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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-10

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM orders defence ministry to 'leave no stone unturned' in conscription dodging case
  • [02] PASOK spokesman criticises government over military service dodgers issue
  • [03] Inner cabinet meeting approves measures for unemployed people
  • [04] ND's Secretariat discusses party's action program for 2007
  • [05] Papoulias: 'Education is a matter of national importance'
  • [06] Students assemble in Athens to protest against revision of Article 16
  • [07] PASOK party leader addresses Parliamentary Council
  • [08] Foreign ministry responds to Gul statements on Moslem minority
  • [09] PASOK, Syn reiterate call for Parliament com't of inquiry into Vodafone phone tapping case
  • [10] Papoulias meets Drama prefect a month after new Greek-Bulgarian border post opens
  • [11] New leaders of U.S. Congress meet leadership of CEH
  • [12] NATO exercise in Varna
  • [13] Case of manipulation of shares at Athens Stock Exchange in 1999
  • [14] Greek budget revenues up 8.7 pct in 2006
  • [15] National holds majority of Finansbank
  • [16] FM Bakoyannis attends General Council session of Federation of Greek Industries
  • [17] Greek side concluded talks on Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline project
  • [18] Debate on tax exemptions bill begins in Parliament
  • [19] Greece launches 2007 tourism campaign
  • [20] Development minister to visit OECD HQ on Wednesday
  • [21] Greek exports up 14.9 pct in November, yr/yr
  • [22] Online shop in Germany for Greek quality products
  • [23] Deutsche Bank says Eurobank top choice for 2007
  • [24] Karelias Tobacco to invest 20 mln euros over next three years
  • [25] Zinon gets post office project
  • [26] AXA raises equity stake in PPC to 5.05 pct
  • [27] Building activity up 2.2 pct in Jan-Oct, yr/yr
  • [28] Centric Multimedia to buy 21% stake in ECN Management Ltd.
  • [29] Greek stocks end five-day rally on Tuesday
  • [30] Foreign Exchange Rates
  • [31] Former PM Constantine Mitsotakis undergoes successful bypass surgery
  • [32] European Human Rights Court landmark ruling on Great School of the Nation property in Istanbul
  • [33] Hellenic railways celebrate 130th anniversary of founding
  • [34] ESHEA announcement on IFJ's annual report
  • [35] UNHCR-sponsored concert in Athens this month
  • [36] Presentation of Greek-language edition of 'Salonica: City of Ghosts'
  • [37] Man jailed for possessing golden wreath dating to 4th Century B.C.
  • [38] Explosion of homemade device injures one and causes material damage
  • [39] Bid for hosting of XVII Mediterranean Games
  • [40] Weather Forecast: Scattered cloud on Wednesday
  • [41] Spokesman: Dismantling of bridge not to be rewared with concessions
  • [42] Cyprus to provide facilities to the Netherlands for UNIFIL

  • [01] PM orders defence ministry to 'leave no stone unturned' in conscription dodging case

    An inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday took up the resurfaced issue of conscription dodging, following the arrest of a high-ranking army officer last week on charges of tampering and forging official army records.

    According to Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis after the meeting, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis appeared unwavering in instructing the ministry's leadership to fully uncover any and all instances of wrongdoing.

    The defence ministry and the independent military justice branch is investigating thousands of conscription exemptions and deferments, many citing flimsy medical reasons, that were granted to eligible Greek citizens over the years. As yet unsubstantiated press reports claim that a fair share of local "celebrities" ' performers, football players, well-known attorneys, politicians and even well-connected sons of business leaders -- benefited from the scam.

    Meimarakis, in fact, reiterated that the ministry's intent was to release the names of individuals illegal exempted from military service, a decision that was blocked by a personal data independent watchdog and by a subsequent Council of State ruling.

    "What needs to be clarified, however, is to what extent the Hellenic Data Protection Authority can intervene, because not everyone can be slandered..." he said, adding that in various developed countries a complete biography and in numerous situations, a medical approval, is released for individuals holding important positions.

    Moreover, Meimarakis, the former ruling New Democracy party secretary, flatly dismissed criticism by main opposition PASOK over the affair.

    "The main opposition party must realise that it is the one under scrutiny, and it must apologise for the decay that existed all the years that it governed. All of the (conscription dodging) instances occurred before 2004 (when PASOK was in power)," he stressed, adding that both criminal and administrative probes will proceed.

    "All Greek citizens have the same rights and obligations," he underlined.

    Additionally, Meimarakis said there was no issue of raising the military tour of duty, with the ratio of professional troops vis-à-vis conscripts still being studied, "although with conditions the way they are today, we cannot only rely on a professional military".

    Gov't spokesman

    In echoing Meimarakis' criticism of PASOK's recent statements, the government spokesman on Tuesday referred to the main opposition party's "hypocrisy and opportunism".

    "The phenomenon they supposedly just discovered characterized the 20 years that PASOK was in power. Even though the truth doesn't suit PASOK, we are not all the same ... our government is uncovering what PASOK covered up, because they caused it," Theodoros Roussopoulos charged.

