|Sunday, 25 October 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-09-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 14, 2006
 Karamanlis and Berisha discuss bilateral ties, Greek minority
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received his visiting Albanian counterpart Sali Berisha on Wednesday for a meeting and official dinner, during which they discussed bilateral relations but also the Greek minority in Albania.
In statements afterward, Karamanlis said the meeting had been interesting and constructive and had helped foster better understanding of the positions of both countries on various issues.
"The prospects for our relations are great and I am satisfied, because today we confirmed our will to make further use of these possibilities," he told reporters.
The Greek premier said that there had been significant progress in trade and economic ties, military and police cooperation between the two countries, while he emphasized the signature of an agreement on energy issues between Greece and Albania during Berisha's visit.
In addition to the problems of the Greek minority in southern Albania, the two men also discussed problems faced by Albanian immigrants in Greece and those of Greek businesses operating in Albania.
Karamanlis emphasized that Greece supports Albania's course toward EuroAtlantic structures, to which it attaches great importance:
"We are ready to assist our neighboring country in the effort to carry out the necessary reforms and commitments to the EU it has undertaken," he stressed.
Discussion during the dinner between the two premiers focused on regional and international issues, such as that of Kosovo, which Karamanlis described as important for peace, stability and cooperation in the region.
On his part, Berisha thanked Greece for its support of Albania's efforts to "realize its European vision" and for the Greece's contribution from the 1990s until the present day to Albania's efforts to become a democracy based on a market economy and to join the EU and NATO.
The Albanian premier stressed that the meeting had been marked by a spirit of understanding and determination to further promote relations in economic cooperation, military cooperation, education and culture and cooperation between legislative and executive organs.
Regarding the bilateral agreement for energy signed on Wednesday, Berisha stressed its importance and also emphasized the efforts being made by the Albanian government to create a favorable climate for Greek businesses.
Pointing out that Greek investments currently occupy top place among foreign investors in Albania and represent a sum of €400 million, he stressed that he would make every effort to multiply both Greek investors and the size of Greek investments in his country.
During his meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias earlier on Wednesday, Berisha noted a proposal by the Greek president for a rail connection between the two countries and congratulated the president on this idea.
He said the issue had also been discussed during his talks with Karamanlis and would be seriously considered by the Albanian government.
President receives Albanian prime minister: President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received visiting Albanian prime minister Sali Berisha at the Presidential Mansion.
Papoulias said he considred Greek-Albanian relations to be very important, as they were relations between two peoples with a long common history, who fought together against the Ottoman Empire.
"Personally, I place great importance on the development of these relations," the Greek President said.
Berisha expressed appreciation for the hospitality he has received, adding that in meeting with Papoulias, he was meeting with a "special friend of the Albanian people".
Addressing Papoulias, who served as foreign minister in the past, Berisha thanked him for the friendly sentiments he has always had towards Albania and the Albanian people, and for his precious contribution to the relations between the two countries.
"You started up these relations during a difficult period, but the results are immense," Berisha said.
Greece, Albania seek strong economic relations: Greece and Albania on Wednesday pledged to redefine and give new impetus to bilateral economic and political relations.
Greek Foreign Deputy Minister E. Stylianidis, speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Albania's Economy and Energy Minister Genc Ruli, said the meeting was "exceptionally constructive" and that it "produced results".
The new dynamic comes from a pledge given by the Albanian side to solve problems facing Greek enterprises in the sectors of oil, telecommunications and constructions, a development that would not only create new prospects for enterprises with activities in the neighboring country and would attract new investments by Greek enterprises as well.
"Greek business presence is strong in Albania and we want it to become stronger," Ruli said. The Albanian minister acknowledged there were "mainly bureaucratic problems" which he wished to be resolved to create a "friendly environment" for investors.
The Greek side also pledged to give a "new dynamic" to bilateral relations and asked for the inclusion to development programs of a project to build a Greek school in Girocaster by Hellenic Aid and to complete construction of a road network in Albania.
Stylianidis said trade relations were very good and noted an increase in the volume of Greek exports to Albania.
 Greece, Albania sign energy agreement
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece and Albania on Wednesday signed an energy agreement covering electricity, oil and natural gas. The agreement was signed by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Albanian Economy and Energy Minister Genc Ruli, at the presence of the two countries' Prime Ministers, Costas Karamanlis and Sali Berisa.
The agreement follows a friendship pact signed by the two countries in 1996 and their participation in a Southeastern Europe Energy Community (signed in October 2005 in Athens).
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Ruli earlier, Sioufas said the two countries have had systematic cooperation over the last 12 months.
"Albania was one of the first countries to ratify this pact, which started from July 1, and creates a totally new environment in southeastern Europe, with stability, more growth, peace and, particularly in the energy sector, investments expected to exceed 21 billion euros," the Greek minister said.
Sioufas said the two countries would seek closer economic relations, a boost in investments and increasing trade transactions. "We are the second country in investments and trade transactions with Albania and our ambition is to reach the top," the Greek minister said.
On his part, Ruli said the two governments were determined to further expand economic relations.
 Greece urges stable business climate in Albania
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias on Wednesday urged Albania to provide a stable business climate in order to attract investment.
"For the growth of alliances and investment in Albania's private sector, a stable, friendly business climate is required in the local market," Folias told reporters after a meeting with the neighboring country's finance, trade and energy minister, Genc Ruli.
He also told Ruli that the government was willing to back Albania's economic reform drive, offering the finance ministry's knowhow.
Ruli said he welcomed Greece's economic support over the years, and hoped to attract investment mainly in infrastructure and energy.
 Greek, Albanian ministers discuss social security, employment issues
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on Wednesday received his visiting Albanian counterpart Kosta Barka, as the latter is accompanying the neighboring country's president on an official visit to Greece.
As expected, discussions focused on joint cooperation in the fields of vocational training; cooperation between the state employment agencies of each country as well as social security, given that tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians reside in Greece as guest workers or seasonal workers.
Tsitouridis said a proposal by the Albanian side regarding a mutual and bilateral agreement on social security benefits and pensions will be studied.
Additionally, the timely issue of human trafficking and efforts to stem illegal immigration were also discussed.
 PASOK leader meets with Albania's Berisha
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) President George Papandreou met on Wednesday with visiting Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha.
"I had the occasion to discuss with Mr. Berisha the crucial issues of the Balkans, particularly the Kosovo issue and the European course of Western Balkan countries, which we had supported as EU presidents in 2003 at the Thessaloniki summit," Papandreou told reporters after the meeting.
The PASOK leader added that issues relating to Albania's Greek minority, the Archbishopric of Albania and Archbishop Anastasios, the integration of Albanian workers to Greek society and the closer economic cooperation between the two countries were also discussed.
 Greek and Albanian education ministers meet in Athens
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)National Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Wednesday met with Albanian Education and Science Minister Genc Polo, in the framework of Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha's two-day working visit to Athens.
At the end of the meeting, Yiannakou said said they discussed issues concerning cooperation on a level of higher education, the implementation of the educational agreement, which the two sides wish to renew, the matter of the Greek minority's education in Albania and in general, matters related to private schools which are bilingual, Greek and Albanian.
The Greek minister said she will visit Albania soon.
On his part, Genc Polo noted that Yiannakou has helped the children of Albanian immigrants living in Greece, adding that the two countries have "an ancient common history and a friendly atmosphere, which we want to continue."
 Foreign minister to visit Belgrade and Pristina on Thursday
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will have a series of contacts with officials in Belgrade and Pristina when she visits the two cities on Thursday, including meetings with Serbia's President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.
Also scheduled are meetings with officials of the Kosovo government and Parliament, Kosovo's main opposition leader Hashim Thaci, who heads the Democratic Party of Kosovo, the chief representative of Kosovo Serbs Oliver Ivanovic who heads the Serb List for Kosovo-Metohija, the leader of the ORA party Veton Surroi and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Kosovo Joachim Rücker.
The foreign minister will then depart for Brussels to take part in the EU General Affairs Council, after which she departs for New York.
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Bakoyannis will have numerous contacts with foreign ministers from other countries, among them a meeting on September 18 with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.
The last meeting is in line with the practice in recent years of alternating meetings by the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers at the offices of the representations.
Meetings are also planned with Bakoyannis' counterparts from Egypt, Iran, Spain, Syria and others, while she will also host a dinner for the members of the Security Council and participate in a meeting of her counterparts from NATO member-states, as well as a meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia and the EU.
 Athens on upcoming Commission report for Turkey
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece on Wednesday declined to make predictions about a closely watched report to be issued by the European Commission next month regarding candidate-state Turkey's progress.
A foreign ministry spokesman in Athens nevertheless noted that the Union is "comprehensively briefed" over Greece's positions regarding the fulfillment by Turkey of its commitments to the 25-nation bloc.
Spokesman George Koumoutsakos added that the Greek government is doing "all it can and must do" so that the neighboring country's obligations are met.
In a related development, and in reference to reports over a violation, by the Turkish side, of a summer moratorium prohibiting the holding of military exercises in the Aegean, Koumoutsakos emphasized that any attempt to seal-off areas for the holding of maneuvers is, therefore, illegal.
He added that such actions are routinely countered by Greece's Civil Aviation Authority and the foreign ministry on the basis of standing directives issued by a relevant inter-ministerial committee.
 Athens again refers to proposal for Euro-coast guard, cites illegal migration problem
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government on Wednesday reiterated that Greece is keenly interested in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration, given that the east Mediterranean country is often targeted by illegal migrants arriving from the east as well as a nation with an extensive coastline.
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos made the statement during his regular press briefing in response to a question regarding a letter sent by the European Union to the Greek prime minister on the specific subject.
Among others, the spokesman referred to increased cooperation by the EU's southern member-states and a standing proposal for the creation of a European coast guard corps to defend the Union's maritime borders.
 Government stresses that corruption won't be tolerated
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros emphasized on Wednesday that the government would be absolute in dealing with anyone found guilty of corruption, in response to questions regarding a recently revealed blackmail case involving the Competition Commission.
"The tolerance of the present government for any incident of corruption will be zero. Where such phenomena appear they will be dealt with effectively, as did not happen for many years in the past. Whoever is involved with such phenomena will suffer the consequences as determined by the laws of the state," Antonaros said.
Responding to a remark that the latest scandal showed corruption to concern ruling New Democracy as much as past PASOK governments, Antonaros stressed that the present government was making determined efforts in all directions to ensure that the laws against corruption were imposed.
"Absolutely no one is above the law," he added.
Regarding a Council of Europe report on corruption that found delays in the operation of an independent Greek authority to check money-laundering, Antonaros pointed out that these reports usually referred to the previous year and said that the government was taking the steps necessary to deal with this global phenomenon.
Asked whether Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis might be held politically responsible for the appointment of Panagiotis Anagnostopoulos, one of the three men embroiled in the MEVGAL blackmail case, to various posts on the boards of state organizations, Antonaros told reporters that the minister had removed him from these positions as soon as he was alerted to the serious accusations against Anagnostopoulos.
The spokesman also rejected as "mistaken" a remark that, in the specific case, it had been the company rather than the government that had reported the case to the authorities, pointing to earlier statements by members of the government that had urged the public to assist in the general effort to combat corruption.
PASOK spokesman says 'government has no doctrine of zero tolerance': Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said on Wednesday that "the New Democracy government yet again attempts to construct a magical image, presenting itself as the pursuer of corruption, which it all brings to light and supposedly it all exposes."
Athanassakis added:” The strange thing is that once again there is no political responsibility, no one assumes political responsibility of the options for specific people. The government has no doctrine of zero tolerance against corruption, it seeks zero tolerance for itself."
The PASOK spokesman said that "the government has not made any disclosures, but the up to now disclosures have been made by citizens' complaints and by the mass media."
Interior minister comments on cases of corruption: Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, commenting on Wednesday on cases of corruption, said that "in the past corruption existed and was covered up. Today, it is being revealed and stamped out."
The minister was speaking in the framework of the processing of a bill titled "Arrangements of issues of the National Public Administration and Self-Administration Centre" by the relevant Parliamentary committee.
Pavlopoulos further said that "phenomena of corruption were not revealed in the past because checks were not being carried out", adding that auditing apparatuses are being shielded now, while the number of checks has tripled.
 PM hosts dinner for members of ND's Parliamentary Group
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis hosted a dinner for members of his ruling New Democracy party's Parliamentary Group at a restaurant at the seaside resort of Nea Makri on Wednesday, telling them that "our message zero tolerance for corruption has passed on to society."
The prime minister said that "corruption did not appear now. It is a phenomenon that grew in past years but was covered up," adding that "the difference between yesterday and today is that (main opposition party) PASOK tolerated corruption and covered it up, we are combating it and are exposing it."
Karamanlis further said that citizens "are aware of the government's daily struggle against corruption. They are aware and trust us in this struggle we are making. We want them close to us in this struggle, a prolonged struggle. We are continuing to be relentless with phenomena of kickbacks and corruption, we are in a frontal collision with all those who do not respect citizens and their toil."
The prime minister received best wishes from his deputies since it is his 49th birthday on Thursday.
Minister again stresses zero tolerance for corruption: Deputy Development Minister Giannis Papathanasiou on Wednesday reaffirmed the government's commitment to a policy of zero tolerance for corruption, stressing that "anyone involved, however highly placed, will be punished".
"We do not cover up anything. That belongs to the past," the minister said in statements on the sidelines of a conference in Thessaloniki.
Papathanasiou was commenting on the case corruption involving alleged blackmail of the northern Greek dairy industry MEVGAL by a senior official within the Competition Commission and noted that it was encouraging that everything was coming out into the open and all parties were being punished.
The case was also commented on by main opposition PASOK's secretary Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou, who said that the "sordid picture that the Greek people are witnessing during these days, with all the incidents of scandal that are daily being revealed, are not just the result of the government's weakness and inability to stamp out corruption but are a result of a patron-client power system that the government itself has used and whose consequences the Greek people are living with daily."
 Poll gives Kaklamanis commanding lead in Athens mayor's race
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)The latest opinion poll released this week deals with the upcoming municipal elections in October, and specifically with the closely watched race for Athens, the largest and most important municipality in the country.
As far as the Athens mayoral race is concerned, ND-backed Nikitas Kaklamanis, up until recently the health minister, is preferred by 46 percent of respondents versus 20.6 percent for PASOK-backed Costas Skandalidis, himself a former minister in successive PASOK governments. The figure for Kaklamanis looms as significant, moreover, as an amendment in the public administration code last year awards the seat to candidates who gain 42 percent or more of the vote in the first week of the election.
The communist party-backed candidate, Spyros Halvatzis, and Coalition of the Left-backed Alexis Tsipras, garnered 5.5 percent and 5 percent, respectively, while the “undecided” vote stood at 7 percent.
Beyond the local government elections next month, the poll also gauged respondents on “quality of life” issues.
Some 39 of respondents said the quality of life in the Greek capital has worsened over the past three years; 24 percent said it had improved, and 37 percent said it had remained the same.
According to results of the poll, the biggest problems facing the congested Greek capital are garbage collection and cleanliness (39 percent); traffic (20 percent); parking (18 percent); crime (14 percent); lack of greenspaces (13 percent) and noise (7 percent).
Moreover, 47 percent of respondents said they would like to move to the suburbs; 54 said they would opt for the provinces.
The poll was conducted by the Athens-based VPRC firm and presented by the Skai television and radio station.
 Skandalidis resigns from Parliament ahead of mayoral race
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)PASOK-backed candidate for Athens Costas Skandalidis, a former minister in successive PASOK governments, on Wednesday announced his resignation from Parliament, saying his candidacy is incompatible with his duties as an MP.
Skandalidis' resignation was forwarded in a letter to the Parliament president.
Former minister and long-time PASOK cadre Gerassimos Arsenis will fill Skandalidis' spot in Athens' first election district.
 KKE leader lambasts mainstream parties
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga on Wednesday severely criticized the two mainstream parties -- the ruling New Democracy party (ND) and main opposition PASOK party -- warning that there was no hope for the working people from either of the two, and called on the citizens to vote for the candidates backed by the KKE in next month's local government elections.
Speaking at a press conference in the framework of her visit to the 71st Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), the KKE leader criticized prime minister Costas Karamanlis' weekend addresses at the TIF, describing as a 'provocation' his statement that he would go ahead with the reforms planned by the government regardless of the political cost. She said that Karamanlis had made a display of political strength towards the popular strata, and the 'crumbs' he offered could not be called 'social policy'.
On the public works projects being carried out in Thessaloniki, she said that they were being constructed with a great delay, and would be followed by the looting by the construction firms.
Papariga said there was no difference between ND and PASOK, adding that the current government was continuing the policy of its predecessor PASOK.
As for criticism by PASOK press officer Nikos Athanassakis that the KKE served as "ND's pillow", Papariga replied that PASOK was saying that 'whoever isn't with PASOK is with ND', and was addressing itself to its own followers in order to terrorize them.
Regarding the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos), the KKE leader said that SYN had started out with slogans against the two-party system, but later downgraded the need for making a rift in the system of alternation (in government) of the two mainstream parties.
She also accused the two mainstream parties of engaging in an "orgy of political favor-mongering" in light of the October 15 municipal and prefecture elections.
Papariga was due to visit Pallini prefecture in Chalkidiki in the afternoon to be briefed on the destruction caused by the recent forest fire, and also visit the Kassandra prison.
 Vodafone CEO Koronias called in by communications privacy authority ADAE
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)The CEO of Vodafone Hellas George Koronias was called in by Greece's independent communications privacy authority ADAE on Wednesday to provide additional explanations concerning the notorious mobile phone-tapping scandal revealed in February.
The Authority of Assurance of Information and Communication Privacy and Security (ADAE) is continuing its investigation into the scandal, in the course of which it uncovered important additional information missed in a year-long secret investigation by the police and intelligence services.
Koronias was accompanied by four senior Vodafone executives and called to answer a series of questions, among them the reasons why the company had not informed ADAE about the existence of the illegal software discovered in its systems before the software was removed.
Vodafone's CEO made no statements either on his arrival or when departing ADAE's offices.
The members of the independent authority have been in session from the afternoon onward to examine the evidence at ADAE's disposal and to discuss the answers given by Koronias.
 Athens Journalists Union denounces arrests of journalists by Turkish police
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Athens Journalists Union's (ESHEA) board denounced in an announcement on Wednesday "in the strongest way the recent arrests of 23 citizens by the Turkish police, including five journalists."
They are Ibrahim Cicek, the chief editor of the progressive Turkish newspaper Atilim, Sedat Senoglu, assistant chief editor, Ziya Ulusoy, former chief editor, Bayram Namaz, a journalist and Fusun Erdogan, coordinator of the independent radio station Ozgur.
In another development, an announcement by ESHEA said that "the International Journalists Federation extends a global appeal of solidarity for the struggle of journalist Richard Gizbert for the judicial consolidation of journalists' right to refuse to participate in missions that jeopardize their lives."
 Consulate of Indonesia in Thessaloniki
14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)In the presence of Indonesia's Ambassador to Greece, Faisha Souftendy, the official ceremony of the establishment of the Consulate of Indonesia in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, was held on Wednesday night.
Honorary Consul is businessman Dimitris Ramoglou.
 Gov't raises unemployment benefits
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday announced a decision to raise the minimum unemployment benefit from Jan. 1, 2007, to 367.50 euros and to 404 euros from Jan. 1, 2008. The minimum unemployment benefit is currently 311.25 euros.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis, Alogoskoufis said the measure would burden the country's budget by 70 million euros in 2007.
The minister said the government's main priority was reducing unemployment and boosting employment.
Tsitouridis noted the government has exhausted all its financial capabilities with this measure and added that an additional 10 percent for each child would be paid to unemployment benefits.
Opposition parties criticize increases in unemployment benefits: The main opposition PASOK party, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party on Wednesday criticized increases in unemployment benefits announced by the government for the years 2007 and 2008.
PASOK's Economy sector chief Vasso Papandreou and its Employment, Social Affairs and Health official Maria Damanaki stressed that on January 1, 2004, minimum unemployment benefits accounted for 51.4 percent of a basic salary, during the period of the country's governance by New Democracy no adjustment was made and as a result they currently account for 44.5 percent of a basic salary.
They added that the ND government is promising that they will reach 50 percent in 2007 and 55 percent in 2008.
The PASOk officials went on to say that for two and a half years the government "has made a great redistribution, with its policy, from the poor to the rich, even reducing the benefits of the unemployed to provide relief and exemptions for those who have. Tens of millions of euros that the unemployed were entitled to were given by it to the few."
KKE said in an announcement that "the meager increases in charity benefits for the unemployed that were announced by the government for the years 2007-2008 constitute a provocation and must raise the indignation not only of the unemployed but of all working people."
KKE proposed an unemployment benefit amounting to 1,050 euros for all the unemployed without terms and preconditions and for as long as they remain unemployed and full and free pharmaceutical and medical treatment for themselves and their dependants, while the duration of their unemployment should be recognized as a pensioning period.
The Coalition party's Political Bureau member Dimitris Stratoulis termed the increases a "mockery in relation to the needs of the unemployed", adding that "they are shaping unemployment benefits that are far less than 66 percent of the daily wages of an unskilled worker, from which they must not be distant, according to law 2224/94 that has been violated steadily over the past 12 years by the governments of PASOK, that ratified it, and the present government of ND."
He added that "unemployment benefits in our country are the lowest in the 15-member European Union and are being given to only 30 percent of the unemployed, since the long-term unemployed are excluded from them, meaning those who remain unemployed after 12 months of unemployment."
 EU okays 2007-2013 regional aid map for Greece
BRUSSELS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)The European Union's executive Commission has approved Greece's regional aid map for 2007-2013, as part of a plan to re-focus regional aid in the most deprived regions of the enlarged 25-member bloc, also allowing for the need to improve competitiveness and effect a smooth transition.
“The approved regional aid maps support our cohesion objectives and contribute to the State Aid Action Plan’s focus on less and better targeted aid. I am delighted that the decisions were taken well in time to permit those seven member states (including Greece) a smooth transition from their current regional aid system towards their regional development strategies for 2007-2013," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement on Wednesday.
Eligible are Eastern Macedonia-Thraki, Epirus, Western Greece, Thessaly, the Ionian Islands, Crete, the Peloponnese and the north Aegean islands, where companies will be able receive state aid of 30-40% of their total investment.
Able to receive 20-30% of their investment will be firms Central Macedonia, Western Macedonia and Attica; and 15-30% for enterprises in Central Mainland Greece, the southern Aegean islands, Viotia, Fthiotida, Evia, Phokida and Evrytania.
A regional aid map defines the regions of a member state eligible for national regional investment aid for large enterprises under EU state aid rules, and establishes maximum permitted levels of aid; adoption of the map is a condition to ensure the continuity of the regional policy and Structural Fund programs after 2006. Regional state aid is allowed to promote growth in areas where the standard of living is abnormally low or where there is major under-employment.
The Commission's Regional Aid Guidelines revised in December 2005 define this type of region as having a GDP below 75% of the Community average, which is the case for the majority of the regions approved in the maps.
The whole of Greece was eligible for 2000-2006, and authorities proposed that the same status should apply in 2007-2013.
 Action plan to increase broadband use announced by FinMin
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government's target is to increase broadband use in Greece from 0.1 percent of the population in 2004 to at least 7 percent in 2008, national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis said Wednesday in a joint press conference with transport and communications minister Michalis Liapis on the 'plan to develop broadband by 2008'.
