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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-05-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

May3, 2006


  • [01] Greek economy to grow by 3.8 pct in 2006, FinMin says
  • [02] President Papoulias predicts drawn-out Iran crisis, solution eventually
  • [03] Greece to acquire embassy in Qatar, dep. minister says
  • [04] FM Bakoyannis emphasizes that diplomatic effort ongoing vis-a-vis Iran crisis
  • [05] Greece not asked to assist any U.S. operation in Iran, gov't says
  • [06] PM to chair SEECP summit on Thursday in Thessaloniki
  • [07] FYROM president at SEECP summit
  • [08] Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yamanaka in Athens this week
  • [09] PM confers with employment minister
  • [10] Education Minister Yiannakou meets Bulgarian counterpart Valtchev in Sofia
  • [11] Int'l conference on the Balkans held in Sofia
  • [12] European Court rejects appeal on European Networks and Information Security Organization
  • [13] Turkish FM sources deny press report on Halki seminary issue
  • [14] Crete to host Conference of CPMR Islands Commission
  • [15] 4th European Social Forum in Athens this week
  • [16] Police prepare for European Social Forum
  • [17] Solidarity event for Cuba held in Thessaloniki
  • [18] Greece can become first power in Europe in tourism sector, PM says
  • [19] Greece reiterates goal to promote lagging broadband services
  • [20] Saudi Arabia interested in Greek construction, shipping sectors
  • [21] Inner cabinet meeting discusses economic developments
  • [22] KKE rejects minister's statements on pensions reform
  • [23] GSEE President Polyzogopoulos on dialogue regarding social insurance system
  • [24] EU-China Partenariat to be held in Chengdu, Nov 9-10
  • [25] Breeders to receive 18 million euros for sick livestock
  • [26] Coalition party leader discusses tobacco issue with agricultural development minister
  • [27] ELPE to explore for natural gas in Egypt's western Desert
  • [28] Tender for 'Integrated Information System of State's General Chemistry Laboratory'
  • [29] Greek PMI jumped to 53.2 in April
  • [30] Greek stocks surge 1.52 pct on Tuesday
  • [31] President Karolos Papoulias to attend events commemorating end of WW2
  • [32] Hellenic Broadcasting, Ecumenical Patriarchate strengthen cooperation
  • [33] Conference in NY on 'The Hellenic world under the Ottoman and Western rules'
  • [34] New diagnostic method for thyroid cancer to be presented in Thessaloniki
  • [35] 'Ernesto Che Guevara' photographic exhibition in Athens
  • [36] Illegal immigrants intercepted on Samos
  • [37] President Papadopoulos says relations with US show improvement

  • [01] Greek economy to grow by 3.8 pct in 2006, FinMin says

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Greek economy will grow by 3.8 percent this year, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday.

    In his recommendation during an Inner Cabinet meeting, the minister said the outlook for the Greek economy was favorable this year, predicting a 3.8 pct growth rate in 2006, from 3.7 pct in 2005, while he attributed a lower GDP growth rate last year to an unexpected jump in international oil prices.

    The report made particular mention to shipping revenues, up 40 percent in 2004 (contributing 2.3 percentage points to the country's growth rate) with a marginal increase in 2005.

    The report said all sector indices in manufacturing, services, commerce and construction would improve significantly this year, combined with a speed up of lending to the private sector (up to 17.6 pct in February, from 14.4 pct in the same month last year).

    Retail sales (volume) rose 5.9 pct in February, while exports jumped 21.2 pct in the first two months of the year.

    Greek inflation fell to 3.2 pct in the first quarter of 2006, from 3.3 pct in the corresponding period in 2005, while core inflation fell significantly to 2.6 pct from 3.3 pct over the same periods respectively.

    [02] President Papoulias predicts drawn-out Iran crisis, solution eventually

    MANAMA, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Iran crisis will most likely turn out to be a drawn-out affair but a solution will eventually be found, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said in statements he made from Bahrain on Tuesday.

    He added that all efforts for diplomacy must be exhausted.

    "I am optimistic because no one wants the world to sink into chaos," he said, adding that "we will find a solution and overcome this crisis."

    Papoulias, who arrived in Bahrain earlier on Tuesday, visited the National Museum and the Formula 1 race track.

    On Tuesday evening, he was due to meet with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

    [03] Greece to acquire embassy in Qatar, dep. minister says

    DOHA, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece and Qatar have agreed that they will each establish embassies in Doha and Athens, respectively, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis said on Tuesday after talks with local government officials.

    He said that an article of law for the new embassy would be incorporated in the first foreign ministry bill that will be tabled in Parliament concerning the World Council of Hellenes Abroad. According to the minister, the new Greek Embassy in Qatar is expected to open by next November.

    During his talks in Doha, the deputy minister also secured a plot of land on which to build an Orthodox Church to serve the needs of Qatar's numerous Greek and Cypriot community.

    Kassimis was among the ministers that accompanied President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on a tour of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain that began last Saturday.

    [04] FM Bakoyannis emphasizes that diplomatic effort ongoing vis-a-vis Iran crisis

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday again dismissed pessimistic forecasts regarding the ongoing international crisis involving Iran's nuclear program.

    "Let's not presuppose the result, we're still in the middle of a diplomatic effort and the international community will do its utmost with the diplomatic tools that it retains," she told reporters after an Inner Cabinet meeting in Athens focusing on economic issues.

    In reply to other press questions, Bakoyannis said Athens will present the results of its chairmanship of the South East Europe Co-operation Process (SEECP), as a relevant ministers' conference is due to begin here on Wednesday.

    Additionally, she again confirmed that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will meet with Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday.

    Asked about the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its affiliated Halki seminary, issues that Athens regards as crucial to alleviating long-standing obstacles in Greek-Turkish relations, Bakoyannis emphasized that Ankara must fulfill its commitments, as the issue of religious freedoms comprises a priority for the European Union.

    Bakoyannis briefs KKE leader, comments on Iran crisis: Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday stressed that the Greek people desired a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the problem regarding Iran's nuclear program, after a meeting with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga.

    "This is a fact that unites us all," Bakoyannis underlined, adding that her meeting with Papariga concluded the briefing of the political parties on current foreign policy issues.

    "We are in the midst of a diplomatic effort that will be long drawn-out and that I hope will have the result that we all expect," the minister said in comments on the issue of Iran, while noting that the political parties also had a role in the tone of Greek diplomacy.

    Bakoyannis underlined that the briefing of the political parties in Parliament should be continuous and in depth:

    "We will continue to do this because, regardless of the views expressed, the parties should have substantial and full information on the country's foreign policy," she said.

    Papariga, on her part, said treaty obligations that would lead to the break-out of war in new areas should not be honored by Greece, regardless of the agreements signed by successive governments.

    "We have every reason to be concerned about what is happening today with Iran, with the escalation of intervention and blackmail, as we see it. We therefore, and I do not think we are the only ones, want to avert every military development that would have tragic repercussions for the people in the region and the people of Greece," Papariga said.

    [05] Greece not asked to assist any U.S. operation in Iran, gov't says

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece has not been asked to contribute in the event of a military operation by the United States against Iran, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed on Tuesday.

    "This issue has not been raised by anyone," the spokesman said in response to questions.

    Asked to clarify related statements made by Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis regarding the naval base in Souda, Crete, Roussopoulos said that the minister was merely pointing out the country's obligations under international treaties.

    Asked what line Greece will adopt at the UN Security Council regarding Iran's nuclear program, the spokesman reiterated that Greece was "in the front line of the group of countries that believe that we must take great care so that there is no proliferation of nuclear weapons - because we are preparing a peaceful world for our children".

    [06] PM to chair SEECP summit on Thursday in Thessaloniki

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will chair a closed-door South East Europe Co-operation Process (SEECP) summit in the northern city of Thessaloniki on Thursday, while afterwards he will preside at a news conference.

    Of particular interest is a meeting on the summit's sidelines between Karamanlis and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Heads of state and governments from member countries will meet on Thursday, while foreign ministers will convene on Wednesday.

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is expected to have separate meetings with her counterparts from FYROM, Albania, Serbia-Montenegro, as well as the session's guest speaker, Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Akiko Yamanaka, UN special envoy for Kosovo Maarti Ahtisaari and OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut.

    Finally, SE European transport ministers are expected to sign an agreement envisioning improvements in the region's rail networks.

    Issues up for discussion at the summit include regional cooperation and SE European countries' course towards the European Union; cooperation to boost regional infrastructure; the role of SEECP in a future modification of the SE Europe Stability Pact as well as timely issues currently facing the region.

    [07] FYROM president at SEECP summit

    SKOPJE, 3/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski will attend a South East Europe Co-operation Process (SEECP) summit meeting scheduled to take place in Thessaloniki on May 4, while FYROM Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva will attend the SEECP foreign ministers' meeting on Wednesday.

    On the sidelines of the SEECP meeting, the FYROM foreign minister will have separate contacts with counterparts from countries in the region.

    Among the issues to be examined at the SEECP meeting will be developments in the region, Euro-Atlantic prospects of SEECP countries, energy infrastructure, the strengthening of economic cooperation as well as the attraction of foreign investors.

    [08] Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yamanaka in Athens this week

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Akiko Yamanaka will participate in a South East Europe Co-operation Process (SEECP) ministers' council this week in Athens, following an invitation extended to her by the Greek foreign minister.

    Yamanaka, who is scheduled to arrive in Greece on Tuesday, will also have talks with FM Dora Bakoyannis focusing on boosting bilateral cooperation vis--vis stability and economic development issues in the Balkans -- one of the primary issues discussed by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his counterpart Junichiro Koizumi during an official visit by the former to Japan last November.

    [09] PM confers with employment minister

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Minister of Employment and Social Protection Savvas Tsitouridis in Athens on Tuesday. Leaving the Maximos Mansion, where the meeting took place, Tsitouridis commented that the social security issue will test everybody's political and social civilization and pointed out that the government has submitted a written request to Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki to set a date on which the relevant Parliamentary committee will meet.

    The Employment Minister stated that the social security legislation will be implemented by the end of the four-year term and Fund assets will be utilized.

    Responding to a relevant question on the amendment concerning the Naousa Textiles Industry jobless and their early retirement, he underlined that this was a last-ditch measure because the situation had reached a deadlock and unemployment in the sector was as high as 50 percent.

    Tsitouridis underlined, responding criticism, that the settlement was a demand expressed both by political parties and social partners.

    He said that legislation will be tabled in Parliament for the establishment of a Committee to examine the heavy and unhealthy professions issue, while the Social Insurance Institution (IKA) insurance contributions' issue will also be settled.

    In addition, the Employment Minister stated that a Committee will be established with the participation of the Bank of Greece, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Employment to consider better ways to utilize Fund assets.

    [10] Education Minister Yiannakou meets Bulgarian counterpart Valtchev in Sofia

    SOFIA, Bulgaria, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's National Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Tuesday met here with Bulgaria's Education and Science Minister Daniel Vassilev Valtchev.

    Yannakou told reporters after the meeting that her exchange of views with Valtchev on all major issues of the public education was "extremely constructive."

    She expressed optimism on the prospects of future cooperation between the two countries "in the strategic importance for their common European future, the education sector."

    As stated by the Greek education minister, "the stable basis but also the prerequisite for this optimistic assessment are the traditional bonds of friendship and Bulgaria's immediate European prospects."

    Yannakou further stressed that "Greece firmly supports Bulgaria's accession to the European Union on January 1, 2007."

    [11] Int'l conference on the Balkans held in Sofia

    SOFIA, Bulgaria, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The president of the Greek Federation of Atlantic and European Cooperation, Theodosios Georgiou, said here during an international conference on the Balkans, that "peace, security and stability in the sensitive region of the Balkans not only fully correspond but also serve in the best possible way Greece's national interest."

    The conference focused on the new challenges and the "new security borders" which NATO is called upon to effectively deal with through dynamic changes in its structures and policy.

    In his speech at the two-day international forum, which recently attracted in the Bulgarian capital politicians and experts from many NATO countries, Georgiou reminded of Greece's active participation in the international efforts for stability in the Balkans. He gave particular emphasis to the Greek Plan for the Reconstruction of the Balkans, the budget of which exceeds 500 million euros.

    [12] European Court rejects appeal on European Networks and Information Security Organization

    BRUSSELS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The European Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal made by Britain calling for the annulment of the European Union regulation on the creation of a European Networks and Information Security Organization in the city of Iraklio on the island of Crete.

    Britain was seeking the annulment of regulation 460/2004, considering that the relevant decision had wrongly been taken with a special majority and insisting that unanimity had been necessary.

    Britain claimed that article 95 of the EU Treaty, on which the decision to create the Organization had been based, is not the suitable legal base for issuing the regulation.

    According to Britain, the authority provided by article 95 of the EU Treaty for the EU legislator is an authority for harmonizing national legislation and not an authority for the creation of EU organizations and the awarding of duties to such organizations.

    [13] Turkish FM sources deny press report on Halki seminary issue

    ANKARA, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Turkish foreign sources on Tuesday denied reports appearing in the Turkish daily Hurriyet according to which Turkish foreign minister Abullah Gul has told Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis that the Halki School of Theology could not reopen because its reopening would be contrary to the Turkish constitution and the principle of secularity.

    The same sources said that "no such dialogue took place between the two (foreign) ministers" during their recent meeting in Sofia, as claimed by Hurriyet.

    The article further claimed that Gul told Bakoyannis that religious education in Turkey is provides in accordance with the constitution, and that Ankara proposed that the Halki seminary be placed under the jurisdiction of the University of Istanbul, and that the proposal was rejected by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    [14] Crete to host Conference of CPMR Islands Commission

    3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The annual Conference of the Islands Commission of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) will this year take place on May 11-12 in the town of Iraklio on Crete and will be organized by the Crete regional authority, it was announced on Tuesday.

    The conference will bring together all island regions in Europe and be attended by a large number of Greek and European organizations. Among the topics to be discussed will be the role of the Greek islands as Europe's sea border, the strategic role of Europe's islands, immigration policy, tourism and energy.

    [15] 4th European Social Forum in Athens this week

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Organizers of the 4th European Social Forum, to be held in Athens on May 4-7, on Tuesday expressed a hope that it will send a message of solidarity to all the peoples in the world fighting against "wars, globalization and the policies of neo-liberalism", as they said.

    In a press conference on Tuesday, local organizers announced that the forum will commence on Wednesday evening with a concert in central Athens while the forum's sessions will get underway on Thursday morning with seminars by various activist movements and organizations.

    A total of 277 debates will take place with the forum's framework, which is expected to attract representatives from more than 1,000 organizations.

    [16] Police prepare for European Social Forum

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Police officials are on the alert a few days before the 4th European Social Forum is scheduled to kick off in Athens on Thursday.

    According to senior officials, 8,000 police officers will be on duty during the Forum, which will also include a march from Pedion tou Areos park to the parliament building on Saturday at 3 p.m.

    More than 3,500 police officers will be sent to cover the march.

    Police officials have already met with the forum's organizers, who have promised to monitor the march and to ensure that no incidents will be caused by 'extremists.'

    Police have already stepped up protective measures for possible targets, such as embassies and businesses, and are in continuous communication with European police authorities and Interpol.

    The Greek Social Forum will be holding its first event on Wednesday at Ethnikis Antistaseos Square in downtown Athens.

    [17] Solidarity event for Cuba held in Thessaloniki

    3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Cuban Communist Party International Relations department member Juan Carlos Frometa on Tuesday addressed a solidarity event for Cuba, organized in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, by local organizations of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE).

    Frometa said that the United States carried out the wars in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Iraq with the purpose of controlling oil and now "they are preparing to strike their next victim: Iran."

    Referring to Cuba, he said that "the strengthening of the blockade by the U.S., which is creating a great loss, amounting to 82 billion dollars, and our placing on the list of 25 countries in which they will intervene militarily because they consider us an 'unbalanced and high-risk country', as well as considerable damage resulting from the 6 typhoons which struck the country and the greatest drought in 50 years did not prevent us from making the ideological struggle more intensive and intensifying a general, very wide and deep educational and cultural intervention."

    KKE's prefecture candidate in Thessaloniki Yannis Ziogas said that "the United States, without concealing this for even a moment, organized and are organizing today and now all efforts to topple socialist Cuba" and added that during this period the aggressiveness of imperialism against Cuba is being intensified and is taking on new dimensions.

    [18] Greece can become first power in Europe in tourism sector, PM says

    3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressed the Regular General Assembly of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) on Tuesday, stressing that in the years to come Greece can become the first power in Europe in the tourism sector and in leisure travel.

    Karamanlis said that in providing quality tourist services Greece can have tourism 12 months a year, adding that "the tourist product is bound to its country. It is the experience of Greece."

    The prime minister further spoke of an unprecedented upsurge in the international prices of fuel that is pressuring European, western and developing economies, while having a negative impact on growth rates, the implementation of state budgets, competitiveness and inflation. He further said that there is vigilance, realistic assessments have been made and the government is "forging ahead with prudence and a sense of responsibility".

    "It is an extremely important fact, in any case, that from the first moment of the New Governance, we had scheduled and are promoting, with speedy rates, the new energy policy," Karamanlis said.

    Giving an account of work accomplished in the tourism sector during the two-year period of the new governance, the prime minister said that Greece now has a concerted tourist policy with a plan, strategy and specific targets, with the creation of the tourist development ministry proving the government's interest in tourist affairs.

    Karamanlis further said that with the target of prolonging the tourist period and attracting high-level tourists, interventions are being promoted that concern the upgrading of administrative support for tourist development at national, regional and local level.

    Lastly, referring to the investments sector, the prime minister said that about 480 investments plans have already been submitted in the tourism sector and more than half of them have been approved with a budget that exceeds 560 million euros.

    SETE President Stavros Andreadis said on his part that "the role of the tourist development ministry is continuing not to being understood and accepted by the wider public sector to the extent that is essential" and stressed the need for coordinating actions with the aim of achieving effectiveness in tourist policy.

    Commenting on tourist movement, Andreadis said that the negative trend for Greek tourism has been reversed which in 2005, compared to 2004, achieved an increase of about 4.7 percent in arrivals and 6.7 percent in revenues.

    Tourism Development Minister Fanny Palli-Petralia expressed her conviction that in the coming years Greek tourism will be "many steps higher than it was in 2004", adding that the ministry has classified targets that must be achieved to enable Greece to become one of the leading tourist destinations in Europe with a 12-month duration.

    Referring to the question of tourist investments, Petralia said that the ministry is speeding up the implementation of investments included in the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) and the development law and a modern operational program is being prepared to enable tourism to have a leading role in the investment capital of the 4th CSF.

    [19] Greece reiterates goal to promote lagging broadband services

    3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece lags behind other European Union states in broadband access despite the fact that the government was making a systematic effort to boost this service, most speakers noted during a conference entitled "The dynamism of broadband in the Mediterranean", organized by the National Commission for Telecommunications and Post (EETT) at a seaside resort southeast of Athens.

    EETT president Prof. Nikitas Alexandridis said the conference aimed to record all views and to help promoting a constructive dialogue on a speedier and more effective use of broadband services in the wider Mediterranean region. He noted that EETT was promoting measures to create a fair regulatory framework and a national strategy to support the use of broadband services by enterprises, the public sector and Greek households.

    Addressing the conference, Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis stressed the need for a healthy and fair competition and to promoting a deregulation of the market in infrastructure and network services. "We need policies to support investments in research and development of new technologies along with measures to boost demand of broadband services," Liapis noted.

    The Greek minister said the government was in the final stages of an ambitious plan, worth 210 million euros, to promote broadband in the country, by offering to cover 50 percent of the program. The government's policy aimed to covering up to 60 percent of the country's geographic regions by 2008, from 13 pct currently.

    Liapis also underlined the need for cooperation between Mediterranean countries.

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and EU Commissioner Viviane Reding sent messages to the conference stressing the significance of broadband services to European consumers.

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organization's chairman and chief executive, Panagis Vourloumis, acknowledged the very low access rate of broadband in Greece, at around 2.5 pct, and said that broadband was not just an abstract word but the future of an enterprise. Vourloumis said OTE planned to invest 946 million euros to expand its network and broadband services over the next three years.

    OTE's chairman said broadband services in Greece totaled 45,000 in 2004 (0.5 pct of population), 150,000 in 2005, it was currently 250,000 (2.5 pct) and expected to total 500,000 by the end of 2006 and to one million connections at the end of 2007.

    Vourloumis, however, criticized EETT for creating an environment of very low wholesale prices that damaged OTE and urged for changes in the regulatory framework of the market.

    [20] Saudi Arabia interested in Greek construction, shipping sectors

    3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Saudi Arabia expressed an interest in investing in Greece's construction and shipping sectors during a meeting held between visiting Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas and leading officials of the Saudi Chamber of Commerce and Industry over the weekend.

    According to a finance ministry press release Tuesday, Doukas, who is accompanying President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on his visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, also met with the Saudi Arabian Investment Authority (SAGIA).

    The Greek business delegation, also accompanying Papoulias, expressed interest in the construction of a new city north of Jeddah.

    Specifically, the delegation expressed interest in construction, maintenance, food supply, fisheries, and sea connections with India and Pakistan.

    According to the finance ministry, Doukas also met with Qatar Air representatives in Qatar, and discussed the possibility of cooperation with Greece's national air carrier Olympic Airlines.

    Additionally, Doukas also met with the director of the PanAsiatic Games in Doha, where the games will be held, as well as with members of the country's business community.

    The deputy minister was due to meet with Bahrain's Minister of Commerce and Industry and whith representatives of Bahrain's Chamber of Commerce and Industry later on Tuesday.

    [21] Inner cabinet meeting discusses economic developments

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A Greek inner cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, on Tuesday discussed the course of the economy.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said the Greek economy grew by 3.7 pct last year, while the country's fiscal deficit fell and unemployment was lower. The Greek minister said this year's first quarter results were positive and said that the outlook for the Greek and international economy were favorable. He acknowledged, however, that there were risks from rising oil prices and a continuing turmoil related with the prospect of higher interest rates in the Eurozone.

    Alogoskoufis said developments would be positive for wage earners and pensioners this year.

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, speaking to reporters, said he briefed the inner cabinet over the ministry's preparatory work ahead of the municipal and prefect elections later this year. "We have to be ready and we will be ready before summer," Pavlopoulos said.

    [22] KKE rejects minister's statements on pensions reform

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) rejected statements by Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis for "social dialogue" on pensions reform and called on workers to "spoil the reactionary plans of the government and [main opposition] PASOK" in an announcement issued on Tuesday.

    "The political culture of [ruling] New Democracy and PASOK against the workforce is well known. Especially with regard to the social insurance issue, there is a provocatively open and underground collusion of the two both in the implementation of ND's anti-working-class laws of 1993 and of PASOK'S in 2003, and in the preparation of the new anti-insurance storm they are preparing," the party announcement said.

    [23] GSEE President Polyzogopoulos on dialogue regarding social insurance system

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos said on Tuesday that "the trade unions have no intention of entering into a dialogue on the social insurance system under the prevailing conditions."

    He said that "the government's overall effort to start the dialogue on the reform of the social insurance system constitutes a communications trick, in order for the public to turn to this instead of anyone dealing with society's real social and economic problems (high cost of living, unemployment, etc.)."

    "They (the government) have a proposal by the GSEE on changes to the social insurance system since May 2005 and they have not yet invited us for discussion," said Polyzogopoulos, justifying the reasons of the GSEE board's decision not to take part in the dialogue.

    According to Polyzogopoulos' statements, the criticism by the trade unions includes the state's non-fulfillment of its obligations towards the social insurance system and to the settlement of compensation for the premature retirement of workers at the Naoussa textiles factory.

    [24] EU-China Partenariat to be held in Chengdu, Nov 9-10

    3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A total of 6,000 business meetings are scheduled to be held during an EU-China Partenariat 2006, in Chengdu, November 9-10.

    The event will bring together a total of 400 European and 500 Chinese small- and medium-sized enterprises.

    It will be the biggest business meeting to be held ever, Babis Filaderlis, chief executive at Global Greece -the national coordinator for the country's participation, told reporters on Tuesday.

    The EU-China Partenariat 2006 will bring together enterprises from the farm industry, tourism, health, services, environmental protection products, building, machinery equipment, IT and electronic application systems.

    Chengdu is one of the steam-engines of Chinese economic growth, accounting for around 30 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

    [25] Breeders to receive 18 million euros for sick livestock

    3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Eighteen million euros have been earmarked and distributed to prefecture authorities for compensation to be paid to breeders whose livestock has had to be put down due to infectious diseases, Deputy Minister for Agricultural Development and Foods Alekos Kontos said on Tuesday.

    The funds come from the state budget and are part of the government's program to help the recovery of livestock, primarily sheep and goats.

    Since 2000, prefecture veterinary agencies are obligated to vaccinate livestock with REV-1.

    [26] Coalition party leader discusses tobacco issue with agricultural development minister

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday held talks on the issue of tobacco with Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos and Deputy Minister Alexandros Kontos.

    Speaking after the meeting, Alavanos said "following widespread mobilization that took place last week in Rodopi, where I was present, we assumed the commitment to meet the minister and deputy agricultural development minister. The situation is dramatic because nothing is being implemented at the moment from contracts signed by certain major processing companies."

    Alavanos also said that "the price is also of great importance which this year, as it appears, is being shaped on average at one third of last year's price, meaning at about one euro. I believe that nobody should be the victim of extortion by processing firms, neither the farmers nor the government."

    The Coalition leader went on to say that "lastly, I think that the government should support cooperative organizations to enable them to meet the obligation of absorbing production and the satisfactory price needed by tobacco growers."

    [27] ELPE to explore for natural gas in Egypt's western Desert

    3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Hellenic Petroleum SA (ELPE) has been awarded permission to explore for natural gas in Egypt's West Obayed region, according to an announcement made by the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) at the weekend.

    ELPE had participated in the 2005 international bid, submitting bids for two out of 13 exploration blocks.

    Final negotiations between ELPE and EGPC for the block that covers 1,841 square km, will be held during the month of May in Cairo.

    [28] Tender for 'Integrated Information System of State's General Chemistry Laboratory'

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The National Economy and Finance Ministry's Information Systems General Secretariat on Tuesday announced the proclamation of an open public tender for the implementation of the project "Integrated Information System of the State's General Chemistry Laboratory".

    The project's budget amounts to 985,972.28 euros and is funded by the Operational Program "Society of Information", within the framework of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF).

    [29] Greek PMI jumped to 53.2 in April

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), measuring business activity in the manufacturing sector, jumped to the highest level in eight months in April, supported by a strong increase in production, new orders and employment.

    The country's PMI rose to 53.2 points in April from 52 in March. Manufacturing production rose for the 29th consecutive month, with April's growth rate the biggest since November 2005. Employment in the manufacturing sector rose for the 10th month in a row, recording the highest growth rate since August 2005, while inflow prices recorded the biggest monthly increase in the last six months in April.

    The Purchasing Managers' Index is a composite index. Reading above 50 indicate an expanding sector, while below 50 a shrinking sector.

    [30] Greek stocks surge 1.52 pct on Tuesday

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greek stocks surged on Tuesday as buyers reappeared in strength after a three-day holiday in the Athens Stock Exchange, pushing the composite index of the market 1.52 percent higher. The index ended at 4,203.05 points reflecting gains in blue chip stocks.

    The Big Cap index surged 1.57 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 1.61 pct and the Small Cap index soared 2.07 percent.

    The Raw Material index jumped 4.12 percent, followed by the Oil index (up 3.65 pct), Industrial products (3.37 pct) and Health (2.91 pct).

    Turnover was a heavy 369.8 million euros. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 208 to 65 with another 43 issues unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Intracom top in stock futures trade

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (839)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 138.9 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.31% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bond: 4.0% yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (610 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.5 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.274

    [31] President Karolos Papoulias to attend events commemorating end of WW2

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    President Karolos Papoulias will attend events to be organized at Hani Delvinaki near the Greek-Alabanian borders, in the northern Ioannina prefecture, on May 9, commemorating the end of World War 2.

    The monument erected in the region last year is dedicated to those who fell during World War 2 in its three stages: the Italian invasion, German occupation and the National Resistance.

    The Delvinaki municipality intends to create a museum of exhibits in the same area, on this specific period of time, with the purpose of making Delvinaki the focal point of nationwide celebrations to be held on May 9.

    After the event, President Papoulias will visit the Delvinaki town hall and will be honored by the municipal council for his contribution to National Resistance, while he will also be proclaimed an honorary citizen.

    [32] Hellenic Broadcasting, Ecumenical Patriarchate strengthen cooperation

    ISTANBUL, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Hellenic Broadcasting (ERT) President Christos Panagopoulos and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation during their meeting in Phanar on Tuesday.

    Vartholomeos detailed the contribution of state TV ERT to helping the Patriarchate stay connected with its faithful all over the world, while Panagopoulos presented his thoughts on ERT's transition to new technologies.

    Finally, Vartholomeos hosted a lunch in honor of Panagopoulos, who was accompanied by Panos Loukakos, ERT's consultant.

    [33] Conference in NY on 'The Hellenic world under the Ottoman and Western rules'

    NEW YORK, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    An international conference on the theme "The Hellenic world under the Ottoman and Western rules, 15th to 19th Century", was held at the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation in New York.

    The conference, at which academics from many countries took part, was held on the occasion of the exhibition:" From the Byzantium to Contemporary Greece: Greek art under adverse conditions 1453-1830", the inauguration of which took place on December 15 last year and will remain open until Saturday.

    The exhibition is comprised of more than 137 artifacts which include icons, paintings, wood carvings, silver, embroidery, costumes, jewelry, ceramics, rare publications, maps and weapons.

    According to the executive director of the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation in New York, Ambassador Loukas Tsilas, the exhibition was seen by more than 100,000 people.

