|Sunday, 17 January 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-05-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 15 May 2007 Issue No: 2594
 Greek, Austrian Presidents discuss bilateral, EU and int'l issuesAustrian President Heinz Fischer, on a state visit to Greece, on Monday called a settlement of the political crisis in neighbouring Turkey on the basis of democratic principles, "which are of decisive importance for the European family".
Fischer spoke to reporters after talks with his host, Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
On Turkey's EU accession process, Fischer said it would be time-consuming, given that the country's progress in fulfilling EU economic and political criteria must be ascertained, adding that "it is even more difficult to predict whether, in the end, there will be some other form of (Turkey's) association with the EU".
"What we are doing now, however, is supporting the entire process, as are all the other EU member countries," he said.
Papoulias, replying to a question on the Kosovo issue, said it was a "very important European problem, and not just a Balkan one," adding that "a solution must be found that is satisfactory to both sides, not one 'imposed by above' but the product of agreement between the two sides".
Such a solution, the Greek President continued, "must respect the human rights of minorities, and not be a seasonal one ... there should be no time restrictions, but instead we should have all the time to work out proposals that will result in such a solution that will not create problems".
"There must be an agreement of all the European countries as well as the UN Security Council members," he added.
Fischer, questioned on the FYROM name issue, noted that the country had become a UN member as "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)", adding that this matter should be resolved by Greece and FYROM.
On bilateral relations, Papoulias stressed that "if all the relations amongst countries were like those of Greece and Austria, we would be living in paradise".
He said that an identity of views were ascertained both in his private meetings with Fischer in Ioannina over the weekend, where Papoulias hosted Fischer on the private leg of the Austrian president's visit, as well as during the official talks between the two delegations earlier on Monday.
The agenda of talks covered bilateral economic and commercial relations, in which Papoulias noted there were margins for improvement on the Greek side, attributing the deficit in the trade balance on Greece's side to the "laid-back" attitude of Greek entrepreneurs.
The two Presidents also described as "exceptional" the relations between the two countries in the sectors of tourism and culture, and also their cooperation in international organisations and fora.
In a specific reference to the European Union, Papoulias expressed hope that a common solution would be reached regarding the Constitutional Treaty so as to give new momentum to Europe.
On the same issue, Fischer noted the efforts by the German EU presidency towards an auspicious conclusion, and endorsed a new Treaty that would be put before the European Parliament's present composition.
Papoulias presented Fischer with three works by Thucydides "so that he may remember his ancient Greek", given that the Austrian president graduated from a classical high school and was taught ancient Greek.
The official two-day leg of Fischer's visit to Greece will wind up on Tuesday.
 President Papoulias hosts official dinner in honour of Austrian counterpart FischerPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias hosted an official dinner in honour of Austrian President Heinz Fischer in Athens on Monday evening.
Speaking at the dinner, Papoulias stressed that "Greece and Austria want a politically, economically and socially strong (European) Union, which will maintain its cultural multiplicity and strength, which will operate in a stabilising way in the global system and will contribute to world growth."
He noted that the EU enlargement process was successful and contributed significantly in the reunification of divided Europe. He added, however, that "the enlargement with new members must be in balance with the need for the European Union to operate properly."
Referring to Turkey, the president stressed that Greece supports its accession to the EU, but reiterated that "this country is obliged to fulfill completely all the terms and the prerequisites which have been set."
He added that "we are observing with attention the latest developments in the neighbouring country and we wish for there to be a democratic way out of the current, difficult, political and institutional conjecture."
Regarding the Cyprus issue, he reiterated that "we support an overall, just and viable solution for the reunification of Cyprus, without arbitration and timeframes, which would have been agreed by the two communities and will be approved with referendums."
President Papoulias noted that Greece remains a steadfast supporter of the western Balkans' European course. As for the Kosovo issue, he stressed that "We believe that the solution must be concensual and to agree with International Law and the United Nations Charter. I also believe that diplomacy must not operate under the pressure of asphyxiating timeframes."
Regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the president reminded that Greece has supported, from the beginning, the neighbouring country's European course, but "the rate of the necessary reforms there must intensify."
"Furthermore, the stance of this country's government, as to the solution of the name issue, is unfortunately not constructive. This will naturally have an effect in the course of FYROM's relations with the European Union and NATO in the coming future," Papoulias stressed.
 PM has working dinner with Austrian presidentPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday had a working dinner with visiting Austrian President Heinz Fischer. Prior to the dinner, the two men had held talks in private.
 Fischer meets Greek Parliament presidentVisiting Austrian President Heinz Fischer on Monday met Greek Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, who is the third-ranking Greek state official after the president of the country and the prime minister.
"Your visit is an important indicator of the very good relations between Greece and Austria. In all areas there is a coincidence of views between the two countries, we have the same goals within the European Union, we have taken the same stance with regard to the European Constitutional Treaty," Psarouda-Benaki said.
She noted the need to further expand cooperation between the Greek and Austrian Parliaments, a proposal that Fischer agreed with.
Fischer, who has served as an Austrian Parliament speaker in the past, also noted the very similar views between Greece and Austrian on EU issues and referred to the significant progress that has been made in the two countries' bilateral relations and the prospects for improving these further.
 Austrian President bestowed Athens' Gold Medal of MeritAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Monday bestowed the Gold Medal of Merit of the City of Athens to Austrian President Heinz Fischer who is on an official visit to Greece.
The government was represented at the ceremony, which was held at the Athens Town Hall at Kotzia Square, by Deputy Health and Social Solidarity Minister George Constantopoulos.
The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) was represented by deputy Vassilis Togias.
Also present at the event were ruling New Democracy (ND) party deputy and president of the Friendship Group of the Parliaments of the two countries Athanassios Katsiyiannis, ambassadors of foreign countries in Greece, Athens Municipality Secretary General Ilias Theodorou, deputy mayors and municipal councillors of Athens Municipality.
"Austria today is regarded as a country with great influence in Europe. Greece and Austria, Athens and Vienna, for more than one reasons found themseselves on the same wavelength. They share the same concerns over the development of political factors of their immediate environment and formulate the same demands for the cultural production of their countries. And the continuation of this cooperation constitutes an enormous obligation of the two countries and their leaders," Kaklamanis said in his address.
