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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

November 16, 2006


  • [01] Barroso replies to Greek request for 3rd CSF extension
  • [02] FM meets with Kosovo interim administration prime minister
  • [03] Kosovo's Çeku brings case for independence to Athens
  • [04] Gov't again comments on statements over 'minorities'
  • [05] KKE to boycott meeting considering effects of protests through Athens
  • [06] Cyprus Democratic Party leader meets Greek leadership
  • [07] Health minister attends ministerial meeting on obesity
  • [08] PASOK party leader to participate in European Socialist Party congress
  • [09] Alexandria Patriarch meets with SAE alternate president
  • [10] Newly elected Archbishop of Cyprus meets with PASOK's Papoutsis
  • [11] Three-day celebrations for polytechnic uprising anniversary begin
  • [12] Former EU Commission president honored at press event
  • [13] Wreath laid at U.S. embassy for victims of November 17 terrorist group
  • [14] Greek FinMin in N.York to address annual conference
  • [15] PASOK slams draft budget as classist, impossible to execute
  • [16] Gov't lauds SE European energy community
  • [17] Gov't: Domestic demand for natgas to soar by 2010
  • [18] Survey: Greeks pessimistic about economy
  • [19] European Parliament plenum ratifies directive on services
  • [20] Balkan farmers' associations meeting in Thessaloniki
  • [21] ASE head urges SEE markets to cooperate
  • [22] Organic Products, Services exhibition in Athens
  • [23] Tourism industry criticizes gov't decision to extend monopoly on handling services in Greek airports
  • [24] Alpha Bank in talks for stake in Turkish Bank
  • [25] Hellenic Seaways launches Greek-built ferry
  • [26] Public satisfied with standard of service in public transport
  • [27] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise
  • [28] At least five killed in traffic accident in northern Greece
  • [29] Art collectors show great interest in auction for works by Greek painters
  • [30] Cypriot FM says pseudostate obstacle to Cyprus' reunification

  • [01] Barroso replies to Greek request for 3rd CSF extension

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has received a reply from European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso regarding Greece's request for an additional year in which to absorb funds from the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Wednesday.

    He said Barroso's letter arrived on Tuesday and counter-proposed a series of measures to be recorded in a "memorandum of understanding", which call for a revision of Greek programs, joint funding by the Commission of uncompleted programs until the year 2008 and others.

    According to Barroso, the measures listed would bring a total benefit of some 2.7 billion euros to Greece with respect to its Community contribution, which in general lines would be equivalent to an additional year of implementation of the 3rd CSF, while they will also assist in the speedier absorption during the remaining years until the end of 2008.

    Revealing the contents of the letter, Roussopoulos urged reporters to address questions regarding proposed project cutbacks and how the surplus will be spent to the finance ministry. He also pointed out that the present government had taken over management of the 3rd CSF in mid-course at a time when absorption rates stood at 21 percent, and that it had raised absorption rates to 48 percent in that time, with constant improvements.

    Premier confers with foreign minister

    [02] FM meets with Kosovo interim administration prime minister

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis met Wednesday with the prime minister of the interim administration in Kosovo, Agim Ceku, with talks focusing on developments in the process of determining the future status of Kosovo.

    Ceku told reporters after the meeting that he briefed Bakoyannis on the efforts being made for progress on the issue of the criteria and the "status", and expressed appreciation for its assistance to Kosovo.

    "It is very important for us to have good relations with Greece, which is a country of this region and also a European Union member state," Ceku said.

    PASOK leader meets prime minister of the interim administration in Kosovo: Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader and Socialist International President George Papandreou met on Wednesday with prime minister of the interim administration in Kosovo, Agim Ceku.

    Papandreou also met with the Director of the High Commission on Refugees George Tsarbopoulos.

    [03] Kosovo's Çeku brings case for independence to Athens

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Kosovo leader Agim Çeku brought his campaign for the full independence of the previously strife-plagued and currently UN-administered province to Athens on Wednesday, addressing a Greek audience only hours after meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    Çeku -- the former head of Albanian majority's Kosovo protection corps who was chosen by Kosovo's assembly last March as the province's prime minister in the administration known as the "Provisional Institutions of Self-Government" -- more-or-less summed up his message with the phrase "independence for Kosovo, Serbs in Kosovo."

