|Monday, 20 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-05-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 19 May 2007 Issue No: 2597
 PASOK leader Papandreou outlines model for governingPresenting his vision of the kind of prime minister he hopes to be in a probable PASOK government, main opposition leader George Papandreou raised transparency and hard work as his standard, during his opening address at his party's programme conference on Friday.
At the same time, PASOK's leader stepped up his already intense criticism of the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis by another notch, in one his strongest personal attacks against the prime minister so far.
"The countdown for the Right has begun," Papandreou told the conference, stressing that PASOK had learned from its mistakes and was now ready for "the day after".
According to Papandreou, the party's history had shown that every time that it honoured its relations with the people it had triumphed and Greece had prospered.
"When we pulled away from this relationship, the citizens turned their backs on us, when we strayed we allowed the Right to lead Greece into problems. Fortunately, these were always brief interludes, such as the one now," he said.
Describing the future he envisaged for Greece, Papandreou stressed that this had no room for models based on cheap labour, lower pay and fewer rights for the workers, in which big business was "in bed" with politics.
Outlining his model of leadership as prime minister, meanwhile, Papandreou said that his goal was to be a prime minister who contributed and produced works for the benefit of all Greeks, regardless of how they cast their vote.
PASOK's leader stressed that aimed to the kind of prime minister that "always told the truth and gave battle on the front line, armed with the trust of the citizens", promising redistribution of wealth in favour of the economically weak, an end of social injustice and 'legal perks' for big business, greater emphasis on development and creating jobs and a stronger environmental policy that would make Greece a leader in fighting climate change.
He was particularly critical of the present government's impact on the Greek education system - dismissing the changes it attempted as "conservative and autocratic anti-reforms" - and said that its departure from power would leave behind a "shambles, with universities closed, dialogue absent and riot police in the forefront".
"My own ambition is to be the prime minister that will work for the younger generation and the one that wants to link his name with the realisation of a historic demand: that school children no longer write 'I'm bored' in their exercise books," Papandreou said.
Underlining his commitment to transparency, PASOK's leader said his ambition was to put an end to corruption and the secret doling out of public money through measures like the mandatory posting of all ministerial decisions on the Internet or financial statements and double-entry book-keeping for all state organisations.
He also pledged to strike a blow against political patronage and nepotism, which he said had been the hallmark of the Karamanlis government, and to fully separate the government and the state from any sort of political party bureaucracy. Emphasising this point, he asked all party officials to convey what he said was "a simple message": that membership of PASOK would not lead to a cushy state-sector job or any sort of privilege relative to other citizens.
This would apply equally to trade union and cooperative officials, but also local government, he added.
Turning to the form his future government would take if PASOK won the elections, Papandreou said that it would govern "with steadfast moral and political values, with the interests of the country and the citizens as our compass and our programme as a road map".
The members of this government would be chosen "with respect for the money of the Greek people" and their ability to carry out PASOK's pledges and would not include those that "have already been evaluated negatively by the Greek people", he told the conference.
According to Papandreou, these were people who had become "corrupted by time, the syndrome of permanency, had succumbed to the glamour of being at the top and lost sight of the greater purpose".
At the same time, he said age would not be a factor in his choice: "I will use the experience and ability of tried, older officials. Old and new ministers must be worthy of the trust of the prime minister's and the citizens," he added.
He ended by predicting victory for PASOK in the next elections, stressing that the "river of victory cannot be turned back" and that the election would be a "referendum for democracy".
Papandreou lashes out at Karamanlis
In one of the strongest attacks on the prime minister to date, Papandreou said the prime minister's office had been converted into a "workshop for non-papers and black propaganda" based on lies and misrepresentation.
"All these non-papers show is that we have a prime minister and a government of non-results, non-ability, non-transparency, non-reliability, non-meritocracy, in short a non-government that only leaves behind it a 'blue' non-menclatura," Papandreou scoffed, in a reference to New Democracy's party colours.
He particularly questioned the prime minister's stance over the structured bonds and pension funds issue, accusing him of "withholding evidence of the scandal for the past 80 days" as well as the government's reluctance to investigate allegations against Supreme Court President Romylos Kedikoglou, saying that Karamanlis had "abolished the meaning of responsibility".
Papandreou again accused Karamanlis of undermining the country's position in Europe for the sake of party political games through a state audit that hit hardest against the poorer members of society and that economic measures announced the previous day by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis were "crumbs" designed to dupe citizens into backing ND one more time in the elections.
Government spokesman, KKE reply to Papandreou
Reacting to the attack from Papandreou, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the government would not follow the path he had embarked on:
"Mr. Papandreou is building the new PASOK he has promised with old faces, old policies, old materials, with ideas from yesterday, ideas of polarisation and confrontation. We leave him to it. We let him have this road. Greek citizens look forward to a strong economy, to a stronger Greece than that left by PASOK," he said.
According to an announcement by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), meanwhile, Papandreou's promises were "worthless":
"[This is because] the days and works of PASOK are still fresh, but also because its leadership is bound to plutocracy and the European Union," KKE said.
The party said that PASOK's promise to redistribute wealth was empty and that 80 percent of its programme was devoted to giving incentives and benefits to big business and the remaining 20 percent to poverty benefits in order to attract votes.
Syanaspismos leader comments
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synapismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Friday evening commented on the opening speech given earlier in the day by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou at the party's programme conference in Athens.
"I was impressed today by the position of the PASOK President, where on matters such as for a new European treaty which will be based on the social state and the detachment from the USA or on matters such as the opposition to the anti-ballistic shield, which today stirs Europe, no mention was made. And I would say that in such a Programme Conference, there was a programme deficiency," Alavanos said.