 President Papoulias and Austrian counterpart Fischer to visit Mount AthosPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and his Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer will visit Mount Athos on Tuesday.
The two presidents, accompanied by their wives, are expected to arrive at "Macedonia" airport at 10:45 a.m. and from where they will depart by helicopter for Mount Athos' Karyes, while Mrs Papoulias and Mrs Fischer will go to Vergina to visit the archaeological site.
The presidents will visit the monasteries of Iviron and Stavronikita.
On the same day, they will return to Thessaloniki, from where at 5 p.m., the Austrian presidential couple will depart for Vienna.
On Thursday, President Papoulias will inaugurate the 4th Thessaloniki International Book Exhibition.
 PM confers with Aegean and Island Policy ministerIsland-related issues such as measures against drought, the implementation of a special assistance programme for small islands and the completion of planning concerning the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) projects were discussed at a meeting Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had on Monday with Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis.
Pavlidis stressed that island transportation was and is a big problem, adding, however, that efforts are being made to solve it.
 EU General Affairs Council focuses on European constitution, EU-Russia summitBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The European Union Council of General Affairs convened here on Monday and examined the future of the European constitution, the preparation of the EU-Russia summit, relations between the EU and Serbia and the situation in the Middle East. Greece was represented by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.
The Greek diplomatic officials met on the sidelines of the Council with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah Al-Khatib and Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr. They also met Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Beluashvili, with whom they had the opportunity of discussing issues concerning the Greek community in Chalka, Georgia.
Speaking to reporters, Bakoyannis said, referring to the constitution of Europe, that Greece belongs to the majority of EU member-states that have already ratified it, clarifying that Greek diplomacy on the issue is "more and not less Europe."
As regards relations between Europe and Moscow in light of the upcoming EU-Russia summit, the foreign minister did not conceal the fact that a difference of views exists among the "27", saying that "the climate is heavy" and that the risk exists of a gradual creation of a dividing line inside the EU on this issue and pointed out that Greece favours the strengthening of relations between the EU and Russia.
On the question of Serbia, Bakoyannis said that following the latest political developments on the country's domestic political scene, the EU must give Serbia a definite European prospect, underlining Greece's steadfast support for this option.
In relation to developmants in the Middle East, the Greek foreign minister said mechanisms for finacial support of the Palestinian Authority should start functioning and made clear that Israel must stop withholding economic funds destined for the Palestinians.
Lastly, referring to her meeting weith her Jordanian and Palestinian counterparts, Bakoyannis reiterated Greece's known positions in relation to the Jerusalem Patriarchate, stressing that it is functioning in a "difficult environment" and pointed out that the Jordanian government's "hasty decision" in no way helps matters.
 Meimarakis refers to Kosovo at EU defence ministers councilBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
Emerging from a meeting of European Union defence ministers held here on Monday, Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis said that he had outlined Greece's position on the future status of Kosovo.
According to the minister, Athens support the effort to achieve a viable, functional, jointly accepted and not unilateral solution for Kosovo's future.
Commenting on a joint session between EU defence and foreign ministers, meanwhile, Meimarakis said they had examined upcoming non-military operations of the EU and the UN in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
"Greece is not prepared to provide personnel for the military operation in Afghanistan," he clarified.
The minister said that Greece would take part in a common investment programme in the forces protection sector - the agreement for which was signed by EU ministers on Monday in the framework of the European Defence Organisation.
The council also adopted a document on Europe's defence, technological and industrial base that signals a prospect for the future unification of the European defence industry.
Other topics covered at the meeting were a joint EU-UN operation in the Congo, which was seen to be unfolding positively, and the decisive role that the EU and UN could play in Kosovo in the wake of a UN Security Council resolution.
Regarding the security situation in the western Balkans generally, Meimarakis again pointed to the contribution of the European operation "Althea" in improving security and creating a safe environment in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
 Valinakis in Berlin for meeting on EU constitutionDeputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis will represent Greece at a meeting of the 27 European Union member-states in Berlin on Tuesday, where the Union members are expected to discuss the future of the European constitution.
According to foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, the "27" will consider the future of the Constitutional Treaty, as the meeting is expected to serve as a type of "mild confrontation" between members desiring a reinforced and expanded treaty, and those advocating "minimalist" positions for its content.
The spokesman also underlined that a June EU summit in Brussels, again on the Constitutional Treaty, will be of particular importance for Greece, underlining that Athens has undertaken several important initiatives on the matter, complete with contacts with other member-states expressing the same or a very similar approach with Athens.
 Athens details position over Jerusalem Patriarchate in meeting with Jordanian, Palestinian FMsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)
The Greek government on Monday reiterated its position -- this time in a face-to-face meeting with the foreign ministers of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority -- against "hasty actions" vis-à-vis the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, following an unprecedented decision by Amman over the weekend to revoke its recognition of Jerusalem Patriarch Theofilos.
The particularly sensitive issue was brought up by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in talks with her Jordanian counterpart and the Palestinian representative on the sidelines of an EU-Arab League meeting here, following a request for a meeting by the Greek FM with the two Mideast envoys -- a meeting that a foreign ministry spokesman later described as "useful and sincere".
According to spokesman George Koumoutsakos, Bakoyannis reiterated to her Jordanian counterpart Abdelelah Al-Khatib and Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr "that hasty actions do not help or provide the necessary time for His Beatitude, Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos, to proceed with required decisions, adoption of which is his inalienable right and for which he (Theofilos) is responsible."
Koumoutsakos added that the meeting was conducted in a "spirit of sincerity, which characterises the traditionally friendly relations" Greece has with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
Moreover, the spokesman also repeated his statements from a day earlier, namely, that Athens aims to overcome the current misunderstanding and to work at consolidating the Patriarchate's position and its mission towards all the Orthodox congregations in the wider region.
Koumoutsakos also dismissed mostly Greek political opposition charges of "delayed reactions" by the government.
Finally, he stressed that the Patriarchate is an "autocephalous and independent" institution, one that Greece backs vigorously while at the same time respecting its autonomy.
In a related development, the spokesman said Bakoyannis expressed Athens' concern to Abu Amr over the situation in the Palestinian areas, especially the dire financial situation there, along with the Greek side's interest for progress to be made towards economic support of the Palestinians.