    The matter of protecting and guaranteeing the rights the province's remaining minorities (Serbs, Roma, Gorani, Turks etc.) amid a predominately Albanian population, in fact, repeatedly came up in Çeku's statements. The controversial former Yugoslav and Croatian military officer also continued to cultivate his credentials as a moderate amongst the Kosovo Albanian political landscape by promising that his administration will not take any "unilateral" steps towards independence. He also brushed off concerns of a "domino effect" in the region caused by Kosovo's independence vis-à-vis other neighboring Albanian enclaves (in FYROM, Preševo and Montenegro), saying he believes independence will "solve regional problems, not create others."

    Conversely, Çeku said partition of the landlocked province -- i.e. majority Serbian communities' uniting with Serbia -- would instead create such a domino effect.

    "When you start drawing new borders, where do you stop?" he replied to a question from the audience, moments before he framed his argument for independence by saying Kosovo is a "unique case" because it previously retained distinct borders and institutions.

    In other matters, he said his administration was "disappointed" with a recent decision by Martti Ahtisaari, the UN special envoy for the Kosovo's future status process, to delay the process until after the Serbian national elections in January, "although we can live with that".

    In opening his address, held at a downtown Athens hotel across from the Greek parliament, Çeku thoroughly praised Athens' involvement in the region, stressing that "Greece is a leading European country in our part of the world. We are here to explain our position and to ask for support.

    "... Our message is: we believe the only workable, practical solution is independence," he said.

    The Kosovo leader's address was organized by the Athens-based Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).

    [04] Gov't again comments on statements over 'minorities'

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The government on Wednesday was again called on to comment on a foreign government's comments regarding "minorities" in Greece, with the government spokesman merely noting that "the Greek state follows a model policy for the rights of all Greek citizens. Any different interpretation by the State Department regarding minority issues doesn't only affect Greece, but affects other European countries as well."

    Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos made the statement during his regular press briefing on Wednesday and in reply to a question citing recent comments by the Turkish foreign minister and atypical quips by a US diplomat last week on the same issue.

    [05] KKE to boycott meeting considering effects of protests through Athens

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) will boycott a Nov. 27 meeting called by the public order minister to discuss the issue of demonstrations through the centre of Athens, a more-or-less common monthly occurrence that often brings traffic and commerce in the Greek capital's downtown to a grinding halt.

    KKE general secretary Aleka Papariga announced the decision a day after the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) said it would also boycott such a meeting.

    Papariga stressed that her party will not take part in any kind of dialogue to ban or restrict protests, adding that all those considering such plans will be confronted.

    In her letter, the KKE leader also stressed that problems faced by the city, namely, traffic congestion, air pollution, lack of green spaces, unemployment, high prices and what she called a "commercialization of the people's needs", do not stem from demonstrations but from implemented "anti-popular policies".

    [06] Cyprus Democratic Party leader meets Greek leadership

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The new leader of Cyprus ruling Democratic Party (DHKO) Marios Karoyian held talks with Greece's state and political leadership during a lightning visit to Athens on Wednesday, before he returns to Cyprus on Thursday for local government elections taking place there.

    The round of meetings began with talks held with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, while he was later received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    Papoulias congratulated Karoyian on his recent election as head of DHKO and asked him to convey his regards to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas on his return to Cyprus.

    In his meeting with Bakoyannis, they discussed Turkey's European prospects, the Cyprus issue and the Finnish EU presidency's proposal for ending problems caused by Turkey's refusal to fully implement the EU-Turkey customs union protocol and open its ports and airports to Cyprus ships and planes.

    Karoyian said his talks with Bakoyannis had been "warm, friendly and substantive" and that the two sides shared "common assessments and objectives and common synergies in terms of carrying out the plans of the two governments [Greek and Cypriot]".

    In comments on the anniversary since the illegal Turkish occupation regime in northern Cyprus was first established, Karoyian said that his party condemned the "illegal formation in the occupied territories, which was an entity subject to Turkey" and noted that its existence was a "provocation for the international community".

    The new leader of the DHKO party also met Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, who again expressed her congratulations on his election and her best wishes for his term as party leader.

    This was followed by a meeting with ruling New Democracy's Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis to discuss cooperation between the two parties and exchange views on the Cyprus issue and the European Commission's progress report on Turkey issued a week earlier.

    In a New Democracy party announcement after the meeting, Zagoritis stressed the party's support for Turkey's European orientation while noting that Turkey had an obligation to respect the values and principles of the European Union and to fully adopt and implement the criteria and terms it had been set for accession.

    After meeting main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, Karoyian said they had the same views and positions with regard to the Cyprus government's objectives and handling of issues and that Papandreou had undertaken to intensify general efforts to influence decision-making centers that also determine assessment of Turkey's accession course, so that Turkey would finally realize that it must behave like a modern, European country and be able to fulfill its obligations.