    In a related development later in the afternoon, the arrested lieutenant colonel requested and was granted a stay until Friday to appear before military prosecutor. The officer served as the Rouf facility in central Athens, where the conscription service is located.

    Finally, the defence ministry announced that a preliminary stage of the investigation has uncovered 83 instances of medical exemptions granted to individuals using medical documentation that dealt, however, with other persons.

    [02] PASOK spokesman criticises government over military service dodgers issue

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Petros Efthymiou said on Tuesday that "in the case of the military service dodgers, the ND government showed once again that it reveals what it can no longer cover up. This case is attributed to it absolutely as the responsibility of the national defense ministry and the government."

    Efthymiou added that "as the president of PASOK has stressed it is imperative that there be light for everything and for all in all of these cases."

    The spokesman further said that "if it is considered expedient that there should be a legislative arrangement, then this arrangement must exist as well, but everything must come to light on what is happening in this sensitive field."

    Lastly, asked whether data must be publicized, Efthymiou said "it is imperative that whatever does not concern the real protection of sensitive personal data must come to light. The meaning of personal data cannot include either forgerers or frauds and this is our categorical position."

    [03] Inner cabinet meeting approves measures for unemployed people

    A Greek inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday approved a plan -submitted by Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis- to set up a Social Solidarity Fund in sensitive and declining regions and sectors of the economy.

    The Fund, Tsitouridis said presenting the plan, would offer high monthly compensations to unemployed people with an age of more than 50 years, in declining sectors of the economy and in high-unemployment regions, until they find another job or meet preconditions for full retirement.

    The inner cabinet meeting also agreed to create an electronic governance agency for the country's social insurance system. The agency will create a national register of insured people and pensioners and will operate under private sector status although it will belong to the state.

    The meeting also agreed the appointment of a general inspector of healthcare spending to restructure and strengthen inspections and transparency rules.

    [04] ND's Secretariat discusses party's action program for 2007

    The Secretariat of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party convened on Tuesday under the chairmanship of ND Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.

    After the meeting, Zagoritis told reporters that under discussion was the party's action program for 2007, which, as he said, "will be an important year and will be used in order for the problems faced by the people to be solved."

    [05] Papoulias: 'Education is a matter of national importance'

    President Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday met separately with Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou and the union representing university professors, a day before debate begins in Parliament on revising controversial Article XVI , which precludes the establishment of recognised non-state universities in the country.

    In greeting the group of academics, Papoulias noted that "education is a matter of national importance, and I believe it there must be a foundation for consensus. By investing in education small European states have recorded excellent results and social progress, as well as economic progress and a brighter future for their children."

    Papoulias also met separately at the presidential mansion with Parliament vice-president Yiannis Tragakis, who also heads the legislature's constitutional revision committee.

    [06] Students assemble in Athens to protest against revision of Article 16

    Students assembled on Tuesday evening in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in front of the House of Parliament, with banners and placards, calling for Article 16 of the Constitution not to be revised and for private universities not to be founded in Greece.

    The students lit fire-crackers, shouted slogans, without, how-ever, disrupting traffic in the centre of Athens.

    Police were out in force but kept a large distance from the demonstrators.

    At noon on Wednesday, a rally by tutors and students will be held for the same demand, for Article 16 of the Constitution not to be revised, while in the afternoon, there will be a symbolic surrounding of Parliament.

    On Wednesday, university professors and teachers will conduct a nationwide strike, demanding for the non-revision of Article 16 which will be debated in Parliament on the same day.

    [07] PASOK party leader addresses Parliamentary Council

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressed his party's Parliamentary Council on Tuesday, stressing that the government "is at its end and for this reason all its movements are spasmodic."

    The meeting focused primarily on the party's joint proposal with the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party on the creation of a Fact-finding Committee to probe the phone tapping issue.

    Referring to the issue of military service dodgers, Papandreou expressed support for absolute transparency, but with respect for personal data, however.

    Party spokesman Petros Efthymiou said there can be no question of personal data protection in cases concerning forgeries, false certifications and other cases of fraud.

    Papandreou also referred to education -article 16 of the Constitution was not a topic of discussion- and to what the education minister reportedly said in a meeting with reporters on the examination system, accusing the government of handling all issues with "unbelievable offhandedness."

    On the question of phonetapping, Efthymiou noted that the common denominator of the positions of both the party leader and of cadres who referred to the issue was that it "is the biggest scandal of the post-junta era that harmed democratic institutions."

    [08] Foreign ministry responds to Gul statements on Moslem minority

    The Greek foreign ministry reacted sharply on Tuesday to Turkish statements on Greece's Moslem minority, saying that "Greece is proud of her European policy on minorities which continuously develops and constitutes an example to imitate."

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, responding to statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said: "The members of the Moslem minority of Thrace are Greek citizens and citizens of Europe who fully enjoy civil equality and equality before the law. Greece is proud of her European policy on minorities which continuously develops and constitutes an example to imitate."

    "It is self-evident that the rights and the improvement of the quality of life of Greek Moslem citizens, of Turkish, Pomac and Gypsy origin are not an issue of negotiation," Koumoutsakos concluded.

