|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-03-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 2, 2006
 Greek economy grew 3.7 pct in 4th quarter 2005, yr/yr
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The Greek economy grew by 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005, compared with the corresponding period in 2004, the National Statistics Service said on Wednesday.
NSS, in its report, said the 3.7 percent increase in the country's Gross Domestic Product in the October-December period reflected, mainly, a 2.6 pct rise in final demand in the economy. Investments rose slightly, 0.1 percent, in the fourth quarter of 2005, compared with the same period in 2004.
Greek exports rose 2.3 percent in the final quarter of 2005, while imports rose 0.7 percent over the same period.
Spending on final consumption grew 3.6 pct, the statistics service said.
 Annan-Papadopoulos statement 'positive', Athens says
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The joint statement made after the meeting between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in Paris was "a positive step in the right direction," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Wednesday.
"It is known that the Greek government is prepared to contribute to finding a just and viable solution in the framework of the United Nations, which is in accordance with international law and compatible with the principles of the EU. In this framework, the next steps must be careful and very well prepared," Roussopoulos added.
The statement was also greeted as a "very positive development" by Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos:
"We consider that it constitutes a step in the framework of our position in favour of a carefully and thoroughly prepared launch of a process of talks for settling the Cyprus issue," he said.
According to Koumoutsakos, the Cyprus President briefed Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on the results of his meeting with Annan on Wednesday morning.
He said that the Greek side, while considering that it is too early to make an assessment and especially on issues like demilitarization, is aware that the "character and message going out" is in harmony with the Greek position calling for a stage of substantial preparation that will create the safety net to avoid a new failure.
In response to other questions, Koumoutsakos said he was unaware of any document from Turkish authorities seeking to activate a ban of flights by Cypriot aircraft through Istanbul's Flight Information Region (FIR).
The spokesman said Athens was aware of a ban preventing Cyprus Airways and the Cyprus state airline Charter Eurocypria from flying through Istanbul's FIR and said that a possible extension of the ban would need to be confirmed.
Should this be the case, it would be further proof of Turkey's unconstructive and inelastic stance, he added.
The spokesman also stressed that all issues were examined and evaluated in the framework of the decisions that have made Turkey a candidate-country for joining the EU.
Annan and Papadopoulos issued a joint statement after a meeting in Paris on Tuesday, during which they agreed to continue their ongoing dialogue "with the expressed aim of accelerating the search for a comprehensive, fair and mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem.''
They expressed hope that an agreement for continued discussion between the two communities on the island on a series of issues might lead to a full resumption of the negotiating process, while noting that this must be timely and based on careful preparation.
The two men also agreed that it would be beneficial for all concerned and would greatly improve the atmosphere for further talks if progress could be achieved on further disengagement of forces and demilitarization of the island, on the complete de-mining of Cyprus and on the issue of Famagusta.
 PASOK's Papoutsis terms Papadopoulos-Annan meeting 'a positive step'
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Christos Papoutsis, responsible for Foreign Policy, Security and Defense of the Political Council of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), referring on Wednesday to the meeting held in Paris on Tuesday between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulou and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, said that "every initiative, such as this, is a positive step for the solution of the Cyprus issue, within the framework of the UN resolutions, the European Treaties and the EU Acquis Communautaire."
 FM briefs President on foreign policy issues, says Cyprus developments 'positive'
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday described as "particularly positive" the latest developments in the Cyprus issue, speaking to reporters after a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, during which she briefed him on developments in foreign policy issues.
Bakoyannis, who had a telephone conversation with Cyprus president Tassos Papadopouos, said she briefed Papoulias on her recent meetings in Brussels and also on her upcoming Balkan tour, which begins Thursday.
"The President of the Republic is always kept abreast of foreign policy matters," Bakoyannis said.
Papoulias, referring to Bakoyannis' Balkan tour, said that "the Kosovo issue is at the centre", noting that "Marti Ahtisaari is hasty, but he who rushes stumbles", referring to the UN secretary general's special envoy for Kosovo and former Finnish president.
Bakoyannis said she would be meeting with Ahtisaari in Vienna bilaterally and at various other venues, adding that "Greece has an important role to play in the Balkans...they acknowledge this to us and seek it".
"That is good," Papoulias said, adding that Greece has an obligation "to do whatever we can for stability in the region".
 Papandreou contact with Cyprus president
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou had a telephone conversation Wednesday with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, to be briefed on the President's meeting Tuesday with UN secretary general Kofi Annan in Paris.
Papandreou took the opportunity to reiterate PASOK's interest and ongoing support for every effort that contributes to resolving the Cyprus issue, a PASOK announcement said.
 PASOK leader wishes Talat a speedy recovery
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader and Socialist International President George Papandreou on Wednesday sent a telegram to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in which he wished him a speedy recovery and expressed his expectation for his contribution to a settlement of the Cyprus issue.
In his telegram, Papandreou said:" I expresses to you my wishes for a speedy recovery, expecting your contribution in the efforts for a solution to the Cyprus problem and to the reunification of Cyprus, to the benefit of all its citizens, in a common European future."
The Turkish Cypriot leader underwent a heart bypass surgery in Istanbul a few days ago.
 PM to meet education minister, EU court president on Thursday
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will meet Education Minister Marietta Yannakou on Thursday morning at 11:00, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced.
Later on Thursday, Karamanlis will meet European Court of Justice President Vassilios Skouris.
 PM confers with culture minister
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had a working meeting Wednesday with new culture minister George Voulgarakis.
Speaking to reporters after the two-hour meeting, Voulgarakis said he had an in-depth discussion with the prime minister -- who held the culture portfolio himself up until the recent Cabinet reshuffle -- on matters concerning the ministry.
He said they set out an agenda for the next two years regarding the priorities that must be set, and also had a lengthy discussion on all ministry-related matters that were outstanding and on matters that needed to be accelerated.
 President Karolos Papoulias and culture minister give state literary awards
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)President Karolos Papoulias and newly-appointed culture Minister George Voulgarakis gave state literary awards during a ceremony held at the National Research Foundation on Wednesday night.
