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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

November 15, 2006


  • [01] PM says new budget one of consistency, reliability, effectiveness and prospects
  • [02] PM briefed by employment minister on social insurance issues, EU labor ministers' council
  • [03] Interior minister rules out changes to contract-worker decree
  • [04] Gov't on judicial salaries, Papandreou comments about contract-worker issue
  • [05] PM to meet foreign minister on Wednesday
  • [06] Deputy FM Kassimis visits Chicago
  • [07] State Dep't affirms US continues to abide by Treaty of Lausanne
  • [08] PASOK's Papoutsis received by Cyprus president
  • [09] Ankara will increase funding to Turkish occupied territories of Cyprus five-fold over next 3 years, Gul says
  • [10] Patriarch urges election of new foundation boards
  • [11] EU Education Ministers Council convenes in Brussels
  • [12] PASOK leader has telephone conversation with Arab League secretary
  • [13] FinMin tables in Parliament state budget for 2007
  • [14] Central bank sees growth topping forecast
  • [15] Greek economy grew 4.3 pct in third quarter, yr/yr
  • [16] PM gives 'Kouros 2006' Entrepreneurship Awards
  • [17] Tourism minister attends XENIA award ceremony
  • [18] European Parliament plenum ratifies report by PASOK Eurodeputy Mary Matsouka on social security
  • [19] Economic and trade attaches visit Athens Chamber of Commerce
  • [20] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise
  • [21] US the “honored country” at March education exhibition
  • [22] 1956 Hungarian revolution commemorated in Athens
  • [23] Greece's UN representative to receive Omirio Award
  • [24] Inquiry launched into problems with FAGE yoghurts
  • [25] Precautionary measures against flash floods in Thessaloniki
  • [26] Cypriot Foreign Minister hopes Finnish initiative will be successful
  • [27] Cypriot President to visit China
  • [28] PACE rapporteur describes SBA inhabitants ''second class citizens''

  • [01] PM says new budget one of consistency, reliability, effectiveness and prospects

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing a cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening on the occasion of the tabling in Parliament of the new state budget for 2007, said "it is a budget of consistency and reliability, effectiveness and prospects."

    Karamanlis added that this budget as well expresses the strategy of mild fiscal restructuring and the continuous strengthening of the country's development impetus.

    He added that the budget utilizes the results of the changes and reforms being promoted by the government and goes along with the development of its reformist strategy.

    "The budget for 2007 is a guarantee for new considerable results regarding the strengthening of the economy, development, social cohesion. It constitutes proof of responsibility. It is the implementation of a reliable policy," he said.

    The prime minister noted that the directions on which the state budget moves lead with "safe and firm steps to an increase in the product produced and to the safeguarding of increasing social dividends," adding that they lead to a society that produces, progress and acquires greater cohesion.

    "We have chosen this path and we all have responsibilities and obligations on this path. We are not entitled to undermine the considerable steps of our economy for temporary impressions. We are not entitled to mortgage the future of our country for partisan expediencies. The results of our policy so far prove the Cassandras wrong and certify that we are on the right path," the prime minister added.

    Karamanlis mentioned that the continuation of fiscal restructuring and adjustment, the easing of the public debt, the improvement of competitiveness and the strengthening of the economy's extroversion are the basic goals of the budget.

    He also stressed that the goals include supporting the development process and the spreading of development all over the country and to all the sectors of the economy, improving the income of the financially weaker and strengthening social cohesion, increasing employment and decreasing unemployment further.

    The prime minister referred to tax reform, with the increase in the tax-free limit to 12,000 euros and the gradual decrease of tax rates, as well as to the implementation of basic commitments of the government which, as he said, aim at strengthening social cohesion.

    The prime minister further underlined the increase in the pensions of the Farmers Insurance Fund (OGA) that will increase from 227 euros to 280 a month in 2007 and to 330 from the beginning of 2008.

    Lastly, he spoke of the increase in minimum unemployment benefits from 311 to 367 a month in 2007, while they will be increasing further in 2008 so as to reach 55 percent of the main salary and daily wage.

    The main points of the budget and its philosophy were analyzed by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis during the cabinet meeting.

    Growth may top 3.8% goal: Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday that a targeted 3.8% rise in gross domestic product contained in the country's growth and stability pact will be attained, and the figure may even rise higher.

    "On the basis of favorable economic developments and the trends that are emerging, it is now certain that the target in the growth and stability program and the budget will be achieved and it is likely that it will be exceeded," Alogoskoufis told reporters as the government submitted its 2007 budget to parliament.

    The budget marked the end of the first phase of a tax overhaul, and inaugurated the second phase of the drive to make distribution of the tax burden more equitable by raising the tax-exempt limit and lowering tax brackets, he noted.

    In addition, the budget implemented the government's pledges on improving social cohesion through increases in farmers' pensions, a low-pensions supplement and unemployment benefit.

    In 2007, the fiscal deficit would drop to 2.4% of GDP, the public debt would fall sharply, competitiveness would improve, joblessness would drop, and lower incomes would rise along with investment and growth, the minister forecast.

    Asked to comment on the new budget's link to national elections, which are due in 2008, Alogoskoufis replied: "The 2007 budget is one of the last steps in the government's program."

