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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-20

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

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

November 20, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] Finmin stresses Greece's changed investment environment during U.S. visit
  • [02] Greek Finmin's U.S. trip closely watched by financial media
  • [03] PM on visit to London, to meet with British counterpart Blair
  • [04] FM on Turkish counterpart's Athens visit
  • [05] UNMIK's Ruecker sanguine about settlement in Kosovo
  • [06] Information secretary general on Greece's image in the US
  • [07] Education secretary general tours Greek schools in NY
  • [08] Greeks heading abroad for postgraduate studies in tourism
  • [09] SYN leader: No to 'supermarket' universities
  • [10] Ecumenical Patriarch gives interview about the Theological School of Halki
  • [11] Interior minister briefed on Evros anti-flooding works
  • [12] Dimas in Cairo to attend environment forum on protection of the Mediterranean
  • [13] Kaklamanis speaks at DISY event in Nicosia
  • [14] Employment minister: Gov't will pull no surprises on social insurance reforms issue
  • [15] FinMin on civil service salaries, elections
  • [16] Head of HATTA reports rise in U.S. visitors to Greece
  • [17] SE Europe farm organizations wind up Thessaloniki meeting
  • [18] PASOK delegation visits 22nd Philoxenia exhibition
  • [19] Foreign Exchange Rates
  • [20] President attends screening of Gavras' 'Mon Colonel' at Thessaloniki Film Festival
  • [21] Bridge of cultural cooperation between Europe and Japan created
  • [22] Sixteen arrested, charged for rioting on November 17 anniversary
  • [23] Case of 'Samina' ferry boat shipwreck at the Supreme Court
  • [24] Gorgopotamos 64th anniversary commemorated
  • [25] Greek Super League soccer results
  • [26] Cypriot President says Greek Cypriots replied positively to Gambari
  • [27] Armenian President to visit Cyprus

  • [01] Finmin stresses Greece's changed investment environment during U.S. visit

    NEW YORK, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Greek Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis stressed the substantial changes in the Greek investment environment during a press conference held here on Friday night at the Greece's Press and Communications bureau in New York.

    At the same time, he pointed out that Greece's image abroad would not change overnight and he underlined the need for consistency, credibility and a serious approach at all times.

    "It requires great efforts that are sometimes cancelled out by isolated incidents, either in connection with specific investments that may come up against insuperable obstacles or the practices of some Greek exporters that take a short-term view and thus blacken Greece's image," the minister said.

    Regarding the prospect of early elections in the country, Alogoskoufis said that the government's entire economic policy was planned around the government's commitment to serve a full four-year term.

    "We pushed through reforms and in 2005 and 2006 we implemented these reforms. Some are also being made in 2007. We will go the end of the four-year period having the satisfaction and countenance to tell the Greek people that this was our specific program that we successfully carried out. But also to announce a second round of reforms for the next four years. We still have a lot of time because the reform program for these four years has still to be completed," he said.

    The minister also outlined in detail the activities and initiatives begun by Greece via the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board to cultivate export markets for Greek products in the large markets of the U.S. and Canada, particularly for foods, beverages and building materials. Part of this effort was the recently launched "Kerasma" program, in which promotional events based on a series of recipes based on Greek products were held every three months in New York to help place Greek agricultural exports like olive oil in the market.

    During the press conference, Alogoskoufis also dealt extensively with the disillusionment experienced in the past by Greek expatriates seeking to invest in Greece, pointing out that many of the uncertainties caused by an unclear legal framework had now been ironed out.

    "The Greek diaspora that had bad experiences in the past can today, with greater confidence, if it wishes, activate itself in the Greek economy and contribute but also gain from the investments that if can make in Greece," he added.

    Among the improvements he listed a reduction in taxation of business profits from 35% to 25% in 2007, as well as the clarifications to issues concerning specialized forms of tourism that were being introduced by a bill currently being drafted by the Tourism Development ministry.

    To a question on Greek-U.S. relations in economic affairs, Alogoskoufis said that these were to a great extent determined by relations between the U.S. and the European Union, of which Greece was a member, which had now entered a difficult phase after the U.S. President failed to get the approval of Congress to continue the "Doha Round" negotiations on trade and tariff issues at the World Trade Organization.