The broadband plan is part of an overall action plan contained in the digital strategy for 2006-2013.
The following actions have been decided for the development of broadband infrastructures, as well as broadband content and services:
1) Actions for the development of broadband infrastructures:
a - Broadband metropolitan networks in 75 municipalities: Funds of 59 million euros will be earmarked for the creation of metropolitan broadband fiber optic networks in 75 municipalities in the Greek periphery. More than 2,800 public service hubs will be connected throughout the country. According to Alogoskoufis, Greece's broadband infrastructure map will be significantly changed.
b - Wireless broadband networks in 120 municipalities and 20 local unions of municipalities and communities: 42 million euros will be earmarked for wireless broadband networks, while funding will also be provided for the broadband connection of schools with the nationwide school network. The action plan provides for the connection of 1,260 schools, 360 cultural centers, and 1,800 public services. Also, 320 regional health centers and offices will be connected.
c - Wireless Internet access: 21 million euros will be earmarked for the creation of wireless hubs of access to private enterprises. Actions are also foreseen for broadband exploitation of the Hellas SAT satellite, and boosting private investments for broadband in the periphery, with a total budget of 210 million euros.
The goal is to offer broadband services to citizens and businesses at affordable rates.
2) Actions for the development of broadband content and services
a - Boosting private investments for the development of these services. The action provides for 36 million euros for financing investment plans of businesses advancing the new broadband services.
b - Development of 'smart' home communities: 10 million euros will be earmarked for highlighting the importance of broadband in the development of local societies.
c - Broadband services in agencies and organizations for persons with special needs: 45 million euros will be earmarked for boosting equal access of persons with special needs to digital television through the distribution of specially-formulated decoders.
3) Actions for boosting demand: 11.5 million euros will be earmarked for increasing public awareness on the benefits of broadband use.
4) Provisions in the investment law: The new investments law will contain, for the first time, specific provisions for boosting the development of broadband infrastructures and services.
 Greek businesses optimistic over progress in reform program
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece's business community acknowledges progress made in promoting economic reforms in the country, while Greek business are optimistic over reform progress in the next 12 months and support completion of the program, a report by the Federation of Hellenic Industries and ICAP said on Wednesday.
The report is the first attempt to record the views of Greek businesses over the course and the prospects of necessary economic and social reforms in the country.
The report was based on the reform program submitted by the Greek government to the EU in October 2005, in the framework of a Lisbon Strategy. The report said that Greek businesses acknowledged there was progress in implementing reforms, particularly in the sectors of electronic governance, deregulation of markets and information and communications technologies. The report said the energy, tourism, telecommunications and financial services sectors were the most beneficiaries of reforms.
Forty-four percent of companies questioned in the report said there was a stalemate in reforms in the last 12 months, another 30 percent said there was progress and only 2.0 percent said the program went backwards.
Sixty-five percent of companies said they expected progress to be made in the next 12 months, while the report showed that expectations were realistic since the percentage of very optimistic enterprises or very pessimistic was largely insignificant.
 Olympic Airways remains in privatization course, minister says
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Olympic Airways is currently in a privatization course while the government continues negotiations with European Commission over the issue, Greek Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister stressed that as the Prime Minister said in Thessaloniki, "these procedures take time".
 Development minister holds talks with Syrian economy and trade minister
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday discussed the further development of bilateral relations with the Economy and Trade Minister of the Arab Republic of Syria Dr. Amer Lufti.
The meeting was attended by development ministry secretary general Nikos Stefanou, the secretary general for industry issues Spyros Papadopoulos and the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Syria Souad M. Al-Ayoubi.
 PASOK deputies on 'anticipated privatization of the Public Power Corporation'
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Nineteen main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) deputies on Wednesday submitted a question to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis "regarding the government's anticipated plan to proceed in the privatization of the Public Power Corporation (PPC)."
According to the deputies, "the anticipated economic impasse and the 'damages' which will be presented at the PPC, may consequently constitute an alibi for the government to proceed in the further floatation of the PPC."
The PASOK deputies ask the prime minister whether he intends to proceed in the sale of a batch of shares beyond 51 per cent, so as to render the state's participation as a minority in the share capital of the PPC and to grant the corporation's management to a strategic investor.
 Coalition party leader visits 71st Thessaloniki International Fair
14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos visited the 71st Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Wednesday.
The Coalition party leader met with the administrations of Helexpo S.A. and TIF S.A. and their presidents Aristotelis Thomopoulos and Dimitris Bakatselos briefed him on details of this year's fair.
Alavanos stressed the need for the TIF to seek a new identity and said that a different dimension must be given to political presence. For this reason, he proposed that Parliament should hold a session in Thessaloniki during the days that the TIf will be operating and be concluded with a discussion at party leader level.