"Finally, one can see the confrontation between the government and the main opposition party of to limit itself in who has more capable individuals to deal with corruption," the Synaspismos leader added.
Former PM Simitis addresses PASOK con'f
Former prime minister and PASOK leader Costas Simitis on Friday addressed the main opposition party's wide-ranging programme conference in an Athens indoor stadium, where he stressed that "a policy programme, dialogue and continuation of the process to develop it are necessary steps towards our election victory".
Speaking during the first day's session, he added:
"It must be made clear what we want as a result of our policy; how this is achieved; with what means and what abilities we have; what forces support us and which ones react," the former premier, who ruled from 1996 to 2004, told PASOK's delegates.
He also cited what he charged were the ruling New Democracy government's severe mistakes in the three years it has assumed the country's helm, namely, a major slide in the country's competitiveness; a surge in borrowing by households with increasingly higher interest rates; a downgrading of the country's public services and a 'dramatic', as he said, decrease in public investments.
Referring to a target for a "just society", the former premier - who resigned from the party's presidency ahead of the March 2004 elections in order for then foreign minister George Papandreou to vie for the premiership - cited a constant improvement in the conditions for greater competitiveness and development.
He also said that the "levers for development include structural reforms in education; organisation of the market and support for employment".
Athanassakis opens PASOK's programme conference
"We are changing PASOK in order to again change Greece," PASOK's National Council Secretary Nikos Athanassakis said on Friday during the opening address for the party's two-day programme conference in Faliro.
PASOK will vie for the Greek electorate's vote in the upcoming elections with George Papandreou at the helm and with a "change of course" as its central message, he said.
Athanassakis referred to the organisational restructuring of the party, putting special emphasis on its regional organisation. He stressed that this reflected an overall view that applied not just to party structures but to the kind of state that PASOK envisaged building.
"We want a movement with equal participation by women, equal access for people with disabilities, equal integration of immigrants. We want a movement of social organisations and volunteerism and we have 'opened' the party to non-government organisations and to their wealth of ideas, work and contribution," he added.
PASOK's secretary underlined the party's insistence on full transparency in all areas, pointing to the means statements that all its members were required to submit and PASOK's proposal in 2005 that all public-sector transactions be posted on the Internet, which he said would have prevented the "plundering of social insurance funds" if it had been accepted.
He also stressed that the party was proud of its historical course, which included several of the major milestones in the country's progress, and that any comparison with ruling New Democracy would only be in PASOK's favour.
 PM Karamanlis embarks Friday on official tour of New Zealand, Australia, VietnamPrime minister Costas Karamanlis departed Friday afternoon for an official tour of New Zealand, Australia and Vietnam, with an overnight stopover in Singapore, accompanied by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.
Karamanlis is due to arrive Saturday morning in Singapore, where in the afternoon he will meet with President Sellapan Rama Nathan, leaving the following morning for Auckland, New Zealand, where he will arrive Sunday night, and from there on to Wellington, where he will begin his official visit by laying a wreath at the national Cenotaph before heading to the New Zealand parliament.
Later on Monday, he will have talks with New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and members of the Cabinet, which will be followed by statements to the press at noon (New Zealand time).
Afterwards, he will lay a wreath at the Monument of the Battle of Crete and visit the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, where he will deliver a greeting to the local Greek community.
Karamanlis is due to arrive on Monday night in Sydney, where the Greek Consul General to Australia will host a reception in his honour.
On Tuesday, Karamanlis is scheduled to meet with Archbishop Stylianos of Australia and attend a doxology at the inauguration of a new building complex at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's home for the elderly, followed by a visit to the Greek community old-age home.
Karamanlis will meet later on Tuesday with the premier of the state of New South Wales, Morris Iemma, followed by a visit to the St. Spyridon Bilingual School, departing for Canberra on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, Karamanlis will visit the parliament in Canberra, and meet with Australian prime minister John Howard, after which a bilateral agreement on social insurance will be signed.
The Greek prime minister is due to meet afterwards with opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hellenic Australian Monument, to be attended by war veterans, while he will also address members of the local Greek community during an event at the Greek ambassador's residence in Canberra.
On Thursday morning, Karamanlis will go to Adelaide, where he will meet with South Australia state premier Mike Rann and Adelaide Lord Mayor Michael Harbison, followed by a reception for the local Greek community before leaving for Melbourne, where he will address the local Greek community at a dinner event.
Karamanlis will meet with Victoria state premier Steve Bracks and opposition members on Friday, while that same night he will address a large gathering of Greek Australians at the Rod Laver Arena.
On Saturday, Karamanlis will leave for Darwin, where he will meet with Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin, followed by a reception hosted by Martin.
At noon on Saturday, the Greek prime minister will depart Darwin for Hanoi, Vietnam, on the last leg of his tour.
On Sunday, Karamanlis will lay a wreath at the Monument to Heroes and Martyrs, and another wreath at the Ho Chi Ming Mausoleum, followed by talks with Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung, after which a tourism cooperation agreement will be signed and statements made to the press.
Karamanlis will also attend an official lunch hosted by Dung, followed by a meeting with Vietnamese president Nguyen Minh Triet.
The Greek prime minister will depart Vietnam on Sunday afternoon (local time), and is expected to arrive back in Athens shortly before midnight Sunday (Greek time).
 Government meeting on state apparatus readiness ahead of droughtPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed on the readiness of the state apparatus by ministers of Interior Prokopis Pavlopoulos, National Defense Evangelos Meimarakis, Public Order Vyron Polydoras, Development Dimitris Sioufas, and Food and Rural Development Evangelos Basiakos, in view of a difficult summer ahead due to an anticipated drought.
Interior Minister Pavlopoulos told reporters after the meeting that the summer season will be difficult because even in the case of considerable rainfall, water resources will be impossible to replace and, therefore, government planning remains intact.
