|Monday, 27 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-03-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 9, 2006
 PM meets Cyprus president, discusses meeting with Annan
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos met in Athens on Wednesday for talks on the Cyprus issue and the Cyprus president's recent meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Afterwards, Karamanlis said the meeting with Annan was a positive development for the resumption of efforts to solve the Cyprus issue but stressed the need for careful preparation.
"We cannot afford the luxury of a new failure," the Greek premier underlined.
He said efforts for a Cyprus solution should progress with careful steps based on a well-prepared process, without pressing deadlines or arbitration, so as to achieve "a just and viable solution, based on UN decisions and resolutions and the new European reality."
Karamanlis said his talks with Papadopoulos had covered the latest developments in the Cyprus issue in detail, as well as the prospects arising following the meeting with Annan.
"It now lies with Turkey to show the same spirit of cooperation," he added.
Asked if Athens fully agrees with the handling of the Annan meeting by Papadopoulos, the Greek premier reiterated that there was absolute coordination and understanding between the Greek and Cyprus governments.
The decisions made recently by the European Union concerning the regulations for economic assistance to Turkish-Cypriots were also welcomed as positive by Karamanlis, who noted that the Austrian presidency's proposal contained points of great interest to the Cyprus Republic.
He said his talks with Papadopoulos had covered Turkey's obligations to the EU, which Karamanlis said were "clear-cut" and that the EU expected Ankara to carry them out.
Questioned about the Greek-Cypriot side's strategy to bring about Turkey's implementation of the additional protocol extending customs union to Cyprus and the new EU member-states, Papadopoulos said that the European Commission's report in 2006 will refer to Turkey's progress toward EU entry, and will reiterate that Turkey has an obligation to meet its obligations to the EU.
He also commented on the positions of the U.S. State Department concerning direct trade with the Turkish-occupied north section of Cyprus, noting that "the Americans wrongly believe that they can bring about reunification (of Cyprus) through direct trade with the Turkish-Cypriots".
The talks between the two leaders were attended by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, deputy foreign minister Yannis Valinakis and Minister of State Theodoros Rousso-poulos.
The prime minister gave a dinner in honor of the Cyprus president, who is due to hold talks with the leaders of the opposition parties in Parliament during the afternoon.
Papadopoulos confers with President Papoulias
Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, in Greece on a working visit, met Wednesday with his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias.
The two heads of state discussed the latest developments in the Cyprus issue, following Papadopoulos' recent meeting with UN secretary general Kofi Annan, and the prospects for resumption of the process for a resolution of the political problem.
 Cyprus President discusses Cyprus issue with PASOK party leader
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Visiting Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou discussed the resumption of efforts to solve the issue of Cyprus and the issue of Famagusta in talks held on Wednesday.
"We discussed latest developments on the issue of Cyprus, especially the resumption of efforts to solve it and particularly after the meeting between President Papadopoulos and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan," Papandreou said after the meeting.
"We exchanged views on the issue of Famagusta which is an issue, as are many others, that is in our heart and we think that efforts in this direction can meet with success," he added.
Papandreou added that "following the accession of Cyprus to the EU there has been a new momentum, provided that it is capitalized by all sides and I am stressing here the obligations of Turkey and the prospects of the Turkish Cypriots of all of us finding ourselves in the same family and very soon."
He went on to say that "the utilization of the EU, Turkey's course towards the EU, the reunification of the island so that the Turkish Cypriots can also enjoy the advantages and the rights of the EU is the prospect giving us the opportunity to capitalize on all means to solve the issue of Cyprus and for a peaceful coexistence in our region."
 Papadopoulos holds talks with KKE, Coalition party leaders
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Visiting Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos held talks with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party leader Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday.
"We cannot know what is in the back of the mind of the UN secretary general or of the leading forces of the EU. What is of great importance is that two years after the referendum, the right of the Greek Cypriots to reject a (the Annan) plan, which sooner or later would have led with mathematical accuracy to partition, has gained ground in Greece, Cyprus and internationally," she said after her meeting with President Papadopoulos.
"What is important today is seeking a solution to the problem based on UN resolutions, which anticipate a bizonal and bicommunal federation, without foreign troops, without an occupation army and without international arbitration," Papariga added.
Alavanos said on his part after meeting President Papadopoulos that "there have been very positive moves on the part of the Republic of Cyprus regarding the issues of discussions for a solution to the issue of Cyprus in the framework of the UN, with the utilization of the European acquis communautaire and with regard to issues of the EU's regulations and also with the political consequence which is the annulment, in essence, of proposals by (Turkish foreign Minister Abdullah) Gul."
 DM discusses bilateral cooperation with Czech counterpart
VIENNA, 9/2/2006 (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and his Czech counterpart Karel Kuhnl discussed issues concerning cooperation between the two countries and with the European Union in talks held in Prague on Tuesday night.
Meimarakis started an official two-day visit to the Czech Republic on Tuesday, returning a visit made to Athens by Kuhnl last year.
The defense minister said in a statement that discussions with Kuhnl were held in the good climate which has been consolidated for years with the friendly country of the Czech Republic, with which very good and friendly relations, that are continuing, had been developed over the past five years.
Meimarakis and his Czech counterpart agreed that the Balkans can become a region of peace, stability and development and expressed their joint desire for the Balkan peoples to live in peace and in harmony.
For this reason, Greece and the Czech Republic strongly support every initiative aimed at the European Union, but also with an understanding between the two friendly countries.
Referring to bilateral relations, the defense minister said that an understanding had existed for many years on a consideration of how the Greek side can have the assistance of the Czech Republic on certain issues of its concern.
Commenting on relevant reference by his Czech counterpart, Meimarakis said that it had been discussed quite a few years ago whether Greece will be receiving training aircraft, something that is being examined by air force officials, while he believes that a visit will be taking place by either air force officials or the air force general staff chief for an on-the-spot consideration of the issue.
Meimarakis said he explained to Kuhnl that if a suggestion is made to him by staffs, Greece is interested in obtaining new technology training aircraft through international tendering.
He added that various parameters will be taken into consideration during tendering, such as cost, joint production or anything else that can benefit the Greek economy.
The defense minister also held talks on Wednesday with the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Jiri Paroubek, before departing for Athens.
During the two previous days, Meimarakis participated in the informal European Union Council of Defense Ministers in Innsbruck, Austria, in the framework of the Austrian EU presidency during the first half of 2006.