    Papandreou said they had discussed the EU progress report on Turkey, and stressed that Turkey had to comply with the terms and its obligations toward the EU, including EU member-state Cyprus.

    "This is necessary and I believe that there will be the required assessment of this course at the Summit meeting in December," Papandreou added.

    PASOK's leader also commented on the anniversary of the pseudo-state, recognized only by Turkey, stressing that the day was a reminder that the Cyprus problem was one of occupation and of occupation forces, which should not exist in Europe today.

    He called on Karoyian to "wage our battle together with the Cypriot people, with you, for a just solution to the Cyprus issue".

    Karoyian was elected as party leader on October 24 with the backing of the party's old guard, who had set up DHKO three decades earlier. At 45, he became the third and youngest party leader from an extraordinary conference where he was challenged only by deputy leader Nicos Cleanthous. Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos had stepped down as party chief in August.

    Karoyian, an Armenian Cypriot who rose up the ranks of the party founded by the late Spyros Kyprianou, father of European Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Markos Kyprianou, won by a surprisingly wide margin of 62.6 per cent of the party's voters over 37.4 per cent for Cleanthous.

    Coalition leader meets Cyprus DHKO president: Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos met on Wednesday with visiting Cyprus' Democratic Party (DHKO) President Marios Karoyian.

    Speaking to the press after the meeting, Alavanos said that the "autonomous obligation by Turkey, as all EU members support, for the opening of its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and planes is of decisive importance".

    "It depends on Turkey whether we will advance or not, whether (Turkey's EU accession) negotiations will go ahead or freeze," the Coalition leader added.

    On his part, Karoyian said they evaluated Turkey's stance and that they agreed "on assessments and existing possibilities in the governments of Greece and Cyprus in demanding that Turkey really abide by its commitments."

    [07] Health minister attends ministerial meeting on obesity

    ISTANBUL, 16/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos attended a World Health Organization’s ministerial meeting here on Wednesday, stressing that "obesity is a social problem."

    The Greek minister stressed the urgent need for this new problem that accompanies our modern-day way of life to be handled methodically.

    "Immediate measures must be taken. One of them is prevention, information, cooperation between all ministries, as well as between agencies," Avramopoulos said, adding that "we have a great responsibility towards society, towards citizens, towards our children. The whole issue exceeds borders. It is not a regional one, since the characteristics of the way of life chosen by the citizen of the world are common."

    The minister indicated that a meeting will be held in Athens on the issue in January and stressed that even Greece, which has many environmental, climatic and cultural advantages that secure the highest longevity indicator in Europe for it, has been faced with the issue of obesity in past years.

    [08] PASOK party leader to participate in European Socialist Party congress

    BRUSSELS, 16/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou will participate in the European Socialist Party's (ESP) congress in Porto, Portugal, on December 7-8 that will elect the ESP's new president.

    The two-day congress will be attended by 300 delegates and 1,000 members from 32 socialist and social democrat parties from 27 countries.

    Participants will include the presidents and vice presidents of governments, such as Jose Socrates from Portugal and Sergei Stanisev from Bulgaria, party leaders, EU commissioners (Margot Walstrom, Guenter Verheugen, Laszlo Kovac, Vladimir Spidla), the president of the European Parliament Josep Borrell and the president of the Regions Committee Michel Delbar.

    The main issues to be examined at the congress will be the New Social Europe and the European Union's energy policy, while an exchange of views will also take place with Serb President Boris Tadic.

    [09] Alexandria Patriarch meets with SAE alternate president

    16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa on Wednesday received World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) alternate president Stefanos Tamvakis here for talks focusing on Greek-speaking education in the continent’s various Orthodox bishoprics.

    The SAE official briefed the Patriarch on developments leading into the 6th SAE international conference to take place in Thessaloniki in December, while he stressed that the Orthodox Church’s missionary work in Africa should be supported by the SAE. He also expressed support for the establishment of a new Patriarchate of Alexandria seminary.

    Theodoros referred to the SAE programs underway in Orthodox bishoprics around Africa, most aimed at better familiarizing younger members of ethnic Greek communities on the continent with Greek culture and history, and, at the same time, teaching the Greek language to local residents.

    [10] Newly elected Archbishop of Cyprus meets with PASOK's Papoutsis

    NICOSIA, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK MP Christos Papoutsis, who heads the party's foreign policy sector, met here on Wednesday with newly elected Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos.

    Papoutsis conveyed PASOK leader George Papandreou's best wishes and congratulations, while the two discussed the Cyprus issue and the role the Church of Cyprus can play in Europe.