    "It would be very desirable if there could be a new U.S. initiative so as to untie the hands of the U.S. representative at the Doha Round and we can conclude an agreement within 2007, if possible, or maybe a little later. Because it would be very bad and detrimental to both the U.S. and the EU and to the developing world if we returned to practices like protectionism, or limited protectionism or to a logic of bilateral trade agreements, because we all know that such bilateral trade agreements are damaging to third parties that don't participate in these," Alogoskoufis told reporters.

    Commenting on the Greek government's privatization program and the results of his talks with the senior management of investment banks based in New York - including whether Greece's privatization plans extended to banks apart from the National Bank of Greece (NBG) and Emporiki - Alogoskoufis underlined that the government's top priority in the coming months was the further privatization of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) by finding a strategic partner.

    "It is a project that is fraught with difficulties and has been attempted in the past without much success. I believe that conditions are now much better because OTE has adapted to the competitive environment that exists in the telecoms market. It also has significant advantages in the Balkans but could, nevertheless, do still better if it found the right strategic partner. In issues of technology it has evolved greatly but, of course, needs a strategic partner in order to continue its expansion in other markets," the minister explained.

    Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas, meanwhile, told reporters that the privatization of Olympic Airlines was not addressed at all during the Greek delegations current visit, since Greece was still engaged in sensitive and difficult negotiations on this issue with the EU.

    "As soon as this is cleared up and we know exactly what it is that we are offering investors, we will begin a new round of contacts," he added.

    [02] Greek Finmin's U.S. trip closely watched by financial media

    NEW YORK, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    A trip to the United States this week by Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis was closely followed by the international financial media, several of which asked the minister to appear and talk about the Greek economy.

    During his visit, Alogoskoufis was interviewed Business Weekly magazine, BBC World and the Bloomberg TV network.

    In these interviews, the main points raised by Alogoskoufis were the significant fiscal reforms achieved by Greece, which has managed to reduce the public deficit while maintaining one of the highest growth rates in the euro-zone.

    He also stressed the government's ongoing reforms program and the role that this played in the development of the Greek economy.

    One of the aspects particularly emphasized by the minister were tax reforms designed to boost enterprise, such as the reduction in the taxation rate for business profits from 35% to 25% and reduced tax rates for natural entities from 30-40% to 25%, effective from 2007.

    Alogoskoufis also pointed to the increasingly outward-looking orientation of the Greek economy and the country's role in southeastern Europe, as well as outlining the government's privatization of Emporiki Bank, which has been concluded, and the ongoing efforts to privatize the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE).

    [03] PM on visit to London, to meet with British counterpart Blair

    LONDON, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis left Sunday evening for London, where he will address the London School of Economics on Monday afternoon and meet with British prime minister Tony Blair on Tuesday.

    Karamanlis will also attend an event at Madame Tusseau's Wax Museum for the unveiling of wax figures of the late Greek prime ministers and statesmen Eleftherios Venizelos, Constantine Karamanlis and Andreas Papandreou.

    [04] FM on Turkish counterpart's Athens visit

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said that Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul's upcoming visit to Athens did not affect Greece's negotiating position with respect to Turkey's EU course, in an interview with the Larissa-based Eleftheria newspaper appearing in the paper's Sunday issue.

    "Our position on the neighboring country’s EU accession course is crystal-clear: There is no a la carte materialization of the obligation for EU membership for any country. In short: full compliance and adaptation should lead to full accession," Bakoyannis said.

    [05] UNMIK's Ruecker sanguine about settlement in Kosovo

    20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The head of the UN administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) Joachim Ruecker on Saturday expressed confidence that the proposal for the status of Kosovo presented by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari after elections in Serbia would be "something that should be acceptable to both sides", in statements to the ANA-MPA.

    He also predicted that the UN's political administration in Kosovo would not stay on beyond one year:

    "I think UNMIK will stay here for one more year. I don't think that we will be here in November 2007," he said, though pointing out that UNMIK would cede its place to some other kind of international force in the region.

    He noted that the Ahtisaari proposal would have to be approved by the UN Security Council, which would then have to issue a resolution replacing UNSCR 1244. "Otherwise, we will be here forever," he added.