Pavlopoulos focused on the problem of drought and fire prevention, stressing that a total of 26 million euros have been allocated for desalination projects in the northern and southern Aegean. Local administration authorities have received the funds allocated for forest fire prevention measures earlier than ever before, while the high risk areas will receive additional funding, he said.
He also pointed out that approval of the appointment of seasonal workers by the economy ministry a month earlier will allow for hirings as early as June.
Public Order Minister Polydoras stated that the government and public order ministry planning is sufficient to deal with a difficult firefighting season.
He stated that the appointment of 5,500 season workers has been renewed for the next 5 years, while the hiring of 1,300 firemen over the next 2 years has also been approved in addition to 1,600 well-trained firemen from last year who are in a state of preparedness.
Polydoras also pointed out that the state of land and airborne firefighting means is very good, based on the briefing made by the minister of national defense.
Food and Rural development Minister Basiakos stated that the current government has completed 46 infrastructure projects aimed at dealing with drought and irrigation network water loss problems, compared to four such projects constructed under the preceding PASOK governments.
 ND MEP briefs PM over Europarliament report on FYROMPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday met New Democracy MEP Antonis Trakatellis, who briefed him on a report currently going through the European Parliament regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) European prospects.
"I wanted to brief Mr. Karamanlis that there is going to be a report ... that will go through the Euro-Parliament's foreign affairs committee and then before the plenum; a report that concerns the conditions for FYROM's EU accession," Trakatellis told reporters.
He added that the issue had been discussed at the EU-FYROM Joint Parliamentary Committee, of which he was co-chair, while his talks with Karamanlis also covered the issue of FYROM's name.
"Of course, both the report and the Joint Parliamentary Committee state that the issue must be resolved within the framework of the United Nations, with the acceptance and agreement of both countries," he added.
The MEP, who chairs a Europarliament committee on health issues as well, said his meeting with the premier also served as an opportunity to outline a major Union initiative against cancer.
Trakatellis said recent medical developments meant that one-third of all instances of cancer can be prevented; one-third can often be fully treated if promptly diagnosed, while more advanced therapies for the remaining one-third of cases meant greater hopes for sufferers.
Finally, the Euro-deputy dismissed speculation that he would be leaving the Euro-Parliament to vie for a seat in Greece's Parliament in the next elections, stressing that he was quite happy with what he was currently doing.
 German MEP on Skopje airport's nameMeanwhile, in an ANA-MPA dispatch from Skopje on Friday, German MEP Doris Pack was quoted in local media here as sharply criticising the FYROM government's decision several months ago to rename the Skopje airport into "Alexander the Great" airport.
Pack, the chairwoman of the European Parliament's delegation on relations with SE European countries, called the decision a "provocation", during an address on Thursday at a local university's law school.
She added that the decision in no way assists the process for resolving the "name issue" between Greece and FYROM.
Finally, Pack emphasised the fact that FYROM's leadership should not forget that Greece is a full member of both the European Union and NATO, while calling for cooperation with Athens in all sectors.
 PM meets Yiannis Tragakis, Olga KefaloyianniPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday had separate meetings with Parliament vice-president Yiannis Tragakis and his former aide Olga Kefaloyiannis, the daughter of a ruling New Democracy MP.
No statements were made after the meeting with Tragakis, while Kefaloyianni said that she had informed the prime minister of her desire to run for Parliament on ND's ticket in the upcoming elections.
She did not confirm that she would be standing for election in the prefecture of Rethymno on Crete, however, saying that this was a matter for Karamanlis to decide.
"I would like to thank the prime minister for the trust he placed in me, especially over the last three years when I was his special associate. I have now resigned from this position in order to have the right to be a candidate in the next elections," Kefaloyianni said.
 Gov't on FinMin's statements, ubiquitous 'early election' queryThe government spokesman on Friday dismissed queries qualifying statements by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis a day earlier as "pre-election benefits", as spokesman Evangelos Antonaros termed them "specific government commitments."
"The government exhibits consistency and its programme will be implemented during its four-year-term in office," Antonaros said in response to charges of a "pre-election giveaways".
In response to the ubiquitous "early elections" question, he said that they will be held in the "appropriate time" as stipulated by the Constitution and laws, while also noting that the current government operates on a four-year horizon.
 Greece assumes Human Security Network presidencyLJUBLJANA (ANA-MPA/N.Melissova)
Greece assumed the one-year Human Security Network (HSN) presidency from Slovenia during a foreign ministers' meeting in Ljubljana on Friday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, representing Greece at the 9th ministerial meeting of the HSN, outlined Athens' priorities, stressing that the top issue will be climate change and their effect on sensitive population groups, such as children.
Stylianidis told the 14 member-state representatives that among the problems that could ensue from climate change are drought, infectious diseases, illegal migration, poverty and human trafficking, particularly children. He stated that the Greek presidency will attempt to shed light on all these aspects and contribute to international dialogue.
Greece has chosen an issue that is very high on the agenda of international organisations. Climatic changes preoccupied the UN Security Council two weeks ago and constitute a main priority of the European Union's German presidency.
We shall promote specific proposals at international organisations, the UN, the EU and UNICEF and we shall try to give the issue the weight it deserves," Stylianidis pointed out.
Radika Koumarasuami from Sri Lanka thanked Greece for its contribution to the tackling of the disaster experienced by her country from the tsounami in 2004.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel also thanked Greece, through Stylianidis, for its support for his country's election to the UN's Human Rights Council on Thursday.
The main issues being examined by the ministerial "watch" is the removal of mines, combatting the trafficking of light arms, the strengthening of multipartite diplomacy and of international humanitarian law, support and protection for sensitive groups, refugees, women and children and the prevention of conflicts.