 Stylianidis, FYROM officials discuss Greek investments
SKOPJE, 9/2/2006 (ANA - N. Melissova)Boosting economic and cultural ties between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) created a positive climate for promoting a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute over the republic's name, Greece's deputy foreign minister Evripidis Stylianidis said here on Wednesday, during a press conference that wrapped up his two-day visit to FYROM.
Protection of Greek investments and the Greek plan for the economic reconstruction of the Balkans (ESOAB) dominated talks held by Stylianidis during the second day of his visit, during which he had a brief meeting with FYROM's foreign minister Ilinka Mitreva and a longer discussion with his FYROM counterpart Fuad Hasanovic that also touched on various matters for facilitating bilateral relations, such as the issue of Schengen visas and cross-border cooperation.
Afterwards, the Greek minister underlined that Athens supports FYROM's European orientation and its conviction that economic and cultural cooperation will contribute to finding a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute with FYROM over its chosen name 'Republic of Macedonia'.
"We share a vision of the European prospects of the Balkans and creating a sense of regional identity that will allow our countries to support one another within the EU for mutual benefit," he said.
Stylianidis also had lengthy talks with FYROM Economics Minister Fatmir Besimi that again focused on the protection of Greek investments within FYROM and avoiding double taxation.
The Greek minister noted that resolving these problems would increase the flow of Greek capital and investments into the country.
He also reassured Besimi that Greece had activated its Balkan reconstruction plan with priority on Axis 10, for which it had set aside ¬ 74.8 billion from the Greek state budget, while extracting a promise that developmental funds from Greece will not be subject to VAT. The last will increase the amount of Greek funds available for investment.
Besimi stressed that Greece was a very important trade partner for FYROM and currently the second-largest investor in the country, while it would soon be passing into first place.
One issue covered by the talks was the long-stalled oil pipeline project between Thessaloniki and Skopje, which Besimi said was "a very important work for the Balkans region".
The project has been delayed by a dispute over the timing and terms between the government in Skopje and the oil firm OKTA, which is controlled by the Greece-based Hellenic Petroleum, concerning the company's privatization.
The issue has gone to arbitration and, according to Besimi, Skopje's government is making every effort to find the best solution. Hellenic Petroleum has invested ¬ 200 million in FYROM for the pipeline and oil refineries and is employing 1,000 people.
On his part, Stylianidis promised that a solution will lead to an increase in Greek investments and an extension of the oil pipeline to Kosovo, making FYROM a larger market.
Stylianidis noted Greece's desire to finance environmental projects, such as cleaning up the Axios river, through Hellenic Aid and again stressed that good cooperation by the two sides will create the conditions to bring them closer together and ensure FYROM's European prospects.
During his visit, the Greek minister inaugurated a Greek Consular, Economic and Trade Affairs office in Bitola, southwest FYROM, which both sides said would act as a "bridge" between the two countries, and inaugurated a Hellenic Aid programme for the early diagnosis of breast cancer in collaboration with a local medical centre and a Greek NGO.
According to the Greek heart surgeon that founded the centre, the programme has so far tested 8,000 women without charge.
Earlier, Stylianidis had talks with FYROM's transport minister Xhemali Mehazi and deputy economics minister Mahoud Ali.
Replying to questions during the press conference, the Greek minister condemned what he said was an "illegal and arbitrary" ¬ 3 charge imposed at the Evzones border post at Kilkis for cars with FYROM license plates that use the border crossing.
Stylianidis stressed that the charge had been imposed by the Kilkis prefecture and was not a policy of the Greek government. He promised that the ministries involved would seek its immediate abolition, while noting that Greece had also been criticized by the European Commission over this levy.
He said the prefecture charged ¬ 3 for every private car and ¬ 15 for goods vehicles and had thus "illegally" earned an estimated ¬ 1 million during the past year alone. According to the prefecture, the charge is formally imposed for all cars without an EU license-plate and is levied to maintain Greek roads.
 Greece respects human rights, US State Dept. says
WASHINGTON, 9/2/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Ellis)Greece is a constitutional and pluralist democracy that respects human rights, the US Department of State said in a report it released on Wednesday.
However, it noted that some problems arose in 2005 with police brutality exercised against illegal immigrants and against members of the Roma minority, while there were also instances of overcrowding and poor conditions in some prisons.
Other problems the State Department cites in its report include limiting of freedom of expression for certain minority groups, violence against women, human trafficking and discrimination against certain minorities, among others.
On the positive side, the report highlights the media's independence "with a minimum amount of government oversight" and the ability of "ethnic and religious groups to publish material in their native language".
The report, which the State Department submits yearly to US Congress, records the situation regarding human rights around the world.
The chapter dedicated to Greece runs for 37 pages and effectively remains unchanged compared with last year's findings.
However, the State Department found that there is an expression of anti-Semitism in the 'extremist' press and that the mainstream media and the Greek public tend not to distinguish criticism aimed at the state of Israel and at people of the Jewish faith.
During Wednesday's press briefing, a State Department official declined to comment on the treatment of the Greek minority in Turkey by the Turkish government and the latter's refusal to re-open the Theological School of Halki.
The official said he would need to look into the matter and respond in writing.
 US State Department report on human rights slams Turkey on Patriarchate
WASHINGTON, 9/2/2006 (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)This year's human rights report by the U.S. State Department regarding Turkey was particularly harsh, noting that in the neighboring country, despite the fact that the Turkish government generally appears to respect the human rights of citizens, political activities are restricted, illegal executions and tortures are committed by the security forces, arbitrary arrests are made, freedom of speech is restricted, religious freedoms are restricted, there is use of violence and discrimination against women, children are maltreated, there is an illegal trafficking of people and labor rights are restricted.
Regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the report noted, like in last year's report, that the ecumenical character of the Patriarchate is not recognized by the Turkish state.
The Turkish government claims that only Turkish citizens which come from the Greek community can become patriarchs and participate in patriarchal elections. The State Department report underlines that the members of the Greek Orthodox community claim that these restrictions threaten the survival of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, given that the Greek Orthodox community which today numbers just 2,500 people, is too small to preserve the functioning of the foundation.
The report says that the Ecumenical Patriarchate continues efforts for the re-opening of the Theological School of Halki, which the Turkish government closed in 1971.
 Press conference given on U.S. State Department's annual human rights report
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)U.S. embassy first secretary replying on Wednesday to questions on accusations regarding the alleged involvement of American intelligence services in the phone-tapping issue said "we have no comment to make."
