|Wednesday, 26 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-03-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 24, 2006
 Greece 'strategic partner', US Secretary of State says
WASHINGTON, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Ellis)Greece is a strategic partner for the United States, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters after a half-hour meeting with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis here on Thursday, the first meeting between the two since Bakoyannis assumed her current post.
Rice noted that both countries wish to solve many international problems, without this necessarily meaning that they agree on all issues, and referred to Greece's good relations with the Muslim world, noting that they could be useful in promoting peace.
On her part, Bakoyannis referred to the need to solve problems in various parts of the world, referring in particular to the West Balkans, whose future - according to the Greek minister - is in Europe.
As for Kosovo and defining its status, Bakoyannis said that the positions and views of all involved parties should be taken into consideration.
Bakoyannis also underscored the need to resolve the Cyprus issue by finding a solution based on the UN Security Council's relevant decisions that will lead to a united, bi-communal Cyprus.
Also referring to Cyprus, Rice said that the island's reunification must be achieved based on democratic values. She did not refer to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan.
On the issue of Greek-Turkish relations, Rice stressed that the US supports the steady improvement in relations which began after the two countries came to each others' aid following the 1999 earthquakes.
Bakoyannis, on her part, raised the issue of the re-opening of the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary in Turkey, while Rice responded that this is an issue the US repeatedly raises with the Turkish government.
Furthermore, Rice congratulated Bakoyannis on her work as Athens Mayor and accepted the Greek minister's invitation to visit Greece.
 State Dept. official again refers to 'strategic' Greek-US alliance ahead of FM's visit
WASHINGTON, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA / T. Ellis)Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried on Wednesday briefed reporters on the state of Greek-American relations, which he described as excellent, a day before Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis arrived here for official contacts with the State Department's leadership.
The State Department official noted that US officials are cooperating with the Turkish Cypriots' leadership, although this does not qualify as recognition. He also said that the previous T/C leadership (Rauf Denktash) pushed for a permanent division on the east Mediterranean island.
Along those lines, Fried added that Washington is also not interested in signing a trade agreement with the T/C "regime" -- established in the Turkish-occupied north of the island and recognized only by Turkey, the occupying military power.
Regarding the "name issue" that still serves as a "thorn" between Athens and its northern neighbor, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the US official emphasized that the United States has told FYROM's leadership that it must find a solution with Greece regarding the pending matter if it wants to join NATO and the European Union.
Moreover, he again pointed to the UN framework for finding a solution to the "name issue", a process he said is backed by Washington. Additionally, he echoed other US officials' position on the matter, namely, that Washington will accept whatever results emanate from negotiations.
Fried said he believed, however, that it was in Greece's best interests to border with a stable and developed democracy, while adding that relations between the neighboring states are very good, except for the "name issue".
Furthermore, he reiterated the fact that the United States considers Greece as a strategic partner and NATO ally, both in the Balkans and Afghanistan.
Fried declined to comment when asked about an unprecedented phone-tapping conspiracy revealed by the Greek government in early February.
Finally, in response to a question over a government decision last week not to exercise its option for the purchase of an addition 10 US-made F-16 fighter planes, the State Department official disputed any notion that the decision created friction in bilateral relations, stressing that Greece is an independent country.
 FM to meet UN special mediator Matthew Nimetz on Saturday
NEW YORK, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will meet the UN's special mediator on the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) name, Matthew Nimetz, here at 5 p.m. (Greek time) on Saturday.
Bakoyannis will then attend a religious service on Greece's March 25 national anniversary at the Evangelismos church in Manhattan. On the same day in the evening, she will visit the General Greek Consulate where a reception will be held on the occasion of the national anniversary.
The foreign minister will be meeting UN secretary general Kofi Annan on Monday. The exact time has yet to be set.
She will also be participating in a special UN Security Council session discussing the situation in Haiti.
 PM Karamanlis tells EU Summit that speeding up reforms is imperative
BRUSSELS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis during his intervention on the first day of the informal spring European Union Summit here on Thursday, said that "the new cooperation for growth and employment with particular emphasis to the promotion of social cohesion and the protection of the environment, constitutes a point of reference in confronting common European challenges, which arise from globalization and the aging of the population."
Karamanlis underlined that a basic priority of the EU member-states is the timely implementation of national reform programs and this priority should be the clear result of Thursday's session of the Council, that is, an even greater speeding up of reforms.
The Greek prime minister termed as a positive step the defining of particular actions as necessary priorities in the course of achieving the objectives on a European and national level. He also noted that particular attention should be focused on issues concerning research and development, the improvement of the business environment and the creation of job opportunities.
Karamanlis expressed his disagreement on the quantitative analysis of objectives in particular sectors, as the Austrian EU presidency had proposed beyond what had been agreed on. He noted that quantitative objectives, when set up, should be realistic so as not to create problems of unreliability of the Union.