 Gov't comments on Jerusalem Patriarchate affairThe Greek government on Monday was called on to comment on the unprecedented act by the Jordanian government over the weekend to lift its recognition of Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos, as the government spokesman more-or-less echoed Sunday's statement by the foreign ministry over Athens' heightened "concern".
"The Greek government is closely following developments and lending its support to the institution of the Patriarchate; it is doing whatever humanly possible to support it. In fact, beyond the active presence of our diplomatic services in the region, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis last week spoke by phone with her Jordanian counterpart and the Jerusalem Patriarch, whereas (Deputy FM) Theodoros Kassimis communicated with the Palestinian foreign minister," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters, while reminding of Bakoyannis' meetings in Brussels on Monday with both the Jordanian and Palestinian envoys.
In a later reaction, a spokesman for main opposition PASOK party first took the government to task for failing, as he said, to anticipate the development and act pre-emptively, while adding:
"We must stress that it is advantageous, from every aspect, to protect the institutions of the Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre ; for all of us to work at preserving the status quo of the Patriarchate and to exhibit increased sensitivity to these complicated developments..." spokesman Petros Efthymiou said.
 Jerusalem Patriarchate issue very important for Hellenism, PASOK leader saysMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, referring on Monday to developments concerning the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said that "the issue of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is very important for Hellenism and Orthodoxy."
Papandreou added that "the government was taken by surprise again on this major issue. When you are constantly taken by surprise, you prove that you have no plan. Unfortunately, the Greek people have ultimately understood for what things this government had a plan. And the patience of the Greek people has been exhausted."
Papandreou was speaking after meeting Austrian Federal President Heinz Fischer, who is currently on an official visit to Greece.
 Synaspismos delegation meets Palestinian Authority RepresentativeThe Parliamentary Representative of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos), Fotis Kouvelis, and the party's member of the Political Secretariat, Panos Trigazis, met on Tuesday with Palestinian Authority Representative in Athens Samir Abu Ghazaleh. They discussed the latest developments regarding the Jerusalem Patriarchate.
"The position was common that the Patriarchate must not enter a new crisis, for there to be understanding and a just solution to the problems which have arisen. In this direction, the very good level of Greek-Palestinian relations and the friendly relations between the two peoples can help," a Synaspismos statement said."
 Gov't on issue of election law changeThe government spokesman on Monday answered a bevy of questions regarding various recent proposals and accompanying press speculation over possible changes in the election law ahead of an upcoming general poll.
Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros nevertheless pointed to an "extreme reaction" by some quarters over possible changes, noting that this "characterises those who are afraid they will come in second. The government, however, is not worried because it will come in first in the next elections."
Asked about the reasons behind the need -- via changes in the election law -- to ensure a "comfortable mandate" for the first party elected, Antonaros merely noted that the government is "putting dialogue into practice. It (government) wants the greatest possible consensus and is proceeding with implementation of its pre-election commitments, within the framework of the mandate given to it by the Greek people."
A trio of top ruling New Democracy cadres -- ministers Dimitris Avramopoulos and Dimitris Sioufas as well as party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis -- all commented on the election law issue over the weekend.
 PASOK spokesman: No to change of electoral lawMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Petros Efthymiou on Monday read out two statements made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and by Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopouos, according to which, "there was no intention, on the part of the government, of a change to the electoral law."
"The government's official show-case has now become a farcical comedy, where leading ministers exchange between themselves scenarios of a change of the electoral law," Efthymiou said.
"Two things are happening: Either Karamanlis' ministers are aware that there is no prime minister, therefore any one of them can replace him, or the government has overall been overcome by such an impasse, panic and weakness, so that it is attempting, either through spontaneous disorientations of public opinion, either, the worse, to convert the non-governance and the crisis to its fate, into a crisis of the country's institutions," Efthymiou added.
"All this farcical comedy must stop. An issue of a change of the electoral law has not arisen. Only one issue has arisen: The clearing up of the country's landscape, with the only healthy solution which is recourse to popular verdict and elections," the PASOK spokesman concluded.
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos responding to Efthymiou's remarks said:
"Mr. Efthymiou, PASOK's spokesman, that is, of the partry which disdained to participate in the constitutional reform and the reform in education, of the party which recently reached the point of attacking in a shameful manner members of the independent Judiciary, today spoke of a crisis in the institutions. They are just fit to behave irrespectfully, " Roussopoulos replied.
 Antonaros on committee job for Supreme Court president's sonCommenting on press reports regarding a justice ministry committee post given to the son of Supreme Court President Romylos Kedikoglou, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that this was neither unusual nor in any way secret. The report's claim that Kedikoglou's son was in a "committee of wise men" was simply untrue, he added.
"The justice ministry, since March 2004 when the current government took over the responsibility of governing the country, has created more than 70 legislative committees in total, in which more than 300 judges, university professors and lawyers serve. In each committee, it is usual to include not just older and experienced lawyers but also young ones, who undertake the research, the collection of legal data, collecting the necessary bibliography, case-law and all such things. Very often, the chairmen of these committees request that they be assisted by young lawyers of their choice, who will be their immediate associates or assistants," Antonaros said.
According to the spokesman, this what happened in the specific case. The committee chairman had written to the justice ministry in May 2006 and specifically requested that the ministry include two postgraduate students who were candidates for a doctorate in law at Athens University - one of which was the younger Kedikoglou - giving precise reasons for the request.
The spokesman also clarified that the pay for such positions was essentially nominal, while in the specific instance no pay had been set or given, and like all such appointments it had been published in the government gazette.
 Cabinet meeting on environment ministry issues on TuesdayThe inner cabinet will meet on Tuesday in a session chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to discuss issues related to the environment ministry.
 Alavanos tours Irakleio, to speak at evening rallyCoalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos began a tour of Irakleio prefecture in Crete on Monday, where he said he will be a candidate in one of the island's four prefectures.
Alavanos was scheduled to meet with various local officials and party officials, while he will also address supporters during an evening rally in a central square of the city, the largest on Crete.