The American diplomat said that the embassy's press office has already replied to relevant questions by reporters and has nothing more to add. Commenting, however, on an article by a former political adviser of the U.S. embassy on phone-tapping in Greece, he said he was a former diplomat working as a journalist and he has the right to have his own views.
The U.S. diplomat was replying to questions by the press in the framework of a press conference given on the occasion of the publication of the State Department's annual report to Congress on human rights in the world.
As regards Greece, this year's report does not differ greatly from last year's. It stresses that "the civil authorities, in general, maintained effective control over the security forces and that the government, in general, respected the human rights of citizens. However, it was noted that problems existed in certain points and human rights violations were reported that concerned ill-treatment by security forces, bad conditions in some prisons, ill-treatment of immigrants, restrictions for ethnic minorities and in freedom of speech for members of non-Orthodox religious populations."
The report also focused on the issue of anti-Semitism which, in its view, "continues to exist, particularly in the extremist press. However, not only there since even the mass circulation press and public opinion very often do not distinguish between criticism of Israel and comments on the Jews."
Asked on the particular interest in the issue of anti-Semitism, the American diplomats explained that the report meets the requirements of the American Congress.
Among other things, the report stresses that "anti-Semitic literature" is on sale in Greece, such as "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
Asked whether this book is forbidden in the United States, the officials replied that it is probably not.
 Gov't dismisses criticism; points to brighter economic, employment figures
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)The alternate government spokesman on Wednesday covered a variety of issues during his regular press briefing, especially in response to queries dealing with the economy, as the current week continues to generate heightened political interest due to the two-year anniversary of New Democracy party's assumption of power.
Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros responded to one question by reiterating that official figures show unemployment slightly reduced this year after 20 years of uninterrupted increases.
Moreover, asked to comment by one reporter about the "profits of banks, industrialists and ship-owners" this year -- ostensibly, an allusion to high profit margins -- Antonaros stressed that the "government inherited an economic situation with feeble (economic) indices, and is now trying to create conditions that, in time, will allow all Greek citizens to benefit from a stable economic environment".
"Official figures on combating unemployment this year show that we have had a reduction in joblessness due to a systematic and constant effort by the government," he added.
Asked about main opposition PASOK's unveiling this week of its so-called "Black Book" sharply criticizing the Karamanlis government's first two years in power, Antonaros merely noted that "this (publication) is a clutter of inaccuracies, wrapped in a volume with a black cover, which may, however, express (the area) in which PASOK excels: black propaganda".
"...Greek citizens know how to evaluate the government's unwavering effort in every sector very well..." he said.
Meanwhile, Antonaros was asked why a high-profile audit of state finances -- a pre-election promise concluded in late 2004 that resulted in a significant upward reassessment of the budget deficit -- as well as the "primary shareholder" issue and last month's civil mobilization of striking coastal shipping seamen were overlooked in ministers' recent reports.
He responded by saying that Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis clearly said that the audit was ordered to "deal with the mistakes and omissions of the past" -- a reference to the previous Simitis governments. Additionally, he said Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos also clearly mentioned the course of action and developments over the "primary shareholder" law, another pre-election promise aimed at preventing owners of broadcast media outlets from winning state contracts.
He added that Karamanlis, in fact, will meet separately on Thursday with Alogoskoufis.
"The government presented a report on the first half of its term, there is more than enough time to implement aspects of its programme that have not already been accomplished," Antonaros said.
 PM's meeting with Thessaloniki mayor
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)In other developments, Antonaros said Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' meeting on Thursday with Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos comes on the heels of the premier's meeting last week with Theodoros Behrakis, who was chosen by Athens' city council to replace Mayor Dora Bakoyannis after her appointment as the new foreign minister.
Antonaros responded to the query on whether the meeting with ND-affiliated Papageorgopoulos was related to a decision by Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party leader and founder George Karatzaferis to enter Thessaloniki's mayoral race in next October's municipal elections. LA.OS has recently fared well in a series of opinion polls.
The spokesman also stressed that an independent judicial investigation is continuing over the unprecedented Vodafone mobile phone tapping plot that targeted the prime minister and several ministers, among others, up until early March 2005. "The government fulfilled its institutional duty by referring the issue to the justice system", he merely noted.
Finally, Antonaros said portions of ministers' comments during Tuesday's closely watched Cabinet meeting were disseminated via the Athens News Agency (ANA) because "often times the (press) reports do not always correspond with reality".
 Greek people 'deceived for two years', PASOK leader claims
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)"For two years the Greek people have been deceived," main opposition leader George Papandreou claimed on Wednesday regarding ruling New Democracy's two years in power, while addressing the parliamentary group coordinators of the PASOK party.
PASOK's leader said that the electorate's expectations had been betrayed and that the prime minister obviously had a secret agenda or programme that he had not revealed before the elections that served the "few and elite" at the expense of the "many and weak".
"We've heard talk of reforms but the Greek family has found itself targeted, institutions are being trampled on by a party-political view of the state, social cohesion is being undermined and rights are under attack. For two years the country has been in reverse," Papandreou stressed.
The people were now turning to PASOK, which thus had greater responsibilities, he added.
 Roussopoulos responds to Papandreou criticism
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday said that "Mr. Papandreou knows very well who have identified themselves with deceiving the citizens and with secret agendas, with partisanship and serving the few and the powerful, just as he is aware of the doings of the governments in which he had also participated and which have not been erased from the memory of Greek women and Greek men."
Roussopoulos was responding to criticism by main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, who during the beginning of his party's Coordinating Body meeting on Wednesday, said of the country's two-year governance by the New Democracy party that "the Greek people have been deceived for two years."
 Coalition party rejects proposal by former leader for cooperation
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)The Political Secretariat of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party on Wednesday rejected a proposal by former party leader Nikos Konstanto-poulos for cooperations with other parties, while the need was expressed "for promoting even more the distinct modern and radical Leftist identity and policy of the Coalition party in full and radical contrast to the policy of the government and consensual bipartisanship in general."
The Political Secretariat examined political developments and the content of the letter addressed by Konstantopoulos.
It said in its announcement that "the majority does not agree with the proposals of Nikos Konstantopoulos which, at the same time, are in contrast with the decisions of the party's recent Congress and the directions made later on by its central political bodies."
 Gov't steps up anti-bird flu measures
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)The government decided to step up preventive measures against the bird flu virus on Wednesday following the detection of the virus in a home-bred chicken in Albania's Sarande region.