    Gul had stated that Turkey was "ready to negotiate with Greece the minority issue," claiming that "one of the most important issues in our contacts with the Greek leadership is the issue of the minority in Western Thrace." Gul was speaking during an off the agenda debate in the Turkish National Assembly. Among other things, Gul claimed that Greece "does not recognize equal rights of education to the minority."

    [09] PASOK, Syn reiterate call for Parliament com't of inquiry into Vodafone phone tapping case

    Main opposition PASOK and the smaller Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party on Tuesday again called for the formation of a Parliamentary committee of inquiry to investigate the unprecedented Vodafone phone tapping conspiracy.

    In a latter to Parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki, both parties criticized the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for "acting with the reasoning of a cover-up..." PASOK and Synaspismos also charged that the government did not follow the law, failed to best exploit an independent telecoms security authority and "entangled" the justice system in an "essentially dead-end probe".

    The mobile phones of several top government cadres, including one infrequently used by the prime minister himself, as well as high-ranking military officials, a handful of well-known local anti-globalization activists and even a US embassy employee -- more than 100 mobile phones in all - were bugged from within Vodafone's system.

    A day earlier, the government reiterated its position of opposing the establishment of Parliamentary committees of inquiry when cases are still being investigated by the independent judiciary. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos made the statement at a regular press briefing when asked about opposition demands to form such a body vis-à-vis the phone tapping case.

    In the letter, which features the signatures of PASOK leader George Papandreou and Synaspismos head Alekos Alavanos prominently at the top, the two parties ask a series of questions, such as the identity of the perpetrators, a comprehensive list of the individuals whose phones were bugged and if the content of the under surveillance communications still exist, while sharply criticising the government's handling of the entire affair when it was uncovered in early 2005.

    KKE

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday called for the creation of a Fact-finding Committee to make an "in-depth" probe of the phonetapping issue, with a proposal tabled by the party's deputies, headed by Secretary General Aleka Papariga.

    KKE's deputies noted that during the examination of the issue by the relevant Parliamentary committee questions such as who and how organized the phonetapping operation, how and why was it not discovered for as long as it was being carried out and how, who and why proceeded with "erasing" actions of phonetapping traces before and after the revelations, have not been given an answer.

    Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda said that the proposal does not fulfill preconditions set by the Regulation (the proposal for the creation of a Factfinding Committee must be signed by a fifth of the entire number of deputies) and consequently it will not be discussed by the plenum.

    [10] Papoulias meets Drama prefect a month after new Greek-Bulgarian border post opens

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias met with the prefect of Drama, north Greece, Konstantinos Evmiridis on Tuesday on the occasion of the recent opening of a new Greek-Bulgarian border crossing tunnel and the reopening of the Exohi customs post.

    The inauguration ceremony was held last December in the presence of Papoulias and his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov.

    [11] New leaders of U.S. Congress meet leadership of CEH

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)

    The new heads of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), respectively, received last week the personal congratulations of members of the leadership of the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH). These CEH leaders included Andrew A. Athens, Philip Christopher, Andy Manatos, Panicos Papanicolaou, Nikos Mouyiaris and Mike Manatos.

    As well, CEH leaders held discussions with some of the most influential Senators and Members of Congress for Hellenic and Orthodox matters, including: the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE); the Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Congressman David Obey (D-WI); the Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL); Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ); House International Relations Committee member, Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO); as well as the House Majority Leader, Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

    These leaders also had meetings with some of the top advocates for Hellenic issues in the U.S. Congress, including: Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME); the co-chairs of the Hellenic Caucus, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL); as well as Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD).

    CEH leaders also held discussions with the Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandros Mallias and the Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States Andreas Kakouris, who also met with significant Senators and Members.

    [12] NATO exercise in Varna

    Greece will be among eight NATO countries -- Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Turkey -- that will take part in the alliance's MAKO exercise, held at a naval base in Varna, Bulgaria with the additional participation of six Partnership for Peace members (Albania, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Finland, Russia, Ukraine) as well as two "Mediterranean Dialogue" countries (Algeria, Israel).

    Two Istanbul Cooperation Initiative countries, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, will also attend the exercise as observers.

    The exercise is conducted by the Allied command in Naples.

    [13] Case of manipulation of shares at Athens Stock Exchange in 1999

    Public Prosecutor Panagiotis Athanassiou on Tuesday called for the conviction of 6 of the 11 accused in the case of the manipulation of shares at the Athens Stock Exchange in 1999.

    The accused are financiers, cadres of businesses and entrepreneurs who face the charge of violating financing legislation which concerns the period March-September 1999.

    The public prosecutor said in his proposal that he calls for the acquittal of the other five, given that they had no substantial role in the decisions for the sale of shares in other of their real value, which according to the arraignment harmed the investors.

    Financial News

    [14] Greek budget revenues up 8.7 pct in 2006

    Greek budget revenues rose 6.5 percent in December for an annual growth of 8.7 pct in 2006, surpassing the budget's goal for the year, Finance Deputy Minister Antonis Bezas said on Tuesday.

