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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-09-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

September 13, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] Bakoyannis-Hoon meeting focuses on EU-Turkey relations
  • [02] Cabinet approves amendment to state procurements decree
  • [03] Senior Competition Commission official, two accomplices accused of corruption
  • [04] FM briefs President on UNSC agenda during Greek presidency
  • [05] FM briefs Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Lebanon, UN Security Council presidency
  • [06] Foreign ministry spokesman condemns Turkey's effort to reserve area for exercise
  • [07] FM meets with US ambassador
  • [08] Parliament president meets Albanian prime minister
  • [09] PM to meet Albanian PM Sali Berisha on Wednesday
  • [10] Papandreou reiterates criticism of PM, gov't on all fronts
  • [11] Liapis meets WSIS secretary
  • [12] Public order minister meets with SECI Centre director
  • [13] Ruling ND party holds 3.2-point lead over rival PASOK
  • [14] 'Health ministry's target is transparency', Avramopoulos says
  • [15] National Bank acquires Vojvodanska Bank for 385 mln euros
  • [16] EU gives Greece 3.7 bln euros in rural growth
  • [17] Deputy FM Stylianidis chairs meeting on renewable sources of energy
  • [18] Greek tourism to grow faster in 2006, report
  • [19] FTSE puts ASE in watch list for possible downgrade
  • [20] Gov't to announce measures for broadband service on Wednesday
  • [21] KKE Secretary-General visits ANA-MPA pavilion at Thessaloniki International Fair
  • [22] Piraeus Bank buys Romanian broker
  • [23] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise
  • [24] Ecumenical Patriarch attends 2nd conference of world religion leaders
  • [25] 300,000 U.S. dollars for 'End Human Trafficking Now' campaign
  • [26] Olympiakos loses 4-2 at home to Valencia in Champions League match
  • [27] EP Committee to report on state of Turkish occupied churches
  • [28] Cyprus denounces attack against US Embassy in Syria

  • [01] Bakoyannis-Hoon meeting focuses on EU-Turkey relations

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    EU enlargement and the Union's relations with candidate-state Turkey were the primary issues on the agenda of talks here between Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and British Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon, during their meeting on Tuesday at the foreign ministry.

    In brief comments after the meeting, Bakoyannis reiterated Athens' standing position regarding Turkey's prickly relations with Europe of late, noting that "it (Turkey) should not overlook the intense debate that exists in many European capitals over the degree and the rate in which it meets its commitments (to the EU) ... It is within this framework that we anxiously await the progress report that will be submitted by the Commission in October."

    The meeting came on the heels of Hoon's visit, a day earlier, to Istanbul, where he met with Turkish leadership, including the foreign minister and the country's top EU negotiator.

    On his part, Hoon again called Turkey's accession course a very important issue, while stressing that Athens' position on Euro-Turkey relations was well known and "crystal clear". The British minister, in fact, outlined the Greek position as holding every candidate-country accountable for fulfilling the commitments it has made vis-à-vis the Union.

    Additionally, Hoon concluded an answer to questions regarding the full implementation of the Ankara protocol by the Turkish side by saying that the Turkish government must fulfill its obligations to the EU.

    In terms of the long-standing Cyprus issue, Bakoyannis expressed a hope that "the Turkish Cypriot side will show a positive intent so that progress is achieved at the technical committees' level on day-to-day issues, but also on substantive issues, which however, have unfortunately not proceeded".

    The Greek side also briefed Hoon and British diplomats on the Greek UNSC presidency's agenda.

    In a more-or-less related development and in answer to a press question, Hoon noted that recent comments by French Interior Minister and expected presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy regarding the future of Europe are merely part of a nascent pre-election campaign in that country.

    Hoon met earlier with Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.

    [02] Cabinet approves amendment to state procurements decree

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    An amendment to the presidential decree regulating state procurements proposed by the development ministry was unanimously approved by the inner cabinet on Tuesday.

    According to Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, the amendment represented the most significant change in state procurements law since 1996 and would help make the system simpler, faster and more transparent.

    Deputy Development Minister Giannis Papathanasiou said that the aim of the amendment was to reduce the cost and time involved in finalizing state procurements.

    The amendment was welcomed by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, who stressed its importance and said it was among actions taken by the government to combat corruption.

    [03] Senior Competition Commission official, two accomplices accused of corruption

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The general director of the Competition Commission was among three people brought before a public prosecutor on Tuesday on charges of corruption for allegedly attempting to extort €2.5 million from the northern Greek dairy industry MEVGAL.

    The three are accused of demanding the sum so that the Commission's general director would intervene and expunge an alleged fine of €25 million imposed on the company.