He also noted that the main priority remains the creation of more jobs, especially jobs for young people and women. Within this framework, he added, "we are promoting a series of integrated actions, aimed at facilitating easier access to the labor market and we are already ascertaining the first results with a drop of unemployment below 10 per cent in 2005."
Referring to reforms which are being implemented for the improvement of the business environment and the support of small and medium-size enterprises, Karamanlis said that all EU policies should aim primarily to small enterprises, particularly regarding the improvement of legislation.
Regarding the Bolkestein Directive, the Greek premier termed as a success the finding of a compromise solution at the European Parliament, which, as he said, should be backed.
As regards the Common Energy Policy, Karamanlis noted that Greece adopts the vision of the European Commission on energy strategy. He also expressed his support for the Commission's initiative to issue the Green Book, underlining the need for the creation of regional energy markets.
The dinner of EU finance ministers, in which Greek finance Minister George Alogoskoufis participated, focused on the labor market. The Greek minister told journalists that the Scandinavian model was analyzed and particularly the Danish model.
Alogoskoufis said that the Swedish model has as its main characteristics the flexibility in the labor market accompanied by a strong social protection.
He also underlined that the Greek government has no relation whatsoever with the policies of the French prime minister regarding employment for young people.
On his part, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis said that, during the foreign ministers' dinner, the issue which prevailed was the future of Europe and particularly the fate of the European Constitution.
On arriving in the city, Karamanlis immediately took part in the European Peoples Party (EPP) summit that focused on preparations for the later meeting of EU leaders and the EPP Congress that will take place in Rome on March 30-31.
In statements afterward, Karamanlis stressed that he will particularly emphasize employment and sustainable growth during the European Council meeting.
"For us a basic priority is to create more jobs, with especial concern for women and young people, and to strengthen social cohesion and small to middle-sized businesses," he added.
Regarding the EPP Congress, the Greek premier said that this convened every three years in order to adopt fundamental resolutions and to elect the EPP presidium, while this year it would also mark the 30th anniversary since the foundation of the EPP.
 FYROM name issue 'not on the agenda' of Karamanlis-Buckovski talks, the latter claims
BRUSSELS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski told reporters here on Thursday that he would not discuss the FYROM name issue during the meeting he will have with his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis in the Belgian capital on Friday. The meeting with the Greek prime minister will take place following a request by Buckovski.
The FYROM premier made the statement after a meeting he had with European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.
Buckovski told Greek reporters that "our differences on the constitutional name of FYROM are not included in the agenda of the meeting with the Greek prime minister."
FYROM's European prospects were at the focus of Buckovski's talks with EU Commissioner Rehn.
 Government on reforms program, Lisbon targets
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday stressed that ruling New Democracy's government would continue a policy of structural changes and reforms, while slamming former PASOK governments for policies "that put Greece at the tail end of Europe".
"It took many years for PASOK to realize the negative repercussions of its policies on the national economy and Greek society, which are recorded in the figures for the structural indicators of the European Statistics Service in relation to the goals of the Lisbon strategy," the spokesman noted.
He said the government's reforms would secure high rates of growth with a simultaneous rise in employment and greater social cohesion.
Following the European Commission's report uncovering the concealment of deficits by PASOK governments, the report on structural indices showed that PASOK's policies had made Greece last in Europe, not just for economic but for all crucial social indicators, Antonaros added.
In a press release regarding the Greek economy and the Commission's report, meanwhile, main opposition PASOK counter-accused the government of having caused a deterioration of all basic indicators during its two years in power.
"At the European Union Summit, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will have to explain to our EU partners how his government managed in just two years to stall Greece's longstanding dynamic economic and social progress," the announcement said.
It claimed that Greece's economic progress could be divided into two periods: the years 2000-2003 when there was a marked improvement in the majority of indices and the two years 2004-2005, during which the Greek economy had made its position worse in terms of nearly all Lisbon targets.
"The political fraud of the 'audit' that led to the country being monitored (by the EU) and the policy followed by ND's government are today translated into a slowdown in growth, reduction of real incomes, higher taxes for the many, tax relief and tax exemption for the few, high prices for Greek families, overborrowing by households, asphyxiation of markets, strangulation of public investments, decline of private investments, reduction of foreign investments, a cessation of works in Greek regions. Greece is now diverging from the European average of the 25 member-states, not just the 15," PASOK claimed.
 Deputy FM on Greek-German relations
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Greek-German relations continue to improve, founded on sincerity, trust and close multilateral cooperation, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said during his speech at an event hosted by the Hellenic Center for European Studies (EKEM) and focusing on German foreign policy on Thursday.