    PASOK leader critical of new budget: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday criticized the draft 2007 state budget, which was to be tabled in parliament later in the evening, of adding burdens to and creating imposes in Greek households, addressing a meeting of his party's coordinators.

    Papandreou also launched a more generalized attack on the New Democracy government, which he accused of deceiving the Greek citizens and of creating problems instead of solving the existing ones, as well as of continuing to pass out promises "which are belied every day".

    The opposition leader also charged that no one had faith in the present government to solve the problems "because it says one thing and does something else".

    He said that the issue of the contract employees was only the tip of the iceberg, and was a matter that concerned "the dignity of all of us".

    PASOK, on the other hand, was undertaking initiatives to help out the Greek family "which has resorted to (bank) borrowing and credit cards in order to make ends meet", thus "undermining its children's future", said Papandreou, who also claimed that taxes have risen by 23 percent since 2004, which he attributed to borrowing by households.

    Economic growth founded on consumer loans was a growth without prospects and one that compressed the incomes of the popular strata, Papandreou warned, adding that the government has proved that it was not serving the people's interests, citing the policies regarding the country's ports, the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), the education sector, and the public utilities and organizations (DEKO).

    The coordinators' meeting also discussed a draft law that the PASOK parliamentary group will table in parliament aimed at protecting consumers from the banks' loan contracts.

    PASOK party official comments on new state budget: Main opposition PASOK party economy sector chief Vasso Papandreou, commenting on Tuesday on the new state budget tabled in Parliament earlier in the day, said that "the budget being tabled today follows strictly the class policy of New Democracy (the ruling party)."

    She added that "we have a further redistribution of income from the many to the few, taxpayers will be burdened with 3.3 billion euros, the relationship between indirect and direct taxes will worsen and expenditures for salaries and pensions, expenditures for education and for social benefits will decrease even further. It will be a year in which the few, those who have and possess, will benefit and the many will be faced with huge problems."

    Opposition parties criticize 2007 state budget: Opposition parties on Tuesday criticized the state budget for the fiscal year 2007, tabled in Parliament earlier in the day.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in an announcement that the state budget for 2007 "constitutes an implement for promoting the government's anti-popular economic policy," stressing that "at a time when salaried working people and the self-employed are being called on to shoulder the additional burdens from the increase in tax revenues, big capital is enjoying additional tax relief, despite its great profit-making."

    Panayiotis Lafazanis, a member of the Political Bureau of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos), said in a statement that the budget for 2007 "is one of the worst and most burdensome budgets in past years for the wide working classes, social expenditures and the development of the country," adding that the budget "will bring a new decrease in incomes from salaried labor and a new upsurge in social inequalities."

    [02] PM briefed by employment minister on social insurance issues, EU labor ministers' council

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government is not seeking solutions to the social insurance issue through raising the retirement age, employment minister Savvas Tsitouridis told reporters on Tuesday after a meeting with prime minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Replying to questions prompted by press reports intimating at an increase of contributions to the TEBE social insurance fund for the self-employed and craftsmen, Tsitouridis stressed that the contributions would not be increases, adding that this would become apparent during the parliamentary debate on the 2007 draft budget, which was due to be tabled in the 300-member House later in the afternoon.

    He clarified that no contributions would be increased, nor would pensions of any category be reduced. On the contrary, he added, pensions such as those of professional drivers would be increased.

    Tsitouridis noted that implementation of the existing legislation and the policies being advanced by the government would enable, by the end of the government's present four-year term in office, a clear assessment so that the next government would be able to proceed with social insurance reforms aiming at an efficient system with prospects and which would be more socially just.

    The employment minister cited the national census of socially insured and pensioned workers as one such initiative, as well as the exploitation of the social insurance funds' real estate and other assets, computerization of their services, and the establishment of uniform control mechanisms.

    The government, with its initiatives, was bringing about substantial changes to a system that was socially unjust and decimated, and which spent much of the insured parties' monies, he continued.

    Tsitouridis said he had also briefed the prime minister on the recent EU Council of Employment Ministers' meeting which he said had averted the imposition of "a work model that would not have been in line with the model wanted by the European Union".

    "Our country's government is advancing policies that find the silver lining between the need for flexibility and protection of the working people," the minister said.

    [03] Interior minister rules out changes to contract-worker decree

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday ruled out any extension of the criteria by which temporary contract workers in the public sector might qualify for permanent jobs, as currently mandated by a presidential decree.

    During a press conference, Pavlopoulos clarified that the changes sought would then allow every broader public-sector organization to hire as many temporary employees as it liked on the pretext that it had standing and constant needs and then give them permanent jobs.

    Regarding a Court of Audit ruling that prevented contract workers awarded permanent positions by lower courts from being paid, Pavlopoulos said that a formula would be found so that they would be immediately be paid any money owed to them by the local authorities that employed them but stressed that this would not involve their getting an indefinite contract or require court action.

    If this formula was turned down by the Court of Audit, the ministry would then issue a decree effective retroactively that would make a settlement, he added.

    The minister also called on local authorities that believed they had unfilled standing, permanent staff needs to immediately proclaim the necessary positions, noting that these would be approved by the ministry.

