|Thursday, 23 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-03-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 29, 2006
 Inner cabinet approves draft law on renewable energy sources
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)A Greek inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday gave the green light to a draft legislation aimed to speed up licensing procedures and reforming a framework for the production of electric power from renewable energy sources.
Speaking to reporters, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said the draft law was creating a new reality and was a landmark development in electricity production from geothermal sources, wind power parks, hydroelectric stations, etc.
Greece lags very much behind in the use of renewable energy sources, with energy production currently at 615 MW in the sector, compared with 18,430 MW in Germany and 10,000 MW in Spain.
The draft law, approved by the inner cabinet meeting, simplifies licensing procedures, raises five-fold the guaranteed market price, expands the market time from 10 to 12 years, reduces licensing deadlines, clears the way for pending applications and raises a special duty for municipal authorities hosting such enterprises.
Sioufas said the government would offer tax incentives to households and enterprises to use electric power from renewable energy sources, along with tax incentives for natural gas use. These incentives would be included in a tax draft bill to be tabled by the end of the year, Sioufas said.
Commenting on reports that Public Power Corporation was seeking a 7.5 pct increase in its electricity rates, the Greek minister categorically dismissed such reports. "Electricity rate policy is determined by the Development ministry each summer after a recommendation by PPC and the approval of the Energy Regulatory Authority. There is no such recommendation," Sioufas said.
 Deputy FinMin Folias holds talks at US State Dep't, agenda for the week
WASHINGTON, 29/3/2006 (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)Greece's deputy economy and finance minister Christos Folias outlined the role Greece is able to and intends to play as an energy hub and energy gateway to Europe, during a meeting at the US state department on Monday with deputy assistant secretary of state for European Affairs Matthew Bryza.
Folias met immediately afterwards with assistant secretary of state for Economic and Business Affairs Anthony Wayne, to whom he presented Greece's new developmental law and discussed the prospects for American investments in Greece.
Folias is due on Tuesday to speak at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in Washington on "Greek investments, economic policy, and regional stability", which will be followed by a luncheon organized by the American Chamber of Commerce.
In the afternoon, Folias will meet at the department of commerce with assistant secretary of commerce for Market Access and Compliance, David Bohigian.
On Wednesday, Folias will attend a luncheon with Greek senior staff members of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), followed by a meeting with United States Small Business Administration (SBA) assistant administrator for international trade Manuel Rosales, and in the evening will attend a reception hosted by Greece's ambassador in Washington Alexandros Mallias in honor of the delegates to the 5th annual Business Conference on Greece-US Relations (to be held March 29-30 in Washington) being organized this year by the Hellenic American Heritage Council (HAHC), in cooperation with the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington and the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in Athens.
Folias will attend the conference on Thursday, and will also be the keynote speaker at a luncheon in the Capitol on "Greece: Investments as a tool for stability in the Balkans".
On Friday, Folias is due in New York where he will speak on the investment opportunities offered by Greece, in an address to a conference on "Greek-Turkish-US Cross Investing Partnership Opportunities" organized by the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York in cooperation with the International Chamber of Commerce-Hellas and Turkey's Foreign Economic Relations Board, to be attended by Greek, American and Turkish business professionals.
 Meimarakis and Flahaut discuss EU defense policy
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis met his Belgian counterpart Andre Flahaut in Athens on Tuesday for talks that focused on bilateral strategic relations and EU defense policy.
Both called for an effective European policy for security and defense and an autonomous EU stance in crisis management that would not be competitive toward NATO.
On the funding of rapid reaction forces in the framework of the EU and NATO, Meimarakis reiterated that Greece could not increase its contribution given its economic capabilities but stressed that through the purchase of military equipment from allied European countries, Greece was supporting their economies and at the same time facilitating international operations where needed.
He also announced that Greece will contribute to an operation in the Congo by sending one C-130 aircraft.
In comments concerning international operations against terrorism, Flahaut noted that Greece and Belgium participated in such operations only when they were certain and convinced that they would be able to fulfill their obligations and their commitments during the year.
The two men also referred to the situation in southeastern Europe, while Flahaut praised Greece as a "historical leader in the region that acts with realism". He stressed that the solutions given in the area must be realistic, in the framework of the United Nations and must benefit peace and stability in the region.
Meimarakis reiterated Greece's vision for security and stability in the Balkans and that Athens had pledged to assist the countries in the area in joining Euro-Atlantic structures, while his Belgian counterpart noted Belgium's support for Greece's efforts.
During the meeting, Flahaut also invited the Greek defense minister to visit Belgium.