Minister of Agricultural Development and Foods Evangelos Basiakos sent out an urgent circular to all relevant agencies urging them to be on full alert and taking all precautionary measures, such as ensuring that all home-bred poultry is kept in a fenced-off area, vehicles entering the country from Albania are disinfected, and that the vehicles' passengers disinfect their shoes.
Similar measures will also be applied at all points of entry, while animal food products being transferred for private use will be confiscated and destroyed.
Finally, the country's four veterinary laboratories which carry out the diagnostic tests for bird flu virus have received additional equipment and staff.
 One in 2 Greeks avoids poultry, int'l study finds
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)One in two Greeks has reduced his/her consumption of poultry out of fear for the bird flu virus, according to a worldwide study conducted by Synovate and released on Wednesday.
Greeks, after the Indonesians, show the greatest concern (77%) for a possible pandemic of the disease in their country, while one out of two believe that the necessary precautions have been taken.
Analytically, 14% of Greeks surveyed believe that there will be some form of pandemic in 2006; 34% say that the bird flu virus has made them more afraid regarding the future; 72% believe the matter has been blown out of proportion by the media; 67% have researched the subject and the measures necessary for precaution; 44% have changed their dietary habits.
The study was conducted in the beginning of 2006 and surveyed 7,640 individuals in 13 countries.
 Govt's push for new technologies effective, Interior Minister says; PASOK disagrees
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)The priority the government gave to the adoption of new technologies during its first two years in office has paid off, Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Wednesday, addressing the committee charged with supervising the Information Society programme.
The result of the government's efforts was that absorption of programme funds more than doubled in the two-year period.
He also referred to the programme's performance under the previous PASOK governments, saying that a series of "serious weaknesses and unacceptable omissions in the programme's design and operation kept the programme stagnant until early 2004 with an absorption rate of 12%."
According to Pavlopoulos, Information Society SA which is one of the biggest entities carrying out IT projects within the public administration sector, contributed greatly to increasing the absorption rate, which at the end of 2004 stood at 35.8%.
Pavlopoulos called on all those present to maximize the programme's results both to increase transparency in the public sector and to improve the public administration sector's efficiency.
Commenting on Pavlopoulos' comments, Vasso Papandreou, head of main opposition PASOK's Economic and Political Council, said that the committee meeting on Wednesday "confirms the great delays in realising the programme making the loss of funds a real possibility."
 Gov't pledges broader cooperation with ANA-MPA
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Macedonia-Thrace Minister Yiorgos Kalatzis pledged that the cooperation between his ministry and the Athens News Agency-Macedonian Press Agency will continue and become more extensive, during his visit to the ANA-MPA's Macedonian Division on Wednesday.
Division head Spyros Kouzinopoulos briefed the minister on the framework within which the country's national news agency operates.
 ADAE submits report on phone-taps
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)The Hellenic Authority for Information and Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE) on Wednesday submitted its report to the Institutions and Transparency Parliamentary Committee regarding the phone-tap affair involving mobile phone operator Vodafone Greece.
According to ADAE's report, the 'intrusive' software found at Vodafone was of a 'general type' since it contained parts that were not used by Vodafone or by Greek companies in general. The software could have been used by any company in any country that had the specific Ericsson system installed.
ADAE also found that the software was installed in three digital centers, as opposed to the two already known, as well as discrepancies between the list of phone numbers Vodafone and Ericsson submitted.
Furthermore, according to ADAE, changes were made to the software after its installation.Vodafone's Managing Director Yiorgos Koronias is due to appear before the committee on Thursday.
 Branch of Albania's Socialist Party to be established in Athens
TIRANA, 9/2/2006 (ANA-MPA/I.Patso)Albania's Socialist Party (PS) Chairman Edi Rama will arrive in Athens on Sunday to attend the ceremony of the founding of his party's branch in the Greek capital.
As stated in reports in the Albanian press on Wednesday, the presidium of Albania's Socialist Party decided during its session on Tuesday, the creation of the branch in Athens by Albanian immigrants.
According to the Albanian mass media, there are plans for the founding in the future of a branch of Albania's PS in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, as well.
 Gov't to set up special commission to study pension system
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on Wednesday announced the formation of a special commission to study the country's pension system.
The two ministers, speaking to reporters after a meeting, said the government would seek that the commission would be chaired by a head commonly accepted by political parties and stressed that political parties and unions would have their own representatives in the commission.
Alogoskoufis said the pension system was a long-term problem concerning all Greek citizens and stressed that a dialogue on the issue was aimed to create the widest possible political and social consensus, a procedure likely to take more time than the current government's term. The Greek minister stressed a long-term dialogue would begin to define all parameters in the system and the nature of the problem. "This way a solid background will be formed to support the reaching of consensus," he noted.
The commission will draft a report on the pension system. Alogoskoufis reiterated that spending on pensions would reach 22.5 pct of GDP in 2050 from 12.5 pct currently, while budget spending would jump to 15 pct of GDP from 5.0 pct, respectively. The Greek minister stressed that pension funds' deficits totaled 400 billion euros.
Alogoskoufis said an existing system was largely unfair to citizens.
Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said the pension problem was "the greatest challenge of the Greek economy in the coming years" and said the government's goal was the find a "socially fair and financially effective long-term reform".
Tsitouridis said the plan envisaged the integration of pension funds, an effective combating of contribution evasion (around 25 pct of revenues) and creating a central computer system to include all pension funds.
Alogoskoufis said no one had the right to deny participation in a dialogue over the pension system.
 Opposition, unions skeptical of gov't social insurance proposal
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Wednesday blasted a proposal by the government for creation of a commission to review the country's social insurance system ahead of reform.
"The government has deliberately created a climate of uncertainty around social insurance, while undermining the rights of the insured and of pensioners," PASOK's employment, social affairs and health spokesman, Evangelos Venizelos, said in a statement.
"PASOK has called the new employment minister to come as soon as possible to parliament's standing social affairs committee to inform us of the government's viewpoint," Venizelos said.
In a separate statement, the Communist Party of Greece said that social dialogue of long duration announced by the government was a simple repetition of deception perpetrated by its PASOK predecessor in 2003 to conceal measures that hurt workers.
The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology stated that the government was seeking to "terrorize" the public by claiming that the social insurance system was on the point of collapse.
Finally, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece said that it would work to support the country's social insurance system, but adverse social conditions linked to the government and employers were unlikely to make dialogue productive; and the ADEDY civil servants noted that surveys and dialogue were warranted but not the framework of pressure that was being created.