    The public prosecutor decided to press criminal charges against them for blackmail and for aiding and abetting blackmail, passive bribery and being a direct accessory to passive bribery. The case has now been referred to the 15th Examining Magistrate.

    The charges are against merchant Constantinos Constantinidis, Competition Commission general director Panagiotis Adamopoulos and customs official Panagiotis Anagnostopoulos.

    They were caught after MEVGAL CEO Petros Papadakis reported the attempted blackmail to the police and, in collaboration with the financial crimes squad, arranged a meeting with the blackmailers to give them an advance of €200,000 in cash while promising to give them a cheque for the remainder the following day.

    The serial numbers of the notes involved were recorded and the money was handed over, after which police arrested the man who picked up the money.

    According to the case file, the customs official was the one who allegedly approached the company regarding the fine, referring them to the merchant Constantinidis, who was a close family friend of Adamopoulos. Constantinidis was the first person arrested in connection with the case on Monday in Syntagma, carrying the market notes he received from a MEVGAL executive.

    Police then picked up Adamopoulos, who was also found to have a small quantity of hashish in his office.

    The third man arrested was picked up in Thessaloniki and transferred to Attica Police General Headquarters.

    Among those alerted regarding the arrest and the charges was the European Commission, since the man involved is actually still a Community employee who had been working in Brussels since 1994. According to a representative of the European Commission in Brussels, he took unpaid leave in October 2005 when he began work as Competition Commission general director in Athens.

    If he is convicted of illegal activities in Athens, he will also face disciplinary proceedings initiated by Brussels, the EU official said.

    Adamopoulos has also been placed on suspension by the Hellenic Competition Commission until the affair is fully investigated.

    According to Deputy Development Minister Giannis Papathanasiou, meanwhile, who was questioned after Tuesday's inner cabinet meeting about the method by which the accused was hired, the specific official was chosen through a public recruitment competition organized by the Competition Commission's previous management.

    Ministers comment on Competition Commission blackmail case: Sioufas and Papathanasiou also took the opportunity to refer to a case of blackmail linked to the Competition Commission that was uncovered by the ministry on Monday, once again stressing that the government would show zero tolerance for corruption.

    "The political message is that anyone who breaks the law, will face the consequences," Sioufas told reporters.

    He emphasized that the revelations had raised the present government's image by demonstrating that nothing was covered up and all was brought into the open. "And that is the difference between this government and what occurred in the past," the minister added.

    Papathanasiou, meanwhile, said the message was clear both for would-be extortionists but also their victims, who should feel that the government was at their side.

    Alogoskoufis said the incident showed that the government dealt with any form of illegal action in an absolute way, while Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said that the battle against corruption was daily and Monday's events showed that the state machinery was working and protecting the Greek people.

    The blackmail case was revealed by Papathanasiou and Hellenic Competition Commission Chairman Spiros Zisimopoulos on Monday, who said a man was being held for trying to extort €2.5 million from an industrial company with the threat of a Competition Commission inspection. They said the man caught was not actually associated with the Competition Commission directly.

    MEVGAL press release: In a press release on Tuesday, MEVGAL's CEO said the company had acted to combat corruption:

    "We did what every company must do that seeks clean rules, transparent procedures, honest competition. If all businesses and citizens do the same, there will be a drastic reduction in corruption," he said.

    He also pointed out that, as the Competition Commission's investigation into the dairy industry as a whole was still ongoing and its report had not yet been released, there had been no fines imposed on MEVGAL or any other dairy company.

    Papadakis praised the immediate response of Competition Commission Chairman Spiros Zisimopoulos, noting that this had made the revelation possible, and thanked the political leadership of the development ministry for its "absolute support".

    "Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Deputy Minister Giannis Papathanasiou expressed their determination to shed full light on this affair, however high it goes," Papadakis noted.

    Opposition parties protest Competition Committee corruption case: Opposition parties on Tuesday protested the case of corruption involving a member of the Competition Committee.

    The main opposition PASOK party stressed in an announcement by its Development, Competitiveness and Consumer Policy sector that, apart from the penal part of the case, serious political issues are also raised.

    "We are ascertaining again, following the other recent revelations as well, that instead of the implementation of the prime minister's commitment for 'zero tolerance' for corruption, many officials appointed by the New Democracy government prefer 'full resort to corruption'," the announcement said.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said from Thessaloniki that "whatever government claims that it can secure or that it has secured the operation of a healthy and moral market either does not know what is going on or is telling lies conscientiously", adding that "one scandal is revealed and 10 others are concealed and others we will be revealed after years."