    On the theme of the conference, Tsilas said that "it concerned the expression of the Greeks in the field of art through these four centuries, as well as what was the political and economic importance of this artistic expression."

    Taking part in the conference were professors from Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, the U.S., Britain, Australia and from other countries.

    According to Tsilas the next exhibition organized by the Foundation is "Athens-Sparta", depicting the history of two cities, two ideologies and two ways of life in ancient Greece.

    [34] New diagnostic method for thyroid cancer to be presented in Thessaloniki

    3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A new method for diagnosing thyroid cancer, Positron Emission Tomography (PET), will be presented by Austrian Prof. W. Langsteger at an international symposium in Thessaloniki this week, entitled "Thyroid Cancer: From Diagnosis to Treatment".

    In spite of being one of the rarest types of cancer, (3 percent of female cancer patients and less than 1 percent for male cancer patients), figures show that during the past 15 years its frequency is rising internationally, 4.3 percent for female cancer sufferers and 3.2 percent in males. Thyroid cancer now ranks eighth amongst newly diagnosed cancers in women, up from the fourteenth place.

    The causes that led to the increased frequency of thyroid cancer is excessive amounts of manmade iodine in the food supply, the use of X-rays for the treatment of past benign tumors and the effect of radioactive iodine, particularly on children and young people as a result of massive exposure to radiation, i.e. from the atomic strikes against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to the nuclear accident in Chernobyl in 1986.

    [35] 'Ernesto Che Guevara' photographic exhibition in Athens

    ATHENS, 3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The "Ernesto Che Guevara" photographic exhibition was inaugurated at the "Hellenic World" cultural centre in down town Athens on Tuesday.

    The eldest daughter of the legendary revolutionary, Aleida, 46, who is a doctor at a hospital in Havana, was present at the inauguration of the exhibition, located at 254, Piraeus Street.

    The exhibition is comprised of 238 photographs which Che Guevara himself had taken and which are on a worldwide tour.

    [36] Illegal immigrants intercepted on Samos

    3/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Police intercepted 26 illegal immigrants on the eastern Aegean island of Samos Tuesday morning.

    According to reports, the vessel that ferried them onto Greek territory reportedly sank, while a migrant smuggler evaded arrest.

    The illegals, all from Third World countries, are being held at a special reception center with another 21 illegal immigrants.

    Illegal immigrants arrested in northern Greece: An Albanian picked up 21 fellow countrymen of his from the borders, all illegal immigrants, with a truck that had been stolen in the region of Patissia in Athens with the purpose of taking them to Athens, while receiving a fee from each one.

    However, the driver abandoned the truckload of illegal immigrants in the area of Hinka in the prefecture of Ioannina, when he spotted border guards and fled into a forest. The illegal immigrants were arrested and the vehicle was confiscated in order to be returned to its rightful owner.

    In a similar case, an Albanian tried to get away in his car on the Kakavia-Ioannina road when border guards signaled to him to stop for a check, but he was chased and arrested together with two women illegal immigrants from his country, who he was carrying into the country for a fee. All of them were brought before a public prosecutor in the city of Ioannina and their car was confiscated.

    A total of 242 illegal immigrants have been arrested all over the Ipiros region in northern Greece during the past four days and have been sent back to their country through the Kakavia border checkpoint.

    [37] President Papadopoulos says relations with US show improvement

    NICOSIA, 3/5/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)

    The relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the United States show constant improvement, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos pointed out on Tuesday.

    ''The relations between both countries are improving constantly. Our relations are good, when there is good understanding. We want cooperation and friendship with the US but we will not sacrifice what we see as our basic national interests,'' President Papadopoulos noted, replying to comments that after his interview with Greek newspaper ''Eleftheros Typos'' the relations between Cyprus and the US were deteriorating.

    Asked whether he was planning to travel to the US for contacts with the US administration, he said that for any matters that arise, he is in contact with the US Ambassador in Nicosia, Roland Schlicher.

    ''I have not asked for any contact. I communicate with the US Ambassador in Nicosia, who is a very good Ambassador and his mission here is effective,'' he noted, replying to questions by the press after attending a reception hosted in Nicosia for Poland's national day.

    Referring to Poland's national day, he said that Poland is an important EU state, adding that the relations between both countries are good.

    ''Our relations are good and are developing constantly. We must honor Poland's national day and this is the reason of my presence here,'' he concluded.

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