|Thursday, 23 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-03-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 28, 2006
 Experts submit proposals for telecoms privacy to PM
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)An ad-hoc committee of experts set up to examine the institutional framework for protecting telecoms privacy on Monday submitted a 37-page memorandum to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Members of the committee, headed by professor Dimitris Tsatsos, called on the premier on Monday and submitted the memorandum, in which they recommend that the powers and "general cooperation" of the independent Authority for the Protection of Communications Privacy (ADAE) be further clarified.
Tsatsos told reporters after the meeting that the memorandum outlined the status quo abroad, the types of electronic crime, and the legal status in effect in Greece, among other subjects.
Asked whether it would be necessary to increase ADAE's powers, Tsatsos stressed that the report called for "clarification of authorities and general cooperation".
He also advised against turning the issue into a "subject of gossip", stressing that it was a matter of national importance that concerned protecting democracy and the rights of citizens.
Noting that other sides, too, could contribute to this effort with their own proposals, Tsatsos stressed that the bottom line was that "the all-powerful legislator (parliament) will decide".
The ADAE representative on the committee, Christos Kapsalis, said in a reply to other press questions that the issue of Vodafone was not discussed during Monday's meeting with the prime minister, and that a system of checks was proposed for private telecoms centers.
Also present at the meeting were justice minister Anastasis Papaligouras. Transport and communications minister Michalis Liapis, who was present at the committee's first meeting with the premier on February 13, was absent from Monday's session as he is in Brussels.
Afterward, Papaligouras announced that a committee will be set up at the justice ministry to prepare draft legislation that uses the experts' proposals and views and the reports of ADAE and the National Committee of Telecommunications and Post Offices (EETT).
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos also referred at length to the contents of the memorandum, which was released in full later on Monday.
The experts make four main observations:
1) That most European countries have tougher penalties, depending on the body that carries out the illegal phone-tapping
2) That legislators must constantly monitor and keep step with technological advances and the dangers that arise from them, in order to adapt existing legislation,
3) That there is a need for greater coordination between independent authorities,
4) They advise the immediate start of national dialogue on freedom and communications security, noting that independent authorities could play a role in coordinating such initiatives.
Among their recommendations are to include "security of public communications networks and communications data" in ADAE's goals and to give ADAE powers to check the security of a network and of bodies possessing internal networks in the wake of a signed complaint of privacy violation.
Roussopoulos also pointed to the experts conclusion that no legislation could provide protection if the bodies that can prevent the "trapping" of communications systems and the violation of their users privacy are not strengthened.
At another point, the memorandum notes that "consultative" initiatives cannot fully protect the public since even the most thorough preventative check provides a static image and thus does not provide full protection.
Strengthening institutions and raising the public's awareness are "vital factors for limiting if not eradicating phenomena that offend the democratic consciousness of us all," it adds.
Roussopoulos said that separate reports by ADAE and EETT had also been submitted along with the experts reports and that their views would be taken into account by a special committee set up to prepare a draft law on communications privacy protection.
He denied that the government was considering fast-tracking a parliamentary investigation on the issue, while noting that prosecuting authorities will "no doubt" look into press reports that a second phone-tapping network had been discovered.
The expert committee was set up by the premier to look into institutions for protecting communications privacy after the government revealed that it had been among the victims of high-technology phone-taps operating through the mobile phone provider Vodafone.
The phone-tapping plot was revealed by the government in February, after a nearly year-long covert investigation by the authorities had failed to find those responsible. It said the roughly 100 phones that were tapped included those of ministers, high-ranking police and armed forces personnel, activists, journalists, business people and even Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
National Communications Committee issues report on telecommunications confidentiality: The safeguarding of telecommunications confidentiality is not guaranteed since mobile telephony networks are "commercial networks" and by definition they do not provide (maximum) security.
This was ascertained by the National Telecommunications and Post Offices Committee (EETT) in a report for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who requested the authority's assessments and proposals on safeguarding the confidentiality of telecommunications.
The report also notes institutional overlapping of duties between independent authorities which can create vagueness as regards the allocation of certain real responsibilities concerning communications security.
Overlapping also exists between independent authorities and police and judicial authorities, which might create difficulties in the timely and reliable recording, analyzing and solving of cases of electronic network security violations.
It is noteworthy that three independent authorities are involved in safeguarding the confidentiality of electronic communications, apart from judicial, police and other state authorities.
 Bakoyannis says a 'new momentum' for Cyprus issue
UNITED NATIONS, 28/3/2006 (ANA-MPA/P.Panayiotou)The Cyprus issue dominated talks between Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan here on Monday.