    Presenting the figures, Bezas said VAT revenues grew by 13.2 pct in December for an annual growth of 12.2 pct last year compared with 2005. Commenting on the figures, the Greek minister stressed 2006 revenues were encouraging to continue a more systematic effort towards restructuring the country's public finances.

    Tax agency revenues rose 6.0 pct in December, while revenues in tax agencies and customs rose by 4.4 pct over the same month.

    [15] National holds majority of Finansbank

    Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece said on Tuesday that it held 80.40% of share capital in Finansbank of Turkey.

    National, the country's largest banking group, told the Athens bourse in a statement that a public offer for minority stock in Finansbank over the last two days had brought 4,295,804,560 common shares by midday, representing 34.4% of stock in the private sector bank.

    [16] FM Bakoyannis attends General Council session of Federation of Greek Industries

    The General Council of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) held its first session of the new year on Monday evening in the presence of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    Also present at the session, which was held at the federation's offices, were Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Coooperation, Theodoros Skylakakis.

    SEB President Dimitris Daskalopoulos in his address to the foreign minister noted that "today, more than any time before, economy and foreign policy are linked and contemporary Greek business and the Greek entrepreneur through his initiatives, can constitute the spear-head of our national policy."

    On her part, Bakoyannis noted that "the Greek economy, beyond the Eurozone, is obliged to seek, all the more, new roads for extrovert growth." She added that "the turn towards economic diplomacy and particularly its broadening towards the rapidly developing countries apart from the Balkans and the European Union, such as China, the Arab world and Russia, but also the energy diplomacy which was added to it, constitute the government's initiative and work."

    [17] Greek side concluded talks on Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline project

    Talks on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project between the Greek, Russian and Bulgarian sides have concluded while talks between Russia and Bulgaria are still to be completed, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Tuesday.

    "All points in talks that had to be clarified have been clarified and what remains are talks between the Russian and Bulgarian sides to be completed. Therefore, the Greek side has concluded the agreement within the timeframe which had been set," Roussopoulos told reporters.

    [18] Debate on tax exemptions bill begins in Parliament

    The debate on the tax exemptions bill through sponsorships in the culture sector, which as Culture Minister George Voulgarakis said "is expected to help the finances of Culture", began in Parliament on Tuesday. The bill is expected to be ratified on Wednesday night.

    Voulgarakis clarified that "all the observations made by agencies and parties have been included in the draft law" to ensure that the bill will not be bureaucratic and time-consuming "but to function as a paramount legislative intervention," as the minister stressed.

    According to the observations, the extension of tax exemptions to civil non-profit companies is also anticipated, the tabling of the sponsorship at the minister's office (to avoid the bureaucratic process) and the convening of the Sponsorships Council every 15 days (it had initially been anticipated every two months).

    [19] Greece launches 2007 tourism campaign

    Greece on Tuesday presented its new tourism campaign abroad for 2007, with "Explore Your Senses in Greece" as the main slogan.

    "The basic target for 2007 is for Greece's publicity message to reach one billion recipients around the world, directly or indirectly," Tourism Minister Fanny Palli Petralia told a news conference.

    "In 2007, Greece aims to achieve a rise in tourist arrivals even greater than the 10% figure for 2006 when visitors topped 15 million for the first time," the minister noted.

    This year's budget for the campaign is 40 million euros, including participation in about 100 international trade fairs and other events in sports, trade and the arts.

    Plans also include strategic alliances with global publications such as the New York Times, Spiegel and Forbes.

    In addition, CNN International will host more than 4,800 Greek tourism commercials, Petralia reported.

    [20] Development minister to visit OECD HQ on Wednesday

    Development minister Dimitris Sioufas will visit the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) headquarters in Paris on Wednesday, at the invitation of OECD general secretary Angel Gurria, it was announced on Tuesday.

    On Thursday, Sioufas will address the OECD Council on Greece's developmental model and its priorities in the energy sector.

    He will also hold talks with Gurria on Thursday, to be followed by a luncheon in Sioufas' honor hosted by the OECD chief.

    Sioufas will be accompanied by ministry secretary general Nikos Stefanou and other ministry officials.

    [21] Greek exports up 14.9 pct in November, yr/yr

    Greek exports grew by 14.9 pct in value in November, compared with the same month last year, while the value of imports rose by 7.9 pct over the same period, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the value of export-deliveries totaled 1.547 billion euros in November, up from 1.346 billion euros in November 2005, while the value of import-arrivals totaled 4.285 billion euros from 3.971 billion euros over the same months, respectively.

    [22] Online shop in Germany for Greek quality products

    The first Greek website in Germany selling Greek quality food products such as olive oil, wine, ouzo, and a variety of Greek cuisine delicacies online 'opened' two years ago and is a major success among German consumers, according to a Deutsche Welle website report.

    The owners of the online shop, among them a child of Greek immigrants, mention that their target is the average German consumer who, even though knows all about the Greek islands, does not know much about the Greek quality products. Costumers do not have to buy large quantities but they will have to pay letter rates which in essence are a fixed charge paid by all costumers placing an order of less than 49 euros.