    The Church of Cyprus' role within European Union was also discussed.

    [11] Three-day celebrations for polytechnic uprising anniversary begin

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The three-day celebrations to mark the 33rd anniversary of the November 17, 1973 student uprising in the Athens Polytechnic began on Wednesday.

    The gates of the Metsovian Polytechnic in Athens opened for the public in the morning and will remain open until 21:00 at night, so that they can visit the Polytechnic monument.

    The university administration is also on alert to guard the celebrations and events planned over the next three days until Friday and prevent them from being infiltrated by unwanted elements that in the past have been responsible for riots, vandalism and violence that have marred the anniversary.

    The events will culminate in a peaceful march to the U.S. Embassy on Friday afternoon.

    Events for the anniversary also kicked off in Thessaloniki, with concerts, distribution of pamphlets and speeches that will end with a march to the U.S. Consulate in the city on Friday.

    Commenting on the prospect of incidents, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos quoted a statement made on Tuesday by Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras, who said that the job of the police was to make sure the events could take place peacefully.

    The spokesman also noted that the anniversary was a celebration of "unity, reflection and democracy, that all should defend so that it is not converted into a festival of a few trouble-makers".

    He dismissed press criticism of the way police handled incidents on Tuesday night, noting that the police response was becoming steadily more successful and that "we often expect police to be superhuman".

    In a related incident, General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) president Yiannis Panagopoulos noted the need to change the laws on university asylum while speaking in Parliament, saying it needed to regain its basic character as a sanctuary for freedom of opinion and free movement of ideas.

    "Today, instead of a sanctuary of freedom for the movement of ideas we see an, in certain cases, a sanctuary for uncontrolled violence. Professors and students cannot be forbidden to enter their schools. This is the greatest deprivation of freedom," he said.

    He was presenting GSEE's positions on the draft bill on reforming higher education to Parliament's Educational Affairs Committee.

    [12] Former EU Commission president honored at press event

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos addressed an event on Wednesday evening on "Europe of regions and the role of regional press" organized by the Union of Owners of Regional Daily Newspapers (EIHEE) on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.

    Former European Commission president Jacques Santer was the honored guest of the event and was awarded a special award.

    "The quality of press directly reflects the quality of democracy in a country," Roussopoulos said in his address, adding that the role of regional press was a "catalyst" in realizing the "model of the Europe of regions."

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis sent a message to the event which was also addressed by main opposition PASOK secretary Marilisa Xenoyiannakopoulou.

    [13] Wreath laid at U.S. embassy for victims of November 17 terrorist group

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Officers of the U.S. armed forces, officials and other staff members of the United States embassy in Athens gathered at the embassy on Wednesday together with the families of the victims of the November 17 group, Nikos Veloutsos and George Chantes, to honor their memory on the 23rd anniversary of their assassination.

    Officers laid a wreath at the commemorative plaque dedicated to them and to the three other victims of the N17 group who were members of the U.S. embassy.

    Speaking during the ceremony, charge d'affaires Thomas Countryman expressed regret "because these murders continue to be an open wound for the families of the victims."

    [14] Greek FinMin in N.York to address annual conference

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis left Athens on Wednesday for a visit to New York to address an annual conference on the Greek economy on Friday, 17 November.

    The Greek minister is leading a delegation including Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Petros Doukas, Athens Stock Exchange chairman Spyros Kapralos, the special secretary for privatizations Loukas Papazoglou, the special secretary for joint projects between state and private sector companies Leonidas Korres, the president of Economy ministry's Council of Economic Experts Ploutarhos Sakellaris, the chief executive of Hellenic Export Promotion Organization Panagiotis Drosos and the director of the state debt management agency Spyros Papanikolaou.

    Alogoskoufis will meet with representatives of international institutional investors and the business community of the US with the aim to promote the Greek economy and to attracting investors.

    [15] PASOK slams draft budget as classist, impossible to execute

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The main opposition PASOK party, via its policy coordinator for economic affairs Vasso Papandreou, on Wednesday slammed the draft budget for 2007 as both classist and impossible to execute.

    According to Papandreou, the budget was "up in the air" and, essentially, not worth the paper it was written on, while it also reduced spending for wage-earners and pensioners, education and health while benefiting the well-off and powerful, thus "making clear New Democracy's classist policy".

    Despite a much-publicized alleged reduction in direct taxation, the actual budget figures for 2007 revealed plans to gouge wage-earners and pensioners for an additional 3.2 billion euros in taxes, she said.