 KKE leader reiterates opposition to increase in retirement age limit
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Wednesday reiterated her party's opposition to any increase in the retirement age, especially for women, speaking to the leadership of the Federation of Greek Women on the occasion of International Women's Day.
Papariga said her party insists on a lowering of retirement ages and on a difference of five years for men and women, i.e. five years earlier for the latter "because you have to take into account that women live in a regime of class-based and gender inequality," as she said.
 Greek govt determined to implement new digital strategy plan
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)The Greek government aims to further accelerate a process of implementing projects included in an Information Society programme by the year 2008 and aims to absorb spending worth 519 million euros this year, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.
Addressing a meeting of an Information Society programme monitoring commission, the Greek minister said new technology projects were top priority for the government and stressed that these projects were included in a framework of a wider structural reform plan.
Alogoskoufis said that thanks to the efforts by the Information Society special secretariat there were no fund losses in 2004 and 2005 and said projects included in the programme would reach 120 percent of the programme's budget. The government aimed to bring the Information Society programme closer to citizens and enterprises, to focus on regional development and to boost broadband services.
The Greek minister stressed that new technologies have been sidelined for the biggest part of the period 1994-2004 since both the public and the private sectors failed to make the necessary investments to enter the electronic age.
All statistics, Alogoskoufis said, show that Greece lagged behind in most international technological lists, while he underlined that a new digital strategy, drafted by the government for the period 2006-2013 would help recover the lost time.
A digital leap in productivity, a digital leap in living quality was the main goal of this strategy, he said.
 Finmin, central bank chief meet for talks on the economy
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and the governor of the Bank of Greece, Nikos Garganas, met on Wednesday to discuss the Greek economy and other economic developments.
 Tourism minister invites citizens of the world to visit Greece
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Wednesday invited the citizens of the world to visit Greece and the "live their myth" in the country.
Speaking to reporters, after inaugurating the Greek pavilion in the international tourism fair ITB in Berlin, Mrs Palli-Petralia said it was very significant the fact that Greece was the honored country in this year's fair and stressed that tourism was the main pylon of the Greek economy.
The Greek pavilion includes more than 70 exhibitors from around Greece.
The ITB will be inaugurated on Wednesday afternoon. It is the largest tourism fair in the world, with a record number of exhibitors (10,856) from 183 different countries. Its gates will open to the public on Friday.
 Greece's tourism minister speaks at inauguration of ITB exhibition in Berlin
BERLIN, 9/2/2006 (ANA-MPA/K. Halkiadakis)The 40th ITB exhibition, which is one of the biggest tourism industry exhibitions in the world, was inaugurated on Wednesday.
In this year's ITB exhibition, Greece for the first time is the theme country.
Greece's Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia inaugurated the Greek pavilion at the international exhibition.
In her speech, Palli-Petralia referred to Greece's tourism policy, noting that it contributes to the country's broader economic growth.
At the same time, the tourism minister noted that it's the right moment to capitalize on the advantage which Greece gained from the hosting of the Olympic Games.
She said that the Greek tourism product has become enriched with new forms of tourism (athletics, spas, etc.), which give the opportunity for new investments.
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit hailed the presence of Greece at the international exhibition of Berlin and called on tourists to live their myth in Greece.
 Hellenic Telecoms reports 216.8-mln-euro loss in 2005
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Wednesday announced losses -- after minority rights -- worth 216.8 million euros in 2005, after profits of 117.1 million euros in 2004.
Group turnover rose 4.9 percent to 5.475 billion euros, reflecting higher revenues in mobile telephony operations in Greece and abroad.
Operating expenses rose 18.4 percent in 2005 from 2004, reflecting a 7.5 percent increase in wages, a 7.1 pct drop in other operating expenses and the heavy cost - around 939.6 million euros -- of an early retirement scheme.
Parent turnover fell 1.4 pct to 2.707 billion euros, reflecting lower revenues from telecommunication services. ADSL customers totaled 154.530 last year, up 253.1 percent from 2004.
Operating expenses jumped 28.4 pct to 3.529 billion euros, mainly due as well to the high cost of the early retirement scheme.
OTE SA reported losses totaling 237.2 million euros last year, after losses of 33.5 million euros in 2004. Excluding the cost for the early retirement scheme, the company would have recorded profits of 494.8 million euros, reflecting dividend revenues totaling 335.3 million euros (mainly from Cosmote) and earnings totaling 150.2 million euros from the sale of OTE's subsidiaries in Bulgaria and FYROM to Cosmote.
Cosmote group turnover rose 13.2 pct, while consolidated net profits rose 10 percent to 339.9 million euros in 2005.
OTENET's consolidated turnover rose 11 percent to 96.6 million euros; EBITDA totaled 14.8 million euros, up 8.0 percent, while net profits jumped to 4.2 million euros.
Romtelecom's turnover totaled 929.7 million euros, up 6.6 pct from 2004, EBITDA rose 13.9 pct to 341.5 million euros and net profits soared 116.8 percent to 178.4 million euros.
Armentel's turnover totaled 119.1 million euros last year, from 85.7 million in 2004; net profits jumped 56.8 percent to 45.8 million euros, while EBITDA rose 42.7 percent to 70.8 million euros.
 Business plan ready for Olympic Airlines
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)The government has prepared a business plan for a new company to be created from Olympic Airlines, along with proposals that will be discussed with the European Union, hopefully by the end of March at the latest, Deputy Finance Minister Peter Doukas said on Wednesday.
"Negotiations in Brussels will not be easy. The road is an uphill one," Doukas said in reply to a reporter's question.
In addition, official contacts had begun with potential investors in the airline.
"The final shape of the investment and private sector participation in that will naturally depend on the progress of talks in Brussels. The Commission's stand will be decisive," Doukas added.
 Gov't lashes out at opposition criticism on EU funds
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias said on Wednesday that the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) had used creative accounting when in government but now accused the government of employing the same practice.
Citing a healthy rate of absorption of European Union funds, Folias rejected criticism by PASOK that the government had failed, and accused the party of propaganda.
 Vodafone CEO Koronias promoted by parent company
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Multinational Vodafone on Wednesday announced that the embattled chief executive officer of its Vodafone Greece subsidiary, George Koronias, has been appointed director of business development for the Balkan and eastern European region.
Koronias shot onto the national spotlight in Greece early last month after the government announced that an illegal phone tapping operation, using Vodafone Greece's network, had targeted the prime minister, several ministers and top military officers, among others, up until March 2005.
According to a Vodafone Group Plc press release, Koronias will report to Sir Julian Horn Smith, the Vodafone group's deputy chief executive and the head of its global business development, while at the same time retaining his "responsibilities in Greece and for the Vodafone's business in Albania."
 Analyst: Rise warranted in National Bank target share price
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Citigroup said in a market report released on Wednesday that Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece's performance warranted a rise in the target price of the share to 48.50 euros, accompanied by a buy recommendation.
In addition, National, Greece's largest bank, is reportedly seeking to buy a key Turkish credit institution, and is also sounding out acquisitions in Serbia, Ukraine and Romania.
National's chairman, Takis Arapoglou, is currently taking part in corporate presentations in London before heading for New York.
 Event held on new EU regulation REACH regarding inspection of chemical products
THESSALONIKI, 9/2/2006 (ANA)The Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Union of Greek Chemists held an event in Thessaloniki, Macedonia on Wednesday which had as its theme the integrated system of management and inspection of chemical products in the European Union, which is the new European regulation called REACH.
The speakers stressed that the European regulation REACH, which will be implemented as from 2007, obliges businesses which produce more than one tone of chemical substances annually to register them at the Chemists Organization which will be set up in Helsinki.
Priority will be given to substances which are produced in large quantities and to those which have adverse repercussions.
According to a study presented by Panagiotis Skarlatos, general director of the Federation of Greek Chemical Industries, a great number of businesses believe that there are weaknesses in the existing legislation which renders necessary an improvement such as the regulation REACH, "under the prerequisite that the final text will be improved."
 Greek consumers submit most reports to European Consumer Centre
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Greek consumers submitted the most reports during the first year of operation of the European Consumer Centre at the development ministry (76.5 percent), while 8.2 percent were from inhabitants of Britain.
This was revealed by statistical data publicized by consumer secretary general Th. Skordas, while it appears that the reports concerned, to a great degree, businesses and suppliers operating in Greece (48 cases). Many reports were against businesses in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain (97 cases).
The European Consumer Centre handled a total of 388 cases in 2005. Of these, 205 were appeals for information on issues concerning consumer protection legislation and 183 were reports on problems arising in cross border transactions.
The secretariat also advises consumers to be very careful with contracts they sign and to pay particular attention to the "fine print."
 Greek household debt at 77.7 pct of GDP in 2005, report
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Loans to Greek businesses and households totaled 12.2 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), rising by more than 22 billion euros in 2005, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.
The central bank, in a report for 2005, said Greek households' debt (including mortgage, consumer loans and credit cards) rose by 16.3 billion euros, or 9.0 pct of GDP, while businesses' debt totaled 5.7 billion euros, or 3.2 pct of GDP.
Bank loans to the private sector of the economy accelerated in 2005, with outstanding loans rising 18.7 pct after a growth rate of 15.8 pct in 2004
The total debt of businesses and households reached 140.176 billion euros, or 77.7 pct of GDP, up from 70.7 pct in 2004.
Household debt totaled 68.863 billion euros (38.2 pct of GDP) compared with 31.0 pct in 2004, of which 45.4 billion euros were mortgage loans. Housing debt rose by 33.4 pct in 2005, surpassing a 29.5 pct growth rate in 2004.
Consumer credit debt totaled 21.8 billion euros, recording a 28 percent growth rate, down from a 37.4 pct rate in 2004. Credit card debt totaled 8.4 billion euros, up 10.2 pct, while consumer loan debt exceeded 3.9 billion euros (up 41.3 pct) and personal loans rose 43 percent to 9.4 billion euros.
Loans to the manufacturing sector totaled 15.753 billion euros, up 0.5 pct, while credit expansion in the commerce sector slowed down with a 6.0 pct growth rate in 2005 from 14 pct in the previous year. Loans to tourism sector rose 3.7 pct in 2005, down from 15.8 pct in 2004.
Loans to the shipping sector jumped 37.6 pct last year to 6.185 billion euros, while loans to the farm sector fell 9.1 pct to 2.954 billion euros.
 Greek Eurodeputies promote olive oil and Cretan nutrition at event in European Parliament
BRUSSELS, 9/2/2006 (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)An event for the projection of olive oil and of Cretan nutrition was held at the seat of the European Parliament in Brussels, at the initiative of Cretan Eurodeputies Kostis Hatzidakis (New Democracy), Stavros Arnaoutakis (PASOK), Nikos Sifounakis (PASOK) and George Hatzimarkakis (German Eurodeputy, of Cretan origin).
The aim of the event was to show the usefulness of olive oil in health, which constitutes the basic ingredient of Cretan nutrition.
The four Eurodeputies believe that the promotion of olive oil and of Cretan nutrition can contribute in strengthening the image of Greece as a tourism destination, but also in the strengthening of Greek exports.
 British ambassador to Greece on globalization
THESSALONIKI, 9/2/2006 (ANA)China and India are economic forces that have entered the global market and will not go away, British Ambassador to Greece Simon Gass said, addressing a conference on globalization organized by the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in Thessaloniki on Wednesday.
Gass said that globalization is here to stay, adding that protectionism does not lead to economic prosperity, but can only be justified under special circumstances.
On the plus side of globalization, the British ambassador cited the increase of worldwide production, which is expected to increase 40% over the next decade, and the reduction in consumer goods' prices.
However, he noted that the EU market must liberalize its energy, telecommunications and increase continuing education sectors.
As for Greece and the UK, Gass predicted that the two countries will prosper in the new globalize environment since both have a long tradition in commerce and the ability to adapt to changing conditions.
Finally, he praised Thessaloniki, saying it was a globalize city before globalization, since it served as a commercial hub, and has been able to adapt to changing demands for goods and services.
 'Kathimerini' newspaper now also circulates in Albania
TIRANA, 9/2/2006 (ANA-MPA/I. Patso)The newspaper "Kathimerini" went into circulation in Albania from Wednesday following cooperation between the Press Office of the Greek Embassy in Tirana, the Athens Newspapers Distribution Agency and the Albanian press distribution company "ANTRION".
"Kathimerini" is the first Greek newspaper which circulates daily in the Albanian market.
 Foreign investors' share in ASE stable at 40.83 pct in February
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Foreign institutional investors' share in the Greek stock market was stable in February at 40.83 pct, despite a decline in their participation in blue chip stocks, to 44.89 pct from 45.28 pct in January, official figures showed on Wednesday.
A monthly report by the Central Depository of the Athens Stock Exchange, said foreign institutional investors raised their participation in medium- and small-capitalization stocks to 32.3 pct in February, up from 31.20 pct in January, and 14.55 pct from 13.87 pct, respectively.
Foreign investors, however, were net buyers in the Greek market in February, with net inflows of 701.6 mln euros after inflows totaling 522 mln euros in January.
 Parliament holds special session dedicated to women
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)A special session dedicated to women was held in Parliament on Wednesday on the occasion of the completion of half a century since Greek women won the right to vote.
All the political leaders, having first made a historic review of women's gains, both in the world and in the Greek scene, noted the need for further steps to be made for the consolidation of equality and equal treatment between the two genders.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis referred to the need of continuously seeking institutional measures for the support of women.
"We are obliged to continuously seek not only institutional measures but also practical ways, capable of supporting the broader participation of women both in public life and employment," Karamanlis said.
The premier added that "Greek society and all the political forces in Parliament stand, with human sensitivity, towards the phenomena of racism, discrimination and the exploitation of people by people."
Karamanlis further noted:" We are steadily proceeding, through dialogue and understanding, to the changes and reforms which society itself demands. In this course, the contemporary Greek woman has a decisive say and role, has the knowledge, intuition and vision which the new era demands."
Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou noted that the world would be a better place if women had more responsible positions.
"If more women participated in positions of responsibility, we would have a double mind, but the basic factor is that we would have a different approach in all sectors such as education, social cohesion, and we would also have more proper decisions for a better world," Papandreou said.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga expressed her concern over the repercussions from certain measures which she said are being planned, such as in the social insurance system, at the expense of women. However, she expressed her conviction that women will continue their struggle for equality.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos proposed that the percentage of one third of women which is valid for the municipal elections to be also valid for the parliamentary elections.
"All the parties can and are obliged to do more in order to answer the acute problems which women face," Alavanos said in reference to unemployment and "the exploitation of women by employers."
Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda said that when women exercise their right to vote and when they are elected express and represent all the citizens of the two genders.
"Today's Women's Day, combined with the completion of half a century of women's vote and the presence of women in Parliament, should be a strong reminder to all for the need of even more dynamic support of women's presence in the political field," Benaki-Psarouda said.
On the occasion of World Women's Day on Wednesday, Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos in a message said "the consolidation of equality between women and men, particularly with regard participation in the country's social, economic and political life, constitutes a basic priority of the government, which is also imprinted in the four-year action programme."
 University of Europe President Eleni Glykatzi-Arhweiler speaks on World Women's Day
THESSALONIKI, 9/2/2006 (ANA)"Woman, this unknown". It is with this phrase that rector Eleni Glykatzi-Arhweiler described woman in a statement she made to ANA-MPA on Wednesday on the sidelines of an event which was held at a central hotel in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on the occasion of World Women's Day.
University of Europe President Eleni Glykatzi-Arhweiler was the main speaker at the Thessaloniki Municipality event on the theme "Women today".
Speaking in a packed hall, the audience of which was comprised mostly by women, Glykatzi-Arhweiler stressed that she would not speak about women today, but about the problem of women today, because this problem exists worldwide.
She said:" I believe March 8 is a mockery. It is the Year of the Woman, Day of the Woman, books about woman, on the history of woman, ministries for women's affairs, it is exactly the proof that there is a problem. If there was no problem, all these efforts, which are being made at this moment throughout the world, would not exist."
Having made an historic review, she referred to the progress and gains by women in present day society.
"Women have become accepted in all professions," she said, adding that "what a man can do, a woman can also do, it is at last today a true reality."
The speaker rejected the term "equality" between the two genders, and spoke only of "equivalence."
 Snow, freezing temperatures re-appear in much of the mainland
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Low temperatures and snowfall revisited Greece over much of the last 48-year period as the mountains around Athens, among others, were blanketed by snow on Wednesday morning.
Kozani, in western Macedonia province, recorded an early morning temperature of -4C, whereas authorities warned motorists in much of northern Greece to use snow chains and tires on provincial roadways, especially in mountainous regions.
Despite the last deterioration on the weather front, few problems were reported for major highways or airports in the region.
 Deputy culture minister discusses cultural and sports cooperation with Czech envoy
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Cooperation between Greece and the Czech Republic at a cultural and sports level was discussed on Wednesday between Deputy Culture Minister responsible for sport George Orfanos and the Czech Ambassador Jana Bolenova.
"I had an interesting discussion with the ambassador, on the occasion of the spring concert to be given at the Music Hall, in cooperation with 'ELPIDA' and the municipality of Athens," Orfanos said.
"Children from the Czech Republic will sing and play in a concert having a humanitarian aim, since its proceeds will be provided for the struggle against cancer. Moreover, the Hellenic and Czech Republics will be signing a cooperation protocol on March 16, at educational and cultural level," he added.
The Czech ambassador said that "we discussed the preparation of the spring concert, as well as our future cooperation, since next week a protocol will be signed between the two governments which will concern our cooperation on issues of education and culture."
 New secretary generals appointed at health ministry
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Aristidis Kalogeropoulos-Stratis, former Greek Tourist Organization president, has been appointed general secretary of the health and social solidarity ministry.
Vassilis Rizas, former general director of the State General Accounting Office and former secretary general of the tourist development ministry, has been appointed welfare and social solidarity general secretary.
Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos accepted the resignations of the outgoing secretary generals Paschalis Bouchoris and Yianna Despotopoulou and thanked them for their work and their contribution to the implementation of the government's programme.
 Creator of Pap test honored at Athens event
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)An event meant to raise awareness regarding cervical cancer served as an opportunity to honor in Greece for the first time on Wednesday, the creator of the 'Pap test', the late Dr. George Papanikolaou.
The event was held at Attiko Metro's exhibit centre in Syntagma and featured signatures from 44 Nobel Prize winners, who in this way chose to express their appreciation to Papanikolaou's contribution to medicine.
Event speakers Sofia Voultepsi and Anna Diamantopoulou, ruling New Democracy MP and main opposition PASOK MP respectively, stressed the need for women to focus on their health through prevention.
They also congratulated the event's organizers for their initiative to raise awareness for a disease, which according to official data, leads to 200,000 deaths annually on a global scale, while 400,000 new cases are reported yearly.