The Greek presidency hopes to provide a new impetus for the Network, promoting as a priority a leading issue on the agenda of international organisations and inviting to the annual ministerial conference new countries, personalities and organisations and creating an international meeting.
The Human Security Network, founded in 1998, is a group of like-minded countries from all regions of the world that, at the level of foreign ministers, maintains dialogue on questions pertaining to human security. Its members include Greece, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia, Jordan, Mali, South Africa, Chile, Costa Rica and Thailand.
Deputy FM Yiannis Valynakis outlines foreign ministry's initiatives contributing to tourist development
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis, addressing an international conference on Friday titled "European Union - The countries of the wider Black Sea region:Facilitating tourist visa issuing process", outlined the foreign ministry's initiatives contributing to the framework of the government's overall policy on the country's tourist development.
The conference is being held on the Aegean island of Kos by the International Black Sea Studies Centre, in cooperation with the municipality of Kos.
The meeting, taking place in the frameweork of boosting efforts aimed at closer cooperation between the European Union and member-states of the Wider Black Sea Region, is being attended by senior officials and analysts who are experts on visa issues from 21 countries and from the European Commission.
Focusing on initiatives undertaken by Greece to strengthen cooperation between the EU and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation (BSEC), on the occasion of this year's 15th anniversary of its founding proclamation, the deputy minister said that "in these 15 years of its operation, bridges of cooperation between markets have been created and are continuing to be created, promoting tourism, trade, investments, transportation, energy cooperation and cultural relations."
Referring to tourism in particular, Valynakis said that "Greece, a country having a tourist tradition, is investing strategically in the sector of tourism. And it is investing on the basis of a new conception that realises the significance of tourism for the creation of friends of the country, the promotion of Greece and the promotion of cooperation and peace."
 Education ministers of Bologna Process conference reject Turkish proposalIn the course of the education ministers' conference which is being held in London, the Turkish delegation on Friday morning submitted a proposal calling for the universities in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus to be able to accede to the Bologna Process, through the Union of European Universities. The request was rejected by the conference's presidency, following an objection by Greece's Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou.
As announced by the ministry, in her objection, Yiannakou stressed that "the basic principle of the Bologna Process concerns an inter-governmental process."
"Us ministers, after consultation with the European Unions of Universities, of Higher Education Foundations of our countries, of students and the international organizations, we agree and decide on many issues. If we violate this basic principle of the process, then I'm very afraid that we are opening Pandora's box and many minority or national problems will be raised which many of the countries present here, around this table, face. Because of this, I steadfastly recommend for us to avoid such a bad practice because otherwise it is as if we are abolishing the process and what we have achieved up to now," Yiannakou said.
 KKE leader stresses need for strategy against drugsCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga addressed a conference on drugs, organised by the Panhellenic Coordinating Committee of Agencies Against Drugs on Friday, stressing the need for a strategy against drugs to be determined.
"The problem of drugs is intensifying, increasing and multiplying. We are ascertaining with trepidation that every year the age of drug users is dropping," she said.
"You deserve congratulations for your initiative, not for just another discussion to take place on the great problem of drugs, but for a more systematic dialogue to open with the aim of creating a wider anti-drugs front that equips youth, the people in general with a proposal for a strategic handling," Papariga added.
The KKE leader further said that "our position on correlating the problem with the system of capitalist exploitation does not lead us to quitting the struggle for the best possible prevention system and under the conditions of the present social and economic system, under conditions of a negative political correlation."
 Left must struggle for different Europe, Coalition party leader saysCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos addressed a party conference on the theme of "European unification and the Left" on Friday, pointing out that the Left must struggle for the building of a different Europe, a Europe of social cohesion, peace and democracy. The conference was organised on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.
Alavanos said that events marking the 50th anniversary find European unification going through a crisis, adding that during the past 50 years the undertaking of European unification was affected in a definite manner and marked by big changes in the world and on the continent of Europe, that created hopes, as well as great dangers, such as the victory of peoples against colonialism, the cold war and the nuclear threat, the rapid ecological downgrading, the aboliton of bipolarism, the collapse of the "real socialism" regimes and the demand of the United States for the monopolistic management of the world in the framework of the so-called "new world order."
He further said that the position of the Coalitioon party is that the revival of the European vision requires a radically different course from the present one, stressing that what is necessary is a course of opposition and breaking with neo-liberalism and Euro-Atlantism with peoples, citizens and their movements being the protagonists.
 Record number of US House com't members sign letter addressed to Turkish PM Erdogan over Ecumenical PatriarchateWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA / T. Ellis)
A record number of members of the US House of Representatives' influential foreign affairs committee have signed a letter -- composed by chairman Tom Lantos and ranking Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- regarding the long-standing crisis facing the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
The letter, sent to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan, addresses the Turkish state's policies that, unless changed, "will terminate this Sacred See wherein much of the Bible was codified and the Creeds created," according to Anthony Limberakis, the head of the Order of St. Andrew, an organisation of America's leading Orthodox Christian faithful.
The letter, signed by 42 of the 50 committee members, states:
"The Ecumenical Patriarchate -- the Sacred See, which has served the world-wide Christian community since its establishment by the Apostle Andrew nearly 2,000 years ago -- will disappear in the foreseeable future, unless Turkey changes its policies. We urge you, in friendship and respect, to do everything possible to preserve the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to end all restrictions on its religious freedom".
The letter follows, by less than a month, the torture and murder in central Turkey of three publishers because they printed copies of the Bible in the predominately Muslim EU hopeful. It also follows, by several months, the murder in Turkey of a Roman Catholic priest while in prayer.