    Ruecker also underlined the need to maintain the momentum in the process for determining the future status of Kosovo, since any significant delay could render the problem unsolvable.

    "It's like riding a bike. You have to keep pedaling. If you stop pedaling, you're in danger of falling," he said.

    "If hope turns into disappointment, it is hard to control the margin of society, in the entire world not just in Kosovo," Ruecker stressed.

    He also described Kosovo as the "last piece in the Balkan puzzle" that had to be resolved, since failure to find a solution promptly would have significantly greater political and financial costs for the international community but also because it was important for strengthening regional stability.

    UNMIK's chief was also positive about the climate in neighboring countries regarding a solution, while predicting that the EU would finally reach a unanimous decision on the issue.

    According to Ruecker, Kosovo's Serbs were coming under pressure from Belgrade not to become integrated in the province's economic and political life, whereas many among them were willing to do so if they were given the opportunity.

    He stressed that integration and not isolation was the key for Kosovo Serbs and said that the new Serbian Constitution's reference to Kosovo as an integral part of Serb territory was "meaningless" for the present and future status of the region.

    [06] Information secretary general on Greece's image in the US

    NEW YORK, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The American people were fully aware of Greece's progress in recent years, Greece's information secretary general Panos Livadas told ANA-MPA on Saturday in New York, where he took part in the 8th annual Capital link conference titled "Greece in the New Era of Extroversion".

    Livadas said that, from within the Capital Link forum, which he said was evolving into an institution, Greece had the opportunity to send a message to the US, too, that no one should see Greece as simply a market of 11 million people, but as a gateway, an entryway, to a wider region of the 160 million citizens of SE Europe, which was speedily growing.

    Livadas said that Greece has "structured the venture for all sectors of the economy, energy, tourism, exports, etc.".

    The results, as presented also by the government's economic staff, "prove that the American public opinion recognizes our country's progress in the past years".

    To a question on Greece's present-day image, Livadas said that for many years, in the past, Greece had been sending a message of disgruntlement to the American public opinion. The economic problems, the clashes and arguments over specific matters that concerned Greece's interests, were not sending an optimistic message, even to the younger generations of the Greek American community. "But many of those things have changed now," he added.

    More specifically, Livadas pointed out, "our economy is penetrating other countries daily, and the extroversion of our country's orientation is a very important development".

    "Our comparative advantages are what we rely one, and what we are penetrating increasingly more foreign markets with," he continued.

    Reiterating economic figures cited by the economic staff, Livadas stressed that tourism this your had increased by 12 percent, for the second consecutive year, while exports had risen by 22 percent.

    On Greek foreign policy and its role in the creation of an auspicious climate for Greece, Livadas said that Greece's foreign policy confronts the outstanding affairs in the region in a new, modern way. "We have, for example, important outstanding matters with Turkey, which, however, do not hinder us from supporting that country's European orientation, provided, of course, that our neighbor first fulfills its obligations to the European Union".

    "In this creative way, we are tackling the various outstanding matters, without their hindering us from cooperating in various economic sectors with Turkey," Livadas said, citing the National Bank of Greece's acquisition of Turkey's FinansBank as an example.

    On the FYROM name issue, he said that "we are working in a creative way, within the framework of the UN, to solve this specific issue", adding that "this does not, however, obstruct us from being the tope investor in FYROM".

    Naturally, he added, as soon as the process aimed at resolution of the name issue was completed and a mutually acceptable settlement was found, "it will be our pleasure to also support FYROM's accession to NATO, something that we desire".

    [07] Education secretary general tours Greek schools in NY

    NEW YORK, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Greek education and religious affairs ministry secretary general Prof. Andreas Karamanos voiced enthusiasm on the work being done by the Greek schools in the US, in an interview with ANA-MPA in New York following visits to local Greek schools and meetings with Archbishop Demetrios of America and members of the Hellenic American educational system.

    Questioned on the outcome of his visit, Karamanlis said that during his meetings with the Archbishop and officials of the Greek schools, which he said formed the backbone of Greek language education, Hellenic culture and Orthodoxy abroad, there had been complete agreement and determination to move ahead and to solve all the existing problems.

