|Wednesday, 5 August 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-09-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 15, 2006
 IMF forecasts Greek fiscal deficit below 3.0 pct of GDP in 2006/07, FinMin says
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday hailed an IMF forecast that the country's fiscal deficit would fall below 3.0 percent of Gross Domestic Product this year and in 2007.
Commenting on the International Monetary Fund's forecast, the Greek minister said the government was strictly implementing its economic program and noted it was significant that the IMF has revised upwards its forecast for the Greek economy. "Our efforts will continue to achieve a goal of a balanced budged by 2012 and sooner if possible," Alogoskoufis said.
The IMF, in its semi-annual World Economic Outlook report presented in Singapore, forecasts that the Greek economy would grow by 3.7 pct this year (raising a previous forecast of a 3.3 pct growth rate) and by 3.5 percent in 2007 (up from 3.2 pct). GDP growth was 3.7 pct in 2005. The unemployment rate is expected to fall to 9.7 pt this year, from 9.9 pct in 2005 and to 9.5 pct in 2007, while the inflation rate is expected to rise to 3.6 pct this year from 3.5 pct in 2005 and to ease again to 3.5 pct in 2007.
Alogoskoufis said that government policies to make a more efficient use of Olympic Games' sports facilities was already "bearing fruit", adding that three tenders were currently under completion while another six sports facilities would be transformed.
The Phaliro facility would be transformed into a conference centre, the Phaliro marina would be offered to a sailing club, while an area of 54 stremmata (one stremma=1,000 sq.m) would be given to the Phaliro municipality. The Greek minister said that the Pancretion stadium in Heraclio, Crete, would be transformed into an entertainment centre.
Alogoskoufis said that Olympic sports facilities would remain under the ownership of the state while Olympic Real Estate SA would continue to operate as a manager of all sports facilities. He noted that the state has signed three lease contracts, worth 11 million euros, while he stressed that after completion of tendering procedures, the state would save around 55 million euros from cleaning and security expenses.
 Olympics equipment distribution ends
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday that the distribution of equipment worth 120 million euros that was purchased for the Athens 2004 Olympics had been completed.
"The equipment met the needs of the wider public sector, that is to say ministries, services, prefectures, boroughs and communities, universities, the Church of Greece, the police force and fire brigade, sports facilities, social agencies and vulnerable groups of the population," Alogoskoufis told a news conference.
 Kosovo dominates Bakoyannis' talks in Belgrade
BELGRADE, 15/09/2006 (ANA-MPA - N. Melissova)Kosovo dominated talks held in Belgrade on Thursday by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, during her meetings in Serbia's capital with Serb President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.
Immediately after her talks with Serbia's leadership, Bakoyannis left for Kosovo's capital Pristina and meetings with the Kosovo government and political party leaders, as well as the Special Representative of the United Nations for Kosovo Joachim Rücker.
In statements after meeting Tadic, the Greek foreign minister said they had chiefly discussed Kosovo, which she said had "entered a crucial turning point".
Outlining Greece's positions, she said Athens was "committed to the idea of a multicultural Kosovo without entrenchment and national divisions," in which human rights and minority rights would be secure and the Serb Orthodox religious community effectively protected.
"This is the goal that we are working toward in international organizations and this is what we want to see carried out," she said.
Regarding her talks in Kosovo, Bakoyannis said she would indicate the need for a more constructive spirit at the negotiations being held in Vienna for the future of Kosovo, as well as tangible progress on the issue of protecting the province's Serb minority in particular.
"The only way for regional stability is to achieve a mutually acceptable compromise solution," the minister added.
She also commented on the outstanding issue of Serbia's cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague, which had stalled the country's negotiations with the European Union. Bakoyannis stressed that both Greece and its European partners remained convinced that Serbia's European vision should be encouraged, supported and implemented.
Tadic outlined Serbia's position regarding the future status of Kosovo in Serbia's constitution, stressing that independence for Kosovo was unacceptable to Serbia.
"Our goal for Kosovo is peace and compromise. No more violence," the Serb President stated.
He also expressed Serbia's appreciation of Greek positions, noting that Greece was the most important representative of South East Europe in the EU.
"We will go to New York to support Serbia's arguments and to confirm that Serbia is ready to take part in the negotiating process," he added.
The two sides described the Greek minister's contacts in Belgrade as "constructive", even though brief, while Bakoyannis noted that this confirmed the close ties between Greece and Serbia.
They pledged to continue their talks in New York, during the UN General Assembly and Security Council meetings.
During her visit to Pristina, Bakoyannis is scheduled to meet 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 Rücker.