In brief statements to the local press, Alavanos said that whenever elections are held, they will disengage the country from the "suffocating" two-party system, as he called it. Along those lines, he said his leftist party's goal is not merely the 3-percent threshold for representation in Parliament but a significant increase of its electoral strength.
Finally, he said that comments by government ministers recently about changing election law were merely "panic-driven talk".
Additionally, he called on main opposition PASOK president George Papandreou to clarify his position on whether he backs proportional representation.
The leftist leader also aired his opposition to a proposed new port facility on the island's southern coast.
 Stylianidis to receive Moldovan envoy on TuesdayDeputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis will receive on Tuesday Moldovan Ambassador to Greece Iulian Magaleas, the foreign ministry announced on Monday.
The meeting is held in view of the upcoming visit to Greece by the president of Moldova.
 Development minister participating in International Energy Organisation sessionPARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas is participating in the International Energy Organisation's (IEO) ministerial session taking place here on Monday and Tuesday. The minister is being accompanied by the ministry's secretary general Nikos Stefanou.
The ministerial session takes place every two years on the main issues of security for energy supply (mainly in oil) of IEO member-states, the harmonisation of energy policies and energy performance.
This year's session will also place emphasis on issues concerning environmental protection, climatic changes and reforms in international markets.
Addressing the session, the Greek minister referred to initiatives taken by Greece in the energy sector, with the oil and natural gas pipelines, with the electric network links with neighbouring countries and with the policy on saving energy that has been adopted since 2005.
Speaking to reporters, Sioufas said that "this year's session coincides with the heightening of concern over the issue of energy security on a short-term and long-term basis and energy performance, as well as the promotion of modern technologies, while saving energy is a peak issue at international level."
Sioufas met on the sidelines of the conference, Sioufas met with U.S. Energy Secretary Sam bodman and Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Mehmet Ali Guler.
 Greek economy to grow by 4.0% in 2007, Eurobank reportGreek economic growth is expected to reach 4.0 pct this year, up from 4.3 pct in 2006, with domestic demand remaining the "steam engine" of growth, a report by Eurobank's analysts said on Monday.
The bank's analysts said the growth rate of imports of goods and services was expected to slowdown this year, while exports were projected at around last year's levels, resulting in a very high current accounts deficit in 2007, more than 11 percent of the country's revised Gross Domestic Product.
The report projected a further decline of the average annual inflation rate to 2.9 pct this year, down from 3.3 pct in 2006, despite an expected acceleration of the consumer price index in the second half of the year.
Eurobank's analysts said the country's expected exit from the EU's disciplinary procedures over its excessive fiscal deficit, foreseen for June, and a reduction of the budget deficit to below 3.0 pct of GDP this year, were expected to lead to upward revisions of the country's credit ratings by international agencies and further slashing borrowing costs for the Greek government.
The report also made positive forecasts over the Athens Stock Exchange's trend this year, and reiterated the goal of reaching the 4,900-point level by the end of 2007, on the condition that international market trends remained positive.
Tourism is also expected to grow this year, with tourist arrivals projected to grow by 5.6 pct and 5.2 pct this year and in 2008.
 FinMin to attend OECD ministerial meeting in ParisEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis will represent Greece at the ministerial meeting of the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to be held in Paris on May 15-16.
Issues relating to current economic developments, innovation and growth, the challenges for an open world trade system, reform policies as well as growth and fair distribution of income in a globalised economy, will be at the focus of the meeting.
 Unions call strike for TuesdayA nationwide strike called for Tuesday by the trade union GSEE and civil servants' grouping (ADEDY) is expected to hamper mass transports in major cities around the country.
Dozens of domestic and overseas flights operated by state-run Olympic Airlines and Aegean Airlines will be either cancelled or change departure times as a result of a four-hour work stoppage by the air traffic controllers' union.
Olympic Airlines announced the cancellation of 30 flights, while 15 flights will departure times. Aegean Airlines announced the cancellation of 38 domestic flights.
In the greater Athens area, unions representing workers at state-run transports also called a strike, with buses idle from the beginning of the shift until 7:30 a.m. and from 11:30 p.m. until the end of the shift, trolley service will be interrupted from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and tram service will cease from 12 noon until 4 p.m.
Additionally, the journalists' union has also called for a 24-hour strike.
 Employment minister holds talks with civil servants and merchants directoratesEmployment Minister Vassilis Magginas held talks on Monday with the directorates of the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) and the Merchants Union (ESEE).
"I look forward to good cooperation and to understanding with the representatives of working people, the production classes and the social partners," the minister said afterwards.
Replying to a question by the press, Magginas said that there is no question of a social insurance issue by the end of this period, adding that whatever happens will be an issue that will preoccupy us after the next elections.
The minister reiterated that he has requested balance sheets and accounts from all social insurance funds as soon as possible, as well as an analytical list of their mobile and fixed assets.
In another development, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent in January 2007 compared to 11.7 percent in the corresponding month in 2004, while Deputy Employment Minister Gerasimos Yiakoumatos said that it is one of the lowest rates in past years.
According to data collected by the ministry and by services supervised by it, the number of unemployed registered with the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) was 422,900 in April 2007, decreasing by 23.7 percent as against the corresponding figure in April 2004, while the number who really sought employment totalled 323,644, that is the lowest level in the past three years.
The deputy employment minister spoke of the implementation of the government's commitment to decrease unemployment by three percentage units and attributed this result to active forms of employment.
 Employment ministry post to be abolishedThe position of special secretary responsible for coordinating employment and social protection at the employment ministry will be abolished, according to a tabled amendment in Parliament.
The post of special secretary was recently occupied by Evgenios Papadopoulos, who is currently under investigation for past transactions at the Athens Stock Exchange.
The 12 special assistant posts established during the same period with the abolished special secretariat will be maintained until current Employment and Social Protection Minister Vassilis Maginas leaves office, according to reports.
 Greek manufacturing sector in turning point, reportThe Greek manufacturing sector is at a turning point according to its results of 2006, a report by the Association of Hellenic Industries and ICAP said on Monday.
The manufacturing sector recorded a 10.4 pct increase in last year sales, but net profits fell by 13.5 percent over the same period, suffering from a strong international competition.
