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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-03-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

March 23, 2006


  • [01] Cyprus Parliament speaker meets Greek leadership in Athens
  • [02] PM due in Brussels for EU summit, EPP meeting
  • [03] Karamanlis to meet FYROM counterpart in Brussels, reports say
  • [04] DM concludes visit to Bulgaria and Romania
  • [05] FM to participate in Greek Independence Day celebrations in NY
  • [06] Deputy finmin departs for U.S. visit
  • [07] Deputy FM Stylianidis to visit Armenia
  • [08] Gov't again points to Papandreou's proposals in Lavrio
  • [09] Main opposition questions govt's policy on unemployment
  • [10] Gov't spokesman Roussopoulos on whether PM will support Berlusconi
  • [11] Greek UN Security Council permanent representative makes address on small and light arms
  • [12] Archbishop meets with Deputy FM
  • [13] Memorial event for former premier Rallis held in Parliament
  • [14] Government on rumors of EU penalties over OA
  • [15] Gov't wants worker consultations on overhaul of state firms
  • [16] Gov't on wage increases
  • [17] Unions, employees to resume pay talks next week
  • [18] Hellenic Telecoms rejects press reports of new early retirement scheme
  • [19] Main opposition doubts govt's handling of CAP, gov't responds
  • [20] Central bank shows earnings rise in 2005
  • [21] Greece takes part in int'l Moscow tourism fair
  • [22] Merchant marine minister inaugurates sea plane base in Patras
  • [23] Draft bill provides for extra benefits for families with three children
  • [24] Fertilizers factory in Thessaloniki to resume work
  • [25] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks decline
  • [26] Interior minister attends presentation of 'Printing the Pages of History' album
  • [27] Police clamp down on crime in northeastern Attica; arrest 39
  • [28] Arrangements announced for foreigners traveling abroad during Easter holidays
  • [29] Council of appellate judges calls for investigation into Bourboulias' financial transactions
  • [30] IME celebrates 8th anniversary of its 'Greek World' cultural centre
  • [31] Crete to host int'l philosophical conference in May
  • [32] Cyprus President: Turkey has explicit obligations towards the EU
  • [33] Refugee's lawyer says ECHR cannot accept occupation regime 'property law'

  • [01] Cyprus Parliament speaker meets Greek leadership in Athens

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Cyprus House of Representatives president Demetris Christofias embarked on a round of meetings with Greece's political and state leadership, including the president and prime minister, during a visit to Athens on Wednesday.

    The high-ranking Cypriot official held talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis early in the day, followed by meetings with the political party leaders, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and his Greek counterpart Anna Psarouda-Benaki.

    After his meeting with Karamanlis, Christofias told reporters that the prime minister's views and his own regarding recent developments converged, mirroring the convergence of views between Athens and Nicosia as a whole.

    "I was also given the opportunity to thank the prime minister for the Greek government's efforts and its comprehensive cooperation with the Cyprus government so that we move ahead and prevent efforts by Turkey and its friends to take steps backwards, canceling out steps forward," he said.

    Christofias also expressed satisfaction with the Greek government's vigilance in deflecting "threats and machinations" by Ankara and elsewhere.

    The meeting with the premier was followed by a meeting with Greek Parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki. Afterward, Christofias said he could not come to Greece without visiting his Greek counterpart, with whom he worked closely, both through the implementation of a protocol they have signed and in the daily activity and coordination of the Greek and Cypriot Parliaments.

    In a later meeting with Papoulias, the talks again focused on the Cyprus issue and a recent meeting between United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos in Paris. The Greek president also thanked Christofias for "the wonderful hospitality and reception" he received during a recent visit to Cyprus, which he said was "unforgettable".

    The Cypriot parliamentarian later met with PASOK leader George Papandreou, the country's former foreign minister and currently president of Socialist International.

    "We're concerned over the latest statements on the part of Turkey, whom we consider to be obliged to meet the conditions set out for its European course," Papandreou said, while again criticizing the Greek government for not exploiting Helsinki summit decisions over the past two years, as he said.

    "In our talks we again confirmed the existence of Turkey's well-known dogma (on the Cyprus issue) - via recent press reports, of course - but I believe that this is a reality, in other words, a tough stance vis--vis Greece regarding the Cyprus issue," Christofias said.