Bakoyannis made the following statement after her 30 minutes-long meeting with Annan: "My meeting with the Secretary General focused on the Cyprus issue. There is a new momentum in the Cyprus problem after (the Paris) meeting between the UN secretary general and (Cyprus President Tassos) Mr. Papadopoulos. A new effort is beginning based on meetings focusing on technical issues. These meetings should lead to a properly prepared new initiative, for the finding of a viable and functional solution to the Cyprus problem. It is time for the two sides to agree on this effort and proceed. As I have declared before, we cannot bare a new failure. A well prepared new effort, without new tight timetables, without decisions taken in advance, would be the best possible solution."
The Greek foreign minister said that her talks with Annan also covered the situation in the West Balkans and the Kosovo issue, as well as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) name issue, on which Bakoyannis reiterated the Greek positions.
Earlier statements: Earlier in the day, Bakoyannis told reporters referring to her upcoming meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan the Cyprus issue would 'of course' be discussed.
Bakoyannis and Annan would discuss Cyprus "particularly due to the momentum created after the UN Secretary General's meeting with [Cypriot President Tassos] Mr. Papadopoulos in Paris and we hope that a new initiative will be launched regarding the Cyprus issue," she had said.
Asked how Greece will respond if Turkey fails to fulfill its obligations towards the EU, the Greek minister replied that "Turkey, as you know, has commitments which it must fulfill in regards to its European prospects. I hope that it will fulfill its obligations."
On the issue of Thrace and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's recent statements, Bakoyannis said that "Greece is a modern, democratic country, where there is equality and respect for human rights."
UN spokesman on Cyprus issue: The UN Undersecretary General Ibrahim Gambari sent a letter to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat detailing what happened at the Paris meeting between UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, upon the request of Kofi Annan, UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters here on Monday.
Asked why Gambari sent the letter and not Annan himself, Faq said he could not provide an answer.
The UN Deputy Spokesman declined to comment on whether the Turkish side had responded and also refused to comment on when the technical committees would begin working.
A joint statement issued after the meeting in Paris on February 28, 2006 between UNSG Kofi Annan and Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos 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".
 Transitional period for Haiti ends, FM says
NEW YORK, 28/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Haiti's long, two-year transitional phase is coming to an end, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis told the UN's Security Council during its meeting on Haiti in New York on Monday.
The people of Haiti can look forward to a new government, a new legislative body and new local authorities, she noted.
Most importantly, however, they can look to the future with renewed hope, Bakoyannis said.
She also stressed that Greece will continue aiding Haiti on a bilateral level, aside from the aid it contributes as an EU member, and announced that Greece will contribute an additional ¬ 100,000 - bringing the total to ¬ 200,000 - for 2006.
The Greek minister thanked her 'distinguished peers' and said that she was honored to be participating in Monday's session given that Haiti was the first country to recognize Greece's independence.
Referring to the challenges that lie ahead for Haiti, Bakoyannis stressed the need for the second round of the country's general elections to be carried out smoothly and called on the peace-keeping force MINUSTAH and on Haiti's local authorities to remain alert.
She called on all involved parties to continue actively participating in the process and to respect the election results.
Bakoyannis also stressed the need for Haiti and its people to move away from the mentality and practices of the transitional phase and while she said that Haiti's future depends on its people, she acknowledged that the country still requires help from the international community in order to achieve economic development.
She called on donor countries to not only ensure a steady flow of funding but also to ensure its timely disbursement
Regarding the country's economic development, Bakoyannis called on the EU, international financial organizations and other agencies to ensure that economic development be promoted through sustainable programs that will help create jobs and will provide basic social services.
Finally, the Greek minister congratulated the UN General Secretariat's special representative in Haiti Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdes for his work to date and thanked all countries staffing the peace-keeping mission in Haiti.
 Parliament president addresses Euro Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly
BRUSSELS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Parliament President and Euro Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly vice-president Anna Benaki-Psarouda addressed the plenum here on Monday, stressing that the Mediterranean basin must become a region of peace, stability and prosperity, while democratic institutions and respect for human rights must be supported.
"Our target is, and must be, rapprochement between the sides of the Mediterranean and not the demolition of the existing valuable communication bridges," she said.
Psarouda also referred to the consolidation of a state of law and the combating of terrorism, xenophobia, racism and the lack of tolerance in Mediterranean basin countries.
She further said that considerable steps have been taken in this direction over the past decade, underlining the importance of coordinating the action of Mediterranean countries against terrorism and of the adoption of a five-year labor program for promoting the partnership relation between the members of the Euro Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly.
 Deputy FM to visit Armenia on Tuesday
28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis will be departing for a two-day visit to Armenia on Tuesday in order to promote bilateral economic ties.
To this end, the 4th Greek-Armenian Interministerial Committee will convene to discuss cooperation in the agricultural, commercial, tourism, bank, energy, transport, cultural, educational and seismological sectors.
Cooperation between the municipal authorities of Athens and Yerevan will also be discussed.
After the interministerial committee meeting, the two sides will sign a protocol of bilateral economic cooperation.