 Gov't dismisses PASOK criticism over phone bugging affair
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government on Tuesday again took exception to recent criticism by main opposition PASOK regarding the ongoing investigation into an unprecedented mobile phone bugging affair that targeted much of Greece's leadership, including the prime minister, for nearly a year up until Feb. 2005.
Tuesday's comments by the government spokesman revolved around the previous day's high-profile statements by former public order minister George Voulgarakis, the current culture minister, who stated in a television interview that the 2004 Olympic Games of Athens may not have been hosted had he revealed what he knew of delays and omissions the Karamanlis government inherited from the previous PASOK government in March 2004.
"Mr. Voulgarakis referred to the main opposition party (PASOK) as the source of specific leaks and unsubstantiated rumors, while at the same time calling on those participating in this (rumor-mongering) affair to send whatever evidence they have to the independent judiciary," spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said, adding:
"... those lending credence to such rumors should reveal what they know ... let them head to the prosecutor or publicize what they know," he said.
In launching a stinging counter-attack over criticism aimed at the government by PASOK and a portion of the local media regarding Voulgarakis' statements, Roussopoulos again cited major delays in certain Olympic projects when ND assumed power, such as the route for the classical marathon race, while adding that the former public order minister discovered similar delays in the all-important security aspect of the Athens Games when he assumed his post.
Additionally, the spokesman again dismissed charges that Voulgarakis' statements were tendentious and timed to divert attention from the mobile phone bugging probe.
"PASOK attempted from the beginning to blame the government for delays in the (investigation) process, criticizing the independent judiciary, in fact, as part of its preferred method of condemning the justice system when it suits its interests..." he added.
PASOK party spokesman comments: Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanasakis on Tuesday accused government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos and Culture Minister George Voulgarakis of "trafficking lies", adding that all that they have mentioned on the phone-tapping issue "has surpassed the limits of hilarity."
Athanasakis, who was responding to earlier statements by Roussopoulos, said that in this way the two government members "are making cheap and irresponsible opposition to the opposition", while terming what Voulgarakis said at a press conference on Monday "amazing and unacceptable."
The PASOK spokesman said that there was a "difference between the statements of Roussopoulos and Voulgarakis since the government spokesman says that the government has submitted all the evidence it has to justice, while the culture minister says that many things will happen if he speaks" and called on Voulgarakis to speak and "say what he thinks and to give explicit replies to all that has come to light lately".
 Government dismisses reports of Karadzic in Greece
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday dismissed reports that the Bosnian Serb fugitive Radovan Karadzic, wanted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague for war crimes conducted during the Bosnian war, had been given 'refuge' in Greece. He said that an article carried by the Greek newspaper 'Avriani' to this effect was a repetition of previous articles and had been denied by the public order ministry as "utterly groundless".
 PASOK party delegation visits alien's office
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK party Human Rights sector Chief Marilena Koppa, the head of the Asylum and Immigration Policy Committee Yvette Jarvis and the women's sector chief Nora Katseli visited the Attica alien's office on Tuesday and underlined the "lack of legislative arrangements concerning problems faced by administrative detainees".
Koppa said it was unacceptable that administrative detainees should be treated with terms concerning penal detainees and stressed the need for the creation of a welcoming centre for people who have not yet prepared their immigration documents and are in the process of deportation.
Jarvis said that a great problem also exists with minors who might be unaccompanied and after three months without the possibility of deportation return to the streets.
Katseli said on her part that unless there is a wider legislative framework covering the way of the administrative detainees' entry and living nothing can change.
 Presentation of book 'Cremation of the dead-demand of the times'
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Deputies of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party, the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and the Coalition of the Left Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) on Tuesday expressed their satisfaction over the recent acceptance by the government (March 1, 2006), of an amendment which offers the possibility of the cremation of the dead in Greece.
During the presentation of a book on Tuesday entitled "Cremation of the dead-demand of the times", most speakers expressed their warmest thanks to all those who supported these efforts for the reaching of this objective. Appreciation was shown, among others, to Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, PASOK deputy Theodoros Pangalos, Synaspismos leader Alekos Alavanos, Athens Mayor Theodoros Behrakis and others.
 Coalition party leader supports operation of mosque in Athens
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday expressed support for the operation of a mosque in Athens.
"A great deficit exists: Thousands of Moslems are living in Athens and we should be civilized enough to give them a place of worship, with transparency, and this is important. And, among others, we must not give ground to the prime minister of Turkey to use it as a pretext for (Greek orthodox) church foundations in Turkey not to be handled with respect and for the School of Halki not to open," Alavanos said in a statement.