    "Unfortunately, Turkey's stance up until now has created obstacles, they have not yet clarified their position, and I believe that Mr. Papandreou's help as the president of the Socialist International will be significant," Christofias added.

    The Cypriot leader concluded his Athens contacts on Wednesday by meeting with Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos.

    "We believe that there is a new mobility in the Cyprus issue thanks to the proposals set forth by the Republic of Cyprus, and we must all guarantee that an agreement to re-commence talks on substantive issues, as occurred with the UN general secretary, will be adhered to and not undermined by the other side," Alavanos said.

    He also stressed that Ankara must be again reminded of its obligations in its course towards EU accession.

    KKE leader meets with Cypriot House speaker: Developments show that the Republic of Cyprus has made progress in its efforts for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue, Secretary General of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Aleka Papariga told reporters after meeting with Cypriot House of Representatives Speaker and leader of the left-wing AKEL party Demetris Christofias during their meeting in Athens on Wednesday.

    She noted that all those predicting "a catastrophe" regarding the Cyprus issue after a referendum two years ago "were proved wrong".

    Papariga called on the Greek government and political parties "to support the Cyprus issue not just by stating generalities but by contributing to a set of conditions where various pressures cannot take hold and will not influence the parties involved in resolving the issue."

    Asked to comment on Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's recent statements regarding the recognition of Cyprus by his country, Papariga replied: "We once again reiterate that we demand - to the extent that we can within the context of European Parliament - that Turkey meet all the obligations it has promised to meet in order to join the EU and this is irrelevant to our position as a party regarding EU enlargement in general."

    In conclusion, she said "It is not possible for a country to expect to violate everything without meeting any obstacles."

    [02] PM due in Brussels for EU summit, EPP meeting

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will travel to Brussels on Wednesday in order to attend a meeting of the European People's Party (EPP) and the EU leaders' summit later this week.

    During his stay in Brussels, Karamanlis is scheduled to meet the President of the European Parliament Josep Borell Fontelles and take part in a meeting between European Council members and European Central Bank governor Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the Union of European Community Industries (UNICE) Ernest-Antoine Seillere and the President of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Candido Mendes that will be attended by Fontelles.

    The Greek government also confirmed plans for a meeting on Friday in Brussels between Karamanlis and the Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Vlado Buckovski.

    [03] Karamanlis to meet FYROM counterpart in Brussels, reports say

    SKOPJE, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to meet his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Vlado Buckovski when he attends the spring EU summit in Brussels on Friday, according to reports from Skopje.

    Buckovski will be in Brussels at the time of the summit for meetings with high-ranking NATO and EU officials regarding FYROM's EuroAtlantic prospects.

    This will be the first meeting between the two prime ministers.

    [04] DM concludes visit to Bulgaria and Romania

    23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, concluding his three-day tour of Bulgaria and Romania, held consecutive meetings in Bucharest on Wednesday with Romanian Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, President of the Republic Trajan Basescu and the President of the Parliamentary Defense, Public Order and National Security Committee Mihai Stanisoara.

    The meetings confirmed the excellent level of bilateral relations, while an identity of views was ascertained concerning the state of security in the Balkans and the Black Sea and the prospects of cooperation between the two countries in the sector of their defense industries were examined.

    Meimarakis said in a statement that "with dialogue, with understanding and with prudence we are forging ahead for the common interest, for the development of the region, for a stable, safe and peaceful environment, which helps us proceed with investments which also create new jobs."

    The President of the Greek Parliamentary National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Panos Kammenos, who accompanied the defense minister on his tour of the Balkans, praised the initiative of the defense minister concerning the Committee's participation in his visits abroad and announced that meetings between the Defense Committees of Bulgaria, Romania and Greece will be held in Athens to discuss prospects of cooperation in the sector of defense industries.

    [05] FM to participate in Greek Independence Day celebrations in NY

    NEW YORK, 23/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be participating in celebrations on occasion of Greek Independence Day that will be held here on Saturday.

    Bakoyannis, who was to arrive in the US capital on Wednesday, will depart for New York on Friday after meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US President George W. Bush.

    The Greek foreign minister will attend the service, officiated by Archbishop of America Dimitrios, held at a Greek church in Manhattan on Saturday.

    On Saturday evening, Bakoyannis will attend a dinner hosted by Greek General Consul in New York Ekaterini Boura.