During his two-day visit, Stylianidis will be meeting with Armenian President Robert Kocharian, Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan and other government officials.
Stylianidis will also be meeting with Patriarch of Armenia Karekin II and members of the Greek community.
 Deputy foreign minister visits Samos
28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis on Monday underlined the government's desire to support all Greek regions, especially the outlying islands, during a visit to the Aegean island of Samos.
He also stressed that the country's foreign policy was that decided by the prime minister in response to questions about the visit to the United States by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and whether this was accompanied by a new "political line" at the ministry.
Commenting on Turkey's European prospects, he reiterated that "the Turks must understand where their interests lie and adapt their behavior accordingly, because this is a good time, while Greece is disposed to peace."
Kassimis also underlined that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia must consent to negotiate on the issue of the republic's name if it wishes to join the EU.
 Interior minister signs decision on foreigners' voting rights in Greece
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos has signed a decision, in light of local elections to be held in the country in October, describing the terms by which foreign citizens from the 15 European Union countries living in Greece will be entitled to vote.
In order to be registered in the special voting lists, EU citizens must visit the municipal or community authorities in the place they are staying, bringing with them proof of their identity (a police identity card or a passport) so as to be able to fill in a relevant application.
The time limit for registering in the special municipal or community voting lists in view of the upcoming local elections will end on June 30, 2006. EU citizens will vote together with the rest of the voters at polling stations to be announced. EU citizens will not participate in the prefecture elections.
It is reminded that citizens of the 10 new EU member-states will participate in the local elections, exercising the right of voting and standing for election with the same preconditions and with the same procedure applying for the rest of the EU voters.
 Moslem minority equal before the law, government stresses
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Moslem minority in northern Greece lived in a regime of equality before the law and the state, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed on Monday.
The spokesman was responding to recent statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who raised an issue of "respecting the rights of the Moslem minority in Thrace".
 Public order minister meets Chinese deputy security minister
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras on Monday received China's Deputy Minister of State Security Geng Huichang, in the framework of regular Greek-Chinese contacts to pass on necessary know-how and expertise acquired during the Athens Olympics security program to organizers of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
The Chinese minister was accompanied by the Chinese Ambassador to Greece Tian Xuejun, while the meeting was also attended by National Intelligence Service chief Ioannis Korantis and the head of the Greek Police Anastasios Dimoschakis.
The two sides also referred to the traditionally good relations between Greece and China and a recent visit to China paid by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Polydoras noted that the Athens Olympics were the first held after the terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001 and guaranteed the quality of his ministry's security services, while he also expressed his conviction that the Beijing Games will be a success and asked the Chinese side to provide an exhaustive list describing its security needs.
"At this moment we have the accumulated experience of the Olympic Games of 2004, the best Olympic Games from every aspect and especially the one that interests us - the security of the Olympic Games," he said.
Deputy FM meets with China's ambassador in Athens: Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis met with China's Ambassador to Greece Tian Xuejun on Monday and discussed the course of Greek-Chinese relations following Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' recent visit to Beijing.
The Chinese ambassador said that China is interested in making Greece a logistics hub for the transport of Chinese products to Southeast European markets.
China is also interested in the successful staging of Greek cultural events within the context of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, during which Greece will be the honored country in terms of culture, the ambassador noted.
 General Staff chief meets with Russian counterpart
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)National Defense General Staff Chief Admiral Panagiotis Hinofotis discussed bilateral military cooperation between Greece and Russia during his meeting with Russian Armed Forces Chief General Yury Baluevskiy, who completed his three-day visit to Greece on Monday.
The two officials exchanged views on the possibility of cooperation in the following areas: joint training for peace-keeping operations; exchange of military information regarding extreme threats; flight safety; joint training of Special Forces; army medicine; and joint navy exercises.
Furthermore, Hinofotis and Baluevskiy agreed on the creation of a High Level Directoral Committee whose responsibilities will include supervising and coordinating activities within the context of bilateral cooperation, while at the same time identifying new areas for future cooperation.
Following his meeting with Hinofotis, Baluevskiy also met with Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis with whom he discussed a broad range of issues.
 U.S. Ambassador visits Democritus research centre
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)United States Ambassador in Athens Charles Ries on Monday visited the facilities of the Democritus National Research Centre for the Physical Sciences and was briefed on its activities.
Ries met the director of the centre Dimitris Niarchos and then visited the institutes of nuclear physics and microelectronics, where he toured the laboratories and was briefed on their research programs.
There followed a meeting between Ries and the chairman of the Greek Atomic Energy Committee Leonidas Kamarinopoulos.
After the visit, the ambassador praised the technological achievements of the Democritus laboratories, saying many of them would find their way to the market and help the Greek economy in the future, while he also referred to the cooperation between the centre and its counterparts in the United States.