    This included a 6.8% increase in direct taxes on individuals relative to 2006, or 620 million euros, compared with a mere 2.7% increase in taxation for legal entities such as companies, or 120 million euros, due chiefly to advance payment of taxes.

    She also stressed the sums raised through indirect taxation, such as VAT and special taxes for alcohol, fuel, mobile phones and tobacco.

    Finance ministry replies to criticism by PASOK on new state budget: The finance ministry, replying on Wednesday to criticism by the main opposition PASOK party on the new state budget for 2007, said that "what is indeed 'up in the air' is not the budget of the government but the main opposition party's predictions of disaster for the economy which are continuously being proved wrong."

    The ministry said that "instead of talking of disaster, the cadres of PASOK should make their self-criticism over the bad state in which they left the economy and over their predictions which are constantly falling through."

    "The government is continuing with reliability and consistency the implementation of its program and of its structural reforms that are promoting the development of the economy, employment and social cohesion, in parallel to the decrease in the fiscal deficit," the ministry added.

    Budget for 2007 comes under fire: The government's budget for 2007 came under fire on Wednesday from industry, commerce and trade unions.

    The Federation of Greek Industry (SEB) called the budget timid.

    "Although the budget meets the fiscal adaptation target of reducing the deficit to below 3% of gross domestic product, it does not contain measures that would ensure lasting fiscal revitalization, and it fails to reflect substantive structural changes," SEB said in a statement.

    "The credibility of the budget as a tool for design and implementation of wider economic policy remains doubtful," the statement noted.

    In a separate statement, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) charged that the budget extended austerity policies and the tax burden on wage earners and pensioners.

    At the same time, it offered generous concessions to business and the financially powerful.

    "The wage rise envisaged in the budget is 3.4%. The burden from direct tax is 6.5%, and from indirect tax, 8.8%, while workers, pensioners and the unemployed are being called on to tighten their belts and shoulder massive tax," GSEE complained.

    The Athens Chamber of Trade and Industry said that the budget needed bolder reform.

    It would lead to improvement of the country's economic fundamentals and a formal lifting of fiscal supervision by the European Union, but new steps were needed, especially concerning public finances, state utilities and the social insurance system.

    [16] Gov't lauds SE European energy community

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Euripides Stylianidis on Wednesday lauded establishment of the southeast European energy community.

    "Creation of the southeast European energy community has contributed to diversification of energy sources for Greece, the European Union and the wider region, reducing dependence on only one source," Stylianidis told a conference in Athens.

    Demonstrating the government's strategy in the sector were Greece's part in creating the pact signed in 2005 by five EU member states and nine Balkan countries; advancement of a project to build a pipeline carrying Russian oil to Greece via Bulgaria; and a natural gas pipeline linking Italy Greece and Turkey.

    Policy focused on diversification of energy sources, forms and distribution routes, employing Greece's role as a powerful geo-economic player in the region, Stylianidis noted.

    Also addressing the conference arranged by the Southeast European Energy Institute (IENE) was Christos Dimas, project leader in Greece for the oil pipeline scheme.

    The governments of Greece, Russia and Greece were working hard to achieve signature by the end of the year of an agreement to go ahead with the scheme, Dimas reported.

    IENE's president, Kostis Stambolis, spoke on the delay in deregulating electricity and natural gas markets in Europe; of geo-political hazards, especially terrorism, that could emerge in energy networks, not only in the Middle East; and of Russia as a rising player.

    Sioufas in Skopje for the SE Europe Energy Community meeting: Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas was due in Skopje, FYROM on Wednesday to represent Greece in the SE Europe Energy Community Ministers Council scheduled for November 17.

    The ministerial meeting is the first to take place after the energy treaty was put into effect on July 1, 2006. The participating ministers will adopt the rules of operation for the treaty bodies and examine the request by Moldova, Norway, Ukraine and Turkey to be granted observer status.

    During his visit to Skopje, Sioufas will meet with representatives of Greek companies active in the region, visit the Hellenic Petroleum Group OKTA oil refineries and meet with FYROM Economy Minister Vera Rafajlovska.

    [17] Gov't: Domestic demand for natgas to soar by 2010

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Athens on Wednesday hosted a meeting of transportation and distribution companies for Russian natural gas in the Balkans, bringing together representatives from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, FYROM and Turkey.

    Nikos Stephanou, the development ministry's secretary-general, opened the session by noting that the government's energy policy aimed to expand the natural gas grid around the county, while stressing that state-run DEPA SA has begun a series of projects to expand supply to western Greece, as well as to strengthen network safety and the reliability of the national grid.