    Leaders and members of the Greek-American community, academics, and other NY officials will also be attending the dinner.

    On Monday, Bakoyannis will participate in the UN Security Council's session on Haiti and will later hold a press conference.

    She is also due to meet with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    Bakoyannis will depart for Greece on Monday afternoon.

    [06] Deputy finmin departs for U.S. visit

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Finance Minister Petros Folias on Wednesday departed for a visit to the United States, for a series of contacts through which he hopes to attract private investment capital to Greece.

    Folias will also be a keynote speaker at conferences taking place in New York and Washington, where he will outline the new investment opportunities that Greece now offers in the wider area of southeast Europe.

    The minister will also attend events organized by Greek-American communities to celebrate the Greek Independence Day holiday on March 25.

    [07] Deputy FM Stylianidis to visit Armenia

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Styliandis will be carrying out a three-day visit to Armenia beginning on March 28 in order to enhance bilateral economic and political ties and boost Greece's developmental presence in the country, the foreign ministry announced on Wednesday, following a meeting between Stylianidis and Armenia's Ambassador in Athens Vahram Kahzoyan.

    The minister's visit to Yerevan follows up a visit by Armenian President Robert Kocharyan to Athens last November.

    "There is an order and commitment from Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis that I will convey during my visit, that Armenia takes priority in Greece's developmental policy and that there is a desire to boost bilateral economic ties," Stylianidis said, noting that this desire would "sealed" with the first Mixed Ministerial Committee that will take place after four years.

    The minister will be accompanied on the trip by members of the Armenian community in Greece.

    The Armenian side, meanwhile, has prepared a list of priority projects for funding by Hellenic Aid, which Greece will assess based on the possibility of providing funding, to what extent they interest Greece and their added value to Greece's developmental presence in the area.

    Both Greece and Armenia are member-states of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation pact, while Greece is the only BSEC member that is also a member of the EU and would like to activate action mechanisms and initiatives for rapprochement between Black Sea countries and the EU.

    [08] Gov't again points to Papandreou's proposals in Lavrio

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Countering objections from main opposition PASOK on Wednesday, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos once again reminded reporters of proposals for reducing youth unemployment made by PASOK leader George Papandreou in Lavrio, stressing that the government had done nothing but quote him word for word.

    Roussopoulos stressed that the proposals moved along the same lines as the reforms attempted by French Prime Minister Dominique De Villepin and that Papandreou's invitation to Greek young people to follow the example of France's youth and become "rebels with a cause" was paradoxical, given that the French riots were protests against measures similar to those he had himself proposed.

    In fact, Papandreou's proposals went even further than the Villepin reforms, both in terms of the age limits and the length of time worked without social insurance contributions, the spokesman added.

    "In a series of announcements, PASOK has accused us of distortion. All we did was present in its entirety, word for word, the extract of Papandreou's speech in Lavrio. PASOK is incensed with the fact that we pointed out the similarities between his proposals and those of the French premier, but it is not only us who say this," Roussopoulos noted.

    The spokesman also pointed to statements made by PASOK's own state deputy Stephanos Manos in a radio interview on Tuesday, who also noted similarities between Papandreou's proposals and those of De Villepin.

    "It's time for Papandreou to clarify where he stands: Does he or does he not still support his proposal," Roussopoulos added, urging the main opposition leader to "stop hiding behind members of his party".

    He also accused Papandreou of trying to incite strikes and protest action on two occasions, once with young people and once with trade unionists.

    "It is clear who is using fair words that do not reflect what they truly believe to try to convince young people of things that are not what they intend to do once in government," he said.

    [09] Main opposition questions govt's policy on unemployment

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Ruling New Democracy must explain its policies regarding unemployment and what actions it has taken to date to help reduce it, main opposition PASOK Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said on Wednesday referring to earlier comments made on the same issue by Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos.

    Athanassakis also asked why the government "is not implementing Law 3227/2004 which provides for specific measures aimed at supporting youth and women's employment.

    Regarding wage increases, Athanassakis called Roussopoulos' statement that the government has given wage increases that exceed inflation "a joke."

    "The 3% increase that the government gave is lower than 3.5%, the level at which the inflation rate stood in 2005.