Afterwards, Alavanos was given a guided tour of pavilions at the fair.
Alavanos visits ANA-MPA pavilion: Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday evening visited the pavilion of the Athens News Agency-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) at the 71st Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
During his visit, he referred to the "important work of information" which the unified ANA-MPA offers and to the local government elections which will be held on October 15.
In statements which were directly transmitted to the Internet, Alavanos termed as "very important" the services which ANA-MPA offers, noting that a very great part of the information of Synaspismos itself comes from the bulletins of the unified agency.
"If only in other sectors as well, in issues of technology, entrepreneurship etc., there was the same index of development like the one that exists in the sector of information," Alavanos said.
Regarding the local elections in October, he noted that "they should not be a parties opinion poll" which "remains on the surface of impressions," but to show through them "the major social, development, ecological matters and for radical solutions to these to be projected."
 Greece aims for EU biofuel target
14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece is working to meet a target set by the European Union for 5.75% of fuel consumption to be biofuel, Deputy Agriculture and Foods Minister Alexandros Kontos said on Wednesday.
Under the target, Greece will produce 160,000 tons of biodiesel and 400,000 tons of bioethanol per year, Kontos told a sector seminar.
Last year a law was passed that promotes biofuel output from Greek energy plants, he added.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks decline
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Athens share index closed at 3,902.86 points, showing a decline of 0.06%. Turnover was 272.6 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.13% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.09% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.43% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 194 to 60 with 56 remaining unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: GEK
Total derivatives market turnover: 383.9 million euros
Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.08 pct
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.277
 Police arrest fugitive Nikos Paleokostas near Livadia
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)Nikos Paleokostas, the man who had been wanted for over 15 years, was arrested by police in the region of Livadi, near the city of Livadia, central Greece, on Wednesday.
Paleokostas had been wanted for numerous violations of the Penal Code and, among other things, he is considered responsible for the abduction of businessman Haitoglou from Thessaloniki, who was released after the payment of hundreds of millions of drachmas as ransom money.
Together with accomplices of his, Paleokostas was believed to have robbed several bank branches, the most spectacular being the robbery of a bank branch in the city of Veria, in northern Greece, which was carried out with the use of a bicycle by Paleokostas and his accomplice.
Greek Police Chief Anastasios Dimoschakis announced that the "iron fist of the police", meaning the group responsible for preventing and cracking down on crime (OPKE), arrested Paleokostas following coordinated action and the preparation of a specific plan.
The police chief said that the police had a specific plan in the region of Livadia and had sought Paleokostas. His arrest was made possible with the exact implementation of the plan, in which many services participated.
The police unit involved in the case, composed of three jeeps and 10 well-armed policemen, spotted a vehicle that it believed to be suspicious for the movement of Paleokostas and signaled to it to stop for a check.
The driver was indeed Paleokostas, who did not stop but sped away and was pursued. The vehicle eventually swerved off its course and was immobilized, while Paleokostas was slightly injured.
The wanted man, who had no accomplice with him at the time, told police that he was merely passing through the area and that they were in luck with his arrest.
However, police are investigating whether the Paleokostas group has safe houses in the region, since he and accomplices of his had been spotted there in the past without being arrested.
Dimoschakis said that upon completion of the investigation, it will be seen whether the case of the escape in a helicopter from Korydallos prison of his brother Vassilis Paleokostas and of Alket Rizay, who is of Albanian origin, is also related to Nikos Paleokostas.
The Albanian was arrested near the city of Thiva several days ago, again following a coordinated plan by the police, who raided the apartment where he was staying.
 Users satisfied with information provided on the Internet, poll shows
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)More than 60 percent of the respondents to an ALCO opinion poll in the wider Athens area said they were satisfied with the information provided on the Internet, according to the results of the poll appearing in the FANTOMAS magazine which circulated on Wednesday.
Specifically 60.9 percent of the respondents in the poll, conducted by telephone on a sampling of 600 residents in Attica prefecture, said they were satisfied with the information provided on the Internet.
Also, 45.2 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with the information provided in newspapers, while 42.8 percent were satisfied with information provided on the radio, 32.5 percent with information provided on television news programmes, 28.2 percent with information provided by sports newspapers, and 19.1 percent with information provided by magazines and periodicals.
To a question on whether the mass media inform or exercise politics, 63.4 percent of the respondents said they believed that the media exercise politics, while 29.8 percent said the media inform.
Further, 56.7 percent of the respondents said they did not have confidence in the views presented by television journalists, against 37.8 percent who said they did have confidence in the TV journalists' views.
To a question on whether the mass media serve economic and political party interests, an overwhelming majority of more than 80 percent said that the media served such interests.