In defining Germany's foreign policy, Stylianidis said that it functions as a negotiating force and as a balance between the world's major and smaller powers.
Referring to the West Balkans, Stylianidis said that it is of vital interest for both Greece and Germany that stability and economic prosperity are promoted in the region's countries.
Finally, as the person responsible for the country's economic and developmental diplomacy, the deputy minister said that Greece "has laid out a mid- and long-term strategy regarding energy diplomacy."
As for developmental cooperation, Stylianidis underscored the responsibility that Greece and Germany have towards developing countries and the problems they face, such as poverty, malnourishment and illiteracy.
He noted that Germany ranks fifth as a major provider of development aid.
Also attending the event was German Ambassador in Athens Wolfgang Schultheiss.
The event was organized by EKEM in cooperation with the University of Athens' Greek-German relations study lab, the German Embassy in Greece and the Friedrich Ebert Institute.
 Greek parliamentarians visit Paris, discuss Mirage, Balkans, Mediterranean
STRASBOURG, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)A Greek Parliamentary delegation is currently visiting Paris at the invitation of the president of the French-Greek Friendship Committee at the French National Assembly, Bernard Perrut.
Discussion centered on the Mirage combat aircraft, the Balkans and the Mediterranean.
Seven Greek deputies of the corresponding Committee in the Greek Parliament are in Paris on a five-day visit until Friday.
The seven-member Greek parliamentarians were headed by the Greek Committee's president, ruling New Democracy (ND) party deputy Christos Zois.
At the French Defense Ministry, the Greek delegation, comprised of four ND and three main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) deputies, met with Strategic Affairs Director Jean de Ponton d'Amecourt with whom they discussed the issue of the upgrading of the Mirage 2005 and France's commitment to deliver them in April.
Zois said after the meeting at the ministry:" I am not very optimistic that we will have received the aircraft within this deadline. We noted that this is very serious, given that Greece is at a phase of seeking 4th generation aircraft. We made clear that this pending matter must end as soon as possible, aware of course that it does not concern an issue of a political nature but a technical one."
 Psarouda-Benaki to take part in 2nd EuroMed Parliamentary Assembly
24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Greece's Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki will participate in the 2nd plenary session of the EuroMed Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) taking place on March 26-27 in Brussels in the capacity of vice-president.
The EMPA sitting will also be attended by a delegation from the Greek Parliament comprised of Ilias Kallioras (New Democracy), Petros Alivizatos (New Democracy) and Rodoula Zisi (PASOK).
The EMPA session will discuss issues pertaining to the Barcelona Process.
 Gov't says EYP functioning legally, PASOK responds
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday said that EYP was functioning in the framework of the law in reply to a question, based on a newspaper's report, on whether the National Intelligence Service (EYP) "has obtained a system from the Americans with which it can monitor certain citizens, the company's assistance is not necessary and the legal framework on how and under which conditions the prosecutor can give permission is being disputed."
Asked whether he was referring to this system, Antonaros said that he "is not aware of the system in question" and called on reporters to appeal to the relevant ministry, while stressing that "all the services of the Greek state function within the framework of the law."
Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said in response and commenting on the relevant press report appearing in Thursday's edition of the newspaper "Ta Nea", that the government "must give explicit answers on whether EYP carried out illegal phone-tapings".
He said that the statement by the alternate government spokesman, Antonaros, that EYP functions in the framework of the law "is not enough".
Athanassakis further said that apart from being said it must also apply, adding that "if all that is mentioned in the report is valid then EYP is moving outside the framework of legality."
 DM meets with US Ambassador to Greece
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis discussed issues of bilateral interest with US Ambassador to Greece Charles Ries during their meeting at the ministry on Thursday.
During the meeting, which according to a ministry statement was within the context of courtesy meetings the minister has with the ambassadors of foreign countries, the two sides confirmed the very good cooperation between Greece and the US in the defense sector.
 Conference held in Athens on strengthening relations between Greece and Egypt
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)The role of the media in developing relations between Greece and Egypt was the focus of attention at a conference held in Athens on Thursday, with Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis as the main speaker.
"Egypt lies at the centre of Greece's economic diplomacy and development policy in 2006 in the framework of the overture we are attempting in the countries of the Mediterranean," the deputy minister said, terming Egypt a country of strategic importance for Greece.
Stylianidis further said that if Greece constitutes a commercial gateway for southeastern Europe, Egypt constitutes a gateway for the countries of the Mediterranean and the African continent.
He noted that the sectors of cooperation on which emphasis must be placed are shipping, energy, tourism, agriculture and construction.
 Cypriot party leader Papapetrou in Athens
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)The leader of the Cypriot United Democrats party Michalis Papapetrou was received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday, during a visit to Athens.