    Pavlopoulos pointed out that the Supreme Council for Staff Selection (ASEP) had so far approved 32,924 applications for the conversion of temporary contracts to permanent positions in the broader public sector out of a total of 72,926 applications received. He pointed out that contract workers not meeting the presidential decree's criteria benefited from a 50% point-lead over other candidates for local authority jobs, while former Citizens' Service Centre (KEP) employees had a 55% points lead.

    The minister also stressed that the problem was created by PASOK governments and a policy of hiring people to cover permanent positions without going through the ASEP process, using temporary contracts that were then regularly renewed, that became worse after 1999.

    [04] Gov't on judicial salaries, Papandreou comments about contract-worker issue

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government on Tuesday announced that the issue of judges' salaries will be dealt with when the Constitution was revised by the next government.

    According to alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, the government had already made a specific proposal for revising article 88 of the Constitution that provided an alternative to the special court for judges' salaries with the foundation of a Constitutional Court.

    Antonaros was replying to questions about what body would take over the functions of the special court if this was abolished.

    During a meeting on Tuesday, meanwhile, Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis discussed the legal implications of the special court's recent decision to grant substantial pay rises and back pay to an appeals court judge filing a suit, including the issues arising when courts were called on to decide the pay of judges.

    Regarding the controversial court decision relating to public-sector temporary contract workers - and in reply to criticism leveled by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou - Antonaros stressed that previous PASOK governments were responsible for the present situation.

    "Mr. Papandreou should not, therefore, try to pass on the responsibilities of governments that he himself was part of to the present government," Antonaros added, while noting that further questions would be answered during a press conference held by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

    During an address to PASOK party coordinators, Papandreou said that the contract-worker issue was the "tip of the iceberg" and an "affront to the dignity of us all".

    PASOK party official criticizes government's stance on contract employees issue

    Main opposition PASOK party public administration and justice sector chief Evangelos Venizelos said on Tuesday that the government's stance on the issue of contract employees was "cynical."

    Replying to questions by the press on what was stated on the issue earlier in the day by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Venizelos said that the government was "leading working people to desperation, who not only see their work being lost but do not even receive their pay for many previous months of work."

    Venizelos added that "out of the 'pre-election' 250,000 contract employees of Mr. Karamanlis we reached only 32,000 approvals by the Supreme Staff Selection Council and 220,000 mockeries against specific working people and their families."

    [05] PM to meet foreign minister on Wednesday

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to meet Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced.

    The spokesman also told reporters that there was "nothing new" concerning the possibility of a trip by Karamanlis to Ankara.

    [06] Deputy FM Kassimis visits Chicago

    CHICAGO, 15/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, responsible for issues concerning expatriate Greeks, is on a three-day visit to Chicago, on the fourth leg of his ongoing United States tour.

    The deputy foreign minister met with representatives of the 250,000-strong Greek American community in Chicago, and discussed issues concerning the teaching of the Greek language, Greece’s cultural presence and the creation of stronger ties between the third and fourth generation Greek Americans and Greece.

    Kassimis met with Metropolitan Bishop Iakovos of Chicago and members of the Pan-Macedonian Association. He also visited 2 of the 55 Greek American schools under the jurisdiction of the Chicago-based education coordination office.

    He also attended a working lunch hosted by World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Andrew Athens, and a United Hellenic American Congress (UHAC) formal reception.

    The deputy minister further visited Chicago’s Greek Museum and Cultural Center.

    [07] State Dep't affirms US continues to abide by Treaty of Lausanne

    Washington, 15/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The US State Department on Monday affirmed that the US continued to abide by the Treaty of Lausanne and its implementation, and that there was no change in US policy on that.

    Replying to questions during a daily press briefing, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that "we continue to support the --- abide by the Treaty of Lausanne and its implementation".

    Asked to comment on recent statements by the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the US embassy in Athens, Thomas Countryman, in an interview with an Athens daily in which he referred to "Macedonian" and "Albanian" minorities in Greece, McCormack replied that the US "continue to abide by the Treaty of Lausanne and its implementation, and there is no change in our policy in that regard".

    The government last week dismissed the comment by Countryman, published by the Athens daily over the weekend citing a reference by the DCM to a "Turkish minority" in western Thrace, instead of the term "Muslim minority", as recognized by the Treaty of Lausanne.

    "Statements by diplomats and consuls do not transform or change the reality. In Greece we have a modern European democracy where human rights are respected, with equality before the law for all, and where we have no reason to fear whatever criticism. Let me remind you that EU programs are underway specifically in Thrace to improve the living conditions of the area's residents," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said at the time during a regular press briefing.

    U.S. State Department spokesman comments on definition of minorities: U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Tuesday that "the definition of minorities by the United States is different from the definition used by Greece and some other European countries."

    McCormack made his statement after being called on to clarify the recent remark by the charge d'affaires of the U.S. embassy in Athens Tom Countryman on a "Macedonian" and "Albanian" minority living in Greece.

    “We discuss this issue as part of a broad dialogue with our Greek friends, including Minister Bakoyannis, who had an excellent visit here to the U.S. in late September” he said and stressed that “Greece has a strong record of integrating migrant workers”.