    The Hellasshop owners also mention that there is an increased demand for Greek organic products by the German consumers such as, olive oil-based cosmetics.

    [23] Deutsche Bank says Eurobank top choice for 2007

    Deutsche Bank on Tuesday said Greek and Spanish banks were offering the best growth prospects among European banks this year, based on their expected growth.

    In a report published on Tuesday, Deutsche Bank's analysts said Austrian and Central-Eastern European banks were fully valued, while macro-economic imbalances should 'restrain' Turkish banks. Although many banks, like in Greece, present both strong growth rates and performances, their evaluation for 2008 were not demanding.

    The German bank included three European banks expected to record strong growth rates this year, with EFG Eurobank the top choice with a target price of 32 euros per share.

    Deutsche Bank's analysts, in their report, said Eurobank's contribution in New Europe (Southeastern and Central Europe) could be more significant this year than originally estimated (if profits from the region accounted for 10 percent of total profits then estimates for earnings per share could rise by 5.0 pct in 2007). The report concluded that Eurobank's assets in New Europe was not correctly valued in the bank's current share price.

    [24] Karelias Tobacco to invest 20 mln euros over next three years

    Karelias Tobacco Industry SA on Tuesday announced plans to invest 20 million euros over the next three years, after successfully completed an investment in the production facilities of the Slims brand.

    The company's board said the new investment would be funded from the company's capital reserves and would aim at modernising production, raising production capacity and offering 12 new brands in foreign markets.

    [25] Zinon gets post office project

    Athens-quoted Zinon SA announced on Tuesday that it had won a 1.5 million euro contract for automation of Hellenic Post Offices' central sorting centre in a sub-contracting deal from Elsag of Italy.

    Elsag is a member of the neighbouring country's Finmeccanica Industrial Group that operates in defense, security and aerospace technology.

    Including the deal, new contracts signed by Zinon over the last two months total more than four million euros, the company said in a statement.

    [26] AXA raises equity stake in PPC to 5.05 pct

    Public Power Corporation on Tuesday announced that the French group AXA SA has raised its equity participation in the Greek electricity utility's equity capital to 5.05 percent.

    AllianceBernstein, a US-based company, together with AXA Investment Managers also own 3.39 pct of PPC's voting shares.

    [27] Building activity up 2.2 pct in Jan-Oct, yr/yr

    Building activity fell by 2.3 pct (measured by the number of permits) but rose by 2.2 pct in volume in the January-October 2006 period, compared with the same 10-month period in 2005, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.

    NSS, in its monthly report, said the biggest percentage declines were recorded in western Macedonia (12.2 pct), northern Aegean (9.9 pct) and Epirus (8.1 pct), while the Ionian islands (14.6 pct) and southern Aegean (9.1 pct) recorded the biggest percentage increases in the 10-month period.

    [28] Centric Multimedia to buy 21% stake in ECN Management Ltd.

    Centric Multimedia SA on Tuesday announced a board decision to buy a 21-percent equity stake in ECN Management Ltd., a UK-based company, for 500,000 euros after completion of all legal evaluation procedures.

    The Greek-listed company expects the purchase to be completed by Jan., 31 2007.

    Centric Multimedia also purchased the archives of Athens sports newspaper "Athletiki Iho", a newspaper founded in 1956, to create a Greek-language sports news data bank.

    [29] Greek stocks end five-day rally on Tuesday

    Greek stocks ended slightly lower on Tuesday, as profit taking ended a five-day rally at the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE). The composite index of the market ended 0.39 percent down at 4,584.23 points, with turnover a hefty 458 million euros.

    Sector indices ended mostly lower with Telecommunications (1.84 pct), Chemicals (1.62 pct), Travel (1.40 pct) suffering the biggest percentage losses of the day, while the Healthcare (1.30 pct), Raw Materials (0.73 pct) and Financial Services (0.60 pct) sectors scored gains.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.36 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.72 pct higher and the Small Cap index eased 0.57 pct.

    Varvaressos (20 pct), Vision-Sound (13.95 pct) and Hitech (10 pct) were top gainers, while Vis (17.60 pct), Desmos (10.71 pct) and Elfico (9.39 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 190 to 85 with another 36 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.41%

    Industrials: +0.25%

    Commercial: +0.21%

    Construction: -0.30%

    Media: -0.26%

    Oil & Gas: -0.83%

    Personal & Household: +0.29%

    Raw Materials: +0.73%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.40%

    Technology: -0.31%

    Telecoms: -1.84%

    Banks: +0.28%

    Food & Beverages: unchanged

    Health: +1.30%

    Utilities: -0.64%

    Chemicals: -1.62%

    Financial Services: +0.60%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Marfin Popular and OTE.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 24.46

    ATEbank: 4.26

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.74

    HBC Coca Cola: 31.00

    Hellenic Petroleum: 10.90

    Emporiki Bank: 23.24

    National Bank of Greece: 37.00

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 29.22

    Intralot: 26.84

    Cosmote: 23.02

    OPAP: 29.82

    OTE: 24.00

    Titan Cement Company: 42.50

    Derivatives Market Close: Intracom top in stock futures trade

    Equity Index Futures:

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

  • Underlying Index: -0.36%

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

  • Underlying Index: +0.71%

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (1603)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 177.0 million euros

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.23 pct

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.23 pct yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (1.4 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.9 bln euros

    [30] Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    U.S. dollar 1.321

    Pound sterling 0.675

    Danish kroner 7.513

    Swedish kroner 9.168

    Japanese yen 156.5

    Swiss franc 1.625

    Norwegian kroner 8.321

    Cyprus pound 0.583

    Canadian dollar 1.545

    Australian dollar 1.680

    General News

    [31] Former PM Constantine Mitsotakis undergoes successful bypass surgery

    Honorary New Democracy party President and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis underwent a bypass operation with success on Tuesday, according to an announcement by the Onassio Cardiosurgery Centre. It added that his post-operation course is developing smoothly.

    The announcement further said that his pre-operation assessment had been completed on Tuesday morning by the First Cardiological Department, with the attending doctors being professor Dionysios Kokkinos and the Department's deputy director Vassilios Voudris.

    The operation, that began at 16:00, was successfully completed at 20:20.

    Mitsotakis was hospitalized at the Onassion on Monday afternoon for scheduled medical examinations, and the surgery was decided on Tuesday following the completion and assessment of the examinations, as well as complaints of discomfort by Mitsotakis over the preceding four days, and arrhythmia.

    An Onassion medical bulletin had said that the results of the examinations ascertained the need for bypass surgery.

    Mitsotakis' daughter, foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, and his son, MP Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and other family members were at the former prime minister's side.

    Premier Karamanlis contacts Mitsotakis

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis contacted on Monday night former prime minister and honorary president of the ruling New Democracy party (ND) Constantine Mitsotakis who is being hospitalized at the Onassion Cardiosurgery Centre, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Tuesday.

    "We all wish a quick recovery to the former prime minister," Roussopoulos added.

    [32] European Human Rights Court landmark ruling on Great School of the Nation property in Istanbul

    ISTANBUL(ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    The European Court of Human Rights, by virtue of a ruling, has ordered the Turkish state to return to the Great School of the Nation in Istanbul a piece of property that had been seized in 1974, members of the board of directors of the Foundation of the School announced on Tuesday.

    The ruling, which was officially announced to the Foundation's board on Tuesday, demands from the Turkish state to return the property to the School within three months or pay it a compensation of 900,000 euros. Failure to comply with the ruling within the three-month deadline will mean that a penalty interest will apply to the sum of the indemnity for every day of delay.

    The Foundation's board met on Tuesday to be briefed on the historic ruling by the European Court of Human Rights and to decide its next steps, stressing that what needed to be ensured was the School's ability to manage the School's assets unobstructed.

    The foundation's lawyer, Gulden Alkan, could not be imme-diately found for comment on the ruling, which is considered to reward the strategy she has employed for the restoration of justice.

    The ruling further opens up a different route for the restitution of the injustices that have accured, while the road of legislative changes is also progressing in tandem.

    "Even the deficiencies in the new legislation prepared by the Turkish government can be remedied via justice," according to board members and legal experts.

    This is the first ruling by the European Court of Human Rights condemning Turkey on matters concerning the public benefit foundations of the Christian minorities in that country.

    To now, the administrations of such foundations had avoided taking recourse in justice, placing their hopes for vindication in the political initiatives of the European governments to place pressure on the Turkish government.

    [33] Hellenic railways celebrate 130th anniversary of founding

    Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Tuesday inaugurated a series of special events organised to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the founding of state-run Hellenic Railways (OSE).

    During a ceremony, the minister said the 130th anniversary finds OSE at a turning point, as significant and crucial reforms were currently underway, separating and restructuring its activities. Liapis said a modernization of the country's rail network was a very important project that would result in upgraded services to commuters.

    However, he acknowledged that OSE still lagged far behind European standards and needed large-scale interventions, such as separating operations from infrastructure, enabling the carrier to focus more on services. Liapis reiterated that reforms would not affect labour rights or social benefits to workers. "Job positions are ensured and any vested rights will not be harmed," he noted.

    A restructured OSE will also include the Athens-area Suburban Railway. "The new companies will remain under the control of the state," Liapis said.

    [34] ESHEA announcement on IFJ's annual report

    The Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) on Tuesday announced that "the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) with its annual report says that 2006 was a year when journalism found itself at the firing squad."

    ESHEA noted that the IFJ report said:"Specifically, 155 murders and 'unresolved deaths' of journalists occurred in 2006 despite the positive development which arose at the end of the year, when for the first time in its history, the United Nations, by unanimous decision of the members of the Security Council, on December 23, called on the governments of all the member-countries to respect international law at war zones and care for the protection of non-combatant civilians. The Security Council is aiming at putting an end to the status of impunity, which prevails, and all those responsible for the death of journalists to be brought to justice."

    The IFJ noted the tragic increase in the casualties of journalists which occurred in Iraq in 2006, in parallel to the increase of armed violence and the resistance against the country's military occupation. "The mass media are becoming targets not only by terrorist attacks but also of military operations in the country. Registered in Iraq are 68 casualties of employees in the mass media, raising the total number of deaths to 170 since 2003, the year when the invasion of the country started," IFJ said.