During talks with Papoulias, Papapetrou noted that this was a "pressured time" for Cyprus due to the upcoming elections and the activity surrounding the Cyprus issue. "It may be time to make some decisions," he noted, with which Papoulias concurred.
Papapetrou also met main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, a former foreign minister of Greece and current president of the Socialist International
Afterwards, the Cypriot party leader said that they had discussed the Cyprus issue and the view that "time is a factor that consolidates the divisional fait accomplis on Cyprus and the need for a solution must be dealt with through specific initiatives in the direction of the international community," as well as the potential role of the Socialist International in achieving a solution to the Cyprus issue.
 Cypriot House president speaks on Cyprus issue in Thessaloniki
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Cyprus House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias on Thursday clarified that he could not feel triumphant regarding the outcome of the Cyprus problem, in spite of some positive developments, when Turkey was "reaffirming reactionary and hostile doctrines in relation to Cyprus and Greece".
"We must be realists," Christofias told a gathering in Thessaloniki when asked if he felt optimistic after the latest developments, pointing out that Turkey was refusing to implement obligations that arose from the start of its accession negotiations for EU entry.
The Cypriot official said that Turkey was "kicking" and refusing to discuss issues central to the Cyprus issue, while noting that its attitude was a "provocation toward the EU".
Christofias urged the European Union to respond to what it considered its own values and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to put into practice the things agreed with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and involve all five permanent members of the UN Security Council in the process for a Cyprus solution.
He also underlined that changes to the Annan plan were necessary, "otherwise the impasse will remain and this is against the interests of all Cypriots".
At an event at Macedonia University, Christofias noted that mistakes had been made both by "ourselves and others" that made it impossible to reverse the present situation on Cyprus without some cost.
"This does not, however, allow us to accept measures that will begin causing bicommunal tension from the first day, possibly giving rise to the disappearance of the Cyprus Republic and wider threats for the region. We remain firmly committed to a bizonal, bicommunal federation, which is the painful compromise and the price of the mistakes and crimes that were committed," he said.
At the same time, Christofias stressed that attempts to impose a "solution" that was not based on universally accepted principles would lead to a new impasse.
Finally, the Cyprus House president noted that Cyprus wanted to involve the EU, of which it was now a member.
"Since the EU proclaims that it is based on principles and has human rights as its standard, it has a duty to help a member-state restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the human rights of its citizens," he said.
 Papandreou meets with PASOK new Parliament group presidium
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday met with the newly elected presidium of his party's Parliament group, as former minister Dimitris Reppas was re-elected as its secretary, with MP Yiannis Drivelegas elected as alternate secretary.
Papandreou called on the relevant PASOK deputies to intensify their efforts and focus on citizens' everyday problems.
 SYN leader attends French communist party conference
STRASBOURG, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) President Alekos Alavanos arrived in Paris on Thursday where he will be attending the French communist party's 33rd congress along with other leaders of the European left.
The conference began with a four-hour delay on Thursday to allow attendees to take part in youth protests in the French capital against French Prime Minister Dominic de Villepin's proposals regarding labor legislation, in which Alavanos participated.
In comments he made, Alavanos said that his presence at Thursday's protest had a symbolic meaning, adding that all leaders of the European left who came to attend the conference took part in the protest "in order to send France the message as well as our countries, that this is a European battle."
The Synaspismos leader also noted that the battle of French students and workers has a "pan-European dimension since the same attacks are made in practically all European countries, including Greece."
Asked to comment on an argument presented by many economic analysts that in light of globalization and the emergence of new economic forces such as India and China, Europeans will also need to become more 'flexible' in their labor relations, Alavanos replied: "For civilization everywhere to develop and continue, workers in India, China, Pakistan and elsewhere must reach the level of European workers, not the other way around."
 Papariga calls for Parliament debate on education
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Thursday requested an off-the-agenda Parliament debate focusing on education, charging in a relevant letter to the Parliament president that high-profile reforms being promoted by the government in the higher education sector reflect a trend of "commercialization and privatization" in the field.
A government initiative to allow the founding and operation of private, non-profit tertiary institutions in the country, a pre-election promise, has generated opposition in some academic quarters, by students' groups and the leftist opposition.
Main opposition PASOK has more-or-less expressed backed the opening of such institutions under certain conditions.
 Bill codifying narcotics legislation tabled in Parliament
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)A bill codifying legislation regarding narcotics was tabled in Parliament on Thursday by the Health ministry.
The codifies laws that define narcotics and precursor substances, as well as their production, possession and trade, other chapters deal with the control and terms of prescribing narcotics and various other aspects of their use, treatment of addiction, prosecution and other issues.
 Reppas re-elected as PASOK Parliamentary group's sec't
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Former minister Dimitris Reppas on Thursday was re-elected as the secretary of main opposition PASOK party's Parliament group, with MP Yiannis Drivelegas elected as alternate secretary.