    Lastly, the State Department's spokesman said that the US “relationship with Greece has never been better” adding that the “U.S. and Greece will continue working together to pursue our common interests in the region and beyond.”

    [08] PASOK's Papoutsis received by Cyprus president

    NICOSIA, 15/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos received on Tuesday evening Christos Papoutsis, main opposition PASOK deputy and party responsible for foreign policy affairs.

    No statements were made after the meeting.

    [09] Ankara will increase funding to Turkish occupied territories of Cyprus five-fold over next 3 years, Gul says

    ANKARA, 15/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Turkish leadership on Tuesday again appeared unyielding regarding the now closely watched Cyprus issue, given the latter's repercussions on Ankara's EU prospects in the coming period, with the Turkish foreign minister noting that "in three years Turkey's annual economic aid to (Turkish-occupied) northern Cyprus will reach US$1.8 billion from 360 million today."

    Turkish FM Abdullah Gul made the statements at the country's national assembly, and specifically before the members of the body's budget committee.

    He also told Turkish lawmakers that a solution for Cyprus not based on political equality and the bi-zonal principle will fail, adding that a solution was the objective of a package of proposals presented on Jan. 24, 2006 for a simultaneous lifting of restrictions on the island.

    Referring to the Greek-Turkish relations, Gul said Ankara has raised the issue of "difficulties" faced by the members of the Muslim minority in Thrace, he referred to them as "fellow countrymen", on a diplomatic level.

    Moreover, Gul cited efforts to solve problems between Greece and Turkey through dialogue and pointed out that the goal is to increase bilateral trade to five billion US dollars.

    [10] Patriarch urges election of new foundation boards

    ISTANBUL, 15/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Tuesday encouraged minority communities and their affiliated charitable foundations here to immediately proceed with the election of new boards of directors, a day after Turkey's assembly ratified a draft law on charitable foundations.

    "We do not want to exclude anybody," Vartholomeos said during an address to members of an ethnic Greek community in the Istanbul area (Arvanitochorion), while he called on current board of directors to again submit candidacies in new elections for foundations' boards.

    His statement comes amid reactions by some board members of charitable foundations, who favor holding elections at the end of 2008, as currently allowed by Turkish law.

    Charitable foundations in Turkey, of all faiths and denominations, elected their last boards of directors 16 years ago for a four-year term, although their tenure was repeatedly extended, by default, due to bureaucratic and legal obstacles placed by the Turkish state over the years in holding elections.

    After revisions in 2004, legal obstacles were lifted, with some communities holding elections, whereas others announced elections for Jan. 14.

    Still other boards of directors have issued statements citing "grave circumstances" in order to postpone elections.

    [11] EU Education Ministers Council convenes in Brussels

    BRUSSELS, 15/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The European Union's Council of Education Ministers convened here on Tuesday and examined the creation of the European Technology Institute and the modernization of higher education.

    Referring to the creation of a European Terchnology Institute, that will promote innovation and research at a European level, Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou pointed out to her counterparts that the Institute must combine the pure scientific and academic entity of national educational policy on higher education and the focal pursuit of the EU on achieving high targets in the sector of research and innovation at an international level.

    Yiannakou also referred to the proposal of the Greek government on research, according to which the creation of an organization by the prime minister is being discussed that will have the possibility of giving directions in research that will be assigned to various research agencies and universities.

    As regards the modernization of higher education in innovation, Yiannakou reminded that the Commission proposes the future funding of universities, that will correspond to 2 percent of the European GDP, while in parallel it proposed self-administration and autonomy for universities.

    [12] PASOK leader has telephone conversation with Arab League secretary

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou had a telephone conversation with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa on Tuesday focusing on latest developments in the Middle East.

    According to a party press release, Moussa briefed Papandreou on the aims of organizing an international conference on the Palestinian issue, while on his part, the main opposition leader briefed Moussa on the discussions held during the recent SI's Council meeting in Santiago, Chile, on the same issue and the situation in the Middle East.

    [13] FinMin tables in Parliament state budget for 2007

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis tabled the state budget for the 2007 fiscal year before the Parliament plenum on Tuesday, in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the members of the cabinet.

    Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda announced that the discussion on the budget at the plenum will begin on Monday December 18 and be completed in five sessions, on Friday December 22 at midnight.

    The relevant Parliamentary Economic Committee will be convened for the first session to examine the state budget on Wednesday November 22.

    According to the bill, the growth rate of the Greek economy is anticipated at approximately 3.8 percent, spurred chiefly by investments. A 6.5 percent increase is also forecast in exports of goods and services while, on the negative side, a 7.0 percent increase is forecast in imports.

    The main targets of the 2007 budget are boosting development and gradual reduction of the state deficit, while measures are provided for boosting the growth potential, consolidating the climate of fiscal discipline and stability in the economy, increasing the economy's outwardness, and strengthening social cohesion.

    The budget further advances reform in the taxation of natural entities, while the dialogue between the social partners will also be continued on reforming the country's social insurance system.