The foreign minister will then depart for Brussels to take part in the EU General Affairs Council, after which she departs for the UN General Assembly in New York.
 FM Dora Bakoyannis supports mutually acceptable solution for Kosovo
PRISTINA, 15/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday expressed support for a "mutually acceptable solution" for Kosovo, sending a "message of peace and stability" to the region in talks with Kosovo's political leadership.
Bakoyannis held consecutive meetings in the Parliament building with Kosovo President Fatmir Seidiu, Parliament President Kol Berisha, the head of the Serb List party and the leaders of the two main opposition parties Veton Suroy and Hashim Thaci.
The foreign minister then visited the headquarters of the UN's political administration (UNMIK), where she met with Commander Joakim Ruker.
The meetings are part of the foreign minister's informative contacts to acquire the best possible picture in light of talks at the Security Council, presided over by Greece, on the occasion of the presentation of the report by the UN secretary general's special envoy on the status quo in Kosovo, Marti Ahtisaari, on September 22.
"Greece's position is that the Vienna negotiations should be continued and intensified so that whatever decision is taken will be acceptable to both sides," Bakoyannis said after meeting President Seidiu, whom she "encouraged for more security and progress in relations with the Serb minority."
The foreign minister added that "our region needs stability and development; it has and must have a European future. We shall all live together in a multicultural society."
After visiting Pristina, Bakoyannis left for Brussels to participate in the General Affairs and Foreign Relations Council.
 Greek UN envoy participates in Kosovo discussionNEW YORK, 15/09/2006 (ANA)(ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greece's permanent representative at the UN and President of the Security Council for the month of September, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, participated on Thursday in a discussion on the situation prevailing in Kosovo and stressed the need for reconciliation.
"We have repeatedly stressed the need for reconciliation as an essential precondition for the creation of a peaceful and secure environment for all the communities of Kosovo. Reconciliation, however, necessitates the participation of both the Serb Kosovars and the Albanian Kosovars. Consequently, we are repeating the need for the Serbs, for their own benefit, to cooperate with the temporary institutions. Correspondingly, we also call on Belgrade to encourage and not to place obstacles for the participation of the Serb Kosovars in the temporary institutions," he said.
"The report by the secretary general clearly shows that over the period of the past few months the provisional authorities have continued their efforts to achieve progress in the implementation of the criteria. Substantive progress has been achieved in certain sectors, particularly in a considerable number of the 13 priorities set by the Contact Group. This development is positive and we hail it. We are ascertaining, however, that greater efforts must be made to enable all 13 priorities to be implemented. In addition, the implementation of the remaining criteria, namely those that are not on the list of the 13 priorities remains equally important for the establish-ment of a multinational, stable and democratic Kosovo," he added.
 Bakoyannis' schedule in New York
NEW YORK, 15/09/2006 (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is expected in New York next week to take part in the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The Greek delegation also includes Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, foreign ministry officials and 15 Greek MPs led by Parliament vice-president Sotiris Hatzigakis.
The Greek foreign minister will have numerous meetings with her foreign counterparts while in New York, since Greece currently holds the rotating Security Council presidency for this month.
Among them is a meeting on September 18 with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul at the offices of the Greek representation. The meeting is in line with the practice established in recent years of alternating meetings by the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers at the offices of their UN representations.
Meetings are also planned with Bakoyannis' counterparts from Egypt, Iran, Spain, Syria and others and participate in a meeting of her counterparts from NATO member-states next Thursday, as well as two separate meetings between the foreign ministers of the EU with their counterparts from Russia and the United States.
The Greek minister will be attending receptions given in honor of the diplomatic representations by U.S. President George Bush and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Following the start of the General Assembly on Tuesday, Bakoyannis is scheduled to address the opening of an exhibition entitled "Encomium to the Olive".
On Wednesday, as chair of the Security Council, Greece will organize a open session of the body at the level of foreign ministers and Bakoyannis will speak on the challenges in cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations aimed at preserving international peace and security.
The aim of the discussion will be to examine the progress made since resolution 1631 was approved last October and study the problems and challenges that continue to exist in order to improve cooperation with regional organizations.
Later the same day, Bakoyannis will host a dinner for her counterparts on the Security Council.
The Greek foreign minister is due to address the UN Security Council on September 22.
She will depart for Washington on September 25 for meetings with U.S. government officials and members of Congress, returning to New York on September 27 for meetings with representatives of the Greek-American community.
Her return trip to Athens is scheduled for September 29.
 FM to meet U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on September 27
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be meeting her U.S. counterpart Condoleezza Rice in Washington on Wednesday September 27, in the framework of the visit she will be making to the United States for the UN's 61st General Assembly.
According to an announcement by the foreign ministry, Bakoyannis will also be meeting Senator Hillary Clinton in Washington on September 26.
According to the program for her visit to the United States, the foreign minister will attend a luncheon given by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrof on Saturday September 23 for the member-states of the Black Sea Cooperation Organization.
On Tuesday September 26, Bakoyannis will travel to Washington to address an event organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, while on the same day she will be inaugurating the Greek embassy's new building.
Bakoyannis will also be meeting U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman on Wednesday September 27 and then she will be making a speech at the Georgetown University.
In the afternoon of the same day, she will be meeting National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley at the White House and afterwards she will be holding the official inauguration of the Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Modern Greek Studies seat at Georgetown University.
 PM restates zero tolerance for corruption after briefing president
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday restated his government's policy of zero tolerance for corruption as he emerged from the regular briefing of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Karamanlis also underlined the government's determination to press ahead with reforms in all sectors, such as the economy, public administration, education and health.
"We are on the right track and it is time to get away from the pathogeneses and the problems of the past," the premier said in statements to reporters.
The prime minister said that he had briefed the president on the course of the Greek economy, with a detailed account of events at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) on Monday in Helsinki and the trilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov regarding the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.
Karamanlis underlined the import of the oil pipeline, pointing out that Papoulias himself had worked hard on the realization of the project when he was foreign minister. During their talks before TV crews and journalists, the two men referred to it at length and the President also stressed its importance.
 PASOK spokesman criticises premier's statements
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Thursday criticized Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' statements after the latter's meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
"For the prime minister, PASOK is to blame in general and for everything. The New Democracy (ND) has been in power for two-and-a-half years and Mr. Karamanlis is prime minister for the past two-and-a-half years. Members of the ND party are being arrested, people who have been appointed to specific posts by ND ministers, but for the Prime Minister PASOK is to blame," Athanassakis noted.
"The prime minister insists on presenting himself as the great reformer and will insist, as he says, on reforms, but reforms do not consist in selling at a low price and buing at a high one, reforms are not the sell out of public property," he added.
 Government on incidents corruption, political responsibility
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)The government had brought about tangible results in the fight against corruption, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed in response to questions on Thursday, once again restating that there would be no tolerance for those breaking the law.
"What matters is that Greek citizen's judge arrives at conclusions, report phenomena that should not exist in our country. Corruption did not arise yesterday and no one has claimed that it will be stamped out in one day. But there are tangible results," he told reporters.
The spokesman also underlined that everyone was "individually responsible before the law" when responding to questions about earlier activities attributed to customs officer Panagiotis Anagnostopoulos, one of three men accused in connection with the alleged blackmail of the northern Greek dairy industry MEVGAL using the threat of a major fine by the Competition Commission.
On the question of political responsibility for the MEVGAL incident or the involvement of people connected with ruling New Democracy to scandals, Antonaros again stressed that the government would show zero tolerance toward those involved in breaking the law.
 ND sec't comments on latest high-profile case of corruption
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Ruling New Democracy (ND) secretary Lefteris Zagoritis on Thursday was the latest political leader this week to comment on the high-profile issue of corruption, especially in Greece's immense public sector, and following the arrests of three individuals on blackmailing charges, including the appointed general director of the state-run Competition Commission.
"An era of tolerance vis-à-vis corruption has ended, forever," Zagoritis told reporters, while at the same time deflecting heightened opposition and press criticism against the government by noting that corruption "mushroomed" during the previous PASOK governments.
 Competition Committee will reconsider proposals managed by director suspended in Mevgal case
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)The Competition Committee will reconsider all the proposals made by the General Competition Department of the Competition Committee that were managed by director P. Adamopoulos, who has been suspended due to the Mevgal extortion case.
The competition Committee's plenum expressed satisfaction during its session on Thursday over the immediate and effective way with which the Committee's President S. Zisimopoulos handled the issue of charges attributed to the Committee's General Competition Department general director P. Adamopoulos and declared its support and confidence in his person.
The Competition Committee decided the creation of a three-member committee to reconsider all the proposals made by the General Competition Department from the day Adamopoulos assumed his duties, placing priority on cases that will be examined in the immediate future so that the Authority's rate of work will not be intercepted.
Speaking after the session, Zisimopoulos said that "both the members of the Competition Committee and the officials of the General Competition Department are determined with the task, their work and their character to serve the law and the interest of the Greek consumer."
 Papandreou meets with Athens mayoral candidate Skandalidis
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday met with his party's affiliated candidate in the Athens mayoral race, former minister and long-time PASOK cadre Costas Skandalidis.