With respect to the Greek Atomic Energy Committee, Ries said it had played and would continue to play an important role in the establishing and strengthening relations between Greece and the U.S. and said that the good cooperation between the Committee and its U.S. counterparts reflected the good cooperation between Greece and the U.S.
Kamarinopoulos spoke about the Committee's cooperation with the U.S. department of energy, which focused on protecting the country from the illegal movement of radioactive materials, and said the talks with Ries had focused on continuing and extending this cooperation.
 Turkish warplanes violate Greek national air space
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Two formations of Turkish warplanes made 34 violations of national air space in the region of the southeastern Aegean on Monday. A total of 26 Turkish aircraft (nine formations) entered the Aegean without submitting flight plans, while 10 infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) were recorded which developed into 39 violations of national air space in the northern, central and southern Aegean.
In all cases the Turkish aircraft were recognized and intercepted by Greek air force jets, while in two cases the interception process developed into mock dogfights.
Five Turkish formations were armed.
 "We won't back down on reforms," FinMin says
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece's reform program was very positively evaluated by the European Union, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said Greece must make more effort than any other EU member-state to achieve goals set by the Lisbon Strategy since the country ranked in the bottom in all indexes in the period 2003-04 among the EU-15.
A policy of reforms in the country was aimed to creating more job positions, to attracting more investments and to boost exports, Alogoskoufis said, adding that reforms were the government's main policy. "We won't back down on this," he stressed.
Commenting on the results of an EU Summit in Brussels last week, the Greek minister said the European Council agreed to boost economic growth with more employment and by preserving a social model. The Council agreed that economic growth should be based on: -Research and innovation. EU member-states must spend 3.0 pct of the GDP in research and technology by 2010 although each country will have different targets. -Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises. All states must offer "one-stop" services by the end of 2007 to ensure simple and easy way of founding and operating an enterprise. -Raising employment particularly among young people, women and people with special needs or legitimate immigrants.
EU heads of state also agreed on a common European strategy on energy.
Alogoskoufis said Olympic Airways was not in risk of losing its brand name. He stressed that a plan to sale the national carrier was handled by the Transport and Communications ministry and that the Economy ministry's role was to ensure taxpayers money. The government was making efforts to prevent any possible impact from the fact that the Skaramanga Shipyard and the Elefsis Shipyard were trading accusations to each other at a time when the European Commission was examining if any of them had received illegal state subsidies.
 Government guarantees existing rights of bank employees, employment minister says
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said on Monday that the government guarantees the existing rights of bank employees, whose funds had deficits.
He added that this is secured with the payment of pensions by the Unified Salary Earners Auxiliary Insurance Fund (ETEAM) and the Unified Bank Employees Insurance Fund (ETAT), which operate under the supervision of the state.
Tsitouridis reiterated that the government is not taking anybody by surprise since the controversial amendment had been announced in advance as the self-evident implementation of legislation on banks' social insurance.
He further said that with the new amendment the obligations of funds towards auxiliary insurance funds having deficits are arranged to enable the unimpeded observance of all the existing rights of employees and of retired bank employees.
Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis also said that the amendment on the banks' social insurance issue, tabled in Parliament last Friday, had been announced on February 17 and is part of the framework of implementing the relevant law.
The minister added that the amendment was tabled at noon and not at night, replying to reaction from employees and the opposition, while reiterating that there is no question of extending the time limit, expiring at the end of March, for joining the bank employees' unified fund.
Gov't on amendment for bank workers: Commenting on a 'surprise' amendment tabled in Parliament by Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis regarding Emporiki Bank, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday noted that the "amendment" tabled on Friday had been foreseen by a 2005 law.
He also described the reaction by the bank workers' union OTOE as "unjustified and exaggerated".
The amendment makes the 2005 law applicable to employees insured by Emporiki Bank and Piraeus Bank.
"The course of their induction had begun from the summer of 2005 and is proceeding normally after the legal complaint of the management of Emporiki Bank, the rejection of an injunction and measures to increase Emporiki's share capital. Therefore there was nothing 'surprising' or untoward," Roussopoulos added.
Asked why the government had gone ahead with the amendment even though Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had said that nothing would be done apart from the law passed in the summer until dialogue on social insurance was completed, Roussopoulos reiterated that the amendment was foreseen under the law passed in the summer and noted that it did not affect any rights concerning the conditions for taking pension.
Main opposition 'absolutely opposed' to amendment for bank workers: Main opposition PASOK Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said on Monday that PASOK is 'absolutely opposed' to the amendment that the government tabled in Parliament on Friday regarding bank employees' pension scheme.
Athanassakis said that the amendment, which will be voted on Tuesday, "strikes a blow to bank employees and insurance funds, while benefiting bankers and banks".
He said that PASOK would vote against the amendment.
 Synaspismos leader meets PNO representatives in Piraeus
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The leader of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party, Alekos Alavanos, on Monday met representatives of the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) at the union's offices in Piraeus.