    The bill provides tax relieves for natural entities, and also foresees an improvement of the existing taxation environment for legal entities with the gradual reduction (by 2008) of the tax rate on corporate profits, as well as steps to stem tax evasion, corruption, the black economy and smuggling.

    Total net revenues will increase by 6.2 per cent compared to 2006. According to this forecast, revenues will be at 25.4 per cent of GDP compared to 25.6 and 24.8 per cent in 2006 and 2005 respectively.

    The central government's deficit will decrease to 4.3 of the GDP.

    Revenues from direct taxes are anticipated at 19.450 billion euros, up by 4.8 percent in relation to 2006, while revenues from indirect taxes are anticipated at 28.580 billion euros, up by 8.8 percent over the corresponding revenues in 2006.

    A substantial increase of 10.0 percent is further anticipated in revenues from Value Added Tax (VAT), estimated to reach 17.435 billion euros.

    Regular budget spending (excluding interest payments) are projected to ease to 25.6 pct of GDP next year from 25.9 pct in 2006, with spending on supporting weaker economically classes totaling 1.2 billion euros.

    Expenditure for salaries and pensions will account for 48 percent of the primary expenditure, whereas expenditure for insurance and healthcare will account for 22 percent of the overall primary expenditure.

    The Public Investment Program is forecast to reach 8.75 billion euros next year, of which 6.35 billion euros for projects co-funded with the EU and the remaining 2.4 billion for projects exclusively funded by national money.

    Finally, it is anticipated that strong economic activity will boost employment, thus containing the unemployment rate at 8.2 percent.

    [14] Central bank sees growth topping forecast

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The governor of the Bank of Greece, Nikos Garganas, said on Tuesday that the growth rate for 2006 was likely to top 4.1%, exceeding expectations.

    "It is positive that this increase is accompanied by a rise in employment and a reduction in joblessness," Garganas told a news conference to present the central bank's interim monetary policy report.

    "Favorable economic conditions will also allow a greater and swifter reduction of the deficit," he noted.

    The fact that average annual inflation was 3.5% against 2.2% in the eurozone meant an accompanying decline in competitiveness in terms of prices, which brought costs to employment.

    The economy's competitiveness fell by about 14% in 2000-2006 in relation to the country's 27 trade partners.

    "The loss in competitiveness is only partly due to a 9% rise in the euro, and, apart from other negative consequences, means high prices for consumers," Garganas said.

    The economy still faced problems due to its structural weak-nesses.

    "Although monetary conditions are loose, we have entered into a phase of rising interest rates, and credit expansion that supports consumption cannot continue," the central bank chief warned.

    "Reform is needed to ensure that the country will attract foreign investment, competitiveness, viability of the pensions system, better education, modernization of public administration and action against corruption," he stated.

    In addition, the current account deficit was very high at 7.3% of GDP, and anticipated to rise to 11%.

    "Although 30% of the total is due to the purchase of new ships by Greek shipowners and another 29% is due to fuel purchases, the remainder reflects strong domestic demand, due to which imports have shown a major rise. Even if the figure is 10%, this would be a colossal sum," Garganas noted.

    "About one fifth of the public is steadily living under the poverty line. One in five Greeks is poor. The rise in the social dividend has not been distributed to all. The situation is unacceptable, as it brings economic and social inequality. The problem is structural," he added.

    [15] Greek economy grew 4.3 pct in third quarter, yr/yr

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Greek economy grew strongly in the third quarter of 2006, with the country's Gross Domestic Product rising 4.3 pct in the July-September period compared with the same period last year, according to figures released by the National Statistics Service and Eurostat on Tuesday.

    The Statistics Service attributed the strong GDP growth in the third quarter to a 4.9 pct increase in the economy's final demand and a 7.6 pct rise in investments over the same period.

    NSS, in its regular report, said Greek imports rose 6.5 pct in the July-September period, while exports rose 7.0 pct over the same period. Final consumption grew 3.5 pct contributing 2.2 pct in the economy's final demand growth.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report published in Brussels, said the Greek economy grew by 2.1 pct in the third quarter from the second quarter 2006, after registering a 0.4 pct decline in the second quarter from the first quarter of the year.

    GDP growth in the Eurozone was 2.6 pct in the July-September period and 2.8 pct in the EU-28, Eurostat said. GDP growth in the US was 2.9 pct in the same period. Lithuania (7.1 pct) and Greece (4.3 pct) recorded the highest GDP growth rates while Italy (1.7 pct) and Holland (2.6 pct) the lowest rates.

    Gov't plans to make Greece energy producer

    The government is committed to making Greece an energy producer and transit centre versus a consumer nation, a pledge made four years ago, Deputy Foreign Minister Euripides Stylianidis said on Tuesday.

    "Greece is gradually achieving this target," Stylianis reported.

    He was speaking after a meeting in Athens with the general secretary of the energy charter, Andre Mernier.

    Forged in 1994 to deregulate the market and boost investment, the charter's aim is to harmonize legislation on energy among its more than 50 member states, which are mainly energy producing and transit countries.

    The two officials discussed incorporating Mediterranean countries into the charter, many of which are producers, a move that Greece could assist due to its ties in the region.

    Mernier acknowledged Greece's part in creating an energy charter for southeastern Europe.