The meeting came a day after Skandalidis announced his resignation from Parliament and statements, to the effect that he was focusing on the municipality win or lose.
While amongst the best-known former PASOK ministers, Skandalidis is attempting to disprove several opinion polls giving ruling New Democracy-backed candidate Nikitas Kaklamanis a victory in the first round of next month's local government election.
"Costas Skandalidis took a personal but also a symbolic and I would add, a courageous decision," Papandreou said of Skandalidis' decision to leave Parliament, something that MPs are not obliged to do when running for lesser offices while serving in the legislature.
The latter also resigned from the party's political council.
In his comments, Skandalidis noted that he would need at least two four-year terms to change the situation in the congested Greek capital.
 Papandreou meets national local authority unions KEDKE, ENAE
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday held meetings with the presidency of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) and the Union of Prefecture Authorities of Greece (ENAE).
The meetings formed part of a series of contacts carried out by Papandreou with representatives of various bodies and organizations in view of his visit to the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
 PASOK secretary meets primary school teachers union
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK's National Council Secretary Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou on Thursday met the presidency of the Greek primary school teachers union to discuss the problems faced by primary education, which she said were the result of the "fragmentary and class-based measures taken by the government and its autocratic approach toward teachers."
She urged the government to "abandon its intransigency" and call the union to dialogue, giving a time frame for satisfying teachers' demands, noting that they had PASOK's support.
The union's president Dimitris Bratis, meanwhile, noted that the five-day strike announced by teachers on September 18 was not a surprise move but a decision that the education ministry had known since June 24 and had failed to respond to in any way.
"In these three months [Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou] did nothing, did not even arrange an appointment as a formality to state her refusal of the sector's demands. She bears sole responsibility because of the way she treats teachers and the sum of their demands," he said.
Bratis said that meetings with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party (SYN) had been arranged for Friday, while no meeting had yet been set with the ruling New Democracy party.
 PASOK party spokesman comments on public sector
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanasakis referred on Thursday to a question put by Parliament Vice President Filippos Petsalnikos to the prime minister on the issue of the ruling New Democracy party's actions in relation to its announcements on restricting the public sector, claiming that a continuous swelling of the public sector is taking place.
"From the study of 63 laws ratified by ND from April 2004 to August 2006, it was ascertained that not only was there no decrease, abolition or merging of public services, but there is a continuous swelling of the public sector with new services, new special advisers and associates posts and with a plethora of paid committees," Athanasakis said, invoking information contained in Petsalnikos's question.
"With these laws of the past 29 months, 309 new public services were established, 430 new paid committees and work groups were created and 5,812 new staff posts were introduced," the spokesman added.
 Amendment allowing women to run for election using maiden name tabled in Parliament
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Ruling New Democracy MP Katerina Papacosta and main opposition PASOK MP Evi Christofilopoulou on Thursday tabled an amendment in Parliament that will allow women to run in municipal elections using their maiden name, rather than their surname after marriage.
The two women MPs, who tabled the amendment to a bill for the National Centre for Public Administration and Local Government, said it would address problems caused by the municipalities and communities code, under which women standing for election are obliged to give first place on the election ticket to the surname with which they are registered with the municipality as a family.
"This obligatory choice creates problems for a large number of women that have undertaken intensive political and social activity using their maiden names, while their family is registered under the name of their husband," Christofilopoulou and Papakosta noted.
 Greece 'believes int'l law is strongest pillar in int'l relations', Deputy FM says
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis attended a meeting of the ad hoc Committee of International Law of the Council of Europe and of the International Criminal Court, at Zappion Hall in Athens on Thursday.
"My country always believed and continues to believe that international law is the strongest pillar in international relations," Valinakis told the meeting.
According to a foreign ministry press release, Valinakis stressed: "In an often divided world, international law is that which unites us all. Adherence to the principles and values of the state of law in international relations is the only way to establish a strong international system. If this pillar collapses or becomes inert for whatever reason, it is certain that we will enter into a world without rules where 'the law of the strong' will reign."
Referring to the institution of the International Criminal Court, the statute of which has been ratified by more than 100 states, the deputy foreign minister noted that it is important for it to have the full support of the international community because "then, it will be in the position to respond to the expectations of humanity."
Present at the meeting were the president of the International Criminal Court, Phillipe Kirsch, Public Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo, delegations from all of the Council of Europe's member-states, observers and also representatives of governmental organisations.
 UN chief hopes Cyprus process will continue to go forward
UNITED NATIONS, 15/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou/CNA)UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Wednesday he hoped that the Cyprus process will continue to go forward.
He also said he has an official in Cyprus working with both communities and trying to build confidence so that the UN will be able to make a judgment, when the situation is right to start the effort over again.
Asked by a Turkish journalist during a press conference at the UN whether he feels betrayed by the Greek Cypriots that the Annan Plan was rejected, Annan described the rejection as a "missed opportunity to unify Cyprus".
Annan said when the plan was rejected he was "obviously" disappointed. "I thought we missed an opportunity," he added.
However, he acknowledged that "once one party rejected the proposal you could not take it any further".
Annan said "if the crisis had come to a head earlier", then "maybe one could have made some adjustments. But, of course, this happens when you put proposals on the table. They are not always accepted 100 per cent".
The UN chief, who leaves his post at the end of the year, said he hoped "that the process will continue to go forward. I have a man on the ground working with both communities, trying to build confidence for us to be able to make a judgment, when the situation is right, to start all over again".
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on July 8th 2006, during a meeting in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day to day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
Following the agreement, aides of the two leaders in Cyprus, Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev, began meetings in the office of UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Cyprus Michael Moller in the Nicosia UN buffer zone, where they are working on implementing the 8 July agreement.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the islands northern third.
 Foreign leaders send best wishes to PM Karamanlis on occasion of his 50th birthday
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday celebrated his 50th birthday. Best wishes were conveyed to him by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, who received the premier at the presidential mansion in the morning, as well as by foreign leaders.
Russian President Valdimir Putin, who in a message wished the best for Karamanlis on the occasion of his birthday, said: "You have done a lot for the consolidation of the further relations between Russia and Greece. I am certain that our bilateral cooperation with your support will have an upward trend. I remember our meeting on Greek soil, at which we agreed on the energy sector. I believe that the results of the visit will give an effective impetus in the whole of the bilateral joint ventures."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, apart from her best wishes, thanked the Greek prime minister for the successful cooperation between the two countries during his tenure. "We are working closely in many political matters. Particularly with regard the strengthening and enlargement of the European Union. I am certain that we will deal with the major challenges ahead of us with united forces," Merkel said.
Among others, best wishes were also sent to Karamanlis by Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
 Dep. DM in Canada
MONTREAL, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Deputy Defense Minister Ioannis Lambropoulos departed on Thursday for a three-day visit to Canada, where he is expected to meet with representatives of ethnic Greek communities in the vast country as well as to inaugurate a photographic exhibition focusing on Greece's WWII efforts.
The latter exhibition is part of events commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the founding of a Greek community in Montreal.
 US Justice Dept. to reportedly re-examine parole transfer request in Lalas case
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez reportedly informed Greek Justice Minister Anastasis Papaligouras this week that the US Justice Department will re-examine a petition to allow former State Department communications officer Steven Lalas, a US citizen of Greek descent, to serve out the remainder of his federal parole in Greece.
Papaligouras had personally made the request last June in a letter to Gonzalez.
Lalas was convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in 1993 for passing classified information to alleged Greek intelligence circles. He completed a 14-year prison sentence earlier in the year.
In citing humanitarian reasons, the Greek minister had noted that Lalas' wife and children reside permanently in Greece, and that the latter's transfer to the east Mediterranean country would have a positive effect on bilateral cooperation in the judicial sector.
 Gov't seeks closer economic ties with Arab lands
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Senior government ministers on Thursday underlined the good level of ties between Greece and the Arab world but noted that major leeway existed for closer economic relations.
"There is a deep mutual appreciation, a mutual respect for the cultural identity and special features of both sides," Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told an Arab-Greek economic forum backed by the foreign ministry, the first of its kind.
"When we work together we can achieve even more to the benefit of both peoples, to the benefit of our standard of living," the minister noted.
He underlined that Greek banks were present in Arab countries and the reverse, trade between the two sides was increasing, tourism was stronger, Greek contractors were working in many Arab lands, and investments were being made in a number of sectors.
"I would anticipate a further tightening of our economic relations with the Arab countries, because there is still much leeway, and because the benefits could be enormous for both sides," the minister told the two-day forum ending on Friday that was arranged by the Arab-Greek Chamber of Trade and Development, also backed by the General Union of Arab Chambers.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas stated that Greece was advancing a new economic and trade opening towards countries of the Mediterranean, Middle East and the Arab world overall.
Part of the policy was hosting a Euro-Mediterranean convention on industry and trade on the island of Rhodes with Finland, the European Union's rotating president.
According to Deputy Foreign Minister Euripides Stylianidis, whose handles economic diplomacy, the Arab world was an ideal venue for sectors important to Greece - exports, foreign investment, global business by Greeks in shipping, trade and investment, the improvement of competitiveness, creation of business alliances, and entry into new, emerging markets and business sectors.
Stylianidis also reported on humanitarian aid offered by Greece through his ministry's Hellenic Aid division, which has a bilateral cooperation program with the Arab countries which totaled 51 million euros by 2004
Also addressing the session was Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias.
 Review on course of 3rd CSF held at finance ministry
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)A review on the course of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) was held at the Economy and Finance Ministry on Thursday night at a meeting chaired by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, with the participation of Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis and Deputy Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Themistoklis Xanthopoulos.
Alogoskoufis stated after the meeting that a general review was made on the course of the CSF and a first discussion was held on matters concerning the 4th CSF (known as the National Strategic Framework of Reference).
 Unemployment down
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Unemployment in August 2006 fell by 2.57% to 420,678 registered jobless from 431,486 in the previous month, the Greek Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) said on Thursday.
In August 2005 the jobless figure was 446,243 and in the same month a year earlier 493,769, OAED said in a monthly report.
Last month's total was the lowest August total for three years, the statement added.
 Greek new industrial orders up 15.9 pct in June, yr/yr
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Greece's new industrial orders' composite index (measuring both the domestic and foreign markets) jumped by 15.9 pct in June compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
NSS, in its report, attributed the sharp increase to a 32.2 percent in intermediate goods' orders and a 15.7 pct rise in capital goods' orders, despite a 20.3 pct decline in durable goods and a 15.4 pct fall in non-durable consumer goods' orders.
The domestic market new orders' index rose 10.1 pct in June, while the foreign market's index jumped 28.4 pct.
The turnover composite index in the industrial sector jumped 20.5 pct in June, from the same month in 2005, reflecting a 12.2 pct increase in the mining index, and a 20.7 pct rise in the manufacturing index. The energy turnover index jumped 46.5 pct, the intermediate goods' turnover index rose 20.9 pct, the capital goods' index rose 5.0 pct, the durable goods' index was 12.0 pct higher and the non-durable consumer goods' index rose 5.0 pct.
 Greek exports to Russia up 24.8 pct in Jan-May
MOSCOW, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Greek exports to Russia rose 24.8 percent in the first five months of 2006 compared with the same period last year, while Russian exports to Greece were up 9.4 pct over the same period, according to figures released by the economic and trade affairs office in Moscow .
The volume of trade transactions between the two countries rose by 10.2 pct in the first half of 2006 to 1.5 billion euros, from 1.3 billion in the corresponding period in 2005, while the Greek trade deficit in trade with Russia rose 8.5 pct to 1.3 billion euros from 1.2 billion euros, respectively.
Exports of furs (18.2 pct), paints (12.9 pct), and refrigerators (15.7 pct) recorded the biggest percentage gains in the first five months of 2006, while tobacco (10.0 pct) and iron (9.9 pct) products fell. Russian exports were mainly oil and natural gas (90 pct of total exports), up 18.2 pct and 54.9 pct over the same period, respectively.
 Conference on Interreg cooperation in Thessaloniki next week
THESSALONIKI, 15/09/2006 (ANA)The authority managing Greece's Interreg programs for cross-border cooperation and projects with Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, FYROM, Italy and Turkey will host a conference in Thessaloniki next week (Sept. 21, 22) at the city's Polis convention centre.
Deputy Economy Minister Christos Folias is expected to address the conference.
 PASOK spokesman on program of party leader Papandreou's visit to TIF
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Thursday announced the program of party leader George Papandreou's visit to the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
"PASOK president George Papandreou, at the head of a delegation of the Movement, will visit Thessaloniki on Saturday. He will arrive in Thessaloniki around 4:30 p.m., where on Saturday night he will speak at a dinner hosted in his honor by representatives of the producer classes at the Ioannis Vellidis Conference Centre of HELEXPO," Athanassakis said.
On Saturday night, Papandreou will meet with Cypriot Parliament President Demetris Christofias at a central hotel in Thessaloniki, Macedonia.
At noon on Sunday, the PASOK leader will give a press conference at the Ioannis Vellidis Conference Centre and later meet with the associations of workers at the fertilizers, sugar and Viamil factories at Villidio and visit the pavilions of the Thessaloniki International Fair.
According to Athanassakis, Papandreou will attend a luncheon with PASOK party officials at a central hotel in Thessaloniki and return to Athens on Sunday night.
 KKE leader tours OTE headquarters
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday toured the headquarters of the state-run telecoms utility, OTE, meeting with the organization's administration and employee groups.
Expected, Papariga reiterated her party's opposition to the further privatization of OTE via flotation's on the stock market, while she was particularly critical of the two major parties' for their policies to distance the utility from the state's embrace.
Among others, the communist party head said the complete privatization of OTE would "benefit big capital and damage consumers".
The government recently announced that it was actively seeking a 'strategic investor' to purchase a major share of OTE and to assume its management.
 Alavanos roundly criticizes gov't, PASOK policies at TIF press conference
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos took his turn on Thursday to give a press conference on the sidelines of the 71st Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), following similar tours of the exhibition and addresses by the country's other top political leaders.
Alavanos sternly criticized the government's policies, while in reference to main opposition PASOK, he said its stance often-times "aided the government's efforts..."
"The prime minister cannot close his eyes to the problem of unemployment; he should also be the premier of the unemployed and not just the big business people..."
Expectedly, Alavanos reiterated his party's opposition to the government's high-profile policy of promoting privatizations amongst state-run utilities and companies, especially pointing to the case of the state-run telecoms utility, OTE. As per the latter, Alavanos charged that previous PASOK governments set in motion OTE's privatization with successive share flotation's, before vehemently opposing its transfer to a private management.
Moreover, called on PASOK leader George Papandreou to cooperate with Synaspismos in blocking the Karamanlis government's attempt to lift a constitutional ban on private, non-profit universities in the country.
Additionally, he again called for a "common leftist front" in local government elections with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), reminding that the "biggest weakness", as he put it, of the Greek left is its tendency to splinter off into different parties and groupings.
Finally, Alavanos also stopped by the ANA-MPA pavilion at the TIF exhibition, praising the unified news agency for its "significant newsgathering efforts".
 Turkish business delegation on Samos
SAMOS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)A 120-person delegation of Turkish entrepreneurs and industrialists from the neighboring country's western coastal regions will visit the eastern Aegean island of Samos, beginning over the weekend, a visit organized by Greece's consul in Izmir.
Contacts with local businesspeople, chamber and local government representatives are planned.
 Finance ministry to relocate
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)The government was seeking a building for the relocation of the finance ministry, national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis said Thursday.
Replying to press questions, Alogoskoufis said that the various ministry services were currently scattered in several buildings, thus hampering its operation.
 International exhibit of organic products
THESSALONIKI, 15/09/2006 (ANA)An international trade fair of organic products will be held in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on September 21-24, organizers said on Thursday.
A festival of organic gastronomy will take place at the same time as the exhibition, said Terpsi-Quality of Life, a non-governmental organization that arranged the events.
 European Court on towing services in open sea
BRUSSELS, 15/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)Greece is not violating the principle of free circulation of services in sea transport, when it allows only Greek-flagged ships to provide towing services in the open sea between Greek territorial waters.
This was decided on Thursday by the European Court's general prosecutor, proposing to the Court to reject the European Commission's relevant appeal against Greece.
The Commission had appealed against Greece, calling on the European Court to recognize that the Hellenic Republic, in allowing only Greek-flagged ships to provide, within Greek territorial waters, towing services in the open sea had violated its obligations emanating from article 1 of regulation 3577/92.
 Greek firefighting planes help fight wildfire in SW Albania
GJIROKASTR, 15/09/2006 (ANA-MPA)Greek firefighting planes assisted efforts to extinguish a wildfire in neighboring Albania earlier this week centered on a mountain range in the country's extreme southwest and in the vicinity of several predominately ethnic Greek villages.
Among others, the noted post-Byzantine era Dryanos monastery was at some point threatened by the blaze.
The operation was the first following an upgraded bilateral agreement, signed in May 2006, to jointly battle wildfires along the Greek-Albanian frontier.
 European Court on inadequate designation of Special Protection Zones for birds
BRUSSELS, 15/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)The European Court on Thursday proposed Greece's condemnation over the inadequate designation of Special Protection Zones (SPZ) for birds.
According to the proposal by the European Court's general prosecutor, Greece has violated its obligations on the preservation of wild birds, as set by the European Union's directive 79/409/EOK by which member-states are obliged to designate Special Protection Zones for specific types of birds and bird preserves.
 'Day Without Cars' event on Sept. 22
ATHENS, 15/09/2006 (ANA)The Transport and Communications Ministry will celebrate with musical events European Transport Week, which will culminate on Friday, September 22, with "Day Without Cars".
Concerts will be held at Athens Metro stations, train stations, bus and trolley terminals and at tram stops.
The events will culminate on September 22 with a concert by Nikos Portokaloglou at Ermou's pedestrian street near Thisio.
Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis in a message on Thursday marking the 'Day Without Cars', stressed that "public transport has developed into a reliable, safe, fast, economical and ecological option for transport in the city" and appealed to citizens to participate in this European effort for less traffic congestion and pollution of the environment.
 Cyprus' support to Turkey's EU bid not unconditional
BRUSSELS, 15/09/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cyprus will not concede to the opening and closing of new chapters of the acquis communautaire until Turkey meets its EU obligations, Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas has said.
Lillikas, in Brussels for the EU Foreign Affairs Council, met Thursday with the Union's Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, with whom he discussed Turkey's accession course, in view of the Commission's report on Turkey's EU bid due to be in October.
Lillikas said that Nicosia expects an objective report, which will cover all of Turkey's obligations and not only the EU's September 21 2005 counter-declaration, but also the normalization of Turkey's relations with the Cyprus Republic.
The Cypriot FM reiterated to Rehn Cyprus' position in support of Turkey's EU course but not without preconditions. ''Because Turkey not only fails to respond (to its obligations) but also publicly takes extreme positions, we will not concede to the opening and closing of chapters and we will not allow the continuation of the procedures like nothing is happening,'' Lillikas added.
According to Lillikas Cyprus does not intend to block Turkey's EU bid but wishes a response by Turkey to fulfill its obligations so that the process will continue smoothly.
''If this is not possible due to Turkey's intransigence, then Ankara will bare the responsibility for the crisis,'' he concluded.
In September 21, 2005 the EU issued a counter - declaration on Turkey's unilateral declaration that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, urging Turkey to implement the customs union protocol and normalize its relations with Cyprus.
Turkey, an EU candidate country, refuses to implement a Protocol adapting the Ankara Agreement (Customs Union) with the ten new EU member states, which among others provides for the opening of Turkish ports and airports to Cypriot ships and airplanes.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Foreign Minister confirms UN proposals to promote talks on Cyprus problem
LARNACA, 15/09/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas confirmed Thursday that the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller has submitted a proposal on how to overcome the immobility in efforts to implement the July 8 agreement between President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
Speaking at Larnaca Airport before departing for Brussels, Lillikas said any other effort, outside the July 8 agreement, to prepare the ground for the resumption of talks for a Cyprus settlement aimed at creating obstacles.
Commenting on Talat's remarks that Moller had submitted proposals regarding the work of the technical committees, Lillikas expressed regret over the publication of the proposal because both communities have made a commitment not to publicize what is being discussed between the representatives of the leaders of the two communities.
''Unfortunately, there are leaks and statements on the Turkish Cypriot side. So I will only say that yes, Moller once again, it is not the first time, has submitted a proposal of his in order to overcome the immobility observed in the work and efforts to implement the July 8 agreement,'' he added.
He pointed out that ''we are ready to take a stance on Moller's proposal, and we await and hope it will be viewed positively by the Turkish Cypriot side.''
Asked if this was progress, Lillikas said it would be if this proposal was accepted by the Turkish Cypriot side, noting that ''the proposal by itself cannot be considered progress.''
President Papadopoulos and Talat agreed on July 8th 2006, during a meeting in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
Following the agreement, senior aides of the two leaders in Cyprus, Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev, began meetings in Moller's office in the UN-controlled buffer zone to work out the modalities for the implementation of the July agreement.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Spokesman says UN gave two sides ideas about July 8 agreement
NICOSIA, 15/09/2006 (CNA/ANA)On his part, Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said Monday that the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller has given the two sides on the island some ideas and thoughts on how to move forward the July 8 agreement between the leaders of the two communities, adding that the Greek Cypriot side is exa-mining and evaluating these ideas and thoughts.
Asked about remarks by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat that Moller had presented him with a package of proposals regarding the work of the technical committees, Pashiardis said ''no specific proposals'' were submitted by Moller other than some ''ideas and thoughts to move forward the July 8 agreement.''
Referring to Talat's allegations that the Greek Cypriot side was unwilling to resume talks and was wasting time, Pashiardis said ''the UN know very well which side is responsible for the so far inexistence of substantive progress in the meetings of the representatives of the leaders of the two communities, as they know very well who is wasting time.''
He added that Talat ''would not be happy if the UN revealed the truth'' and wondered why Talat was in such a hurry to inform UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari personally about developments.
The spokesman pointed out that ''Mr. Gambari is briefed duly by Mr. Moller, unless of course Mr. Talat felt the need to apologize to Mr. Gambari for the delay and unwillingness of his side to cooperate towards the implementation of the July 8 agreement.''