    [10] Gov't spokesman Roussopoulos on whether PM will support Berlusconi

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Asked if Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis intended to make a statement supporting his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi during the European Peoples Party Congress that will be held in Rome on March 30, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday said he "did not know if the premier has prepared his speech yet".

    He also denied that a series of planned tours in Greek regions by the premier was being carried out because Karamanlis was "concerned" or because there were plans for early elections.

    [11] Greek UN Security Council permanent representative makes address on small and light arms

    NEW YORK, 23/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Greece's permanent representative at the United Nations, Adamantios Vassilakis, on Tuesday night addressed a Security Council meeting on the issue of small and light arms.

    "The illegal trade of small and light arms (MEO) has led to their uncontrolled dissemination. It has been estimated that more than 640 million small and light arms exist in the world," he said.

    Referring to the fact that the Security Council is discussing the issue of small and light arms for the sixth consecutive year, Vassilakis said "it shows its seriousness and the importance attached to it by the Council", adding that "Greece sides with the intervention of the Austrian presidency, on behalf of the European Union."

    He further stressed that "the lion's share of them is in the hands of organizations of international organized crime and non-state agencies. This uncontrolled dissemination of MEOs causes 500,000 deaths annually and constitutes a serious threat for international peace and security."

    Vassilakis said that "we have become witnesses of the destabilizing effect that MEOs have and sometimes in entire regions. The MEOs lead to an aggravation of crises, they create obstacles for aid programs, undermine peace initiatives, worsen human pain and obstruct economic development."

    [12] Archbishop meets with Deputy FM

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos met with Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis on Wednesday, for the first time since the latter assumed his new post.

    Christodoulos and Kassimis discussed issues of mutual interest, such as the Greek expatriate community, and the activity of non-government organizations of the Church of Greece, with particular emphasis on increasing the number of institutions aimed at providing shelter to women who are either abused or victims of human trafficking.

    [13] Memorial event for former premier Rallis held in Parliament

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A special memorial session in honor of the late Greek premier George Rallis, who died earlier this month of heart failure, was held in the Greek Parliament on Wednesday. Parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki and each of the political party leaders reviewed Rallis' career, emphasizing the major political events marked by his presence and stressing his personal and political virtues.

    Talking about the departed former premier, Psarouda-Benaki noted that he "served all aspects of his political action, whether as prime minister or as a party leader or as a simple party member or common citizen, dutifully, honestly, moderately and sincerely."

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said Rallis had been a "model" of political behavior. "We will all remember him as a noble politician, devoted to Greece, which he loved and served with passion," Karamanlis added.

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said that Rallis had left life as he had lived, "without great noise but simply, modestly and proudly".

    "George Rallis was an opponent of our party but this does not prevent us from recognizing that he overcame dogmatic dictates and that he was the living proof of a politician that served the general public good," Papandreou said.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga talked of Rallis "discreet presence", especially in later years, and said that he had adopted a correct attitude toward the trend of gearing political speech and political behavior to political spin and the electronic media.

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology president Alekos Alavanos, lastly, while pointing out that Rallis had been an unrelenting opponent of the Left, nevertheless conceded that he had been forthright and sincere in his beliefs. "It is an important contribution to political life, providing antibodies to the sickness often created by a climate of hypocrisy, conspiracy and double talk," he said.

    [14] Government on rumors of EU penalties over OA

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday clarified that the Greek government had taken the actions needed for the return of capital received by Olympic Airlines, which had been judged illegal state subsidies by the European Commission.

    "Everything is being done in accordance with Greek law and, as is well known, these are procedures that take time," the spokesman said.

    He was commenting on a report in the newspaper "To Vima", which said that the Commission was preparing to take action against Greece for not complying with Community decisions to return the illegal state aid.

    Roussopoulos also pointed out that the Commission's decision referred to the years before 2000.

    He refused to answer questions concerning rumors that the United Arab Emirates had expressed an interest in purchasing OA, while denying that the two ministers involved - Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis - had diverging views on the issue.

    OA must operate according to EU laws, Commissioner: The operation of Olympic Airways must be compatible to community legislation, EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters in Brussels, the EU Commissioner said the Olympic Airways issue was in full process. "I am fully careful regarding the respect of European law. The process of examining Olympic's file will continue and if necessary sanctions will be imposed for failure to adjust to community legislation," he said.