    [16] PM gives 'Kouros 2006' Entrepreneurship Awards

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis gave the "Kouros 2006" Entrepreneurship Awards on Tuesday night during an event organized by the Entrepreneurship Club for the 12th consecutive year.

    This year's Kouros awards were given to the following: -Award for Development and/or Innovation:Athanasios Piliounis - Managing Director of Teledome AEBE. -Award for Performance in International Economic Field: Athanasios Andrianopoulos - President and Managing Director of the companies Perivallontiki ATEBE & Helesi AEBE and Managing Director of Helesi Plc. -Award for Social Contribution:Dimitris Marinopoulos - Vice President of Marinopoulos Bros. SA.

    Speaking during the event, Karamanlis said that the main goal of the new economic and development policy is support for the entrepreneurship of the Greek and the continuous improvement of the economy's competitiveness.

    "We gave immediate priority to the restructuring of the economy and the shaping of a new development environment, friendly towards entrepreneurship. We have implemented a new development model and we are continuing reforms for its strengthening. The results prove that we are on the right path," he said.

    The prime minister also underlined the fact that in its spring report the European Commission placed in the chapter on Greece the title "Greece: Investments are returning again."

    He said that in the second quarter of 2006 investments increased almost by 14 percent compared to the same period in 2005, adding that unemployment in Greece decreased from 11.3 percent in early 2004 to 8.8 percent in the second quarter of 2006.

    The event was attended by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Tourist Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and other government officials.

    [17] Tourism minister attends XENIA award ceremony

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The XENIA awards handed out by the Ministry of Tourism were received by actress Anna Sinodinou, writer Vasilis Vasilikos and soprano Vaso Papantoniou in a special ceremony held on Monday.

    Addressing the recipients, Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia referred to their contribution to culture and, at the same time, pointed out the prospects of tourism in Greece expecting an 11 percent increase in tourist arrivals and a 9 percent rise in foreign exchange revenues.

    The tourism minister stated that Greece has used only 15 percent of its potential and ranks 15th on the best global destinations list, stressing that it will easily occupy one of the top five places if 40 percent of its potential is used.

    Industry officials optimistic over tourism prospects

    Tourist arrivals are expected to rise by 8-10 percent this year, while revenues are projected to total 13.7 billion euros, up 10 percent from 2005, Stavros Andreadis, the president of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises, said on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters during a news conference on the occasion of the 22nd Philoxenia tourism fair in Thessaloniki, Andreadis stressed that Greek tourism had not room for complacency.

    "I fear this feeling of happy inactivity," he said, adding that Greece "sells as an idea and we must build on this by strengthening the country's tourism profile with "high added value products".

    Andreas Andreadis, president of the national association of hoteliers, said that 40-50 percent of new investments in Greece covered hotel projects, while he noted that it was equally important to build new five-star hotels and to upgrade the existing 7,000 hotel units around the country.

    Andreadis said the association was developing a cooperation with large Internet tour operators and noted that Expedia's turnover from Greek hotels was expected to reach 300 million euros in the next three years.

    Tourist arrivals from Russia and Ukraine - arriving by airplane - to central Macedonia grew by 16 percent and 100 percent in the 10-month period from January to October this year, compared with the same period 2005, while the Association of Thessaloniki Hoteliers reported a rebound in room occupancy rates in the first half of 2006, after a steady decline in the previous three years. Average occupancy rate reached 54 percent in the city of Thessaloniki.

    [18] European Parliament plenum ratifies report by PASOK Eurodeputy Mary Matsouka on social security

    STRASBOURG, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The European Parliament's plenum on Tuesday accepted the amendment of a regulation being implemented since 1971 concerning social insurance grants for citizens moving from one country to another, ratifying a relevant report by main opposition PASOK party Eurodeputy Mary Matsouka.

    As she explains in her explanatory report, regulation 1408/71 "plays an important role in the implementation of one of the four fundamental freedoms of the European Union, the free movement of citizens. The possibility for one to live, work and move freely in the EU, through as limited economic or administrative obstacles as possible, and constitutes a tangible advantage provided by the EU for the citizens belonging to it."

    Matsouka explained that despite the fact that the changes proposed are in essence of a technical character, however, they have an impact on the day-to-day lives of EU citizens living, traveling or working in another member-state.

    It is reminded that 2006 has been proclaimed European Mobility Year.

    [19] Economic and trade attaches visit Athens Chamber of Commerce

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Economic and trade attaches accredited to Greece paid a ceremonial visit to the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ACCI, on Tuesday.

    They were welcomed by ACCI president Konstantinos Michalos, who stressed that Greece places special emphasis on economic diplomacy as a means to strengthen economic and cultural ties, given the fact that good relations with other countries partly pass through investment initiatives and economic cooperation.

    He pointed out that small and medium-sized businesses constitute an important economic growth factor in Greece and the ACCI's objective is to support businesses that operate in an innovative business environment and undertake investment initiatives.

    The ACCI president also pointed out the need to open the closed markets and liberalize professional services, tackle bureaucracy and increase direct foreign investments, while stressing that taxation for businesses must be reduced.