 EU commissioner welcomes Greek economic overhaul
24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)The European Union's competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, on Thursday welcomed progress by the government in making structural changes to the economy.
"These are efforts that deserve all possible support," Kroes was quoted as telling the Greek finance minister, George Alogoskoufis, during a meeting on the sidelines of an EU summit in the Belgian capital.
Also discussed by the two officials was an early retirement scheme by Athens-quoted Hellenic Telecommunications Organization and measures for Hellenic Shipyards, matters currently under investigation by EU authorities for any breaches of the law on state subsidies.
 Development minister addresses event for the promotion of hydrogen in Greece
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas addressed an event in Athens on Thursday, organized by the Renewable Sources of Energy Centre (KAPE) which had as its theme:"Orientations of National Strategy on Research and Development for Hydrogen Technologies".
Sioufas said the development ministry, and particularly the Research and Technology General Secretariat, "is observing and supporting the contribution of Greek agencies in the development of hydrogen technologies."
Sioufas noted the particularities of Greece, with its numerous islands, "where the cost of energy is high, a fact which renders the energy solution of hydrogen as viable, even at the present early stage, regarding the implementation of the relevant technology."
He further underlined that "the ministry is open to proposals for the strategy which Greece needs in order for us 'not to lose the train of hydrogen'."
At an other event on Thursday, Sioufas chaired a meeting at the development ministry with the general secretaries and representatives of the government's 17 ministries. Examined at the meeting was the progress of the implementation of the government's policy for the use of natural gas as a substitute for heating fuel.
This policy has been expressed in a Joint Ministerial Decision between Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Sioufas.
The decision foresees the connecting of public buildings, where it is possible, with natural gas, which will replace the use of heating fuel.
 GSEE urges gov't to change economic policy
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Greece's largest trade union umbrella -GSEE- on Thursday accused the government of hypocrisy and of using different languages over its economic policy.
GSEE's president Christos Polyzogopoulos, commenting on remarks made by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on low wages and high prices in Greece, urged the government to change in mixture of economic policy. Commenting on the situation faced by Greek workers, Polyzogopoulos said workers were threatened by doubts expressed by employers over collective labor agreements and to increasing prices in domestic prices. Greek enterprises and banks are reporting record high profits, boosted by government policy such as new laws on working hours, overworking pay, public sector enterprises, pension system reform, tax-breaks, a development law and joint ventures between public and private sector companies, he stressed.
Polyzogopoulos also noted that a government's income policy for 2006 offered pay rises below the inflation rate.
Meanwhile, bank workers' union OTOE has called a general meeting for April 17 to decide on its strike mobilizations with the aim to ensure higher pay increases.
 Merchant marine minister sets priorities
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said on Thursday that over the next five months he would focus on passenger shipping, the operation of ports in the summer season, cruise shipping, and competitiveness of the Greek flag.
Prices are to be deregulated before Easter for ships leaving the port of Piraeus, except vessels subsidized by the state to run unprofitable routes to remote islands, the minister noted.
 Hellenic Exchanges seeks to become main capital market in SE Europe
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Hellenic Exchanges SA, the operator of Athens Stock Exchange, Athens Derivatives Exchange and NEXA, on Thursday said its aim was to become the main capital market in the Southeastern Europe.
Presenting its strategic plan to the Association of Institutional Investors, Hellenic Exchanges said the strategy to achieve this goal would focus on improving its functions through raising revenues, reducing costs and sign partnership agreements with neighboring capital markets.
The representatives of Hellenic Exchanges stressed the big increase in trading activity recorded in 2005 and continuing in the first three months of 2006 in the Athens Stock Exchange and the derivatives market.
The Athens Stock Exchange held its annual regular general assembly on Thursday and agreed to re-elect the members of its board. ASE president, Spyros Kapralos, addressing the assembly recommended that medium- and smaller-capitalization stocks would be offered one hour trading extension daily.
 Intralot reports spectacular 2005 results
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Intralot Group on Thursday announced a spectacular 66.4 pct increase in its consolidated turnover to 523 million euros in 2005, from 314.2 million euros in 2004 and a 51.7 pct jump in its pre-tax profits to 150.5 million euros from 99.2 million euros over the same period, respectively.
Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) rose 52.2 percent to 160 million euros last year from 105.1 million euros in 2004.
Intralot said revenues from its international activities accounted for 74.7 pct of its consolidated turnover and 56.9 pct of its profits last year.
Parent turnover totaled 123.7 million euros in 2005 from 110.7 million in 2004, while pre-tax profits rose 23.7 pct to 75.2 million euros.