The manufacturing sector recorded a 0.8 pct increase in production volumes, an increase in utilisation of production capacity, stable employment and domestic product prices rising more than international competition in 2006. Assets rose by 3.4 percent, while return on capital fell to 9.67 in 2006 from 11.57 in 2005.
The energy-construction sector recorded a new significant worsening of profitability despite a recovery in turnover last year.
The Association of Hellenic Industries said the manufacturing sector was the most open sector of the economy in international competition trends and noted that other sectors of the economy (financial services, commerce, services) showed an improvement in profitability.
 Presidential Decree on alternate packaging management organisationEnvironment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Monday signed a draft Presidential Decree on the organising and functioning of the National Alternate Packaging and Other Products Managing Organisation (EOEDSAP).
"With the signing of the Presidential Decree, another decisive step is being taken in the direction of strengthening alternate managing-recycling in our country," Souflias said.
"The role of EOEDSAP is important and complex, since it constitutes the agency that supervises, coordinates, checks and promotes the alternate management programmes," the minister added.
The aim of EOEDSAP is the implementation of the policy on alternate management in the country.
 President Papoulias, PM attend event on national benefactorsPresident Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, government ministers and opposition party representatives attended an event at the Zappion Mansion in Athens on Monday night honouring the work of national benefactors.
The event, titled "Greek National Benefactors-memory and honour", was organised by the finance ministry's special committee, headed by Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas, in the framework of a series of government initiatives, the first being the signing of a Presidential Decree last January that declares September 30 the day of the great national benefactors.
Karamanlis said that "our aim is to promote and utilise the huge property left to us by all national benefactors, both small and great. To convince all of us together that a new generation of national benefactors can feel confident that their contribution to modern-day Greece is being used in the best possible way for collective interest. A new generation of national benefactors can provide a similar continuation to the long history of Greek benefaction."
Addresses on benefaction were also made by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and by Doukas, while relevant videos were also shown.
 Greek-Jordanian Economic ForumGreek textiles could be exported to the United States through Jordan, sidestepping competition from China and avoiding "heavy" customs dues in the framework of agreements that have been signed between the United States and Jordan.
Apart from textiles, tourism and the pharmaceutical industry are also suitable for mutually beneficial cooperation between Greece and Jordan, according to what was stated in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Monday by the President of the Jordanian Business Association Hamdi Tabaa.
Tabaa, heading a 17-member Jordanian business delegation, said that the two countries could develop joint tourist "packages" and cooperate in the pharmaceutical industry sector, where Jordan has leading businesses.
Addressing the Greek-Jordanian Economic Forum, he expressed the conviction that "their economic relations lie below the desired level today."
This assessment is also certified by statistical data publicised on Monday by the Federation of Northern Greece Exporters (SEBE). Greek exports to Jordan account for only 0.5 percent of total exports to the country by European Union member-states.
 National Bank sells 1.5-bln-euro bond loanNational Bank of Greece on Monday said it has successfully completed the sale and pricing of a bond loan, worth 1.5 billion euros, through its subsidiary in London, NBG Finance plc.
A bank statement said the two-year loan carries a spread of 11 basis points above three-month Euribor. The securities will be traded in the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. HSBC, UBS, Merrill Lynch and NBG International (based in London) acted as undwriters to the bond issue.
National Bank said the offering was 113 percent oversubscribed with bids totaling 3.2 billion euros.
 Sixty-two OA flights cancelled on TuesdayOlympic Airlines has announced that 62 return flights scheduled for Tuesday will have to be cancelled as a result of a general strike called by trade unions, while departure times for others will be changed.
Among the flights with changing departure times are return flights to Milan, Bucharest and Belgrade, and domestic flights going to Hania and Iraklio on Crete and to the islands of Corfu, Kos and Santorini.
OA passengers can apply for more information at OA's booking service at the telephone number 210 - 9666666 and at airports.
 Allianz Hellas reports improved 1st quarter resultsAllianz Hellas on Monday reported a 46.2 percent increase in its after tax profits to 3.8 million euros and a 9.0 percent rise in premium production to 49.5 million euros in the first quarter of 2007, compared with the same period last year.
The insurance group said life and healthcare sectors recorded a 9.0 percent increase in premium production to 28.8 million euros in the January-March period and a decline in the expenses index to 16.7 pct from 24.2 pct in 2006.
 Athens hotels occupancy rates up 9.1% in 1Q, yr/yrHotels in the greater Athens area reported a 9.1-percent increase in occupancy rates in March 2007, compared with the same month last year, the Association of Athens Hoterlies said on Monday.
The association, in a monthly report, said four-star hotels recorded the biggest percentage increase in March (12.3 pct), followed by three-star hotels (9.3 pct), two-star (7.1 pct) and five-star (6.9 pct).
Athens hotels also reported the lowest average room prices, according to the European Benchmark for March (occupancy rate 59.2 pct, average room rate 104.97 euros and revenue per available room at 62.14 euros). Paris and London reported the highest average room rate in March.
The hoteliers' association said a total of 407,209 travelers arrived at the Athens International Airport in the first quarter of 2007, up from 341,293 last year, of which 15 pct hailed from the UK, 12 pct from Germany, 10 pct from the United States, 9.0 pct from Italy, 6.0 pct from Cyprus, 5.0 pct from France and 4.0 pct from Romania. The report said that 39 pct of travelers visited Athens for both holiday and professional reasons in the first three months of the year.
 Greek stocks jump 1.13 pct on MondayGreek stocks jumped 1.13 percent on Monday, pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exhange to 4,794.93 points in moderate turnover of 318.8 million euros.
Sector indices moved higher with the Food/Beverage (4.27 pct), Banks (1.89 pct) and Insurances (1.63 pct) scoring the biggest percentage points of the day, while the Construction (1.28 pct), Chemicals (0.50 pct) and Technology (0.42 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 1.47 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.44 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 1.21 pct.