The Great Literature Award, won by Nikos Fokas for all of his work, was received by his wife from President Papoulias since Fokas himself was unable to attend the ceremony for health reasons.
All the other awards were given by Voulgarakis. They included a poetry award for Nasos Vagenas for his work "Stefanos" and a novel award for Manos Eleftheriou for his work "The time of chrysanthemums."
 Culture minister meets with culture correspondents
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Culture Minister Yiorgos Voulgarakis met with culture correspondents at the National Gallery on Wednesday on occasion of a commemorative event dedicated to the 10 years marking the death of poet Odysseas Elytis.
Voulgarakis, who met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis earlier in the day, said that in recent days he has been in the process of meeting with officials in order to be briefed on ministry-related issues.
Referring to his new political post, Voulgarakis said that he is 'fanatically opposed' to technocracy and that he does not like surprises or upheavals.
He stressed that his predecessors made significant accomplishments and said that he had met with former PASOK culture minister Evangelos Venizelos, in order to gain input from "a minister who had held the position for a long time."
"One of the goals of the Culture Ministry's political leadership is for culture to become more accessible to the public, to strengthen the institution of sponsorship but also that of self-financing of cultural events," Voulgarakis said.
 PM meets new Athens mayor
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met newly-elected Athens mayor Theodoros Behrakis on Wednesday and congratulated him on his election.
The mayor outlined problems that remain outstanding in Athens, such as programmes for restricted parking, recycling, the construction of a new football stadium for the soccer club Panathinaikos in Votanikos and others.
Behrakis was elected through a vote among Athens munipal councilors last week, following the departure of former Athens mayor Dora Bakoyannis to join the government as foreign minister. He heads the same New Democracy-affiliated group that won the Athens municipal elections.
 Bakoyannis to depart on Balkans tour Thursday
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The Greek foreign ministry on Wednesday announced that Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be embarking on a tour of Balkan countries on Thursday, which aims to highlight Greece's intense interest in events within the region as well as to get a rounded briefing on developments from all the sides concerned.
Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Bakoyannis will be meeting with the key players behind developments in the region, stopping in Sarajevo and Belgrade on Thursday and then Pristina on Friday, where she will place a wreath on the grave of Ibrahim Rugova and have a series of meetings with the local government, the commander of UNMIK and the leaders of Kosovo's political parties.
While in Kosovo, Bakoyannis will also pay a visit to the Greek forces stationed there before traveling to Vienna for talks with UN special envoy Marti Ahtisaari.
Koumoutsakos also answered questions concerning a Greek school in Himara, Albania whose opening was attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis. He clarified that the school was built with funds provided by a Greek non-governmental organization and that it was designed to operate as a private school, while lessons would begin from the next school year.
The school could mark a "new chapter" in further improving relations between Greece and Albania, in the framework of Albania's efforts to promote its European prospects, he added.
 FM to meet with Austrian counterpart, UN special envoy on Saturday
VIENNA, 02/03/2006 (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be meeting with Austrian counterpart and General Affairs Council President Ursula Plassnik in Vienna on Saturday.
The two ministers are expected to cover a broad range of topics including the European Union's future course, developments in the West Balkans, Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and the EU's relations with the Muslim world.
Before meeting with Plassnik, Bakoyannis is scheduled to meet with UN Special Envoy for Kosovo and former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari, whom she will brief on the outcome of her visits to Pristina and Belgrade regarding Kosovo's future status.
 FYROM President, UN mediator discuss name issue
SKOPJE, 02/03/2006 (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) President Branko Crvenkovski met with United Nations Special Mediator Matthew Nimetz in Bucharest on Wednesday to discuss the pending name dispute between FYROM and Greece.
According to a statement issued by his office, Crvenkovski reiterated to Nimetz his country's readiness to continue talks under way in New York.
Crvenkovski also noted that Nimetz' last proposal of October 2005 is a good basis for continuation of talks and expressed hope that Greece "is in agreement".
On his part, Nimetz expressed interest in the country's upcoming parliamentary elections and congratulated Crvenkovski for FYROM's EU candidacy.
The October 2005 proposal, in line with FYROM's stance, was accepted by Skopje but rejected by Greece.
 Government on high prices
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday stressed that the government had made strenuous efforts to discourage high prices and profiteering, using various means that included steep fines.
The spokesman was responding to questions regarding a survey by the supermarkets trade group SESME, which showed that prices for certain basic consumer goods had increased by up to 500 percent in Greece relative to other countries in Europe.
Asked if the efforts of the development ministry to curb price hikes were judged successful, Roussopoulos said that the ministry's intervention had been successful "in certain cases", while noting that the government "had not given in to the extortionist dilemma of supermarket representatives".
 'Kapodistrias' amendment voted through parliament
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The amendment that splits four local communities from their larger partners in the Kapodistrias plan for municipal authorities was voted through Parliament on Wednesday.
The new law includes a number of other clauses, such as: the ability of local government authorities to hire individuals part-time who have become unemployed due to massive lay-offs or bankruptcies in the private sector; the ability of prefectural authorities to hire emergency staff on a fixed-term basis (up to 8 months) in the event that emergency measures must be implemented due to a serious public health threat; and the ability of Citizen Service Centers (KEP) to validate signatures or photocopies, among others.
 Government on 'Kapodistrias' plan amendment
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Commenting on an amendment tabled in Parliament that splits four local communities from their larger partners in the Kapodistrias plan for municipal authorities, government spokes-man Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed on Wednesday that the measure implemented pre-election pledges made by ruling New Democracy and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Asked to comment on complaints from ruling party MPs that the exceptions to Kapodistrias were just four, Roussopoulos simply noted that MPs "are free to state their views" and said he was not aware of any plans for any future amendments introducing exceptions to Kapodistrias.
The government decision has triggered a storm of protest in other areas of Greece that also hoped to be excluded from the Kapodistrias plan, which merged smaller communities to create larger municipal authorities, especially in Halkidiki.
 PASOK walks out in protest over 'Kapodistrias' amendment
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The main opposition party walked out of Parliament on Wednesday in protest over the addition of an amendment that introduces changes to the 'Kapodistrias' plan for municipal authorities in Greece.