 Employees of Phosphorous Fertilizers Industry head for Athens on buses
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Employees of the Thessaloniki-based Phosphorous Fertilizers Industry boarded 6-7 buses outside their factory and left for Athens at 9 p.m. on Thursday to complain to the government about the "mockery being carried" out against them by banks and to demand the taking of necessary measures to enable the reopening of the business and the safeguarding of all jobs.
The employees were led to this decision, considering the response they expected from Minister of Macedonia and Thrace, George Kalantzis, on their demands as being unsatisfactory.
Earlier, the minister stressed in a written statement that "the government expresses its satisfaction that the administration of the Phosphorous Fertilizers Industry announced its decision to reconsider the parameters concerning the rational operation of the production unit in Thessaloniki."
 Central bank chief, minister hold meeting
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)The governor of the Bank of Greece, Nikos Garganas, and the employment and social protection minister, Savvas Tsitouridis, met on Thursday to discuss making use of property belonging to state social insurance funds.
 Chinese investment fair officials in Athens
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)A delegation of officials arranging the international CIFIT trade and investment fair are visiting Athens for talks with local bodies, including the Greek-Chinese Chamber of Trade and Industry and Federation of Greek Industry.
The CIFIT fair, which attracts more than 10,000 visitors from 100 countries, will be held in Xiamen, China on September 8-11, 2006.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks nose up
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)The Athens share index closed at 4,148.40 points, showing a rise of 0.15%. Turnover was 433.5 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.14% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.15% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.72% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 171 to 93 with 58 remaining unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: PPC top in stock futures trade
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers
Foreign Exchange Rates: Friday
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.215
 PM, Parliament president and parties issue messages on March 25 national anniversary
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki and political parties issued messages on Thursday on the anniversary of the March 25, 1821, revolution against Ottoman rule.
"The double celebration of Orthodoxy and Hellenism underlines the development through time of the values and ideals which inspired the fighters of the rennaissance. It underlines that, 185 years later, the demand for freedom, national independence, justice and dignity continues to unite the Greeks as the criterion for our collective action," he said.
Karamanlis also said that today "Greek women and men have the fortune of living in the longest peaceful and democratic period ever experienced by the country and our country is being recognized internationally as a force of peace and stability in the wider region of southeastern Europe and the Middle East."
Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki said in her message that "today we look back with respect and admiration at the struggles of the heroes of 1821, who secured freedom for us, while the Greeks feel the great heritage they left behind and the duty to match those people and their deeds."
She pointed out that conditions are different today and the country is enjoying freedom and democracy, adding that "this does not mean that the Greeks have the right to be complaisant and to consider the present situation as being a foregone conclusion".
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in its message that the "uprising against the then strong and powerful 'new world order' of the Ottoman Empire took place because the people disregarded and ignored cries for submission which were being presented with the mask of wisdom and realism."
"Our people have the strength and can reverse antipopular policy. With their own anti-imperialist alliance and their determined struggle they can rid themselves of the woes of capitalist exploitation and achieve a future which shall belong to them, without unemployment, poverty and imperialist wars," KKE added.
The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party said that the March 25 anniversary underlines "the longstanding value of the message that the just cause of small countries is stronger than the empires of every era and than the logic of the correlation of power."
The party's message also said that this year's anniversary will be celebrated in a troubled international setting since "the civil war and the continuing occupation in Iraq, prolonged tension in the Middle East and the open problems in Kosovo and Afghanistan confirm that the modern-day empire, which the U.S. leadership wants to impose, apart from opposition from all peaceloving forces in the world, must also have to deal with the innate weaknesses and deadlocks that it is creating."
 President Karolos Papoulias issues message to Greeks Abroad
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)President Karolos Papoulias addressed a message to expatriate Greeks on Thursday who constitute, as he said, a special part of Hellenism who have offered a great deal to Greece and to the countries they are living in.
The president, who addressed his message on the occasion of the March 25 national anniversary of the 1821 revolution against Ottoman rule, urged the state and the expatriates to "work together with prudence and harmony to secure a strong presence for Hellenism in the world".
He added that the "vision of the 1821 fighters is a heavy heritage for the Greeks and leads them to the paramount mission of serving the ideals of freedom, national independence, justice and democracy with responsibility, unanimity and unity."
President Papoulias further said that Greece "currently holds its position among the free countries and the Greek people, with their continuous and laborious efforts, have won a place in the group of modern democratic European countries."
 Ambassador Sotiropoulos to host grand reception in Vienna marking Greece's National Independence Day
VIENNA, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)Greek Ambassador in Austria Theodoros Sotiropoulos will host a grand official reception at the historic building of the Greek Embassy in Vienna on Friday, in celebration of the anniversary of Greece's National Independence Day on Saturday, March 25.