 Crete Polytechnic develops new low-impact measuring organ for monuments
14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)A new measuring organ called Dias, which will allow on-the-spot measurements of the mechanical properties and resilience of cultural heritage monuments without causing them damage, has been developed by Crete Polytechnic it was announced on Wednesday.
The result of three years of research, the new measuring organ will essentially be a mobile measurements laboratory for assessing the elasticity, strength and wear of the stone and mortars in weathered stonework.
According to Crete Polytechnic mineral mechanics professor Georgios Exadaktylos, who was speaking at a seminar on "Technology in Culture and Education" at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), the aim is to make it possible by 2010 to carry out on-the-spot measurements of the mechanical properties of stonework in monuments using non-destructive and flexible methods, reducing the cost and time of measurements by half and minimizing wear and tear.
 12th Athens Int'l Film Festival begins next week
ATHENS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)The 12th annual Athens International Film Festival (AIFF) begins next week in the Greek capital, running from Sept. 20 to Oct. 1, with the emphasis again on offering local film aficionados an opportunity to enjoy independent cinema productions from around the world.
Athens Mayor Theodoros Bechrakis on Tuesday announced details of the festival during a press conference at City Hall.
"This year's program is truly a cinematic celebration. It incorporates innovative film from around the world, independent US productions, the best recent releases, long-awaited premieres, a tribute to German cinema and the popular music and film section, featuring much-loved artists and groups in unique documentaries."
The 12th AIFF comprises a total 136 short- and full-length films.
For further information visit the website: www.aiff.gr <http://www.aiff.gr/>
 'Greek road festival' to take place in Vienna
VIENNA, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)A series of events titled "Greek autumn in Vienna" will begin here on Saturday with a rich in cultural content "Greek road festival" that will be lasting for 10 hours.
The events take place from mid-September until the end of November and include exhibitions, musical and dancing performances, lectures, literary evenings, the screening of films and Greek music concerts, while a presentation and promotion of Greek products in the Austrian market will also be taking place in their framework.
The events are aimed at the presentation of different aspects of modern Greek culture in Vienna, which is considered the "capital of music" and one of the most historic cultural centers of Europe.
 Replica of Jason's mythical 'Argo' to be launched in Volos on Sunday
VOLOS, 14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)The launching of Jason's mythical "Argo" which was "revived" at the initiative of Volos Municipality, northeastern Greece, will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday at Karnagio, in the region of Pefkakia. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has been invited to attend the ceremony.
It is a replica of the mythical ship, which was built by a local shipyard, under the supervision of a company which constructed a similar one in Crete as well, and trees from Pilio have been used for its construction.
The rule for its building has been maintained, on the basis of the technical know-how of the era in which its existence is placed from the myth.
The aim is for next year this period, for "Argo" to set sail and follow Jason's voyage.
 AEK loses 3-0 away to AC Milan in Champions League match
14/9/2006 (ANA/MPA)AEK Athens lost 3-0 to AC Milan of Italy (halftime 2-0) in a Champions League Group H soccer match played in Milan on Wednesday night.
AC Milan's goals were scored by Filippo Inzaghi in the 17th minute, Yoann Gourcuff in the 41st, and Kaka in the 77th with a penalty.
 Cyprus to organize world congress on the reconstruction of Lebanon
NICOSIA, 14/9/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)Cyprus will organize in December a World Congress and Exhibition on the Reconstruction and Development of postwar Lebanon.
Lebanese Ambassador to Cyprus Michel El Khouri has told CNA that this event is jointly organized by the International Merchandising Centre, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and the World Trade Centers Association.
El Khouri said that "hosted buyers" from Lebanon will be invited to participate from both the public and the private sectors, such as ministries, local authorities and the Central Bank, who are authorized to negotiate and conclude contractual agreements with solution providers.
CCCI General Secretary, Panagiotis Loizides has told CNA that the Chamber intends to organize a visit to Lebanon, since Israel has lifted its air and sea blockade on Lebanon.
 EMAC countries agree on projects to upgrade safety
NICOSIA, 14/9/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)The five countries participating in the European Middle East Air Traffic Management Coordination (EMAC), which includes the Republic of Cyprus, signed an agreement on Wednesday in Nicosia for four projects to be submitted to the European Commission for funding in the framework of the regional cooperation in air traffic management.
The agreement was signed during the 6th meeting of EMAC's Steering Committee, which was held under the presidency of Cyprus with the participation of civil aviation directors from Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, and representatives from the European Commission
Delegation in Cyprus, Eurocontrol and the Cypriot Ministry of Communications and Works.
The projects agreed on concern the joint adoption of Eurocontrol and EU safety regulations in the sector of air traffic, the installation of terminals to monitor the flow of air traffic in Europe and the Middle East and the training of the appropriate staff to operate them, the installation of an information and data exchange system regarding aeronautics, and the evaluation of the existing network of air passages and proposals to improve it.