Afterwards, Alavanos said he had presented PNO's leadership with a copy of the draft law tabled in Parliament by his party, which called for the abolition of all forms of the civil mobilization orders that had forced seamen to break their strike, and assured PNO of his party's support on a series of issues vital to the sector.
Alavanos was also highly critical of a government amendment regarding bank workers, saying that it ignored court decisions in the same way that the government had ignored a court decision declaring the seamen's strike legal and fair.
"It is an unprecedented phenomenon to have a government that proves even more reactionary that its own reactionary self and which abolishes the security of law, in other words the option that bank workers have of resolving their differences with the legislation through the courts. This will result in an increase in the time of pension by as much as 15 years, a reduction of pensions that might reach up to 45 per cent and particularly harsh measures for new employees," Alavanos added.
 Greek, Chinese travel agents seek closer cooperation
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greek and visiting Chinese travel agents are seeking to forge closer cooperation in a trip for 50 executives from the Asian country hosted by the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourism Agents (HATTA).
At a meeting on Monday, the two sides highlighted the dynamism of outgoing Chinese tourism anticipated in coming years; and presented a profile of the Chinese tourist.
Greece and China have much in common, including culture, hospitability and tourism resources, the members of the Chinese delegation said.
More than 30 million Chinese traveled abroad in 2005, with the number projected to reach 137 million by 2020. The average Chinese traveler, who spends around 1,000 euros, is attracted to Greece by the country's cultural aura, its natural beauty and traditional hospitality.
Up to 300,000 Chinese may visit Greece in 2008, HATTA's president, Yiannis Evangelou, noted.
The visiting head of the China Association of Travel Services, Song Cao Qi, reported that a protocol will be signed with HATTA stating the two trade groups' interest in creating the most favorable conditions for tourism between the two countries.
It was agreed that visa issuing procedures should be improved, while Chinese travel agents urged for Chinese-speaking guides in Greece.
 New road project in northern Greece budgeted at 52 million euros
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Michaniki SA company has offered the lowest price in tendering for the undertaking of the Egnatia motorway-Derveni-Serres-Promahonas road project, budgeted at 52 million euros.
The time in which the project will be completed is 26 months starting from the date on which the relevant contract is signed.
The project also includes bridges, overpasses and underpasses, as well as side streets of a total length of 14.5 kilometers.
 Bill to boost spa tourism in the pipeline
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)A bill on spa tourism is near completion and due for dispatch to the finance ministry, the government said on Monday.
Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia met to debate tourism issues that involve both ministries.
Also discussed were creation of a conference centre in Athens, and implementation of the government's development law that includes tourism firms.
 Aegean Airlines in code-sharing agreement with TAP
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Aegean Airlines on Monday announced the signing of a code sharing agreement with TAP Portugal with the aim of achieving a more efficient operation of the Athens-Lisbon and Thessaloniki-Lisbon flights.
Under the deal, the two airlines offer -from March 26- flights with common flight code while reservations can be made through global reservation systems and will be issued in one ticket either by Aegean or TAP.
TAP and Aegean Airlines can also use common flight codes for a wide range of European destinations.
 Greek-Italian chamber sets 2006 priorities
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Greek-Italian Chamber on Monday outlined its goal for 2006, including an upgrade for its popular internet portal.
At a general assembly of the chamber, its president, Belisario Capocci, also outlined the holding of business workshops aimed at boosting trade between the two countries.
He highlighted a plan to bring Greek and Italian volunteer organizations together as the chamber feels that investment in social awareness is as important as commercial investment.
Among speakers was the Italian Embassy's trade attaché, Francesco Capecchi.
 Promahon to open cargo centers in Balkans
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Promahon SA, which operates Greece's first cargo centre, plans to launch a network of the units in the Balkans through strategic alliances.
The network will be centered in northern Greece, where Promahon's cargo centre operates on the border with Bulgaria, general director Constantine Alexopoulos told the ANA-MPA in an interview.
Promahon, which recently forged an alliance in Serbia, already has a presence in Bulgaria through Procom, Alexopoulos noted.
The next target is alliances in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Romania, he said.
 Shipping foreign exchange inflows at 1.154 bln euros in January
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Shipping foreign exchange inflows totaled 1.154 billion euros in January, up from 1.118 billion euros in the same month last year, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Athens share index closed at 4,114.37 points, showing a decline of 1.05%. Turnover was 192.9 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.01% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.36% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.61% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 216 to 55 with 46 remaining unchanged.
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank of Greece, OPAP, Alpha Bank, Hellenic Exchanges, and Piraeus Bank.
Derivatives Market Close: Intracom top in stock futures trade
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers
 Mass media and culture conference continues in Patra
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The three-day international conference on mass media and culture continued its second day of sessions on Monday with an address by Yinghuang Zhu, chief editor of China Daily and China's deputy press minister.
