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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-06-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

June 14, 2006


  • [01] Greece nears alignment with EU economies
  • [02] FM Bakoyannis briefs Inner Cabinet
  • [03] Cyprus president says cooperation with Bakoyannis 'excellent'
  • [04] PASOK leader on Greek-Turkish CBMs
  • [05] Outcome of Bakoyannis-Gul meeting seen as positive by US state department
  • [06] EU issues strong warning to Turkey over its Cyprus obligations
  • [07] FM to receive senior Turkish official on EU affairs
  • [08] 4th Greek-Turkish Media conference ends in Istanbul
  • [09] Turkish military chief cites mutual desire to defuse Aegean tension
  • [10] Karamanlis to depart for Brussels on Wednesday
  • [11] Gov't: Higher education reform draft bill unveiled next week
  • [12] PASOK, Synaspismos leaders call for education of armaments, closure of Guantanamo
  • [13] Deputy FM Yiannis Valynakis hails Albania-EU association agreement
  • [14] Justice ministry bill presented in Parliament
  • [15] Bill on protection of personal data voted in principle
  • [16] Bill to be tabled in Parliament against discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace
  • [17] Crédit Agricole says bid for Emporiki a vote of confidence for Greek economy
  • [18] Govt announces program To subsidies loans to SMEs
  • [19] SE Europe tourism ministers conference to be held in the context of 'Philoxenia 2006'
  • [20] Greece, Tunisia debate business ties
  • [21] Ageing population may pressure ratings, S&P says
  • [22] Greek import price index up 7.4 pct in April, yr/yr
  • [23] New work schedules proposed for civil servants
  • [24] Nestle Hellas seeks Delta Ice Cream stock
  • [25] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks slump, tracking markets abroad
  • [26] 5th annual Greek-Turkish Friendship Festival ends in Samos with success
  • [27] NGOs representatives' seminars
  • [28] AHI awards dinner in Athens this week
  • [29] Journalist Yiolanda Terencio dies
  • [30] Two students from Greece to attend NASA's International Space Camp
  • [31] Papoulias visit NCO training centre in Trikala
  • [32] More illegal migrant arrests on Samos
  • [33] Cyprus government pleased over EU decision on Turkey
  • [34] EP party leaders use strong language on Turkey's EU course
  • [35] New Cyprus Cabinet members sworn in

  • [01] Greece nears alignment with EU economies

    BRUSSELS 14/6/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Greece's economy, which is characterized by robust growth, has to a great degree attained alignment with other European Union economies, the bloc's executive Commission said on Tuesday.

    In an annual report on EU public finances, the Commission noted that Greek interest rates had declined steadily since 1999 to stand at around 2.0% currently.

    "These levels are among the lowest in recent years and have had a favorable impact on private investment and consumption," the report said.

    The Commission repeated its spring forecasts that the country's fiscal deficit will fall below 3.0% of gross domestic product in 2006, rising to 3.5% in 2007 on a working hypothesis that next year's budget will be roughly the same as its predecessor, which Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis has stated will not occur.

    At the same time, the report underlines that structural measures must be taken as the only way to keep the fiscal deficit below the EU's 3% ceiling on a permanent basis.

    Acknowledging the government's commitment to attaining fiscal stability, the Com-mission stressed that extra emphasis should be given to spending curbs linked to an ageing population, an indirect reference to reform of Greece's social insurance system.

    In addition, if decisive measures are not taken to correct the cause of certain fiscal imbalances, especially spending, then repercussions are likely to be felt on the external trade deficit, reflecting a lack of competitiveness of the Greek economy, according to the Commission.

    Finally, strengthening growth and job creation in Greece includes the need for a combination of fiscal stabilization measures and overall structural reform, the report said.

    The Commission's overall report set down the main policy conclusions of its 2006 study of public finances in European Monetary Union. It also provides a first review of implementation of the stability and growth pact as revised in June last year, and of the challenges ahead.

    [02] FM Bakoyannis briefs Inner Cabinet

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday briefed the Inner Cabinet on the EU General Affairs Council meeting results and the confidence-building-measures agreed in Istanbul with her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul.

    Bakoyannis believes that the EU intention is to firmly observe its principles regarding enlargement issues.

    Speaking to reporters, Bakoyannis denied that there was a problem with Nicosia and underlined that there is complete information and consultation.

    Greece, underlined Bakoyannis, has a specific strategy that it was following unwaveringly.

    On his part, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, responding to reporters' questions whether the Greek government was aware of Nicosia's position to place a veto at the EU General Affairs Council, said: «The Cypriot positions were known. In any case, beyond the political level and on the level of Permanent Representations, Greece and Cyprus are in close cooperation."

    To another question, Roussopoulos answered that "the Greek government believes that the consensus which was achieved at the Council is for all of us a positive development, in an extremely difficult negotiation."

    [03] Cyprus president says cooperation with Bakoyannis 'excellent'

    NICOSIA 14/6/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos on Tuesday evening stressed that "the Cypriot government's cooperation with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is excellent."