    EU unlikely to discuss Olympic Airlines next week: The European Union's executive Commission is unlikely to discuss Olympic Airlines at its next regular weekly meeting on March 29, sources said on Wednesday.

    The topic is more likely to be raised at the following meeting, scheduled for April 6, the same sources noted.

    [15] Gov't wants worker consultations on overhaul of state firms

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government is to ask the management of state corporations to launch immediate consultations with workers in order to implement revitalization plans for the enterprises, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.

    Implementation of a law on state firms was going well in many areas, but would be accelerated. Olympic Airlines, which is due to be privatized, does not fall under the law's jurisdiction, Alogoskoufis told reporters before a meeting of a ministerial committee on the companies.

    Despite some delays, implementation will take place within the law's timescale, he added.

    After the meeting, the minister reported that pay rises in loss-making state corporations would not exceed 3%, and total payroll costs would not top 5% for all the firms. Overtime pay would not exceed last year's level, and all the firms would have to submit business plans.

    [16] Gov't on wage increases

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Commenting on the government's policy for wages on Wednesday, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the government's fiscal policy had strived and achieved increases that were above inflation, noting that this was "all the Greek economy can stand".

    At the same time, he refused to comment on a proposal by the Union of Greek Industry (SEB) for wage increases of just 2.8 per cent in the private sector, saying the government could not intervene in the negotiations between the social partners.

    SEB and the main trade union organizations met on Wednesday to try and overcome an impasse for general collective agreements.

    Roussopoulos also pointed to earlier statements by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who had urged profitable businesses to redistribute profits to their workforce, who were also a factor in the company's good performance.

    [17] Unions, employees to resume pay talks next week

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Unions and employees are to resume pay talks for 2006 on Thursday following a failure to agree on salaries and a collective labor pact for the year.

    On the same day, the union negotiator - the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) - is to meet to ratify a possible agreement or decide to resume strike action staged earlier this month.

    "We are one step before an intense clash," GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos told reporters.

    "Workers are being strung along," he added.

    A meeting between GSEE and the Federation of Greek Industry (SEB) on Wednesday again ended in deadlock.

    Unions asked for a wage rise divided into two installments payable at the beginning of the year and mid-year of 4.0% and then 3.5% that would lead to an above-inflation increase of two percentage points, the GSEE leader noted.

    SEB president Odysseas Kyriakopoulos stated that finding a solution was difficult. Employers had proposed a rise of 3.8% that would maintain purchasing power at 2005 levels and top inflation.

    Unions had rejected the proposals, and failed to comprehend the problems of companies, Kyriakopoulos added.

    The head of the ESEE commerce trade group said that he had proposed rises of 8.0% for 2006 and 2007.

    [18] Hellenic Telecoms rejects press reports of new early retirement scheme

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Wendesday categorically rejected press reports of a new, smaller, voluntary early retirement scheme in the organization.

    In an announcement to the press, OTE said "the management rejects press reports that the organization was promoting a new, smaller, voluntary early retirement scheme for 200 workers, mostly women".

    [19] Main opposition doubts govt's handling of CAP, gov't responds

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Head of main opposition PASOK's Agricultural Division Robertos Spyropoulos on Wednesday expressed doubts regarding the government's handling of the new Common Agricultural Policy, saying that it may "lead to problems".

    "Farmers are angry, frustrated and disappointed by the government's policy," he said.

    "PASOK's stance is clear: The government should not have made the farmers' cooperatives trade group PASEGES responsible for activating the new CAP's definitive rights, a task that belongs to the government. The cost, therefore, should not have been passed on to farmers. The state should assume the cost. Also, PASEGES should not have been given the administrative responsibility for the project," Spyropoulos said.

    Government responds: In response, Minister of Agricultural Development and Foods Evangelos Basiakos called on PASOK and Spyropoulos "to stop misinforming farmers" and urged the main opposition party to become better informed on the issue.

    "I again assure farmers that despite PASOK's suspicious and unfounded claims, the entire process will move ahead according to our plans so that farmers can again this year receive their subsidy payments promptly, much quicker than they did under PASOK governments," Basiakos said.

    [20] Central bank shows earnings rise in 2005

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Athens-quoted Bank of Greece on Wednesday reported net profits in 2005 of 228.5 million compared with 205.6 million in 2004, up 11.14%.