In Greece, new cases of cervical cancer are estimated at around 1,000 per year.
Related studies have found that only 20%-25% of women in Greece have a pap test performed annually as is recommended.
Wednesday's event was organized by the hospital 'Mitera', the Greek Nobel Museum, the anti-cancer Volunteer Group, the Greek Anti-Cancer Society and Europa Donna.
 Culture minister expresses condolences over death of film director Maria Plyta
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Culture Minister George Voulgarakis expressed his profound condolences on Wednesday over the death of leading film director Maria Plyta.
Voulgarakis said Maria Plyta was a great personality of the Greek cinema who placed her seal on the man-dominated cinema sector, who opened paths and was an example worth copying.
Following the disclosure of the desire of the deceased that the culture ministry should not undertake her funeral expenses, the culture ministry will establish an honorary scholarship for a young film director in her memory.
Maria Plyta, the first woman first film director died on Tuesday at the age of 91.
 Former investigating magistrate Konstantina Bourboulias's lawyer makes statement to press
STRASBOURG, 9/2/2006 (ANA-MPA /O. Tsipira)Olivier Besson, the lawyer of former investigating magistrate Konstantina Bourboulia on Wednesday made a statement to the French and Greek press, following the withdrawal of her appeal to be released from prison.
Bourboulia was arrested in Paris earlier this year, following an arrest warrant issued in Greece, and a French court has already agreed to her extradition to Greece.
Saying that he wished to express his opinion, Besson said that "while Mrs. Bourboulia is preparing for her return to Greece since, despite my advice, she decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court" and hailed "her courage over this decision which shows, in contrast to what has been said to date, that she is not trying to avoid her responsibilities before justice in her country."
He added that "I would like to correct some inaccuracies which have been conveyed regarding what I have supposedly said about Greek justice which I clearly respect and in relation to the anonymous letter containing death threats. I never said that it was the Greek state, but I assure you that my client fears for her life because she has received serious threats 'in the event that she speaks', as they write."
Lastly, the lawyer said that the French court "played the role of Pontius Pilate since it washed its hands on the altar of cooperation between countries signing the European Arrest Warrant."
 Arsonists target bank, minor damage reported
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)A home-made incendiary device exploded early Wednesday outside a Geniki Bank branch in the Ambelokipi district of Athens, causing minor damage.
The device, comprising small propane canisters, exploded at 3:00 a.m. outside a Geniki Bank branch on the corner of Kifissias Avenue and Messinias street in Ambelokipi, causing minor material damage.
Police were investigating the incident.
 Two arrested for smuggling psychedelic mushrooms
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)Two people were arrested Tuesday at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport on charges of smuggling psychedelic mushrooms, known on the streets as 'shrooms', into the country, police told ANA on Wednesday.
They said the two detainees, both aged 37, were arrested at the airport by Attica Police narcotics squad officers after three cardboard boxes containing 80 grams of the drug, were found in their luggage.
No names or further details were immediately released.
The two were to appear before a public prosecutor on Wednesday.
 Train derails north of Athens, passengers injured
ATHENS, 9/2/2006 (ANA)An Athens-Thessaloniki passenger train derailed late on Wednesday night after colliding with a cargo train stationed at a junction.
The incident occurred at Menidi, fifteen minutes after departing from Larissa station in Athens. Police said that several passengers were injured.
 Angelopoulos-Daskalaki to be honored in London on Monday
LONDON, 9/2/2006 (ANA)London 2012 Olympic Committee organizers will honor Athens 2004 (ATHOC) chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki next week in the British capital's well-known private Reform Club.
Angelopoulos-Daskalaki is scheduled to address guests at a reception on the issue of "The Experience from Hosting the Athens Olympics and thoughts about the 2012 Olympics of London".
She will also reportedly take reporters' questions.
The head of Athens' successful Olympic effort will address pupils at the distinguished secondary school Eton College on Tuesday.
 Austria to support progress made during the Paris meeting on Cyprus
VIENNA, 9/2/2006 (CNA/ANA)Austrian National Council President Antreas Kohl said here Wednesday that his country would do its utmost to support the progress achieved on the Cyprus problem during the meeting between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Paris last month.
Kohl met Wednesday with Cypriot House President Demetris Christofias, who is visiting Vienna at Kohl's invitation, and discussed the latest developments on the Cyprus problem after the Paris meeting.
''We discussed the results of that meeting in Paris and I think that there is progress and Austria will do what ever it can to support Cyprus which is a country close to our hearts and we have always supported the Cypriot case,'' Kohl said in statements after the meeting, adding that Austria wants to see the Cyprus problem solved.
Christofias said that he briefed Kohl about the outcome of the Paris meeting, noting that the precondition for steps to be taken forward on Cyprus is the Turkish side's acceptance of the Paris meeting's outcome.
He also said that he asked Kohl to discuss Turkey's obligations to expand its Customs Union with the ten new EU member-states including the Republic of Cyprus, during his meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul who is visiting Vienna.
''I have stressed that the Turkish side should accept what was achieved in Paris, so we can make steps forward both towards the development of trust between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriots and towards narrowing the gap dividing the two sides as regards the essence of the Cyprus problem, so to prepare the ground for a meeting on the level of the leaders of the two communities, who they will negotiate the essence of the problem, so we can reach an agreed solution,'' Christofias said.
Asked if he is going to discuss with Gul the implementation of Ankara Agreement, Kohl replied he would certainly do that not on any basis.
''I will ask him (Gul) how he sees the results of negotiations which the President of the Cyprus Republic had on 28th of February and I will compare and draw my conclusions,'' Kohl noted, adding that ''we, in Austria, support a solution, a fast and equitable and just solution of the whole problem because Cyprus is a member of EU and we want to see the member of our Union in a good state.''
Earlier, Christofias met with Austrian President Heinz Fischer. No statements were made after the meeting.
 Finnish Prime Minister to pay official visit to Cyprus
NICOSIA, 9/2/2006 (CNA/ANA)Prime Minister of Finland Matti Vanhanen will pay an official visit to Cyprus on 15 and 16 March 2006, on the invitation of President Tassos Papadopoulos.
An official press release issued here said the Cypriot President and the Finnish Prime Minister will discuss key EU issues such as the future of Europe, enlargement and the Lisbon strategy, as well as cooperation of the two countries within the European Union, in view of the forthcoming Finnish EU Presidency in the second half of 2006.
They will also discuss the Cyprus problem, key international issues and bilateral relations between the two countries.