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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-09-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

September 26, 2006


  • [01] Greece sets priority on enterprise
  • [02] FM Bakoyannis warns Skopje on name issue after meeting with Annan
  • [03] FM Bakoyannis departs from New York for Washington
  • [04] Bakoyannis in Washington for series of contacts
  • [05] Greek deputies at New York event
  • [06] PM Karamanlis and other EU leaders issue joint letter on problem of illegal immigration
  • [07] DM addresses corruption issue, after meeting with prime minister
  • [08] The government does not tolerate corruption, spokesman stresses
  • [09] Deputy Development Minister Papathanasiou sues for slander
  • [10] Roussopoulos backs minister's decision to sue MP for slander
  • [11] Inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday
  • [12] Striking teachers meets minister after picketing ministry
  • [13] Scuffles with police; teargas used to disperse protestors
  • [14] PASOK's Apostolaki on teachers' strike
  • [15] Roussopoulos on Papandreou's absence from Presidency event
  • [16] PASOK spokesman on Papandreou-Papoulias relations; phone-tapping issue
  • [17] KKE's Papariga denounces policies of ND and PASOK
  • [18] ND's Zagoritis received by Cyprus President Papadopoulos
  • [19] Ioannina prefect, Albanian minister meet regarding InterregIII cooperation
  • [20] Synaspismos leader meets Association of Contract Workers in prefectures
  • [21] 'Open City' condemns arrest of trade unionists in Turkey
  • [22] Egnatia Odos section opens up to traffic
  • [23] FinMin addresses conference in Frankfurt
  • [24] Govt does not plan to raise taxes, spokesman says
  • [25] Greece welcomes EU's R&D guidelines
  • [26] Gov't defends decision to extend expiration date for fresh milk
  • [27] Development minister to attend BSEC meeting in Russia
  • [28] Talks on EU maritime policy
  • [29] Greek shippers see fleet improvement
  • [30] International water conference in Greece
  • [31] Cenbank orders banks to toughen up on loans
  • [32] Greek trade deficit up 6.6 pct in July, yr/yr
  • [33] Greek office furniture market to remain stable in 2006-07, report
  • [34] Retail sales enterprises urge for break-up of business cartels
  • [35] New road traffic device devised by local researchers
  • [36] 1.6 million taken in security van heist
  • [37] Prostitution ring uncovered
  • [38] Shipload of contraband cigarettes intercepted
  • [39] Cyprus FM to pay visit to Berlin

  • [01] Greece sets priority on enterprise

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek government has set a priority on enterprise in its economic policy, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday.

    "A central element of the new economic policy is spurring enterprise, competitiveness and an outward-looking economic approach," Alogoskoufis told a forum arranged by Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt.

    "The state is being limited to a regulatory role. We have moved forward with a generous reduction in corporate tax brackets from 35% in 2004 to 25% in 2007," the minister reported.

    Also from 2007, the government will simplify indirect taxation for individuals and lower tax brackets, especially for middle incomes.

    A new investment law offers major incentives, especially in the regions. "We are continually improving the country's infrastructure," Alogoskoufis noted.

    "Favorable conditions for foreign direct and indirect investment have been created. This has been shown in a major rise in participation by foreign investors in the Greek bourse over the last two years," he underlined.

    Although led by the banking sector, foreign investment was desirable in other sectors.

    "There are many firms in high labor intensive sectors that invest in southeastern Europe. A series of sectors of the Greek economy such as the chemicals industry, biotechnology, construction, tourism and services, are attractive to foreign investors," the minister said.

    [02] FM Bakoyannis warns Skopje on name issue after meeting with Annan

    NEW YORK, 26/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday warned the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), that Greece will not concede to the country's euro-atlantic course if it does not accept a mutually agreed solution to the land-locked republic's name.

    "I had the chance yet again to underline to him (United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan) Greece's position and decision to proceed and contribute to the finding of a mutually acceptable solution but that it is impossible for Skopje to advance towards NATO and the European Union if there is not such a solution," Bakoyannis told reporters after a meeting here with Annan. Talks focused on the Cyprus issue, the FYROM name issue, the future status of Kosovo and developments in the Middle East.

    Bakoyannis said there "is optimism" regarding ongoing talks in Nicosia, while on the FYROM name issue she noted that "there is no change" on Skopje's position.

    Greece objects to the use, by the former Yugoslav republic, of the name 'Macedonia' arguing that it conceals irredentist designs against its northern province Macedonia.

    The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 61st session of the UN General Assembly during the Greek presidency of the Security Council.

    "The UN Secretary General congratulated me on the Greek Security Council Presidency while, at the same time, I had the chance yet again to discuss the two issues which are of particular interest to Greece - the Cyprus issue and the issue of Skopje - on how negotiations are developing on these two fronts. There is no concrete news. There is optimism over talks taking place in Cyprus that they will advance," Bakoyannis said.

    Responding to a question whether there was a certain change foreseen in Skopje's stance after her talks with the UN secretary general and with her FYROM counterpart last Friday, Bakoyannis said: "As for me I have not seen any change. The (FYROM) minister was too new (at his post) to be able to commit himself on anything. But I had the chance to explain closely the Greek position."

    Regarding her meeting earlier in the day with Lebanon's Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, Bakoyannis noted that they had the chance to overview developments and "how UN Resolution 1701 was advancing" as well as bilateral cooperation and Greece's development aid to the Middle East country.

    Salloukh had said on his part that his country appreciated Greece's position noting that "the Palestinian issue is the core of the Middle East problem."

    [03] FM Bakoyannis departs from New York for Washington

    NEW YORK, 26/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday continued her contacts at the United Nations headquarters, on the sidelines of the 61st UN General Assembly and Greece's Presidency of the UN Security Council.

    Apart from her meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan earlier in the day, Bakoyannis met with her counterparts from Lebanon, Guatemala, South Africa, Nigeria and Libya.

    A Greek diplomatic source stressed that all her interlocutors and in particular Annan, congratulated Bakoyannis on the "manner of exercising" the Greek Presidency of the UN Security Council and particularly on the body's special session concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict, with the return of the topic of the Middle East at the UN Security Council after twenty years.

    According to the same source, in the discussions which have been held on the sidelines of the sessions of the General Assembly on the future status of Kosovo, it was ascertained that "the position of our country for careful and studied steps, so that we are not led to new adventures, continuously finds more understanding."

    Bakoyannis concluded her activities in New York on Monday with a speech at Manhattan's "Harvard Club", at an event by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce and other Greek-American organizations. The Greek foreign minister referred to all the issues concerning Greek foreign policy and to the investment opportunities which are presented in Greece and in the broader region.

    [04] Bakoyannis in Washington for series of contacts

    WASHINGTON, 26/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was due to arrive in Washington on Monday night (dawn of Tuesday, Greek time), for a series of contacts, including a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush's national security advisor Steve Hadley and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.

    During her two-day visit to Washington, Bakoyannis will meet with members of Congress, among them also with Senator Hillary Clinton.

    Her discussions are expected to focus on the Greek Presidency of the UN Security Council, bilateral cooperation, international matters such as the situation in the Middle East and the Balkans, the Cyprus issue, Turkey's European prospects and energy safety.

    Bakoyannis will speak at Washington's Centre of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the theme "Unified Strategy for South East Europe: The role of Greece". After the speech, she will attend a luncheon with CSIS members and with other associates of foundations of foreign policy.

    She will also speak at Georgetown University where she will attend the inauguration of the new Greek studies faculty which is founded at the specific university. Finally, she will inaugurate the new building of the Greek Embassy in the U.S. capital.

    [05] Greek deputies at New York event

    NEW YORK, 26/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou)

    A Greek Parliamentary delegation, here to support Greece's mission to the 61st UN General Assembly and the Greek Security Council presidency, took part on Sunday night in an event organised by the Federation of Hellenic Associations of New York.

    Andreas Kamenos, President of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Standing Committee, First Parliament Vice-President Sotiris Hatzigakis and Andreas Loverdos, addressed the event on behalf of the Greek deputies.

    [06] PM Karamanlis and other EU leaders issue joint letter on problem of illegal immigration

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, along with the presidents of France and Cyprus and with the prime ministers of Spain, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Malta, on Monday sent to the European Union's President, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen and to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso a joint letter concerning the issue of illegal immigration.

    The letter notes the need for the joint confrontation of the problem of illegal immigration in the Mediterranean and in southern Europe which has taken on explosive proportions.

    According to the prime minister's press office, this issue will be at the focus of a series of EU meetings in the coming period, mainly in view of the informal European Council in Finland's city of Lahti on October 20.

    According to the announcement, the Greek government these past two years has firmly supported and at all levels, within the framework of the EU, the need for cooperation between the member-states in the direction of an effective control of the Union's external borders. This initiative is now taking a new momentum, while it is noted that the Greek prime minister, who has undertaken to promote the idea for the creation of a European coast guard, has repeatedly raised the issue to his EU counterparts and to the president of the European Commission.

    [07] DM addresses corruption issue, after meeting with prime minister

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The government's policy is uniform and collective, and when the government and the prime minister say "zero tolerance to corruption" it is only reasonable that it applies to the entire government, indiscriminately, national defense minister Evangelos Meimarakis said Monday in reply to press questions, after a meeting with prime minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Replying to other questions, Meimarakis said that there was no "backstabbing" among government members.

    Asked to comment on a slander lawsuit lodged by deputy development minister Yannis Papathanasiou against main opposition PASOK MP and former minister Kimon Koulouris earlier in the day, Meimarakis said it was only natural to take recourse in justice to defend one's honor when one's honor and reputation were offended and the public dialogue exceeded the limits.

    He said that political dialogue and activity "will bring us out of the unwholesome climate of the past days", adding that there was a climate of concern which, however, was reversible and was not heavy for the government.

    Meimarakis said that the government's volition for zero tolerance to corruption and aggressive tackling of the phenomenon was firm, adding that there was no issue of "offsetting" but, rather, a comparison of the policies and measures that have been taken by the current government against corruption (vis-a-vis the preceding government), and whether the proper "antibodies" have been created in the citizens so that they could also contribute in combating the problem.

    Up until two-and-a-half years ago (when ND assumed the government), the citizens considered it in vain to lodge complaints of corruption phenomena, according to data from recent opinion polls, the minister said, whereas now, due to the policy applied by the present government, they perceived that the volition exists for zero tolerance and for sending all such cases to justice.

    [08] The government does not tolerate corruption, spokesman stresses

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos repeated that the government would not tolerate corruption, in response to questions on Monday.

    "This government observes the law and states that politically it does not cover up but it unveils," Roussopoulos said in comments on press reports claiming that an Interpol investigation on sugar smuggling was underway that was linked with Panagiotis Anagnostopoulos, also accused in connection with the MEVGAL dairy industry blackmail case.

    [09] Deputy Development Minister Papathanasiou sues for slander

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    A slander suit against main opposition Socialist Party PASOK parliament deputy Kimon Koulouris will be filed on Monday by Athens Law School professor Yiannis Karakostas on behalf of Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou who resorted to justice demanding the sum of 300,000 euro in damages.

    In a statement issued by the deputy minister of development it is stressed that Koulouris unfortunately did not retract the slanderous statements he had made to the media, in spite of the fact that he was given the opportunity to do so, but, on the contrary, he threatened with more revelations. He will have the great opportunity to make those revelations in court, the statement adds.

    Papathanasiou also mentions that the office of Athens Law School Professor Karakostas representing him will file a suit against Koulouris and in order to avoid any misunderstandings clarifies that the sum of 300,000 euro he requests as compensation will be used for charity purposes.

    [10] Roussopoulos backs minister's decision to sue MP for slander

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday expressed his approval of a decision by Deputy Development Minister Giannis Papathanasiou to sue main opposition PASOK MP Kimon Koulouris for allegations that the minister had been financially supported by a major dairy company in his pre-election campaign.

    "[He] did well, I believe him and the final trial of the suit should be very interesting," Roussopoulos told reporters.

    Asked to comment on a statement by Papathanasiou regarding the actions of former PASOK minister Vasso Papandreou, meanwhile, Roussopoulos noted that the minister had "referred to real events" and that his announcement on Sunday was within the limits of his responsibilities.

    Papathanasiou had called attention to the reversal by Papandreou of a Competition Commission decision forbidding the buyout of the company Vosinakis by the dairy firm FAGE, pointing out that it was the sole instance since 1995 of a minister revoking one of the Commission's decisions.

    Papandreou had defended her decision, noting that the case did not involve the formation of a cartel and her actions had sought to safeguard 180 jobs in a company verging on bankruptcy.

    Roussopoulos said Papathanasiou had rightly presented facts regarding the operation of the Competition Commission now and in the past, in the face of vague accusations, while conceding that there was no suggestion on the government's part that Papandreou had acted illegally.

    Asked whether the present government had interceded for the reduction of fines imposed by the Commission, Roussopoulos referred reporters to the appropriate ministry but also presented figures showing that fines imposed under the present government were much higher than in the past.

    "Since March 2004, fines totaling 28.5 million have been imposed and cases concerning fines of 100 million are pending. From 1995 until February 2004, the Competition Commission had imposed fines totaling 4.1 million. In other words, in the two and a half years of New Democracy government the fines imposed have been seven-fold compared with nine years of PASOK government. This is one more proof of that political will is turning into action," he said.

    Meanwhile, the Association of Permanent Staff of the Unified Agency for the Inspection of Foodstuffs (EFET) issued an announcement on Monday denied any intervention by Papathanasiou in the agency's work.

    It also challenged MP Kimon Koulouris regarding his own record as deputy development minister under PASOK governments, especially over the implementation of a 100,000 fine imposed by EFET on the company Kolios Hellenic Dairy Industry in 2003.

    [11] Inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The inner cabinet will meet on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to discuss finance ministry issues.

    The prime minister is also scheduled to meet with visiting Indian Lower House of Parliament speaker Somnath Chatterjee at 12.10 pm on Tuesday.

    [12] Striking teachers meets minister after picketing ministry

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Striking primary and kindergarten school teachers had a one-hour meeting with Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Monday to discuss their demands, after hundreds gathered outside the ministry at noon to demand that the monthly pay of a newly-appointed teacher rise to 1400 from 950 at present. Teachers are now into the second week of a nationwide strike that began last Monday, just days after schools reopened after the summer holidays.

    The two sides failed to reach agreement during the meeting, however, with the head of the primary school teachers' union Dimitris Bratis announcing that the minister's counter-proposal was "unacceptable" and that strike action will continue and intensify.

    "The offer made by the education ministry, which is talking about giving 17.5 gross is unacceptable. They can have it," he stressed, while noting that Yiannakou had also refused demands concerning school operating expenses, training and teacher-pupil ratios in classes.

    The minister, on her part, noted that the education ministry "lends a sympathetic ear to the demands of teachers and before the budget is drawn up we have made our position clear. We are discussing the individual issues."

    "It is clear that the education ministry, in spite of the fiscal policy, was supported and for this reason a number of programs were carried out, such as all-day schools, new departments, etc," the minister she said.

    Representatives of the teachers said their talks with the minister had also covered other issues involving teachers and the education ministry, such as appointments or a 103 benefit for teachers, that the government promised to raise to 105 and begin paying in six half-year installments over the next three years.

    "In total it comes to 205 a year and also concerns high school teachers, or 170,000 teachers in total," teacher representatives said.

    Teachers are planning another rally outside the education ministry on Tuesday and another teacher-student rally with high school staff and students on Wednesday. The ongoing nationwide strike will continue until Friday, at which time there will be more general assemblies by teacher unions to decide if it will continue into a third week.

    [13] Scuffles with police; teargas used to disperse protestors

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Following their meeting with the minister, the strikers decided to march to the prime minister's office at the Maximou building to protest but were intercepted by riot police as they reached Parliament.

    Scuffles broke out and there were verbal attacks on police at around 15:30 as protestors three times attempted to break through a cordon of MAT riot police, who eventually resorted to the use of teargas to disperse the crowd.

    Three people fainted and were taken to hospital for first aid.

    The protestors then marched to the gates of Athens University and returned to the education ministry via Stadiou and Mitropoleos Street, where they stayed for more than an hour before the rally began to break up peacefully of its own accord.

    [14] PASOK's Apostolaki on teachers' strike

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) head of the education sector Milena Apostolaki stated on Monday that "the government is not only escalating its intransigence and the mockery of thousands of striking teachers, it is also unfortunately escalating the use of uncontrolled violence, launching for a second time an unprecedented attack against the strikers."

    Apostolaki exclusively attributed responsibility to the government over the fact that the schools remain closed for a second week.

    [15] Roussopoulos on Papandreou's absence from Presidency event

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Everybody has to respect the institutions of Democracy in practice and not just in words and avoid subjecting them to petty politicking, stated government spokesman Theodoros Rousopoulos on Monday.

    The statement was made in response to a question by a reporter on the absence of main opposition PASOK party president George Papandreou from an event hosted by the Hellenic Republic Presidency at the Athens' Concert Hall on Sunday to mark the International Day of Peace.

    [16] PASOK spokesman on Papandreou-Papoulias relations; phone-tapping issue

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, commenting on press reports regarding PASOK leader George Papandreou's absence from Sunday night's event at the Athens Concert Hall commemorating International Day of Peace and which was organized by the Presidency of the Republic, said on Monday that "there is no problem for PASOK and it's president George Papandreou, with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias."

    Athanassakis, commenting on statements by the government spokesman, said that "because Mr. (Theodoros) Roussopoulos made a reference to supposed petty political expediencies, Mr. Roussopoulos and his parrots would do well to be careful and become aware that they cannot create issues from the top of their heads."

    On the phone-tapping issue, Athanassakis said "the government spokesman and consequently the government, also hid today behind justice on the phone-tapping issue, despite the successive questions which were put to him, in view of arrests in Italy."

    The PASOK spokesman said that "the effort for a cover-up is linked with this government," adding: "After two years, we still do not have the final report about the Shinook helicopter (crash), about the phone-tapings. It is the effort of a cover-up which we can all see. For the Pakistanis, the same thing. And of course the current matters. One after the other, where no one knows anything on the part of the government."

    [17] KKE's Papariga denounces policies of ND and PASOK

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary-Gerenal Aleka Papariga in a press conference on Monday called for the condemnation of the policies adopted by the ruling New Democracy (ND) party and the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).

    Referring to the local government elections which will be held on October 15, Papariga said that they will highlight all the problems concerning the Greek people "and consequently, a political criterion is required, that is, the vote is political and through the vote, the policies of ND and PASOK must be condemned, so that they lose the great majority they have in the field of local government as well."

    Representatives of smaller left-wing parties and movements which collaborate with KKE in local government elections took part in the press conference.

    [18] ND's Zagoritis received by Cyprus President Papadopoulos

    NICOSIA, 26/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)

    Ruling New Democracu (ND) Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis was received here on Monday by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    Zagoritis told reporters after the hour-long meeting that his talks with Papadopoulos were "fruitful" and focused on the Cyprus issue and EU-Turkey relations, adding that the close cooperation between the governments of Greece and Cyprus on these issues was reconfirmed.

    "The aim of the two governments is the steadfast and close cooperation in the finding of a solution to the Cyprus problem within the framework of UN resolutions and the acquis communautaire," Zagoritis noted.

    Referring to Turkey's EU accession course, Zagoritis underlined; "In relation to Turkey, our orientation is fixed on the country's European prospect under the condition that it will abide by all conditions set to it, as is valid for any candidate country."

    Zagoritis also met with House of Representatives President and left-wing AKEL party Secretary-General Demetris Christofias.

    [19] Ioannina prefect, Albanian minister meet regarding InterregIII cooperation

    IOANNINA, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The prefect of northwest Ioannina prefecture, Alexandros Kahrimanis, on Monday met with Albania's European Integration Minister Albert Gajo, for talks focusing on implementation of various InterregIII/Cards program projects referring to cross-border cooperation.

    The meeting took place in the lakeside city of Ioannina, the same-name prefecture's seat.

    The primary project involves the continuation of an under-construction highway in the prefecture (Delvenaki-Pogoniani-Drymades) into Albania.

    Meanwhile, in an unrelated Interreg III-funded project, journalists from northern Greece and Bulgaria are cooperating in the "Open Horizons / Greece-Bulgaria / Journalists for Tourism Progress" project.

    [20] Synaspismos leader meets Association of Contract Workers in prefectures

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos met on Monday with the Association of Contract Workers in the prefectures.

    Alavanos, who was accompanied by candidate for supra-prefect Yiannis Panousis, said after the meeting: "Because we are discussing these days the issues of corruption, there also exists 'legal' corruption. And corruption is what is happening with the contract workers of part-time employment in the local government organizations and specifically in the Athens Prefecture."

    Alavanos added that "the workers, although they cover firm and lasting needs, are made to sign 18-month contracts so as to avoid the implementation of European Union Directive 70/99."

    He said that these workers must be given the right to full employment.

    [21] 'Open City' condemns arrest of trade unionists in Turkey

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The "Open City" municipal movement, which is affiliated to the Coalition of Left, Movements and Ecology (Synsapismos) party, in an announcement on Monday expressed its concern and condemned "the mass pogrom which the Turkish police have launched these past few days against members of trade unionist organisations, progressive newspapers and radio stations."

    The movement added that "as stated by reports, more than 110 progressive people have been arrested and led to the 'infamous' headquarters of the Anti-Terrorist Police in Istanbul, 'which is known as a centre of torture'."

    According to the announcement, among those arrested are active members of the European Social Forum.

    [22] Egnatia Odos section opens up to traffic

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    An 18 km-long section of the Egnatia Odos national motorway and 2 km of connecting roads from Nimphopetra to Megali Volvi and from the Redina junction to Asprovalta were opened up to traffic on Monday.

    Environment, Land Planning and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias stated that the newly opened sections will cut traveling time from Eastern Macedonia and Thrace to Thessaloniki and prevent traffic congestion in the area during the summer months. In addition, road safety will be improved because the Macedonian Tempi road section will be bypassed.

    The Egnatia Odos section that opened up to traffic passes through semi-mountainous regions of archaeological interest. The 32 km-long motorway section will include three different-level highways (Veochorio, Redina, Asprovalta), the 160 meter-long Vrasna Tunnel, the construction of 360 meter-long bridges and underpasses as well as 140 meter-long overpasses.

    Souflias characterized it as a national project of immense importance both for the development of northern Greece and for Greece's upgraded role in Eastern Europe, adding that a total of 2.4 million euro projects got underway since March 2004.

    Meanwhile, the Egnatia Odos motorway Strimonas- Agios Andreas section in the Kavala Prefecture, northeast Greece, will include a 42 km-long highway with two traffic lanes and an emergency lane for each of them.

    The project will be completed by October 2008 while the Chrisoupolis-Vaniano section will be ready by July 2007.

    [23] FinMin addresses conference in Frankfurt

    FRANKFURT, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis is visiting Frankfurt on Monday to address an event organized by Deutsche Bank on investments in Greece.

    The event will bring together heads of large German and other European enterprises with activities in Greece or interested in investing in the country. The Greek minister will also meet with Deutsche Bank's chairman Dr. Josef Ackermann.

    [24] Govt does not plan to raise taxes, spokesman says

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek government has implemented a series of structural measures that have already offered results and has largely reduced the country's fiscal deficit, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Monday. He was replying to questions by the press over recent comments made by EU Monetary Commissioner Joachin Almunia that more structural measures would be needed in Greece.

    Speaking to reporters, during a daily briefing of the press, the spokesman said the government did not plan to raise direct or indirect taxes.

    [25] Greece welcomes EU's R&D guidelines

    BRUSSELS, 26/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/M Aroni)

    Greece on Monday welcomed European Union guidelines on state subsidy for research, development and innovation.

    "We welcome the (EU) Commission's new text, which contains Greece's positions, such as encouraging non-technological innovation, backing innovation in small and medium sized firms, and, especially, assistance for young entrepreneurs who are starting out," Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias said.

    At the same time, the guidelines fail to link the level subsidies to regions, a matter that the Commission should review," Folias told a meeting of EU competition ministers in the Belgian capital.

    [26] Gov't defends decision to extend expiration date for fresh milk

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    A decision to extend the expiration date of fresh milk will cut the price of the product, Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said on Monday in reaction to critical same-day press reports.

    In an announcement, the minister said the decision to extend the expiration date of fresh milk would increase competition as domestic milk industries would have to significantly cut their profit margins to avoid losing market share from cheaper imported milk. Papathanasiou said the average expiration date of fresh milk in all other Eurozone countries was at least double, compared with Greek practices.

    He underlined that measures recommended by the development ministry would cut the price of milk by at least 10 percent in Greece.

    [27] Development minister to attend BSEC meeting in Russia

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas will head a ministry delegation that departs on Tuesday for Russia in order to attend a meeting of Black Sea Economic Cooperation pact energy ministers.

    [28] Talks on EU maritime policy

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis on Monday met the European Unon's commissioner for fisheries and maritime affairs, Toe Borg, in the port of Piraeus for consultations on the bloc's maritime policy green paper.

    The two officials agreed that emphasis should be laid on global, commonly accepted solutions for shipping, the reduction of risk factors for accidents, strengthening competitiveness of the EU fleet, and cohesion of the bloc's island network.

    [29] Greek shippers see fleet improvement

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek cargo shipping fleet has maintained its rise and a high rate of renewal, the Union of Greek Ship-owners and Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee said on Monday after a meeting in the port of Piraeus.

    Greek ship-owners have ordered more than 400 vessels totaling over 30 million dwt for delivery by 2010, according to the latest available data.

    At the same time, rates of growth so far attained by the fleet under its own steam are likely to falter if political action to assist the sector is not taken rapidly and effectively, the two boards said.

    Flight from the Greek register would be likely to occur with two thirds of the Greek fleet already carrying foreign flags, they added.

    The boards are due to meet again in March 2007 in London.

    [30] International water conference in Greece

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Hydro 2006, an international conference on water resources, opened in Halkidiki on Monday focusing on electricity output from the sector and growing global investment and financial investment.

    In a message to the conference, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas expressed his backing for growth of Greece's water power, saying that construction of small hydro-electric output units would make a major contribution.

    [31] Cenbank orders banks to toughen up on loans

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Banks must toughen up their loan criteria to customers due to a rise in overdue payments, central bank governor Nikos Garganas said on Monday.

    "This will allow them to contain the margin on deposit and lending rates, which is high," Garganas told the board of the Union of Greek Banks.

    According to the central bank, the wide spread in the domestic market is one cause of the rise in overdue loans.

    The average rate of overdue loans is currently around 6.5% against 3.4% in the eurozone. The rate for consumer credit has topped 8.2%.

    [32] Greek trade deficit up 6.6 pct in July, yr/yr

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek trade deficit rose 6.6 percent in July to 2.368 billion euros from 2.222 billion euros in the corresponding month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.

    NSS, in a report, said the value of import-arrivals totaled 3.792 billion euros in July, from 3.504 billion in July 2005, for an increase of 8.2 percent, while the value of export-deliveries rose 11.1 percent to 1.424 billion euros, from 1.282 billion over the same months, respectively.

    The statistics service said the country's trade deficit rose 10.8 pct in the January-July period to 18.099 billion euros, from 16.342 billion euros in the same period last year.

    [33] Greek office furniture market to remain stable in 2006-07, report

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek office furniture market shrank by 5.0 percent last year compared with 2004, reflecting a slowdown after the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, but grew an average annual rate of 6.0 percent in the period 1996-2004, a report by ICAP said on Monday.

    The report said that the market was expected to consolidate in the two year period from 2006 to 2007 as both the public and private sectors have reduced spending in office equipment. ICAP stressed, however, that the office furniture market still had significant growth prospects.

    Office chairs accounted for 55.4 percent of the market in 2005, followed by libraries (23.3 pct) and offices (21.3 pct). The market includes a significant number of small and medium-sized enterprises and a few large enterprises holding the majority of the domestic market share. This combination supports an environment of strong competition and innovation.

    [34] Retail sales enterprises urge for break-up of business cartels

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The Federation of Retail Sales Enterprises of Greece on Monday urged for the break-up of any business cartels operating in the country, the punishment of all responsible and the immediate restoration of a price operation mechanism.