    "The major determinant of the above result were gains from financial operations in foreign currency and securities ( 155.4 million in 2005, compared with 99.5 million in 2004), along with considerably reduced losses from the valuation of securities and foreign reserves at year-end ( 21.7 million in 2005, compared with 71.2 million in 2004)," the central bank said in a statement.

    The rise in 2005 of exchange rates of major foreign currencies, in particular of the USD, against the euro led through the valuation at end-2005 of the Bank s assets, which are denominated in foreign currency, to unrealized gains of 46.2 million, against unrealized losses in 2004. Unrealized gains from the valuation of the Bank s gold reserves were 636.3 million, the statement said.

    The Bank s total net income was slightly higher than in the previous financial year at 610.8 million in 2005 versus 598.6 million a year earlier.

    Key points in the Bank of Greece's 2005 results were as follows:

    " Operating expenses (staff costs, pensions and benefits, administrative expenses, depreciation) increased by 12.5 million or 4% (2005: 323.1 million, 2004: 310.6 million)

    " Provisions declined by 23.3 million (2005: 59.2 million, 2004: 82.5 million)

    " The balance of evaluation accounts showed an increase (2005: 682.7 million, 2004: 123.9 million) due to the valuation of gold, assets in foreign currency and securities at the end of the financial year (positive differences that arose from the comparison of average purchase costs with market prices on 30 Dec. 2005).

    The restructuring of the Bank's portfolio continued in the 2005 financial year through the substitution of investments in foreign currency with investments in euro. The bulk of the Bank's portfolio on 31 Dec. 2005 consisted of Greek government bonds and euro-denominated government paper issued by other euro area countries.

    The Bank's capital was increased by 22.2 million. This amount accounts for a part of the surplus value which arose from the revaluation of the Bank s real estate (31 Dec. 2004) at market prices.

    Management is to propose to shareholders a total dividend per share of 2.40 compared with 2.14 the previous year.

    On the basis of the closing price of the Bank s share on 30 December 2005 ( 94.45), the dividend proposed for distribution corresponds to a return of 2.54%, while on the basis of the average price of the Bank s share during 2005 it corresponds to a return of 3.16%, the statement said.

    [21] Greece takes part in int'l Moscow tourism fair

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece is taking part with a 2000-square-metre pavilion in the international Moscow tourism fair that opened on Wednesday

    Attending the launch was the tourism ministry's special secretary for strategic planning, Haris Kokkosis, who noted that Greece offered high-quality tourism products and services to Russia.

    Visiting the trade fair was Anna Vissi, Greece's entry in this year's Eurovision song contest.

    On Thursday, Greece's ambassador in Russia, Ilias Klis, will host a reception to mark Greece's 1821 independence from the Turks.

    [22] Merchant marine minister inaugurates sea plane base in Patras

    23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis on Wednesday flew to the port city of Patras using the new sea plane service from Piraeus, in order to inaugurate the new sea landing and take-off base that will link the city with the Ionian islands.

    During a meeting at the Patras Port Organization, Kefaloyiannis stressed that the use of sea planes was of the highest importance and that services would soon be launched from the port of Piraeus to the islands of the Cyclades and north Aegean.

    A representative of the company Air Sea Lines that is running the service stressed that the company was assisted in a difficult venture by both Kefaloyiannis and Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis. He said the company's future plans included setting up direct links between Patras and the islands of the Aegean, as well as Athens and Thessaloniki.

    The meeting was also attended by the Canadian Ambassador in Athens, who said the launch of the sea plane service was an excellent example of Greek-Canadian business cooperation.

    Sea planes will be begin flying to the island of Corfu from next week, with two flights a day, while there will also be a flight to Paxous once a week. Travel time to Corfu will be just 40 minutes, compared with six hours by boat, and a single ticket costs 80.

    [23] Draft bill provides for extra benefits for families with three children

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A draft bill's individual articles extending certain bonuses reserved for families of four or more children to families with three offspring were passed in Parliament on Wednesday, with one benefit envisioning the payment of a 2,000-euro bonus for the birth of every child after the third, with a retroactive implementation as of Jan. 1, 2006.

    The entire legislature will now vote on the draft bill.