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Economic and Social Policy official, Panayiotis Lafazanis, said that "the Competition Committee and its so-called independence has constituted the alibi of each government for many years to shake off their great political responsibilities for profiteering, the 'cartels' and the harmonized practices that are dominant in markets."

    He added that "the phenomena of corruption are exclusively issues linked to policies applied and are not the object of a barren partisan quarrel. For as long as neo-liberal policies are being continued and escalated, profits will be placed all the more above people and the pursuit of wealth above social justice, so much the more will phenomena of corruption widen and expand."

    Government spokesman: Replying to questions by the press, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that "in no way will the ND government cover up whatever case of corruption. In every case, whosoever will be subjected to legal investigation and sanctions will be imposed."

    Responding to another question on the relationship of people involved in the cases with political persons, the spokesman said that "relationship is not penalized."

    Roussopoulos further said that 16 doctors have been dismissed after reports against them had been proved, while administrative enquiries are also under way, at the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) and elsewhere.

    [04] FM briefs President on UNSC agenda during Greek presidency

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday briefed President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on the issues on the UN Security Council agenda for the month of September, during Greece's term in the UNSC rotating presidency during the month of September.

    Asked by reporters after the meeting to comment on recent statements by French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Turkey, Bakoyannis said the statement opened up the relevant discussion in the European Union. She endorsed an open discussion "which must be held and many views heard".

    Asked whether the statement create an anti-Turkish climate in Europe, Bakoyannis said that it was still too early for any decisions to be taken regarding Turkey.

    [05] FM briefs Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Lebanon, UN Security Council presidency

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis briefed the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday night on developments in Lebanon and the government's priorities regarding the assumption of the UN Security Council's presidency by Greece.

    "The wager for pacification in the Middle East is very difficult. However, it can be won. The Security Council's resolution 1701 must be implemented immediately, because it is the only realistic method to defuse the crisis in the region," she said.

    Bakoyannis pointed out that Greece has a special and distinct contribution to the effort for pacification in the Middle East and, in parallel, it is planning its participation in the rebuilding of Lebanon.

    "Our country's contribution to humanitarian aid amounts to five million euros," she added.

    The foreign minister admitted that the European Union's contribution was not what international public opinion had expected, adding that it can and must be the catalyst to enable all the new factors to be utilized and for better conditions to be shaped.

    Commenting on her tour of the Middle East and on not having met with Syria's leadership, Bakoyannis said "we have contact with the Syrians and our aim is for all the sides involved to be our interlocutors."

    [06] Foreign ministry spokesman condemns Turkey's effort to reserve area for exercise

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, referring to press reports on Tuesday speaking of a violation of the summer "moratorium" by Turkey, said that "the attempt by Turkey to reserve an area for the holding of an exercise, to which a press report refers to today, is illegal and irregular."

    He added that the affair "is being handled as such with specific actions by the Civil Aviation Service and the foreign ministry on the basis of standing instructions by the relevant interministerial committee."

    Koumoutsakos further said that "however, reserving regions by itself does not imply the violation of the summer 'moratorium'. We would have its violation in the case of exercises being carried out with the activation of a reserved area", reminding that "the 'moratorium' forbids the 'conducting of exercises' during the period that it is valid."

    In this context, Koumoutsakos stressed, the foreign ministry has not been informed "that Turkey proceeded with the holding of exercises during this period and in the specific region that it is attempting to reserve in an irregular way."

    [07] FM meets with US ambassador

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday received US ambassador in Athens Charles Ries.

    The meeting was held in light of Bakoyannis' upcoming visit to the US, where she is due on Friday, and the current sessions of the UN Security Council, which Greece chairs for the month of September.

    Foreign minister Bakoyannis is due to arrive in New York on September 15, and will address the UN General Assembly on September 22.

    Afterwards, she will visit Washington on September 26-27, where she will have meetings with US National Security advisor Stephen Hadley and energy secretary Samuel Bodman.

    [08] Parliament president meets Albanian prime minister

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda met on Tuesday evening with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha who is on a two-day working visit to Greece.

    "Your visit to the Greek Parliament confirms the very good relations between Greece and Albania. Your country's intention to join the European Union is a prospect which we warmly support. The recent signing of the partnership and stability agreement of Albania with Europe is a very important step. We hope that soon, when the opportunity is given to us, we will ratify it in the Greek Parliament," Benaki-Psarouda told Berisha.

    Regarding the Greek minority in Albania, the parliament president expressed her satisfaction over the fact that "the matters of the Greek minority are on a good track and its living conditions are continuously improving."