Moreover, it comes on the heels of an accelerated campaign by the Turkish government to confiscate Ecumenical Patriarchal properties. Currently, more than 75 percent of its properties have been taken without compensation, Limberakis said.
" 'A religious tragedy of historic magnitude' was the description of this issue in a US Senate letter to President George W. Bush, signed by 73 Senators late last year. Fewer than five Senate letters to the US President a year receive support from as many Senators as did this Nov. 29, 2006 letter to the President on this issue," he added.
The House Committee letter also noted that, "all Americans and all seekers of peace highly value Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's (Vartholomeos) accomplishments. As you surely know, the US Congress has bestowed on His All Holiness America's highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, and it did so with the largest number of cosponsors on record at that time.
"We are especially concerned about three aspects of Turkish government policy towards its Greek-Orthodox population-- practices which threaten the viability of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in a direct and urgent manner. The first of these is your longstanding unwillingness to recognize the Ecumenical Patriarchate as ecumenical -- that is, trans-national. As you surely know, the entire world outside of Turkey -- Orthodox and non-Orthodox -- recognizes the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul as an Ecumenical Patriarchate. Its Ecumenical nature derives from its history and spiritual stature as well as the faith and perceptions of people around the globe. We would hope that you would view the Ecumenical Patriarchate as part of the rich cultural tapestry of your magnificent, vibrant city.
"Second, we are deeply concerned by your continued involvement in the process of selecting the Patriarch and by your continued insistence that he be a Turkish citizen. These practices clearly reflect your policy of viewing the Patriarchate as a strictly Turkish institution, when in fact it provides spiritual and moral guidance for millions of believers worldwide. Today there are less than 2,500, mainly elderly Greek-Orthodox who hold Turkish citizenship. Accordingly, under present policies, there soon will be virtually no Greek-Orthodox Turkish citizens left to qualify as Patriarch.
The letter concluded:
"Third, your expropriation of lands belonging to the Ecumenical Patriarchate -- as a result of a policy in which the state takes possession of lands not being directly used by the Patriarchate and of lands of those who emigrated or died without heirs -- is very worrisome to us. This policy deprives the Patriarchate of both badly needed funds and cultural patrimony'," Limberakis said.
"The entity charged by the U.S. House of Representatives with oversight of U.S. policy toward Turkey, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the full body of the United States Senate have overwhelmingly expressed themselves on this tragedy. To America and the democratic world (including the European Union) Turkey's claim of 'religious tolerance' has no credibility as long as it maintains its extreme anti-Ecumenical Patriarchate policies," according to Andy Manatos, an officer in the Order of St. Andrew and the coordinator of its Washington activity.
"Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, a highly regarded man of peace throughout the world, is a Turkish citizen whose presence in Turkey greatly benefits that country. The positive publicity that Turkey received during the recent visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is but one example," Father Alex Karloutsos, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in New York, added.
 President Papoulias present at event marking 'Navy's Movement' in May 1973The Movement of the Navy and the mutiny of the anti-torpedo boat "VELOS" in May 1973 against the then ruling military junta, was honoured by the state on Friday at an event held at the battle ship "AVEROF", in the presence of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
The president was received by National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, Navy General Staff chief Vice-Admiral Dimitrios Gousis and Paleo Faliro Mayor Dionysis Hatzidakis.
Present at the event were political party representatives and members of resistance organisations, among them Manolis Glezos and George-Alexandros Magakis.
The defence minister in his address stressed that "today we attribute honour to all those who gave the real presence in the anti-dictatorship struggle" and hailed the act of the crew of "VELOS". Meimarakis noted that "they consciously abandoned everything so as to send the message that a small group abuses power and not the whole of the Armed Forces."
Meimarakis revealed that the National Defence Ministry is examining for the celebration next year to last for two days, so as to give the opportunity to students to visit the anti-torpedo boat and learn about its struggle.
On his part, Navy General Staff chief Gousis said, "the mutiny of 'VELOS' constitutes a crucial moment of the Navy in the glorious pages of its history," describing the Movement of the Navy as "a bridge of the popular reaction from the Law School to the Polytechnic uprisings."
 New competitiveness and entrepreneurship programme to include 407 million euros budgetFunds totalling 407 million euros, with the prospect of their extension to 479 million to support small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), will be included in the 4th cycle of the New Operational Programme on Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship covering the 2007-2013 period, that the government is expected to announce in June.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, inaugurating the two-day 1st European SMEs Conference on the theme of "Positions and not oppositions", organised by the European SMEs Union, said that "given the priority provided in government development policy for supporting and backing SMEs, the government, apart from the more than 40 measures it has taken in this direction, is expected to do even more, securing for the old and new businessmen modernisation, easy access to the fiscal system and a healthy competitive environment."
According to data provided by the minister, in 2004, the period in which SMEs were included in EU programmes, the absorption rate of funds was 14.7 percent, in the following year it exceeded 66 percent and today more than 30,000 SMEs are contributing to the market economy with programmes worth 6.3 billion euros.
Addresses were also made on the first day of the conference, attended by economic officials and representataives of SMEs from all over Europe, by Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Christos Folias and European Parliament President Hans-Gert Petering.
"Our faith in SMEs is unshakeable and deeply rooted. We are applying a comprehensive policy to enable the 80,000 SMEs that are active in Greece to have the best possible support. We believe that without entrepreneurship there is no development," Folias said on his part.
 PM briefed on proposed termination of EDPPrime minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed Friday by national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis on the course of the Greek economy and the initiatives being planned by the ministry for continuation of the reforms in the sector.
Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting that he briefed the premier on the next and final step for termination of the EU's excessive deficit procedure (EDP), which will be the Council of EU economy and finance ministers (ECOFIN) in early June.