    In presenting the bill, Deputy Health Minister George Constantopoulos initially criticized main opposition PASOK, charging that its deputies approved of the draft bill at the committee level only to vote against it now.

    "What caused your change in strategy," the deputy minister asked.

    [24] Fertilizers factory in Thessaloniki to resume work

    23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    News that "the full resumption of work by the factory of the Fertilizers Industry in Thessaloniki" is expected was conveyed on Wednesday afternoon at a press conference held at the Thessaloniki Labor Centre by members of the employee union, pointing out that the company will be making official announcements in Athens at noon on Thursday.

    Labor union sources said that the solution was provided through personal intervention by the prime minister, who the employees thanked, as well as Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis and the Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Kalantzis.

    [25] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks decline

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 4,142.11 points, showing a decline of 0.63%. Turnover was 303.7 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.72% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.95% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.71% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 213 to 65 with 41 remaining unchanged.

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Alpha Bank, PPC, OPAP, OTE, and National Bank of Greece.

    Derivatives Market Close: Intracom top in stock futures trade

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: -0.72%

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: -0.95%

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (1675)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 155.3 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 3.97% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bund: 3.65%

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (1.3 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.3 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.216

    [26] Interior minister attends presentation of 'Printing the Pages of History' album

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos attended an event at the Old Parliament building in Athens on Wednesday evening for the presentation of an album entitled "Printing the Pages of History".

    Addressing the event, Pavlopoulos said "the National Printing Office is developing and modernizing with criteria the better service of the citizen and businesses."

    The interior minister noted that the National Printing Office "is excellently connected with our country's modern history and state of law."

    Pavlopoulos said the modernization of the National Printing Office started in 2004 and concerns the competencies, access and reform of the institutional framework for the Greek Government Gazette.

    The album was published at the initiative of the special secretary of the National Printing Office, Patroklos Georgiadis, for the 180th anniversary of its operation.

    [27] Police clamp down on crime in northeastern Attica; arrest 39

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Hundreds of police officers late on Tuesday night conducted a major operation in the context of combating crime in northeastern Attica.

    The police officers checked 890 people (475 Greeks and 415 foreigners, as well as 490 cars and 200 shops.

    From those who were checked, 160 of them were sent to police stations (50 Greeks and 110 foreigners), of whom 39 were arrested (17 Greeks and 22 foreigners).

    Among those arrested were a family of gypsies, who are reported to have committed a theft against an elderly woman at Oropos, who remained tied up for more than 24 hours, as well as tens of other thefts and burglaries in the whole of the Attica region

    The arrested appeared before the public prosecutor on Wednesday.

    [28] Arrangements announced for foreigners traveling abroad during Easter holidays

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    It was announced on Wednesday that during the period of the Easter holidays (Easter falls on April 23 in Greece this year), foreigners who have a residence permit that has expired and have submitted an application to renew a work or residence permit in Greece are entitled to return to the country.

    This arrangement also concerns foreigners who have entered the country legally and have requested an initial residence permit for reasons regarding family reunion, work or studies and whose request is still pending and expatriates who have submitted supporting documents for the issuing of a residence permit and a special expatriates identity card.

    [29] Council of appellate judges calls for investigation into Bourboulias' financial transactions

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Council of Appellate Judges on Wednesday called on the Capital Markets Commission to investigate any financial market transactions of former investigating magistrate Constantina Bourboulia.

    The Council has also asked for an investigation into the transactions of other individuals involved in the judicial corruption case.

    [30] IME celebrates 8th anniversary of its 'Greek World' cultural centre

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The pioneering Foundation of the Hellenic World (IME) on Wednesday night celebrated the 8th anniversary of the operation of its "Greek World" cultural centre on Piraeus Street.

    IME presented the first entity of its digital encyclopedia which is dedicated to the history and culture of Asia Minor from antiquity until 1930.

    The first part of IME's encyclopedia relates to the history, institutions, architecture, morals, customs, and religions which the Greeks of Asia Minor developed.

    Present at the event was Culture Minister George Voulgarakis who said that IME's work was a point of reference "for the historians of the future."

    Also present were Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, Alternate Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, deputies and foreign ambassadors in Athens.

    [31] Crete to host int'l philosophical conference in May

    ATHENS, 23/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Municipality of Iraklio on the island of Crete will be hosting the first International Philosophical Conference from May 24-28 featuring world-renowned philosophers and thinkers from around the world and Greece.