    These projects include: interconnecting Greek-Turkish natural gas networks (DEPA is expected to complete its part of the project by April 2007); upgrading the Revithoussa off-shore terminal by June 2007; building a natural gas pipeline between the cities of Karditsa and Trikala (central Greece); building a pipeline to the power station at Aliveri (central Evia); building a pipeline to Corinth and later on to Megalopoli in order supply new power stations in the Peloponnese.

    The meeting aims to draft a specific timetable for the maintenance and development of sections of a natural gas Inter-Balkan system, running through participating countries, and to ensure the supply of natural gas in the region.

    Russian supplies account for around 80 percent of Greece's natural gas imports. Greek imports are expected to surpass 2.5 billion cubic meters this year, rising more in the future.

    Stephanou said demand for natural gas in Greece was expected to rise rapidly over the next few years, to more than 6.0 billion cubic meters by 2010 and to 7.5 billion in 2015.

    Greece's natural gas grid now covers 962 km of high-pressure pipelines.

    [18] Survey: Greeks pessimistic about economy

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Along with other Europeans, the majority of Greeks are pessimistic about the state of the economy and their purchasing power, according to a survey by Deloitte released on Wednesday.

    In Greece, 59% of respondents saw their economy as being in recession, with almost a quarter believing that the financial status of their households will improve.

    The remainder either maintain that their circumstances will worsen or will remain the same, said the report entitled Year-End Holiday Survey 2006.

    In addition, Greece belongs to a group of countries that are showing a strong inclination to spend more on gifts on the holiday period this year. The other countries in the group were Cyprus, North Africa and Ireland.

    Vowing to cut holiday spending in comparison with last year were Italians and Germans, the survey showed.

    [19] European Parliament plenum ratifies directive on services

    STRASBOURG, 16/11/2006 (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)

    The European Parliament plenum on Wednesday ratified the amended joint position of the Council on the directive concerning services, following two years of discussions and negotiating.

    The joint position was based on the compromise text approved by the European Parliament during the first reading last February. This directive had become known in its initial version as the "Bolkestein Directive."

    Addressing the European Parliament plenum during the discussion that preceded the vote, New Democracy party Eurodeputy Hadjidakis said that the new directive is "a success for Europe. A success for development, a success for working people."

    The Eurodeputy said that "on the one hand we have an opening of the services market and the facilitating of investments with the elimination of bureaucratic, legal and technical obstacles and, on the other, full respect for the rights of working people, that the European labor unions had also admitted in February. In parallel, we have the exclusion of certain sectors that have particularities."

    Main opposition PASOK party Eurodeputy Mary Matsouka stressed the fact that the "initial proposal, known as the 'Bolkestein Directive', was improved and some of its 'dangerous' clauses were abolished. Consequently, the majority of the European Parliament believes that the 'Bolkestein Directive' does not exist since last February when the joint proposal was adopted by the Parliament."

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) Eurodeputy Dimitris Papadimoulis explained in a press release that "the Coalition and all of the European Left voted against the amended Bolkestein proposal," adding that they believe that its implementation will lead to the "compression" of the position of working people and will cause the further weakening of whatever European social model has remained.

    [20] Balkan farmers' associations meeting in Thessaloniki

    16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Representatives of farmers’ associations from 10 SE European countries will participate in the inter-Balkan meeting in Thessaloniki on November 18 and 19 organized by the General Confederation of Greek Agrarian Associations (GESASE) in cooperation with the European Commission AGRI Directorate-General.

    The meeting on “A new era for production and trade of farm products in SE Europe” will attend government and political party officials.

    Representatives of farmers’ associations from Cyprus, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, FYROM and Serbia will present national reports on the new era in the production and trade of farm products in SE Europe and the role of the Balkan farmers’ associations.

    [21] ASE head urges SEE markets to cooperate

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The head of the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday urged Southeast European markets to cooperate in order to deal with challenges posed by a gradual consolidation of international capital markets.

    Addressing the 5th International Conference organized by the Belgrade Stock Exchange, in Belgrade, on "Where are the Exchanges Heading?", Spyros Kapralos said:

    "Developments resulting from a gradual consolidation of international capital markets will undoubtedly affect markets in our region. The strategy that we, Southeast European markets, must adopt to deal with challenges and maintain foreign investors' interest, is summoned in the word 'cooperation'. Towards this direction we must create a consistent regulatory framework, based on European Union directives, introducing safe and efficient infrastructure for clearing and settlement services, reducing cross-border transaction costs and agreeing on a single access point to our markets," he said, adding:

    "The successful operation of a common platform introduced by the stock markets of Athens and Cyprus is a very good example for other markets willing to cooperate. The common platform offers national stock exchanges to chance to maintain their autonomous course, offering more opportunities to their investors and reducing operating costs".

    The conference in Belgrade was attended by representatives by Euronext, Deutsche Borse and OMX. The conference's panel also included Dr. Heinrich Schaller, CEO Vienna Stock Exchange, Marko Simoneti, Chairman and CEO Ljubljana Stock Exchange, Victor Papazov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, Bistra Ilkova, CEO Bulgarian Stock Exchange, Stere Farmache, Managing Director Bucarest Stock Exchange, and Alin Seren, Vice-Chairman Istanbul Stock Exchange.

    [22] Organic Products, Services exhibition in Athens

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The 9th Exhibition of Organic Products and Services opens Thursday at the Helexpo exhibition organization grounds in Marousi, Athens.

    Last year, over 17,000 people visited the exhibition, one of the largest of its kind held in Greece, and had the opportunity to learn more about the nutritional value of organically grown foods.

    This year's Exhbition will run from on November 16-19.

    [23] Tourism industry criticizes gov't decision to extend monopoly on handling services in Greek airports

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) on Wednesday said a government decision to extend Olympic Air-ways' monopoly in handling services in Greek airports for another two years resulted to international and domestic reactions by the tourism industry.

    SETE, in an announcement, said International Air Carrier Association (IACA) in a letter sent recently to the country's Transport and Tourism ministries and the European Union, underlined the negative consequences of extending a monopoly in handling services around the country's 33 airports, while it noted that deregulating the market would improve the quality of services. IACA stressed that despite reassurances made by the country's Civil Aviation Authority in August 2006, the government decided to extend the monopoly.

    SETE said that in the five larger airports of the country (Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraclion, Rhodes and Corfu), where more than one companies were offering handling services, prices were 25-30 percent lower compared with other airports, while quality of services was significantly improved.

    [24] Alpha Bank in talks for stake in Turkish Bank

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Athens-quoted Alpha Bank said on Wednesday that talks had commenced with Anadolu Endustri Holdings to obtain half of its shareholding in Alternatifbank, a Turkish credit institution, and its subsidiaries.

    "If, and when, such discussions conclude, Alpha Bank, in line with established practice and applicable law, will duly and timely proceed with an announcement," management said in a statement to the bourse.

    The statement was a reply to a query on 15 November 2006 by the Hellenic Capital Markets Commission that was linked to reports in the financial press, the statement added.

    [25] Hellenic Seaways launches Greek-built ferry

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Hellenic Seaways on Wednesday launched a new passenger and car ferry that was built at Elefsina Shipyards near Piraeus.

    The Nisos Hios is a twin vessel to the Nisos Mykonos, which has been plying routes in the Aegean Sea since the summer. The new vessel will begin sailings in June, 2007.

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis attended the launch.

    [26] Public satisfied with standard of service in public transport

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    More and more people are relying on public transport every year, while the appreciation of the public for the standard of service in public transport is increasing.

    This was deduced by research carried out by the Marc SA company for the Attica Urban Transport Organization (OASA) and presented during a press conference at the transport and communications ministry on Wednesday on the occasion of the second anniversary of the implementation of the Athens Communications Map.

    According to research, 31 percent of people living in the Attica basin use public transport daily, 21 percent about 2-3 times a week and 10 percent from 1-5 times a month, while only 37.7 percent rely on public transport rarely or not at all.

    As regards the means preferred by the public, the bus has the lion's share since it is preferred by 35.5 percent, although it has lost 4.8 percent compared to research carried out last year, that has moved to the electric railway service which comes third in the public's preferences with 18.9 percent as against 14.8 percent in 2005.

    The Metro continues to be in second place with 29.3 percent, keeping up with last year's percentage, while trolley buses and the tram have an increasing popularity, compared to last year, with 11.5 and 3.6 percent respectively, while the suburban railway has lost some ground and has 1.3 percent of the total of passenger movement.

    Research also revealed that eight out of 10 citizens (81.3 percent) consider the current standard of service provided by public transport as being positive, while seven out of 10 believe that the overall state of public transport has improved in past years.

    [27] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 4,326.39 points, showing a rise of 1.10%. Turnover was 376.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.08% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks 0.56% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.68% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 155 to 100 with 58 remaining unchanged.

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.00 pct

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.00 pct yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (1.3 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.3 bln euros

    Derivatives Market Close: National Bank top in stock futures trade

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): National Bank of Greece (1476)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 235.8 million euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    U.S. dollar 1.289

    [28] At least five killed in traffic accident in northern Greece

    ATHENS, 16/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A vehicle crash occurred on the Evzoni-Thessaloniki motorway at about 9.30 on Wednesday night and police, who have no clear picture of the accident so far, said that five to seven people were killed.

    Traffic police and firemen rushed to the scene of the accident to free the bodies and the injured from the wreckage.

    [29] Art collectors show great interest in auction for works by Greek painters

    LONDON, 16/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Art collectors from all over the world have shown great interest in an auction concerning works by Greek painters, that was carried out by the Sotheby's firm.

    The total amount gathered by the auction was 7,300,000 euros, two million more than Sotheby's initial assessments, according to its representative Constantine Frangos.

    The most expensive work by a Greek painter emerged on Wednesday and is the work by 19th century painter Nikiforos Lytras on the theme of "Glenti sta Megara." It was purchased by a private collector who wishes to keep his anonymity for the time being.

    Two works by the also 19th century painter Nikolaos Gyzis were also sold at high prices, 950,000 and 550,000 euros. Experts were also surprised by the price paid for a work by Konstantinos Parthenis (early 20th century). The private collector who purchased the work paid 674,517 euros, an amount that sets a record for a work by the painter.

    "It is now a fact that Greek painters are rising continuously at the international art exchange," Frangos said.

    [30] Cypriot FM says pseudostate obstacle to Cyprus' reunification

    NICOSIA, 16/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis on Wednesday condemned the illegal declaration of the secessionist entity in the Turkish occupied since 1974 areas of the Republic of Cyprus on November 15, 1983.

    In a press release issued today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs describes the continuation of the illegal occupation of Cyprus' territory and the secessionist actions of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, as ''a serious obstacle in the efforts for the reunification of Cyprus.''

    ''Twenty-three years after the illegal unilateral declaration of the secessionist entity in the area of the Republic of Cyprus occupied by Turkey, the occupying power still refuses to conform with and flagrantly violates resolutions 541(1983) and 550(1984) of the United Nations Security Council with which the international community condemned the declaration of the pseudostate as legally invalid and called for its revocation,'' the foreign ministry points out, reminding that no country other than Turkey has recognized the pseudostate.

    ''However, the continuation of the illegal occupation of our territory and the secessionist actions of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, in violation of the mandates of the international community, as well as the intensified efforts to upgrade the secessionist entity, remain a serious obstacle in the efforts for the reunification of Cyprus,'' the press release adds.

    According to the ministry, Turkey ''proved that the ultimate goal is the partition of the island and not a just and functional solution to the Cyprus problem.''

    ''In practice, the occupying power and the Turkish Cypriot leadership deliberately and in line with their long-standing policy to partition the island, continuously distance themselves from the prescribed framework of the solution of the Cyprus problem set by the United Nations, and provocatively ignore the relevant decisions of the international community,'' it says.

    Stressing that its efforts are premised on International Law, the Charter of the UN and its Resolutions on Cyprus, as well as on the principles on which the European Union is founded, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that ''we pursue the reunification of our people, the country, the economy, the society and the institutions within the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, as per our commitment to the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979 which constituted the basis for a solution in the United Nations framework.''

    ''We aim to protect the fundamental rights and the basic freedoms of all Cypriots, as provided in the relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights,'' it notes.

    ''We aim at a solution that will be the outcome of an agreement and not of arbitration, a functional solution that will withstand the test of time. We remain committed to a solution that will safeguard the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Cyprus, without foreign trusteeships. A solution that will guarantee the interests and rights of all Cypriots, the withdrawal of the settlers and the occupation forces, and will respect the principles and values of the EU, of which we are today a full member,'' it concludes.

    In a statement after Wednesday's Council of Ministers meeting, Pashiardis said that ''the Cypriot government once more condemns the secessionist act of 1983, which the UN Security Council itself considers as legally invalid and politically inadmissible,'' condemning the illegal visit of Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul to the occupied areas, even if his presence does not grant any legality or validity whatsoever to the pseudostate.

    ''At a time when the Turkish side focuses its efforts not on the solution of the Cyprus problem but on the political upgrading of the pseudostate, our side will continue to seek the true reunification of the people, the country, within a functional, viable and mutually accepted solution,'' Pashiardis concluded.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The Turkish Cypriot unilateral declaration of independence was declared ''legally invalid'' by UN Security Council resolution 541 of November 1983, which called on all states not to recognize the self-styled regime and not to facilitate it in any way. Only Turkey recognises the Turkish Cypriot puppet regime.

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