The ECOFIN Council will discuss the European Commission's recommendation for lifting the EDP on Greece at its meeting in early June, and "we believe that we will have the final step to terminating the excessive deficit procedure," Alogoskoufis said.
Asked when general elections will take place, amid renewed press speculation of early elections in September, Alogoskoufis replied that "we still have much work to do".
 S&P calls for social security, public administration reformThe Greek government continues to adhere to a programme of gradual fiscal consolidation, having reduced the general government deficit to below 3.0 pct of GDP in 2006, Standard & Poor's said on Friday.
In a statement released by the credit ratings agency, S&P said, however, this consolidation will be unsustainable over the longer term without an increased focus on social security and public administration reform. "The majority of the fiscal adjustment since 2005 having come through a reduction in capital expenditure, nonrecurring items, and savings related to debt servicing," S&P said, adding that general government debt is expected to reach about 100 pct of GDP this year, down from 112 pct on the eve of EMU entry in 2000.
A sizeable current account deficit, which rose to about 12 pct of GDP last year, indicates that a moderation of domestic demand is likely, undermining the government's revenue base, the report said. Nevertheless, the ratings continue to be supported by relatively high economic prosperity and membership of EMU, which effectively shields Greece for potential pressures related to the balance of payments, it added.
S&P said recent attempts to improve the quality of Greek financial data were expected to put an end to the significant upward revisions of the general government deficit and debt ratios experienced over recent years.
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services expects that following the 2008 general election, the next government will implement pension reform.
 President briefed on agricultural issues by farm ministerAgricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos on Friday briefed President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on the latest international and domestic developments in the farming sector.
Emerging from the meeting, Basiakos stressed the president's awareness of agricultural and regional development issues, noting that he had asked a lot of questions and was briefed on the potential of the Greek farm sector and the prospects opening up for the supply of high-quality agricultural products that would win over foreign markets, as well as the ways of using every comparative advantage to support Greek regions and rural areas.
"There are positive prospects, we are making use of every national and community possibility and I believe that the agricultural sector has a future," Basiakos said.
 Deputy FinMin Folias addresses industrialists' general assembly in ThessalonikiDeputy Economy and Finance Minister Christos Folias, addressing in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, on Friday evening, the general assembly of the Federation of Northern Greece Industries (SBBE), underlined the need for the Greek economy to orientate itself to quality and to become more flexible and innovative in order to face the strong and double competition from both the developed and developing countries.
Stressing that the progress which has been made to date in Greece creates favourable prospects for the future, he called on northern Greece to play its historic role and become the economic "heart" of the entire Balkan Peninsula and of South-East Europe.
He also called on the SBBE members "to utilise the opportunities which are being created and to invest in the prospects and the future."
 North Asset Management accepts JP Morgan's proposal for bond repurchaseThe North Asset Management company announced its agreement on Friday on the proposal for the repurchase of the bond by JP Morgan Securities Ltd as a "goodwill gesture that reflects its desire to have this issue settled amicably with a positive outcome for all sides."
North stressed in its relevant announcement that its offer to return its profit and reverse the deal, in the part concerning its participation, "does not contain any admission that it has acted irregularly."
 Bank of Piraeus buys 78 pct in Ukraine's ICBBank of Piraeus Group on Friday announced the signing of an agreement to buy 78 pct of equity capital in Ukraine's International Commerce Bank (ICB), making the first step towards establishing a presence in Ukraine.
International Commerce Bank was founded in 1994 and currently operates a branch network of 134 units in 38 cities around Ukraine. It services more than 25,000 customers and employs 850 workers.
The acquisition of ICB further strengthens Piraeus Group's activities abroad. The Greek bank operates in eight countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, Egypt, UK, US and Ukraine) with 370 branches. The Group's assets totals 5.0 billion euros.
Bank of Piraeus said the name of the broker to complete the transaction and acquisition will be announced after the approval of supervisory authorities in Greece and Ukraine.
 Tourism & Property Show 2007 in AthensThe government is determined to establish Greece as a leader in the international tourism industry, Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said on Friday during the inauguration of the "Tourism & Property Show 2007" in Athens.
Commenting on her ministry's policy regarding the all-important but still under-developed tourism and holiday property market in Greece, the minister said a new legislation on health tourism, combined with special town planning on tourism, should provide a necessary boost to business activity in the sector.
She also reiterated that Greece would not repeat mistakes made by other countries in promoting vacation real estate, stressing that significant attention would be given to protecting the environment.
 Greek stocks end 0.46 pct higher on FridayGreek stocks ended Friday's session higher in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index ended 0.46 pct up to 4,886.83 points after briefly hitting the 4,900-level, while turnover was a moderate 375.1 million euros.
Sector indices ended mostly higher, with the Oil (1.77 pct), Chemicals (1.29 pct) and Commerce (1.28 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (1.28 pct), Financial Services (0.83 pct) and Telecommunications (0.59 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.51 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.06 pct up and the Small Cap index rose 0.61 pct.
Galis (20 pct), Mohlos (18.75 pct) and Katselis (18.59 pct) were top gainers, while Euroholdings (7.69 pct), United Textiles (7.50 pct) and Desmos (6.98 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 150 to 107 with another 49 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.77%
Personal & Household: +1.11%
Raw Materials: -0.21%
Travel & Leisure: +0.84%
Food & Beverages: -0.16%
Financial Services: -0.83%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Bank of Cyprus, National Bank, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.64
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.00
HBC Coca Cola: 34.02
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.56
Emporiki Bank: 21.14
National Bank of Greece: 43.18
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 27.40
Titan Cement Company: 41.70
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices saw their discount ease during Friday's session in the Athens Derivatives Exchange, with turnover a moderate 141.332 million euros.
