Athens Festival organisers, who 'lease' the Theater for most of the Festival performances each summer.
The City of Athens cited a letter by the state Tourism Development Company (ETA, the 'managing arm' of Greece's state-owned tourism property, and as such the 'proprietor' and manager of the Lycabettus Theater) in early June stating that the immediate suspension of the theater's operation was necessary in order for further inspections and an in-depth technical study to be conducted and for the required repairs to begin immediately. The initial inspection and report had been conducted by order of the National Tourism Organisation of Greece (NTOG).
In a press statement later, the Athens municipal authorities, stressing that the municipality has "nothing to do" with the Theater or the Festival, gave the background of the events leading up to the closure of the theater.
The press statement reads as follows:
"The City of Athens today (Thursday) issued the following statement regarding the closing of Lycabettus Theatre:
"In its letter dated 5-6-2008 to the Athens Festival, which was copied to the City of Athens and the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), the Tourism Development Company (ETA), proprietor and manager of the Lycabettus Theatre, refers to a technical report which states that the theatre must immediately cease operation in order for further inspections and a technical study to be carried out, and for necessary repairs to begin immediately.
"In a second letter dated 17-6-2008, ETA revoked its previous decision regarding the need for the immediate closure of the theatre "in order to allow the theatre's operation during this year's summer season", making reference to assurances by the Athens Festival that it would assume full responsibility for the theatre's operation.
"On its part, Athens Festival SA, a tenant of the Lycabettus Theatre, in a letter dated 18-06-2008 to ETA, requested the revocation of the City of Athens' decision to seal off the theatre. The Athens Festival stated in its letter that it assumes full responsibility for the theatre's operation "accepting all consequences" and that it "would avoid all possible incidents".
"ETA's third letter to the City of Athens, dated 18-6-2008, announced that, having taken into account relevant technical reports, it had concluded that reinforcement works had been carried out on the theatre's bleachers and, therefore, "there was no question of risk which necessitated the closure of the theatre".
"The City of Athens responded immediately to the original request of the proprietor of the property - namely ETA - and decided to suspend the operation of Lycabettus Theatre, considering the fact that the matter concerned the safety of theatre-goers. It should be noted that in the event that persons within the theatre are at risk of bodily harm, the City of Athens is obliged to suspend all performances and seal off the theatre, until the proprietor meets necessary demands, as was the case.
"Subsequently, Athens Festival SA turned to the Athens' Court of First Instance, requesting the withdrawal of the the City of Athens decision concerning the suspension of theatre's operation. The Athens Festival's request was rejected by the Court and, as a result, the City of Athens decision on the closure of the theatre remains effective.
"In order for the City of Athens to reopen the theatre, a thorough technical study and relevant court order are required. It should be noted that a report by ETA technical services in no case substitutes detailed technical studies and the necessary repair work.
"Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis made the following statement:
'I was disappointed to hear the statements made by the artistic director of the Athens Festival, Giorgos Loukos, a man who knows how strongly I have supported him and continue to do so.
'The City of Athens has nothing to do with the Athens Festival nor the Lycabettus Theatre.
'The order for the inspection of the theatre was issued by the Greek National Tourism Organisation. The original report was never withdrawn, apparently because the engineers who signed it refused to do so. The order for the closure was issued 14 days ago by ETA and the Greek justice system confirmed the City of Athens decision for the theatre's immediate closure.
'According to Mr Loukos, the City of Athens should have ignored the court ruling because tickets had been sold
'I wonder if Mr Loukos would have used such excuses if the court of Avignon had issued a similar order. The municipal police simply followed the orders they were given. That is where their role begins and that is where it ends'."
 Hellenic Foundation for Culture hosts exhibition in Dublin on illicit trade in antiquitiesThe multimedia exhibition entitled "History Lost", focusing on the illicit trade in antiquities and the impact of antiquities' theft on culture, will travel to Dublin at the end of the month, following display in Trieste and Lisbon.