 KKE to discuss education at meeting in Athens with European communist and labor parties
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in an announcement on Tuesday said that on April 8-9, it will host in Athens a European meeting of communist and labor parties which will have as its theme "The Lisbon Strategy and the changes in the educational systems. Fronts of struggle and the answer of the labor and communist movement".
The KKE announcement noted that it is the first time that communist and labor parties from European countries, both within and out of the European Union, will discuss and collectively analyze the changes being planned in education, "in the direction of privatization, the intensification of the class barriers and the educational downgrading of the children of the working class and popular classes, at the backdrop of the Lisbon Strategy and of capitalist changes."
 Brunetta Hill primary school pupils from Alabama meet Greek Ambassador Mallias, Rice
WASHINGTON, 29/3/2006 (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)Pupils and teachers of the Brunetta Hill primary school of Birmingham of Alabama, which the Greek Embassy in Washington has adopted and from where U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice graduated, watched the events in Washington marking the anniversary of Greece's National Independence Day on March 25, at the invitation of Greek Ambassador Alexandros Mallias.
The pupils' delegation was also received by former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell, while along with Ambassador Malllias; they also had a similar meeting at the State Department with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who thanked the Greek ambassador for his initiative.
Hailing the presence of the pupils of Brunetta Hill at the Greek Embassy, Ambassador Mallias promised that this cooperation will continue and deepen.
 PM, FinMin discuss economic reforms
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday met with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and discussed the government's economic reforms policy.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Alogoskoufis said the government was examining ways to offer tax incentives to Greek households and enterprises to promoting the use of renewable energy sources and to lower the country's dependence from oil.
The meeting with the PM discussed progress of an economic reforms programme. Alogoskoufis said the government was steadfast in its policy and stressed that reforms were implemented normally and according to timetables set to contribute in boosting economic growth, creating more jobs and supporting social cohesion.
Commenting on recent protests over changes in the bank sector's pension system, Alogoskoufis said the government was implementing a law approved last year.
 FinMin meets with board of bank employees' union
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis "is in favor of collective negotiations but does not intend to intervene on the issue which has been created between bankers and bank employees," the president of the bank employees' union (OTOE), Dimitris Tsoukalas, said on Tuesday after a meeting which the OTOE board had with Alogoskoufis at the finance ministry earlier in the day.
Asked by reporters to comment on what the OTOE board said to Alogoskoufis, Tsoukalas said that OTOE called for the withdrawal of an amendment tabled in Parliament on Friday. This amendment, Tsoukalas said, is a "herald" in light of the changes in the social insurance system.Tsoukalas further said that "the government should activate the laws foreseen by the free collective negotiations between employers and branch organizations."
 Parliament rejects objection on government amendment concerning Commercial Bank employees
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)A Parliamentary majority on Tuesday rejected an objection raised by deputies of the main opposition PASOK party on whether the government's amendment by which the auxiliary fund of Commercial Bank employees would be subject to the ETEAM/ETAT fund abides with the constitution.
Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis invoked the legal opinions made by leading constitution experts which the commercial Bank had submitted to an Athens court.
He also invoked a circular issued by former finance and economy minister Nikos Christodoulakis by which "arrangements for pensioning issues require special legislative arrangement and, indeed, with a pensioning law."
Earlier, PASOK Deputy Evangelos Venizelos had termed the amendment a "monument of political authoritarianism and of legal nonsense" because it interferes, as he said, with the open judicial confrontation between employees and the Commercial Bank's administration.
 EBEA head urges linking of wage pay increases with productivity
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Wage pay increases should be linked with productivity, while more focus should be given in sector and enterprise labor agreements since not all enterprises are profitable, Drakoulis Fountoukakos, the outgoing president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, Fountoukakos also supported a 4.0 percent wage pay increase, while he stressed that he did not wanted to undermine the power of a national general collective labor agreement.
Fountoukakos said EBEA achieved several of its goals during his presidency and urged for closer cooperation between political parties in the country to promote the necessary economic reforms. He said that a government law to reform public sector enterprises was moving towards the right direction but it needed to be implemented swiftly and without further delay. The government and main opposition parties should reach, now, a national agreement to resolve the pension system problem, "otherwise the country will bankrupt".
 Minister coordinates action for summer tourist season
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Tuesday met the directors of the Greek National Tourism Organization and of her ministry to coordinate action ahead of this year's tourist season.
Palli-Petralia laid emphasis on quality of the country's tourism product and services for travelers.
 Greek-Egyptian investment planned in Thessaloniki
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Association of Egyptian Industry and 3G-Bay of Swiss French SA, a member of the northern Greek Aspis Hellas group, on Tuesday signed a memorandum of cooperation for the creation of a commercial transactions center in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
The centre is due to operate early in 2007 in a project totaling around 2.5 million euros.