    Karamanos reiterated the Greek government's "commitment to help even more with transfers of teachers to the schools, resolving certain procedural problems that have to do with residency permits, etc.", adding that, from his visit to Greek schools in New York, which were indicative of the work being done, "I am enthused, and I am leaving much more optimistic, and enthusiastic, I would say, from the impressions I got".

    Questioned on the Greek education ministry's position on "chartered schools" that do not belong to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America's educational system, Karamanos noted that "we have our representatives here, who are educational coordinators and have the authority from the Greek State to use the teachers we transfer here in the most beneficial manner for Greek education".

    "The chartered schools are a very important effort, which is working due to the initiative of the US government. And it is something that we must take advantage of in every way," he explained.

    Replying to questions later during a press conference, Karamanos said that there were no clouds in the ministry's collaboration with the Archdiocese of America, while he also addressed a number of questions on Greek education in the US and the ministry's support and contribution.

    "Our goal is to improve the teaching level, establishing educational procedures such as tele-education that already exists at the University of Crete and the Greek Language Centre. We believe that the issue of education is very positive, as it will enable us to improve the educational dynamic of the Greek American community," Livadas said.

    [08] Greeks heading abroad for postgraduate studies in tourism

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Hundreds of Greeks, between 200-300 each year, are going abroad to universities in Europe - especially Britain and Switzerland, in order to take post-graduate masters courses in tourism, according to figures released by the Alumni Association of Greece on Saturday.

    In addition to these, several more are attending similar courses in the United States and other non-EU countries.

    Presenting the figures during the Philoxenia exhibition, Aegean University Tourism Development department professor Paris Tsartas stressed the need to establish at least two university departments offering undergraduate and post-graduate in tourism-related studies in Greece to cover this increased demand.

    He noted that existing courses in Greece currently accepted 25 students a year, out of 120 that applied each year.

    [09] SYN leader: No to 'supermarket' universities

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    There is "no field for electoral cooperation" with the main opposition PASOK party, given its present policies, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alekos Alavanos said in an interview with the Sunday edition of Avghi daily.

    He added, however, that "would agree with pleasure to cooperation regarding the minimum guaranteed income, the simple proportional electoral system, the separation of Church and State, the preservation of Olympic Airlines as the national air carrier, or on matters aimed at non-revision of Article 16" of the Constitution which refers to education.

    Alavanos voiced opposition to private universities, saying that the universities must not pass into the arena of profiteering: "They must not become like the television stations or like supermarkets".

    It is a matter of safeguarding the public sphere and the social state, Alavanos said, adding that "there must be no defeat on this issue, we must not allow the government to revise Article 16".

    Alavanos said he considered early general elections very likely, adding that this would be more a choice of the government, although the government could be forced into early elections due to the pressure of the aggravated social and economic problems if there were prospects for promoting common action by the opposition, so as to express in a mass and catalytical way the citizens' reaction.

    The SYN leader further wished every success to PASOK's platform congress which, he warned, would not change anything if it validated its opposition tactics to date.

    [10] Ecumenical Patriarch gives interview about the Theological School of Halki

    ISTANBUL, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    A "state within a state", the deep state, creates the problems which the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey faces, said Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in an interview he gave to the Turkish press.

    "I assume that the deep state does not permit us to reoperate the Theological School of Halki," the Patriach told the newspaper "Sabah" which published his interview on its front page.

    The Ecumenical Patriarch reminded that Turkish Education Minister Huseyin Celik had announced that the Theological School can reopen at any time. The Patriarch underlined the "hypocrisy" of the pretext that the reopening of the Theological School would undermine the secular character of the Turkish state, saying that the School operated unhindered throughout the period of Kemal Ataturk in power and after until 1971.

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos also spoke of the imminent visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

    "It is a great opportunity for Turkey to change its image," the Patriarch said, and reminded of the radiance which the personality of the Pope has throughout the world."

    "Turkey must become a member of the European Union," said Vartholomeos, noting that the European Union must not develop into a "Christian club."

    [11] Interior minister briefed on Evros anti-flooding works

    20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Interior, public administration and decentralization minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Sunday visited Alexandroupolis, where he was briefed on progress in restoration works of the rifts in the Evros River's embankments caused by last winter's flooding and other anti-flooding works in the area.