The exhibition, hosted by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture (HF), and the Sixth World Archaeological Congress, will run in Dublin between June 29 and July 3. Professor Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, FBA, Chair of the British School at Athens, will open the exhibition on July 1.
The travelling exhibition "History Lost" was presented last winter at the National Museum of Archaeology in Lisbon after its successful showing in Trieste, organised by the HFC within the context of Greece's efforts to secure the repatriation of illegally exported ancient artifacts. The exhibition has been enriched by copies of finds that have been returned to Greece and Cyprus in recent years after being claimed (the Aidonia Treasure, a marble head of Dionysos from Corinth, the Kanakaria mosaics from Cyprus, among others).
The exhibition marked great success in Nicosia, Athens and Ancient Nemea (2006) as well as in Trieste (2007) and Lisbon (2008). It was created by Anemon productions in collaboration with the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre of Cambridge University, the Cyprus Department of Antiquities, the 37th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in Corinth and the Department of Cultural Technology and Communication - University of the Aegean, supported by the "Culture 2000" EU programme.
 Wildfire in coastal Kalamos, houses burntA major forest fire that broke out in the Lagomandra area on the borders of Kalamos and Agioi Apostoli in northern Attica was continuing to blaze unchecked on Friday afternoon.
According to the fire brigade, the fire has so far caused extensive damage to at least one home in the area and the flames have passed through the yards of other houses. The flames were heading toward the beach but fire fighters said they were being hampered in their efforts by strong winds that frequently changed direction.
The traffic police have closed off roads leading into the area in a broad span around the fire so that fire engines can move around more easily.
Deployed against the blaze on Friday afternoon were 78 fire fighters with 26 vehicles, 32 fire men on foot, six aeroplanes, three helicopters and 15 water-tanker vehicles sent by surrounding muncipalities to help the fire fighting effort.
 Wildfire in Attiko Forest under controlA wildfire that broke out in the Attiko Forest in the region of Tourkovounia in Athens, shortly before 8 on Friday evening, was reported under control at about 8:30. Firefighters were to remain on standby in the area, however, to prevent any rekindling of the blaze.
Another wildfire that had broken out in the region of Kalamos at about noon was also receding by nightfall and at 7 p.m. no active front was active and only small scattered fires were still smouldering. Two houses were seriously damaged during the fire.
 Fire in Gythio brought under controlThe brushfire that erupted in Egies, Gythio in southern Greece, at noon on Thursday and burned roughly 500 stremma of woodland has been brought under control as of dawn on Friday after firemen and local people gave an overnight battle with the flames.
A firefighting force made up of firemen on foot, and 6 fire engines operated by 13 firemen, remain in the region for precautionary reasons.
 Alexandria Patriarch Theodoros II holds talks with WCC secretary generalALEXANDRIA (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)
Alexandria Patriarch Theodoros II received the Secretary General of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia on Friday, stressing the need for closer cooperation between the Patriarchate of Alexandria and the WCC with the aim of resolving the problems of the suffering people of Africa.
Praising Kobia's personality, whose origin is also from the African continent, the Patriarch of Alexandria termed him a "personality on the international scene who is struggling for peace in the world," adding that "for this reason, I would wish that we had a closer relation on the problems of suffering Africa."
Kobia, who was accompanied by the WCC's "Faith and Order" committee, expressed his pleasure over meeting the Primate of Alexandria, reassuring Patriarch Theodoros of closer cooperation in the future for the benefit of the peoples of Africa.
 US Embassy consular section closed on last Wednesday each monthThe US Embassy's Consular Section in Athens will remain closed to the public on every last Wednesday of each month for internal reasons, according to an embassy press release.
In that context, the US Embassy's Consular Section in Athens will remain closed to the public on Wednesday, June 25.
This includes the non-immigrant visa section, immigrant visa section, pension section, US passports and naturalisation services, and services for US citizens section. and US passports section
In the event of an emergency on that day, please call 210-7212951 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and 210-7202490/1 after 5:00 p.m.