    The central theme of the conference will be "Ethics and Politics."

    According to the conference's organizing committee, participants will include Noam Chomsky, Edgar Morin, Richard Rorty and Claus Offe among others.

    [32] Cyprus President: Turkey has explicit obligations towards the EU

    LARNACA, 23/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Turkey has explicit obligations towards the EU, which it has accepted and signed, and it is up to the EU, when it reviews Turkey's progress regarding the implementation of these obligations in 2006, to decide how it will address the whole situation, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has said.

    He was speaking to the press at Larnaca airport on Wednesday prior to his departure for Brussels to attend the spring European Council.

    Invited to comment on statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan that Turkey will not open its ports and airports for Turkish Cypriots "unless sanctions against northern Cyprus are raised," Papadopoulos reiterated "there is no embargo against Turkish Cypriots in any field, there are restrictions in the goal of the Turkish Cypriot administration to behave or participate as a separate state. Difficulties are self-imposed by there own policy."

    "Turkey has explicit obligations towards the EU, which it has accepted and signed, and it is up to the EU, when it reviews Turkey's progress regarding the implementation of these obligations in 2006, at the end of the year, to decide how it will address the whole situation," he added.

    Invited to say if there is any development on the issue of technical committees on Cyprus, Papadopoulos said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his Special Representative to Cyprus Michael Moller are expected to secure the consent of the Turkish Cypriot side to begin their work.

    "We are ready whenever we are invited to participate," he added.

    A joint statement issued after a meeting in Paris on February 28, 2006, 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 undertaken at the technical level."

    Invited to say if the technical committees will discuss technical issues and confidence building measures, Papadopoulos said that he has also noted in the most explicit and formal way that "in the new process, which we hope to begin, issues regarding preparatory talks to solve the Cyprus question, matters aiming at solving problems which come up and topics that could create a good climate will be discussed.''

    He said "progress in one issue depends on the other."

    On the agenda of the European Council, Papadopoulos said EU members will discuss the national programs submitted by each member state for the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy, issues relating to competition, labor, research and innovation.

    [33] Refugee's lawyer says ECHR cannot accept occupation regime 'property law'

    NICOSIA, 23/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The ''law'' which the Turkish occupation regime in Cyprus has passed to settle property issues cannot be accepted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) because it is ineffective and against human rights, Achilleas Demetriades said on Wednesday.

    Demetriades, who is the lawyer in the case of Greek Cypriot refugee Myra Xenides Aresti, who had taken Turkey to the ECHR over her property in the occupied areas, said ''Turkey must implement measures within three months that will ensure Mrs. Xenides Aresti the right for the peaceful enjoyment of her property.''

    Referring to the request of about a thousand Greek Cypriots, submitted through other Greek Cypriot lawyers to the ECHR, to send to the plenary of the Court the decision of the third department of the Court in the Aresti case, issued on December 22, 2005, Demetriades said ''it is anyone's right to do anything in this process and it is the absolute right of the lawyers and the applicants to proceed with appeals if they think that there is a legal basis.''

    He added however that ''the roll of drums with which this happened certainly does not support the legal dimension of the issue'' and warned that with the appeal Turkey may request adjournment or say that the deadlines cease to apply because an appeal is pending.

    ''So, Turkey may use this to delay the execution of the decision'' in the Aresti case, he pointed out.

    Demetriades also said that in an ECHR reply to the Republic of Cyprus on March 2, 2006 it states that the only persons that may proceed with an appeal are Turkey and the applicant.

    He noted that the Court has given instructions to Turkey and the applicant to submit their views on the compensation to be given, and to Turkey by June 22 to present remedies regarding the rights the ECHR has already given, that is to return Aresti's property to her.

    The European Court of Human Rights had found Turkey guilty on December 22, 2005 of violating the human rights of Xenides Aresti in terms of her property in the Turkish occupied areas and ordered Ankara to put in place, within three months, a mechanism to offer reparations.

    The Court ruled in April that a property commission, set up in the Turkish-controlled north of the island, did not constitute effective domestic remedy for property claims by Greek Cypriots, whose property lies in the occupied areas.

    Myra Xenides Aresti had claimed that Turkey violated her right to peacefully enjoy her property in Turkish occupied Famagusta.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

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