    [35] UNHCR-sponsored concert in Athens this month

    Greek performer Giorgos Dalaras will launch his tenure as a UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) goodwill ambassador with a concert at Athens' Megaron concert hall on Jan. 30.

    Dalaras had previously given an UNHCR-affiliated performance in June 2001 during a concert at the Delphi amphitheatre on the occasion of the first-ever World Refugee Day, along with two other major concerts that same year at the Herod Atticus Odeon in Athens.

    The concert will be held under the UNHCR auspices and all proceeds will be offered for UN relief programs aiding refugee children in Africa.

    [36] Presentation of Greek-language edition of 'Salonica: City of Ghosts'

    British author Mark Mazower used the term "historical anthropology" to refer to his prominent book "Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews 1430-1950", saying it became an alibi for the different opinions expressed regarding its contents, speaking during the presentation of the Greek-language edition in Thessaloniki on Monday.

    Mazower, a history professor at Columbia University, deals with the Christians, Muslims and Jews that lived in the south Balkan metropolis of Thessaloniki (Salonica) during the 500-year period between 1430 and 1950.

    [37] Man jailed for possessing golden wreath dating to 4th Century B.C.

    A court in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, on Tuesday sentenced a construction worker to five-and-a-half years imprisonment, in the possession of whom was found in 2000 a golden wreath from the era of Phillip B', which dates to the third quarter of the 4th Century B.C.

    The sentence was imposed on 52-year-old Andreas Gaitatzis, from Thessaloniki's region of Melissohori, who found the golden wreath of priceless archaeological value in a private field in August 2000.

    [38] Explosion of homemade device injures one and causes material damage

    One person was slightly injured by broken glass after an explosion recorded in the early morning hours on Tuesday outside a cafeteria in Patras, southern Greece.

    A homemade explosive device was placed by unidentified individuals outside the coffee shop and was detonated after it was closed for the night. The explosion was so powerful that destroyed the glass windows of the cafeteria and caused material damage to nearby homes and stores as well as to three parked cars.

    A police investigation is underway for the arrest of those responsible.

    Sports

    [39] Bid for hosting of XVII Mediterranean Games

    Volos, the third largest port of Greece, and Larisa, two historical cities located in the region of Thessaly, in central Greece, distinguished for their sports activities throughout the years, bid for the hosting of the XVII Mediterranean Games of 2013. The other applicant cities are Rijeka (Croatia) and Mersin (Turkey).

    Isidoros Kouvelos, President of the Bid Comittee, on the occasion of the first visit of the Evaluation Commission of the International Committee for the Mediterranean Games for the hosting of the XVII Mediterranean Games, stated that "the bid of Volos and Larisa for the hosting of the 2013 Mediterranean Games is first and foremost human-centred. Its objective is to promote the culture, the environment, the friendship and the cooperation of the Mediterranean people and at the same time to upgrade the Games, by offering the best hospitality and the best competition conditions to the athletes, and the best coverage of their efforts. We, as a professional team that has the unique experience of organizing successful Olympic Games in 2004, with highly-trained volunteers and with the full support of the local societies, would like to declare and prove in practice to our distinguished visitors that we have the will and the ability to organize unique Mediterranean Games in 2013."

    Deputy Minister of Sports George Orfanos said on his part that "the Greek government faces with great interest the candidacy for the hosting of the Mediterranean Games in 2013. The upgrading of the Games and the hospitality of major international events in Greece are part of our policy's priorities. Greece is able and willing to organize the Mediterranean Games, as it has a unique experience in international events. We will be ready to host unique Mediterranean Games in 2013, if you give us the honor to select the candidacy of VOLOS 2013."

    The Evaluation Commission of the International Committee for the Mediterranean Games for the 17th Mediterranean Games will be making an evaluation visit to Volos and Larissa between January 9-13, 2007, to make an assessment of Greece's candidacy to host the Mediterranean Games in 2013.

    The Evaluation commission will be in Volos with all its members and will be composed of President Jacques Grospeillet (France) and its members Souhail Khoury (Lebanon), Jose Maria Echevarria (Spain), Moustafa Zekhri (Morocco) and Sophie Metais (France).

    [40] Weather Forecast: Scattered cloud on Wednesday

    Scattered cloud is forecast in all parts of the country, with showers mainly in the Aegean and Dodecanese islands, and Crete. Temperatures in Athens from 7C to 16C; and in Thessaloniki between 2C and 13C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [41] Spokesman: Dismantling of bridge not to be rewared with concessions

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The removal of an illegally erected footbridge could by no means be considered as a retreat or concession on behalf of the Turkish side, stressed Tuesday Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes, commenting on the dismantling of the footbridge that the occupation regime constructed a year ago at the Turkish occupied areas of Nicosia, the last divided capital in the world.

    ''Removing this illegality committed by the perpetrators should not be applauded as a noble gesture of goodwill, neither should it be rewarded with concessions on our part,'' the spokesman said.