In his address, Yinghuang noted that the ancient civilizations of China and Greece share much in common.
He also said that he was impressed with the fact that Greeks protect their language since the conference sessions were being held in Greek rather than in English as would have been the case in China.
Yinghuang also referred to the importance of the internet, saying that it reinforces individual freedom of expression, a privilege enjoyed mainly by journalists before the internet.
Ramon Jimenez Fraile, head of the Council of the European Union's IT Division and one of the event's speakers, focused on the ways public agencies can benefit from the internet, on member-states' legislation regarding the internet and on the need to maintain an open dialogue and to conduct surveys regularly in order to keep track of citizens' problems.
On his part, Dimitris Efraimoglou, President of the Foundation of the Hellenic World (FHW), noted that culture and civilization are accessible via the internet.
"Having Greek history available on the internet is a project we are proud of. It took three years and 65 people to realize it. We are the only country whose history is presented in so much detail," he said.
Anna Panagiotarea, journalist and assistant professor of mass media studies at the University of Thessaloniki, presented a study concerning the percentage of cultural news that is televised or reported in the print media.
"The study showed that a very small percentage of cultural news is broadcast on television or reported on in the press. Additionally, print media devotes a lot more space to culture but not to a satisfactory extent," she said.
"Digital democracy includes every form of electronic participation in shaping government policies whether on a local, national or international level and provides the opportunity to bypass traditional and established media which oftentimes set barriers, create dependencies or place conditions on the flow of information. It's not enough for someone to produce knowledge and ideas; one must also share them," Nikos Yiannis, professor and magazine publisher said.
During his speech, Konstantinos Kamaras, publisher of sport.gr, focused on how the internet can change the production and consumption of cultural products.
Finally, Yiorgos Mylonas, President of the Thessaloniki Cinema Museum and president of the directors' and writers' association, spoke about the importance of images in communication.
"Communication via images has a direct effect on the viewer because it can stimulate him so that he will become a direct conveyor of messages," he said.
"Images aim at the mind and heart of the viewer and if the necessary foundation of knowledge is missing than images can lead to confusion and to cultural inequalities," he added.
 Ministerial council agrees on European driving licence
BRUSSELS, 28/3/2006 (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)The European Council of Transport Ministers on Monday decided on the creation of a common EU driving license for all member states.
The EU directive will go into effect at the end of 2006, requiring EU member states to start issuing the new licenses the latest by 2012.
By 2032, all other driving licenses must be replaced.
"The European driving license is of vital importance for road safety and for the fight against fraud," European Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot said.
"It will make travel around Europe easier and without bureaucratic difficulties. All drivers will have clear, modern licenses that will be accepted in all member states - I am pleased the Council succeeded in reaching this agreement," he said.
The new licenses will be in credit card format and will have a 10-year validity which member states can increase to 15 years.
The new legislation also provides for the introduction of a license for mopeds and establishes the principle of progressive access to bigger and more powerful motorcycles.
"Direct access to the latter category will only be possible at the age of 24 after a theoretical and practical test. People who want to ride the most powerful motorcycles before that age will need to gain two years experience on lighter types," the Commission said in a statement.
The new rules also set minimum standards for driving examiners.
 WHO European meeting on mental health to take place in Hania
28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)A three-day meeting of the European National Representatives to the World Health Organization (WHO) opens in Hania, Crete, on Thursday, on the subject of Mental Health.
The meeting, which runs through Saturday, is being organized by the Hania mental health hospital and the local General Hospital.
The three-day event will be inaugurated on Thursday by health and social solidarity deputy minister George Constantopoulos.
The theme of the meeting is "Materialisation of the Helsinki Ministerial Conference's Action Plan by the member countries at national level".
The meeting will be attended by 52 representatives of the WHO's European Office member countries, while 20 international experts will also be in attendance.
 Hellenic Railways Organization to begin 'Give priority to train' campaign
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) will begin a "Give priority to the train" campaign in an effort to sensitize all drivers and citizens on the priority of trains towards other vehicles and with the aim of avoiding unpleasant developments which, in most cases, result in the loss of human life.
In the framework of this campaign, a special informative brochure was distributed over the weekend at the Afidne and Elefsina toll gates, as well as at locations in downtown Athens, reminding of relevant clauses contained in the Traffic Code concerning the crossing of vehicles through protected and unprotected railway crossings.
The brochure points out that observance of Traffic Code regulations secures the coexistence of drivers and pedestrians with the train and reminds that the train always has priority.
 MEP Varvitsiotis publishes book on 'Immigration Policy of Europe'
BRUSSELS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)A book by the head of ruling New Democracy's MEP group, Ioannis Varvitsiotis, on "The Immigration Policy of Europe" has been published by the European Peoples' Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament, it was announced on Monday.