"It is the first time the Association of Egyptian Industry has undertaken such an endeavor," the president of Egypt's Association of Leather Industries, Kotb Ibrahim Qoutb, told a news conference.
A final agreement for establishment of the centre is due to be signed over the next two months in Cairo.
According to the chairman and managing director of 3G, Anastasios Yiassin, the centre will probably be located in the Sindos industrial zone unless a more favorable site is offered by the state under a concession or leasing arrangement.
The Egyptian industry group has secured an 85% grant from its government for firms that will establish a presence in the centre, Qoutb noted.
Seventy eight Egyptian firms have so far expressed interest, which are from the sectors of leather, hygiene products, furniture, textiles and glass, he added.
The head of the Association of Northern Greek Industry, George Mylonas, stated that the establishment of similar centers in neighboring countries would aid Greek firms, but no interest had been expressed by the government in helping to finance them, even in part.
"At the same time, western governments in general do not undertake such moves," he said.
 Intrasoft gets new contract
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Intrasoft International, a division of Athens-quoted Intracom Holdings SA, has been awarded EuropAid's Euromed project, budgeted at 7,243,000 euros for a duration of three years.
The beneficiaries of the project will be Mediterranean public and private enterprises, which require appropriate infrastructure to support innovation and technology and reinforce their competitiveness.
"The project aims at filling an important gap in developing innovativeness in business firms and building the innovation systems in the MEDA countries," Intracom said in a statement.
"These countries, in order to acquire competitive edge in the globalized economy, need new knowledge and skills and self-sustainable structures. The project aims to provide the MEDA enterprises with new instruments in respect to the competitiveness and innovation at firm and country levels, to reinforce their development in order to achieve a good level of services and create an effective link between research and industry," the statement said.
The work will be carried by Intrasoft International and its partners through consulting, specialized support, training, visits and the establishment and operation of the required support structures locally, it added.
 Lamda Detergents buys Bulgaria's Makro B for 10.5 mln euros
29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Lamda Detergents Ltd, a subsidiary of Lamda Detergent ABEE (former Ballis Chemicals), on Tuesday announced the purchase of Makro B in Bulgaria for 10.5 million euros.
Makro B is based in Sofia and focuses on the production of detergents in powder and liquid form. Its privately owned production unit has an annual capacity of 100,000 tons. The company will be renamed Lamda Detergent OOD.
 Households' debt rose 30% in 2003-05, report
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greek household debt rose 30 percent in the 2003-2005 period to average 19,600 euros last year, up from 15,500 euros in 2002, the Bank of Greece stated on Tuesday.
The central bank, in a survey conducted of a sample of 6,000 households during the period Sept. 20-Dec. 20, 2005, announced that 46.9 percent of Greek households owed some kind of a loan to banks last year.
The report attributed the increase in households' debt around the country to an increase in home purchase borrowing in the greater Athens and Thessaloniki areas, with the two areas reporting lower home ownership rates compared with the national average. Home ownership in Athens was 70.9 pct, 78.0 percent in Thessaloniki and 80.1 pct for the entire country.
Two in three households in Athens owed money to banks, either due to borrowing or credit card debt. The central bank said a total of 1,950,000 credit cards were issued at the end of 2005 in Greece, with an outstanding debt of 1.65 billion euros.
The report said that 14.7 pct of households in Athens bought a car with a bank loan (21.8 pct in Thessaloniki and 25 pct in the rest of the country) last year. The Bank of Greece added that 11.2 pct of Greek households failed to pay their bank debts on time.
The central bank stressed that only 52 percent of households in the survey responded fully, with Athens and Thessaloniki reporting the lowest response rates.
 Ten new ships hoist Greek flag in March
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Ten new ships have hoisted the Greek flag during the current month of March, according to an announcement by the merchant marine ministry.
Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis thanked the representatives of companies for their confidence in Greek seamen and the Greek flag, reassuring them that the ministry will help them in their task.
 Fuel trade rises in 2005
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The domestic fuel trade (gasoline, diesel) totalled 10.57 million metric tons in 2005, up 1.5% on a year earlier, Stat Bank said in a market report released on Tuesday.
Competition was fierce in the oil sector among multinationals and Greek firms, and smaller and larger enterprises, the report showed.
In the last four years, the market stake held by multinationals fell to 32.6% in 2005 from 35.52%.
Greece may be the only national oil market where domestic firms are beating multinationals, Stat noted.
Of the 20 fuel firms operating in Greece, 12 increased sales in 2002-2005. They were Shell, Aegean, Elin, Revoil, Silk, El Petrol, Kaoil, Cyclon, Sunoil, Argo, Texaco and Vitoumina.