    Rejecting as groundless reports in the Athens press, President Papadopoulos stated that "there was understanding on Nicosia' stance in Turkey's accession negotiations, before and during the consultations at the General Affairs Council, in Luxembourg" on Monday.

    The Cypriot president noted that "even today, I had phone talks with Mrs. Bakoyannis."

    President Papadopoulos, who was replying to reports' questions on the sidelines of the 45th Annual General Assembly of the members of the Federation of Employers and Industrialists of Cyprus (OEB), said that with Greek Foreign Minister Bakoyannis "we had, from the very start, set targets and tactics."

    "We assured them (the Greek side)," he added, "and in the meeting which we had in Vienna and all this (past) week I was in continuous communication and even today I talked with her."

    "I do not understand where these misunderstandings have been created. I believe that Greece's cooperation was extremely valuable and effective. I personally asked of Mrs. Bakoyannis to conduct a series of contacts, which she did with great success and I believe that without Greece's help we would not have reached this result," President Papadopoulos concluded.

    [04] PASOK leader on Greek-Turkish CBMs

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tues-day referred to the confidence-building-measures agreed to by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul over the weekend as "useful but not enough."

    Addressing his party’s coordinators’ meeting, Papandreou said the CBMs should be instituted within a framework of an overall strategy, while he also referred to his proposal concerning the drawing up of a new national strategy for the Greek-Turkish relations. He added that the agreed upon CBMs are the same as those outlined by a PASOK government seven years ago.

    Referring to the EU General Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg a day earlier, he stressed that what was decided was self-evident, although it should have been guaranteed two years ago.

    [05] Outcome of Bakoyannis-Gul meeting seen as positive by US state department

    WASHINGTON 14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The agreement reached on the weekend in Istanbul between Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul was a positive development that could contribute to avoiding unfortunate incidents such as that two weeks ago in the Aegean, US state department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Monday, replying to questions during a regular press briefing.

    Asked to comment on the agreement for implementing further confidence-building measures (CBMs) between Greece and Turkey, reached by the two foreign ministers on the weekend during a meeting held on the sidelines of the 4th Greek-Turkish media conference attended by both Bakoyannis and Gul, McCormack said: "I think, in principle, that such an agreement would be a positive thing so that we can avoid any sort of unfortunate incidents like we saw a couple of weeks ago,” referring to the crash between a Turkish and a Greek jetfighter over the Aegean, in which the Greek pilot was killed, although he noted that he did not know the contents of the agreement.

    Asked to comment on the media conference itself, the fourth in a series of such conferences aimed at strengthening peace and rapprochement between the two countries and avoiding provocation and prejudices, McCormack said: "I don't know the details of this initiative. But again, it seems as though initiatives that seek to break down whatever barriers exist between peoples, and therefore also between governments are positive things. Greater mutual understanding of individual points of view held by people in different countries, that's positive."

    [06] EU issues strong warning to Turkey over its Cyprus obligations

    LUXEMBOURG 14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The European Union late Monday issued a strong warning to Turkey using a particularly harsh wording regarding the issue of Cyprus’ recognition, as Ankara persisted, however, in its intransigent stance.

    This is the main conclusion arising from the statements made by Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, who currently chairs the EU General Affairs Council, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul during their joint press conference in Luxembourg shortly after the EU-Turkey Association Council meeting on Monday.

    On behalf of the European side, it was made clear that Turkey must meet "as soon as possible" the obligations it has undertaken within the framework of its Customs Union with the EU, which entails recognition of the Republic of Cyprus and normalization of its relations with Nicosia.

    The fact that so many diplomatic efforts and compromise had been necessary to reach an agreement at the meeting on the temporary closing of the first and easiest chapter of the 35 accession negotiations’ chapters should be considered by Turkey as a "warning light", underlined Plassnik, while the Finn Commissioner mentioned that if Turkey does not meet its obligations toward Cyprus quickly then most likely its EU accession process will become the victim of a "train crash".

    At the same time, the two European Union officials expressed discreet discontent over the slow pace of the overall democratization process in Turkey, referring to freedom of expression, respect of the rights of religious minorities and the situation in the regions populated by Kurds.

    On the Turkish side, the positions put forward in response to the European Union's criticism only served to highlight the existing gap in viewpoints between Ankara and Brussels. Regarding Cyprus, Gul not only criticized the EU for accepting Cyprus as a member in 2004, but went so far as to demand that the EU to "recognize the reality in Cyprus" and avoid making Turkey’s EU accession "a hostage of the Cyprus issue". Gul reiterated the firm Turkish arguments, and with respect to the opening of the Turkish ports to Cyprus-flagged ships he claimed "conflicting legal viewpoints" between Brussels and Ankara.

    [07] FM to receive senior Turkish official on EU affairs

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday morning will receive the Head of the Turkish Harmonization Committee with the European Union, Yasar Yakis.

    According to a foreign ministry press release on Tuesday, Bakoyannis at noon of the same day will have a courtesy meeting with Tunisian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed Hatem Ben Salem.

    No statements are expected to be made to the press after the meetings.

    [08] 4th Greek-Turkish Media conference ends in Istanbul

    ISTANBUL 14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The 4th conference of Greek-Turkish Media representatives ended here on Tuesday with organizers expressing their satisfaction over the positive results of the initiative.

    The contribution of this initiative to better understanding between the two countries was also stressed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul who inaugurated the 4th conference on Saturday.

    The opening session of the conference was attended by many well-known journalists from the entire political and publishing spectrum. Also attending the conference on the part of Greece were Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) President Panos Sombolos, ANA-MPA Managing Director Nicolas Voulelis while representatives of business cooperation chambers, Selim Egeli and Panayiotis Koutsikos, and many representatives of the press from both countries were present as well.

    The considerable progress achieved in the way with which the media in both countries handle the political and diplomatic crises between the two countries was stressed by many sides during the conference.

    [09] Turkish military chief cites mutual desire to defuse Aegean tension

    ISTANBUL 14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The head of Turkey's military, Gen. Hilmi -zkök, noted from Australia on Tuesday, where he arrived for an official visit, that "both the military as well as political authorities of both countries (Greece and Turkey) desire a defusing of tension in the Aegean".

    He added that his Greek counterpart telephoned him after a mid-air collision between Greek and Turkish fighter planes over the Aegean last month, leading to a series of contacts that defused any possible tension as a result of the incident.

    [10] Karamanlis to depart for Brussels on Wednesday

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis departs for Brussels on Wednesday afternoon to represent Greece at an EU summit.

    Earlier, Karamanlis will receive the visiting Jordanian House of Representatives president, who is on an official visit to the country.

    [11] Gov't: Higher education reform draft bill unveiled next week

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Tuesday reiterated after an Inner Cabinet meeting that a closely-watched draft bill on education will be unveiled next week.

    Yiannakou underlined that a dialogue over expanded higher education reform will last for as long as necessary, while reminding that better quality public universities are a priority for the government.

    She also said the draft law was discussed in principle for a year and underlined that Greece should be harmonized with EU directives by 2010, otherwise degrees bestowed by Greek universities run the risk of not being recognized, something that will also lead to a loss of European Union funding.

    Finally, the education minister made it clear that the draft law will be tabled at a Parliament plenary session.

    Widely expected government reforms for the higher education sector -- including lifting of a constitutional ban on private, non-profit universities; evaluation of individual faculties and a ceiling on the number of years a student has to earn an undergraduate degree, among others -- have generated a firestorm of opposition by students’ groups and the union representing university professors.

    On Tuesday, the government spokesman reminded that ruling New Democracy party has long called for a consensus regarding changes in the sector.

    "A dialogue already lasted for roughly a year; we concluded on a series of proposals, which were transformed into a draft bill, and new talks will follow for as long as necessary," spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.

    [12] PASOK, Synaspismos leaders call for education of armaments, closure of Guantanamo

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou and Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday said they shared common views on a series of foreign policy issues, following a 90-minute meeting at the Synaspismos headquarters, while calling for a reduction of armaments in order to "relieve" the Greek economy.

    After the meeting, held in the framework of an initiative recently announced by Papandreou aimed at forging a new national strategy in foreign policy, the PASOK leader told reporters that he and Alavanos agreed on the need to reduce armaments so as to "relieve" the Greek economy and channel substantial funds to other sectors.

    They also agreed on a "peaceful discussion" with Turkey, and also called for the closure of the US base in Guantanamo, Cuba.

    Papandreou described his discussion with Alavanos as "very constructive", highlighting his position on the need for formulating a new national strategy, while at the same time underlining his position that Greece can exercise all its rights (emanating from international treaties), in a clear reference to extension of the country's territorial waters.

    He further opined that a "framework of peace and cooperation" could be formulated with Turkey "that will bring a dividend of peace and can lead to a reduction of armaments".

    Papandreou called on the government to abandon what he called the "rationale of immobility" and to undertake the relevant initiatives.

    Replying to questions regarding Turkey and Cyprus, Papandreou called on Ankara to comply with the relevant EU decisions as soon as possible.

    Alavanos, in turn, described the meeting as "very interesting", adding that Greece must not follow the "rationale of war", but neither should it remain in the present "status quo", which he said "financially burdens the peoples of both countries but at the same time allows Turkey to escalate its designs in the Aegean".

    The Synaspismos leader stressed that there should be dialogue with Turkey, while at the same time international law should be utilized and, in that framework, the International Court of Justice at The Hague should also be utilized.

    Alavanos stressed that the Law of the Sea was an element of the acquis communitarian, noting that the 10 new EU member states were obliged to accept that agreement and, as such, Turkey must also accept it as well as lift its threat of war against Greece. It was not possible, he added, that Turkey was stipulating a threat of war, in essence against the European Union.

    The SYN leader proposed, and Papandreou agreed, that there be more detailed briefing on the exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey during the preceding PASOK governments' term in office, while at the same time he called on the present government to inform (the political parties) on what has been discussed in those talks under the New Democracy government.

    Papandreou and Alavanos further called on the ND government to call for the closure of the Guantanamo base, given Greece's non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

    Stressing the need for Turkey to adopt the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Papandreou stressed that this issue could comprise a fundamental element for a "second Helsinki", as proposed by his party, and in that framework Greece could also make use of its right to extend its territorial waters.

    Meanwhile, in a related development and in reaction to Monday's EU foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg, a Communist Party of Greece (KKE) announcement noted that "the agreement by the ministers for the commencement of accession negotiations with Turkey comes far behind the rights of the Republic of Cyprus ...Once again it's demonstrated that the EU is negotiating Turkey's membership based on the exclusive criteria of European capital's interests, and not some purported popular principles that it claims it has," the KKE press release read.

    [13] Deputy FM Yiannis Valynakis hails Albania-EU association agreement

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis on Tuesday hailed with "particular satisfaction" the Stabilization and Association agreement signed on Monday between Albania and the European Union and reiterated in a statement that Greece's strategic target is the turning of southeastern Europe into a neighborhood of security, prosperity and cooperation.

    "The European Union is giving Albania a great opportunity. We hail with particular satisfaction the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement and of the Interim Agreement which is the first step in the European course of Albania. We wish its government and its people will continue this steadfast course which took our neighboring country out of isolation and backwardness. As of today, Albania now assumes specific commitments towards the EU. It is up to her to meet them and to intensify its efforts so as to fulfill all the conditions and prerequisites set by the EU," he said.

    Focusing on some of the prerequisites, the deputy foreign minister said "the combating of corruption and organized crime, respect and protection for minorities and ensuring that the upcoming municipal elections will be fully aligned with international standards this time are priority issues for the EU to which we hope that Albania will respond in full. In this framework, we also consider it to be self-evident that issues of a humanitarian nature must be handled in the spirit of the 21st century and not with conceptions of the past."

    [14] Justice ministry bill presented in Parliament

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras on Tuesday presented a bill regulating issues of his ministry's jurisdiction to the Permanent Parliamentary Public Administration, Public Order and Justice Committee.

    According to an announcement by the justice ministry, the bill attempts to settle pending problems, either smaller or bigger ones, which are inconveniencing justice or creating malfunctions for it.

    As a result, the number of first degree judicial functionaries at civil, penal and regular administrative courts will increase to enable "a small and decisive step to be taken in speeding up the issuing of decisions and relieving first degree judges". In addition, all vacancies concerning justices of the peace, as at June 30, 2006, will be filled.

    [15] Bill on protection of personal data voted in principle

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Greek Parliament on Tuesday evening voted in principle the Justice Ministry's bill for the protection of personal data and the confidentiality of telephone conversations.

    The bill was voted both by deputies of the ruling New Democracy and the main opposition PASOK parties.

    Justice Minister Anastassios Papaligouras underlined that with the new regulations the protection of private life is safeguarded as well as the confidentiality of communication. At the same time, he said, rules are adopted for the protection of confidentiality and also of the safeguarding of exchanges in commercial contacts.

    [16] Bill to be tabled in Parliament against discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said on Tuesday, following an inner cabinet meeting which was held earlier in the day, that a bill will be tabled in Parliament next week against discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

    Tsidouridis underlined that by 2010, specific initiatives will be taken, in successive phases, so that the principle of the equality of the genders to be strengthened in the workplace.

    The employment minister underlined that on Wednesday, in the joint meeting of Parliament's Economic and Social Affairs Committees, a specific timeframe will be set for dialogue on the social insurance system.

    [17] Crédit Agricole says bid for Emporiki a vote of confidence for Greek economy

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Paris-based Crédit Agricole on Tuesday submitted a bid for the purchase of Emporiki Bank at 23.5 euros per share, or 3.1 billion euros for acquiring the Greek bank.

    The French bank, a strategic partner of Emporiki Bank, said a Crédit Agricole's board meeting -- chaired by Crédit Agricole group chairman Rene Carron -- on Friday unanimously voted in favor of the public bid to buy 100 percent in Emporiki Bank.

    The price offered by Crédit Agricole is 0.3-pct higher than Emporiki Bank's closing share price on Friday, June 9 (23.44 euros), 0.6 percent higher compared with the weekly average market price of 23.36 euros, and 17.9 pct higher compared with the average price from Jan. 1, 2004. The price is 50 percent higher from the current P/E ratio of the four largest Greek banks for the period 2006-2007.

    Crédit Agricole said its bid would be the largest foreign investment in Greece. The acceptance period for the bid will last from the end of June to early August 2006, with more information expected after the approval of an information bulletin by the bank.

    "The bid is a friendly approach; the transaction will be made in cash and covers all of Emporiki Bank's shareholders. It will be the largest foreign investment in Greece and clearly reflects our trust in the Greek market and its prospects," Carron said, adding: "Additionally, this transaction is fully compatible with our international expansion strategy, announced in December 2005, and fulfils all criteria set for our acquisitions. As a strategic shareholder in Emporiki Bank since 2000 we look forward to continuing our partnership with the aim to further enhance and expand Emporiki Bank's activities."

    On his part, Georges Pauget, Crédit Agricole's chief executive, said:

    "By combining Emporiki Bank's existing capabilities and Crédit Agricole's know-how in various business activities, will have the opportunity to develop a more productive Greek bank, focused on domestic and neighboring markets with the support of one of the largest international financial groups. We believe we can create added value for Emporiki's customers and boost the bank's competitiveness to higher levels".


    On his part, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said a public bid by Crédit Agricole to buy Emporiki Bank was a positive development.

    Speaking to reporters after an Inner Cabinet Meeting, Alogoskoufis said a full privatization of Emporiki Bank was a priority for the government as it ensured transparency and strengthened the country's financial system. He added that the government will seriously examine Crédit Agricole's bid as any other bid as well as any other bid that will be submitted.

    The minister reiterated that the government has accelerated procedures for the privatization of Emporiki Bank, although it will carefully respond to the French bank's bid.

    Bid of confidence: Crédit Agricole's bid to buy Emporiki is a vote of confidence for the Greek economy's prospects and the country's banking system, Gilles de Margerie and Jean Frederic de Leusse, Crédit Agricole's representatives, said on Tuesday.

    Presenting the French bank's bid -- Crédit Agricole already has a 9.0-percent equity stake in Emporiki -- the two bankers said the Greek economy's high growth rates - more than double the Eurozone's average - would continue in the next years, while they also noted the significant growth prospects of the domestic banking system. The two French banking executives stressed that the Greek credit market grew by 21 percent in 2005, compared with a 9.0 percent Eurozone average; the domestic mortgage market grew by 33 percent (from 11 pct in the Eurozone) and the consumer credit market grew 28 percent (7.0 pct in the Eurozone).

    Crédit Agricole's representatives said the French bank's aim was to create a strong Greek bank with a local management team to cover the wider Balkan region with the support of a strong international financial group, and not to create a subsidiary in Greece. The French side also announced a series of major investments and actions in the framework of their bid to acquire full control of Emporiki. These include: investments worth 50 million euros over the next three years; raising provisions to 300 million euros, promoting a voluntary retirement plan for 500 employees by 2008; hiring 250 new employees in the sales department over the next two years and introducing new training programs.

    The introduction of Crédit Agricole's business plan will have a very significant positive impact on Emporiki Bank's profitability and boost its market shares in the next few years, they added.

    Crédit Agricole Group is the largest bank in France and one of the biggest in the world, with presence in 66 countries around the globe; 21 million customers; 9,100 branches; 135,000 employees and profits from banking transactions totaling 25.9 billion euros.

    The French bank's offer, at 23.50 euros per share, values Emporiki Bank at 3.1 billion euros. The bank's executives said the minimum accepted equity stake was 40 percent.

    [18] Govt announces program To subsidies loans to SMEs

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Tuesday announced a government program, worth 20 million euros, to subsidies interest rates on loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises as part of a program to offer support to 2,500 enterprises.

    Under the plan, the government will subsidies loans to SMEs by four percentage points and will cover investments to modernize or expand existing and new enterprises. The program excludes loans for enterprises in the fishing, agriculture and transport sectors. It covers enterprises which employ up to 20 workers, with a turnover of 10 million euros and loans up to 400,000 euros.

    Presenting the program, the Greek minister said small- and medium-sized enterprises created seven out of 10 new job positions in the country and stressed that only 20 pct of SMEs had permanent cooperation relations with the country's banking system (down from 40 percent the EU average).

    [19] SE Europe tourism ministers conference to be held in the context of 'Philoxenia 2006'

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The "Philoxenia" tourism exhibition is proving to be "an important lever for the promotion of the Greek tourist product," as it was underlined at an event organized on Tuesday by Helexpo at the Athens coastal resort of Vouliagmeni, in light of this year's tourism exhibition, in the presence of local and foreign tourism and other business officials.

    Tourism Development Minister Fani Pallipetralia told the event that at the initiative of her ministry, in the context of "Philoxenia 2006", a conference will also be held of tourism ministers from Southeast Europe. The ultimate target of this initiative is for Southeast Europe to become "a root" of new forms of tourism, with "Philoxenia" as the vehicle.

    Referring to the organizational issues of "Philoxenia", Pallipetralia noted the important work which Helexpo, as organizing authority, has done in this direction.

    "Philoxenia 2006", which will take place in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, from November 16-19, is expected to attract exhibitors from 30 countries and will be held under the auspices of the Tourism Development Ministry with the support of tourism agencies.

    [20] Greece, Tunisia debate business ties

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece and Tunisia are to discuss economic ties between the two countries at a joint committee meeting in Athens on Wednesday.

    Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias on Tuesday met Tunisia's visiting deputy foreign minister for European affairs, Hatem Bem Salem, ahead of the committee session.

    The two officials agreed ratify a pact on avoidance of double taxation; and to advance bilateral cooperation in investments and business alliances.

    Folias pledged that Greece would assist Tunisia in closening ties with the European Union.

    [21] Ageing population may pressure ratings, S&P says

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Without concerted policy and fiscal reforms, the aging Greek population will lead to intense pressure on public finances and ratings on the sovereign, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services in London said of a report published on June 12.

    The report, entitled "Global Graying Country Report: Hellenic Republic (Greece)," provides country-specific analysis on Greece (A/Stable/A-1) designed to complement an overall report covering 32 sovereigns, published in May, the international credit ratings agency said in a statement.

    "In the absence of further reforms, total age-related public expenditures in Greece will rise to 32.4% of GDP in 2050, up from 18.9% in 2005," Standard & Poor credit analyst Trevor Cullinan, noted.

    "Without any measures on the fiscal or structural policy front, general government deficits and net debt would rise sharply from the 2020s to reach 35% and 450% of GDP, respectively, by 2050" Cullinan said.

    According to the analyst, a fiscal deterioration of that magnitude would not be compatible with the current 'A' long-term sovereign rating on Greece. "After an initial rise to the 'AA' level after 2010, as a result of an improved cyclical balance in those years due to reduced interest expenditures, the rating would come under increasing pressure. It would soon fall back into the 'A' category after 2015, and would then drop further into the 'BBB' category by 2020."

    "In 2025, Greece's fiscal indicators would have weakened to the extent that they would be more typical of performances currently associated with speculative-grade sovereigns," the analyst added.

    "The scenario is not a prediction by Standard & Poor's, but a simulation that highlights the importance of age-related spending trends as a factor in the evolution of sovereign creditworthiness. In reality, it is highly unlikely that governments will allow debt and deficit burdens to spiral out of control. Once governments are confronted with unsustainably rising debt burdens they do react, however reluctantly, by tightening the fiscal stance and/or reforming expenditure programs," the statement said.

    If Greece were to embark on a radical structural reform preventing age-related spending from rising, fiscal indicators would hold up much better. Following such a concentrated policy approach, the net debt ratio in Greece would only be about 30% of the ratio under the no-policy-change base case. The theoretical sovereign rating would not fall below the 'A' category before 2040, according to the report.

    [22] Greek import price index up 7.4 pct in April, yr/yr

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's import price composite index jumped 7.4 pct in April from the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.

    NSS, in a report, said the index was up 0.6 pct in April from March and stressed that the 7.4 pct increase reflected a 3.9 pct increase in intermediate goods, a 1.1 pct rise in capital goods, a 2.5 pct increase in durable goods and a 28.2 pct jump in energy prices.

    [23] New work schedules proposed for civil servants

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Inner Cabinet on Tuesday unanimously approved an interior and public administration draft bill altering civil servants' work hours, with two shifts now available to them: 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., beginning in September.

    The hours for the public will remain the same: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., except for tax bureaus, which will close to the public at 2 p.m.

    Schools and health care-affiliated entities are excluded from the new schedule.

    New working hours for civil servants from Sept. 1: The new working hours of civil servants which also determines the new working hours of public sector services and of local government, will go into effect from September 1, following a relevant decision which was signed on Tuesday by Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. It was also approved earlier in the day by the inner cabinet.

    According to the minister's decision, following lengthy consultations with the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY), the new working hours in all public services throughout the year will be between 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. or from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the choice of the employees.

    [24] Nestle Hellas seeks Delta Ice Cream stock

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Nestle Hellas S.A. on Tuesday announced a mandatory public offer to holders of common bearer shares in Delta Ice Cream SA, each having a nominal value of €0.60.

    An offer of €6.63 will be made for each of the shares, which are listed and traded on the Athens stock exchange, Nestle said in a statement to the bourse.

    On 19 December 2005, Nestle announced that it had reached agreement with Athens-quoted Delta Holdings, owner of the target company, on the acquisition of a majority stake in the ice cream manufacturer. On 31 May 2006, Nestle acquired 20,361,365 shares, representing approximately 96.53% of total paid-up share capital and voting rights.

    NBG International Limited is acting as Nestlé’s advisor in the public offer.

    Not held directly by Nestle are 731,065 stocks, which represent approximately 3.47% of Delta Ice Cream's total paid-up share capital and voting rights at that date.

    [25] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks slump, tracking markets abroad

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,394.78 points, showing a decline of 3.81%. Turnover was 451.6 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 2.90 down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 4.32% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 6.82% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 287 to 10 with 13 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): OTE (12,502)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 269.9 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.21% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bond: 3.88%

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (980 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.2 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.267

    [26] 5th annual Greek-Turkish Friendship Festival ends in Samos with success

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The sessions of the 5th annual Greek-Turkish Friendship Festival which was dedicated to the environment, peace and life, and was held in Turkey's region of "Pamukale" and on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, ended with success, it was announced on Tuesday.

    The event was organized by the Samos prefecture, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and professors.

    According to the organizers, its to date course is deemed positive, given that for the first time the message of Greek-Turkish friendship was advanced in Turkey's heartland, in a region, where it had not yet proceeded.

    Aegean University professor Sofoulis, who was one of the organizers of the conference, said "proposals for cooperation have started to take shape, which, if implemented, will have multiple results."

    The professor added that "I personally learnt to enter their (Turks) logic and to see certain things differently."

    Professor Sofoulis further said:" The Turkish people are giving a battle for independence and they have many common points with our similar experiences in recent years. Consequently, with some effort, we can understand what is going on the basis of our own experiences."

    [27] NGOs representatives' seminars

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A training seminar for non governmental organizations (NGOs), attended by representatives from EU countries on the smooth integration of young immigrants in local societies will take place later in the month in Chalkidiki, northern Greece, organized by the Youth Development Center (AKNE) “Initiative” Organization within the framework of the Youth general secretariat's “Youth” European program.

    Non governmental organizations’ representatives from eight European countries (Britain, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Germany, France) including eight representatives from Greece will meet on June 19-23 at Pefkochori, Chalkidiki to receive special training leading to the smooth integration of young immigrants in the EU societies.

    Thessaloniki’s Aristotelion University professors of Law, Sociology and Psychology will brief participants on the legal status regarding immigration in Greece and the EU, young immigrant psychology issues and the way they are treated in reception countries.

    [28] AHI awards dinner in Athens this week

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Washington-based American Hellenic Institute (AHI) presented its multifaceted efforts here on Tuesday as the only Greek-American lobby group recognized by the US Congress, during a press conference in Athens.

    A 10-member delegation of the volunteer expatriate Greek organization, led by AHI president and founder Gene Rossides and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, arrived in Athens for talks with President Karolos Papoulias, Deputy Foreign Ministers Theodoros Kassimis and Evripides Stylianidis, Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki as well as US ambassador to Greece Charles Ries.

    AHI will hold its 2nd annual Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards dinner on Wednesday, with Alexandra Mitsotakis, the president of Action Aid Hellas, and Prodromos Emfietzoglou, the chairman of the Michaniki group, honored, among others.

    [29] Journalist Yiolanda Terencio dies

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Journalist and writer Yiolanda Terencio died on Tuesday after a long illness. Board president of the Panhellenic Journalists Union Federation (POESY) Dimitris Tsalapatis said that "the voice of the BBC during the years of the dictatorship" became silent forever.

    Last November, POESY had organized an event protesting the discontinuation of the BBC's Greek program, which resulted in the preservation of the program's archives, which they were delivered to the Greek Parliament, and the placing of emphasis on Terencio's contribution.

    The Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) also announced the death of Terencion, who was born in Athens in 1922 and entered the law faculty of the Athens University after completing her secondary education at the German School in Athens. However, she was unable to complete her studies because during the German occupation of Greece she was arrested by the Germans and held at a concentration camp in Austria until the end of the war.

    She began her journalistic career as a correspondent for "Tachydromos" of Alexandria in 1948. From 1954 until 1967 she worked for "Vima", Nea" and "Tachydromos". In November 1967 she left for London where she worked as a journalist for the BBC throughout the dictatorship.

    After the dictatorship, Terencio worked for "Kathimerini", initially as a correspondent in London and afterwards as a member of the newspaper's editing team.

    Her funeral will take place at the First Cemetery in Athens on Friday June 16.

    [30] Two students from Greece to attend NASA's International Space Camp

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Two pupils from Greece will travel to Huntsville, Alabama in the United States accompanied by an escort to participate in the International Space Camp 2006 organized by NASA.

    Greece has been participating in the project for the past 11 years. The students representing the country this year are Anastasia-Eleni Tsitali from the northern city of Edessa and Nesim Kalosi from Athens. They were chosen to travel to the United States after winning an Astronomy Competition held annually by the Astronomy and Space Society of Volos.

    The annual 10-day space camp program, attended by a total of 170 youngsters and 85 teachers from all over the world, features lectures by leading scientists and astronauts, a tour of the space centers, film screenings, simulation training and virtual reality space trips, while the facilities where the visiting youngsters will stay are designed to look like space stations.

    [31] Papoulias visit NCO training centre in Trikala

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday continued his tour of Trikala prefecture in central Greece by visiting a non-commissioned officers' training centre in the prefecture's capital of the same name.

    Papoulias observed a graduation ceremony of NCO cadets and later attended a reception in his honor hosted by the army training center’s leadership.

    [32] More illegal migrant arrests on Samos

    14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Another five illegal immigrants were intercepted by authorities on the eastern Aegean island of Samos on Monday, as the verdant isle appears to continue to be a favorite landing point for migrant smugglers due to its close proximity to the Turkish coast.

    Police said the illegals were Afghan nationals ferried across the narrow Mykali strait by a Turkish smuggler aboard a small inflatable craft.

    [33] Cyprus government pleased over EU decision on Turkey

    NICOSIA 14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Cyprus government is satisfied over the results of the EU General Affairs Council, calling all who wish a smooth European course for Turkey ''to direct towards Ankara their advice and actions, so that it meets its obligations the soonest possible.''

    In a written statement, issued Monday, Government Spokesman George Lillikas said that the President of the Republic, who was throughout the consultation process in communication with Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou, has expressed to Iacovou and Cyprus' Permanent Representative at the EU Nicos Emiliou his gratification for the work done in Luxemburg.

    Referring to the EU position regarding Chapter 25 (science and research), Lillikas noted that Cyprus has achieved its goals as regards the inclusion of serious conditions in connection with Turkey's negotiation process with the EU.

    At the same time, he added, Cyprus has sent a clear message towards Ankara that it must fulfill its obligations by October 2006.

    ''It is a fixed position of the government and all the political powers of Cyprus that Turkey's European course serves the Cypriot interests as long as Turkey complies with its obligations as a candidate country,'' he said.