    On Tuesday, the Turkish occupation regime began dismantling the footbridge that it illegally erected a year ago at the end of the Ledra Street in the northern occupied areas of Nicosia.

    The bridge was erected so that Turkish military could unhindered continue its patrols.

    The spokesman reiterated that the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point does not only depend on the removal of the footbridge, but rather on the creation of secure conditions for the smooth and safe free movement of all citizens.

    The government of Cyprus has submitted to the UN in writing the preconditions to open the Ledra Street crossing point, which include the withdrawal of the troops from the region, the unmanning of the area, the restoration of adjacent buildings and the demining.

    Pashiardes noted that the dismantling work began Tuesday "upon a decision taken by the Turkish military leadership and with the full compliance on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot leadership".

    Asked whether the government intends to demolish the wall in front of the government of Cyprus' National Guard observation post at Ledras Street, the spokesman referred to the proposals put forward by the government of Cyprus for the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point in 2005, saying that these proposals are still valid.

    "We are ready to discuss our proposals through the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus so that to open the crossing point and enable more contacts between the two communities of Cyprus. There is no political expedience on our part", he said.

    The main goal for the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point, he added, is the secure movement of all citizens and the creation of a climate of mutual trust between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    "But the citizens' security is not at all safeguarded by the maintenance of crumbly adjacent buildings and mines in the area, nor is a climate of mutual trust promoted by the provocative presence of Turkish military patrols and symbols of the pseudostate", he underlined.

    The dismantling of the footbridge or the demolition of a wall do not serve the cause of opening the Ledra Street crossing point, he pointed out.

    Answering to questions, Pashiardes noted that it was a Greek Cypriot side's initiative and not a Turkish side's initiative to open the Ledra Street crossing point.

    "We submitted our proposals for the opening of the crossing point in December 2005 and in July 2006. A year after the submission of our proposals, the Turkish side chose just one part of our overall proposals, namely the dismantling of the footbridge, announcing that this is a Turkish initiative and a sensational move", he said.

    The Greek Cypriot side, he added, is not interested in the creation of impressions and he wondered why the Turkish side does not proceed to a dialogue through the UNFICYP for the secure opening of the crossing point.

    "If the Turkish side really seeks to open the crossing point, why does it not proceed to a dialogue that would enable the removal of every obstacle that hinders the free and secure movement of people?" he wondered.

    Pashiardes said that so far, the Turkish side has not responded to the Greek Cypriot side's call to proceed to a dialogue through the UNIFICYP.

    "I have no reason to doubt that UNIFICYP conveyed our proposals to the Turkish side. But I have reasons to doubt that the Turkish side is not aware of our proposal. Our proposals, our readiness and our willingness to discuss all aspects concerning the smooth and secure opening of the crossing point are still valid", he pointed out.

    Commenting on remarks by the Turkish press that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat asserted his authority upon the Turkish military for the dismantling of the footbridge, Pashiardes recalled that the Turkish General Staff had issued an announcement in which it stated that "the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point falls within its exclusive competence and Talat is considered to be incompetent to decide and discuss the matter".

    Pashiardes questioned Talat's freedom to make his own decisions, since "the first and last word regarding the Cyprus issue, belongs to Ankara and not to the Turkish Cypriot leader-ship".

    He furthermore wondered ''which would be the purpose or the outcome of a meeting between President Papadopoulos and Mehmet Ali Talat who is considered by the Turkish army as incompetent and who is basically hindered by the Turkish army to discuss matters of military nature?".

    Pashiardes recalled the agreement between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on July 8, 2006 to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    He said that according to the July 8 agreement, President Papadopoulos and Mehmet Ali Talat are to meet from time to time as appropriate, to give directions to the expert bi-communal working groups as well as to review the work of the Technical Committees.

    "Given that the technical committees and the teams of experts have not been established yet, there is for now no substantive reason of a

    meeting between them, but the creation of an impression that they met, without any practical outcome", he said.

    Invited to comment on press reports that Talat had asked the withdrawal of just a number of Turkish military troops from Cyprus, Pashiardes said that the government of Cyprus has no such information.

    He said that if press reports are true, such a withdrawal would actually mean nothing, since it would not lift the illegal occupation of the Republic of Cyprus nor could such a move be hailed by anyone.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    [42] Cyprus to provide facilities to the Netherlands for UNIFIL

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The cabinet in Cyprus has approved an agreement with the Netherlands to provide facilities to Dutch forces and other personnel participating in UNIFIL.

    An official press release said here that during its last session, the cabinet approved an Agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and the

    Kingdom of the Netherlands, concluded in the form of an exchange of verbal notes between the Dutch Embassy and the Cypriot Foreign Ministry. It authorized the Foreign Minister to table a bill for the ratification of the Agreement before the House of Representatives.

    The Netherlands participates in the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and has asked for the use of airport and other facilities provided by the Republic to countries participating in UNIFIL.

    The Agreement regulates the presence and activities of members of the Dutch Armed forces and other personnel within Cyprus, navigation

    within the island's territorial waters and the use of its air space and roads by aircrafts and vehicles.


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