PASOK's parliamentary rapporteur Yiannis Paraskevas accused the ruling party of "handing out party-political favors" in introducing the amendment, insisting that the four communities singled out in the amendment were chosen for trivial reasons, rather than reasons of policy.
He also accused Interior Ministry Prokopis Pavlopoulos of using the ministry in a "dead-end effort whose aim was not to refound the state but to demolish every democratic institution and to refound the state of the Right."
PASOK justified its departure by saying that the amendment had been added after the bill in question had been discussed by parliamentary committees, and had not been discussed or approved by Parliament's organs.
Main opposition parliamentary spokesman Constantine Rovlias said New Democracy was forced into the move by past promises to abolish Kapodistrias, even though it had now changed its view:
"This amendment is pure client-based politics, without the slightest political basis," he stressed.
Replying to the criticism, Pavlopoulos pointed out that the problems of communities like Vrahasi had also been referred to by PASOK leader George Papandreou, who had asked that a solution be found in collaboration with the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE).
"PASOK's leader tells me to 'find a solution with KEDKE', the president of KEDKE says 'provide a solution by direct legislation' and when I bring the legislation, PASOK walks out," Pavlopoulos said.
In an announcement issued on Wednesday, however, KEDKE President Paris Koukoulopoulos accused the minister of "lacking the political courage to take responsibility for his actions" and of using "fake evidence to shift his responsibilities to others".
He stressed that his statements at a KEDKE conference in October 2004 were quoted by Pavlopoulos "in an attempt to create mistaken impressions", while noting that he had ended his address by stating KEDKE's opposition.
Meanwhile, incidents triggered by the proposed amendment continued to escalate throughout Greece as more local communities joined the bandwagon and demanded to be split from their 'Kapodistrias' partners, while others protested against the measures.
In Halkidiki, residents of Agios Nikolaos blockaded the Nea Moudania-Sarti road for three hours to demand autonomy from the Sithonia municipal authority, while residents took over municipal buildings in Paleohori and Neo Marmara. The protest action in Neo Marmara also resulted in a fire at the local infirmary, when protestors outside the community building set fire to car tyres that blazed out of control.
 Papandreou kicks off Crete tour with barrage over 'Kapodistrias'
LASITHI, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Arriving on Crete for a two-day tour in the prefecture of Lasithi on Wednesday, main opposition leader George Papandreou launched into a barrage of criticism against the government, which he said was trying to "Balkanize" Greece by weakening the 'Kapodistrias' plan for larger local authorities.
As he addressed local residents in the central square of Neapolis, beneath two banners protesting against an amendment that removed the Vrahasi community from the municipality, PASOK's leader said the government was promoting division and disagreement between citizens and that New Democracy "did not want strong local communities but powerless citizens, who will be dependent on central government or local party officials".
Papandreou stressed that PASOK would not only restore the first Kapodistrias plan but also go one step further, moving to Kapodistrias 2 for even more powerful municipalities and strong local development.
According to PASOK's leader, the government's decision to divide up the municipalities created under the Kapodistrias plan were party-political favors and 'client' politics.
He warned that the move had "opened the floodgates" and marked the start of the countdown for the present government, which championed small and powerful minority interests and divided the people in order to remain in power.
The government's decision was also criticized by Neapolis Mayor Nikos Kastrinakis, saying it had been done through "lies, transactions and graft and without dialogue with local society," while asking Papandreou for his support to prevent the division of the municipality.
 Government reply to Papandreou
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Reacting to Papandreou's criticism, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos reminded the main opposition leader that he had personally called on the government to "provide a solution to the problem of Vrahasi" at KEDKE's conference on October 22, 2004.
At that time, he had called on Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos to 'sit at the negotiating table with Vrahasi and KEDKE and provide a solution to the problem, and now that the government is giving the solution that he himself requested, he rejects and condemns it, Roussopoulos added.
 PASOK party leader addresses supporters in Ierapetra
IERAPETRA, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressed a party rally in the city of Ierapetra, on the southern coast of Crete, on Wednesday night, saying that the two years following the last elections were "two years of false promises, hypocrisy and clientele logic, two years of a policy that harms the many and benefits the few."
Papandreou accused the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis of creating an "unprecedented climate of insecurity and political decline, of creating new discriminations, new walls and new exclusions."
Referring to the phone-tapping issue, the PASOK party leader said "who were watching, who were they watching, which is the final list, where are the products of watching, how is the security of the country being protected."
He also said that the prime minister "is showing irritation and anxiety, trying to convince people that he himself is a victim" and asked him what he was lacking to handle the issue correctly.
Papandreou further said that the Karamanlis government "is not only responsible for the phone-tapping. It is responsible for keeping unemployment at high levels, for the infringement of basic concepts of democracy, for the huge redistribution of wealth, the high cost of living, the closure of businesses, the indigence of pensioners, the plight of agriculture and the loss of income for the Greek family."
Lastly, he accused the prime minister of "using dialogue to conceal his secret agenda" and that he "says one thing and does another".
 Government spokesman responds to PASOK party leader's speech in Ierapetra
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, responding to an address by main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou to supporters in the city of Ierapetra earlier on Wednesday night, said that "anxiety to cover the lack of positions and proposals on the future of the country with shouts is pushing Mr. Papandreou more and more along the downhill path of unbridled populism and irresponsible demagoguery."
Roussopoulos added that "the choice of the President of PASOK to invest in tension and polarization is unproductive and deadlocked. The citizens know and are not misled. Society is not divided. Phobic syndromes and the insecurities of those who express the past do not concern the Greeks."
 PASOK party delegation visits Skaramangas shipyards
PEREUS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)A delegation of the main opposition PASOK party composed of National Council Secretary Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou, Political Council member Vangelis Papachristos, alternate coordinator of the development sector Christos Protopapas and development sector secretary Yiannis Maniatis visited the Skaramangas shipyards on Wednesday and held talks with the employee's union.