    [20] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 4,279.14 points, showing a rise of 0.51%. Turnover was 304.3 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.53% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.04% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.23% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 126 to 109 with 72 remaining unchanged.

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 3.97 pct

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 3.97 pct yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (1.1 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.4 bln euros

    Derivatives Market Close: National Bank top in stock futures trade

    Equity Index Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): National Bank of Greece (952)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 324.9 million euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    U.S. dollar 1.292

    [21] US the 'honored country' at March education exhibition

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The United States will be featured as the "country of honor" at the 9th international exhibition on education early next March.

    The "Education 2007" exhibition will be held at the Helexpo convention centre in northern Athens (Maroussi) under the auspices of the education ministry, the general secretariat for youth and the City of Athens.

    Among others, several premier US higher education institutions will be showcased, while presentations and parallel events will offer information about America's exceptional tertiary education system and opportunities for international students.

    [22] 1956 Hungarian revolution commemorated in Athens

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Hungarian embassy in Athens this week celebrated its national holiday here with a high-profile piano recital, as this year's commemoration fell on the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian revolution.

    Hungary's new envoy to Greece, József Toth, introduced noted pianist Gergely Bogányi at the event, held in the Goethe Institut of Athens' main auditorium.

    On his part, Toth referred to the difficult years his country's endured following the uprising's crushing by Soviet troops in late 1956, while praising his compatriots' self-sacrifice as well as the international solidarity shown during the period to the Hungarian people, including Greece, which issued a special stamp the following period in honor of deposed Hungarian leader Imre Nagy.

    The Hungarian envoy also cited messages on the occasion of the anniversary conveyed by Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    A photo exhibition on the Hungarian revolution was also hosted at the Institute.

    [23] Greece's UN representative to receive Omirio Award

    NEW YORK, 15/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    The Chios Federation of America will bestow the 29th Omirio Award to Greece's permanent representative at the United Nations, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, during a special event to be held on November 24 at the Federation's Cultural Centre in Astoria.

    [24] Inquiry launched into problems with FAGE yoghurts

    ATHENS, 15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A first-instance court public prosecutor on Tuesday launched an inquiry into the events that led to the contamination of a batch of FAGE yoghurts distributed in retail markets with broken glass, causing the company to recall the product on Monday.

    Meanwhile, regarding the same issue, the Greek food control agency EFET said that the company had delayed informing the agency about the incident and might face penalties as a result. EFET pointed out that the original complaint by a consumer was made to FAGE on November 10, on a Friday, while EFET was alerted the following Monday.

    The Greek dairy company FAGE on Monday announced that it was recalling batches of its "Junior" flavored yoghurts suspected of containing broken glass.

    It said the batches in question are Junior yoghurt cartons with banana, caramel, cherry, orange and strawberry flavors and added vitamins A+D, which expire on December 4, December 5, December 6 and December 7 and have gone on sale in Greece and Cyprus.

    The company said that it alerted the Greek food control agency EFET after a shard of broken glass was found in a carton of yoghurt from this batch.

    It asked that consumers that have bought the product do not to consume it and contact the company's Nutritional Information Centre to have it replaced at the free phone line 800 11 28000.

    The particular batch went on sale last week and a small quantity has been exported to Cyprus. The problem arose with one of three production lines at the company's plant in Metamorphosi and was caused by an accident that led to the breakage of a glass protective covering over a UV sterilization unit.

    A small piece of glass was found within a yoghurt container and the rest on the packaging machine.

    [25] Precautionary measures against flash floods in Thessaloniki

    15/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Thessaloniki prefecture will seek state funds of 20-25 million euros for projects aimed at repairing damages caused by recent floods in the region, prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis said Tuesday during in a meeting on the coordination of the responsible agencies in the event of emergency.

    Particularly exposed to flash floods are certain regions in northeastern, eastern and western Thessaloniki.

    Local municipalities were warned to stay vigilant and form special teams that will undertake to clean streams, gullies and ditches from large objects to prevent flooding in case of heavy rainfall.

    Meanwhile, based on figures provided by the local Fire Department, forest fires in the region of Thessaloniki were 20 percent down in 2006 compared to 2005 while landfill fires were down by 40 percent.

    [26] Cypriot Foreign Minister hopes Finnish initiative will be successful

    LARNACA, 15/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas expressed the hope here Tuesday that the Finnish presidency's initiative over Turkey's EU accession negotiations will yield results.

    Speaking at Larnaca Airport on his return from Brussels, where he took part in the General Affairs and External Relations Council, Lillikas repeated that Nicosia would like this initiative to be productive and for this reason worked very closely and constructively with the presidency.

    ''I hope that they will not play a game of impressions or blame our side for Turkey's accession course,'' the minister said, adding that ''the presidency assured us that it has no intention to play such game.''

    Lillikas said Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja informed the EU partners for the first time over his country's initiative and referred to the demands of many member states to begin a discussion on Turkey's accession course the soonest.

    The Cypriot minister said his Finnish counterpart explained that the initiative will be further extended for two weeks and will be completed before the end of November so that the Commission is given ample time to prepare and submit its suggestions to the European Council on Turkey's EU course, allowing enough time to discuss the issue before the summit begins.