Parnassos (19.42 pct), Atermon (18.97 pct) and Plias (17.78 pct) were top gainers, while Desmos (14.63 pct), Marfin Financial Group (8.30 pct) and Sidenor (4.97 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 187 to 69 with another 50 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.29%
Personal & Household: +1.06%
Raw Materials: -0.13%
Travel & Leisure: +0.47%
Food & Beverages: +4.27%
Financial Services: +1.00%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Bank of Cyprus and ATTIKAT.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.76
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.00
HBC Coca Cola: 34.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.92
Emporiki Bank: 21.40
National Bank of Greece: 41.38
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 31.20
Titan Cement Company: 41.28
 ADEX closing reportTurnover in the Athens Derivatives rose to 151.277 million euros on Monday, with the June contract on the FTSE 20 index trading at a discount of 1.52 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.05 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 9,986 contracts worth 125.367 million euros, with 35,671 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 555 contracts worth 16.881 million euros, with 1,309 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 4,828 contracts worth 9.029 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,026), followed by PPC (248), Alpha Bank (362), Intracom (229), ATEbank (499), GEK (385) and Hellenic Petroleum (259).
Greek bond market closing report
Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 3.199 billion euros on Monday, of which 1.533 billion were bid orders and 1.606 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.44 billion euros, with the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds at 0.23 percent. The Greek bond yielded 4.49 pct and the German Bund 4.26 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate fell to 3.50 pct from 3.69 pct on Friday, the two-day rate rose to 3.84 pct from 3.76 pct, the one-month rate rose to 3.89 pct from 3.87 pct and the 12-month rate was 4.33 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.365
Pound sterling 0.689
Danish kroner 7.510
Swedish kroner 9.305
Japanese yen 164.36
Swiss franc 1.664
Norwegian kroner 8.264
Cyprus pound 0.587
Canadian dollar 1.513
Australian dollar 1.640
 ANA-MPA, mass media to join general strike on TuesdayThe Athens News Agency-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) service will not operate on Tuesday due a 24-hour strike declared by the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists' Unions (POESY) and journalist unions in Athens and Thessaloniki, joining the general strike called by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) for May 15.
The media strike is from 6 a.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday.
The strike next Tuesday was originally decided by GSEE, Greece's largest umbrella trade union group that represents the private sector, and the civil servants' union ADEDY, in protest over the bonds affair.
Taking part in the strike will be journalists of all the mass media (Press, journalistic site and Portal, Radio and Television Stations), the Press Offices, state-run Greek Radio and Television (ERT), businesses of the broader public sector and the Greek public sector. ANA-MPA will not broadcast news during this time.
Among the demands made by journalist unions is one for the return of 130 million euros to the pension fund TSPEATH which were invested in a structured bond, changes to the legal framework so that employees will have greater participation in the management of pension funds, and other matters.
 Liapis at 'Silk Road' transport ministers' meeting in TurkeyISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)
Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Monday attended a meeting of transport ministers from countries that line the route of the historic "silk road" to China, which took place in Istanbul.
Among the issues discussed at the "4th Conference for the Silk Roads" was the prospect of linking the European and Asian transport networks by building a Black Sea ring highway - a proposal originally put forward by Greece - and extending sea lanes in the area.
The conference was attended by transport ministers in the surrounding region and the deputy transport minister of China.
Liapis stressed Greece's interest in linking the road network of the Black Sea with the Asian road network to China and said that the signature of two memorandums last April in Belgrade created major prospects for the start of the project.
Describing the attempt as an "ambitious but necessary project that would add a new dimension to transport", Liapis stressed that Greece would be present throughout, noting that Athens had actively taken part in negotiations on the form of the road network and in reaching agreement between the countries involved. He said that the company "Egnatia Odos SA" would be a technical advisor to the project.
Apart from government officials, also taking part in the three-day conference are representatives of major financial organisations and private construction companies.
 Ecumenical Patriarch, Smolensk Metropolitan make pilgrimage to CapadociaISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
The Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Cyril, who is accompanying Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on his pilgrimage to Capadocia, said that "here (in Capadocia) everyone realises the size of the tragedy of Hellenism at the beginning of the 20th century."
The person responsible for the foreign relations of the Russian Church said that "apart from the spiritual dimension, this pilgrimage also has a political dimension."
He further said that "an apparatus of cooperation between Greece and Turkey brings Hellenism into real contact with the Turks. From the experience I had from meetings with the Turkish authorities I can see how positively the climate is changing and how positively relations are being affected. The good relations that have been created between Greece and Turkey and Russia and Turkey are helping in this course of mutual understanding."
Speaking to the ANA-MPA, the Russian bishop said of the pilgrimage "this here is a holy land for all Christians. It is the land of the fathers of the Church and treading on it, one feels respect and piety."
Referring to problems and differences that had separated the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Moscow at times, the Metropolitan of Smolensk said "we are trying to make the unity of the Orthodox Community visible not only for us Orthodox faithful but for the world in general" and downgraded the significance of problems, saying that "there is no Orthodox Church that has no problems."
Metropolitan Cyril held talks with Patriarch Vartholomeos and Pergamos Metropolitan Ioannis on all the issues that have preoccupied the two Churches.
 Final sentences passed in N17 terrorists appeal trialPrison sentences amounting to 44 times life, 264 years and three months and total fines of 64,400 euros were imposed on the 13 convicted members of the terror group November 17 by a Five-member Athens Appeals Court on Monday.
Earlier this month, the court had upheld guilty verdicts issued by the first-instance court in nearly all cases involving the defendants.
Total prison time and fines were reduced from the 55 life sentences, 301 years imprisonment and fines of 93,000 euros originally imposed by a lower-level court after some of the original sentences were merged.
The court also ruled that the convicts Alexandros Giotopoulos, Dimitris Koufodinas, Vassilis Tzortzatos and Iraklis Kostaris be deprived of their political rights for 10 years, Panagiotis Tselentis, Vassilis Xiros and Costas Telios be deprived for eight years, Costas Karatsolis and Dimitris Georgiadis for six years and, finally, Sotiris Kondylis and Thomas Serifis for five years.
Specifically, the court imposed:
Seventeen times life and 25 years imprisonment and a fine of 13,300 euros on Alexandros Giotopoulos, who was convicted as the group's leader and mastermind.
Eleven times life and 25 years and a fine of 12,500 euros on Dimitris Koufodinas, considered to be the group's leading hitman and "number 2".
Six times life and 25 years and a fine of 3,500 on Christodoulos Xiros.
Five times life and 25 years and a fine of 22,900 euros on Savvas Xiros.