Speaking after the meeting, Xenoyiannakopoulou said "we believe that the path for competitiveness and the development of our country does not pass through the one-sided and authoritarian attack on employees, it does not pass through making our country a country of cheap labor and this, as a conception, is socially unfair and economically deadlocked."
She added that "it passes through the continuous upgrading of employees, through education, training, the strengthening of healthy entrepreneurship, through an overall prospect and a strategic plan for the development and social cohesion of our country."
A problem was created before the meeting took place when the shipyards' administration did not allow the mass media to enter the premises. Xenoyiannakopoulou said this was an unacceptable event which harms and restricts consolidated union rights.
"When a political party comes to meet the employees, to make a social dialogue with a firm, with an important business for the Greek economy, for its prospects and its problems, it is unacceptable that obstacles should be created for informing citizens, because this is all that it is about. For the restriction of a democratic right of political and social dialogue and the democratic informing for citizens," she said.
Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos later denounced the administration's decision.
 Interior Minister opens dialogue on public administration programme
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentra-lisation Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday sent a letter to all ministries and prefectures effectively beginning the dialogue for the design of a programme aimed at making public administration more efficient.
According to Pavlopoulos, since this is the first time that a comprehensive programme is being put together for the reorganization of public administration on both a central and local governmental level, input from all involved parties is crucial in designing an effective programme.
The aim of the programme is to strengthen the role public administration plays in the country's development, updating it and creating innovative and high-quality services for citizens and companies, Pavlopoulos said in his letter.
The minister also makes reference to achievements made thus far in public administration, saying that while progress has been made the sector has not sufficiently kept up with challenges posed by current developments.
The progress made has been in electronic governance within the context of the Information Society programme and institutional modernization, he said.
However, according to Pavlopoulos, the weaknesses within public administration are the complex regulatory framework defining the government's transactions with citizens and businesses, fragmentation of duties and the excessive number of procedures imposed on citizens when dealing with public sector agencies.
Subsequently, the delays caused by bureaucratic practices discourage business activity and investment, he said.
It is therefore urgent that a comprehensive programme aimed at correcting these weaknesses be designed and implemented immediately, Pavlopoulos noted.
 KKE places responsibility on government, PASOK, international organisations and EU on handling of bird flu problem
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is placing responsibility on the government, the main opposition PASOK party, international health organizations and the European Union for the way with which the bird flu problem is being handled.
Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday, KKE's Political Bureau member George Marinos said that the responsibilities of international organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the World Food And Agriculture Organization, are great because they did not assist Asian countries financially and scientifically to eradicate sources of infection in time, resulting in flu remaining endemic for a decade and the possibility of the virus changing to increase with unpredictable negative consequences for world health.
He added that the European Union also has great responsibilities for trying to handle the major problem with the criterion of protecting the profits of big poultry firms.
Marinos also placed responsibility on Greek governments, of both the New Democracy and PASOK parties, saying that they disorganized veterinary services and laboratories.
 Paris court orders Bourboulia's extradition to Greece
PARIS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)A Paris appeals court on Wednesday decided to execute a European arrest warrant issued for former Greek justice Constantina Bourboulia and ordered that she be extradited to Greece. The one-time magistrate is wanted by Greek authorities in connection with a wide-ranging trial-rigging and bribery investigation, including a trial for a stock market scandal.
Bourboulia was given until Monday to contest the ruling at a higher court. If she fails to do so, the order is then final and the French state will have 10 days in which to arrange to hand the fugitive former judge over to Greek authorities.
After the decision was read out, Bourboulia addressed the court and asked that the handover to Greek authorities be carried out with absolute secrecy, while she also asked the lawyer representing the Greek state to provide guarantees that she there would be no reporters present at her arrival in Greece and that her lawyer would be allowed to be present.
 Greek diplomat elected BSEC Sec't General
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The Foreign Ministry described the election of Greek diplomat Leonidas Chryssanthopoulos as Secretary General of the Black Sea Economic and Cooperation (BSEC) organization as a 'success of Greek diplomacy' in a statement issued on Wednesday.
According to the ministry statement, Chryssanthopoulos' election is the result of efforts begun while Greece held the BSEC presidency and continued thereafter, always under the direction of Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.
"This election vindicates Greek foreign policy which has been exercised consistently over a 24-month period and signals a new opening for Greek economic diplomacy in the Black Sea market, putting the spotlight on Greece as a significant link between the region's countries and the EU," the statement said.
 Parliament ratifies amendment on cremation of the dead
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Parliament ratified an amendment on Wednesday that allows, for the first time in Greece, the cremation of the dead.
The amendment was voted for by the New Democracy, PASOK and Coalition of the Left parties, whose deputies had submitted it for ratification.
The arrangement refers to a Presidential Decree on determining places for the creation of cremation centers with the consent of municipalities and communities, while Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that "all guarantees will be provided so that freedom that is now being offered will not become an object of exploitation."
The amendment's rapporteur, New Democracy party Deputy Nikos Georgiadis, pointed out that "cremation concerns people whose religious beliefs permit it, as well as people who consciously choose to deviate from the traditional form of burial in Greece and the traditional order of the Church."
 Greek govt to fund academic position at London School of Economics
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday will inaugurate a significant Greek initiative in the framework of the operations of a "Greek Observatory" at the London School of Economics.
The initiative calls for the introduction of an academic research position focusing on economic relations between Greece and Southeastern Europe. A highly experienced scientist will be chosen for the position, while funding will be covered by the Greek state.
Howard Davis, LSE's general director, welcomed the Greek initiative saying that "the bonds of the London School of Economics with Greece have a long tradition. The creation of this academic position will further enhance this relation. We are grateful to Mr. Alogoskoufis and to the Greek government for realizing this initiative".
Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis graduated from LSE in 1981. The Greek Observatory was founded in 1996 and focuses on research and the promotion of issues regarding modern economic, social and political developments in Greece and Cyprus. Around 215 Greek students are currently studying at the LSE.
The Greek Minister will be the honorary speaker in a seminar organized in a London hotel by the Greek-British Chamber of Commerce.