    On his part, prime minister Berisha expressed his "deep gratitude" to the Greek parliament "for the strong support it gave to Albania and to the Albanian people in the years after the fall of the dictatorship."

    "I come here as witness to the fact that the Greek democratic forces from the first days of the democratization, actively supported the Albanian democratic forces and gave abundant help to the Albanians to realize the dream of the future, their accession to Europe," Sali Berisha added.

    Berisha addresses Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha on Tuesday evening addressed the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA).

    He noted that the remittances which the Albanians who live in Greece send to their country constitute "exceptional help" for the inhabitants of the neighboring country.

    Berisha referred to Greece's contribution to Albania's European course and defining his country's targets, he spoke of "a clear macroeconomic stability, the combating of organized crime and corruption and the establishment of a state of law."

    He thanked the Greek businessmen "who managed to invest creatively, all these years, in an adverse economic climate," and expressed his intention for Albania to develop as a country "with the lowest taxes in Europe."

    The prime minister said that in the effort to reduce bureaucratic inflexibility, Albania will sign on September 15 an agreement with an American company for "one stop shop" services aimed at simplifying procedures and strengthening entrepreneurship.

    On his part, EBEA president Constantine Michalos called for the intervention of the Albanian prime minister for the problems to be solved which obstruct the smooth operation of Greek businesses and the development of investments in Albania.

    [09] PM to meet Albanian PM Sali Berisha on Wednesday

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is scheduled to meet visiting Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha at 12:30 on Wednesday, following an earlier meeting at 10:30 with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    The prime minister will then host a dinner in honor of his Albanian counterpart, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced.

    Roussopoulos noted that the meeting with Berisha will give further impetus to bilateral relations with Albania, which were currently at a very good level.

    "Contacts on a government level are frequent, while the protection of the Greek minority and its progress is an issue of particular interest," he added.

    The spokesman also pointed out that Greece had the largest share of foreign capital invested in Albania (27 percent of all foreign investments) and was the Balkan state's second most important trade partner.

    [10] Papandreou reiterates criticism of PM, gov't on all fronts

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou launched into a wide-ranging attack against the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday from Thessaloniki, days after the premier outlined the government’s policies and goals during two addresses and a lengthy press conference on the sidelines of the 71st Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

    Papandreou addressed party officials and supporters attending a PASOK national council meeting in the northern port city.

    The one-time foreign minister was particularly critical of the prime minister’s emphasis on the government’s high-profile reforms policy, noting that "the premier told us that everything is being postponed and that everything will be accomplished with future wishes. As far as necessary changes and reforms in our country are concerned, don’t let his (Karamanlis) tone fool you, it was the only thing that lingered," Papandreou said, adding:

    "Behind the grand words he (Karamanlis) flatly admits his weakness, his failure that the government cannot move the country forward ... the prime minister has admitted that what he promised before the election has no relation to his policies of today."

    Among others, Papandreou referred to what he said were government failures to fight public sector corruption, to lower unemployment, boost regional development, implement reforms in the education sector, deal with the social security issue, and to take measures against high prices as well as what he called banks’ profiteering.

    "The prime minister, with an arrogant certainty, said in essence that this inertia is a one-way street. Listen closely Mr. Prime Minister: In politics there are no one-way streets. This was demonstrated by PASOK’s history; it was proven by Andreas Papandreou and Costas Simitis," Papandreou said, in referring to his late three-time prime minister father as well as his predecessor at PASOK’s helm, respectively.

    Papandreou listed off a litany of criticisms on practically all of the government’s initiatives since it came to power in March 2004, noting that recent tax breaks, for instance, do not benefit low-income wage-earners making less than 800 euros a month, while at the same saving 6,000 to 7,000 euros for an individual making 100,000 euros annually.

    He also said the country’s trade balance has exceeded 10 percent of GDP recently, that state budgets were unreliable and could not be executed, while charging that the government was encouraging scores of state-owned enterprises to become even bigger loss-makers in order to "sell them off easier".

    [11] Liapis meets WSIS secretary

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis met on Tuesday with visiting Special Advisor to the UN secretary general and Secretary of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Nitin Desai. Talks focused on preparations for the First World Internet Governance Forum to be held in Athens from October 30 to November 2.

    Desai expressed his satisfaction over the high level of organization and services offered as well as on the perfect infrastructures of congress facilities in Greece. He also assured the minister that Greece would have the full support of the United Nations for the success of the forum.

    More than 500 specialists are expected to participate in the forum which will be opened by Liapis.