    Pavlopoulos, who was accompanied by civil protection secretary general Panagiotis Fourlas and Eastern Macedonia-Thrace Periphery secretary general Michalis Angelopoulos, visited the Evros areas of Tycheros and Kornofolia.

    "We know that there were many problems, which are currently being restored in such a way so as to avoid a repetition, to the degree possible, of such disasters, which harm the people and create feelings of insecurity. That is why our actions are two-fold: Immediate actions for restoring the rifts, which we see here today, and which I b believe will be completed by end-November to mid-December at the latest, as well as long-term measures, being taken by the government for the first time, in cooperation with the neighboring countries, so as to avert such phenomenon in the future".

    He said the issue regarding Evros was not only the anti-flooding projects and embankments, but as that of cooperation with the neighboring countries, especially Bulgaria, in order to eliminate the problem, which he explained was created from the waters flowing to Greece and also due to the management of crises in general.

    Pavlopoulos stressed the actions being taken for the anti-flooding shielding of Evros, noting that additional measures were being introduced, including the operation of an automatic water level measuring system, jointly with Bulgaria, which he said would formally join the EU on January 1.

    He said collaboration had commenced on automatic warning of rising water levels, as well as on satellite monitoring, and other joint actions that had not existed in the past.

    [12] Dimas in Cairo to attend environment forum on protection of the Mediterranean

    CAIRO, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas is since Sunday in Cairo to jointly preside with Finnish EU presiding Environment Minister Jan Erik Enestam and his Egyptian counterpart Maged George in the Euro-Mediterranean meeting for the protection of the Mediterranean.

    Greece is represented in this environment forum by Deputy Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Stavros Kaloyiannis.

    Taking part in the meeting are representatives from the twenty Mediterranean countries of Europe, Asia and Africa.

    The two-day meeting begins on Monday.

    [13] Kaklamanis speaks at DISY event in Nicosia

    NICOSIA, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The newly elected Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, who formally takes over his duties at the start of 2007, was among the speakers at a conference on local government organized by Cyprus' Democratic Rally (DISY) party in Nicosia on Saturday.

    Kaklamanis' spoke on "Modern cities, environment and quality of life".

    [14] Employment minister: Gov't will pull no surprises on social insurance reforms issue

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Employment and social protection minister Savvas Tsitouridis outlined the government's goals for the social insurance system reform, addressing an event of the Democratic Movement of Engineers in Thessaloniki on Sunday, while, in an interview with To Vima newspaper appearing in the Sunday edition, he also said that the government did not intend to spring any surprises regarding the social insurance reforms, "neither in the period up to (the next general) elections, nor after the elections".

    Addressing the Thessaloniki event, Tsitouridis said that the basic pylon for the safer future the government wants to ensure for all the Greeks was the existence of a social insurance system that operated under the guarantee of the state, would exploit in the best way the assets of the social insurance funds, administer the money from the insured parties' contributions with transparency and efficiently, ensure the contributions and pension rights of the present but also the future workers, ensure dignified pensions for all the insured, would be socially just so as to put an end to the unacceptable phenomenon of the few and the poorer financing the pensions of the few and better off, and would reward all those who fulfilled their social insurance obligations.

    The minister appealed to all sides to take part in the dialogue on the social insurance system reform, noting that "no one has the right to be absent from the process of deliberation and dialogue".

    He said that the government did not have any pre-decided solutions on the issue, nor a "secret agenda", nor "dogmatic views and positions".

    "Besides, whatever we decide will, as a rule, concern those who come after us. And this makes our responsibility even greater. We are here to listen to all who have the right, but also the obligation, to have their own view and express it. All those who, from within their institutional role, express the Greek people," Tsitouridis added.

    In the newspaper interview, Tsitouridis said that the government would not spring any surprises "neither up to the elections nor after the elections", adding that, up to the general elections "we are applying the existing legislation in order to tidy up the social insurance system and in order to be able to record its real accounting deficit and, after the elections, we will proceed in cooperation with the whole of the citizens and the social forces".

    Ay decisions taken "will give mild solutions, will have long transition periods, and will not affect any Greek who as advanced in work and who has ripe social insurance rights".

    Tsitourids further reiterated the government's opposition to equalizing the retirement age for men and women. He added however that, "in the theoretical instance that the legal opinion of the European Commission prevailed on this issue, nothing will change for a number of years". Consequently, he said, "no one needs to worry and hasten to abandon his work from now".

    He also specified that working women in the public sector have no cause for concern, neither those nearing retirement or those whose retirement is still far ahead.

    Asked whether the government intended to give counter-incentives to avert a wave of early retirements, Tsitouridis said that it intended to institute incentives for those who wished to reach the retirement age provided by current legislation, without changing those ages.

    As for working people aged 50-55 or over and women, the government was considering incentives such as increasing the employers' contributions in tandem with active policies such as life-long training and continuing career orientation.

    As for the scenario of partial retirement with parallel part-time employment, Tsitouridis said that this was something that many European countries were starting to apply, "but it is not our intention to put something like that on the negotiations table".

    [15] FinMin on civil service salaries, elections

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    National economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis announced an "upwards rounding-off" in civil servants' remuneration, in an interview with the Athens daily Ethnos appearing in the newspaper's Sunday edition.

    After a dialogue with ADEDY (civil servants' supreme administrative council), "we shall proceed with a rounding-off, up-wards", and "reform the manner in which the minimum salary is calculated, while we will also unify the scattered benefits that exist today, which are financed by special accounts of the ministries," Alogoskoufis said.

    "We want a uniform treatment of the civil servants that will respect the fiscal limitations that exist. We cannot go ahead with a reform of the salary scale that would shoot expenditure sky-high," the minister added.

    On the recent ruling by the special judiciary Salary Court, Alogoskoufis stressed that the policy on public sector incomes was made by the executive authority, while the role of the courts was to reverse individual injustices where they existed, and not to make incomes policy or determine the salaries of the judicial functionaries.

    He also expressed the position that a provision could be included in the Constitution providing for a specific process of deter-mining the remuneration of the members of the executive, judicial and legislative authorities via a body in which representatives of all three authorities would participate.

    "This body would make its recommendation to the government, which would be responsible for the final determination of the remuneration of the MPs, ministers and judicial functionaries. This way, the phenomenon of these branches deciding their own remuneration would be averted," Alogoskoufis explained.

    Asked for a date for the next general elections, Alogoskoufis noted that "whether they are held in October (2007) or March (2008) is of little importance. What is important is that we do not become involved in a long pre-electoral period. Such a prospect would obstruct the government from proceeding with its task and would create pressures leading to the reversal of certain positive developments," he said.

    The government, he added, has shown that it does not succumb to the pre-electoral 'sirens', and "that is why I say that it’s not of great importance whether the (electoral) confrontation takes place in October or in March".

    [16] Head of HATTA reports rise in U.S. visitors to Greece

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The head of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) Giannis Evangelou reported a marked rise in bookings for top-category hotels and an increase in the numbers of American tourists to Greece in 2006, during statements at the 22nd Philoxenia Tourism Exhibition on Saturday. He also "great promise" for 2007.

    "We have a positive overall index for tourism, which will probably close at around 10% up with respect to arrivals," he said.

    The increase in income from tourism was expected to closely match the increase in arrivals with a slight downward deviation of a round 2% relative to arrivals, he added.

    The year 2006 marked a stabilization of average length of stay, which had been dropping in recent years, while arrivals to high-class tourist accommodation increased 14% as Greece started to attract more wealthy tourists, he said.

    Evangelou also pointed to a 15% rise in conference tourism and a 20% rise in marine tourism relative to 2005, while arrivals of American tourists had increased 250% over the last year as a result of new flights to Greece launched by Delta.

    [17] SE Europe farm organizations wind up Thessaloniki meeting

    20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Agricultural organizations of the countries of SE Europe meeting in Thessaloniki over the weekend were mulling the establishment of an annual conference aimed at strengthening their cooperation, although a golden mean was presently being sought for the cooperation, since disagreements continued to exist over the uniform strategy.

    A two-day meeting of Southeastern European farming organizations, organized by the General Confederation of Greek Agrarian Associations (GESASE), ended in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday.

    At the same time, the organizations decided to intensify their pressure on their governments as well as the EU for an increase in financing to the farming sector under the EU budget, while they also demanded a halt to the circulation, as "EU products" , of products imported from non-EU countries, which they warned would lead to illicit competition.

    They said that products originating from non-EU countries and were entering EU states, where they were 'baptized' as EU products, and then circulated on the market, posed even hazards to the public health, since control mechanisms in many of those countries of origin were inadequate.

    Speakers stressed the fact that the SE Europe region was endowed with geographical and climatic conditions that allowed the production of quality products capable of being competitive on foreign markets, noting a steady annual increase in international demand for various products from the region, citing corn (demand up 3-4 percent), rice (1 percent) and closed (demand up 6 percent).

    Welcoming the participants on Saturday, GESASE President Giorgos Goniotakis said the representatives of farmers in the region had to enter into partnership to help the farming populations in their countries survive, while other speakers called for action by the European Union but also activities and policies on a national level, so that non-EU countries linked to the EU should not find themselves excluded from the Community markets.

    National reports were also presented throughout the weekend on the new age in farming production and trade in farm goods in SE Europe, and on the role of Balkan organizations.

    The two-day meeting was organized by GESASE in collaboration with the European Commission's directorate for farming. Participant-countries include Cyprus, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia.

    [18] PASOK delegation visits 22nd Philoxenia exhibition

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    A delegation from the main opposition PASOK party headed by the MPs Panagiotis Sgouridis, Theodoros Pangalos and Akis Tsohatzopoulos paid a visit to the 22nd International Tourism Exhibition "Philoxenia" held in Thessaloniki on Saturday.

    They met the management of the trade fair organizing company HELEXPO, who briefed them on the size and level of participation in this year's Philoxenia.

    [19] Foreign Exchange Rates

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

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

    U.S. dollar 1.287

    [20] President attends screening of Gavras' 'Mon Colonel' at Thessaloniki Film Festival

    20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday attended the premiere of the motion picture "Mon Colonel" (The Colonel), co-written and produced by Costas Gavras and directed by Laurent Herbiet, which was screened in the context of the 47th Thessaloiniki Film Festival.

    Papoulias was greeted at the Olympion cinema by culture minister George Voulgarakis, the Festival leadership, and Gavras himself.

    The film is placed in 1956, during the war for Algerian independence, and reveals the psychological and legal procedures that turned a young officer into a torturer.

    As Gavras said in his introduction at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, this film is less about history than a metaphor for the present

    The film brings to the surface the war crimes committed in the past, with the silent approval of the state authorities, in the name of a "war against terrorism".

    Speaking before the premiere, for Greece, of his film earlier on Sunday, Gavras said the film was a commentary on the contradictory way in which terrorism is faced.

    Critics have noted the frightening parallels to the recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.

    After the screening, Papoulias was to be presented with an honorary plaque by the Festival administration.

    The President was due to return to Athens late Sunday night.

    [21] Bridge of cultural cooperation between Europe and Japan created

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    The Organization for the Promotion of Greek Culture has created a bridge of cooperation and communication between Europe and Japan.

    Through the vehicle of Greek culture and with the financial support of the European Commission, the Organization has been chosen for the implementation of the EU-JAPAN program which is entitled "On: the Modern and the Contemporary in European and Japanese Culture".

    The program includes events which are incorporated in the "EU-JAPAN Year of People-to-People Exchanges 2005" and which constitute part of the broader Community Program "Culture 2000".

    The cultural events will be held in Tokyo from November 21 to December 22.

    [22] Sixteen arrested, charged for rioting on November 17 anniversary

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Sixteen young people were placed under arrest and charged on Saturday for participating in rioting during the traditional protest march to the U.S. Embassy that takes places in central Athens every year on November 17, as well as events in Thessaloniki commemorating the Polytechnic uprising.

    In Athens, seven adults - including one young woman - and two underage offenders were prosecuted on misdemeanor charges of repeatedly attempting to cause dangerous bodily harm, illegally carrying weapons, verbal abuse and attempting to free a prisoner.

    The adults were remanded in custody until their trial, while the two underaged suspects were released so that their case might be handled by a public prosecutor for juveniles.

    The public prosecutor also pressed criminal charges against unknown parties for construction of explosives and misdemeanor charges of causing dangerous bodily harm and violating laws on the use of flares, passing on the file to an examining magistrate.

    In total, police took 118 people into custody on Friday night during the incidents, of which 109 were released because no evidence was found against them. According to police, the nine placed under arrest took part in violent incidents by throwing stones and other objects, while during a search of their homes ordered by a public prosecutor on Saturday morning, one was found to possess a non-functioning handgun.

    Another seven arrested by police in Thessaloniki also appeared before a public prosecutor on Saturday morning.

    They are suspected of being among some 40-50 people wearing hoods and helmets that attacked police with fire-bombs and stones from the safety of Thessaloniki University's old School of Philosophy on Friday night, taking advantage of university asylum laws that forbid police from entering in pursuit, while police responded by using teargas.

    The seven were arrested during a police operation that attempted to cut off the rioters when they departed from the university grounds after midnight, during which 20 people were detained and taken in for questioning.

    [23] Case of 'Samina' ferry boat shipwreck at the Supreme Court

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Four recommendations to the Supreme Court allow for the payment of compensations to passengers and relatives of the victims of the September 26, 2000 shipwreck and sinking of the "Express Samina", with which is expected to definitely solve the case of the civil compensations against the owning company.

    The ferry boat sank off the holiday island of Paros, a maritime accident that claimed the lives of 80 individuals.

    The Supreme court will judge four cases and judges have proposed to reject the submittal by the owning shipping company, "Hellenic Seaways", which asks for the compensation to be restricted to 10,000 euros for each passenger who was saved and for a decrease in the compensations for the victims' relatives.

    [24] Gorgopotamos 64th anniversary commemorated

    20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    More than three and a half thousand fighters of the National Resistance were at Gorgopotamos, near Lamia, on Sunday, to mark the 64th anniversary of the blowing up of the Gorgopotamos bridge, when rival Greek resistance organizations joined forces for the operation that seriously crippled the flow of Nazi military supplies.

    The celebration of The National Resistance Day was organized by the Panhellenic Union of Veterans of the National Resistance (PEAEA).

    Present at the event were political party representatives.

    Sports

    [25] Greek Super League soccer results

    ATHENS, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Results of the Greek Super League soccer matches played over the weekend:

    AEK Athens - Kerkyra (Corfu) 4-1

    Aris Thessaloniki - Olympiakos Piraeus 2-3

    Apollon Kalamaria - Ergotelis Crete 0-0

    OFI Crete - Egaleo Athens 1-0

    Larissa - Iraklis Thessaloniki 0-1

    Panionios Athens - Xanthi 0-2

    Atromitos Athens - Panathinaikos Athens 0-4

    PAOK Thessaloniki - Ionikos Piraeus 3-0

    Standings after 11 weeks of play:

    Olympiakos 27 points

    Panathinaikos 25

    AEK 24

    PAOK 21

    Egaleo 16

    Kerkyra 15

    OFI 14

    Larissa 13

    Atromitos 13

    Ergotelis 12

    Xanthi 12

    Panionios 11

    Aris 10

    Apollon 10

    Ionikos 6

    Iraklis 6

    Note: Ionikos was deducted two points for disciplinary reasons.

    [26] Cypriot President says Greek Cypriots replied positively to Gambari

    NICOSIA, 20/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Sunday that the Greek Cypriot side had replied positively on Friday to a letter sent to the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus by UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari to promote the implementation of the July 8 agreement.

    President Papadopoulos furthermore expressed doubts about the real intentions of the Turkish Cypriot side.

    Replying to questions, President Papadopoulos said the reply was sent two days ago and that ''our response was positive.''

    Asked if he had any information about the reply of the Turkish Cypriot side, President Papadopoulos said he did not but noted that he had heard that the Turkish Cypriot side had expressed certain reservations.

    ''I don't think they have much room to say no,'' the president added but noted that ''it is one thing to reply positively and another to become involved in practice in substantive talks on the fundamental issues of the Cyprus problem in order to create the basis of a solution.''

    President Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on July 8th 2006, during a meeting in the presence of Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    Following the agreement, senior aides of the two leaders in Cyprus, Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev, began meetings in Moller's office in the UN-controlled buffer zone to work out the modalities for the implementation of the July agreement.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [27] Armenian President to visit Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 20/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Armenian President Robert Kocharian will be holding an official visit to Cyprus in November, at the invitation of Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said Kocharian's visit is scheduled for November 22 to 25.


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