    ''We hope the Finnish presidency's initiative will yield results. We want it to be productive and for this reason we have worked very closely and very constructively with the Finnish presidency,'' he added.

    The Cypriot minister said he informed his counterparts on the government's position and the key issue, which concerns the right of the lawful residents of Varosha to return to their town.

    He also said that during the debate on the Commission's progress report on Turkey, the main demand will be to speed up the discussion on a political level among the 25 on Turkey's accession course, to properly prepare and avoid the Council concentrating on discussing solely the Turkish issue, allowing it to focus on enlargement issues.

    Answering questions, Lillikas said that in the next two weeks there will be some meetings on Finland's part and a dialogue with the governments of Cyprus and Turkey.

    The minister pointed out that there is ''no bilateral difference between the government of Cyprus and Turkey, it is a difference between the EU and Turkey,'' adding that ''if Turkey is violating the acquis or acting discriminately against a member state, the dispute remains among the 25 and Turkey, and not a member state with Turkey.''

    Invited to comment on the visit to Brussels of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Matt Bryza and if there was a possibility that the Cypriot government will be blamed for the problems in Turkey's accession course, the minister expressed the hope that ''they will not play games to make impressions or apportion responsibilities.''

    Stressing that Nicosia has no intention of taking part in such games, he pointed out that Nicosia did not ask for Turkey to be blamed for its refusal to attend the meeting in Helsinki which was cancelled by the Finnish Presidency.

    Lillikas said it was anticipated that the US would be active, noting ''it is known that the US show special interest in Turkey and its accession course.''

    On the direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots and the lifting of the so called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, the Cypriot minister explained that the Finnish Presidency has made use of part of the suggestions on direct trade, the opening of Famagusta port and the return of the fenced off town.

    ''Direct trade can be promoted and we are willing to promote it, provided that it will be in the package which includes the opening of the port of Famagusta and the return of the inhabitants of Varosha,'' he added.

    Lillikas underlined that the direct trade regulation can only be implemented ''if it the issue of Famagusta can be implemented.''

    [27] Cypriot President to visit China

    NICOSIA, 15/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos will be visiting China from 3 to 8 December 2006.

    The president will be accompanied by a group of businesspeople and journalists.

    According to the president's preliminary program, the first stop is Shanghai, followed by Beijing.

    [28] PACE rapporteur describes SBA inhabitants ''second class citizens''

    NICOSIA, 15/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee Rapporteur on ''The situation of the inhabitants of the Sovereign British Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia'' Andreas Gross described as ''second class citizens'' the SBA inhabitants.

    The CoE official called on the British authorities to provide these people with the kind of treatment which corresponds to the British standards of human rights and democracy.

    Speaking after meeting House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias on Tuesday, Gross said that he visited Akrotiri and spoke with the citizens there and the village council. Gross is due to prepare a report on the issue.

    Gross remarked that ''the people are suffering and the speaker gave us the same message,'' noting that they have to improve their legal position.

    Analyzing the legal status of the inhabitants of the SBA, Gross said ''the problem is that they are suffering and nobody is able to protect them and they can't help themselves because they have no real position, they do not have the rights of British citizens, they do not have the rights of Cypriots and they do not have the rights of Europeans, and that is why something has to be done in order to enable them to defend there own legitimate rights.''

    ''I have the impression that these people are treated as second class citizens and this makes them very angry,'' he remarked, adding that ''because it seems to be a vital interest for the British to have these Bases, they have to treat the people in the Base better than today.''

    The CoE rapporteur said these people should either be British citizens with the rights of British citizens or Cypriots with full rights or Europeans with full rights of Europeans.

    However, he said, none of the three points are there and that is why they cannot be protected as British citizens.

    Gross said that from issues of noise and the negative effects of the military airport, ''this is what we are going to underline in our talks with the British Authorities again and that will be the main point in our report that here in Europe we can't accept there are a thousand people living without the basic rights to be protected in their privacy and in their health.''

    Noting that he respects the British authorities, Gross stressed that ''they have to do something which corresponds to the British standards of human rights and democracy.''

    Christofias expressed certainty that Gross is led by democratic principles, his dedication to human rights and the independence and sovereignty of states.

    Speaking after his meeting with Gross, Attorney General Petros Clerides said he analyzed the positions of the Law Office of the Republic in connection with the human rights of those living on British Base territory.

    He said he informed Gross on the need of the people in the Bases to be protected and their rights and property in general promoted.

    A statement attributable to a spokesman of the British High Commission said the Commission ''welcomes the visit to Cyprus and to the SBA of the rapporteur, Mr. Gross.''

    ''We take very seriously into consideration the concerns expressed by the inhabitants of the SBAs and work hard to ensure that they are not disadvantaged compared to their compatriots living in the areas controlled by the Republic,'' the spokesman remarked.

    Noting that the High Commission has had ''a series of meetings with Gross which were open and constructive,'' he said ''we look forward to his report and we will look carefully into any suggestions he will make.''

    Gross also met on Tuesday Director of the Cyprus Question and Euro-Turkey Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou Markoullis.

    Britain has retained two military bases in Cyprus since the island gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1960.

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