Hundreds of politicians, diplomats, entrepreneurs, academics, celebrities and members of the Greek community will attend the reception.
The celebrations will continue on Saturday, March 25, with student events at the Greek National School of Vienna, the oldest Greek school abroad, which in June 2004 marked its 200th anniversary since its foundation.
The events will culminate on Sunday with a Te Deum which will be officiated by Metropolitan of Austria and Exarch of Hungary and Central Europe Michail at the Greek Orthodox Saint Trinity Church in the historic Greek district in the centre of Vienna.
 Gov't unveils details of revised civil servants' code
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday unveiled a revised civil servants' code expected to institute several innovations and red-tape-cutting measures for Greece's often bloated state bureaucracy.
üð abolition of an age limit for hirings in the public sector
üð data processed "source of wealth" statements by high-ranking civil servants
üð A five-year statute of limitations for civil servants' liability vis-à-vis the state, instead of the two-year period now in force
üð Additional measures to ensure guaranteed services and rights for citizens and civil servants with disabilities
üð Transfers will be allowed from ministry to ministry and from one state-run organization to another
üð Objective criteria for promotions within the civil service hierarchy, such as education, language skills as well as demonstrated administrative performance
üð Specific administrative reprimands for inappropriate behavior towards citizens or refusal to carry out one's duties.
üð The Inner Cabinet approved of the revised civil servants' code this past week.
 Athens to again host Europe Corporate Games
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Athens Mayor Theodoros Bechrakis this week announced that the municipality will again host the Europe Corporate Games 2006, following the first hosting of the event last year.
"The Europe Corporate Games are a special multi-sport celebration very different to the traditional games. The corporate games are a combination of sport, business and tourism, which helps to raise self-confidence but, most importantly, boosts the spirit of teamwork and strengthens ties between business management and staff on all levels," he said.
According to the organizers, more than 3,500 athletes representing more than 150 companies from throughout Europe are expected to compete this year in 20 events.
The event, held under the auspices of several ministries, will take place between Nov. 3 and 5 at several Olympic venues.
 KKE leader meets in Ano Liossia with Intermunicipal Committee for removal of landfill
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga met in Ano Liossia on Thursday with the Intermunicipal Committee for the removal of the landfill and expressed her party's firm support to the region's inhabitants.
Papariga said the wider area is considerably burdened and criticized the governments of past years for failing to provide a solution for the problem.
Replying to questions on the European Union's summit, the KKE leader said that what exists is an "alliance of wolves against peoples", adding that "what we are seeing before us, therefore, is in the nature of the EU."
Papariga went on to say that "all the conservative parties, either New Democracy or PASOK and corresponding parties in Europe try to find ways to place burdens on working people, and youth in particular, hoping that pensioners will die a little earlier or that we shall work until 80 to secure the profits of companies. This is the essence. Consequently, the solution lies in realizing the political nucleus of problems, in class struggle and in political radicalization."
 Teachers and students hold protest over private universities
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)University, middle and high school teachers, as well as students and senior school pupils gathered outside the gates of Athens University on Thursday to protest against proposals for private universities in Greece.
Greece's academic community fully opposes any revision or article 16 in the Constitution, which requires that all institutions of higher learning in Greece belong to the state sector.
University teachers are also demanding more funds for higher education, for which Greece spends among the smallest sums in the European Union.
Shortly after 14:00, the protestors began a march to the education ministry and Parliament, while some have also resolved to protest outside the French Embassy, in solidarity with protesting students and young people in France.
An education ministry announcement, meanwhile, pointed out that grants to universities to cover their operating costs were increased by 13.51 per cent for the first time.
It also noted that a promise to increase spending on education in general to 5 per cent of GDP was a pledge that would be fulfilled at the end of the government's four-year term, while the funding this year was 3.67 percent of GDP, up from 3.62 percent the previous year.
 Migrant-laden vessel intercepted off SW Peloponnese
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)A total of 126 illegal immigrants and four merchant seamen charged with migrant smuggling were arrested by coast guard officials aboard a small North Korea-flagged freighter intercepted just off the coast of the southwestern Peloponnese early Thursday.
According to reports, most of the would-be migrants hail from India and the Middle East.
The vessel, identified as the "Crystal", was towed into the harbor of Pylos, where the illegal immigrants were given a medical screening before being put up at a nearby hotel.
The arrested crewmembers were identified as three Georgians and a Ukrainian national.
Authorities said the vessel departed from Egypt and was apparently trying to approach Greek territory.
 Archbishop of Athens calls for Afghan president's intervention to save a life
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos asked Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday to intervene on behalf of Abdul Rahman, a 41-year old Muslim who converted to Christianity and who may be sentenced to death for his choice.