The book has been published in four languages (Greek, English, French and German) and is the 12th by the Greek MEP.
It refers to the most important stages in the cooperation of EU member-states regarding immigration policy, as well as the individual immigration policies implemented on a national level by the 25 EU member-states.
There is a foreword by EPP leader Hans-Gert Poettering and an introduction by MEP Eva Klamt.
 Police arrest four women involved in illegal naturalization scam
28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Police have arrested four women, two Greeks aged 44 and 40, and two foreigners aged 23 and 26, in Thessaloniki in the framework of investigations being carried out in past months concerning the illegal naturalization scam.
The women were arrested on March 23, following the utilization of reports provided for the police.
A search of houses and shops where the women stayed or frequented revealed many forged documents, certificates and passports. They were also found in possession of wedding, baptism and death certificates, as well as forged identity cards.
The Greek women are charged with forging certificates and attempting to obtain false certification, while the foreigners with illegally entering and staying in the country. Investigations are continuing.
 State broadcaster to organize radio/telethon for children's charity
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The state broadcasting organization ERT is organizing a radio/telethon on March 30 from 6:00 until midnight to raise funds for the children's charity 'Kivotos' (or Ark in Greek), which in the past years has offered a home and protection to more than 200 children.
All TV and radio channels run by ERT will participate, broadcasting reports, images and personal stories of people assisted by the charity, with the support of celebrities, artists and political figures.
 Hellas Sat satellite to broadcast eclipse of the sun on Wednesday
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The public will be able to view the total eclipse of the sun, due to take place at noon on Wednesday, with the help of the Greek television satellite Hellas Sat which, in cooperation with the Aristotelio University of Thessaloniki, will provide television coverage of the eclipse of the sun that will be occurring on March 29 between 12.30 and 15.30 Greek time.
According to a relevant announcement, television coverage will be carried out from the island of Kastellorizo, which is one of the few places from where the eclipse of the sun will be visible 100 percent.
The heightening of the event will only last for three minutes, from 13.52-13.55 Greek time. At that time, a black disc will appear in the place of the sun. The temperature will drop considerably, it will become dark and the brightest stars and the planets of Aphrodite and Hermes will appear.
The next total eclipse of the sun, visible from Greece, will be repeated in the year 2088.
 Soccer: Greek soccer results
ATHENS, 28/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Matches played over the weekend for the Greek first division soccer championship had the following results:
Larissa - Iraklis Thessaloniki 0-0
PAOK Thessaloniki - Kallithea Athens 2-1
Levadiakos Livadia - Egaleo Athens 2-1
OFI Crete - Panionios Athens 1-1
Ionikos Piraeus - Xanthi 0-0
AEK Athens - Akratitos Athens 2-0
Apollon Kalamaria - Panathinaikos Athens 0-1
Olympiakos Piraeus - Atromitos Athens 3-0
The standings after 25 weeks of play:
Apollon Kalamaria 31
 Slovenian President urges Turkey to fulfill its EU obligations
NICOSIA, 28/2/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)President of Slovenia Dr Janez Drnovsek on Monday urged Turkey to comply with its European Union obligations and show that it can meet European standards.
In statements to the press after official talks with President of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, Drnovsek, the first Slovenian President to pay Cyprus an official visit, noted that the Cyprus problem is no longer an issue that concerns only Cyprus, but also the European Union.
"I was informed by President of Cyprus about the Cyprus problem, which is no longer the problem of Cyprus but also a problem of the EU. Turkey should comply with its obligations and agreements that have been made already during the course of its approachment to the EU. We have to make efforts so that Turkey really shows it can meet European standards", he said.
He added that "sometimes we have to be patient, it is not easy for them (Turkey). Everybody has had problems on this EU course, but certainly EU standards and objectives must be met and honored", he stressed.
President Papadopoulos expressed the belief that negotiations on technical level on the Cyprus issue could start ''soon enough''.
"After our initiative in Paris the hope is that we will be able to start soon enough negotiations on technical level, on matters which will help create a better climate but equally important, that we shall be able to discuss the preparation of negotiations on the core issues of the Cyprus problem. The one process is interrelated to the other. I am hopeful that eventually Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots will consent to the convening of the technical committees and we expect the UN Secretary General to announce any such agreement", President Papadopoulos stressed.
The Slovenian president expressed hope that "Cyprus at the end will be a constructive element, and not a problem that could divide, not only Cyprus itself but also EU and Turkey".
He expressed the view that Cyprus "could be a challenge, an opportunity to show some responsibility, maturity, from the part of everybody, including Turkey".
"I am optimistic and I hope that all parts, Cyprus but also Turkey, will be responsible and constructive so that at the end we will have a solution in the interest of everybody. We are all interested in stability, peace and prosperity here in Cyprus but also in Europe", the Slovenian president added.
