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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 29, 2006
 PM meets separately with heads of industrial federation, major trade union
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday began a series of meetings with representatives of producer classes ahead of the customary "state-of-the-economy" speech inaugurating the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next month.
On Monday, the Greek premier met with the presidency of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB).
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said the government was seriously examining the views of producer classes, adding that the meeting focused on the "positive progress recorded by the Greek economy".
Alogoskoufis stressed that the government has successfully dealt with any problems after the Olympic Games, while noting that economic growth is strong, unemployment is dropping and a reforms program was underway. He also cited a tax reform implemented by the government and said that funds have been secured to better support low income and pension earners.
Commenting on a demand by GSEE - Greece's largest trade union umbrella group - for the government to offer a heating oil subsidy to low-income citizens, Alogoskoufis rejected the prospect, saying "the government has made clear its position on the issue".
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, who also attended the meeting, underling that the government focuses on a dialogue with all social partners and stressed that confidence was building over the implementation of a new development model for the country. Commenting on the high-profile policy of reforms in the wider public sector, Sioufas said "we are doing OK, and continue even better".
Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of SEB, told reporters that his meeting with the premier covered the social security system, education, economic developments, as well as upcoming constitutional reform, while he stressed that a national reforms program was a primary tool of economic policy.
Daskalopoulos said he hoped this year's TIF will not become a venue for campaign or pre-election confrontation.
"Citizens do not want fireworks; they want effective words and deeds".
PM meets with GSEE presidium: Earlier, Karamanlis met with the leadership of GSEE, with Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis later saying the meeting was useful and constructive. He noted that the government's top ministers briefed trade unionists on the results of its policy.
Conversely, GSEE president Yiannis Panagopoulos strongly criticized government policy, referring to what he called a "wave of price hikes, higher unemployment, and poor conditions in the social security system and education were the results of government policy."
GSEE also demands a heating oil subsidy of 600 euros per households with an annual income of up to 11,000 euros and 300 euros for households with annual income of 11-15,000 euros.
In a later reaction, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said the contacts between the government with SEB and GSEE comprise a "badly played out theatre, part of government maneuvers aimed at delaying and making an impression ahead of the Thessaloniki International Fair."
 Papandreou meets with business groups' reps ahead of TIF
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)PASOK president George Papandreou on Monday continued his series of meetings with representatives of producer classes ahead of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next month, holding talks with representatives of the construction contractors' association (SATE), the federation of small-to-medium-sized manufacturers and merchants as well as the national confederation of trade.
 Lebanon, bilateral ties dominate Bakoyannis' meeting with India's Sharma
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday met here with visiting Indian Minister for External Affairs Anand Sharma, as talks expectedly focused on implementation of UN resolution 1701 for Lebanon and the situation throughout the Middle East.
Bakoyannis stressed, in fact, that Greece, which will hold the rotating UN Security Council chair next month, "will do whatever it can to contribute to this direction, and in general, to efforts for stability and peace in the Middle East". She also briefed Sharma over her recent trip and contacts in the Mideast, noting that "the time has come for vigorous diplomacy, both in terms of Lebanon as well as over the Palestinian issue".
In reference to a matter of particular importance to New Delhi, Bakoyannis said Athens supports, in principle, the election of a new UN general secretary from Asia, in tandem with the personality traits and skills such a candidate will possess.
In terms of bilateral relations, the Greek FM cited the excellent level of Greece-India ties, adding that both countries share fundamental principles and values as well as common positions on numerous international issues. Bakoyannis stressed that civilization and cultural matters are paramount in the Greece-India relationship, with Athens, in fact, looking forward to the opening of a Modern Greek language and studies seat at the Nehru University of New Delhi in the next few months.
Finally, touching on the scourge of international terrorism, Bakoyannis said both sides agreed that there is no justification for "cowardly and blind violence that injures peace and peoples' and nations' progress."
On his part, Sharma emphasized the need for increasing and boosting bilateral cooperation in the fields of technology, communications, IT services, agriculture, science, shipping and, of course, cultural exchanges.
The Indian minister later attended a reception in his honor hosted by Bakoyannis, where he cited his government's support for expanding the UN Security Council's membership, "we believe that Greece will help, as it has always done in the past. India has ambitions as far as the UNSC is concerned," he said, adding that Bakoyannis was also invited to visit the sub-continent.
Finally, Sharma said India has not taken any decision as yet on whether to participate in the new UN multinational force for Lebanon, saying New Delhi wants a clear mandate and rules of engagement for such a force, before again stressing that his government has not ruled out the participation of Indian troops.
 Greece, India to promote tourism cooperation
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece plans to open a tourist office in India aiming to promote tourism cooperation between the two countries, Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said on Monday, after a meeting with India's visiting Minister for External Relations Anand Sharma and Indian ambassador to Greece B. Balakrishnan, as the two sides discussed ways to further promote bilateral cooperation in tourism.
The Indian invited Palli-Petralia to visit the sub-continent in early 2007, and stressed that the two countries have major prospects of cooperating in tourism technology, public relations and constructions, as well as promoting Greek tourism through India's flourishing film industry.
Both ministers also discussed a proposal to launch direct flights between Athens and New Delhi.
 FM briefs PASOK leader on recent Middle East tour
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday briefed main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party leader George Papandreou on the results of her recent visit to the Middle East.
"I had the opportunity of briefing Mr. Papandreou on my recent trip to the Middle East, on the decision of the foreign ministers and on prospects appearing on the problem of the Middle East. At the same time, we also discussed Greece's presidency at the Security Council that begins on September 1 and the specific Greek positions that we support in our effort for us to contribute as well to a permanent and stable peace in the Middle East," Bakoyannis said after the meeting.
Replying to a question on whether Papandreou agrees with Greece's participation in the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, the foreign minister said "I think yes, but you should ask PASOK about this."
Bakoyannis added that "I always believe that foreign policy issues are issues in which one does not try discover party rivalries but seeks the widest possible national consensus and this is also the steadfast position of the government and I believe that with Mr. Papandreou, always and in a longstanding way, we have discussed foreign policy issues and I do not think that we have different views, particularly on our focal position on the Middle East."
PASOK's Political Council official responsible for foreign policy, security and defense issues, Christos Papoutsis, said in a statement that Papandreou had the opportunity during the meeting of expressing PASOK's position, as well as his concern over the situation in the Middle East, while reminding of his initiatives as president of the Socialist International and of PASOK as a member of the European Socialist Party and his conclusions from his visit to the Middle East, Syria and Iran, as well as the initiatives for promoting peace and ending the war and the creation of all terms and preconditions for the ceasefire and stability in the wider region.
According to what Papoutsis said, Papandreou expressed PASOK's reservations as regards the clear instructions that must exist for the peacekeeping force since, as he said, the international community in its entirety recognises that vagueness still exists.
Papoutsis said that PASOK is insisting in every case that what is necessary is an active Greek diplomacy, an active presence in the Middle East, a substantive effort and initiative by Greece at the European Union's Council of Foreign Ministers for clear instructions and directions to be had, stressing that Greece's role must be one of a peacemaker and of a regional power that has a role, positions, initiatives and the recognition of all the peoples of the region.
Papoutsis also said that the period is crucial for the Middle East, stressing that "we are expecting many things in the coming days and weeks, while the period is crucial for relations between Iran and the international community since the limit for achieving an agreement on the nuclear program of Iran is up to August 31."
 PM to meet with S. Korean president next week
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Inner Cabinet is to convene on Tuesday, chaired by prime minister Costas Karamanlis, to discuss issues falling under the competence of the interior and development ministries.
Earlier the prime minister will confer with environment, town planning and public works minister George Souflias.
On September 5, Karamanlis is scheduled to meet with S. Korean president Moo-hyun Rho, who will be on an official visit to Greece.
 Gov't calls on PASOK leader to assist with education reforms
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government on Monday issued an atypical invitation to the leader of the main opposition, PASOK leader George Papandreou, to contribute towards the establishment of a package of reforms for the country's public education system, a more-or-less sharp response to the latter's criticism a day earlier of education ministry measures.
In commenting on Papandreou's disapproval of the government's high-profile decision to institute a mandatory 50-percent average (10 out of a perfect score of 20) for university and technical school entrance, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the PASOK leader's "expanded field of studies and abundant experience with education issues as a former education minister along with his own studies" should allow him to work with the government "on the major issue of education reforms".
"George Papandreou should avoid vague references that simply indulge. To indulge (supporters) is a policy that, to a certain degree, may have produced results in the past. Today, though, Greek citizens want to hear the truth, and Mr. Papandreou must help in the realization that changes are necessary," the spokes-man stressed.
 PASOK spokesman comments on consensus in education
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanasakis responded on Monday to proposals made by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on the need for consensus in the sector of education.
"PASOK and its President, George Papandreou, offered itself from the beginning for serious and responsible dialogue on education. We have tabled sustained and analytical proposals on the issues of education," Athanasakis said.
"When the government decides to deal seriously with education and the real changes and reforms which are currently necessary, then it can repeat its invitation," he added.
 Inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Inner Cabinet will convene on Tuesday, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, to focus on issues involving the interior and public administration ministry.
Earlier, the premier will meet with Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias.
 New FYROM FM appears intransigent over 'name issue'
SKOPJE, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The new foreign minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) repeated over the weekend his newly sworn in government’s rejection of any change in the country’s policy regarding the "name issue", the only remaining "thorn" - albeit a serious one - in otherwise excellent Greek-FYROM relations.
"Just as a person cannot escape from his shadow, 'Macedonia' also cannot disown its constitutional name. I consider that our friends in Greece understand this. We understand their sensitivity and are trying to converse with them so that discussions held under the UN’s auspices are concluded in a productive manner, and without the Republic of Macedonia being threatened," FYROM Foreign Minister Antonio Milosovski said, referring to the name used by Skopje for the landlocked country but rejected by repeated Greek governments.
 Finmin: Fiscal adaptation at core of policy mix
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis stated that Greece's economic policy mix aims at mild fiscal adaptation and a structural overhaul.
"Being followed is a carefully designed macro-economic policy mix whose main characteristics are mild fiscal adaptation and structural reform," Alogoskoufis told a conference in Vienna of the European Economic Association.
The minister also noted that economic theory aided policy planning but political constraints and the stance of a country's social partners also had to be taken into account.
 Greek Bank Union and bank federation to meet again next Monday
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Negotiations between the Union of Greek Banks and the Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) on the collective labor agreement for 2006 will be resumed next Monday.
During Monday's talks, Bank Union representatives appeared to be authorized to negotiate, overcoming the "stumbling block" that had been hampering the progress of talks so far.
OTOE representatives want a 10 percent increase in salaries and, for the time being, they are talking about a one-year agreement, but without ruling out the possibility of negotiating two-year prospects.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop
ATHENS, 29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Athens share index closed at 3,818.79 points, showing a decline of 0.94%. Turnover was 173.0 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.05% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.96% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.38% up.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 173 to 94 with 42 remaining unchanged.
Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.11%
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.290
 Last flames in Kassandra extinguished by T-storm
29/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)Devastation brought on by wildfires last week throughout much of verdant Kassandra peninsula (Halkidiki prefecture) in northern Greece, were followed by a severe thunderstorm Monday morning, causing mudslides in previously forested areas and a runoff of soot and soil to drain into the sea at several sites.
In terms of the actually fires, authorities reported on Monday practically extinguished.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking New Democracy delegation led by party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis turned much of the devastated areas on Monday
 Cyprus not willing to undertake cost of Turkey's EU course
NICOSIA, 29/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The Republic of Cyprus supports Turkey's European prospects but is not willing to undertake the cost for its European course, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said on Monday.
He also made clear that ''we are not discussing at this time any alternative methods and scenarios as to what will happen or must happen in case Turkey continues not to comply with its European obligations'' and that the only thing which concerns and interests the government at this moment is for Turkey to fulfill the obligations and engagements it undertook towards the Republic of Cyprus as well.
Invited to comment on information about a package of ideas prepared by the Americans to prevent an EU-Turkey crisis, in view of the progress report for Turkey to be issued by the European Commission, the Spokesman said that ''the Cypriot government has not been informed about any process or any ideas by the American side and therefore it is not possible to comment on an issue which it is not aware of.''
''If there are some circles which are interested in not having an EU-Turkey crisis, the safest way to prevent it is to convince Ankara to fulfill its European obligations and engagements,'' he added.
He said ''the Republic of Cyprus supports Turkey's European prospect but is not willing to undertake the cost for its European course'' and wondered why the Republic of Cyprus must be called to pay so that Turkey fulfills its duty towards the EU.
Replying to a question, Pashiardis said that ''the European governments are aware of the positions and views of the Cypriot government on this issue.''
He also said that ''what the EU has repeatedly underlined and continues to demand is for Ankara to fulfill the obligations is has undertaken towards the Republic of Cyprus,'' noting that ''we remain steadfast to this position and this demand.''
''We are looking into every possibility and every possible development but we are not discussing right now any ways of avoiding or suspending the implementation of Turkish obligations and mainly we are not discussing ways of implementing these obligations through the paying of a forfeit on our part,'' he said.
 Cypriot foreign minister briefs Republic's diplomatic missions
NICOSIA, 29/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas presented here on Monday to leaders of the diplomatic missions of the Republic of Cyprus ways of organizing the work to be carried out, aimed at upgrading its quality and effectiveness, enhancing their contacts in the countries where they are accredited and better enlightening the media regarding Cypriot positions.
Speaking after the first meeting he had with the leaders of the diplomatic missions, in the framework of a two-day briefing seminar, Lillikas said these meetings will be established on an annual basis during summertime for the exchange of information on various issues
the ministry is handling as well as issues of other ministries' policy.
During the meeting Lillikas informed the 26 Cypriot diplomats about Turkey's European course in connection with the European Commission's progress report to be examined in Autumn, the policy of the government and the goals set.
Replying to questions, Lillikas said it was too soon for final estimations about the stance the other 24 member states will take on Turkey's European bid, adding that all should await the European Commission's report which is expected to be submitted on October 24.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The Republic of Cyprus became a full member of the EU in May 2004.
 Cyprus to make representations over Talat's presence at Turkish Grand Prix
NICOSIA, 29/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas, referring on Monday to the award of prizes by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat during the Grand Prix in Turkey, said that ''federations ought to respect international law."
Talat presented on Sunday the first prize to the Formula 1 winner in Istanbul and was addressed during the ceremony as "president'' of the Turkish Cypriot regime. Lillikas said that representations will be made to the competent federation, adding though that immediate results should not be expected.