    ''The position of the Cyprus government is defined and will be defined by this basic criterion, the government will be carefully watching with the rest of its partners Turkey's course of compliance, giving emphasis of course to obligations in connection to Cyprus,'' Lillikas said.

    Pointing out the most important conclusions from the latest consultations and results in the EU, Lillikas said the 25 member states clearly warn Turkey that the progress of its negotiations with the EU will depend on the full implementation of its obligations deriving from the Association Agreement, including the additional protocol of the Customs Union as well as the Accession Partnership.

    He further noted that the EU reconfirms all the elements of the counterstatement of the 25 members of 21st September 2005, which refers to Turkey's obligations including the normalization of relations through recognition, among other things, of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Lillikas stressed that the assertive policy, and the commitment to positions of principle, which the Cyprus government is following, is fruitful.

    Concluding, he warned that the EU is committed to be strict towards the evaluation of Turkey, this coming October, the result of which will exclusively depend on Turkey and the level of compliance towards its obligations, within which Cyprus holds a very special place.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [34] EP party leaders use strong language on Turkey's EU course

    STRASBOURG 14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The leaders of the two biggest political groups in the European Parliament used strong language here Tuesday while referring to Turkey's EU accession course.

    European People's Party and European Democrats (EPP-ED) leader in the European Parliament Hans-Gert Poettering speaking during a press

    conference said that it is a strong demand of the Christian-Democrats at the European Parliament that Turkey undertakes all its responsibilities and ratifies the Protocol for the Customs Union.

    Since discussion for the Science and Research has started, this issue must not remain on the sideline, the German Member of the European Parliament said.

    "It is not rational to negotiate with a country we do not recognize. Turkey does not recognize Cyprus, which is one of the countries with which it has to negotiate", he added.

    He noted that "if Turkey continues to deny the ratification the Ankara Protocol and to extend the customs union with Cyprus, there will be a time when the negotiations will have to be suspended".

    Although he noted that "there is no issue to suspend the talks right now" he said that "this is a thought that should occupy us in the future, very seriously."

    Head of Group of the party of European Socialists Martin Schultz said he could not understand why the green light was given to Turkey Monday by the EU and noted that the question is why the demands towards Turkey were put forward in a compromising way and with a delay.

    "We are talking about the fulfillment of the customs union and the recognition of Cyprus which are necessary elements of such a procedure. It is difficult to interpret these movements. We should note that Turkey is the one which wants to join the EU and not the EU. I cannot understand how this cooperation can go on," he added.

    He said that from the beginning he was opposing Turkey's accession to the EU and said that European demands towards Bulgaria and Romania are hard.

    "They ask certain for progress from them, otherwise they threaten them with delay. With great concern I see that they work out a compromise with Turkey. I don't want double standards. Willingness for a compromise with Turkey on issues that there cannot be a compromise worries me," he concluded.

    [35] New Cyprus Cabinet members sworn in

    NICOSIA 14/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Seven new Ministers of the 11-member cabinet under President Tassos Papadopoulos, gave the prescribed affirmation during a special ceremony at the Presidential Palace on Monday.

    Speaking after the ceremony, President Papadopoulos said he decided to reshuffle his government in an effort to renew the government dynamic and to speed up efforts to implement priorities and commitments in general which the government has undertaken.

    He said the outgoing ministers meticulously carried out their duties and contributed with effectiveness in the joint effort to promote and achieve the goals of the government.

    He also noted that the new ministers as well as those which remain at their posts must always remember and never forget that they are ministers in a semi-occupied country, which wants vindication.

    Furthermore, the president noted that the most important goal is to defend democracy and reunite the people and the country "through a functional and viable solution of our national issue."

    "Every minister is not just a servant of the interests of the society, but a defender of the rights of our struggling homeland," he said.

    The ceremony took place in the presence of House President Demetris Christofias, the ministers who kept their portfolios, Undersecretary to the President Christodoulos Pasiardes and the spouses of the new ministers.

    The seven new ministers of the 11-member cabinet, who gave the prescribed affirmation during the ceremony are George Lillikas, who moves to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Antonis Michaelides, who takes over the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Phivos Klokaris, who assumes the portfolio of the Minister of Defense, Photis Photiou, who takes over the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Sofoclis Sofocleous, who takes over the Ministry of Justice and Public Order, Antonis Vassiliou, who assumes the portfolio of the Minister of Labor and Social Insurance, and Charis Charalambous, who takes over the Ministry of Health.

    Only four Ministers kept their portfolios as part of a major government reshuffle that followed the parliamentary elections in Cyprus.

    They are Andreas Christou, Minister of the Interior, Michalis Sarris, Minister of Finance, Pefkios Georgiades, Minister of Education and Culture, and Charis Thrasou, Minister of Communications and Works.

    Christodoulos Pashiardis has been named Government Spokesman, in addition to his duties as Presidential Under-secretary.

    Soon after the ceremony at the Presidential Palace, the new ministers took over their respective offices from the outgoing ministers, with the exception of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Outgoing Minister George Iacovou returned from Luxembourg Tues afternoon.

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