    [12] Public order minister meets with SECI Centre director

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Public order minister Vyron Polydoras met Tuesday with Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) Centre director Mitja Mocnik.

    During the courtesy visit, the good climate in cooperation between the two sides was reaffirmed.

    Earlier Mocnik called on Greek Police (ELAS) chief Anastasios Dimoschakis.

    The SECI is a cooperation initiative in Southeast Europe comprising 12 countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Hungary, FYROM, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro, Slovenia and Turkey.

    Several Task Forces on security issues meet, under the aegis of the SECI Centre, in the areas of combating specific cross-border crimes such as drug trafficking, trafficking in people, illegal immigration, terrorism, etc.

    [13] Ruling ND party holds 3.2-point lead over rival PASOK

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) party continued to lead main opposition PASOK in the latest opinion poll unveiled by a major media outlet here, with the difference given at 3.2 percentage points.

    Specifically, 36.7 percent of respondents in a poll conducted by the Athens-based MRB firm favored ND, with 33.5 percent opting for PASOK. In terms of smaller parties, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was preferred by 7.4 percent of respondents; the out-of-Parliament LA.OS party garnered 4.1 percent and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) 3.5 percent.

    Regarding the ubiquitous question -- as far as Greek opinion polls are concerned -- of who is better suited for the prime minister's spot, Premier Costas Karamanlis (48.7 percent) holds a 16.4-point lead over PASOK leader George Papandreou (32.3 percent).

    On an even timelier note, 36.3 percent of respondents said Karamanlis' recent appearances at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) were positive, whereas 51.7 percent of respondents said they believed the premier was determined to implement his promises.

    The poll, presented by a private Athens television station on Monday evening, was conducted on Sept. 10 via telephone interviews on a nationwide random basis.

    Asked later about the poll’s results, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos emphasized that governments are judged by their actions and "not by the polls ... we see them (polls), but they do not guide our policy".

    [14] 'Health ministry's target is transparency', Avramopoulos says

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Tuesday that "the health ministry's target is transparency."

    The minister was speaking during the inauguration of renovated wings at a hospital.

    "That which is of importance, particularly in the sensitive sector of supplies to hospitals, is for the bill to be tabled which will once and for all put order in this field," Avramopoulos said.

    [15] National Bank acquires Vojvodanska Bank for 385 mln euros

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    National Bank of Greece and the Republic of Serbia on Tuesday signed an agreement for the purchase of Vojvodanska Bank a.d. Novi Sad. The agreement was signed by National Bank's chairman Takis Arapoglou and Serbia's Finance Minister Mladan Dinkic.

    National Bank won an international tender, which initially attracted interest by 11 European banks in a procedure that lasted nine months, and signals the largest and more significant sale of a state bank in Serbia.

    Speaking to reporters, Arapoglou, said: "With the purchase of Vojvodanska we make another step towards our expansion in the Southeast European region. Through Vojvodanska's extensive network, its leading position in saving deposits in dinars and its wide customer base, combined with National Bank's leading position in Serbia's retail banking market, we are creating a group to play a leading role in the financial services sector of Serbia's rapid growing market".

    National Bank said the acquisition will raise its customer base to more than 11 million, its branch network to around 1,317 units -of which half are located in Southeastern Europe- and a loan portfolio of more than 40 billion euros -25 pct of which in Southeastern Europe.

    Vojvodanska Bank is the sixth largest bank in Serbia on total assets, and operates the second largest branch network in the country. By June 2006, its saving deposits and loans -after provisions- totaled 342 million euros and 215 million euros respectively, representing market shares of 7.0 pct and 4.0 pct respectively. The bank tops the list of Serbian banks in saving deposits in dinars with a market share of around 11 pct.

    The bank was founded in 1962 and offers a wide range of financial services and products. Its domestic network includes 175 sale points and services more than 625,000 customers and 61,000 small, medium and large enterprises. It is also a leader in issuing Visa and DinaCard cards.

    Vojvodanska recently completed a restructuring plan fully covering with provisions, loans funded by the Paris Club and the London Club.

    National Bank already operates a sales network of 35 points in Serbia and holds a 5.5 percent market share in Serbia's loan market.

    National Bank will pay 360 million euros in cash to acquire 99.4 pct of Vojvodanska's shares and will deposit another 25 million euros in an account by December 2007. The Greek bank will also make capital investments of 40 million euros within the next three years and to offer a 25-mln-euro loan to Serbia's Development Fund.

    According to international accounting standards, the purchase price is less than four time Vojvodanska's book value, based December 2006 figures.