 President to visit Psara
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will be conducting an unofficial visit to Psara, a small island in the eastern Aegean, on Thursday morning.
The president is expected to arrive at 11 a.m., and according to Psara Town Hall, will be named an honorary resident.
 SYN leader congratulates Archbishop of All Albania Anastasios
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Coalition of the Left Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday sent a letter of congratulations to Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios for his election on Tuesday among the eight Presidents of the World Council of Churches.
Alavanos said:" I warmly congratulate you for your election among the eight Presidents of the World Council of Churches by the 9th General Assembly of this important world organization, which comprises 348 Churches from 120 countries.'
 U.S. report on drugs in Greece
WASHINGTON, 02/03/2006 (ANA-MPA/T.Ellis)Greece is a "channel" for the trafficking of drugs and despite the fact that it is not one of the major countries for trafficking towards the U.S., it is nevertheless part of the "Balkan route" of drugs towards Western Europe, an annual U.S. State Department report said on Wednesday.
The report adds that according to Greek authorities, the use of drugs follows an upward trend while their trafficking continues to be an important issue in Greece's struggle against organized crime.
 Budget revenue up 14.4% in February
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Budget revenue rose by 14.4% in February 2006 compared with the same month a year earlier, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.
January showed a budgetary surplus of 844 million euros, reversing a deficit of 436 million euros in the same month of 2005, the statement noted.
In January-February revenue increased by 16.4%, sharply above target.
In February, income from Value Added Tax showed an annualized rise of 20.8%, making a major contribution to the overall rise in budgetary revenue.
Total revenue collected by tax departments in February showed a 6.7% rise, income from customs grew by 11.2%, and other categories increased by 67.6%, the ministry said.
 Greek PMI rebounded in February
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rebounded in February to 51 points from 49.6 in the previous month, a sign that the Greek manufacturing sector returned to growth.
The PMI, measuring business activity in the manufacturing sector, had fallen in January, but recovered in February reflecting a moderate increase in the volume of new orders, mainly from foreign customers. The manufacturing sector's production grew for the 27 consecutive month in February.
Employment in the sector also grew for the eighth consecutive month in February, recording more rapid growth rates from January.
Inflow prices grew with the highest rate in four months in February, reflecting higher raw material prices in the country.
Readings above 50 indicate an expanding economy, while below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Greece second largest investor in Bulgaria
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Greece was the second largest foreign investor in Bulgaria in the period 1996-2005, with direct investments totalling 1.22 billion euros, or 11 percent of total investments in the neighboring country, official figures showed on Wednesday.
Greece ranked fourth among foreign investors in Bulgaria last year, with investments totaling 180.02 million euros (or 9.6 pct of total foreign direct investments), from 204.15 million euros in 2004. Austria ranked first with total investments of 686.5 million euros (36.6 pct of total), followed by the UK with 199 million euros (10.6 pct) and Switzerland (188.4 mln euros, 10.5 pct).
Austria was also the largest foreign investor in Bulgaria in the period 1996-2005 with investments totaling 2.14 billion euros, or 19.2 pct of total investments in the country.
 Employment Minister Tsitouridis discusses social insurance system with GSEE
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis, following a meeting he had on Wednesday with the Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), said that "the government will soon define the procedures of discussions and dialogue about the social insurance system in Parliament but also in society."
The employment minister also underlined that the changes in the social insurance system "which will create a new framework for a viable system is the job of the next government." He noted that
"Studies will soon be conducted for the funds which present problems so as to establish which of them can withstand and which cannot."
GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos replied that "a dialogue leading to results requires a field of understanding" and outlined prerequisites which "if they are not met, constitute for the trade unions insurmountable obstacles."
Polyzogopoulos said that the main point is the undermining "of the collective negotiations both on a level of branch agreements as well as on the level of the national collective labor agreement."
The GSEE leader said "the government is obliged with clarity to position itself and take initiatives so as to secure the context of the dialogue for the agreements," adding that "the government has the responsibility of leading the bankers to the dialogue table."
Polyzogopoulos also denounced the government's method of resorting to the general civil mobilization of strikers and called on it to immediately lift the status of civil mobilization.
The GSEE leader also referred to the matter of salary increases in the private sector but also the incomes policy in the public sector. "The proposals made by both the government and the employers do not constitute a basis for serious negotiations."
Replying, Tsitouridis underlined that "the government supports the institution of collective negotiations" and as for the matter of the salary increases, the minister said that "the result is not determined only by the proposals of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB)" and expressed optimism that "many margins still exist."
 Government aims to promote dialogue on pension system, FinMin says
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The Greek government is poised to promote a dialogue over the country's pension system, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said the government's main goal was to agree with all interested parties on the dimension of the problem.
Alogoskoufis stressed that the government always underlined the great significance of collective bargaining between employers and employees and noted the government did not aim to abolish collective labor talks, although he stressed that the government could not intervene institutionally. The government's position is clear, he said.
The Greek minister said a draft bill would be tabled to parliament this week covering pay increases in the public sector this year.
 Government to simplify procedures for commercial firms
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Wednesday that the government was working to simplify the statutory framework for the creation and operation of commercial enterprises.
"A framework is ready and will soon be advanced that drastically curtails bureaucracy and reduces time and money for the establishment of these firms," Sioufas noted.
"The government's main aim is to free the market's power and liberalize the country's economic life from the grip of oligopoly within a framework of common rules for all, rules of transparency and robust competition," the minister added.
He was addressing a conference of the Association of Retail Sales of Greece.
 International wine contest begins Thursday
THESSALONIKI, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The three-day Thessaloniki International Wine Competition begins on Thursday, arranged by the Wine Producers Association of the Northern Greece Vineyard and Detrop Oenos, an international wine trade fair.
Organizers said the contest aims mainly to present the richness of Greek and international quality wine-production to the public and to the trade, also publicizing Greek grape varieties.
An awards ceremony will be held in Athens on March 11 during an international wine, eau-de-vie and vitivinicultural equipment fair named Oenorama.
 Bank union questions profit bonus for National Bank of Greece staff
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The national bank workers union on Wednesday questioned a move by management of Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece to distribute 40 million euros from 2005 earnings to the group's employees, a 50% increase on the previous year.