Four times life and 25 years and a fine of 4,500 euros on Vassilis Tzortzatos.
One time life and 25 years and a fine of 1,000 euros on Iraklis Kostaris.
25 years imprisonment and a fine of 3,700 euros on Vassilis Xiros.
25 years imprisonment on Patroklos Tselentis.
25 years imprisonment on Costas Tselios.
17 years imprisonment and a fine of 1,000 euros on Costas Karatsolis.
11 years, three months imprisonment and a fine of 500 euros on Sotiris Kondylis.
Eight years imprisonment and a fine of 1,500 euros on Dionysis Georgiadis.
Eight years imprisonment on Thomas Serifis.
Based on the court's ruling, Serifis and Kondylis can immediately apply for release on parole, to be judged by the appropriate judicial council, while Karatsolis can apply after a year and a half.
Defence lawyers for Tselentis and Telios also asked that their clients' sentences be suspended in recognition of their collaboration with police that led to dismantling the terror group. This was turned down at the urging of prosecutor on the bench Efterpi Koutzamani, who argued that the pair were members of a particularly murderous organisation and that neither had made a significant contribution to the investigation by police, which had already made significant headway when they were caught.
In Tselentis' case, in particular, she noted that the cases he had been involved in had been particularly bloody and that his contribution to the police investigation had already been recognised by the lower court, which had admitted "sincere remorse" as a mitigating circumstance.
 Journalistic Guide on 'Human Trafficking and the Greek Mass Media'The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) - Greek Mission, is participating as a Coordinating Partner in the Developmental Venture for the Promotion of Equal Rights for Trafficked Individuals (ASPIDDA), which was set up for the purpose of implementing the Programme which is incorporated in the European Union (EU) Initiative EQUAL and which is co-financed by the Employment and Social Protection Ministry and the European Social Fund.
One of the Project's products is also the Journalistic Guide on the theme: "Human Trafficking and the Greek Mass Media". Its preparation was made with the objective of briefing, but also of making journalists and the mass media in general aware on issues related to the way of presentation and communications handling of the phenomenon of human trafficking.
 Two teenage foreign nationals killed in Thessaloniki scuffleTwo foreign teenagers were killed when a misunderstanding turned into a bloody scuffle in Thessaloniki on Sunday night.
The two teenage boys, aged 17 and 18, were killed when a spat between foreign nationals evolved into a scuffle that turned Galopoulou Square near the Thessaloniki Central Railway Station into a battlefield.
A 17-year-old from Georgia was killed on the spot after being struck with a sharp instrument, while an 18-year-old from Albania, who suffered fatal injuries to the abdomen, died a few hours later in a hospital.
According to police, the situation got out of hand shortly after 9 pm on Sunday night when young Georgians, without any apparent reason, verbally attacked a group of Albanians. The two groups entered into a fight and very quickly over 20 individuals were called on the scene in support of either side. The scuffle spread to a children's playground and a basketball field, with local residents looking on in panic.
The culprits used knives, iron bars and wooden planks and, according to police, several people were also injured during the fight, but did not report it to authorities fearing arrest.
A total of 20 people were taken in for questioning throughout the night, leading to the arrest of 5 foreign nationals accused of being involved in the incident. An investigation is underway to determine if they were involved in the double killing as well.
 Hooded individuals attack 'Apogevmatini' newspaperHooded individuals attacked the newspaper "Apogevmatini" at 8:30 p.m. on Monday night. The building is located in Athens' Fidiou 12, Street.
About 20 individuals who had their faces covered with hoods and helmets broke with stones the window pane of the entrance of the newspaper and threw inside it paint, resulting in damage being caused.
Damage was also caused to 14 cars and a motorbike which were parked outside and later the culprits fled.
On guard at the newspaper was a policewoman who could not react.
Police sped to the scene but the culprits managed to escape. Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras and main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Petros Efthymiou visited the offices of Apogevmatini newspaper. The minister stated that the Police will do all it can to avert such attacks and stressed that his presence there shows that the government is not afraid.
Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) president Panos Sombolos also visited the newspaper.
The attack against the newspaper was condemned by the government and the political parties.
Specifically, Minister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said:
"The government categorically condemns today's attack by hooded individuals against the offices of the newspaper Apogevmatini. The only thing they manage to do, all those cowardly individuals who hide behind these actions such as today's, is to rally against them every thinking individual."
 Forest fire in Peloponnese placed under controlA large fire destroyed some 300 stremma of forest land in the south-east side of Taigetos Mountain in the Peloponnese, southern Greece, before being placed under control on Monday monring.
Eight fire engines, 28 firemen and 5 firefighting aircraft participated in the firefighting efforts. The region is currently monitored by firemen to prevent a renewed outbreak of the fire.
 Greek museums free on May 18 for International Museum DayEntry into all museum will be free of charge on Friday, May 18 in order to mark the anniversary of International Museum Day, the culture ministry has announced.
The day was first established by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in 1977 in order to highlight the role of museums in modern society.
The message for this year is that "Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, co-operation and peace among peoples".
The Greek section of ICOM has decided that the "honoured" museum for 2007 will be the National Glyptotheque of the National Gallery/Alexandros Soutzos Museum, whose permanent collection was inaugurated on June 27, 2006.
 President Papoulias opens Special OlympicsPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday declared the opening of the Panhellenic Special Olympics games held at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus.
Athletes of the games offered to the president a gold, a silver and a bronze medal, of those to be awarded to winners in the various events.
 Sunny, hot on TuesdaySunny and hot weather is forecast throughout Greece on Tuesday. Temperatures ranging from 14C and 34C. Winds northerly, northeasterly, moderate to strong.
Sunny in Athens, with temperatures ranging between 20C and 33C. Same in Thessaloniki and temperatures ranging from 18C to 31C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe statements by government officials on changing the electoral law, the scenaria for early general elections, the developments at the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem following the Jordanian government's surprise decision to rescind its recognition of Patriarch Theofilos, the structured bonds affair and the latest VPRC opinion poll were the main front-page items in Monday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Change of the electoral law - The government seeking PASOK's (main opposition party) consensus".
APOGEVMATINI: "New Democracy (ruling party) unwavering - VPRC opinion poll gives undisputable lead to the ruling party, in its most difficult period".