    [16] EU gives Greece 3.7 bln euros in rural growth

    BRUSSELS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The European Union on Tuesday released its annual Rural Development 2007-2013 budget for the bloc's 25 member states, which includes an allocation of 3.7 billion euros for Greece.

    “Now that we have finalized the budget allocations, I look forward to the member states’ rural development programs,” said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

    “Rural Development funds can be used to increase the competitiveness of the agrifood and forestry sectors and are a vital element in supporting environmental projects in the countryside. But this money can also be used outside of the traditional farming industry, to help create new jobs and new businesses in rural areas. We talk a lot about creating growth and jobs - this is a concrete example of EU money doing just that,” Boel noted in a news release from the bloc's executive Commission.

    Greece's allocation in current prices is as follows:

    2007: 461.376.206

    2008: 463.470.078

    2009: 453.393.090

    2010: 452.018.509

    2011: 631.768.186

    2012: 626.030.398

    2013: 619.247.957

    Total for 2007-2013l: 3.707.304.424 euros of which Convergence Total: 1.905.697.195 euros

    The main features of the new rural development policy are as follows:

     A single funding and programming instrument - the European Agriculture Rural Development Fund (EARDF)

     A new strategic approach for rural development with clear focus on EU priorities

     Reinforced control, evaluation and reporting and a clearer division of responsibilities between member states and Commission.

     A strengthened bottom-up approach. member states, regions and local action groups will have more say in attuning programs to local needs

    The policy's four main objectives are to improve competitiveness of farming and forestry; carry out projects for the environment and countryside; improve the quality of life and diversification of the rural economy; and implement the LEADER approach.

    Each program will have a LEADER element for the implementation of bottom-up local development strategies of local action groups. A minimum of 5% of the Community contribution is reserved for LEADER (2.5% for the new Member States).

    [17] Deputy FM Stylianidis chairs meeting on renewable sources of energy

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The promotion of renewable sources of energy and the technologies for energy saving internationally was the theme of a meeting held between Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and representatives of branches related to renewable sources of energy, in Athens on Tuesday.

    The meeting was held in cooperation with the Centre for Renewable Sources of Energy, in the presence of the secretary generals of the development ministry, Mr. Stefanou, and of the foreign ministry Th. Skylakakis.

    "Our objective is to promote the products which are produced in Greece, to strengthen our exports and to transfer technical know-how," said Stylianidis at the start of the meeting, noting that "from the missions which we have conducted abroad, the energy aspect of economic diplomacy was projected."

    Deputy Foreign Minister Stylianidis added that there are two ways to promote renewable sources of energy:” The one, through Hellenic Aid and development aid, with the granting of free technical know-how with programs financed by Greece, until these markets mature and for us to capitalize the investments, and the second, through economic diplomacy with the strengthening of exports, the encouragement of business joint ventures, but also new investments."

    [18] Greek tourism to grow faster in 2006, report

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Tourist foreign exchange inflows are expected to lag behind, in growth terms, the growth rate of tourist arrivals in the country this year, a report by the Institute for Tourist Research and Forecasts (ITEP) said on Tuesday.

    The report said tourist foreign exchange revenues were not expected to match a forecast of an 8-10 percent growth rate in tourist arrivals in Greece this year, but would record a growth rate of at least 6.0 percent for the year.

    ITEP said tourist foreign exchange inflows recovered strongly in June, while he noted that tourist arrivals in August -with the exception of Corfu- exceeded forecasts and led to a forecast for a growth rate of 8-10 pct in 2006. Tourist arrivals in Crete and the Dodecanese rose 10.6 pct and 12.1 pct respectively, in the period January-August 2006, compared with growth rates of 6.3 pct and 1.4 pct in the corresponding period in 2005. Northern Aegean islands also recorded strong growth, exceeding 10 percent in the first eight months of the year.

    Cyclades islands also recorded strong growth in tourist arrivals, while Ionian Islands lagged behind with the exception of Cephalonia (up 16 pct this year after a drop of 10 percent in the same period last year).

    The report noted that Greek tourism growth was more than double compared with other competitors in the European Mediterranean region (Spain +5.3 pct, Turkey -2.2 pct and Portugal +5.5 pct).

    [19] FTSE puts ASE in watch list for possible downgrade

    13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    FTSE, an international market ratings firm, on Tuesday said it was placing the Athens Stock Exchange in a watch list for the next 12 months and threatened with a possible downgrading of the Greek market from its current category of "developed market" to "advanced developing market".

    In its latest report on the annual Country Classification Process, FTSE said the decision was taken after completing a program of examining the market's structure and conditions. FTSE said there would be no change in the market's status until September 2007.