"National's governor Takis Arapoglou has decided to give a one-off payment to the majority of its staff, which for most means 350-450 euros. At the same time, several million euros have been earmarked for senior executives including himself," the OTOE union said in a statement.
Announcing National's earnings on Tuesday, Arapoglou noted that the staff distribution figure accounted for 5.5% of the group's net profit for the year.
"For OTOE and its members, the point is to sign a collective labor pact with a rise on base monthly pay that goes to pensions, and not 'Take 300-400 euros and that's it,'" the statement said.
The union called on the government to compel banks to come to the negotiating table to sign a collective labor agreement. Banks say they have halted the practice, instead seeking to forge separate corporate pacts.
 Marfin Group to buy 50.1 pct in Estonia's SBM Bank for 6.5 mln euros
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Marfin Financial Group on Wednesday announced a decision to purchase a 50.1 percent stake in Estonia's SBM Bank for around 6.5 million euros.
The deal will be made through a share capital increase plan, worth 6.5 mln euros, by SBM Bank, scheduled to be completed by June 12, 2006.
The deal signals the entry of Marfin Financial Group to the Baltics. The Greek bank said Estonia's economy was growing at an annual rate of 7.0 percent, the country enjoyed a low public debt, and the banking sector almost minimal bad debt levels.
Marfin Financial Group aims to coordinate its international expansion with the management of Laiki Bank Cyprus to achieve the maximum possible synergies.
 Athens Bourse Close Stocks slump in higher turnover
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The Athens share index closed at 4,129.41 points, showing a decline of 1.75%. Turnover was 517.4 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalisation shares ended 1.88% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 2.64% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 3.50% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 255 to 33 with 33 remaining unchanged.
 Presentation of UN International Committee's annual report on drug control
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The increasing use of drugs on an international scale is reflected again this year by the annual report of the UN's International Committee on drug control that was presented in Athens on Wednesday, and all over the world at the same time, by the Addicts Cure Centre (KETHEA).
The situation concerning production and trafficking, as well as detecting weaknesses at national level, together with the submission of proposals resulting from various experiences, give quite a clear picture of the problem in the report's 134 pages.
The briefing in Athens was carried out by KETHEA director Haralambos Poulopoulos, while the President of KETHEA's board, Gerasimos Notaras, referred to the significance of the Committee's work which sheds more light on the scourge of the modern era every year.
Measures aimed at curbing production are considered disappointing since alternative cultivations promoted in past years, mainly in countries of South America, did not produce results and, consequently, their combining with wider social measures of development and prevention is considered necessary at present.
Drug trafficking through the post is taking on alarming dimensions and as a result the Committee urges governments to strengthen their national legislation and to control all corridors of incoming and outgoing international mail.
The problem of trafficking is also intensified in the internet with the illegal "internetwork" pharmacies which carry on a lucrative trade by selling products containing forbidden substances at high prices, since their detection is extremely difficult.
An increase in the production and trafficking of methamphetamines is also rapid, while big quantities were confiscated on an international scale in 2005.
 50th session of UN's Committee on Women's Status
NEW YORK, 02/03/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)The Greek government is making every effort to handle the phenomenon of the trafficking of women, Equality General Secretary Evgenia Tsoumani-Spentza announced here.
Spentza was due to outline the government's coordinated efforts on many levels, as well as its overall policy regarding women's issues in her address at the 50th session of the UN's Committee on Women's Status on Wednesday.
Its work got under way on Monday and is due to last until March 10, while her address would focus on the issue of "Equality of the genders, development and peace for the 21st century."
The Equality General Secretary is heading a national delegation attending the session, during which the increased participation of women in development and the equal participation of the two genders in the decision-making process at all levels will be examined.
Speaking to reporters, Spentza said that protection for women's rights is an "unbreakable part" of the human rights sector and a "base for the formation of indicators expressing the level of development and prosperity of countries internationally."
 'Pananicolaou' cardiological surgery clinic fully operational
THESSALONIKI, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The cardiological surgery clinic of "G. Papanicolaou" Hospital in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, is fully operational since Wednesday. The clinic, which was not fully operating since May 2005, is expected to submit, within September, an application for the granting of a permit to conduct heart transplants.
The new director of the clinic is Ioannina University Professor George Drosos and the clinic is fully operational with the necessary equipment and medical staff.
 Number of elderly people developing cancer increasing
THESSALONIKI, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The number of elderly people developing cancer is increasing, parallel to the increase in the percentage of elderly people in the country's total population. Today, only 15 percent of new cases of cancer registered every year appear in young people below 50 years of age, while the remaining 85 percent occur in people of a greater age.
While deaths caused by heart conditions among elderly people are presenting a downward trend, deaths due to cancer are presenting a stable but slow upward trend.
This information was revealed during the 6th Conference of the Geriatrics and Gerolontoly Society of Northern Greece that is taking place in Thessaloniki, Macedonia.
The handling of elderly oncological patients is a composite issue in which, apart from diagnosing the neoplasm, other factors participate such as the general condition, the existence of other diseases, life expectancy and the assessment of the benefit from therapy.
It was mentioned, as a conclusion, that the utilization of possibilities provided by new medicines and therapeutical techniques with the purpose of increasing life expectancy and maintaining the quality of life for this group of patients constitutes one of the most important targets of oncology in the near future.
 Heads of Greek Sex and Reproduction Health Centre meet Israeli counterpart
THESSALONIKI, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The heads of the Greek Sex and Reproduction Health Centre met in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Wednesday with the director of the corresponding Israeli Centre, professor of urology at the Rambam Medical Center, Yoram Vardi, for an exchange of views on issues of mutual interest.
Vardi is known for his considerable work in the sector of urology, while being a pioneer in research in sexual medicine and recently presenting the media with an attempt to measure libido in men and women.
The two sides, in the framework of their bilateral cooperation, discussed joint research cooperation protocols which are expected to be completed over the next two years, aiming at registering the needs of people facing sexual problems, as well as the difference in culture and in the therapeutical preferences of the two peoples.