The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.40 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.20 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 8,206 contracts worth 106.413 million euros, with 36,711 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 792 contracts worth 24.228 million euros, with 1,607 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 5,335 contracts worth 10.690 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank (862), followed by PPC (495), National Bank (296), Intracom (345), ATEbank (667), Mytilineos (744) and Eltech (422).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.485 billion euros on Friday, of which 1.285 billion were bid order snd the remaining 1.2 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 915 million euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds eased to 0.22 percent. The Greek bond yielded 4.54 pct and the German Bund 4.32 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.84 pct, the two-day rate fell to 3.84 pct from 3.89 pct on Thursday, the one-month rate rose to 3.92 pct from 3.89 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.40 pct from 4.39 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - Saturday-MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.358
Pound sterling 0.689
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.292
Japanese yen 164.3
Swiss franc 1.666
Norwegian kroner 8.240
Cyprus pound 0.587
Canadian dollar 1.488
Australian dollar 1.653
 Piraeus municipality may shut down due to debt, mayor warnsPiraeus Mayor Panagiotis Fassoulas, a former star basketball player, on Friday said he might be forced to shut down the municipality due to outstanding debts owed by the city that has Greece's largest port.
He made the statement after a meeting with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, saying that he had asked the government for a loan of 80 million euros and special financial assistance to the sum of 20 million euros.
 President Papoulias to inaugurate new square in TripolisPresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias is to inauguate Irene (Peace) Square in the city of Tripolis in the Peloponnese on June 8 and will also unveil a bust of Grigoris Lambrakis at his birthplace in Kerasitsa, Tegea.
 "Harilaos Florakis" education centerThe "Library-Archives Harilaos Florakis" education center will be inaugurated on Monday, June 11, according to a statement issued by the Communist Party of Greece, KKE, on Friday.
The inauguration ceremony will take place on the occasion of the 2nd anniversary of Florakis' death.
The late KKE leader's house in Halandri, Athens, where the education center is housed, will operate as cultural center and will be open to researchers, trade unions, and scientific associations.
 Event held on contribution of Bank of Cyprus' Cultural FoundationThe Cultural Foundation of the Bank of Cyprus, a fundamental agency of culture and creativity with the objective of projecting Cypriot heritage and issues of broader Hellenism, was honoured on Friday night at the Benaki Museum in Athens, on the occasion of International Museums Day.
The main rapporteur at the event was Cypriot Ambassador in Athens George Georgis and a piano recital was given by internationally renowned Cyprien Katsaris.
 Greek-Romanian cooperation for Evros, DanubeEvros Prefect Nikos Zabounidis and Danube governor and Romanian Deputy Environment Minister Paol Kononov held a meeting at Evros prefecture, northern Greece, on Friday and discussed the possibility of cooperation for dealing with common problems which appear at Evros Delta and Danube Delta.
During the meeting, decision was reached for the creation of a joint committee which will soon visit the regions of Danube and Evros, so as to formulate a cooperation proposal for dealing with certain needs, which will be presented in about a month from now in Italy, at the meeting of the Mediterranean Deltas Organisation, at which the countries of Spain, Italy, Greece, Romania and Egypt participate.
 Internet fraud investigationLarisa police in central Greece have launched an investigation into an internet fraud complaint made by a local man who was notified via e-mail that he was the winner of a GBP 900,000 lottery prize but in order to receive the cheque with the money won he would have to pay GBP 3,500 in shipping fees.
The man reported the incident to police when he became suspicious after calling the phone number appearing on the e-mail.
According to the complaint, the e-mail in question came from a London-based company requesting the recipient to fill out a form with personal information and send a copy of his police ID card and passport before being able to receive the alleged prize money.
In an unrelated incident, a total of 11 kilos of hashish were seized by police after raiding a local factory in Platikampos, Larisa based on a tip-off according to which, two foreign nationals, aged 25 and 28, were involved in drug trafficking using as a base the factory of their 50-year-old accomplice.
Three people were arrested during the raid while a private car, five mobile phones and a small amount of money were seized.
 Local ND offices firebombed in ThessalonikiAn early morning firebomb attack targeting the local offices of the ruling New Democracy party in Kalamaria, Thessaloniki caused material damage.
The unidentified assailants had planted a makeshift incendiary device outside the offices damaging a glass façade.
 Stolen cars seized at the Kakavia Customs StationA total of 15 stolen cars, discovered at the Kakavia Customs Station at the Greek-Albanian borders via the C.I.S.Schengen inter-European electronic system, have been confiscated over a seven-month period by the competent finance ministry agency, it was announced on Friday.
According to the ministry of finance, the confiscated luxury cars, stolen from Greece and other European countries, were destined to be illegally exported to Albania.
 Woman unhurt after falling under trainA 76-year-old woman emerged unscathed on Friday after a train on the Pyrgos-Corinth line passed right over her on the tracks.
The woman had fallen down between the rails and the engine driver had slowed but was unable to completely stop the train, which overshot the spot where the woman had fallen by several metres.
When the driver climbed down to see what happened, however, he found that the woman was completely unhurt though shaken up by her adventure. Her lucky escape was explained by the fact that she was between the rails and the train was set very high above the track.
 Rain, storms on SaturdayRainy and stormy weather is forecast in all parts of Greece on Saturday. Temperatures ranging from 8C and 24C. Winds southerly, southeasterly, light to moderate.
Rain in Athens, with temperatures ranging between 13C and 23C. Same in Thessaloniki and temperatures ranging from 9C to 22C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe measures for visible policing of the Exarchia district and the weakening of the police stations following the transfer of police for patrolling the surrounding area, recent incidents of corruption in the Greek Police (ELAS), the structured bonds/social insurance funds' reserves affair, and the speculation of early general elections in September (six months ahead of the government's present term in office), were the main front-page items in Friday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Large-family (four children or more) subsidy to three-children families - Alogoskoufis (national economy and finance minister) announcements regarding the financially weaker groups".