    FTSE said the decision to put the Greek market in a watch list was based on the fact that ASE lagged behind in developing its derivatives market.

    The report said the Hungarian and Polish stock markets were also included in a watch list for possible downgrading to "advanced developing markets". FTSE said it would inform ASE over its decision to place it in the "advanced developing markets" category six months in advance, which means that any change could not happen before March 2008.

    The Athens Stock Exchange, in an announcement, said it has already expressed its objection to a FTSE decision to add two more criteria to its classification process.

    ASE said a round of consultations, scheduled for next month, with FTSE officials were expected to clarify the case, while it noted that the forthcoming adoption of a European Union directive MIFID in the first quarter of 2007 were expected to abolish all limitations of the criterion "Settlement-Free delivery" and commitments of the criterion "Off-exchange transactions".

    The next meeting of the commission is scheduled for March 2007.

    [20] Gov't to announce measures for broadband service on Wednesday

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis are expected to announce a series of government initiatives on Wednesday aimed at boosting the use of broadband services and digital convergence in the country.

    Details of the initiatives were discussed during a meeting on Tuesday, chaired by the two ministers and including Deputy Economy Minister Petros Doukas, the Special Secretary for the Information Society Vassilis Assimakopoulos, the president of the National Commission of Telecommunications and Post, Nikitas Alexandridis, and the chairman of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), Panagis Vourloumis.

    Broadband use up 77% in six months: Broadband use in Greece was 2.66% on July 1, 2006, up 77.3% from 1.5% on January 1, 2006, Information Society SA said on Tuesday.

    The company's observatory welcomed the sharp increase in use, and a penetration rate of about 80% on the basis of applications for the high-speed internet connection in comparison with July to December 2005.

    The number of broadband connections in operation nationwide was estimated at 296,800 at the end of July, the observatory said in a report.

    [21] KKE Secretary-General visits ANA-MPA pavilion at Thessaloniki International Fair

    13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary-General Aleka Papariga on Tuesday visited the pavilion of the Athens News Agency-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) at the 71st Thessaloniki International Fair.

    During her visit, she referred in particular to the local government elections on October 15 and to the meeting of Balkan communist parties which will take place in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday.

    Papariga was welcomed at the pavilion by the ANA-MPA Thessaloniki division director, Spyros Kouzinopoulos, who briefed her on the new activities of the unified ANA-MPA.

    In statements she made and which were directly transmitted to the Internet through ANA-MPA, the KKE Secterary-General, in reference to the forthcoming meeting of the Balkan communist parties in Thessaloniki, said that "this will be a current one, under the prism of important developments in the matter of Kosovo, the secession of Montenegro and the American bases in Bulgaria."

    Papariga proposes creation in Thessaloniki of 'Exhibition of the Working Person's Contribution': Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary-General Aleka Papariga, who visited the 71st Thessaloniki Trade Fair (TIF) on Tuesday, proposed the creation, in another site in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, of an "Exhibition of the Working Person's Contribution".

    She made the proposal after meeting the boards of Helexpo S.A. and Thessaloniki International Fair S.A.

    She noted:” Usually, exhibitions are held for the 'contribution' of the businessman. That is, how he exploits the working person."

    Papariga underlined "it would be a good thing for there to be made a scientific, objective evaluation on working conditions, labor accidents, conditions of life and professional illnesses of the working person."

    Earlier, she expressed her opinion to the two boards that the Thessaloniki International Fair "helps, on the one hand, in the creation of jobs, but is not a panacea."

    [22] Piraeus Bank buys Romanian broker

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Athens-quoted Piraeus Bank said on Tuesday that its Group, and in particular Piraeus Bank and a subsidiary, Piraeus Securities S.A., completed the acquisition of 97.81% of European Securities S.A., a member of the Bucharest Stock Exchange.

    Piraeus Bank acquired 78.25% in European and Piraeus Securities 19.56% of the Romanian company, management of the Greek bank said in a statement.

    The acquisition is the first investment by the Piraeus Group in the stockbrokerage industry outside Greece, and is part of a strategy of further expansion in capital markets and investment banking in East European and South-eastern Mediterranean countries, the statement said.

    "European Securities will help to enhance the Group's presence in Romania and enrich the products and services provided to customers of Piraeus Bank Romania S.A.. Furthermore, customers of Piraeus Bank Group, Greek and foreign, corporate and private investors, will now have access to the whole range of products and services offered in the Romanian Capital Market," management reported.