The sharpest rise was posted by Aegean Oil, which gained a further 2.1 percentage points to take about 6.0% of the market.
 Greek trade deficit down 0.8 pct in January, yr/yr
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece's trade deficit fell 0.8 percent in January to 2.216 billion euros from 2.233 billion euros in the corresponding month in 2005, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.
NSS, in its report, said the January trade shortfall reflected an 8.3 pct increase in the value of import-arrivals to 3.367 billion euros and a 31.5 percent jump in the value of export-deliveries to 1.151 billion euros over the same period.
 Greek stocks end 1.45 pct lower
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greek stocks came under sellers' pressure on Tuesday, pushing the composite index 1.45 percent lower at the Athens Stock Exchange.
The index ended at 4,054.80 points, with turnover an improved 377 million euros.
All sector indices ended lower, with the Raw Materials (3.12 pct), Financial Services (3.05 pct), Industrial products (2.45 pct), Construction (2.19 pct) and Telecommunications (2.16 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Big Cap index fell 1.30 pct, the Mid Cap index dropped 2.32 percent and the Small Cap index ended 2.25 pct lower.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 230 to 50, with another 37 issues unchanged
The stocks with the highest turnover were ATEbank, Ballis Chemicals, National Bank of Greece, OTE, and Alpha Bank.
Derivatives Market Close: ELTEH top in stock futures trade
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers
 Teenager, 76-year-old infected with HIV via blood transfusions
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)A tainted batch of blood donated during the 'window' period, when the presence of the virus cannot be detected by standard tests, was responsible for the HIV infections in both a teenage thalassaemia patient and a 76-year-old man suffering from heart disease, according to a report sent to the health ministry on Tuesday.
In a confidential letter to the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO), the head of the Haemovigilance Coordinating Centre said that the tainted sample had come from a 38-year-old male donor, who had given blood for the first time on August 29 last year to help an ailing relative. Scientists said the man had not been aware that he was HIV-positive since the infection had probably occurred just 10 days before.
The tests available in most Greek hospitals at the time were unable to detect HIV antibodies until roughly 20 days after infection had occurred, creating the so-called 'window period' when a batch of blood might be highly infectious but the presence of the virus cannot be detected.
The infected donor is married and his wife is expecting a child but has not been infected with the disease.
The investigation that led to the tainted sample began after a 17-year-old girl that underwent frequent blood transfusions was found to be HIV-positive on January 13, 2006. Tainted blood was immediately suspected as a cause since there were no other likely means for the infection to occur.
The Ippokration Hospital in Thessaloniki where the girl had received the blood transfusions was ordered to retest all 24 blood samples taken from donors to determine if any of these tested positive for HIV. When the tests on the blood samples came back negative, health authorities began to suspect a 'window period' blood donation was responsible and decided to recall the 24 donors for testing.
Of these, 21 of the 24 came in for retesting and the 38-year-old man tested HIV-positive on March 3 with the "western blot" confirmation test.
Samples of the original blood used in the transfusion, blood from the infected donor taken on March 3, 2006 and from the infected girl on January 18, 2006 were then sent to the Retrovirus Reference Laboratory in Athens for comparison.
On Monday, these tests confirmed that the original sample was in fact HIV-positive and the girl's parents were officially informed, in the presence of a psychiatrist.
Also infected with HIV is a 76-year-old heart patient from Trikala, who had received blood plasma made from the tainted batch of blood at the Thessaloniki InterBalkan Centre.
Commenting on the shocking incident on Tuesday, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters that legislation concerning the HIV tests used in hospitals had been passed in September 2005, shortly after the blood transfusion to the unlucky teenager.
Following the shocking incident, nearly a decade since the last infection of patients via HIV-tainted blood in the country, the health ministry ordered blood centers to institute the Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) method - which cuts the 'window' period to just six days -for HIV detection in all samples as soon as possible.
Full moral and medical treatment for people infected with AIDS virus, health minister says
The health ministry will provide full moral and medical treatment for the 17-year-old girl suffering from Mediterranean anemia, as well as for the 76-year-old heart patient from Trikala who were infected with the Aids virus through blood transfusions from a 38-year-old blood donor. The ministry is also responsible for safeguarding personal confidentiality for Aids sufferers.
Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos explained in connection with the case that the government will do everything possible at scientific and medical level to enable these people to enjoy the best medical treatment possible so that they can handle the health problem that has appeared and for which they are not responsible.
Avramopoulos announced that at eight of the 14 blood donation centers currently existing in the country molecular checking of blood takes place, while in less than two months molecular control systems will be implemented at another six blood donation centers.