Answering a question about possible enhancement of their economic relations, the Slovenian president said that Cyprus and Slovenia, being the two economically best developed new EU members, can have a more enhanced economic cooperation.
"On political field we have a similar approach in EU issues and other issues. I expect that both countries will be constructive members within the EU", Drnovsek added.
President Papadopoulos noted that Slovenia and Cyprus have always had good economic and political relations, adding that there is great room for better coordination in international fora, the EU, and that both heads of state will do their utmost so that their cooperation in different levels is enhanced and expanded.
During the official talks, delegations of Cyprus and Slovenia discussed their bilateral relations, their collaboration within the EU, as well as the Cyprus problem.
Before the statements to the press, President Papadopoulos decorated his Slovenian counterpart with the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III, which is the highest honorary distinction of the Republic of Cyprus.
The Slovenian president decorated President Papadopoulos with the Order for Exceptional Services, in the diplomatic and international field in recognition of his services in the development, in strengthening of friendly relations between Slovenia and Cyprus, for constructive cooperation and mutual support in the process of accession to the EU and his contribution towards establishing close cooperation in international organizations.
Upon his arrival to the Presidential Palace, Slovenian President laid a wreath at the statue of the first President of the Republic Archbishop Makarios III, where he was officially welcomed by President Papadopoulos in the presence of governmental officials.
Later on, Slovenian President had a meeting with President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias. No statements were made after the meeting.
 Spokesman says preparation of Cyprus talks only through substance
NICOSIA, 28/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Government Spokesman George Lillikas said Monday that during the recent meeting in Paris between President Tassos Papadopoulos and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, it was agreed that a new round of talks on the Cyprus problem demanded good preparation, which could only be done through discussion on the substance of the problem.
He added that the Greek Cypriot side had given an indicative list of matters of substance and was ready to discuss routine issues, the progress of which depended on the progress on the substance.
Lillikas noted that in the joint statement issued after the Paris meeting, there is a reference to the preparation of talks, adding that this involved discussions on matters of substance.
''We agreed with the assessment of the Secretary General that a new round of negotiations demanded appropriate preparation and this preparation of course cannot be made without discussion on matters of substance,'' Lillikas said.
He added that ''we also agreed that the matters of substance will be indicatively a list we gave, and of course it is the right of the Turkish Cypriots as well to place matters of substance on the agenda, and we also agreed that we are ready to discuss routine issues, the progress of which will depend on progress on issues of substance.''
''We are interested in the solution, the reunification of Cyprus and this is what we are working for. We are not interested in living separately as good neighbors,'' he added.
Replying to questions, Lillikas said ''we want to give the opportunity to any countries, and we see an interest from countries that can exert their influence towards Ankara to accept the implementation of this process, to do so.''
The spokesman said that the joint statement makes reference to the preparation of talks, noting that this did not include discussions on how to tackle issues such as avian influenza and fires.
To a comment that the UN had told a journalist that matters of substance were not to be discussed, Lillikas said ''that is not what they are telling us.''
Asked about remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Ankara would not become involved in a dialogue with the Greek Cypriot side and that the point it could reach was the Annan plan and now it was the Greek Cypriot side's turn to reach that point, Lillikas said that Turkey's insistence to adopt the Annan plan and its position that the substance should not be discussed on a technical level, ''makes one wonder if it has the political will to cooperate towards a Cyprus settlement.''
Asked when the Greek Cypriot side was expected to be notified of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat's reply about the technical committees, Lillikas said he did not know whether it would be today or tomorrow.
''We will certainly be notified,'' he said, adding that ''we have regular and frequent briefing from and communication with the representative of the Secretary General in Cyprus and the UN in general.''
 House President: Erdogan's statements on Ankara Protocol provocative
NICOSIA, 28/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cyprus House President Demetris Christofias on Monday said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan's statements in relation with the adoption of the Ankara Protocol are ''provocative and cynical'' and show Erdogan's tragic position as a politician.
''It has appeared recently that militaries in Turkey have the upper hand and impose policies at least concerning the Cyprus issue and its handling,'' he said, adding ''that this was expressed through the reconfirmation of the new dogma concerning Cyprus, which wants Cyprus a hostage of Turkey, and also concerning the Aegean and the territorial waters''.
Erdogan said recently that as long as there were ''embargoes'' on the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, Turkey would not open its ports and airports to the Republic of Cyprus.
''Mr Erdogan was forced to sign this dogma and simply Turkish diplomacy and the military circles found now the chance to give it to publicity'', he said, adding that the time chosen for this to be published was not accidental, as developments are taking place as regards the Cyprus question.
Christofias described Erdogan's statements as ''a regression to efforts to break the deadlocks and to resume a substantive dialogue with good will, to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem without tight frameworks and arbitration''.
He said Erdogan should respond to the demands deriving from the international and European law and respect the sovereign rights of the Cyprus people in its whole.