AVRIANI: "The crooks now blackmailing in order to avert prison - Lock up in Korydallos (state penitentiary) those who set up the scam with the bonds, before they stifle the country's political life with stench".
CHORA: "New 79 million euros programme for SMEs - Proclamation due in June".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Theofilos the scapegoat - After the lifting of recognition by Jordan, the Palestinian Authority to follow suit".
ELEFTHEROS: "Change of electoral law with PASOK's consensus sought by government, with statements by ministers".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "New opportunity for (settling) debts to the Tax Bureau - Finance ministry preparing new arrangement for their settlement".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "ND seeking life raft - They fear marginal results, want change of electoral law".
ESTIA: "The electoral law a political problem - Comfortable parliamentary majority is difficult".
ETHNOS: "Defeatism syndrome at Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) - Early elections a sudden nightmare for Karamanlis (prime minister)".
TA NEA: "Electoral coup in ND - Change the law, ministers tell Karamanlis".
VRADYNI: "Green light for 8,000 hirings of teachers - George Kalos (deputy education minister): We're ready...".
 Strengthening of National Guard is not an option, says defence ministerNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The National Guard's mission is so sensitive that any irresponsibility or intervention or public dispute might endanger the discipline and moral of the armed forces, said here Monday President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos.
He was speaking during the affirmation ceremony of new Defence Minister Christodoulos Pashiardis, who was appointed on Friday following the death of the late minister Nicos Symeonides on 3 May.
On his part, Pashiardis, former Government Spokesman and Undersecretary to the President said that as long as Turkey continues to occupy Cyprus territories, and be a threat against the island, the strengthening of our defence capabilities and that of the National Guard are not an option but a national obligation and its fulfillment can neither be disregarded nor postponed.
In his speech, President Papadopoulos said the protection of the integrity and freedom of our country which the National Guard has undertaken and serves is an issue which must be placed above persons and any expediency.
He expressed his regret over the death of Symeonides and praised yet again his contribution during his short term in office, noting that the new defence minister is fully aware of the responsibilities and obligations he is undertaking.
"The continued strengthening of the deterrent capability of the National Guard remains a consistent aim and a fundamental governmental pursuit", the President pledged.
"In promoting this aim, we are acting responsibly, seriously and with a programme. The strengthening of our defence capability or in any other possible way the reinforcement of the National Guard, will continue as long as the Turkish occupation remains a threat and as long as a peaceful solution to the Cyprus issue is pending", the Cypriot president added.
He also praised Greece for its support and contribution.
In his speech, Pashiardis said the further strengthening and upgrading of the National Guard is a reality which cannot be evaded and an obligation which cannot be erased.
He pledged to try to fulfill all the responsibilities and effectively respond to them by promoting the government measures to strengthen and make the National Guard technologically and organizationally a flexible and credible force.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.
 S. Australian PM: Turkey must comply with European-international lawNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
If Turkey wants to be a member of the European Union, it must adopt European values and comply with European and international law, Premier of South Australia Mike Rann stressed here Monday.
Speaking after a meeting with House President Demetris Christofias, at whose invitation he is paying an official visit to Cyprus, Ran has assured that he will continue to advocate the cause of justice for Cyprus "not only in my own country but also internationally."
Christofias said that Rann, Austrialian Labour Party official, is an old very good friend, "one of the best if not the best friend of Cyprus", adding that his friendship and solidarity is very supportive of Cyprus, in the difficult circumstances the country is facing.
Rann described Christofias as a good friend, adding that "he can always regard me as an ally".
"My support for the Justice for Cyprus cause is not negotiable and that is also the case for my government. I am very proud that we are the only government in the world outside of Cyprus that is actually sponsoring and funding cases before the ECHR in Strasbourg on behalf of 15 families in my state who of course, they are refugees and lost their lands and possessions," Rann stressed.
He said that in 1997 he was officially condemned by the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus "and I regard that condemnation as a badge of honour because my position is the same as the UN and a series of resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council. My position is the same as the EU resolutions over the years as well. Because ultimately it comes down to justice," Rann added.
He stressed that "we all want to see justice for Cyprus. No one is condemning or in any way acting against Turkish people. We have a very strong Turkish population as well as Greek and Greek Cypriot population in Australia and we must respect the human rights of all peoples. But basic to human rights is of course recognition of international law."
He added that it is Turkey and the illegal regime that are "breaking international law with the continued occupation."
"I think that it is encouraging that Turkey wants to be a member of the EU but it has to abide by European laws and European values if it wants its case to be taken seriously. Turkey was a signatory to the EHRC but as soon as a decision went against it, it condemned the Court," he said, stressing that Turkey can't have it both ways.
"If it wants to be a member of the EU it must adopt European values and abide by European law and international law," Rann stressed.
Christofias welcomed the support Rann's government gives to the 15 Greek Cypriot refugees in their case against Turkey and noted that Rann also led the effort for the approval of a special resolution by the Labour Party and the position that the Cyprus problem must be resolved on the basis of UN resolutions and international law principles.
 Archbishop: we demand respect of religious heritageLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Respect of human rights and respect of religious and cultural heritage in Cyprus will be the focus of the message Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II will convey to European Commission President, the current European Council president and the head of the European Parliament.
Speaking before leaving Monday for Brussels, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Chrucrh of Cyprus also said both he and the head of Turkish Cypriot religious affairs wish to have informal meetings "in a calm and friendly climate as we believe we can achieve more this way, instead of bringing things into the limelight."
"I will convey to my interlocutors that Cyprus wants to see human rights respected, and have religion and religious and cultural heritage respected," he said on his way to Brussels to attend a meeting of religious leaders, representing different denominations, hosted by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pettering and current European Council president, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He said there are 500 churches in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus which have to be respected just as Turkish Cypriot religious sites are respected in the government-controlled southern part of the island.
Responding to questions, he said the meeting will deal with respect of different religions, in relation to the European rules and regulations.
Europe, he pointed out, is sensitive to human rights and wants to consolidate democracy, love and mutual help.
On church matters, he said the Holy Synod, the top decision making body in the autocephalous church of Cyprus, will meet on 22 May to deal with a programme to expand the Synod. By July the Holy Synod will function in full bench, he added.
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS