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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-01

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

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

November 1, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] European Parliament president urges Turkey to observe Copenhagen criteria
  • [02] Borrell says Turkey must fulfill its obligations towards EU
  • [03] European Commission's progress draft report on Turkey
  • [04] Healthcare reforms the focus of Inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday
  • [05] It's time for schools to resume normal operation, government says
  • [06] PM to chair government committee for education and culture on Wednesday
  • [07] PM congratulates re-elected president of Brazil
  • [08] PASOK leader awarded by Int'l Gymnastics Federation for Olympic Truce drive
  • [09] Russian weaponry systems presented in Athens by Rosoboronexport
  • [10] Turkish Armed Forces General Staff Chief to visit Athens
  • [11] Former public order minister gives interview to U.S. 'Defense News'
  • [12] ND Secretary Zagoritis chairs party meeting on local gov't results
  • [13] Greece, China promote closer economic relations, FinMin says
  • [14] Athens approves 135 new energy investments worth 200 mln euros
  • [15] Development minister briefs President Karolos Papoulias on energy initiatives
  • [16] Liapis meets with several int'l IT, telecoms executives
  • [17] Development minister to visit Moscow for Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline
  • [18] Contract signed for Thessaloniki undersea tunnel project
  • [19] Tourism seen rising 8.0% in 2006, 2007
  • [20] Employment minister meets representatives of building contractors
  • [21] Report says mega-mergers by Greek banks unlikely
  • [22] International OECD conference on SMEs in Athens
  • [23] Budget revenue up 9.1%
  • [24] PASOK's V. Papandreou on implementation of 2006 budget
  • [25] Greek participation in Indagra 2006 trade fair in Romania
  • [26] Greek exports rise
  • [27] Arab-Greek business mission to Kuwait and Bahrain
  • [28] Greek industrial turnover index up 12.6 pct in Aug, yr/yr
  • [29] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise
  • [30] Hotel under investigation for child deaths has license revoked
  • [31] Greek Museum and Cultural Centre in Chicago
  • [32] Paintings inspired by Aristophanes
  • [33] Church of Greece examines establishing schools
  • [34] Fire threatens traditional settlement of Varosi in Edessa
  • [35] U.S. fleet aircraft makes emergency landing at Iraklion airport
  • [36] Human traffickers arrested in Thessaloniki
  • [37] Olympiakos Piraeus draws 1-1 with AS Roma away in Champions League match
  • [38] Finnish official holds talks here in view of EU report on Turkey)
  • [39] Cyprus says return of Varosha precondition for successful Finnish initiative
  • [40] Cypriot President to pay official visit to Croatia

  • [01] European Parliament president urges Turkey to observe Copenhagen criteria

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Visiting European Parliament President Josep Borrell on Tuesday strongly urged Turkey to open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and aircraft and to honor and observe the Copenhagen criteria in the framework of its negotiations for its European Union accession.

    Borrell made his reference to Turkey during his address to the Greek Parliament's European and Foreign Affairs Committees. "The European Parliament will make no discounts regarding respect for the criteria, the values and the basic principles, part of which are relations of good neigborliness and respect for international law. We cannot possibly accept the accession of a country that will not observe these preconditions and this has been made clear to Turkey," Borrell said. "The European Parliament is vigilant and has a very critical stance towards Turkey, to which it has been repeatedly pointed out that it must comply and respond to the preconditions and principles of the European Union," he added.

    Referring to the issue of Cyprus in particular, the European Parliament president said that the European Parliament demands that Turkish ports and airports be opened, reminding that although Turkey has assumed the commitment to extend customs union to the 10 new member-states, however, it is continuing to refuse to extend it to Cyprus as well.

    "Maybe an overall solution that will also include the withdrawal of Turkish troops is not feasible today, however, negotiations are under way under the auspices of the Finnish Presidency to achieve a partial agreement, such as the strengthening of trade transactions between Cyprus and Turkey and the northern part of the island and the rest of the EU," Borrell said.

    He further said that "only the leaders of the two Cypriot communities, with the assistance of the UN, will be able to solve the issue of Cyprus. The EU cannot be an effective mediator, with one part of the Cypriot community in the EU and the other outside it. The European Parliament wants a reunited Cyprus. We cannot have in the EU the only 'wall' remaining in Europe", and expressing the hope that "the current negotiations, that we strongly support, will allow the disentanglement of this problem."

    Lastly, replying to remarks made by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Deputy Orestis Kolozov, who spoke of dangerous phenomena of violation of the principles of democracy and of freedom of expression, the European Parliament president said that he shared his concerns and added that "indeed, there is great concern over a resurgence of the far-right and of movements that have racist trends and xeno-phobia."

    [02] Borrell says Turkey must fulfill its obligations towards EU

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    European Parliament President Josep Borrell in a press conference he gave in Athens on Tuesday said that "Europe must demand the fulfillment of the obligations which Turkey has undertaken towards it, in order for this country to become a member of the European family."

    Borrell's comment was made following reporters' questions regarding Turkey's prospects of accession to the European Union and given the fact that the European Commission is expected to issue its report on November 8 on the progress of Turkey's accession talks, but also when the European Parliament will deal with this matter on November 11.

    The European Parliament president noted that Turkey is already a candidate country, "but it is much too early for us to examine whether it will become an EU member, as it has not covered the necessary distance so as to approach European specifications and European levels."

    "The reforms required must be made by Turkey itself. The Europeans are simply trying to prompt this country to proceed towards this direction and they will judge on the basis of the progress Turkey has made," Borrell added.

    Borrell noted: The Turkish accession is not something which will occur tomorrow as we will have to await it after ten to 15 years. Tomorrow's Turkey will join the EU."

    European Parliament President's contacts

    in Athens: European Parliament President Josep Borrell had separate meetings in Athens on Tuesday with Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Kara-manlis, Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Coalition of the Left President Alekos Alavanos. Later in the afternoon he will meet with main opposition PASOK party president George Papandreou.

    A statement issued by the Greek Parliament mentions that Benaki and Borrell confirmed their strong interest in the future of Europe and their skepticism about developments concerning the Constitutional Treaty and Turkey’s EU accession course.

    The Greek Parliament President stated that Greece has ratified the European Constitutional Treaty long ago, calling on the other European countries to take this historic step as well. She also stated that Greece supports EU expansion to the Western Balkans to help this part of the world become a region of peace, prosperity and true democracy.

    Benaki-Psarouda stressed that Greece wants Turkey’s integration into the European structures on condition that it will fully comply with the European acquis and meet the obligations set by the European Union and the Customs Union Protocol.

    Borrell stated that the European Parliament shares Greece’s concerns both over the Constitutional Treaty and the issue of Turkey’s EU accession and pointed out that the inter-parliamentary meeting on December 4 and 5, when the national parliaments will hold a joint session with the European Parliament, will be a very good opportunity to discuss all those issues and possibly offer a new momentum to lift the impasse.

    He also wished success to the Finnish EU Presidency efforts concerning relations with Turkey and Cyprus in order to avert an abrupt interruption of negotiations which would be a negative development for all.

    Borrell referred to the need to speed up institutional reforms promoting the European prospect of the Balkans and pointed out the positive prospects opened with the assumption of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly presidency by the Greek Parliament President next March, particularly in efforts aimed at solving the Middle East problems.

    The European Parliament President was honored with the gold medal of the Hellenic Parliament issued on the occasion of the 150 anniversary of the Greek constitution.

    Papandreou meets Borrell: Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou on Tuesday met with visiting European Parliament President Josep Borrell with whom he discussed the challenges faced by Europe, the efforts to formulate a common foreign policy and EU-Turkey relations.

    "We exchanged thoughts and views on the European Union's stagnation regarding the European Constitution but also its weakness to have a specific identity in today's world reality," said Papandreou, adding that "we stressed and I promised that I will also help as President of Socialist International, the need for us to form a vision of the socialists for the EU's future."

    Papandreou said that the second issue he discussed with Borrell was "the prolonged weakness which the EU is showing lately in formulating a common foreign policy and a stance in major issues of humanity but also in the broader region such as in the Middle East."

    Regarding EU-Turkey relations, which he termed as "a great matter for us in Greece," Papandreou stressed that "we agreed that there should be a clear message, clear talks with Turkey, that we have all said and want it to have a European course, but it (Turkey) also has obligations and this is a clear message which the European Union must pass to the Turkish side."

    [03] European Commission's progress draft report on Turkey

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris/M. Aroni)

    Positive references to the issue of Cyprus and to issues of Greek-Turkish concern are contained in the text of the European Commission's progress report on Turkey that will be publicized on November 8.

    According to the latest draft text brought to the attention of the ANA-MPA, references to Cyprus, included in the special chapter of the report (78 pages) that focuses on the "regional issues and the international obligations" of Turkey, record Turkey's refusal to implement its commitments regarding the customs union protocol, it is stressed that recognition of the Republic of Cyprus constitutes an element of Turkey's accession course, the significance of normalizing relations with all member-states is underlined and explicit reference is made to the "counter-statement" made by the "25" on September 21, 2005 (in reply to Turkey's proclamation on the non-recognition of the Republic of Cyprus).

    As regards Greek-Turkish issues, the report underlines the "unquestionable" commitment of Turkey regarding relations of good neighborliness and the peaceful solution of differences. In parallel, the report refers to the jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague, if resorting to it is considered necessary, and concludes by noting that reference to 'casus belli' regarding the extension of Greek territorial waters, based on the resolution adopted by the Turkish National Assembly in 1995, remains unchanged.

    However, as it was revealed here on Tuesday, the services of the relevant European Union Commissioner Olli Rehn have not yet completed the processing of the second text on Turkey that concerns the EU's strategy that will contain conclusions in light of the evaluation of Turkey by the "25."

    This 25-page text, to which the capability of the EU's absorption of candidates and potential candidates will be included as an appendix, is not expected to have been shaped before November 6 when the directors of the EU commissioners' offices will convene to prepare the meeting of the College of Commissioners on November 8, who will officially adopt the progress report and the strategy text on Turkey.

    [04] Healthcare reforms the focus of Inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Healthcare-related issues dominated Tuesday's Inner Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, with Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos later briefing reporters over a set of reforms in the sensitive sector, especially changes in the procurement of medical and hospital supplies.

    Avramopoulos said a relevant draft bill will be tabled next month in Parliament aimed at increasing transparency and effectiveness as well as slashing red tape. He also cited the establishment of a so-called "disability card" within the national health system (ESY) and an overall policy to upgrade and modernize practically every facet of the system.

    Asked about the scourge of under-the-table payments to medical staff at public hospitals and clinics by patients and patients' relatives, Avramopoulos said such "backhanders" are essentially an "indirect and stealthy purchase of the preferred physician's attention ... the system's structures will be modernized once a first-stage healthcare system is in place; all these phenomena will be eradicated," he said.

    In an unrelated development, Karamanlis also met with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis ahead of an off-the-agenda Parliament debate regarding foreign policy issues as well as a pending EU Commission report on Turkey's closely watched accession course.

    The prime minister himself requested the debate.

    [05] It's time for schools to resume normal operation, government says

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    The problems are being solved and it is time for schools to operate normally, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Tuesday in comments on the problems in education.

    Noting that the government had given these problems serious consideration, he said that the first priority must now be to restore the smooth operation of education on all levels.

    According to the spokesman, the national union federations representing primary and secondary school teachers, DOE and OLME, respectively, were on Wednesday expected to submit their proposals on how teaching hours lost as a result of the strike might be made up.

    Regarding the draft bill for higher education prepared by the government - now being discussed before the appropriate parliamentary committee - Antonaros underlined the government's determination to go ahead with reforms and repeated the government's appeal to all the sides involved to participate in the dialogue on the bill.

    [06] PM to chair government committee for education and culture on Wednesday

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to chair a meeting of the government committee for education and culture at 11:00 for Wednesday, attended by Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou, Culture Minister George Voulgarakis and the ministry secretaries.

    Earlier at 10:00, Karamanlis is scheduled to meet Defense Minister Vangelis Meimarakis.

    [07] PM congratulates re-elected president of Brazil

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday sent a letter of congratulations to re-elected President of Brazil, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

    In his letter, Karamanlis said he looks forward to the further strengthening of Greece-Brazil bilateral cooperation as well as of European Union-Brazil relations.

    [08] PASOK leader awarded by Int'l Gymnastics Federation for Olympic Truce drive

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou received an award Monday night from the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) for his role as the driving force in reviving the idea of an Olympic Truce, during a gala in Geneva marking the 125th anniversary since the federation's foundation.

    The award was presented to Papandreou by FIG president Bruno Grandi, who spoke warmly of the PASOK leader's efforts and stressed that the award, an olive branch, represented the symbol of peace.

    Papandreou, who was invited by the federation to attend the 125th anniversary events in Geneva running from October 26-31 attended by many personalities, 30 Olympic champions and 24 world champions, stressed the importance of the Olympic Truce and the immense effort that must be made by everyone for peace, citing particularly the cases of Iraq, Lebanon and Guantanamo.

    "We must say 'no' to ethicist enmity and seek the other road that leads to peace, as the ancients did, as Pierre de Coubertain and Dimitris Vikeals did, as Juan Antonio Samaranch and Jacques Rogge do every time they inaugurated or inaugurate games," Papandreou stressed.

    The PASOK leader also spoke of the tortures being carried out today, noting that he had grown up in Greece during the military dictatorship, when torture was a practice.

    Even today, he added, despite the Geneva Convention, torture still took place in the world, and appealed to everyone to help in ending such practices globally.

    The Olympic Truce was helping in the direction of peace, as well as the elimination of torture, he said, adding that sport brought out the best in people whereas war brought out the worst.

    Papandreou thanked the FIG and its present for honoring him with the award, an honor which, he added, also reflected on Greece.

    [09] Russian weaponry systems presented in Athens by Rosoboronexport

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Representatives of the Russian federal Rosoboronexport Company briefed military editors on Tuesday on the possibilities of the BMP-3 and BMP-3F armored combat vehicles, the BTR-80A armored personnel carrier and the modern Kamaz-43269 personnel carrier.

    The presentation took place during a press conference given on Tuesday at the offices of the subsidiary Rosoboronservice Hellas in Athens.

    On Monday, the representatives of the Russian company had presented the weaponry systems in question to representatives of the Greek defense ministry.

    During Tuesday's press conference, the Russian company reiterated its will for cooperation with Greece in the armaments sector.

    [10] Turkish Armed Forces General Staff Chief to visit Athens

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Turkish Armed Forces General Staff Chief General Mehmet Yasar Buyukanit will visit Athens on Wednesday.

    The Turkish general will be in the Greek capital returning a visit to Ankara by Greek National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) Chief Admiral Panayotis Hinofotis last July.

    [11] Former public order minister gives interview to U.S. 'Defense News'

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)

    The American defense review "Defense News" published an interview with former public order minister Mihalis Chryso-hoidis. Noting that during his tenure he had undertaken the task of Greece's anti-terrorist shielding in the post-September 11 international environment.

    It was also noted that when Chrysohoidis was in tenure, the November 17 group was disbanded, international cooperation for the security of the Athens Olympic Games was promoted and a modernization program for the Greek Police (ELAS) was implemented, that led crime levels in Greece to a historic low and increased the prestige of the security services.

    As regards Greece's security environment, Chrysohoidis stressed that Greece is faced with the double challenge of handling asymmetrical terrorist threats and organized crime on the one hand and maintaining an effective deterrent force on the other, in the framework of facing conventional regional conflicts.

    He points out that Greek-Turkish relations have achieved a substantive improvement since 1999, but added that tension factors continue to exist and the only way of overcoming them is strict respect for international law rules and practices.

    On the question of Greece's participation in the international war against terrorism, he said that the experience obtained from combating local terrorism taught him, on the one hand, that great determination and the involvement of all of society and of the international community is required and, on the other, the struggle must be won at the level of ideas and policy.

    Believing that under the circumstances the further professionalization of the military is the only logical solution, Chrysohoidis stresses that a decrease in military service must be followed by a corresponding increase in the number of professionals and provided it will not have repercussions on the military's readiness.

    [12] ND Secretary Zagoritis chairs party meeting on local gov't results

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    New Democracy (ND) Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis chaired a party meeting on Tuesday on the outcome of the local government elections which assessed that the results were positive for the ruling party.

    After the meeting, Zagoritis stated that "the climate in the prefectures and municipalities is positive."

    He said that in general terms, "the New Democracy went well in the elections, the data shows it, the map shows it and also the situation in PASOK (main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement) shows it."

    Concluding, Zagoritis said that the New Democracy party "had important successes in major urban centers and is satisfied."

    [13] Greece, China promote closer economic relations, FinMin says

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Greece and China were forging closer economic and trade relations, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, presenting the results of his official visit to China last week, the Greek minister said his talks with Chinese officials in Beijing and Shanghai focused on starting direct flights between Athens, Beijing and Hong Kong, the opening of the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki to Chinese products and the cooperation of the Athens Stock Exchange with the stock markets of Shanghai and Hong Kong.

    Alogoskoufis, accompanied by Economy Deputy Minister Christos Folias, met in Beijing with the governor of the Bank of China, and the ministers of Finance and Trade.

    The Greek minister announced that a Chinese airline would begin direct flights between Athens and Beijing in the next few months and noted that Greek cargo ships were currently transporting 50 percent of China's imports and 60 percent of China's imports in oil. He stressed that Greece's two largest ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, could become transit cargo hubs between China and the regions of Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

    In Shanghai, the Greek minister met with the president of the stock market and agreed to promote cooperation between the two cities' capital markets through "stock basket" trading. Alogoskoufis said the Hong Kong's commerce and financial service would soon open a representation office in Greece and noted that progress was made in talks to avoid double taxation between the two countries.

    [14] Athens approves 135 new energy investments worth 200 mln euros

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Tuesday approved the inclusion of 135 energy investments, budgeted at 200.5 million euros, to a "Competitiveness" Business Program, saying it was another initiative aimed to boost private energy investments in the country. The ministry has already approved funds totaling 354.4 million euros for private energy investments budgeted at 1.075 billion euros.

    The ministry said new units totaling 250 MW were included in the country's renewable energy sources' grid in the period from March 2004 to September 2006, raising the country’s power by 55 percent. Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said another 100 MW were expected to be included in the system by the end of the year.

    [15] Development minister briefs President Karolos Papoulias on energy initiatives

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas briefed on Tuesday President Karolos Papoulias on all the development issues being handled by the ministry and on legislative initiatives it is undertaking in the sectors of energy, processing, research and technology.

    The minister said after the meeting that a large part of the discussion focused on the course of the international energy initiatives of the government and the development ministry, particularly in relation to the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline, the Greek-Italian natural gas pipeline and the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, "a project that bears the seal of the President of the Republic Mr. Papoulias himself at its start."

    Sioufas also briefed President Papoulias on the operation course of the Energy Community of Southeastern Europe as of July 1.

    [16] Liapis meets with several int'l IT, telecoms executives

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis held a series of meetings with foreign officials on Tuesday on the sidelines of the first-ever Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a seminal event being held in an Athens seaside resort.

    Liapis, whose ministry co-hosts the forum, met with Egyptian Communications and IT Minister Tarek Kamel, a meeting that witnessed the signing of a bilateral memorandum of cooperation in the post, telecoms and IT sectors.

    Afterwards, the Greek minister also met with the head of Germany's powerful federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway (Bundesnetz-agentur), Matthias Kurth, Berlin's candidate for the position of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) general secretary.

    Additionally, Liapis met with Japan's Vice-Minister for Policy Coordination, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, Hideo Shimizu, with talks focusing on the upcoming ITU conference in Antalya, Turkey, this month. Shimizu is also a candidate for the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) director's post.

    [17] Development minister to visit Moscow for Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas will leave for Moscow, Russia, and Sofia, Bulgaria, on Wednesday night or Thursday morning for contacts with the governments of the two countries on the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline.

    The aim is the signing of an inter-state agreement on support for the construction of the project by the end of the year. The creation of the international company that will undertake the pipeline's construction and operation is also pending.

    [18] Contract signed for Thessaloniki undersea tunnel project

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Construction of the undersea tunnel in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, will begin in spring and will radically change traffic conditions in the city, together with the Metro to be created. The project, according to Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias, will be ready in four years.

    The relevant contract was signed at the public works ministry on Tuesday by Souflias and the representatives of the "Thermaiki Odos" joint venture. It will be tabled in Parliament and its ratification is expected in February or March.

    Work on the project will begin immediately afterwards. It will have a length of 6.5 kilometers, four kilometers of which will be an undersea tunnel with its ceiling located at least one meter under the seabed.

    The project will have three lanes in each direction and the amount of toll fees, according to the minister, was set at 0.90 euros for each crossing.

    The tunnel will link the western side of the port with the coast on the other side, near the "Macedonia Palace" hotel.

    [19] Tourism seen rising 8.0% in 2006, 2007

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Tourist arrivals in Greece are expected to rise by about 8.0% in 2006, with the same increase seen for 2007, the Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasts said in a report released on Tuesday.

    The calculation for 2006 was based on arrivals for September, the institute said in the report entitled Greek Economy and Tourism.

    Revenue from tourism in 2006 is forecast to rise by 10%-11%.

    In 2005, the rate of increase of arrivals was 5.6%.

    "2005 may, without exaggeration be characterized as the starting point for a new and profitable course for tourism and overall economic growth," the institute noted.

    [20] Employment minister meets representatives of building contractors

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on Tuesday chaired a broad meeting of the Hygiene and Security Committee in the building sector, in the presence of ministry officials and representatives of the Social Security Foundation (IKA) and building organizations.

    After the meeting, Tsitouridis spoke of "good cooperation" between the building contractors and IKA and the ministry, noting that also discussed was the issue of the regular payment of the contractors' contributions to IKA.

    [21] Report says mega-mergers by Greek banks unlikely

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Any mega-mergers in the domestic banking market, after the sale of Emporiki Bank, is unlikely, a report by Kantor Capital SA said on Tuesday.

    The annual report on the Greek banking market said any merger moves in the market would focus on smaller banking institutions.

    The Post Savings Bank is the first takeover target for larger banks, followed by the Bank of Cyprus and Marfin Group, Kantor Capital said in its report, adding that the purchase of Post Savings Bank would add significant value to NovaBank, Aspis Bank and Geniki Bank, while of significant value would be any mergers between NovaBank and Bank of Cyprus, or between NovaBank and Aspis Bank. The report noted that foreign players were interested only for the big five Greek banks and particularly their international operations.

    Kantor noted a 40 percent improvement in profitability last year in the banking sector, with interest revenues the biggest revenue source (with an average 73-81 percent of total revenues).

    The three largest banks reported a 6.0 pct increase in assets last year, with average asset return up to 1.2 pct in 2005 from 1.0 pct in 2004. Spending on personnel fell an average 2.0 pct, while the average branch productivity rose by 1.7 percent.

    Large Greek banks' added value fell by 39 percent in 2005 to 30 million euros from 50 million euros in 2004, while smaller banks continued reporting negative added value.

    Local banks' workforce totaled 91,044 last year, up 16 percent from 2004, reflecting mainly a wave of takeovers abroad by Greek banks.

    [22] International OECD conference on SMEs in Athens

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    An international conference of the OECD on eradicating access obstacles for small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in international markets will be held in Athens next week, according to an announcement made during a press conference on Tuesday by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and the Organization’s director Sergio Arzeni.

    The conference will be taking place between November 6-8 with the participation of representatives from 62 countries and 15 organizations.

    Sioufas said that a study will be presented that codifies the main obstacles for SMEs access to the international market. They include the lack of working capital, difficulty in finding opportunities and the lack of information about markets.

    [23] Budget revenue up 9.1%

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Budgetary revenue rose by 9.1% in January-September 2006 compared with the same period a year earlier, the finance ministry said on Tuesday.

    Spending rose by 2.0% against a target of 3.3%, the State General Accounting Office said in a statement.

    Spending on interest increased by 3.8% versus a target of 2.5% on an annual basis.

    As a result, the budget deficit dropped by 27.1%, the statement added.

    [24] PASOK's V. Papandreou on implementation of 2006 budget

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Economy Department head Vasso Papandreou in statements on Tuesday said that "the figures which were made public today on the implementation of the budget for the period January-September 2006 prove that the budget which was voted by the (ruling) New Democracy party was bogus."

    She further noted that "even the comparison with the revised data downwards which were made public by the Economy and Finance Minister (George Alogoskoufis) in early October, proves the weaknesses of the implementation of the budget."

    [25] Greek participation in Indagra 2006 trade fair in Romania

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    A total of 15 Greek enterprises will participate in this year's Indagra 2006 international agricultural machinery and equipment fair to be held in Romania , Nov. 8-12.

    TIF SA (Thessaloniki International Fair) is organizing the Greek participation which includes members of the Manufacturers' Chamber of Thessaloniki along with food companies such as "Kolios" and "Allatini".

    The Indagra fair completes TIF's international program for the year. The Greek company recently organized the participation of 33 Greek enterprises to an international metallurgical-electrical and building materials' trade fair "Tehnoma 2006" in Skopje, FYROM.

    [26] Greek exports rise

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Greek exports totaled 10,658.9 million euros in January-August 2006, up 19.7% from the same period a year earlier, the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) said on Tuesday.

    The value of exports in August 2006 rose by 19.9% to 1,225.1 million euros against 1,012.5 million euros in the same month of 2005, HEPO said on the basis of data from the Greek National Statistics Service.

    Of the January-August total, 795.1 million euros was from an increase in exports of petroleum products and allied goods; 315.8 million euros from a rise in food and beverages; and 335.4 million euros from an increase in industrial goods, according to HEPO.

    [27] Arab-Greek business mission to Kuwait and Bahrain

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    The Arab-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Development is organizing a business mission to Kuwait and Bahrain between December 3-8, according to an announcement on Tuesday by the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis will head the first half of the business mission (in Kuwait between December 3-5).

    [28] Greek industrial turnover index up 12.6 pct in Aug, yr/yr

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Greece's industrial turnover composite index (measuring both domestic and foreign markets) jumped 12.6 pct in August compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.

    NSS, in its report, said the August increase reflected an 18.6 pct jump in the mining turnover index and a 12.5 pct rise in the manufacturing turnover index over the same period.

    The statistics service also announced that the new industrial orders index fell 11.9 percent in August, compared with the corresponding month in 2005.

    [29] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    The Athens share index closed at 4,128.60 points, showing a rise of 0.28%. Turnover was 293.3 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.01% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 1.24% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.18% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 177 to 81 with 55 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (1706)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 83.8 million euros

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.03 pct

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.03 pct yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (1.0 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.6 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    U.S. dollar 1.279

    [30] Hotel under investigation for child deaths has license revoked

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    The operating license of the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in Gouvia, Corfu, where two UK children died of carbon monoxide poisoning last week, has been temporarily revoked by the Regional Tourism Service for the Ionian Islands, by order of Greek Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia.

    The license will be revoked permanently if an investigation currently underway proves that the hotel was responsible for the deaths of the two children, who were on holiday with their father.

    The bodies of Christianne and Robert Shepherd, 7 and 6, were found in the bungalow suite the family had rented last Thursday, while their father, Neil, 38, and his partner, Ruth Beatson, 28, were transported in a comatose condition to a Corfu city intensive care unit. Doctors said the two adults were conscious on Saturday afternoon and recovering.

    An autopsy on the two children identified carbon monoxide poisoning as the cause of death, with the investigation focusing on a gas leak into their room from a poorly-ventilated utility room adjacent to the suite.

    [31] Greek Museum and Cultural Centre in Chicago

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    A reconstruction of a typical Greek immigrant room has opened at the Greek Museum and Cultural Centre of Chicago in the United States, situated in the city’s Greek neighborhood. This is the first museum of its kind with references to Greece and the United States.

    The pioneer Greeks of Chicago, who came up with the idea, now plan to build a 3,000sqm Multicultural Centre featuring a Museum and a Library on a property donated by the city mayor.

    The Greel Museum also houses a permanent collection of objects and furniture belonging to the early Greek immigrants, a Byzantine icons collection, a baptistery, and canonicals belonging to the first Greek Orthodox priests in the United States. The museum collection also includes replicas of Greek antiquities, old coins, fabrics, embroidery and knitwear dating back to the 18 and 19 centuries, while in the library the visitor can find numerous contemporary Greek books, newspapers and magazines.

    An exhibition on the rebetiko, a type of urban Greek music and songs created by people who lived outside the social order, will be hosted in the Greek Museum of Chicago until January 19, 2007.

    [32] Paintings inspired by Aristophanes

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    A painting exhibition with works by Alexis Kyritsopoulos will be inaugurated at the National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation in Athens on November 2 and will remain open for the public until January 5, 2007.

    The exhibition Painting for Aristophanes includes some 200 small and large size paintings inspired by two leading works of the classical writer of satirical comedy, Lysistrata and The Acharnians, dating back to the 1976 performance by singer Dionysis Savvopoulos.

    [33] Church of Greece examines establishing schools

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece on Tuesday accepted a proposal by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos for the establishment of private, non-profit making schools in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras, western Greece.

    The Holy Synod proceeded to the creation of a special committee to examine the possibility of establishing a school in Thessaloniki, Macedonia.

    [34] Fire threatens traditional settlement of Varosi in Edessa

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    The traditional settlement of Varosi in Edessa, northwestern Greece, was seriously threatened by a fire that broke out on Monday night in an abandoned house and spread to an adjacent building, also abandoned, due to strong winds blowing in the region at the time. The fire was extinguished by a strong firefighting force but the two buildings were burned to the ground.

    Varosi is one of the three Christian quarters that blossomed in Edessa during the Ottoman rule and its entire northeastern section up to the Edessa waterfalls is preserved in its original form. It includes about 80 buildings, 40 percent of which are uninhabited.

    This was the first fire that broke out in Varosi after the blaze set by the Nazis in September 12, 1944 when its southeast section was destroyed entirely.

    [35] U.S. fleet aircraft makes emergency landing at Iraklion airport

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    A U.S. fleet Charly-2 aircraft made an emergency landing at Nikos Kazantzakis airport in Iraklio, on the island of Crete, on Tuesday after failing to land at the Souda base in Hania earlier on.

    The aircraft had taken off from an aircraft carrier sailing in the Mediterranean, but due to bad weather conditions prevailing at Souda it failed to land despite making repeated efforts.

    The repeated efforts to land resulted in a considerable consumption of fuel and the pilot was obliged to seek the nearest airport. He contacted the control tower at "Nikos Kazantzakis" airport, declaring a state of emergency as a result of limited fuel and requesting landing clearance, that was granted and the aircraft landed safely.

    [36] Human traffickers arrested in Thessaloniki

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Three Iraqi nationals involved in the trafficking of 19 Iraqis from Turkey into Greece were arrested by Thessaloniki police.

    Two of the suspects, aged 28 and 26, were arrested on Monday afternoon on board the Thessaloniki-Athens passenger train while escorting 10 Iraqis to Athens. A 40-year-old Iraqi human trafficker and 9 Iraqi illegal migrants were arrested on Tuesday morning in a central Thessaloniki hotel.

    According to police, the illegal migrants led by another trafficker entered Greece last Wednesday from the Greek-Turkish borders and boarded a truck driven by two of the traffickers who planned to transport them to Athens and other European cities.

    A police investigation continues for the arrest of the human trafficking ring masterminds.

    [37] Olympiakos Piraeus draws 1-1 with AS Roma away in Champions League match

    Athens 1/11/2006 (ANA)

    Olympiakos Piraeus drew 1-1 with AS Roma of Italy (halftime 0-1) in a Champions League Group D soccer match played in Rome on Tuesday night.

    Olympiakos went into the lead with Julio Cesar in the 18th minute, while Francesco Totti equalized for AS Roma in the 66th.

    Totti had missed a penalty in the 32nd.

    [38] Finnish official holds talks here in view of EU report on Turkey)

    NICOSIA, 1/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Director General of the Finnish Foreign Ministry's Department for Europe, Kare Halonen, held here meetings on Tuesday aiming at reaching an agreement in order to prevent a crisis between the EU and Turkey in view of the European Commission's progress report on Turkey's accession negotiations.

    Halonen met with the Director of the Cypriot President's Diplomatic Office, Tasos Tzionis and with Rasit Pertev, counselor of the Turkish Cypriot leader.

    A spokeswoman of the Finnish Embassy in Nicosia told CNA that the meeting with Tzionis took place in the Ambassador's residence while the meeting with Pertev in his office in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.

    "We will continue our consultations during the next days. Our aim is to find a solution before the 8th of November, when the progress report on Turkey's EU accession negotiations is published", she said.

    The spokeswoman reassured that the Finnish EU Presidency is working very hard on political as well as on civil servants level hoping to reach a solution before the 8th of November.

    Focus of the two meetings has been the discussion of the Finnish EU Presidency's proposals to avert an EU-Turkey crisis in November and the preparation of the ground for a possible meeting in Helsinki between the interested parties.

    Regarding a high level meeting in Helsinki, the spokeswoman told CNA that for now this is mainly an idea, adding that all depends on the results of the consultations that take place this period.

    "There is no confirmation yet that such a meeting will take place", she said.

    Halonen, who arrived in Cyprus in the early hours of Tuesday, departed in the afternoon for Germany.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    Turkey, a country aspiring to become an EU member state, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to implement the EU-Turkey Customs Union Protocol, which provides for the opening of its ports and airports to Cyprus.

    [39] Cyprus says return of Varosha precondition for successful Finnish initiative

    NICOSIA, 1/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said on Tuesday that the precondition for the success of the Finnish EU presidency's initiative was the return of Varosha to its legitimate inhabitants, noting that the Finnish presidency had expressed some ideas and thoughts about talks in Helsinki, aimed at discussing its initiative.

    The spokesman said efforts were focusing on the success of the Finnish presidency's effort and noted that Turkey had so far not given any positive indications but several negative ones.

    He said it was a fact that the Finnish presidency had expressed some ideas and thoughts a few days ago about talks in Helsinki, noting that ''if finally proximity talks are called in Helsinki, Turkey will surely be invited, as an occupying force, and as having the first and last word on the return of Varosha.''

    Replying to questions, Pashiardis said that if the Republic of Cyprus was invited under the precondition he mentioned, then ''our answer will be positive.''

    Asked what the Finns had actually said, Pashiardis said ''there are some thoughts and ideas of the Finnish presidency for representatives of the Turkish government and the Cypriot government to participate in proximity talks in an effort to successfully promote the Finnish initiative.''

    ''There is no concrete proposal before us on the issue,'' he pointed out.

    Invited to say what level the talks would be held on, Pashiardis said it would most probably be between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

    Replying to questions, Pashiardis clarified that ''we will be invited as an EU member state'' and thus if Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat will be present either just to state his presence or as a member of the Turkish delegation, ''this is of no concern to us.''

    ''We will not discuss the issue of the return of Varosha with Mr. Talat. It is a matter that does not concern him,'' Pashiardis added.

    Earlier on Tuesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas said that the Republic of Cyprus had not received an invitation and neither had Greece for a meeting regarding the Finnish proposal, noting that the solution of the Cyprus problem was not being discussed at this moment.

    He said that the key to the whole issue was Varosha and the return of the people to their homes, adding that the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots do not participate in any talks because the issue solely concerns the Republic of Cyprus and the EU.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    According to reports, the Finnish EU Presidency is working on a draft proposal, providing for the opening of the Turkish occupied port of Famagusta under EU administration for 24 months, in combination with the opening of Turkish ports to ships carrying the Cypriot flag and the transfer of the closed city to the UN.

    [40] Cypriot President to pay official visit to Croatia

    NICOSIA, 1/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus Republic President Tassos Papadopoulos will pay an official visit (November 6 to 9) to Croatia, at the invitation of President Stjepan Mesic.

    According to an official press release, President Papadopoulos will hold meetings with Mesic, Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and Croatian House Speaker.

    He will visit Zagreb and Split where he will meet with the Mayors of the two towns. He will address the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Industry which will convene in a special session.

    After Croatia, President Papadopoulos will fly on to Rome on Thursday for an official visit to the Vatican.

    The Cypriot president will be accompanied by Acting Foreign Minister, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Photis

    Photiou, Cyprus Ambassador to Croatia Cornilios Corniliou and other officials.


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