 Immigration Policy Institute president visiting United States
WASHINGTON, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The president of the Immigration Policy Institute Alexandros Zavos is paying a visit to the United States on the occasion of his participation in a meeting of experts on the issue of immigration.
Senators, state governors of the United States, members of the university community and high-ranking economic officials are participating in the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future, whose sessions are taking place in Washington.
Only three people from Europe are participating as observers, including Zavos, who is representing Greece in a meeting having particular interest for the shaping of immigration policy.
The group of experts will reach conclusions on managing the immigration wave in the United States and will be making a suggestion to the U.S. government on the revision of the law concerning immigration.
The main issue preoccupying the meeting is finding ways of collecting the funds necessary for the education of immigrants, as well as for their social security and welfare.
 Deadline for application of residence permits extended to April 30
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Through a legislative settlement by Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, the deadline for citizens of third countries to submit applications for their residence permits, has been extended until April 30, 2006.
Residence permits which expire after January 1, 2006 and up to April 30, 2006, are extended until April 30, 2006 and are renewed with the submission of a relevant application until April 30, 2006.
 Greece earmarks 42 mln euros to promote broadband networks
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)Greece's "Information Society" on Wednesday announced a programme, budgeted at 42 million euros, to fund the creation of wireless broadband networks in 140 municipalities around the country. The programme also envisages funding for broadband connection of 1,260 schools, 360 cultural and sports centers, 1,800 public agencies and 320 regional medical centers around the country.
The wireless broadband networks are part of a plan to expand the use of broadband services in Greece. Presenting the plan, Information Society's secretary general V. Assimakopoulos said the "move covered municipalities with low population and part of an intense effort to develop broadband infrastructure and services in Greece".
The project is part of a Digital Strategy Plan 2006-2013 aimed to promote new technologies in the country.
 Holy Synod seeks to maintain religious tolerance
ATHENS, 02/03/2006 (ANA)The Holy Synod on Wednesday decided to set up a committee which will act as a liaison with Greeks of different faiths to promote unity and peace among diverse religious groups.
The decision was made during Wednesday's meeting when the Holy Synod expressed concern over the violence and tensions caused by the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed the Prophet in a way that has led Muslims around the world to be outraged.
The Holy Synod condemned this "impious act" of the cartoonists but it also voiced concern over the extreme reactions of those offended by the cartoons.
During the meeting, Holy Synod representative Patras Metropolitan Chrysostomos discussed the Church's view on building a mosque in Attica.
Chrysostomos reminded attendees that the Church is in favor of the mosque, but is opposed to the operation of a Muslim Centre.
He also said that the Church has decided to make its property in Schisto available for a Muslim cemetery.
 Cypriot President Papadopoulos satisfied with Annan meeting
LARNACA, 02/03/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos expressed satisfaction here Wednesday with the result of his meeting on Tuesday with UN Secretary-General Kïfi Annan.
Speaking to reporters on his return from Paris, President Papadopoulos said that the epicenter of the meeting was that "the aim is for a solution to the substance of the Cyprus problem soon," through practical steps to solve the problem.
President Papadopoulos said "I express satisfaction over the result of the meeting, and for the extremely constructive and friendly climate in which the discussions took place with the Secretary General."
"I believe that an important step has been taken in achieving the fundamental aim, which has been for long now the government and the National Council's firm policy, before any talks begin, these must be well prepared. The Secretary General agrees with this and adopts this position, something which he repeated many times during our meeting," the president said.
He underlined that the "epicenter of the meeting was the preparation of talks on Cyprus, a review on the Cyprus problem as well as ways to proceed to a new round of talks."
President Papadopoulos added the government "submitted specific suggestions on issues that we consider need careful preparation, both on collecting information so that political decisions can be taken on specific facts, such as the issue of settlers."
He said that this preparation will begin soon with a systematic manner, provided that the Turkish side agrees with this initiative.
At the same time, discussions will begin on issues concerning Confidence Building measures, he said, noting that what was emphasized to Kofi Annan and was accepted, is that the "main aim is not how to ease maintaining the status in the occupied areas and its efficient operation. The main aim remains preparing the start of negotiations for a Cyprus settlement."
The Cypriot president said that during the meeting, he referred to the involvement of all permanent members of the UN Security Council and the interest they expressed that this time any preparation for Cyprus talks should be done with their full knowledge and not with the involvement of only two permanent members.
He said the reply from Annan was this was a "matter-of-course and I think this attitude will be adopted in the future."
President Papadopoulos said the two discussed the fate of the missing persons in Cyprus and how the process will proceed not only concerning the exhumations but also the identification and the ascertainment of the fate of the missing.
On the UN envisaged Annan Plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem, President Papadopoulos said it was not an issue for discussion, stressing he has not raised it in his discussions, and adding that only the US is concentrating on the Annan Plan.
Papadopoulos clarified that the Secretary General did not make any reference to the Annan Plan during their meeting. "What we are discussing is a Cyprus settlement."
"We respect the US view, but I have not heard the same view repeated by other countries," the Cypriot president underlined.
In his statements, President Papadopoulos said that there are some issues that will necessitate the knowledge of experts from the EU, such as the operation of a Central Bank of a federal state which is an EU member.
"I hope the technical committees will soon begin their work and that the Turkish side will respond positively. The Secretary General agrees with us that this is the right course of preparing the talks. This is what was expected from us a long time now, and we have undertaken this initiative. It demands a lot of good will from the Turkish side," he added.
President Papadopoulos said he will convene a meeting of the National Council, which is responsible for the handling of the Cyprus issue.
Commenting on criticism that the decision for the technical committees will delay prospects for a settlement, President Papadopoulos wondered if anyone was expecting a solution right away after his meeting with Annan.
"We had to create the conditions to make our demand acceptable, that a new round of talks should be well prepared. This was achieved and I consider it an important step. It is not a spectacular development and nobody is talking about specific results today. However, it is in the right direction," President Papadopoulos pointed out.
"Talks that will start without preparation with the two sides and those remaining firm in their positions do not have any possibility to be successful and the collapse of a second effort would have catastrophic repercussions on our side," President Papadopoulos stressed.
He noted that "we have persuaded that our aim is not confidence building measures of how to make easier the operation of the illegal regime. Our aim and pursuit is a solution, the soonest, of the substance of the Cyprus problem. This is the message I conveyed, this was at the epicenter of our discussions and proposals," he underlined.
A joint statement issued after an hour-long meeting in Paris on Tuesday between Annan and the Cypriot President said that "the leaders of both communities (in Cyprus) have agreed that bicommunal discussions on a series of issues, agreement on which is needed for the benefit of all Cypriots, will be under-taken at the technical level."
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the islands northern third.
 Acting President: Positive outcome of Papadopoulos-Annan meetingNICOSIA , 02/03/2006 (ANA) (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The outcome of the meeting between UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos is a positive one since decisions for very specific measures have been taken, said Acting President of the Republic, House President Demetris Christofias.
Responding to questions on Wednesday over the outcome of the Paris meeting on Cyprus, Christofias said that efforts for a long time now focus on the well preparation of a high level dialogue under the aegis of the UN Secretary General.
The hope is that this dialogue will focus on and achieve changes, "that must take place in order to reach a viable, functional solution, which will serve the interests of the two communities and not the ones of the foreigners."
As regards accusations that the President of the Republic wants a solution in the distant future and that he has no interest in any initiatives for a settlement, Christofias stressed that President Papadopoulos and his government are working for a long time now systematically, to create the right conditions, and that it is within this framework that the Paris meeting on Tuesday took place.
Christofias said ''the meeting ended with very specific measures and very specific conclusions." He indicated that it was a friendly meeting "this was clear from the UN SG's stance during the formal appearance before the media and from the fact that there was a joint statement."
As regards a special representative, he noted that the Greek Cypriot side had asked the Secretary General to appoint one, but he believes that his duties are being conducted by his Special Representative to Cyprus Michael Moller, whose role has been upgraded and will take part in a procedure for the setting up of technical committees, which will deal not just with confidence building measures but with substantial issues.
He explained that efforts to reduce the gap between the two sides, will take place to create the conditions for the opening of more checkpoints, such as the one at Ledra street, as well as demilitarization.
 European Commission welcomes Papadopoulos-Annan meeting
BRUSSELS, 02/03/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The European Commission has welcomed Tuesday's meeting in Paris between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, saying the agreement to launch talks on a technical level was encouraging.
Replying to questions on Wednesday, Krisztina Nagy, spokes-woman for Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, said the Commission is closely monitoring developments in the Cyprus problem and remains focused on supporting the resumption of negotiations under UN auspices aiming at a settlement.
In this context, she added, the Commission welcomes Tuesday's talks in Paris and views as encouraging the fact that the leaders of the two communities have agreed to launch a dialogue on technical issues, a process which could help build trust and lead to the resumption of negotiations for a comprehensive settlement.
Nagy furthermore referred to the approval by the EU General Affairs Council of the financial regulation for the Turkish Cypriots, saying that the regulation, through which very specific and important plans for everyday life would be implemented, could contribute to improving relations between the two communities.
 US support Annan plan as basis for Cyprus' reunification
NEW YORK, 02/03/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)US State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters on Tuesday that the US support the Cyprus settlement plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as a basis for the reunification of the island.
Washington urged all sides to engage seriously to discuss ways that they can achieve that goal on the basis of the Annan plan.
Invited to comment on Tuesday's meeting in Paris between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Annan, Ereli said the United States ''support the Annan plan as a basis for reunification.''
''We regret that the referendum did not pass. We believe the Annan plan remains the best basis for reunification. And we urge all sides to engage seriously to discuss ways that they can achieve that goal on the basis of the Annan plan,'' he added.
In a referendum in April 2004, the Greek Cypriots rejected by an overwhelming majority (76%) the plan, saying it did not serve the interests of the Cypriot people as a whole. The Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the plan by 65%. The Greek Cypriots want to introduce changes to the plan, through negotiations, to render it fair and balanced and make the solution viable and functional.
 Germany donates 100,000 euros to CMP in Cyprus
NICOSIA, 02/03/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The government of the Federal Republic of Germany has donated 100,000 euros to the Committee of Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) for the project of exhumations and identification (PEI).
According to a German embassy press release on Wednesday, by lending its support to the CMP, Germany wishes to emphasize the importance it attaches to both communities joining their peace building efforts for the sake of all Cypriots.
Head of the Cyprus Desk of the German Federal Foreign Office Susanne Kroger on Wednesday morning met the CMP members of both communities, Elias Georgiades and Gulden Plumer-Kucuk, while visiting the site of the Anthropological Laboratory currently under construction in the UN-Protected Area.
''The issue of tracing the fate of the missing persons in Cyprus is of eminent importance to both communities on the island. Germany is supporting this huge humanitarian task,'' Kroger said at the ceremony to officially hand over the donation.
German Ambassador Rolf Kaiser commended the work of the CMP and added that the PEI project raises hopes for more inter-communal cooperation.
''Answering the questions and the plight of the relatives of missing persons opens the gate to a common, peaceful future for Cyprus,'' he said.
 G/C and T/C decide to increase efforts towards peace
NICOSIA, 02/03/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The leaders and the representatives of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties during their regular meeting in Ledra Palace agreed that further effort is required from their behalf to increase confidence between two communities.
"They exchanged views on the ways of improving relationships between two communities and the ways of helping peace and early solution in Cyprus," a joint communiqué issued after the meeting on Wednesday, said.
They also expressed their best wishes for a speedy recovery to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who underwent bypass surgery on Monday.
The next meeting of the leaders and the representatives of the political parties will be held on 5th April 2006 at 10.30 a.m.
 Serbian President to visit Cyprus
NICOSIA, 02/03/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Serbian President Âïris Tadic will be paying a visit to Cyprus on March 6 and 7, during which he will meet with President Tassos Papadopoulos and House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias.
He will also meet and hold official talks with Foreign Minister George Iacovou.