    SELPE, the body representing the largest retail commercial enterprises in Greece, in an announcement to the press said that "various business sectors, in their effort to gain larger market shares from consumers' available income, must respect and adhere to rules of open markets and free competition, common to all enterprises".

    The Federation condemned practices of harmonized price policies by business cartels and referred to practices followed by Greek banks, citing a major gap between deposit and lending interest rates.

    SELPE urged all political parties, employers' unions and agencies into a public dialogue to seek a political consensus in dealing with such phenomena.

    [35] New road traffic device devised by local researchers

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    An improved version of the "cat's eye" safety device used in road construction along with road markings to highlight these obstructions at night, fog or in low-light conditions was created by two local researchers, sponsored by the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace Region Technogenesis program.

    The "cat's eye" is the globally acceptable term used for a retro-reflective mechanism such as paint or a plastic corner reflector built into a sturdy housing, capable of surviving as vehicles pass over it. The goal is to be visible by all drivers in conditions of low visibility and avoid traffic accidents.

    The local innovation concerns specifications that guarantee maximum safety for motorists as a strong adhesive is used for its installation instead of a metal nail while the polycarbonate materials from which it is made of guarantee high-impact strength.

    [36] 1.6 million taken in security van heist

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    Armed robbers that attacked a Wackenhut security van transporting money from the Mont Parnes casino shortly after midday on Monday managed to get away with an estimated 1.6 million, police said.

    Four or five men took part in the armed robbery, which police said was one of the biggest and best organized they have on file, who managed to stop the security van on the first kilometer of Parnitha Avenue.

    According to witnesses, the robbers wore hoods and were riding in a stolen truck, which they used to cut off, ram and then immobilize the security van. They then broke the windows of the armored vehicle using sledge-hammers and forced the guards to open the doors at gunpoint, entered the cabin and grabbed three or four bags of money.

    A police investigation indicates that they got away using another stolen vehicle parked nearby. Authorities have now launched a manhunt for their arrest.

    [37] Prostitution ring uncovered

    THESSALONIKI, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The Thessaloniki special police force dealing with human trafficking cases on Monday uncovered a 7-member prostitution ring that lured foreign women into the country after promising them a permanent job. The women finally ended up in hotels in Katerini, central Greece, where they were forced into prostitution.

    Police received information on the prostitution ring from a 22-year-old woman who managed to escape from her captors, and two of the seven ring members, two females aged 65 and 42, were arrested during a police operation.

    A police investigation is underway to locate and arrest the rest of the ring members, whose identities are known to the law enforcement authorities, while the alleged ring leader has been charged with similar offences in the past.

    [38] Shipload of contraband cigarettes intercepted

    ATHENS, 26/09/2006 (ANA)

    The Greek coast guard on Monday located and confiscated a ship carrying a cargo of contraband cigarettes, the merchant marine ministry announced.

    The North Korean-flagged vessel M/V "EVVA" had been tracked for days in the Ionian Sea after the coast guard was tipped off about its arrival and was finally located six nautical miles from Katakolo harbor.

    A search revealed that it was carrying 1,495,000 packets of contraband cigarettes, representing some 3.5 million in lost taxes.

    The ship was taken to Katakolo harbor and confiscated, while its seven-member crew - all foreign nationals - has been placed under arrest and taken before a public prosecutor.

    [39] Cyprus FM to pay visit to Berlin

    NICOSIA, 26/09/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister George Lillikas will pay a visit to Berlin, at the invitation of his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

    An official press release said here Monday that Lillikas will hold discussions with Steinmeier on September 27 during which they will discuss the Cyprus question, Turkey's European accession course, the German EU Presidency during the first six months of 2007 and other issues of common interest.

    Lillikas will also meet with President of the Bundestag Norbert Lammert as well as the Parliament's European Affairs Committee and the Permanent Secretary of the German Chancellery Foreign and Security Policy Department and will address the EU Representation in Berlin on "The EU and Cyprus: Recent developments and Prospects."

    Lillikas will fly from Berlin to Romania to attend the Eleventh Conference of the Heads of States and Governments of the International Francophone Organization, in Bucharest from September 28-29.

    During this Conference, Cyprus will become an associate member of the International Francophone Organization.

    Lillikas will return home on September 29.

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