Commenting on the issue, main opposition PASOK party health sector chief Evangelos Venizelos said that Greece had begun in 2003 implementing the special examination which ruled out the so-called "dark window" in cases of blood donors infected with the AIDS virus, while the implementation of this examination was becoming generalized in many European countries during the same period.
"If the same rate had been continued after the elections in 2004, all blood donation centers would be in a position to carry out this examination," he added.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos said on his part that "I fear that it has been proved with this very bitter case that the situation in the health sector is not what has been presented by the government. It is inconceivable today that a hospital carrying out blood transfusions should not have the infrastructure and not have support from the state to enable it to have the infrastructure to perform the molecular examination and for blood to be safe in relation to the person who will be receiving it and whose health we are trying to restore and not ruin."
 Total solar eclipse visible from Kastellorizo on Wednesday
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The first total solar eclipse visible from Greek territory after decades will come on Wednesday, with residents and visitors to the remote island of Kastellorizo -- southeast of Rhodes and just across from the Turkish resort town of Kas -- able to see the natural phenomenon.
A partial solar eclipse will be visible elsewhere in Greece, primary in the Dodecanese islands and Crete, although it will also be partially visible from Athens and Thessaloniki.
The last two total solar eclipses in Greece were recorded in 1936 and 1870, whereas the next one is scheduled for far-off 2088.
The eclipse will begin in Kastellorizo (ancient Megisti) at 12:34 p.m. and be completed at 3:10 p.m.
 Hellas-Sat to broadcast solar eclipse live in Syntagma
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Greek-Cypriot satellite Hellas Sat-2 will broadcast the total solar eclipse that will be visible from the island of Kastellorizo on Wednesday live in Syntagma Square in central Athens and to every home in the country.
A giant screen will be set up in the square at 12:30 and will broadcast scenes from Kastellorizo in real time throughout the duration of the phenomenon that ends at 15:30.
Collaborating for the broadcast are Hellas Sat, a subsidiary of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) and the scientific team led by Prof. Yannis Seiradakis from Thessaloniki's Aristotelian University, which will provide a special astronomic camera able to record the eclipse.
A similar giant screen will also be set up in the transport ministry lecture theatre.
The satellite broadcast will also be provided free for every education and research institute, as well as private individuals and non-profit organizations.
 Conclusions regarding excavations at Mycenean acropolis on island of Salamina
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Yiannis Lolos, a professor of prehistoric archaeology at Ioannina University, presented the results of systematic excavations on Monday, covering a period of six years, at the Mycenaean acropolis at Kanakia on the island of Salamina.
Excavations have been carried out in this region since the year 2000 and have been supported financially by the Ioannina University, the municipality of Salamina, the Ioannis F. Kostopoulos Foundation, the Psycha Foundation and by private sponsors from the island.
The extensive Mycenaean centre at Kanakia, which includes a nucleus-acropolis and a lower city and has access to two natural ports, achieved its greatest development, just as in the case of other Mycenaean political centers, during the 13th century B.C. and it was abandoned shortly after 1200 B.C.
"The Mycenaean capital of Salamina at Kanakia can be identified now, with certainty, with the 'ancient city', meaning the old capital of the island, facing the south, which is referred to by the geographer Stravon," Lolos said.
 Voulgarakis says ministry considering loaning artifacts to overseas museums
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)New Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Tuesday stressed that the ministry is seriously considering several high-profile requests for the loaning-out of ancient artifacts as well as the possibility of organ sing exhibitions of Greece-based antiquities in overseas museums, part of an initiative to press for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to the under-construction Acropolis museum.
Speaking to Austrian television regarding the Greek culture ministry's cause célèbre of finding a formula to return the Marbles to Greece from the British Museum in London, Voulgarakis said such a loaning programme would serve as a significant tool in promoting Greece's cultural heritage abroad.
 Byzantine icons from Mount Athos on exhibit at monastery in Upper Austria
VIENNA, 29/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)An exhibition of Byzantine icons from Mount Athos is being held at a monastery in Upper Austria until April 14.
The exhibition, entitled "The face of the absolute", is comprised of a total of 70 Byzantine icons from various monasteries of Mount Athos.
Meanwhile, two Greek artists, singer Eleni Koutsoumbi and pianist Anastasios Strikos, will perform in Vienna on Wednesday evening on the theme "Mediterraneo". The performance is backed by the Greek Embassy in Vienna.
 Group exhibition by nine Greek painters in New York
NEW YORK, 29/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Nine Greek painters will present their works at a group exhibition in New York entitled "Reflections from Greece".
Overall, 35 paintings will be exhibited at the Grand Gallery, one of the biggest exhibition centers in Manhattan, at the historic National Arts Club.