    [23] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise

    ATHENS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,905.03 points, showing a rise of 0.05%. Turnover was 210.1 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.29% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.06% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.37% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 143 to 102 with 58 remaining unchanged

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (5405)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 217.4 million euros

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.13 pct

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.13 pct yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (1.2 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.7 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    U.S. dollar 1.281

    [24] Ecumenical Patriarch attends 2nd conference of world religion leaders

    ISTANBUL, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is taking part in the 2nd conference of the leaders of world religions that is taking place in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

    According to an announcement issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Tuesday, the Patriarch left for Kazakhstan on Monday, "when the entire world remembers with horror the tragic events of September 11, 2001".

    The aim of the conference is to eradicate fanaticism and establish mutual trust, love and cooperation between the faithful of the different religions of the world, so that similar events of violence and terrorism are not repeated.

    [25] 300,000 U.S. dollars for 'End Human Trafficking Now' campaign

    PARIS, 13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna Vardinoyannis met here on Monday with President of the International Women's Movement for Peace and Egypt's First lady, Suzan Mubarak, to whom she handed a cheque of 300,000 dollars.

    The sum is the contribution of Greeks to the international campaign "End Human Trafficking Now" and was collected at a charity dinner organized in Athens last January at Marianna Vardinoyannis' initiative.

    Soccer

    [26] Olympiakos loses 4-2 at home to Valencia in Champions League match

    13/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Olympiakos Piraeus lost 4-2 to Valencia of Spain (halftime 1-2) in a Champions League Group D soccer match played at the "Karaiskaki Stadium" in Piraeus on Tuesday night.

    The Greek club went into the lead with Michalis Konstantinou in the 28th minute.

    Valencia reacted immediately, with Fernando Morientes scoring in the 33rd and 39th.

    Nery Alberto Castillo equalized for Olympiakos in the 66th.

    Raul Albiol scored the Spanish club's third goal in the 86th.

    Fernando Morientes made it 4-2 for Valencia in the 90th.

    [27] EP Committee to report on state of Turkish occupied churches

    BRUSSELS, 13/9/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)

    The European Parliament's Committee of Education and Culture unanimously decided on Tuesday to write a report on the state of the churches in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus.

    The Committee took this decision by unanimously adopting an amendment submitted by Cypriot MEP Panayiotis Demetriou (EPP).

    Demetriou suggested that the 2007 EU budget allocates funds in order to carry out an investigation into the situation of the occupied churches of Cyprus.

    The funding should be allocated from the European program ''Culture 2007''.

    The report will aim at recording and describing the current state of the churches and giving an estimation of the reparation cost, while special provisions will be included for those churches that are facing an immediate danger of collapsing.

    According to Demetriou, the ultimate purpose should be to ask for EU funding in order to restore the churches and repair the damages.

    He also told the Committee that the EU should take action to protect the churches in occupied Cyprus, since the government of the Republic of Cyprus has no control over the areas, occupied by the Turkish army since 1974.

    The adopted amendment is expected to be approved at the European Parliament's plenary session in October.

    Four-hundred-and-seven MEPs signed in July a written declaration prepared by Demetriou and Italian MEP Iles Braghetto, condemning the pillage of Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries and the removal of their ecclesiastical items.

    The declaration called on the Commission and the Council to take the necessary actions to ensure respect for the Treaty and the protection and restoration of the affected churches to their original Greek Orthodox status.

    It also called on the Commission and the Council to examine this matter under the relevant chapters of the negotiations with Turkey.

    More than 133 churches, chapels and monasteries that are located in the northern part of Cyprus controlled by the Turkish army since 1974 have been desecrated, 78 churches have been converted into mosques, 28 are used as military depots and hospitals, and 13 are used as stockyards.

    Their ecclesiastical items, including more than 15,000 icons, have been illegally removed and their location remains unknown.

    According to the Cypriot Department of Antiquities, the most significant and priceless of these icons have already been auctioned off and sold by art dealers abroad.

    [28] Cyprus denounces attack against US Embassy in Syria

    NICOSIA, 13/9/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)

    The government of Cyprus strongly denounced Tuesday's attack against the US Embassy in Damascus, Syria.

    ''Although it is not yet clarified who is behind the terrorist attack, it is certain that such heinous acts harm the already wounded peace in our very sensitive region,'' Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said Tuesday.

    ''Cyprus, being itself a victim of the Turkish state terrorism, has every reason, as a matter of principle, to denounce such actions, irrespectively of who is the actor and who is the victim,'' he stressed.

    Asked why the government came to denounce the act, before the issue is clarified, the spokesman said the government of Cyprus did not rush to condemn the act.

    ''Denouncing such acts against any embassy, against any foreign state, is not a matter of haste,'' he concluded.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.


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