In an urgent letter he sent, Christodoulos called on Karzai to exercise the power bestowed upon him "by his people and God and to prove that his country's laws rightfully respect citizens' rights to life and self-definition."
Christodoulos also noted that "despite the distance separating the two countries and their civilizations, the two peoples exist under the same sky and share certain values, the most important being the right to a dignified life."
 Cairo's Greek community to celebrate centennial in April
ATHENS, 24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Cairo's Greek community will be celebrating its 100 years of existence with a concert, a documentary and a laser light show scheduled for April 3 and 4.
Composer Yiorgos Hatzinasios, poet Yiorgos Papacostas, director Nikos Sofianos, singer Petros Gaitanos and others have promised a spectacular event that will be held at the Pyramids in Giza.
The event is organized under the auspices of the Greek and Egyptian culture ministries the Greek foreign ministry and the Greek Embassy in Egypt.
 Another confirmed case of H5N1 in Thessaloniki
24/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)The Community Reference Laboratory (CRL) in Weybridge, London on Thursday confirmed that another sample testing positive for the deadly strain of the bird flu virus H5N1 had been sent from Thessaloniki in northern Greece on March 13.
The sample came from a dead swan found in the Thessaloniki district of Epanomi, where all the precautionary measures applied in such cases to contain the virus have been enforced.
 Cyprus says Greece to convey positions to US
NICOSIA, 24/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Government Spokesman George Lillikas has expressed certainty that Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyannis would convey the positions of the Greek government on the Cyprus problem, as they were reconfirmed during President Tassos Papadopoulos' recent visit to Athens, to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during their meeting in the US.
Replying to questions, Lillikas said he hoped the US would exert influence on Turkey ''in order to convince Ankara to concede to beginning a process to prepare talks, which could lead to a solution of the Cyprus problem and the reunification of Cyprus.''
He reiterated that the cooperation between the governments of Cyprus and Greece was continuous and noted that all developments were discussed during President Papadopoulos' trip to Athens.
''Efforts are being made by the UN as well and we are hoping that soon the process will be implemented and the technical committees will convene,'' he added.
Asked if the Greek Cypriot side had appointed the persons to participate in the technical committees, Lillikas said they will be appointed once UN Secretary General Kofi Annan calls on the parties to do so, adding that the government is ready to give the names of the members.
The spokesman did not directly reply to questions regarding press reports that the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller had sent a letter with clarifications to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat regarding a meeting in Paris between President Papadopoulos and Annan, but said that the government was in close cooperation and contact with the UN.
Regarding the agenda of the technical committees, Lillikas said the effort is to prepare the ground for talks and that ''we are not interested in knowing why we are living apart but how to reunite Cyprus.''
 Cyprus President inaugurates new EU representation building in Brussels
BRUSSELS, 24/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos inaugurated on Thursday the new building of Cyprus's representation to
Brussels, noting that the country will continue participating in European activities in a ''constructive and open-minded manner,'' while remaining dedicated to efforts to reunify Cyprus.
The eight-storey building is located in a central position in Brussels, very close to the EU institutions, and shelters Cyprus' representation in the EU, as well as Cyprus' embassies in Belgium and Luxemburg, as well as the Cyprus Tourism Organization offices in Belgium.
''Moving into this new building is only part of our continuous efforts to strengthen and further secure our constructive presence at the EU. Our aim and ambition was and remains for Cyprus to be a creative partner,'' Papadopoulos said, adding ''this is the new face of Cyprus to the EU and the host country.''
The Cypriot president said the first two years of Cyprus' membership ''have shown to us the real demands that participation to the EU entails,'' adding that ''we still have a lot to learn, but we have successfully responded, despite the difficulties.''
Noting that the situation in Europe has been changing, Papadopoulos said that ''it will continue to change as we endeavor to face the modern challenges posed upon us and as we continue reflecting on the future of Europe. We all need to be ready and adequately prepared to this end.''
''Cyprus is ready to make its own contribution. We are ready to work hard and we are determined to continue participating in the same constructive and open-minded manner in this evolving process for Europe,'' the president said, noting that ''at the same time, we remain also dedicated, as we have repeatedly proved, in promoting all sincere efforts and measures for the reunification of our people and our country through a viable solution that will guarantee a better common European future for all the citizens of Cyprus.''
Addressing the ceremony, Nicos Emiliou, Cyprus' Permanent Representative to the EU, said after Cyprus' accession to the EU in May 1 2004, ''we have been learning the workings and the mechanism of the EU, and we have been trying to respond to the challenges of membership'', adding that Cyprus is in steep learning curve but with hard work it will succeed.
He also thanked both the Cypriot government and the president for their support to the representation's increasing obligations, noting that ''on our part I wish to assure you that all of us will do our utmost for the active, as well as constructive presence of Cyprus to the European Union.''