The inauguration will take place on April 4 and the exhibition will remain open until April 17.
The coordinator of the exhibition is collector George Stathopoulos.
 International conference on 'Mass media and culture' ends in Patra
29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The three-day international conference on the "Mass media and culture", organized by the Cultural Capital of Europe Organization "Patra 2006" and the Press Association of the Peloponnese-Ipiros-Islands, came to an end at the University of Patra's Conference Centre on Tuesday night with an examination of the subject "Culture and ethics."
President of the "Gea" Centre Niki Goulandri said "the mass media have already offered us a pleasant surprise by presenting social reactions. A gradual change in entertainment material must be requested of them in the direction of promoting local and national cultures, environmental training and the value that collective control has for the protection and increase of nature's reserves."
Main opposition PASOK party Deputy Telemahos Hytiris said "we are experiencing globalization after '90 and it is that which characterizes our era, that is nothing else than the ratification of the economic point of view at all levels. Everything is viewed with profit and culture is no exception."
Journalist Alexandros Velios said that "information is synonymous with disinformation, which is created by the need of man to believe in something. Each of us chooses the truth which suits him and which he wants to accept. We choose, in other words, the disinformation we want as information."
Journalist and member of the Italian Journalists Union Marina Cosi said "Europe must be placed at the top of a cultural revolution, since it has realized that freedom of expression is not a foregone conclusion and that in the framework of unification different cultures must coexist."
Wolfgang Mayer, member of the Supervising Committee of the European Federation of Journalists, spoke of the ethics code and the responsibility that journalists have, saying that "the journalist must safeguard his spiritual property in the best way. He has the right to appropriate remuneration, a precondition that secures a dignified way of life for him."
 Thessaloniki to host 'Balkan Theatre Festival' in 2007
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The State Theatre of Northern Greece, in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, will host a meeting of theatre directors from Southeastern Europe, from April 8-9.
The objective of this meeting, which will be held at the Macedonian Studies Centre, is the creation of a "Balkan Theatre Festival" focusing on ancient Greek tragedy.
The Festival will be held for the first time in northern Greece in 2007, and the purpose is for the Festival to be hosted, either annually or every two years, in a different Balkan country.
The Festival will be hosted during the summer months.
Invited to attend the meeting are the artistic directors of the state theatres of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, Moldova and Montenegro.
 Archbishop Christodoulos gives data on monetary aid given to needy people
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos said on Tuesday that the Archbishopric's General Charity Fund last year donated monetary aid to 7,484 needy people.
In all, the Arcbishopric in 2005, in the context of its social and charity activity, donated 15,160,550 euros to people in need.
 City of Athens hosts special school games
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)The city of Athens' youth and sport organization, in cooperation with the Hellenic Paralympics Committee, will host the 2005-2006 Special School & 1st Division State School Games at the Goudi sports centre this week. The games begin on Tuesday.
The event aims to promote physical education and sports as a medium for the integration of able-bodied and disabled youngsters. More than 400 students, aged eight to 14, from 12 Athens-area schools will participate.
 Police find box containing 13 American hand grenades on national highway
ATHENS, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Police on Tuesday found a box containing 13 American-made MK2 defense-type hand grenades on the Ioannina-Kozani national highway in northwestern Greece.
The hand grenades were retrieved by bomb disposal experts, while the Konitsa Police Station is investigating the case.
The location of the box with the hand grenades was made following a phone call by an unidentified person to the Konitsa Police Station.
 'Daily Telegraph' features ATHOC chief as model for 'spineless jobsworths' in British sport
LONDON, 29/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)In an interview with the head of the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki published on Tuesday, "Daily Telegraph" journalist Sue Mott presented the steely-willed "Iron Lady" of the Greek Olympics as a model for both athletes and sports officials in her own country that she said were failing to get things done.
"If Mrs Angelopoulos had feared failure, she would not have brought about the Athens Olympics, nor its 130 million euros profit (the first Games to finish with a surplus since Los Angeles in 1984)," Mott writes, comparing Angelopoulos' performance with what she called a "lackadaisical" attitude among sports managers in Britain.
 President says UN impetus expected for Cyprus settlement process
NICOSIA, 29/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said Tuesday that everyone should wait for UN actions to give impetus to the new process agreed on in Paris between himself and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, adding that the Turkish Cypriot side had to concede as well.
President Papadopoulos was speaking at the Presidential Palace after a farewell ceremony for Slovenia President Janez Drnovsek, who was on a state visit to Cyprus.
Referring to the visit, President Papadopoulos said it was ''useful'' and hoped it would be the beginning of closer bilateral relations and coordination in the EU and international fora.