APOGEVMATINI: "I am clean, I did not become a judge in order to get rich - Interview with Areios Pagos (Greek supreme court) president Romylos Kedikoglou".
AVGHI: "Unemployment among youths 'stuck' at 26 percent - The dark side of the governmental policy".
AVRIANI: "Alogoskoufis giving everything - Subsidy to three-children families, reinforcement for those who have annual incomes of 5,000 euros, national pension with incorporation of the EKAS (low pension benefit, into the base pension), and special programmes for the financially weaker families".
CHORA: "Large-family subsidy to be given to three-children families, too - The criteria for granting the poverty benefit".
ELEFTHEROS: "The first benefits - Series of measures for the financially weaker, by Alogoskoufis".
ELETHEROS TYPOS: "Five moves point to (early) elections - The political parties' machinery set in motion".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The (pre-electoral) 'music' has begun - Opening by PASOK (main opposition party) with the (party's Programme) Conference (which begins Friday)".
ESTIA: "PASOK: Perpetuating demogogy and destruction-mongering".
ETHNOS: "Minister's guard and cocaine guard - VIP police guard implicated in drug trafficking".
KATHIMERINI: "The police return to Exarchia - Measures of visible policing, with patrols on a 24-hour basis".
LOGOS: "The Funds to gain from the offers by the...banks on the bonds, says the government - Counterattack following the proposals by Proton Bank and Marfin Bank".
NIKI: "Government for business - Heavy accusations by Papandreou (PASOK leader) prompted by the scandals".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Aleka Papariga (KKE-Communist Party of Greece leader): The people must disengage themselves from ND (ruling New Democracy party) and PASOK".
TA NEA: "Document on the 'denuding' of ELAS - Even fewer police at the police stations".
TO VIMA: "To Vima reveals: The SDOE (financial crimes special squad) on the 'satchels' - The faces in the scandal, the offshore companies, the kickbacks, and the monies' journeys".
VRADYNI: "Social package of benefits for three-children families, pensioners, unemployed - Measures/breathers following the lifting of the excessive deficit procedure (EDP)" on the Greek economy.
 France calls for speedy implementation of UN agreement on CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
France has called on Friday for the speedy implementation of a UN-brokered agreement last July between the Greek and the Turkish Cypriot communities, saying this could re-launch UN-sponsored search for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos reiterated his commitment to a bizonal bicommunal federation and warned all those exploiting Greek
Cypriot properties in Turkish occupied Cyprus that they are running the risk of finding themselves before legal proceedings in Cyprus and the European Court of Human Rights.
Presenting his credentials to Papadopoulos, French Ambassador Nicolas Galey also said that Paris wants a "global, fair and sustainable solution" in Cyprus, noting that a united island would bring peace, freedom and prosperity for everybody.
Galey thanked profusely Cyprus' "outstanding contribution to the repatriation of French citizens from Lebanon" in July last year, saying that cooperation between Paris and Nicosia on this issue reflects the good bilateral working relationship.
Expressing France's concern about the difficulties with regard to the July agreement, he said "we fully understand that adequate preparation will be needed before comprehensive negotiations can be opened up to bring about a unified Cyprus within the European Union."
France, he said, like the European Union and its member states, wants a global, fair and sustainable solution to this long-lasting conflict and strongly hopes that the coming years will see real progress towards the reunification of Cyprus.
On bilateral ties, he welcomed Cyprus' participation in 'Francophonie' and noted these ties are based on mutual confidence and friendship.
Papadopoulos expressed gratitude to France for its constant and principled support in promoting a viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem, based on UN resolutions and the values and principles on which the European Union is founded.
"We consider this active interest as a tangible proof of its genuine willingness to contribute to the promotion of peace in our country," he added.
The president explained that the Turkish side insists on a UN solution plan, the Annan plan, as it fully satisfied all their demands and is calling for the abandonment of a UN process, based on the July agreement that provides for the concurrent establishment of working groups to address substantive issues of the Cyprus problem and technical committees to deal with the day to day problems that affect the people as well as confidence building measures.
Papadopoulos reiterated his support for the economic development of the Turkish Cypriots, noting that very recently the government proposed a new set of measures, including provisions for joint ventures with Greek Cypriots and the upgrading of civil society.
"Unfortunately, the Turkish Cypriots have campaigned heavily for the so-called direct trade regulation, under the slogan of isolation. The government strongly opposes any such regulation as it affects its vital interests and its implementation would foreshadow a solution to the Cyprus problem that instead of reunification will lead to partition," he stressed.
Concluding he said Nicosia has supported the orientation of Turkey towards Europe, subject to fulfilling all its obligations towards the EU and all its member states, including Cyprus.
 Spokesman says US official welcome in CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said on Friday that the Cypriot government had responded positively to the wish of US Undersecretary at the State Department Nicholas Burns to visit Cyprus, and it remained to set a date for the visit.
Palmas added that Britain and the US play a substantive role in the Cyprus problem and their involvement was welcome, in cooperation with the other permanent members of the UN Security Council.
''It is a fact that Mr. Burns expressed the wish to visit the region and Cyprus. The Cypriot government responded positively and it remains to set a date for the arrival of Mr. Burns to Cyprus,'' Palmas said.
Replying to questions, the spokesman noted that ''both Britain and the US have over the years played a very substantive role in the Cyprus problem and of course their involvement and re-engagement in the proper framework is welcome, in cooperation with the other members of the Security Council, where this government managed to get them re-engaged, and engaged with regard to various initiatives on the Cyprus problem.''
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
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