 Bavarian Premier Beckstein to visit Greek church in MunichBavaria State Premier Gunther Beckstein will visit the Greek Orthodox All Saints (Aghioi Pantes) Church in Munich (Allerheiligen Kirche) on June 22 on the occasion of the All Saints Feast Day, at the invitation of the Holy Metropolis of Germany.
This will be the first visit ever made to a Greek Orthodox church by a Bavarian premier.
 Journalist again summoned to testify on Zachopoulos caseA special examiner in charge of an investigation into the high-profile blackmail case allegedly targeting former culture ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos has again summoned a Sunday newspaper journalist to testify over a meeting he attended between two defendants and Christos Zachopoulos.
Although the reporter and the newspaper were not identified on Friday, the involved periodical is the "Proto Thema" Sunday weekly. One of the two defendants is 35-year-old Evi Tsekou, a jailed former contract employee at the culture ministry who apparently had a relationship with Zachopoulos later used as a tool for blackmail, according to an indictment.
The journalist has been charged with simple complicity for allegedly violating laws concerning the confidentiality of personal data.
 Seven illegal migrants discovered inside refrigerator truckSeven illegal migrants, two of them unconscious, were discovered inside an international transport refrigerator truck on board the "Super Fast 12" Greek-flag ferryboat while sailing off the Corfu Island coasts.
The ferryboat, en route to Ancona, Italy from the southern Greek port of Patras, sailed back to Corfu and all seven stowaways were taken to the local hospital for treatment.
According to the hospital doctors, the two unconscious illegal migrants had fainted and the rest suffered from mild hypothermia due to the low temperature inside the refrigerator truck the driver of which was most likely unaware of their presence.
 Former Attica Metropolitan Panteleimon gets six-year prison sentenceFormer Attica Metropolitan Panteleimon will be imprisoned after being sentenced to six years in prison by an Athens court on charges of embezzlement.
The former Metropolitan was found guilty of embezzling 66.5 million drachmas from Osios Efrem Monastery in the coastal town of Nea Makri over the 1995-1998 period.
During his first trial, Panteleimon had been handed down a suspended eight-year prison sentence, but on Friday the court ordered his detention.
 Drug arrests in ArgosPolice in Argos, southern Greece, arrested two men after a search in their car revealed roughly 6 grams of heroin in three packets.
A third individual accused of selling the drugs to them was later spotted in his car but managed to flee.
 Hot on SaturdayHot weather is forecast on Saturday, but temperatures will decrease slightly in the east of the country. Wind velocity between 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 21C to 32C, and in Thessaloniki from 20C to 33C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe alleged involvement of high-ranking officials of the main opposition PASOK party in the Siemens scandal and the European Union's Summit in Brussels dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS:"Former PASOK official Theodoros Tsoukatos' public confession: Yes, PASOK received 1 million deutschemarks from SIEMENS".
APOGEVMATINI: "Tsoukatos confesses that the black money went into PASOK's accounts".
AVGHI: "The Siemens scandal a blow against the two-party system".
AVRIANI: "(Former prime minister Costas) Simitis' 'general' Theodoros Tsoukatos was a thief - He received 1 million deutschemarks from Siemens".
CHORA: "Yes, I took 1 million marks on PASOK's behalf - The 'abscess' of Simitis' 'enviroment' bursts".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Siemens gave deutschemarks under the table to members of both mainstream parties - The reel begins to untangle beginning with the case of Tsoukatos".
ELEFTHEROS: "PASOK is a party of ruthless bribe-takers - They openly admit that they took money under the table from Siemens for the party's electoral campaign needs".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Ping-pong with Siemens' 'gifts' - The scandal (ball) in PASOK's court - Tsoukatos, the recipient of the DM1 million, states: I gave the money to the party - PASOK says: We never received a single euro".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The 'route' of the political bribes - Siemens' first bomb exploded in Tsoukatos' hands".
ESTIA: "PASOK'S black money - Admission of Siemens funding to PASOK".
ETHNOS: "Storm of revelations in Siemens case - Rapid developments will follow in PASOK after the latest revelations that more politicians are involved in the scandal".
KATHIMERINI: "The developments in Siemens case turn into a domino - Tsoukatos admits that he took money from the black funds - Politicians' bank accounts are being investigated".
LOGOS: "Siemens typhoon hits PASOK - Tsoukatos: The money went into the party's coffers".
NIKI: "(PASOK leader George) Papandreou cutting to the bone - He's cleaning up PASOK from Siemens shadows".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Escalation of the struggle against the high cost of living, with demand for satisfactory collective labor agreements".
TA NEA: "Earthquake -Siemens jolts PASOK - Heavy shadows over Tsoukatos".
TO VIMA: "Who's turn is it? - Rumors of new revelations ahead - Siemens scandals sets fire to the political life".
VRADYNI: "Shocking confession from Simitis' 'general': Yes I took 1 million marks but on PASOK's behalf" - Siemens 'typhoon' sweeps PASOK".
Cypriot President: Situation in Turkey should be taken into account
The President of the Republic Demetris Christofias said here Friday evening that the current situation prevailing in Turkey should also be taken into consideration when expectations are being created regarding a Cyprus settlement.
In statements in Larnaca Airport after his arrival from Brussels where he participated in the meeting of the European Council, President Christofias said that part of the solution base has already been formed and added that it should not be prepossessed Turkish Cypriot leader's Mehmet Ali Talat opposition to the solution basis.
Referring to Confidence Building Measures between Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, President Christofias said that there is no commitment to announce more confidence-building measures during the meeting he will hold on July 1, with Turkish Cypriot leader.
Furthermore, he referred to the contacts he had with EU leaders during and on the sidelines of Brussels European Council, noting that he was hearty welcomed by the leaders of the other 26 EU member states who encouraged him to proceed with the efforts aiming at a solution to the Cyprus problem.
At the same time, President Christofias noted he indicates to his interlocutors that the developing situation in Turkey is a factor that should be taken into consideration when expectations are being created.
Referring to the meeting of the European Council, President Christofias said that Cyprus' intervention on the issue of the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by the Irish people was based on principles and in defence of the right of people to express themselves freely and expect respect to their verdict.
 President Christofias and T/C Leader to meet againNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The 1st of July is the date when President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Leader Mehmet Ali Talat will once again come together in the framework of the ongoing procedure launched under the auspices of the UN aiming at reaching a solution to Cyprus problem.
The date was announced Friday by the Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou and Ozdil Nami, aide to the Turkish Cypriot leader, during a joint press conference held at Ledra Palas in Nicosia, in the presence of UN Secretary General's Special Representative, Tay-Brook Zerihoun.
As they both stressed out, the meeting of the two leaders which was expected to take place by the end of June will eventually be held on July 1.
Both expressed hope that another meeting between the two leaders would follow very soon.
Iacovou clarified that despite the fact the meeting is taking place in July, "that doesn't mean we'll need to go into August for a second meeting. I think it will still be held in July", he pointed out.
Referring to the 21March Agreement, Nami said that after three months of work by the committees "we, as the Turkish Cypriot side, don't expect much delay and we look forward for the onset of the full fledged negotiations between the two leaders", he noted.
During the joint press conference Iacovou and Nami announced a package of 6 agreements that have been achieved in a number of technical committees.
An agreement on Educational programs in Connection with Cultural Heritage (Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage).
An agreement on Road Safety (Tecnhical Committee on Crime and Criminal Matters).
Two agreements in the technical committee on Health concerning the Crossing from and to the Turkish occupied areas of Ambulances in Emergency Cases and on Cyprus Joint Committee on Health.
Two agreements in technical committees on Environment concerning the Cooperation for an island-wide assessment of all major Waste Stream Qualitatively and Quantitatively (Baseline Study) and on Environmental Education.
UN Official, Tay-Brook Zerihoun said these measures will help ease the daily life of Cypriots on the island, adding that there are other measures in the pipeline on which the two sides are close to agreement.
"We believe those additional measures could be announced in the coming days", he noted, adding that ''the momentum of the process has not slowed. In fact it's producing tangible results''.
''The Technical Committees and Working Groups have been meeting since late April and I am told they have so far over 180 meetings. Some of the Committees and Working Groups have made more progress than others but what is important here is that the process remains engaged and on track'' Zerihoun said.
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed March 21st to instruct their aides to set up technical committees and working groups to deal with various aspects concerning the Cyprus problem.
Seven technical committees and six working groups have been set up comprising of 150 Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The purpose was to begin work in order to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations between the leaders.
On March 21st, the two leaders agreed also to meet again in three months to review the work of the working groups and technical committees, the results of which will be used to start negotiations under UN auspices for a solution.
 Cyprus set to ratify Lisbon treaty early JulyBRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, in Brussels for the EU Summit, has discussed with European Parliament President Hans Gert Poettering the Cyprus problem and the Lisbon Treaty, after its rejection by the Irish people.
According to reliable sources, Poettering enquired about the Treaty's ratification process in Cyprus.
President Christofias told Poettering that the debate on the Treaty is set for July 3 during a House plenary session, which is expected to approve the Treaty.
The ratification of the Treaty is considered a done thing since there is a clear majority in favour and President Christofias is committed to honour his predecessor's signature.
During the Brussels meeting, Christofias briefed Poettering on developments in the dialogue in Cyprus on the level of working groups, dealing with substantive issues of the Cyprus problem and on the level of technical committees, dealing with day-to-day issues.
Seven technical committees and six working groups have been set up and working on a daily basis after the first meeting between President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on April 21.
Christofias also briefed Poettering on the progress achieved in some of the working groups and the problems and difficulties facing them.
Discussions at these bicommunal teams of experts aim at preparing the ground for direct negotiations between the two community leaders, with a view to reach a comprehensive settlement that will reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
 House ratifies Cyprus-France military agreementNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The House of Representatives has unanimously ratified an agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and France on cooperation in defence issues.
The agreement for military and technical cooperation in various sectors was signed in Paris on 28 February 2007 for a ten-year period and can be renewed for another ten years.
According to the agreement, the parties aim at contributing to maintaining stability and peace, and facing challenges in the security sector.
Cooperation will cover military, scientific and technical studies, exchange of experience in military, scientific, training and technical issues, and equipment and defence technology, especially the exchange of knowledge and experience in defence equipment, support and promotion of partners in the defence industry, according to and within the framework of supply programmes agreed on.
It also covers armed forces personnel training at military schools and the exchange of experience and knowledge in issues of military justices, international legislation, protection of the health of military personnel and the environment during military exercises.
The agreement also provides for common visits in the context of humanitarian, cultural, educational, military, and sports activities of the armed forces, as well as exhibitions of military equipment and training activities and exercises.
It furthermore provides for the exchange of views, experience and knowledge, as well as exercises and participation in operations in the field of search and rescue, the development of cooperation in the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy, and especially in issues of organisation, training, equipment and transport of forces in the case of EU military operations.
The agreement provides facilities and material and technical support to armed forces after a request and prior consent of the other party, medical aid and health protection, and assistance in any other sector agreed on by the parties.
The House heard on Thursday that France is a friendly country and a major factor on the international and European scene and that this agreement broadens Cyprus' bilateral relations with other countries and promotes and utilises the strategic significance of Cyprus in the military sector.
Furthermore, the agreement could constitute the basis for easy access to modern weaponry markets.
 Spanish Foreign Minister to hold talks in CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Angel Moratinos was due in Cyprus on Friday evening for a working visit.
According to an official press release, Moratinos will meet on June 23 his Cypriot counterpart Marcos Kyprianou.
The meeting will be followed by official talks with the participation of delegations from both sides.
During his stay on the island, Moratinos will be received by President of the Republic Demetris Christofias.
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