Asked if during his meeting Monday with the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller the latter conveyed the reply of the Turkish Cypriot side for the creation of technical committees to probe into aspects of the Cyprus problem, President Papadopoulos clarified that ''they are not technical committees but committees on matters of a technical nature.''
He said Moller briefed him on his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot side and that if Moller wanted to make the result public he would have done so.
Asked if Talat was avoiding meeting with him to discuss the issue of missing persons, President Papadopoulos said ''on this humanitarian issue both sides understand that it is clearly a matter that should be kept away from political aims.''
He added that the priority was to appoint the third member of the Committee on Missing Persons.
 US official supports technical committees on Cyprus
NEW YORK, 29/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)US Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson has expressed support to setting up technical committees to discuss issues relating to the Cyprus question.
Speaking at the 25th conference on Turkish-American relations, in Washington, Ross also said that the US support Cyprus' reunification.
A joint statement issued after a 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".
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mathew Bryza told the conference that Turkey must fulfill the obligations it has undertaken towards the European Union, including opening its ports and air space to Cypriot vessels and aircraft.
Otherwise, he said, it will have problems in its EU accession course.
He noted that for this reason he is paying visits and holds contacts in the EU, in order to help achieve this objective.
 Spokesman says Greek and Cypriot positions identical
LIMASSOL, 29/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Government Spokesman George Lillikas said Tuesday that positions expressed by Greek Minister of Foreign
Affairs Dora Bakoyiannis to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the Cyprus problem were tantamount to those of the Cypriot government.
''On our side we will work in order to give a true opportunity to begin preparations with the help of the Secretary General, aiming at preparing the ground, narrowing the gap between the two sides, for new substantial initiatives,'' Lillikas added.
Asked what was discussed during Bakoyiannis' meeting with Annan, Lillikas said ''Mrs. Bakoyiannis certainly conveyed the positions as they have been shaped during the recent visit of the President of the Republic and the talks we had with the Prime Minister, the president and Mrs. Bakoyiannis in Athens.''
To questions regarding remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat that the Paris meeting between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Annan was a routine meeting and nothing had been agreed, Lillikas said this was how the Turkish side interpreted the joint statement issued after the meeting.
''Our view is different. We know what we discussed with the Secretary General and what the joint statement says,'' he added.
Referring to Talat's meeting with the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moler, the spokesman said the Greek Cypriot side was now waiting for the final positions to be shaped by the Turkish Cypriot side.
''Our wish is that the Turkish Cypriots and Ankara will respond positively to create the preconditions that will lead us, through serious preparation, to new talks which will have realistic prospects in order to reach a solution,'' he added.
 Cyprus FM holds meeting with Arab FMs
NICOSIA, 29/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Foreign Minister George Iacovou has discussed in Khartoum with Arab Foreign Ministers developments in the Cyprus
question, the status of Turkish Cypriot participation in the Islamic Conference Organization and resolutions on Cyprus adopted by the Organization, bilateral relations, the Palestinian issue and other matters of mutual interest.
Iacovou had separate meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Syria, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority and with the State Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, whom he briefed on the reasons that led the Greek Cypriots to reject in April 2004 a UN solution plan (the Annan plan). He also briefed them on the latest developments in Cyprus, with special emphasis on government policy to support the Turkish Cypriots and the conclusion of a recent meeting in Paris between President Papadopoulos and UN Secretary General.
The Arab ministers expressed hope that recent developments will lead to intensive negotiations to solve the Cyprus question, a press release said.
All meetings took place in a very friendly climate and the MinisterÔs interlocutors expressed satisfaction for the content of his speech before the preparatory meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Arab League member states.
Jordanian Foreign minister described Cyprus as an example that small countries should follow, with regard to its accomplishments especially in the social-economic field. He also expressed a desire for a closer relationship with Cyprus.
The Foreign minister of Syria referred to the traditional ties and excellent relations between Cyprus and Syria, underlining that he looks forward to their continuation and further enhancement.
The meeting with the Foreign Minister of Morocco covered boarder cooperation among countries participating in the Barcelona Process.
Iacovou agreed with the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates on the accreditation for the first time of a Cypriot Ambassador to Abu Dhabi, based in Nicosia.
The Minister of the United Arab Emirates backed cooperation with Cyprus in the financial and trade sectors and in investment.
The foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority briefed Iacovou on developments in the Palestinian territories after the victory of Hamas at the elections.
The Palestinian minister said he looked forward to Cyprus' important role in shaping EU policy towards the Palestinian Authority to assist peace negotiations for a final settlement in the Middle East issue.